ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Now, that does it for this episode of THE BEAT with Ari Melber. But don`t go anywhere because up next, It`s "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: OK, I did it. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Flustered and defiant, President Trump is throwing caution to the wind tonight giving Congress even more grounds to impeach him for extorting a U.S. ally.
Answering the question he refused to address yesterday, Trump today gave a detailed confession of the misconduct at the center of his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Trump said his goal in that conversation was to get Ukraine to deliver dirt on Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, I would think if they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens. It is a simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Simple and incriminating. That`s what Trump wanted from Ukraine as he withheld U.S. military support from President Zelensky conditioning that support with these infamous words, I would like you to do us a favor though.
Under increasing scrutiny, Trump is brazenly admitting in public now to the favor he asked in private. Even worse, he`s now using his bully pulpit as president to publicly solicit more foreign dirt on Joe Biden, this time from China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: By the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens. Because what happened to China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.
REPORTER: Have you asked President Xi to investigate Joe Biden?
TRUMP: I haven`t, but certainly something we could start thinking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Another bombshell exploded late today as the House Committee has deposed their first witness in the unfolding impeachment inquiry itself. The Washington Post reports that the former special envoy to Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, who resigned last week, testified today that he warned Rudy Giuliani that Giuliani was receiving untrustworthy information from Ukrainian political figures about Joe Biden.
Text messages Volker gave to Congress today also appear to show that even Trump`s ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, believed U.S. military support was being withheld from that country to benefit Trump politically.
According to those text messages obtained by ABC News, Ambassador Taylor told American diplomats in early September, quote, I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
Well, Taylor was rebuked by U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, a major Trump financial contributor, who replied that Taylor was incorrect and that Trump has been crystal clear and no quid pro quo of any kind.
Well, after that message, Sondland recommended that they stop putting their conversations in writing. How is that? Let`s go quiet here.
I joined now by U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Thank you, Congresswoman. Heidi Przybyla is an MSNBC Correspondent. Joshua Geltzer is a former NSC Senior Director, Jill Colvin, of course, White House Reporter with the Associated Press. Jill, you`re starting in this thing.
What is going on with the president of the United States basically saying, oh, yes, okay, I did it? I was trying to extort this guy for dirt on a political rival and I used my power as president to do it?
JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And not just that, then turning around and publicly stating on the south lawn of the White House, hey, China, if you`re listening, we`d like your help here too, which just reminded me so much of that moment in 2016 where the president called out to Russia, hey, if you have Hillary`s emails, we`d all like to see them.
What you have here is a president who, according to sources, really does not seem to think that he has done anything wrong here, believes that there is nothing wrong with him using political power like this to help his presidential campaign, and using the strategy of really just spilling it out in the open here.
MATTHEWS: What is that strategy? Shoot the moon?
COLVIN: It`s something that helped him during the Mueller hearing, where if you just put it out there, it winds up, in his opinion, help him to make it seem a little bit less nefarious.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I wonder whether admitting corruption somehow eases the smell of corruption.
REP. TERRI SEWELL (D-AL): Well, you know, this president has been the master of deflection. And I think that what he`s doing, by invoking China to also interfere, is he`s normalizing a pattern of presidential abuse. And, frankly, it just goes to show why it`s really important that we have - - we do this impeachment inquiry and we get to the bottom of all the facts. We have to follow the facts where they lead us. And, frankly, this president is doing a lot of the hard work right in plain view for us.
MATTHEWS: Well, the envoy over there, Volker has pointed out directly this president was engaged in trying to extort political dirt on a rival, Joe Biden, with the power of the United States` military support for that country.
SEWELL: We`re still interviewing Volker, as we speak, so I can`t confirm or deny what he said. But I can say that this president is doing all the talking, by his own admission, asked the Ukraine to look into Joe Biden and his son. He, by his own admission, asked Russia to find those emails from Hillary Clinton. He, by his own admission, has now asked China to interfere in our elections.
And, Chris, I have to tell you for me, a person who represents Alabama`s seventh congressional district, the Civil Rights District, I cannot believe that we have a president in the Oval Office who would literally try to mess with our -- interfere with our elections and actually go to the very heart of the integrity of our elections.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about the Civil Rights District.
SEWELL: My district includes Birmingham, my hometown of Selma.
MATTHEWS: Okay, the history, all the history.
SEWELL: Montgomery, Alabama. It also includes Tuscaloosa Roll Tide. So my district is very proud of the fact that people, ordinary Americans, have the temerity, the audacity to make America live up to its ideals of justice and equality for all. And in order to do that, they fought, died, bled, marched for the right to vote.
And I think that this president has -- using his own power, presidential power for political and personal gain is actually incredulous and frankly something that is worthy of an inquiry.
MATTHEWS: We`re getting into the reality of this thing, and maybe the reality doesn`t matter. I said this many times, the essence of corruption in public life is taking public trust and trading it for private interest, and that`s what we`ve got here. This guy, the ambassador, Bill Taylor, over there is saying, this was always going on over there. We were holding up another country for dirt on a political rival here at home.
JOSHUA GELTZER, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, NSC: You see those sorts of warnings from people who realize this is not the way our government is supposed to work. Diplomacy can be complicated, U.S. policy can be complicated, people can criticize it, but what it can`t be is abusing public office for private gain. And when somebody knows how a government is supposed to work sees it, they say it.
MATTHEWS: I thought we all knew it. I guess Trump comes from a different world, a smellier culture world, I`ve got to tell you, because it`s got nothing to do with the reason people work for the government.
This comes as The Washington Post reveals how a low Rudy Giuliani will go to traffic in disinformation that benefits this president. Giuliani has recently consulted with Trump`s convicted campaign manager, Palm Manafort. Quote, in pursuit of information he thinks would somehow show Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton.
Not only that, but Giuliani has claimed responsibility for a mysterious package of documents, there is one, addressed in calligraphy marked from the White House, there is White House up there in the left, to Secretary Mike Pompeo, which was delivered to the State Department this March. Those documents contain unproven allegations of disinformation targeting Joe Biden and the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who Trump later removed.
Well, NBC News reports that according to Giuliani, quote, he personally gave Pompeo the file of documents and was told that the State Department would take up an investigation of those claims, an assurance that Pompeo now denies making.
Well, The Wall Street Journal also reports that Trump removed the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after, quote, complaints from allies outside the administration, including from Giuliani, that she was obstructing efforts to persuade Kiev to investigate Joe Biden.
Heidi, it`s not just the moat between here and Mexico his crocodiles, alligators and snakes in. It`s in this letter, the stuff that Rudy sent to Pompeo, all this garbage and disinformation. And this president -- that his lawyer.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: We almost don`t need the whistleblower to come forward at this point with everything that is coming out. These are the documents that were obtained last night by our colleague, Leigh Ann Caldwell.
And what they show was an orchestrated campaign, Chris, that goes all the way back to January by Giuliani and others in the administration to basically fabricate a story around the Bidens and press the former prosecutor general of Ukraine into actually going on the Hill T.V. and making false allegations.
You have the top anti-corruption expert in Ukraine, who I interviewed this week, who said that there is no basis to these allegations. And so all of these documents are now going to back up this case against Rudy Giuliani, against the president.
And you have in them as well documents from State Department employees raising alarm about this and saying this is disinformation, what do we do? How do we push back on this? What have they done in Moscow and the embassy in Moscow to push back on disinformation if they didn`t know initially that it was coming from Rudy Giuliani, but they believed that it was a well- financed operation that was underway for months.
MATTHEWS: You can`t believe, Congresswoman. Here you have an envelope, a manila envelope, classic, but it has the White House on the upper left side, and it`s written in calligraphy. Only a few people know calligraphy. It was everything but scented, this envelope. And it doesn`t look like a government document. It`s something sort of over that transom (ph) kind of piece of chunk you get, (INAUDIBLE), Congresswoman, we`ll get this, the dirt being passed around.
But in this case, not by some furtive nobody, the president`s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, America`s mayor is out shipping this, dumping this stuff on the secretary of state.
SEWELL: You know, Rudy Giuliani doesn`t have any official title in this administration. He is the president`s lawyer. But what becomes increasingly more apparent, and that`s what this investigation and this inquiry about, getting to the bottom of it. But what seems to be extensively happening is that he`s having foreign governments do his own op-ed, his own opposition research into his political opponents. And not only is that illegal, it is an extreme abuse of power.
MATTHEWS: Josh, that`s the question I get to, and I think it`s going to turn this thing. It`s not about ethics and some sort of clash you take in government. It`s about protecting the country. We have a military alliance with a country that`s vulnerable to the Russian. I grew up -- everybody here, I guess we all grew up in the `40s, `50s and `60s worrying about Russia and worrying about those captive nations on the border that were under the Warsaw pact, controlled by Russia.
And now, we get this situation and a major breaking story just now from The New York Times. We`re learning that two of President Trump`s top envoys to Ukraine drafted a statement for the country`s new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his two political rivals. That`s according to three people briefed on the effort.
Michael Schmidt from The New York Times joins me right now.
Michael, explain how this fits into this whole saga?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So you have the July call that we all know about now where the issue of these investigations comes up. A month later, in August, the president`s top diplomats to Ukraine are drafting a statement that the president of Ukraine can put out that says that he will commit to investigating these matters. So it shows the next step that came after the call.
Now, these diplomats were trying to assuage Trump and Giuliani. They knew how obsessed they were with Ukraine and knew how much it was bogging down the United States` relationship with the country, and that they needed to sort of pacify them in order to get the rest of the relationship to and fro (ph). And if the Ukrainians put this statement out, they would be committing to the investigation, and they wouldn`t just be privately on the phone with Trump saying they would it, they would actually move forward with it.
MATTHEWS: Was this done with more reservation by those two gentlemen when they put out, perfused (ph) more reservation, in other words, they were giving them a document to put out? Were they hoping that the government over there, Zelensky`s government, would actually do it or just say so?
SCHMIDT: Well, I think that they thought this was the key to getting Giuliani to stop, as we say in the story, poisoning Trump`s mind about Ukraine. They thought that it may get Giuliani to sort of layoff and give the diplomats some room to do the work and move the relationship forward, perhaps bring the Ukrainians over to Washington for an Oval Office meeting to help them.
Now, obviously, the background of all this is the question of the aid and what was going on with the aid. We do not say in the story that they were doing this to unlock the aid. We don`t have evidence of that. They were more trying to just get the president and Giuliani to layoff and allow them to do their regular diplomatic work.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Schmidt from The New York Times, on that breaking news story tonight.
Josh, here is the question. Even with a formal letter coming out from a couple of recommended, drafted by a couple of U.S. diplomats in the interest of pacifying the president, I can see the president saying, I`ve got a paper here that says that the Ukrainians are investigating Joe Biden. My point is made that they`ve had a lot less with that with Benghazi and the emails, they can now say, a foreign government joins me in saying there`s some dirt there.
GELTZER: That`s right. You know, we talked about 2016 and the campaign then being infected by foreign disinformation. But in 2020, this is domestic disinformation. That`s what Rudy delivered.
MATTHEWS: Put in the mouths of foreigners.
GELTZER: That`s right. And to have that national security vulnerability created by our own White House, I think that`s opening people`s eyes to this abuse of power.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I think what happened the week or so ago when the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had been resisting this call for impeachment on other grounds saw something here that was distinctly different, which was not about misbehavior or even misconduct or even, generally, corruption. It was corrupting U.S. interests in the interest of a pal (ph) who happens to be in the White House.
SEWELL: You know, this is a sobering moment in American history. And as the speaker said so eloquently, sometimes history finds us. And we have to decide whether we`re going to uphold the constitutional oath of our duty or are we going to allow this president to continue to abuse his constitutional duty?
MATTHEWS: And, apparently, also the vice president, because, meanwhile, officials close to Vice President Pence say -- well, they say he was, quote, unaware of Trump`s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky for damaging information about Biden in early September when Pence delivered the message to Zelensky that U.S. military aid would remain frozen. How`s that for a message?
That`s according to a reporting by The Washington Post, which alludes to the apparent rift now developing between Pence and the White House officials who were suggesting that Pence would have known. They`re not letting him off the hook. They`re untangling him.
At the time of Pence`s meeting, by the way, with Zelensky in September, it was a month ago, Rudy Giuliani`s effort to get Ukrainian dirt on Joe Biden was already so well-known that Pence was asked about it just a day after his meeting with Zelensky.
And here is that question from you, Jill. You were onto it. Let`s Assume they were onto it. Here it goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLVIN: Did you discuss Joe Biden at all during that meeting yesterday with the Ukrainian president, and number two, can you assure Ukrainian that the hold up of that money has nothing to do with efforts, including by Rudy Giuliani, to try to dig up dirt on the Biden Family?
MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, on the first question, the answer is no. But with President Zelensky yesterday, we discussed -- we discussed America`s support for Ukraine and the upcoming decision the president will make on the latest tranche of financial support in great detail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jill, he didn`t answer you? He didn`t answer about the connection between that latest tranche and where they`re playing ball and digging up dirt on Biden.
COLVIN: Yes. I mean, the context that we know weeks later is the fact that there have been all these conversations between the president and Zelensky about what their definition of corruption was, and that mere mention of that word and any type of conversation would automatically have referred to this dirt that they were looking for.
I think we just need to take a step back. This is such an interesting moment for Mike Pence too, who up until this point has been pretty successful at somehow being very loyal to the president but not really kind of getting wrapped up in all of the controversies surrounding it.
MATTHEWS: It reminds me of a lobster tank when the lobster tries to climb out of the tank and the other lobsters pull that person -- that lobster back in. These White House aides are not letting this guy out.
PRZYBYLA: There are a lot of lobsters in the tank.
MATTHEWS: Is that your final word?
PRZYBYLA: That`s my final word, yes, there`s much more to come out. The whistleblower, you know, the I.G. is going to be giving his report now behind closed doors, testifying on Friday. He`s going to --
MATTHEWS: It`s a he?
PRZYBYLA: Yes, going to fill in a lot of the blanks from that whistleblower complaint and there will be other White House officials who were in on that call, including Pence and his national security adviser.
MATTHEWS: The news gods keep bringing news and this is a scary time for our republic. And I`ve got to tell you, anybody that`s happy about this is crazy because the president was flawed before this. Now, he`s really done it to himself. I think he`s impeaching himself. Anyway, he did it again today.
U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, thank you. Is it Sewell?
SEWELL: Sewell, like jewel.
MATTHEWS: Sewell. Thank you, Sewell. Heidi Przybyla, thank you, Joshua Geltzer, and thank you, Jill Colvin, great reporting, great scoop on the veep.
Coming up, the White House is just hours away from a deadline to turn other documents to Congress or face subpoenas. What are the next steps if the Trump administration continues to stonewall, and how do we get to an impeachment vote before Thanksgiving? That`s my deadline.
Presidential Candidate Cory Booker joins me next.
And what is the White House hiding about the Ukraine call like the -- how about this, the word-for-word transcript? Where is that baby?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I knew many people were on the phone. Not only were many people on the phone, we had stenographers on the phone taking it down word-for-word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And where is that word-for-word document? The president says every word was written down, but there were telltale signs that the memo the White House released of that call does not contain the full extent. It`s only ten minutes long, 20 minutes missing. Where is Rose Ray Woods (ph)? She did 18 minutes. Where is the rest of it?
We`ve got much more to get to. Stick with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In the eye of the storm and under siege, President Trump today publicly called on two foreign countries to help him get dirt on a political adversary. It was a stunning public admission, confession, really, after a week of being accused of doing the very same thing in a private call with the Ukrainian president.
For more, I`m joined by presidential candidate U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Thank you, Senator, for this.
You`re frowning. And I see why.
But tell me, what do you make of this news breaking tonight from a number of sources, diplomatic, civil servants, foreign office -- Foreign Service officers, that this president was determined to cut a deal whereby he sold U.S. goodwill, military support, whatever, the whole shebang, to get dirt on a potential rival for reelection?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, Chris, I think we`re going to continue to find more and more disturbing things as this investigation goes on.
But these facts, as I see them right now, are absolutely unacceptable. Remember, Ukraine is under attack, a hot war, the invasion by the Russians. We share that common adversary. They`re attacking the United States.
And we were holding up aid that both parties in Congress agreed to deliver because this president was trying to pursue his own petty personal political agenda? That is absolutely outrageous, absolutely unacceptable, violating his oath of office.
And, again, this is just the beginning of this investigation.
MATTHEWS: When do you think of his allies in this? And the more I cover it, and the more you see it, as a political leader, it seems like he`s not in this alone. He`s got people in cahoots with him.
He`s got Rudy Giuliani, who was once looked up to in this country in a great way, as America`s mayor. Now he`s working for him. It looks like Pompeo, the secretary of state, is in it with him.
It looks like certainly Attorney General Barr is with him on this. And it just seems like it`s a new political party. There`s not a Republican Party. It`s a Trump party. And they`re up to no good.
BOOKER: Well, clearly, there`s a lot of implications, shadow of implication extending over other administrative people, other Cabinet secretaries. And this investigation must continue.
But just understand this. We have his private attorney seemingly dictating not only foreign policy, but whether even an ambassador stays in their position.
This is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable behavior that is a violation of the values of not for both parties, Republicans and Democrats, but these are just basically American values that are being undermined here by a president who seems to think that office is his and not -- doesn`t belong to the people of the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: Well, back in 2016, a bipartisan group of your Senate colleagues sent a letter to the then Ukrainian president urging him to press ahead with urgent reforms to the prosecutor general`s office and judiciary.
The letter was co-signed by Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Former Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson.
In other words, Senate Republicans, including Mr. Johnson, joined the vice president in calling for the Ukrainian prosecutor to be pushed out.
And earlier this month, Senator Johnson, apparently forgetting he signed that letter, urged Attorney General Bill Barr to look into the Bidens` contacts with Ukraine for corruption.
This seems to be a problem mentally. I know you`re a Rhodes Scholar. I don`t want you to be condescending to these people, but they don`t seem to be able to remember anything.
The other day, Kevin McCarthy didn`t know that the president conditioned the military aid by saying, "I want a favor from you, though." He thought the reporter cooked up the word.
They`re not -- how can these people on the other side of the aisle get so distracted from this horrible situation the president has taken us into? Your colleagues, they`re out to lunch.
BOOKER: This -- look, this is time where it`s unacceptable. We cannot be blinded by partisanship.
There is enough here for everybody in Congress to be agreeing that we should be doing a thorough investigation.
BOOKER: And both parties, none of us should take glee in this. This is a sad, very sobering moment where we should look with an objective eye on where the facts take us.
And so partisanship, you`re surrendering your deeper patriotism in this country if you`re just falling into your partisan stance. This calls for - - right now for us to be statespeople in the United States Senate and demand that we follow the evidence and get to the facts of this, because, if it goes where it seems to be leading, this president has betrayed his office and the American people.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the American people and your concerns about young Americans, especially kids, really young kids, who are in poverty, in tough situations.
What can you do? You`re talking about a new proposal.
I`m frustrated. This is one of the reasons I`m happy to be running for president, to bring issues up. We have 170 policy plans between all of us candidates, but we`re not talking about child poverty.
So I put forward a very comprehensive plan that, according to Columbia University, which doesn`t even take the totality of my actions, would cut child poverty by about two-thirds.
We, as a country, don`t understand poverty has its costs. Children living in poverty cost our economy about a trillion dollars a year. In a global knowledge-based economy, the most valuable natural resource we have it the genius of our children, and we`re squandering it by regulating a disproportionate amount of our population into poverty than our peer nations.
So, we can do something about this. There are evidence-based plans we can do to reduce poverty. And I have a very aggressive plan to do it, and that will ultimately empower millions of children to be successful, to add to our economy, as opposed to the costs we`re seeing right now by being a nation that doesn`t have that courageous empathy to really address these issues.
MATTHEWS: Senator Cory Booker, thank you so much for coming on HARDBALL tonight.
Good luck out on the campaign trail. You got another debate coming up.
Up next: Donald Trump says, we had stenographers on the phone taking it down word for word.
So, where is that word-for-word transcript of that damning call with the Ukrainian president? I want to see it word for word. He says he`s got it. Where is it?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, MINORITY COUNSEL: Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?
ALEXANDER BUTTERFIELD, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there it is.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was the voice of Fred Thompson, later a U.S. senator, but then Republican counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, questioning Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield about the existence of a taping system in the White House.
Well, Butterfield`s admission led to Nixon`s downfall.
Yesterday President Trump claimed that the White House possesses a word- for-word exact transcript of the July 25 phone call conversation that`s at the center of the impeachment inquiry right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only were many people on the phone. We had stenographers on the phone taking it down word for word.
They didn`t know that I had a transcript done by very, very talented people, word for word, comma for comma, done by people who do that for a living. We had an exact transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So where`s the exact transcript right now?
It`s certainly not the one the White House released of that conversation.
On the first page of that memo that was released, it said -- there`s a disclaimer right there saying, "Not a verbatim transcript." That`s what it says on the document. It was put by White House people, by Trump.
For more, I`m joined by Katrina Mulligan, managing director for national security at the Center for American Progress. She has also held positions at the DOJ, NSC, and DNI, the national intelligence.
Trump is very clear about this, verbatim, word for word, done by stenographers. And yet what came out was done by a lot of the national security advisers and smart people, but no one could claim that a 10-minute memo, which covers 10 minutes, is a 30-minute conversation.
What`s going on?
KATRINA MULLIGAN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, what we saw in the memorandum of conversation, which is what we call this type of call summary, it`s a summary. It`s not intended to be a verbatim transcript.
I was also struck by the president`s remarks about the verbatim transcript and the stenographers. It`s possible that he has no idea how these call memos are produced. I mean, that`s one possibility.
The other possibility is that they have deviated from past practice. They certainly have in other areas, and that, you know, there may be such a transcript that exists. But, if there is one, it certainly isn`t this.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this, because we have also got, as part of this story, the fact that this White House, this president squirrels away conversations that they think around him, people around him, think are going to get him into trouble.
They put onto some distant sort of form, under some kind of secrecy. I don`t know if they`re reachable or not, I don`t know, some server. They have got it totally sequestered away.
And my question, is that where the real actual document is? Because what he put out is not a word-for-word verbatim.
MULLIGAN: So, I think there are a lot of questions swirling about this secret server concept.
And what I think is important for people to understand is that, when I was at the National Security Council staff, everyone that was handling classified information had access to secret and top-secret systems at their workstations.
And that`s where almost everything you need in order to do your job is held. This separate server that people are talking about is one that is kept in the intelligence directorate. It`s really only for the handling of really intelligence sources and methods information.
And it`s not typically a place where you would store, you know, something of a lower classification or something that it`s -- the only reason to put something in that server is because you are trying to keep it from other people that work at the White House.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I was thinking they were doing.
And the way I got the reporting was, they have a set place where they put stuff that could embarrass this president because he said something in telephone conversations or in the Oval Office that were going to get hi into trouble.
Anyway, "The Washington Post" points out that the use of certain markings on the White House memo, such as ellipses, has fueled questions among current and former U.S. officials about the completeness of the released memo.
And two of those ellipses were used when President Trump was discussing a conspiracy theory of his surrounding the idea that Ukraine was in possession of the DNC server that was hacked during the 2016 election.
A third ellipsis was used when Trump pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Here`s how it shows up -- quote -- "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. So if you can look into it" -- dot, dot dot -- "it sounds horrible to me."
Ellipses mean, I took something out, for whatever reason, to shorten something.
And, again, I go back to this, a 10-minute -- Angus King, the independent senator from Maine, recited the entire memo, and it came out to about 10 minutes.
It`s a 30-minute conversation. So, where`s the other 20 minutes?
MULLIGAN: I think there`s no question that the memo that is in the public domain is incomplete. There`s no question about that.
I think, because this president is as untrustworthy as he is, because he`s already shown himself and the people around him have shown themselves to be willing to hide information, I think we have to get to the bottom of the questions like the one you`re asking.
But I think the bigger point that can`t lost get as we try to look for what else may be uncovered is that what`s already in the public domain is more than enough.
MATTHEWS: Oh, sure.
But I want to talk about -- I just want to say something about the suspicions I have about this president.
He calls people who alerted the whistle-blower to what was in that conversation spies. Don`t -- you can`t deny that this is the way he looks at it. People who put out honest information, factual information about what he`s doing, he calls them spies.
He didn`t say they got it wrong. In this case, he didn`t say fake media. He said, they put it out and they`re spies.
So his attitude is, people have no right to know what he`s up to when he`s embarrassed himself.
Anyway, thank you, Katrina.
I`m going to talk more about it at the end of the show. I think we have got to find this transcript, because then we will really get it all.
Up next: President Trump is -- but we may not need it.
President Trump has assembled a one-man war room, by the way, to address the threat of impeachment.
So far, his strategy appears to revolve around lots of angry tweeting, making fun of people, calling them shifty Schiff and that sort of thing, calling people traitors, calling a legitimate impeachment inquiry a coup.
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CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump`s now open admission that he wants Ukraine and now China to dig up dirt on the Bidens is just the latest evidence the White House has been struggling to respond to the ever growing Ukraine scandal and impeachment inquiry, the president is not.
"The New York Times" reports that for all of him -- his all by myself strategy, President Trump has long believed he himself the best communicator in the White House.
But as the presidential campaign picks up his pace and the prospect of his impeachment becomes more real, he seems to be the only empowered communicator, a one-man war room, he is, responding to the developments almost hour by hour.
What`s left is Mr. Trump acting alone and poised to live-tweet his own impeachment, complete with all-caps obscenities, alarming accusations of treason and warnings that impeachment is really a coup. That`s how he`s really behaving.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff addressed reporters yesterday, that one man operation came into stark relief. President Trump live-tweeted his own response to it, attacking Pelosi as trying to win an election through impeachment, calling Schiff a low -- this is the Roy Cohn part of this guy -- a lowlife, and saying Democrats are wasting everyone`s time and energy on B.S. He actually used the word in all caps.
Not content to stop there, the president continued to rage in his public appearances again yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDNT OF THE UNITED STATES: He should resign from office in disgrace, and frankly, they should look at him for treason calling him Shifty Schiff. We don`t call him Shifty Schiff for nothing. He`s a shifty, dishonest guy.
Here`s an expression, he couldn`t carry his blank strap. I won`t say it, because they`ll say it was so terrible to say. But that guy couldn`t carry his blank strap.
They`ve been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. I`ve been going through this for three years.
Nancy Pelosi hands out subpoenas -- you know, she has to approve it. She hands out subpoenas like they`re cookies. You want a subpoena -- here you go, take them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Cookies, I get it. Shifty, I get it.
But the president`s one-man war room has his Republican allies in Congress itching for a plan to respond if there is one. That`s coming up.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of this exchange? President Zelensky says, we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes, and President Trump replies, I would like you to do us a favor, though?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You just added another word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it`s in the transcript.
MCCARTHY: He said, I`d like you to do a favor, though?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it`s in -- it`s in the White House transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on a bad day, out of his depth, defending President Trump`s call he never paid attention to. Of course, that call being with the Ukrainian president, because in fact, the president did say, though.
But "The New York Times" reports that Trump views himself as his own best defender and is making many Republicans anxious. The White House has no organized response to impeachment, a little guidance for surrogates to spread a consistent message, even if he had developed one, and in minimum coordination between the president`s legal advisers and his political ones. Nobody is -- including McCarthy didn`t know what to say there.
One Republican operative spoke to "Politico" about the alarm among lawmakers, quote, nobody wants to look like McCarthy did on "60 Minutes", I don`t blame him. And right now, they`ll duck and cover until they`re on firmer footing.
For more, I`m joined by this -- from political experts, Michael Steele, former RNC chair. Adrienne Elrod, former senior advisor to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Adrienne, there`s a problem here.
ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: It`s a failure to communicate because they don`t know what to communicate. The president admits he did it, so how do they defend him against what he`s admitting as of today, I tried to get dirt on a political opponent using my powers of the president of the United States.
ELROD: And this is exactly the problem, Chris. Every time he is not satisfied with the way the media is going, instead of relying on his staff and aides to fix the problems, he just takes control of it and makes it worse. We saw this during the campaign. We`re seeing it manifest itself now.
But putting together a war room is 101, right, where you have a surrogate operation, where you have a rapid response operation. President Clinton had it during the impeachment crisis --
MATTHEWS: What do you tell your George Stephanopoulos, you`re Paul Begalas, and your James Carvilles, even if you`ve got the smartest people in the world, you`ve got to give them some hint on what the foundation is of their case?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, you just laid out right there. That`s the 101, and that`s what you get -- you get those smart messengers in the room and they put -- they game it out, Chris. They game it out.
That`s a big problem for a lot of Republicans on the Hill, there`s no one gaming this out. And it`s also sitting back waiting for the president to tweet or doing what he did today on the lawn and everybody with cameras and microphones to get in front of them to react. That`s not gaming out the strategy.
But here`s going to be the real test, when this reaches that pivotal point and it becomes really serious. In other words, full-blown impeachment trial under way, what do you do? How do you -- who do you bring into the room at that moment? Because the president`s going to need legal advice, political advice, legislative advice, and -- but he is the only one who can give it.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Republicans they`re not just dodging questions from the media today. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who`s up for reelection next year, that`s important, a reelection means a lot these days, faced a tough question from a constituent back in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is the line? When are you guys going to say enough and stand up and say you know what I`m not backing any of this?
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): OK, so President Trump if -- I can say yay, nay, whatever, the president is going to say what the president is going to. I don`t care who it is, when it is, corruption is corruption and it should be combated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it`s OK for our president to extort other countries to investigate --
ERNST: OK, we`re going to move onto another question. But what I`ll say is, we can`t determine that yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The great thing about our Constitution is that senators have to represent the entire state.
ELROD: Yes, that`s right.
MATTHEWS: You don`t just put together a cabal of your favorites, well, you write questions you want to answer. Somebody walks and say guess what, I`m a Democrat, I`ve got some questions.
ELROD: Yes, Chris, what we just witnessed there with Senator Ernst, it illustrates why the Trump administration needs a war room on this.
I mean, again, this is common knowledge 101, and I think part of the reason why they`re having difficulty wrapping their heads around how to do this, is a top Republican talent from the operative standpoint, they will not go there and do this. This is career suicide.
It`s career suicide if you go into the administration for a lot of these people, especially on the communications side. It`s also career suicide if you`re putting together the Trump war room defending something so overtly against the Constitution, so overtly violates everything we stand for.
MATTHEWS: I remember Bill Clinton got caught red-handed, you know, thanking that colonel there at ROTC down Arkansas for saving from the draft. Now, that could have been lethal.
MATTHEWS: But those guys get out -- Carville, and the rest, Begala, they came out and they said, he`s a young idealist who opposed the war in Vietnam and he was right, and he was right. And they turned it into not that he was a saint, but they got him out of and he got -- and that was the toughest facing -- it wasn`t the girlfriend or all that, that was the toughest thing, that letter. And they turned it around through clever spin.
STEELE: But that`s -- but that`s the thing. It is that thing that comes to the table that we haven`t seen yet that they`re going to need someone in the room to turn it around and you`re going to have the Jodi Ernst of the world out there with microphones and constituents in front of them asking questions that they can`t answer because no one has figured out how to turn it around.
ELROD: You know it isn`t helping a system.
MATTHEWS: You know how to do this, right? The president of the United States in this case says, OK, held up a military ally, Ukraine, and I wanted some dirt. I said you can get your military assistance if you can give me some of this dirt, though, I want a favor. How do you defend that if you`re really good at this business?
ELROD: I don`t think you can, Chris. I really don`t think you can.
And furthermore, I think if you try to go out there and defend this as a Republican or especially in a swing district or a district that maybe you can win this and the maps get redrawn and maybe that more difficult, I think it`s going to be very hard to go out there. Four, six years from now, this is kind of opposition research that your opponents will use against you, who defended Trump when he was doing the indefensible.
MATTHEWS: The way you do it in politics is you change the question. Of course, I`m guilty, but what side are you on? It`s called the great fog machine. They did it when Trump -- rather, Ronald Reagan lost that first debate to Mondale. The issue is not whether he had a lousy debate, sure, he had a lousy debate. What side are you on?
So you go down to the districts that Trump won, those 31 Democratic congressional people, who represent now thanks to 2018 Trump people.
MATTHEWS: So you go to those people and you say, are you with Trump or are you with the other side? The lefties, the liberals, are you with them? That`s the game I play for Trump. I don`t want to give him ideas, but that`s what I do.
STEELE: But that`s a little bit of what Trump is trying to do. And that`s -- no, I think you`re right. I think that`s a little bit of what Trump has been trying to do when he has these sort of impromptu moments and he has these sort of explosive outbursts that we see in the last 24 hours is to ignite that side of it and sort of push that part of the conversation.
So where do you stand? Are you with me, remember I`m the fighter.
MATTHEWS: I know. It`s what you do. You change the question.
Thank you, Michael Steele, for expertise that I agree with. It`s awful, it`s dishonest but sometimes it works.
Adrienne Elrod, thank you. You didn`t want to do anything dirty.
Up next, time to bring in -- bring back the battle cry of the Watergate days, release -- in this case, release the transcript.
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MATTHEWS: A mystery remains about President Trump`s conditioning of U.S. military aid to Ukraine on his getting dirt from the Ukrainian president on his political enemies. Was there as the president has said a word for word transcript of that conversation? Is there somewhere among the government`s hidden documents a verbatim account of what Trump said and how many times and ways he told the Ukrainian president that if he wants America`s good will, including the weapons he needs to fight the Russians, he better come up with dirt on Joe Biden.
Trump says a word for word transcript exists and he released a pair of good reasons to believe just that. A memo of the conversation I said released only has a third of the time of the reported 30-minute conversation with President Zelensky. There are also ellipses in the memo that indicate that patches had been removed.
And clear there is a mystery as to whether we`re getting a full record of Trump`s dealings with the Ukrainian leader on that July 25th phone call. Until those questions are answered and the mystery is resolved, I`m inclined to paraphrase the battle cry of the Watergate days: release the transcript.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
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