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House to vote on impeachment inquiry. TRANSCRIPT: 10/28/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: David Cicilline, David Jolly, Shermichael Singleton

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  It was an honor to work with those individuals and hear from some of the candidates.  So we wanted to share that with you.

That does it for us, THE BEAT live from Philadelphia tonight.  I`ll be back tomorrow at 6:00 P.M. Eastern.

Don`t go anywhere.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Crashing toward impeachment.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Tonight, two gate crashing steps toward the impeachment of Donald Trump.  First, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that the House of Representatives will hold its first vote on impeachment, a vote to formalized the heightening inquiry that`s now entering its second month.  Quote, we will bring a resolution to the floor.  Speaker Pelosi wrote in a letter to our colleagues that affirms the ongoing existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry.

Though Democrats say the resolution isn`t needed under the Constitution or the law to conduct an impeachment, its passage this Thursday, that`s when the vote will occur, undercuts the White House, which has been arguing that the inquiry is illegitimate without the approval of the full House and resolution.

Rebutting the White House, Pelosi writes, the Trump administration has made up this argument, apparently out of whole cloth, in order to justify its unprecedented cover-up.  However, she notes, we are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard dually authorized subpoenas or continue obstructing the House of Representatives.

The impeachment inquiry resolution will be introduced tomorrow with a vote, as I said, by the full House on Thursday.

In the second step to expedite the impeachment, Trump says they will forego lengthy court fights to enforce the subpoenas for evidence and testimony that the White House had been blocking.  They will simply use the White House`s refusal to honor them as evidence of obstruction of justice.

It comes as former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman defied a subpoena and skipped his scheduled deposition today.  His no-show at the behest of the White House earned a strong rebuke from House Intel Chair Adam Schiff.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  I think we can infer from the White House opposition to Dr. Kupperman`s testimony that they believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the president.  We are not willing to allow the White House to engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts.  So we press forward.


MATTHEWS:  No more rope-a-dope.

I`m joined right now by David Cicilline of Rhode Island who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Shannon Pettypiece, NBC Senior Digital White House Reporter, David Jolly, of course, former Republican Congressman from Florida.

I want to go to Mr. Cicilline.  Thank you, sir.

A couple steps.  Let`s start with this one, a resolution to conduct an impeachment inquiry, not necessary.  Why are we voting this Thursday?

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  So it`s not a resolution to conduct the impeachment inquiry.  Judge Howell has already ruled we don`t need to do that.  This resolution will set forth the procedures for the next phase of the inquiry, which is a set of public hearings.  So it will set forth the procedures that will be followed by the committees in the public hearing part of this process.  It will authorize the committees of jurisdiction to send referrals to the Judiciary Committee of work they have done.

So it`s really a procedure, setting forth the procedures for the public hearings so they can be done efficiently and with tremendous transparency, and it will acknowledge that we`re in the midst of an impeachment inquiry obviously by implication.  But this is really important because it`s going to set forth the procedures for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, the public hearing process.

MATTHEWS:  Well, if it ain`t broke, you don`t fix it, but you`re doing it.  So here is my question.  Will this stop the White House from having an excuse not to participate, not to respond to requests?

CICILLINE:  Well, for sure, they`ve never had a legitimate excuse for doing it after Judge Howell`s decision where she said an impeachment inquiry doesn`t require a formal vote, so you would hope by that moment, for sure, he would realize this is not a good excuse.

But, look, the president has resisted efforts, our efforts to collect evidence and to get at the truth.  He`s tried to obstruct this investigation since the very beginning.  We should not lose sight.  We are investigating the president for reaching out to a foreign ally, asking them to interfere in an American presidential election to help him in his re- election and holding up military assistance to that country as leverage.

This is shocking behavior and we intend to get to the bottom of it and hold this president accountable.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much for being on tonight, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, from Rhode, thank you, sir.

CICILLINE:  Welcome back, Chris.  Great to be with you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

Shannon, this is great.  I like two things about today.  It is gate crashing.  It knocks down two gates on the way to impeach.  From one, it says, okay, you guys have been fuddling around, saying we`re not going to cooperate because you didn`t pass a resolution to begin this inquiry.  We`re going to pass a resolution.

Number two, it says, no more court fights.  You guys resist a subpoena, great, that`s evidence of obstruction of justice, thanks you, keeps it moving.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, MSNBC DIGITAL SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  It knocks the legs out from under the process argument, which was the big argument that Republicans were making last week in Congress, when they stormed or went in, whatever want to call it, to this hearing --

MATTHEWS:  The Brooks Brothers` fault (ph) on truth.

PETTYPIECE:  Knocks the legs out of the process argument.  It puts the White House on the defense.  But the White House is going to make whatever argument they want to make, and they can continue calling this an unconstitutional investigation if they want to.  Their argument was already on questionable legal ground.

And we had actually asked a White House official at the time that the main White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone, came out with this argument about the process not being correct.  And we said, well, if the White House -- if the Congressional leaders followed this process, would the White House cooperate.  And they refused to acknowledge that or say they would.  They called it a hypothetical situation.

So the president will continue making whatever argument he wants to make, that he did nothing wrong and this is unconstitutional.  And I don`t think this is going to change the White House strategy at all.

MATTHEWS:  David, the criminal mind always has an alibi, always has an excuse, somebody told me to do this, I thought I was doing something right.  There`s always an answer, nobody ever says, I did it.  So their defense all these weeks has been you don`t have a resolution, so we`re not going to participate.  And we`ll find out in court because we own the courts, things like that.

Now, I think Pelosi, once again, is showing her savvy and saying, okay, we`ll give you the damn resolution and get that over with.  And, number two, we`re not fighting this out in your courts anymore.  They`re not being helpful.  We`re going to move ahead to impeach you guys.  Go ahead.

FMR. REP. DAVID JOLLY (R-FL):  And I would say there may be a third, which is I think this indicates that the House is preparing to file an article of obstruction of Congress.  And here`s why I mean that, Chris.

At this point, the White House has tried to exert privileges, they have exerted constitutional immunity, which does not exist.  They have tried to litigate the request for subpoena or the depositions.  And even during the Clinton impeachment, you have Republicans who were trying desperately to defeat Clinton, ultimately acknowledged that even the White House, even Bill Clinton was afforded certain due process rights and it was not impeachable for him to exercise his legal rights.

In this case, if they were to move forward with an article of obstruction of Congress right now, you would be in a predicament where the White House has simply alleged or proffered their legal defenses.  And some would say, hey, that`s not enough for obstruction of Congress.  In this case, by filing the articles, and we have the Kupperman case sitting out in front of us, the courts are ultimately going to order that Trump administration officials must testify.  The courts are going to defeat this claim of constitutional immunity.  It does not exist.

At that point, it`s obstruction of Congress.  It is an article of impeachment that the House is in a much stronger position to file against the president, and likely pass out of the House if the White House fails to comply with the court ordered testimony.

MATTHEWS:  You Know, Shannon, Nancy Pelosi is pretty much my age.  And I have to tell you, one thing you learned in catholic school when you`re growing up, you learned scholastic philosophy, which is Aristotelian philosophy.  You could discern the difference.  You could distinguish between the essential and the accidental.

And it seems like at every step of the way, she`s sticking to the essential.  What`s impeachable, what do we need to get to a vote on it, to get this out of the House sometime this year, and maybe just around Thanksgiving time.  She`s sticking to the essential.

PETTYPIECE:  Right.  Well, and we`ll see if that strategy plays out.  But longer term, the strategy does cause a lot of members have to go on the record and vote, which was a sense that that was the concern that --

MATTHEWS:  She`s protecting her members.

PETTYPIECE:  -- members in these districts that Trump had won, that Democrats took back, were now going to have to go on the record and have an impeachment vote.

But as we have seen the polling move increasingly towards a majority of Americans being in favor of impeachment or certainly in favor of an impeachment inquiry, I think that`s lifted a lot of that overhang.  And so, I mean, maybe that`s why we`re seeing it now at this time, because the polling is really going in that direction.

And I`ll say within the White House, there`s a Quinnipiac poll last week that showed about 50 percent of Americans supporting impeachment.  That definitely, I heard, got attention within the White House, and they`re finally starting to hear some concern about these pollings.

MATTHEWS:  I tell you again, the essential thing here is national security and the fact that the president traded public trust for his personal political ambitions with regard to Ukraine.  That`s better than arguing about Access Hollywood yucky poo (ph) and all that stuff, because people don`t think that`s essential.  They wouldn`t have elected Trump president.

Anyway, The Washington Post reports today that in their attempts to defend the president, House Republicans have been using their time in recent depositions to get information about the whistleblower.

According to sources involved in the proceedings, quote, GOP members and staffers have repeatedly raised the name of a person suspected of filing the whistleblower complaint.  And their questions in those depositions have been interpreted as an attempt to unmask the whistleblower, whose identity is shielded under federal law.

Their behavior stands in contrast to Senate Republicans who, according to The Washington Post, have quietly voiced exasperation at the expectation to defend the president.  One veteran Republican senator says, it feels like a horror movie.

David, distinguish between House and Senate here.  Senators with six-year terms, wider constituencies, not just Republicans, you see at least 47 percent of their district from the other party as opposed to House Republicans who have come from Republican areas, how they`re differing in their behavior here on impeachment.

JOLLY:  And the senators are going to be jurors.  And I believe there`s already five or six senators that are probably considering whether or not they`re going to have to vote to convict this president on an article of impeachment.

What the House is doing is trying to replicate what they did during the Mueller investigation, which is undermine the entire investigation as somehow being invalid.  And if they can put a face to that lack of credibility, in this case, the whistleblower, they will exploit that for everything it`s worth, even if it`s meaningless.

What, Chris, ultimately they`re going to have to face though, and this is where I hate to give counsel to my Republican colleagues because I think they`re on the wrong side of history on all of this, but they might as well start arguing the president`s behavior was not impeachable.  That`s the conversation the American people are having.

Is it impeachable for Donald Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?  That is a fair conversation to have with the American people.  Stop with the procedure nonsense and start trying to convince the American people and GOP senators that, yes, it may have been wrong, what the president did, but it`s not impeachable.

MATTHEWS:  That would be a little more targeted, I would say.  Is it wrong for the president to hold up foreign military aid to a country under attack by Russia if they don`t get the dirt for him for his political purposes?  They don`t get their anti-tank Javelin missiles, which they`re fighting the tanks at the very moment.  I would be more critical.

Anyway, Shannon Pettypiece, thank you, David Jolly, as always, sir.

Meanwhile, in an exclusive story, exclusive NBC news reports that the White House was alerted as early as mid-May of this year that a budding pressure campaign by Rudy Giuliani was rattling the new Ukrainian president, Zelensky.  That`s according to two people familiar with the matter who say that former NSC Official Fiona Hill was alerted that Giuliani`s meddling in Ukraine had unnerved the Ukrainian President Zelensky even before his inauguration.

Hill learned in a White House meeting that Giuliani was pushing the incoming Ukrainian administration to shake up the leadership of a state- owned energy company.

Additionally, Hill was also told that Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, we know him, was giving Zelensky unsolicited advice on who should be elevated to influential posts in his new administration.

I`m joined right now by NBC News National Political Reporter Josh Lederman, who joins us from Kiev.

Josh, this is your great story.  What does it all mean in terms of this whole role that Rudy and the president were playing in pressuring Zelensky to come up with helpful information for their campaign for re-election?

JOHS LEDERMAN, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Right, Chris.  A lot of the depositions and other testimony that we have heard so far have indicated that officials in the White House and the administration started learning about this secret plan to influence the Ukrainians outside the normal diplomatic channels over the summer, more into June and July.

But now, we`re learning that this started much earlier, that by mid-May, when President Zelensky was being inaugurated right here in Kiev, back in Washington, Fiona Hill was hearing about these concerns, how he was already very upset about what Giuliani was pushing him to do to mix up that board of Naftogaz and also specifically about the involvement of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, those two Florida businessmen who were also trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

By the way, this was all happening just a few weeks after Joe Biden had announced his presidential campaign.

As you mentioned, Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., also pushing the new president of Ukraine to try to take his suggestions for who should be an influential post.

So this information came to Fiona Hill via a former U.S. diplomat who had met with Zelensky here in Kiev and then went back to the White House to relay to Fiona Hill what he had heard.  He told that to Fiona, who told it to John Bolton, indicating just how much people knew in the White House that far back about these concerns.

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Thank you, Josh, for that great story.  Josh Lederman over there in Kiev, in Ukraine.

By the way, it just shows you how much this administration has outsourced American interests for political interests.  The amazing amount of enterprise that went on over there, thanks to Rudy and the president, the rest of them to get dirt so they could win the next election, nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy interests. Thanks, again, Josh.

In advance of the raid that killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, President Trump notified Vladimir Putin.  Got this theme?  He told Putin.  But he didn`t tell our congressional leaders.  It could have been a moment of national unity, but instead, President Trump used it as another opportunity to demean his Democratic rivals, give the heads-up to Russia, et cetera, standard pattern.

Plus, the key to surviving in Trump world, praise him like a despot on a gilded throne.  Oh, my God.  White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, she`s something, says former Chief of Staff John Kelly was, quote, this is a memorable quote, totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president.  It sounds like something from North Korea, from Pyongyang.

We`ve got much more to get to tonight.  Stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In the wake of yesterday`s successful raid on reviled terrorist and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, President Trump headed to Chicago for a victory lap.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  He`s dead.  He`s as a door nail.  And he didn`t die bravely either.  I will tell you that.

He should have been killed years ago.  Another president should have gotten him.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump missing an opportunity to unite the country, has kept up his attacks on Democrats and defended his decision to keep them in the dark about the raid this weekend, accusing them of being so untrustworthy that they would put American lives at risk.

Trump first made those claims during a 40-minute rambling news conference on Sunday where he divulged operational details and made unfounded claims about Osama Bin Laden.


TRUMP:  He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.

Washington is a leaking machine.  And I told my people, we will not notify them until the -- our great people are out.

I mean, al-Baghdadi, everybody hears, because he`s built this monster for a long time.

But nobody ever heard of Osama Bin Laden until really the World Trade center.  A year, year-and-a-half before the World Trade Center came down, the book came out.  I was talking about Osama Bin Laden, I said you have to kill him.  You have to take him out.  Nobody listened to me.


MATTHEWS:  Well, late tonight, NBC News is reporting that President Trump, according to current and former U.S. officials, quote, got a few of those colorful details wrong.  Many of the rest were either classified or tactically insensitive.  And their disclosure by the president made intelligence and military officials cringe."

For more, I`m joined by Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA and the Department of Defense, Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.

I don`t understand, but I do understand why this president takes a moment of success for America.  ISIS was evil.  It beheaded good people.  It was a horrible, horrible reality, a caliphate from hell.  Everybody should unite around this.  It`s success.  We always like success. 

And he`s turned it into a weird kind of torture, like how he enjoys the guy`s demise and how some sort of street fight has been won by the good guys, and how poor and chicken the guy was who died. 

And who cares?  He`s gone.  And then to go -- Trump going after Obama again.  What`s this about? 

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO LEON PANETTA:  Well, there`s no honor in spiking the football or doing an end zone dance. 

MATTHEWS:  Hotdogging it. 

BASH:  Yes, hotdogging it, when this should be a moment of national unity, and our compliments should go to the military and intelligence professionals.

MATTHEWS:  And the dogs.

BASH:  Right, and those that supported them on the ground, put their lives on the line. 

And this isn`t about whether or not a previous president should have done better.  I remember, in the hours after the bin Laden operation was successfully completed -- I was at CIA -- the first person I called, because my boss, Director Leon Panetta, told me to, was, I called General Mike Hayden, who had been George Bush`s CIA director.

I said: "General Hayden, tonight, we`re standing on your shoulders and the shoulders of al the men and women for the past 10 years who have been pursuing this target."

MATTHEWS:  You know, it`s like the end of the Cold War.  Harry Truman started the Cold War because we had to.  Reagan ended it.  OK. 

Maybe Bush ended it.  But, you know, it was both sides. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  And everyone gave credit to everyone, as well they should have . 

And this is a tradition that really goes back to the night of Pearl Harbor.  After Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt invited the congressional leadership from both parties to come to the White House and talk about what they do next. 

That tradition went all the way through the Cold War and the post-Cold War era.  Looks as if it`s another that may be going by the wayside. 

MATTHEWS:  He also asked Wendell Willkie to cut a deal with the British before the war. 


MATTHEWS:  He took the guy he beat in the election.

Let`s talk about this Pelosi thing, because Pelosi is an honorable person.  Whatever -- she`s obviously partisan, no more partisan than anybody else in Washington, a smart, patriotic person. 

In a statement today, Pelosi said: "The House must be briefed on the raid, which the Russians, but not top congressional leadership, were notified of in advance, and on the administration`s overall strategy in the region."

The statement is reminiscent, of course, of remarks she made directly to the president earlier this month, when she asked him why all roads lead to Putin, that great moment when she pointed across the table at the president and said, why does everything lead to Putin?

Why did he tell Putin before he told the Democrats about this raid?  Putin? 

BASH:  I think he was probably trying -- his military officials were trying to deconflict the airspace so they could conduct the operation.

But it points up to the larger point, which is...

MATTHEWS:  He trusts Putin.

BASH:  ... although the law -- although the law may not have required it, the better practice for a president in this case is to brief the congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle. 

Certainly, don`t just brief one party or the other, because ISIS doesn`t care whether you`re a Democrat or a Republican before they come to blow us up. 

There`s no room for partisanship in how you conduct the operation.  There should be no room for partisanship in how you describe it or brief it. 

MATTHEWS:  Michael, all he had to do was call Pelosi up and say, don`t spread this around, I`m just talking to the two leaders on this. 


MATTHEWS:  We`re keeping it really close. 

And the -- then, when the Pelosi would have had to get up the next day and say -- today -- and say, you know, I have to give the president credit, as she`s pursuing impeachment. 


MATTHEWS:  I have to give him credit because he gave me the call the other night, the heads-up. 

Instead, she now has an opportunity to hit him hard and say, you have to brief us.  She`s on offense again. 

Yes, and I think...

MATTHEWS:  It is bad politics. 

BESCHLOSS:  I think it would have been only great for everyone, because, just as you said, it would have made him look larger, trying to unify the country. 

MATTHEWS:  Which he ain`t. 

BESCHLOSS:  Well, was not on this occasion. 

And, you know, one example of someone who really did do that was, in 1971, Richard Nixon, who, as you know, ran this very partisan campaign during the 1970 midterm elections. 

And he literally went on TV and he said, I`m now taking off my campaign hat.  I`m putting on my presidential hat. 

And he was a lot more presidential in 1971.  That positioned him in a way that was -- made it a lot easier for him to occupy the center in 1972 against George McGovern and win by a landslide.  So I think it`s not only good government.  I think it`s good politics. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, in today`s "New York Times," national security correspondent David Sanger writes: "The death of the Islamic State`s leader in a daring nighttime raid vindicated the value of three traditional American strengths: robust alliances, faith in intelligence agencies, and the projection of military power around the world.  But President Trump has regularly derided the first two."

Sanger goes on to write that America`s foreign policy in the age of Trump runs the risk of looking "like a force of exploitation, willing to enter hostile foreign lands for two reasons only, killing terrorists and extracting resources.  The mission of the American century, helping other nations develop their economies and build democratic institutions, is missing."

Just a more narrow point.  This president has dumped on the intelligence agencies since he got there.  And there you have the CIA pulling off this tough fight, going after the bad guy, killing him, getting it done, excellent execution of intelligence.  And the president gives himself credit, himself credit.  

BASH:  Well, he started his presidency on day one by standing in front of the memorial wall at the CIA original headquarters building in Langley, Virginia, talking about not the sacrifice of those who had given everything for our country. 

MATTHEWS:  The stars on the wall. 

BASH:  Yes.  He talked about how many times his face had graced the cover of "TIME" magazine. 

And it went downhill from there.  He compared CIA officers to Nazis.  He denigrated intelligence agencies.  He called them the deep state.  He has criticized law enforcement, the FBI, and others charged with the counterintelligence mission. 

So I`m glad that our intelligence professionals have kept their nose down, they have stayed focused on the target, they have done their job, but they have not gotten a lot of support from the president. 

MATTHEWS:  How would you charge this up historically?  A president of the United States who last week said, there is no team.  I am the team.  I am him. 

It`s almost a statement of a deity.  I`m the one who does everything.  I do everything.  I killed Baghdadi.  I killed him personally. 

BESCHLOSS:  And he said at the convention in 2016, "I alone can fix it."

So this is something that`s gone back a while.  You can only hope that, you know, in retrospect, he will look at what happened and the death of Baghdadi and see that our intelligence agencies performed extremely well, and it was helpful to have allies.  So that may make an impression on him. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, where does he get this whimpering, by the way, and crying and running like a little baby and all?  Where did he get all that info, that color of the game of this guy dying?

I thought he blew himself up in a suicide vest.  That`s horrible enough. 

BASH:  I don`t know where he gets that information.  Maybe he had some reports from the field about what they saw in the tunnel. 

But I think it points up to this larger issue, which is that, on the ground, the Kurds have been our allies. 


BASH:  They have provided vital intelligence.  And the bigger strategy in the region has been to abandon the Kurds.  That`s a mistake. 

MATTHEWS:  Gets around, doesn`t it, that we abandon allies?

Just hours after announcing the successful raid against al-Baghdadi, President Trump was greeted by a chorus of boos as he attended last night`s World Series game in D.C.  Let`s take a look. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Joined by the president and first lady of the United States. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, he was smiling, anyway.  Chants of "Lock him up" were also heard during his introduction.  Let`s listen.


CROWD:  Lock him up!  Lock him up!  Lock him up!  Lock him up!  Lock him up!  Lock him up!  Lock him up! 


MATTHEWS:  Fans were better than the batters last night, I must say.  They`re doing pretty well there.

Michael Beschloss, Mr. Washington, you live in town here. 


And presidents have been booed at least back to Harry Truman and maybe even earlier than that... 

MATTHEWS:  It`s normal. 

BESCHLOSS:  ... at baseball stadiums. 

It`s normal.  But I must say, the "Lock him up" part is something that you don`t find much in history. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, what do you think he thought he was going to get when he went to downtown D.C., not far from Capitol Hill, to the den of the deep state? 

Most of this town is Democrat, liberal, probably, government employees, CIA agents, federal FBI agents, all kinds of people that work for the government.  He`s treated them all as dirt.  What did he expect? 

BASH:  I think -- yes, I think it`s less about them being Democrats and more about being federal employees who are committed to the mission, many of whom work in national security. 

I was at a game, game four.  I saw a lot of my former colleagues from the Defense Department and elsewhere, celebrating baseball.  Obviously, baseball shouldn`t be a political issue. 

MATTHEWS:  What was your ticket cost? 

BASH:  A lot. 


BASH:  I had to mortgage the house. 

MATTHEWS:  I heard it was 600-and-some for a standing room the other night. 

BASH:  I had to mortgage the house.

But I`m also with Michael.  I actually think the "Lock him up" is inappropriate from any corner. 


BASH:  The criminalization of political differences is wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Who started that? 

BASH:  I have no idea, but I think it was shameful.

MATTHEWS:  I think Trump started it. 

Anyway, I want to ask you.  I just want to tell you -- to make your point, you can`t go by boos at baseball games, because Richard Nixon thought he could beat Pat Brown as governor of California.  He went to the opening of Candlestick Park.  They booed the hell, mercilessly booed the hell out of Pat Brown, and then they -- he beat Nixon by a quarter million votes. 

So, bad call.  Don`t go by boos. 

BESCHLOSS:  Drew the wrong conclusion.

MATTHEWS:  But, in this case, go by boos. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Jeremy Bash, thank you.  Michael Beschloss. 

Up next: unheeded warnings.  Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, General John Kelly, says he tried to warn Trump that hiring a yes-man as his next chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, it would lead to impeachment. 

More on that warning and the White House`s bizarre response -- coming up next. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Former White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly says he warned President Trump about the looming threat of impeachment. 

At a political conference hosted by "The Washington Examiner" over this weekend, Kelly said he advised the president against hiring a yes-man to replace him last year. 


JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  I said: "Whatever you do, don`t, don`t hire a yes-man, someone that`s going to tell you -- won`t tell you the truth.  Don`t do that, because, if you do, I believe you will be impeached.  And someone has got to be the guy that tells you that -- you know, that you either have the authority or you don`t, or, you know, Mr. President, don`t do it because whatever. 

"You know, but don`t hire someone that will just nod and say, you know, that`s a great idea, Mr. President, because you will be impeached."


MATTHEWS:  Well, in a statement, President Trump responded to Kelly`s recounting of events, saying: "John Kelly never said that.  He never said anything like that.  If he would have said that, I would have thrown him out of the office.  He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else."

Well, Kelly suggested the blame for the president`s current situation lies at the feet of the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, for not keeping Trump out of trouble. 

But given what we have already seen from this administration, it`s no surprise the president would want someone to tell him only what he likes to hear. 


SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I want to begin by recapping the incredible, historic trip that the president and the first lady have just concluded, because it truly was an extraordinary week for America.  It was an unprecedented first trip abroad. 

REX TILLERSON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  Mr. President, thank you for the honor to serve the country.  It`s a great privilege you have given me. 

TOM PRICE, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY:  I can`t thank you enough for the privilege that you have given me and the leadership that you have shown. 

REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you have given us to serve your agenda and the American people. 


MATTHEWS:  Isn`t that nice? 

Well, that fawning praise wasn`t enough to keep any of those people in their jobs.  Every one of them is gone, after all that applause for the president. 

But Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, she beats them all.  She showed what is and what is coming up next.  She`s hard to beat in the fawning department. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 



STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. 


MATTHEWS:  God, is that frightening? 

Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was White House senior adviser Stephen Miller back in 2017 on President Trump`s unquestioned authority. 

Miller remains one of the president`s longest serving advisers, thanks in part to his unwavering devotion. 

Over the White House, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, however, outdid him.  ON Saturday, former White House chief of staff John Kelly told a political conference hosted by "The Washington Examiner" that he warned President Trump that hiring a yes-man to succeed him as chief of staff would lead to impeachment. 

In response, Grisham put out a statement that seemed written in Pyongyang, North Korea. 

Grisham said: "I worked with General Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president."

For more, I`m joined by Adrienne Elrod, former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, and Shermichael Singleton, Republican political consultant.



MATTHEWS:  ... I have a cold, but go ahead.

What do you...



MATTHEWS:  What do you think of this North Korean state dear leader kind of talk?

SINGLETON:  Right. I don`t think it would have mattered, though, because where is General Kelly?  He is now on the outside.  Remember Rex Tillerson.  Remember General Mattis.  Those are guys --

MATTHEWS:  All the kiss butt guys didn`t last. 

SINGLETON:  Yes, they didn`t either.  I mean, you showed them in the video. 

MATTHEWS:  So, what works for this guy? 

SINGLETON:  Nothing works, because I think at the end of the day, Donald Trump is going to do whatever Donald Trump wants.  Why?  Because Donald Trump is not a disciplined individual. 

And I don`t think even if General Kelly or as someone who`s a tougher guy who was still there, I would predict Donald Trump would still find himself in the midst of an impeachment crisis. 

ADRIENNE ELROD, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  I completely agree.  And I think that Donald --

MATTHEWS:  You agree, this morning, he could have said, Mr. President, in the back room, I have seen what you`re doing with Giuliani over there. 

ELROD:  Uh-huh.

MATTHEWS:  And you`re setting up a totally separate foreign policy. 

ELROD:  Uh-huh.

MATTHEWS:  It involves all of the effort to get dirt on your opponents.  All this 19 -- 2016 conspiracy nonsense and the Joe Biden stuff.  It has nothing to do with American interests. 

ELROD:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  This is going to get you in trouble because Nixon had a whole separate operation called the plumbers and that brought him down. 

ELROD:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Can`t anybody give him a history lesson? 

ELROD:  No, he`s not going to listen to anybody.  And, Chris, I believe that even if he had two or three people left in the entire West Wing of the White House, he still wouldn`t listen to them.  This is just how Donald Trump operates.  He believes that he won his election single-handedly without the outside help of anybody else. 

You know, he`s obviously constantly defending himself in terms of the legitimacy of the election, which is up for debate, which we`ve been debating for the last three years.  But he truly believes that he single- handedly, not his staff, not anybody else, got him elected.  And that same mentality is what is driving his decision making in the White House.  But I also wanted to make a point --

MATTHEWS:  But he`s deluded then, he`s crazy, because you`re saying he thinks he killed Baghdadi this weekend, the head of ISIS.  Did he personally do it?

ELROD:  Of course, he does.  Of course he does.  He is the one who made the decision. 

But let`s also be clear, John Kelly is no angel, right?  He was not exactly an effective chief of staff. 

SINGLETON:  That was my point.

MATTHEW:  You think he`s lying?  You think he`s lying? 

ELROD:   Yes.  He`s the person who went out there and called DACA recipients lazy because they didn`t --

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here`s a question -- these people -- 


SINGLETON:  He doesn`t have any ground to stand here.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he sided with the president in the Oval Office, or the little hiding room behind the Oval Office, do you think he said Mr. President, don`t hire a yes man?  Do you think he ever did what he said he did? 

SINGLETON:  No, because if he did, I think Donald Trump would have fired him.  He wouldn`t have lasted as long as he did.  I don`t think, with all due respect to General Kelly`s military record, I don`t think politically to your point, this guy wasn`t very effective.  From my perspective, he doesn`t have a lot of legitimacy to be insinuating things against a current acting chief of staff. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me try something.  He was constantly running up against this president by telling him, I don`t want Jared Kushner in the room.  You have to ask my permission to come in the room, even your family members.  All the times he`s setting up these guardrails. 

SINGLETON:  And Jared Kushner still got a security clearance. 

MATTHEWS:  And every time he set up the guard rails, the president fought him.

SINGLETON:  He did and Jared -- 

MATTHEWS:  But he did fight him.

SINGLETON:  Yes, but he got a security clearance.  His daughter got a security clearance.  Donald Trump still did every single thing he wanted to do, in spite of some of the general`s concerns.  So, my point, again, it doesn`t matter what any of these people say. 

As Adrienne said, Trump believes he won alone, but the only negative side of this is if he loses, he`s not going to lose alone.  He`s not going down alone.  Many of the folks around him are going to go down with him, Chris.  And that`s a tragedy.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me tell you, he thinks he can do it all by himself, he`s an idiot, because -- I don`t know if he is an idiot, but I`ll tell you, I have worked in politics for years, and every politician needs counselors, men and women around him who will say be careful on that.  You`re going to watch that and you`re going to get in trouble with that. 

ELROD:  You can ask some of the most effective White House chiefs of staff in recent history, Rahm Emanuel, John Podesta, Leon Panetta, all of them, none of them were yes men, right?  Otherwise, there`s no way that Barack Obama would have gotten the Affordable Care Act passed.  Rahm Emanuel made that happen because you have to be constructive.  You have to have -- you have to have give and take and you cannot be a yes man in that job. 

SINGLETON:  That`s exactly why the White House is in chaos, why the president is experiencing impeachment.  There isn`t a cohesive message.  Republicans in the Senate seem to be sort of looking the other way. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Shermichael, you`re a Republican, right? 


MATTHEWS:  Let`s imagine this, as a party guy. 


MATTHEWS:  This guy gets re-elected by a squeaker.  It`s still possible.  I don`t think he will, but he could win by a squeaker.  Win Pennsylvania by a squeaker over Senator Warren or somebody, who knows?  Or Biden. 

He squeaks it, he comes back like, my God, I can do anything I want.  I got away with everything. 

SINGLETON:  He will. 

MATTHEWS:  I did it all myself.  I`ll do anything.  Anything.

SINGLETON:  If people think the past two and a half, three years have been mad, imagine when the guy doesn`t have to worry about the next re-election. 


SINGLETON:  He feels the impeachment has gone nowhere.  He was found not guilty, if you will, in the Senate.  He`s going to say, I now have an immense amount of power that alleviates --

ELROD:  He feels like he has a mandate.

MATTHEWS:  And just take a look at the Supreme Court when he`s done then, too.  It will be 7-2 right wing court for the next 50 years. 

ELROD:  Let`s thing positively.  I don`t think he`s going to get reelected.

MATTHEWS:  I want to warn people on not voting, thinking of not voting next year.  Just two words, 7-2 will be the Supreme Court when he`s done.  They will when I get finished with them.  I`m going to remind them. 

Adrienne, thank you so much.  Shermichael, you`re going to stick with us. 


MATTHEWS:  Still ahead, Biden and Buttigieg fight it out.  Everybody is a B this year.  Have you noticed?  Booker, everybody is B.  From moderate Republicans and other 2020 coming up, this is interesting, he`s trying to take away that guy`s lane.  He may do it in Iowa. 

We`ll be right back. 



PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The upsetting cynicism of this White House is that you have somebody who on one hand sees actual literal no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Jews will not replace us anti-Semites as very fine people. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of course, today, now, using strong language, had to bleep it there, while speaking to a left-leaning Jewish advocacy group J Street about the president`s relationship with Israel.  He was invoking President Trump`s remarks following the deadly 2017 Charlottesville rally.  Buttigieg has seen a rise in support as he tries to secure his place in the moderate lane of the party, alongside Joe Biden. 

Well, that support is most apparent in Iowa where Buttigieg has now seen his numbers rise to more than double since the beginning of September.  He`s on the rise in Iowa.  Watch him. 

According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls for Iowa, Buttigieg has risen to third place, only slightly behind Biden.  Even as the race tightens, Biden said he`s confident in his status as leader of the pack. 


REPORTER:  Do you still consider yourself the front-runner? 

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I know I`m front-runner.  Find me a national poll with a notable, a couple of exceptions.  But, look, this is a marathon.  This is a marathon. 


MATTHEWS:  Adrienne Elrod and Shermichael Singleton are sticking with me.

I have three possible scenarios.  Choose your favorite.  How this election for the Democratic nomination works.

Number one, Elizabeth Warren wins early and keeps winning fast breaks.  She wins Iowa, she wins New Hampshire, she keeps winning.  She is a fast break winner of the nomination without stop.  She goes right through Nevada with Harry Reid behind her.  Who knows?  She takes a couple of losses but can`t be stop.

The second possibility is Buttigieg messes up the whole thing by winning in Iowa, taking race a lot further down the road because that will hurt her chances of winning in New Hampshire.  It will give Biden a second chance back in South Carolina.  The whole thing will slow down through Super Tuesday. 

Buttigieg is the one that slows thing.  He`s like a big yellow flag and a race that slows -- it`s not the one that slows people down.  Everything slows down.

Third possibility, and I don`t think it is likely at this point, Biden wins everything from the beginning. 

You`re the Democrat.

ELROD:  Yes.  I think third scenario -- 

MATTHEWS:  What`s -- if you like any scenario, which scenario do you like? 

ELROD:  If you were to pick one of three, I think the last scenario is the least one that takes place.  But look --

MATTHEWS:  What`s the most likely?  Fast break for him? 

ELROD:  First, with Elizabeth Warren, but I`ll tell you, Mayor Pete is on the rise.  We have seen this in poll after poll.  You also have to look, Chris, of course, at cash on hand.  Mayor Pete is sitting on $23.5 million.  Versus Joe Biden sitting on $8.5 million. 

MATTHEWS:  What would you do with that money?  Blow in it Iowa?  Just spend it?  Does he have 35 offices in Iowa right now?

ELROD:  Yes, but I think he`s doing it already.  I mean, first of all, it`s a good thing there is a super PAC going in for him.  He needs the extra funding.  I would take a long hard look at my payroll and figure out whose staff salaries can I reduce and probably fly a little less on private planes than $1 million on private planes. 


MATTHEWS:  The cost-cutting way to the presidency.  I love it. 

ELROD:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Shermichael, my bet?  I think Buttigieg wins early and slows the whole thing down.  I see two numbers in Iowa.  One, none of the above, undecided.  And the other is Buttigieg, which is another way of saying none of the above but my February vote is for Buttigieg.  I think later about November.  Your thought?

SINGLETON:  I think number two is absolutely likely.  I think he has the amount of money, the cash on hand enables him to be able continue, to build that --

ELROD:  Small donors.

SINGLETON:  -- small donors -- 

MATTHEWS:  And, by the way, people are fine beam good values say I`m with Buttigieg and nobody challenges them.  They go, oh, that doesn`t make sense. 

SINGLETON:  All right.  Because he has the money to build the type of robust infrastructure that allows a campaign in a key state like Iowa to directly target and mobilize voters and there are a lot of voters in Iowa who are looking at Biden and saying he`s shaky. 

MATTHEWS:  There aren`t many black voters in Iowa who had a problem with white guys.


SINGLETON:  They`re looking at the mayor and see the guy is smart.  He`s moderate leaning.  We think he could go the long way. 

And I think that benefits mayor but I think it is certainly something the Biden campaign should be concerned about.  One, they haven`t been able to raise a significant amount of money and two, if he can`t win in Iowa and New Hampshire, that goes against his entire argument. 

MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry, how come he`s been the one successful person to question Senator Warren about financing and health care and the rest of her program?  How come he`s been able to bite into her and hang on to that question? 

ELROD:  That is an excellent question, Chris, and that`s what we saw happen in that last debate.  Instead of Joe Biden taking on the, I`m going to defend the establishment, I`m going to defend Obamacare which I helped get past as vice president, I`m going to defend these Obama era policies.  It was Mayor Pete making that defense with an assist by Amy Klobuchar. 

Joe Biden has got -- look, debates have not hurt him so far, right?  But I think if he wants to keep Mayor Pete at bay, he has to have a stronger performance and he`s got to be the one on that stage defending those Obama era policies. 

MATTHEWS:  Was Norah O`Donnell right by asking, are you quick enough to run for president?  That`s a pretty brutal question.

SINGLETON:  It is but it`s an honest question.  And I think Mayor Pete is really carving out a piece of that moderate lane, Chris, and I think there are a lot of moderate white voters --

MATTHEWS:  Are you smarter than him?  Are you smarter than him?  I`m just teasing you. 


SINGLETON:  He`s a brilliant guy. 

MATTHEWS:  I`m just teasing you because I don`t know anybody who is smarter than him.  Every time you ask him a question you have the sense that he had the question two weeks ago, and he`s been working on it.  But he just got it.  He`s very smart.

SINGLETON:  He`s quick on his feet, and I think if you contrast him to Joe Biden, who is often sluggish, his responses are rambling and all over the place -- again, I think people look at the mayor, they look at Biden, and they`re going to say, this is a guy who can go the long haul. 

ELROD:  Ii still think this is Joe Biden`s race to lose/Elizabeth Warren`s race to lose. 

SINGLETON:  I agree with that.

ELROD:  It`s two front runners.  Joe Biden has so far the most broad, the most diverse coalition.

MATTHEWS:  Are you with him? 

ELROD:  I am undeclared. 

MATTHEWS:  But you sounded like you`re with him. 

ELROD:  No, I`m a huge Joe Biden fan.  I`m also a Mayor Pete fan. 

SINGLETON:  I mean, as a Republican, I respect the vice president.  I like him a lot.  But I think his support with African-American could decrease if he doesn`t perform well in the early state as we saw President Obama who saw his support increase as a result of --

MATTHEWS:  Because the black voter is watching, a national story.  They don`t want to waste their votes. 

SINGLETON:  You don`t.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Adrienne Elrod.  Thank you, Shermichael Singleton, a Republican, a Democrat.

Up next, remembering James Foley.  Remember him?  We ought to.  You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  I thought of one person when I heard the head of ISIS was dead this weekend.  I thought of James Foley, that young American journalist who ISIS killed five years ago. 

When the history of war is written, any war, it is the courageous one and those are the ones who deserve our regard, the good people of the war.  Those like James Foley who when horror ranges, the world turns itself on life and death, show their character, their true worth as human beings.  I have for the last five years carried in my wall at the time photo of James Foley with his head shaven, being walked out there in front of cameras to have his life stripped from him, to have his head cut off -- all for the world to see. 

And what did they see?  What did James Foley give these evil people that so much want to get something from him?  Here`s what.  When Foley met his end squarely in the face, he showed the stoic face of moral courage.  To the very end, he held true to who he was.  He gave them nothing. 

I will carry that photo with me long after ISIS is dead because to me, the memory of James Foley`s courage and stoicism is what matters, and my best again to his father and mother.  How proud you must be. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us tonight. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.