President Trump authorizes new sanctions. TRANSCRIPT: 10/14/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. I`ll be back here at 6:00
P.M. tomorrow. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Behind closed doors. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Chris Matthews.
New depositions in the House`s impeachment inquiry threaten to undercut
President Trump`s defense amid the unfolding Ukraine scandal.
Fiona Hill, that is the president`s former top adviser on Russia and
Europe, she is still testifying to Congress at this hour under subpoena,
this in a closed-door hearing that began at 10:00 this morning.
NBC News reports that Hill was expected to tell lawmakers that Rudy
Giuliani and E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National
Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow
policy on Ukraine.
We already know that Giuliani worked through American diplomats and others
to pressure the government of Ukraine to carry out investigations that
would benefit the president politically and he continued to do so as the
president froze U.S. military aid to that country.
When it comes to that military aid, we are also learning from The
Washington Post that Gordon Sondland`s testimony, which is scheduled for
Thursday, quote, will raise the possibility that Trump wasn`t truthful in
his denial of a quid pro quo.
According to a person familiar with his testimony, quote, Sondland intends
to tell Congress that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid
pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump.
At the same time, Sondland was reacting to Ambassador Bill Taylor`s
bombshell assertion that I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance
to help with a political campaign. But before responding to that text,
Sondland first spoke by phone to Trump, who told him he, quote, didn`t want
a quid pro quo or anything from Ukraine.
Sondland then passed Trump`s assurances along to Taylor in their text
exchange saying the president has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of
any kind, as The Washington Post now reports, Sondland plans to tell
lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the
truth at that moment. Trump has been citing that text message from
Sondland as part of his defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The text message that I saw from Ambassador
Sondland, who is highly respected, was there`s no quid pro quo. He said
that. He said, by the way, it`s almost sounded like, in general, he said,
by the way, there`s no quid pro quo, and there isn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Of course, when it comes to Hill`s testimony today and
Sondland`s on Thursday, we know what they`re expected to tell Congress not
whether they actually have told Congress that. Again, that hearing is
behind closed doors. It is still continuing as we go on the air tonight.
Right now, I am joined by Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado.
He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Ashley Parker a White
House Reporter for The Washington Post, Larry Pfeiffer is the former Chief
of Staff to CIA Director Michael Hayden, and Carlos Curbelo is a former
Republican Congressman from Florida. Thanks to all of you for joining us.
Ashley, let me just start with you. Again, we have all of this reporting
preceding Fiona Hill`s appearance today, the appearance still underway
right now. Do we have any sense of what has been transpiring behind those
ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, so far,
we have reason to believe that she told the lawmakers what we expected her
to tell them. And, again, there may be some interesting specifics and she
may not have said some stuff she planned to.
But our understanding is that she went in there and she did convey what she
said she was going to convey, which is that she was incredibly frustrated
that Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland were basically running a shadow
Secretary of State, doing end runs around her, around the National Security
Council, and that this was a real problem, and also that she was incredibly
outraged at the way the president handled recalling the ambassador to the
Ukraine, who was a career professional and basically who testified
previously that her time there was cut short because Rudy Giuliani and two
of his associates sort of attacked her personally in part because she
believes that they didn`t like her tough anti-corruption stance and they
felt these associates that she was preventing them from some of their
financial and business dealings in Ukraine.
KORNACKI: Congressman, I`m curious, what is the significance when Fiona
Hill apparently and certainly, according to the reporting in advance of
this, was going to testify about her view that there was a shadow Ukraine
policy that was put in place there circumventing sort of the normal,
established route of setting policy. What is the significance of that to
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Well, it`s good to be with you, Steve.
Look, obviously, we don`t know what Ms. Hill testified to during today`s
deposition. We`ll know that soon, I suspect. But to the extent that it`s
consistent with what the public reporting has already revealed, I think it
would, again, add to the substantial body of evidence that there really was
a premeditated and comprehensive shadow campaign being perpetrated by Mr.
Giuliani at the behest of the president of the United States. And to me,
that obviously is extremely damning and, again, it adds to the clear
evidence that shows an abuse of power by this president.
So I think as more and more of these civil servants and witnesses testify
and as we learn more about the president`s conduct, I think the American
people will conclude that this president did in fact abuse his power.
KORNACKI: You said something important there. I think you said,
hopefully, we`ll know soon what was testified behind closed doors today.
This was also the situation on Friday with Yovanovitch. This is something
we`re seeing a number of times here.
Critics on the Republican side, some of your Republican colleagues are
saying, if this is an impeachment inquiry, these hearings should be in
public or transcripts of them should be made available very quickly
thereafter so that every member of Congress, not just a few who are behind
closed doors for these meetings and for the public to get a chance of what
was said. Do you agree with that?
NEGUSE: I think it`s a ludicrous argument being made by the Republicans in
an effort to obfuscate and distract from the president`s egregious conduct.
At the end of the day, obviously, these transcripts, I suspect, will be
But it`s important that witnesses not be given an opportunity to coordinate
their testimony, and I think Chairman Schiff has done a masterful job in
terms of the cadence, the scheduling thus far of these depositions. I
suspect and he has said that some of these witnesses may very well testify
in public hearing as well.
So I think the proceedings, as they have gone through so far, have been
done as they should and, again, I think the American people will have the
full panoply of facts before them as we ultimately reach some judgments
KORNACKI: And I just – to be clear, because I`ve seen – I have not seen
anything too specific on it, but you`re saying you expect the transcripts
to be released. Is that part of a plan? Is that part of the Democrats`
plan, your understanding, transcripts being released publicly?
NEGUSE: No. What I would say, Steve, is I can`t speak as to both whether
the transcripts should be released, and if so, on what timetable.
What I am conveying is I am sure that members of Congress will have access
to those transcripts and I think, I suspect, that eventually the American
public will as well. But, ultimately, that will be a decision that`s made
by the chairman and chairwomen of the respective committees that are
heading the impeachment inquiry.
KORNACKI: Okay. So that is the testimony. Again, it is still playing out
right now, Fiona Hill today. And meanwhile a person familiar with the
Ambassador Sondland`s testimony, that is coming later this week, told The
Washington Post that Sondland and others tried to convince Trump to meet
with the Ukrainian president just after Zelensky`s inauguration in May.
However, quote, the president ended the meeting saying, if you want to do
something, you have to talk to Rudy.
Sondland is expected to testify that he, quote, worked at the direction of
Rudolph Giuliani to secure the investigations Trump were seeking from
Ukraine but he will reportedly say that he and others did not know that it
was, quote, really an effort to impugn the reputations of Biden and his
Larry Pfeiffer, I`m curious. This reporting from The Washington Post, what
Fiona Hill apparently is up there testifying about today with this idea of
a shadow foreign policy, are you familiar? Have you ever encountered a
situation like that before where according to this testimony from Sondland,
the president says you work Ukrainian policy through Rudy, his personal
attorney, and not through the normal policy setting mechanisms?
LARRY PFEIFFER, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO CIA DIRECTOR MICHAEL HAYDEN: No,
Steve. Absolutely an unusual series of events there. Sure, have
presidents in the past relied on private citizens to help conduct foreign
policy? Yes, it has happened, but it`s been done in an above board, public
manner. The individual is given some kind of a title. They`ll work
closely with the State Department. They`ll work closely with the National
Security Council. This was clearly an effort done in a hidden fashion.
Shadow is an appropriate term for it.
And I think Fiona Hill is somebody who is going to be able to lay out for
the committees how foreign policy is normally conducted, how policy is
normally developed, how it was being developed in this administration, and
the concerns she had when she and her colleagues started to see reflections
of this other activity.
KORNACKI: Carlos Curbelo, you know many of the Republicans well, either on
that committee today or there in general in the House. I`m Curious. You
saw a few of them today. I think it was Matt Gaetz who came out today and
made a pretty dramatic objection to the procedure, the idea of having it
behind closed doors.
But, in general, you know them pretty well. How do you think they react to
hearing from somebody like Fiona Hill about a shadow foreign policy being
run through Rudy Giuliani?
FMR. REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R-FL): Well, the first thing I`ll say, Steve, is
I`m not surprised that Fiona Hill offered high praise for Marie
Yovanovitch. I met with the ambassador in 2017 in Ukraine. She was a
consummate professional, very much on top of her game, very knowledgeable
when it came to the region and explaining to the delegation that was there
what was happening and what our plan of action was. So it makes sense that
someone like Fiona Hill would praise her in testimony today.
I think Republicans, in some cases, are making legitimate arguments about
process. Process does matter here. I think the Democratic majority has to
take into account two elements as they proceed, number one, transparency,
and I think Chairman Schiff could do a little better in that space, being
more transparent, more forthcoming, and secondly is sobriety.
Now, to the degree that Republicans are using these process arguments to
deflect attention from some of the central issues here, which you just
mentioned, the way that foreign policy was being carried out, that is
unacceptable. The president seems to think that conducting foreign policy
is like trying to put together real estate deal in Manhattan and that`s
just not how it works. And you can understand how professionals like Marie
Yovanovitch would be shocked and would be very disappointed in getting
caught in the middle of that.
So I think, again, and I`ve said this before there, is a pass/fail test
here for Republicans regardless of what they think about impeachment,
specifically, is the president`s conduct acceptable or not? Is this
request that a foreign leader somehow get involved in our political process
acceptable or not? Of course it isn`t. And Republicans can criticize
everything they want, they certainly have a right to, but they should be
forthcoming and truthful about the central questions that being
investigated here and, of course, the president`s conduct is not
acceptable. It`s wrong.
KORNACKI: Well, related to something you said a minute ago, The New York
Times reporting that Fiona Hill, quote, viewed the recall of Ambassador
Marie Yovanovitch from Kiev as an egregious abuse of the system by allies
of Mr. Trump who were seeking to remove a perceived obstacle. That is
according to a person familiar with her account who says that Hill and
others objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine
only to be disregarded.
Larry, there are several different pieces here that seemed to be emerging.
You had Yovanovitch`s testimony, you had that opening statement that we all
read last Friday. Now, you have Fiona Hill apparently amplifying that, and
then this question potentially coming later this week with Sondland
testifying about whether there was a sense that there was a quid pro quo in
terms of the president`s intent.
PFEIFFER: Yes, absolutely. We have a group of individuals who were
working this issue, were working these Ukrainian issues. They were
frustrated. They were seeing stated policy being undermined. And I think
they worked together probably with the whistleblower to create that
whistleblower complaint that got the ball rolling. I think we`re going to
continue to see people come out of the woodwork now to offer their
evidence, to offer their testimony, and ultimately weave the tapestry that
the story ultimately becomes.
KORNACKI: Ashley, just looking ahead, again, to Gordon Sondland and his
testimony, this is somebody – we played the clip there, this was somebody
whose text exchange the president was citing just a couple days ago trying
to say, hey, just read his text. It clears me, says no quid pro quo.
Now, according to your newspaper, the – Sondland is going to testify he
didn`t know when the president told him that whether it was true or not.
He was just relaying it. Is there a sense in the White House that what
they thought Sondland`s testimony was going to be is turning into something
PARKER: Well, it`s certainly changing. Originally, not just the
president, but you would talk to people in the White House when Sondland
was first told that he was unable to testify, that first time, we were
disappointed because they thought he would basically be a character witness
for the president and exonerating witness. And now, he is preparing to say
that when he said there was no quid pro quo, he was passing on what the
president told him and basically he`s going to say it is true that the
president told me that there was no quid pro quo. But I don`t know if the
content of what the president told me was actually true.
So when potentially your best witness is now raising the possibility that
the president of the United States might have lied to him, it starts to
look a lot less rosey.
KORNACKI: All right. Ashley Parker, Congressman Joe Neguse, Larry
Pfeiffer, Carlos Curbelo, thank you all for being with us.
And coming up, the Giuliani wildcard. One report says some people close to
the president want him to cut ties with his personal lawyer but Trump, at
least for now, is sticking by him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know nothing about him being under investigation. As somebody
said, I heard a report today. I can`t imagine it. He is a man that looks
for corruption and whatever he does, I really believe is a totally – I
mean, I know he is an honorable man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And there is going to be a big stage tomorrow night and some big
stakes to go along with it. The first Democratic debate since Joe Biden
got dragged into the Ukraine controversy, also Bernie Sanders` first event
since his heart attack. And on the eve of the new debate, brand new polls.
We`ve got national numbers, key early state numbers, and one question that
got some very interesting answers from Democratic voters.
We`ve got a lot more to get to. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is at the center of the
Ukraine scandal that has launched the impeachment inquiry and he could
potentially face federal charges for his work.
The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that under their investigation,
federal prosecutors, quote, are examining Giuliani`s business dealings in
Ukraine, including his finances, meetings and work for a city mayor there,
according to people familiar with the matter. Investigators also have
examined Mr. Giuliani`s bank records.
On Friday, President Trump did not definitely state whether Giuliani was
still his lawyer but he did defend him on Saturday.
First, he went on Twitter and wrote, so now they are after the legendary
crime buster and greatest mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He
may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes but he is also a great
guy and wonderful lawyer.
The New York Times reports a short while later, Giuliani had lunch with the
president at his golf course in Virginia and then the president gave his
strongest praise for Giuliani in an interview with Fox News on Saturday
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is some confusion as to whether or not you
still consider him your attorney. Is he your attorney?
TRUMP: Yes, and he is a great gentleman, he was a great mayor, one of the
greatest, maybe the greatest mayor in the history of New York. He was a
fantastic prosecutor. I know nothing about him being under investigation.
Somebody said – I heard a report today. I don`t – I can`t imagine it.
He`s a man that looks for corruption. And whatever he does, I really
believe he is a totally – I mean, I know he is an honorable man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And “New York Times” columnist Michelle Goldberg explored
Giuliani`s efforts during a recent trip to Ukraine, writing – quote –
“Thanks to Giuliani`s escapades, the domestic grudges of a crooked
Ukrainian prosecutor have blossomed into a scandal that is likely to lead
to the impeachment of an American president.”
And for more, I`m joined by Michelle Goldberg and former federal prosecutor
Thank you both for being here.
Michelle, you went to Ukraine, and you looked at this.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Right.
KORNACKI: What did you see over there?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think, first of all, you have to understand that
Giuliani was getting a lot of his information from this disgraced
prosecutor named Yuriy Lutsenko.
And Lutsenko is basically feeding Giuliani what he wants to hear. He has
since said as much. He had since to leave Ukraine because he is under
criminal investigation. He`s also named in that indictment of two of
Giuliani`s business associates.
And he`s told reporters from “The New York Times” that: I have been in
politics a long time. I was telling Giuliani – I knew what they wanted to
So he thought that what they wanted to hear was that Ukraine intervened in
the 2016 election by basically framing Paul Manafort, right?
So, to believe all of this, you have to believe that Paul Manafort, who is
in prison for – in part because of failing to disclose and pay taxes on
this money that he took out of Ukraine, you have to believe that the anti-
corruption activists who publicized the fact that Manafort had taken this
money, you have to believe that they set all that up in an effort to
undermine Trump, and that it was somehow false, and that Paul Manafort is
I mean, it`s just completely preposterous. And so there`s – the whole
thing has this up-is-down quality that is sometimes, I think, a little hard
to convey, because you can`t expect Americans to keep all these different
Ukrainian characters and kind of internal politics of Ukraine straight.
When you`re there, it is just so clear that what Giuliani was doing was
basically smearing some of the most devoted anti-corruption figures in
Ukraine, because of a very corrupt prosecutor has a grudge against them.
KORNACKI: And I`m just curious, how does this story look to folks in
KORNACKI: What are you hearing from people there? How is it playing over
GOLDBERG: Well, it`s a couple of things.
I mean, first of all, they`re quite frightened about being dragged into the
middle of American domestic politics. They really rely on American
support. Several people told me that they felt like they were being –
they were afraid of being – quote – “left alone” with Russia.
They`re currently locked in this proxy war with Russia. And so to have the
American president basically turn on them is extremely destabilizing.
And there`s also – this is a country that has dealt with such a history of
corruption. Five years ago, they had a revolution. Their very corrupt
Russian-aligned oligarch fled the country to Russia. And they have tried
to transcend a lot of that.
And then you have the American president and his lawyer basically demanding
that they behave – that they become more corrupt. And then, finally, I
think, for the people who`ve been smeared by Giuliani, it`s had real
repercussions for them.
Again, because America is so important in Ukraine, the relationship with
America, to have the lawyer coming out and saying all these terrible things
about you, it can kind of reverberate.
KORNACKI: Cynthia, speaking of Rudy Giuliani, so there`s that new report
tonight, this from “The Wall Street Journal,” that federal prosecutors have
looked even at his financial records, his bank records.
What – potentially, what could really Rudy Giuliani be facing here?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, there`s – there`s just a
host of investigations going on.
“The New York Times” has reported this foreign lobbying registration act
violation that apparently they have been looking into for some time about
whether or not he was involved in actually lobbying for this corrupt
prosecutor. That`s one thing.
Another is, was he involved with this Frick and Frack who were indicted
last week? Was he part of that? And exactly what was his role? And how
much money did he get? And what does that mean about conspiracy to commit
And now we know that they`re looking at all his bank records – or many of
his bank records and his business dealings in Ukraine, which could bring up
a whole host of other things. So there`s really three areas of
investigation that are going on with him right now.
And were I he, I would be concerned that it looks like, A, they`re looking
at his stuff, B, that it looks like there was some kind of surveillance in
the Frick and Frack indictment investigation. And you can kind of tell
that by looking at it.
And, C, that either Frick and Frack might flip on him. So this is a guy
with a lot of problems.
Oh, and let me give you a quick D. He hasn`t been interviewed yet.
And what we know about federal investigations – and it`s the way we have
always done them – is, they`re sort of like – they are like a swirling
tornado. And you go around and round and round and round every way you can
before you get to the center and actually interview the subject or the
target of the investigation.
And that looks pretty much to be where Rudy Giuliani is today.
KORNACKI: Well, he has not spoken to federal prosecutors yet.
But in terms of offering a defense, “The New York Times” reports this –
quote – “Mr. Giuliani said that federal prosecutors had no grounds to
charge him with foreign lobbying disclosure violations because, he said, he
was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump.”
And, Cynthia, what do you make of that defense? I know you pointed to
several possible areas. But in terms of lobbying, he says, look, the
president authorized me, deputized me to do this.
ALKSNE: They are not mutually exclusive.
So he could have foreign lobbying violations, and he could be doing the
investigation for the president. What`s interesting is the presidential –
his comment about the presidential investigation hurts the president.
It`s just one more piece of proof that they were nosing around improperly
in the Ukraine. So he`s essentially thrown the president under the bus in
But don`t think you can`t do A and B and C. He could have done it all or
none of it. And we will just have to wait and see what there is. But it`s
not a defense, in other words.
KORNACKI: The arc, Michelle, of the Rudy Giuliani public story, I mean,
everybody can think back to 2001-2002, that era, America`s mayor.
I dug up – there was an NBC poll. His negative rating was 2 percent back
in early 2002.
And fast-forward 17, 18 years, and this is what we`re talking about
GOLDBERG: Well, I mean, I think everyone – with very, very few
exceptions, everybody who gets involved with Donald Trump disgraces and
KORNACKI: All right, Michelle Goldberg, Cynthia Alksne, thank you both for
And up next: escalating chaos in Syria, this after the rapid withdrawal of
U.S. forces from northern areas of that country. How long before America`s
adversaries, including Russia, Iran and ISIS, move in and exploit the
vacuum that is being left behind?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s been a little over a week since President Trump approved a small
Turkish incursion into Northeastern Syria.
And, since then, the region has been plunged into violence and confusion.
One senior Trump administration official told The Washington Post that the
situation on the ground is – quote – “total chaos.”
Facing intense criticism from both parties, President Trump today announced
new sanctions against current and former officials of the government of
Turkey and any persons contributing to the destabilizing actions in
The president is apparently seeking to get ahead of similar bipartisan
sanctions that are making their way through Congress.
And, moments ago, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that Trump
called the Turkish president today to ask for an end to the invasion and
for an immediate cease-fire.
The news comes as Turkish forces plowed deeper into Syria. Under siege and
on the run, Kurds have turned to their old adversary, Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian-backed military for backup to help push
back against Turkish fighters.
On Friday, Turkish forces launched multiple artillery rounds near U.S.
special operations outposts.
Video and photographs of alleged atrocities by Turkish-backed fighters have
also been circulating on social media. The images have been verified by
multiple U.S. officials.
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights have reported that 800 members of a camp holding families of ISIS
fighters had escaped.
NBC News has been unable to independently verify that claim.
For more, I am joined by Robert Malley, former senior adviser to President
Obama for the counter-ISIS campaign.
Thank you for joining us.
Well, so the president initiated this new policy a week ago, now today says
he`s preparing sanctions and calling on Turkey to stop this incursion. Is
he going to get his way now?
ROBERT MALLEY, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO COUNTER-ISIS CAMPAIGN: You know,
But this is – this is incoherent and abnormal, even by President Trump`s
standards, because he`s now sanctioning Turkey for taking actions that he
basically endorsed, as you say, a week ago. He`s calling on them to try to
take action to preserve the ISIS detainees, when they`re in no position to
He`s sending out Mike Pence to try to negotiate a deal between Turkey and
the Kurds, which is what had been – that was what was happening at the
time that President Erdogan called and President Trump spoke and they
agreed or seemed to have agreed on this incursion.
So it`s incoherent. There may be still a chance to at least limit the
Turkish incursion, but a lot of harm has already been done.
KORNACKI: Well, speaking – you say that a lot of harm has already been
There are these reports – again, haven`t been verified, but some of these
reports about ISIS fighters.
Your sense of – you know this issue as well as anyone – how much damage
has been done on that front, just in terms of the ISIS threat?
MALLEY: I mean, it`s hard to say.
What`s self-evident is that if the Kurds have to – who were taking care of
those camps and monitoring them – have to now turn their attention up
north because they have Turkish troops that are coming in, by definition,
even under the best of circumstances, there`s going to be – there`s going
to be something happening to those ISIS detainees.
Some are going to flee. I don`t have the numbers. I don`t know that we
could verify them in the fog of war. But it certainly is a situation far
And what is truly tragic is that all of this was predicted and predictable.
And last December, President Trump said he wanted to withdraw.
And the time – the last nine months should have been spent trying to
organize a withdrawal, rather than do nothing, and now have this
precipitous decision which is causing so much harm.
KORNACKI: A lot of the criticism certainly from both parties over the last
week has focused on the Kurds, has focused on the longtime alliance between
the United States and the Kurds, the idea of Americans having sort of an
obligation there, given what the Kurds had done when it comes to fighting
Now there`s news that, in response to this policy, the Kurds have gone and
forged an alliance with Assad. Is that alliance now here to stay?
MALLEY: So, I`m not sure it`s an alliance. I think it`s a tactical
alignment of objectives.
You have the Kurds, who right now feel defenseless, and the one party
that`s on the ground that has the same objective of trying to push back
against Turkey is the regime. There`s no love lost between the two. It`s
– let`s see how far that goes. Russia may have to step in to try to reach
an agreement between the regime, the Kurds and Turkey.
But, again, it was clear for some time that the United States was going to
withdraw, because President Trump said it. It was telegraphed. And there
could have been ways of arranging – of helping the Kurds negotiate a
better deal with the regime.
Now they`re doing it in a state of utter weakness. And that`s – that was
not at all inevitable.
KORNACKI: American commandos working with Kurdish forces have been
uncharacteristically outspoken about the situation in Syria.
One army officer, when discussing his former Kurdish colleagues, told “The
New York Times” – quote – “They trusted us, and we broke that trust. The
withdrawal is a stain on the American conscience.”
Higher-ranking officials, like former Defense Secretary James Mattis and
retired Four-Star General John Allen, had these more public warnings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ISIS is not defeated.
We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS, so they don`t recover. We may
want a war over. We may even declare it over. You can pull your troops
out, as President Obama learned the hard way, out of Iraq.
But the enemy gets a vote, we say in the military. And, in this case, if
we don`t keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It`s absolutely a
given that they will come back.
LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN (RET.), FORMER INTERNATIONAL COALITION COORDINATOR: And
so much of what we have done over the last four years has been undone in
the last 96 hours. And it is really frustrating to watch this happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I`m just curious, what do you think Turkey makes of this? They
had this goal. They had this strategic objective, this plan. The
president seemed to sign off on it.
Now here they are. How – what does Turkey make of the United States right
MALLEY: Oh, they must be as confused as anyone, frankly.
And President Erdogan, who thought he had – he knew that – or he felt
that the administration was hostile to him, but he felt that he had a line
to the president. And, obviously, that line lasted for as long as one of
president`s tweets – President Trump`s tweets last.
And now we are in a situation where again he`s threatened to have sanctions
imposed as a result of actions that President Trump basically endorsed.
I mean, I think the broad lesson here is ending these endless wars is one
thing that many of us have been in favor of, but the way this is being
done, the withdrawal, the precipitous withdrawal, betraying a partner,
leaving – giving ISIS a new lease on life, leaving the region confused,
it`s giving ending endless wars a bad name. And that`s one of the legacies
of the president`s decision.
KORNACKI: All right, Robert Malley, thank you for taking a few minutes.
MALLEY: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right.
And up next: Elizabeth Warren coming on strong in some new polling out of
some early primary and caucus states, also a national poll today.
I`m heading over to the Big Board to take a look at that.
And they asked a very interesting question that affects three of these
Democratic candidates. I`m going to show you what that question is and
what voters said about it.
Stay with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Guess what? About 24 hours from now, another Democratic presidential
debate. There`s going to be 12 candidates on that stage tomorrow night.
That`s going to be gigantic, and the stakes are pretty big, too. Those
first primaries and caucuses getting closer and closer.
How does the Democratic race look heading into this next debate? Some
brand new numbers to show you on the eve of the next Democratic debate here
out just a few hours ago, a new national poll on the Democratic side, this
one from Quinnipiac.
And look at that, Elizabeth Warren. We`ve seen this in a number of polls
continuing now to lead. She has pulled a 30 percent nationally in this
poll. Joe Biden in second at 27 percent.
By the way, third place, we`re now used to seeing Sanders in third place
but no, he`s 20 points almost behind Elizabeth Warren, 16 points behind Joe
Biden. That heart attack he had, the questions it raised about his health,
the questions it raised about his campaign, is that having an impact on
Bernie Sanders in the polling now? This poll showing him obviously further
behind than we`ve seen in others.
Nobody else in double digits. Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, 8 percent and 4
percent. That`s the national picture heading into this debate.
How about the early states CBS/YouGov polled? Three of `em.
Start in Iowa. Here`s what they found. Look at that, almost a three-way
tie. They got Biden, they got Warren, they got Sanders, all within a point
of each other.
By the way, Pete Buttigieg there, 14 percent, Not far off in fourth place
there. So, they got four candidates there who are really sort of in the
Harris back at 5 percent. There`s Tom Steyer, by the way, at 3 percent.
How about New Hampshire? You can see there. Next door neighbor Elizabeth
Warren, Massachusetts. That media market goes into southern New Hampshire.
There she is. Eight points ahead of Biden.
Sanders all the way back at 17 there. Remember, he won New Hampshire a
couple years ago. Reminds you how big Iowa is, because – boy, if Warren
could ever win Iowa, and then she went to New Hampshire already with a
lead, that would put her in pretty good shape to pull off the one-two punch
that has proven to be a very good thing to do if you`re trying to win the
They didn`t win Nevada. They did look at South Carolina. Biden continues
powered by very strong support from black voters. Biden continues to run
very far ahead in South Carolina, Elizabeth Warren, a very distant second
So, the question for Biden, can he get through Iowa? Can he get through
New Hampshire? Can he get to South Carolina? Still looking like a strong
candidate. If he does, this could be very big for him.
By the way, one other interesting question. You look at Biden, Warren,
Sanders – each one of these candidates if elected would be over 70 years
old on election day. If Biden and Sanders were elected, they would hit 80
during their first term.
We`ve never had a president that old before. Ask Democratic voters in the
CBS poll, they surveyed 18 different early states. So, it`s not quite a
national poll. But they got a lot of Democrats in there.
They asked Democratic voters, do you think any of these candidates are too
So, check this out. Start with Elizabeth Warren. She would be 71 at her
inauguration, 4 percent of Democrats said they think Elizabeth Warren would
be too old to be president.
How about Biden at 78? Twenty-eight percent said Joe Biden would be too
old. These are Democrats.
How about this? Bernie Sanders, 79. Forty-three percent. And remember,
this coming after he had that heart attack a couple weeks ago.
They polled this question before. The last time they did, Sanders the
number was down in the 30s. It`s now moved up to 43 percent.
So, again, to the extent that matters to Democrats, not quite clear. But
there is a big difference there – 71, 79, 43, 4 in terms of saying too
old. Interesting finding there.
Up next, we`re going to take a look at why tomorrow`s Democratic debate
could be a moment of truth for many candidates.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The fourth Democratic primary debate is tomorrow, a record number of
candidates, 12 of them, are going to be on stage at Otterbein University in
Westerville, Ohio. It is the first debate since the impeachment inquiry
began and since Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack.
As “Politico`s” David Siders notes, quote: With so many candidates
responding to circumstances beyond their control, and the threat of a
destabilizing moment running high on a stage that`s expanding to 12
candidates from 10, it is raising a specter of a debate Tuesday that
finally breaks the Democratic Party log jam. Siders also notes the debate,
quote, comes as many lower polling candidates become increasingly desperate
to make a mark on the campaign.
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard who did not make the stage back in
September was originally threatening to boycott this debate. She accused
the DNC and corporate media of rigging the election, but she said today she
would participate in the debate.
This will also be the first debate for billionaire Tom Steyer who has been
calling for impeachment for years now.
I`m joined by Beth Fouhy, NBC News senior editor, and Eddie Glaude,
professor at Princeton University.
Beth, the idea that this could break the logjam open in the Democratic
side, where are you looking at? Bernie Sanders, this is his first one
since the heart attack. Joe Biden obviously has been connected to the
whole controversy about Ukraine. There were all the concerns about his
performance in the last debate.
Who are you looking at specifically on the stage tomorrow?
BETH FOUHY, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, it is a little hard to
see whether this is going to produce that break in the log jam for a couple
reasons. Number one, 12 people up on the stage it is going to be hard for
anybody to really get a lot of time to talk. So, unless some of the folks
on the outer edges are going to start throwing some brick bats, it`s really
hard to see how they make that kind of impact.
Plus, we have the impeachment inquiry going on where Joe Biden is at the
heart of it. That is so much dominating the news cycle for everyone, for
our network, for all news. It is really hard to see how the movement
happens among those candidates. We`ve really got that three person front
running team with Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders right there.
And it`s very, very hard to see how any of that changes while impeachment
is hanging over this particularly since President Biden – excuse me, Vice
President Biden and his son are at the heart of the whole conversation
KORNACKI: Eddie, I`d ask the same question to you. You have 12 options to
choose from. Who are you looking for tomorrow night? What particular –
anybody in particular you look at? Because Just the dynamics they`re up
EDDIE GLAUDE, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Well, I generally agree with
Beth, but I think two things. One, I think Joe Biden has to be strong. He
has to show that he can actually fight Donald Trump. I think he`s been hit
in the chin. And, yes, his response hasn`t been great in terms of the way
in which Donald Trump and the campaign, his campaign has come after him.
I think Biden also has to, in some ways, show, put forward a vision that
suggests that he`s not just simply a candidate from the past but someone
who can put forward a vision for the future.
And then I`m looking at Sanders and Warren. It seems to me that Bernie
Sanders has to differentiate himself from Warren, Warren who has now
become, in some of the polls, the front-runner. She is going to have to,
in some ways, withstand, I think, a barrage.
I`m interested in how she responds to how the centrists will attack her.
I`m interested in how Sanders will differentiate himself from her.
KORNACKI: I`m curious about that, too, Beth. I think you have –
Buttigieg has made a few comments in the last few days that suggests that
he may look at – will go after Warren. I mean, for the last few months,
she has been rising slowly but steadily. Now, she`s clearly, if not the
front-runner, the co-front-runner with Biden. If she`s going to get more
heat on the stage?
FOUHY: Yes, that`s right. And Pete Buttigieg has actually really started
to creep up little by little in Iowa. I know that the Warren campaign
definitely has their eye on him. He`s building up his organization there
as you say. He has sort of taking a little bit of, you know, veiled shots
at Senator Warren saying, you know, this is a very dire time. It`s not a
good time for a purity test. Clearly, sort of she`s taken up that moderate
space or trying to and Elizabeth Warren is going in the other direction.
Elizabeth Warren is definitely going to be a target. Bernie Sanders is
starting to differentiate himself from her as Eddie was mentioning.
Joe Biden saying we need a president. We don`t need a planner. Of course,
Elizabeth Warren presents herself as a person with all these plans.
But I think what we`ve all seen throughout all these debates and frankly
throughout her entire campaign is she`s very smooth. She doesn`t trip up.
Nobody has been able to figure out a way to trip her up yet. So, the
question is whether either these guys are even going to try, and if they
do, if she does so. And so far, she hasn`t.
KORNACKI: And, Eddie, I was looking at that new poll. We show the
national number out there, Quinnipiac national poll. And Warren is in
first place in that poll. She`s at 30 percent nationally among Democrats.
You start to look at the groups of voters she`s doing best with, self
identified liberal, college-educated white voters. You look at her vote –
her polling with black voters now in that poll. She is still almost 3-1
trailing Joe Biden.
Is that a group she can ultimately break through or is she facing more of
an obstacle there than folks appreciate?
GLAUDE: I think when we drill down into those numbers, Steve, there`s some
generational stuff here. She seems to be polling well, if my memory
corrects – if my memory is correct, among younger African-American voters.
If she`s successful in Iowa, if she turns the corner in New Hampshire, I
don`t – I`m not convinced that the firewall of African-American voters
will hold for Joe Biden.
I think Joe Biden, for many African-American voters, their loyalty to him,
Steve, is tied to President Obama, of course. But it`s also bound up with
the safe choice that we think that we need to get Trump out of office and
that Biden may very well be the safest choice that they can make. But if
Biden doesn`t do well in Iowa, if he doesn`t do well in New Hampshire, I`m
not sure that logic will hold.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, over the weekend, Senate – former Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid gave a warning to 2020 Democrats. He said,
don`t underestimate Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY REID (D-NV), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I used to think that
Donald Trump was not too smart. I certainly don`t believe that anymore. I
don`t think he`s intellectually a powerhouse but he`s basically a very,
very smart man. He – no matter what the subject, any argument he involves
himself in, it`s on his terms.
Anyone that thinks Trump is going to be beaten easily should have another
thing coming. He is not going to be beaten easily. It`s going to take a
campaign of wisdom and patience, but he is beatable, for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: This morning, Trump tweeted about that. He said: Thank you,
harry. I agree.
Beth, I`m curious, what do you make of that? You look at polls right now.
Donald Trump`s approval rating sits there maybe 42 percent, somewhere
around there. We keep showing these head-to-heads. Biden keeps leading
him. Warren has been leading him lately. Sanders leads him.
Do you agree with what Harry Reid saying there? Or is Harry Reid
overreacting to a narrow victory for Donald Trump in 2016?
FOUHY: Look, Harry Reid is one of the canniest operators in politics. He
knows a winner when he sees one. We also know what happens in 2016. So,
Harry Reid is totally right.
Look, I think, interestingly enough, if these numbers and scenario were
played out for any other person besides Donald Trump, we would say that
person was sunk. I mean, Jim Carter, you know, what have you. He has
never been above 50 percent, his numbers with all these other potential
Democratic opponents always under water.
But he`s Donald Trump. He has always managed to get himself out of every
jam. He`s sort of a political Houdini. And I think everybody has seen
that. That`s what Harry Reid is saying there. And it`s very smart for
Democrats to take that heed.
KORNACKI: Yes, how much – what Harry Reid is channeling there, how much
does that weigh on Democratic voters, Eddie?
GLAUDE: Well, I think in terms desire to get Trump out of office, I think
it matters a whole lot. I think Harry Reid is implicitly saying that
Donald Trump will appeal to resentments. He will play the cultural war
card. That he will be a formidable candidate.
But I think at the end of the day, if we`re going to hear what Harry Reid
is saying, Democrats need to pay attention to the turnout game, that what`s
going to win this election is not worrying about Donald Trump. It`s
worrying about turning out their voters. And if they concentrate on that,
then victory will not necessarily be guaranteed but definitely will be in
KORNACKI: All right. Eddie Glaude, Beth Fouhy, thanks to both of you.
And be sure to tune in tomorrow night for some post-debate analysis with
Brian Williams, Nicolle Wallace, Chris Hayes and Joy Reid. Coverage is
going to start on MSNBC as soon as that debate is over. Make sure to flip
And we`re back right after this.
KORNACKI: Before we go tonight, Chris hasn`t been here the last few nights
and he wanted to let you know why. Chris is recovering from prostate
cancer surgery last week. The procedure went well but is taking a few days
to get back into fighting shape. I know he`s looking forward to being back
here very soon.
And that is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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 content.>
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