Trump lashes out at accusers. TRANSCRIPT: 12/17/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Mary Gay Scanlon, Elizabeth Holtzman, David Jolly, Richard Durbin, Shelby Holliday, Paul Butler, Peggy Noonan, Steve Israel
Transcript:

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  So I want to let you know about that as we keep an

eye on everything happening in Congress and beyond.

 

Thanks as always for watching THE BEAT.  Interesting times, so don`t go

anywhere because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Eve of destruction.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in New York.

 

We`re now just hours away from impeaching the president.  As the House is

preparing to vote two articles against President Trump, he is raging in

protest at those seeking to remove him from office.

 

In a six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the president issued what he

called his, quote, strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan

impeachment crusade.  He argued, by proceeding with your invalid

impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your

allegiance to the Constitution and you`re declaring opening war on American

democracy.

 

Well, the president`s tirade, that`s what it is, came as the House Rules

Committee met all day today to establish the terms for tomorrow`s debate

and vote for the entire House on impeachment.  Democratic Congressman Jamie

Raskin of Maryland filling in for the Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler made

a forceful argument for the Democrats` charges against the president, abuse

of power and obstruction of Congress.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  The president`s aggressive and unprecedented

resistance to congressional subpoenas for witnesses and documents is

blatantly and dangerously unconstitutional.

 

The president`s continuing course of conduct constitutes a clear and

present danger to democracy in America.  We cannot allow this misconduct to

pass.  It would be a sellout of our Constitution, our foreign policy, our

national security and our democracy.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the president offered no new evidence to support his

claims in his letter today to Speaker Pelosi, only complaints that he`s

being impeached.

 

At the White House this afternoon the unrepentant president again railed

against the House proceedings.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  The whole impeachment thing is a hoax.  We

look forward to getting onto the Senate.  We`re not entitled to lawyers. 

We`re not entitled to witnesses.  We`re not entitled to anything in the

House.  It`s a total sham.

 

REPORTER:  Mr. President, do you take any responsibility for the fact that

you`re about to be impeached.

 

TRUMP:  No, I don`t take any, zero, to put it mildly.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s his verdict.

 

Anyway, Democrats go into tomorrow`s vote largely united.  Today, one-by-

one, Democratic representatives, including many from districts the

president won announced they will vote in favor on the two articles of

impeachment.

 

For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon of

Pennsylvania, vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of

the House Rules Committee as well, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman,

a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate era, and

former Republican Congressman David Jolly.  Thank you very much.

 

Congresswoman, tell us about tomorrow.  This seemed to be this terrible

letter from the president, seemed like it was written by Steve Miller or

some wild person, I think a wild person.  The language wasn`t even Trump`s. 

He doesn`t use words like disingenuous.  I can`t imagine – that`s a pretty

Latin day term for this fellow, calling it a protest.  He says that the

impeachment you`re all pushing for and will pass tomorrow offends Americans

of faith.  What does he know about Americans of faith?  I don`t get it.

 

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA):  I`m not sure at all.  I`ve been in the Rules

Committee meeting.  We`ve been having that hearing since 11:00 this morning

and we`re not done yet.  So I haven`t had a chance to really go over the

letter.  It seems a little disingenuous, shall we say, since the president

has repeatedly been invited to participate, including being invited to have

his administration respond to subpoenas for documents and to send members

of his administration to explain his story, if there is one, that is not

impeachable.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you think of his last guess?  But, I mean, I`ll

tell you, it`s in the letter, nothing but anger.  He`s mad, finally, he

realized being impeached is not sort of a mixed opportunity.  There`s no

silver lining into this baby.  He`s going down in history as one of the few

presidents who has been found unfit by the U.S. Congress for the office

he`s in.

 

SCANLON:  Well, from what I`ve heard about this letter, it continues to

display a fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution provides. 

I mean, the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment.  He

doesn`t get to say whether he gets impeached or not.  But it is part of

this continuing course of conduct where he doesn`t understand the rule of

law, he doesn`t understand the Constitution, and that`s what leads him to

do things, like approaching a foreign leader and asking a foreign country

to interfere in our elections.

 

MATTHEWS:  He said he did it for us.  He made that appeal, which was a

political appeal, to the president of Ukraine.  He said he did it for our

country.  I said do us a favor not me and our country, not a campaign. 

He`s now trying to claim that was some patriotic zealous effort on our

behalf to help screw Joe Biden.  That was some national effort to get rid

of Biden as a candidate.  That`s what it`s – it`s incredible what he`s

saying.

 

SCANLON:  I think his excuse would have a little bit more weight if, number

one, he actually said anything about the country.  Instead, his entire

conversation with the president of Ukraine had to do with the Bidens, it

had to do with CrowdStrike.  So it was about trying to justify his 2016

reliance on foreign interference and then solicit foreign interference for

2020.

 

But also throughout this entire thing, it wasn`t until after he got caught

that he came up with all these reasons, that he was contacting the

president.  He never talked to his national security people about having

some national security interests here.  He never followed up with the

Department of Justice about any, you know, fictitious corruption claims. 

So it`s all after the fact, and it`s only when he got caught he`s trying to

do another cover-up.

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you know any Republicans from your area of Southeastern

Pennsylvania, the counties of Philadelphia, for example, like Brian

Fitzpatrick?  How do they defend this guy at this point?

 

SCANLON:  Well, we had a conversation about this up in the Rules Committee

earlier today.  There are a number of Republicans from Pennsylvania who

have come out and said, no, this is impeachable conduct, this is abuse of

power.  One of them is Tom Rich, former secretary of Homeland Security,

former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Vietnam vet, former

congressman.  He said that this weekend.  Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania

has come out and said it.

 

What we`re seeing though is we`ve got libertarians, we`ve got

conservatives, we`ve got Democrats, we`ve got independents who say this is

wrong, this is impeachable.  What we don`t have is people, Republicans who

still depend on this president for their jobs.  If he can tank them,

they`re not going to speak out against him.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, in his letter to Speaker Pelosi, the president argued that

the process is unfair.  He wrote, quote, more due process was afforded to

those accused in the Salem witch trials.

 

He went on to argue, I have no doubt the American people will hold you and

the Democrats fully responsible in the upcoming 2020 election.  They will

not soon forgive your perversion of and abuse of power.

 

Last question to you, Congresswoman, I don`t think he wrote this letter. 

It doesn`t even sound like him.  It is the letter of a wild man.  But I

would bet Steve Miller.  I wouldn`t bet on this president.  The language is

too complicated, the words are too long.  They don`t sound like him.  Why

would he issue this piece – it has no legal foundation.

 

SCANLON:  Well, it did sound scripted.  It sounded an awful lot like the

scripts we were hearing from our Republican colleagues whether in Judiciary

or Rules.  We know that there`s been plenty of due process afforded.  The

president has chosen not to come.  He`s chosen not to send his attorney. 

Whether or not it can float, I don`t know.  That`s another due process

element from the witch trials.  But –

 

MATTHEWS:  I think floating is the bad part.  I think you`re supposed to

sink.  That was the weird Catch-22 – there was a catch-22 of those witch

trials.  You better sink or you float, you`re guilty.

 

Anyway, hold on for a second, Congresswoman.  I want to go to Elizabeth

Holtzman.

 

It does seem like he`s not throwing himself at the mercy of the court

because there`s no mercy out there for him.  And I wonder is he just

simply, blah, blah, blah, making noise for his 40 percent?

 

FMR. REP. ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN (D-NY):  I think that that`s what it is.  It`s

part rant, it`s part mobilizing his base.  It`s part whining.  Nothing like

this has ever happened before in the history of the world.  I`m the biggest

victim that`s ever been victimized.  I mean, all of that is in there.  The

whining is in there.

 

MATTHEWS:  But he was flirting with this – I`m not crazy, I listen to this

guy for months before this when this was building up and percolating all

through the year.  He was acting like, oh, I can make a lot out of this,

this is going to be good for me.  There`s not a big silver lining to this

baby.  He seems like he`s finally got the message, this is all bad.

 

HOLTZMAN:  Well, I think he realizes how bad it is, and what he`s trying to

do is dredge up these old arguments, including the lie about Biden.  If he

really was interested in the welfare of the United States, he`d get the

facts about Biden from our own State Department, which was that Biden was

executing U.S. policy in pulling for getting rid of the prosecutor in

Ukraine.  He was corrupt.  And now we see Trump and Giuliani admitting it. 

We got rid of the ambassador because she was in our way.

 

MATTHEWS:  David, who`s he talking to with this sort of cri de guerre or

cri de coeur or crying high for help?

 

FMR. REP. DAVID JOLLY (R-FL):  He is creating a false narrative of history

and understanding.  Even in the clip from the today when he said, my

attorneys weren`t allowed to be there and neither were our witnesses. 

That`s a lie.  His attorneys were invited to the Judiciary Committee

meeting when they heard from other constitutional scholars about what rises

to the level of impeachment.  House Republicans submitted a list of

witnesses that they wanted to hear from.  Democrats accepted about half of

them, the legitimate ones, if you will.

 

But what scares me about the letter he`s written, it`s not that it`s

unfair, it`s that he uses words like invalid, illegitimate,

unconstitutional, because what he`s doing, Chris, and the danger here is

suggesting that somehow the House no longer has this authority, that this

impeachment power has been a bedrock of Congress` ability to provide

oversight to the president has, in some way, eroded to the point that it`s

no longer valid in the modern Congress.

 

And if House Republicans carry that narrative, we`re in a dangerous spot. 

He`s trying to tell his base it`s not even valid.  When I become the third

president to be impeached by the House, it`s not really real because it`s

not valid what the House is doing.  It`s shameful but it`s also dangerous. 

Even Democrats who today would tell you that Clinton should never have been

impeached.  They recognize the authenticity and the validity of the

impeachment.  They just think it was wrong.

 

MATTHEWS:  What`s the danger of it?  What`s the possible outcome (ph) on

this?  You say dangerous.  What is the danger?

 

JOLLY:  We talk about the weaponization of impeachment.  In the first 185

years of our republican, we only had one impeachment, Andrew Johnson.  From

the last 45 now, we`ve had three.  And we have to ask ourselves as a

nation.  Is impeachment becoming weaponized?  Is it simply that we have

better tools of investigative reporting?  We`ve always had corrupt

politicians.  But why have we had three impeachments for the last 45 years?

 

And if Donald Trump`s answer is, well, because it`s no longer a

constitutional tool, it`s a political weapon that we don`t need to worry

about, he`s tearing at the fabric of Article I.  And my fear is that

Republican members of Congress are going along with it.  They wouldn`t have

done this under a previous president.

 

MATTHEWS:  I think, Congresswoman, what I`ve been impressed by is not that

the House, through its inquiry – a very good inquiry.  Witnesses were

great, especially lawyers, and all the fact witnesses were great.  I think

it was a very consistent source of information.  My danger is, what I fear,

it was very good at feeding the information to the major newspapers of the

country.  Every major newspaper ran at the top of the fold right on the

right-hand side, all the news coming out of the House inquiry.  It was a

very good way of conveying the facts to the people who were willing to read

a newspaper and find out the facts.

 

But what about the people that don`t want to read about it?  What about the

ones that are watching Dancing with the Stars say, I don`t want to be

bothered with this, it`s too complicated and it`s all partisan?  Was there

ever a way to reach those people?  Your thoughts, Congresswoman?

 

SCANLON:  Well, I mean that`s what we`ve been trying to do through the

series of hearings is give people the information, engage them in active

citizenship.  It`s up to us to keep a republic.  I mean, that`s what

Benjamin Franklin advised us.  So we`re really asking people to hark back

to their grade school civics lessons.  It`s not that complicated.  The

president can`t act this way.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think he got a good job starting with the release of the

whistleblower`s report and the phone records of the president`s

conversation with the president of Ukraine.  I think the country went from

25 to 30, up to about 50 percent.  That`s as far as it got.  It didn`t

quite ring the bell at the top.  We`re talking about 70 percent but it got

up to about 50.

 

Anyway, today`s Rules Committee, I think Congressman Raskin, my

congressman, did a really good job in arguing the need to impeach this guy. 

It`s supported by recent revelations of his personal attorney, Rudy

Giuliani.

 

By the way, Raskin cited a newly published interview with The New Yorker

Magazine in which Giuliani admitted, I believed that I needed Yovanovitch

out of the way so the president could continue his quest for political

dirt.  Here it goes.  This is today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RASKIN:  We present you not just with high crimes and misdemeanors but a

constitutional crime in progress up to this very minute.  Mayor Giuliani,

the president`s private lawyer, fresh from his overseas travel, looking to

rehabilitate once again the discredited conspiracy theories at the heart of

the president`s defense, admitted that he participated directly in the

smear campaign to oust Ambassador Yovanovitch from her job.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, there he is, the congressman bringing it up today.  He`s a

constitutional scholar, Raskin, and he brought it up today.  The role of

the president`s henchman, his lawyer is playing right now trying to get

dirt from Ukraine.

 

HOLTZMAN:  That`s why the president is a clear and present danger, and

that`s why it`s so imperative for Congress to act, to check him, because

unchecked, he`s going to continue to do this.  And all that this is about -

- let`s get real here – is about winning the 2020 election at any cost no

matter what laws are violated and no matter what he undermines in the

process.  And that`s what`s at stake.  That`s a very simple message for the

American people, I understand.

 

And the other message is if he had evidence that would clear him, he could

let all these people come and testify.  He has refused to do that.  That`s

evidence in and of itself.

 

MATTHEWS:  I agree with that.  That`s my political rule, by the way, Axiom,

if it`s better than it looks, they`ll show you.

 

JOLLY:  Yes, that`s right.  That`s exactly right.

 

MATTHEWS:  If it`s worse than it looks, they`ll shut up and that`s what

he`s doing.  He`s shutting up.

 

JOLLY:  And Schumer and McConnell are having that debate right now.  Why

would you not want additional fact witnesses?  I think Ari Melber showed

just before this, had Henry Hyde, who was the Judiciary chairman for

Republicans when they impeached Clinton, saying we didn`t have all of the

witnesses testify in the House because we expected the Senate would ask

them to testify at trial, at the impeachment trial in the Senate.  We

should hear from these people.  And if not, why not, why can`t we hear from

them?

 

MATTHEWS:  I think the House has done a great job.

 

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, thank you for your role so far in both the

committees.  I think it`s been a great job.  You`ve reached everybody that

was listening.  The challenge is to get more people to listen next time.

 

Anyway, former Congresswoman and the great Elizabeth Holtzman and her time

machine, she`s taking us back to Nixon country and it`s always helpful,

unfortunately.  What a country to live in.  We live in a country where it`s

helpful to know what Nixon did at this point.  David Jolly, thank you, sir.

 

Coming up, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, one of my favs, joins me in the

Senate impeachment committee.  He`s a hard get, as we say in this business,

at least for this show.  I`m so glad to have him on.  He`s the number two

Democrat in the Senate and he knows everything that`s going on in this

fight about how the Senate is going to judge this case.

 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the legislative body he leads will

hold an entirely – is this wonderful – partisan trial.  Isn`t that nice

to know about our democracy?  He should take one of those citizenship

tests.  I swear half these guys would flunk them if they`ll become citizen.

 

While Schumer wants witness for that testimony, McConnell says forget about

it.  Remember what I said, if it looks bad as it is, they`ll show you.  It

looks worse.  It`s worse.

 

Anyway, let`s watch McConnell.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  If House Democrats case is this deficient,

this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it over here in

the Senate.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Is he Elmer Fudd or Bugs Bunny?

 

Plus, Rudy Giuliani is still pushing discredited conspiracy theories to

anyone who will listen.  There he is still talking.  He`s also admitting

that he`s responsible for the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine,

remember how he got her out of the way, and that President Trump knew what

he was up to.  Of course he did.

 

We`ve got much more to get to tonight.  It`s a big night.  We`re on the

eve, as I said, of destruction.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  I think we`re going to get almost an entirely

partisan impeachment.  I would anticipate an almost entirely partisan

outcome in the Senate as well. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

That was Senate majority leader, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, this

afternoon laying out his expectations, pretty poor expectations, for what

will happen in the U.S. Senate if the House votes to impeach President

Trump tomorrow.

 

And how that trial would proceed still needs to be hashed out by the two

Senate leaders, McConnell, of course, Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York.

 

Today, we got a glimpse of what their negotiations might look, with

McConnell slamming Schumer`s proposal that the president`s inner circle be

called to testify. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MCCONNELL:  So now the Senate Democratic leader would apparently like our

chamber to do House Democrats` homework for them.  He wants to volunteer

the Senate`s time and energy on a fishing expedition to see whether his own

ideas could make Chairman Schiff`s sloppy work more persuasive than

Chairman Schiff himself bothered to make it. 

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  Why is the leader, why is the president so

afraid of having these witnesses come – witnesses come testify?  What are

they afraid the witnesses would say? 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this morning, Senator McConnell made it very clear how he

sees a potential Senate trial proceeding. 

 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

 

MCCONNELL:  I will listen to the arguments that the House managers

appointed by Pelosi make.  We will listen to the response of the

president`s lawyers. 

 

We will have a period of written questions.  And then the Senate will have

to make a decision.  Do we know enough, have we learned enough, after

listening to all this, to go on and vote on the two very weak articles of

impeachment? 

 

Or do we want to have a show trial, in which both sides try to embarrass

the other and put on a – you know, an embarrassing scene, frankly, for the

American people? 

 

Obviously, I think we have heard enough.  After we have heard the

arguments, we ought to vote and move on. 

 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the

Democratic whip and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

 

It sounds, Senator, like the Republican leader of the Senate, the majority

leader, would like to have something like a replay of the old “Crossfire”

show, a lot of political shots back and forth, with no witnesses.

 

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL):  Well, and I think the American people expect

more.  They want us to take this seriously, as we should, and they want us

to carefully consider the evidence. 

 

What Senator Schumer has asked for, what the Democrats are asking for is

what people usually see in a trial, documents, witnesses, testimony. Let

the American people and members of the Senate reach that conclusion. 

 

But if you listen to what Senator McConnell had to say, it`s a show trial,

if there`s going to be actual evidence.  I don`t think the American people

feel that way.  I think they expect us to do our job and to do it

professionally. 

 

MATTHEWS:  John Bolton is no longer in the administration, but he was

director of national security for this president.  He was very the mix for

– in the loop, if you will, on all these conversations. 

 

He would be a great fact witness.  What are the chances or what could it

take on your side?  Can the Democrats offer any deal that would bring him

to the trial in the Senate? 

 

DURBIN:  Chris, what it takes is very basic, four Republican senators who

decide that we want to have a trial that is befitting this institution. 

 

This is a constitutional responsibility.  This just isn`t a political

assignment.  And if we`re going to have a trial and a decision made by the

Senate, we should do it based on careful consideration of evidence. 

 

The testimony of John Bolton, in my estimation, would be valuable and

important, or at least he ought to be given the chance to make that

presentation. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your sense of these.

 

My hunch is that – I was very much against the neocons, if you will, the

hawks in the Iraq War.  But I do think a number of them are honest people. 

The late Charles Krauthammer, for example, I think he told the truth in his

columns and everywhere else.

 

And I think this guy Bolton does too.  Do you think, if you got John Bolton

there, he`d be honest? 

 

DURBIN:  Well, I can tell you this.

 

His departure from the White House – and there have been very many under

the Trump administration – was different than most.  It appeared he walked

out under his own steam.  He wasn`t pushed out of the door.  He had reached

a point where there was something he could no longer tolerate. 

 

That may – might be part of the scenario that he would describe to us. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Mick Mulvaney, who holds two titles, both acting titles, I

believe, OMB and chief of staff to the President, Mick is the kind of

witness who would not be accused of being – engaging in hearsay, because

he was in the actual – all the conversations. 

 

Now, having the White House refuse to let those people testify as fact

witnesses from the inside the loop, now the Senate leader is saying, well,

now we don`t want them now either, because we don`t want them now having it

– it just seems like they have closed the circle on any chance to get the

truth. 

 

DURBIN:  Well, when Senator McConnell accuses our ask of witnesses to be

just to embarrass the president, the bottom line is, Mick Mulvaney, the

acting chief of staff for quite a period of time now, would be a person who

probably was party to this telephone conversation, as well as any efforts

made by the Trump White House to withhold the $400 million in critical

military aid for Ukraine. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

DURBIN:  I can`t think of a more relevant witness.  And that`s the reason

why he led our list of witnesses we`d like to see come before the Senate. 

 

MATTHEWS:  If you ask for the two guests with – gosh – I`m thinking

television values. 

 

No, if you think about the two witnesses, certainly, John Bolton and Mick

Mulvaney as prize witnesses, as star witnesses in a case like this, would

you negotiate people you would not necessarily want to testify, for

example, the Bidens or Joe Biden?

 

Is there – is there a deal there to be made, that you would offer up

people that you might not like to see as witnesses?  But if it was a way to

get the star witnesses to make the case with impeachment, is it worth it? 

 

DURBIN:  Well, Chris, I`m not going to negotiate it on your show, as

important as this presentation may be.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

DURBIN:  I`m going to leave that to Chuck Schumer to sit down with Mitch

McConnell and reach an agreement. 

 

But what we`re looking for are witnesses that are relevant to the charges

at hand…

 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

 

DURBIN:  … an abuse of the power of the presidency for the president`s

personal and political benefit. 

 

We`re also looking for cooperation from the White House.  This is something

we don`t spend a lot of time talking about, but under the Nixon articles of

impeachment, which obviously didn`t go forward when he resigned, they were

alleging interference and obstruction of justice when it came to

congressional work. 

 

In this case, we have had a refusal by this White House to literally

provide documents and key witnesses from the start.  You cannot have a

functioning constitutional process of impeachment without the presentation

of evidence. 

 

And the president and White House have done everything they can to violate

this president and – precedent – and to withhold this important

information. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, like a lot of Americans, I look up to the U.S. Senate,

since the time I was a kid reading “Advise and Consent.”  I love the

institution. 

 

Does – does Senator McConnell still love the institution?  Because he`s

not defending it.

 

DURBIN:  I can tell you – Chris, let me just tell you something. 

 

Under his leadership, there`s been more damage done to this institution

than I could even describe to you.

 

Consider one basic fact.  We are now ending a calendar year.  And during

that calendar year, there have been 22 amendments voted on the floor of the

United States Senate, 22 in an entire year, six by Senator Rand Paul. 

 

It`s an indication of a Senate that is out to lunch and, frankly, has

walked away from its basic constitutional responsibility.  Senator

McConnell, who started working as a staffer in the Senate, served in the

Senate for many years, has done more damage to this institution than I can

imagine. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I thought he loved it.  I thought he`d fight for the filibuster. 

I thought he would fight for all the tradition. 

 

Let me ask you about your hopes of picking up some Republicans, the one you

mentioned, to get you from 47 to 51. 

 

Do you have any prospects right now?  How`s it look?

 

DURBIN:  Well…

 

MATTHEWS:  To get enough Republicans aboard to get the rules set, so you

can have witnesses?

 

DURBIN:  There are only a handful of Senate Republicans who have had the

courage to step up and disagree publicly with the president. 

 

Some have tried it, and then decided that it was just too dangerous for

them politically.  I know the names, and you do as well. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

DURBIN:  And I`m not going to suggest you I have talked to any of them or

any promises have been made. 

 

But we`re hoping during the course of this that there will be four

Republican senators who say, we want to write a record in this trial,

regardless of the outcome, that really is fitting for this institution, one

that we can live with in the course of history. 

 

We have seen some unusual things.  I don`t know if you have heard about

this president`s six-page letter which he sent up to Capitol Hill.  But we

received this today.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

DURBIN:  I guarantee you that`s going to be exhibit A in a lot of political

science classes for generations to come.  It is a rant by the president on

this whole impeachment proceeding. 

 

It is a concise compendium of his greatest hits of his 15,000 tweets as

president.  I have received letters like this.  You did once when you

worked on the Hill…

 

MATTHEWS:  I know.  I know.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

DURBIN:  … from people who underline every other word…

 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

 

DURBIN:  … and just load up the exclamation points. 

 

That`s the kind of letter we received from the president of the United

States on the eve of his impeachment.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, like your hope, sir.  I always have liked your hope,

Senator. 

 

And I just think maybe they won`t vote for either of these two articles of

impeachment, but they should recall Article 1 of the Constitution.  What do

you think?  Wouldn`t that be nice? 

 

DURBIN:  Absolutely. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much.  That`s the one that…

 

DURBIN:  That`s what we swore to uphold and – we swore to uphold and

defend it.  And we should. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. 

 

Up next:  Rudy Giuliani brags about his role in forcing out U.S. Ambassador

to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.  Since when does the president`s personal

lawyer get to force out – that`s his word – get out of the way, I think,

is his other phrase – a senior member of America`s diplomatic corps?

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

On the eve of the president`s impeachment – that`s tomorrow, believe it or

not – Trump`s personal lawyer is still out there advancing the case

actually against this client.

 

Damning revelations from Rudy Giuliani this week have shed new light on

Trump`s decision to oust the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie

Yovanovitch, in his pursuit of politically motivated investigations or

declarations of investigations in Ukraine.

 

First, Giuliani admitted to a central charge of the impeachment inquiry,

telling “The New Yorker” magazine that he – quote – “needed Yovanovitch

out of the way, because she was going to make the investigations difficult

for everybody.”  Those are his words. 

 

And now he`s gone further and admitted to “The New York Times” now that,

earlier this year, he personally told the president just that.  Giuliani

said he passed along to Mr. Trump a couple of times, he said, accounts

about how the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, had frustrated efforts that

could be politically helpful to Mr. Trump. 

 

In other words, Giuliani confirmed what the president knew and when he knew

it.

 

In fact, Giuliani is taking personal responsibility for Trump`s ouster of

Yovanovitch. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS:  Now, this hit piece – and it`s a hit piece…

 

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  Of course.

 

INGRAHAM:  … also has you on the record admitting that you forced out

Marie Yovanovitch. 

 

GIULIANI:  Of course I did.

 

INGRAHAM:  You said you needed her out of the way.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

INGRAHAM:  But you`re a personal attorney for the president.  So why do you

need her out of the way?

 

GIULIANI:  I didn`t need her out of the way.  I forced her out because

she`s corrupt. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS: “I forced her out.”

 

Yet Giuliani`s allegations have been dismissed outright by every witness

who testified on that subject in the inquiry.  She`s not corrupt.  She

wasn`t corrupt.

 

I`m joined right now by Shelby Holliday, reporter for “The Wall Street

Journal.”  And Paul Butler is a former federal prosecutor.

 

Paul, shake this down into a couple of names, not a Russian novel.  Rudy

Giuliani is flagrant.  Is he trying to lock in his relationship with Trump,

so Trump can`t throw him under the bus?

 

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  So, Chris, if this is the eve of

destruction, Rudy Giuliani is the unwitting agent of President Trump`s

destruction. 

 

He just provided compelling evidence of article one, that the president

abused public trust with this shakedown.  We know that there was no

corruption reason to get rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch.

 

She`s an expert on public corruption.  That`s one reason why she was sent

to Ukraine.  We know that corruption investigation was Giuliani and Trump`s

code word for political dirt from Ukraine. 

 

And how do we know Giuliani wasn`t doing this on his own?  Because every

time President Trump was asked about Ukraine, he said, talk to Rudy.  He

said that to Ambassador Sondland.  He said it to Energy Secretary Perry. 

He even said it to President Zelensky. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So what do you make of this, Shelby?  Because it looks like the

Thelma and Louise in this case is the president of the United States and

his – quote – “lawyer.”

 

I don`t – I have no idea what law has to do with this, except breaking it. 

 

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”:  Well, Rudy Giuliani is

doubling down on his criticism of Marie Yovanovitch, as you just played in

that clip. 

 

But what he`s saying to these to the…

 

MATTHEWS:  Just for the public, just for people that aren`t following is

every minute…

 

HOLLIDAY:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  … her problem was that she was getting in the way of their –

of their escapades. 

 

HOLLIDAY:  Yes.  That`s what she said in her testimony, and that is what

Rudy Giuliani is saying now.

 

And it`s echoing something he told “The Journal” back in October, which is

that he saw her as an obstacle, and he spoke to the president about it, and

the president ultimately removed her. 

 

Now, why does this matter?  Because the president tomorrow will likely be

impeached for the charge of abuse of power, something he denies.  But that

abuse of power, as Democrats see it ,involved the removal of Yovanovitch,

because it was a step that led the president – it created a vacuum that

led the president to set up this unofficial channel led by Rudy Giuliani

and involving Volker and Sondland and Perry. 

 

And as he told them shortly after Zelensky was inaugurated, talk to Rudy. 

And these men under oath said, it was pretty clear that we weren`t going to

get anywhere with our White House meeting, with anything we wanted with

respect to Ukraine, unless Rudy was satisfied.

 

And so it sort of set into motion what the president is now being impeached

for.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me simplify it, Paul.  And you can do a better job of this.

 

The fact is, it looks to me like the president sent Rudy over there.  They

put this scheme together.  The president`s have enough time to cook this

up.  Rudy did probably.  Hey, I`m going to go over there, Mr. President,

and get some people to throw some dirt at the guy most likely to run

against you as the Democratic nominee in 2020. 

 

If can knock down Biden, who is the moderate, maybe that`s enough to knock

down the whole field.  So, just get anybody over there, no matter how

sleazy they are, no matter how close to corruption they are and how much

they are corrupt.  Get anybody over there that has a way of putting out a

press release.  Just get them to say they`re investigating Joe Biden and

his son. 

 

Just get – is that it? 

 

BUTLER:  Yes, that`s right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  As sleazy as they are?

 

BUTLER:  Yes, that`s right. 

 

And Rudy Giuliani went down and dirty.  He went low down to talk to people

who he had to know was lying.  All he wanted was a case to make against the

ambassador, even though it was false. 

 

We will all remember that very poignant testimony during the impeachment

inquiry when she asked – she gets asked, why am I being fired?  And the

State Department says, you did nothing wrong.  You just got on Trump`s bad

side. 

 

But payback is something, because now Giuliani doesn`t just have compelling

evidence against the president for impeachment.  He`s got his own criminal

exposure.  These shady characters Parnas and Fruman, who he was working

with, guess what?  One of the reasons they`re indicted in the Southern

District of New York is for their role in this conspiracy to get rid of the

ambassador. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You know, and, at least in the movies, Shelby, if a gang is

caught robbing a bank, they cool it for a few months.  They don`t go out

and rob another bank right away, OK, because they`re – people are on the

lookout.

 

Why is Rudy still doing exactly what both of those two guys, he and the

president, are accused of right now?

 

HOLLIDAY:  I think what you`re seeing is them using a playbook that has

worked for them in the past. 

 

It worked during the 2016 election.  We heard Rudy endlessly talk about the

alleged corruption of Secretary Clinton and all the things she had done

wrong.  He talked about that day in and day out.  He loved talking about

the investigations and the FBI reopening their investigation. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

HOLLIDAY:  He`s doing that again because it worked politically

 

But it also worked for them when Mueller was investigating the president

and his campaign.  Rudy going on television and doubling down on the

president`s defense, it worked for them.  Politically, they feel like they

won that battle. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe they did.  Hopefully, they didn`t.

 

Thank you, Shelby Holliday.  Thank you for joining us from “The Journal,”

“Wall Street Journal,” and Paul Butler. 

 

Up next, moderate Democrats and Republican lawmakers in swing districts are

facing some tough decisions on impeachment.  You can`t make everybody happy

even when it`s clear.  We`re going to run through the latest info where

they all stand at this moment straight ahead on HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

House Democrats won the 2018 midterm elections, flipping 31 seats in

districts President Trump had carried two years earlier.  It was the

largest Democratic gain since the post-Watergate election. 

 

Well, because of the current impeachment debate many of those same members

have been forced to take a stand, country or politics.  According to NBC

News, tally 41 Democrats in competitive districts out of 44 say they will

vote, however, for both articles of impeachment.  Another one, Maine`s

Jared Golden said today he`d only vote for the abuse of power article,

that`s the first article, not the article for obstruction of Congress. 

 

Well, many of the frontlines Democrats, as they`re called, cited the

Constitution and their conscience for their decision to vote aye. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX):  I took an oath to defend and protect the

Constitution.  And I think that a serious violation of abuse of power

happened here. 

 

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO):  I do not come to Congress to do this, but if we

don`t do it now, then when will we? 

 

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA):  I think it`s equally important today as it will

be six months from now to say that I stood up against the president when he

did something wrong. 

 

REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA):  I believe the president abused the power of his

office, putting his own interests above the needs of our nation, above the

needs of the people that I love and I serve.  And for that, I must vote my

conscience. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  But what about Republicans facing competitive re-election

campaigns next year?  People like Senator Susan Collins, the senator from

Maine?  What do they do?

 

That`s up next.  You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Only two Democrats have broken ranks with the party to vote no on the

articles of impeachment.  Congress Collin Peterson of Minnesota and

Congressman Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey – I love that name, Van Drew. 

Reports said Van Drew was leaving the party over impeachment, but he could

not confirm that – we cannot firm it yet.  I think he`s leaving.

 

I have to, quote, I have not made a decision, he says, I`m willing to share

with anybody.  I`m trying to be gentle, and I`m telling you I am where I am

and you`ll hear in a relatively short period of time.  So, he`s playing it

cute.

 

Anyway, just last week, he, the Congressman Van Drew from South Jersey,

dismissed the notion he would switch parties. 

 

For more, I`m joined by a couple of people I like.  Peggy Noonan, “Wall

Street Journal” columnist, every Saturday morning, and former Congressman

Steve Israel, a great novelist, by the way, Democrat from New York. 

 

Let`s talk about when you think tomorrow and you think about coming in

January, the Republicans have – have we reached a point where you just

vote party, you just keep it simple like Moynihan did when he voted against

Clinton`s impeachment?  You just say, it`s a political game, I`m going to

play it, I`m not going to stick my neck out of there no matter what you

think of Clinton.

 

Has it reached that point where you can`t have a conscience or even an

attitude anymore? 

 

PEGGY NOONAN, COLUMNIST, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:  I think at the end of

the day, political figures have a way of figuring out what is convenient

for them and safe for them.  I think the safe place now, let`s face it, is

a tribal attitude.  So I think, sure, a lot of them will think of it that

way. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think?

 

STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  Look, I think, I mean – 

 

MATTHEWS:  Steve, has it reached the point now where breaking from your

PAC, the people that raised you money, who knocked doors for you – and

that`s really what it`s about.  It`s the loyalty of the peeps, the regular

people who voted for you.  It`s just so dangerous. 

 

ISRAEL:  It is. 

 

And, look, in instances like this, impeachment, highly partisan, a lot of

energy on the extremes.  You vote with your base.  You vote your

principles, but you don`t discount the polling and you don`t discount the

politics. 

 

If you`re a Democrat of one of those 31 districts that Donald Trump won,

this is very tough vote.  Rule number one in those districts, those really

competitive battleground districts, you never weaken your foundation, you

don`t lose your base.  You have to stick with your base, particularly in a

presidential year when the bases are coming out, right?  They`re coming out

 

MATTHEWS:  So, you vote your party. 

 

ISRAEL:  You`ve got to move them down ballot and you`ve got to move them

down your party`s ballot.  So you stick with your base.  You can`t forfeit

your base and get re-elected. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me – go ahead.

 

NOONAN:  Well, I was thinking – when I was thinking about the position of

a House moderate, Democratic moderates in the House, the position of GOP

senators seem to Democratic moderates in the House from the purple

districts, they got a little leeway there because, you know what, a purple

district knows they elected a Democrat, maybe last time a Republican, they

elected a Democrat, they do expect a Democrat to act like a Democrat. 

 

ISRAEL:  Uh-huh.

 

NOONAN:  Do you know what I mean? 

 

I think the more sensitive position is Republican senators up for re-

election in states that are more pro-impeachment than against –

 

MATTHEWS:  You`re smart.  I think – I also think picking national security

is a basis was very helpful in the burbs with Nancy.  She picked that.  In

the burbs, they cared of it.  They read the paper more frequently, actual

newspapers. 

 

ISRAEL:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  Just a comment because I grew up there.

 

There`s a handful of Republicans who could feel pressure to break with the

president on impeachment including Susan Collins, who`s always the tricky

one of Maine.  And Mitt Romney of Utah who has had the other night flirts

with greatness.  Flirts.

 

Senator Collins told “Politico” that she will announce her decision any

even when to run again at the end of this week.  So, that`s pretty dire.

 

NOONAN:  Wow.

 

MATTHEWS:  According to “Politico”, Republicans say she`s the only person

in the Republican Party who can keep the seat in GOP hands.  She quits, the

Democrats own Maine.  Democrats have privately wondered whether she might

retire in President Trump`s impeachment amid that, and Maine`s increasingly

blue hue. 

 

NOONAN:  Yes.

 

ISRAEL:  Look, Mitch McConnell has one imperative and that is to keep to

majority. 

 

There are five senators, five Republican senators who are going to have a

tough climb on this.  It`s Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins in

Maine, Joni Ernst in Iowa, McSally in Arizona.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

 

ISRAEL:  Maybe Thom Tillis in North Carolina.

 

MATTHEWS: But what who would do well by breaking with their party?  Who

would do well by breaking with their party?

 

ISRAEL:  I think they face the same conundrum as House members.  You break

with your party, you lose your base. 

 

Now, it`s a little easier to manage in the state.  One other thing, they`ve

got a long time to repair the damage. 

 

NOONAN:  Yes, senators do.

 

MATTHEWS:  Would Democrats impeach a president for doing exact what this

guy did, if he were a Democrat? 

 

ISRAEL:  Absolutely, absolutely. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 

 

ISRAEL:  If he had made a phone call a day after a Mueller report and did

what this president did, absolutely.  And Chairman Schiff said that, he

said publicly if the evidence was the same as a Democratic president, he

would vote to impeach. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Would Republicans vote against impeachment if it were a

Democrat? 

 

NOONAN:  I don`t know. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

NOONAN:  I`ll tell you I`m afraid that – I paused so long.  What I was

thinking about was the Senate and Susan Collins.  She is dependent as Cory

Gardner is, as a bunch of Republicans running for re-election from the

Senate are on cross over appeal at a moment when that is shrinking, at a

moment when impeachment has made things kind of bitter and torn. 

 

Maine, Susan Collins state, is pro-impeachment, according to the polls at

least.  It`s so very hard for them, for those Republicans. 

 

ISRAEL:  Just to pick up on that, this is function of gerrymandering.  You

don`t gerrymander a state but you gerrymander congressional districts, and

that`s gerrymandering has pushed both parties to the extreme.

 

MATTHEWS:  Eighty-six percent of both parties support the position of their

party on impeachment. 

 

NOONAN:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s 9 out of 10.  That`s 9 out of 10 people you bump into,

you go door-to-door.  If their Democrats, they`re for impeaching this guy. 

If they`re Republicans, they`re against it.  It is polarized out there.

 

NOONAN:  How`s it going to feel tomorrow on the floor when they vote to

impeach?  What is that moment going to be like? 

 

MATTHEWS:  I don`t know whether it`s going to sink in or not.  It`s

historic.  And I were – someone said the other day that history has lost

its consequence.  It`s pretty scary. 

 

Depth – we`re not operating enough depth, anybody is, nobody is operating

with enough depth, because we have a president who`s not there. 

 

Anyway, Peggy Noonan, thank you.  Steve Israel.

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  How much will tomorrow`s historic impeachment vote weigh in the

voters` decision next year?  Well, Trump`s betrayal of public trust in the

Ukraine matter carry the weight as the indecency of Trump`s language and

overall conduct, the decline in basic human behavior, he`s driven in the

four years of his national political life? 

 

Well, I hedge my bet on the following – if the Democrats pick the right

candidate next year, by that I mean the candidate whose character and

conduct contrasts powerfully from what we`ve seen and heard from Donald

Trump, he or she will take him down.  Why?  Because the history of American

elections is a history of U.S. – of all of us, electing candidates to

repair the damage of the previous president. 

 

We picked a nonpolitician General Eisenhower to replace a product of the

Kansas City political machine, Harry Truman.  We picked the young, dashing

Jack Kennedy to replace the tired Eisenhower.  We picked Dick Nixon to make

the cold calculation, a cold decision to free the U.S. from Lyndon

Johnson`s commitments in Vietnam.  We picked Jimmy Carter to clean up after

Nixon.  We picked Ronald Reagan for his strength over a weaker Carter and

we picked the first George Bush for a kindler, gentler presidency over the

conservative Reagan. 

 

We picked the young and nimble Bill Clinton from the beleaguered Bush.  We

picked “W” – I`m sorry, the Supreme Court did that one.  We picked the

bright, thoughtful Barack Obama to replace the less deliberative W.  We

picked Trump to drain the swamp and we`ll pick the next president to rid us

of the bathtub ring of dirt and ill behavior of a president who made so

many of us embarrassed. 

 

And that`s HARDBALL for now. 

 

“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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