(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): -- Energy and Commerce under Chairman Frank Pallone will be marking up HR 3. And Mr. Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Neal will -- Chairman Neal will be having a hearing on the Hill this week and marking it up next week.
So we`re really going down the path of passing legislation that will be transformative in the lives of the American people for what it will save them, what it will save the taxpayers as well. It might be interesting, do you know, that in the course of this past week or so, the Congressional Budget Office reported that HR 3 will save taxpayers $345 billion on the Medicaid Part D piece alone and that it will -- and the Office of the Actuary reported that drug negotiations and Medicare inflation rebates will save households $158 billion and private businesses $48 billion from between 2020 and 2029.
So we`re very, very proud of the savings that it will be for people in their individual lives for businesses and for the taxpayer.
It`s how we spend that money. Some of it will be used for reinvesting and to benefits, making Medicare a more substantial benefit, and it will be for innovation and research at the National Institutes of Health. Some will be for, as I said, more benefits, whether it`s dental, visual, hearing whatever with Medicare. I mentioned that but there are other considerations as well.
The committees, as they markup the bill, will make those proposals. The amendment process on the floor will take us to another point and whether there are other ways we may want to invest some of that money for the benefit of America`s working families and for innovation and research.
Earlier today, some of you were with us when we had the announcement of Chairman Bobby Scott`s college Affordability Act, a strong legislation to make higher education more affordable, expanding opportunity, improving access to quality education.
This week, as all through the break and continuing this week, we`ve been working on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. We hope to be on a path to yes. We`re still waiting for assurances about enforceability in it because you can have all the good provisions in the world, but if you can`t enforce them, you`re just having a conversation.
And so some of the things, concerns we have about the U.S.-China relationship, are they really going to honor any commitment that they make? Buying foreign products is good but what about the other considerations that hurt America`s manufacturing base and the rest? So we will see what that is. It seems to me it was a small bill.
In terms of guns, again, as I said to some of you earlier, this is a bullet. I was in Florida -- I was all over the country, but when I was in Florida, I received this from Frederica Wilson, my colleague. The bracelets are made with bullets in the color orange which is the color of gun violence protection. I told the president we`re not going away until we get this background check bill passed. But it is just among the other for-the-people agenda legislation that we have.
So legislate, investigate, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Chairman will be here shortly. He`ll report on some of that. I just want to say how proud I am of him and the members of the Intelligence Committee for being here over the break for the valuable legislation -- investigations that they have done, and, again, you`ll hear from him momentarily.
In terms of litigation, we have been very successful in the courts last Friday. We won five decisions in our favor in terms of Congress` authority under the Constitution. And today, another decision came down in our favor in relationship to emoluments. You probably had that information on your phones, but, again, another recognition that our founders had very deep suspicion about foreigners interfering in our government, and, again, in our elections. And the emoluments clause is put there specifically for that purpose, to protect us from any influence of foreign governments.
So the fact we would be here in an inquiry that relates to the president asking a foreign government to help the president and his re-election by granting or withholding in the timing of military assistance that had been voted on by the Congress is just -- has so many violations in it. It undermines our national security. We were sending that military assistance. And because of Ukraine needing that vis-a-vis, Russia, all roads seem to lead to Putin with the president though is in it so (ph).
And then when we talk about undermining the integrity of our elections, that`s wrong. And when you`re talking about violating the president`s oath of office to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution of the United States to the best of his ability, that`s the presidential -- to the best of his ability. We`ll go with that.
And in any event the rulings were that we won last week where three of them were against the president`s hateful public charge rule from taking effect, a ruling against the president`s sham national emergency declaration to build his wasteful border wall, a ruling in Mazars` case, which was led by Chairman Cummings of Oversight Committee that reaffirms Congress` authority and responsibility to conduct oversight and consider legislation on behalf of the American people. And the court ruled the following in that case.
Contrary to the president`s arguments, the committee possesses authority under both the House rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena and the majors, and majors must comply.
So, again, five victories on Friday, one today in terms of the emoluments, but that just happened.
We just had a meeting with our caucus to be brought up-to-date on where we are on our legislative agenda. As I mentioned, we`re legislating, we`re litigating, we`re investigating and leading that for us as our very distinguished Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Schiff, who`s just completed voting will join us here. Speaker doesn`t vote unless it`s a tie. So (INAUDIBLE).
Unless you have any questions about our legislative agenda.
REPORTER: Can you address the Turkish sanctions bill?
PELOSI: Which one?
REPORTER: You spoke with Senator Graham about a Turkish sanctions bill to the Syrian invasion (INAUDIBLE).
PELOSI: We spoke about some sanctions bills and also about having legislation, a joint resolution, House, Senate, bipartisan to oppose the president`s decision about Syria.
Hopefully, we will take some of that up this week and Mr. Elliot Engel is leading the way for us under the Foreign Affairs Committee. I`m hopeful that -- and I think Senator Graham kind of fell back a little bit. I don`t know. His language got a little weaker. I don`t know what happened with the White House. But, hopefully, he`s still where he was in the conversation that we had, is that we would have a bipartisan bill to impose the president`s decision, a terribly dangerous decision, and that we would have legislation with strong sanctions in it against Turkey.
The president gave the green light to Turkey to go in and commit this humanitarian disaster under the Kurds, making is an untrustworthy ally and then had a wet noodle for his sanctions, which just were not up to the task. So that`s where we are.
Excuse me, Mr. Chair?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I wanted to give you a brief update on the investigation.
In the last couple of weeks, I think we have made dramatic progress in answering some of the questions surrounding that July telephone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, in which the president of the United States sought to coerce a vulnerable ally into conducting, I think, what can best be described as sham investigations involving his opponent and involving a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
We have learned that call was not in isolation. There was a great deal of preparatory work that was done before the call. There was a lot of follow- up work that was done after the call.
And we have learned much of this thanks to the courageous testimony of State Department officials who have been put in an impossible situation by the administration, and that is urged not to comply with the law, urged not to comply with a lawful subpoena by the U.S. Congress.
And they are doing their duty, and people should make no mistake about that. They are doing exactly what they are required to do, and I think showing enormous courage.
And I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to public servants like Ambassador Yovanovitch, who had to endure so many false smears on her character and has continued to show the courage to come forward and speak to our committees.
And we are also learning a great deal on the issue of conditionality. That is the effort to condition a White House meeting that was desperately sought by the Ukraine president in order to get a commitment from that president to do these political investigations on behalf of the president of the United States. So we`re learning a lot about the conditionality of that meeting.
And I want to underscore just how important that meeting was for Ukraine. It is, I think, at the very top ask of most countries to have a meeting with the president of the United States, but this is most particularly true for a country that has been invaded by its neighbor, Russia. That is in the midst of still a very hot conflict that is dependent on us economically, politically, diplomatically, militarily to show that the new president had a good relationship with the president of the United States. And so that gave enormous leverage to President Trump to coerce what he wanted from the president of Ukraine.
And what is so damaging about this is, at the very time, the State Department is trying to urge Ukraine to follow the rule of law, you have the president of the United States urging that president to engage in political investigations. You could not have a message more contradictory to that of the State Department than that what we saw in that call.
So we`ve been bringing you witnesses --
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: OK. That is the scene there on Capitol Hill. We`ve been listening in. We`ll continue to keep an eye on that.
That`s Adam Schiff there, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He`s providing an update. Obviously, more hearings today, closed door hearings today involving that committee. It`s a Ukraine investigation.
Before Schiff, you heard from the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Again, she says, Democrats, in her words, legislating, investigating and litigating. So an update there, this after a Democratic caucus meeting that preceded that press conference that is now ongoing on Capitol Hill.
Again, we`ll keep an eye on it if any other news develops from it. We will be sure to let you know.
Good evening though for now. I`m Steve Kornacki. I am in for Chris Matthews.
And there is new testimony to tell you about today speaking of that Intelligence Committee. It paints a picture of alarm inside the Trump administration as the president`s emissaries pursued what is being called a shadow foreign policy.
NBC News reports that, quote, former National Security Adviser John Bolton was so disturbed by the efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate President Trump`s political opponents that he called it a drug deal. That is according to a person in the room yesterday for Fiona Hill`s testimony, the president`s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, who was deposed behind closed doors.
Perhaps more alarming, NBC reports that, quote, Hill told lawmakers she considered what was happening to be a clear counterintelligence risk to the United States. Hill was among four witnesses so far to shed light on Rudy Giuliani`s efforts on behalf of the president to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that would benefit Trump politically. That is something Hill called a shadow policy, she said, because it skirted protocols.
The New York Times also reports that Bolton didn`t just liken that effort to an illicit drug deal, he also described Giuliani as a hand grenade who was going to blow everybody up, again, this according to Hill`s testimony. Bolton was reportedly so concerned last July that he told Hill to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about the rogue effort, an effort that Hill said also involved acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland.
Meanwhile, lawmakers today deposed George Kent. He is the deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy. He defied orders from the State Department, which they urged him not to testify today. Like other officials, Kent also sounded the alarm over the disinformation from Ukraine that Trump`s allies were embracing.
Internal emails turned over to Congress show that Kent pushed back against those allegations, which he referred to as, quote, a fake news-driven smear out of Ukraine and complete poppycock among other things.
Meanwhile, upon returning from their recess, the House Democratic Caucus met tonight, we were just telling you this, about their next steps in the unfolding impeachment inquiry.
And I`m now joined by Congressman Eric Swalwell from California, he is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, and Elise Jordan, a former Bush administration aid in the White House and the State Department.
Thanks to all of you for joining with us.
Congressman, let me just start with you because we began this hour with that press conference. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the chairman of your committee, Adam Schiff, looking into these -- the questions here involving Ukraine, there was some reporting and some speculation this afternoon that this press conference might be called to announce that Democrats had to decided to hold a vote on the House floor to formally open an impeachment inquiry.
Nancy Pelosi had said it at a press conference a few weeks ago. Democrats were now engaged in an impeachment. Republicans, the White House certainly have been saying, there needs to be, in their view, an official vote on the House floor for that.
I take it based on what we`re not hearing in those first ten or so minutes. That is not the plan. There is not going to be at least for now a vote to authorize an inquiry, is that correct?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good evening, Steve. We believe we are in a formal impeachment inquiry. And in the history of investigations, no investigator has ever allowed a suspect to dictate the terms and direction and timeline of an investigation. We`re not going to let Donald Trump do that. So we`re going to continue to proceed.
In the last three weeks, we`ve heard from a number of witnesses. The timeline is becoming clearer and who was in the shadow steam loop and who was outside the loop is also coming more into focus.
KORNACKI: The reporting from Politico though just on this, the idea of having a vote to open an inquiry is that House Democratic leadership, particularly James Clyburn`s office, was reaching out to your Democratic colleagues about this, the possibility in this reporting here that Democrats would reassess this in the future. Is it possible there still might be a vote?
SWALWELL: I don`t want to speak for the speaker. I can just tell you we are doing an impeachment investigation, hearing from witnesses, subpoenaing documents. We have the crime of extortion, bribery, soliciting campaign help from a foreign government, you have a confession from the president and you have a cover-up. We have two feet and three lanes, essentially.
We are legislating on prescription drugs and healthcare and guns, we`re investigating on this inquiry and we`re going to the courts on a number of issues of lawlessness that this administration has engaged in.
KORNACKI: Let`s get into some of these hearings and some that has come to light from it.
Peter Baker, you had that reporting last night about this testimony behind closed doors, this testimony from Fiona Hill yesterday. And your reporting brings directly into the mix the name John Bolton. Explain that connection.
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right, of course. John Bolton had served as the national security adviser until last month. He left in a rift with President Trump over a number of issues, including Afghanistan, Russia, North Korea, Iran.
But we learned from Fiona Hill`s testimony he was quite agitated about Rudy Giuliani`s outside the system pressure campaign on Ukraine, that Giuliani was not a government official and yet he was meeting with Ukrainian officials and playing a role in the discussion about whether or not the president of the United States would meet with the president of Ukraine, what conditions there might be, whether or not Ukraine would conduct investigations that would be politically beneficial to the president.
And John Bolton had this meeting on July 10th along with a couple of Ukrainian officials who were visiting Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., and the discussed this. And he was clearly consummated. He told Fiona Hill to go follow the group when they went down to the war room of the White House to continue the discussion. And when she came back up and related what was going on, he told her to go to the White House lawyer to report it because he wasn`t going to be part of any drug deal, he put it metaphorically, that Gordon Sondland and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, who were involved with (ph).
KORNACKI: Given, Congressman, just that John Bolton`s name now has come in so prominently (ph), is he somebody your committee plans to call? Would you like to hear from him?
SWALWELL: Well, I`ll leave that to the chairman. But he was the national security adviser when all of this went down. Again, we`re going to try to have a fair process, hear from relevant witnesses, not drag this out too much. When you have a suspect who has confessed to the act, you don`t have to call in a thousand witnesses.
So we`re going to try and really give the president a fair process but not go endlessly on this. And if they`re not going to cooperate, we`ll put that in a bucket of obstruction of Congress as an article of impeachment to consider.
KORNACKI: Again, we mentioned today, your committee heard from George Kent, a deputy security of state for Ukraine policy. I just -- I want to read this to you. This is CNN, your colleague, I should say, Gerry Connolly has just told CNN this, that George Kent, testifying before this committee today, told lawmakers that he was told by his supervisor to lay low after he raised complaints about Rudy Giuliani`s efforts in Ukraine, undermining U.S. foreign policy. Is that what you heard?
SWALWELL: Well, I`m not going to characterize testimony until we are done. But what I will say is nothing has contradicted what the underlying act is, what the president has confessed to and the fact there is an active cover- up right now, as we speak, by the administration to prevent us from understanding what the shakedown scheme exactly is.
KORNACKI: Elise, the fact of George Kent`s testimony today, Deputy Secretary of State for Ukraine Policy, told by the State Department, don`t show up, he showed up. Sondland, last week, was saying he wasn`t going to cooperate. Now, he says he is. Yovanitch against the State Department, saying, don`t go, she does. How significant is that and how hard is it for somebody in that position to do that?
ELISE JORDAN, FORMER AIDE TO GEORGE BUSH WHITE HOUSE AND STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, everyone still likes to keep their paycheck. You don`t want to defy the institution that is floating your lifestyle.
But I would point out that we have yet another person coming tomorrow that I`m quite interested to hear what he has to say, Ambassador Michael McKinley, the former ambassador to Brazil and a senior Foreign Service officer and counselor to Mike Pompeo, who recently resigned.
So, every day, we are getting more information that backs up the original whistle-blower complaint. I think that we`re at about three weeks now since that. It feels like a lifetime, but I think it`s probably about three weeks.
And with each testimony and more individuals coming forward, it further reinforces and adds more disturbing details to the original complaint and the reason that Donald Trump is in so much trouble right now.
KORNACKI: And, Peter, looking ahead as well to Thursday and to Gordon Sondland appearing, his name came up, your reporting, in Fiona Hill`s testimony yesterday.
She had a run-in with him.
BAKER: Yes, it`s really interesting.
Now, this guy was a donor to Trump`s inauguration. He had not been a Trump supporter during the Republican primaries, but came around, a hotelier from out West. And he got the ambassadorship to the European Union as kind of a reward, as many political donors do in many administrations.
But he has inserted himself into policy that goes beyond the European Union. Ukraine is not a member of the European Union. And yet he was sort of -- inserted himself into that.
And he had had this conversation with Fiona Hill at one point in that wardroom in the White House. And she said, basically, what are you doing? He says that, well, I`m in charge of Ukraine policy.
And she recalled that that sounded a lot like Al Haig after the Reagan assassination attempt declaring that he was in charge. And she asked him, according to who? And he responded, according to the president of the United States.
So he was acting, he said, anyway, at the president`s behest to sort of take charge in a way of Ukraine policy, even though there had been career staff people, Marie Yovanovitch and then later Bill Taylor, in Kiev, basically bypassed people like Fiona Hill basically bypassed, John Bolton basically bypassed.
And so when we see Gordon Sondland go in on Thursday, we won`t actually get to see it from the outside, but, obviously, the people who are doing the questioning will have a lot of questions about why he did that, how he did that, and what he talked about with the president about that.
KORNACKI: Yes, a lot of anticipation for that one.
By the way, I mentioned that press conference still ongoing there. We can tell you this as well.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, did just say at that press conference wrapping up, as you see on your screen there, she did just say before leaving there will not be a House vote on authorizing the impeachment inquiry.
Remember, she said a few weeks ago Democrats are now in an impeachment inquiry. Republicans have been pushing for her to take that to the floor and have an official vote. She just said no vote.
All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you for joining us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
KORNACKI: Peter Baker, Elise Jordan, again, thank you all for rolling with us during this breaking news.
And coming up: the Rudy Giuliani hand grenade. In her testimony in the impeachment inquiry, Fiona Hill quoted John Bolton warning that Giuliani would, figuratively speaking, blow everyone up.
And now Giuliani is saying he will not comply with any subpoenas. So, what happens next?
Plus, the Iowa caucuses less than four months away, a lot at stake in tonight`s Democratic presidential debate.
We`re going to head out to the site of those festivities, Westerville, Ohio. We`re going to hear from both the Biden and Sanders camps. Big night for both of them.
We have got much more to get to. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump`s attorney Rudy Giuliani, who John Bolton reportedly called a hand grenade who`s going to blow everybody up, is in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors for his dealings with Ukraine.
Tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that federal prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed former Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions in their investigation into Giuliani.
The subpoena -- quote -- "seeks documents related to Mr. Giuliani`s business dealings with Ukraine and his involvement in efforts to oust the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, as well as any interactions between Mr. Sessions, Mr. Giuliani, and four of Mr. Giuliani`s associates who were indicted last week on campaign finance and conspiracy counts. Mr. Giuliani is the primary focus of the subpoena."
The indictment of two of Giuliani`s associates last week, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, alleged that they engaged in a lobbying effort to get Sessions` assistance in ousting the former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
Sessions says he is cooperating with prosecutors.
Meanwhile, Giuliani escalated his battle with House Democrats today, refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena.
I`m joined now by Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
Rudy Giuliani says, not going to cooperate with any subpoenas from your committee or from the House of Representatives that come his way. What do you do next?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Well, look, it`s no surprise. The White House hasn`t cooperated with any aspect of this investigation for over three years.
What we do is, we move forward. Tomorrow, there will be another deposition, and the one the next day. And the committee will make a decision as to who to bring forward, who to subpoena.
If they don`t respond, we will take it prudently on a case-by-case basis, on a decision whether to go to court. In the end, I do believe that the courts will recognize, not just on this subpoena, but on all the others, the urgency of this and the national security implications.
And they will act accordingly and give Congress its constitutional right of oversight.
KORNACKI: I mean, just when you look at how central Giuliani is to all of the reporting that`s out there, including that testimony yesterday from Fiona Hill, apparently, how important is it ultimately for you to be able to have access to him through either documents or through a personal appearance?
QUIGLEY: Look, on one hand, I think there`s an extraordinary case the president committed a crime, high crimes and misdemeanors, in the public record.
We have the texts. We have the transcript. We have the whistle-blower`s complaint. But any other additional evidence will be helpful.
Rudy combines it all, though. You`re right. First of all, it`s shadow government and bad foreign policy, a man with little or no expertise, no security clearance working in the shadows and moving forward with national policy.
What role is he playing? A personal attorney for the president operating under the State Department? This leads to extraordinary mistakes, one that we`re witnessing in plain view.
KORNACKI: Again, this new reporting tonight from "The Wall Street Journal" about federal prosecutors issuing a subpoena to your former colleague Pete Sessions, but saying that the focus of that subpoena is Giuliani.
Is the attention from federal prosecutors that reportedly is now there when it comes to Giuliani, is that going to complicate your work at all?
QUIGLEY: Look, we have dealt with this from day one. Obviously, there were a number of indictments. Three of the people closest to President Trump were indicted and went to jail.
So, our goal is not to interfere with lawful prosecutions, but to make sure that they aren`t impaired. So, we have worked well with the Mueller investigation and prosecutors before. It will be our intention to do so as we go forward.
KORNACKI: And, finally, again, the House speaker there announcing just a few minutes ago that there will be no vote in the House floor to formally open an impeachment inquiry.
Republicans have been saying this is something they think you should do. I believe Mike Pence, his lawyer said today one of his reasons for not complying, he says, is, you haven`t had this vote.
Do you think there is a case for holding the vote?
QUIGLEY: Look, again, the White House hasn`t cooperated. And they have always used any other excuse that was in front of them.
I fully believe that, if the House had voted on this, they still wouldn`t comply. And I believe they`re being less than honest with the American public.
Obviously, it`s not in the Constitution. It`s not in law. It`s not in the House rules that we go forward this way. I will leave it up to leadership in the House to decide what`s best.
But the bottom line, we`re going forward with this investigation regardless of their actions and their attempts to obstruct us.
KORNACKI: Congressman Mike Quigley, thank you for joining us.
QUIGLEY: Any time. Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right.
And still ahead, Republican Senator Rand Paul is going to join me. We`re going to get his thoughts on shadow diplomacy in Ukraine.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
During the 2016 campaign, Republican Senator Rand Paul and Donald Trump were bitter adversaries. Today, though, they have become allies.
Amid the bipartisan concern over President Trump`s troop withdrawal in Syria, Senator Paul has been one of his most vocal defenders. And ahead of the 2020 election, Senator Paul is also making -- quote -- "The Case Against Socialism."
That is the title of his new book. It is out today.
And Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky joins me now.
Senator, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Yes, thanks for having me.
KORNACKI: Let`s start just on your book here. And this is interesting. You`re making the case against socialism. Some interesting polling on this subject out in just the last couple of months.
A University of Chicago Generation Forward poll of 18-to-34-year-olds, the youngest voters out there, they found that 61 percent of millennial Democrats -- quote -- "expressed face liberal views towards socialism"; 32 percent of independent millennials say the same; 25 percent, one out of four, Republican millennials share the same view.
Are you surprised those numbers are so high? And why are they that high?
PAUL: You know, I think surprise is one word. From my perspective, alarmed is an even better word.
You know, we worry about socialism from my perspective. What happened in the last century? Probably, the number one association of genocide and famine came with socialism. So, from our perspective, we`re quite worried about it.
The only consolation we have is, there`s also some additional polling that asked, what do you think socialism is? So, 50, 60 percent of these young kids may have a favorable perception of it, but when you ask them what it is, only about 16 percent of them will tell you the state ownership of the means of production, which is the traditional definition of socialism.
So I guess my hope is that maybe there`s some confusion, and that it`ll get worked out over time.
But my wife and I were alarmed enough by it that we wrote this book, because we wanted to extend the association between socialism and violence, and also talk about the modern examples that people put forward, such as Scandinavia and Venezuela, and talk about whether or not that`s the kind of socialism we ought to try also.
KORNACKI: I mentioned you are one of the president`s -- you may be the president`s most vocal defender when it comes to this decision on Syria.
I want to show this to you. Yesterday, "The New York Times" reported that American commandos working with Kurdish forces were telling them they were troubled by the president`s decision.
One Army officer, when discussing the Kurds, told "The New York Times" this. He said: "They trusted us, and we broke that trust. The withdrawal is a stain on the American conscience."
I`m curious. I want to ask you about it from that standpoint, because I know you have a broader disagreement with what the United States` policy has been in Syria and in the Middle East.
But, specifically, when it came to the idea of protecting the Kurds, who had fought with the United States in stamping out ISIS, was there something owed that was more than what they got here?
PAUL: Well, what you mentioned was a soldier`s perspective, one of our soldiers.
And I think, when you ask our soldiers, they are kind of like our country, split. But there have been a lot of polls showing that over 60 percent of our veterans now believe the Iraq War was a mistake.
There used to be many people on the left who believed that also, that the Iraq War was a mistake. In fact, I think President Obama was elected because he believed it was a mistake, and had voted against it, and Hillary Clinton -- Hillary Clinton voted for it.
But now the left, I think, in their hatred for Trump, can`t see that getting out of a war is a good thing. I think the Syrian war is more of a quagmire -- quagmire and more messy than even the Iraq War was.
So I wish we`d have more of a right-left coalition coming together once again -- again to say that our interventions in the Middle East have backfired.
And so, yes, I think that we should discuss it in Congress, decide whether it`s in our national interests. But I don`t -- I don`t see a national interest there. I see a huge mess with a lot of people fighting on both sides, and none of them really necessarily that admirable.
KORNACKI: I do want to ask you about the subject we led the show with, the subject that I think everybody`s talking about these days.
That is that impeachment inquiry into President Trump involving that phone call and the policy toward Ukraine more broadly.
The basic question here that I have seen you asked before -- I don`t know if I have seen a clear answer from you, so I will just ask you again. Do you think it is proper, do you think it`s appropriate for a president of the United States to be talking to a foreign leader about investigating his political opponent?
PAUL: You know, we have been asked that question -- you`re right -- several times.
I think it`s interesting that, when you look at both sides, Republican or Democrat, the only thing that`s consistent about this whole debate is that both sides have threatened Ukraine`s aid, or at least been accused of threatening their aid.
Joe Biden bragged about threatening to cut off their aid. Menendez and two other senators sent a letter to them saying, hey, if you don`t keep investigating Trump in the Mueller investigation, we might cut off your aid.
And just a month ago, Senator Murphy was there saying, if you do investigate Hunter Biden, we may vote against your aid.
So if the president did threaten their aid, which I think, in the phone call, he didn`t, but even if he did threaten their aid, it sounds like he`s joining good company and that it`s been bipartisan.
Now, if you ask me about the aid, I say forget about it, you know? I mean, look, we`re borrowing the money from China. We don`t have any money. We`re a trillion dollars in the hole. We can`t take care of our own needs. Why in the world would we be borrowing money from China to send it anywhere on the planet?
KORNACKI: There`s a couple of things there. You raised a number of different examples. You talked about that letter from other senators. What they`ve said and I`ve -- there was a conservative columnist I saw on "The Washington Examiner" who made this point, too, who said, when the senators were writing that letter, they were asking Ukraine to cooperate with an investigation, a United States investigation, the Mueller investigation, as opposed to asking Ukraine to launch its own investigation.
But, again, I`m just curious. The president of the United States -- but the president of the United States, we can talk about all the other things, but the president of the United States, is it right for the president of the United States to ask foreign leaders about investigating --
PAUL: See, that thing is --
KORNACKI: -- that country investigating his opponent?
PAUL: Steve, in order to answer that question we have to ask the same question to the Democrats. So the Democrats said let`s continue this Mueller investigation. Do you think anybody in this country thinks that was politically motivated and that there was something going on that was partisan? Most people in my party think it was a partisan thing, the whole, you know, the whole going after Trump --
KORNACKI: So, but why is he --
PAUL: -- was basically elevated, it was elevated and begun really by the intelligence community under president Obama. Many of these people have come out and now are fierce haters of the president -- Clapper, Comey, Brennan. So they`ve shown they`re real partisans. They kind of got this started.
So when we see Democrat senators going and sending a letter to Ukraine saying, you`ve got to continue to investigate Trump, I think it`s exactly the same. I think it`s exactly the same thing you`re accusing the president of.
So let it fall where it may. But I think part of when we try to be objective is we should treat both sides the same.
KORNACKI: In the abstract, though, is it OK? Do you want to live in a country where the president of the United States feels it`s perfectly fine to call up a foreign leader and talk about investigating his or her, could be a Democratic president in the future, could be a President Elizabeth Warren in two years calling up and saying, hey, would you take a look at this? Is that appropriate?
PAUL: Well, as you know I`ve been opposed to sending aid we don`t have. But if we`re going to send aid, should it be contingent on behavior? Absolutely. Whether it`s arms or aide, if Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries on the planet, which they are, they were corrupt under Russian influence, they`ve been corrupt under Ukrainian influence -- should we ask for them to, you know, try to eliminate or investigate corruption, sure. That`s making aid contingent on behavior.
In fact, I don`t think we do enough of contingencies to say that aid should be based on behavior. The same with arms. I`ve opposed selling arms to Saudi Arabia and Turkey because if they`re not going to act like true allies, they shouldn`t get our arms.
KORNACKI: All right. Senator Rand Paul, thank you for taking a few minutes. Appreciate it.
PAUL: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. And up next, the moment of truth from many Democratic candidates. They have their big debate in Ohio tonight. We`re going to go live out there for a preview.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY ROBACH, ABC NEWS HOST: I think people are thinking, how could that not have crossed your mind? Or you wouldn`t have felt just a little bit in your gut, like, maybe this is not a good idea to go and sit on the board of this Ukrainian company --
HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF JOE BIDEN: Well, I just said to you. I said to you, in retrospect, I wish that my judgment --
ROBACH: Right, but at the time, you never -- it never -- you never thought this might not look right.
BIDEN: You know what? I`m a human. And you know what? Did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yes. But did I make a mistake based upon some unethical lapse? Absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was former Vice President Joe Biden`s son Hunter giving his first interview since he and his father became the target of attacks from President Trump and his allies.
The interview comes as the former vice president and 11 other Democratic hopefuls prepare for their debate in Ohio. Just a few minutes from now, Biden will be at the center the stage, right next to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She is now leading Biden by a small margin in some recent national polls.
Joining me now is Symone Sanders, a senior advisor to the Biden campaign outside that debate venue there in Westerville, Ohio.
Symone, thank you for joining us.
Well, let me ask you about the interview we just played a clip of there, Hunter Biden earlier today. What do you say to someone who looks at this situation and says, look, Trump`s going too far, Trump`s going way too far with what he`s saying but a situation where you have a vice president of the United States when Joe Biden was vice president who`s deputized to do Ukraine policy, the point man on Ukraine, and then you`ve got his son getting a cushy job on a Ukrainian energy board, that looks like the kind of swampiness that drives people crazy.
What do you say to people who say that is a problem?
SYMONE SANDERS, BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, thanks for having me, Steve.
What we`ll say to folks is, look, frankly, Hunter Biden didn`t do anything wrong. And MSNBC, NBC and all other credible media outlets said there`s no "there" there, that these lies, frankly, not just allegations, but lies, coming from Donald Trump, the administration and his campaign not to mention Rudy Giuliani.
But what we`ll also say is this, the Obama` Biden administration had extremely high ethical standards. And in that administration, Joe Biden, yes, was deputized to go out there and speak on behalf of the entire Western world and the United States government as it related to Ukraine. And he did his job, and he did his job honorably.
And it was -- I mean, look, the United States government, the IMF, the EU, reformers in Ukraine, everyone wanted this prosecutor out. So, there`s no "there" there to these allegations. And these are just smears, frankly.
And folks can rest assured, and I`m sure Vice President Biden will speak to this tonight, that in a Biden White House, unlike Donald Trump`s White House, Vice President Biden`s children will not have offices in the West Wing. His children will not sit in on cabinet meetings as though they`re high ranking government officials and they won`t have any foreign business dealings.
And that`s way more than we can say for Donald Trump.
KORNACKI: Again, that debate just a few minutes away, not far from where you are. There`s a report last week that Biden had a fund-raiser, told some folks he needed to be more aggressive in his words and this debate tonight, that he was having some difficulties knowing when to counter attack.
Are we going to see any kind of a -- a different presentation from him tonight?
SANDERS: Oh, I think Vice President Biden also said at that fund-raiser which is open to the press, that he`s a big boy and he knows he can take -- he knows what he has to do on that debate stage.
I think what you`ll see Vice President Biden do tonight is speak very forcefully hopefully about health care, but also about the foreign policy crisis that is currently befalling us. We`ll talk about Syria, hopefully. We`ll also, I mean, talk about Ukraine. We`ll talk about the abuse of power.
Uniquely, Steve, Vice President Biden has articulated that his case, very poignantly from the beginning of his campaign, and that Donald Trump is a threat, he is abusing his power and we have to restore the soul of this nation. And that`s what you can expect to hear from him tonight.
There`ll be 12 people on that debate stage, so everyone won`t get as much time, but we are prepared to go out there, Vice President Biden is prepared to go out there and make his case directly to the American people and he`s looking forward to it.
KORNACKI: You mentioned his case against Donald Trump. He`s been running on this idea that he`s uniquely suited to defeat Donald Trump. He`s talked about the idea -- he said, I think his word is, the country can`t survive eight years of Trump, can`t survive four more years of Trump. So, he`s positioning himself as an answer to that.
At the same time, yesterday, we were shown a brand new poll, Quinnipiac, that put Elizabeth Warren a couple of points ahead. I know there have been polls all over the place, but I think clearly, the totality of the polls, it`s a very close race, Biden and Warren right now.
What do you make of the success she`s had in the last few months?
SANDERS: Well, Steve, we`ve always said that this was going to be a fight. I don`t think people believe us. But from the beginning, we have said this will be a fight and we think this nominating process will go well into Super Tuesday and perhaps beyond.
And so, we`re ready. Polls are going to go up and down. But what is undeniable is what we`re feeling and seeing on the ground from folks.
And what`s also undeniable is that, look, people -- folks -- Democratic voters across the board are united in the fact they would like to beat Donald Trump. And they know that on day one, they`re going to need the next president who we believe will be a Democrat -- who I believe will be Joe Biden. The next president will have to be able to walk into the Oval Office on day one and get things done.
There`s stuff we have to do in terms of foreign policy. There`s things we need to do when it comes to health care. And Vice President Biden is uniquely situated to do that.
And the last thing I note is that you need a broad coalition to win this nominating process but also to beat Donald Trump in a general election, and we are the best position to build that coalition.
KORNACKI: All right. Symone Sanders from the Biden campaign, thanks for taking a few minutes.
SANDERS: Thank you so much.
KORNACKI: And up next, how Bernie Sanders is getting ready for tonight`s debate, this his first public event since his heart attack.
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KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, tonight is going to be his first public event since he suffered a heart attack two weeks ago.
And joining me now is Nina Turner, the national co-chair of the Sanders campaign from Westerville, where this debate will begin momentarily. Nina, thank you for joining us a few minutes before.
And look, this is his first major public event since he had a heart attack. Is there extra pressure tonight to just reassure voters that the oldest candidate in the field is up to this?
NINA TURNER, BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT NATIONAL CO-CHAIR: Well, yes. All along said, you know, he`s been doing interviews, you know, up until this moment, letting the American people know he`s doing just fine. And the senator has such integrity that if he could not be doing this, he would not be doing it. But he is feeling fine, getting stronger every single day.
And so, people will see the Senator Bernard Sanders that we have all come to know and love on that stage tonight.
KORNACKI: We were mentioning. We talked to somebody from the Biden campaign just a few minutes, asking them about the rise of Elizabeth Warren in the polls.
What about from Bernie Sanders standpoint? There`s a lot of folks who say very similar messages, very similar perhaps coalitions in some ways. I know they`re not entirely the same.
But how concerned are you about the rise of Elizabeth Warren?
TURNER: I mean, they`re not the same, Steve. And you know the senator is running against or I should say the other candidates are really running against him. He`s the only candidate on that stage to have the courage to stand up in 2016 and run against a corrupt system. And he`s the only candidate consistently from 2016 to this very point been polling as the person to be able to beat President Donald Trump.
So, it`s not just about one senator on that stage but all the other candidates on that stage frankly, Steve, the platform which Democrats are running on give or take, they`re running according -- they`re running on the gospel according to Senator Bernard Sanders.
KORNACKI: I did say he was asked, Bernie Sanders was the other day, in an interview with ABC, he was asked about distinguishing himself from Elizabeth Warren, just given again the messages in some cases being similar there. One thing that he said was -- I`m going to get the words exactly right here. He said: I think as you know she`s said she is a capitalist through her bones. I`m not.
Explain that distinction he`s trying to draw there.
TURNER: Well, Steve, you know the senator believes taking on this corrupt system that has left far too many millions of Americans behind. He`s talking about a system that allows corporations and the ultra wealthy in this nation to have it all, meanwhile back at the ranch, living so many people behind. He is talking about being unabashedly, unflinchingly going against a system that does not respond to the needs of the 99 or rather only responds to the needs of the 1 percent, and he will not capitulate on that, Steve.
When we talk about the polls, yes, they rise and yes, they fall. But we know that Senator Bernie Sanders has made history and being presidential history in terms of the 3.3 million donations that he has received. So, if we want to measure and in terms of a revolution, you know he really believes in building a true revolution that he has been building since his last run in 2016, so that people power is real, and that is the power that is going to catapult Senator Sanders through this primary into the general election.
KORNACKI: When I saw that answer from him in that interview, though, I did wonder, is the message there, if you think of yourself as a capitalist, if you believe in capitalism, Sanders campaign is not for you?
TURNER: Steve, the message is the same in many ways the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave, when he talked about democratic socialism. What does it mean for the government to respond to the needs of the people? So, he was quoting what Senator Warren said about herself.
But ultimately, his run is about creating a system that responds to the majority of the people in this nation and not just to the wealthy interests. That is what he`s running for -- for the people.
KORNACKI: All right. Nina Turner with the Sanders campaign, where that debate is going to begin moments from now. Thank you for taking a few minutes. Appreciate that.
And stay with MSNBC tonight for our expert post-debate analysis of the fourth Democratic debate with Brian Williams, Nicolle Wallace, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid. I`ll even be over there at the big board.
That is HARDBALL for now.
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