2020 Democratic Debate on CNN. TRANSCRIPT: 10/15/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): – Energy and Commerce under Chairman Frank
Pallone will be marking up HR 3. And Mr. Ways and Means Committee, Mr.
Neal will – Chairman Neal will be having a hearing on the Hill this week
and marking it up next week.
So we`re really going down the path of passing legislation that will be
transformative in the lives of the American people for what it will save
them, what it will save the taxpayers as well. It might be interesting, do
you know, that in the course of this past week or so, the Congressional
Budget Office reported that HR 3 will save taxpayers $345 billion on the
Medicaid Part D piece alone and that it will – and the Office of the
Actuary reported that drug negotiations and Medicare inflation rebates will
save households $158 billion and private businesses $48 billion from
between 2020 and 2029.
So we`re very, very proud of the savings that it will be for people in
their individual lives for businesses and for the taxpayer.
It`s how we spend that money. Some of it will be used for reinvesting and
to benefits, making Medicare a more substantial benefit, and it will be for
innovation and research at the National Institutes of Health. Some will be
for, as I said, more benefits, whether it`s dental, visual, hearing
whatever with Medicare.
I mentioned that but there are other considerations as well.
The committees, as they markup the bill, will make those proposals. The
amendment process on the floor will take us to another point and whether
there are other ways we may want to invest some of that money for the
benefit of America`s working families and for innovation and research.
Earlier today, some of you were with us when we had the announcement of
Chairman Bobby Scott`s college Affordability Act, a strong legislation to
make higher education more affordable, expanding opportunity, improving
access to quality education.
This week, as all through the break and continuing this week, we`ve been
working on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. We hope to be on a path
to yes. We`re still waiting for assurances about enforceability in it
because you can have all the good provisions in the world, but if you can`t
enforce them, you`re just having a conversation.
And so some of the things, concerns we have about the U.S.-China
relationship, are they really going to honor any commitment that they make?
Buying foreign products is good but what about the other considerations
that hurt America`s manufacturing base and the rest? So we will see what
that is. It seems to me it was a small bill.
In terms of guns, again, as I said to some of you earlier, this is a
bullet. I was in Florida – I was all over the country, but when I was in
Florida, I received this from Frederica Wilson, my colleague. The
bracelets are made with bullets in the color orange which is the color of
gun violence protection. I told the president we`re not going away until
we get this background check bill passed. But it is just among the other
for-the-people agenda legislation that we have.
So legislate, investigate, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Chairman will be here shortly.
He`ll report on some of that. I just want to say how proud I am of him and
the members of the Intelligence Committee for being here over the break for
the valuable legislation – investigations that they have done, and, again,
you`ll hear from him momentarily.
In terms of litigation, we have been very successful in the courts last
Friday. We won five decisions in our favor in terms of Congress` authority
under the Constitution. And today, another decision came down in our favor
in relationship to emoluments. You probably had that information on your
phones, but, again, another recognition that our founders had very deep
suspicion about foreigners interfering in our government, and, again, in
our elections. And the emoluments clause is put there specifically for
that purpose, to protect us from any influence of foreign governments.
So the fact we would be here in an inquiry that relates to the president
asking a foreign government to help the president and his re-election by
granting or withholding in the timing of military assistance that had been
voted on by the Congress is just – has so many violations in it. It
undermines our national security. We were sending that military
assistance. And because of Ukraine needing that vis-a-vis, Russia, all
roads seem to lead to Putin with the president though is in it so (ph).
And then when we talk about undermining the integrity of our elections,
that`s wrong. And when you`re talking about violating the president`s oath
of office to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution of the United
States to the best of his ability, that`s the presidential – to the best
of his ability. We`ll go with that.
And in any event the rulings were that we won last week where three of them
were against the president`s hateful public charge rule from taking effect,
a ruling against the president`s sham national emergency declaration to
build his wasteful border wall, a ruling in Mazars` case, which was led by
Chairman Cummings of Oversight Committee that reaffirms Congress` authority
and responsibility to conduct oversight and consider legislation on behalf
of the American people. And the court ruled the following in that case.
Contrary to the president`s arguments, the committee possesses authority
under both the House rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena and
the majors, and majors must comply.
So, again, five victories on Friday, one today in terms of the emoluments,
but that just happened.
We just had a meeting with our caucus to be brought up-to-date on where we
are on our legislative agenda. As I mentioned, we`re legislating, we`re
litigating, we`re investigating and leading that for us as our very
distinguished Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Schiff, who`s just
completed voting will join us here. Speaker doesn`t vote unless it`s a
tie. So (INAUDIBLE).
Unless you have any questions about our legislative agenda.
REPORTER: Can you address the Turkish sanctions bill?
PELOSI: Which one?
REPORTER: You spoke with Senator Graham about a Turkish sanctions bill to
the Syrian invasion (INAUDIBLE).
PELOSI: We spoke about some sanctions bills and also about having
legislation, a joint resolution, House, Senate, bipartisan to oppose the
president`s decision about Syria.
Hopefully, we will take some of that up this week and Mr. Elliot Engel is
leading the way for us under the Foreign Affairs Committee. I`m hopeful
that – and I think Senator Graham kind of fell back a little bit. I don`t
know. His language got a little weaker. I don`t know what happened with
the White House. But, hopefully, he`s still where he was in the
conversation that we had, is that we would have a bipartisan bill to impose
the president`s decision, a terribly dangerous decision, and that we would
have legislation with strong sanctions in it against Turkey.
The president gave the green light to Turkey to go in and commit this
humanitarian disaster under the Kurds, making is an untrustworthy ally and
then had a wet noodle for his sanctions, which just were not up to the
task. So that`s where we are.
Excuse me, Mr. Chair?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I wanted to give you a brief update on the investigation.
In the last couple of weeks, I think we have made dramatic progress in
answering some of the questions surrounding that July telephone call
between President Trump and President Zelensky, in which the president of
the United States sought to coerce a vulnerable ally into conducting, I
think, what can best be described as sham investigations involving his
opponent and involving a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016
We have learned that call was not in isolation. There was a great deal of
preparatory work that was done before the call. There was a lot of follow-
up work that was done after the call.
And we have learned much of this thanks to the courageous testimony of
State Department officials who have been put in an impossible situation by
the administration, and that is urged not to comply with the law, urged not
to comply with a lawful subpoena by the U.S. Congress.
And they are doing their duty, and people should make no mistake about
that. They are doing exactly what they are required to do, and I think
showing enormous courage.
And I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to public servants like
Ambassador Yovanovitch, who had to endure so many false smears on her
character and has continued to show the courage to come forward and speak
to our committees.
And we are also learning a great deal on the issue of conditionality. That
is the effort to condition a White House meeting that was desperately
sought by the Ukraine president in order to get a commitment from that
president to do these political investigations on behalf of the president
of the United States. So we`re learning a lot about the conditionality of
And I want to underscore just how important that meeting was for Ukraine.
It is, I think, at the very top ask of most countries to have a meeting
with the president of the United States, but this is most particularly true
for a country that has been invaded by its neighbor, Russia. That is in
the midst of still a very hot conflict that is dependent on us
economically, politically, diplomatically, militarily to show that the new
president had a good relationship with the president of the United States.
And so that gave enormous leverage to President Trump to coerce what he
wanted from the president of Ukraine.
And what is so damaging about this is, at the very time, the State
Department is trying to urge Ukraine to follow the rule of law, you have
the president of the United States urging that president to engage in
political investigations. You could not have a message more contradictory
to that of the State Department than that what we saw in that call.
So we`ve been bringing you witnesses –
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: OK. That is the scene there on Capitol Hill.
We`ve been listening in. We`ll continue to keep an eye on that.
That`s Adam Schiff there, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
He`s providing an update. Obviously, more hearings today, closed door
hearings today involving that committee. It`s a Ukraine investigation.
Before Schiff, you heard from the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Again, she says, Democrats, in her words, legislating, investigating and
litigating. So an update there, this after a Democratic caucus meeting
that preceded that press conference that is now ongoing on Capitol Hill.
Again, we`ll keep an eye on it if any other news develops from it. We will
be sure to let you know.
Good evening though for now. I`m Steve Kornacki. I am in for Chris
And there is new testimony to tell you about today speaking of that
Intelligence Committee. It paints a picture of alarm inside the Trump
administration as the president`s emissaries pursued what is being called a
shadow foreign policy.
NBC News reports that, quote, former National Security Adviser John Bolton
was so disturbed by the efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate
President Trump`s political opponents that he called it a drug deal. That
is according to a person in the room yesterday for Fiona Hill`s testimony,
the president`s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, who was deposed
behind closed doors.
Perhaps more alarming, NBC reports that, quote, Hill told lawmakers she
considered what was happening to be a clear counterintelligence risk to the
United States. Hill was among four witnesses so far to shed light on Rudy
Giuliani`s efforts on behalf of the president to pressure Ukraine to launch
investigations that would benefit Trump politically. That is something
Hill called a shadow policy, she said, because it skirted protocols.
The New York Times also reports that Bolton didn`t just liken that effort
to an illicit drug deal, he also described Giuliani as a hand grenade who
was going to blow everybody up, again, this according to Hill`s testimony.
Bolton was reportedly so concerned last July that he told Hill to notify
the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about the rogue effort,
an effort that Hill said also involved acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney,
as well as the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland.
Meanwhile, lawmakers today deposed George Kent. He is the deputy assistant
secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy. He defied orders from the
State Department, which they urged him not to testify today. Like other
officials, Kent also sounded the alarm over the disinformation from Ukraine
that Trump`s allies were embracing.
Internal emails turned over to Congress show that Kent pushed back against
those allegations, which he referred to as, quote, a fake news-driven smear
out of Ukraine and complete poppycock among other things.
Meanwhile, upon returning from their recess, the House Democratic Caucus
met tonight, we were just telling you this, about their next steps in the
unfolding impeachment inquiry.
And I`m now joined by Congressman Eric Swalwell from California, he is a
member of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Baker, Chief White House
Correspondent for The New York Times, and Elise Jordan, a former Bush
administration aid in the White House and the State Department.
Thanks to all of you for joining with us.
Congressman, let me just start with you because we began this hour with
that press conference. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the
chairman of your committee, Adam Schiff, looking into these – the
questions here involving Ukraine, there was some reporting and some
speculation this afternoon that this press conference might be called to
announce that Democrats had to decided to hold a vote on the House floor to
formally open an impeachment inquiry.
Nancy Pelosi had said it at a press conference a few weeks ago. Democrats
were now engaged in an impeachment. Republicans, the White House certainly
have been saying, there needs to be, in their view, an official vote on the
House floor for that.
I take it based on what we`re not hearing in those first ten or so minutes.
That is not the plan. There is not going to be at least for now a vote to
authorize an inquiry, is that correct?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good evening, Steve. We believe we are in a
formal impeachment inquiry. And in the history of investigations, no
investigator has ever allowed a suspect to dictate the terms and direction
and timeline of an investigation. We`re not going to let Donald Trump do
that. So we`re going to continue to proceed.
In the last three weeks, we`ve heard from a number of witnesses. The
timeline is becoming clearer and who was in the shadow steam loop and who
was outside the loop is also coming more into focus.
KORNACKI: The reporting from Politico though just on this, the idea of
having a vote to open an inquiry is that House Democratic leadership,
particularly James Clyburn`s office, was reaching out to your Democratic
colleagues about this, the possibility in this reporting here that
Democrats would reassess this in the future. Is it possible there still
might be a vote?
SWALWELL: I don`t want to speak for the speaker. I can just tell you we
are doing an impeachment investigation, hearing from witnesses, subpoenaing
documents. We have the crime of extortion, bribery, soliciting campaign
help from a foreign government, you have a confession from the president
and you have a cover-up. We have two feet and three lanes, essentially.
We are legislating on prescription drugs and healthcare and guns, we`re
investigating on this inquiry and we`re going to the courts on a number of
issues of lawlessness that this administration has engaged in.
KORNACKI: Let`s get into some of these hearings and some that has come to
light from it.
Peter Baker, you had that reporting last night about this testimony behind
closed doors, this testimony from Fiona Hill yesterday. And your reporting
brings directly into the mix the name John Bolton. Explain that
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right,
of course. John Bolton had served as the national security adviser until
last month. He left in a rift with President Trump over a number of
issues, including Afghanistan, Russia, North Korea, Iran.
But we learned from Fiona Hill`s testimony he was quite agitated about Rudy
Giuliani`s outside the system pressure campaign on Ukraine, that Giuliani
was not a government official and yet he was meeting with Ukrainian
officials and playing a role in the discussion about whether or not the
president of the United States would meet with the president of Ukraine,
what conditions there might be, whether or not Ukraine would conduct
investigations that would be politically beneficial to the president.
And John Bolton had this meeting on July 10th along with a couple of
Ukrainian officials who were visiting Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to
the E.U., and the discussed this. And he was clearly consummated. He told
Fiona Hill to go follow the group when they went down to the war room of
the White House to continue the discussion. And when she came back up and
related what was going on, he told her to go to the White House lawyer to
report it because he wasn`t going to be part of any drug deal, he put it
metaphorically, that Gordon Sondland and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of
staff, who were involved with (ph).
KORNACKI: Given, Congressman, just that John Bolton`s name now has come in
so prominently (ph), is he somebody your committee plans to call? Would
you like to hear from him?
SWALWELL: Well, I`ll leave that to the chairman. But he was the national
security adviser when all of this went down. Again, we`re going to try to
have a fair process, hear from relevant witnesses, not drag this out too
much. When you have a suspect who has confessed to the act, you don`t have
to call in a thousand witnesses.
So we`re going to try and really give the president a fair process but not
go endlessly on this. And if they`re not going to cooperate, we`ll put
that in a bucket of obstruction of Congress as an article of impeachment to
KORNACKI: Again, we mentioned today, your committee heard from George
Kent, a deputy security of state for Ukraine policy. I just – I want to
read this to you. This is CNN, your colleague, I should say, Gerry
Connolly has just told CNN this, that George Kent, testifying before this
committee today, told lawmakers that he was told by his supervisor to lay
low after he raised complaints about Rudy Giuliani`s efforts in Ukraine,
undermining U.S. foreign policy. Is that what you heard?
SWALWELL: Well, I`m not going to characterize testimony until we are done.
But what I will say is nothing has contradicted what the underlying act is,
what the president has confessed to and the fact there is an active cover-
up right now, as we speak, by the administration to prevent us from
understanding what the shakedown scheme exactly is.
KORNACKI: Elise, the fact of George Kent`s testimony today, Deputy
Secretary of State for Ukraine Policy, told by the State Department, don`t
show up, he showed up. Sondland, last week, was saying he wasn`t going to
cooperate. Now, he says he is. Yovanitch against the State Department,
saying, don`t go, she does. How significant is that and how hard is it for
somebody in that position to do that?
ELISE JORDAN, FORMER AIDE TO GEORGE BUSH WHITE HOUSE AND STATE DEPARTMENT:
Well, everyone still likes to keep their paycheck. You don`t want to defy
the institution that is floating your lifestyle.
But I would point out that we have yet another person coming tomorrow that
I`m quite interested to hear what he has to say, Ambassador Michael
McKinley, the former ambassador to Brazil and a senior Foreign Service
officer and counselor to Mike Pompeo, who recently resigned.
So, every day, we are getting more information that backs up the original
whistle-blower complaint. I think that we`re at about three weeks now
since that. It feels like a lifetime, but I think it`s probably about
And with each testimony and more individuals coming forward, it further
reinforces and adds more disturbing details to the original complaint and
the reason that Donald Trump is in so much trouble right now.
KORNACKI: And, Peter, looking ahead as well to Thursday and to Gordon
Sondland appearing, his name came up, your reporting, in Fiona Hill`s
She had a run-in with him.
BAKER: Yes, it`s really interesting.
Now, this guy was a donor to Trump`s inauguration. He had not been a Trump
supporter during the Republican primaries, but came around, a hotelier from
out West. And he got the ambassadorship to the European Union as kind of a
reward, as many political donors do in many administrations.
But he has inserted himself into policy that goes beyond the European
Union. Ukraine is not a member of the European Union. And yet he was sort
of – inserted himself into that.
And he had had this conversation with Fiona Hill at one point in that
wardroom in the White House. And she said, basically, what are you doing?
He says that, well, I`m in charge of Ukraine policy.
And she recalled that that sounded a lot like Al Haig after the Reagan
assassination attempt declaring that he was in charge. And she asked him,
according to who? And he responded, according to the president of the
So he was acting, he said, anyway, at the president`s behest to sort of
take charge in a way of Ukraine policy, even though there had been career
staff people, Marie Yovanovitch and then later Bill Taylor, in Kiev,
basically bypassed people like Fiona Hill basically bypassed, John Bolton
And so when we see Gordon Sondland go in on Thursday, we won`t actually get
to see it from the outside, but, obviously, the people who are doing the
questioning will have a lot of questions about why he did that, how he did
that, and what he talked about with the president about that.
KORNACKI: Yes, a lot of anticipation for that one.
By the way, I mentioned that press conference still ongoing there. We can
tell you this as well.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, did just say at that press conference
wrapping up, as you see on your screen there, she did just say before
leaving there will not be a House vote on authorizing the impeachment
Remember, she said a few weeks ago Democrats are now in an impeachment
inquiry. Republicans have been pushing for her to take that to the floor
and have an official vote. She just said no vote.
All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you for joining us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
KORNACKI: Peter Baker, Elise Jordan, again, thank you all for rolling with
us during this breaking news.
And coming up: the Rudy Giuliani hand grenade. In her testimony in the
impeachment inquiry, Fiona Hill quoted John Bolton warning that Giuliani
would, figuratively speaking, blow everyone up.
And now Giuliani is saying he will not comply with any subpoenas. So, what
Plus, the Iowa caucuses less than four months away, a lot at stake in
tonight`s Democratic presidential debate.
We`re going to head out to the site of those festivities, Westerville,
Ohio. We`re going to hear from both the Biden and Sanders camps. Big
night for both of them.
We have got much more to get to. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump`s attorney Rudy Giuliani, who John Bolton reportedly called
a hand grenade who`s going to blow everybody up, is in the crosshairs of
federal prosecutors for his dealings with Ukraine.
Tonight, “The Wall Street Journal” reports that federal prosecutors in
Manhattan have subpoenaed former Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions
in their investigation into Giuliani.
The subpoena – quote – “seeks documents related to Mr. Giuliani`s
business dealings with Ukraine and his involvement in efforts to oust the
U.S. ambassador in Kiev, as well as any interactions between Mr. Sessions,
Mr. Giuliani, and four of Mr. Giuliani`s associates who were indicted last
week on campaign finance and conspiracy counts. Mr. Giuliani is the
primary focus of the subpoena.”
The indictment of two of Giuliani`s associates last week, Lev Parnas and
Igor Fruman, alleged that they engaged in a lobbying effort to get
Sessions` assistance in ousting the former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
Sessions says he is cooperating with prosecutors.
Meanwhile, Giuliani escalated his battle with House Democrats today,
refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena.
I`m joined now by Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. He`s a
member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
Rudy Giuliani says, not going to cooperate with any subpoenas from your
committee or from the House of Representatives that come his way. What do
you do next?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Well, look, it`s no surprise. The White House
hasn`t cooperated with any aspect of this investigation for over three
What we do is, we move forward. Tomorrow, there will be another
deposition, and the one the next day. And the committee will make a
decision as to who to bring forward, who to subpoena.
If they don`t respond, we will take it prudently on a case-by-case basis,
on a decision whether to go to court. In the end, I do believe that the
courts will recognize, not just on this subpoena, but on all the others,
the urgency of this and the national security implications.
And they will act accordingly and give Congress its constitutional right of
KORNACKI: I mean, just when you look at how central Giuliani is to all of
the reporting that`s out there, including that testimony yesterday from
Fiona Hill, apparently, how important is it ultimately for you to be able
to have access to him through either documents or through a personal
QUIGLEY: Look, on one hand, I think there`s an extraordinary case the
president committed a crime, high crimes and misdemeanors, in the public
We have the texts. We have the transcript. We have the whistle-blower`s
complaint. But any other additional evidence will be helpful.
Rudy combines it all, though. You`re right. First of all, it`s shadow
government and bad foreign policy, a man with little or no expertise, no
security clearance working in the shadows and moving forward with national
What role is he playing? A personal attorney for the president operating
under the State Department? This leads to extraordinary mistakes, one that
we`re witnessing in plain view.
KORNACKI: Again, this new reporting tonight from “The Wall Street Journal”
about federal prosecutors issuing a subpoena to your former colleague Pete
Sessions, but saying that the focus of that subpoena is Giuliani.
Is the attention from federal prosecutors that reportedly is now there when
it comes to Giuliani, is that going to complicate your work at all?
QUIGLEY: Look, we have dealt with this from day one. Obviously, there
were a number of indictments. Three of the people closest to President
Trump were indicted and went to jail.
So, our goal is not to interfere with lawful prosecutions, but to make sure
that they aren`t impaired. So, we have worked well with the Mueller
investigation and prosecutors before. It will be our intention to do so as
we go forward.
KORNACKI: And, finally, again, the House speaker there announcing just a
few minutes ago that there will be no vote in the House floor to formally
open an impeachment inquiry.
Republicans have been saying this is something they think you should do. I
believe Mike Pence, his lawyer said today one of his reasons for not
complying, he says, is, you haven`t had this vote.
Do you think there is a case for holding the vote?
QUIGLEY: Look, again, the White House hasn`t cooperated. And they have
always used any other excuse that was in front of them.
I fully believe that, if the House had voted on this, they still wouldn`t
comply. And I believe they`re being less than honest with the American
Obviously, it`s not in the Constitution. It`s not in law. It`s not in the
House rules that we go forward this way. I will leave it up to leadership
in the House to decide what`s best.
But the bottom line, we`re going forward with this investigation regardless
of their actions and their attempts to obstruct us.
KORNACKI: Congressman Mike Quigley, thank you for joining us.
QUIGLEY: Any time. Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right.
And still ahead, Republican Senator Rand Paul is going to join me. We`re
going to get his thoughts on shadow diplomacy in Ukraine.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
During the 2016 campaign, Republican Senator Rand Paul and Donald Trump
were bitter adversaries. Today, though, they have become allies.
Amid the bipartisan concern over President Trump`s troop withdrawal in
Syria, Senator Paul has been one of his most vocal defenders. And ahead of
the 2020 election, Senator Paul is also making – quote – “The Case
That is the title of his new book. It is out today.
And Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky joins me now.
Senator, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Yes, thanks for having me.
KORNACKI: Let`s start just on your book here. And this is interesting.
You`re making the case against socialism. Some interesting polling on this
subject out in just the last couple of months.
A University of Chicago Generation Forward poll of 18-to-34-year-olds, the
youngest voters out there, they found that 61 percent of millennial
Democrats – quote – “expressed face liberal views towards socialism”; 32
percent of independent millennials say the same; 25 percent, one out of
four, Republican millennials share the same view.
Are you surprised those numbers are so high? And why are they that high?
PAUL: You know, I think surprise is one word. From my perspective,
alarmed is an even better word.
You know, we worry about socialism from my perspective. What happened in
the last century? Probably, the number one association of genocide and
famine came with socialism. So, from our perspective, we`re quite worried
The only consolation we have is, there`s also some additional polling that
asked, what do you think socialism is? So, 50, 60 percent of these young
kids may have a favorable perception of it, but when you ask them what it
is, only about 16 percent of them will tell you the state ownership of the
means of production, which is the traditional definition of socialism.
So I guess my hope is that maybe there`s some confusion, and that it`ll get
worked out over time.
But my wife and I were alarmed enough by it that we wrote this book,
because we wanted to extend the association between socialism and violence,
and also talk about the modern examples that people put forward, such as
Scandinavia and Venezuela, and talk about whether or not that`s the kind of
socialism we ought to try also.
KORNACKI: I mentioned you are one of the president`s – you may be the
president`s most vocal defender when it comes to this decision on Syria.
I want to show this to you. Yesterday, “The New York Times” reported that
American commandos working with Kurdish forces were telling them they were
troubled by the president`s decision.
One Army officer, when discussing the Kurds, told “The New York Times”
this. He said: “They trusted us, and we broke that trust. The withdrawal
is a stain on the American conscience.”
I`m curious. I want to ask you about it from that standpoint, because I
know you have a broader disagreement with what the United States` policy
has been in Syria and in the Middle East.
But, specifically, when it came to the idea of protecting the Kurds, who
had fought with the United States in stamping out ISIS, was there something
owed that was more than what they got here?
PAUL: Well, what you mentioned was a soldier`s perspective, one of our
And I think, when you ask our soldiers, they are kind of like our country,
split. But there have been a lot of polls showing that over 60 percent of
our veterans now believe the Iraq War was a mistake.
There used to be many people on the left who believed that also, that the
Iraq War was a mistake. In fact, I think President Obama was elected
because he believed it was a mistake, and had voted against it, and Hillary
Clinton – Hillary Clinton voted for it.
But now the left, I think, in their hatred for Trump, can`t see that
getting out of a war is a good thing. I think the Syrian war is more of a
quagmire – quagmire and more messy than even the Iraq War was.
So I wish we`d have more of a right-left coalition coming together once
again – again to say that our interventions in the Middle East have
And so, yes, I think that we should discuss it in Congress, decide whether
it`s in our national interests. But I don`t – I don`t see a national
interest there. I see a huge mess with a lot of people fighting on both
sides, and none of them really necessarily that admirable.
KORNACKI: I do want to ask you about the subject we led the show with, the
subject that I think everybody`s talking about these days.
That is that impeachment inquiry into President Trump involving that phone
call and the policy toward Ukraine more broadly.
The basic question here that I have seen you asked before – I don`t know
if I have seen a clear answer from you, so I will just ask you again. Do
you think it is proper, do you think it`s appropriate for a president of
the United States to be talking to a foreign leader about investigating his
PAUL: You know, we have been asked that question – you`re right –
I think it`s interesting that, when you look at both sides, Republican or
Democrat, the only thing that`s consistent about this whole debate is that
both sides have threatened Ukraine`s aid, or at least been accused of
threatening their aid.
Joe Biden bragged about threatening to cut off their aid. Menendez and two
other senators sent a letter to them saying, hey, if you don`t keep
investigating Trump in the Mueller investigation, we might cut off your
And just a month ago, Senator Murphy was there saying, if you do
investigate Hunter Biden, we may vote against your aid.
So if the president did threaten their aid, which I think, in the phone
call, he didn`t, but even if he did threaten their aid, it sounds like he`s
joining good company and that it`s been bipartisan.
Now, if you ask me about the aid, I say forget about it, you know? I mean,
look, we`re borrowing the money from China. We don`t have any money.
We`re a trillion dollars in the hole. We can`t take care of our own needs.
Why in the world would we be borrowing money from China to send it anywhere
on the planet?
KORNACKI: There`s a couple of things there. You raised a number of
different examples. You talked about that letter from other senators.
What they`ve said and I`ve – there was a conservative columnist I saw on
“The Washington Examiner” who made this point, too, who said, when the
senators were writing that letter, they were asking Ukraine to cooperate
with an investigation, a United States investigation, the Mueller
investigation, as opposed to asking Ukraine to launch its own
But, again, I`m just curious. The president of the United States – but
the president of the United States, we can talk about all the other things,
but the president of the United States, is it right for the president of
the United States to ask foreign leaders about investigating –
PAUL: See, that thing is –
KORNACKI: – that country investigating his opponent?
PAUL: Steve, in order to answer that question we have to ask the same
question to the Democrats. So the Democrats said let`s continue this
Mueller investigation. Do you think anybody in this country thinks that
was politically motivated and that there was something going on that was
partisan? Most people in my party think it was a partisan thing, the
whole, you know, the whole going after Trump –
KORNACKI: So, but why is he –
PAUL: – was basically elevated, it was elevated and begun really by the
intelligence community under president Obama. Many of these people have
come out and now are fierce haters of the president – Clapper, Comey,
Brennan. So they`ve shown they`re real partisans. They kind of got this
So when we see Democrat senators going and sending a letter to Ukraine
saying, you`ve got to continue to investigate Trump, I think it`s exactly
the same. I think it`s exactly the same thing you`re accusing the
So let it fall where it may. But I think part of when we try to be
objective is we should treat both sides the same.
KORNACKI: In the abstract, though, is it OK? Do you want to live in a
country where the president of the United States feels it`s perfectly fine
to call up a foreign leader and talk about investigating his or her, could
be a Democratic president in the future, could be a President Elizabeth
Warren in two years calling up and saying, hey, would you take a look at
this? Is that appropriate?
PAUL: Well, as you know I`ve been opposed to sending aid we don`t have.
But if we`re going to send aid, should it be contingent on behavior?
Absolutely. Whether it`s arms or aide, if Ukraine is one of the most
corrupt countries on the planet, which they are, they were corrupt under
Russian influence, they`ve been corrupt under Ukrainian influence – should
we ask for them to, you know, try to eliminate or investigate corruption,
sure. That`s making aid contingent on behavior.
In fact, I don`t think we do enough of contingencies to say that aid should
be based on behavior. The same with arms. I`ve opposed selling arms to
Saudi Arabia and Turkey because if they`re not going to act like true
allies, they shouldn`t get our arms.
KORNACKI: All right. Senator Rand Paul, thank you for taking a few
minutes. Appreciate it.
PAUL: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. And up next, the moment of truth from many
Democratic candidates. They have their big debate in Ohio tonight. We`re
going to go live out there for a preview.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY ROBACH, ABC NEWS HOST: I think people are thinking, how could that not
have crossed your mind? Or you wouldn`t have felt just a little bit in
your gut, like, maybe this is not a good idea to go and sit on the board of
this Ukrainian company –
HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF JOE BIDEN: Well, I just said to you. I said to you,
in retrospect, I wish that my judgment –
ROBACH: Right, but at the time, you never – it never – you never thought
this might not look right.
BIDEN: You know what? I`m a human. And you know what? Did I make a
mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yes. But did I make a
mistake based upon some unethical lapse? Absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was former Vice President Joe Biden`s son Hunter giving his first
interview since he and his father became the target of attacks from
President Trump and his allies.
The interview comes as the former vice president and 11 other Democratic
hopefuls prepare for their debate in Ohio. Just a few minutes from now,
Biden will be at the center the stage, right next to Massachusetts Senator
Elizabeth Warren. She is now leading Biden by a small margin in some
recent national polls.
Joining me now is Symone Sanders, a senior advisor to the Biden campaign
outside that debate venue there in Westerville, Ohio.
Symone, thank you for joining us.
Well, let me ask you about the interview we just played a clip of there,
Hunter Biden earlier today. What do you say to someone who looks at this
situation and says, look, Trump`s going too far, Trump`s going way too far
with what he`s saying but a situation where you have a vice president of
the United States when Joe Biden was vice president who`s deputized to do
Ukraine policy, the point man on Ukraine, and then you`ve got his son
getting a cushy job on a Ukrainian energy board, that looks like the kind
of swampiness that drives people crazy.
What do you say to people who say that is a problem?
SYMONE SANDERS, BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, thanks for
having me, Steve.
What we`ll say to folks is, look, frankly, Hunter Biden didn`t do anything
wrong. And MSNBC, NBC and all other credible media outlets said there`s no
“there” there, that these lies, frankly, not just allegations, but lies,
coming from Donald Trump, the administration and his campaign not to
mention Rudy Giuliani.
But what we`ll also say is this, the Obama` Biden administration had
extremely high ethical standards. And in that administration, Joe Biden,
yes, was deputized to go out there and speak on behalf of the entire
Western world and the United States government as it related to Ukraine.
And he did his job, and he did his job honorably.
And it was – I mean, look, the United States government, the IMF, the EU,
reformers in Ukraine, everyone wanted this prosecutor out. So, there`s no
“there” there to these allegations. And these are just smears, frankly.
And folks can rest assured, and I`m sure Vice President Biden will speak to
this tonight, that in a Biden White House, unlike Donald Trump`s White
House, Vice President Biden`s children will not have offices in the West
Wing. His children will not sit in on cabinet meetings as though they`re
high ranking government officials and they won`t have any foreign business
And that`s way more than we can say for Donald Trump.
KORNACKI: Again, that debate just a few minutes away, not far from where
you are. There`s a report last week that Biden had a fund-raiser, told
some folks he needed to be more aggressive in his words and this debate
tonight, that he was having some difficulties knowing when to counter
Are we going to see any kind of a – a different presentation from him
SANDERS: Oh, I think Vice President Biden also said at that fund-raiser
which is open to the press, that he`s a big boy and he knows he can take –
he knows what he has to do on that debate stage.
I think what you`ll see Vice President Biden do tonight is speak very
forcefully hopefully about health care, but also about the foreign policy
crisis that is currently befalling us. We`ll talk about Syria, hopefully.
We`ll also, I mean, talk about Ukraine. We`ll talk about the abuse of
Uniquely, Steve, Vice President Biden has articulated that his case, very
poignantly from the beginning of his campaign, and that Donald Trump is a
threat, he is abusing his power and we have to restore the soul of this
nation. And that`s what you can expect to hear from him tonight.
There`ll be 12 people on that debate stage, so everyone won`t get as much
time, but we are prepared to go out there, Vice President Biden is prepared
to go out there and make his case directly to the American people and he`s
looking forward to it.
KORNACKI: You mentioned his case against Donald Trump. He`s been running
on this idea that he`s uniquely suited to defeat Donald Trump. He`s talked
about the idea – he said, I think his word is, the country can`t survive
eight years of Trump, can`t survive four more years of Trump. So, he`s
positioning himself as an answer to that.
At the same time, yesterday, we were shown a brand new poll, Quinnipiac,
that put Elizabeth Warren a couple of points ahead. I know there have been
polls all over the place, but I think clearly, the totality of the polls,
it`s a very close race, Biden and Warren right now.
What do you make of the success she`s had in the last few months?
SANDERS: Well, Steve, we`ve always said that this was going to be a fight.
I don`t think people believe us. But from the beginning, we have said this
will be a fight and we think this nominating process will go well into
Super Tuesday and perhaps beyond.
And so, we`re ready. Polls are going to go up and down. But what is
undeniable is what we`re feeling and seeing on the ground from folks.
And what`s also undeniable is that, look, people – folks – Democratic
voters across the board are united in the fact they would like to beat
Donald Trump. And they know that on day one, they`re going to need the
next president who we believe will be a Democrat – who I believe will be
Joe Biden. The next president will have to be able to walk into the Oval
Office on day one and get things done.
There`s stuff we have to do in terms of foreign policy. There`s things we
need to do when it comes to health care. And Vice President Biden is
uniquely situated to do that.
And the last thing I note is that you need a broad coalition to win this
nominating process but also to beat Donald Trump in a general election, and
we are the best position to build that coalition.
KORNACKI: All right. Symone Sanders from the Biden campaign, thanks for
taking a few minutes.
SANDERS: Thank you so much.
KORNACKI: And up next, how Bernie Sanders is getting ready for tonight`s
debate, this his first public event since his heart attack.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, tonight is going to be his first public
event since he suffered a heart attack two weeks ago.
And joining me now is Nina Turner, the national co-chair of the Sanders
campaign from Westerville, where this debate will begin momentarily. Nina,
thank you for joining us a few minutes before.
And look, this is his first major public event since he had a heart attack.
Is there extra pressure tonight to just reassure voters that the oldest
candidate in the field is up to this?
NINA TURNER, BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT NATIONAL CO-CHAIR: Well, yes.
All along said, you know, he`s been doing interviews, you know, up until
this moment, letting the American people know he`s doing just fine. And
the senator has such integrity that if he could not be doing this, he would
not be doing it. But he is feeling fine, getting stronger every single
And so, people will see the Senator Bernard Sanders that we have all come
to know and love on that stage tonight.
KORNACKI: We were mentioning. We talked to somebody from the Biden
campaign just a few minutes, asking them about the rise of Elizabeth Warren
in the polls.
What about from Bernie Sanders standpoint? There`s a lot of folks who say
very similar messages, very similar perhaps coalitions in some ways. I
know they`re not entirely the same.
But how concerned are you about the rise of Elizabeth Warren?
TURNER: I mean, they`re not the same, Steve. And you know the senator is
running against or I should say the other candidates are really running
against him. He`s the only candidate on that stage to have the courage to
stand up in 2016 and run against a corrupt system. And he`s the only
candidate consistently from 2016 to this very point been polling as the
person to be able to beat President Donald Trump.
So, it`s not just about one senator on that stage but all the other
candidates on that stage frankly, Steve, the platform which Democrats are
running on give or take, they`re running according – they`re running on
the gospel according to Senator Bernard Sanders.
KORNACKI: I did say he was asked, Bernie Sanders was the other day, in an
interview with ABC, he was asked about distinguishing himself from
Elizabeth Warren, just given again the messages in some cases being similar
there. One thing that he said was – I`m going to get the words exactly
right here. He said: I think as you know she`s said she is a capitalist
through her bones. I`m not.
Explain that distinction he`s trying to draw there.
TURNER: Well, Steve, you know the senator believes taking on this corrupt
system that has left far too many millions of Americans behind. He`s
talking about a system that allows corporations and the ultra wealthy in
this nation to have it all, meanwhile back at the ranch, living so many
people behind. He is talking about being unabashedly, unflinchingly going
against a system that does not respond to the needs of the 99 or rather
only responds to the needs of the 1 percent, and he will not capitulate on
When we talk about the polls, yes, they rise and yes, they fall. But we
know that Senator Bernie Sanders has made history and being presidential
history in terms of the 3.3 million donations that he has received. So, if
we want to measure and in terms of a revolution, you know he really
believes in building a true revolution that he has been building since his
last run in 2016, so that people power is real, and that is the power that
is going to catapult Senator Sanders through this primary into the general
KORNACKI: When I saw that answer from him in that interview, though, I did
wonder, is the message there, if you think of yourself as a capitalist, if
you believe in capitalism, Sanders campaign is not for you?
TURNER: Steve, the message is the same in many ways the Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave, when he talked about democratic socialism.
What does it mean for the government to respond to the needs of the people?
So, he was quoting what Senator Warren said about herself.
But ultimately, his run is about creating a system that responds to the
majority of the people in this nation and not just to the wealthy
interests. That is what he`s running for – for the people.
KORNACKI: All right. Nina Turner with the Sanders campaign, where that
debate is going to begin moments from now. Thank you for taking a few
minutes. Appreciate that.
And stay with MSNBC tonight for our expert post-debate analysis of the
fourth Democratic debate with Brian Williams, Nicolle Wallace, Chris Hayes,
Joy Reid. I`ll even be over there at the big board.
That is HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the