2020 Democratic race is a 4 person race. TRANSCRIPT: 11/26/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Ned Price, Malcolm Nance, Elizabeth Wydra, Jon Meacham

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  I hope you enjoy some of it, if not, all of it. 

And I will see you back here on THE BEAT tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.


Don`t go anywhere though, because tonight with all these breaking news,

HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Impeachment, full speed ahead.  Let`s play



Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.


I come to you tonight on a split screen nation.  Just as we`re getting news

that the impeachment train is moving forward at full speed, President Trump

is down in Florida this hour rallying his never die troops.


There`s also breaking news tonight on that White House order to hold up

military aid to Ukraine.  We`re learning that two staffers at the Office of

Management and Budget resigned at least in part over that freeze in aid. 

That`s according to the closed-door transcript of a senior OMB official

released just a little while ago.  Much more on that a little later.


But the big news of the day is that House Democrats are taking the next big

step on impeachment.  The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry

Nadler, announced today that his committee will begin action on impeachment

with its first big hearing next Wednesday.  That`s a week from now.  That

came in a letter Nadler sent to the president inviting Trump to defend

himself in hearings with his counsel present.


It comes as the president`s men, all of whom have refused to testify,

became further embroiled in the unfolding scandal.  In a press conference

today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would not refute the fiction that it

was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the 2016 election.  And that`s the

same debunked conspiracy theory that Trump asked Ukrainian President

Zelensky to investigate in that infamous July 25th phone call.


Unbelievably, Pompeo said that the U.S. should investigate that discredited

claim of Ukraine interference, lending credibility to the president`s false





REPORTER:  Do you believe that the U.S. and Ukraine should investigate the

theory that it was Ukraine and not Russia that hacked the DNC emails in



MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  Any time there is information that

indicates that any country has messed with American elections, we not only

have a right but a duty to make sure we chase that down.


So whatever nation it is that we have information that so much as suggests

that there might have been interference or an effort to interfere in our

elections, we have an obligation to make sure that the American people get

to go to the ballot box and cast their ballots in a way that is unimpacted

by these malevolent actors trying to undermine our western democratic





MATTHEWS:  Well, the word isn`t duty.  It`s toady, sir.  You`re a toady.


Pompeo is embracing that discredited narrative after we learned it`s a fact

that it was a product of Russian intelligence which deployed a network of

agents to blame Ukraine for its 2016 interference.  In other words, the

American secretary of state right there is giving credence to a

disinformation campaign being run out of the Kremlin.  Never seen anything

like it.


I`m joined right now by Ashley Parker, White House Reporter for The

Washington Post, Ned Price, former Senior Director at the NSC, and Malcolm

Nance, former Naval intelligence officer and author of, The Plot to Betray

America.  There it is.


In another breaking story just moments ago, The New York Times revealed

that President Trump had already been briefed on a whistleblower`s

complaint, the whistleblower`s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine

when he unfroze the military aid for the country in September.  That means

that Trump was well aware that he was being accused of wrongdoing when he

released the aid and when he denied a quid pro quo to Ambassador Sondland.


Let me go to Ashley Parker on this.


Ashley, this is a Times story but what does this mean?



adds another detail to this rapidly unfolding story, but it`s one thing the

White House and the president`s allies have always said is that there`s

nothing untoward, there`s no quid pro quo because the president ultimately

released the aid.


This now shows perhaps that the reason he released the aid was because he

knew he was in trouble, he knew there was a whistleblower complaint coming,

and that is what prompted him, and it wasn`t quite the picture they are

painting that he put a hold on the aid but, of course, he was always going

to release it.  So it doesn`t mean that it`s right but it certainly raises

the very plausible question that he had to be prompted by a whistleblower

complaint in a congressional investigation.


MATTHEWS:  Ned, this is the argument made by the Democrats on the House

Intel Committee.  He was caught.  That`s why I gave back the money.



simple as that.  And I think there`s a confluence of these two things that

Trump knew he was going to be in a political vice, if not, a legal vice. 

It was news of this whistleblower complaint.


And I often think we forget this, but Congress put these data points, some

of these data points at least, together itself, and on September 9th,

announced the start of an investigation into Giuliani`s meddling in Ukraine

tied in with the withholding of this aid.  They didn`t know all that we

know now, but it`s clear that they were at least on to pieces of this.


But this is really a pattern we`ve seen throughout this administration,

Chris.  They don`t act until they`re caught.  Remember Mike Flynn, Trump`s

first national security adviser?  He wasn`t fired until he was caught by

The Washington Post in his lies after 24 days.  Same with Stormy Daniels. 

Trump, at first, denied it and then he was caught.  And, ultimately, his

lawyer fest up, and then they fest up on FEC paperwork, and now we`re

seeing it with this.  It`s a pattern that has played out time and again in

this administration.


MATTHEWS:  Malcolm, it looks to me, like today, there`s so much news today. 

We`ve got the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, there clawing away, trying

to sell the president`s argument.  It was Ukraine pushing that on the same

that John Kennedy, the senator from New Orleans, from Louisiana, admitting

that he was not telling the truth the other day when he said it was



But there`s seems to be like – it`s a war of attrition.  How long is it

going to take to stop them from lying?  That`s really the blunt fact here. 




happening right now is an information warfare technique.  It is a

disinformation operation that they have sat down and thought about.  This

isn`t happening that everyone is speaking about it spontaneously using the

exact same words.


They are using this meta narrative for their constituency, the Fox News

consumer, that Ukraine did this, and even knowing this is Russian

intelligence-developed theme which Fiona Hill gave us a brilliant warning

about last week saying that they were spreading Russian disinformation



It gets their ultimate client off the hook.  And you would think that would

be Donald Trump, but it, in fact, is Vladimir Putin.  They are actually

shilling for Vladimir Putin to make it look like Ukraine did this.


I have one way we can start this.  We are just going have to categorize

these people who are denying this as Trump-Russia truthers.  I mean, this

is like people who deny the moon landing or September 11th.  It`s

absolutely ludicrous.


MATTHEWS:  Well, I want to get to Ashley on this question.  Ashley, I

mentioned the fact that John Kennedy, the Republican Senator from

Louisiana, recanted – that sounds rather biblical, but he recanted his

false assertion that Ukraine might have carried out the hacking of the DNC. 

And here`s what Senator Kennedy of Louisiana said on yesterday – actually,

he said on Sunday to start this saga.




CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST:  Senator Kennedy, who do you believe was

responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their

emails?  Was it Russia or Ukraine?


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA):  I don`t know, nor do you, nor do any of us.




MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s not true because Kennedy admitted last night, to

his credit, I believe, that he was wrong, saying he misheard the question

from Chris Wallace.  Let`s watch him go at it.




KENNEDY:  Now, Chris is right.  I was wrong.  The only evidence I have, and

I think it`s overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST:  That`s what the consensus says.


KENNEDY:  I see no – yes, I see no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.




MATTHEWS:  Ashley, I`m not a media critic, but it`s fascinating, isn`t it,

that se Said they`re wrong, what isn`t true on Fox and he`s corrected it on

CNN.  There`s an interesting point.


But I want to get to you in a bigger question.  The train is moving.  Next

Wednesday, they`re beginning the action in the House Judiciary.  It seems

to me they will have plenty of time in that three-week period beginning on

next Monday and Tuesday to get this thing done and get articles to the



PARKER:  Yes.  They are trying to move very quickly.  And you`re seeing

that even in the House Intelligence Committee, there`s a favorable ruling

with Don McGahn that he could testify.  But what you`re seeing is they are

keeping the focus, as Leader Pelosi wanted very narrow, and they are moving

quickly ahead.  And that`s why they`re moving it over to the House

Judiciary Committee, and they hope to have a vote potentially before the

Christmas holiday.


The Democrats have not always been an easy issue for them but they have

been incredibly, incredibly disciplined on this, and that`s what we`re

seeing in this very quick timeframe.


MATTHEWS:  Why is it working?  I know – I mean, the Democratic Party has a

lot of interesting political personalities in it from the very left, if you

will, the very progressive wing, Maxine Waters, for example, some of the

newer members, AOC, and you have somewhat more moderate people over more

established members, more like Pelosi and her people that she grew up with

politically.  How is she reeling (ph) the people in?  How is she keeping

them so together, historically together in this campaign to bring the

president to justice?


PARKER:  Well, that is Pelosi`s skill as a leader.  She can count votes. 

She knows where her caucus is.  And the one thing she said going forward

was that this inquiry would have to have bipartisan support.  That seems as

of now not likely to be the case.


But one thing you are hearing echoed from all Democrats as more information

comes out is this isn`t an issue of them they say of about politics, it`s

one of morality and the Constitution and what they will tell their

grandchildren.  And so in that manner, she`s sort of have been able to push

them toward this outcome that the left wing of the party was pulling them

towards while giving them a rationale that they all seem to be comfortable

even though it doesn`t have much of any Republican support right now.


MATTHEWS:  Malcolm, you`re up there and I can see the cityscape of

Philadelphia behind you, a familiar likeable setting for me.  But it seems

like the people in the color (ph) counties up there, like Madeleine Dean, I

saw her an hour or so on T.V. here on M.S., they seem very comfortable with

this effort right now led by Pelosi to bring this president to justice, to

impeach him.


NANCE:  and I think you`re absolutely right.  But in the ultimate universe

that is another channel, all evening, I`ve been seeing people tweet that

the Democrats are backing off of impeachment and that 30 percent – they`ve

lost 30 percent support.


You know, we – the Democrats are keeping their effort strong and straight

and focused, and as it exactly should be because they are following the

constitutional norms and trying to maintain the dignity of this process and

be factual.


But they are going up against opponents who do not believe that they are

even on the same planet and that this process is completely falling apart. 

And that meta narrative, as we keep saying, works for them, and it will

work for their Senate acquittal to a certain extent.


MATTHEWS:  Ned, give me some psycho history here, because I understand

people out there – I know them, ones in my family.  I know people that are

pro-Trump and never quitters, they`re just with Trump.  But they`re

civilians, if you will.  Why do people like Pompeo, who`s certainly a smart

person, why is he hooking his cart in the history books – in the history

books, whenever he runs for the Senate or wherever, he will go down in

history, his capsule statement, his obit (ph) will be Trump.  Why are they

doing this?  They`re smarter on Trump on this stuff and they might be

morally better than him.


PRICE:  Look, Pompeo is not thinking of Trump, first and foremost.  He`s

thinking of one person, himself.  Obviously, he has grander political

ambitions.  He wants to go on to the Senate in Kansas and potentially

onward from that.


MATTHEWS:  As a Trumpee?


PRICE:  As a Trumpee.  But right now, he sees Trump as a vehicle, as a

vessel.  He sees Trump as the only person to whom he can attach himself to

remain in good political bases with this base and good political graces

with this base that he needs.  We`ve seen the name from Nikki Haley, and

we`ve the same from any number of senators, and we`ve seen the same from

Jeff Sessions who, of course, had a tumultuous relationship with President

Trump when he was his attorney general.


I think this will remain the case until and unless the president becomes so

politically toxic.




PRICE:  But he`s not with the base these people need.  Until that day

comes, I think you will see them attached at the hip.  But as soon as that

day nears, I think you will see them run so far and so fast in the other

direction that they`ll forget his name.


MATTHEWS:  Did I hear you, Malcolm, with that sound?  What did you mean by

that sound?  Like I can`t leave you there.


NANCE:  I`ve seen a lot of phenomenon in my life.  I`ve seen a lot of

operations.  You know, the behaviors that I am seeing here, and this

anecdotal, are very similar to the way that ISIS members are.  They are

true believers, and this is their reality, and they will not surrender it. 

You know, they`re dead-enders.


MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m glad to see John Kennedy, a nice name, by the way, to

have in your career down in Louisiana, a Republican, a conservative said

today, I`m not on the train anymore.  He basically said, I will not argue

that the Kremlin line that it was Ukraine that hacked the DNC server.  I

don`t believe it`s sitting over there somewhere in Kiev.  I mean, he did

show something today, some good today, I think.


Ashley Parker, congratulations on your monitoring of that debate the other

night.  That was first-grade work for a print guy and you`re really

something to jump into that scene out there.  It was great work.  Thank

you.  You made us all proud.  Ned price, sir, thank you, Edward Price.  I

know your real name.  Anyway, Malcolm, I love your attitude.  As we say in

Philly, attitude, you got it.  Thank you for coming on tonight.


Coming up, breaking news tonight, new transcripts were just released in the

impeachment investigation, including from OMB Staffer Mark Sandy who has

testified in the transcript that two colleagues of his at OMB quit their

jobs in large part because of the president`s Ukraine shakedown.  So some

people are pulling off this – jumping off this train.


Plus, President Trump believes there are no limits to his – how do you

like that, find that in the Constitution.  It`s available on Google.  Try

and find in the Constitution where it says the president can do anything he

wants to.  But the courts are now pushing back, thank God, with a federal

judge telling Trump, presidents are not kings.


And it`s anybody`s race, by the way, right now.  Meanwhile, the Democrats

on national poll, this is amazing, shows a four-way contest.  Now,

nationally, for the Democratic presidential nomination with mayor Pete

Buttigieg surging, Warren dropping hard, big surprise going on out there. 

We`ll get to that tonight.


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




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


Late tonight, impeachment investigators released transcripts from the

testimony of Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state, and

Mark Sandy, a senior official to the Office of Management and Budget, the

OMB.  Sandy was involved in implementing the president`s hold back of

security aid to Ukraine last summer, and he`s the only budget official to

testify in the House inquiry.  He testified that he received the order to

freeze aid to Ukraine by email, noting that the email did not mention any

other country nor any other aid package.  It targeted just Ukraine.


He testified that throughout all of July and August, he could get no

explanation for why the hold was put in place.  It wasn`t until early

September that Sandy received an email that attributed the hold to the

president`s concern about other countries not contributing more to Ukraine. 

His testimony appears consistent with the reporting from The Washington

Post, that the White House had engaged in extensive efforts to generate an

after-the-fact justification for the decision to freeze that money to



Sandy also testified that he`s aware of the two former staffers who left

the OMB at least in part because of concerns related to that aid freeze

against Ukraine.  And one of them worked in the office`s legal counsel



I`m joined right now by Josh Lederman, NBC News National Political

Reporter, and Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney.


Let`s go to some of the reporting here.  It seems like there was a lot of

covering up and fussing around and fixing and gussying up, if you will. 

They didn`t want it to look – some people didn`t want to look like they

were just screwing Ukraine to get them to do the dirty word digging up

stuff about 2016, bogus, crazy stuff, and Joe Biden and his son.


So, they came up with this other stuff.




And we have been combing over these 400 pages that were just released in

the last hour or so, Chris.  And one of the things that we learned was that

one of these two officials who resigned partially because of their concerns

about this Ukraine assistance being suspended was a lawyer who was

specifically concerned about a possible violation of a law that says, when

Congress approves money, and the president signs it into law, the executive

branch can`t then just not spend it. 


So, in real time, you had officials that were so concerned that this was

not even possibly legal that one of them, in fact, left because of that.  

The other one leaves…


MATTHEWS:  This was a huge issue during Watergate, was impoundment.


Nixon was denying – refusing to spend money that Congress had



LEDERMAN:  Certainly.


And we have heard from a whole parade of witnesses who have testified there

were legal concerns, not only at the White House, but also at the Defense

Department, about how this could be done.  And you see negotiations going

on that Sandy was testifying about, about how they`re going to do the

footnote, what exactly they`re going to say to explain what the legal

justification is for what they`re doing. 


MATTHEWS:  Sequence this.  Was this something that was being done, this

effort to justify the shakedown, basically, was it done after the president

knew about the complaint, the whistle-blower?


LEDERMAN:  This would have happened – based on the reporting from “The New

York Times” as well tonight, most of this would have been happening



MATTHEWS:  So, they were caught?


LEDERMAN:  Well, certainly part of that. 


And we don`t know if these officials that are in question, these budget

officials, would have known about that whistle-blower complaint



MATTHEWS:  But the president did, according “The Times” tonight. 


LEDERMAN:  The president, according to “The New York Times,” certainly did

learn about it. 


MATTHEWS:  Barbara, how does this fit into a criminal case and how you

watch how people behave and move things around, evidence around, to try to

create a different setting, a different look to something? 


BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, I think one of the things

that does is, it creates what`s known as consciousness of guilt evidence,

that if you`re trying to hide facts, it`s because you believe the truth may

be incriminating. 


I think one other really significant part about this here, about this

empowerment concept, Chris – and you`re absolutely right.  A law was

passed in 1974, in response to Nixon`s abuses, called the Impoundment

Control Act, that says that the president cannot play around with

distributions by Congress, appropriations by Congress.


It`s Congress who has the power of the purse.  And so what`s so important

about this, I think, is that even if there is no quid pro quo that`s ever

proven, we now have an illegal act in the withholding of the aid, as well

as an illegal act in the request for an investigation. 


So even if you can`t tie those two things together, there`s an abuse of

power by the president here. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, just when you think nothing could do to add to this stew,

moments ago, in an interview with former FOX host Bill O`Reilly, President

Trump distanced himself – distances himself from his personal lawyer`s

role in the Ukraine effort, denying he sent him to look for dirt on the



That would be Rudy Giuliani.  Let`s watch.




BILL O`REILLY, TALK SHOW HOST:  What was Rudy Giuliani doing in Ukraine on

your behalf? 



to Rudy. 


 But Rudy, I don`t even know – I know he was going to go to Ukraine, and I

think he canceled a trip.  But Rudy has other clients other than me.  I`m

one person. 




O`REILLY:  So, you didn`t – you didn`t direct him to go there on your

behalf?  You didn`t…


TRUMP:  No, but – no, but you have to understand, Rudy is a great

corruption fighter. 




MATTHEWS:  Oh, my God, I can smell the diesel fuel of the bus as it rides

over him, the diesel exhaust.


LEDERMAN:  And one thing that Democrats are going to point out is, Trump is

saying this on television, but when you go to the testimony that it`s been

done under oath, Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified explicitly that these

moves by Giuliani, that everyone knew that this was because it was Trump`s

wish that they have Ukraine open these investigations.


MATTHEWS:  Full loop, and the president was in it.  And we heard from Dr.

Hill right the next day it was Trump calling the shots. 


It wasn`t just him in the loop.  And here he is saying you would have to

ask Rudy. 


LEDERMAN:  That`s right. 


And we saw from additional testimony today that everybody knew this was an

important thing. 




LEDERMAN:  They knew Burisma meant Biden. 


MATTHEWS:  Barbara, in the mob situation, the lower-level people, the minor

capos, these guys go to prison for four or five years.  And they get –

they get stuff sent into them, so they will make their life more enjoyable,

so that the big guy, the big guy gets off. 


But in a RICO case, you just assume certain things about somebody calling

the shots.  This president looks like a RICO defendant right now.  He looks

like the guy calling all the shots and now blaming it on his lower

captains, his capos.  




Saying, I didn`t know anything, I had other people who were doing these

things is really a way of distancing oneself from criminal activity.  It is

reminiscent of a drug kingpin or of a mob boss to have the underlings do



We even heard President Trump would frequently say, talk to Rudy, as if he

didn`t know it.  But I think one of the things that really undermines his

own claims is the very call that he had with the president of Ukraine, in

which he insists that you should talk to my lawyer Rudy. 


And he ties that conversation to investigation of the Bidens and

investigation of the 2016 election.  So I think this effort to distance

himself to Giuliani just isn`t going anywhere.  It`s only a matter of time

where he claims he doesn`t even know who Rudy Giuliani is. 


MATTHEWS:  Why did it take Bill O`Reilly to get this out of him, to force

him into the corner like this, to force the president to go into a corner

and hide there and say, was Rudy doing it?


Something about O`Reilly`s not so much credibility, because that`s a

problem with him, but his toughness.  There`s something he was afraid of

lying to O`Reilly.  He did lie to him. 


But what do you think – how did he force him to this, to throw Giuliani

under the bus just like that. 


LEDERMAN:  Well, we have seen that the president really only wants to talk

about these issues with conservative outlets and conservative journalists.


MATTHEWS:  It`s O`Reilly`s people are his people. 


LEDERMAN:  Well, certainly, that has been that pattern of when he and the

White House officials are willing to talk about these issues. 




So, in a way, he was to handling the audience of O`Reilly when he was

talking to O`Reilly.  He said, oh, my God, all those right-wingers out

there and anti-establishment types and all those angry white guys, I`m

talking to them. 


LEDERMAN:  Well, and to Barbara`s point, not only did Trump make this

pretty clear on his call with Zelensky, but you also have White House

acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who said explicitly from the podium at

the White House that the aid was held back because they wanted these



MATTHEWS:  Well, I think Bill O`Reilly got a two-run double right then. 


Thank you, Josh Lederman.  Thank you, Barbara McQuade.


Up next:  A federal judge rejects the Trump administration`s claim of –

well, who would make this claim?  Absolute immunity.  That`s the

president`s claim, Article 2 the Constitution, his reading says he can do

anything he wants, and he doesn`t have to answer any questions for it. 


This doesn`t mean that key figures, however, like former National Security

Adviser John Bolton, will be forced to actually give information about

Trump`s Ukraine shakedown.  They may have to show up, but will they talk or

just write books? 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


President Trump has repeatedly argued he can do whatever he wants – Do you

hear that? – whatever he wants, saying it`s in the Constitution. 


He says, specifically, it`s an Article 2, which outlines the powers of the

presidency.  Here he goes. 




TRUMP:  Article 2 allows me to do whatever I want.  Article 2 would have

allowed me to fire him.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS:  When the president does it, it is not



TRUMP:  I`m just saying a president, under Article 2, it`s very strong. 

Read it.  Do you have Article 2?  Read it. 


Also, take a look at one other thing.  It`s a thing called Article 2. 

Nobody ever mentions Article 2.  It gives me all of these rights at a level

that nobody has ever seen before.  We don`t even talk about Article 2.


Then I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as

president.  But I don`t even talk about that. 




MATTHEWS:  He acts like he`s found something in the Dead Sea Scrolls. 


I mean, what – everybody knows the Constitution.  He`s got one thing

right, of course.  Article 2 of the Constitution does grant the president

executive power.  It does not, however, grant him unlimited power. 


And from the Mueller report investigation to the current House impeachment

inquiry, the administration, Trump, has refused to comply with subpoenas,

using the argument that the president`s advisers have absolute immunity

against having to testify before Congress. 


But then this week, a federal judge in Washington tore down that argument,

yesterday, in fact, in a scathing decision, ordering former White House

counsel Don McGahn to testify.


She wrote: “Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of

recorded American history is that presidents are not kings.”


Well, the Justice Department has already filed an appeal challenging that

decision that presidents are not kings.  But last night, one of the

president`s strongest defenders, Alan Dershowitz, brushed off that judge`s

ruling and argued that Trump is more powerful than a king. 




ALAN DERSHOWITZ, ATTORNEY:  She went nuts, talking about how the

president`s not the king . Of course the president is not the king.  The

president`s far more powerful than the king. 


The president has the power that kings have never had.  He`s – very, very

powerful office, and the framers wanted it that way. 




MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Jon Meacham, presidential historian. 

And Elizabeth Wydra is president of the Constitutional Accountability



I will start with Elizabeth, because I think that was – I don`t understand

Dershowitz`s psychobabble, so I will drop it.  But his argument that

presidents are more powerful than kings, kings can have people killed just

because they didn`t like them. 



that would be news to the American revolutionaries who fought and died

against rising up against a king.


And, look, any “Schoolhouse Rock” viewer knows that that is not true.  We

have Article 2, the president`s right.  But as is indicated by the number,

we have Article 1 and Article 3.  And those lay out the other two branches

of government.


We set out a tripartite government with checks and balances.  At first, we

didn`t even have an executive.  The Articles of Confederation didn`t even

have one, so not a king. 


MATTHEWS:  So, John, if a king – a president has more power than a king,

why do we have a procedure for impeachment?  Why do we have a procedure for

not getting reelected? 


Kings don`t have to run for reelection.  He is not a king.  He has to run

for reelection, had to be elected in the first place, and he can be

impeached.  That`s in the Constitution too, sir. 


JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Yes, an absolutist argument about

Article 2 flies in the face of everything, really, from Magna Carta in the

13th century, Thomas Paine in “Common Sense,” which was published in

January of 1776, five, six months before we declared independence.


He wrote: “Some say, who is the king of America?  Well, in America, the law

is king.”  And as in monarchies, kings are the law, in free republics, the

law should be the king. 


And so this is even older than the republic.  And I think the flirting

with, and even the full embrace in Dershowitz`s case and in Trump`s case

occasionally, with this absolutist ethos, I think, is dangerously

authoritarian and fundamentally un-American, in the sense of our

constitutional and political norms. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, John, I love the way you said that, because I always liked

the – I always liked the guy you mentioned there, “Common Sense.”


And he also said we can start the world anew.  And we wanted to live

ourselves without that king.  And by proving that he wasn`t all-powerful,

we dropped him.  We dropped George III.  Thomas Paine was right. 


WYDRA:  Exactly. 


MATTHEWS:  You can start the world anew.  Trump things we`re living in the

old world. 


Let`s talk about this immunity thing.  If – it`s been argued in the last

couple of days that if White House aides, administration figures, are

immune from testimony, there is no checks and balances, because if you

can`t haul them in and force them to testify, there`s no way to get

evidence in an impeachment process. 


WYDRA:  Absolutely. 


Congress has its oversight role in our checks and balances system set up by

the Constitution.  And in order to conduct oversight, they need to get

information from executive officers.  This has been true since the

beginning of the republic. 


And what Trump is trying to do is not just push back here or there, which

has happened throughout history with administrations, but to have this

blanket immunity.  And that is what the judge this week really said no go. 

And we have seen two other judges do that at least in the cases involving

his accounting firm and tax records. 


Congress has the right to get this information to do its job. 


MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about the idea that there`s pride in the Senate. 


And I do think Mitch McConnell, Jon, is in fact a guy who loves the Senate. 




MATTHEWS:  A lot of people we disagree with politically love the Senate. 

They have pride. 


And my question is, if the Senate doesn`t convict this president and remove

him from office under an article that talks about obstruction of Congress

or obstruction of justice, they`re basically saying the president can do

what he damn well pleases, no matter what Congress, the Senate, run by

Republicans, the House run by Democrats, or it flips next time. 


They`re saying this president or any president do any damn well wants to,

if Congress tries to subpoena him.  Not one document, not one witness has

been forced to come forward from this administration because of a court



That`s frightening. 


MEACHAM:  Yes.  It is frightening.


And Aaron Burr, of all people, who was one of the demagogues that a lot of

the framers had in mind, that kind of person, when they wrote the

Constitution, which was to make the legislative power central, said that,

if a demagogue was ever finally to be stopped, it would happen on the floor

of the United States Senate because of the conviction power. 


And so that is the last arena.  And there are a couple of things here just

to think about.  There`s – the American presidency since World War II, New

Deal, World War II, and then what happened in August of 1945 with the

ushering in the nuclear age, has become unimaginably powerful. 


This is not – you can`t conscript the framers and say to James Mattis and

Alexander Hamilton, the presidency was going to be like this, because it

was just a different universe.  We had it in our power not to begin the

world over again, as Paine said, but after World War II, we had the power

to end the world. 




MEACHAM:  But all of those occupants of that office, Roosevelt, Truman,

Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton,

Bush, Obama, all understood that they were executing a sacred duty. 


Some of them overreached.  Some of them under-reached, but they understood

the basic framework that had kept us going for all these years.  Where we

are now is, we are increasingly detached from that reality-based sense of

the Constitution. 


And that`s the big thing to worry about. 


MATTHEWS:  It`s a good thing to worry about too.


Thank you, Jon Meacham.  It`s great to have you on tonight. 


Elizabeth Wydra, thank you.  I like your constitutional expertise, because

the president has none. 




MATTHEWS:  Up next: the Obama factor.  New reporting today on what the

former president – that would be Barack Obama – has said about Joe Biden

and other Democratic candidates, plus his initial thoughts about meeting

Donald Trump in 2016. 


Wait until you get his take, Obama`s, on meeting Trump. 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


A new Quinnipiac poll out today shows that the Democratic presidential

primary this season is essentially a four-person race with Joe Biden back

in the lead with 24 percent of the vote, Buttigieg at 16 percent, Warren at

14 percent, Bernie Sanders at 13 percent.  They`re all bunched together. 

Warren`s lead, by the way, was cut in half in just one month down from 28

percent where she was a month ago, down to 14 percent now. 


A new “Boston Globe”/Suffolk University poll shows that they`re virtually

tied up in New Hampshire with Bernie Sanders holding a slim lead with 16

percent, followed by all Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Biden, all four of them

within the poll`s margin of error.  So, that one is anybody`s game.


About one in five, by the way, of the Democrats nationally, 21 percent,

they haven`t made up their mind.  I`m sorry, that`s in New Hampshire. 

Twenty-one percent haven`t made up their mind in New Hampshire, which is a

state that usually makes up its mind early. 


And it`s not just those New Hampshire voters who are undecided. 

“Politico`s” Ryan Lizza reports that Barack Obama has been meeting with

many of the presidential candidates, which allows him to collect his own

intelligence about what he and his close advisors have made clear is all

that matters to him who can beat Donald Trump.  That`s what Obama wants to



And while it might be closest to Joe Biden, those are reports Obama told

people close to him before Biden entered the race back then that Biden

would have to earn it.  There would be no endorsement at least at the



It`s also reported that Obama told one candidate during his own 2008

campaign he had an intimate bond with the electorate, especially in Iowa,

that he no longer has.  That`s an amazing statement by Obama, he doesn`t

have that connection anymore. 


And then he added, and you know who really doesn`t have it?  Joe Biden,

that`s Obama talking.


Well, Biden`s currently polling in fourth place in Iowa, according to a

Real Clear Politics polling averages, behind Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren. 


But Lizza reports that Obama also had misgivings about the other leading

candidates.  Quote: In early 2015, when Warren was considering running for

president, Obama said privately that if Democrats rallied around her as

their nominee, it would be a repudiation of him. 


He was deeply skeptical about the prospects of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 


And back when Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, Obama

said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama

would speak up to stop him.  Wow.


There`s also reporting on exactly what Obama thought after he met with

Donald Trump, shortly after the 2016 election.  Hint: he wasn`t impressed. 

Wait until you hear this.  It`s ludicrous. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


“Politico`s” Ryan Lizza reports that after meeting with Donald Trump in the

White House in the days after the 2016 election, President Obama said, he,

meaning Trump, knows absolutely nothing.  It`s a hell of a statement. 


It`s a very similar remark to what former McCain campaign strategist, our

friend Steve Schmidt, said after Sarah Palin, meeting her a few days after

she was chosen to be McCain`s running mate, according to the book “Game

Change.”  He reportedly told another campaign adviser giving Palin a policy

tutorial that, you guys have a lot of work to do, she doesn`t know



I`m joined by Zerlina Maxwell, who knows a lot, senior director of the

progressive programming for Sirius Radio XM, of course, and Howard Fineman,

MSNBC news analyst. 


Howard, we were just – we were chatting beforehand.  A couple of things

are going on.  Buttigieg, we`ll put him aside for a second because he is

appeal to all my fine friends, the kind of people that were living 30 or 40

years ago or 50 years ago, would be for Adlai Stevenson, highly educated,

smart guy, got it together, very articulate, blah blah blah, OK. 


What`s going on with Elizabeth Warren?  I thought she was going to sweep

Iowa, sweep New Hampshire and do a fast break right across the schedule. 


HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC NEWS ANALYST:  Chris, having covered presidential

politics for a long time, I`ve learned that whatever the candidate`s

greatest strength is can usually be their biggest weakness because they set

themselves up to be judged by that.  In Elizabeth Warren`s case, she said,

I`m the smarty-pants with all the plans.  I`ve thought this all through so

carefully and I have a plan for this, a plan for that and a plan for that. 

Well, when it came time for her to defend and then explain and expand on

her plan for Medicare or health care for all –


MATTHEWS:  Single payer. 


FINEMAN:  Single payer.  She got caught up – leave the ideology aside for

a minute, she got caught up in the details of the plan she was developing

more or less on the fly it seemed. 




FINEMAN:  So I think people started taking a second look –


MATTHEWS:  The senator did a two step. 


Let me go to Zerlina.




MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) half of this. 


Certainly she did – the senator did a two step.  First of all, she said

I`m going to charge to the millionaire and billionaire class, there`s not

going to be tax increase for the middle class, and then said she pulled

back and said it won`t be immediate.  I`ll get to it in two or three years. 

Which of those steps hurt her, some that hurt her? 



Well, I think that, you know, her communications director had a good term

for it, I saw it today, it`s called a polar coaster.  And I think that, you

know, the polls are going to change.  


I do agree with one point that Howard made which is that when you put out

detailed proposals, that does leave you open to attacks and criticism and

perhaps, you know, it forces you to adjust some of those plans. 


But to the other candidates in the race, it`s interesting that a candidate

like mailer Pete is surging, and yet he doesn`t have any detailed plans

released.  He has a Douglass Plan for black Americans and then there was a

controversy about the fact – 




MAXWELL:  – that they said black people endorsed it and they in fact did

not endorse the plan. 


So I think that the polling right now is very fluid. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s true.


MAXWELL:  And if everybody remembers the name Gary Hart, I wouldn`t bet on

anybody in this race right now. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I think the difference between these two candidates is

more than any candidate I`ve seen, Elizabeth Warren is running an agenda. 

She said, this is what I`m going to do from day one, I`m going to do this

later, I`m going to do this, she had a lot of plans, I`ve got a plan for



Buttigieg is running himself.  He says, I`m a mayor.  I know how to be an

executive.  I can do it.  It`s a different way of running this campaign. 


Who the voters want, we`ll find out.




MAXWELL:  Well, I will point out one is a man and one is a woman and that

matters in this case.  Women can`t show up and be praised just based on the

potential that you see in them, and I think that is one of the dynamics at

play with Mayor Pete.  And I do very much like him and think he`s a great

candidate.  However, Julian Castro and Cory Booker have similar biographies

and yet they`re not polling as high. 


So, all I`m saying is, this race is very fluid, and there are some dynamics

at play with regards to race and gender, and the lens through which we`re

judging candidates that I think is having an impact on some of these

polling numbers. 


MATTHEWS:  Hard to argue with that historically. 


Moments ago, Trump again attacked the impeachment process and the

Democrats.  Here he is. 





the deranged impeachment – think of this, impeachment.  Impeachment. 




A witch hunt, the same as before.  And they`re pushing that impeachment,

witch hunt and a lot of bad things are happening to them.  Because you see

what`s happening in the polls, everybody said that`s really bullshit. 








MATTHEWS:  Well, I think Barry Commoner said that a hundred years ago and

now the president uses that language.  I mean, I`m not the pastor of the

country, but it does tell you about where we`re headed – Howard. 


FINEMAN:  Yes, and you have made the point on the show before that you

think suburban voters, especially women are going to be put off by that

kind of language, and that kind of person as president –


MATTHEWS:  Because a lot of them spent 20 to 30 years of their life trying

to – 




MATTHEWS:  A different generation than him. 


FINEMAN:  Well, this reminds me of a kind of secular, weird, almost revival

meeting.  It`s not religious, but he`s setting up a light and dark, good

and evil, devil and savior kind of thing.  And that fits into the rhythm of

the people that he`s going after.


MATTHEWS:  Well, he`s got – he`s figured people.


Anyway, thank you so much, Zerlina, always have you on, great on. 


MAXWELL:  Thank you.


MATTHEWS:  That was a good sense.  It`s always great to have you on.  Thank

you very much.  Have a nice Thanksgiving both of you guys.  Howard Fineman,

as well.


FINEMAN:  Thank you.  You too.


MATTHEWS:  Up next, Trump fiddles while the Earth burns.  Think about it. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  In “French Connection”, two New York police detective Popeye

Doyle played by Gene Hackman proclaimed: I`d rather be a lamppost in New

York than the president of France. 


I get it.  The street level of nationalism is what Donald Trump has been

panhandling since he declared himself a political figure in the run-up to

2016 and here he is in 2017 selling the same regular guy against the world

number when he first announced the U.S. would leave the Paris climate

accord in the Rose Garden of the White House. 




TRUMP:  It is time to put Youngtown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many other locations within our great

country before Paris, France. 




MATTHEWS:  What he`s selling here is demagoguery.  Stick your head in the

sand while you vote for him.  But meanwhile on the planet which we all live

on, there`s the reality that the world has wasted so much time dealing with

climate change that according to a new United Nations report today,

rampant, unprecedented cuts in greenhouse gas emissions offer the only hope

of averting an ever intensifying cascade of consequences. 


It doesn`t take an expert to see what`s happening on this Earth of ours. 

In Africa, we see the disappearance of trees, the widening of the Sahara,

the climate devastation that`s setting peoples against each other for a

limed supply of good land in places like Somalia.  In Africa and Latin

America we see the effect the heat has wrought on the population surging

north in rafts across the Mediterranean, and families racing across the Rio

Grande River.  I


n Europe, we see the historic flooding of Venice.  Here in the U.S., the

rising sea levels are about to swamp Miami and not far off threaten the

foundations of Manhattan.  In both California and Australia, we see the

wildfires devastating communities.  We see huge chunks of ice falling from

the Arctic. 


What more do we need to see?  What more do we have to hear from Donald



We thought Emperor Nero was wrong to fiddle as Rome burned, this guy`s

worse.  He uses the reality of climate change to posture himself as the

little guy taking on the experts, the sophisticates, the foreigners. 


Donald Trump gets votes by consciously lying about the scourge facing the

only planet we have.  He`s telling us that none of it is true, none of what

we see is true, none of what our eyes and minds and instincts are telling

us.  He`s using idiot nationalism to take us down, not just we Americans,

but the world with us.


Next Monday, I`m going to talk to former Secretary of State John Kerry

about his new initiative on climate and much more. 


And that`s HARDBALL for now. 


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 







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