Impeachment vote TRANSCRIPT: 10/21/2019, Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Eric Swalwell, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Glenn Kirschner, Michael Crowley, David Shulkin, Chrissy Houlahan, Susan Page

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 21, 2019

  AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST:  All right.  But today, a judge ruled that jurors will not get to see the movie clip.  They`ll have to settle for transcript.

That does it for me.  Ari is back tomorrow.  And catch weekdays at 5:00 A.M. Eastern on "Morning Joe First Look."  HARDBALL is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Inevitable.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.

The first I want to say is that it`s good to be back.  All the notes and messages I have received over the past two weeks overwhelmed me, from my colleagues here at MSNBC, from the HARDBALL producers and you, the viewers, the political figures from left to the reasonable right.  I want to say to each message of caring matters, and long ago, I came to believe that heartfelt prayer matters, more to say about that when I`m through at the end of the show.

But first, the news, there`s been a turning during the last two weeks that`s now inevitable that the U.S. House of Representatives, led by a great, even historic speaker, is going to call the role on an article of impeachment and it will pass.  It`s inevitable too that Senate Republicans will be called to a reckoning in the trial of whether an impeached president should remain in office another year.  Whether it remains beyond that, of course, beyond next year is a decision that lies before the American people.  But even the president now seems to acknowledge the inescapable truth that impeachment is inevitable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Do you believe that it`s a foregone conclusion that the House will impeach?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Well, I think they want to.  Any Democrat wants to because they`re not going to beat me in the election, so, of course, they want to impeach.  Why wouldn`t they want to impeach me?  It`s so illegitimate.  It cannot be the way the founders, our great founders meant this to be.

But, no, impeachment -- they want to impeach and they want to do it as quickly as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Each new deposition has bolstered the central charge of the inquiry, that the president traded away the national interest in favor of his own, using the power of his office to extort a foreign ally.

Well, current and former foreign policy officials last week testified that the president put his personal lawyer in control of his Ukraine agenda, enabling Rudy Giuliani to use U.S. ambassadors to advance Trump`s personal political objectives.  And now, Bill Taylor, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, is set to testify tomorrow.

Taylor sounded the alarm last month about the president`s freeze of military support to Ukraine, texting his colleagues, I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.  It`s part of what Speaker Pelosi is call in a fact she released today a shakedown, making the case that Trump abused his power with Ukraine.

According to NBC News now, the charge is likely to be the centerpiece of a narrowly focused article of impeachment against the president.  That`s because, quote, Speaker Pelosi has been adamant that the case against Trump must be targeted and easy to communicate in order to build public support.

With that, I`m joined right now by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, who`s on the House Intelligence Committee, Geoff Bennett, our Correspondent for NBC News, covering this story, Betsy Woodruff Swan is a Politics Reporter with The Daily Beast, and Glenn Kirschner, of course, former federal prosecutor.

Let`s start with Geoff, my friend, you`re covering right on this case.  Is it inevitable, am I right, we`re going to impeach?  The U.S. House of Representatives is going to impeach the president?

GEOFF BENNETT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes.  And, Chris, it`s great to see you.  Welcome back.

I think, look, all signs point to the inevitability of impeachment.  And to your point, when we say that, we mean impeachment as a process, not impeachment as an end result.  And so the reason I say that is because what we know about Nancy Pelosi is two things, really.  One, she does not make idle threats, and two, she does not waste political capital.

And for weeks, you`ve seen the House Speaker say what President Trump already admitted to is in itself a crime.  Is in itself, Pelosi says, an impeachable offense, President Trump, so goes the theory of the Democratic case, using his public office for personal gain.  That is the story that Democrats have really stitched together with this tapestry of evidence and testimony over the last two weeks, from diplomats and career officials, as they clearly have drawn out how President Trump leaned on Rudy Giuliani to run an influence campaign outside of the normal diplomatic channels to get the Ukrainian leaders to manufacture damaging information about the Bidens.

On this other thing about political capital, you now have all but seven House Democrats now expressing some supportive for some sort of impeachment action.  You don`t take your party through that sort of trial unless you`re ready to make that leap at the end of it, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  and so, when you say the process, will it end up with a vote of more than 218 members of the House of Representatives voting aye on at least one article of impeachment?

BENNETT:  It looks that way.  You know, as I stand here and talk to you right now, as it moves to the Senate, will you find 20 Republican senators to join with the 45 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them?  Probably not.  So when we talk about impeachment as an end result, will this be the thing that removes Donald Trump from office?  Likely not.

But Democrats have said that it`s important in this election year to get those vulnerable Republican senators on the record.  Even if it`s not, you know, successful as a means of getting Donald Trump out of the White House, to get those Republicans on the record after Democrats have built the public case against the president.

MATTHEWS:  I want to go to Eric Swalwell, a member of the Intelligence Committee, and a great part of this show.

Congressman, it seems to me that Pelosi does have empathy for people from districts that aren`t as liberal as her San Francisco, that she does understand what it`s like to be a suburban Democrat coming out of the last election, and you have to get re-elected again.  And my sense is that she thinks that this focus on Article I, one article on abuse of power, involving trading away of our national security interests for personal political gain is the strongest armament that she can give to a suburban Democrat going into the next election, an impeachment vote like that.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  Chris, good evening.  She certainly recognizes that none of us ran for Congress to be a part of an impeachment inquiry.  We ran on healthcare.  We ran on gun violence and to end it.  We ran on extending jobs to people who want to work.

But the urgency of this upcoming election and the extortion scheme that was going on forces us to answer the question, what do we do with our children watching what we will do with this democracy?  Will we allow this scheme to continue and for foreigners to play in our elections, will we say, no, we`re not going to allow it?

Now, we have crime, we have confession, we have cover-up.  We`re going to give this president a fairer investigation than he probably deserves, which means we`re going to bring the witnesses in.  If the president wants to cooperate, he should.  If he has exonerating evidence, they should present it.  If they`re going to tell witnesses to not come in, as they continue to do, we will just view that as consciousness of guilt and put that under consideration for obstruction of Congress.

But it`s in his interest to cooperate considering he`s confessed to the crime.  If there are arrows that point to innocence, he should show us what those arrows are.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that is kind.  Amid all of this, Democrats have been largely united as they advance their case and it appears the president has taken notice about the Democrats being united.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I think they`re lousy politicians.  But two things they have, they`re vicious and they stick together.  They don`t have Mitt Romney in their midst.  They don`t have people like that.  They stick together.  You never see them break off.

The Republicans have to get tougher and fight.  We have some that are great fighters.  They have to get tougher and fight, because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  This is like the Sharks and the Jets.  I mean, he`s saying, that other side is united.  We`ve got to be like them, you know?

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST:  It`s true.  There`s certainly a lot of envy when it comes to the way that the party`s reacting.  And truly, it has bothered Trump ever since he first came on to the national scene as the extent to which many national Republican power brokers just found him to be abhorrent.  It`s been a problem for his administration.  It`s been a problem for filling out some of the key national security jobs.  It`s part of the reason why there are so many vacancies in his cabinet.  And now he`s seeing where the rubber meets the road of the fact that many national Republicans just don`t like him.

MATTHEWS:  I wonder if his culture is so bad that he didn`t even get what he did that was impeachable.  I mean, somebody said years ago in a story that Franklin Roosevelt`s idea of being president was to be Franklin Roosevelt, which made sense, a man of great self-confidence that got him through the depression and the war.  Trump`s idea of being president is being Donald Trump and it`s horrific and a horrific idea.

GLENN KRISCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Yes, he`s ill-suited to be president.

First of all, welcome back, Chris.  We`re happy to have you back.

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Glenn.

MATTHEWS:  And when you think about, okay, maybe Donald Trump was a political novice when he was running the first time, so maybe that`s why he said, Russia, if you`re listening, he didn`t know any better, and then we spent two years.  That in part gave birth to the Mueller investigation.  He knows better now.  And what does he do?  Hey, Ukraine, if you`re listening, I want dirt on Biden.  Then he stands on the White House lawn and says, China, I want you in too.

Now, do you think China maybe started its own spear-fishing expedition after he said that?  I mean, it really is beyond the pale to suggest that he doesn`t know any better and he`s just being Donald Trump.  He`s dragging the country through this all over again.

MATTHEWS:  Well, in a story just breaking right now, The Washington Post is reporting that Trump`s effort to pressure Ukraine came, quote, as he was being urged to adopt a hostile view of the country by its regional adversaries, including -- here it comes -- Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban.  That`s according to current and former U.S. officials, one of whom testified in the impeachment inquiry last week.

While neither Putin nor Orban encouraged Trump to seek dirt on Joe Biden, quote, their disparaging depictions of Ukraine reinforced Trump`s perceptions of the country, as White House officials struggled to persuade Trump to support the fledgling government in Kiev instead of exploiting it for political purposes.

Betsy, this is what the speaker of the House is talking about.  All roads lead to Putin.

SWAN:  The country of Ukraine, more than any other country in the region, I would say, by far, is incredibly dependent on economic support from the United States.  Most of Western Europe sees Ukraine as something of an outcast.  They find it a little bit embarrassing.  They don`t --

MATTHEWS:  Especially Javelin missiles to stop Russian tanks.

SWAN:  Exactly.  They don`t seriously -- they haven`t made serious, major commitments to that country.  Ukraine really relies on support from the United States.  And Putin knows this.  It`s very obvious to him.

So it`s completely consistent with his government`s long-term strategy of trying to take Ukraine back into Russia that they would go after this country on all fronts.  Ukrainians used the term hybrid warfare to describe the way the Russian government is targeting their economy, trying to see discords socially, obviously attacking them militarily.  And Putin trying to damage President Trump`s view of Ukraine would just be part of this broader Russian onslaught against their country.

MATTHEWS:  And this is the great contradiction or challenge that the Democrats in the next month.  I think they will impeach next month in the House.  But they must be attracted to the idea to encase the whole charge with not just the (INAUDIBLE) interest, but this guy is working for the Russians.  And because there`s so much evidence that everything he`s done wrong was at the behest, implicitly, of Vladimir Putin.

KIRSCHNER:  Yes.  And I think they should investigate expansively, which they appear to be doing, and then prove their case narrowly.

A real quick example, when you`re investigating a case, you want to hold somebody accountable for all of their crimes.  So if I got somebody who`s buying an illegal gun, carjacking and then using that car in a bank robbery, I`ve got three charges.  But you know what?  If what it takes to prove the carjacking, I have to call a really cruddy, unreliable, unseemly witness, I may jettison that charge.  So if I needed like a Corey Lewandowski to prove the carjacking or to prove an obstruction, ala the Mueller report, I may jettison that altogether.

And I may focus just on what he did with Ukraine, holding that congressional money hostage in order to get a political advantage.  So I think what we`re hearing now, the tactical choices that the House is making to kind of try its case narrowly, I think, is exactly right.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, Geoff, I want to go back to Geoff on this.

For weeks, we watched really the sultry, unpleasant hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.  And it ended up with a gross-out show of Corey Lewandowski, where he won the day, unfortunately.  I think we`ve got a real case here for impeachment, we better not lose it.

Chris Wallace, by the way, of Fox News said yesterday, he`s on on Sunday, that according to a Republican source of his, there`s least a chance that enough Senate Republicans would vote to remove Trump.  Here is Chris.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST:  I talked to a very well-connected Republican in Washington this week, somebody whose name you would know well, who says that if the House votes to impeach and it gets to a trial in the Senate, there is now a 20 percent chance, he believes, obviously, it`s just an estimate, now a 20 percent chance enough Republicans will vote with the Democrats to remove the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go back to Congressman Swalwell.

First of all, I think there`s a -- I`m not big on these percentage chances, because they`re like Nate Silver of The New York Times.  I don`t believe any of that.  Bet on something happening or not happening.  Chris is still betting it`s not going to happen.  What is your sense of the Senate?  Is there an opening there in the Senate that they`ll actually listen to the House impeachment charges?

SWALWELL:  I`m not writing them off, Chris.  And we want to put together the fairest case so that when it gets to the Senate, you don`t see these attacks on the process that you`re seeing from the Republicans who are in denial about the underlying act.  So we want to put a fair case forward so that the senators cannot just write it off as partisanship.

I will say this to Glenn Kirschner`s point that he made, and it was a good one.  This individual, our president, has priors.  Even though he may not be brought up on what happened with Russia, the jury will know, the Senate, about the priors.  And that this is not just some aberrational act by the president.  This is what he did in the 2016 election and that will be very, very relevant, I think, as they consider the urgency to act and protect the 2020 election.

MATTHEWS:  You want to respond to that?

KIRSCHNER:  No, I`m with Congressman Swalwell.  But I do think if we -- if the Senate trial uses these serious career public servants, the Marie Yovanovitches, the Fiona Hills, the George Kents, the Bill Taylors, these folks are unimpeachable witnesses, no pun intended.  They are serious and the American people will see exactly what the president was up to.

MATTHEWS:  Geoff, you`re a younger guy than me, but I`ve got to tell you, I`ve watched politicians a long time.  And I have to tell you, I`m in awe of Nancy Pelosi.  I have never seen -- I questioned her resistance to impeachment for months, like so many people did, and yet I`ve watched somebody who waited for her opportunity, saw it, jumped on it, has been resolute and she has leadership ability.  When she leads, people follow her.  And that`s -- so is that your sense that this leadership of hers has been critical in this matter?

BENNETT:  She has a keen ability to keep her finger on the pulse of not just her caucus, Chris, but generally where politics is headed.  I mean, just remember, the other day when President Trump tweeted out that photo and tried to suggest that she was unhinged.  Within a matter of hours, she took that same photo, flipped it around, and turned it in to a symbol of her lecturing the president, standing up to the president.

On this issue, this issue of grave national security, I mean, impeachment, she says, is a political process, yes.  But she says, this is a principled process.  Because she, in her view, what the president did, was he undermined national security and he called into question the integrity of our election system.  And so that is why, you know, she is moving forward with this process so deliberately, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  You know, there`s a wonderful writing by Scott Turow, the guy who writes about courtroom dramas.  And he has this wonderful line in the beginning of a presumed innocent, where he says, the prosecutor`s job is to point their finger across the courtroom to the guilty person, point it at the defendant and say, he or she did it.  You must confront the bad guy.  And when Pelosi did that, I was amazed.  It was so well done, unhinged, hardly, Mr. President, hardly.

Thank you, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell.  Thank you, Geoff Bennett.  Thank you, Betsy Woodruff Swan.  I love you two kids got together.  Thank you.  It`s wonderful.  Both great reporters.  Glenn Kirschner, sir, profound.

Coming up, Mick Mulvaney is not just the chief of staff, he`s the president`s chief flack.  It`s not a nice word, but it`s true.  But how long can he survive trying to defend the indefensible?  Nice job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well?

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF:  We do that all that time.

Yes, I flinched a little bit because that`s what people are saying that I said, but I didn`t say that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We do it all the time, quid pro quo.  A former member of Trump`s cabinet joins me here next.

Plus, under pressure from a member of his own party, the president reverses his decision to play daddy host at a G7 at his own resort.  Emoluments clause, maybe?  Will any Republicans publicly stand up to this president now other than president -- well, almost president Mitt Romney, AKA, Pierre Delecto?  That`s his nickname.  That`s his Twitter account.

And former Pete -- actually, Mayor Pete, about to be former Mayor Pete, makes his move in Iowa.  Don`t call him a dark horse candidate anymore, a serious contender, he`s making his move.  Wait until you see the numbers.

There will be much more coming up next.  Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Over the weekend, Mick Mulvaney, the president`s acting chief of staff, was the public face of this administration.  Mulvaney was tasked with trying to undo the damage he himself caused during a 40-minute briefing on Thursday last week.  He didn`t get very far. 

Appearing on FOX News this Sunday, Mulvaney tried to spin his public confession that the Trump administration withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for a politically motivated investigation. 

Let`s take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  You again said just a few seconds ago that I said there was a quid pro quo.  Never used that language, because there -- there is not a quid pro quo. 

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY":  You were asked by Jonathan Karl, is -- you have described a quid pro quo.  And you said, that happens all the time. 

MULVANEY:  Well, and reporters will use their language all the time.  So, my language never said quid pro quo. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION:  So, the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he...

MULVANEY:  It was on..

QUESTION:  ... ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?

MULVANEY:  The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation.  And that is absolutely appropriate. 

QUESTION:  Withholding the funding?

MULVANEY:  Yes, which -- which ultimately then flowed. 

QUESTION:  To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. 

It is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well. 

MULVANEY:  We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy. 

I have news for everybody.  Get over it.  There`s going to be political influence in foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Mulvaney, according to "The Wall Street Journal," didn`t anticipate the blowback.

But his job seems to be secure for now.  Sources tell NBC that Mulvaney received a standing O. from senior White House staff during their morning meeting today. 

For more, I`m joined by Michael Crowley, "New York Times" White House correspondent, and David Shulkin, President Trump`s former veterans affairs secretary and author of a great new book, "It Shouldn`t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country," about his tumultuous 13 months in the Trump administration. 

This guy -- why did -- Mick Mulvaney is a congressman elected by real people in South Carolina.  He could have had a job forever down there, right?  Why would he stick his neck into this?  He takes OMB, which is a wonderfully important job in our government, no matter who`s president, a serious job.

Then he becomes the president`s so-called acting chief of staff, but really, his flack, the guy he puts on television on Sunday, to B.S. for him.  I`m being nice with the word B.S. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Why would he do this for a living? 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  Well, it`s a strange situation all around. 

First of all, you put your finger on part of what`s unusual here, which is that you don`t have a press secretary who is coming out and giving regular briefings.  So why is the chief of staff coming out and doing a briefing like this?  That`s pretty unusual to begin with. 

The public messaging of this administration is a little unusual, probably because the president is talking all the time, I suppose. 

And then I think the weirdness of Mulvaney`s existence was captured in a statement that came out of the White House, I think yesterday.  A press person said, "The president has confidence in his acting chief of staff."

Where`s the contradiction in that statement?  Why is he the acting chief of staff if the president has confidence in him?  And the reality is, the president has confidence up to a point.  Mulvaney kind of runs up and down with the president.  He doesn`t love him enough to give him the full title.  He could wipe away that acting in a single stroke. 

But part of the reality is, Chris, it`s not a job that a lot of people want.  I mean, that is a tough job. 

MATTHEWS:  But the next stop is "Dancing With the Stars," Mr. Secretary.  That`s the next stop, or "SNL" portraying you as riding around on a scooter, a lectern, like a crazy person, with a woman playing you. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Just to confuse everything. 

But it`s not an admirable place. 

When you took a job as secretary -- you were promoted -- did you think you could serve this country without serving Donald Trump, when you went into that position as the head of Veterans Affairs? 

DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS:  I did. 

I entered government under the Obama administration.  And when President Trump asked me to be secretary, I thought the Department of Veterans Affairs was different.  I thought that this was a -- a department that was completely run outside of the political agenda, that this was bipartisan. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHULKIN:  And the longer that I got to stay in Washington in this administration, the more that I saw that wasn`t the case. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there any place to hide in this administration?  Can you serve running the Peace Corps, running the NIH, running NASA?  Can you serve admirably without falling under the thumb of this president?

SHULKIN:  Well, I think let`s hope that that is the case.

There are many, many dedicated people who serve in the federal government, dedicated career employees.  But it`s increasingly hard. 

MATTHEWS:  You walk into that job as flack for the president.  You have to combine -- you have to be on a tight wire.  You`re up there at 500 feet in the air. 

SHULKIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You have got to say what he likes and also say the truth. 

How the hell can Mulvaney do that?  How can anybody do that?  What -- the guy who is now on "Dancing With The Stars"?  He didn`t...

CROWLEY:  Spicer.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Spicer.  Sean.  He didn`t do it.  He looks like a fool. 

CROWLEY:  Yes. 

Well, and you really can`t get too far away from what the president wants to hear and survive in this White House. 

MATTHEWS:  So you have to lie? 

CROWLEY:  Well, you just really have to be channeling Donald Trump and you have to be comfortable with that. 

But this goes back to the oddity of, why is the chief of staff coming out and doing this briefing in the first place?  That`s unusual in itself. 

The whole way this White House is approaching messaging right now is something we have never seen before.  I mean, on the upside, we`re almost seeing this transparent presidency.  Donald Trump never stops talking. 

And we`re seeing him thinking in real time.  We`re seeing deliberations in real time, the way we have never had before.  But then you kind of throw out the chief of staff for this one-off, throw him to a White House press corps that hasn`t had a briefing in months.  And he got chewed up as a result. 

MATTHEWS:  And why do they keep putting him out on Sundays? 

CROWLEY:  Well, he did -- Chris Wallace actually is a great interviewer.  I was about to say, it was FOX, so...

MATTHEWS:  I know he is.

CROWLEY:  So, right.  I was correcting myself. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it`s FOX.  It`s not FOX News.  It`s...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  That`s what I was trying -- but so, yes, it actually was a pretty tough environment. 

I don`t know why he chose that show.  It did not go well for him.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Mulvaney made another mistake.  Well, here he goes, another mistake, when he attempted to defend Trump`s decision to hold the G7 at Doral down in Florida by explaining that the president of the United States is still in the hospitality business. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY:  The president isn`t one for holding back his feelings and his emotions about something.

He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback.  At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be a -- in the hospitality business.  And he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world.  And he wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could.

WALLACE:  You say he considers himself in the hospitality business.

MULVANEY:  Sure.

WALLACE:  He`s the president of the United States. 

MULVANEY:  Yes.  But he`s -- that`s his background. 

And he wanted to put on a show.  He wanted to take care of folks.  That`s the business -- he`s in the hotel business, or at least he was. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  So there, Mr. Secretary, is a chief of staff -- acting chief of staff who may not ever get the job, because he was trying to project or channel what the president would say.

But the president doesn`t want to be portrayed the way he is.  He doesn`t want to be seen the way he is, which is, he`s still running hotels and still trying to make a buck off them. 

But he doesn`t want to be -- here`s a guy who actually put in words what Trump thinks.  And now he got in huge trouble for it. 

So how long is this guy going to last? 

SHULKIN:  Well, I think it`s one of the hardest jobs you can have in the White House.

  And I`m not sure that anybody is going to be fit for that job for too long a period of time.  But...

MATTHEWS:  Well, remember General Kelly?  He tried to bring order.  He put up guardrails.  He thought he was running "Romper Room," and he`d be the moderator.  The president said, get out of here. 

SHULKIN:  Right.

I was very hopeful that, when General Kelly came in, that he would bring some discipline.  And I think, in many ways, he tried.  But he too found it extremely difficult to be able to corral the agendas in the White House. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the fish rots from the head, as the great Michael Dukakis once said, this administration.

What do you think?  How long does Mulvaney last?

CROWLEY:  Look, who wants that job? 

I mean, the president tried to get some other people to take it back in December.  Mulvaney is coming up on his one-year anniversary.  That`s why he`s still acting.  They couldn`t -- he couldn`t get the people that he wanted. 

Chris Christie was one who was in the mix, for instance.

MATTHEWS:  Did he offer him the job?

CROWLEY:  Did he offer -- I can`t remember now, Chris, whether or not Christie -- I think, before he was offered the job, he took himself out of the running.

MATTHEWS:  Christie has never looked better.  OK.

Well, three for three.  We have had three years of this presidency and three different chiefs of staff.  And I`m wondering, if he does make a second term -- I don`t think he will.  If Trump gets a second term, he has wasted second, third, fourth, fifth choices. 

What`s left?  What`s the second term going to look like?  Jesus.

Thank you. 

SHULKIN:  Yes.  You know, 17 members have come through the revolving door of the Cabinet, and that`s making it very difficult to serve.

MATTHEWS:  Seventeen Cabinet members 86`ed.  Thank you so much.  In other words, they`re gone. 

Secretary David Shulkin, thank you.  Good luck with this book.  "It Shouldn`t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country."  Well said. 

Thank you, Michael Crowley of "The New York Times." 

Up next: President Trump reversing course on plans to hold the next G7 at one of his resorts, Doral down in Florida.  Is this a sign that, when Republican lawmakers finally do push back against abuses, he actually listens?

I don`t know.

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It would have been great.  But the Democrats went crazy, even though I would have done it free, saved the country a lot of money.  But I was willing to do this for free, and it would have been the greatest G7 ever. 

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MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was President Trump complaining about the criticism of his now- scrapped decision to hold next year`s G7 meeting of world leaders at his own resort, Trump National Doral near Miami. 

Well, the president made a rare vertical after widespread criticism of this choice.  In defending the original decision, he tried to argue he was the victim. 

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TRUMP:  I don`t think you people with this phony Emoluments Clause -- and, by the way, I would say that it`s cost me anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be president -- and that`s OK -- between what I lose and what I could have made.

I would have made a fortune if I just ran my business.  I was doing it really well. 

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MATTHEWS:  Well, the president blamed the very real, by the way, United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8, to be exact, and Democrats as well. 

In reality, the reversal was because Republicans, Republicans refused to defend him on this. 

NBC News reports that, after calling into a Saturday meeting of moderate House Republicans, according to two sources -- quote -- "Trump was told that the majority of the room felt it would be best for him to reverse himself" -- to reverse himself.

"The New York Times" reports: "With many members already unhappy with the consequences of the president`s move to withdraw troops from Syria, and Democrats pressing the impeachment inquiry, Republicans on Capitol Hill were not eager to have to defend the appropriateness of the president`s decision to take the G7 to Doral."

In fact, one member of the House Republican leadership, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "We just didn`t need this."

But what does prominent Republican Pierre Delecto think about President Trump`s latest indefensible act?  Never heard of him?  Well, here`s a clue.  He`s a wild and crazy guy. 

And that`s coming up next.  You won`t believe who this guy is, Pierre Delecto.

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MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Well, President Trump`s decision to reverse course on holding next year`s G7 summit at his own golf resort came as he faced heat from all sides. 

"The Washington Post" reports that Trump has told -- Republicans, he was told, are struggling to defend him on so many fronts.  In fact, one Republican who has been less willing to defend the president is Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who we`re learning has offered up some of his own opinions in disguise. 

In a lengthy profile in "The Atlantic," Romney described that he used a secret Twitter account.  "Slate" magazine did some digging and found the undercover Twitter for Senator Romney, otherwise known as Pierre Delecto -- absorb that phrase.

Anyway, Romney confirmed last night that he is, in fact, Pierre, telling "The Atlantic" -- the account, created in 2011, is now private. 

But just as recently as two weeks ago, Pierre Delecto was commenting on the president`s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, asking, "But what could the Senate do to stop it?"

For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congressman -- Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania and Michael Steele, former RNC chairman.

Congresswoman, it`s great to have you.

And I know I`m asking you to project a lot here, but why would a U.S. senator, representing an entire state, feel they have more power as a secret Twitter account-holder under a French pseudonym, or nom de plume? 

Why would somebody

 

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