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Gov. Deval Patrick plays Hardball. TRANSCRIPT: 11/21/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Mimi Rocah, Eli Stokols, Michael Steele, Katrina Mulligan, WilliamBurns, Deval Patrick

Show: HARDBALL Date: November 21, 2019 Guest: Mimi Rocah, Eli Stokols, Michael Steele, Katrina Mulligan, William Burns, Deval Patrick


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  What a show.  If we were in it later, we`d be late.

I`ll see you back at 6:00 P.M. tomorrow.  HARDBALL starts now.


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

Mr. President, reality T.V. what got you to the White House, sir, is suddenly your enemy.  For two weeks now, the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee have brought to the national stage credible witnesses against you, one after the other telling the story of a Trump-driven effort to sell off U.S. national security to get personal gain for you, Donald J. Trump.

The case for impeachment has never been stronger.  The evidence never so riveting as these past couple of days.  After yesterday`s explosive testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland, we heard today from Fiona Hill, a former top official in the National Security Council, and David Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine.

With a clear command of the facts, Dr. Hill described how U.S. national security was subverted by the president`s personal agenda.  She said she came to realize that Ambassador Sondland had been empowered by the president personally to pursue a domestic political errand which was in conflict with her duty to avoid politicizing foreign policy.


FIONA HILL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER ON RUSSIA:  I was upset with him that he wasn`t fully telling us about all of the meetings that he was having. And he said to me, but I`m briefing the president, I`m briefing Chief of Staff Mulvaney, I`m briefing Secretary Pompeo, and I`ve talked to Ambassador Bolton.  Who else do I have to deal with?

He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged.  So he was correct.  And I had not put my finger on it at the moment, but I was irritated with him and angry with him that he wasn`t fully coordinating.

And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up, and here we are, because he was carrying out what he thought he had been instructed to carry out.


MATTHEWS:  And there`s Dr. Hill describing that moment of epiphany, if you will, that very moment when she realized and challenging Ambassador Sondland that Sondland was working for the chief, Donald Trump.  He was the head of the whole escapade.

Well, David Holmes testified today this time in public about that July 26th phone call where he overheard the president pushing Ambassador Sondland to get Ukraine to deliver the dirt on Joe Biden.  He said it, by late August, it was his clear impression that security assistance was indeed linked to Trump`s demand for those investigations by Ukraine.


DAVID HOLMES, COUNSEL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS U.S. EMBASSY IN UKRAINE:  My clear impression was that the security assistance hold was likely intended by the president either as an expression of dissatisfaction with Ukrainians who had not yet agreed to the Burisma-Biden investigation or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so.

DANIEL GOLDMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE LEAD LAWYER:  This, to you, was the only logical conclusion that you could reach?

HOLMES:  Correct.

GOLDMAN:  Sort of like two plus two equals four?

HOLMES:  Exactly.


MATTHEWS:  Well, this comes after Ambassador Sondland`s testimony which directly implicated the president and numerous top administration officials in the scheme to leverage Ukraine.  What Sondland described yesterday was the bribe at the center of the inquiry, U.S. support in return for political investigations.


GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE E.U.:  Mr. Giuliani`s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky.  Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election DNC server and Burisma.

It became more and more difficult to secure the White House meeting because more conditions were being placed on the White House meeting.

Mr. Giuliani conveyed the notion that President Trump wanted these announcements to happen.

I believe that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  It was made abundantly clear if they hadn`t put two and two together themselves and if they wanted that aid, they were going to have make these statements, correct?

SONDLAND:  Correct.


MATTHEWS:  And that is what Dr. Fiona Hill described today as a political errand.

Joining me now is Eli Stokols, L.A. Times White House Reporter, Katrina Mulligan, who has held positions at the DOJ, NSC and DNI, that`s Director of National Intelligence, and is now the Managing Director for National Security at the Center for American Progress, Michael Steele, of course, former RNC Chair, and Mimi Rocah, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York.

Mimi, I guess, we`re starting with you tonight.  I`ve been watching it.  I`m not a lawyer.  I`ve only watched courtroom dramas, they`re some of the best movies I know, but that`s all I know.  How would you describe the way these witnesses have been brought forth on the national stage one at a time, sometimes two at a time, in terms of building -- putting together the building blocks, I should say, of the case for the president`s malfeasance, impeachable behavior?

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:  I mean, this has been a phenomenal case, Chris, really.  I that think if this were something that we were asking a jury to decide guilty or not, which we`re not doing yet obviously, they would come back in a heartbeat with a guilty verdict.

Because if you look at all of the evidence, all of the testimony of the witnesses and the phone call with the president himself in his own words saying I need a favor though, if you put all of it together and you take politics out of it and look at it as a rational person, which is something prosecutors ask jurors all the time, they say, you don`t chuck your -- you know, your rational thought at the door when you come in here.  All of that really leaves this inescapable conclusion that Trump was holding up first the meeting and then the aid for this announcement of an investigation.

And he delegated it to Rudy Giuliani, his, you know, under-boss in all of this to get the dirty work done so he could have some plausible deniability.  But I think that just makes it more obvious when he goes around saying, no quid pro quo, no quid pro quo.  It`s like saying, I didn`t rob the bank, as he`s taking the money out of the bank.  You know, it doesn`t make it true.  And the facts and evidence here really are overwhelming if people are willing to look at it in a rational, objective way.

MATTHEWS:  Eli, the way I like it is there`s revelations as they come to each person what`s going on.  First of all, Ambassador Taylor realizing there`s two channels.  There`s the legitimate or the official channel and then this Rudy Giuliani effort to try to ring the dirt out of this country to help the president in his next election, Sondland coming out and saying, basically, it`s not just another channel but it`s the channel that includes the president, the chief of staff of the president, it includes the secretary of state and the entire State Department, the whole second channel, which was supposed to be the unofficial part of the government is really the government, and then to find out most recently, the testimony more recently today from Dr. Hill, where she realizes that it`s the president behind the whole thing.

ELI STOKOLS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "LOS ANGELES TIMES":  Right.  I mean, and that was the capstone for the Democrats over two weeks, they put her last.  And she really tied it all together.

I mean, it`s remarkable to hear from all these officials.  Their epiphanies came at different times but it came, eventually.  Sometimes it came after their first sworn deposition, and they had to give a second one because they didn`t have all the facts, other people`s testimony helped them recover certain memories.  Maybe they were trying to protect themselves or protect the president.

Hill today said, it`s just not credible that Sondland and others could have not put it together that when the president and others around him were saying, Burisma, they meant an investigation of Joe Biden.  But, ultimately, you have two weeks of testimony, 12 witnesses, and everything points in the same direction.

And yet if you watch that hearing and you listen to Adam Schiff at the end of it, the frustration he was expressing, it`s understandable because he had heard the Republicans on that committee ignore the testimony for the most part, not question the substance of it and just act as if the whole thing is a joke.

The idea of withholding a meeting, one of the Republicans today said, I think it was Representative Turner, said if you`re going to impeach over him not taking a meeting, go ahead, as if it would be some huge boom to the Republicans.

And so they were just living in different worlds.  I think Mimi is right.  If you could not check your reason at the door as you go in and analyze this, yes, maybe you would get an unbiased jury.  But it`s politics.  Everybody in the country seems to have a point of view, and certainly, you know, the Republicans and Democrats are just in completely different worlds.

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe this is circular.  But every time I pick up one of the major papers now in the morning the day after one of these testimonies, they completely get their point across.  It`s all there in print.  The print people have been wonderful in terms of this examination, but they`re also wonderful at recording what we`re learning, the big papers, people like Peter Baker, and analyzing those main bars, those analytical bars on it the front page of the paper and lay it all out.

At the outset, by the way, Dr. Hill delivered a powerful indictment of Trump`s defenders who continue to sell the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election here.  And here`s Dr. Hill today.


HILL:  Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country, and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did.  This is fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an ultimate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary and the Ukraine, not Russia, attacked us in 2016.

These fictions are harmful even if they`re deployed for purely domestic political purposes.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s the same conspiracy theory, the one about Ukraine screwing with our elections in 2016, about the DNC server in courts that President Trump asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate the crazy fiction.  He`s asking another president to do some crazy work for him in that July 25th call.  Well, that fictional narrative was pushed by Rudy Giuliani, and Trump tried to legitimize it despite being told it`s untrue.


GOLDMAN:  Now, isn`t it also true that some of President Trump`s most senior advisers had informed him that this theory of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election was false?

HILL:  That`s correct.

GOLDMAN:  So is it your understanding then that President Trump disregarded the advice of his senior officials about this theory and instead listened to Rudy Giuliani`s views?

HILL:  That appears to be the case, yes.


MATTHEWS:  Michael Steele, we sat around our offices today for a couple of minutes today.  We didn`t waste much time on it, trying to figure out what the Ukraine conspiracy was.  It`s totally fiction.  But the beauty of it, as my producers have argued, and I think they`re right, because it`s so murky, remember the argument, they just say like Benghazi, and it`s like Manchurian Candidate, just show the right playing card.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR:  How much investigation did we do on Benghazi, fast and furious, and what were the outcomes?  But what it did was it set in motion a narrative that they could always come back to.

MATTHEWS:  A buzzword.

STEELE:  A buzzword.  And so here we are.  We watched a pathetic performance.  So pathetic that, at the end, they couldn`t even ask questions because they knew the moment they did, she would shred them alive on live television.  And that`s the reality I think a lot of Republicans in that room confronted.

To the point that after they would trash her, they`d get up and leave the room.  They weren`t man enough to stay.

MATTHEWS:  The didn`t ask any question.  And I thought they did some of this gobbley-gook just to sort of kill their five minutes.

KATRINA MULLIGAN, DIRECTOR FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL POLICY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  I mean, one of the amazing contrasts was actually Dr. Hill`s clarity when contrasted with how unclear and unsure of their story they were.

And I think one of the reasons you saw that is because, remember, Dr. Hill comes from the Intelligence Community.  She was in the National Intelligence Council.  She is trained not only to think about but quantify how certain she is about the narrative that she`s putting forward, the information and her analytic judgments.  And I think you saw that and America saw that today.  And as a consequence, I think, you know, her confidence really broke through.

MATTHEWS:  I think she`ll be sitting around this table pretty soon.  Anyway -- if we`re lucky at this network.

Anyway, Dr. Hill explained in vivid detail how she intervened with Ambassador Sondland in his discussion with Ukrainian officials in the so- called ward room, I don`t know where that is in the White House, somewhere in the west wing just after that July 10th meeting.


HILL:  When I came in, Gordon Sondland was basically saying, well, look, we have a deal here that there will be a meeting, I have a deal here with Chief of Staff Mulvaney, there will be a meeting if Ukrainians open up or announce these investigations into 2016 and Burisma, and I cut it off immediately there.  Because, by this point, having heard Mr. Giuliani over and over again on the television and all of the issues that he was asserting, by this point, it was clear that Burisma was code for the Bidens because Giuliani was laying it out there.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Mimi on this question.  This is a law question.  Would you -- if you were a judge on a bench trial, would you believe Sondland when he is said I didn`t know Burisma were the Bidens after all those months?  Would you believe him?

ROCAH:  Absolutely not.  I mean, first of all, and I think the point that Ms. Hill was trying to make today is it belies common sense.  I know I keep using that word, and I know it`s not the world we`re in, but she was trying to drive that home today too that, you know, first of all, you have Rudy Giuliani out there publicly saying that he`s going after Biden.

I mean, there was this whole dust up and in fact he called off his first trip to Ukraine because there was such an outcry about it because he said exactly what he was doing, that he was going to investigate the Bidens for his client, Trump.

And, you know, you have to suspend belief and say, well, of all the companies in all the world, you know, Donald Trump was concerned with Burisma for no reason having to do with the fact Joe Biden`s son worked there.  So it makes absolutely no sense.

And she -- what you saw today was two people saying, no one had to tell me explicitly, although, again, Giuliani was explicit about it, because I was putting, this is the two plus two is four, together.

What the Republicans keep trying to come back to is, well, nobody said explicitly that that`s what it was, just like nobody said it`s a quid pro quo at the time, in fact, you know.  And that`s not how criminals crime, that you don`t say it explicitly as they`re doing it for all reasons.

MATTHEWS:  That`s not how politicians talk, by the way, in my experience, and Michael will tell you about it.  It`s grunts, it`s groans, it`s, come on, you know, what I want.  Nobody sits there and writes these contracts.  It`s not how you do it.  If you can grunt it, don`t say it.  If you can say it, don`t write it.  The old rules apply.

Thank you.  My guests are sticking with us and this table will stay whole, and Mimi also.

Coming up, it`s a whole new ball game after the president`s point person for the Ukraine shakedown, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, testifies that, quote, everyone was in the loop, naming he did, Donald Trump, Pence, the V.P., who tries not to get involved in these things, Pompeo, the go-along guy, Mulvaney, I don`t know where he`s still in this thing, and, of course, Rudy, they`re all working together.  That was so amazing when Sondland did that a couple of times.  He said it wasn`t the outliers, it was the inliers, it was the government of the United States working in this escapade.

We`ve got much more to get to in the next couple of minutes in this historic week of testimony on the impeachment investigation.  Stick with us.



REP. TERRI SEWELL (D-AL):  Did your boss, Ambassador Bolton, tell you that Giuliani was, quote, a hand grenade?

HILL:  He did, yes.

SEWELL:  What do you think he meant by his characterization of Giuliani as a hand grenade?

HILL:  What he meant by this was pretty clear to me in the context of all of the statements that Mr. Giuliani was making publicly that the investigations that he was promoting, that the storyline he was promoting, the narrative he was promoting was going to backfire.  I think it has backfired.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that was good planning for the future. 

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was Fiona Hill, Dr. Hill, the president`s former top adviser on Russia, testifying today on former National Security Adviser John Bolton`s assessment of President Trump`s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the hand grenade. 

Hill, by the way, told the committee that Sondland was involved in a domestic political errand in his dealings with Ukraine. 

In his testimony yesterday, Sondland, Ambassador Sondland, repeatedly said he worked with Giuliani on Ukraine because he was acting at the express direction of the president. 


GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION:  Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States. 

I followed the directions of the president.  We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the president directed us to do so. 

When the president says, talk to my personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, we followed his direction. 

I was following the president`s direction to speak with Mr. Giuliani. 

We followed the direction of the president, because that was the only pathway to working with Ukraine. 


MATTHEWS:  I`m back with Eli Stokols, Katrina Mulligan, Michael Steele, and Mimi Rocah. 

Mimi, it`s interesting, because the president of the United States can compete -- can perform, carry out an impeachable crime, something that`s a high crime or misdemeanor, something like abuse of power. 

I have been thinking through all these people working for him, from Pompeo, to Giuliani at the top -- Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, all these names.  They`re not committing a crime.  They cannot abuse power because they don`t have power. 

Is this one of those cases where you can isolate the president`s wrongdoing, and yet all the other people who say I`m just obeying orders are probably not going to be charged with anything?  What do you think?  Because they don`t -- they seem to all be players, but he`s the mastermind. 

ROCAH:  Well, I would look at it sort of the other way around, actually. 

I mean, the president right now, as it stands, can`t be prosecuted for a crime.  He can only be impeached.  And, as we know, you don`t have to commit a crime to be impeached, although what I think is going on here is that we do have a bribery conspiracy. 

We have a conspiracy to interfere in our election, which, as we know from the Mueller report, is a crime, in and of itself.  I mean, just those two alone, I think -- you know, I think Sondland, he tried to walk this line of not implicating himself. 

That`s part of this whole Burisma-Biden fiction, right?  As long as they say the investigation was just about Burisma, it`s maybe not a crime.  But once you say it`s about Biden, a political opponent, he knows he would have been admitting to a campaign finance crime. 

But I think all of these people -- I mean, if we had an independent, uncorrupted Department of Justice right now, I think that these people would all be investigated for those crimes.  And, by the way, part of that includes getting interviews from them, if they`re willing to give them, subpoenaing them, documents from them, all the things that the White House and State Department are stonewalling on, which is part of why that is obstructive. 

MATTHEWS:  What`s so interesting is John Bolton, who`s apparently written a big book contract.  And I understand those things.  He doesn`t want to give away the gold.  But he`s going to be called by history in the next couple of weeks. 

They`re having a decision on articles of impeachment, probably, the House Judiciary Committee, by mid-December perhaps.  And he`s sitting on the sidelines?  How`s that going to work? 

STOKOLS:  Well, it`s in the eye of the beholder.  Right?

If you`re -- everybody can make their own judgments of what that is and what it means to withhold information that you claim to have that hasn`t come out yet, and to write it in a book that you`re going to make money off of, or to come forward. 

He`s not coming forward on his own.  And I think that the calculations -- the Democrats are looking at this.  They understand the Republicans are not moving.  None of this has really moved a single Republican that they know of. 

And so would John Bolton be enough to do it?  Well, maybe, but maybe John Bolton coming forward still wouldn`t do it.  And they understand this is something they can`t let drag out for months. 

And so the Republicans -- I talked to a Republican today who said, if this is so important and it`s not about politics, who cares about the calendar?  Go to court.  Get John Bolton there and get the information out. 

But Democrats just don`t believe that that is going to change the outcome of this. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  There`s two outcomes, Michael.  There`s the one where you get 67 votes in the Senate. 

STEELE:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  That may be a long shot.  But if you get five handful of Republicans, on top of 47 Democrats, you get a majority vote for conviction and removal from office, I think that changes the whole -- the way this is going to be read. 

And, therefore, a guy like John Bolton could bring you Murkowski, Cory Gardner, could bring you Susan Collins.  It could be a handful perhaps. 

STEELE:  Yes, I think that`s right on its face.

But I think the final moment of today`s hearings sort of clarified to me where -- to your point, Eli, where the Republicans are. 

I listened to Will Hurd.  Will Hurd basically...

MATTHEWS:  The Texas congressman.

STEELE:  The Texas congressman who is retiring from Congress, who was always considered sort of a maverick, because he was sort of independent in his Republicanism, today landed right on the front porch of Donald Trump and pretty much said, eh, there`s nothing here, I don`t see any reason to vote for impeachment. 

So that sends a signal to the Senate there is no movement among Republicans anywhere near... 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m just wondering.

What is your thinking about John Bolton?  He`s a hawk.  He`s been a symbol of the sort of the tough foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration, all the way back to his father.  He`s the foreign policy figure of the Republican Party. 

If he comes out and says, this guy is a rogue, crooked president, he misused his authority, will that get a handful Republicans for impeachment, for conviction?

MULLIGAN:  You know I think that`s probably somewhat unknowable.

But I think, regardless of the answer to that question, I think he owes it to the people who worked for him who we have seen go and...


MATTHEWS:  Like Fiona Hill. 

MULLIGAN:  Like Fiona Hill, who displayed tremendous courage and tremendous dignity.  He owes it to them and he owes it to the American people to tell the truth. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, with virtually every counterargument already dismantled, Republicans today resorted to lecturing the witnesses or just outright giving up. 



REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  Nowhere is there a Holmes tells Taylor what the president of the United States told Sondland. 

HOLMES:  May I answer that question?

JORDAN:  Thirteen conversations -- yes, I will get to you.  I will give you a chance here in a second. 

REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R-OH):  You guys want to be the laughingstock of history, to impeach a president of the United States because he didn`t take a meeting?  Oh, please, dear God. 

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT):  I actually have no questions for you that haven`t already been asked or made any points that haven`t already been made.

This impeachapalooza tour finally comes to an end. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the -- they didn`t have much to play with.  They`re sitting with their poker hand with like an eight in it.

That`s all they...


MATTHEWS:  And they`re looking at a high eight.  They don`t have anything.  And so they`re dickering around, basically. 


I mean, look, after being demolished one after the other asking Fiona Hill questions, every time, she would just sort of very effectively take the question, say a little bit that sort of led you into thinking she was going in one direction, and then she would just turn that right around and just eviscerate the question.

And she wasn`t to be trifled with.  Look, she knows her brief.  She comes from the intelligence community.  She`s a trained briefer.  She knows how to convey the information that she`s there to convey, and she`s not going to let anybody deviate her from that.

And we saw that in the testimony and we also saw it in the substance of what she was telling us about the actions she took. 


Michael, she was sharp-thinking, economical talker, didn`t waste a word.  And then these guys -- this guy Jordan -- I have said it off camera.

He looks -- reminds me of the bad guy at the jock table at Holy Cross, one of these guys -- not all jocks are bad guys, obviously.  Some of them are scholar athletes.  But he`s one of the SOBs.

STEELE:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And he says -- he looks like a bully. 

STEELE:  He was put on the committee for a reason.  And you saw today especially why they wanted him on the committee.  He carried the water he needed to carry it, the way he needed to carry it.

And it was to muddy up the witnesses as best he could.  But he couldn`t with Fiona. 


The Boston Celtics had a guy like this once, Loscutoff.  Remember him? 

STEELE:  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  He went into the game to hurt -- to physically hurt Wilt Chamberlain or somebody.  That was his job, just go in and hurt the other side.

Anyway, thank you.  

Loscutoff is back. 

Eli Stokols, thank you.  Katrina Mulligan, Michael Steele, with an E, Mimi Rocah. 

Thank you, Mimi.  We need you tonight, great legal advice for us.

Up next:  Witness testimony has put a bright spotlight on the breakdown of U.S. diplomacy under this administration, don`t you think?  Maybe Trump would have been better off leaving the diplomacy to the diplomats. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

The American public heard this week from nine current and former civil servants, foreign policy servants, who detailed an insidious plot to use American foreign policy to benefit the president of the United States` own purposes. 


HILL:  It was very clear at this point that there was, let`s just say, a different channel in operation in relations to Ukraine, one that was domestic and political in nature, and that was very different from the channel or the loop, however you like it, that I and my colleagues were in. 

SONDLAND:  We never thought it was irregular.  We thought it was in the center lane. 

GOLDMAN:  Ambassador Taylor in your decades of military service and diplomatic service representing the United States around the world, have you ever seen another example of foreign aid conditioned on the personal or political interests of the president of the United States? 


GOLDMAN:  Is pressuring Ukraine to conduct what I believe you called political investigations a part of U.S. foreign policy to promote the rule of law in Ukraine and around the world? 


GOLDMAN:  Is it in the national interests of the United States? 

KENT:  In my opinion, it is not. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, yesterday, the American ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, of course, told members of the committee, Intelligence Committee, that the arms-for-dirt scheme came directly from President Trump and was implicitly sanctioned by Vice President Pence and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, among others. 


SONDLAND:  Everyone was in the loop.  It was no secret.  Throughout these events, we kept State Department leadership and others apprised of what we were doing. 

State Department was fully supportive of our engagement in Ukraine efforts and was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, joining me right now is U.S. Ambassador William Burns, a 33-year veteran of the State Department, most recently having served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, before that as ambassador to Russia in the George W. Bush administration. 

He details his three decades in foreign diplomacy in a book, "The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal."

Ambassador Burns, thank you.


MATTHEWS:  Ambassador, let ask you about one thing -- two things.

Whenever I meet a doctor -- and I have had to deal with doctors a lot lately, thanks from me.  I have been lucky.  And I always think, this guy or this woman got through organic chem.  That`s the hardest thing, because my roommate in college at Holy Cross was broken on that.

BURNS:  Yes.  No, I never made...


MATTHEWS:  And then you guys and you women, before you even get to talk diplomacy or what`s going on in the world, you have to master these languages, like Russia in your case, Arabic. 

BURNS:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  The intelligence -- what really came on the air in the last two weeks in these hearings was the brains, the ability to master foreign languages, difficult languages.

BURNS:  It`s true.

MATTHEWS:  The ability to do everything else. 

BURNS:  Well, it made me incredibly proud, as someone who was a professional diplomat for a long time, and having worked and served with a number of the people who are testifying, because, for most Americans, diplomacy is an abstraction. 

The State Department`s a faceless bureaucracy.  But American citizens have gotten to see, against a terrible backdrop of the impeachment inquiry, real live human beings who are principled, who are patriotic, who are professional public servants. 

They`re walking up to Capitol Hill with their heads held high and they`re speaking truth to power, however inconvenient it is to the administration. 


Well, I thought was impressive about our civil service, our Foreign Service, is, they`re all stunned by Trump.  They`re not used to this.  They didn`t get this from W., who I had problems with.  We disagreed on policy, of course. 

They didn`t disagree with Obama.  They had never seen anybody like this president come, Mr. Big Stuff, I called him tonight, coming in and just saying, my way or the highway, do what I want, carry out this scheme to get dirt on Biden for me, and forget everything else you`re here for.

BURNS:  Right.

And then what you end up with is not the diplomacy I learned over all those years in both Democratic and Republican administrations.  This is diplomacy as an exercise in narcissism, as Fiona Hill put it, when you`re elevating domestic political errands over national security interests as well. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you catch the Republican -- I`m not knocking the Republican Party, but there`s a thing here, this sort of anti-deep state thing they`re calling. 

Anybody who works for the government, whether you`re a mailman, whatever you are, you work in NASA, you`re the bad guy or bad woman. 

BURNS:  Right.  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Now, here they go.  They call it interagency, like there`s something wrong with people getting along with each other. 

So somebody was snarling the other day.  It was probably Jordan, was making fun of interagency.  I don`t care about your interagency thinking.  The president of the United States is the boss. 

OK, he is the boss, but you would think he would use the government to get things done.  And they`re mocking the government, these people.

BURNS:  Right.

Rather than sideline career expertise, you would want to take advantage of it.  I was part of a disciplined service.  There were sometimes when I disagreed with policy choices, but it was my obligation to be honest about concerns, but then do the best I could to implement policy. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you stand up to a president if you want to keep your career?  How do you deal with that conflict? 

I mean, Mr. Sondland, who`s basically a political appointment, he`s heading back to Brussels on the first plane last night, but he doesn`t know how long he`s going to last.

BURNS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And he paid a million bucks for that ambassadorship. 

BURNS:  But -- yes, but for career civil servants, who aren`t paying for any of their jobs, they have an obligation to be honest within the discipline of the system.

David Holmes, who was testifying today...

MATTHEWS:  And risk what comes of that.

BURNS:  Right.

And there`s a formal channel called the dissent channel in the State Department that David Holmes used in the Obama administration to express concern about policy in Afghanistan. 

So there are channels that you can use.  And you have an obligation to be honest about your concerns. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, in her opening statement, Dr. Fiona Hill today said that some politicians were weaponizing Russian-backed falsehoods, and warned that Russia remained a threat. 


HILL:  The impacts of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. 

Our nation is being torn apart.  Truth is questioned.  Our highly professional and expert career Foreign Service is being undermined.  U.S. support for Ukraine, which continues to face armed Russian aggression, has been politicized. 

The Russian government`s goal is to weaken our country, to diminish America`s global role, and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests. 

Right now, Russia`s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election.  We are running out of time to stop them. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you think of her? 

BURNS:  Oh, I worked with Fiona when I was...

MATTHEWS:  Tell us about her.  Take a minute.

BURNS:  When I was ambassador in Russia, Fiona was the national intelligence officer for Russia. 

She`s an extraordinary scholar.  She knows Russia, knows Putin as well as, you know, anybody that I know in the U.S. government.  And she was a wonderful colleague as well, principled, full of integrity and honesty. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, she wrote a 500-page book about Putin`s psyche. 

It must -- I don`t think Trump has read it. 

BURNS:  No, I don`t think so. 


BURNS:  That`s a safe bet.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Ambassador.  Thank you, Ambassador Burns.

BURNS:  My pleasure.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you for your service to us all. 

Up next:  The impeachment investigation takes center stage at the fifth Democratic debate last night.  I was there.  And that`s coming up next. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The Democratic candidates for president have had to compete for attention with impeachment, of course.  In fact, it was the first topic at last night`s Democratic debate. 


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have to establish the principle no one is above the law.  We have a constitutional responsibility and we need to meet it. 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have a criminal living in the White House. 

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I learned something about these impeachment trials.  I learned, number one, that Donald Trump doesn`t want me to be the nominee.  That`s pretty clear. 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Sadly, we have a president who`s not only a pathological liar, he is likely the most corrupt president in the modern history of America. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, the candidates focused most of their attacks on the president, of course, leveling few punches at each other and trying to bolster their own case for the nomination. 


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I govern both with my head and my heart.  And if you think a woman can`t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day. 

BIDEN:  You have to ask yourself up here, who is most likely to be able to win the nomination in the first place, to win the presidency in the first place?  And secondly, who is most likely to increase the number of people who were Democrats in the House and in the Senate? 

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In order to defeat this president, we need somebody who can go toe to toe, who actually comes from the kinds of communities that he`s been appealing to.  I don`t talk a big game about helping the working class while helicoptering between golf courses with my name on them. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, Mayor Pete Buttigieg who headed into the night leading in the polls in Iowa and surging almost to the top now in New Hampshire faced attacks himself regarding his experience. 


KLOBUCHAR:  Mayor, I have all appreciation for your good work as a local official, and you did that when you tried.  And I also have actually done this work.  I think experience should matter. 

BUTTIGIEG:  So, first of all, Washington experience is not the only experience that matters.  There`s more than a hundred years of Washington experience on this stage.  And where are we right now as a country? 


MATTHEWS:  Well, there were ten candidates on that stage last night.  Seven others could not participate at all, including one candidate who just entered the race last week. 

And that candidate, former Massachusetts two-term Governor Deval Patrick, joins me next on what he brings to the race.  He`s going to tell us.  And what the others don`t have, he`s going to tell us that, too. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

After last night`s debate, there were few remaining opportunities for the Democratic presidential candidates to make their mark on the national stage before the Iowa caucuses now less than three months away.  And making things even more challenging for the candidates, the presidential campaign is being over shadowed by the impeachment investigation which is probably going to reach its climax in January. 

Now, if the House approves articles of impeachment, President Trump will face a trial by the Senate then, they could sideline six of the candidates -- Warren, Sanders and the others -- just as they need to make their final pitches in Iowa to win the caucuses on February 3rd. 

That might be to the benefit of the latest Democratic candidate to jump into the race.  Joining me right now is sitting right with me right now is former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate, Deval Patrick. 

Well, you were a popular governor. 


MATTHEWS:  But I`m wondering and I`m not overwhelmed by this field.  I`m not -- I haven`t picked any favorites.  I know they`re all -- we`re not going to -- there`s nobody perfect in this race. 

PATRICK:  Of course, yes.  It is a strong field, though, you have to say. 

MATTHEWS:  How nice of you to say so.  Then why are you joining it? 

PATRICK:  But they`re a lot of my friends -- 

MATTHEWS:  Why are you joining it?  What do they need? 

PATRICK:  What we need, first of all, as a party and I`m proud of this, we are setting an ambitious agenda.  But to accomplish that agenda in a way that we make change that lasts, we`ve got to bring other people into the conversation, right?  Set an ambitious agenda, and be open to different pathways to accomplish that.  That`s what I`ve done in my personal life, in my business life, in my life in government service. 

And I have, in fact, had some experience in delivering on those ambitious outcomes, health care, 98 plus percent of our residents in Massachusetts have health care today.  We began to dismantle mandatory minimum sentencing and we built an economy which was growing out not just --


MATTHEWS:  OK.  You know what I hear governor?  I hear you`re running against Elizabeth Warren.  Because Elizabeth Warren says we don`t need a big broad coalition.  We need 50 votes in the Senate.  I`ll find parliamentarians are going to say that`s reconciliation, we`ll get 50.  If they have a problem with the filibuster, I`ll get rid of the filibuster.  I don`t a big -- and I`ll push it through when I`ll get the rich people to pay for -- are you against that? 


PATRICK:  I`ve heard -- I`ve heard those points.  I`ve heard some of them. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you against that?

PATRICK:  Some of them I am, some of them I`m not.  But I want to make clear, I`m not just talking about the very real politics of getting things done in the Senate, in the House.  I`m talking about the very real civics of engaging more of our electorate in the electoral process and in their own civic and political future. 

There are reasons, I think, why candidate Trump was right -- 


PATRICK:  -- when he said in 2016 that, you know, establishment politics wasn`t serving --


MATTHEWS:  What did President Obama say when you told him you were getting in? 

PATRICK:  Well, that`s a conversation --

MATTHEWS:  He`s your buddy. 

PATRICK:  He is.  And we stayed buddy --


MATTHEWS:  Did he encourage you or discourage you? 

PATRICK:  Look, he`s been a great friend and a great confidant. 

MATTHEWS:  Was he happy when you said you were getting in? 

PATRICK:  He was -- he was happy as a citizen and he`s concerned as a friend.  And you can imagine that`s kind of the consistent reaction I`ve gotten from a lot of people. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of his statement this week?  Because I was impressed when he say the statement, made a statement.  He said, you know, we`re not a revolutionary country right now.  We want an improvement in our lives.  We don`t want a revolution. 

That`s against Bernie basically.  That`s a shot at Bernie. 

PATRICK:  Well, look, I think there are ways in which the kind of frustration and anger that are expressed not just within the party but at large are very familiar to me having grown up on the South Side of Chicago, right, that sensed the economy had kind of gotten up and left us behind.  That what comes in instead is opioids, over-policing, the sense your issues are paid attention to at campaign time and then forgotten about until the next election. 

MATTHEWS:  But let`s talk about the election.  It looks to me like you`re plotting -- that sounds nefarious.

PATRICK:  It does.

MATTHEWS:  They`re planning to deal with the challenge of Joe Biden in South Carolina which is 60 percent minority. 

PATRICK:  Well, I`m taking nothing for granted. 

MATTHEWS:  But isn`t that where you`re heading, your first victory?


PATRICK:  I was in -- I was in South Carolina yesterday, as a matter of fact. 

MATTHEWS:  My point. 

PATRICK:  I was also in New Hampshire at the beginning of the week and in Iowa the day before, and South Carolina --

MATTHEWS:  Where you were first -- this is political show, Governor.  I`ve got respect for you and everybody likes you, I`m giving you all that.  So, let`s just --

PATRICK:  There`s a "but" coming. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the but is, where you think -- because you`re late, you`re getting into a game, a contest if you will and it`s the country`s future.


MATTHEWS:  February 3rd is Iowa.  It`s way too late for you there.  I think you`re talking New Hampshire, you`re talking South Carolina, is that right?  Where you make your mark?

PATRICK:  Watch me.  Watch me.  We`re going to compete everywhere.  We`re going to have -- I mean, you`ve got to be realistic about the schedule -- 


PATRICK:  -- and where we are, and the fact there are other candidates who have been months and years at this on money and on their developing --

MATTHEWS:  You`re low-balling it. 

PATRICK:  I totally get -- 

MATTHEWS:  You`re low-balling it.

PATRICK:  I totally get that.  Listen, listen, I`m trying to make a point here that is also political, Chris.  Honestly.  And that is you`ve got to understand that there are a lot of people who feel important only during the early state contest, and then they don`t feel important again.  And there are people in other places --

MATTHEWS:  I hear you, I hear you.

You`re coming in late.  You`re a sleeper.  You`re a sleeper, and you`re coming in late. 

PATRICK:  Everyone, everywhere, that`s the point.

MATTHEWS:  You`re going to knock off Biden in South Carolina.

Thank you, former Governor Deval Patrick.  I`m having fun with him because he got in late. 

Up next, what the candidates told me last night after the debate. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Last night, the Democrats running for president held their fifth debate down in Atlanta.  And after the debate, I spoke with many of the candidates on the so-called Spin Room.  Let`s watch. 


MATTHEWS:  If you`re in a black church in South Carolina right now and you`re having some numbers problems down there, what would you say to people who were against you perhaps because of your orientation? 

BUTTIGIEG:  I was in a black church in South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, and I talked very openly about my orientation.  We have got to put away this idea that homophobia is somehow something that only applies to the black community or is limited to the black community.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I didn`t mean that. 

BUTTIGIEG:  No, but some folks out there are saying it.


BUTTIGIEG:  And look, the reality is people approach elections and certainly black voters I talked to approach elections where one main question in mind.  And it`s this.  How is my life going to be different if you`re president versus one of these people out there, and why do you care? 

If I can answer that I think a lot of other considerations fall to the side lines. 

MATTHEWS:  So you think this guy should be removed from office? 

HARRIS:  Which guy? 

MATTHEWS:  Donald Trump. 

HARRIS:  I think that the process of impeachment is a robust and important process and it should proceed, and we`ll see where it goes.  I think it`s going to end up in impeachment. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you have a vote figured out? 

HARRIS:  Well, I can -- I have eyes and ears and I can see what everyone sees in plain sight, which leads me to believe there`s a lot of evidence there that would be grounds for impeachment. 

MATTHEWS:  People say you`re aspirational like Obama was, but aspiration, it`s 19 -- 2019 is not -- why won`t aspiration and hope and we can do a better job and we can make it in this country, it`s not nostalgia, it`s optimism. 


MATTHEWS:  Why isn`t that grabbing people yet?

BOOKER:  Well, right now, it`s happened for Jimmy Carter`s poll of 1 percent, talks about decency and he eventually won.  Bill Clinton talked about hope, he was polling at 4 percent right now, he eventually won. 

Barack Obama this day in his race in 2007 he was 21 points behind Hillary Clinton, but he talked inspirationally.  So, this is my moment. 

KLOBUCHAR:  What unites us, Chris, is so much stronger than what divides us.  And what I don`t like about this is that when you look at what happened just in Kentucky, in Virginia, and they continue to make the case for free everything.  And as I said today, I know these things sound good on a bumper sticker but -- and maybe they want to throw in a free car, but I really don`t think that is what people want. 

They want a fair shake.  They want opportunity. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s HARDBALL for now.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.