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20 years of Hardball. TRANSCRIPT: 11/8/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Betsy Woodruff Swan, Steve Schmidt, Javed Ali, Kathleen Matthews

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  So let me say I`m going to get out right on time.  Happy, happy birthday to HARDBALL, to Chris Matthews, the whole HARDBALL team.  And, boy, are you going to want to watch tonight.

HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington on the exact day of HARDBALL`s 20th anniversary on MSNBC.  I`ll be joined later in the show by a few special guests, including one you`ve often heard me call the queen.

We start with the news tonight, big news tonight, a conspiracy so immense that it includes the president`s chief of staff, his lawyer, his designated envoy and a hijacked State Department.  New transcripts released today show how the president and his deputies used their power to subvert U.S. foreign policy in favor of a political agenda.

The evidence against the president continues to mount.  That effort is described in the testimonies of a current and former member of the president`s National Security Council, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hall -- Hill, rather.

Vindman told Congress that on early July, Ambassador Gordon Sondland made it clear that the U.S.`s relationship with Ukraine was contingent, that`s the word, on the political dirt Trump was seeking.

As a prerequisite to getting face time with Trump at the White House, the Ukrainians would have to deliver an investigation into the Bidens.  There was no ambiguity, Vindman said.

According to Vindman and Fiona Hill, that condition came from Trump`s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the same official who froze military aid to Ukraine on orders from the president.  Vindman said that by August, it became evident that the freeze on military aid, quote, was an added pressure point to obtain the deliverable from Ukraine, emphasizing that the message was clear and that the logic there seems inescapable.

He also testified that having listened to Trump`s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, there was no doubt, that was his phrase, no doubt about the favor Trump wanted.

As Vindman described it, the power disparate between the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine is vast.  It was a demand from Zelensky -- for Zelensky to fulfil this particular prerequisite in order to get this meeting with the president.

For more, I`m joined by Betsy Woodruff Swan, Politics Reporter for The Daily Beast, and Javed Ali, former Senior Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and Steve Schmidt, you`re back, a former Republican strategist.  Thank you all for joining us.

I want to start with Betsy, a top reporter on this story.  Boy, the layers and the layers, and what grabbed me tonight was the breadth of it.  It`s like the line from the Woodward and Bernstein book on Watergate.  All the president`s men, so many people involved in this caper, the screw, the information and the dirt out of this little president from Ukraine.

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICS REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST":  The way this project is structured is also classic Trump.  Remember during the Mueller investigation, one issue that sort of appeared over and over when it came to the case for obstruction of justice that Mueller appears to have laid out was Trump sending his subordinates or directing his subordinates to try to pressure Mueller, to try to pressure Sessions to reverse his recusal.

Trump insulated himself by surrounding himself with people who are directly under him and having them essentially do what we would likely view as dirty work.  And we`re seeing the exact same thing here when it comes to the president`s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the family and his political rival rather than Trump himself directly telling Zelensky, he keeps himself insulated, he covers for himself and he dispatches his chief of staff as well as Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, who has his imprimatur to essentially turn the screws.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I agree with that.  Let me bring in Steve on this.  I haven`t heard from you for a while and I want to get your political sense here.

The number of people he attached to this, brought them in from different corners, everybody with the same mission, screw this information, the stand-up information, this press conference with a big video attached to it of the president of Ukraine saying, I`m studying, I`m investigating this bad guy, Joe Biden.  It seemed to me that it was like a RICO case, all kinds of tethers to get this done.

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  For sure, that the focus of U.S. policy was clearly to launch this investigation against Joe Biden.  It`s just a profound and, I mean, profound abuse of power.  It`s almost unfathomable.

You have the president of the United States.  The issue is military aid to Ukraine, which is fighting a hot war with Russia on its eastern front.  The Ukraine needs the American military assistance.  Congress has passed it.  The president of the United States is taking actions that serve in the end the interests of the Russian federation, serve the interests of Vladimir Putin and he`s allowing that to happen suborning our national security interests to his self-interests to the politics of the moment trying to get a foreign head of state to interfere, intervene in an American presidential election with an investigation.

And the idea that you could do that as the president of the United States to any U.S. citizen is terrifying and it`s a serious breach of power that I think we`ve seen out of a White House in both of our lifetimes.  It`s extraordinary.

MATTHEWS:  It sure is.  I`m able to stance the pleading from the Ukraine investigation, the Republican allies and the president are now launching a desperate bid to save the president by sacrificing three of Trump`s top deputies.  That`s according to The Washington Post, which reports today, Republicans are sewing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing, they were rogue, to pursue their own agendas.  In other words, the GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.

Javed, is this credible given your knowledge of the American bureaucracy?  The chief of staff was also head of OMB, that the president`s special envoy, head of the -- our ambassador to the European Union, everybody, and the president`s lawyer who`s doing all kinds of work over there for him, like Luca Brasi, the dirty work, the wet work, doing all of that work over there.  And it isn`t coming from him.

JAVED ALI, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL:  It seems implausible.  And one thing this Ukraine investigation seemed to show is how much of a deviation has occurred from the traditional National Security Council and decision-making process to what may have happened with Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney and Ambassador Sondland.  You had two parallel streams of foreign policy.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, one is controlling all of money.  That`s the head of OMB.

ALI:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  And he said, we`re cutting off aid.  And there`s the other guy saying, you know what you`ve got to do to get the money.  You know what you`ve got to do to get that money.  You`ve got to go a nearest microphone and say, I`m investigating Joe Biden.

ALI:  Right.  And, again, that seems to be such a deviation from the traditional process that was put in place.  And --

MATTHEWS:  We`re defining deviant, it`s downward.

ALLI:  And it exists for 70 years and existed for a reason, to make sure things like this do not --

MATTHEWS:  Well, the NSC, where you worked, was to coordinate all U.S. aspects of our foreign policy and defense policy, right.

ALI:  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  And here, you`re discovering there`s a hijacking going on.

Last month, President Trump referred to Ambassador Sondland as a, quote, really good man and great American.  Well, since Sondland changed his testimony and is now implicating Trump in a quid pro quo or a bribery, the president isn`t so sure about Sondland.  Watch him now.


REPORTER:  Gordon Sondland said at the beginning of September, he presumed there was a quid pro quo.  Then there was a telephone call to you on September the 9th.  Had he ever talked to you prior to that telephone call?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman.


MATTHEWS:  He has done that before.  I heard that before.  I don`t know the guy.

Anyway, of course, this is the first time the president has used the I hardly knew him defense to minimize his ties to people who may pose a threat to him.


TRUMP:  James Comey, I hardly know the man.  I`m not going to say, I want you to pledge allegiance.

I never met Putin.  I don`t know who Putin is.

I don`t know anything about David Duke.

I don`t know Matt Whitaker.  Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions.

Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign.


MATTHEWS:  That`s why they have a RICO charge.  Because who loves to run things from above and pull all the strings set it up like this?  They have everybody doing what they want them to do but they can deny all the relationships.

SWAN:  One thing we`ve also seen through Trump`s presidency is that when he tries to use this defense, it can backfire.  In the case of Michael Cohen, it`s clear that part of the reason he was so frustrated with the president and decided to flip was informed by the fact that Trump seems to be essentially trying to disassociate himself from him.

That said, Sondland is still framing his testimony in a way that seems designed to sort of firm up this defense that Trump is making.  Remember, even though he updated or clarified his testimony just a couple of days ago to say, actually, I did think there was a quid pro quo, despite that, he`s still saying, but, technically, no one ever told me.  That`s something that even though it might not have much credibility with the typical viewer will be really valuable to the congressional Republicans and you can expect them to hammer in open testimony next week.

MATTHEWS:  Steve, let`s talk about politics.  You know it better than I.  You`ve been at a higher level for a longer time, and I`m going to ask you this.  Does anybody doubt who the boss is?  I mean, the boss is the boss.  In this case, it`s Trump.  You do what he wants you to do.  Everybody does what he wants him to do, right?

SCHMIDT:  Well, I think that`s the fall line right now, is we don`t pledge allegiance to an individual in this country.  Our system isn`t built on a cult of personality.  We`re oldest constitutional republic in the world.  And when officers commissioned by the White House with Mick Mulvaney is or an ambassador, they swear an oath to preserve and protect, to defend the Constitution of the United States.

And that`s what this is, is we have people who are working for the American people that are supposed to be public servants who have become obedient lap dogs to the leader.  This is not healthy in a democracy and it represents really a fundamental sickness in our system that we see playing out every day.

In the end the politics of this, Chris, what is it that the Republican defenders and enablers on the Hill are defending here.  They`re defending the right of a future Democratic president to be able to abuse his or her power by inducing investigations of U.S. persons, of U.S. citizens for their political advantage?

The abuse of power, the abuse of the office and the willingness of people to subordinate what they know is right to this guy is an astounding moment in our national life.  And it is something I think that ten years ago, if you had woken up from a coma, you just wouldn`t be able to comprehend it at any conceivable level.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it reminds me of the days of the pharaohs where they would kill all the slaves after they buried the pharaohs so that nobody knew how to get into the tomb.  They just kill them all.  That`s what they`re doing to these people.  You get rid of them, they`re dispensable.

Thank you Betsy Woodruff Swan and Javed Ali.  And Steve Schmidt is going to stick with us in the next segment.

And coming up, the shocking new book from the anonymous writer, called anonymous, who says he`s a senior Trump administration official possibly still in the White House.  In it, the author of the book, anonymous, describes Trump as dangerous, quote, like a 12-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately.

Plus, 20 years of playing HARDBALL at MSNBC, I`m going to look back at some of the surprising guests we`ve got tonight.  Wait until you catch our guests, live guests to talk about the last 20 years, the last generation of HARDBALL.

Stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A new book by anonymous, that author, calling himself or herself anonymous, claiming to be a senior official in the Trump administration, perhaps in the White House itself, paints a disturbing picture of the president he often describes as erratic, disinterested and deteriorating.

And excerpts of A Warning, that`s the name of the book, obtained by the Rachel Maddow Show last night, the author writes about the challenges of briefing President Trump.  Quote, if the aim was to educate this new commander in chief, they couldn`t submit a 50-page report, expect him to read it and then discuss it.  Adding, others discovered that if they walked into the Oval Office with a simple graphic that Trump liked, it would more than do the trick.

Well, The Washington Post also acquired a copy of the book.  And one excerpt recounts the president railing against federal court decisions, including the 2017 travel ban, remember, against the Muslims.  The author claims the president asked a lawyer, can we just get rid of the judges, just get rid of the expletive judges?  There shouldn`t be any at all, really.

Another excerpt described responding to President Trump`s tweets, it`s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pants less across the courtyard.

NBC News hasn`t seen the excerpts obtained by The Post or been able to confirm those contents.  We stress the author`s account is uncorroborated information coming from an anonymous source.  Well, the whole book is anonymous.

Steve Schmidt, what do you make of these excerpts that have leaked out about how you have to communicate with this guy?  It seems like a very simple person that you have to go with a picture and talk to him like that, like he`s speaking another language.

SCHMIDT:  Yes.  I`m not sure, Chris, I understand what the revelation here is.  Three years on that every day, he proves his unrelenting ignorance, his nastiness, his infidelity to the freedoms of the country, he`s authoritarian by his nature.  And so the idea that this guy is completely unprepared, doesn`t want to know anything or, worse, thinks he already knows everything, is just not news.  I mean, we see it play out literally hour-by-hour, tweet-by-tweet.

MATTHEWS:  I can go with you on that intellectually, but graphically it`s hard to take.  For example, the new one, the president`s son, Donald Trump Jr., has also written a book, well, as a takedown of the left.  In Triggered, that`s the name of the book, he reminisces about a visit to Arlington National Cemetery the day before his father`s inauguration, writing, I rarely get emotional, if ever, yet as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a sense of the deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country.

In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we had already suffered as a family and about all the sacrifices we`d have to make to help my father succeed voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were profiting off the office.

Here`s a kid who`s inspired by grave markers of the lost and that courageous that think about how their family had given up millions.

SCHMIDT:  It`s the nation`s most hallowed ground, Arlington National Cemetery.  It`s a sacred space, incredible place where you see the great sacrifice that has been by American patriots to preserve this experiment that we`ve had going on for 200-plus years.  And when you read Don Jr. saying that, it`s like -- literally, it`s like an episode from Veep.  I mean, it`s hard to believe that an actual human being, you know, with the Senchants (ph) wrote that down.  It`s just -- I don`t know what to say about it.  I mean, it`s incredible.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it`s grotesque.  Let`s start with that, Steve.

SCHMIDT:  It is grotesque.

MATTHEWS:  You`ve been off the air for a while.  You`re just back the last couple of weeks.  What do you think?  Is Trump deteriorating, or is what we saw when we elected him, or the country did in the Electoral College, what we have got now?  Is it different?  Is it worse? 

SCHMIDT:  I do think it`s worse, because, as time goes on, I think the chances for something very bad to happen go up. 

And I think that, right now, we`re in the consequences stage of the Trump presidency.  We have thousands of ISIS fighters that have escaped.  We see bloodshed in Syria caused by the rashness of his decision. 

We see devastation for family farmers because of the trade war that he`s precipitated.  And in the end, it could be that the Trump presidency, the consequence of it are felt by all of us in a very, very bad way.

But I think, when you look at the totality of the presidency in this moment, with a year to go heading into the election, we`re heading into the most consequential election the country has had since 1864, because the country is going to have to make a decision whether to repudiate or embrace to Trump and Trumpism. 

And an embrace of Trump and Trumpism for the second I think fundamentally changes the nature of the American republic in a way that none of us would have envisioned 10 years ago. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m waiting for the Democrats to nominate General McClellan this time. 

But thank you, Steve Schmidt.  It`s great to have you back in the saddle. 

SCHMIDT:  Good to be back.

C. MATTHEWS:  Up next, my very special guests Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski escort me down memory lane, if you will, as we look back at 20 incredible years of HARDBALL.

You`re not going to want to miss this.  Stick around for the fun. 


JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR:  Hey, Chris, congratulations on the 20th anniversary of HARDBALL.  What an incredible milestone. 

JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  I can`t believe it`s been 20 years, but a huge, enormous congratulations to you for an extraordinary run in a very, very tough business. 

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Hey, Chris, congratulations.  Now let`s play HARDBALL. 






C. MATTHEWS:  Obama drama. 

Cheney the meanie. 

To the moon and back. 

No one`s ever late for an execution. 

Don`t tax you, don`t tax me.  Tax that fellow behind the tree. 

To Huckabee or not to be. 

So, is the Newt scoop moot?

High noon on gun control. 

No country for old men.

Hope for the pope. 

Weiner Schnitzel.

Mutiny of the wacko birds. 

Is the free world free from fear?

Could it really be Trump vs. Hillary next year?

You say you want a revolution?

Size matters, day four. 

Friends without benefits.  Moscow nights.

White House rumble. 

To Russia with love. 

Mueller time. 

Individual one. 

A Trumped-up emergency?

Cohen doubles down. 

Barr fight. 

Who`s afraid of big, bad Mueller?

Second term or prison term? 

The whistle-blower vs. tweeter. 

Let`s play HARDBALL. 

Let`s play HARDBALL. 

Let`s play HARDBALL. 

I`m Chris Matthews.  Let`s play HARDBALL. 


BRZEZINSKI:  Oh, my God. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It gets no better than that.

I`m telling you, Mika, that is -- how great is that?

BRZEZINSKI:  Second term or prison term?  Barr fight, I love that one.

But size matters, I mean, let`s just stop right there. 


We`re going to stop there. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Chris, seriously that`s the most important part of the day for Mika.  Everything else revolves around 7:00 p.m. every night. 

BRZEZINSKI:  It`s true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  When did you get that idea? 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, the cold open, I guess a couple of things. 

I know that there`s like an 80-year-old kid once said they loved the show because they loved the opening.  They just loved the "let`s play HARDBALL" thing.

A lot of these things, Joe -- like you created "Morning Joe" with Mika.  A lot of it is generic.

One time, I said, let`s play HARDBALL, and we kept saying it.  I once -- a lot of this stuff, tell me something I don`t know on the Sunday show.  A lot of it`s, you do it once, and you go, yes, let`s do that, you know?

That`s how it works. 

BRZEZINSKI:  Well, how did we do? 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, you did good.  You got the hoot pretty well, Joe. 


C. MATTHEWS:  You have got to say --



C. MATTHEWS:  You have got to say a hiccup.  Like, you can`t plan to do it.  It just comes. 


C. MATTHEWS:  Hah!  Hah!

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Well, you know, it`s called HARDBALL for a reason, Mika. 

BRZEZINSKI:  Exactly.  It is. 

Over the past two decades, Chris has earned his reputation as one of the toughest interviewers on television. 

Let`s watch. 


C. MATTHEWS:  Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  KEVIN JAMES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, Chris. 

C. MATTHEWS:  What did he do? 

JAMES:  Neville Chamberlain -- Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser.  All right?

C. MATTHEWS:  What did he do? 

JAMES:  Neville Chamberlain, his -- his policies, the things that Neville Chamberlain supported energized --

C. MATTHEWS:  Tell me what he did. 

Are you an innocent man? 


And I have been a wronged man, Chris.  I never, ever intended to sell a Senate seat for financial gain.  When the prosecutor said he was stopping a crime spree before it happened, that prosecutor mutilated the truth.  I was conducting politics to get the most done for the people of Illinois. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Yes, but you -- OK, that`s the problem. 

BLAGOJEVICH:  And the truth is in the tapes.

C. MATTHEWS:  We have just gone in a circle here, Governor. 


C. MATTHEWS:  We have just gone in a circle. 


C. MATTHEWS:  Because you said you did nothing wrong.  But two minutes ago, you said you didn`t know if it was wrong or not.

Why does your party want a national law against gay marriage?  Why are you guys so much involved in abortion all the time?  Why do you have candidates talking about rape victims?  Why don`t you stay out of people`s lives, if you really want limited government?

DICK ARMEY, FORMER REPUBLICAN HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  Maybe it`s you`re so misguided, you think I`m misguided.


C. MATTHEWS:  No, I read the -- I read your party`s platform.  Do you?  I read the platform.  It`s not just rotten apples.  It`s your point of view.

Was he a legitimately elected president of the United States? 

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R-TX):  I wasn`t in Congress to determine that. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Can you repeat after me?  He was legitimately elected president?

FARENTHOLD:  President Obama was elected president. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Legitimately?

FARENTHOLD:  The people elected him, yes!

C. MATTHEWS:  Legitimate -- so, he was a natural-born citizen? 

FARENTHOLD:  I didn`t make that judgment when he was brought in. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Are you, Tom DeLay, with your political and professional and career history in the United States government, questioning this man`s bona fides as a -- 

TOM DELAY (R), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  No, no.  No, no.  I`m not questioning --

C. MATTHEWS:  No, you`re questioning it.  You want to see his paper. 

DELAY:  Chris, the Constitution of the United States specifically says --

C. MATTHEWS:  Oh, I know it.  But I have never asked you for yours. 

DELAY:  -- you have to be a natural-born citizen.

C. MATTHEWS:  A couple of his people said they believe that President Obama is a legitimately elected president of the United States.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  I confirmed that, and Donald Trump now confirms that.  Hillary Clinton campaigned --

C. MATTHEWS:  When did he do that?  When did he do that? 

GIULIANI:  Hillary -- he did that two years ago. 

C. MATTHEWS:  When did he do that? 

GIULIANI:  Two years ago.  Three years ago. 

C. MATTHEWS:  When did he -- he has now accepted that birtherism was nonsense? 

GIULIANI:  Look, Hillary Clinton`s campaign --

C. MATTHEWS:  When did he do that? 

GIULIANI:  Chris, Hillary Clinton`s campaign --

C. MATTHEWS:  He didn`t do that yet.  I am waiting for him to do it. 

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER:  Ken Cuccinelli could have turned around and said, hey, Virginia`s women, do you know that Terry McAuliffe holds a position that he`s for sex-selective abortion, he`s for late-term abortion? 


C. MATTHEWS:  Is he?  How do you know that`s a policy of Terry McAuliffe`s?

CONWAY:  I don`t.  What I said was, the advice I would give Ken --

C. MATTHEWS:  You just said you did.

CONWAY:   -- is to ask -- to make sure that Terry McAuliffe is asked the same kinds of questions on abortion that Ken Cuccinelli is asked.

C. MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know but he -- OK.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Public colleges and universities should be tuition-fee. 

C. MATTHEWS:  How do you pass it through the Senate? 

SANDERS:  Wait one second. 

C. MATTHEWS:  How do you get 60 votes for any of this?

SANDERS:  We`re going to pay for it through a tax on Wall Street speculation.

C. MATTHEWS:  Who`s going to pass that tax? 

SANDERS:  The American -- look, Chris. 

C. MATTHEWS:  The Senate`s going to pass that? 

SANDERS:  Chris, you and I look at the world differently.  You look at it inside the Beltway.  I`m not an inside-the-Beltway guy.  I`m an outside- the-Beltway guy. 

C. MATTHEWS:  But the people who vote on taxes are inside the Beltway. 

Who is your favorite foreign leader?


C. MATTHEWS:  Any -- just name anywhere in the country -- any one of the continents, any country. 

JOHNSON:  I guess I`m having an Aleppo moment, in the former -- former president of Mexico --

C. MATTHEWS:  But I`m giving you the whole world.

JOHNSON:  I know, I know, I know, I know.

C. MATTHEWS:  Anybody in the world you like, anybody.  Pick any leader.

JOHNSON:  The former president of Mexico.

C. MATTHEWS:  No.  Which one?

JOHNSON:  I`m having a brain -- I`m having a brain --

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, name anybody.


BRZEZINSKI:  Oh, my God. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable. 



BRZEZINSKI:  That was incredible. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my lord.

BRZEZINSKI:  So your interviews are tough.  Your interviews are honest.  You know your stuff.  And that`s all part of it, but is the secret sauce your love for politics?  What is it? 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, in those cases, I sort of scanned the sort of intellectual map to figure, what doesn`t this guy know or person know what they`re talking about?

Like, with Trump on abortion rights, he didn`t know what the pro-life position was.  It wasn`t punish the woman.  And he didn`t know.

And I try to figure out what they don`t know and ask them what they don`t know.  I don`t ask them what they want to talk about.  Ask them what they don`t want to talk about.

And I do push them.  I get accused of badgering them.  But other shows generally can ask the question twice before people say, you`re badgering the witness.  And I usually do it for three.  And then I still get attacked on social media. 

BRZEZINSKI:  Or four or five. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Because the people who back these candidates don`t want them to be hit with hard questions.  They don`t like hard questions, like, name a world leader. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, it`s so interesting.

C. MATTHEWS:  Name a world leader, if you`re running for president of the United States. 


BRZEZINSKI:  Not a tough one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, yes.  Yes, it`s unbelievable. 

I thought your back and forth with Bernie was really revealing. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Of course, how funny, a guy that`s been in Washington, D.C., for a quarter-of-a-century is calling you a Washington insider.  That`s funny. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well --

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, whether it`s Donald Trump saying Mexico is going to pay for the wall, or Bernie saying that he`s going to get 60 votes for free college, or we have Elizabeth Warren, it seems like every four years people make promises that just aren`t realistic. 

How important is it that you have been there?  And, again, it`s not what you`re for or what you`re against.  It`s what you know is possible. 

Politics is the art of the possible.  And you learned that like at the shoulder of one of the greats in congressional history, Tip O`Neill. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, you know -- Joe, you know the whole thing.  You served the House.  You know how it works.

The Senate is the cooling dish, the cooling saucer.  It takes 60 votes. 

And we -- for example, Senator Warren says she`s going to get rid of the filibuster role.  Well, yes, go ahead and try, because there`s a lot of traditional Democrats who believe in the institution and know that the Senate is distinct from the House, because it`s hard to get something through there. 

It does take 60 votes.  You get rid of the filibuster rule, it`s the House with less members.  And so I think that it`s not so easy.  It`s easier said than done. 

Every time I hear somebody talking about free tuition, or I hear about free health care paid for by the zillionaires, I go, OK, if you can do that with 50 votes or 51 votes, you can get rid of it with 50 or 51 votes the next election.  And we know how that works. 

You have a recession, another party comes in, they get rid of all that stuff.  So you got to build your house on a stronger foundation than 50 votes.  You need 60 votes.

SCARBOROUGH:  But has anything prepared you for the age we find ourselves in, where you have a White House and, in fact, a large part of my former Republican Party who lives by, as Kellyanne Conway said, an alternative reality, alternative facts.


SCARBOROUGH:  The truth as is known, the objective truth just doesn`t matter. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, back when I went to college, before you guys, we didn`t have Google.  We didn`t have any of that social media.  You couldn`t look up anything. 

So, at midnight, when you are arguing with somebody in the dorm, the way to shut somebody up was five bucks.  And that was a lot of money.  Five bucks.  Boy, people shut up when they hear that.  That`s the bet.  You bet.  We will go check it in the library tomorrow. 

But you -- it is one way to shut people up.  You just -- you`re not going to bet $5 unless you know you are right, not in those days.  That could buy you three or four meals. 

And I think that was really a great way to end the argument and to tell who`s bluffing, who says something just because it`s coming out of their head.  But you know what?  Are you willing to put money behind it?  Put your money where your mouth is. 

That wasn`t a bad expression in the old days.  I think it worked, rMDNM_tough people up.

BRZEZINSKI:  Well, next step, Chris, your producers scoured the HARDBALL vault for some memorable moments with celebrities and politicians. 

Let`s take a look. 


C. MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Ben, because this is something I`m thrilled with. 

Darrell Hammond does me rather well.  In fact, I try to do him sometimes, he`s so damn good at me.  I have heard through the grapevine, through my producers who with me, that you can do me. 

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR:  Not as well as Darrell Hammond.

But, all right, Ben Affleck, you`re on the show.  What do you know?  You`re an actor.  You`re an idiot.  Tell us, what are you here for?  What have you got?  I`m sitting with David Gergen.  This guy has worked for four presidents. 

What do know?  Why am I talking to you?  Go ahead. Answer. 


AFFLECK:  How is that?  Is that all right?

C. MATTHEWS:  I think that was Howard Cosell, but nice try. 

I heard your uncle, rather, your late dad passed.  But your got ahold of --


BRADLEY COOPER, ACTOR:  First of all, it`s an honor to be on here, let me say. 


C. MATTHEWS:  Well, thank you.

COOPER:  Yes. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Got ahold of Robert De Niro and insisted that the guy do great things like (INAUDIBLE) and athlete and you`s guys and all this stuff and yo and all the Philly talk.

He insisted De Niro, one of the great actors of all time, get it right.


And Bob really is very --

C. MATTHEWS:  Do you like being able to call Robert De Niro Bob?

COOPER:  I do, yes.  I do, any moment.  I like better calling him dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Reverend, you vowed to fight the war on drugs and crack down on the drug dealers.  You also vowed to lower incarceration rates.

HARDBALL, Reverend, how are you going to do both? 


AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION":  I want to be president.  You want to grow up be Chris Matthews. 


C. MATTHEWS:  Can you say "let them eat cake" in French?


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  I can, but I won`t.

C. MATTHEWS:  You have a broadcaster`s voice.  Do you know that?


C. MATTHEWS:  It`s a good thing to have. 

BUTTIGIEG:  I think I`m going to stick to my day job, if they will let me.

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe this is a trick question.  I don`t think so.  But, Senator --


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA:  Never would Chris Matthews ask a trick question, would you think?  Never.


MCCAIN:  My problem is that I have the Christian Matthews syndrome.  I want to break in.  I want to talk too fast.  And I want to get too much -- cram too much information in.  You would be lousy at these debates, Chris. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about who you would like to see win for professional reasons.  Who would be the best setup material for the next four to eight years? 


C. MATTHEWS:  Yes, sir. 

STEWART:  Can you slow it down a peg? 



C. MATTHEWS:  No.  That`s the answer.

STEWART:  I feel like I got oatmeal in my head. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a question slower.  Who would you, as a comedian, most like to see elected president? 

STEWART:  As a comedian? 


STEWART:  I`d like to see Mr. T elected president. 

Do I have to leave now?

C. MATTHEWS:  Yes, you have to leave now. 

STEWART:  Can I recommend something to you, though, before I go?




I will start using periods and commas and semicolons. 


BRZEZINSKI:  What we have learned today, no one can do Chris Matthews better than Chris himself. 

There`s a lot more to come.

Up next: Steve Kornacki at the board with a look at HARDBALL by the numbers.

And remember when Chris Matthews was challenged to a duel?  That`s coming up too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Chris, congratulations on 20 great years of informing your audience, and I look forward to another 20.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am so impressed with your indefatigable spirit, your determination to get to the truth, your passion and energy for the field of journalism.  And you really know how to laugh.

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Keep up the great work, especially in this time for our nation.  Your show, your journalism, your willingness, your guts are what this country needs. 




C. MATTHEWS:  A Republican senator broke ranks and came over and spoke for the Democrats, would you respect him? 



MILLER:  Of course I would.  I have seen that happen from time to time.  Look --


C. MATTHEWS:  What does Jim Jeffords say to you?

MILLER:  Wait a minute.


C. MATTHEWS:  Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched parties after getting elected.

MILLER:  If you`re going to ask a question --

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, it`s a tough question.  It takes a few words.

MILLER:  Get out of my face.


MILLER:  If you are going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer.


C. MATTHEWS:  Senator, please.

MILLER:  You know, I wish we --


MILLER:  I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel.


MILLER:  Now, that would be pretty good.



SCARBOROUGH:  I`ll tell you, all these years later, I still don`t know what the hell that was about. 


That was the first and only time an MSNBC host was challenged to a duel by a politician. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my lord.

BRZEZINSKI:  That`s never happened to you, right? 



Let`s head over to Steve Kornacki at the Big Board to break down the numbers on 20 years of HARDBALL -- Steve.


Well, yes, 20 years of HARDBALL on MSNBC.

Of course, the true die-hard fans remember the Chris Matthews television phenomenon goes back further than that.  There was -- remember this one?

There was "Politics With Chris Matthews" on the old America`s Talking Network.  Then that went away.  "Politics With Chris Matthews" on CNBC, then HARDBALL on CNBC, and then, finally, 20 years ago, HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS on MSNBC, 20 years and counting. 

And speaking of counting, what are some of the milestones?  What are some of the big numbers that stand out from the last 20 years?  How about this one?

Six presidents of the United States, six commanders in chief have appeared on HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS on MSNBC. 

You had former President Carter.  You also had former President Gerald Ford.  And you have had every current president, starting with Bill Clinton in the late `90s, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and, yes, Donald Trump.  Donald Trump has appeared a couple of times on HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS. 

That`s six presidents.  It`s also eight presidential nominees, eight candidates for president from the major parties have appeared on HARDBALL, John Kerry, John McCain, some blasts from the past right here, eight presidential nominees, then countless -- we tried to start tallying these. 

Frankly, there were too many to count, candidates for president, Democrats, Republicans, running in their presidential primaries in 2000, 2004, 2008, all the elections since this show came to MSNBC, too many to count, and, of course, this year largest Democratic field ever. 

That number has certainly, that tally has certainly grown. 

If you`re running for president, you`re going to be on HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS. 

How about this?  Chris himself impersonated on the gold standard of pop culture, "Saturday Night Live" -- 26 times, Chris has been impersonated by Darrell Hammond.  You all know that`s Darrell Hammond. 

I remember, I was covering the 2004 primary, presidential primary, up in New Hampshire Saturday before the primary, big bar.  Everybody in the media is there.  TV has "SNL" on.  Darrell Hammond comes out to do Chris Matthews. 

The door opens in the bar.  Chris Matthews walks in.  The place went crazy, a really memorable moment there back in 2004. 

Of course, Darrell Hammond came on HARDBALL a few times.  And that set a record for the most "hah"s.  I can`t do it like Chris, 13 "hah"s in one segment, Chris Matthews talking to Darrell Hammond there.

  And you mentioned this one, of course, the dual, 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City`s, Zell Miller, keynote speaker that year, came on after, challenged Chris to a duel.

I could even give you one more number here.  How about 2.8?  So this happened.  Where Chris was when this happened was 2.8 miles from the site of the Burr-Hamilton duel. 

So a couple of hundred years later, 2.8 miles away, Chris Matthews, Zell Miller, and it almost turned into a duel.  But, of course, it didn`t. 

So, 20 years of HARDBALL for Chris Matthews here on MSNBC. 

Congratulations to you, Chris -- back to you, Joe and Mika. 

BRZEZINSKI:  Aww, that`s so nice, Steve.

That`s really nice. 

I got tell you.  You ask me all the time why I love HARDBALL.  You`re like, "Why are you obsessed with it?" because I freak out at 6:58 p.m.


BRZEZINSKI:  Well, you know why I love it?  Because he loves it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, not only that, but, yes, six presidents, countless presidential candidates, 26 times impersonated on "SNL." 

Those are the cute numbers.  But the fact is that Chris Matthews, we have marked our time.  Certainly, politics in this century and even the end of last century was defined by Chris Matthews and this show. 

BRZEZINSKI:  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There`s so much noise out there.  There`s so much chatter out there.  This show still matters, like it always has. 


SCARBOROUGH:  And, Chris, we just want to thank you for letting us be a part of this to just thank you for all you have done, not only for us and this network, but, more importantly, for the conversation and the country. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Well, I have got to congratulate you guys in return, because you guys created something in the morning that nobody else ever did. 

While I always like to say that, when President Trump is sitting in his bubble bath watching "FOX & Friends," you guys are putting on a real news show. 


C. MATTHEWS:  And it`s a hell of a good thing.  You guys, you created it.

BRZEZINSKI:  That`s so nice.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, Chris. 

BRZEZINSKI:  We really share your love for politics. 

When HARDBALL returns, another surprise guest will join Chris to celebrate 20 years. 

Hint:  She`s the queen of HARDBALL. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.  We will be right back. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Secretary Baker, it`s time for your video tribute to Chris Matthews

JAMES BAKER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  Are you kidding me?  Chris has gone to breakfast, lunch and dinner for decades off his relationship with Tip O`Neill. 

That loudmouth has no political sense.  He has no professionalism, and he can`t get his story straight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, just look at the camera and say a few nice words about him anyway.

BAKER:  Are we rolling? 


BAKER:  My friends, Chris Matthews is forthright.  He tells truth to power.  And he works his tail off to get to the bottom of a story. 

I hope he gets another 20 years on HARDBALL, because Chris is a consummate news man who appreciates the importance of bipartisanship in governments. 

There, that ought to work.



C. MATTHEWS:  I`m joined right now by the person who knows me better than anyone else, my wife, Kathleen, the queen.  There you are, Kathleen.

And it`s your segment. 

KATHLEEN MATTHEWS, WIFE OF CHRIS MATTHEWS:  This has been your life, right?  This is your life. 


K. MATTHEWS:   -- show you grew up with?

C. MATTHEWS:  Oh, I have been with you twice as long as this show. 

K. MATTHEWS:  We will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary in 2020.

C. MATTHEWS:  Right. 

K. MATTHEWS:  But 1999 -- so, Steve Kornacki went through the numbers.


K. MATTHEWS:  And here are our numbers, married almost 40 years.  We met in 1978. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Yes, at the White House Correspondents -- no, at the Radio/TV Correspondents Dinner.

K. MATTHEWS:  Radio/TV Correspondents Dinner.  We have a great picture of us in that first year when we were dating. 


K. MATTHEWS:  We haven`t changed that much, have we? 

C. MATTHEWS:  No, I have stayed exactly the same.  You have become more glamorous, I think.


K. MATTHEWS:  And, 1999, when HARDBALL started here on MSNBC, think back about that. 

1989, we did a fabulous first family safari to Africa in that summer before.

C. MATTHEWS:  What year was that?

K. MATTHEWS:  1999.  It was our first trip of you taking the kids to the Africa you love.

C. MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Yes. 

I thought that was -- we went with --


C. MATTHEWS:   -- the hunter out there.

And we went all around these wild places in Kenya that very few people go.  And you found -- we found real animals.  They weren`t in a preserve or anything.  We found the real ones. 

K. MATTHEWS:  That`s right. 

And our kids are grown up now, obviously, but Caroline at that point was only 10 years old.  Thomas was in seventh grade.  And Michael was a sophomore in high school. 

C. MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Now that is our grown-up family.

But back then, we went to showers that were made out of river water and a big -- a big sort of a plastic bag of water to throw on your head. 

K. MATTHEWS:  That`s right.

C. MATTHEWS:  And it smelled of the river, remember? 

K. MATTHEWS:  And Bill Clinton was the president, very popular over in Africa. 


K. MATTHEWS:  What was he like to cover for you on HARDBALL?

C. MATTHEWS:  He was a mixed bag, like most politicians.  I think he was smart as a whip. 

I think he got in trouble with Monica and some other things that sort of put a mark on his presidency.  But he was a moderate Democrat.  I think he figured out a way to save the Democratic Party, when it was in real trouble.  He brought it back. 

He beat an incumbent president who was very respected. 

K. MATTHEWS:  Right.

C. MATTHEWS:  That was quite a -- quite a victory for him.

K. MATTHEWS:  And succeeded by Bush`s son, George W. Bush. 

What was that like to cover for you? 

C. MATTHEWS:  I thought George W. was OK as a personality.  When I hung out with him as a candidate, I liked him personally. 

I was destroyed.  And I thought he handled 9/11 really well.

K. MATTHEWS:  Destroyed because of the war in Iraq?

C. MATTHEWS:  The Iraq War.


C. MATTHEWS:  I just thought that nothing to do with Iraq -- with 9/11.  They didn`t have anything to do with it. 

I thought it was Cheney and a bunch of the neocons, and he got talked into it.  And then he led the war -- into war that cost 100,000 people their lives and left us and Israel without a bunker -- without a buffer between us and Iran. 

They said it was to protect our security, and it made us less secure.  We would have been much better off with Iran and Iraq going at each other. 

K. MATTHEWS:  So, fast-forward to Trump.

When you were falling in love with politics as a young kid, did you ever imagine a presidency like this? 


And I don`t want to use this anniversary to take another shot at him, except up to say there was a part of Trump that he`s repressed which was interesting, the part, the sort of Gatsby, the -- sort of the loner, the individual against the establishment, a bit like "Citizen Kane" too.

There`s a very American piece there.  But that`s been smothered over by the indecency of the guy.  That sort of individualism, taking on both parties` establishment, there was a lot of important stuff going on there. 

And that`s why people, I think, voted for him.  And yet, once he got into power, he did not elevate himself to the office.  He didn`t become a better person.  He took shots at people`s physical disabilities, at their looks, at their voices, at their gender. 

I mean, this is all that our parents, your parents and mine, taught not to do. 

I will go over that again.  You cannot have a president -- the ends do not justify the means.  They don`t.

K. MATTHEWS:  This is what we talk about at night, every night.  He comes home at 8:00, 8:30.  We sit down at dinner, and the conversation continues.

C. MATTHEWS:  Until I find an old movie that I like and you can`t figure out.


C. MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Kathleen, the queen.

Up next: my thoughts on 20 years of HARDBALL.

K. MATTHEWS:  Congratulations, sweetie.

C. MATTHEWS:  Thanks, dear.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Chris, congratulations on your 20th anniversary.  You have done a great job, and I wish you the best. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Congratulations on 20 years of speaking truth to power and to the American people.  Here`s to the next 20. 



C. MATTHEWS:  Twenty years a big deal.  And I didn`t realize it until this week of really happy celebration.

I want to give my deepest thanks to the people who have written, e-mailed, tweeted, and appeared in those wonderful on-camera moments since Monday. 

This is an important chair I have the honor to sit in each night.  I promise to give it all the honor it deserves and to thank those who give it to me, my bosses at MSNBC and NBC News, my producers, starting with executive producer Tina Urbanski, my directors and crew, and really the HARDBALL regulars out there, you, who get together with me with amazing faithfulness. 

We love this country.  That`s why we care, why we hope, and why we will, through sickness and health, through sorrow and, yes, national disgrace, one day march forth to save it. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.