Full House vote next week. TRANSCRIPT: 12/13/19, Hardball w/ Chris Mattews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We did have fun and we needed that. Let me also
show you one more thing you might want to see, the Rockefeller Center
Christmas Tree live right here in New York City. We wish you Happy
Holidays to you and yours. I`ll be back here 6:00 p.m. Eastern Monday
But don`t go anywhere. I`m going to be on THE LAST WORD tonight filling in
for Lawrence at 10:00. And right now, it`s HARDBALL with Chris Matthews.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Impeachment, our greatest liberty. Let`s play
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
For just the fourth time in history, a House committee today passed
articles of impeachment against an American president. The Judiciary
Committee has now triggered the greatest constitutional check that a
president can face, advancing two articles against President Donald Trump
for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The question now is on Article I of the
resolution, impeaching President Donald J. Trump for abusing his powers.
The clerk will call the roll.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, there are 23 ayes and 17 nos.
NADLER: The article is agreed to.
The question now is on Article II of the resolution, impeaching President
Donald J. Trump for obstructing Congress. The clerk will call the roll.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, there are 23 ayes and and 17 nos.
NADLER: The article is agreed to. The resolution that`s amended and it`s
ordered and reported favorably to the House.
MATTHEWS: Well, the party line vote paves the way for a vote by the full
House next week, likely on Wednesday, to make President Trump the third
president impeached by the entire House of Representatives. The vote to
report articles of impeachment by the same committee caused Richard Nixon
to resign before the full House had a chance to vote.
And this afternoon, appearing alongside the president of Paraguay,
President Trump blasted the vote by the House committee and by the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s a witch hunt, it`s a
sham, it`s a hoax. Nothing was done wrong. Zero was done wrong.
I got to see quite a bit of it yesterday. And I watched these Democrats on
the committee make fools out of themselves, absolute fools out of
To use the power of impeachment on this nonsense is an embarrassment to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the president went onto argue that impeachment is helping
him politically. But The New York Times reports that behind the scenes,
quote, he nurses resentment over the red mark about to be tattooed on his
page in the history books as only the third president in American history
to be impeached. No matter what some of us critics say, the advisers said
he generally does not want to be impeached, viewing it as a personal
humiliation. Adding, even in private, he accepts no blame and expresses no
regret, but he rails against the enemies he sees all around him.
Meanwhile, impeachment continues to move forward after the Judiciary
Committee vote today. The House Rules Committee announced a meeting for
next Tuesday to establish procedures setting the terms for the debate
before the full House of Representatives votes.
For more, I`m joined by NBC News Digital National Political Reporter
Jonathan Allen, Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor, Victoria Nourse,
Director of the Center of Congressional Studies at Georgetown Law School,
she was chief counsel to Vice President Joe Biden from 2015 to 2016, and
Charlie Sykes, Editor at Large for The Bulwark.
Charlie, I guess the first question is about the historic nature of what
happened today and whether it will withstand the terrors of history. Will
it look as good 20, 30 years from now, as it to those in the Democratic,
especially, and those who supported the action view it today, these
articles of impeachment?
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: Well, I think that history –
one of the questions history will have is all of the abuses and crimes for
which Donald Trump was not impeached. And I also think the verdict will
depend in large part about what happens in the Senate. You know, is the
Senate going to have a full and fair trial? Is it going to be a sham
trial? Mitch McConnell`s comments certainly suggest that it is, in fact,
rigged. So I think that this is something that I think the Democrats,
moving ahead quickly, need to keep in mind.
And, Chris, just remember, they don`t have to immediately message this over
to the United States Senate. And, in fact, I think in light of Mitch
McConnell`s, basically, his pledge or his, you know, admission that he
intends to coordinate with the White House, I think the Democrats might
want to say that you know what, until we have 51 senators who are willing
to commit to not go along with Mitch McConnell`s rigging plans, maybe we
will sit on this, we will continue the investigation because this is
ongoing crime scene.
MATTHEWS: How much do you want to bet on that?
SYKES: I don`t know. I`m just trying to encourage –
MATTHEWS: Charlie, how much do you want to bet on that? I`m serious. Are
you seriously betting that the speaker of the House will not send the
articles of impeachment over to the Senate? You want to bet on that?
SYKES: No, I would not want to bet on that. I used to having advice
MATTHEWS: Why did you say it? Do you believe it?
SYKES: Because I think it`s something to think about. Because I think
that what Mitch McConnell said yesterday was extraordinary. And I think
that we need to pause and recognize this is a historic moment. It is a
grave constitutional requirement. And what Mitch McConnell is essentially
saying is I`m going to turn this into a joke. And I think the Democrats
need to be very concerned about if in fact this does take place.
Will Donald Trump be emboldened and empowered to be even more abusive if he
thinks he is exonerated? Because once you`ve taken your shot and you have
failed to get the shot, Donald Trump is going to feel absolutely
unaccountable knowing there will be no consequences, and I think the
Democrats need to think through that plan B.
MATTHEWS: OK. The reason I challenged you so directly is that I`ve
watched Pelosi the last several months. She`s acted very conservatively
and very cautiously about the way she`s going about this. And if she did
something like that, it would be walking out on the plank and letting the
Republicans decide how they`re going to portray that and they would portray
this probably a refusal to carry out her duty and send those articles over
to the Senate. That would be very vulnerable for her to take that
position. I really look at it that way. That`s why I challenged you so
brutally, if you will.
Let me go back to John on another question, and this is the question which
is the cutter. Will this affect the 2020 election, what happened today,
that he was called – when he will be called out next year, next week?
When he is impeached next week, it is all likely to going happen by a
partisan vote. What effect would the effect that have on the election next
year, the impeachment of Donald Trump?
JONATHAN ALLEN, MSNBC DIGITAL NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think
there are two things that are likely to happen. Number one, he gets the
aggrievement. He gets what he always like to do, which is paint himself as
a victim and then say he was exonerated by the Senate. We`ve heard that
before. He`s going to add that to the arsenal of the Democrats and
Bureaucratic state and everybody is against me.
The new piece of this –
MATTHEWS: Every mob leader that walks out on the courthouse steps after
being acquitted says he was exonerated. Not just that he beat the judge,
he`s exonerated, he`s innocent.
ALLEN: But the new piece on this, Chris, is the House of Representatives,
a majority of the House of Representatives will have impeached him. And
when you line up what they are going to impeachment on against what Bill
Clinton, against what Andrew Johnson did, against what Richard Nixon did,
there is no comparison. Orders of magnitude –
MATTHEWS: OK. Back to the question to Paul, which I know this is
speculative. Between now and next November, will this carry the weight
history against the president?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, certainly, the act of
impeachment by the House will. History will understand that the House had
no choice given the president`s bad acts and corruption. The Senate is a
different question. If the Senate fails to remove the president from
office, that will go down as a day that our democracy took a giant step
Mr. Trump, if he`s exonerated, he`s not a good follower of the rule of law,
but he`s a quick study with what he can get away with. We know that the
day after Mueller testified before Congress, and Trump understood there
wouldn`t be any legal consequences for his exploits in Russia, the day
after Trump picks up the phone, calls the president of Ukraine, I need you
to do us a favor though.
So the day after the Senate fails to remove the president from office,
what`s to stop him from calling Russia and China? I`ve got a tough
election coming up, how can you help us?
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Victoria. You know, when Nixon was caught, he had
shame and he said I gave them the sword. I gave them a sword and they
thrust it in with relish. He admitted, he gave them because of his
behavior in trying to cover up the Watergate break-in, he gave his
political enemies, rivals, a chance to kill him politically, and they did.
VICTORIA NOURSE, DIRECTOR OF CENTER ON CONGRESSIONAL STUDIES, GEORGETOWN
LAW SCHOOL: Well, this is what`s so extraordinary about this president.
He does not seem to have the same level of shaming that accompanies other
MATTHEWS: Will that save him, shamelessness?
NOURSE: No, I don`t think it is going to save him. I think he could have
had this done in a minute if he had acted like Ronald Reagan, who had his
own investigation and then buried it. There are lots of ways you can
handle these scandals and he has just relished the fact he is going to put
his thumb in the nose of all our Democratic processes.
And, ultimately, I don`t think that`s to his benefit because there are rule
of law Republicans out there who understand that this is about our election
system and this is about –
MATTHEWS: Who do you think will challenge him on the floor when we come
back after the holidays? Who`s going to – which Republican senator is
going to do what you just said?
NOURSE: Mitt Romney.
MATTHEWS: Do you expect that?
NOURSE: I hope so.
MATTHEWS: You want to bet? Do you think he`ll go with it? Because I do
wonder about these speculations mean anything. We keep hoping for the
Republicans to do something interesting, and they`re all in line. I don`t
see anybody breaking – Murkowski, I could see, showing some guts. At
least one, I think, has guts.
ALLEN: One thing you don`t have to speculate is that 9 million or so
Americans voted for House Democrats and House Republicans in the mid-term
elections. They voted to put this check on Donald Trump. They understood
that he might be impeached for some of his activity, and this is the
result. And when they vote for this on the House floor next time, that is
a majority of the American people, the people representing a majority.
Republicans like to talk about coastal elites. A majority of the
representatives of the American people are going to impeach him and
recommend to the Senate that he be removed from office and not allowed to
hold the office of public trust again. That is not a small thing. We see
the reporting that he feels humiliated by this. People don`t feel
humiliated if they feel they got railroaded.
BUTLER: Although the abuse of Congress article is about how the president
totally rejects the idea that he should be checked by Congress. And,
again, if he is not removed from office, the message will be that`s OK. He
does not have to follow the Constitution and be limited by this system of
checks and balances, separations of power.
MATTHEWS: Charlie, if this were some sort of parole border or something,
this guy is not going to apologize. He`s not going to confess. This guy
says I`m right and you guys screwed me, that`s his whole thing,
SYKES: Yes, that`s exactly right. And I think Paul makes the important
point here is like what is a post-impeachment Donald Trump is going to be
like, what will his behavior be?
I guess my main point is that if in fact you believe, and I do, that Donald
Trump is an existential threat, then we ought to treat him like that, and
Democrats need to treat him like that. Don`t just check the box. Don`t
just look to move the calendar, because this threat is going to go on long
after there is that vote.
And by the way, I think that they need to push back hard against the
argument that failure to convict means that he`s exonerated. It just means
he is not going to be removed.
The one thing of hope that I think we need to maybe hold out a little bit
of hope for is that maybe some of those Republican senators, like
Murkowski, Collins, Cory Gardner, maybe Joni Ernst, will stand up to Mitch
McConnell and say, look, we are not going to provide you the votes to rig
this trial to turn this thing into a circus. If they would at least commit
a to having an open honest search for the truth, in which you get documents
and important testimony, I think that that would be at least a short-term
win, and I think there`d be a lot of pressure on them right now to say, are
you going along with what Mitch McConnell is threatening to do?
MATTHEWS: Let`s go around the table here. But, again, it`s speculation
and it`s fair enough. You have to put some money behind you sometimes,
Charlie, but let`s take a look at this.
First of all, how many Democrats do you think will not vote to impeach next
Wednesday, Charlie, in the House Democrats?
SYKES: Fewer than six.
ALLEN: I`m with Charlie.
BUTLER: I agree.
MATTHEWS: OK. How many Republicans are likely to join with the Democrats
in voting to convict and remove from office in the U.S. Senate?
BUTLER: One maybe.
MATTHEWS: Charlie, how many do you think?
SYKES: I think one, maybe two.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s about right. That averages out to about one, I
would say. We`re all looking – I know we`re all looking at Mitt Romney.
I think we`re looking at – I`m looking at Murkowski because she had the
guts to take on a primary challenger, defeat – I mean, lose the challenge,
come back and win the general election. That says bulletproof to me. I
think that woman has guts more than Mitt. Mitt likes to be – he likes
flirt with greatness. He never gets there.
Meanwhile, yesterday`s marathon debate over the articles of impeachment
came as Republicans tried to minimize the president`s misconduct, dragging
the debate well into the night with amendments to gut the resolution. All
of them, by the way, failed – strike the last word, didn`t go any further
than that. They didn`t strike the last word. Their antics were met with
resistance from their colleagues across the aisle. The decision by
Chairman Jerry Nadler to table the vote until this morning left Republicans
at least, on the face of things, infuriated, publicly infuriated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): There was no consulting from the ranking member
on your schedule for tomorrow, in which you just blow up schedules for
everyone. You chose not to consult the ranking member on a schedule
issuing of this magnitude.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So typical.
COLLINS: This is the kangaroo court that we`re talking about.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): Stalin-esque and –
COLLIN: Not even consult.
GOHMERT: Just Stalin-esque.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jon, is this politics of aggrievement, which was not a dance
learned from the occasion last night? They`ve been doing this for years.
We`re getting screwed, we was robbed. It`s always this. We`re the white
working guy and we`ve been screwed by the illegal immigrants, we was
screwed by the rich liberals and media. Everybody is out to get us. This
was, to me, a personal demonstration after all these days. Will it work?
We were screwed.
ALLEN: Nobody complains in Congress about going home at 11:30 at night. I
mean, the complaint is that they have to go home that late. It`s absurd.
They would have complained about anything.
MATTHEWS: That guy said – Doug Collins said – or somebody – was it
ALLEN: Let me tell a guy in his district that`s working that late at
MATTHEWS: No. What he said it was Stalin-esque to make him come in and –
ALLEN: It`s absurd.
MATTHEWS: Anybody think it worked? I don`t think so, but he keeps on –
ALLEN: No. Nobody is listening to this –
MATTHEWS: Charlie, does anybody give a darn how late they work or what
time they get up in the morning? Iƒ_Tm asking,
SYKES: No. And I don`t think it`s Stalin-esque to make you come in on a
Friday morning, and maybe it does in Congress these days. But, look,
whatever Jerry Nadler had done, they would have complained about it.
Imagine if today they had a vote at midnight, this would have become the
talking point, you know, the midnight vote to impeach the president. And I
think Jerry Nadler understood that. So he did was let`s do it in broad
daylight where the American people can see it, and, again, this is not even
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Charlie. I completely agree. It would be like
spooky at midnight. They met in basements, it was partisan. They met in
the dark basements down the (INAUDIBLE). It was all partisan and then they
ended up voting at midnight.
Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Allen. Thank you, Paul Butler. Thank you,
Victoria Nourse and Charlie Sykes.
Up next, looking ahead to the impeachment trial of President Trump, Mitch
McConnell is one of the hundred Senate jurors, so-called. But if this was
an actual criminal trial, McConnell would already have been dismissed for
bias. He admits he`ll do whatever Trump and his lawyers tell him to do.
Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Everything I do during this, I`m coordinating
with the White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the
president`s position and our position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And Rudy Giuliani – there he is. He`s back, back from Ukraine.
He`s at the White House today with his son there and from his latest
adventure where he spent the last week digging for political dirt. He
reportedly told the president, quote, has more than you can imagine.
That`s perfect for Trump.
We`ve got much more to get to tonight. Thank you. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As the House inches closer to impeaching President Trump next week, the
Senate is preparing for a trial. And the Republican leader over there,
Mitch McConnell, told FOX News that there is no daylight between the
Republican jurors – that`s the Republican senators – and the defendant.
That would be the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We will be working through this process,
hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with the
White House Counsel`s Office and the people who are representing the
president in the well of the Senate.
Everything I do during this, I`m coordinating with White House counsel.
There will be no difference between the president`s position and our
position as to how to handle this. There is no chance the president is
going to be removed from office.
My hope is that there won`t be a single Republican who votes for either of
these articles of impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who is expected to defend
Trump in the Senate trial, was seen leaving McConnell`s office just
Isn`t that cute? Ahead of the trial, which has not been scheduled yet,
Republicans are debating just how long they want it to last, and who they
want to hear from.
According to Politico, Republicans` plan could be, would be to call no
witnesses and simply allow House Democrats, and then the president`s
attorneys, to make their case before the public. And after that, the
Senate would consider calling people either for live testimony or closed-
door depositions, probably in committee.
Well, earlier today, when asked if he had a preference, President Trump
provided no clear answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will do whatever I want.
Look, there is – we did nothing wrong. So I will do long or short.
I have heard Mitch. I have heard Lindsey. I think they are very much on
agreement on some concept. I will do whatever they want to do. It doesn`t
matter. I wouldn`t mind a long process, because I`d like to see the
whistle-blower, who`s a fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by former Congressman Barney Frank,
Democrat from Massachusetts – there you are – and Ruth Marcus,
“Washington Post” deputy editorial page editor and author of the big new
book “Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover.”
I like to say to liberals, friends of mine, 7-2. This guy gets back in, 7-
2 Supreme Court. Think about it.
RUTH MARCUS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: You know what the president says? He
likes to say, I will get five. He wants to have five nominees.
MATTHEWS: He will get his seven the way he`s going.
Let me go.
Barney Frank, thank you, sir, for joining us.
The president is supposed to be tried by the Senate, yet the leader that
senator, who culls the majority under his huff, is acting like he`s thrown
it already, thrown the trial.
BARNEY FRANK (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSMAN: No question.
The – there`s an arrogance there. By the way, when the Clinton
impeachment came, that was not that degree of coordination. In fact, the
leading senator at the time, or one of them, was Robert Byrd, who
ultimately voted not to convict, but was a man who understood the
institutional and constitutional requirements of independence.
I remember one case where the White House had a proposal for who was going
to be presenting their case. They Senate overruled.
By the way, the Democrats in the House, totally contrary to the Republicans
in the House, who`ve been 100 percent supportive of whatever Trump says or
does, we were ready to vote to censure Bill Clinton. In committee, we
voted to censure him. The Republicans were afraid that censure would pass,
instead of impeachment, in the House, and manipulated the goals and defied
the rules not to allow it to come up.
So, no, there was – yes, most Democrats, were skeptical. In the end, no
Democrat voted for the impeachment. But they respected the constitutional
separation of powers. And the White House was not dictating the strategy.
MATTHEWS: Well, Ruth, you know everything. And you`re a lawyer, as well
as a great journalist and editor, but the fact is that we all know that –
I didn`t know this, but there`s an oath that U.S. senators must take as
they go into a trial for president for impeachment, removal from office,
where they have to strongly swear that they – that in all things
pertaining to the trial, and now pending, which will be – they will be
impartial and giving justice, according to constitutional law.
They will be impartial.
MARCUS: Oh, they are going to do impartial justice.
MATTHEWS: And there we – I don`t know whether he`s Elmer Fudd or he`s
bugs Bunny sometimes. Is he was running from or running the show, Mitch
MARCUS: Well, he`s – it`s interesting that he said that, because he knows
what`s coming, and he knows that his oath is to do impartial justice.
And he knows that he`s going to hit – get some criticism for what he said.
But he also knows he has a constituency of one and a constituency of his
base that he also needs to satisfy.
MATTHEWS: Why are they so afraid of his guy, of Trump? He`s on trial.
MARCUS: Because – yes, Trump`s on trial, but Trump`s voters can put
McConnell on trial.
He`s the most unpopular senator. He has other senators to worry about. He
wants to signal that he`s in line with this guy. But it`s yet another
situation where the Senate is not doing its – its constitutional role.
MATTHEWS: Barney, why do you think the senators aren`t – why isn`t the
president kissing up to the senators? He needs the votes to save himself
from impeachment, from conviction.
Why are they acting like the supplicants here to him?
FRANK: Because of the voters.
I understand criticism of people in your profession and my former
profession. I often agree with it, but the voters are no bargain either
FRANK: And what you have in – the people who vote in Republican primaries
demand slavish obedience to Donald Trump.
And there`s no question there are senators who in a secret ballot who would
certainly be much more likely to vote no – or vote to convict, but they
are all afraid of losing their primaries. They think of Jeff Flake. They
think of Bob Corker.
The Republican electorate – and then what happens is, there`s a dynamic.
As the Republicans get harder and harder in this kind of far-right Trump
fealty, some people leave the Republican Party. So that means the
remainder are this hard core.
Now, Mitch McConnell is going to pay a price for it. And, frankly, I think
the way this is going to play out, the Republican senators are now making
the toughest choice a politician can make between the primary and the
final, between making sure you get renominated, and then winning in
And I think you have a number of Republican senators – you mentioned any
of them – who are very much in that bind. And I will tell you, I have a
slogan that I am suggesting to the Democratic candidates for the Senate all
over the country. You don`t have to live in Kentucky to vote against Mitch
He doesn`t get to be majority leader unless Cory Gardner and Susan Collins
and Joni Ernst all those other people are reelected. And that`s where I
think this is going to play out politically.
MATTHEWS: Well, speak of the devil, I guess.
Here`s Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who tried to House this
case against Bill Clinton back in 1998. He called today`s historic vote in
the House to – on the impeachment articles – quote – “A sad, ridiculous
sham in the United States House of Representatives. This needs to come to
a quick end.”
Well, in 1998, as a congressman from South Carolina, he had a very
different point of view.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Please give us a chance, American people, to
document what the president did, actually did. I know what people want to
do with this case. I know they want to get it over. I know many of them
don`t want the president to be impeached.
But I have got a duty far greater than just getting to the next election.
Some House members that said, I will not vote for an impeachment.
Let me tell you, please don`t say that until you understand what you`re
voting on. Members of the Senate have said, I understand everything there
is about this case, and I won`t vote to impeach the president. Please
allow the facts to do the talking. Don`t decide the case before the cases
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Barney, what do you make of this guy right now?
FRANK: Very little.
I think Lindsey has – he has been a master of the fake. He was going to
do this and he was going to do that. And then he never does. He comes out
the right-wing side every time.
I have proposed – I have asked the Kennedy Library people whether they
have a procedure for sending a Profile in Courage Award. Apparently, they
FRANK: But what you have – and let me just say, again, let`s be clear
what`s going on here.
Yes, you can say there`s a duty to ignore politics. But there is one
ineradicable fact here. If you want a question to be decided wholly
without political influence, don`t ask 535 politicians to make it.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Barney Frank.
And thank you, Ruth Marcus.
MATTHEWS: The name of your book is “Supreme Ambition.” It`s all about
where Brett Kavanaugh came from and why.
Up next: Rudy Giuliani picked an auspicious day to drop by the White
House. There he is. I love this walk with his son there walking across
from the Eisenhower Building to the West Wing. What is he up to with the
president? Probably the same thing Mitch McConnell is up to with
Was he briefing officials on his recent dirt-digging in the Ukraine, as he
said he would? He reportedly told the president that his mission turned –
quote – “turned up more than you can imagine.”
Of course, that`s Rudy`s account.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Just minutes before the House Judiciary Committee held its historic
impeachment vote this morning, President Trump`s personal lawyer Rudy
Giuliani was seen entering the White House accompanied by his son Andrew,
who works for the administration. There they go under that umbrella.
Giuliani confirmed to NBC that he met with the president today. And the
last time we heard from Rudy, he was in Ukraine, of course, this week,
gathering evidence to defend, as he said, “my client.” That would be the
Giuliani described his trip to “The Wall Street Journal” as just having
fun. Then he added that, upon his return on Saturday, the president called
him as his plane was still taxiing down the runway.
“What you get?” he said Mr. Trump asked.
Quote: “More than you can imagine,” Mr. Giuliani said he replied.
For more, I`m joined right now by Ken Dilanian, NBC News correspondent.
Thank you, Ken.
You have got a hell of a beat.
Rudy, he`s paying for all these trips out of something. He travels first-
class. He is either in general aviation or first-class. He`s in five-star
hotels. He`s bopping around everywhere. Who`s paying for it? What`s he
actually delivering? What other clients does he have?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It`s such an
There`s not much mystery left about what happened with Ukraine. But
there`s a lot of questions about, what is Rudy up to? Well, he`s under
criminal investigation. We`re not exactly sure what the scope of that
investigation is, but it`s serious.
There have been reports about subpoenas and money laundering and foreign
lobbying, and yet he`s traipsing over to Ukraine, meeting with these
people. It`s almost like he`s trying to send the message, hey, if I`m
doing it, it can`t be wrong, if I`m doing it, and I`m in the open.
But there`s a real sleaze factor here even before the Ukraine stuff. He`s
been representing the president for free, but also representing private
clients before the administration, a Venezuelan oligarch, a Turkish money
launderer, massive conflicts of interest, the kind of stuff Obama never
And who`s paying the bills is a great question right now. There was –
there`s a transaction where a friend of Rudy`s, a Trump supporter, paid a
half-a-million dollar investment to this company called Fraud Guarantee run
by Parnas and Fruman, the now indicted associates, and that money went to
There`s no evidence that that company ever did anything. So that may be
part of what the federal government is investigating. The same office that
Rudy used to run is now investigating him.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t his bullseye over there to get some former corrupt
Ukrainian prosecutor to say the reason that Joe Biden got me out of my job
and bragged about it was because I was investigating his son`s company?
DILANIAN: That is what he wants to say.
But it`s been debunked. And yet, of course, you heard Republican House
members bring it up again and again during the impeachment hearings.
MATTHEWS: All they need is some sleazebag over there to say it.
DILANIAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And then they will say, a top official or a former top official,
and they have got their talking point for the rest of the election.
DILANIAN: But they have got to be careful, because if they`re paying
people to say this stuff – there`s already been an affidavit from that
prosecutor Shokin, who was fired…
DILANIAN: … that Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova helped perpetuate
and hand out to a reporter here.
And the question of money changing hands and all – how all that happened,
I think, is a really interesting one. If these people are being paid to say
things, that would be very bad.
Just hours after walking into the White House today, Giuliani was tweeting
about the impeachment investigation.
He called impeachment today “a smokescreen for the Obama/Biden
administration`s corruption. It will soon be proven.”
What`s that? Is that what we were just talking about?
DILANIAN: Yes, exactly. That`s the whole thesis.
I mean, look, everybody acknowledges it was a terrible optic for Joe
Biden`s son to be on that board with no experience.
DILANIAN: And that`s a sleazy story. If it was just that they were going
after, you can`t really argue with that, although normally a president
would have an opposition research firm quite removed from him doing this
But this whole idea that Biden threatened to withhold a billion dollars in
aid if they didn`t fire the prosecutor, I mean, they played that tape
during the impeachment hearing. That`s completely misleading.
Biden was doing what the United States government, the E.U., good
government groups wanted to do, fire this prosecutor because he was
corrupt, because he wasn`t investing Burisma.
We have been talking about what possible circus we could see come January
starting probably the 6th, when everybody`s back.
What are the chances we`re going to get Rudy Giuliani basically going
through a stop and frisk with the – with the Senate Democrats and
DILANIAN: I cannot imagine that his lawyers would let him testify, because
he`s got criminal jeopardy. It would be insane for him to go under oath
and talk to Congress about all these dealings.
We don`t even know in terms of money changing hands and who`s paying them.
I mean, but you know what? Rudy has done some pretty crazy things in terms
of – like, a lot of his friends and associates are telling him to stop
going on television, stop talking to the media, but he`s continuing to do
So maybe he will throw caution to the wind and come testify. He seems so
sure that he`s – what he`s doing is right.
MATTHEWS: Which party, the Democrats, who are bringing the charges of
impeachment, or the Republicans, who are defending the president actively
now, stands to benefit from a Wild Wild West circus this January?
In other words, bringing in Lewandowski did not work for the Democrats. I
will give an example.
DILANIAN: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Bringing in Giuliani may not work for the Democrats. You just
never know with these characters. Or Joe Biden could be a sympathetic
figure, and the Republicans would wished they never brought him in.
DILANIAN: Right, because they have their organs of propaganda.
Giuliani was over in Ukraine making a television show with one American
news network which makes FOX look like PBS. So as long as you have that
getting out into the ether, you have got millions of Americans who believe
this stuff, no matter what you and I say or the Democrats in Congress say.
DILANIAN: So you`re absolutely right. It could backfire.
Rudy`s a persuasive guy. He gets out in front of the cameras and start
saying this stuff, people believe it.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Ken Dilanian.
DILANIAN: You bet. Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Happy holidays, buddy.
Up next: Is Boris Johnson`s landslide victory in the U.K. yesterday a
cautionary tale for American Democrats? This is a hot topic around the
office today. And that`s next.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We did it. We did it. We pulled
it off, didn`t we?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: We pulled it off. We broke the deadlock. We ended the gridlock.
We smashed the roadblock, and in this glorious, glorious pre-breakfast
moment, for a new dawn rises on a new day and a new government.
This election means that getting Brexit done is now the irrefutable,
irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrating early this morning
after his Conservative Party won yesterday`s election in a landslide,
giving the party its biggest parliamentary majority since Margaret
Thatcher`s victory back in 1987.
Johnson campaigned on a promise to get Brexit done. And his party`s win
means the United Kingdom is all but certain to leave the E.U. on January
Conservatives now hold 365 seats in Commons, compared only 203 for Jeremy
Corbyn`s Labor Party, which was 59 seats last night. A staggering 61
percent of voters had a negative opinion of Corbyn, according to a recent
He announced, by the way, that he will step down as the party`s leader, the
Labor leader, before the next election, which I think has to be within five
years, maybe sooner.
As “The Washington Post” put it: “Johnson largely united those who wanted
to leave the European Union, while his opponents and those who wish to
remain were splintered.”
“The Post” also drew a parallel to the U.S. political climate, noting that:
“Just like in the United States, there`s been a growing urban-rural divide
in the U.K. Like Trump, Johnson capitalized.”
Johnson capitalized, like Trump.
Well, today, President Trump congratulated Johnson and hinted it was a good
sign for his reelection in 2020, just like Brexit was for him in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I want to congratulate Boris Johnson on a terrific victory. I
think that might be a harbinger of what`s to come in our country. It was
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And it`s not just Republicans who think the British election
might be a sign of what`s in store for the U.S. in 2020.
And that`s up next. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
At a fund-raiser last night, Joe Biden use the Conservative landslide in
the British elections yesterday to bolster his argument that the Democratic
Party shouldn`t move too far to the left.
According to a reporter who was there, Biden predicted headlines that say:
“Look what happens when the Labor Party moves so far to the left. It comes
up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis
“Well, you`re also going to see people” – this is Biden – “You`re also
going to see people say, my God, Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical
and emotional clone of the president, is able to win?”
I`m joined now by Neera Tanden, a reasonable person, president and CEO of
the Center for American Progress, and Andrew Sullivan, a contributing
editor to “New York Magazine,” as Cary Grant would say, New York.
OK, look, let`s not – let`s just go. Application here. Message from last
night. Application in this country coming into the fights for the
ANDREW SULLIVAN, “NEW YORK MAGAZINE”: Absolutely devastating, I think, for
where the Democratic Party is, where their intellectuals are.
What they`re proposing next year will result in a – I think a pretty
catastrophic result for them. And I think this has been clear for a while.
The reason they lost was because they were ambivalent about Brexit, which
means they were an ambivalent….
MATTHEWS: The Laborites – the Laborites, yes.
SULLIVAN: Yes, they were ambivalent about controlling immigration, which
was a huge issue.
And they didn`t want to do what the people had already voted for. And they
delayed it. And people were mad that their decision in 2016 was being
delayed deliberately and blocked by these parliamentarians.
And so Boris also saw the thing to do right now, if you`re on the right, is
to move left on economics. So he was very different than Thatcher, lots of
money on public spending, tax cuts only for the working class and poor.
MATTHEWS: Big on health care. Big on health care.
SULLIVAN: And lots of spending on health care.
And that combination, with a belief in the nation, devastating.
MATTHEWS: Mixing it up – the question is, why did so many working people
in Britain vote Tory?
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Because I think the
Labor Party did not give them a real choice.
I think the challenge is, Corbyn was not a realistic leader, he was not a
realistic alternative. People – his approval or disapproval was much
greater. I mean, both Johnson and Corbyn were unpopular, but Corbyn was
significantly less popular.
And there were – the second most important issue, other than Corbyn
himself, was economic issues as well. I think the individual issues may
have been popular, but the weight of all of them – and I agree that Boris
Johnson – I think Labor allowed Boris Johnson to capture the middle on
Now, I do think that we should recognize a big difference between the U.K.
and the U.S., which is, in the United States in 2018, Democrats were able
to capture suburban voters, can make up for losses in rural communities.
That did not…
SULLIVAN: By not being as left as either Sanders or Warren and by not
being Jeremy Corbyn`s Labor Party, as someone who, one should remember,
Bernie Sanders endorsed only last week.
TANDEN: There is a robust debate in the Democratic Party. There is not
one vision of how to win.
There are arguments across the board. They`re – not everybody is making
the case about Warren and Sanders.
SULLIVAN: But aren`t you concerned about what happened?
TANDEN: I am deeply concerned. I am deeply concerned.
TANDEN: But I take from that there`s – there is a concern about
I think that Democrats would look at that and say, you have to put together
an electoral coalition. The purpose of an opposition party is to win
elections. And you have to put a broad coalition together.
MATTHEWS: Look, let me go – let`s talk about the Democratic Party now,
it`s happening right now, and how this might affect it.
I think Bernie`s having a comeback of sorts, a little bit of a comeback.
He`s holding his vote, holding it solid. His believers are his believers.
Elizabeth Warren is having a problem because she moved away from the very
progressive position on Medicare for all, because she was being hit hard on
it. And in moving over to this – to the center left a bit further, I
think she`s lost some enthusiasm.
Buttigieg is a moderate running as a moderate. And you could say he`s done
the same thing that Boris Johnson did. He saw an opportunity and moved to
the center. He saw his opportunity.
Biden is there, but he`s not moving up. I think this race is moving a bit
to the center a little bit, but just my hunch.
SULLIVAN: I sure hope so.
There are two key issues here. One is that people do want to move left.
But when Corbyn presented them with a very similar proposal as the
Democrats have on the Green New Deal, for example, or massive spending and
borrowing, the working-class people of Britain decided, we don`t trust him.
That`s too much. That`s too expensive. We don`t think you can afford it.
We don`t want it.
So, the Medicare for all, this is a huge defeat for that kind of argument,
a huge defeat for that kind of radicalism. And it is a very good argument
for the things that Buttigieg is arguing for, which do capture the middle.
TANDEN: Yes, I think I would say that…
MATTHEWS: You`re a pro at this, by the way. I want to hear what you say.
Is there a slight movement toward the center in the part right now, absent
what happened in Britain yesterday?
TANDEN: I think the last month you have seen both Biden and Buttigieg
rise, just as a factual matter. And, in fact, in some places, you see
Klobuchar rising as well.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
TANDEN: I don`t think this is static.
I do think Democrats are more anxious about putting together an electoral
win than they have been in any election cycle in recent history. And I do
think issues like what happened in Britain, but also recent polls that show
that there`s a greater chance to win the swing states with more moderate
candidates, are having an impact on the primary itself.
TANDEN: And you can say Democrats, but there`s a bit – actually, Pete
Buttigieg is arguing, Joe Biden is arguing with Warren and Sanders about
Medicare for all
There is a deep debate on the substantive issue here.
SULLIVAN: Key question, immigration, which was the key force behind
Brexit, the key force behind Trump, all the Democrats are essentially
incredibly weak on that subject.
No one is talking about how we can control it. No one is talking about how
we can stop illegal immigration to the country
TANDEN: I would say, today, support for comprehensive immigration reform,
which includes both strong borders and a path to citizenship, has 65
SULLIVAN: You know it doesn`t contain strong borders.
TANDEN: No, but, actually, in 2018, Democrats argued for both.
SULLIVAN: They all want to decriminalize crossing the border. You think
that is a good message?
TANDEN: There is a big difference amongst Democrats on the topic.
MATTHEWS: Which Democratic candidate in the front is pushing for…
TANDEN: Joe Biden has not supported decriminalizing border entry, and I
believe Pete Buttigieg has not, and nor has Amy Klobuchar.
SULLIVAN: No, he fell for it too.
MATTHEWS: Who did?
SULLIVAN: Buttigieg, I think, in the first debates.
TANDEN: A lot of people raised their hands, and a lot of people have
changed since then.
I do think that there is a disagreement on some of these topics. And one
of the reasons why this debate has really moved on put – who can put
together an electoral victory is the central question.
And people like Biden and Buttigieg are arguing – and Buttigieg argues
this a lot of the time, that we can`t alienate people on particular
policies. And I think this is a robust debate in the party.
But I don`t think one side…
MATTHEWS: Why aren`t the voters who are torn here – what they do if they
have to choose between a very progressive, very left, if you will,
Democratic candidate, and Biden – not Biden – and Trump?
How do they vote? What do they do?
SULLIVAN: They`re going to vote for some – for people who actually
believe in borders.
They`re going to vote for people who they think can deliver for that.
SULLIVAN: They`re going to vote for people who don`t think they`re
TANDEN: Donald Trump campaigned on the caravan day in and day out in the
three weeks before the midterm elections, and he lost the House. Nine
million more people voted for House Democrats.
So, I agree. I think we have to have a position, a reasonable position.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Neera Tanden.
This is the fight that is going on right now.
TANDEN: I think facts matter. Facts matter. I`m sorry.
MATTHEWS: Neera Tanden, thank you. Thank you, Andrew Sullivan.
Welcome back to the show.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next – you`re always welcome, Neera.
Up next: how impeachment of a president constitutes the highest power of
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: As of today, a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives
has approved articles of impeachment against four American presidents.
As a citizen and journalist, I have lived through three of those four
historic events. And, to me, they represent together the power we have to
exercise through our elected representatives and also the limits to the
power we set on the highest of our elected officials.
Impeachment is, let`s face it, the ultimate expression of liberty on behalf
of the American people, to indict a president for failure to honor his or
her oath to a Constitution that embodies the very principle of limited
I think of it this way. As Americans, we can walk out onto any street,
speak into the most powerful microphone, address the largest audience that
can be called together and say whatever we wish about those at the height
of our government, and that`s the right asserted in the First Amendment.
Impeachment honors a higher liberty, to bring the most powerful elected
figure in the country to account, to judgment, to dismissal from office for
having committed acts antagonistic to the country`s highest office.
I have spent my life witnessing the liberties guaranteed here, liberties is
not guaranteed elsewhere. I have spoken my mind and criticized actions I
believed inimical to my country and those who committed them.
But I have not – not often enough, certainly – spoken up on the liberty I
and other Americans have enjoyed to speak so freely and so loudly and to
challenge elected authority with such confidence as the American people did
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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