Trump mocks Pelosi for her “teeth”. TRANSCRIPT: 121619, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Pramila Jayapal, Paul Rosenzweig, Leon Panetta, Eli Stokols, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Brendan Buck, Joel Payne
Transcript:

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  So we`ll keep an eye on that.  He famously left

the Republican Party over his support for impeachment.

 

I`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.  But don`t go anywhere. 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump`s date with history.  Let`s play

HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

 

Trump has brought us to this.  Tonight, he stands at the edge of a dreaded

destiny about to become only the third American president to be impeached

by the U.S. House of Representatives.  This Wednesday, the House is set to

debate and vote on two articles of impeachment against the president, abuse

of power and obstruction of Congress.

 

Early this morning, House Judiciary Committee Democrats formally presented

their final case against the president, releasing their impeachment report,

arguing that President Trump has, quote, betrayed the nation by abusing his

high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections. 

Well, the House is all but certain to approve those two articles, paving a

way for trial next month in the U.S. Senate.

 

Senate Minority Leader, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has delivered the

Democrats` opening salvo on how the trial should be conducted, should.  In

a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Schumer said, Senate Democrats

believe strongly, and I trust Senate Republicans agree, that this trial

must be one that is fair, that considers all the relevant facts and then

exercise the Senate`s sole power of impeachment under the Constitution with

integrity and dignity.

 

Schumer argued that the Senate should subpoena testimony from former

National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff

Mick Mulvaney, as well as Robert Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney, and

Michael Duffey, an official in the Office of Management and Budget.  Well,

speaking today, Schumer argued that those four men had the most direct

contact with the facts regarding the president`s efforts to pressure

Ukraine to pursue his own political investigations.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  I haven`t seen a single good argument about why

these witnesses shouldn`t testify, or these documents be produced, unless

the president has something to hide and his supporter want that information

hidden.

 

The president and House Republicans have resisted letting all the evidence

and facts come out.  The president hasn`t offered a single exculpatory bit

of evidence that refutes what`s in the House impeachment charges.  They

have not refuted them.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, impeachment moves forward again tomorrow in the House as

the Rules Committee of the House needs to set the parameters for the debate

process ahead of Wednesday`s historic vote.

 

For more, I`m joined by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington State,

I think Seattle, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, Paul

Rosenzweig, who served as senior counsel in the investigation of President

Clinton and Heidi Przybyla, who`s been everywhere in the last couple of

weeks, NBC News Correspondent, every time I turn the T.V. on NBC, you`re

on.  Heidi, thank you.

 

Let`s start with the congresswoman about the report.  What is the stronger

language in the report as you`ve seen it and you`ve read it and you`ve

reported it?

 

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA):  I have, yes, over 600 pages.  And I would say

the strongest language is that these two constitutional crimes of abuse of

power and obstruction of Congress are the highest constitutional crimes

that any president can commit and that they absolutely destroy any sense of

democracy.

 

Because, remember, this is – the democracy depends on the power of the

people giving all of our votes to a president.  That`s where the power

derives from.  Not from the bloodlines of monarchs but from the votes of

the people.

 

So if a president is asking for a foreign country to interfere in our

elections, he is essentially destroying that democracy.  Now, add to that

that he has put himself above the law.  He and his team say that they

cannot be indicted, he cannot be indicted while he`s a sitting president. 

Now they are saying that they don`t have to provide information to Congress

so that we can actually investigate this.

 

So I think that is really the strongest case and there are lots of ways to

describe that.  But at the cores of it, he is destroying our democracy and

taking votes away from you and me and giving it to a foreign government.

 

MATTHEWS:  Here is your chance, Congresswoman, to say what you think of

Trump.  Because I know you`ve all been constrained by party unity to agree

with two articles, great.  But throughout the language of both articles is

the language about pattern, who is this person?  Is this the person who

would do something like the deal on the phone, who would set up that kind

of deal, put up Giuliani there to do it, follow-up, hold up arms aid

necessary to save a country?  Who is that person that you`re impeaching

here this week?  Who is he?

 

JAYAPAL:  Pattern of conduct is in both of the articles because it is bad

enough that the president is doing this and it`s unfolding in front of us

with Ukraine as the president of the United States.  But we know that he

did this before.  That`s what the Mueller report was about, 400 pages,

saying that this is exactly what he did.

 

MATTHEWS:  This is who he is.

 

JAYAPAL:  Everybody heard him, Chris.

 

MATTHEWS:  I want you to tell me who he is.  Who is this president, this

human being?

 

JAYAPAL:  He is a guy who believes he is above the law, that he is not

accountable to the American people, that he does not have to represent the

interests of this nation.  He is the smoking gun.  Anybody who is looking

for a smoking gun just needs to look at this president.

 

And let me tell you something, not only is he the smoking gun.  He`s done

it before, he`s doing it now, he`s going to do it again.  That smoking gun

is reloaded.  And whether or not it fires for the 2020 election is up to us

if we actually are able to hold him accountable.

 

MATTHEWS:  You know, we see this in life, a guy can get into sports into

college, he`ll still be from – he hasn`t changed.  People don`t change. 

In fact, I was ask people, know anybody has ever changed?  It`s a brutal

question especially for married people, because most people stay who they

are all their lives.  And Trump, who is this guy that I know from reading

about it, you think, deserves to be impeached.  What is it about him

essentially?  Not what happened on a July day in a phone call, but what

that represents about his being, this guy, Trump, and why he shouldn`t be

president?

 

PAUL ROSENZWEIG, FORMER SENIOR COUNSEL KEN STARR INVESTIGATION:  I mean, on

the narrow questions, I agree completely with the congresswoman, that he`s

destructive of democracy and his resistance to congressional subpoenas is

essentially a thumb in the face of checks and balances.

 

But I think more fundamentally, Donald Trump is about the destruction of

the norms of the American republic that go back to the founding, free

press.  Free and independent press you is now enemy of the people, a

president not subject to subpoena.  That`s why we had a revolution against

a king, right?  You could go on and on.  A president not taking money for

his own personal benefit out of his presidency, that`s the emoluments

clause.  There are suits going on about that.  It reflects in the long run

 

MATTHEWS:  Is he a crook?

 

ROSENZWEIG:  Absolutely.  I signed a letter with a thousand,000 other

prosecutors saying that the Mueller report had anyway between three and

eight, depending on your view of it, instances of obstruction of justice

that most of us would have taken to any jury in America and won a

conviction on where he – anybody other than the president of the United

States.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, meanwhile there`s behind – I wanted to get to this

because I think years from now, if we`re all still around, we`ll all be

trying to explain this to somebody or your grandkids.  I`m on the way to

doing that now.  I got them.  Why is?  You can`t just say it`s just a phone

call.  You can`t just say with Nixon it was a break-in.  It`s something

about the character of the person that`s being targeted here by reasonable

people.

 

Anyway, meanwhile, there`s a behind the scenes effort by some House

Democrats to bolster their argument in a Senate trial with the help of a

former Republican.  The Washington Post first reported this.  Some House

Democrats are pushing to include Michigan Congressman Justin Amash who left

the Republican Party over his support for impeachment as one of the

impeachment managers when they get to the Senate next month.  The campaign

has been pushed by 30 freshmen in the House.  That means new members in the

House.  The thinking is that Amash would reach conservative voters in a way

Democrats can`t.  He also would provide Democrats` cover from GOP

accusation that they`re pursuing a partisan impeachment.

 

Heidi, how far is this going as you see it?

 

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  As of this morning, my sources close

to leadership poured cold water on this, Chris.  They said that the speaker

has plenty of qualified candidates and it would be unlikely.  That said,

the currents around here are moving so swiftly, obviously, anything could

happen.  But in 1999, there were 13 different managers.  Will she, in the

end, decide to possibly lump him in and might that be a good call?  Maybe.

 

But right now, there is much way to your questions on the Senate side.  It

is where I am right now.  Because we kind of know what`s going to happen in

the House and the Senate – it`s not just who the managers are.  But most

critically, whether they`re going to have witnesses and whether they`re

going to have a real trial.

 

And you saw Senator Schumer today saying that he is extending this offer to

Mitch McConnell.  And, again, my reporting is that those close to Mitch

McConnell are calling it a stunt.  So where does that leave us?  It leaves

this in the hands potentially of some of the most vulnerable Republicans. 

They only need, they meaning Democrats, two Republicans to peel off and dig

their feet into the ground and say, no, we`re not going to just adjourn

after the attorneys make their case.  We want to have witnesses.

 

And so right now, we`re trying to talk to some of those vulnerable

Republicans and just not wanting to talk.  Senator Ron Johnson said that`s

– I just talked to him a few minutes ago – above my pay grade.  And Lisa

Murkowski kept saying, I`m hoping for a deal, I`m hoping for a deal and the

subway elevator has closed on us.  So we`re just not getting many answers. 

You know how that works.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this is really just fighting to the last (ph).  Let me ask

you about the first question.  Do you think there should be witnesses in

the Senate?

 

JAYAPAL:  Absolutely.

 

MATTHEWS:  Especially Bolton, I guess?

 

JAYAPAL:  Yes.  I mean, I think – look, I think we have a tremendous case

in front of us.  The president has obstructed us at every step of the way. 

We asked Mick Mulvaney to come a testify, he hasn`t testified.

 

MATTHEWS:  And he knows it all.

 

JAYAPAL:  Absolutely, he does.  And Bolton, based on what Fiona Hill said,

very, very credible.  I mean, these are people that are not Democrats. 

These are people who were supporting President Trump.  And she said this

was outrageous.  These are real patriots who came forward to put country

over party.  And so I think that we should make sure that we have the

ability to present all of these folks in the Senate.

 

And let`s just be clear that what Mitch McConnell has done, I would say, is

not just a thumb.  It`s maybe a different finger in the face of our

Constitution and our framers.

 

MATTHEWS:  How do you explain these people?

 

JAYAPAL:  I really don`t know, Chris.  I mean, how can you have – I just

ask any American out there.  How can you have the foreman of the jury, the

chief juror, the person who makes all the rules for the Senate trial

actually say that he is coordinating completely with the defendant?  That

makes no sense.  And I know as a former prosecutor, you know this, but I

think the American people will see through this as well.  This is not going

to be a fair trial if that`s the case.

 

So I appreciate that Senator Schumer has put forward this plan.  We need to

make sure that there is a fair trial, and that we have the ability for the

American people once again to hear all the facts, including from the people

who know it all, all in the loop, as Ambassador Sondland said.

 

MATTHEWS:  The people that really know aren`t talking.

 

Anyway, one Democratic who has been – except for Sondland – who has been

outspoken in the opposition of impeachment is expected to change parties as

a result.  Sources tell NBC that New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew,

there he is, is likely to switch his party affiliation to Republican after

his own internal polling showed he was unlikely to win re-election in the

Democratic primary.

 

Van Drew was one of two two Democrats to votes against the resolution

formalizing the inquiry.  Collin Peterson was (INAUDIBLE), I don`t care. 

There`re always going to people like – there was Gene Atkinson back in the

Reagan era.  There`s always someone who`s going to flip.  So what?

 

To me, the trial, I expected this.  Because an equivalent to me, to me,

Paul, impeachment is tar and feather.  It`s a community, it`s a society

saying, this guys is no damn good and we`re going to humiliate this person

to an extent.  Because if that`s all you get, you don`t get conviction and

removal, that`s all you end up with.

 

Trump has this crazy ability to create craziness all around him so that we

get a 50-50 vote every time we poll people.  In a polarized society, which

Trump loves, you don`t get justice, at least you don`t get the perception

of justice because it`s always a 50-50 split.

 

ROSENZWEIG:  That`s his super power.  He can withstand chaos.  He can

create chaos and withstand chaos in a way that normal members of society

can`t.  I think –

 

MATTHEWS:  He wallows in it.

 

ROSENZWEIG:  He wallows in.  He revels in it, I would actually say even

more.  He loves it because it`s all about him.  It makes him the focus of

the attention.  My friend, George Conway, says that he`s got this

narcissistic personality disorder.  And while I`m not a psychiatrist, that

seems to be the case.

 

MATTHEWS:  You think – look, personalities – I`m going to Heidi on this

as a student watching this, a reporter, Nixon didn`t shake off Watergate. 

He knew he was guilty.  He was shamed by it.  He said things like, I gave

them the sword and they struck it in me with relish, and I would have done

the same thing to them.  He knew he brought it on himself.

 

Bill Clinton was the classic compartmentalizer.  I mean, he could give a

speech on healthcare with all of those hanging on him.  He could still do

it.  And, by the way in life (ph), as long as there`s 40 or 50 percent of

people that loved him, he hung out with the 40 or 50 percent who loved him.

 

Trump, it scares me, I`m not sure this even is going to affect his brain,

his soul, his gut.  How do we know if this is even going to leave a mark on

him, Heidi?  A tough question.

 

PRZYBYLA:  Chris, on inauguration day, I was standing in rain poncho on

Pennsylvania Avenue listening to the speech, and it was pouring, and the

president said that the sun was coming out.  And I checked around just to

make sure I wasn`t going crazy.  And, yes, it was raining.

 

The difference today is we have people, a number of them in the party who

are agreeing that it`s raining – or agreeing that the sun is coming out.

 

You saw Debbie Lesko in the Judiciary hearings afterwards on network

television say that the president didn`t ask a foreign power to investigate

his political rival when he actually did that on camera on the south lawn,

and he did it in a call summary.

 

So the big difference today is it`s not just the character of the person

that we can sit here and analyze and dissect, and I am not a psychologist

either, but I do have eyes and ears, and I do see that people are telling

us things that are just not true.  And this is the environment that we are

dealing with as news reporters, that people are telling us things to our

face that are not true.

 

So the difference hopefully in the Senate will be – we interviewed Senator

Toomey over the weekend on MEET THE PRESS, and he said, look, there

shouldn`t be much difference about the facts, the question is whether they

rise to the level of impeachment, and that should be where the debate is,

according to a lot of the Democrats here in the Senate who I talk to.  If

the Senate is supposed to be a cooling saucer, maybe that will be where

things go, is that we do have a debate about the facts.

 

MATTHEWS:  What a perfect answer.  Thank you so much, Heidi Przybyla.  That

was analytical, factual, objective and a straight reporter`s assessment of

the truth.  Anyway, thank you.  Congresswoman, thank you for coming over

here.

 

JAYAPAL:  Thank you, Chris.

 

MATTHEWS:  Pramila Jayapal, thank you, from Seattle, the liberal bastion. 

Thank you, Paul Rosenzweig.

 

JAYAPAL:  And even facts.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  And that`s a fact too.

 

Much more ahead on this historic week of reckoning for President Trump, and

it will be a reckoning.

 

And coming up, a divided country braces for a divisive impeachment trial. 

Hopefully, it will be a real trial.  Senator Lindsey Graham has admitted he

will not be a fair juror and that he will acquit the president no matter

what happens.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  But I think what`s best for the country is to

get this thing over with.  I clearly made up my mind.  I`m not trying to

hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process so I

don`t need any witnesses.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  I don`t need any witnesses.  This is invasion of the body

snatchers.

 

Plus, Rudy Giuliani`s misadventures over in Ukraine.  Giuliani tells The

New Yorker Magazine, I believe that I needed Ambassador Yovanovitch out of

the way.  It sounds like a mob action or worse.  And tonight, the

president, again, came to Rudy`s defense.

 

We`ve got a lot to get through this week and we`re all doing it tonight. 

Stick with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

Two new polls out tonight are showing just how divided this country is on

the question of impeaching President Trump. 

 

In a FOX News poll, 50 percent, right half there, half the country of

registered voters, say they want President Trump to be impeached and

removed from office.  That`s the FOX poll, 50 percent; 41 percent take a

different position, against impeachment. 

 

A new Quinnipiac poll out today shows that 45 percent of voters believe the

president should be impeached and removed from office, while 51 percent

disagree, so a flip of the others in a margin of about five points.

 

On Capitol Hill, some Republican senators, the future jurors in the

impeachment trial this January, have signaled they have zero interest in

holding an objective trial, after the House formally charges the president.

 

Not only has their leader, Mitch McConnell, signaled that he`s taken his –

quote – “cues from the president`s lawyers.”  That`s what he said, like

it`s a theatrical production.  I`m taking my cues, like he`s an actor, from

the president`s lawyers.

 

But Senator Lindsey Graham is openly and repeatedly admitting that he

intends to be a biased juror by himself. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  This thing will come to the Senate, and it

will die quickly.  And I will do everything I can to make it die quickly. 

 

QUESTION:  The Senate has a constitutional duty in holding this trial and

comprehensively evaluating the case.  Agree?

 

GRAHAM:  No, it doesn`t say that in the Constitution.  It says that the

Senate will dispose – I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have

made up my mind.  I`m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.

 

QUESTION:  I wasn`t in any doubt at this point.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.

 

Well, this is a dramatic departure for Graham, who, 20 years ago, implored

the country to give impeachment – the impeachment process a chance. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRAHAM:  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. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, “The Wall Street Journal” explains that – quote –

“Several Republican lawmakers view the president`s dealings with Ukraine as

inappropriate, but not worthy of impeachment, and fear that opening the

door to witnesses may make it harder for them to acquit him.” 

 

For more, I`m joined by Leon Panetta, who served as director of the CIA,

secretary of defense, White House chief of staff, and as a member of

Congress. 

 

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. 

 

Let me ask you about your view of Clinton – I`m sorry – I keep getting my

presidents mixed up. 

 

Let me go with – let`s go through the one that matters.  That`s Trump. 

 

What is it about Trump?  I`m trying to get to this because I want our

grandkids and great-grandkids, if we`re lucky, to be able to understand why

this guy is in the trouble he`s in.  It`s not because of a phone call.

 

It`s something about the nature of the person that would make such a phone

call, that would abuse the office the way he has.  Your thoughts about what

that nature is, his nature?

 

LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  You know, I think we all

know the nature of this – this individual that occupies the White House. 

He`s a New York developer. 

 

And he operated like a New York developer.  And he basically did what he

had to do, took what he had to take, rejected what he wanted to reject, and

basically ran that operation in a way in which it would benefit him. 

 

And so he`s taken that whole mode of behavior and brought that to the White

House.  He`s not experienced in the White House.  He doesn`t have the

larger country at interest in terms of what he wants to do for the country.

 

This is solely about what the presidency does for Donald Trump.  And, as a

result of that, understanding that kind of mentality, that`s what led him

basically to, when it came to an election, say what the hell, I`m going to

ask a foreign leader to conduct an investigation of my political opponent. 

I don`t see anything wrong with that, because that`s the way he operated in

New York, and that`s the way he`s operating as president. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So, the White House to him, the American presidency, to sit in

Lincoln`s chair is to him just an acquisition, another power position?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

PANETTA:  I think…

 

MATTHEWS:  You said it.

 

PANETTA:  I think that`s right.  I think this is about – this is about –

this is about power. 

 

It`s about – he was that way when he was doing television.  He was

basically doing television in order to get ratings.  So he`s now in the

presidency, and he`s doing the presidency in a way to try to get ratings. 

 

It has very little to do with the interest of the country.  And that – I

think that`s what`s always bothered me about President Trump, is that you

normally look to presidents of the United States who speak to what is in

the national interest, what is in the interests of unifying the American

people and bringing them together? 

 

What is in the interests of our children in terms of their future?  Those

are the kinds of values that presidents used to talk about.  That`s not the

case with President Trump.  This is all about him.  It`s about going after

everyone who tries to in any way criticize him or do anything to undermine

him. 

 

This is open warfare for him.  And it`s reality TV in the Oval Office. 

That`s the way you have to look at this president of the United States, and

that`s what history is going to say about what`s going on right now, and

that this is, instead of being a serious moment in which our Constitution

is truly being tested, it`s going to look at this moment in time as nothing

but a reality TV show, in which the president rejected his own behavior,

and a group of Senate Republicans basically went along with that. 

 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s get to that.

 

On Friday, President Trump, Mr. Secretary, said he saw a political

advantage to the impeachment process. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My poll numbers, as you

know, have gone through the roof. 

 

The people are disgusted.  The people are absolutely disgusted.  Nobody`s

ever seen anything like this. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  What about the United States Senate, Mr. Secretary? 

 

I mean, I look at Mitch McConnell.  He`s a political leader.  I don`t think

he`s evil or anything like that.  He`s just usually wrong on everything. 

But here he is acting pretty rough. 

 

He`s saying, basically, I`m going to be the defender of the president.  I`m

going to shorten this thing up.  I`m not going to let there be any

witnesses.  It`s not going to be any worse than it was in the House.  I`m

going to freeze it up and protect the fact that it`s a 50/50 proposition in

the country. 

 

And then Lindsey Graham just baffles me.  He`s coming out saying, I`m not

even a fair juror.  I have already voted to acquit.  In my mind, I have

already – I have never heard – you can`t get in a courtroom if you talk

like that.  You don`t get through voir dire if you talk like that, you

know?  The judge throws you out the door. 

 

PANETTA:  Chris, look, I – having worked on the Senate side, and having

been a member of Congress for 16 years, I have – I have tremendous respect

for that institution. 

 

And I have always found, whether you agree or disagree with someone, that

you try to work together to try to make sure that you`re fulfilling your

responsibility as an elected member of the United States Congress. 

 

I`m very disappointed that Mitch McConnell and the other Republican leaders

in the Senate side are not sitting – standing back and saying, look, we

have got to make this in every way a fair trial that looks at the truth,

looks at the facts, that allows for these kinds of – this kind of evidence

to be presented, so that members can make an independent decision as to

what happened here.

 

That is their responsibility.  That`s what they`re sworn to do in enforcing

the Constitution of the United States.  So, if they try to shortcut the

process, if they just try to kind of ram this down the throat of the

country, in order for them to get the hell out and basically get to the

election, which is obviously the political desire they all have…

 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

 

PANETTA:  … I think what history will say is that this is the most

depressing moment in the history of the United States Senate, if they allow

that to take place. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Can you ask me – answer one short question?  If you don`t want

to answer it, don`t.

 

Who`s the favorite, the Democrats or Trump, next November?  Who`s the

favorite? 

 

PANETTA:  Who`s the favorite?  What do you mean?

 

MATTHEWS:  To win, to win, in your thinking.  Who`s going to win the next

election, 2020?

 

PANETTA:  You mean for the election?

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Who is going to win?

 

PANETTA:  For the election?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

PANETTA:  You know, I would say, right now, it depends a great deal on who

the Democrats nominate to be their candidate. 

 

If they nominate somebody who can appeal to the entire country, then I

think the Democrats have a good chance of winning in November.  If they

elect somebody who is ideological, then I think Trump has a good chance of

winning.  That`s what it comes down to. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary, Leon Panetta. 

 

You have served the country well.  And it`s always great having you on,

sir. 

 

Up next: new reporting on Rudy Giuliani not getting anywhere or anything,

by the way, or anybody, get in the way of – will get in the way of his

digging up his client`s dirt. 

 

I`m telling you, all he wants is dirt on Joe Biden.  He will go to any

country, but especially Ukraine, back again, apparently.

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

An explosive new story today in “The New Yorker” magazine sheds new light

on Rudy Giuliani`s quest for dirt in Ukraine.  The article explores

Giuliani`s collaboration with former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko,

revealing how their efforts to smear the Bidens, Joe and Hunter, led to the

impeachment drive into day. 

 

Most notably, Giuliani admits to “The New Yorker” magazine that he pushed

for the removal of former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch because she

stood in the way of the investigations Trump was seeking. 

 

According to today`s report in “The New Yorker,” Giuliani saw Yovanovitch

as an obstacle hindering his attempt to dig up dirt against his client`s

rival in advance of the 2020 election. 

 

Quote; “I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” he said. 

“She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”

 

Well, Lutsenko was among the Ukrainian officials who provided Giuliani with

unsubstantiated allegations against Yovanovitch and the Bidens, which

Giuliani then passed along to the State Department this March. 

 

I`m joined right now by Betsy Woodruff Swan, politics reporter for The

Daily Beast, and Eli Stokols, White House reporter for “The L.A. Times.”

 

Eli, let`s start with you in this one. 

 

What`s in here, in terms of trying to figure out this whole thing, this

whole escapade by the president, Trump, and Giuliani?

 

ELI STOKOLS, “THE LOS ANGELES TIMES”:  Well, it paints a picture with

stunning detail of what Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine, his

relationship with this former prosecutor, and how he was – what he was

seeking. 

 

It was any information that could expose Ukraine interference, potentially,

in the 2016 election, and anything that would reflect poorly on Joe Biden. 

And through the reporting, the – Adam Entous, the reporter, spends a lot

of time with the prosecutor, with Giuliani.

 

Giuliani doesn`t just admit that he wanted Yovanovitch out of the way.  The

prosecutor, the former prosecutor, you get a sense of him as someone who

will just kind of say anything.  That`s the reason this guy was removed

from his position as prosecutor general, because he wasn`t prosecuting

corruption.

 

He`s feeding Giuliani things.  Then he`s telling the reporter, you know,

actually, I don`t know if that was true.  Just…

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

STOKOLS:  There`s just not a lot of scruples that come across for either of

them, given that they`re trying to stand up this counternarrative that

they`re just so concerned about corruption. 

 

MATTHEWS:  And, again, what comes back is not – as you say, they weren`t

really concerned about corruption.  They wanted some dirt they could throw

at the Bidens, at Joe Biden, because he was at the time – he`s again the

front-runner right now. 

 

And they just wanted to get the front-runner, the biggest threat to the

president`s reelection.  But, again, the nuance is, they didn`t want a real

investigation.  They wanted a declaration that there was – just like he

wanted to keep it up in the air, something he could say they`re even over

investigating – they`re right now investigating him over in Ukraine. 

 

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, THE DAILY BEAST:  Giuliani exhibits an extraordinarily

high level of credulity toward allegations against Joe Biden that any

reasonable person would see as totally laughable. 

 

He even floats on the record to this reporter the idea that Biden might

have somehow participated in the hack of the DNC that the Russians

conducted in 2016. 

 

That`s totally outlandish.  It doesn`t pass the laugh test.  But Giuliani

says…

 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, the laugh test is, do you think Joe Biden knows

anything about hacking? 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, he`s not exactly state of the art about the social media

deal, not…

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  That`s a good point. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, I just think he`s not a likely suspect of hacking into a

machine.

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  Something tells me, probably not.

 

MATTHEWS:  Even I said it, machine.

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  Perhaps not.

 

MATTHEWS:  Into a computer, yes, server.

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  And another piece of this, going back to what you said

about the investigations that`s so important, is that, over this entire

period of time, when Giuliani and his allies and the other Trump allies are

trying to get Zelensky not necessarily to open an investigation, but just

to say there was an investigation…

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s right. 

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  … the Justice Department never actually asked for what.

 

DOJ, according to Kurt Volker, the former Trump diplomat who`s testified

under oath, never went to their counterparts in Ukraine and asked them to

look at the Bidens or to look at the 2016 alleged – alleged Ukrainian

collusion.

 

That`s because American law enforcement, at least up to this point, appears

to have no reason to believe that the allegations that Giuliani has been

floating for months and months and months actually pointed to a crime.

 

MATTHEWS:  M.O., this president:  I have got a lot of investigators down in

Hawaii.  They`re coming up with some really interesting stuff about how

President Obama was an illegal immigrant, that he was from Kenya. 

 

That`s just something he wanted, something he could float up there.  We

have got some people doing a lot of investigating over there in Ukraine. 

The government over there is investigating this.  This is serious something

coming out of that. 

 

That`s all that Trump ever wants, smoke. 

 

When asked about Giuliani`s latest trip to Ukraine, President Trump today

signaled that he will continue to stand by his personal attorney. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

QUESTION:  Mr. President, how much has Giuliani shared with you about his

recent trip to Ukraine?

 

TRUMP:  Not too much.  But he`s a very great crime fighter.  He was the

best mayor in the history of the city of New York.  He`s a great person who

loves our country. 

 

And he does this out of love, believe me.  He does it out of love.  He sees

what goes on.  He sees what`s happening.  He sees all of the hoax that

happens when they talk about impeachment hoax or the Russian collusion

delusion.  He knows what he`s doing. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s an endorsement, for now. 

 

STOKOLS:  I`m thinking back about 15 minutes in your show, when Heidi

Przybyla talked about people saying things that you just know are not true. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  That`s why.

 

STOKOLS:  The president knows that a lot of what he`s saying is B.S.

 

But he`s saying it.  He`s talking to Rudy.  They`re talking about the what-

if, right?  It doesn`t have to be true or even plausible, that he knows

that there are enough people out there who will want it to be plausible,

who will say, well, why wouldn`t you at least want them to investigate to

see about the Bidens?

 

Because they just need enough of a believable pretext for the president

asking for this favor.  Well, if we didn`t know what was going on in

Ukraine, why wouldn`t he at least ask them to find it out? 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

And I think a lot of this goes to the politics of this president, that he

knows he can win the presidency in the Electoral College without

California, without New York, if he can stay in the low 40s, and then

destroy his opponent next fall, just destroy the person.

 

WOODRUFF SWAN:  And President Trump perhaps, just as much as any other

American political figure, knows the immense political value of having

someone announce an investigation into your opponent, because a big part of

the reason that the Clinton folks say Trump beat them because Comey

announced – 

 

MATTHEWS:  Eleven days on.

 

WOODRUFF:  – in the final days of the 2016 campaign, that he was looking

at the Clinton campaign.  And that is a big part of the reason that Trump

became president.

 

MATTHEWS:  I think that`s the reason she lost, in the end.  It shouldn`t

have been that close, but that`s the reason why. 

 

Anyway, Betsy Woodruff, thank you.  Betsy Woodruff Swan.  Thank you, Eli

Stokols.  Thank you. 

 

Up next, with the impeachment vote looming right now, this week, it looks

like, President Trump isn`t holding back his ire, aiming his attacks at

Nancy Pelosi now, Jim Comey, teh aforementioned, and even Fox News.  He

used to love Fox. 

 

We`re back after this. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Heading into a week where President Trump will likely find himself becoming

the third U.S. president to be impeached, he unleashed a Twitter tirade

this weekend.  He attacked former FBI Director James Comey, calling him a

sleaze bag, and suggests he should spend years in jail as the result of the

inspector general`s report. 

 

The report concluded no political bias in the Russia investigation.  That

doesn`t stop Trump from claiming the exact opposite.  Trump wrote: There

was tremendous bias. 

 

He also added without providing any evidence, that former President Barack

Obama, quote, knew everything about it.  Trump also unless an attack on his

favorite or used to be favorite news outlet, Fox News, for having Comey, as

well as Congressman Adam Schiff as guests this weekend. 

 

The president tweeted: Fox is trying so hard to be politically correct.  He

also went after the network for a new poll that showed the majority of

Americans want the president or impeached from office.  He wrote that Fox

News polls are, quote, always inaccurate, and are, quote, heavily weighted

towards the Dems.  Get a new pollster.  That`s how he talks.

 

But it was the president`s personality attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and

her teeth that was the most bizarre. 

 

And that`s coming up next.  That`s what we call a tease.  How do you skip

this baby?  He`s talking about Nancy Pelosi`s teeth. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  You yourself accused him of bribery.  Why did you decide not to

make bribery one of the articles of impeachment?

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I myself am not a lawyer. 

Sometimes I act like one.  Not as often as I act as a doctor.  I`ve

practiced medicine on the side, without benefit of diploma, too.  This was

a decision that was recommended by our working together with our committee

chairs, our attorneys and the rest. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

This is kind of a strange segment.  Anyway, that was House Speaker Nancy

Pelosi, last week, not a million years ago, responding to reporters`

questions about the articles of impeachment.  Over the weekend, President

Trump responded with his own explanation for the speaker`s answer.  He

tweeted, because Nancy`s teeth were falling out of her mouth, and she

didn`t have time to think. 

 

Well, as the video showed, there did not appear to be anything wrong with

the speaker`s teeth.  However, if the president has been target of dental

troubles of his own, if you will, after having trouble delivering remarks

when announcing the moving of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Let us rethink old

assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. 

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless Israel.  God bless the Palestinians

and God bless the United States. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  What?  United what? 

 

For more, I`m joined by Brendan Buck, former chief communications advisor

to Speaker Paul Ryan and Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist.

 

I need some communications advice.  Maybe they both have, I don`t know

what.  Let`s talk with Trump.  He threw the stone here.  What do you make

of his inability to get that last word out?  What, did he have a Chiclet in

his mouth? 

 

BRENDAN BUCK, FORMER CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER TO REP. PAUL RYAN:  I

don`t know.  Mine –

 

MATTHEWS:  This is psycho babble time. 

 

BUCK:  He is a strange guy.  

 

MATTHEWS:  Why would he make fun of Pelosi`s teeth? 

 

BUCK:  I think he went after Pelosi because he has this weird affection for

Nancy Pelosi.  He always wanted to work with her.  He is impressed by her

strong arm style of politics.  He thought that she`s the type of speaker

that he would love to be working with and so the fact that she is the one

bringing hip to impeachment which we know really riles him up because of

his place in history, I think it really gets under his skin.  He has this

strange-like affection, love-hate thing going on. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Is this dancing teeth to teeth? 

 

BUCK:  Sure. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What is so strange – sorry.  I don`t buy this theory.  Is it

just a typical personal shot? 

 

JOEL PAYNE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I`m a different version of what he

said.  I think he is tired of getting his butt kicked by Nancy Pelosi. 

She`s been kicking his butt, not just since she`s been speaker again, but

for the entire three years he has been in office, all he can do is resort

to schoolyard taunts. 

 

If it was me, he would talk about the gap in my mouth.  If it was you, you

were too tall.  This is what bullies do.  He doesn`t have anything to say. 

She is kicking his butt –

 

MATTHEWS:  I guess he`d stay way from that. 

 

PAYNE:  I know. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Be nice to him, not me. 

 

Let me ask you about this inability to shake things off.  You are

suggesting she is going to impeach him.  The House is going to impeach him

this week.  It`s going to be on his record the rest of his life.  It will

be long after he`s gone.  His progeny will read about their granddaddy

whoever who got impeached.

 

PAYNE:  And he keeps claiming that that this thing is unpopular and it`s a

loss for Democrats.  She is overseeing the most popular impeachment in

history.  This is 20 points more popular than Bill Clinton`s impeachment. 

A Fox News poll shows 50 percent. 

 

The fact that Democrats wrestle it to a draw is a loss for the president. 

I think you will see Republicans start running away from this.  Maybe they

won`t vote against him in the Senate. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I think the boxing – the draw goes to the champ in boxing. 

 

PAYNE:  I don`t think we are – I don`t think there is a championship belt

on the –

 

MATTHEWS:  I missed it.  Anyway, this morning, President Trump threatened

to pull out of the general election debates because he believe the non-

partisan commission is biased against – how do you – anyway.  The

president tweeted the Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with

Trump haters and never Trumpers and avoid the nasty politics of this biased

– OK. 

 

Argue about the commission.  I don`t think they are biased. 

 

BUCK:  He is doing so we will talk about it.  And he does this all the

time.  He throws out these vague threats.  We talk about it. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Who is afraid of?  Who would he not want to stand on that stage

with half the country at least watching?  Who would he be afraid to share

the stage with? 

 

BUCK:  I don`t think he`s afraid of anybody.  I think he loves being on

television.  He is going to debate.  He is not going to pass up the

opportunity to stand in front of the American people for two hours and

talk. 

 

What he wants to do is create drama and he wants to be able to set the

terms of the debate.  He wants to set the terms of what we are talking

about.  That`s what he always does. 

 

He throws it out.  We talk about it.  We chase it.  He walks it back.  We

have a debate. 

 

PAYNE:  Any president doesn`t like being on stage with somebody lesser than

them.  Barack Obama, if you remember in 2012, struggled with Mitt Romney. 

That`s the first debate because that`s the first time someone could really

challenge him. 

 

MATTHEWS:  This happens every time.  Every time a president, Reagan, every

time the president who is incumbent faces a challenger, they are not used

to getting sassed from somebody.  They always lose the first debate. 

 

PAYNE:  Yes.  It`s times 100 with Donald Trump because he is the biggest

egomaniac we have had in offense.  It`s like the normal president ego times

100. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You are good at this.  Imagine somebody taken him down

personally the way Mitt Romney did to Obama, just treat him like a lesser

being.

 

PAYNE:  I think every Democrat is capable in their own special way of doing

that. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Everyone?  You must be a progressive. 

 

PAYNE:  Each of the five leaders could do that.  Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth

Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, even Amy Klobuchar, I think they can all

take him down in their own unique way. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You are a real hallmark card, aren`t you?  You want them all to

like you.  You are a hallmark card. 

 

Thank you, Joel Payne.  Brendan Buck, good work coming on. 

 

Up next, does it make sense to re-elect a president who has been impeached? 

Kevin McCarthy variant.  Does it make sense to reelect a guy who has been

impeached, tarred and feathered? 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was wrong when he said a

president shouldn`t be impeached in his first term.  But he is on to

something. 

 

Does it make sense for the country to elect, re-elect a president impeached

in his first term to a second term? 

 

Look, in Nixon`s time, the desire to have him driven from office amount to

a weather condition in this country.  It dominated the air.  The Clinton

matter was, of course, what it was, about a president and his behavior and

how he used his office in big doubt of dishonesty to get out of trouble it

caused himself and the country.

 

This one came to us not just as a matter of involving Trump, but in the

time of Trump, the craziness of which makes seriousness even in the process

of getting rid of him hard to come by.  Half the country wants this guy

gone, not just convicted but banished from the scene. 

 

But because he is such a lesser figure, more comic figure, it`s hard to

feel the tragedy that Richard Nixon suffered.  I gave them a sword, Nixon

said afterward, and they stuck it in and twisted it with relish.  I gave

them a sword. 

 

It`s hard to hear Trump speak with such self-awareness, such understanding

of his central role in the high misconduct that has already damaged the

presidential office and perhaps enduring damage to the confidence we had so

long in our self-government.  And he will run for re-election – you betcha

– as he hadn`t a thing to do with it. 

 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

 

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

BE UPDATED.

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