Susan Rice plays Hardball. TRANSCRIPT: 10/31/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Denny Heck, Cynthia Alksne, Eli Stokols, Neera Tanden, Joshua Geltzer, Susan Rice
Transcript:

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  I`ll be anchoring that at 9:00 P.M. Eastern with

some very special guests.  I hope you mark your calendars, I hope you have

a great Halloween and I hope you have all the candy corn that you and your

family want.

 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts now.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Three strikes.  Three strikes.  Let`s play

HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington, the hometown of the World

Series champions.

 

In a historic action today, a divided U.S. House of Representatives set the

course for an up or down vote on the impeachment of the president.  It

passed a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President

Donald Trump.  It marks the third time we know that the members of the

House had taken such a consequential step, and it brings the proceedings

into a new public phase.

 

231 Democrats and one independent stood united behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi

as she affirmed to the American public that they and anyone willing to join

them would defend the Constitution.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  What is at stake in all of this is nothing less

than our democracy.

 

The times have found each and every one of us in this room and in our

country to pay attention to how we protect and defend the Constitution of

the United States.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  The vote today comes as new evidence of a quid pro quo has

emerged, another key witness has now affirmed that military support to

Ukraine was conditioned on the investigations that Trump was seeking from

that country to kneecap his political opponents.

 

Tim Morrison, a top adviser on the president`s National Security Council,

testified today under subpoena in the ongoing inquiry, a deposition that

comes just a day after he expressed his intent to resign from the

administration.

 

NBC News reports that according to two people familiar with his testimony

today, Morrison told Congress that the substance of Ambassador Bill

Taylor`s stunning opening statement last week was accurate.

 

As The Washington Post was first to report Morrison testified that he

alerted Taylor to a push by Trump and his deputies to withhold both

security aid and a White House visit for the Ukrainian president until

Ukraine agreed to investigate the Bidens among other things.

 

And that would make Morrison the third witness to affirm the deliverables

of a quid pro quo, military aid in exchange for political dirt.  It`s the

latest in an avalanche of new evidence to emerge from the inquiry and none

of it is good for President Trump.

 

Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Denny Heck of Washington State, a

member of the House Intelligence Committee, Eli Stokols is White House

Reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Cynthia Alksne is a former federal

prosecutor.  Thank you all.

 

Congressman, as a member of the committee, give us a sense – take your

time – the historic nature of today`s vote by the House of

Representatives.

 

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA):  Well, Chris, look, let`s put this in perspective. 

We already have the president`s confession as it were in the memorandum of

the call and Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, having signed that

confession in his press conference and the text exchanges.

 

And now, we have had one, two, three witnesses or more fully corroborate

one another and that this deed was done.  The president attempted to coerce

Ukraine into helping him against a domestic political rival and he

threatened – explicitly threatened to withhold aid unless that was

delivered.

 

But, Chris, for God sakes, can we please step back and put this in

perspective, and we haven`t yet.  Why this is all so important.

 

After the cold war ended in 1994, Ukraine became, and you`re hearing this

correctly, the third largest possessor or landlord of nuclear bombs in the

world, the third largest.  And in order to keep the world safer, we had to

do defuse that.  And the way we did that was through something called the

Budapest Memorandum of Security Insurance, which, in effect, gave Ukraine a

guarantee of the sovereignty and fidelity of their borders in exchange for

them coughing up and giving over the nuclear arms, which they did.

 

MATTHEWS:  And so this was a key component of ending the cold war, in

effect, ending the threat of a third world nuclear war.

 

HECK:  Yes.  We got rid of the nukes in exchange for which Ukraine could

become a sovereign nation, and now we`re turning our back on them.  This

isn`t just the fact that they are a bulwark against a maligned Russian

intent, who, as we speak, occupies Eastern Ukraine and has aggressive

tendencies of maligned intent for the rest of Ukraine and Georgia and

Europe.  This is a nation struggling to stand up, a vibrant democracy which

up holds the rule of law and free, fair and open elections.  This is

nothing less than our word and commitment to another strategic partner and

ally in the fight for democracy.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about the nature of impeachment.  The resolution is

now through.  We`re going into the final stages of public hearings and

finally ending up with some articles of impeachment coming out of the House

Judiciary Committee.

 

My sense of this, get stabbed in the national security.  I want you to talk

about that as a member of the committee.  When the president of the United

States was asked to approve Javelin missiles, the missiles used to fight

Russian tanks, he said I want something from you though.  I want something

first.  I want dirt first.  Tell me what you sense that means in terms of

this president`s human values and his patriotism.  Your thoughts.

 

HECK:  Well, his exact words, I would like you to do us a favor though, and

I think it speaks for itself.  He shook them down for help in his 2020

election by asking them to manufacture dirt on a potential political rival. 

It`s no more and no less.

 

But, Chris, here`s the deal.  As we now transition to the more public phase

of this, as we begin to transition away from the investigation phase, I

suspect the Republicans are going to have a much more difficult time

because heretofore, they`ve been objecting to everything on the grounds of

process.  They have demanded and called for exactly what we did today,

which they then all voted against.  And now we`re going to get into the

more substantive part of it.

 

So what is it that they`re going to argue when we are actually dealing with

the substance of what the president did?  Any objective evaluation of the

evidence to date suggests he did exactly that, shakedown Ukraine and

threaten to withhold military assistance to a vulnerable strategic partner.

 

And then what are they going to argue?  We don`t like that this is out in

the open?  We don`t like that we get to call witnesses?  We don`t that we

get to cross-examine?  I think they`re going to have a pretty tough time

with this.

 

MATTHEWS:  Cynthia, I want to ask you about a trial here, because this is

basically the grand jury part of the trial.  We`re putting together

evidence in the back room, like in a grand jury, we`re going to have public

testimony to back that up, to dramatize it for the American jury, if you

will.  At what point do you say diminishing returns?

 

We`ve got now three top witnesses all saying the same thing there was a

quid pro quo here.  They saw it coming.  They saw it happening.  They`ve

seen it in the rearview mirror.  What point do you say to the judge or to

say yourself, we`ve got the case, let`s take it to the jury?

 

CYNTHIA ALSKNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, what you don`t do is wait

until you can get Bolton or wait until you`re going to get these guys or

having a hearing in December.  It`s really time to stop thinking about

that.

 

After all, today was important because this Morrison guy can confirm there

was this quid pro quo.  But before we get carried away about it, remember,

he wasn`t there until July 15th.  The key witnesses, the entire arc of this

conspiracy was way before he got there.

 

Giuliani was trying – was his (INAUDIBLE) to get rid of this ambassador. 

They had this meeting, which Sondland has been lying about.

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

 

ALKSNE:  And now, they have all this where they have not just three, they

have the transcript, they have Mulvaney, they have Giuliani`s statements

waving his phone around saying everything he did was for the State

Department.  They have Taylor.  They have Vindman and then they have all

this tangential people who do other things in addition to Morrison.  They

have the bulk of what they need and it`s time to go forward.

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s a great reporter`s question, Eli.  Republicans watching

this have been bluffing, I think, saying, once we get past arguing about

procedure and all, we`re going to argue about the merits of this case.  Are

they ready to make a case against the merits?

 

ELI STOKOLS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIME:  Some are starting to. 

We`ve heard the bristle about that.  The president obviously wants

Republicans to stop carping about process and start defending him on the

merits.  The facts of the case, as they`re piling up, what we`re hearing

coming out of these closed-door depositions are not favorable for the

president.  They`re difficult to defend.  And perhaps that will become even

more the case once some of these people are being deposed in public and the

country is hearing them.

 

But, you know, Republicans, they`re talking to the president, the president

is courting them, he`s doing a lot of personal outreach.  He had a lunch

with more Republicans today.  He is trying to maintain a connection with

them because he knows how much he needs them.  They are looking not just at

the relationship with him but a public opinion.  And so far, public opinion

hasn`t moved in favor of impeachment.  But it hasn`t moved enough to change

the calculation.  You saw that vote in the House today.  Not a single

Republican crossed the party line and voted just in favor of the inquiry.

 

And that tells you that this continues to be right down partisan lines. 

And and that`s where the White House wants it because they want the country

to see this as a partisan decision, not a court case, not a trial.

 

ALKSNE:  When we`re talking about court cases, and one of the things you`ll

learn as a trial lawyer is you only have to have your own witnesses that

are really good.  This guy, Taylor, is obviously good.  Vindman is

obviously good.

 

You also have to catch the other side in a lie, if possible.  And it really

helps solidify the strength of your case.  And in this case, we have this

guy, Sondland, who is lying through his teeth.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this thing about, I forget, I forget, I forget, how long

is he going to go with that one?

 

ALKSNE:  Nobody believes that, no.  He not only says, I forget, he

affirmatively lies and says, I didn`t know it was about the Bidens.  We

have all these witnesses that say, he was talking –

 

MATTHEWS:  His lawyer though – I think his lawyer is being very cute here.

 

ALKSNE:  But he must have lied to his lawyer too.  He`s a good lawyer.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Anyway, meanwhile there`s new reporting in what happened

in the aftermath of Trump`s July 25th conversation with President Zelensky

when the records of that call were locked down.  That`s the place, locked

down.  The Washington Post reports that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman

testified that it was White House lawyer John Eisenberg who proposed moving

a transcript of the call to a highly classified server and restricting

access to it.

 

Most astonishing as Eisenberg took that action, it`s not astonishing.  It

makes perfect sense to me after Vindman told him that what the president

did was wrong.  And so it looks like they have consciousness of guilt here. 

In other words Vindman`s testimony suggests that Eisenberg suppressed the

records of the call once he learned it would be problematic for the

president.

 

Congressman Denny Heck, thank you, sir.  What do you make – can you now

analyze this sequence of events?  Vindman goes and tells Eisenberg, the

lawyer for the NSC, you`ve got a problem with this semi-transcript, this

phone record, and he says, okay, I`m going to bury it, not bring it out to

the public, I`m going to hide it for history.

 

HECK:  Completely outside of protocol and tradition and practices.  It`s a

very hard thing to defend.

 

But I want to go back to the comment about Ambassador Sondland`s veracity

with respect to some of his utterance.  Frankly, if he were to call me up,

I would say to him, Mr. Ambassador, I think really that you ought to

prepare an amendment to your testimony before the committee for your own

sake, frankly, in light of the number that come before and offer

contradictory points of view.

 

But also I would suggest to him that he`d better get prepared to be thrown

under the bus.  Because the truth of the matter is, throughout his entire

career, long before he was president, President Trump had a history of

using, abusing and disposing of his subcontractors, by the way, and dumping

them and getting rid of them and not paying them and ending up in court

more than just about any other human being in New York, and that`s saying

quite a lot.

 

And the fact of the matter is you`re going to know they`re going to need to

get rid of him over this and I – frankly, I predict that that activity

will start pretty soon.  They`re going to throw him under the bus, Chris.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you this because you`ve got a hot hand in the

way you`re describing this, Congressman.  The way that this president

recruits people, he gets Rudy at the end of his career looking for cash. 

Rudy is out there – yes, he`s trying to raise money for himself, dealing

with his own matters he`s got to deal with, making himself famous again or

infamous.

 

You`ve got this Sondland who paid a million dollars towards – nothing

wrong with that, I guess.  It`s only they pay a million bucks towards the

inauguration for a president you didn`t want nominated, didn`t want

elected, you got him elected.  He`s given you a really nice job, European

Union.

 

But instead of focusing on Brexit and all that stuff that has to do with

European Union, he says, as you used, outsourced him to go go over and do

the dirty work on Ukraine.  Is this his method, pick up desperate people

willing to pay for jobs, people have have no career left and want some

prestige and then exploit them and throw them under the bus when you don`t

need them anymore?  It looks like the M.O.

 

HECK:  Highly expendable, Chris.  And actually to the list of Ambassador

Sondland, I would add Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani.  These are the three

prime nominees to be the next people thrown under the bus by the president. 

If he thinks he needs to do it for his own protection, he won`t wait, pun

intended, a New York second to do it.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know what, he doesn`t have a Midas touch, this

president.  He has a schlock touch.  He touches you and your schlock – I`m

sorry, junk.  It`s brutal, right, Eli?

 

STOKOLS:  Well, I mean this is a president who`s always trying to press

leverage, right?  That`s what he does with ambassadorships.  That`s what he

does with people in and out of the administration.

 

MATTHEWS:  Use them up.

 

STOKOLS:  That`s what he`s trying to do with Republicans right now. 

There`s an article today about how he`s trying to basically make sure that

he goes and fundraises for Republicans who are loyal to him and supportive

of him.  And that`s basically at the crux of what we`re talking in terms of

his conversations with Ukraine, seeing no difference between what he can

get personally and directing a foreign policy –

 

MATTHEWS:  And what does he call people who don`t play ball with him? 

Scum.

 

STOKOLS:  Well, disloyal scum or whatever, and that`s always the excuse, is

if you`re in his way, you`re out to get him.

 

ALKSNE:  There`s even hint in –

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m grateful to have you on.  You have a great reporting here.

 

ALKSNE:  Yes.  There`s even a hint in this testimony, in Morrison`s

testimony, he`s trying to throw Sondland understand the bus.  You can see

the preview of it.

 

STOKOLS:  But I think this is – just one last point.  I think this is

really critical to his ability to inoculate himself because he does this so

blatantly and in public.  A lot of people who are going to start defending

him more on the merits, they`re going to say things like what Sondland told

Zelensky, which is this is just how the president operates.  If he`s going

to give you something, he needs something in return.  That`s just how he`s

always operated.

 

And they are going to say, look, this is just his behavior.  And a lot of

people who support him have tended to accept that.

 

ALKSNE:  But why do they put up with it?  I mean, Mulvaney has been

humiliated in front of the world.

 

MATTHEWS:  Mulvaney said he was (INAUDIBLE) hospitality business, again,

croaked (ph) for it.

 

ALKSNE:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  He`s finished for trying to explain this guy`s M. O.

 

Thank you so much, Eli.  Thank you so much Cynthia.  And thank you,

Congressman Denny Heck, for giving us a great exhortation about what this

is all about, historically.

 

Coming up, Nancy Pelosi`s moment, and, boy, it is that, Republicans demand

a House vote on the impeachment inquiry, now they got one today.  They got

what they asked for.  But with no Republican support, whatsoever, for the

inquiry, what happens next?

 

And former National Security Adviser Susan Rice joins me tonight on the

long list line of diplomats coming forward to testify out of patriotism, I

think, not on the vendetta against Trump.  Look at these people.  They`re

national servants.

 

We`ve got much more to talk to tonight.  Here`s a great president and

there`s Susan Rice.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PELOSI:  I don`t know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth.  Every

member should support allowing the American people to hear the facts for

themselves.  This – that is really what this vote is about.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.

 

That was, of course, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi making her argument today

before the morning`s momentous vote on a resolution to set in motion the

public phase of the House impeachment inquiry.

 

Pelosi told our representatives, quote, our democracy is at stake as the

House is prepared to take the historic step forward.  Ay a stark, that`s

the best word for it, party line vote.

 

At 232-196, the House approved the resolution which sets in place the rules

and parameters for public hearings and also the jurisdictions for the

committees.

 

Only two Democrats opposed the resolution, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and

Jeff Van Drew of Southern New Jersey, both represent districts President

Trump won in 2016. 

 

For weeks, Republicans have complained that the probe had been conducted

behind closed doors.  Well, today, they got what they asked for, the

Chinese curse. 

 

But during the debate on the resolution, they again criticized Democrats`

motives. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  What we`re seeing among Democrats on the

Intelligence Committees down in the SCIF right now is like a cult.

 

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  Trying to put a ribbon on a sham process doesn`t

make it any less of a sham. 

 

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA):  This is unprecedented.  It`s not only

unprecedented.  This is Soviet-style rules. 

 

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA):  Democrats are trying to impeach the president

because they are scared. they cannot defeat him at the ballot box. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the lone independent in the House, former Republican

Justin Amash of Michigan, voted with Democrats to approve the resolution. 

 

Amash excoriated his former Republican colleagues, tweeting: “This

president will be in power for only a short time.  But excusing his

misbehavior will forever tarnish your name.  To my Republican colleagues,

step outside your media and social bubble.  History will not look kindly on

disingenuous, frivolous and false defenses of this man.”

 

For more, I`m joined by Jonathan Allen, national political reporter for NBC

News Digital, Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American

Progress, Michael Steele, former RNC chair.

 

I want all three of you.  I`m going to give you more time than usual. 

 

This is an historic day.  This has only happened a couple times before,

what, Andrew Johnson, what – I think it happened actually with Nixon, this

particular vote to proceed with the resolution – with the inquiry.  It

happened, we know, with Nixon.  It happened with Clinton, with different

impacts. 

 

Nixon was gone.  Clinton was back in fashion again.  He went right through

this thing like nothing.

 

But, today, it was so partisan.  

 

And I want to ask you, as a Republican, why do the Republicans hold the

line against these really star witness that say the president did set up an

exercise and execute a quid pro quo, trading public trust for personal

political interest?

 

It`s so stark and really undenied.

 

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think primarily because

they believe that the public has not in large measure bought that

narrative, that that is a narrative that the Democrats have been saying

repeatedly, up against this idea that this is a sham effort, that this has

been done in secret, and, therefore, because it`s done in secret, there`s a

lot of stuff that favors the president that we don`t know.

 

So they`re going to…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  What would that be?

 

STEELE:  Well, I don`t know what that would be. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

STEELE:  But this is…

 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, because he`s admitted doing it.  Because his top people

– Mick Mulvaney has admitted doing it.

 

STEELE:  But here`s the thing, Chris. 

 

He`s admitted doing it, but they say, yes, I wouldn`t have done it, and,

yes, he admitted he did it, but that doesn`t rise to an impeachable

offense.

 

MATTHEWS:  Is that the prevent defense?

 

STEELE:  That`s totally the prevent defense, absolutely.

 

MATTHEWS:  You just let – you say, it was naughty, it was a fib or

something, but it wasn`t impeachable.

 

STEELE:  Well, like all good prevent defenses, you wind up ultimately

losing the game in many cases, because the offense is that much better than

your prevent. 

 

And that`s the problem that they face here, the facts, the narrative

presented by very credible witnesses, and the overall impeachableness of

this president, he impeaches himself, is enough to carry… 

 

MATTHEWS:  A study – it`s an interesting study, because the Nixon case is

so different. 

 

He had a 40-year – he had a history going back to 1946.  Everybody knew

who Nixon was.  Everybody had a judgment about him.  The economy sucked. 

There`s all kinds of reasons at the time he was in deep trouble.  He got

caught lying about the June 23 tape, that he really did obstruct justice. 

He got caught. 

 

Clinton`s thing was essentially about a sex misbehavior case.  And it was

very complicated, because a lot of people had crossed the party lines on

that; 31 Democrats voted to proceed with the resolution to investigate him,

even though they pulled back on him almost every case to – when it came to

impeachment. 

 

But what`s this?  Is this somewhere in the middle, or what is it, between

Nixon and Clinton? 

 

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  I think – I

actually think the public is actually making a judgment. 

 

I would say the fact that, before the trial, essentially, before the public

testimony, you have 50 percent of the country, maybe 46, 50, 51 percent of

the country, already supporting removal, that is a stark number before the

public testimony. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

 

TANDEN:  And I would just say, when you have a fair number of witnesses all

validating the same argument, and a witness who will be in uniform who will

make the case that the president violated national…

 

MATTHEWS:  Vindman, dress blues.

 

TANDEN:  In the dress blues – violated the national security interests of

the United States. 

 

And the truth is, I think the indictment here is the fact that there is so

little defense on the facts for weeks.

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

 

Let`s go back to how votes work.  You – we all know here that members of

Congress who can get reelected or not reelected every two years, and

they`re basically always in a reelection mode, because they`re very

responsive to their voters. 

 

Whatever you think about American government, the House is pretty

democratic, lowercase-D.  You can`t stick around long if the people

disagree with you.

 

Even the two Democrats who didn`t vote with Pelosi`s resolution today, they

represent districts which are strong for Trump.  I grew up in one of them. 

Ocean City was where we had our summer house, not a big deal, but we had a

summer house there. 

 

And I got to tell you, I know that place, Ocean City, Cape May, those

areas, Wildwood, and also the inner parts, regular Jersey neighborhoods. 

They`re conservative. 

 

And the fact is that this guy Van Drew voted with his district makes

perfect sense. 

 

So, what I`m arguing is, it`s the Republican voter out there, not just the

politicians, that seems adamantly for Trump.  Explain, Lucy, because I

don`t understand, through all this crapola, why they`re still loyal to him. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, I think a lot of

Republican voters are still loyal to him. 

 

And that`s what we`re going to see, is this fight over not every Republican

voter.  There`s a certain base that`s going to…

 

MATTHEWS:  Ninety percent.

 

ALLEN:  There`s a certain base that is going to stick with Trump no matter

what.

 

The question is, outside of that certain base that is going to stick with

him no matter what, are the Democrats going to make the case that not only

did he commit impeachable offenses, but did he commit offenses that require

him to be removed from office – office?

 

They`re going to say, not only is his conduct something that was bad for

the country, but his conduct was something that can`t be allowed to go

forward.  And it`s not just…

 

TANDEN:  And he will do it again.

 

ALLEN:  Not just in this case. 

 

And to make a Nixon parallel here, you have the 18 minutes of missing tape

that was really the sort of big lie in the Nixon era. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Rose Mary Woods.

 

ALLEN:  Now you have got Vindman saying that essentially there`s missing

transcript. 

 

TANDEN:  Yes.

 

ALLEN:  Right.

 

So you`re going to have essentially the same parallel that comes out in

testimony.

 

MATTHEWS:  Incriminating missing tape? 

 

ALLEN:  Well, that`s what the Democrats are certainly going to argue, that

this is incriminating. 

 

And what they`re going to say is, the president of the United States put

his personal interest in front of the national interest.  And that`s why

not only is his conduct impeachable, but that`s why he can`t be allowed to

continue in office, because if he`s somebody who is going to put his

personal interests in front of the national interests, and particularly

national security interests with regard to Ukraine and foreign government

interference in American elections, that`s something that can`t be allowed

to continue.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I hope they have you on the Senate floor when the time

comes, because I think that was a good argument. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

ALLEN:  That`s what they`re arguing, not what I`m arguing.

 

TANDEN:  Can I just say really quickly, he did this after the Mueller

report. 

 

So what Democrats are also going to argue is, it`s not – unless you make

him accountable, he will do it again. 

 

MATTHEWS:  And it`s OK to boo this president, right? 

 

TANDEN:  Absolutely.

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m a big fan of yours, Neera, but explain that for one second. 

 

Why is it OK to boo public – this president at ballparks?

 

TANDEN:  I think the – when the public, not political leaders, but when

the public is chanting “Lock him up” as a joke against the president, we

shouldn`t pooh-pooh the fact that they are very angry at the president`s

possible impeachable offenses. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So, you`re with them?

 

TANDEN:  I`m with the public. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Jonathan Allen, Neera Tanden, out there at the

vanguard.  Anyway, Michael Steele, thank you.  The ramparts.

 

Up next:  John Bolton reportedly likened Trump`s shadow campaign on Ukraine

to a drug deal.  He called Rudy Giuliani a hand grenade, pretty good

language, that`s going to blow everybody up, he said.

 

Well, Bolton scuttled meetings between the Ukrainian officials and Trump

proxies, protested the hold on military aid, and urged deputies to report

their concerns to the White House lawyer. 

 

In other words, will Bolton join the growing list of foreign policy

professionals in condemning what he`s already called – and pretty well

said it – a drug deal?

 

But how likely is it that congressional investigators will hear from him? 

We will see.  He could add to this pile.  He could be the cherry on top. 

We will see.  I don`t think they need him. 

 

That`s coming up next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton has been invited to testify

next Thursday – they have got a date – on the House impeachment inquiry. 

 

Through his lawyer, however, he said he`s not willing to appear

voluntarily.  But he would be, if he shows up the most prominent and

recognizable figure yet to give testimony. 

 

Bolton is at the center of this inquiry, of course, according to all kinds

of witnesses.  Multiple witnesses have described how he was disturbed by

the shadow campaign to Ukraine to get Ukraine to testify against – or

investigate the Bidens.

 

It came to a head during a July 10 meeting with Ukrainian officials at the

White House, where, according to former State Department adviser Alexander

Vindman, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland started to speak about Ukraine

delivering specific investigations in order to secure a meeting between

Trump and the Ukrainian president, at which time Bolton cut the meeting

short. 

 

And former NSC official Fiona Hill testified that Bolton was so disturbed

by the efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate Trump`s political

opponents, that he called it a drug deal, according to NBC News. 

 

NBC reports further that Hill also testified that Bolton told her to report

the situation to a top lawyer at the National Security Council.  That would

be Eisenberg.

 

And acting Ambassador to the Ukraine Bill Taylor testified that Bolton told

him to relay his concerns over the withholding of military aid to Secretary

of State Mike Pompeo. 

 

I`m joined right by NBC`s correspondent Ken Dilanian.  And Joshua Geltzer

is former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security

Council. 

 

Thank you, gentlemen. 

 

What I like about Bolton is, he used a great compelling phrase, drug deal,

smelly, dirty, furtive, shouldn`t be done, illegal, obviously, a deal to

try to hold up U.S. military assistance to get dirt. 

 

And yet he`s holding out.  Can you read – is he going to be an available

witness?  Because Pelosi says, we`re not going to waste time with court

fights.  We`re going to move ahead.  If we can`t get him, we`re not going

to get him.  But if we can get him, what will we get from him?

 

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT:  My analysis would

be that he has no patience for Donald Trump, but he`s also a hard-core

Republican.  He doesn`t want to be seen as the key witness who took down

the Trump presidency. 

 

So he wants a judge to force him to go.  And his deputy…

 

MATTHEWS:  But he won`t get that for months. 

 

DILANIAN:  Well, his deputy was in court today, has filed a lawsuit asking

– and they share a lawyer – asking a judge to decide, who`s right here? 

Do I have to testify or not? 

 

MATTHEWS:  Can you expedite a judge decision?

 

DILANIAN:  Well, the judge told the Justice Department, speed it up, guys. 

Don`t take vacation.  I want this – I want this decided. 

 

So, perhaps that accelerates. 

 

But, regardless, if Bolton gets up there, particularly in public, if this

goes to public hearings, he would be a devastating witness. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  OK.

 

Because the Republican Party, to the sense – to the extent there is a

schism between the Trumpians and the old hawks, he`s the hawk leader.  He`s

the one that has the bona fides of a real patriot of the right. 

 

JOSHUA GELTZER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I think that`s right. 

 

And he could add to a story that`s unfolding of a White House and a

National Security Council that was not fighting over policy, not disputing

what the Republican, the American, the hawkish approach should be to Russia

or to Ukraine, but instead was concerned that improprieties were happening,

that perhaps the law was being violated. 

 

That`s a very different type of debate within the NSC for any normal White

House or any normal presidency, and he could keep telling that story. 

 

MATTHEWS:  We`re getting his account from everybody. 

 

DILANIAN:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  Do we need him? 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody says, Bolton said, Bolton said, Bolton said.  Is that

enough? 

 

DILANIAN:  Here`s the thing.

 

Bolton was in meetings that these other witnesses were not in.  He`s the –

he was the national security adviser.  So he was in meetings with Donald

Trump that perhaps few other people were in. 

 

So who knows what else he might be able to – he may significantly add to

this story.  And he may go in other directions.  He could be a really

powerful witness, if they can get him.

 

And also he`s kind of a famous guy. 

 

MATTHEWS:  He`s well-known.

 

DILANIAN:  Like, these other people are faceless bureaucrats. 

 

He goes in public and testifies, he`s a credible Republican and a well-

known guy. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What I like about him, again, is this schism in the party

between the real hawks and these sort of opportunists, who – I will just

say that.

 

He – when he speaks, everybody`s going to know he`s speaking out of

national interest, whatever you think of his politics.

 

GELTZER:  I think that`s right. 

 

What you would hear from him presumably, is a story that goes one step

beyond, did something wrong happen here?  We know something wrong happened

here.  We have read the transcript.  We have seen the text messages

exchanged. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

GELTZER:  The question now is, how much and how many people knew it?

 

He seemed to know something had gone off the rails.  He`s the one who said,

go talk to the lawyers about this. 

 

So to keep building on how widespread was the problem and how widespread

was the awareness that it was a problem, he can add to that.

 

MATTHEWS:  He could give a title to a book about this too, drug deal. 

Anyway, that`s pretty informative about how sleazy it is.

 

Anyway, thank you, Ken Dilanian, as always.  Thank you, Joshua, for coming

back. 

 

Up next, President Obama`s national security adviser joins me to share her

insights on the attempts to bury the Ukraine call summary in a secret

server, her new book, and more.

 

Ambassador Susan Rice comes here to play HARDBALL after this break.  We

have got a great guest coming up, a woman of history.

 

Don`t go away. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Today, Timothy Morrison, the Trump administration National Security Council

senior director for Europe and Russia affirmed the link between military

aid to Ukraine and political dirt for the president.  He joined 11 other

current and former officials who have broken with the president to testify

in the House impeachment inquiry.

 

To date, the White House has refused to cooperate with those proceedings

and has pressured key individuals to do the same.  President Trump has

targeted some of these public servants himself saying they`re part of the

deep state.  And he`s out to get them. 

 

Like many of these individuals, Susan Rice has spent her career on the

front lines of American diplomacy and foreign policy, and her new book

there it is “Tough Love” she details those years. 

 

Susan Rice, former national security advisor to ambassador – well, to

Barack Obama.  She joins me now. 

 

Ambassador, thank you for joining us. 

 

SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER:  Great to be with you, Chris.

 

MATTHEWS:  When you watch this spectacle, a top national security people

who we`ve never heard of before in most cases coming forward testifying in

a SCIF, down in the basement of the capitol about the president`s behavior

trading national interest, trust for personal political gain, what does it

take for those people to come out and talk? 

 

RICE:  Well, understand, Chris, for the most part these are civil servants

who never wanted to be national names.  They just wanted to do their jobs

quietly, effectively in service of the country.  So, for them to come

forward requires enormous guts and enormous patriotism.  And they`re doing

it clearly at great risk to their careers.  So – and maybe to their

personal security. 

 

So this is quite serious to the extent that they`ve chosen against the

wishes of the White House to share what they know. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So they have the words I think a new deal, a passion for

anonymity.  They didn`t want to be famous. 

 

RICE:  They didn`t sign-up for the public spotlight. 

 

MATTHEWS:  And then the president of the United States calls one of them,

his envoy to Ukraine, scum.  What – how does that resonate among the

people who are right now as we speak going home with homework from the NSC

to do their jobs every night? 

 

RICE:  Well, I hope certainly the men and women who work at the NSC who, in

my experience, over two administrations are loyal, committed public

servants of neither party for the most part know that the American people

respect and admire what they`re doing because obviously, they`re not

getting the support they need from their superiors. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you how things are done.  The president has a phone

conversation with a foreign leader, in this case an ally, Zelensky of

Ukraine, a new president of a very endangered country. 

 

What happens to that conversation?  How is it archived?  How is it kept,

curated, whatever?  How does that work? 

 

Because we`ve been hearing about it.  Is it a transcript?  Is it a summary? 

Was it notes?  What is it?  What is it you`re looking at?

 

RICE:  Well, I can speak to my experience and most recently in the Obama

administration.  What would happen if there was a foreign leader call is

that staff and note takers in the Situation Room would draft a transcript

of the call.  And it was meant to be as complete as it could be, typically. 

 

The responsible staff members would review it.  It appears from testimony

that Colonel Vindman was one of those that was supposed to review it for

accuracy.  And where there are garbles or things that are omitted, they

would make those changes. 

 

In normal times, in my experience, that transcript would ultimately be

approved by the national security advisor or the deputy national security

advisor and then it would go into the records.  And those records would not

be kept in a super secret highly classified setting –

 

MATTHEWS:  Who could do that?  Who could say I want this squirreled away

hidden from history like this guy Eisenberg did? 

 

RICE:  Well, it strikes me as unusual to say the least.  And in my

experience, I wasn`t aware of anybody making the judgment that something

should go on a particular server or not.  That server to my knowledge was

used for the most secret super classified documents.  Never in my knowledge

for a transcript. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about that – the decision to do that, what would

be the purpose of doing it?  Why would you hide something? 

 

RICE:  Well, obviously, it seems from what we`ve learned already that the

intent was to minimize the number of people who could see something that

might be embarrassing or worse to the president. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make about Mick Mulvaney – 

 

RICE:  Which by the way is not supposed to be the role of a White House

lawyer. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make about the fact Mulvaney was acting chief of

staff and head of OMB, which is huge job, was not even notified about going

after and killing al Baghdadi? 

 

RICE:  If those reports are true, it`s extraordinary.  I mean, I can`t

imagine a situation where the White House chief of staff would not only not

be notified but not be part of it planning and discussions around such a

consequential decision. 

 

And there was some statement suggesting he wasn`t near secure

communications and couldn`t be notified in time.  If the White House chief

of staff isn`t in close proximity to secure communications then we`re all

in trouble, the system has broken down. 

 

I never traveled anywhere – the White House chief of staff travelled

anywhere – 

 

MATTHEWS:  Jack Lew – 

 

RICE:  Or Dennis McDonough.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

 

RICE:  When was I was national security advisor, never traveled anywhere

without communicators very nearby to provide just that type of

connectivity.–

 

MATTHEWS:  Because that`s how you connect with the president.

 

RICE:  That`s how you are there present when circumstances necessitate – 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you said the word “system”, I`m not sure we got one right

now.

 

Susan Rice is going to stick with us and talk about her book “Tough Love.”

 

Coming up, remember those iconic photo, that one the day after Donald

Trump`s election, there it is.  What were they thinking at that moment? 

That`s next. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

In her new book “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For”,

former national security advisor Susan Rice writes about how she recognized

the very real prospect of a Trump presidency back in August 2015. 

 

Quote: During a small dinner party with President Obama and a couple of

senior political aides, I said that I could see a way for Trump to gain the

nomination.  I persisted saying there`s a lot of hate out there.  You know

some people just can`t get over where we are now.  I was not suggesting

then that Trump would be president, but I didn`t think the nomination was

out of reach. 

 

Well, Susan Rice is back with us with her clairvoyance. 

 

So, you thought it was doable that he might just pull that thing off? 

 

RICE:  I certainly thought it was possible he could win the nomination. 

This was August 2015, so we still had quite a ways to go to the nomination,

but I saw a path.  I`m not proud to –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, I`ve said it 1,000 times in this show, and I

believe in it, that Barack Obama was a sterling character, his family was

such a sterling perfect family, they are perfect by any standards of

traditional American values.  They obeyed all the rules.  They weren`t

money grubbers.  They – public service from the beginning of his career. 

He didn`t – he didn`t even go into private money, he went into helping the

country with community development, the whole works – public service. 

 

And it drives some people who don`t like the success of anybody that was a

minority crazy.  You suggested that was one of the reasons why you thought

Trump might win. 

 

RICE:  I think it was that and more.  I think there was a vein of

discontent that I sensed that Trump had the potential to tap into. 

 

Part of it may have been of course the fact that we had an African-American

president who was elected twice and quite successful in office. 

 

But I think it was broader than that.  And, you know, at that time, the

field was very large.  And it seemed almost inconceivable to most people

that it wouldn`t be, you know, a Bush or a Rubio or something like that. 

 

But Trump had a particular brand of tapping into visceral, negative views

of, you know, many Americans. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Demagogues, too. 

 

RICE:  And they were out to divide us. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you write the day after Trump`s election, quote, I felt

like a stinging rebuke of all we believed in, unity, equality, dignity,

honesty, hope, and progress. 

 

The more I thought about it, the worse I felt.  You had early dealings with

Michael Flynn who was going to be your successor in national security. 

 

RICE:  He was my successor for 24 days. 

 

MATTHEWS:  And you predicted – well, in the book you say predicted, this

guy is not going to last.  What was it in him you saw as fragile, let`s put

it that way? 

 

RICE:  He seemed to me out of his depth.  Interestingly not the man we all

saw at the Republican convention shouting “lock her up” but rather quite

subdued, quite humble it seemed at the weight of the job as he should have

been.  But substantively, strategically he didn`t seem that well-prepared

and he didn`t seem that interested in learning what he needed to learn to

get prepared.

 

MATTHEWS:  That grabbed me, the fact that a guy or woman who`s about to

take over for the world, the NSC has to cover every continent, every

political issue, and he only spent like 10 hours with you total?

 

RICE:  It was 12 hours and I chased him for those meetings.  He was busy

meeting foreigners as well as doing whatever he thought President-elect

Trump wanted him to do.  I was trying to get him to understand what he

needed to do to hit the ground running in terms of substance, the issues he

needed to face on day one as well as running the NSC, how to staff it, what

the budget was, basic stuff. 

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s a great book.  This is real person, by the way, not just an

expert. 

 

So I want to talk about the Nats.  I watched all the games.  Why would it

seem only win on the road and win every single game on the road and lose

all the home games? 

 

RICE:  God bless them.  I mean, I`m old enough, Chris, as you are, born and

raised in Washington, D.C., as I write about in the book, to remember the

Senators and how heartbreaking it was when they left.  And here we now

finally, finally have World Series champions. 

 

I don`t know about you, I know you must have been thrilled last night.  I

was whooping and hollering in my hotel room in Boston. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You threw out a pitch one night. 

 

RICE:  I did.

 

MATTHEWS:  And I love the honesty about it because nobody can throw 60 feet

at 60 inches without practice. 

 

RICE:  I practiced.   Hell yes, I practiced.  I didn`t want to be looped on

Fox throwing a dirt ball. 

 

MATTHEWS:   And there you`re throwing a nice overhand and you`re throwing

it – you`re throwing it damn well so it would reach the plate, and I know

what that means.

 

RICE:  And it was a strike.  It was a strike.

 

MATTHEWS:  You got it in the strike zone.

 

RICE:  And I swear to God of all the things I`ve had to do, performing in

front of crowds, that was the most nervous I`ve ever been. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Because the one thing you don`t want to do when you get to throw

that ball is – there`s a phrase for it.

 

RICE:  Dirt ball.

 

MATTHEWS:  I did that at Double A team up once.  I practiced so hard for

the Nats one time and I got that one a little bit outside but definitely

over – definitely credible, but not a strike.  Thank you for you. 

 

Susan Rice with another strike, author of “Tough Love”, a great book about

an interesting person. 

 

Up next, what we can learn from the best leaders and best journalists. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  At their best, great leaders and great journalists are also

educators.  By their state craft in the case of leaders, by their trade

craft in the case of journalists, they show us how it is done. 

 

Watch Speaker Nancy Pelosi these past weeks.  Notice her sense of timing,

her patience in waiting for the key moment, her quickness in action when it

came. 

 

She held off her caucus until she saw the clear-cut case for the

president`s impeachment, that she struck with all her force and intellect. 

 

Today, we got the accounting from that – 231 Democratic votes for the

impeachment inquiry, just two against.  Better yet, three strong

impeachable witnesses to the president`s abuse of power all testifying on

the record – three strikes as every American knows and you`re out. 

 

Tomorrow night, we have a top journalist on to talk about impeachment but

also about her trade craft.  My colleague Rachel Maddow will come on

HARDBALL to assess this historic week, to talk to about “Blowout” her huge

new best-seller about the fouling corrupting power of oil.  Don`t miss

Rachel tomorrow night here on HARDBALL.  She always has something to teach. 

 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

 

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