Bloomberg grilled TRANSCRIPT: Hardball with Chris Matthews, 12/6/2019

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Jill Colvin, Chuck Rosenberg, Kim Wehle, Eugene Scott, David Rubenstein

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  This is it at the town hall in New York, tickets

at  That`s  And if I were

you, I`d want to go see Jeremy and Chris, so check it out if you have the

time or in you`re in New York.


That does it for us.  We`ll be back Monday 6:00 p.m. Eastern.  I also have

a special series this Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, a new impeachment

special.  So a lot that you can see, that`s Impeachment, White House in

Crisis, this Sunday 9:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.


HARDBALL starts now.




Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews up in Washington.


President Trump was left speechless today passing up his last chance to

defend himself, acknowledging he faces the near certainty now of

impeachment by the House of Representatives.  The president, through his

attorney, informed the House Judiciary Committee he will not participate in

the committee`s hearings next week.  He did so just under the wire of the

panel`s 5:00 p.m. deadline.


In a letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone

called the impeachment inquiry, quote, completely baseless and has violated

basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness, arguing Nancy

Pelosi, the speaker, quote, ordered House Democrats to proceed with

articles of impeachment before your committee has heard a single shred of

evidence.  Well, that`s his account.


He added, you should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with

additional hearings.


Well, this letter came Monday or come after right before the Monday coming

hearings at 9:00 A.M. this coming Monday.  The judiciary will hear evidence

from the House Intelligence Committee Counsel as it prepares to draft

articles of impeachment next week.  And that should setup a House vote

before breaking for the Christmas recess on December 20.  I personally

think they`ll be there by a couple of days.


In a letter to Nadler, Cipollone cited President Trump`s tweet yesterday

telling Democrats, if you`re going to impeach me, do it now fast so we can

have a fair trial in the Senate.


Well, a senior administration official explained the White House`s decision

telling The Wall Street Journal, we don`t see any reason to participate

because the process is unfair.  The speaker has already announced the

predetermined result and they will not give us the ability to call any

witnesses.  Well, the president is banking on acquittal by the Republican-

led Senate, of course.  But today, Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris

Murphy suggested there are some possible cracks in the Republican firewall.




WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC HOST:  Have you spoken to a single Republican colleague

in the Senate who`s even considering voting for impeachment?




GEIST:  You have?




GEIST:  OK, would you like to name them?




MURPHY:  It`s a small list on one hand.




MATTHEWS:  He didn`t say full hand.  He said it could fit on that list on

that hand.


Anyway, I`m joined by Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida, who

serves on the House Judiciary Committee, what a great committee, Jill

Colvin, White House Reporter for the Associated Press, Chuck Rosenberg, one

of my favorite guests, former U.S. attorney and senior FBI official. 

Congresswoman, it`s great to have you over here right here in the room with



What do you make of the president`s no mas, I`m not going to talk, I`ve had



REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL (D-FL):  Look, it doesn`t surprise me, to tell

you the truth.  We actually have given him the opportunity to come and

present his side of the story.  He can`t complain that he doesn`t have due

process.  But if you notice they`re not contesting the evidence or the

facts, they continue to attack the process, because they cannot say

anything about the evidence that has been presented, which is very damning

for the president.


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about that because we`ve all watched criminal

cases on television and good cases, we try to figure them out.  And even in

the worst case situation with the worst defendant who is totally clearly

guilty, O.J., for example, they come up with an alternative theory.  They

come up with something.  A guy drops some banana peels on the way in, so he

must be doing a cowered or whatever killing.


So you always come up with something to get the jury thinking about stuff

they didn`t try.  What do you make – they accept the fact the president

was shaking down a foreign leader.


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  They`re trying to dismiss the evidence and the facts. 

And the reality is that we have clear evidence, especially after that phone

call, and we had that hearing this week.  And you heard from the witnesses

that they said that that phone call shows that the president is abusing the

power of his office to solicit a foreign government for his own private and

political gain.  And so that undermines the integrity of our elections, and

that goes to the very heart of our Constitution.


And so I think that he knows and I think his advisers probably don`t want

him to speak under oath, and they`re protecting him in some sense, I think.


MATTHEWS:  Jill, the partisan nature of our times, it`s not just this case,

this impeachment, it`s the world we live in.  There are very few people you

walk up to and say what do you think of Trump, and they say, well, I`m a

mixed mind on that.  They don`t – there`s a very few mixed minds around. 

People who are Democrats, Republicans, pro-Trump, critical of Trump,

everybody, I think the Democrats have the facts but that`s my opinion too.


But this time around, there`s a reality, and the reality is this president

now faces impeachment.  He probably will be impeached in two weeks.  He

knows that.  It will be engraved in law.  It will be for every school kid

that goes to a good school and learns the history of the presidency this

two-week period, impeach the president.  Do they in the White House get it?



that`s what you saw that was so extraordinary this week was basically the

president, his campaign, White House officials openly saying, look, we get

it, the writing is on the wall, it`s done.  There`s no point in us even

engaging because we know how this is going to go.  So let`s pivot, let`s do

what we can politically to try to put our faith in the Senate process, try

to go where we think that we`re going to get a better shake where the

president seems to think he`s going to be able to create this made for T.V.

moment with all his Republican allies –


MATTHEWS:  Well, what`s this Macbeth we`re getting at, if it were done to

our best done quickly?  I mean, it`s right out of Macbeth.  And why are

they talking like that, get it over with?


COLVIN:  Because – I mean, that`s the reality.  If you know that this is

already going to happen, it`s like just do it, get it done with, they want

it done as quickly as possible so they can move over and they`re putting

their faith –


MATTHEWS:  OK.  They`re thinking, since they`re not too good on the law,

the president is not too sure about the Constitution to put it lightly,

they`re better at reality T.V.  Chuck, are they thinking – I`m going to

the law expert for the reality question.  Are they thinking, let`s get the

Democrats reality T.V., which is real off the television, get it off quick

before Christmas, then two weeks of Christmas and the holidays and the

other holidays, we don`t have that on our mind, it will fade a bit.  And

then we`ll come in January and create a new reality, this show trial

they`re going to put on the Senate with calling Hunter and Joe Biden and

calling Pelosi and Schiff.  Is that what they`re thinking, a new reality

T.V. show?


CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  They might be thinking that.


But I`ll tell you what surprises me.  If you analogize the House proceeding

to a grand jury and the Senate proceeding to the actual trial in a federal

criminal court case, defense attorneys normally don`t have the opportunity

to go to the grand jury, right?  And I don`t know many defense attorneys

that would turn down any opportunity to take a shot at the case, right?  So

in my world, as a federal prosecutor, your turn as a defense attorney only

comes at trial.  So I`m a little bit surprised on one hand that they`re

passing up an opportunity to attack it in the House.


MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about television for a second because we are

here on television.  If Donald J. Trump said, December10th or 15th or

somewhere in that week, I`m going to do a little rehearsal and I`m going to

go before that committee myself, and I`m going to make a case for my

innocence.  I will be as good as any of these clowns on the committee.  I

could think like that if I`m Trump.  And I`m going to beat them at their

own game?  What would happen?  Do you think he`s afraid to do that?


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  I think that he has a very hard time telling the truth,

Chris.  And I think that if he is under oath in front of the Judiciary

Committee, in such a judicious moment in the history of our country, it

could be very dangerous for him.


And I do think that it`s the reason why he has obstructed this entire time. 

He has obstructed many witnesses from coming forth in front of the

Judiciary Committee.  We have been trying to go with an investigation for

this president for months.  And he hasn`t allowed key witnesses to appear

before the Judiciary Committee.  So that`s why I`m not surprised that he`s

not coming.


MATTHEWS:  Do you think he would be in a perjury situation, to put it



MUCARSEL-POWELL:  You know, I can`t make any assumptions because,

obviously, he`s not going to be coming in front of the committee.  But what

I`ve seen from this president is say one thing one day and then say a

completely different thing the next day.  So, yes, it wouldn`t surprise me

if he lied under oath, yes.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s big breaking news right now as we speak.  Moments

ago, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff sent a letter to Vice President

Mike Pence asking for him to declassify the supplemental testimony of

Jennifer Williams, his special adviser on Europe and Russia.  That`s his

adviser, Pence`s.


In the letter, Chairman Schiff said, the testimony contains information

about the vice president`s September 18th call, telephone call, with

Ukraine`s president, adding the classification on this supplemental

testimony will allow the Congress to see further corroborative evidence. 



COLVIN:  That`s interesting.  I mean, keep in mind that the White House and

even Pence`s office has really been tried to distance themselves from her,

saying, look, she is just a State Department.  Sources told me the vice

president wouldn`t even recognize her if he was in the room with her.


And remember that she had testified not only that she was on that call but

also that she had been told that it was the president who directed the vice

president to cancel his trip to Zelensky`s inauguration.  There was some

debate within the vice president`s office about exactly the chain of

command and how that went through.  I have no idea what`s in that

supplemental testimony.  I didn`t realize that there actually was other

testimony that we haven`t seen.  But that`s really interesting.


MATTHEWS:  Who gets to declassify something like that?


ROSENBERG:  The executive, the president.


MATTHEWS:  Not the V.P.?


ROSENBERG:  Well, no.  The entire classification system, the entire system

is built for the president, and so the president can delegate to other

officials the ability to classify or declassify.  But in the end, it`s his



And by the way, with all the concern that Republicans expressed about the

depositions being secret and not transparent, now, in part, you see why. 

There`s classified information there.


MATTHEWS:  What do you think the V.P.`s role is here?


COLVIN:  I mean, I think that has been one of the biggest questions that

has been hanging over all of this.  The vice president`s office has tried

very consistently to distance himself, claiming, he didn`t know anything

about this.  I mean, the case where it was actually after his meeting in

Warsaw with Zelensky where there was that kind of pull aside conversation

where apparently some of these threats were made.


Pence didn`t know about that, Pence knew nothing about any of these

pressure efforts.  It`s an interesting argument that Pence`s folks try to

make because what it essentially then suggests is that, well, how much did

the vice president know if he was in the room with this guy and didn`t even

know any of this was happening.


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think there`s downsides to being Donald Trump`s vice



MUCARSEL-POWELL:  I mean, I doubt that there are many things that are

happening without them getting approval from the president.  I mean, what

we`ve seen is that he has – this all comes back to the president.  This is

not about the vice president.  It`s not about Giuliani.  I`ve heard a lot

of stories about all the people surrounding him.  I think that, ultimately,

it falls back on President Trump and what he has directed the people to do

around him, which is to violate the Constitution, to seek foreign

interference, to help his re-election campaign, and, again, for me it was a

clear national security issue.


MATTHEWS:  You`re an American citizen.


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  I became an American citizen, yes.


MATTHEWS:  I`ve been reading your amazing American story, born in Ecuador.




MATTHEWS:  And so you – did you have to go through the citizenship test?




MATTHEWS:  OK.  Would Trump pass it?


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  I don`t know if he`s even read the Constitution, Chris. 

I wonder.


And I`ve gone now to a few citizenship ceremonies.  And every time you

stand up to take that oath and I speak to them and tell them, look, it`s

not just taking an oath for allegiance of this country, it`s also having

the responsibility as a citizen of this country to participate to give back

to your community and to take the right to vote.


And we today passed a monumental bill that restores the Voting Rights Act. 

And so we are working in Congress regardless of what anyone thinks.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  I want to talk about that at the end of the show.


Anyway, a little news coming up here, Senator Murphy this morning on Joe,

Morning Joe, said he had an idea from conversations on the Senate floor in

the (INAUDIBLE) that there`s five – maybe five Senate Republicans who

might vote to convict.  What do you think about that, Congresswoman?


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  I have heard that there are a couple of Senate

Republicans that are concerned or worried that – we`ll wait to see all the

evidence, but it wouldn`t surprise me that we have –


MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s look at the names.  Mitt Romney, of course, he shows

maverick occasional nature, Lisa Murkowski, who is a maverick, she won a

general after losing a primary up there in Maine – in Alaska, and then

there`s Maine`s Susan Collins, who`s facing a tough re-election, maybe Cory

Gardner.  I don`t know.  Any suspects?


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  I mean, at the end of the day, we all have to remember

why we`re here.  And we`re here to represent the people that sent us to

Washington, D.C.  So I hope to see that our Republican colleagues, not only

in the House but in the Senate put their country before their party.


MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about that – I`m going to stay with because you`re

just great to have, I`m sorry guys, this congresswoman.  I am impressed by

Nancy Pelosi.  I`ve known her a long time.  It`s like her whole career is

leading to these two weeks that puts her soundly in the history books.  She

is a great political leader.  When they tried to rattle her the other day,

a reporter from Fox said you hate – and she gave him the stone face, the

poker face and she lectured him about her religious beliefs, her culture. 

And she took advantage and control of the situation.


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  And I can relate to that.  She is an incredible leader. 

She listens to each and every one of us.  She understands the diversity in

our districts.  And she wants to make sure that what we`re doing really

represents the will of the people.  And that it`s going to be not a

political decision but really a decision that`s going to be for the

progress of this country and to protect our democracy and freedoms.


And I relate to that.  Because one of the witnesses in the hearing on

Tuesday said, you know, I`ve seen people very angry and I was thinking I`m

not angry, Chris.  I`m very concerned.  I am concerned about the future of

this country.  I left a country where I`ve seen what happens when a

president abuses his power and is surrounded by corruption and is trying to

hold onto that office and puts his private, political gain in front of the

gain of the people.


MATTHEWS:  And we`ve had the (INAUDIBLE) thing.  We`ve had the thing with

the big name.


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  And for immigrants.  And I`m proud of all the immigrants

that have stood up and had the courage to really come forth and tell us

their stories.


MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about the last two week – the next two weeks, I`m

sorry, the most exciting probably in many of our lives.  The next two

weeks, you`ve got the counsel for the Intelligence Committee, we`ve watched

in action, coming over to the Judiciary Committee to lay out the case for



COLVIN:  Yes, that will happen on Monday.


MATTHEWS:  All starting Monday morning at 9:00.  It`s all going to happen.


COLVIN:  And then, potentially, I mean, Tuesday, Wednesday, we might even

see those articles of impeachment.  We`ll see how broad they decide to go

or if they stick to the Ukraine issues or whether we see something about

the Mueller report, potentially something about the emoluments clause, and

then it comes time to vote.  And by Christmas, I mean, we`re getting really

close at the end of the year, they`ll be done.


MATTHEWS:  I get the sense that the speaker, who`s the strongest speakers

we`ve had since Tip O`Neill, I worked for him, she`s a helicopter.  She`s

riding around these committee chairs right above them.  This is going to

stay on track, focused, sharply focused, disciplined, no people clattering

in the halls and saying stupid things on the hard left or whatever, very

logical.  I`m impressed.


ROSENBERG:  I am too.  But we should ask the congresswoman because she

knows her better than we do.


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  I`m always so impressed by her.  And, again, I just want

to come back to the fact that she understands the intricacies of all our

different districts.  A lot of us come from districts where there are a lot

of people that are still not completely clear as to what has happened.  And

I think that, for us –


MATTHEWS:  How strong in your district?  50/50?


MUCARSEL-POWELL:  No.  He`s a little bit under 50, but people are working

very hard, Chris.  They are working 40, 60, 80 hours a week trying to pay

their bills.  They don`t have time to tune in and understand all of the

things that are happening.  So I think it`s going to be our job in the

judiciary, and that`s what Speaker Pelosi is trying to do.  This is not

political.  This is about protecting our democracy.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of

the best part of Florida down in the keys in Miami.  All those great little

palm islands you got in the Key West.  What a district to represent. 

Anyway, thank you, Jill Colvin, so much and Chuck, one of my favs.


Coming up, what`s Rudy Giuliani doing in Ukraine?  Good question.  The

president`s lawyer says he`s continuing to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.  But

there`s new reporting today that senior White House officials are startled

and concerned that Giuliani`s out there in his latest escapade. 

Apparently, he`s not in the loop anymore.  Who knows?


Plus, Joe Biden says most Democratic voters are not onboard with the push

for Medicare-for-all.  He says, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does

not represent the future – at least that she is not the total future of

the Democratic Party.  Is he right?


And here is what Michael Bloomberg said today when asked why he jumped into

the Democratic primaries.





candidates and I just thought to myself, Donald Trump would eat them up.




MATTHEWS:  We`re going to talk about.  I`m not sure about that.  Saying all

the other candidates will lose, but I will win.


I want to talk to Carlyle Group co-founder and Bloomberg News T.V. Host

David Rubenstein about tonight`s hot news and his new book The American



Stay with us.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


Rudy Giuliani – what a character – being himself under investigation, of

course, continues his expedition for political dirt out there abroad,

despite the imminent charges his client, the president, is now facing, like



With stops in Budapest and Kiev, he`s overseas to interview the former

Ukrainian – Ukrainian prosecutors that promoted unfounded claims about Joe

Biden.  Still at it.  And all themselves are facing allegations of

corruption, because they`re corrupt. 


Furthermore, Giuliani also met with KGB-trained lawmaker, one of them, of

the pro-Russian political party in Ukraine who is also pushing similar

claims against Ukraine. 


Well, no surprise that Giuliani is now leveling a new round of unverified

allegations against Joe Biden, former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and the

Obama administration, all with the dubious promise that he will release

evidence soon.  He`s going to release the news.


According to “The New York Times,” the trip is for a TV series on a

conservative, I think, right-wing cable channel, but its aim is to – quote

– “give the president`s supporters new material to undercut the House

impeachment proceedings.”


Yet The Daily Beast reports today that Giuliani`s trip was so startling to

senior administration officials and national security brass that they began

tracking his movements in an effort to get a read on his objectives abroad. 


So how connected is he?  


I`m joined now by Shannon Pettypiece, NBC senior digital White House



Thank you. 


And Kim Wehle, former federal prosecutor and author of “How to Read the

Constitution.”  That`s appropriate for this week coming up, two weeks.




MATTHEWS:  Let me start with Shannon about this. 


Tell me about Rudy.  We`re hearing from Hogan Gidley today again that he is

the president`s lawyer.  He is his agent. 



a lot of questions we have seen over the past two, three years about what

makes someone your lawyer.  When is Michael Cohen your lawyer?  When is he

your fixer? 


Rudy Giuliani has said…


MATTHEWS:  I thought a dollar.  I thought you give a guy, a woman a dollar

and say, you`re my lawyer, you`re a lawyer.


PETTYPIECE:  Well, so I have been told you don`t even have to give them a

dollar.  You don`t even have to pay them anything. 


Rudy Giuliani had said – I don`t know if that is still the case now, but

during the entire Mueller investigation – that he was doing this for free,

he was not getting paid at all. 


So I maybe suppose Trump can`t argue he didn`t get what he paid for, or

didn`t get his money`s worth.  But he had been working for free on this. 


During the Mueller investigation, of course, Rudy was very in the loop.  He

was part of the legal team.  They were talking with the president weekly,

if not more. 


Since then, we have these call logs to indicate he has been in contact a

lot with the White House, but it`s unclear how much that contact continued. 

And right now, Trump continues to say very nice, flattering things about

him„ brings up the point about he was the mayor of New York, is not trying

to distance himself too much from Rudy at this point. 


So, as far as it seems, there`s no big gap between those two. 


MATTHEWS:  What about the government, the – well, what is left of the

government, the New York – U.S. attorney in New York perhaps?


Aren`t they going after his people?  I mean, they are going close to him

with his two Russian or Ukrainian pals. 


WEHLE:  Sure.  Yes.  They have to have his pals under indictment. 


And the reports are that they`re actually investigating him as well.  But I

think we have to take him at his word when he says he`s still operating on

behalf of his client, because, when it comes to impeachment, there is no

factual counternarrative to what the Democrats have put forth. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, what is he looking for over there?


WEHLE:  So, I think he`s generating basically propaganda that this – that

Trump basically was really interested in, concerned with corruption in



And most people can`t follow this story with the kind of detail and

intricacies that we do.  And that makes sense.  And then we have members of

the Republican Caucus reiterating this falsity, which has actually been

planted a year ago by Vladimir Putin.


So that`s quite disturbing.  But I think he`s – Trump knows how to shape

public opinion.  And in this moment, as Chuck said in the last segment,

they`re not interested in actually posing a defense like lawyers on the

merits with actual facts. 


The defense is going to be, let`s dupe the American public again into

thinking this was no big deal, no collusion, no quid pro quo, it`s a

nothing burger, foreign policy.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Shannon, it seems like we learned from the testimony in

the last couple weeks that what the president wanted, his people wanted was

somebody over there in Ukraine – it`s so far away culturally in every way. 


You wonder how this happened.  They wanted somebody over there to say that

they`re investigating.  They wanted the president over there to say, I`m

investigating.  They didn`t even want him to say, we got him, just that

we`re investigating. 


It seems like the latest attempt by Rudy right now as we speak, he`s over

there, different time zone, but he`s over there looking for dirt, is to try

to get somebody over there from the old government, the recent garments,

somebody over there to throw some mud at Joe Biden and his son in the next

couple days. 


PETTYPIECE:  Well, I mean, I think it`s, one, that it could maybe dig up

some dirt or put some bad publicity on Biden to hurt him as a political



But I also think it is to try and give some legitimacy to this argument

that the president genuinely had concerns about corruption in Ukraine or

that there was a genuine problem with 2016 election interference that the

president was asking the Ukrainians to look to. 


But, of course, we have seen this before during the Mueller investigation,

to go back to that, where Rudy worked very hard to create a

counternarrative this entire time, with spies inside the Trump campaign,

and agents here and there, and the Australians and the Italians, to create

this very confusing counternarrative. 


And you can see the same thing could take shape here and muddy the waters. 

And that is why I think the case for the Democrats to move quickly is very

strong.  The quicker they can move, the harder it`s going to be for this

counternarrative to muddy the water.


MATTHEWS:  And who believes this stuff?




MATTHEWS:  Who believes what Rudy comes back with?  Who would believe it?


PETTYPIECE:  I – as we saw during the Mueller investigation, there became

a general sense of confusion and fatigue and a sense of people, not

everybody, but a certain group of people throwing their hands up and not

knowing what to believe. 


Right now, I believe the latest poll polls I saw is about 47 percent of

people are for impeachment or removing the President Trump office, and 44

percent are against.  And you continue to have those independents who are

almost evenly divided for or against.


MATTHEWS:  Right.  They`re working them.  Anyway, maybe they just think

confusion works.


Anyway, meanwhile, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence

Committee, Devin Nunes, continues to face questions about his own

involvement in the president`s scheming. 


Yesterday, he was asked about the call record showing that he, the

congressman, spoke to Rudy Giuliani`s indicted business associate Lev

Parnas, who was helping Giuliani dig up dirt for the president over in



Let`s watch the questioning. 




QUESTION:  What did you discuss with Lev Parnas? 


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  Well, I don`t even know, because I don`t – I

have never met Parnas.


And like I filed in federal court, and so it`s a great question, because

many people want to know, including myself.  So, we`re working…


QUESTION:  So, you never had any phone conversation with him?


NUNES:  We – we have not been able to confirm that yet. 


QUESTION:  I mean, you don`t – you don`t think you would remember if you

had a conversation?


NUNES:  You have to – you have to remember – you have to remember we are

the House Intelligence Committee Oversight Committee.  OK?  So we get calls

from people every day, all walks of life. 




NUNES:  I get them from all over the world, allies and people that aren`t

our allies. 


In this case, I – I just don`t know. 




MATTHEWS: “I just don`t know.”


Well, an attorney for Lev Parnas himself tweeted at the congressman last

night saying: “Hey, Devin Nunes Lev remembers what you spoke about.  You

don`t remember?” 




WEHLE:  Well…


MATTHEWS:  This seems like a guy who`s involved in – like he got involved

with the mob or something, this congressmen, like he`s doing all this

operations of going down to the White House and back and delivering dirt

for – stuff for Trump. 


Does he even know what he`s doing?


WEHLE:  Deeply – deeply, deeply, deeply disturbing as a matter of the

legitimacy of the Congress now, not just problems with the presidency, but

problems with Congress.


And, remember, we know that there were call records that were gotten from

AT&T where it showed that he spoke with Lev Parnas.  Documents don`t lie. 

They don`t die. 


MATTHEWS:  What`s the motive for this guy to do all this for the White



WEHLE:  Gosh, I think that`s the under – the undercurrent here is Vladimir



For America, we need to find out at some point.


MATTHEWS:  Yes, but I don`t think that Congress was working for Putin. 

Maybe Trump is working with him, but what`s…


WEHLE:  Well, what is happening in the Congress and in the White House

consistently benefits Vladimir Putin. 


MATTHEWS:  It does.  Well, that`s the Pelosi argument. 


And, by the way, it`s – almost every time something comes up, you ask

yourself the question, does this how Putin?  Yes.


WEHLE:  Yes.  And who are these people working for?  Are they working for

the American public?  And that`s, I think, the question.


MATTHEWS:  OK, great.  We will be looking for a grand motive here.  Maybe

it`s just Putin.


Anyway, thank you, Shannon Pettypiece.  Thank you, Kim Wehle. 


Up next:  Joe Biden says that most Democrats are more moderate than

Medicare for all.  The numbers actually support that, but what about the

passion issue?  Who cares most?  Is he right, by the way?


You`re watching HARDBALL. 






JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  Sixteen years ago this month,

pundits and the polls had written me off.  But, in this state, I saw that

you take the measure of the candidates themselves. 


Polls don`t speak for you.  People do you.  You lean in and you listen. 

So, I would never dare tell an Iowan how to vote.  But I can tell you why

I`m voting for Joe Biden.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


That was the former Secretary of State John Kerry, who won the Iowa

caucuses back in 2004.  And, today, he joined former Vice President Joe

Biden on his No Malarkey Tour in Iowa, after endorsing him yesterday. 


We`re now less than 60 days from the Iowa caucuses, and Biden is taking his

campaign from a simmer to a boil.  A new online national poll by Reuters

published just yesterday shows Biden leading the crowded field with 19

percent of the vote nationally. 


During an interview with Axios, Biden made a pitch for his view of the

Democratic Party, saying it isn`t as progressive as some people think. 

Let`s take a look. 




JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You guys got it all wrong about

what happened and what…


QUESTION:  You sound like Trump.


BIDEN:  Yes, I do.


QUESTION:  Fake news?


BIDEN:  No, look – no, it`s not fake.  It`s just bad judgment. 


You all thought that what happened was the party moved extremely to the

left after Hillary.  AOC was the new party.  She`s bright, wonderful

person.  But where`s the party?  Come on, man. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, Joe Biden might benefit from another development that

happened just this week, open fighting now, open fighting between two of

his opponents. 


We can`t wait to get to that, of course.


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


As Joe Biden tries to regain the lead in Iowa, the two candidates who are

currently duking it out there for the top spot in Iowa are also duking it

against each other. 


Last night, for example, Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized Pete Buttigieg

for a lack of transparency – that`s getting into it – when it comes to

who he`s raising his money from.  It`s a point she made again today. 





opportunity here to build a grassroots movement across this nation.  And

the way we build a grassroots movement is not by going behind closed doors,

selling access to time, giving special titles and special access to



Look, people across this country are sick of a political system where it`s

typical politicians just keep selling access to their time.  He needs to

make clear who`s raising money for him, who the bundlers are, and he should

open up the doors, so that anyone of – particularly the press, can come in

and hear exactly what`s being said.




MATTHEWS:  Well, it was a rare direct personal attack really for the

senator, who has tried to remain above the fray so far. 


Mayor Pete, who has tried to carve a more moderate path than Senator

Warren, has made some of her proposals, like Medicare for all, a target of



For the latest, I`m joined by Sam Stein, politics editor of The Daily

Beast, and Eugene Scott “Washington Post” political reporter.


Gentlemen, thank you. 


Let`s talk about what`s – the interstices of what motivates people.  She`s

been above the fray.  Now she can`t afford to be about the fray, I would

argue, because Pete Buttigieg looks like the guy who`s leading and may stay

in the lead in Iowa.  And she has to win Iowa. 


SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes, I think that`s right. 


What interested me here was the turf she chose, because she could have

chosen to do this on his attacks on health care, right?  He went after her. 

She could have responded with a volley of her own.  She didn`t.


She went after him on transparency.  I think she views this as more fertile

ground now.  Health care obviously is a complicated one.  It`s proved

complicated for both her and Kamala Harris, who obviously has left the



And she I can stake some legitimacy to saying, look, I`m open book on this

stuff.  I`m all transparent.  I don`t do big fund-raisers like this.  I am

a complete grassroots-oriented fund-raising apparatus. 


So she has the high ground here.  I just think it`s very interesting that

she chose to choose this fight, and not for the health care. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, it could be, because everybody I meet – like, all of us

meet people.  And they all ask us, what do you hear?  What do you think? 


STEIN:  Yes.


MATTHEWS:  All the fine people I know are for Buttigieg, the ones that

would have been 100 years ago for Adlai Stevenson.  They`re always for the

smart people, the well-educated people who have good values and are

tolerant about people who have the gay – who are gay in their orientation.


No problem.  They really like him.  Is that what she`s afraid of, that the

people that tend to show up at caucuses are going to be for this guy? 



she should be, based on how he`s doing in the polls. 


But I think she`s also mindful of the fact that people on the left, be they

moderate or closer to the base, are really concerned about transparency

right now, considering what people are dealing with in the White House. 


They know they want a response to a president who has not been very open

about his conflicts of interest, his business dealings, and they`re holding

Buttigieg to that as well.  They want to know what he was doing…




MATTHEWS:  What would be pay dirt for her?  What would she find on Pete,

Mayor Pete, that would hurt him with the Iowa caucus-goer?


STEIN:  Two things.


One, some person who`s raising tons of – let`s define what a bundler is. 

A bundler is someone who gives the max, but also gets other people to give

the max to your campaign.  If someone who`s doing that is a representative

of a shady industry, a pharmaceutical industry, maybe some sort of…


MATTHEWS:  There`s a lot of them.


STEIN:  There are. 




MATTHEWS:  In the Democratic Party, that could mean fossil fuels. 


STEIN:  Of course.


MATTHEWS:  It could be pharmaceuticals.  It could be cigarettes.  It could

be guns. 


STEIN:  So, that`s one vulnerability.


And to her point, Mayor Pete does have a vulnerability here.  He should

probably open up the fund-raisers.  The second one…




MATTHEWS:  By the way, Trump shows you never have to do it. 


STEIN:  No, of course.  And Trump has proven all rules don`t apply. 


The second thing for Mayor Pete that is a vulnerability now is his work in

McKinsey, famous consulting firm, which he was there for two-and-a-half

years.  He says he`s bound by a confidentiality agreement.  He can`t

disclose his clients.


But they are really hammering away…




MATTHEWS:  We`re in television.  So television shows how people behave, not

just how their – finances don`t really work on television.  You have

probably learned this by now. 


STEIN:  Sure.


MATTHEWS:  The stories that work on television are what you see.


Yesterday, during a campaign event in Iowa, Joe Biden get into a heated

exchange with a voter.  And, today, he was asked if he was worried that he

would get smeared questions – or similar questions – well, that was a

slip – similar questions in the future. 




QUESTION:  Are you concerned that you`re going to get more questions like

the one that you got yesterday from voters on the trail? 


BIDEN:  Well, we have had over 2,000 people show up on this bus trip.


No one has done it except that fellow.  So, sure.  Look, I think that is

going to be part of what is the opposition`s case. 


Look, Trump`s already spending 12 million bucks to try to make the same

message, send the same message.  And there`s nothing to the message. 


But, any rate, I probably shouldn`t have challenged to the pushups. 




MATTHEWS:  He made light of it, but I watched that tape yesterday, Eugene. 

It wasn`t fun.


SCOTT:  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  It was awkward for everybody.  The older guy – first of all, he

said the guy is too old to vote, which I wouldn`t push if I were Biden. 




MATTHEWS:  That`s not his strong territory, to use your phrase. 


SCOTT:  But Joe Biden is going to have to find a way to answer these



MATTHEWS:  The Hunter question.


SCOTT:  … without getting angry and challenging people to pushups.




SCOTT:  And I think one thing many people notice is how Biden seems to –

this is not his first time hitting someone with a pushup challenge and

getting upset. 


But this is something that Julian Castro has not been able to do.  And

Elizabeth Warren was called angry, right?  And Kamala Harris got pushback

for responding very firmly. 




STEIN:  Let me play the contrarian.  Let me play the contrarian.




MATTHEWS:  OK, let me try this.  Can`t they all do the poker face like

Nancy Pelosi?  The guy attacked her as a hater.  And she just looks at him

and says, I`m not a hater.  I`m a Catholic.  We don`t believe in hate. 




STEIN:  Absolutely, she could do that.  There`s ways – I think there`s

ways to handle this.  One is to just get a better answer. 


But let me be a little bit of a contrarian here, to your point, which is, a

lot of politics is visceral and imagery, right?  And I think,

unfortunately, for a good section of the country, they probably look at it

and they were like, I like this guy. 


SCOTT:  Sure. 




STEIN:  I like that he`s in his face and defending his son, calling it all

– liar.




MATTHEWS:  Hey, Jack.




STEIN:  Of course there`s a double standard here.  It`s an incredibly bad

double standard for gender – on gender, I should say.  And there`s no





MATTHEWS:  I`m going to push you on this.  Go ahead.


STEIN:  But this is it.  I mean, this is the politics…




MATTHEWS:  OK, Sam, I`m going to push you on this.


STEIN:  Sure, push.


MATTHEWS:  The Iowa caucus voter, their sort of sense of sensibility. 


STEIN:  You`re saying Midwest nice. 




MATTHEWS:  I`m just wondering, sensibility of that crowd.


STEIN:  Maybe it would play better in New Hampshire.  I don`t know.




SCOTT:  There was an editor of a newspaper in Iowa who said, Iowa voters,

especially the older ones, think Castro has fangs in attacks. 


And so it`s really interesting… 


MATTHEWS:  Oh, my God.


SCOTT:  … who gets called angry and who doesn`t. 


STEIN:  Of course.


SCOTT:  And I think if Biden wants to prove that he has self-control and

actually can provide policy answers, and in response to this question about

his son…


MATTHEWS:  Young man, I have got a great line for you.  Ready?  I`m going

to call you Jack. 




MATTHEWS:  Winston Churchill said, I like a man who grins when he fights. 




MATTHEWS:  That`s a great one, grin.


SCOTT:  Not fighting at all is an option as well. 






MATTHEWS:  Thank you, sir.  Thank you, Sam Stein.  Thank you, Eugene Scott. 


Up next:  Mike Bloomberg has already spent millions to try to shoehorn his

way into this already crowded field of Democratic candidates.  Let`s talk

about him a little and a new book. 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 







candidates, and I just thought to myself, Donald Trump would eat them up. 


QUESTION:  You think all the candidates who are running today, he would eat

them up? 


BLOOMBERG:  Let me rephrase it.  I think that I would do the best job of

competing with him and beating him. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


That was former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning not mincing

his words about the other 2020 Democratic candidates.


And for more, I`m joined by David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle

Group, author the new book “The American Story: Conversations With Master

Historians.”  He also hosts the show on Bloomberg TV. 


Let me ask you about the economy, because you know the economy better than

anybody I know.  We have a 3.5 percent – when I studied economics in grad

school, you couldn`t get that low.  Structural problems stopped it. 


We have 260,000 new jobs, and this president is below water in approval.  



HISTORIANS”:  The economy is better than anybody thought it would be. 

Nobody can completely explain it. 


We are at full employment by any measure.  Inflation is low.  Interest

rates are low.  I don`t see an economy as good as this in decades. 


MATTHEWS:  So putting that together with what Bloomberg, who also knows the

economy, is thinking, everybody else running will lose to Trump.  That`s

what he said.  Everybody else but me, Mike Bloomberg, is going to lose to



That is an amazing statement, but is that based on the economy being



RUBENSTEIN:  Well, economy is strong, but those aren`t the only – only

thing that people take into account, as we know.


We have had good economies before, and presidents have lost.  But,

generally, when the economy is good, the president gets reelected.  When

economy is in a recession, presidents don`t get reelected. 


You and I worked for a president who had a recession and didn`t get



MATTHEWS:  We had inflation too.


RUBENSTEIN:  High, very high inflation.


MATTHEWS:  Very high interest rates too.


RUBENSTEIN:  We had a lot of challenges, for sure. 


But I don`t think it was the economy that was the principal problem there. 

I think the hostages were a big issue. 


MATTHEWS:  I do too.


I think there`s an atmosphere, I know you`re cognizant of it, being a

billionaire, and this is this.  There`s almost a French Revolution

atmosphere out there.  The Democrats for years were just about helping the

average person get a little ahead, get a better education, get economic

chances, minimum wage, things like union power, labor collective



But now there`s a feeling there`s something wrong with the very rich. 

There`s a mood out there.  It`s not one or two people like – there`s

Bernie, who says billionaires and millionaires.  There`s Elizabeth Warren. 

But it`s the people too.


What`s going on?


RUBENSTEIN:  Well, clearly, there`s an income gap that`s bigger than it`s

ever been.  It`s not as – we have never had something like this since the

late `20s.  But it`s social mobility too.


People at the bottom don`t think they can get to the top.


MATTHEWS:  Can they? 


RUBENSTEIN:  It`s much harder.  I believed in the American dream.  I came

from a family that had – didn`t have college education or high school

education.  I thought I could work my way up to the top.


MATTHEWS:  Your dad – your dad was a postman. 


RUBENSTEIN:  That`s right. 


But I think today a lot of people at the bottom don`t think they can rise

to the top.


MATTHEWS:  What can change?  Why can we – how do we change that

politically or economically? 


RUBENSTEIN:  If I had the answer, I`d be in Iowa.  I don`t have the answer. 


But one thing I would like to mention is literacy.  Right now, we have a

situation where 14 percent of the American people can`t read.  And you`re

at the bottom of the social strata and you can`t read, you`re never going

to get to the top.


MATTHEWS:  Are they immigrants or native-born?


RUBENSTEIN:  No, no, no.  These are native-born Americans; 14 percent

cannot read, functionally illiterate, can`t read past the fourth grade



And we have 1.7 million people dropping out of high school every year. 

Those people are very often illiterate.  You have got to deal with that

problem.  If you can tax all the rich people in the world you want, people

in the bottom can`t read, they`re not going to get to the top. 


MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about politics again.  I think you`re right. 


But let`s talk about politics.  And the – imagine the Democrats do

nominate Mike Bloomberg.  And he`s a competent as hell guy.  We know that. 

He goes against Trump, we got two oligarchs running against each other.


Is that good for democracy in this country, those two guys going against

each other, two…


RUBENSTEIN:  We have had situations that…


MATTHEWS:  And, by the way, Michael, I just checked his net worth today. 

He is $18 billion or something.  It`s probably more.  He`s really rich.


RUBENSTEIN:  Well, I don`t really know what his net worth is.


I would say, I have a show on his network.  So, obviously I`m…


MATTHEWS:  I know.


Yes, but you`re allowed to talk. 




I think he`s an unusual candidate in this sense.  We have never had a

candidate before who was a very successful businessman, an enormously

successful philanthropist, and an elected official previously.  Usually,

you don`t get all three of those things. 






RUBENSTEIN:  So he`s got a unique set of experiences.


Whether he can come in late and win, I don`t really know.


MATTHEWS:  Well, he spent $70 million to become mayor of New York.


Can he spend an extrapolation of that nationwide to become president?  I

mean, if you figure out New York City cost me $70 million, the whole

country costs me how many billions?  I mean, is that acceptable?


RUBENSTEIN:  In 1976, John Connally had more money than anybody, and he got

one delegate.


Nelson Rockefeller was richer than anybody.  In 1960, he didn`t get very

far.  So, money doesn`t always win these things. 




Let`s talk about your book, because it was a great read.  It is a great

read.  And what I like about it, you got all these master historians. 

Basically, you put it together.  You edited it.  You put them all together.


And what I liked about it is, you can put this up at night and read about

how we got here.  The stuff about Nixon, great stuff. 


You had Bob Woodward, who knows all about the Nixon – when he got in

trouble with Watergate.  And you got him, basically, Nixon saying, I kept

the tapes, I didn`t burn them, because when I read them – or Nixon – he

thought they would read positively for him.


Isn`t Trump just as crazy?  He thinks that conversation with Zelensky helps





MATTHEWS:  Are they deluded men, both of them?


RUBENSTEIN:  I can`t comment on whether there`s delusion.


I would simply just tell you about this book.  So…


MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s in the book. 


RUBENSTEIN:  Well, let me explain what it is.


You worked in Congress.  And, as you know, sometimes, members of Congress

don`t know as much about history as maybe they would like to know. 


MATTHEWS:  Right. 


RUBENSTEIN:  So I started a program six years ago to educate the members of



MATTHEWS:  I know.


RUBENSTEIN:  … about history by having these great historians come once a

month.  I interview them.


MATTHEWS:  Many congressmen showed up?


RUBENSTEIN:  We would get about 250 to 300 people every time.


MATTHEWS:  Congressmen?


RUBENSTEIN:  About two-thirds of those are congressmen, and then they have



MATTHEWS:  Really?


RUBENSTEIN:  So about 150 to 200. 


And they do – it`s bipartisan.  They sit with people from the opposite

party.  And, as you know, because we don`t have a lot of legislation now,

the senators and the congressmen don`t know each other, because we don`t

have conference committees so much. 


So they actually get to meet with each other.


MATTHEWS:  What`s the most important thing you learn in this, for the



RUBENSTEIN:  The most important thing is that we don`t know as much about

history as we should. 


And right now, sadly, three-quarters of Americans cannot even name the

three branches of government.  We don`t teach history.  We don`t teach

civics very much anymore.  The result is, we don`t have an informed



MATTHEWS:  Your next career. 


RUBENSTEIN:  Well, I will see.


MATTHEWS:  Become a teacher.


RUBENSTEIN:  Thank you very much for having me, Chris. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  No, thank you, David Rubenstein, an old-time,

longtime friend of mine.


Up next:  Once again, Democrats are the ones pushing for voting rights. 

This is an important thing we`re going to talk about in the next minute. 

It`s about – it`s about the Democrats and how they`re different than

Republicans.  They care about everybody voting. 


How`s that for a difference? 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Politics isn`t complicated. 


Generally speaking, Democrats want everyone to vote.  If you`re 18 and an

American citizen, they want you in that booth on Election Day. 


Republicans, again, generally speaking, lean toward ways of limiting the

franchise, I.D. cards, registration requirements, reduced number of days

for early voting.


Feeling outnumbered, they want the act of voting to be like one of those

prime-time reality shows, where contestants have to swing from tire tubes,

climb walls, and manage all kinds of obstacles simply to complete the



Well, today, the U.S. House of Representatives, the people`s house, voted

to reinstate the mission of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  Its goal was to

protect voters from states who try to manipulate election laws in order to

reduce minority participation. 


The vote today was along party lines, with only one Republican, one, Brian

Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting aye.


And, by the way, I say good for Brian.


But I have seen this before in my native state of Pennsylvania.  How many

times have Republicans up there tried screwing around with election laws in

order to shrink the Democratic vote? 


American citizens should be allowed to vote in this country.  It`s that



And that`s HARDBALL for now.


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.








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