Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA) drops Presidential bid. TRANSCRIPT: 12/3/19, Hardball w/ Ari Melber.

Guests:
Eric Swalwell, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Ben Rhodes, Karen Bass, David Frum
Transcript:

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  And I can tell you, we have a lot coming tomorrow

morning.  Special coverage begins at 9:00 A.M. with the Judiciary hearing. 

Tonight, MSNBC Primetime has you covered.  I`ll be filling in with some

expert analysis on all in today and, again, at the LAST WORD with Lawrence. 

And don`t miss any of the lineup, including, of course, Rachel and Chris

Matthews, who starts now.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The whole damn story.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

 

Tonight, we can see that these are not different stories but a single story

with a consortium of players playing their distinct parts, a president

abusing his power, a former New York mayor digging dirt on a former

American vice president, an OMB director telling us to get over it, a

partisan California congressman moonlighting as a GOP operative and a

fringy columnist pushing conspiracy theories about Ukrainian intervention

in the 2016 election.

 

We`ve learned all these players were dark alley partners in a common scheme

to win in 2020.  President Trump telling the Ukraine president he wanted a

favor, Rudy Giuliani working hand-in-glove with the OMB, which controlled

the Ukraine arms aid, Devin Nunes also working the phones with Giuliani`s

bunch and the OMB, all working with a fringe columnist who pushed out their

dirty message.

 

And that`s what today`s intel report tells us, not lone operatives, not

lone operators, not a vague troop of allies but a confidence gang, a

syndicate, a mob all advancing the corrupt plan to discredit the case

against Trump in 2016 and destroy the hopes of a Democrat challenging him

in 2020, in other words, one and the same criminal enterprise.

 

And that`s what we`re learning from the final report by the House

Intelligence Committee today, which just minutes ago cast a momentous vote

to approve their findings in the impeachment inquiry.  The 300-page report

is the basis for the core articles of impeachment, which the Judiciary

Committee will determine later this month.

 

Following its release earlier today, Chairman Adam Schiff delivered a

damning indictment of the president`s conduct.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  This report chronicles the scheme by the

president of the United States to coerce an ally, Ukraine, that is at war

with an adversary, Russia, into doing the president`s political dirty work.

 

And he was willing to sacrifice the national security of the United States

by withholding military aid and diplomatic recognition in the form of that

White House meeting in order to get what he wanted.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, citing, quote, overwhelming and clear evidence of

President Trump`s misconduct, the report states that the House inquiry,

quote, uncovered a months` long effort by President Trump to use the powers

of his office to solicit foreign intervention, interference on his behalf

in the 2020 election.

 

The committee found that, quote, Trump conditioned official acts on a

public announcement by the new Ukrainian president politically-motivated

investigation, and also charges that senior U.S. officials, including the

vice president, the secretary of state, the acting chief of staff, the

secretary of energy and others were either knowledgeable of or active

participants in the president`s scheme.

 

It could be said that the report was written to support two articles of

impeachment at least, one for abuse of power, another for obstructing

Congress, which the committee calls unprecedented.  In fact, the report

today says it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of

obstruction than in that demonstrated by the president since the inquiry

began.

 

The report also contains damaging new revelations about Rudy Giuliani,

showing that the president`s personal lawyer was in touch with the office

responsible for freezing that military aid to Ukraine.  Personally, on the

phone with him, AT&T records show that at the peak of the pressure campaign

against Ukraine in this past August, Giuliani spoke to the Office of

Management and Budget and placed multiple calls to the White House

switchboard and situation room.  So he was in the loop, so was the

president.

 

The phone lines also showed that back in April, Giuliani received several

calls from the OMB, which controlled military aid to Ukraine.  And that`s

when Giuliani was leading a smear campaign, by the way, against former

Ambassador Yovanovitch.

 

I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, who

serves on both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.  Betsy

Woodruff Swan, Politics Reporter for The Daily Beast, Ben Rhodes, former

Deputy National Security Adviser to President Obama, and Peter Baker, Chief

White House Correspondent for The New York Times.

 

I`m holding the report here, Congressman.  Is this how it`s going to read? 

I`m asking this dead seriously.  Is this where we`re going to get the

wording in what used to be the Encyclopedia Britannica?  in the

What`s it going to be in the history books for all-time?  This is the

report that`s going to say why Trump faced impeachment, right?

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  This report will stand the test of time, Chris. 

It`s just a question will my Republican colleagues stand the test of

courage.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this Rudy Giuliani role.  The fact that

Rudy Giuliani was on the phone with the OMB, which controlled the funds,

the arms aid to Ukraine, what does that tell you?

 

SWALWELL:  Well, Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump`s lawyer.  So we proved him

in our case Donald Trump is Rudy and Rudy is Donald Trump.  And they are

inseparable, they are bonded together.  You could throw almost everyone

else under bus if you`re the president, and he has.  But lawyers act on

behalf of their clients.

 

And almost every witness that knew of this relationship said Rudy was

acting as Trump`s guy.  And Trump told them on Ukraine, talk to Rudy, he`s

my guy.

 

MATTHEWS:  Were you surprised as a member of the committee on Intelligence,

that the ranking Republican committee member, you know, Devin Nunes of

California, who`s been opposing all of this investigation was, in fact, an

operative?  He was moonlighting.  He was on the phone with Rudy`s bunch,

with Lev Parnas.  Did that surprise you when you learned that?

 

SWALWELL:  No.  A lot of things has surprise me.  That did not surprise me

at all.  He`s got priors.  He was the midnight runner in the Russia

investigation going over to the White House.  But I guess maybe what was

surprising for the American people was that the ranking member used all of

his time during a serious impeachment process not to get to the facts, not

to understand what it meant, but to falsely attack the chairman when now

we`ve learned he was just projecting.  He was projecting on Schiff what he

was actually doing, which was ensnaring himself and involving himself with

indicted witnesses in this investigation.

 

MATTHEWS:  Somebody should tell people.  Maybe Oli North would tell people

involved in politics that either side, when you`re an adviser to the

president, you`re not an operative.  You`re not operative.  You don`t go

out and do stuff on your own.  If you`re a member of Congress, you vote,

you think, you make decisions where policies should go.  You don`t go out

and do stuff for the president.

 

Anyway, the report gives a play-by-play analysis of the president`s scheme. 

First, the president forced out the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie

Yovanovitch, following a smear campaign led by Rudy Giuliani.

 

Trump then put Giuliani and the three so-called amigos in charge of Ukraine

and they pushed for an investigation of Trump`s political opponents.

 

And then the president froze military assistance to Ukraine over the

objections of career experts and he conditioned a White House meeting on

getting the investigations he was seeking.

 

He went onto personally ask Ukrainian President Zelensky for those

investigations and Trump`s aides just demanded a public announcement of

those investigations by August.  The release of military aid was also

conditioned on that announcement.

 

Finally, the president relented and finally released the aid only when his

scheme was exposed to the public when he got caught.

 

Betsy, this report has got the whole damn thing in it.

 

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST:  and it`s all in

the record.  They cite numerous documents and numerous public testimony,

public testimony and publicly released private testimony from more than a

dozen witnesses with detailed knowledge of the way that this operation

played out.

 

One thing that struck me about this report as important is that it really

puts front and center a piece of the conversation that I think got lost

over the last few months and that is the extent to which the clearest

public example of a quid pro quo had to do with the president of Ukraine

wanting to meet with Trump in the White House.

 

Trump`s associates said explicitly that unless the president of Ukraine

announced an investigation into a company linked to the Bidens, that

meeting wouldn`t happen.  And there`s literally no dispute that the

president of the United States was holding that White House meeting as

leverage to try to get a political gift.

 

MATTHEWS:  Peter, what struck me is the number of interplays among these

people as I open the program within the cold open the connection involving

the ranking member – Republican member on the Intel Committee, Devin

Nunes, involved in these conversations with Lev Parnas, the associate

working with Rudy Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani on the phone with somebody at OMB

and also at the White House.  It`s like picking up a rock when you were kid

and seeing all the bugs underneath it and how all the bugs were

interplaying with each other.  It`s all connected, it seems.  Your

thoughts?

 

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Yes. 

And one of the tricks, of course, is it also reveals how much there is

still to be learned, right.  That this investigation, while it`s gone on

for a couple of months and the Intelligence Committee is basically through

with this portion of it as they turn it over to the Judiciary Committee,

there are still these unanswered questions.  There are these gaps in the

story line.

 

We don`t know who Rudy Giuliani was talking to on those phone calls. 

That`s an intriguing new bit of evidence that was produced today.  We don`t

know, you know, what some of the people around him, these shadowy figures,

who are now under investigation, were doing in some of these phone calls

and meetings and so forth.  We`ve never seen Rudy Giuliani testify on this. 

We`ve never seen Mick Mulvaney testify.  We`ve never seen John Bolton

testify.  They all refused or were not asked, mostly refused.

 

And the House Intelligence Committee decided not to pursue a lengthy court

battle because what they argued is we`ve already got enough evidence.  What

we got here in this 300-page report today is more than enough to prove the

case.  But it does leave a lot of open questions.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about common sense here, because do you think

Rudy Giuliani was calling up OMB to get full funding for titled 20

programs?  Come on.  Rudy Giuliani had one interest.  He`s in Ukraine, he`s

fighting to get dirt on Obama – Biden.  What`s going on, Peter?  Do you

think common sense –

 

BAKER:  Yes, I think – that`s what – exactly.  That`s what we`d like to

know, exactly that.  And, for instance, we talk about this phone call, the

13-minute phone call to an OMB number.  Well, I don`t know the answer to

the question.  Does Mick Mulvaney, who is still technically the director of

the OMB but now also the acting White House chief of staff, does he still

have a phone that would be registered to the OMB?  I don`t know the answer

to that question.  That would be an interesting question to ask and know

about.

 

Mick Mulvaney was deeply involved, as we know, from previous testimony in

facilitating a lot of this pressure on Ukraine.  So what was that phone

call about?  A lot of things we`d like to know.

 

It doesn`t mean we will, it doesn`t mean the next committee won`t try, but

one of the things about this report shows is there are still these

interesting questions we`d like to ask.

 

MATTHEWS:  Ben Rhodes, tell us about how you see all these connecting rods

between these – among these various figures, Nunes, ranking Republican,

Rudy Giuliani, the president`s lawyer and fixer overseas, all these

characters, even this guy, John Solomon, who writes these fringy columns

supporting all these theories about the Ukrainians back in 2016.  It all

seems to be connected through phone calls the way you look at it now, the

way we can see it.

 

BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER:  No, it is, Chris. 

And, look, the bottom line is this is not how our government is supposed to

work.  All the people that we saw testifying at those impeachment hearings,

former ambassadors, public and civil servants, they did not want to carry

out this corrupt scheme.  They knew that it was a criminal enterprise. 

They knew that is not in the U.S. national interest.  They knew it was

putting extraordinary pressure on an ally, Ukraine, that has been invaded

by Russia.

 

So what happened is, in order to carry out this quid pro quo, in order to

pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents, Trump essentially

had to setup a shadow foreign policy through people like Rudy Giuliani,

bringing in someone like Gordon Sondland, who has no role in Ukrainian

policy, outsourcing, obviously, some of these dirty operative deeds to

Devin Nunes, because the normal government won`t carry this out.

 

And I thought where Chairman Schiff is very powerful is in making the case

on why we have to act in that urgently, because this is not how a

government works, Chris.  The Republicans want to make it seem like, well,

everybody does it, everybody is a little corrupt.  Well, no, actually. 

We`ve never seen anything quite like this in American history where the

president of the United States is essentially setting up a shadowy foreign

policy apparatus.  It`s all laid out in this report for people who will

carry out his personal agenda, not the national agenda.

 

And that`s really at the heart of this whole thing, Chris.  Not only is

this abuse of power but it urgently raises the question whether we can

trust, whether we have a government that is acting in the national interest

or in the personal political interest of the president.

 

And the Republicans give this a pass.  They`re essentially saying, we are

okay with this.  And then we as Americans can`t have confidence that the

president won`t solicit further foreign interference in the 2020 election

and will continue to politicize important foreign relationships like this.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the committee cites that.  The Intelligence Committee in

this report today cites the president`s defiance of lawful subpoenas and

his threats to witnesses to make the case that the president has obstructed

Congress.

 

To that point, the report says, the damage to our system of checks and

balances and to the balance of power within our three branches of

government will be long-lasting and potential irrevocable if the

president`s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked.

 

Congressman Swalwell, your thoughts about this.  When I read the report,

and you`ve been through it, you helped write it, it seems to me it lays out

two premises.  One is abuse of power by the president through this whole

enterprise, criminal enterprise, I believe, and his obstruction or defiance

of Congress.  Are those to be, do you think, the suggested articles of

impeachment coming out of your committee to Judiciary Committee?

 

SWALWELL:  They`ll be considered, Chris.  And, first, yes, the president

used your taxpayer dollars to ask a foreign government to cheat an election

only to benefit him.  That`s abuse of power.  That`s bribery.  Second, yes,

he has defied lawful orders to produce documents and witnesses.

 

And I think what is remarkable is that history will look back on this and

say that there is probably no investigation of this size, of this magnitude

that relied on so few documents to be able to make such large, sweeping,

uncontradicted conclusions.  That`s because the brave people who did come

forward.

 

But step back and look at the 12 people the president told not to come,

like Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Secretaries Pompeo and Perry and the 71

different document requests that we made.  We were still able to prove 300

pages worth of misconduct by the president.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of

both the Intel and the Judiciary Committees of the House.  Betsy, Peter and

Ben are all sticking, fortunately, for the next segment.

 

Coming up, startling new details in the impeachment report puts Republican

Congressman Devin Nunes, the midnight rider, in the middle of the Ukraine

scandal.  Why was the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee

talking to several key players in the Ukraine pressure campaign?  Was he

investigating himself or covering up for himself?

 

And as articles of impeachment start to take shape, the Judiciary Committee

takes charge the case against Donald Trump.  What can we expect from the

committee`s first hearing, which is tomorrow morning at 10:00 Eastern?

 

Plus, Attorney General William Barr, what a piece of work he is, he is

trying to once again put his thumb on the scales to help his boss.

 

We`ve got much more to get to, his only client, by the way, the president

of the United States.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SCHIFF:  In terms of the ranking member, it won`t surprise you I`m going to

reserve comment.  It is, I think, deeply concerning that at a time when the

president of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up

dirt on a political rival that there may be evidence that there were

members of Congress complicit in that activity.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

That was House Intelligence Committee Chair, of course, Adam Schiff, the

hero of this piece, talking about the ranking member of his committee, his

opposite member, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, who sits next to him,

not in a warm (ph) company, by the way.

 

According to the committee`s impeachment report today, Nunes had a number

of undisclosed contacts, phone calls with both Rudy Giuliani and Lev

Parnas, who is one of Giuliani`s indicted Ukrainian henchman.

 

Phone records show that Nunes had three phone calls with Giuliani in April

on the 10th of that month and another three with Parnas two days later.

 

As The Daily Beast points out, the Nunes calls came on the tail end of a

long series of communications between Parnas and “Hill” columnist John

Solomon, who, on April 1, had published a calm relaying the same conspiracy

theories at the center of Giuliani`s Trump-endorsed inquisition on Ukraine. 

 

Well, Nunes has repeatedly attacked Schiff, alleging he coordinated with

the whistle-blower.  Here we go. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  The Democrats have zeroed in on an anonymous

whistle-blower complaint that was cooked up in cooperation with the

Democrats on this very committee. 

 

They lied to the American people about that cooperation, and refuse to let

us question the whistle-blower to discover the truth. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, now these phone calls show it was Nunes himself who was

secretly communicating with the same people his committee was supposed to

be investigating. 

 

In other words, he wasn`t just defending Republicans.  He was defending

himself.

 

And back with me are Betsy Woodruff Swan, who wrote this story, Ben Rhodes,

and Peter Baker.

 

Ben, I want your perspective on this, because here`s the top Republican on

the committee of that clown show on that other side of the chairman`s seat. 

Now we find out he was part of it, that he was on the phone with this

Russian guy, character, and he was on the phone with him, Lev Parnas.

 

And he was on the phone with OMB and all of it.  What do you think of the

fact it turns out he was one of the gang? 

 

RHODES:  Well, I wish I could say I`m surprised, but it`s consistent with

what Devin Nunes has done. 

 

And, look, Chris, you have spent time on the Hill.  Those people are

supposed to look out for their constitutional responsibilities.  Even in

the Obama years, the most friendly Obama committee chairman or ranking

member would stand up for Congress` prerogative. 

 

So it`s kind of unprecedented that you had this guy up there in a very key

role, a very important role, the ranking member of the Intelligence

Committee, who sees his role purely as doing whatever Donald Trump`s

political interests are.

 

So the oath is not to the institution of the Congress or the Constitution. 

It`s, what can I do for Donald Trump?  Can I spread conspiracy theories to

discredit the very real allegations he was supported by Russia in 2016?

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s go deep here.

 

Ben, I want to deep before I get to the reporter here with Betsy.

 

Why would it congressman behave like this?  Why would he go down to the

Eisenhower Office Building right next to the White House and pick up some

dirt that he supposedly – then, the next morning, goes the next – back

down to the White House and says, I just found something that supports

Trump`s position?

 

Why would he become an operative?  Why would he be out there becoming

operational?  Why is a congressman who`s elected and paid to represent a

district in Congress, to vote and be in committee, running around like he`s

an employee of this president?  How did they – do they got something on

him?  What is going – does he have a staffer who`s leading him in the

wrong direction, because he`s really working with the bad guys? 

 

Why would Nunes do this?  What`s his motive, Ben?

 

RHODES:  Well, I think – you know, it`s a signal of where the Republican

Party is today in 2019, right, that Devin Nunes doesn`t see the way that he

gets ahead as doing his job, serving his constituents, serving the

institution of the Congress, trying to do right by the Constitution, trying

to do right by our national security. 

 

He thinks the way to get ahead is to be the most pro-Trump guy up there, to

spout the craziest conspiracy theories. 

 

And, Chris, the thing is, when he`s up there during these impeachment

hearings putting on these performances, when he`s out there trying to dig

up dirt, false dirt, by the way, on the Bidens, what he`s doing is speaking

to an audience of one, which is Donald Trump.

 

But he also knows that there`s an entire media world out there of people

who are consuming the same type of conspiracy theory.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

RHODES:  He`s not thinking about the rest of us.  He`s just thinking about

Donald Trump and that narrow audience that is going to believe whatever it

is Donald Trump tells them to believe. 

 

And it`s – that`s where the Republican Party, tragically, has come to,

that they don`t have an institutional responsibility.  They have a

responsibility to Donald Trump and Donald Trump`s audience. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Betsy, to you.

 

How did you get the reporting on this?  What`s Nunes about?

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  At Daily Beast, we were first to report that there was a

connection between Congressman Nunes and Lev Parnas, who is an associate of

Rudy Giuliani, who helped him with his Biden investigation. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Ukrainian guy.

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  One of the lawyers for Parnas told me on the record – this

has been several weeks ago now – that Parnas was helping Nunes in his

investigative work. 

 

And since then…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Whose investigative work?

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  The work that Nunes was doing at the time.

 

Later, those lawyers went into more detail and said… 

 

MATTHEWS:  Was that the same digging up that the Trump people were doing?

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  Those lawyers have continued to go into more detail.  And

what they say, based on their conversations with Parnas, is that they were

helping Nunes work on this project of investigating the Bidens and Burisma,

the Ukrainian natural…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s the Trump mission.

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  Exactly, the same basic project.

 

And the gist of it and what`s important to remember here, based on my

conversations with the folks who work with Lev and others involved, is that

there`s not the traditional bifurcation that you would see between the

legislative and executive branch, but, rather, all these guys were

basically team Trump.

 

And they were all working toward the same end. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s go to Peter on this, because there is a Watergate – and

everything doesn`t relate to Watergate, but this dark alley, second

government, unofficially, just like in the days of Nixon – we had the

plumbers out there. 

 

All these people without official roles, or outside their official roles,

like U.S. congressman from California, or Rudy Giuliani, former America`s

mayor and all that, and the head of somebody – somebody at OMB, Mick

Mulvaney, maybe Duffey, somebody over there, they`re all – and this guy

Solomon, who is a columnist, a fringy columnist for “The Hill,” they`re all

working in league to push one mission that will eventually help get Trump

reelected. 

 

BAKER:  Yes.

 

Look, obviously, presidents often use or at least have used in the past

private citizens as intermediaries and both politics and in policy.  We

have seen that even with foreign policy. 

 

The difference here is, what`s alleged is that it was being used in

furtherance of the president`s own personal political interests, not in

furtherance of national foreign policy. 

 

That`s why you saw Fiona Hill, who was running Russia and Europe policy at

the NSC, completely left in the dark, while John Bolton apparently objected

to this, saying that it was all some sort of a drug deal, metaphorically. 

It was outside of what was supposed to be the normal channels. 

 

And it wasn`t, as Fiona Hill said she learned through testimony, a rogue

channel, because, in fact, it actually was responsible directly to the

president, as she concluded.  It was not sort of on its own.  It was part

of what the president wanted. 

 

It just happened to be that he took it outside of the government, because,

obviously, people like Rudy Giuliani are ones he actually trusts.  He

doesn`t trust people inside the government. 

 

And perhaps you would have thought that they might not have gone along with

what he was trying to accomplish. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Ben, last thought from you, because you have been in these

businesses, all these different agencies and institutions. 

 

And it looks to me like we have a band here, a syndicate of people who

basically have other jobs, like Congress, or working at OMB, or former

mayor or whatever, lawyer.

 

RHODES:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  They all had one mission in life, which was to do this dirty

deed, to hold up, to shake down Ukraine for dirt, or at least a statement,

a declaration of dirt, on the guy at the time Trump figured he was running

against. 

 

RHODES:  Yes.

 

And I think what we have to keep our eye is on the ball here, which is how

fundamentally corrupting this is to our system, that even on a matter of

national security, a country like Ukraine that has been invaded by a U.S.

adversary, we are using this cast of characters to leverage taxpayer

dollars, White House visits, to get announcements of investigations into

his political opponents. 

 

If that is OK in our system, then there is no semblance of checks and

balances.  And that`s why you need this impeachment process, to restore any

sense of accountability and order and stability to American democracy,

because if this crowd can run around and carry out schemes like this in

Ukraine, who knows what we`re not seeing in other parts of the world?

 

And if this is validated, who knows what further corruption we could see in

our government.  So that`s why it`s so important for Congress to assert its

constitutional role right now.

 

MATTHEWS:  And I think any Republican who is thinking about this, who takes

a pause to think, and not just follow, must admit to himself or herself

that, if Obama had done this, Barack Obama had done this kind of thing,

it`s hard to think what they wouldn`t do to him. 

 

And they have to admit that about themselves.  Just everybody who is a

Republican now, just admit to yourself – you don`t have to put out a

statement – that if Obama had done this stuff, had cut a deal against

American interests for his own political interests, you would be nailing

the guy.  And you wouldn`t be worrying about it.  You wouldn`t feel

hesitant.  You would be nailing him. 

 

That`s the truth.  Live with it. 

 

RHODES:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Betsy Woodruff, great reporting.  You led us to the

truth here, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Ben Rhodes, for your expertise.  Peter

Baker, great to have you on the show. 

 

Up next:  Will Republicans turn tomorrow`s impeachment hearing, the first

real impeachment hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, into a

circus?  Buy your tickets already.  It`s coming.

 

A member of that committee joins us next. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

Tonight`s vote in the Intelligence Committee formally sends the impeachment

investigation over to the House Judiciary Committee, which holds its first

impeachment hearing tomorrow morning at 10:00 Eastern.

 

If that was – if what we saw in the House Intelligence Committee hearings

before is any indication, Republicans already have their playbook – that`s

a good word for it – of political theater already set, led by two Trump

loyalists who also serve on the Judiciary Committee, Texas` John Ratcliffe

and Ohio`s Jim Jordan.

 

Here they go.  Let`s watch their shenanigans here. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  I have a point of order.

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  The gentleman is not recognized.

 

Jordan I have a point of order, though.

 

SCHIFF:  The gentleman is not recognized.  I do want to respond.  I allowed

the ranking member to…

 

JORDAN:  I have a point of order…

 

SCHIFF:  The gentleman is not recognized…

 

JORDAN:  Mr. Chairman, there are four transcripts…

 

SCHIFF:  Gentleman…

 

JORDAN:  That have…

 

SCHIFF:  Gentleman…

 

JORDAN:  Not been released…

 

SCHIFF:  Gentleman is not recognized.

 

JORDAN:  Holy cow.

 

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX):  Are either of you here today to assert there

was an impeachable offense in that call?  Shout it out.  Anyone?

 

WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  Mr. Ratcliffe, if I can

just respond, let me just reiterate that I`m not here… 

 

RATCLIFFE:  I have got one minute left.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

TAYLOR:  I know you do.  I know you have only got a minute left.  I have

just got 30 seconds.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SCHIFF:  Please allow the witness – you asked the witness a question.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

RATCLIFFE:  I will withdraw the question.

 

JORDAN:  You know how Zelensky announced it?  Did he tweet it?  Did he do a

press statement?  Did he do a press conference?  You know how that

happened?  I mean, you got all three of them wrong. 

 

They get the call.  They get the meeting.  They get the money.  It`s not

two plus two.  It`s oh for three. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the biggest stunt in disrupting the impeachment

investigation so far was led by another Republican back this October, when

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz led a group of Trump defenders in storming

the secure room where Deputy Defense Secretary Laura Cooper was supposed to

testify. 

 

According The Daily Beast, Democrats are bracing for a circus atmosphere

from the likes of Gaetz and Jordan, noting – quote – “House Speaker Nancy

Pelosi has indicated she wants Wednesday`s hearing to be somber and solemn. 

Republicans on the famously combative panel are known for shouting and

screaming.”

 

For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, who`s a pro,

and she`s Californian, of course.  She serves on House Judiciary.  And

Yamiche Alcindor is a correspondent for “PBS NewsHour,” also a pro.

 

How can a chairman – I watch – I watch Chairman Nadler sitting there like

Job in the Old Testament with all these crazy people behaving around him. 

And he always seems a little bit surprised by their misbehavior.

 

But they are going to be doing points of order like Joe McCarthy.  We know

it`s coming.  How do you fight with that, that crapola?

 

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA):  Oh, I think that the chairman is going to be very

well prepared and very strong. 

 

He is not going to put up with the juvenile nonsense that you saw in the

Intel Committee.  And you know what?  When you have members act like that,

that is an act of desperation, because they have nothing to challenge the

report on the substance. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Congresswoman, while I have you, nothing stops those

people behind the basket at an NBA game from waving those crazy things

around to screw up the guy doing the foul shot.

 

So they`re not going to stop waving those things.  These Republicans – you

say it shows they`re desperate.  No, they`re just screwing up the foul

shooter.  They`re just screwing up the presentation of what Nancy Pelosi

wants to be solemn.

 

Can they…

 

BASS:  Exactly. 

 

MATTHEWS:  How do you stop it?  You`re not telling me how you`re going to

do it.  How are you going to stop them? 

 

BASS:  Oh, I think the chairman is going to stop it using the parliamentary

power that he has. 

 

We are the majority.  We control the process.  If they move to adjourn, we

just vote them down, until we continue.  I think that we are very well

prepared.  We know what they`re going to do.  We certainly have seen what

they have done every time we have a Judiciary meeting. 

 

And I will have to add in too, the ranking member, you know he`s

auditioning because he wants that Senate seat. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

 

BASS:  So he`s definitely performing for Trump. 

 

And they`re performing so they can get on FOX and the nightly news.  We

know this. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that may be true.

 

BASS:  But I think that – I think we`re going to be able to push back. 

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

 

Yamiche, I got to ask you.  I went to Catholic school.  If you did that,

you`re out in the hallway.  And then you`re gone.  I mean, how do you stop

these clowns from being clowns?  Because you know they`re going to do it. 

 

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, “PBS NEWSHOUR”:  Well, the congresswoman hinted at it. 

It`s about parliamentary procedure. 

 

It`s about Democrats trying to use their – the fact that they won back the

House and that Nancy Pelosi is speaker to try to really quiet down these

Republicans. 

 

BASS:  Right.

 

ALCINDOR:  But I will say that the president has really put out a mandate

for Republicans.  He said, I want to see you fiercely defend me.  I want to

see you be strong. 

 

He said, Nancy Pelosi has these Democrats.  They all seem to be in

lockstep.  Where are my Republicans in lockstep? 

 

And then, a few days later, Matt Gaetz shut down that deposition.  So what

you see is Republicans really trying to prove that they have President

Trump`s back. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they will do it.

 

Anyway, it will ultimately fall to the Judiciary Committee to draft

articles of impeachment.  They`re coming in the next couple of weeks

against President Trump, maybe the week after next. 

 

NBC News reports that, according to individuals involved in that process,

there could be three to four articles of impeachment drafted by the

Judiciary Committee.  They include one to two on abuse of power.  That`s

obviously.  We got that in Ukraine and that whole trade, that shakedown.

 

One on brother contempt and obstruction of Congress.  We know that because

they won`t let a witness show up or a piece of paper to show up.  And

potentially one related to the Mueller report and obstruction of justice. 

 

“The Washington Post” reports Democrats have already debated the scope of

charges to bring against the president, noting the idea of Mueller-related

charges is running into resistance from some moderate Democrats wary of

impeachment blowback in their GOP-leaning districts, as well as Democratic

leaders who sought to keep impeachment narrowly focused on allegations that

Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. 

 

Congresswoman, my hunch is the Republicans, the ones with brains still,

will take the weakest link you guys put out.  In other words, the weakest

article, they will attack and say that makes no sense.  It`s no reason to

get – you can`t throw a president out of the office for tweeting something

that could be called witness intimidation.  You can`t throw them out of

office for that.

 

They will take your weakest charge and make it your main charge.  How do

you deal with the choice of articles? 

 

BASS:  Well, first of all, I think that tomorrow is going to be a really

important hearing, because we`re going to delve into the impeachment

process.  What does it mean, high crimes and misdemeanors, bribery, et

cetera?

 

I think that the evidence that we have is strong.  Again, maybe the

president or the Republicans will come forward with some actual evidence

that refutes what we already know.  I don`t know that they will do that,

because they haven`t done that yet. 

 

But I think bribery is written right into the Constitution.  And I don`t

know how you can look at what the president did any other way.  If you –

we need you to do a favor in order to get the aid, and you`re talking about

a nation that was under attack, it can`t get more egregious than that. 

 

So we know that they will lie.  That`s what they do consistently.  But I

think that we will have the American public on our side; 50 percent of the

public feels that he should not just be impeached, but removed from office. 

 

And you know what the percentages were when it was the Clinton impeachment. 

It never got above 30 percent. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

 

BASS:  So he`s already in very serious trouble. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well said.

 

Let me go to Yamiche.

 

Will the troops be home by Christmas? Will this be over by, say, December

18 or 20th? 

 

ALCINDOR:  The sourcing that I have is that this – that the vote to

impeach the president, which is – it seems more and more likely, that that

will  over before Christmas, and then we will move then to a January Senate

trial. 

 

But I think Mitch McConnell has been very clear.  He said, I know how this

is going to end.  This is going to end with the president not being removed

in the Senate. 

 

And I think you have to really watch now…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  But it will end with him being impeached, though.

 

ALCINDOR:  It will end will – it will likely end with him being impeached. 

 

But you have to really watch the Republicans.  And, right now, Republicans

are still in lockstep with the president.  And, as a result, he`s feeling

good about that. 

 

The other thing is, Democrat – Republicans will continue to say that

there`s no one who can say that President Trump specifically told them,

hold this money up in order to get this money. And that`s the argument that

they`re making, even though if John Bolton or someone else testifies. 

Maybe you`ll get closer to that.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s the president in number 10 Downing, meeting with

the prime minister.  I think, Yamiche, I disagree.  I think nobody wants

coal in their stocking and impeachment is coal in your stocking. 

 

Thank you so much.  Thank you, Congresswoman –

 

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA):  They need to have a secret ballot in the Senate. 

That`s what they need to have.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that would be interesting.  I don`t know (ph) it`s going

to happen though.

 

Thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass.  Thank you.  Have a nice – well,

have a nice impeachment. 

 

And, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you.

 

Up next, Trump`s defenders are using a debunked Russian conspiracy theory

pushed by Putin to push back against impeachment.  Are they unaware or just

unconcerned about being played by Putin?  That`s literally – and it`s

true. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Well, since his election, President Trump has successfully brought

Republican orthodoxy to its knees.  Until recently, the Republican Party

presented a hawkish stance towards Russia.  Well, that ideology crumbled

under the weight of the Trump administration. 

 

Here`s Trump earlier today in London for the 70th anniversary of NATO. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think it`s a good thing to

get along with Russia, and I campaigned on it and I go to the big stadiums

and people like it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump`s grip on the Republican Party is so

strong that some Republican officials are now parroting Russian talking

points in order to defend Trump. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  The Democrats were heavily involved working with

Ukrainians to dirty up the Trump campaign in 2016. 

 

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA):  The 2016 election, Ukrainians were very big in

what we now know was a Russian collusion or Russian hoax. 

 

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC):  Every elected official in Ukraine was for

Hillary Clinton.  Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald

Trump? 

 

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  We all know Russia that meddled in the election,

but that`s not to say Ukraine didn`t influence the election.  That`s the

words we have used all along.

 

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA):  Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 election. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, these men are just a few of the players who seem willing

to go to extreme measures to defend this president.  Another one is the

attorney general of the United States, of course.  He`s reportedly set to

put his thumb on the scale of justice in a fairly brazen act.  And that`s

coming up next.  Bill Barr at his worst. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Anyway, “The Washington Post” reports today that Attorney General Bill Barr

has told associates he disputes a key finding of the inspector general`s

report into the origins of the FBI probe, the surveil of the Trump campaign

in 2016.  The Inspector General Michael Horowitz who works independently

with the attorney general is set to release his report next week. 

 

And sources tell “The Post”, he will tell the FBI investigation that

President Trump`s campaign was opened on a solid legal and factual footing. 

According to “The Post”, Barr has said Horowitz didn`t have the information

to reach that conclusion. 

 

For more, I`m joined by Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, David

Frum, senior editor at “The Atlantic” and former George W. Bush

speechwriter.

 

I`m going to start with you as a prosecutor. 

 

This – I don`t know what the Justice Department is under Barr, but it`s

not a Justice Department.  It`s something else.  He`s coming in and saying

the I.G. was wrong to say the FBI was operating cooperatively when it

started to surveil the Trump campaign because of its possible connections

with Russia. 

 

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Right.  Well, here`s the sad

truth.  We have an attorney general of the United States who has no

commitment to the truth.  He lied about the Mueller investigation.  He lied

to Congress when he said he didn`t know Mueller was upset.  He made

accusations about spying when they didn`t exist. 

 

He put his thumb on the scale of the Durham investigation, flying off to

Italy to interview a witness when he`s never put a witness in the grand

jury in his whole life.  He doesn`t have to do that, but he`s going to do

this investigation.  So, that`s dangerous.

 

MATTHEWS:  He sounds like Devin Nunes. 

 

ALKSNE:  He sounds like Devin Nunes, and he has the same, they both are

committed and it`s the same problem that they should recuse.  Devin Nunes

should recuse to this investigation, and he should recuse when it comes to

Trump. 

 

But instead of the rule of law, he`s into the rule of Trump.  It`s a very

sad thing and it`s not clear to me how we`re ever going to get the

independence of the Justice Department again or how we`re going to work

together to establish that with the FBI, a working rapport. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You can`t simply be a Republican and it`s sort of like Trump

with things like taxes.  You have to go the deep dive with him.  You have

to say I believe in all the crazy Ukrainian theories, I believe in all this

stuff, I believe the FBI was spying on Trump back in 2016 to use that awful

word.  You have to buy it all. 

 

DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC SENIOR EDITOR:  The Sessions and Tillerson heads

are on spikes outside the White House gates to tell you what happens you

try to do it the way you just said.  You either part way –

 

MATTHEWS:  There`s no cafeteria Trump guys. 

 

FRUM:  Exactly, because Trump cares more about – he doesn`t care about any

of the policy stuff, he cares about the crazy stuff. 

 

And Cynthia said the probably most disturbing that Barr is up to is this

crazy investigation he`s doing, which is also in its own way a replay of

the Ukraine problem because he`s putting pressure on allied governments,

not only Italy, but also Australia and others to join him in fabricating

accounts, disparaging their own people, their own diplomats, their own

intelligence services, to confect a story whereby Donald Trump is the

victim of the investigation into his connections to Russia rather than as

we all know the perpetrator. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, last night, Tucker Carlson of Fox told his viewers he

supports Vladimir Putin and doesn`t believe we should be in war with

Russia.  Well, we`re not in war with Russia.  Moments later, during an

interview with Congressman Jim Jordan, Carlson went even further.  Here he

goes.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST:  I don`t think that we should be at war with

Russia and I think we should – we take the side of Russia if we have to

choose between Russia and Ukraine, that is my view. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that? 

 

FRUM:  Tucker Carlson`s father was head of Radio for Europe.  It is a sign

of the moral decay.  I think a lot of the Republican world that you could

go from that honorable position to this.  Unlike some of the other people -

-

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, is the Republican Party pro-Russian now? 

 

FRUM:  Well, two things are happening.  I mean, I think there are people

who it`s just a tactical necessity if you`re going to defend Trump.  You

have to say it`s just undeniable he`s connected to Russia.  So, that must

be good.

 

But I think what also happens is, as you get deeper into it, and Tucker is

clever than some of the people in the Fox lineup, you start going to the

hat rooms and dealing with the back channels and sinking into a world of

white nationalism in which Russia is a kind of Israel, the white

nationalist. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

 

Let me go back to something really hot.  Ready?  Rudy Giuliani`s people,

this guy Fruman – Giuliani`s Parnas and Fruman – 

 

ALKSNE:  Parnas and – 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  They`re all going to the calaboose.  They`re going to somewhere

bad.  They`re seriously indicted. 

 

How is Rudy escaping the news? 

 

ALKSNE:  Rudy isn`t escaping the news and it doesn`t really –

 

MATTHEWS:  So far. 

 

ALKSNE:  It doesn`t matter what the news is doing but what happens in the

Southern District of New York.  And they`ve already saying there`s going to

be some form of a superseding indictment. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Because he`s part of this whole thing, the phone calls.  There

are phone calls.

 

ALKSNE:  He`s part of the whole thing.  He is the consigliere of this deal. 

He is running – he is running these witnesses.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it does have a syndicate aspect the whole thing, a mob

aspect.

 

ALKSNE:  Absolutely.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Cynthia Alksne.  Thank you, David Frum.

 

Up next, the 2020 Democrats lose an early top contender, Kamala Harris. 

Let`s talk about her.  She`s out of the race.  But why? 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Kamala Harris looked for a while this year like a force to be

reckoned with.  Remember those 20,000 supporters who came out for her in

Oakland?  Remember that assault on Joe Biden in that first Democratic

debate? 

 

She was on fire as a candidate and then she wasn`t.  The experts were right

that her failure was not putting out a clear purpose.  But is that?  Who

says policy precision is the name of the 2020 game?

 

Elizabeth Warren laid out a bold progressive plan on health care and now

has to pay for it, literally.  Joe Biden has kept it general, championing

his ability to win among that wide spectrum of voters who inhabited, who

inhabit the central left, center and what`s left of the non-Trump center

right. 

 

So, who knows how particular you have to be as a candidate.  But in 2019,

heading into 2020, the lesson may be that you do need to decide between the

appeal based chiefly on an agenda or one based chiefly on the personal. 

Also, between a position that is left or moderate politically. 

 

Kamala Harris was also caught straddling uniquely between being the

passionate prosecutor and pulling yourself back, going after Joe Biden with

charges flying and then pulling back into line with other candidates as if

it didn`t happen.  Only then to find yourself surprised when Tulsi Gabbard

laid into her as she had laid into Biden. 

 

People like to me ask what I think of a candidate.  Well, based upon a few

conversations, one in particular, I got the sense there was more to Kamala

Harris than ambition, and more than even politics.  And given her youth and

position in the country`s most important Democratic state, there`s a good

chance this will not be the last national campaign we`ll see her charge to

the front.  And the next time, she will know better what to do when she

gets there. 

 

Actually, there`s a postscript to all that.  In a parting shot, Trump

tweeted today: Too bad we will miss you, Kamala.  And her response is a

beaut: Don`t worry, Mr. President, I`ll see you at your trial. 

 

Love it. 

 

That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

 

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

BE UPDATED.

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