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Trump vs. the border map. TRANSCRIPT: 10/24/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Jill Colvin, David Frum, Jackie Speier, Nadeam Elshami, NatashaBertrand, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Daniel Fried

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  And that does it for our program tonight.  Thank you, as always, for watching.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

With iron clad evidence of wrongdoing by the president, his Republican allies are left with no defense.  So they`ve turned to street theater, anything to not deal with the facts, and the facts are damning.

Although a little later in this show, I`ll walk through the very clear, very simple case against the president.  For all the sound and fury from the president`s defenders, the case that Trump traded his public trust for personal political gain is remarkably pure.

Republican frustration, however, was evident in yesterday`s made for T.V. spectacle as a group of House Republicans made by Trump loyalists protested the investigation by storming the secure room where a deputy defense secretary was scheduled to testify.  The New York Times editorial board put it bluntly, they`re running out of options.

The Times reports on the effort to grind proceedings to a halt, quote, Republicans are growing increasingly uneasy about the inquiry and fretting that it could get much more worse for them.

Well, that unease was evident again today as Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a Senate resolution co-sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to condemn the House impeachment inquiry.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  What`s happened is that the attempt to open up an inquiry of impeachment against President Trump failed miserably so they created a new process that I think is very dangerous for the country.


MATTHEWS:  Well, the majority of Senate Republicans now, 46, have gotten in the line.  They have co-sponsored the resolution.  But, notably, seven have not.  Look at those.  Those are the holds outs.  They may end up being the profiles in courage, we don`t know.  But those are -- starting Lamar Alexander across the room, Senator Collins and the rest of them, that group has not signed on to this effort to basically short circuit the whole process.

The Associated Press reports that White House officials have been treating unified Republican support for Trump as a given have grown increasingly fearful of GOP defections in a House impeachment vote and a potential Senate trial itself.  It adds, the west wing believes more must be done to shore up Republican support to avoid embarrassment and genuine political peril.

Well, yesterday, the number two House Republican, Steve Scalise, complained about the process.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA):  It`s a process that we`ve been highly critical of, the fact that it`s closed to the public, the fact that members of Congress that aren`t on the relevant communities don`t even have access to the transcripts of the hearings.  Maybe they do that in Soviet Union, but that`s not acceptable in the United States of America.


MATTHEWS:  I don`t think the Soviet Union had four dozen -- there they are -- four dozen Republicans in those hearings, anyway, in those secret hearings in the bottom of the Capitol in these last several days.

But while members who aren`t on the relevant committees don`t have access to testimony, 47, as I said, almost four dozen House Republican members do have access to their membership on those three committees leading their inquiry, Oversight Committee, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence.  That means almost one quarter of the House Republicans are already in there able to attend those depositions.

The Republican escalation and complaints, however, about the inquiry comes just days after President Trump issued a call for Republicans to get tougher.  And their effort with yesterday`s stunt wasn`t lost with President Trump.  In a tweet this morning, he thanked House Republicans for being tough, smart and understanding in detail the greatest witch hunt in American history.

For more, I`m joined by Jill Colvin, White House Reporter for the Associated Press, Jason Johnson, Politics Editor at the, and David Frum, Senior Editor at The Atlantic.

David, give us a sense of the Republicans, I mean, coming up with even, what, seven holdouts is pretty dramatic in this environment.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC:  Look, what`s going on right now are team exercises.  I hope you`ve never had the experience of being on a losing team.  But when your team is facing a big deficit in strength and power --

MATTHEWS:  I`ve been rooting the Philadelphia Phillies all my life, so I`m somewhat familiar with it.

FRUM:  So you dump Gatorade on each other`s heads.  You`d say, whoop, whoop, whoop, you get everybody excited because the other guys are bigger and stronger and faster and meaner than you.  And that is the situation that Republicans find themselves in.

They had 48 hours ago John Thune, the number two Republican in the Senate, saying, gee, I don`t know about this.  Friday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, published an op-ed dissenting for the president`s position on Syria.  The ground is cracking.  And so you need to mobilize people.

If they had good arguments, they wouldn`t use stupid ones.  They use stupid ones because they don`t have good ones.  But you can substitute for a lot of sense with a lot of emotional excitement.

MATTHEWS:  Can you change the -- it seems to me they`re doing harassment of the whole operation.  But the old technique from Lee at water days (ph) back in the Reagan era was change the subject, not from who`s right, who`s wrong but what side are you on, Jill, you change the subject.  Are you Republican, then get in line.  This isn`t about guilt, it`s about loyalty to the party.

JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS:  That`s a little bit of what you see in the president doing over the last couple of days where he`s sort of said, Republicans, I need you behind me, you`ve got to fight harder.

MATTHEWS:  He`s a big Republican now, Trump, by the way.

COLVIN:  Absolutely.  You`ve got to stand behind me.  He`s been making that public cry.

What you`ve seen this week is finally a recognition by the White House.  Remember, a month ago, you had this White House saying, we don`t need a war room, that would just be justifying this, this would be suggesting that there was something that was problem here.  And now this week, you`ve seen a concerted effort by the White House to try an outreach to members.  We had Mick Mulvaney this weekend at Camp David with members trying to loop them in, trying to setup calls, trying to get everybody onboard.

Of course, they still have a very, very long way to go.  You`ve still got Trump allies outside the building who are very concerned about it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Jason, there`s an old phrase, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.  And there are a bunch of dogs barking at the caravan, I mean, the Democrats.  It`s not just a sports metaphor which is usually what used to do.  I like sports metaphors, but here, the goal has been made.  They`ve got the case.  The president traded his public trust for personal political gain.  It`s on the record.  Mulvaney accepted it, you`ve got a transcript of it.  I don`t know -- you can beat the drums all you want, you can bark all you want, that`s done.

And so what are they doing?  Are they delaying?  Are they distracting it?  It seemed like street theater yesterday.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT:  It`s a little bit of performance art to use a sports metaphor.  It`s a rugby haka.  They`re up there.  They`re screaming.


JOHNSON:  Exactly.  Because part of it is also to intimidate their colleagues and show that, look, we`re willing to do anything.  And part of this, I think, concerns and condolences, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, was out at a funeral (ph) yesterday.  I don`t think they would have tried this if Pelosi had been around.  I think they would have been concerned about confronting some of Democratic leadership if they try to do something this ridiculous, so this over the top.

But I think this is about what`s happening in that building.  I think this is about scaring Democrats and letting them know we will make this as loud and ugly and ridiculous as possible even if you guys move towards something that you clearly have made a case.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think they have a case.  Here`s the argument, I would say.  You go to a suburban Republican, here`s the argument, national defense, national security.  This president compromised that to get some dirt on Joe Biden.

COLVIN:  Yes, I mean, that`s the argument.  And you`ve seen the Republicans trying to do the same thing going to moderate House seats where, you know, districts where the president won in 2016 and a Democrat won in 2018 and saying, really, is this what you elected this person to do?  Pursue impeachment?  Don`t you care about healthcare?  Don`t you want them to be talking about real issues that impact you?  It`s an argument that`s going be happening on both sides.

MATTHEWS:  Well, during yesterday`s mock sit-in, I thought that was the dullest of group of protesters I`ve ever seen, House Republicans complained the private nature of the proceedings is unfair.


REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ):  This is a Soviet-style impeachment process.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  The American people, as I said before, they understand fairness, and they instinctively know that what is happening here is not fair.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY):  This a process lacking legitimacy, credibility and fairness.

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL):  By golly, if they`re going to do it, do it in public.


MATTHEWS:  By golly.  Many of the same Republicans had no problems with closed-door interviews when they were used, of course, during the Benghazi investigation.  Remember that?  Here is how the chairman of the Select Committee back then, former South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy described it back in 2015.


FMR. REP. TREY GOWDY (R-NC):  I can just tell you that of the 50 some odd interviews we have done thus far, the vast majority of them have been private, and you don`t see the bickering among the members of Congress in private interviews.  You don`t see any of that.

I can just tell you in the private interviews, there is never any of what you saw Thursday.  It is one hour on the Republican side, one hour on the Democrat side, which is why you`re going to see the next two dozen interviews done privately.

The private ones always produce better results.


MATTHEWS:  You know, there he is, Trey Gowdy, describing how you do a really good set of investigative hearings if you want the truth, if you don`t want a show, you know?  And now he`s saying, well, it`s taped.

COLVIN:  And remember, that was going to be the president`s outside lawyer if there hadn`t been these rules prohibiting him from serving as a lobbyists, then he actually would have been a member of Trump`s legal team joining Rudy Giuliani.

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Let`s go to the funniest guys in the world, and I can`t bring myself to hate the guy.  It`s hard for me to hate anybody, but Lindsey, with his tail-wagging in the last couple of days, he`s been called into service, he has done it.

So he`s on and around today in the United States Senate grabbing people.  It`s like -- remember the card check things with the labor unions?  He`s getting everybody to sign the card check.  Everybody wants to condemn the House hearings now.

So he goes around.  He`s got, as we went on the air tonight, 46 members of the 53 person Republican Caucus in the U.S. Senate, six holding out.  Doesn`t that make a little bit of a statement either way?

FRUM:  Yes.  And this is one of those things, you`d better have everybody sign before you take any of it public because the game has never been about getting to two-thirds of the Senate.  That`s obviously not possible.  Donald Trump is not going to be removed from office by a Senate vote, barring some direct divine intervention on the minds of the Republican Senate Caucus.

But the question is does Donald Trump get 54-55 votes for removal?  Where is Mitt Romney?  Where is Lamar Alexander?

MATTHEWS:  A majority vote.

FRUM:  And if Lindsey Graham gets to the end of this process and he`s got 46 senators lined up, that`s really alarming.

MATTHEWS:  To them?

FRUM:  To them.  And so I don`t know why he`s doing this.  I mean, you have to have everybody there on the first day or don`t do it.

MATTHEWS:  If you get 53 votes, majority vote, Jill, objectively, you have a House vote that could impeach, which I think will be about 230, my guess, pretty strong vote, almost unanimous among Democrats, maybe some Republicans, and then a majority of the Republican-controlled Senate.  That`s a condemning statement.

COLVIN:  It would be a striking blow to the president.  I think that`s why you see them really trying to ramp up the effort.  You had Lindsey Graham had a conversation with Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, who, of course, has his own problems.  This is all happening as the White House internally is in turmoil as usual.

But even Lindsey Graham is saying, look, you`ve got to really take this seriously.  You need to bring some people on, you need to find a war room - -

MATTHEWS:  How come Lindsey is not as smart as David Frum?  David Frum said, you don`t start a roll call until you know how it`s going to end up.

JOHNSON:  And Pelosi did that.  I mean, essentially, that`s what happened.  Pelosi didn`t finally say, all right, let`s move ahead with impeachment until she knew she had the numbers that were going to look good.

But here`s the other thing that I think they`re really frightened about.  Even with all these private hidden hearings that no one else can hear, the numbers in favor of the --

MATTHEWS:  By the way, we`ve got the guy`s opening statement.  We know what he had to say.  We`ve all got it verbatim.

JOHNSON:  But the movement for impeachment in the public and not just impeachment but impeachment and removal, those numbers are going up with private hearings.  When this goes public, it`s going to look really bad.

MATTHEWS:  Have you caught the latest, Trump`s little word game?  He`s going to call impeachment, attempted impeachment.  In other words, if the House votes to impeach, he`s going to call attempted impeachment.  You watch what he`s doing.  He`s playing that game.

COLVIN:  But let me just say that, nonetheless, even if you do have a majority of senators who decide to vote in favor of impeachment, you could still wind up with a situation where the president will certainly try it, but he will still be able to stand up there in front of voters come 2020 and say, look, they tried to take me down and they failed to do it, I`m still here.  I`m still running for a re-election.

MATTHEWS:  You could try that.  You could try that.  Do you think Bill Clinton likes to have been impeached?  I`m telling you, that`s a mark against you, and I`m telling you, it will be used against him in the next election.  It will not be a plus.

FRUM:  And, look, Lindsey Graham is plenty smart and he knows this.  But, as I said, if you have good arguments, you don`t have to use bad ones.  If you`re using bad ones, it`s because you don`t have good ones.

And what Lindsey Graham has been able to do is -- he did get John Thune to sign the condemnation of the process.  That`s maybe an easier vote and it`s a way of getting people to commit early, in fact, exactly the people who are most worried.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know what, there is a process.  It`s called impeachment.  You call the roll.  You put articles of impeachment or one article of impeachment before the House and they vote.  It`s a privilege motion.  And you have the vote and you get a majority vote and the president is impeached forever, forever in the history books, he is impeached, a little asterisk, impeached.

Republicans were prepared yesterday to do anything it took to put on a grand performance.  According to a Fox News reporter, a source says some members asked to be arrested by the Capitol police, citing the optics of being marched out of the SCIF in handcuffs in front of throngs of reporters and news cameras.  One of them is Jason.  They want to be civil rights fighters, these guys.

JOHNSON:  This is the most offensive --

MATTHEWS:  By the way, have you ever seen a more -- I`m sorry, people can`t help what they look like but they were so dull-looking and passionless.

JOHNSON:  Well, they`re passionless because they know they don`t have a real argument, because they knew that this is ridiculous.  They knew this is show.

And here`s the thing, what are you actually being arrested for?  It`s an insult to any actual activist.  It`s an insult to the Democrats who did the sit-in about two years ago.

MATTHEWS:  Here they are, these guys.  They look like they`re going out for maybe lunch.

JOHNSON:  Exactly, the young Republican convention sort of marching to their latest meeting with the chicken dinners.

But here`s the issue.  Even if you had gotten arrested, even that imagery, it`s not changing how the public feels about this.  It`s not like you`re throwing yourself on the --

MATTHEWS:  By the way, that`s your party there, David.  And I`m telling you we always say around here Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.  They look like they were told to line up like in a catholic school recess doubling a 2-by-2, no talking.  I mean, look at that group.

FRUM:  But what also happened there was that some of the hot heads took their phones with them, and they thought they were so -- some of the hot heads were also -- the lunkheads said I`m taking my phone with me because I`m going to make a point.  And only after they were in did they realize, wait a minute, that`s really bad.

And so you saw this hilarious thing where people were tweeting and taking pictures and then two hours later saying, actually that was my staff, I signaled the tweet by semaphore in a secure way and my staffer outside the room did the tweet for me.  That was obviously --

MATTHEWS:  By semaphore, like they`re on a destroyer?

FRUM:  That was obviously untrue.

But as Jason said, there are some realities here.  This is morale building exercise.  This is all going to be fully public very, very soon and all of this will be forgotten.

MATTHEWS:  We`re going to get to that in the rest of the show, which is how Democrats can hold hearings where you actually have a smart counsel that actually keeps the focus for a half, for an hour or two or even two hours instead of everybody doing their five-minute pop ups.

Jill Colvin, thank you for having us on.  Thank you, Jason Johnson, always great to have you, and David Frum, my Republican friend.

Coming up, as Republicans continue to howl at the moon over the process -- I hate that word -- of the impeachment inquiry, Democrats are planning their next steps to expose the substance of the matter.  Could we see public hearings by mid-November?  I hope so.  They can do this maybe by Thanksgiving.

And with so many doors of the case now open, the task for the Democrats is to find a way to keep their message simple and pure.  They`ve got the case.  As my father-in-law says, when you made your case, when you made your sale, stop talking.  President Trump attempted to abuse his office for personal gain.  That`s the name of it.

Plus, it`s Trump versus the professionals now, as devastating testimony from diplomats and career bureaucrats pours in.  The impeachment inquiry looks to be the climatic confrontation between the president and his perceived deep state.

And, finally, Trump`s puzzling statement about where he`s building his border wall.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  We`re building a wall in Colorado.  We`re building a beautiful wall.


MATTHEWS:  Check your Google maps.  Colorado and the need for a wall in Colorado against Mexico.

Much more coming up to get to.  Stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Tonight --

  Byline: David Corn Guest: Jackie Speier, Nadeam Elshami, Natasha Bertrand


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Tonight, the framework or the time frame for a possible impeachment vote is coming into focus.  That is as Democrats face a challenging calendar. 

According to "The Washington Post," the goal is for the House to vote on articles of impeachment before Thanksgiving, which leaves House Democrats five weeks down to wrap this up. 

Multiple Democratic officials tell "The Washington Post" that -- quote -- "They hope to finish private depositions in early November, so they can use the two-week period, work period, just before Thanksgiving to have public hearings."

Among the witnesses Democrats are hoping to question in those hearings are the acting ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, the former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, perhaps even the president`s former National Security Adviser John Bolton. 

For more, I`m joined by U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, a member of the House and Intelligence Committee and Oversight committees as well, and Nadeam Elshami, former -- Elshami -- I`m sorry -- chief -- former chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Thank you, Nadeam. 

Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.  You`re all over the place with these hearings. 

But I guess my fear is, can you keep the train moving?  Or will the Republican harassment tactics or Democrats who get a little too excited about other opportunities move the focus from what the president did, trade public trust for personal interest?  Keep the focus, can you do it? 

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  Oh, I think there`s no question that we will do that. 

He abused the office of the president, and he placed us at risk for national security.  And those two efforts by him to create a situation where he was soliciting -- which is illegal -- solicit a foreign government to intervene in our national election is a crime. 

And I think that we`re very focused on that.  We`re not going to allow the Republicans to play their little antics once again.  And, if necessary, we will take these interviews off the Hill to prevent that kind of a charade that went on yesterday. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about how you do that.  How do you do that, technically?

SPEIER:  Well, I don`t know.  Hopefully, we won`t have to do that. 

We could go to a secure facility off the Hill, which would then make it more difficult for them to play the games. 


SPEIER:  But what was really interesting in all of that yesterday was the fact that it was a show. 

I mean, I walked in there at one point after they had been there for a few hours.  They were sitting around like a coffee klatch in that room having conversations.  There were 17 boxes of pizza strewn around.  And it was all jocular.

It was -- it was really a shame.  And it reflects poorly, I think, on the process and certainly on their efforts, because they can`t win on the issues, so they`re going to try and argue process. 

MATTHEWS:  Nadeam, we were all impressed by the performance of Barry Berke, the staff counsel, the other day.  And we were all -- I know we`re not politicians because we`re not there. 

But every member of these committees, especially senior members, who have earned their seniority, want their five minutes. 

But the problem with that is, it`s like basketball.  When you score a basket, the other side gets the ball.  It`s always going to the other side for another five minutes.  And the Republicans have no interest in coherence. 



MATTHEWS:  How do you get -- is there any way to streamline these hearings, so that you have some coherent -- however you do it -- coherent set of questions, so that the witness can star?


I have no doubt that they`re going to have to work on that.  And they will work on that.  Look, this is too grave of a situation not to actually sit down and put some rules on paper and say, look, this is how we`re going to proceed.

MATTHEWS:  Remember Sam Dash in the Watergate hearings?

ELSHAMI:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  The prosecutor?

ELSHAMI:  Yes, absolutely. 

I mean, and if you have to go down that route, you will.  But there are members who spend hours, days, months in this, right, hearing from witnesses, listening to information and reading.  And, sometimes, they do - - they do have a right to participate in these hearings. 

But how do they do it?  Is it going to be coordinated?  Who`s going to ask what question?  What exactly are you trying to elicit and what points are you trying to make to the American people? 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask the congresswoman, because you have earned your position on that committee, not just as a member, but as a member of those committees.  Those are hard assignments to get.

How would the members react to the idea of a coherent investigation or interrogation of these witnesses, examination of these witnesses, by a prosecutor, a staff prosecutor?

SPEIER:  Well, the process -- the process that we have used in these private interviews has really allowed the expert attorneys that have made their lives by questioning people, we have allowed them to be the point person and ask the question, so an hour by the Democrats, an hour by the Republicans, and back and forth in that regard.

And then, occasionally, we will add additional questions at the end of a particular hour. 

MATTHEWS:  I was distressed -- and I know you were -- well, I assume you were, Congresswoman, by what happened on Judiciary, where it got to the point where Corey Lewandowski put on a show.  There was performance art.

He won the day.  He gets on there.  He`s supposed to be grilled.  He put on his Peter Pan operation, whatever you want to call it.  And everybody, oh, that`s great.  He`s fun.  He`s crazy.  He`s like Trump. 

How do you avoid that happening again, where the clown show takes over? 

SPEIER:  Well, I don`t think there`s going to be a clown show. 

I think the witnesses that are going to be called are compelling.  We have seen much of their testimony already by the statements that many of them have already released.  I mean, this is a very talented pool of career persons within the Foreign Service who have come forward under subpoena and have told us what they know.

And what they know is very damning. 


So, here -- I will now play the bad guy, right, Nadeam? 


MATTHEWS:  Mr. Taylor, Mr. Ambassador, who`d you vote for in 2016? 

ELSHAMI:  I didn`t vote in 2016.

MATTHEWS:  He didn`t vote?

ELSHAMI:  Well, I don`t know.  I don`t know what the answer is.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s the same answer.


MATTHEWS:  But if he votes against Trump, they will say, you`re a Trump hater.  You`re one of those human scum, he calls them.

It`s outrageous what they will do.


ELSHAMI:  These are the kind of questions that Democrats are going to have to be prepared for and witnesses are going to be -- have to be prepared for.

This is a serious, serious matter, and I hope the American people are going to see through...



I like this, Congresswoman.  I want -- I love having you on the show. 

Let me ask you about a number which really amazed me.  I asked for it.  And we got it. 

According to the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, a majority of Americans are aware of the impeachment investigation, more than a majority; 79 percent of the American people, just about four out of five, say they have seen coverage of Trump`s July phone call in which he asked the Ukrainian leader to do him a favor. 

So it seems to me that a lot of the information -- the idea of having more -- what are you really going to accomplish with more hearings, if it`s up to 79 percent that people know what`s going on?

SPEIER:  I think what`s going to be important is to hear from a number of the Foreign Service personnel that were scratching their heads when they were watching what was, in fact, a shadow foreign policy operation under Rudy Giuliani.


SPEIER:  And I think that their testimony is going to be very important. 

And I think you`re going to be impressed by what you hear. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. 

Nadeam Elshami, thank you, sir. 

SPEIER:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Up next -- you were top aid to Nancy Pelosi.  That`s going to be one of your great baubles of your career, I can tell you.  She`s looking very good. 


MATTHEWS:  Building an airtight impeachment case against Trump, that`s coming up, how Democrats are working overtime to put together an ironclad case for removing this guy from office. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We`re one month into the House impeachment inquiry already, and the House case against Donald Trump is as straightforward as it gets.  Simply put, the president traded his public trust for personal gain. 

And all the evidence and testimony gathered so far has bolstered the central charge that Trump squeezed the government of Ukraine for dirt on his Democratic opponents, namely, Joe Biden. 

And that`s the so-called favor Trump asked of Ukrainian President Zelensky, confirmed by a White House summary of their phone call, by the way, confirmed by the testimony of his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

Recent testimony revealed that Trump, in his own voice, waged a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine to deliver what Trump was seeking.

Bilateral meetings and phone calls were dangled as leverage in pursuit of that so-called deliverable.  And, most alarming, crucial U.S. military aid to Ukraine was abruptly cut off to get the message across. 

Even the president`s own chief of staff brazenly admitted that the military aid was withheld over Trump`s pursuit of foreign dirt.  And, worse yet, it was made clear to Ambassador Bill Taylor that the release of that aid was conditioned on Ukraine`s commitment to investigate Biden.

It all paints a picture of a president`s abuse of power. 

I`m joined right now by Natasha Bertrand, national security correspondent at Politico, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones." 

This is a tough case to deny.  When your chief of staff says, yes, there was a quid pro quo there, when you have a transcript, it`s pretty hard to deny it. 


And I think that`s why Republicans now are coming out and making waves about this -- the process, instead of the substance.  You even saw Lindsey Graham today say, look, I`m not trying to defend the president or say what he did was right.  I`m just saying that what the -- what the Democrats are doing is wrong in terms of process and keeping things behind closed doors. 

But Republicans, I mean, trying to get them to comment on the actual substance of the allegations, which are that the president abused his office in order to obtain dirt on a political rival from a foreign power, it`s pretty much impossible. 

I mean, there are a few that will stand by him to the end and say, look, these kinds of quid pro quos happen all the time.  But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, when you`re saying, OK, well, we talk about trading favors all the time with foreign countries, that`s not what happened here. 

What happened is that the president was doing this in order for his own political interest, not the national interest. 

MATTHEWS:  One thing we learned about the Republicans, going back to the recount of 2000, they will come up with any argument, even Democratic arguments, you know, like equal protection. 

They were never interested in equal protection until Florida.




MATTHEWS:  And then they will come up with this thing.

Trey Gowdy, this thing, oh, they just push that aside now, what Trey Gowdy said, that secret hearings are the way to get good testimony. 

CORN:  Well, yes, of course, during the Russia investigation, when the Republicans controlled the House Intelligence Committee, they had dozens of depositions with Jared Kushner and others that they did secretly, and we never even had public hearings. 

At least the House Intelligence Committee now says, we will get to public hearings.  But the key thing here -- and it`s coming from Nancy Pelosi -- she has the KISS strategy, keep it simple, stupid. 

She wants the impeachment case to be based just on what you just said, Chris, a very straightforward narrative.  She doesn`t want a lot of sideshows. 

But what`s happening -- and Natasha knows just because she`s been reporting on this -- is, as the committees investigate and have more and more witnesses and see more and more documents, they`re finding more and more wrongdoing and more and more investigative leads to follow. 

So they have to have the discipline, per Nancy Pelosi, to say, we`re not going to go down there.  We don`t want this to be as complicated as the Robert Mueller report.  We don`t want 488 pages.


MATTHEWS:  Well, I challenge you on that, because I think a lot of it, Natasha, is, they`re getting a lot of confirmation. 

CORN:  Well, they`re getting both, is what I`m saying.

MATTHEWS:  But they`re already getting good confirmation.

Bill Taylor, the straight arrow they had, the cadet from West Point who fought in the 101st and the 88 -- 82nd, this guy, he has got all the ribbons from what he`s done. 

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  There he is walking along there.  That Banquo`s ghost right there for Trump.  This guy`s the guy he must fear the most. 


And Democrats have actually been kind of surprised by the voluminous testimony that they have gotten from some of these witnesses, because the State Department and the White House have actually been instructing these witnesses and the Pentagon, for that matter, not to testify at all. 

So the fact that so many of these career officials are defying the administration and going to Congress and exercising their rights as citizens to tell lawmakers what they have been experiencing has been a kind of pleasant surprise for Democrats. 

And so they are eager to keep this ball rolling and eager to see how many more witnesses they can actually bring in and get as much evidence as possible that they can lay out in public hearings and then ultimately in the articles of impeachment.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Bill Taylor testified that Ambassador Gordon Sondland knew that U.S. military aid was conditioned on the investigations Trump was seeking from Ukraine and that Sondland relayed that condition to the Ukrainians. 

Well, now Sondland`s attorney tells "The Washington Post" that his client, Sondland, does not recall such a conversation as Taylor described, among others.

According to his attorney, Sondland`s position is that he also opposed a quid pro quo, saying: "Sondland strongly opposed the cutoff of aid and believed that it should be restored unconditionally."

This guy Sondland, he -- look, there`s nothing evil about it.

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But he paid a million bucks for his ambassadorship to the E.U., not the coolest ambassadorship, by the way.  He pays a million bucks for it, but he`s not really a Trump guy. 

So when Trump gets in trouble, he says, I`m not getting entangled with that crap.  And he starts hiring his -- lawyering his way out of this thing.

CORN:  But just remember, when this all began, it happened because Trump was creating this secondary channel that involved Sondland and Giuliani. 

It was not -- Sondland was not acting in sort of his by-the-book role as ambassador to Europe. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  He was part of that...

CORN:  So he knew, at the very least, that there was something shadowy about the shadow foreign policy that was going on. 

So it wasn`t on the up and up.  So he knows that right then and there.  Now, he says he doesn`t know was a quid pro quo.  Taylor has, I`m told, very extensive notes.  There may be other witnesses, there may be other documents. 

So I don`t think Sondland`s word right now, which has shifted back and forth a bit over the last couple of weeks, is really something to rely upon if you`re Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS:  It just seems that people -- everybody`s got to worry about their own CYA, as we say.  They have got to look out for -- here`s a guy that bought himself into a big position of prestige. 

He wants to buy himself out. 


I mean, and Sondland has also made other pretty unbelievable statements, like he didn`t know that Burisma, that gas company in Ukraine, was code word for Joe Biden, when, in fact, Rudy Giuliani, the president`s personal lawyer, had been on the airwaves for months...

CORN:  Yes. 

BERTRAND:  ... ramping up this rhetoric and saying that Burisma and Biden and all of this corruption has to be investigated by Ukraine and has -- and will exonerate the president. 

I mean, this was all very much out there. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you a lawyer?  I`m not a lawyer.  Are you a lawyer?


CORN:  No.


MATTHEWS:  How far can you get with this "I don`t know nothing" defense?

CORN:  Well, you can get pretty far.

You can see the statements that he`s given.  They have been very, very lawyerly.


CORN:  And his lawyers have come out and said, he agrees with Taylor on virtually everything, except that one little piece of the quid pro quo. 


CORN:  So they`re really trying to carve out one escape hatch.



MATTHEWS:  And you too.

Can Nancy Pelosi keep the focus on the crime, the impeachable act?

CORN:  I think she and Adam Schiff can.

The question is going to be, when it gets to the Judiciary Committee that does the articles of impeachment, whether there`s any pressure from other Democrats to add other things to the mix.

MATTHEWS:  To pack it up, yes, to load it on.

BERTRAND:  Yes, they have done a great job of keeping it really narrow and tailored. 

And any time a reporter tries to ask them questions about something outside the scope and whether it is involved in the impeachment inquiry, they`re very quick to shoot that down. 

But another big question is whether they can keep up the momentum of this. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think the old question, can you walk and chew gum at the same time?  No, just walk.


CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Forget the gum.  Just forget the gum. 

CORN:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Natasha Bertrand.  Thank you, David Corn.

Coming up next:  White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham doubles down on Trump`s -- I don`t like the phrase, but here it is -- human scum tweet, as a frustrated Trump continues to battle damning testimony from former top advisers.

HARDBALL back after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump has a new name for people in his own party who have the audacity to speak out against him -- human scum.  That`s his phrase, and that`s what he wrote on Twitter a day after the damning testimony of veteran diplomat William Taylor.  Taylor accused -- Trump accused Taylor of being one of those disloyal Republican -- scum. 

This morning, the president`s pres secretary whose salary is paid by American taxpayers went on "Fox & Friends" to defend the use of that phrase. 


BRIAN KILMEADE, "FOX & FRIENDS" CO-HOST:  A couple of things.  The president yesterday called the never-Trumpers scum.  Does he regret that? 

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  No.  No, he shouldn`t.  The people who are against him and who have been against him and working against him since the day they took office are just that.  It is horrible that people are working against a president who`s delivering results for this country and has been since day one. 

And the fact that people continue to try to negate anything that he`s doing and take away from the good work he`s doing on behalf of the American people, they deserve strong language like that. 


MATTHEWS:  Strong language, human scum. 

Ambassador Taylor joined nine other current and former government officials who have broken with the White House to testify in the House impeachment inquiry.  In so doing, they run the risk of being labeled part of the deep state, a smear that Donald Trump has long used against career government officials. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We`re directly taking on the unholy alliance of corrupt Democrat politicians, deep state bureaucrats and the fake news media.  There they are right there. 

For the last three years, Democrat lawmakers, their deep state cronies, the fake news media, they`ve been colluding in their effort to overturn the presidential election. 

Then you have the deep state.  We`re getting rid of a lot of them.  I`ll tell you, we`re finding them left and right.  Boom.


MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump who never previously served in public office or in the military, of course, is known to demand personal loyalty which most career public servants aren`t willing to offer him.  And that`s why witnesses in the impeachment inquiry itself have raised alarms about a rogue diplomatic effort led by Rudy Giuliani that circumvented proper channels to benefit the president politically. 

Unable to defend the substance of the case against them now, the president has taken to using words like scum and spy against the people he views as disloyal to him. 

And after the break, I`m going to talk to two veteran public servants, people who have spent most of their careers serving Democratic and Republican administrations.  They have a lot to say about the president`s attacks. 

And that`s coming up next. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump`s attacks on public servants is part of a larger war fomented in part by far right media and conspiracy theorists who have gained favor with the president.  That`s according to "The New York Times" which reports those public servants feel denigrated, sidelined or forced out of job by a president who marinates in suspicion. 

As a result, the Trump administration has lost nearly 1,200 senior career service employees.  That`s according to the Partnership for Public Service.

For more, I`m joined by Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former senior intelligence officer who worked in the Obama and Trump administrations, and Daniel Fried, former State Department senior official who worked in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. 

So, what are you -- what are people who have devoted their lives to public service, including the foreign servants feel when you have a president who calls them deep state and calls them spies and terms like -- well, they get worse. 

ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, FORMER CIA ANALYST:  So, I served my career in the intelligence community for almost a decade, and I can say when you have a president in the White House who doesn`t take seriously the intelligence community, who doesn`t value the intelligence, it runs the risk of shutting down really the innovative thinking that the intelligence community does that keep Americans safe.  It has a very chilling effect, and I think that`s something that all Americans should be worried about. 

MATTHEWS:  Dan, what about the people overseas who sometimes end up as stars on the wall at Langley because they`re killed overseas, because they`re deep undercover and they have to risk their lives every day and now you have a president trashing their very existence? 

DANIEL FRIED, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN & EURASIAN AFFAIRS:  Well, the State department has a wall with the names of the fallen.  And when I joined the Foreign Service in 1977, those names were abstractions, but there have been new names since, and some of those people were friends, crushed in the mountainside in Bosnia, shot and ambush in Georgia, they are ready to give their lives.  That`s part of the job.


FRIED:  It`s not -- I`m not complaining about the dangers, but a little respect for the people who are out there defending America`s interests and advancing our foreign policy.  And they don`t need to be treated this way. 

MATTHEWS:  Like the guy who was blown up in his driveway a couple of years ago in Jordan I remember. 

FRIED:  The risks are there.  That`s part of the job.  Not asking -- the Foreign Service people don`t ask for special favors or people to feel sorry for them.  We know what we`re signing up for. 

But a little respect for the people who take the oath of office seriously.  Loyalty, that`s part of the culture.  I served President Obama, I served President Bush, I served President Clinton.  Pretty much did the same kinds of things for all of them.  And they respected the apolitical nature of the Foreign Service.  They didn`t really care. 

In fact, if Condi Rice heard anybody make a partisan remark of the State Department she wouldn`t get mad, she could get glacial, scary as anything.  She set a tone of respect for public service and loyalty to country first. 

KENDALL-TAYLOR:  I think the apolitical aspect of the intelligence community though is also crucial in this context.  I mean, as intelligence officers, we are trained throughout our careers to check politics at the door.  We are trained to take account of our assumptions.  We are trained to address cognitive biases and factors that could cloud clear, subjective or -- objective analysis, and that`s what`s happening here including with the whistleblowers. 

These are people trained in that analytic trade craft.  When they saw a risk to national security, they had an obligation to step forward and to warn. 

MATTHEWS:  What does he --what do you hear when you hear the word -- the phrase "deep state?"

FRIED:  That`s nonsense. 

MATTHEWS:  What does it mean? 

FRIED:  It means some kind of -- it`s supposed to mean some kind of weird cabal of disloyalty, which is not the reality.  The fact is Foreign Service people -- the culture of the Foreign Service is loyalty.  And they worked for Condi Rice, they worked for Hillary Clinton. 

Reagan had a secretary of state, George Schultz, enlists the expertise of the Foreign Service and the result was we got the best soviet policy we ever had and won the Cold War, because the foreign service will salute and march.  They want the leadership, and the notion they`re disloyal is some weird political, you know, mythology.  All administrations come into power with a little bit of this attitude, but it mostly wears off.  Not this time, though. 

KENDALL-TAYLOR:  Yes, and I mean for the role of the intelligence community, the intelligence community is -- we don`t serve any particular president, we serve the American people.  And I think the thing so concerning about the deep state narrative is it really does pose a threat to our democracy. 

I`ve spent a lot of time studying Russia.  I`ve spent a lot of time studying authoritarian regimes and how democracies break down, and I can tell you when you look across the globe, this deep state, this effort by the president to create or inflate a sense of threat is something that you see authoritarian leaders use across the globe.  It creates justification for leaders to dismantle institutions and I`m concerned that`s what we see at this point. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump is basically saying, as ironic and awful as this sounds, if you choose to serve the United States government, you`re an enemy of the country.  It`s outrageous, but that`s what he`s saying.  You`re an enemy of the country if you work for the country. 

FRIED:  What does a strong country consist of?  It`s got to have not just a strong man at the top but strong independent institutions.  That`s national strength.  That serve the president and the elected leaders. 

But Andrea is right, when I hear that kind of denigrating language, weakening independent institutions, hey, that`s communism.  I`ve spent time in the Soviet Union.  I know what the result of that is and it`s not good.  But working with political appointees is a good thing, this is what works best.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for being Dan Friend, thank you, sir.  Thank you for your service to our country all these years.

Andrea Kendall-Taylor, thank you very much. 

TAYLOR:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  It`s great to have this back and forth here. 

Up next, President Trump wants to build a wall around Colorado.  Think about your grade school geography now, around Colorado. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Well, here we have the president of these 50 states promising to build a wall around one of them. 


MATTHEWS:  You know why we`re going to win New Mexico, because they want safety on their border, and they didn`t have it.  And we`re building a wall on border of New Mexico.  And we`re building a wall in Colorado.  We`re building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works, that you can`t get over, you can`t get under. 

And we`re building a wall in Texas.  And we`re not building a wall in Kansas, but they get the benefit of the walls we just mentioned. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, the problem is we learned in grade school is that Colorado isn`t located on our border with Mexico.  It`s up there surrounded by Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Arizona and Oklahoma.  So that`s a problem. 

And today, no surprise the president attempted to say he was kidding.  That`s his word, when he pushed for building a wall around Colorado.  Does this look like someone`s who`s kidding? 


TRUMP:  We`re building a wall in Colorado.  We`re building a beautiful wall. 


MATTHEWS:  In fact, when he suggests this is all a joke, he`s veering very close to describing his presidency. 

That`s HARDBALL for now. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.