ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We`re going to dig into that and a lot more with a new Sunday night special, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, this Sunday, Impeachment, White House in Crisis. I have some great guests which will make sense of everything and some deep reporting, some of which we didn`t have time to get through this week. And we`re going to answer some of your questions.
So, Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, I hope you`ll join me for a brand new Impeachment, White House in Crisis, right here on MSNBC.
Don`t go anywhere now. HARDBALL is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Can you hear him now? Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
On a day that President Trump may have committed an impeachable act in the midst of the public inquiry into his presidential conduct. And we have breaking news tonight from the embassy staffer in Ukraine who overheard the president`s phone call with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and that`s David Holmes, who testified behind closed doors late today.
According to a transcript obtained by CNN, Holmes said that during that call, quote, I heard President Trump ask, so he`s going to do the investigation, referring to President Zelensky, Ambassador Sondland replied that he`s going to do it adding that President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to.
Well, Holmes testified that after the call, he asked Sondland about the president`s views on Ukraine. Quote, Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about big stuff. I noted that there was the big stuff going on Ukraine, like a war with Russia. And Ambassador Sondland replied he meant big stuff that benefits the president, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.
For more, I`m joined by U.S. Congressman Denny Heck, a Democrat from Washington, he`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA and the Department of Defense, Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney, and Charlie Sykes, Editor at Large at The Bulwark.
Congressman Heck, let`s put the -- let`s go to the latest news just breaking right now. David Holmes is testifying behind closed doors in the SCIF, as you know, saying in his opening statement that the president did show his intense interest on getting dirt on Joe Biden and showed he cared a lot more about that than U.S. policy towards Ukraine. Sir, what`s it mean?
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Well, that was the mini bombshell that was introduced by Ambassador Taylor on Wednesday. The fuse was lit then, the bomb went off today. But it wasn`t the only bomb that went off. First of all, we had the hearing with Ambassador Yovanovitch, in which she presented herself as we knew she would as the consummate, professional and career foreign service diplomat and was incredibly a credible witness.
And then secondly, of course, across town, Roger Stone is getting convicted on all seven counts brought against him, including lying to Congress. And in the midst and betwixt in between, as my mom used to say all of that, the president insisted on continuing this cruelty toward Ambassador Yovanovitch by some form of witness intimidation and real-time during the hearing. So there were lots of things that happened today of significance.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s put them in two categories. One would be abuse of power, the president using his office to get dirt and U.S. foreign aid, military aid to a foreign power, an ally of ours, using that as leverage to get dirt on an opponent. And then there`s obstruction of Congress part which you mentioned there. Are we looking at two articles of impeachment being formed before our eyes?
HECK: Well, it remains to be seen, but those are good nominees for that. Look, today was another significant brick on the load. But that load has gotten so heavy that the shock absorbers gave out and the tires went flat a long time ago in terms of the evidence against the president for the fact that he did it. He did it.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Jeremy Bash. And, Congressman, hang in there. Jeremy Bash, let`s talk about this conversation now overheard by at least one witness, probably two, that Donald Trump, a day after he talked to Zelensky, the new president of Ukraine, basically trying to get from him, bilking from him dirt on an opponent, at least the declaration of one. Now, we find out that the conversation he had with Sondland, his envoy basically over there, his guy doing the dirty work for him, that the president was once again saying this is what I care about. I want the dirt on Biden, I don`t care about Ukraine.
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF CIA, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: That`s right, Chris. In fact, this is direct evidence contrary to all the claims that this is mere hearsay or secondhand information. This is new direct evidence that a senior State Department professional career official heard the president`s own voice. He heard the president say that he wanted to present an ultimatum to Zelensky that Zelensky must investigate Trump`s political rival. And essentially, if not, there would be consequences to the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.
So a lot of people want to say that no one has heard the president, no one has met the president. This is new evidence that, in fact, someone has heard the president say it directly, and it echoes precisely what the president said the day before in that July 25th phone call, for which we now have the transcript.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the law and impeachment and the language thereof. Barbara, I want to ask you two questions. One, the president showed today he`s willing to intimidate a witness. The chair of the Intel Committee said, basically, that`s witness tampering. It sounds like he`s developing from that something of an abuse of Congress rather than obstruction of Congress charge.
And then, of course, we have the president now verified Donald Trump on the phone, on a cell phone line, an open phone to a guy sitting in a restaurant in Kiev, in Ukraine, chatting with him about how he`s going to nail this deal who`s going to get the dirt from the new president of Ukraine.
All on the record now, all verified by ear witnesses, people who actually listened to the conversation. Are we looking at two articles of impeachment here? It seems to me they are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Your thoughts?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think you could very well charge both of those, Chris. I mean, first, the intimidation, I think President Trump tries to show that there`s nothing criminal about his behavior by doing it so openly and notoriously. But he is really daring somebody to stand up to him and say that is not okay, that is criminal.
Of course, in the impeachment context, it doesn`t even have to be a crime, just an abuse of power. But this overlaps. It`s an abuse of power and it is criminal. In the criminal context, doing something to intimidate a witness is a crime and it also has the tendency to chill the testimony of other witnesses who may come forward or would be thinking about coming forward with information.
This late breaking news about what David Holmes overheard about this call, I think, just tends to support the theory that has been building by all the witnesses we`ve heard from so far that this was part of a scheme. It isn`t just idle words in the transcript or summary of the one call. This is an ongoing scheme to trade election interference for military aid.
MATTHEWS: Charlie, let`s talk about the Republicans. I`ve never seen them so out of ammo in my life. They look like the losing team in a locker room. I mean, their faces were grim. The Democrats, even though they had the good on their side, were just enjoying the victory of a good day.
The losers, the Republicans, all the president could do today was, basically, accuse the chief witness who was totally credible of destroying the world like a Marvel comic movie. I mean, she`s destroyed everywhere in the world she`s been. Are you crazy? What kind of a charge is that? She created the problem in Somalia, in Mogadishu. Wherever she goes created havoc and destruction in (INAUDIBLE), this one part, it was an insane, inane charge against her.
And then he pops out and basically tries to destroy her like a character in a Batman movie, to keep the theme here, comes out like the joker, Jack Nicholson, coming out interrupting the hearing today with a stupid, a stupid tweet, how this person needs to be intimidated. It just seems like a bad day for the Republicans today in trying to defend this president. Your thoughts.
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: It was a very bad day. In fact, what you`re seeing is that their defenses are crumbling one-by-one. I mean, all of the emphasis on hearsay evidence, that was a very foolish strategy because we are going to start to hear this firsthand information. Of course, the administration is blocking it.
But is happening here, just take a step back. How all of this is now coming into focus and the pieces are falling into place, this miasma of corruption around Trump and Giuliani and his cronies and what they were doing in Ukraine, I think that today was really a rather significant step forward.
I know many of the Trump supporters are saying, well, she`s not testifying directly to the criminal behavior by Trump, but she is laying the predicate. She is basically saying, look, this was not a president who was concerned with fighting corruption. He was most concerned with getting the anti-corruption ambassador out of the way so that they could pursue their own scheme, Rudy Giuliani and his buddies could pursue their scheme.
So I think each one of these pieces is coming together to paint a picture that I think that we are now understanding what the president has done, why he was doing it and, frankly, why he is in so much legal jeopardy.
MATTHEWS: And a half-dozen of his cronies are heading to federal prison, if they`re not there already, the last being Roger Stone.
According to a transcript obtained by CNN, David Holmes testified that in witnessing Sondland`s call with Trump, quote, I then noticed Ambassador Sondland`s demeanor change and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. I could hear the president`s voice through the earpiece on the phone. The president`s voice was very loud and recognizable.
Congressman Heck, talk about this, the fact that the president is now -- we`ve got a June 23rd Nixon-style quote now. We have somebody listening to the president in real-time, there may be another witness coming forward in that same regard we`re going to hear from. What do you think this does to the case that the president abused his power?
HECK: Well, Chris, I already thought that it was inarguable because the evidence was mountain high even before we got to today. And as I said earlier, it`s another brick on the load.
But the truth of the matter is I`m still having a hard time getting over the fact that a United States ambassador would, in a restaurant, out in the open, in Ukraine, where we know there`s significant Russian presence, have a phone call with the president of the United States. I`m still having a hard time getting over that.
But I`ll tell you what this does for next week, Chris. I think it will heighten the interest very considerably in Ambassador Sondland`s presence before the committee.
MATTHEWS: You`re down there in the SCIF. It`s not a bunker. It`s not a basement. It`s a SCIF used to do private, classified discussions with people before they go public with their testimony with because they went public too soon. But you haven`t had any chance to assess it would be irresponsible.
The president, on the other hand, is talking to a guy sitting in a restaurant over in Ukraine, chatting away on a cell phone. What does that say about his concern about national security, that he would be so deliriously crazy as to be talking to a guy sitting in a restaurant surrounded by Russian spies?
HECK: You mean the same president who revealed classified information almost at random inside the Oval Office? What does it say about him that we didn`t already know, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Jeremy, your thoughts as a professional in the world of -- this (INAUDIBLE) world, the CIA world, what does it say -- I didn`t know the president had a private cell? Isn`t that why he went after Hillary Clinton for a thousand moments there during the `16 campaign, that she used a private cell? And there he is chatting away with the guy who paid a million dollars to get his ambassadorship, the president chatting away with this guy.
HECK: Chris, wait a minute, we don`t know that the president was on a cell. We know that Ambassador Sondland was.
MATTHEWS: Okay. Well, they`re -- well, what`s the difference? I mean, the other guy is --
BASH: Well, Chris, here is the point, which is if the president is speaking so loud that, effectively, he`s on speakerphone for anyone to hear in Ukraine, the national security concern is that others, including the Russians, could be listening.
Now, we might think of this as careless or negligent by the president. But think for a moment, maybe the president wanted the Russians to hear. Maybe he was fine with the Russians hearing him because, of course, this, as described today in the hearing with Ambassador Yovanovitch, was part of a Russian effort, a Russian-originated effort to delegitimize Ukraine, to smear those who were standing in the way of the corruption fight in Ukraine. It was an effort to prevent the United States from providing military support to Ukraine.
So the president has been aligned with Russia all along, so why would he care if the Russians listened to his phone call?
MATTHEWS: So well said. This would have been the main story today, except it broke late today, and we got it, this whole question of now verification with the president`s conversation with Ambassador Sondland back and forth from the White House to this guy`s cell phone.
But, Barbara McQuade, the big story this morning, and I thought it was a blockbuster, is when the president tweeted out his attack on the witness today, the primary witness, Marie Yovanovitch, basically accusing her of causing mayhem around the world, trying to destroy her and shut her up, basically. Is this witness tampering, as the chairman of the committee is saying?
MCQUADE: I think it very well could be. If someone were to say those things to a witness in court, there is a federal statute that makes it a crime to intimidate a witness in an effort to influence their testimony. I think that one could very well characterize what President Trump did in that circumstance as fitting that statute.
Now, of course, when it comes to impeachment, you don`t even need to prove each and every element of a crime. It can be an impeachable offense without even meeting that definition. So I think it could be very well grounds for impeachment.
And you also have to wonder is he trying to send a message to Ambassador Yovanovitch or as well to other witnesses who might be thinking about testifying next week. And so the impact that that can have by the most powerful person in the world can be to intimidate, and she said she felt intimidated.
MATTHEWS: Well, as I said, even Yovanovitch`s live testimony today before the hearing, she was suggesting that further attacks from this president who wrote that everywhere she went turned bad. He said that in real-time. Chairman Schiff brought up that tweet during the hearing later calling it witness intimidation in real-time. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The president implicitly threatened you in that call record. And now, the president, in real-time, is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witness` willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, it`s very intimidating.
SCHIFF: It`s designed to intimidate, is it not?
YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I can`t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When the hearing concluded, you can hear it right now, Yovanovitch was met with a loud applause from the people in the hearing room. This is the gallery at the chamber there.
I`m going to go back to the congressman on this. Today, I like looking at secondary characteristics and I noticed that the Republicans didn`t look too happy after this hearing. Your thoughts.
HECK: Well, of course, it was a terrible, horrible, no good day for them and the president.
But, look, I want to go back to Ambassador Yovanovitch and the president`s effort to intimidate her and continuing his cruel besmirching of her good character and her outstanding reputation. I said something I shared with her this morning, something I want to share again, which is she needs to know that there is absolutely nothing that the president can say or o, nothing that will diminish the contribution that this outstanding public servant has made to our nation over 33 years, nothing. And there is nothing he can say or do that will diminish our gratitude to her for all of her service to the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: Can you tell us about your brother? What happened to him?
HECK: My brother served in Vietnam during the height of it. And within two-and-a-half years of coming home, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin`s disease as a result of his exposure to Agent Orange. Hodgkin`s was the number one manifestation of exposure. And then he proceeded to have about 11 or 12-year incredible battle that ravaged his body until he passed from this life to the next in December of 1991 at the age of 34.
MATTHEWS: Well, your family has paid much for our country. Thank you so much, Congressman Denny Heck of Washington State. Thank you.
I want to go to Charlie Sykes on this. Take a look at this. It`s hard to find more drama than we saw today. I have watched a lot of these hearings. This was up there with Joseph Welch and the McCarthy hearings when the counsel for the defense of the army said, have you no decency to Joe McCarthy, and McCarthy looked like hell and he deserved to. I don`t know anything to match that but today was pretty close. Your thoughts.
SYKES: Yes. By the way, the president`s intimidation is there`s nothing subtle about it. I mean, the president is a bully. He was trying to discredit her and intimidate other witnesses, as he has done throughout the entire investigative process. But I think that Republicans have to sit there and realize how much he damaged himself by doing that because I think what made her testimony so compelling was she`s obviously a person of integrity. Her testimony was succinct and she`s clearly a patriot. She`s clearly a patriot and a public servant who has taken great risks in her career.
And this is the world that Donald Trump has made for us, that he trusts someone like a Roger Stone and demean someone like Marie Yovanovitch. And I`m wondering whether Republicans sitting on that committee are thinking, okay, is this the hand that we`re dealt? Are we really supposed to try to find a way to ignore her when we`re seeing all of this corruption, all of this evidence, knowing what`s coming? So this was a very bad day for the president.
And I agree with you that I think that this is the danger of the politics of smearing. This is part of their play book. You have to attack them. But it didn`t work with Ambassador Taylor. It`s not going to work with Lt. Col. Vindman. And it certainly did not work with Marie Yovanovitch.
MATTHEWS: And you know who agrees with you? People like Chris Wallace, who said that she was compelling today. He shouldn`t met with her.
SYKES: Bret Baier.
MATTHEWS: And Bret Baier, he went even further saying the president committed a big, big mistake today in going after her in that intimidating way. Ken Starr also agreed.
So there are voices starting to notice on the other side of the aisle, if you might say, politically, are noticing how bad this president is handling this matter, the presidency, I should say.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re following breaking news from Capitol Hill tonight.
State Department official David Holmes late today told the House Intelligence Committee members that he overheard the president`s phone call with Ambassador Gordon Sondland in Kiev on July 26 of this year.
According to a transcript obtained by CNN, Holmes said that, during that call -- quote -- "I heard President Trump ask: `So who`s he going to do -- so, who -- so, he`s going to do the investigation?`" -- referring to President Zelensky.
The answer: "Ambassador Sondland replied that, `He`s going to do it,` adding that `President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to.`"
We`re back with Jeremy Bash, Barbara McQuade, and Charlie, Charlie Sykes.
Charlie, this importance of this to you, that we have now an ear witness to a conversation?
SYKES: No, this is very important, because, of course, the Democrats have been -- I mean, the Republicans have been trying to claim that everything is hearsay, and this is going to be direct testimony that what the president did, what he said to Sondland.
Obviously, it puts a lot of weight on Sondland`s testimony next week.
But, again, as I said a little bit earlier, all the pieces are coming together. We know what the story is. There`s really no mystery here. We know that the president was obsessed in getting rid of the ambassador. We know that the president is obsessed in pressuring the president of Ukraine to launch these investigations, the conspiracy theory -- crazy investigation into that conspiracy involving theory CrowdStrike, but also the Bidens, that there was a quid pro quo.
So the question is, how far are the Republicans going to go in trying to deflect this, to try to distract from this, to try to defend all of this?
Because I think at this point they ought to realize that the evidence is going to come together, more people are coming forward. And, you know, despite the president`s attempts to intimidate the witnesses, it -- so far, it does not appear to be working in these impeachment proceeding, which has got to be very ominous to the White House.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the president and his mind-set.
This summer, we have to all recall the context. Joe Biden was riding high. He was perceived as at the time -- things have changed, I believe -- at the time as the one person who could beat this president.
In other words, all that Trump had to do in his mind-set, which was the context of the polling at the time, get rid of the chance of Biden, smear him up enough, so that you don`t have any problems, because you can beat the other candidates.
That`s all changed.
Your thoughts about that, Charlie? I want you to tell me, politically, think about the president. Why would he logically be obsessed with Biden at that point?
SYKES: Because I think he thought that the Ukrainian investigation would be for Biden what the e-mails were for Hillary. It would be the cloud over his candidacy.
And so here you have a president who has all of these scandals, all of the suggestions of corruption that he`s been engaging in. And he can play the game of whataboutism. And you know how successful he`s been at turning that around, projecting his own corruption to somebody else.
So, to have the president of Ukraine announce that he is investigating and launching an investigation, going on CNN and announcing this, basically creates a narrative line.
And, by the way, the Trump campaign announced it was spending millions of dollars on an ad campaign specifically on this subject.
SYKES: There is nothing subtle about this. It`s happening in plain sight.
And if there was any doubt about it, the fact they announced this multimillion-dollar campaign gives you an indication of what he was hoping to do and how he was hoping to frame this into 2020.
MATTHEWS: Yes. This is going to be the big bang theory.
Anyway, according to Holmes` testimony, he was supposed to come, the, ambassador, Sondland, into meeting with an aide to President Zelensky on the day of Trump`s call with Sondland.
Holmes arrived late to the meeting and, when he got to the office, was told by an assistant -- quote -- "That Ambassador Sondland and Zelensky`s aide had insisted that the meeting be one-on-one with no notetaker."
What do you make of that, Jeremy? They`re doing a secret conversation over there about getting dirt.
BASH: Well, clearly, they want to hide the fact there was a directive from the president of the United States to get these investigations going.
And I think the very first question that Chairman Schiff will ask Ambassador Sondland is, in presenting the ultimatum to President Zelensky, were you freelancing, were you doing this on your own, or were you doing this at the direction of President Trump?
And today`s testimony that we now have from David Holmes shows clearly that this directive came directly from the president.
BASH: It wasn`t just Sondland making this up.
MATTHEWS: In the latest intent of throwing cold spaghetti at a wall, to use Nicolle`s comment today, is the latest attempt to say all these people, Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, Sondland, all of them, the three amigos, so- called, all these people were operating on their own in some rogue operation, they got no orders from the president.
And now, as you brilliantly put it there, Jeremy, the president was giving orders hour by hour.
Holmes also testified today that Ukraine was on the verge of committing to Trump`s demands for an investigation in a TV interview. He said that: "Ambassador Taylor again stressed the importance of staying out of U.S. politics and he said he hoped no interview was planned. Zelensky`s aide shrugged in resignation and did not answer, as if to indicate that they had no choice. The Ukrainians believed they had to do it."
Barbara, it is extortion. They wanted it done. They feared if they didn`t do what they were told, in having a press conference or an interview with CNN, if they didn`t something dramatic that the president wanted done, creating for him the argument Joe Biden is being investigated over there in Ukraine -- that`s the headline he wanted -- they were going to be shut out of getting the military assistance they needed to survive.
MCQUADE: Yes, I think this conduct fits either the definition of extortion or bribery, demanding a thing of value, the investigation, in exchange for the performance of an official act, the delivery and release of the military aid.
And this idea that President Zelensky never felt any pressure is irrelevant. It doesn`t matter. Sometimes, people who participate in a bribery scheme are quite happy to get the benefit that they wanted, even they though they might slip the maitre d` some money to get the good table.
Everybody`s happy. Nobody feels pressure. It`s a win-win, except for everybody else who follows the rules. And so this idea that President Zelensky never felt pressure is really completely irrelevant to whether the president abused his power.
You can call it extortion, you can call it bribery. It`s abuse of power.
MATTHEWS: Well, I would call it extortion for the simple reason I don`t think Zelensky would dare say he`s being pressured, because that would destroy any chance of meeting the payroll.
If he`s going to pay off these people, it doesn`t do him any good to trash them at the same time, because they`re going to have bad blood from the president.
Isn`t that what he`s afraid of, Zelensky, bad blood with Trump?
MCQUADE: Oh, I think so. He wants to curry favor.
As David Holmes testified to today, Sondland told him that President Zelensky will do anything Trump tells him to, because Trump has $400 million in military aid that he desperately needs.
He needs the approval of the United States. And in the best interests of his country, he`s going to do whatever it takes to curry that favor.
MATTHEWS: That`s what patriots do.
Thank you, Jeremy Bash. Thank you, Barbara, Barbara McQuade, and Charlie Sykes.
Coming up: more breaking news tonight. President Trump`s longest serving political adviser, Roger Stone -- there he is in that picture -- has been convicted on all seven felony counts, witness tampering, lying to Congress.
How fast is this guy going to get a pardon? I would say he would get it if Trump gets reelected, if, if, if. If he`s not reelected, he will get it as Trump leaves office, because, if he doesn`t pardon this guy, under the rules that they play by, nobody`s ever going to work for Trump again, because this guy has been a slave to Trump -- up next.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump got more bad news today. This time, his longest serving adviser, in fact, the guy who really got him into politics, Roger Stone, was found guilty on all seven felony counts against him related to Robert Mueller`s Russia investigation.
A federal jury here in Washington found Stone guilty of witness tampering, obstructing justice, and lying to Congress about his pursuit of Russian- hacked e-mails to support Trump in 2016. He will be sentenced on February 6.
The most serious charges against the 67-year-old political operative, witness tampering, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
In final statements yesterday, federal prosecutor Michael Marando argued: "In our institutions of self-governance, courts of law or committee hearings, where people under oath have to testify, truth still matters."
Stone is now the sixth Trump associate to plead or be found guilty, joining George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, and Michael Cohen as convicted felons.
President Trump tweeted within minutes of the verdict, calling it a "double standard like never seen before in the history of our country."
For more, I`m joined by Ken Dilanian, NBC News correspondent, and Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor.
Both of you gentlemen, I want to hear from you for the inside of the trial and the smell of the room of what it looked like.
I wonder what we can say about the debonair way in which he walked into the courtroom a couple of days ago, or a week ago, and the crying he exhibited this afternoon. Was he under the delusion that he was going to get acquitted by a D.C. jury as a known notorious Republican dirty trickster, that he`d be acquitted?
I`m just asking, Ken.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I honestly don`t think so. I don`t think so, Chris.
In fact, he didn`t put on much of a defense. Everyone who was watching the trial remarked on that. So, there`s a lot of questions why he played this out. Is he playing for a pardon? Because President Trump`s tweet sure suggested that that`s under consideration. You know, is he trying to raise money for his legal defense and he figures that, if he pleads guilty, some of that fund-raising is going to dry up?
Because there was a bizarre cast of far fringe right characters who are attending the trial every day, and he`s got a whole network, you know, of people out there who are supporting him. So there`s a lot of things at play, but I do not think that he expected to be found not guilty, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Who is the man of the cloth walking with him in these sort of perp walk -- the guy who is wearing the surplus, a religious garment?
What is that about? Is that the old Joe Louis trick that Jimmy Hoffa pulled, having Joe Louis come in and say, you`re great guy? What was he doing there with him?
DILANIAN: It could very well be. He was ostentatiously dressed as a priest. I don`t know if he was a priest.
But if he was, it didn`t help Roger Stone today, nor did it help Donald Trump, Chris, because Donald Trump`s credibility was on trial in that courtroom.
DILANIAN: And it was found wanting.
The prosecutors made a point. That quote you read from the prosecutor about truth still matters, that was a very-not-subtle subtext. He talked about Twitter and social media. That was about Donald Trump.
And what these prosecutors said was, not only did Roger Stone lie. He lied to protect Trump and the bad conduct that was on display, with the Trump campaign trying to get these hacked e-mails that they knew were the fruits of a Russian intelligence operation.
This was federal prosecutors, who to go to work every day with Donald Trump`s portrait on the wall, criticizing the Trump campaign in a way that the Mueller report really didn`t.
MATTHEWS: Paul Butler, you have seen a lot of guys you have been defending probably over the years who have faced serious time, I`m guessing.
And facing -- when you`re 67 years old, there must be some empathy from Melania Trump, if not from the president, for this guy who really ushered them into politics. I`m just wondering if there`s any way he can`t, given the fact there might be some humanity in Trump, pardon this guy for being his henchmen?
Because he wasn`t robbing gas stations. He was working for Trump.
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Roger Stone took a major hit for Donald Trump.
And so, when we look at the evidence in the case, it was overwhelming. President Trump said in his written answers to Robert Mueller that he couldn`t remember any of his conversations with Roger Stone. In fact, the evidence suggests that there were 21 different conversations between Stone and Trump in the six months leading to the election.
One of those conversations was about WikiLeaks dumps. Roger Stone tells Trump something. Trump gets off the phone and announces there`s more WikiLeaks information coming.
And so the evidence was just overwhelming. One of the go-betweens between Stone and WikiLeaks was this guy Randy Credico. This is how blatant Stone`s lies were. Stone said that he didn`t have any e-mail or text exchanges with Randy Credico.
The evidence, they had 1,500 e-mails and text messages. On the day that Stone lied and said he didn`t have any texts or e-mails exchanges, that day, he had 72.
And so it`s such -- again, such a hit for the team, for team Trump. You think that Stone`s got to be banking on a pardon.
And, Chris, when we look at the instrumental way that President Trump uses pardons for people like Sheriff Arpaio, today, he pardoned some military officers. The Pentagon advised not to pardon these guys, it would seem the wrong message.
Trump doesn`t care about anybody`s interests but his own.
MATTHEWS: What would have happened, quickly, if he had turned against the president?
Suppose Roger Stone, to save his keister, had testified all he knew about Trump`s involvement with him and WikiLeaks and getting the hacking done of the DNC and Hillary Clinton? Could he have brought him down, Paul?
BUTLER: I think he could have gotten a good deal. Why didn`t he go for that deal? Like a whole lot of people, Roger Stone seems more afraid of Donald Trump than he seems of going to prison.
MATTHEWS: Either that, or he trusts him more than he should.
Anyway, thank you, Ken Dilanian, and thank you, Paul Butler.
What a day for the president. It was not a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Up next: It`s been an historic week in American politics, hasn`t it? A lot of witness testimony that more than withstood attempts by the Trump defenders to distract and confuse. Today, they were hopeless in trying to distract from a wonderful witness, Marie Yovanovitch.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations.
GEORGE KENT, U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS: Giuliani`s efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine.
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: The president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason. But what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s the end of a week, week one, actually, of the public impeachment hearings of President Trump.
And Americans have witnessed a lot of compelling testimony. Republicans, however, have done their best to discredit that testimony. The president`s son, for example, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted today that -- quote -- "America hired Donald Trump to fire people like the first three witnesses we have seen, career government bureaucrats and nothing more."
And, as I mentioned earlier, Trump directly attacked today`s witness, Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
When asked about it, he said he didn`t think he was intimidating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Were trying to intimidate Ambassador Yovanovitch?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to have a total -- I want freedom of speech. That`s a political process.
The Republicans have been treated very badly. And I watched a little bit of it today. I wasn`t able to yesterday because we had the president of Turkey here. And I wasn`t able to watch much.
I watched some of it this morning. I thought it was a disgrace.
QUESTION: Sir, do you believe your tweets and words can be intimidating?
TRUMP: I don`t think so at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for "The New York Times," former Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, who is also a contributing columnist now for "The Washington Post," and David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter and senior editor now at "The Atlantic."
I want to give you all enough time to talk about this week, because it`s been an amazing week, with this firecracker ending, with the president`s attempt to intimidate the star witness today, Marie Yovanovitch, and being called on it by the chairman of the committee as possibly engaging in real- time intimidation of a witness, in other words, obstruction of Congress.
And then, of course, big news tonight, confirmation of that phone conversation between Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., and the president, and the White House -- in the White House, wherein the president made clear he wanted the dirt on Joe Biden at all costs, even at the cost of a U.S. policy to save Ukraine.
Peter Baker, it`s hard to put a lot of it into one of your main bar analysis pieces. What`s the hugest story this week, I should say, of the huge stories?
PETER BAKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, that`s a great question.
I think that, look, what we`re seeing already just from three witnesses, is that the fact set that we had begun to understand is all coming together.
Now, the Republicans are going to say -- and they`re correct -- that these three witnesses didn`t ever speak with the president. They don`t have any firsthand knowledge of the president or his motivations in a direct sense.
But as the building block for the case that the Democrats are making, they sort of laid out the whole set of events. It is more than just a single phone call. It`s more than just a single conversation with the president of Ukraine. It`s a whole series of events, including and most powerfully involving Masha Yovanovitch today.
Now, what does it add up to? We will see. I don`t know that anybody`s minds have changed. That is still an important factor to take into consideration.
But as the Democrats sort of try to build their case for an eventual vote they seem to be heading toward by the end of next month, you can see where the -- you can the end of the road for them. They`re going to impeach him for bribery, they will call it, or abuse of power, or whatever they want to call it, but somebody who clearly was using the tools of government, in their view, to advance his own political interests.
MATTHEWS: I think we saw, Donna, the violence of the president today, his willingness -- well, during the campaign of 2016, we could sort of enjoy this street yard awful behavior of the guy because he`s attacking fellow politicians, grownups like him, what you call warriors or political combatants.
So, if he attacks a guy being slow-thinking or short or whatever, OK, that`s part of the political contest.
Here, he was caught in real time today with that tweet of his attacking a public servant, who`s really defenseless, I mean, and saying that she`s caused mayhem all around the world. I mean, it was almost like an 8-year- old saying, so`s your old man or something.
To actually accuse someone of causing the whole world to go into turmoil, getting the causality totally wrong when you`re sent into a trouble spot. You didn`t create the trouble. You went through to the trouble spot.
What did you make of his, well, I would say, violently attacking this public servant, Marie Yovanovitch, today in public?
DONNA EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, you know, we had an opportunity to read the ambassador`s testimony.
And then we heard directly from the ambassador. We heard her say that she felt intimidated. And then we could see in real time the president of the United States doing exactly what was described and what she described in her own testimony.
And she described herself as being intimidated. You know what? As an American citizen viewing that and seeing the president`s tweet, I was -- I felt her intimidation. I felt for her what she was describing.
And it was an extraordinary moment in a week of very extraordinary moments of public servants putting their careers on the line and just testifying to just the facts, and then the president of the United States and his cohorts on the Republican side attacking these public servants who were just trying to do their jobs, and the smear campaign launched against Ambassador Yovanovitch, for no reason at all, after she had had 33 years of a career in public service without a single smirch.
And he goes in one tweet and tries to destroy her career.
MATTHEWS: I think he showed his indecency.
Anyway, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee used dramatic tactics to claim the process led by Democrats was unfair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): The Democrats staged six weeks of secret depositions in the basement of the Capitol, like some kind of strange cult.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): And I have indulged you with extra time.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I appreciate it.
SCHIFF: But that indulgence is wearing out.
JORDAN: I appreciate it.
SCHIFF: There is a question here, right?
JORDAN: Our indulgence wore out with you a long time ago, Mr. Chairman.
NUNES: I will yield to you, Ms. Stefanik.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Thank you, Mr. Nunes.
Ambassador Yovanovitch, thank you for being here today.
SCHIFF: The gentlewoman will suspend. The gentlewoman will suspend.
STEFANIK: What is the interruption for this time? It is our time.
SCHIFF: The gentlewoman will suspend.
Unless the House Resolution 660, you`re not allowed to yield time, except to minority counsel.
STEFANIK: The ranking member yielded time to another member of Congress.
SCHIFF: No. That is not accurate.
NUNES: You`re gagging the young lady from New York?
STEFANIK: That is accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s awful, what -- the game that congresswoman was playing there.
The rules established for this hearing clearly state -- quote -- "The chair and ranking member may conduct at the outset of each open hearing extended rounds and questioning. The chair and ranking member may not yield time to other members during these extended question periods."
David, the rules were agreed to by the U.S. House of Representatives. They all knew it. That was a charade there carried out by the Republican members.
And I know they will get away with it with their crowd. The guys on the barstools tonight on Route 40 are going to eat it up as examples of the chip-on-the-shoulder proof of their lives. Once again, they got the chip on their shoulder. They`re getting screwed by the majority Democrats.
But, here, it`s a lie. They`re not getting screwed. They`re simply told to obey the rules.
DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Look, who is this for, this kind of behavior?
The public opinion is not with the president, obviously. And it`s not with the House Republicans. We can see that tens of millions, maybe about 13 million Americans, watched the first day. About almost two-thirds of Americans have had some exposure to these hearings.
They are -- we have a plurality or in some polls a majority that is in favor of impeachment. Who is this for?
I mean, there`s no talking point too stupid to say on FOX News. And there`s almost no talking point too stupid to be repeated by a member of the House Republican Caucus.
But, eventually, this thing goes to the United States Senate. And at that point, the president`s fate will be in the hands of people like Cory Gardner, people like Susan Collins, nervous Republicans defending insecure seats.
They can`t say this kind of junk to the voters in their swing states. It`s not going to help Cory Gardner in Colorado to repeat this kind of stuff. They`re going to have to have something more substantial.
And, meanwhile, the president has a very big worry that was dealt him in today`s secondary or tertiary story, the Roger Stone conviction. Does the president pardon Roger Stone? If he does not, what kind of message does that send to the other people who have dirt on him?
What is -- Rudy Giuliani is counting on this as the weapon of last resort. Maybe Gordon Sondland is thinking about a presidential pardon. If Roger Stone, President Trump`s closest intimate, goes to prison, is sentenced to years in jail, and the president doesn`t help him, that`s quite -- that -- speaking of intimidation, that`s the opposite.
The president is failing to intimidate.
MATTHEWS: They won`t even be able to vote again if they don`t get the president`s help. They will be felons. They will be disbarred and they will be wasted.
Anyway, my guests are going to stick with us.
Coming up: Trump released a member of his first phone call with the Ukrainian president, but it bears little resemblance to the initial record of that call, which said they discussed Ukrainian corruption.
Well, they never did. And there`s new reporting on that call tonight. I wondered why he brought that up today. That`s next.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump released a memo on his first call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, one he had been teasing all week.
The call made directly after Zelensky won his election for president was largely congratulatory. But there`s no mention of the word corruption or no mention of corruption whatever in the transcript, which contradicts the administration`s early press release they put out in April, which said that President Trump expressed his commitment to rooting out corruption.
So he never did bring it up. The new reporting of Politico undercuts the president`s defense that fighting corruption was his true concern in Ukraine.
According to a person familiar with the matter, advisers suggested that Trump raise the broad issue of corruption in his first call with Zelensky, but Trump chose not to.
We`re back with Peter Baker, Donna Edwards, and David Frum.
Peter, it seems to me that the president wasn`t all that interested in corruption, because, even though his staff said, do it, he didn`t even want to talk about it with Zelensky.
BAKER: Well, look, yes, exactly.
We have these two documents put out by the White House now, two different versions, in effect, of the same phone call, one of which this looks like perfectly ordinary pleasantries, congratulations, you did a great job.
And the other said he raised not only corruption, but also territorial integrity, which means basically defense against Russia, neither one of those things mentioned in the document that was released today. So, one of these two documents is not correct. One of these two documents is fake.
One of these two documents does not accurately -- or accurately describe the phone call. We don`t necessarily know which one. We can suspect which one we think is more accurate, but the truth is, we`re left to guess.
Now, was the president really interested in corruption? So far, the only thing we have heard the president say about corruption in Ukraine involves the word Democrat. We have not heard him say anything about corruption in Ukraine that has anything to do with Ukraine, only with things that have to do with his own domestic political rivals here.
If he understands corruption on a deep level in Ukraine, if he has specific concerns about it, he`s never expressed them. And he doesn`t necessarily seem to have much of a background in them. In every conversation he has had, every news briefing he`s given, every interview, every document, the only mention of corruption is in connection with Joe Biden or the Democrats in 2016.
MATTHEWS: In other words, dirt on a political opponent.
Let me go to Donna on that.
EDWARDS: Well, look, here we have yet another instance where the White House releases a document thinking that it`s going to work in his favor, and not realizing that we all have information that`s prior, and that we save it, and that we can compare it.
And yet again this White House shows -- displays inconsistencies that can only be explained by either they`re lying or they`re reinventing the truth, or what we see in that second document is exactly right, and there was no discussion of corruption, because the president of the United States was not concerned about corruption.
He removed the ambassador whose focus was corruption from the Ukraine, when he removed Ambassador Yovanovitch. And so there`s a lot of explaining to do. And I think some of that explaining is going to come next week, when we hear from Gordon Sondland, because he knows that there was no focus on corruption.
MATTHEWS: David, your thoughts? You have about 30 seconds.
FRUM: This summary just shows how little work the president does when he`s not committing crimes.
The president of the United States doesn`t talk often to the president of Ukraine. You would think they would have something to discuss. And, instead, it`s just gas.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much for that.
It`s been an amazing week. I have to tell you, I have never seen anything like this in real time. Watching the hearings this morning, I will never forget that the president of the United States came in on it.
Let me go back to Peter quickly again, another 30 seconds I have just been allotted.
Is this like Joe McCarthy being called by Joseph Welch when he went too far, he was accused of having no decency, going after this Yovanovitch perfect person, Peter?
BAKER: Well, what is really interesting is, he basically undercut his own Republican allies. They had clearly had a strategy of not trying to personally attack Masha Yovanovitch, simply to say that she had nothing to say that was all that relevant to an impeachment inquiry.
And, instead, he comes out and does exactly what they chose not to do, which is to attack her and make her a sympathetic figure. You could see the frustration on the Republican faces all day long about that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, they didn`t want to be Orrin Hatch or Arlen Specter from the Anita Hill hearings. And yet the president came in and did exactly that role.
Anyway, thank you, Peter Baker. Thank you, Donna Edwards. David Frum, thank you, sir.
After today`s explosive chapter in the House impeachment drive, we can expect more drama next week, with eight more witnesses appearing before the House Intel Committee.
And, on Wednesday, the Democrats will hold their fifth presidential debate.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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