Trump allies resort to attacking. TRANSCRIPT: 10/30/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Dina Titus, Glenn Kirschner, Jackie Speier, Elizabeth Wydra, Charlie Sykes, Anita Kumar, Guy Snodgrass
Transcript:

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  I want to tell you this Sunday at 9:00 p.m.

Eastern, we`ll be back with a brand new impeachment special, I`ll be

anchoring, Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern at MSNBC.  So we`ll keep an eye on this

in tomorrow`s vote and hopefully see as well at 6:00 p.m. Eastern for The

Beat tomorrow.

 

Don` go anywhere though.  “HARDBALL” starts now.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Avalanche.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

 

Powerful new evidence tonight in the impeachment investigation, NBC News is

reporting that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified yesterday that U.S.

military support to Ukraine was indeed contingent on Ukraine`s willingness

to dig up dirt on Trump`s political opponents.  That`s the quid pro quo

Trump has been denying.

 

And that`s according to two people familiar with Vindman`s testimony.  He`s

at least the second witness in the impeachment inquiry that draw a direct

line between the hold up of military aid and Trump`s demand of political

assistance from a foreign power.

 

This comes as the impeachment committees today heard from two Foreign

Service officers with information about the shadow campaign that was waged

to influence policy towards Ukraine.

 

House investigators have also summoned former National Security Adviser

John Bolton among others to testify next week.  Bolton`s lawyers said he

would not appear voluntarily, but added, I stand ready at all times to

accept service of a subpoena on his behalf.

 

Amid all of this, we`re also getting new details about the Democrats` plan

forward on impeachment with a momentous vote scheduled for tomorrow.

 

When it comes to Lt. Col. Vindman, there`s also new reporting today that he

shed new light on Trump`s infamous July 25th call with Ukrainian President

Zelensky.  NBC News confirms that Vindman told Congress that certain

details of the conversation were omitted from the White House summary of

the call, omissions that he tried to put back in.

 

Vindman identified at least two points that were left out of the official

record.  One, Trump mentioning possible recordings of Joe Biden discussing

corruption in Ukraine, and two, Ukrainian President Zelensky, quote,

mentioning Burisma by name, that`s the company linked to Hunter Biden.

 

The New York Times was first to report that Vindman said he tried to

correct the record.  But while some of his edits appeared to have been

successful, he said those two corrections were not made in the final

summary of that call.

 

Well, that call record was already a damning piece of evidence for Trump. 

It showed that when Zelensky, quote, requested more missiles, Trump asked

him in return to investigate his political opponents.

 

But these revelations make it even worse.  The omitted details are further

evidence Trump knew he was specifically targeting Biden and Zelensky read

him loud and clear.

 

I`m joined right now by U.S. Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada, a member

of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Peter Baker, Chief White House

Correspondent for The New York Times, Glenn Kirschner is a former federal

prosecutor and Geoff Bennett is NBC News White House Correspondent.

 

Geoff, tell us about your reporting today that Vindman, in his sworn

testimony yesterday in that deposition, said that military aid was

contingent on the dirt on the Trump enemies.

 

GEOFF BENNETT, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  And remember, Chris, in

the opening statement that we obtained Vindman, the lieutenant colonel,

told House investigators that he did not think it was proper for this

administration to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S.

citizen.

 

That word, demand, struck me as curiously conspicuous.  He could have

chosen any number of words.  He could have said request, encourage,

suggest, but he used the word demand.  So we did some digging and it turns

out over the course of his testimony, he went beyond that prepared

statement.

 

And what he told House investigators, we`re told by two sources familiar

was that the president drew a direct line between the White House

deliverables, this notion that there would be a meeting between Presidents

Trump and Zelensky, this delivery of nearly $400 million in security and

aid money and to this demand that Ukrainian officials open investigations

into a number of things, Burisma, the company on which Hunter Biden sat on

the board of, the Bidens, the 2016 election into CrowdStrike.

 

And so, basically, what he`s doing, he`s telegraphing this quid pro quo

that President Trump and his allies say did not exist, the same quid pro

quo that Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, openly

admitted to in the White House briefing room before trying to walk it back

a day later, Chris.

 

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, this gets to the heart of those who think that

Trump is a cartoon of a president.  That when he`s alone, when nobody`s

listening, he really is bad as people think, that he`s sitting there and

thinking how he can get some dirty on a political opponent, how he can

explore some crazy conspiracy theory of the farthest right fringe,

CrowdStrike, that that`s really who he is.

 

Your thoughts and how that propels forward this impeachment.

 

REP. DINA TITUS (D-NV):  Well, I can`t tell you exactly what went on behind

closed doors, but I can tell you that that testimony was certainly in

keeping with the witness` statement that he made public, and he recorded

right it in real-time, reported it to his superior, so you know he was

upset about it and knew it was wrong.

 

As for the president, yes, it doesn`t surprise me.  He`s a transactional

president.  He likes to brag about being able to make a deal, and making a

deal as really quid pro quo.

 

MATTHEWS:  Peter, it seems to me – I`ll say something I said, read years

ago when FDR became president, his idea of becoming president, of rising to

the office was to beat Franklin Roosevelt.  This president thinks in

becoming president, he becomes Donald Trump, at Donald Trump`s worst. 

There`s nothing presidential in these conversations what they`re hearing

about under oath in the last couple of days from Taylor and now from

Vindman.

 

We`re hearing about a conman, a guy who goes in and said, I can – in the

words of Pelosi, I can shakedown this foreign leader because the Russian

tanks are moving.  He needs Javelin missiles to stop them.  I can get some

dirt out of this guy because he`s desperate for his own country`s security. 

I can use that fear of losing his country to get dirt for my next election. 

This is low brow stuff.

 

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

think it`s important to remember about President Trump that he`s the first

president we`ve had in our history who comes to public office without

having served even a day in government or in military before arriving in

the Oval Office.

 

So everything to him is through the prism of his 70-year life up until now,

which is in business and entertainment, where the lines are different than

they are in diplomacy, they`re different in government.  And he`s chosen

not to observe the lines that his predecessors did.

 

He got there on the strength of his style, his rambunctious, provocative,

combative, bracingly blunt style.  And as he sees it, why should he change

himself.  He has not need to adjust himself to the office.  The office

should adjust itself to him.

 

Now, this is, of course, what`s got him in trouble because, in fact, there

are norms and standards and lines that have been adopted over the years,

some of them legal, some of them were simply political or diplomatic.

 

And now we`ll see what they will add up to in terms of this House

impeachment inquiry.  Does that add up to something larger than, you know,

shocking the, you know, standards of Washington, or does it actually add up

to something constitutional.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me try it with you one more time, because you write demand

analysis piece of the front page of The Times.  The voice of Trump that we

heard on the bus on Access Hollywood, that voice, talking about how he

dealt with people and with women, the voice that we heard through his

attorney, through Michael Cohen, about how he paid off porn stars for sex

and playboy bunnies and the whole works, that guy, is that guy in the White

House?

 

BAKER:  Well, look, he`s a transactional person, and in that sense, yes. 

In the sense that he looks at these conversations with foreign leaders in

the same way he did with talking to banks or talking with somebody he wants

to do a deal with.  It doesn`t see that in a context of Dean Acheson

because of your style on diplomacy and statesmanship.

 

MATTHEWS:  I know why you`re doing it, but you`re skirting it.  I just want

to get back to that sounds like the same patois (ph), if you will, to be

fancy about it.

 

I`m going to go to Glenn on it.  The voice is hear as transmitted to us by

Vindman, by Bill Taylor, the voice on that phone was Zelensky sounds like

the same guy on the bus, sounds like the same guy working through his fixer

and lawyer, Cohen, how to pay off women.  That guy who thinks he can get

away with anything because he always has is now thinking he can get away

with something in those transactions with foreign leaders desperate to save

– they`re being patriotic.  They`re saving their country from the Russian

tanks.  What`s he doing?  What`s our guy doing?

 

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  And, Chris, you use the word,

shakedown.  That`s what was going on here.  And let me try to break it down

in layman`s terms for people, because we hear contingent foreign aid and

quid pro quo, and people tend to get lost in that kind of verbiage.

 

So now I think the Republicans are pivoting.  Why?  Because the process

argument is falling by the wayside, the no quid pro quo argument is dead

and stinking on the side of the road at this point.  So what do we have? 

We have the Republicans saying, well, putting conditions on foreign aid is

not out of bounds.  That may be.

 

Think about this –

 

MATTHEWS:  Will they go that far?

 

KIRSCHNER:  They will go that far because that`s all they`re going to have

left.  Think about this.  If we say, you know what, we`re going to give

$400 million in foreign aid to a country but we`re going to tell that

country, you need to stop government sanctioned ethnic cleansing in that

country, that would be a good thing, right?  That would be a good

contingency.

 

But what do we have Trump doing?  Trump says, I`ve got your $391 million in

aid, but you know what I want, this is hypothetically, he could be saying,

I want a piece of it.  I want a $1 million kickback.  We would all say,

that`s dead wrong, an abuse of power and an impeachable offense.  He`s

doing something worse than that.  Why?  Because a million dollar kickback

is only worth so much, dirt on Biden, a fabricated investigation that will

help him win in 2020 is worth so much more.

 

MATTHEWS:  You`re right, a fundamental value to this guy.

 

Anyway, Lt. Col. Vindman`s account appears to confirm that`s long been

suspected, that the White House summary of the Trump-Zelensky call was not

entirely accurate or complete.  That`s because the inclusion of ellipses,

those little three dots that says something is missing suggests three

excerpts have been either removed or simply left out.

 

The New York Times reports that Vindman`s edits would have filled in one of

those blanks, quote, where the third set of ellipses appears.  And while

Vindman says he doesn`t know why some of his edits were rejected, his

account highlights the unusual way the call record was handled.

 

The summary of the call was locked down on a secured server that served for

this country`s highest, highly classified state secrets.  They squirreled

it away in an old lock down somewhere.

 

Meanwhile, the White House today denied that Vindman tried to fill in any

areas that a call record or ellipses were shown.

 

Congresswoman Titus, tell us about this.  I know you`re bound to secrecy

about the word spoken today, but the smell of it, what are you getting here

in all of these backdoor hearings in the SCIF?

 

TITUS:  Well, just the fact that it would not include edits from the

professional tells you that they`ve got something to hide.  The fact that

they put it in that secret lockdown place, again, tells you it was out of

the ordinary.  And although they said they were going to give us a direct

transcript, they didn`t.  They gave us a summary.  And don`t forget the

summary said, I want you to do us a favor though.

 

I`d like to go back to your earlier point though.  This is just about not

using good diplomatic language and being a good politician and not being a

good businessman, this is constitutional issues.  This is national

security.  This affects not just us and Ukraine, it`s us and Russia.  I

think it`s much greater than that.

 

And what the president and Republicans are doing is classic wag the dog. 

They can`t defend the actions.  They have no defense against the facts and

so they try to change the subject.  They order pizza in the secure room. 

They talk about how – some terrorist died like a dog, crying like a child,

anything to change the subject, complain about the procedure because they

have no defense.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go to Geoff on that because you`re covering this

for NBC News.

 

Geoff Bennett, tell me about this.  What is their defense when they realize

that they can`t argue process anymore because they`re going to get the

resolution tomorrow, they`re going to get to testify in the Judiciary

Committee and all that?  Those bases are covered now.  What are they saying

about the fundamental question whether a president can shakedown a foreign

leader for dirt on an opponent?

 

BENNETT:  Well, here`s the interesting thing, Chris.  You saw the tweet

from president today where he was suggesting that Republicans defend him on

the merits of the case.  And you are not seeing by and large Republicans do

that.  They started attacking the process.  They said it shouldn`t happen

behind closed doors.  Well, in a couple of weeks, they`ll get their wish. 

This will all be out in the public.

 

At one point, they were saying that the whistleblower complaint was based

on hearsay and couldn`t be believed.  Well, now, the whistleblower

complaint is largely secondary because it has been borne out by witness

after witness in the testimony.

 

And then yesterday, you saw some in the conservative chattering class issue

this spurious smear against Lt. Col. Vindman based on the nature of his

birth, the country where he was born.  And Republicans here on the Hill,

for the most part, in leadership, wouldn`t get behind it.

 

So it would appear to me, and we`ll have to see tomorrow after this vote

happens, where where Republicans go next.  So far, we`ve heard some of them

say that because the House speaker has called for this vote on a resolution

that will happen tomorrow, anything that happened before it is

illegitimate.  But that is an argument that really is not catching fire,

Chris.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, today, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

questioned Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who was hoping to be

confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to Russia.  And here`s what Sullivan

said when asked if it was appropriate for a president to ask a foreign

power to investigate a political opponent.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOHN SULLIVAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE:  Soliciting an investigation into

a domestic political opponent, I don`t think that would be in accord with

our values.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Sullivan was also asked about the former U.S. ambassador

to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump abruptly removed in May.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ):  In your view, was there any basis to recall

Ambassador Yovanovitch early?

 

SULLIVAN:  Yes, there was.  The president had lost confidence in her.

 

MENENDEZ:  You were aware that there were individuals and forces outside of

the State Department seeking to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch.  Is that

correct?

 

SULLIVAN:  I was.

 

MENENDEZ:  And to seeking to remove her, is that correct?

 

SULLIVAN:  I was.

 

MENENDEZ:  And did you know Mr. Giuliani was one of those people?

 

SULLIVAN:  I believed he was, yes.

 

When the president loses confidence in the ambassador, right or wrong, the

ambassador needs to come home.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, late today, Giuliani reacted to Sullivan`s portrayal of

his smear campaign, saying the ambassador doesn`t know what he`s talking

about.  This is an orchestrated attempt to harass and hinder me in my role

as Trump`s attorney.

 

Let me get back to Glenn on this.  Giuliani has his own problems now

because I think he was mixing his business with Trump`s all along the way,

making some money along the way, living off the land, if you will.  And

now, is he going to go down with this guy?

 

KIRSCHNER:  I would be shocked if he doesn`t go down.  After the Parnas and

Frumans go down, and we saw how inextricably intertwined those folks were. 

I suspect, Chris, if we see Giuliani go uncharged, it`s only because Bill

Barr is protecting him.  If you let U.S. Attorney Berman from the Southern

District of New York to his own devices, he will follow the evidence and

the evidence will result in charges for Rudy Giuliani.

 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, my God.  Well, thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Dina Titus of

Nevada, Peter Baker, of course, the great Peter Baker, Glenn Kirschner,

thank you, and Geoff Bennett for reporting for NBC News.  Great reporting,

of course, Geoff, we know that.

 

Coming up, Democrats will make their case that President Trump committed

high crimes and misdemeanors by focusing on the ABCs, abuse of power,

betrayal of public interest, corruption, putting private interest among

public trust.

 

From here on out, most of it will play out live on your T.V. screens. 

There`re going to be a lot of public hearings coming next month.  We`re

going to talk and walk you through what to expect.  This is T.V. coming

attraction, step-by-step in the next segment.  We`ll tell you what`s

happening all through November, possibly into December, finishing up, we

hope, votes on articles of impeachment this year.

 

Plus, Trump`s impeachment strategy, fight to the death, I guess, with lies,

obstruction, and most of all, character assassination, smearing public

servants like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.  We`ve shown that.

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

The House moved one step closer to impeachment today, as the House Rules

Committee worked out a resolution laying out the rules and procedures for

the next public phases of the inquiry. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA):  This process determining whether he should be

impeached will be open to the public view, just as it should be. 

 

REP. TOM COLE (R-OK):  In my view, it`s not a fair process, it`s not an

open process, and it`s certainly not been a transparent process. 

 

REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ):  I mean, if you think this is fair, this is not

fair at all. 

 

REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D-FL):  All of the process that I hear you all arguing

about doesn`t address the possibility that this president has committed

high crimes and misdemeanors. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the resolution lays out the Democrats` general format and

parameters for the impeachment inquiry moving forward. 

 

The full House is expected to vote or scheduled to vote on the resolution

tomorrow, Thursday.  It would give the House Intelligence Committee the

lead role in conducting public hearings.  According to “The New York

Times,” those would begin as early as the week in November – November 11,

which is coming up week after next. 

 

The Intelligence Committee will then compile its findings in a report,

transmit them, the evidence they have collected, to the Judiciary

Committee, which would then hold its own public hearings.  If the Judiciary

Committee determines it has enough evidence, it will recommend one or more

articles of impeachment to the full House. 

 

So, it`s a three-step, Intelligence, Judiciary, full House.  The full House

would then vote on articles of impeachment to send to the Senate, where the

president would be put on trial for about five or six weeks, apparently.

 

House Democratic leaders have stressed they have no formal timetable moving

forward, but, according to “The Washington Post,” House leaders had

initially hoped to hold a floor vote before the November 28 holiday, so

that the Senate would hold trial – their trial before Christmas. 

 

But the surprising number of witnesses coming forward agreeing to testify

behind closed doors in the Capitol over the past few weeks has extended the

timeline.  We will see if that`s good or bad. 

 

For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of

California, a member of the House Intelligence and Oversight committees. 

Elizabeth Wydra is president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. 

 

Congresswoman, thank you, as always, Jackie Speier, from California. 

 

I guess the question is, do you have a clear-cut vision in your head of how

this is going to proceed through the month of November on into getting

articles of impeachment on the House floor? 

 

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  So, really, Chris, we don`t know, because we

don`t know how many more witnesses will come forward. 

 

But, certainly, our plan is to start moving into public hearings, wrap that

up, and present it to the Judiciary Committee, so that they can do their

work.  I can`t put a timeline on it.  I don`t know that anyone else,

frankly, can at this point. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Is there a point of diminishing returns?  We have got enough

witnesses to say the same exact thing, that there was a quid pro quo at

work in the relationship with Zelensky of Ukraine.  It was a done deal.  We

have got all the evidence in the world.

 

What does two more weeks of witnesses accomplish? 

 

SPEIER:  Well, it does add more facets to the final articles of

impeachment. 

 

For instance, I will give you an example.  Up until very recently, we

didn`t know anything about Mr. Livingston and how he was hounding persons

within the National Security Council and how he was trashing the

ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch. 

 

So I actually want to know who`s paying him, why he was doing it.  All of

the lines that were being used were false.  And they were all contrived. 

So, I think there`s more to know, frankly. 

 

MATTHEWS:  OK, you have got me there.  You have proved your point. 

 

Who is Mr. Livingston, a new figure?

 

SPEIER:  He was a congressman who, over the last decade or so, has run a

lobbying shop.

 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, Bob Livingston from Louisiana. 

 

SPEIER:  Right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I know him.

 

SPEIER:  That`s correct. 

 

MATTHEWS:  He was sitting next to me at Cokie Roberts` funeral.  I just saw

him recently.  There we go.

 

SPEIER:  Well, maybe you should have interviewed him.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, wrong place.  Anyway, thank you. 

 

The resolution effectively they`re voting on tomorrow neutralizes

Republican arguments along the way about the way Democrats have conducted

the inquiry so far.  But the president`s defenders in the Senate continued

to blast the process today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  And it`s still a behind-closed-doors, lack-of-

due-process process. 

 

And they`re trying to create something new that I think is just substandard

and dangerous to the presidency. 

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  It falls way short, way short.  No due

process now, maybe some later, but only if we feel like it, is not a

standard that should ever be applied to any American, and it should not be

applied here to the president of the United States. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, none of that seems to work with me. 

 

Let me go on with you, Elizabeth. 

 

Tell us how you see the particulars as you look at this, how you see the

particulars of what this is going to look like.  A lot of it is going to be

on television, which is good. 

 

ELIZABETH WYDRA, PRESIDENT, CONSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CENTER: 

Absolutely.

 

So, if you think about the constitutional impeachment process, impeachment

and maybe removal, it`s like the grand jury in a criminal trial coming up

with the charges.  That`s the House doing its investigation to come up with

articles of impeachment.

 

And then the trial, which is where you have the due process rights in the

criminal system, come into play in the Senate.  So, to be clear, the

Republicans` arguments about process are bad and they`re wrong, but I guess

they`re not as bad or as wrong as their substantive defenses of the

president.  So that`s why they`re going to them.

 

But what I think is important to think about here is not the immediate

political moment, which is obviously important, but this is a

constitutional moment for the ages, because the president has abused his

office in a way that would be the founders` worst nightmare, selling out

national security and democratic integrity. 

 

And so I think this public nature of the hearings that you mentioned is

going to be important, especially leading up to whatever trial might happen

in the Senate, because we know that Mitch McConnell is willing to go to bat

for this president and is willing to manipulate Senate norms and rules in

order to do that. 

 

And so I think putting these public hearings out in the House will put more

pressure on McConnell to have a robust trial in the Senate. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, how do you keep the hearings focused on the case

against the president, basically the prosecution case before impeachment,

and not let it get crazy, like it did with the Corey Lewandowski horror

show that day in Judiciary?  That was a disastrous hearing, I thought. 

 

SPEIER:  So, the hearing, I think, will be very focused. 

 

You`re going to have staff counsel doing the questioning.  Members are

going to sit there and listen to the questioning and the answers.  And then

at the end of the hearing, there will be questions that members can ask. 

 

But to the point of, is this fair, the truth of the matter is that, both

for Nixon and for Clinton, they – the president did not have the

opportunity to ask questions and did not have the opportunity to offer a

conclusion at the end of the House deliberation. 

 

So, this is far more generous.  And for all the whining going on by some of

my Republican colleagues, when the Benghazi hearing took place, there were

over 107 closed-door interviews before the first public hearing took place. 

 

And the first public hearing was four months after the committee was

created.  So, we`re five weeks into this.  We have had about 12 interviews. 

The public is going to have the opportunity to hear, and hear a lot, very

soon. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you have any confidence or any hope among your Republican

colleagues that you will get some votes on the House floor when the

articles do come up for a vote? 

 

SPEIER:  I think that`s some speculation that there might be one or two. 

 

Obviously, Congressman Amash, who was a Republican and now is an

independent, could indeed be voting with us.  Francis Rooney from Florida,

who was willing to look at an impeachment process and inquiry, has now

announced that he`s not running for reelection. 

 

So persons are in a position to be more frank and I think forward-thinking

when they`re no longer part of the Republican Caucus. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

Thanks so much.  It`s an honor to have you on.  U.S. Congresswoman Jackie

Speier of California, thank you very much.

 

And thank you, Elizabeth Wydra.  You`re great a guest.  I like the big

sweep of the Constitution.  It`s been helpful to us all these, well,

centuries. 

 

WYDRA:  Exactly.  It`s a good thing.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

 

Up next:  So far, the Republican line of defense against impeachment is to

attack the accusers.  Is this really all they have got?  Is this all there

is?  Quoting Peggy Lee, is that all there is, attack these people? 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP:  There`s no there there. 

 

You know, they bring in – they do the usual thing, right?  They bring in

another guy that they believe is beyond reproach, like they did with

Mueller, right?  Well, he`s a decorated guy.  He was head of the FBI.

 

Meanwhile, it took about 30 seconds for people to realize, when they put

him on the stand, that he`d never even seen the Mueller report.  It was a

joke.  So now they will do it with this guy.  He`s a decorated – well, now

it turns out he`s talking to the Ukraine, or he wanted to edit the

transcript.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Trump watches that show in his bubble bath every

morning.  He just sucks it up. 

 

But that`s the son.  Making fun of Mueller because he`s gotten a little

old, a little slow on the reaction, is not the issue.  That doesn`t mean he

didn`t read the report he came out with. 

 

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK:  Right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  That was an idiotic statement. 

 

Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

That was Donald Trump Jr., of course, attacking Lieutenant Colonel Vindman,

the latest Trump defender to do so.  It`s the kind of performance President

Trump seems to relish, as he faces the threat of impeachment.  He`s urged

Republican lawmakers to go on the attack. 

 

But as the facts continue to mount up against him, Republicans have been

left with two lines of attacks, neither convincing.  The first is on

process. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA):  If you want to talk about a Soviet-style

process, again, that might be what they do in the Soviet Union, not in the

United States of America.  We can`t stand for this. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Don`t mention Russia, sir.  It`s not smart. 

 

Anyway, the second line of attack, the character assassination of witnesses

and the people overseeing the inquiry. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL):  When Adam Schiff engaged in a theatrical retelling

of President Trump`s conversation with President Zelensky to deceive and

disorient the American people, he acted in a way that was not consistent

with House rules and was not consistent with House ethics. 

 

I`m going to go to the Ethics Committee, and I`m going to file an ethics

complaint against Adam Schiff. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

 

For more, I`m joined by Charlie Sykes, editor at large of The Bulwark, a

conservative online publication.

 

Charlie, for the people, tell us about, how are the Republican defenses

working out there, starting with process?

 

SYKES:  Well, first of all, I think yesterday was a bad day, because, you

know, they`re going to hide behind process for as long as they can, because

they don`t want to deal with the substance and the mounting evidence.

 

But, also, as you point out, they have a reflex.  It`s the first page of

the playbook, which is to attack anyone who is disloyal to Donald Trump, to

try to discredit them, to smear them, and then – and demand that other

Republicans do the same thing. 

 

And it did not work out well.  Just ask Sean Duffy. 

 

MATTHEWS:  They`re running out of – well, they have got a lot of people

who will do anything.

 

SYKES:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  But then they have people now who trim it. 

 

They don`t quite say the right – Portman, for example, says it`s

inappropriate. 

 

SYKES:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  Liz Cheney will say it was wrong. 

 

SYKES:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  They`re starting to come out with people who say, this is where

I get off the bus. 

 

SYKES:  Yes, this is the problem that I think Republicans have right now,

because they`re trapped.

 

And I think they are realizing that they are now in for, what, five, six

months of having to defend the indefensible?  So they`re looking for the

safe space.

 

And the safe space is, the conduct was wrong, but it is not impeachable.

 

But Donald Trump and Trump world may not let them get away with it, because

they`re demanding that you have to say that it was perfect, that the

president is a victim. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right, perfect phone call.

 

SYKES:  And That anyone who testifies against him must be vilified. 

 

And you could see yesterday a lot of Republicans sort of recoiling from

that with Colonel Vindman.  This was just a bridge too far for them.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  What does Trump do to those people?  He`s not exactly the

strongest president in history right now.  What can he do to a Republican

who trims him a little? 

 

SYKES:  Well, that`s the big question.  Is he going to attack them?

 

Because this is a party that has lived in fear of all of his tweets.  This

is the dynamic that we have right now.  This is why Republicans find

themselves in this box canyon, where they have no easy choices, because

they have empowered Donald Trump. 

 

They have convinced Trump that he can take them for granted.  And, as a

result, his conduct has become more reckless, has become more extreme, has

become more lawless.  And now they`re in the position where they are going

to face and up-or-down vote about whether or not they`re going to ratify

this content.

 

MATTHEWS:  I opened the show with the word avalanche, because it seems for

the first time…

 

SYKES:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  It started with Bill Taylor, the envoy to Kiev. 

 

They`re talking.  What happened?  Why did all of a sudden these top

diplomats come forward, under oath, giving the full case of how Trump shook

down that foreign leader? 

 

SYKES:  Well, that`s the most unexpected part about this. 

 

I remember seeing a documentary where they interviewed veterans of World

War I who were in the trenches, and they said, why did you go over the top

and charge into the machine guns?  Is it because you were patriotic or

because you were brave?  And they said, no, it`s because the other guy did,

too. 

 

It`s amazing how a critical mass of courage can cause people to step

forward.  And I think other people in the government are looking around

saying this is important.  The Constitution is at stake.  The national

security is at stake. 

 

And when they started to see other people willing to go over the top, it

was a chain reaction.  And I don`t think that chain reaction is done

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think you`re right.  I think there is something moving

there.

 

During yesterday`s testimony by Colonel Vindman, for example, Republicans

blamed Intel Chair Adam Schiff for blocking them from asking certain

questions that Schiff says was their attempt to identify the whistle-

blower.

 

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan refuted that charge, calling Schiff too

sensitive – that`s a cute line – while at the same time demanding to

learn the whistle-blower`s identity. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  It seems interesting to me that Chairman Schiff is

so sensitive.

 

I mean, I pointed out last week, there are 435 members of Congress.  One of

them, one of them, only one of them knows who the whistle-blower is.  And

somehow he doesn`t want anyone else to know that.

 

Him and him – Mr. Schiff and his staff are the only ones in America who

can know. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s a cute little line, sensitive. 

 

SYKES:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  We have been there before. 

 

What – on the fence – on the issue here, though, why are they – I will

ask you the obvious.  This is a setup question. 

 

SYKES:  Yes.  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Why do they want to identify or expose the whistle-blower at

this point?  Because somebody says it`s snowing outside, we all walk

outside and see that it`s snowing. 

 

SYKES:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  It doesn`t matter who told us it was snowing outside.  We see

it. 

 

SYKES:  Right.  We see it. 

 

And it`s not – it is not subtle.  They want to expose the whistle-blower,

so they can discredit him, they think, and say he`s part of the deep state,

because this, of course, again, has been the playbook that they have gone

to reflexively. 

 

But, as you point out, the whistle-blower is no longer that relevant.  It`s

like somebody calling 911 and saying the house is on fire, and people go,

and they see that the house is on fire.  You don`t need the information. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

SYKES:  Plus, there are reasons why we have a Whistleblower Protection Act. 

 

And I think that you see by watching their behavior why you would want to

protect the anonymity of that whistle-blower.  But, again, there`s an

expiration date on all of this. 

 

After this vote that`s going to take place tomorrow, all of these process

complaints become obsolete. 

 

And so I think it`s dawning on a lot of them that they`re going to be

moving into this next phase, where the president is going to force them to

defend, go to the wall, smear patriotic Americans.

 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

 

SYKES:  And they don`t know how it`s going to go.  And we have seen how the

president behaves when he`s under pressure. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You know what I think? 

 

I don`t think they`re convincing their 40 percent of the country, I think

they`re simply equipping them with talking points. 

 

SYKES:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  All those people want or in that amen chorus won.  Give me the

talking points that I can recite, so they say this thing about the whistle-

blower. 

 

Thank you, Charles Sykes.  You know the peeps.

 

SYKES:  Thank you.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

 

Up next, why was acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney left in

the dark on that raid to kill al Baghdadi?  He wasn`t even there.  He`s

down in South Carolina hanging out.  Is acting chief of staff Mulvaney even

acting anymore?  Does this indicate the White House is in even more

disarray than we thought? 

 

Who`s running – I`m sorry, I am the team.  That`s what Trump says, I am

the team. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

On Saturday, President Trump conducted by his own account one of the most

consequential military operations of his presidency.  That raid resulted in

the death of one of the most reviled global terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

Well, late today, the chief of Central Command providing additional details

and released these dramatic images of American commandos conducting the

raid.  There they are in action. 

 

Missing from the president`s side during the raid was his Chief of Staff

Mick Mulvaney, nowhere to be seen.  One person close to the White House

tells NBC News that the president didn`t include Mulvaney because he

doesn`t see him as having a role in national security issues. 

 

But that breaks with precedent.  Chiefs of staff usually play central roles

in key moments like this.  Mulvaney was roughly 500 miles away, however,

spending the weekend with his family in South Carolina.  It was an oddly

timed weekend to take a break. 

 

But just last week, Mulvaney walked into the White House briefing room and

told reporters the president did in fact with hold military aid to Ukraine

in exchange for help investigating Democrats.  He admitted it.  He tried to

redirect those comments a few hours later. 

 

But a person close to the president tells NBC that Mulvaney was cooked

after that performance and he`s increasingly been sidelined in the White

House since. 

 

What exactly is going on inside the White House?  We`ve got a former

insider coming up after the break to tell us what goes on. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has been in hot waters since he

admitted to the administration Ukraine quid pro quo earlier this month. 

Former George W. Bush chief of staff Andrew Card told NBC News that the

exclusion of Mulvaney during the Baghdadi raid was baffling. 

 

According to a person close to the president, one possible explanation from

Mulvaney being AWOL is that, quote, Mick self-immolated.  He got up there,

poured lighter fluid on himself and lit the match.

 

For more, I`m joined by Anita Kumar, White House correspondent and

associate editor at “Politico”.  And Guy Snodgrass, who served as

speechwriter for former Defense Secretary James Mattisen – no, James

Mattis, and author of “Holding the Line: Inside Trump`s Pentagon with

Secretary Mattis.”

 

First, Anita, this weird – well, there`s no chain of command.  There`s

just the president now, I am the team. 

 

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO:  We call it a presidency

of one.  We`ve written several – whole stories about that because more and

more, it`s him making decisions without consulting other people, without

having his advisers around.  And all the people that we – that you know,

the people that pushed back and really debated things with him told him

what they thought, the John Boltons, Gary Cohns, they`re all gone. 

 

And so, there – 

 

MATTHEWS:  So, there`s – you know, in the loop, we all know that

expression.  Like I always ask people, who`s in the room when the boss is

in trouble?  Who does he or she bring into the room or on the phone, help

me?  Who are they?

 

KUMAR:  I don`t know that he calls people and says, help me.  But he does

call people and talk to people.  But a lot of these people are outside the

White House.  They are his – 

 

MATTHEWS:  The Tom Barrick?

 

KUMAR:  Yes.  They`re his friends.  And there are some folks from Fox that

he`s friends with, Sean Hannity.

 

MATTHEWS:  Chris Whipple.

 

KUMAR:  And so he calls them up and talks to them. 

 

But I don`t know that he says, I need help, but he says, what do you think

of something?  And so, he does consult people but not in the usual way. 

Not in the room, not in the Oval Office where they`re all sitting around

having a discussion about things. 

 

MATTHEWS:  When you work for somebody you hope the boss has some loyalty to

you. 

 

GUY SNODGRASS, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR DEFENSE SECRETARY JAMES MATTIS: 

Absolutely.

 

MATTHEWS:  You hope because that`s you`re there, because you`re loyal to

him or her. 

 

SNODGRASS:  Well – 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right now, how do you see this situation with chief of staff is

sidelined to the point he`s not even in the room when the big – when the

big balloon goes up? 

 

SNODGRASS:  You know, serving with Secretary Mattis, you realize a lot of

times, people read far more into some situations than there`s actually

credit to have.  When I was in the room with Secretary Mattis, with

President Trump on issues of national significance, and now, we`re talking

about where Mick Mulvaney was or was not, it feels like we`re just

rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. 

 

The – what I saw behind closed doors was alarming enough and that`s why I

want to share that experience.  That`s why I wrote –

 

MATTHEWS:  What is alarming?  Define it.

 

SNODGRASS:  When you think about where we are today, it`s a highly

polarized political environment, we`re obviously distracted.  We`re focused

inward and so, of course, our adversaries around the world are seeking to

exploit that and not only that, but our alliances are starting to erode as

well. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So, in the room, on the reporting side of this thing, this is

his third chief of staff in three years.  He obviously doesn`t run an

organized camp, an organized White House.

 

KUMAR:  He does – 

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s 6:30 in the morning when you`re tweeting, you don`t need

anybody around to tweet, I guess. 

 

KUMAR:  Well, there have been a number of times where aides have said

they`ve found out what he`s doing and what he`s thinking by his points. 

So, he`s not consulting a lot of those aides.  They`re finding out the same

way we`re finding out. 

 

I think Mick Mulvaney, according to NBC News story, found out about the

raid by Twitter or by the media.  So he`s not consulting people, but he`s

not also cluing them in and telling them what`s going to happen, so that

they`re prepared with how to message them, how to talk about it, what to

say, whatnot to say.  They`re not clued in from the beginning. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he`s in touch with the reality right now, that he

faces imminent impeachment before the end of the year, very positively

before the year, he will be impeached by the House of the Representatives,

go down in history books as one of the three presidents impeached – one of

the two presidents impeached.  He will be, in fact, impeached – one of two

– I`m sorry, three.  Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and himself, three. 

 

SNODGRASS:  And I`m going to defer to experts like yourself and Anita to

talk about the political aspects.  What I can say is what Anita just

touched on, which is there are a lot of scenes in the book, there are a lot

of positive things that have occurred in the last two years as we`ve

strengthened America`s military, but when you think about the fact that you

rule by tweet, that`s like pulling your pistol out and shooting yourself in

the foot.  You want to have your own staff aligned, you want to have the

Department of Defense and other agencies aligned, and you want to be in

lockstep with our allies –

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of him taking credit for the raid on Baghdadi

rather than giving credit to the people who did it? 

 

SNODGRASS:  I think that credit belongs to all of the American forces that

took part –

 

MATTHEWS:  But he didn`t do that.  He didn`t do that.

 

SNODGRASS:  I didn`t catch his exact – what he exactly –

 

MATTHEWS:  He said I did it. 

 

Anita? 

 

KUMAR:  Well, I mean, we see – 

 

MATTHEWS:  It looks like he was there. 

 

KUMAR:  Yes, we`ve seen – we`ve seen him do this before, right?  When

there are accomplishments, he takes the accomplishments, he brags about

things and he does take that credit.  Now, sometimes he does talk about

other people, but generally it`s not his staff.  He likes to credit other

people. 

 

He does credit the military.  He does talk about the military.

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

 

KUMAR:  – law enforcement.  But he does do that, and we`re going to see

him campaigning on this raid because he`s already started to do that. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I can`t wait to find out what his war room is because he is

facing impeachment and worse. 

 

Thank you very much, Anita Kumar. 

 

And thank you, Guy Snodgrass.  Your book`s called “Holding the Line: Inside

Trump`s Pentagon with Secretary Mattis.”  We all respect Mr. Mattis.

 

Up next, Democratic voters are not yet convinced they have a general

election winner. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  I spotted something in the run up to the Democratic presidential

context next year, it`s that yellow flag you see in the stock car races. 

It keeps waving the sign from voters, that they want the decision to slow

down, that they`re not ready, much less enthusiastic about being forced to

make a decision like this. 

 

I just look at the new “USA Today”/Suffolk poll and it`s a good poll.  It

shows 18 percent of likely Democratic voters, people who are going to vote

are undecided.  It also shows that 57 percent, a very strong majority of

those who have a favorite already aren`t all that committed to him or her,

that their minds aren`t firmly made up. 

 

Well, this openness to try someone else has backed up another polls, it

shows in the recent rise of Mayor Pete Buttigieg against the front runners,

Biden, Warren and Sanders.  Already, he sits three points behind Bernie

Sanders.  The rise of Buttigieg says that the race hasn`t gelled yet, not

even remotely.  People are looking for an alternative, even if it`s just

February.

 

All of which tells me this race is still in its early stretches.  It used

to be said that the presidential election campaign doesn`t get started

until after the World Series.  Well, that used to refer to the calendar in

the election year itself. 

 

But the last game of this series is tonight and the MSNBC/”The Washington

Post” debate is November 20th, a week before Thanksgiving.  And so far,

I`ll give it to you straight, Warren`s run the best race, Elizabeth Warren. 

Biden has yet to do what he has to do, and Bernie is still very much in the

contest. 

 

But Pete could easily win, Pete Buttigieg in Iowa, leaving the whole fight

up in the air and that more than anything else tells us that the Democrats

have yet to get their hands and heads around the person they strongly

believe can beat Donald Trump.  And this explains why this new “USA

Today”/Suffolk poll has predicting by a 10 point spread – this will blow

you away – that Trump will get a second term.  I don`t believe that. 

 

But I also don`t sense that the Democrats or the country can`t yet see who

can beat the guy.  And that`s still up to the candidates, because if you

can`t beat Trump, all of this is just a waste of our time. 

 

And that`s HARDBALL for now. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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