Trump lifts sanctions on Turkey. TRANSCRIPT: 10/23/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, as always, for watching THE BEAT. I`ll be
back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, if you want to join me.
And don`t go anywhere now because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Attack on impeachment. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.
There`s mounting evidence tonight that the president extorted a foreign
ally for political gain, the charge at the center of the impeachment
inquiry. The Associated Press today reported that months before his
notorious July phone call with President Trump, Ukraine`s president was
wary of Trump`s push for an investigation into former Vice President Joe
Biden and his son.
And days before Zelensky was sworn, in May, he gathered a small group of
advisers where they spent almost three hours talking about how to navigate
the insistence from Trump and Rudy Giuliani for a probe and how to avoid
becoming entangled in the American elections.
It shows that from the outset, Zelensky was under serious pressure to dig
up dirt on Joe Biden. And that pressure increased dramatically after Trump
froze crucial U.S. military support to Ukraine in July.
And now Ambassador Bill Taylor has testified that the release of that
military aid was conditioned on Ukraine`s willingness to launch the
politically motivated investigations that Trump was seeking.
Taylor described numerous diplomatic communications, each making clear that
Ukraine would get the aid in exchange for dirt on Biden. As Dan Balz
writes in The Washington Post today, it is no longer a question whether
this happened, it`s now a question of how the president explains it and how
lawmakers, especially Republicans, choose respond to it.
We saw how some Republicans responded today when a band of Trump loyalists
in the House stormed a secured facility in the basement of the Capitol
where a Pentagon official was set to testify on the impeachment inquiry,
violating House rules. Those two dozen Republicans there refused to leave
for five hours delaying, the scheduled deposition of Deputy Assistant
Secretary Laura Cooper.
Bloomberg reports that stunt had the backing of the president, who has told
about it yesterday, a day before it happened. We`ll get to that shortly.
But, first, growing sense dread among Trump allies as each passing day
brings new damning revelations.
I`m joined by Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, who`s on
the Foreign Affairs Committee, Peter Baker is Chief White House
Correspondent for The New York Times, John Brennan is the former director
of the CIA.
Congresswoman, I guess it looks like that the Republicans around the
president, those who like him, don`t like him, whatever, for whatever
reason, are getting crazy like he is. They`re beginning to do things like
that stunt today because they can`t win the argument anymore. He`s been
caught. Your thoughts.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I actually think – I mean, I know that they
shared it with him last night that they were going to do that, but I Also
think they did that in response to his rhetoric saying that they weren`t
defending him enough. So when I saw the antics, I just thought that they
were marching to his orders.
And I think it really was an act of desperation. They are not going to be
able to stop the truth from coming out. I think it`s really like a dam is
breaking right now, and it`s just important that we hear from all of the
witnesses so that we can have a clear picture of the damage that`s been
done to our democracy.
MATTHEWS: Well, Congresswoman, the hearings that are being held to get
information from top people like Bill Taylor yesterday are all bipartisan,
there`s Republicans in every one of those rooms, it`s not like there`s
something sneaky going on. But these people in this sort of Brooks
Brothers, this reminds me of 2000 in a recount, another Brooks Brothers
protest, showing up like – it reminds like a 1930s panty raid or
something. It`s so ridiculous. It`s just a bunch of grown men acting like
they`re into hijinx. What a boring looking group, by the way. Your
BASS: It was actually embarrassing. But I do have to tell you, and,
Chris, you know this, if you add the number of Republicans from three
committees, intel, oversight and reform and foreign affairs, you`re talking
about a large number of Republicans. So it is not like they have not been
involved, that they haven`t had complete access to everything. They just
want us to have everything in the open right now so that the witnesses can
coordinate their testimony and be bullied by the White House, and we`re not
going to do that.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Peter Baker on this because you write the main bar,
the piece in The Times, and I want to ask you about this. It seems to me
that Balz of The Washington Post, Dan Balz, has written a pretty solid
statement. And it`s not an analysis, it`s a statement, that it`s now clear
on the record that the president of the United States conditioned U.S.
military assistance to Zelensky`s government in Ukraine who are facing the
Russian tanks on him providing some sort of declaration that he`s going
after Joe Biden. My question is what`s left to argue about?
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I
think that Dan Balz is spot on, as he always does. I mean, when you get
Dan, who`s about as measured a journalist out there making such a
definitive statement, it does tell you that something has changed in the
debate. And I think he`s right that basically the question now is what do
we make of the facts we that have in front of us? What do we make of what
the president and his people have done in terms of Ukraine? Is it
important enough? Is it defensible?
And the storming of the barricades, as you were – today, in terms of the
basement, shows the Republican argument right now is one of process. They
don`t want to defend what the president has done in terms of Ukraine partly
because they may not be 100 percent sure that all the facts are out there
and don`t want to get caught out, but also because it`s very hard to argue
at this point, so they focus on the process that Democrats aren`t being
It`s not that different in some ways than in 1998 when the Democrats
focused on process when they were defending against President Clinton`s
impeachment. They didn`t want to be seen as excusing his conduct. So
rather than defending his conduct, they said the other side is handling
this bad, it`s a way of making it a partisan affair, us versus them.
They`re treating us badly, therefore you have to be with us.
It worked to some extent for President Clinton. That impeachment was a
party line impeachment. That`s the goal President Trump has here too.
Keep Republicans on his side, make sure it`s a party line debate, as long
as it`s a party line debate, then he wins and it gets to the Senate.
MATTHEWS: John Brennan, thank you for coming on tonight. It seems to me -
- that you`re a public servant for life. And it seems to me everything
that what Trump does, every time you have a really good witness, like Bill
Taylor yesterday, who was the our head of mission in Kiev, who testifies
very forthrightly and a beautifully developed argument about how he
discovered there was this other force out there led by Giuliani and the
president to use this leverage we have with this desperate country, a
militarily desperate country facing Russia. When he realized that was
going on, he`s finally come out and put it to the public, gave it to the
It just seems to me that Trump`s last gasp is to say he referred today, for
example, as all Republicans who don`t like him as human scum. This is the
president of the United States talking. He trashes every individual who
speaks against him.
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: That`s why I find it very heartening
that it`s national security –
MATTHEWS: He called him scum, human scum, that guy.
BRENNAN: Yes. It`s national security professionals or diplomats, like
Bill Taylor, like Ambassador Yovanovitch, like Laura Cooper from the
Department of Defense, like the whistleblower from the Intelligence
Community somewhere who are standing up and speaking out against Donald
Trump. It is very heartening to those of us who did serve in a national
security environment for so many years.
And so therefore I think he has to resort to these name-calling tactics
because their professionalism, their expertise, their experience, I think,
really lends great weight to the substantive argument that Donald Trump
engaged in extort bribery with the Ukrainians.
MATTHEWS: Let me get back to Peter on this, because I think this language
is something that, again, you and have been – I do have some experience in
American political life all these years and calling people scum is kind of
like the worst street corner lingo and you`re talking about Republicans,
including Bill Taylor, who – he`s not in this for the money like Trump is
in it for the money almost all the time. This guy is in it for public
service. And because he told the truth, he`s human. Who comes up with
these phrases? I`m sorry.
BAKER: No, you`re right. No other president in modern times anyway used
this kind of language repeatedly and as extensively and viscerally as this
one does. He talks like a playground, you know, combatant. He doesn`t
speak in presidential tones. In fact, the other day in Dallas at a rally
that he gave down there, he mocked the very idea of being presidential.
So the idea he uses terms like human scum and other very incendiary
phrases, that`s part and parcel of his style and his approach to the
presidency. Definitely, he`s a turn off to people who remember the other
presidents who behaved in a more unifying way or even when they conducted
fierce debates, did so in a higher tone. This is not the way he rolls.
It`s not the way he operates. And it`s worked for him as he sees it, so
he`s going to keep it up. But it`s a very different way of looking at the
presidency than we`ve seen by Republicans and Democrats going back.
I think it`s hard to make Bill Taylor into a radical, unelected bureaucrat,
which is the phrase the White House used last night to describe him. He`s
given 50 years of his life to this country, he went to West Point, served
in Vietnam, he was appointed first ambassador to Ukraine by President
George W. Bush, he served under Ronald Reagan, Republicans and Democrats.
He`s not a radical partisan. He`s somebody who`s believed in his service
of his country and diplomatic and other forms. So it`s hard radicalize him
or hard to demonize him, but that`s what President Trump tries to do.
MATTHEWS: Just to make the point, he uses terms like human scum to justify
genocide, he uses human scum, phrases like that, to justify totalitarian
behavior against your political enemies, anything goes. It legalizes the
people. It licenses people to do the worst possible things when
presidents, leaders of a country uses terms like that. This is
Anyhow, Trump is now making the argument that he didn`t engage in a quid
pro quo because, as he says, Ukraine didn`t realize they were being
leveraged, they were being – it`s outrageous. Quoting Republican
Congressman John Ratcliffe, Trump today claimed neither Taylor or any other
witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military
aid was being withheld. You can`t have a quid pro quo without a quo. But
there`s ample evidence the Ukrainians did know they weren`t getting the aid
they expected. In fact, Ambassador Taylor testified the quid pro quo was
spelled out explicitly to a top Ukrainian official on September, on the
Congresswoman, this president is so desperate and so reaching around for
B.S. excuses for what he did. I sometimes wonder didn`t he say it would be
okay to be impeached. He could use that to get re-elected with. He
clearly now will do anything to avoid what`s coming his way in the next
couple of months.
BASS: Well, absolutely. And he clearly didn`t understand or believe that
it would ever happen. But I will tell you when I sat in that room
yesterday listening to the ambassador, you felt like you were in the
presence of a true patriot. He had been been very clear, he told Secretary
Pompeo, I don`t want to go to Ukraine unless the policy is going to be
consistent. So they were forewarned, and they went and asked him to go
anyway and he went out of his patriotic duty even though he knew what
happened to the previous ambassador. So he is somebody we need to
recognize in the future.
And I think it is so sad and such a tragedy for all of us. You know I
travel a lot because I`m on foreign affairs and every time I go to another
country, I have to go to an embassy and try to lift their spirits because
they are so demoralized from having their commander-in-chief constantly
humiliate and denigrate their work and their service to our country.
MATTHEWS: Well, John Brennan, it seems to me they are making great
BRENNAN: Well, they are. And I think all Americans should be proud of
these individuals who were willing to stand up. And I just wish some of
the members of Congress who are still the ardent supporters of President
Trump would have the courage, would have the spine, would have the honesty
to do what these professionals are doing.
And it`s very unfortunate that Trump`s defenders continue to try to explain
away his misdeeds and, again, focus on the process right now. And they are
really quite hypocritical also because this was the process that the
Republicans had during the Benghazi hearings. And it does make a lot of
sense to be able to do these things without the glaring lights of the T.V.
So I`m just very pleased that people now are starting to listen to those
professionals who can expose the activities and the actions of Mr. Trump.
MATTHEWS: Well, increasingly, obviously, a historic role as a totalitarian
are, which is what he is, a man who will lead his country all by himself
with no staff room. I`m going to get to this later in this show. There`s
no loop with Trump, there`s no people around him, there`s no council of
war, he does everything he feels like doing at that moment. But what he
resents are people like you, John Brennan. He apparently has an obsession
with you. Did you sense that?
BRENNAN: Well, he can be obsessed with me if he likes. He`s a badly
broken person who has really done a great disservice, not just to this
country but to our world in terms of how he has been so irresponsible and
reckless and self-centered in the conduct of the presidency. And therefore
I believe there is more than a legitimate basis right now to impeach this
individual and also to remove him from office.
I am just hoping that more and more Republicans will find the courage, will
find the spine to be able to speak out against what truly is such a
dangerous aberration of our great republic.
MATTHEWS: I hope they`re listening. Thank you. U.S. Congresswoman Karen
Bass, like all you speak, and, by the way, all four of you people,
Cicilline and you and Hakeem and Cheri (ph), I think you`re great. I think
– just keep speaking out for the leadership of the House. I think you`ve
got to get on T.V. all the time.
Thank you so much, Karen Bass of California on Foreign Affairs. Peter
Baker, I love your main bar piece, the big one, the big foot. Thank you.
Keep doing it. John Brennan, your passion and your patriotism match up.
Coming up, a new line of defense from Trump supporters, abuse of power is
not a crime. Listen to that one. It dogged down Nixon, it was one of his
articles, but it`s okay for this guy.
And because Republicans can`t defend the president on the facts, they have
a new strategy, disrupt the hearings. Look at this. This does remind me
of the Brooks Brothers protest in 2000 down in Florida or a panty raid.
They are the dullest looking group of people.
Anyway, let`s look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Speaker Pelosi has tyrannically commandeered the
House of Representatives.
BUDDY CARTER (R-GA): Adam Schiff has to stop. Nancy Pelosi has to stop.
This process has got to stop, and it has to stop now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Trump has a message from Republicans who don`t support
him. He calls them human scum, isn`t that nice, to your fellow party
member. He`s angry to supporters too, saying they are not defending him
Plus, Trump`s mission accomplished moment in Syria, you`ve got to remember
this one the other day, he thinks betraying our allies and getting out of
dodge is, quote, big success. Tell that to the Kurds.
We`ve got much more to get to tonight. Stick with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The people, my people are so smart. And you
know what else they say about my people, the polls, they say I have the
most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the
middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn`t lose any voters,
okay, it`s like incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Shoot somebody just like that, and he even shows how he`d do it.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was candidate Donald Trump back in 2016 bragging about the loyalty of
his supporters. And today, one of President Trumps` lawyers agreed with
him in a federal appeals court fight over access of the president`s tax
returns. Trump`s lawyers argued that the president can`t even be
investigated and enjoys absolute immunity from criminal investigation while
in office, which led one judge to ask Trump`s attorney about the
president`s 2016 claim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE DENNY CHIN, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT:
What`s your view on the Fifth Avenue example? Local authorities couldn`t
investigate? They couldn`t do anything about it?
WILLIAM CONSOVOY, Attorney: I think, once the – a president is removed
from office, they will – any local authority – this is not a permanent
CHIN: Well, I`m talking about while in office.
CHIN: That is the hypo.
CHIN: Nothing could be done? That`s your position?
CONSOVOY: That is correct. That is correct.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the president`s attorney`s argument that he can`t even be
investigated or prosecuted in office comes as the president`s Republican
allies are failing to respond to mounting evidence in the impeachment
In fact, last night, Trump`s former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker
made this claim that abuse of power is not a crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m a former
prosecutor. And what I know is, this is a perfect time for a preliminary
hearing, where you would say, show us your evidence.
What evidence of a crime do you have? I mean, the Constitution – sort of
– abuse of power is not a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Abuse of power is not a crime. Tell that to Dick Nixon.
MATTHEWS: And, today, as I mentioned earlier, a group of House Republicans
led by Congressman – Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz – he`s a piece of
work – attempted to shut down the process, storming the SCIF, a secure
room, delaying Laura Cooper`s scheduled deposition for five hours.
House rules, by the way, mandate that only members of the respective
committees can attend these depositions.
Bloomberg News reports that, according to four people familiar with the
matter, President Trump had advanced knowledge. Trump supported the
action,saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will
I wonder what that means.
For more, I`m joined by Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, and Rick
Tyler, Republican strategist.
Cynthia, first of all, those committees, they`re meeting in the basement of
the Capitol. It`s secure, so they can take the testimony down, so they
don`t do Menendez brothers` agreement on their testimony, get it all
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right.
MATTHEWS: They`re all bipartisan, as many – almost as many Republicans as
Democrats in those rooms.
Yet this P.R. stunt today makes it look like, oh, we caught you Democrats
down there in the hole of the Capitol all by yourselves.
It`s not true.
ALKSNE: Well, it`s more than a P.R. stunt.
When the president goes on the air and calls people human scum, and they
tell people they`re not allowed to testify, and there`s all this pressure
for these people who are career civil servants not to testify, and then you
have this parade of the Brooks Brothers boys on their panty raid, as you
MATTHEWS: Well, I better not say it again.
ALKSNE: And you have the threat – I mean, it is threatening to have to go
into that situation, if you`re not the type A person who`s looking to
really tell your story. It`s scary.
It`s a form of witness intimidation. And it`s offensive.
But can we just say one thing about Matt Whitaker? Has the guy ever tried
ALKSNE: He`s an embarrassment to the justice system.
The prosecutor does not say, show me your evidence. That`s not what they
say. They gather the evidence in the grand jury. They don`t say that.
The guy is an idiot. I don`t know how else to say…
MATTHEWS: Rick Tyler, Nixon, one of the articles of impeachment against
him was abuse of power, literally.
It`s like history doesn`t matter with this crowd.
RICK TYLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, abuse of power can be against the
law. And maybe it is against the law.
But you know what on impeachment? Impeachment – articles of impeachment
are whatever Congress says it is.
TYLER: And there`s no lawbreaking required.
MATTHEWS: But if it isn`t abuse of power, then what would impeachment be
TYLER: Well, exactly.
TYLER: And so, look, this stunt today – and it is a stunt, the Matt Gaetz
stunt – he reminds me of the Pizzagate conspiracy theorist, the Hillary
hater who`s looking for a child trafficking ring, only to find pizza-making
MATTHEWS: Yes. I was just at the Comet Pizza the other night.
MATTHEWS: … my future son-in-law.
TYLER: Comet Pizza. That`s right.
TYLER: So, instead of finding a child sex rang, they found what? Pizza-
What did the Republicans find today? Deposition-giving. I mean, oh, my
God. And guess what? There were other Republicans actually in the room,
because they belong there, because they belong on the committee.
The one thing people forget about the whole process – and that`s what
Trump is attacking, is the process, which he did in the Mueller
investigation, right? They take credible people. They wear them down.
They take credible processes. They confuse people about them.
Whitaker`s confusing people about the impeachment process vs. a criminal
prosecution. They`re all just confused, because, as Dan Balz said today in
“The Washington Post,” there is no question about quid pro quo. You don`t
even need the pro quo. You just need the quid, right?
TYLER: And that is done. It`s over. We know what happened.
The question is, are we going to redefine it? Is it an impeachable
offense? That`s the question. He did. And people need to understand this
was an arms-for-dirt deal. He called the Ukrainian prime – the Ukrainian
president and said, I want dirt on Joe Biden, and you will give it to me,
or I will pull – they knew. They knew what was happening, what was going
Even if the president didn`t know about the pulled funds before then, it
doesn`t matter. I can have a conversation with you, and in three days, you
will realize what that conversation was about, because you got an
additional piece of information.
And the additional piece of information was the money is not coming. Oh,
he must be serious about this investigation. This isn`t hard to
So, look, justice grinds slowly. And it`s supposed to, because – so we
don`t convict people…
MATTHEWS: OK. Trump had me with what he what said to Zelensky on the
phone. I want a favor, though.
MATTHEWS: I mean, you want this, you got to give me this. No.
I mean, it was – it`s American English. Yes.
ALKSNE: But you know what else about this business about doing the grand
jury work first, doing this investigative work first?
TYLER: Because we don`t have a special prosecutor.
ALKSNE: But more than that, we can see exactly why it works, because
Sondland goes in there.
TYLER: Right. Right.
ALKSNE: He doesn`t know what Taylor`s going to say. What does he do? He
lies. He says, I didn`t have any idea what it was for.
And now they have caught him in that. Now they have leverage on Sondland
to get more information and to get to the truth. That`s why grand juries
TYLER: People don`t understand the process.
The reason these – this investigation is taking place in – sequestered,
away from the public eye, is the same way a special prosecutor would
conduct the investigation.
ALKSNE: Exactly, so people can`t…
TYLER: They don`t have that now, so they have do it themselves.
ALKSNE: Right, especially so people can`t do their – match up their
MATTHEWS: All I know, when you surround yourself with men, in his case,
who say there`s no – abuse of power is not a crime, you get people who say
you can shoot up Fifth Avenue if you want to – by the way, how many rounds
of ammo can he use on Fifth Avenue before somebody stops him?
ALKSNE: And let`s not pretend that`s the lawyer`s argument. That`s the
president`s argument. The presidency sees that.
MATTHEWS: He is backing that up.
And while Republicans in the House relied on theatrics today to fight the
impeachment inquiry, Senate Republicans are taking a different approach.
And according to “The Hill” newspaper, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told
his members in a closed-door meeting yesterday, “This is going to be about
Well, today, the number two Republican in the Senate, Majority Whip John
Thune of South Dakota, criticized how the inquiry is being carried out when
asked about Ambassador Bill Taylor`s testimony.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): The picture coming out of it, based on the
reporting that we have seen, is – yes, I would say is not a good one.
But I would say also that, again, until we have a process that allows for
everybody to see this and full transparency, it`s pretty hard to draw any
hard, fast conclusions.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What`s this?
TYLER: Careful what you wish for, because the process…
ALKSNE: Yes, that`s exactly what I think is coming.
TYLER: … is going to be become transparent. And it`s going to be pretty
ugly for the Republicans.
They`re going to say, oh, this is the – and then they will still complain.
MATTHEWS: Show me what you got. They will show them what they got.
Then you got a problem.
TYLER: Yes. Yes.
ALKSNE: It`s not going to be pretty when Taylor gets in front – I
personally can`t wait for the process part to be over.
Let`s see it. But I do want them to finish their work carefully.
MATTHEWS: I love this Thune, because I always Thune was impressive as a
politician. He`s a conservative, because he reminds me of what the late
Frank Mankiewicz once said. In Washington, ignore every word somebody
speaks before the word but.
MATTHEWS: Because then he said, yes, you got him. You got to call him
cold, but maybe we can do process here.
Anyway, thank you, Cynthia Alksne. And thank you, Rick Tyler.
Still ahead: He`s a former CIA director, former secretary of defense and
former White House chief of staff. So, our next guest has lots of insights
and lots to say about impeachment and Russia and Ukraine and more.
Don`t go anywhere. There he is.
Leon Panetta joins us next on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump`s defense is looking weaker, after the explosive and
damning testimony yesterday by career foreign civil servant Ambassador Bill
Taylor, a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam. Taylor was recruited
by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to serve as acting ambassador to Ukraine.
He has served every administration, by the way, since 1985. Taylor is not
the only administration to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry.
He joins nine other current and former officials who have broken with the
White House. There they are.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham called them radical unelected
bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution. President Trump, who hired
Ambassador Taylor, accused him of being a never-Trump Republican, referring
to those opponents within his own party as – this is the lowest I think
Trump`s gone, although that`s a hell of a statement – “human scum.”
For more, I`m joined by Leon Panetta, who spent much of his life serving
his country, most recently as director of the CIA and then as secretary as
defense during the Obama administration.
Mr. Secretary, where do you put Trump`s language – human scum is a term he
used now for all Republicans who oppose him, but particularly the civil
servant who testified yesterday, Bill Taylor.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, look, for a
president of the United States to use that kind of language not only lowers
the office of the presidency, but I think basically reflects on President
Trump himself, as somebody who can`t – who can`t really speak to the
issues that are involved here, but has to attack and basically try to
I think the reality, Chris, is that President Trump is an easy read here.
He`s in trouble. He knows he`s in trouble. And rather than speaking to
the – to the case that`s being brought against him, he is simply going to
lash out at people. And that`s what he`s doing.
MATTHEWS: Tell me what you – you have worked in so many capacities at the
highest level, in the House of Representatives, of course, and in the
And you have dealt with public servants, Foreign Service officers. What
did you make of Bill Taylor`s presentation yesterday showing the
president`s quid pro quo arrangement, where U.S. foreign military
assistance was going to be held up unless they agreed at the top level over
there, if the president of Ukraine agreed to give a declaration saying he`s
investigating Joe Biden?
I think, speaking as a lawyer, this is a very credible witness. This is a
guy who graduated from West Point. He served with distinction in these
diplomatic posts. He was selected by President Trump, by Secretary Pompeo
to do this job.
He is somebody who`s dedicated to what this country is all about. And his
testimony, I thought, is devastating to the president of the United States,
because he essentially builds the case for quid pro quo.
And when you add up the evidence we have here, the transcript of the
telephone call, the whistle-blower`s complaint, and now the testimony of
these people from the Department of State, I think they`re building a very
And that, I think, is what`s bothering the president. There`s an old
saying in the law, Chris – you will remember this – that, when the law is
against you, you argue the facts. When the facts are against you, you
argue the law. But when both the law and the facts are against you, you
pound your shoe on the table.
PANETTA: And that`s essentially what this president is doing.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the person who`s bringing the case against
the president, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the fact that
she`s saying that we`re going to keep focused here. We`re going to move
this thing along. We`re going to stay on this question of this president
trading U.S. interests abroad, U.S. security, if you will, fighting Russia,
so he could get at some political gain for himself.
What do you think of her whole strategy of keeping it that way and moving
along on that one point?
PANETTA: I think the speaker is doing a great job.
She`s a pro. She`s had a lot of experience. And, most importantly, the
country is her primary interest. And so she`s going to follow – she`s
going to follow a process here which I think makes a lot of sense.
They are essentially doing an investigation and trying to determine what
these witnesses will say. They`re doing it with Republicans and Democrats
from the key committees in the room. They`re doing it away from the
public, because, frankly, we don`t have an investigation that`s been done
They`re in the process of doing the investigation.
PANETTA: And, ultimately, I think she is then going to have that testimony
presented in open committee and to the American people, and that`s the way
it should be done.
She`s going to do it right. And thank God, because, for the sake of the
country, this has to be a very professional, careful and cautious process.
MATTHEWS: We heard today, Mr. Secretary, President Trump declared victory
in Northeastern Syria, after Turkey announced a permanent cease-fire.
This comes nearly two weeks after the president triggered the escalation by
approving a small incursion by Turkish forces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was an outcome created
by us, the United States, and nobody else, no other nation. Very simple.
And we`re willing to take blame. And we`re also willing to take credit.
Today`s announcement validates our course of action with Turkey that only a
couple of weeks ago was scorned. And now people are saying, wow, what a
great outcome. Congratulations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t get it. I`m missing the whole thing here.
Mr. Secretary, we went in there to get ISIS. We don`t like the Assad
regime. We`re worried about Israel. We have a lot of interests over
there, including our own.
And I just wonder how they were met by this clownish declaration of
victory. Your thoughts?
PANETTA: You know, in addition to this impeachment process, one of the
things I think we have to worry about is this president as commander in
chief, and what he`s doing to this country.
He is weakening this country. And he`s essentially turning us into a
second-class power, and when we were a first-class power. I mean, he`s
claiming victory for what was essentially a surrender. He betrayed our
allies. He`s turned Syria over to Russia, given them a base of operations
in Syria and in the Middle East, turned it over to Iran, which is our –
one of our adversaries in that part of the world, and turned it over to
And, more importantly, he`s allowed ISIS to be able to reorganize itself
and be a threat to the United States.
This is the most disastrous foreign policy blunder I have seen a president
of the United States make. And it`s sending a terrible message to the
world that you can`t trust the United States.
MATTHEWS: We`re not a great ally. We`re not a great ally under this
Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary, Leon Panetta, coming to us from Monterey.
Thank you so much, sir, for coming on HARDBALL tonight, as always.
PANETTA: You bet, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The White House is struggling to mount a defense, as a
stream of damaging allegations emerges from the House impeachment
As Secretary – as Secretary Panetta just said, this is the investigation
they`re doing right now in the pit of the Capitol. They`re doing it right
now. And this is the basis that`s going to be used to impeach this
An irritated President Trump is calling on Republican allies in the Senate
to do more to back him up.
We`re back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What a phony deal it is.
What a phony investigation it is. And the Republicans have to get tougher
and fight. We have some that are great fighters put they have to get
tougher and fight because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican
Party before the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Forty-one percent still support that guy.
Back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump earlier this week telling Republicans they have to
fight harder for him. According to “The Daily Beast”, President Trump, his
advisers and his more fervent media allies have grown increasingly
irritated with Senate Republicans for failing to counter-program the
Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry, pushing for the Senate
Republicans to hold hearings and call witnesses of their own, in a broader
effort to put Democrats on the defensive.
Well, Donald Trump, Jr., in particular, has gone on the offense, tweeting
and retweeting multiple calls for the Senate to hold their own hearings.
But a senior Senate aide told “The Daily Beast” there has been little that
the White House has offered that have given members either direction or
And here`s what Lindsey Graham said to reporters today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Yes, the Clinton White House had a coordinated
effort for people who would deliver the message of the day where they would
answer impeachment inquiries and they would run it by people who are
trained in the law. That`s not going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: As I mentioned earlier, Bloomberg reports the president knew in
advance about it, gave his blessing to that House Republicans plan to storm
a secure hearing room today. But the president seems to have a
communications issue with the most powerful Republican in Congress, Senator
Mitch McConnell, offered a shocking fact check to the president. That`s up
next and that`s coming up next. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Earlier this month, President Trump said the Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell had told him his phone call with the Ukrainian president was,
quote, the most innocent phone call that I`ve heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I spoke to him about it, too. He read my phone call with the
president of Ukraine, Mitch McConnell. He said that was the most innocent
phone call that I`ve read.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, but yesterday, McConnell appeared to contradict Trump
saying that he didn`t recall having any conversations with the president
about that July phone call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The president has said that you told him that his phone call
with the Ukrainian president was perfect and innocent. Do you believe that
the president has handled this Ukrainian situation perfectly?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We`ve not had any conversations on that
REPORTER: So he was lying about that?
MCCONNELL: You`d have to ask him. I don`t recall any conversations with
the president about that phone call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by Jonathan Swan, national political reporter for
“Axios”, Vivian Salama is White House correspondent for “The Wall Street
Journal,” and Jonathan Allen reporter for NBC News digital. I guess my
question is, describe if you could central command of this White House.
They`re facing impeachment. I think it`s inevitable they will have a vote
I expect the vote will carry with 230 votes I think right now by the end
year certainly. They know it.
Who`s calling the shots to try to prevent this being worse than that, like
getting kicked out of the White House?
JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Central command is
Donald Trump. It`s really that simple. Pat Cipollone, the White House
counsel, to the extent to which somebody is a sort of a point man of
impeachment, it`s him. But there`s been great frustration internally about
Pat Cipollone. People, including the White House chief of staff Mick
Mulvaney, have complained he`s hoarding information, not sharing
information with people. And the other problem is information is not
getting to the Hill.
MATTHEWS: When did the president meet this flack, Cipollone? When do they
meet, first time in history?
SWAN: When did he get to know Pat – so, Pat Cipollone helped out with
some debate prep in the 2016 campaign.
MATTHEWS: So, he goes back that far.
SWAN: Yes, but that Trump didn`t really know him.
MATTHEWS: Vivian, what strikes me is this guy is not only alone because he
deserves to be, but there`s nobody around him with any history, except
Jared, his son-in-law. That nepotism is always around.
VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I mean,
to Jonathan`s point, look what happens, advisors are too afraid to get head
of this president. And this is not just with the impeachment inquiry.
It`s with issues in general.
So, what we have last week with Mick Mulvaney going out there and speaking
to reporters about the –
MATTHEWS: Saying he`s still in the hospitality business.
SALAMA: Saying – that was on TV but even before that during the press
conference, you know, saying, linking the DNC server to investigations over
– the investigations over DNC server over military aid and then having to
walk back that comment. It`s either, you know, you`re getting ahead of the
president or you`re undermining whatever message he wants.
And so, advisers are too scared to get out there. So, at the end of the
day, the message is centralized around Donald Trump. The lawyers at the
White House obviously have some power over this issue because of the fact
that, you know, they were trying to formulate this legal argument at the
same time. And so, they were obviously perturbed when Mick Mulvaney went
out there last week, too.
MATTHEWS: He`s trying to toe – you do want, when you`re going down, like
O.J. did this. When you`re going down, you say the whole group is
attacked, we`re being attacked, right? You know how you do this, you build
a big phalanx around you.
So, Trump is saying the Republican Party is under attack. But then he
undermines that today pie calling any Republicans who don`t like him as
human scum. He`s not exactly building a party attitude about this. We`re
all together in this.
It doesn`t seem to have any strategy. That`s a strategy, the party will
prevail. But he doesn`t seem to even believe in that.
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS DIGITAL NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: The one
unifying strategy he`s had so far is to attack the Democrats and their
process. It`s the one thing –
MATTHEWS: What does that mean? It`s the most deadening word there is,
process. By the way, they are going to vote. It`s going to be in public.
They`re going to have witnesses in public. They`re going to vote on
articles of impeachment in public.
What`s the process issue?
ALLEN: I`m not saying it`s going to work. I`m saying the one strategy
he`s had that`s unifying for Republicans at all is to attack Democrats.
He`s not sticking to that. He doesn`t have facts to put into evidence that
will counter to the facts Democrats are producing right now.
This is the big problem for him. There`s nothing –
MATTHEWS: That`s what you put on a press release to send home. I don`t
have a problem with the truth here. I have a problem with the process.
SWAN: I`ll just say – the White House, I think a lot of people in there
are overconfident about two weeks ago and basically took for granted these
Republicans on the Hill are so terrified of Trump that they`ll cross him so
he can do anything. The last two weeks have shaken some people, and it`s
really been a series of decisions that have nothing to do with impeachment,
actually, that have – look, I think the red wall in the Senate is pretty
MATTHEWS: Let`s look at the breaks, the cracks in the hole.
SWAN: Syria, Doral – Doral which he had to reverse.
MATTHEWS: It was less important but they very quickly see the emoluments
issue there and it would be an embarrassment of the president grabbing the
SALAMA: Well, and Mick Mulvaney coming out and linking the DNC server to
Ukrainian aid, suggesting a quid pro quo although he insists that was not
his – Republicans went and looked at –
SWAN: And they started going on the record attacking him, which is very
MATTHEWS: How about Mitch McConnell? He was clearly saying don`t tie me
into this goo, I`m not part of this, I didn`t have anything to do with this
ALLEN: And he`s not the only one. Count of the number of Republicans out
there actively defending the president right now. There are very few of
All the Republicans have been on Capitol Hill this week. The Senate is in
session, the house is in session. You saw 30 people attack the SCIF today
to try to break in and pull that stunt. How many of them, 150, or 160 of
them are uninvolved. The senators aren`t defending them.
MATTHEWS: But who – you`ve covered the Hill, all you guys. You`ve all
watched it. How – who`s impressed by a couple dozen white guys, boring
looking guys in suits doing a sort of ersatz demonstration? What is it
supposed to look like?
ALLEN: It looked like a fraternity frank.
MATTHEWS: Fraternity frank it just seemed like.
Look at these guys. It`s so boring, and this is supposed to say we caught
them in the act. And what they caught when they got to the basement of the
capitol was a bipartisan set of hearings and taking testimony on
impeachment with a room full of Republicans.
ALLEN: Maybe fraternity with union frank. They`re a little old.
MATTHEWS: Vivian, what do you think when you see that picture? It`ll be
in the paper tomorrow, front page that picture.
SALAMA: I mean, they`re obviously voicing their dissatisfaction what`s
happening and they`re trying to show some sort of a coalition I guess of
what`s happening with the impeachment inquiry. I don`t know about passion.
That`s not the first word that jumps to my mind when I see that. But I
MATTHEWS: We say Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. There
they are falling in line, but they say, do we have to do this?
Jon, thank you guys. They`re celebrating their ineptitude. Thank you,
Jonathan Swan, on your marriage, congratulations.
SWAN: Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: Both of you guys.
Vivian Salama, thank you so much as always. Jonathan Allen, my colleague.
Up next, President Trump`s disturbing and dangerous words. You`re watching
MATTHEWS: President Trump said yesterday he`s being lynched, that he has
chosen that term so powerful in America`s dark history is instructive
because lynching cannot be separated from that history. Rich white people
weren`t lynched. Black, mostly poor people were lynched. Being lynched is
a means of taking life outside the legal constitutional system. It was an
act of murder.
Donald Trump`s not being dragged out of his cell and hauled out into the
country by a mob. He`s facing impeachment by those who took the same oath
of office to the Constitution that he did. He`s being impeached for having
violated that oath, for using his position of public trust for personal and
political benefit to himself.
And he will get a fair trial. But not even the grave circumstances he now
faces, not even the reckoning that hangs now above him has chastened this
president. Instead of realizing the situation and making his best defense,
he tries to shame the forces of justice by acquitting them with those that
gathered up the ultimate (ph) injustice on generations of black Americans.
Facing the truth of his abusive power he hides himself in the historic skin
of those who did nothing but be born black in America.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us tonight.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the