Susan Rice plays Hardball. TRANSCRIPT: 10/31/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
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
“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Three strikes. Three strikes. Let`s play
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington, the hometown of the World
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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.
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
We`ve got much more to talk to tonight. Here`s a great president and
there`s Susan Rice. Stay with us.
(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
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
But during the debate on the resolution, they again criticized Democrats`
(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
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
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…
MATTHEWS: What would that be?
STEELE: Well, I don`t know what that would be.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
And the fact is that this guy Van Drew voted with his district makes
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.
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
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
So you`re going to have essentially the same parallel that comes out in
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
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope they have you on the Senate floor when the time
comes, because I think that was a good argument.
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
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?
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.
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
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
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
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.
MATTHEWS: Do we need him?
MATTHEWS: Everybody says, Bolton said, Bolton said, Bolton said. Is that
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-
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
MATTHEWS: Jack Lew –
RICE: Or Dennis McDonough.
RICE: When was I was national security advisor, never traveled anywhere
without communicators very nearby to provide just that type of
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
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?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
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 –
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
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
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.
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
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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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the