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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for May 12

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest: David Frum, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Barbara Boxer, George Allen, Joseph Biden, Donald Trump

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The battle over John Bolton‘s nomination for U.N. ambassador takes a hit from a Republican senator and emerges without approval from the Foreign Relations Committee to the full Senate floor, setting up a real Senate showdown.  Is this the first crack in the armor of the Bush second term? 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

Three-and-a-half years after 9/11 and there‘s still a gaping hole in Lower Manhattan.  Donald Trump says the answers is to rebuild the World Trade Center as it was, only taller.  We‘ll hear from him later in the program. 

But, first, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today took up the embattled and controversial nomination of John Bolton to be U.N.  ambassador.  The committee sent the nomination to the full Senate without recommending him.  And one Republican called Bolton arrogant and a bully. 

MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell joins us now—


NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, it was electrifying up on Capitol Hill today.  And the turning point came when Republican Senator George Voinovich slammed the president‘s choice to be ambassador to the United Nations.  At the same time, he did say that it should go to the floor of the Senate for a vote.  And that‘s exactly what the committee decided to do. 


O‘DONNELL (voice-over):  Today began with the Republican chairman of the committee, Senator Lugar, urging Bolton‘s confirmation, despite his objectionable behavior.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR ®, INDIANA:  Secretary Bolton‘s actions were not always exemplary.  But there‘s no evidence that he has broken laws or engaged in serious ethical misconduct. 

O‘DONNELL:  But the dramatic turning point came when Senator Voinovich delivered a scathing indictment of Bolton, calling him arrogant, bullying, and the wrong man for the job. 

REP. GEORGE VOINOVICH ®, OHIO:  I believe the that John Bolton would have been fired—fired—if he had worked for a major corporation.  It is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be. 

O‘DONNELL:  Voinovich has been persuaded by arguments first raised by Democrats, claiming Bolton was repeatedly abusive to subordinates and tried to stretch intelligence to fit his views. 

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT:  He tried to fire, fire, intelligence analysts because they would not conform to what he wanted to say. 

O‘DONNELL:  Republicans have argued the blunt-spoken Bolton is exactly the man needed to reform the scandal-plagued United Nations. 

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA:  We are not electing Mr.  Congeniality.  We do not need Mr. Milquetoast in the United Nations.  We‘re not electing Mr.  Peepers to go there and just be really happy and drinking tea with their pinkies up and just saying all these meaningless things, when we do need a straight talker and someone who is going to go there and shake it up.  And it needs shaking up.  It needs reform.


O‘DONNELL:  Democrats are promising an all-out fight on the Senate floor.  And now the leadership has to schedule this.  It should come within just several days.  And if the Democrats hope to block Bolton, they would have to pick off six Republican senators and hold their own on the Democratic side. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you do the math?  Why is it six?  Because you have got five Republicans.  And you got 45 Democrats, including the one who acts as a Democrat.  Why—why six? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, and then Cheney could be the tie-breaker. 

MATTHEWS:  And so it would be 50/50 and win... 

O‘DONNELL:  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  But there‘s 55 Republicans. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Six votes need to win for the Democrats. 

O‘DONNELL:  They would have to pick up six.  At this point, it‘s not clear that they could do that, although Voinovich has said that he would vote no on the floor and that he is recommending that other senators do the same. 

MATTHEWS:  So what will do it is 50 votes in the Republican Party, plus the vice president.  That gets him in. 

O‘DONNELL:  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Norah O‘Donnell.  

Delaware Senator Joe Biden is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

Senator Biden, thank you.

We‘ve been just doing the math here with Norah O‘Donnell.  Do you believe there are enough votes to prevent the president and the vice president from getting the 50 votes they need in the Senate to win the nomination of—to win the confirmation of John Bolton? 

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE:  If this were a secret ballot, more than enough.  I‘m not sure, with the incredible pressure the president and vice president will put on their Republican colleagues, that there are enough.

But let me tell you, Chris, I always think there are enough people of rectitude in the Senate that will do the right thing.  I don‘t think George Voinovich is the only person with that kind of courage.  And—but whether there are six, I don‘t know. 

MATTHEWS:  Has any Republican senator told you that he or she will vote to oppose the nomination? 

BIDEN:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Has Joe Lieberman said anything about where he stands? 

BIDEN:  I haven‘t heard—I haven‘t spoken to Joe, no. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he might vote for the nomination? 


MATTHEWS:  In other words, do you assume all Democrats will oppose the nomination, including the hawks? 

BIDEN:  Well, I haven‘t done that yet, Chris.  I simply don‘t know. 

We‘ve been concentrating in the committee.  I haven‘t, as we say, whipped the Democrats yet to find out where every Democrat is.  So, I can‘t answer that question. 

MATTHEWS:  When did you get the word, Senator, that George Voinovich, the Republican from Ohio, was going to oppose the nomination in committee? 

BIDEN:  I—I would rather not answer that. 


Is the president in danger here of losing his credibility?  Here he is with his point man on arms control around the world, you could say the man on the wall, the man who is probably the most ferocious in advocating his very strong forward-leaning foreign policy.  If Bolton goes down, does Bush go down?  Does this hurt the president? 

BIDEN:  Well, no, no.  I don‘t think—I mean, look, the president of the United States is the—is the biggest fish in the international pond.  Bolton could go down.  The vice president could go down.  The secretary of state could go down and he still, still has credibility because he is the president of the United States of America. 

But I do think that sending Bolton, not understanding the message that was sent today, there are not a sufficient number of Republicans in a Republican-controlled committee to send this nomination to the floor favorably.  And the fact of the matter is, what the president could do to vastly enhance his credibility around the world on international matters, as well as make a giant leap here for—toward a bipartisan foreign policy, would be to understand the message sent today, this was damning with faint praise in the extreme, and decide to send some tough conservative Republican who has wide respect in Bolton‘s place. 

I don‘t think he‘ll do that.  But that could greatly enhance his capability. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think John Bolton would be trusted by the world community as U.N. ambassador? 

BIDEN:  Chris, I‘m in a tough spot here, because, if he goes up there, he‘s going to be the ambassador to the United Nations and I‘m going to want to support him.  He is the only man we will have at the United Nations speaking for us. 

But I think it is clear that there is no one of prominence that could have been picked by this president who the rest of the world leadership, who focuses on us, as well as my colleagues, think is the least likely person to...


BIDEN:  ... support.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry, Senator.

Do you know—maybe this is an internal matter for the White House.  But do you know whether President Bush was aware of all the complaints made against the job performance of John Bolton before sending his name to the committee? 

BIDEN:  I would be surprised if he was aware of it, because, being aware of it, I think he would have—look, there‘s nothing good that‘s—let‘s assume Bolton gets confirmed next week or two weeks or four weeks, whenever.  Let‘s assume that occurs. 

Does anybody think the president‘s stature and ability to lead has been enhanced by this fight?  I can‘t imagine, if he knew this, if he knew this, that he would have set Mr. Bolton up, because even if he—quote—

“wins the fight,” there has been damage done.  I can‘t imagine he would have done that. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me try this another way, Senator Biden.  You grew up, like a lot of us did during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  And you saw Adlai Stevenson, a man who was a liberal, perform admirably as a cold warrior in the U.N. when we had to present evidence of missile bases in Cuba. 

BIDEN:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Offensive nuclear missile bases.  He was believed by the world community. 

BIDEN:  Absolutely, positively.

MATTHEWS:  In the world of public opinion.  Will John Bolton be able to make our case in the courtroom of public opinion? 

BIDEN:  Not without a significant change.  And I don‘t know how that can happen in the near term. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to lead the fight against John Bolton or will George Voinovich? 

BIDEN:  Well, I just—I would be happy to have George lead it.  I think my—on the Democratic side, I will be the one managing this nomination, to use the jargon here, and, in that sense, leading the fight. 

But if I could say to my Republican colleagues, just do one thing.  Just read Senator Voinovich‘s statement that he made in the committee.  It was elegant.  It was impressive.  It was coherent.  And it was profound.  And I can‘t imagine—everybody on that side knows George Voinovich, as we do.  This is a guy who has real gumption, real character.  This is a guy who is a stand-up guy. 

And for him to move in the direction he did, with the ferocity with which he did it, an ordered argumentation that he presented, has to be taken seriously by anyone who respects this process and respects this place. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Biden, will you oppose the use of a filibuster to stop this nomination or would you allow it? 

BIDEN:  I would not oppose it.  I do not propose it.  I think a lot will depend, Chris, on whether or not the administration comes forward with the information that we‘re entitled to, merely as a matter of institutional responsibility. 

We do not, we should not, we must not allow the president of the United States‘ administration to determine what is relevant to our consideration.  That‘s what they‘re arguing.  They‘re not arguing that this would be, the information we‘re seeking, would violate executive privilege or there‘s a constitutional basis for it.  We will be making a serious mistake under the doctrine of separation of powers if we let them get away with that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Senator Joe Biden. 

It reminds me of advise and consent.  This must be a great day to be a senator. 

When we get back, we‘ll Republican reaction from Senator George Allen. 

And later, Washington pays tribute to former first lady Nancy Reagan. 

And Donald Trump says rebuild the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.  And he says it here on HARDBALL.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Senator George Allen of Virginia and Senator Barbara Boxer of California on whether John Bolton has the votes he needs in the full Senate to become the next ambassador to the United Nations.

HARDBALL returns after this.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the nomination of John Bolton for U.N. ambassador to the full Senate today, but they did so without recommending him. 

We‘re joined now by two members of that committee, Virginia Republican George Allen and California Democrat Barbara Boxer. 

Senator Allen, you have the 50 votes, plus the vice president‘s vote, to win this nomination? 

ALLEN:  I believe we do. 

I think that, on the Senate floor, they have followed all this coverage in the media.  And they recognize that the first and foremost essential aspect of the United Nations ambassador from the U.S., United States, is to actually get reform in the United Nations.  We‘re spending $2 billion a year in our taxpayers‘ money.  The United Nations needs reform.  The scandals in oil-for-food, where $20 billion was siphoned off by Saddam Hussein, the fact that you have countries like Syria and Sudan heading up the U.N. Human Rights Commission, it is farcical. 

And John Bolton is going to be one who is not going to suffer wastefulness.  He‘ll be a good watchdog and he‘ll strongly advance U.S.  interests and get the United Nations working together towards advancing freedom, as well as making sure they‘re not squandering money. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Boxer, do you believe that John Bolton will be believe in the world courtroom of public opinion if he is sent to the U.N.? 

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA:  I think we have a nominee here who is badly, badly damaged, because, frankly, when you look at his record, as trying to twist arms to get intelligence to his suiting, so he can make a case that a country is an imminent threat to the United States, I think that, as you look at his relations with the people he worked with, if you look at the number of high-level Republicans who absolutely oppose this nomination, and, frankly, took a lot of risk to put themselves out there, the world sees this. 

And, more than that, I think the United States Senate sees it.  And I think what Senator Allen, my friend, glosses over is the fact that one of his own colleague, Senator Voinovich, made one of the most brilliant speeches today.  And this is a man who really put himself out there, too.  It‘s not easy to be one out of all those Republicans on the committee to really state why this is a very bad nomination.  And I think that will swing some others in the Senate. 

And I hope that this—that this president will send us another nominee.  Really, I do.  I think it is going to be a bruising battle from here on in. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Allen, probably the most respected American of either political party is Colin Powell in the world community.  He has frozen himself in terms of endorsing this candidacy.  And, in fact, many people believe he has actively told people on the Senate committee, which you must know about, not to vote for this guy.  Is it smart to send to the world community someone that Colin Powell refuses to endorse? 

ALLEN:  Well, Colin Powell is a genuine American hero, no question about it.  I have not spoken to Secretary, General Powell on this nomination. 

I know John Bolton.  I‘ve examined his record of performance.  I also recognize that, when you talk about persuasion, that John Bolton was able to get the United Nations to repeal that odious resolution that they had that likened Zionism to racism.  I also know that John Bolton got 60 countries to come together on the proliferation security initiative, to try to interdict the transfer of weapons of mass destruction. 

John Bolton will go to the United Nations with the support, I think, of the majority of the Senate.  But I‘m not sure if people in the United Nations are going to worry about the sensitivities and inner personal relationships with some government employee. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you hire someone whose previous employer refused to recommend them? 

ALLEN:  I would look at their whole record. 

MATTHEWS:  Even if the previous employer refused to recommend them? 

ALLEN:  Well, the previous employer was the Bush administration. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it was Secretary Powell. 

ALLEN:  Well....


MATTHEWS:  Had him as assistant secretary.

ALLEN:  Yes, but who appointed him assistant secretary?  It was President Bush.  President Bush, the Bush administration is his employer. 

And the president, I think, has selected and recognizes at this time in history, where the United Nations is really under fire, that this is a time to get the reforms for the credibility of the United Nations and have it to be a positive force in this world, rather than one of ridicule and also giving cover to despots and tyrants. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Biden, this might be the first U.N. ambassador nominee ever to be rejected by the Senate.  Isn‘t this an extreme step to take, based upon this evidence so far? 

BOXER:  I‘m sorry.  I missed your question. 

MATTHEWS:  This is the first nominee for the United Nations ambassadorship ever to be rejected, if you knock him down on the floor of the Senate.  Do you believe the evidence against Bolton is strong enough to make that precedent? 

BOXER:  I don‘t think there‘s a question about it. 

You have to look at the Foreign Relations Committee.  There is not a majority.  There was not a majority of senators who wanted to vote for John Bolton.  What Senator Voinovich did was really in deference to his colleagues like George Allen.  And I think one of the things I wanted to mention, Senator Allen keeps changing the subject to reforming the U.N.

ALLEN:  Well, that is the point. 

BOXER:  As Chuck Hagel—as Chuck Hagel said today, very clearly, your Republican colleague, that‘s not what this is about at all.  We‘re all for U.N. reform. 

The question is, who is best?  Who is best to bring that about?  And if you listen to Senator Voinovich, he makes the most compelling case as to why John Bolton is the worst person to put in this circumstance, someone who wants to twist intelligence.  We‘ve already been through that.  And we‘ve lost the support of so much of the world because of what happened with Iraq and because of a whole list of other things. 

And you did have Colin Powell‘s chief of staff putting his neck         on the line, saying that this is an abysmal appointment.  And I‘m not using the exact word, a pretty bad appointment. 

ALLEN:  Well, the reality is, is this is a time to reform the United Nations. 

BOXER:  That‘s right.  We agree on that. 

ALLEN:  As I said, the United—the—our taxpayers are putting in $2 billion a year into the United Nations. 

BOXER:  We agree. 

ALLEN:  Do you want to have somebody up there who is going to be seduced by the sweet, meaningless pontifications of these bureaucrats?  We don‘t want a Mr. Milquetoast in the United Nations now.  We need someone who has got some backbone, who won‘t flip.

BOXER:  Well, Senator...

ALLEN:  Who will actually advocate the United States, rather than this anti-Americanism that you find in the United Nations these days.  And you all...

BOXER:  Senator, Senator...

ALLEN:  You all carry on—and, Barbara, I must say, in 2001...

BOXER:  You‘re filibustering me here. 

ALLEN:  You and Senator Biden and others all voted against John Bolton in 2001, before you knew of any of these specious, hearsay allegations. 

BOXER:  Well, first of all, you know me and you know I‘ve been very up front.  I said right away, this was a bad appointment, before I even knew all of these other problems that he‘s carrying around. 

The fact of the matter is, you don‘t send someone to the United Nations who has said publicly the U.N. doesn‘t exist.  But let‘s get past that.  You‘re making the case that if we don‘t move John Bolton forward, that any other Republican that George Bush might put up is a Caspar Milquetoast?  That doesn‘t say much for your party.  That‘s ridiculous. 

I could name you 20 tough Republicans, conservative at that, who could go there, but who wouldn‘t have the kind of baggage that this man brings, so much so that your own colleague, quite a conservative, I would say, moderate to conservative, George Voinovich, who rarely has done this, has stepped out and said, he is the wrong man for the job. 

And I think the American people are going to weigh in here.  And I hope that they will.  And I hope that they will see to it that this president sends down to us a different person, because, I‘ll tell you, there are a lot of good people out there who could do very well at this job of U.N. ambassador. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you, Senator Biden, the last question.  Are you willing to filibuster this nomination to stop it? 

BOXER:  You know, everything is on the table right now.  We have to see where it goes.  You know, right now, if you watched the committee, Senator Biden is very adamant that he has requested three areas of research that he has yet to get the papers on.  One deals with intercepts.  One deals with Syria.  And one deals with a consultant that is on the payroll there of—of John Bolton. 

We want to know who he in fact—who his clients are.  So, frankly, until we get that, I don‘t think the Senate is ready to vote.  So, I think all options are on the table for us. 

ALLEN:  I think the Senate is going to be ready to vote next week. 


MATTHEWS:  Up or down? 

ALLEN:  Up or down.  We‘ve seen the Democrats off on these fishing expeditions and bringing up all these allegations that are all refuted.  And the reality is, is...

MATTHEWS:  They‘re all refuted? 

ALLEN:  Well, they‘ve all been refuted.  They had the woman, Ms.  Townsel.  And they bring this up, that she was making all these allegations.  All of that was proven to be false.

MATTHEWS:  But they weren‘t hearsay.  They were first-person testimony under oath, right?  You said hearsay?  What hearsay evidence...


ALLEN:  Well, the hearsay was—Mr. Ford, for example, said that John Bolton—this has to do Westerman, that he was in there wagging his finger and the...


MATTHEWS:  That was the chief of staff to Colin Powell you‘re referring to, yes.

ALLEN:  No, no, no, no.  This was...

MATTHEWS:  Westerman was the other—was the intelligence analyst. 

ALLEN:  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  But, but, but...

ALLEN:  Correct.  Westerman was the intelligence—at any rate, Ford was their key—Mr. Ford was their key witness. 

I asked him, hey, who was in the room when all this was going on?  He said, well, I think that Mr. Bolton was there and Mr. Westerman and maybe one of Bolton‘s staff.  I said, well, were you in there?  No.  He wasn‘t in there.  That‘s hearsay. 


ALLEN:  He was not there.  And, in fact, all these people are still in their same jobs.


BOXER:  There‘s no hearsay. 

ALLEN:  And his testimony, that they talk about all this fixation on speechwriting, that on—on biological weapons capabilities of Cuba and who they‘ve shared it with.  The speeches that were presented to the Heritage Foundation from Mr. Bolton was the exact testimony of Mr. Ford in our committee. 

MATTHEWS:  Out of time.

Thank you very much, Senator George Allen of Virginia and Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

BOXER:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, a look at last night‘s tribute to former first lady Nancy Reagan. 

And, later, Donald Trump comes here to talk about rebuilding the World Trade Center.  He wants to do just that and add an extra floor to the building. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

America paid tribute to former first lady Nancy Reagan last night at a gala here in Washington. 

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tonight‘s honoree, Mrs. Nancy Reagan. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Technically, it was a black-tie fund-raiser for the Reagan Library.  But, in reality, the night, which attracted celebrities, media stars and political leaders, was a glowing bipartisan tribute to the former first lady. 

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  For eight years, as first lady of our land, Nancy Reagan was the very ideal of grace and loyalty and compassion. 

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER:  To me, honoring Nancy Reagan is about saluting a woman who has always shown incredible strength, vision and grace, no matter the circumstance. 

NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY:  I had a big crush on Bing Crosby. 


SHUSTER:  Memories flooded back, as a video presentation reminded everybody of Mrs. Reagan‘s many roles, actress, wife, mother and first lady. 

REAGAN:  It‘s hard to believe that I really did all that. 


SHUSTER:  America last saw Nancy Reagan and her family nearly a year ago during her husband‘s state funeral in Washington and the burial in California. 

REAGAN:  And I‘m still overwhelmed and moved by all the kindness and concern from people all over the world. 

SHUSTER:  But it‘s a concern that seems to be keeping Mrs. Reagan in good spirits.  And her quiet, but endearing sense of humor has stayed intact.  Hours before this dinner, she was in the White House when a small plane forced a frantic evacuation. 

REAGAN:                  The president and Mrs. Bush were very kind to invite me to stay at the White House for the past few nights.  I didn‘t think that they had to bring in that extra little thing today for me. 


REAGAN:  But it was all right. 


TONY BENNETT, SINGER:  Nancy Reagan is so sweet and beautiful.  It was such a wonderful night. 

SHUSTER:  Ken Duberstein was the White House chief of staff.  And he‘s a close friend of Nancy Reagan. 

KEN DUBERSTEIN, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT:  You could see her feeding off the love and the energy.  And even her comments about bipartisanship, about Republicans and Democrats saluting her, said something very important about not only the Washington of Ronald Reagan, but the way so many people in the country think. 

SHUSTER:  And many people think that Nancy Reagan, of all people, certainly deserved a night like this. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 


MATTHEWS:  It was a great night.  Thank you, David Shuster. 

When we come back, what should be built, if anything, at the site of the World Trade Center?  The one and only Donald Trump will be here with his thoughts.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.



MATTHEWS:  Today, New York Governor George Pataki renewed his commitment to the embattled Freedom Tower, putting his own chief of staff in charge.  A revised design will be unveiled next month.  The last design was scrapped because it wouldn‘t meet security standards. 

Donald Trump wants the Twin Towers rebuilt, only higher.  Earlier today, I asked him about the debate over what to build. 


MATTHEWS:  Speaking as an out-of-towner, every time I fly over Manhattan, I see basically an amputated Battery area.  The bottom of the island looks amputated.  I see the missing towers.  Is that a better monument than the Freedom Towers, just not having anything?  Or would you rather have the World Trade Towers back?

DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN:  I‘d rather have nothing than what they‘re building, Chris.  It‘s a terrible design.  It was designed by an egghead architect who really doesn‘t have a lot of experience at designing something like this.  And it‘s just a terrible design.

It‘s wrong angles.  I mean, the worst of all, it‘s a skeletal building.  And, you know, if you look at it, what is it, really?  It‘s a 60-story building with a skeleton on top of it that goes 40 or 50 stories with nothing in between. 

And it‘s a disgusting design that we‘re going to have to live with for many, many years in New York, and actually in the world, because New York City is so international.  And it doesn‘t represent what we want to have represented.

What I want to see built is the World Trade Centers stronger and maybe a story taller.  And that‘s what everybody wants.  “The New York Post” came out today strongly.  “The Wall Street Journal” yesterday in their editorial came out strongly for that. 

That‘s what people want.  They don‘t want to have—I don‘t want to be stuck with five or six buildings that were designed by a guy that shouldn‘t be designing buildings, in my opinion.  And it‘s just terrible what‘s happened in New York.

And they‘re trying to push this thing through, and I don‘t know why. 

We should have the World Trade Center bigger and better.

MATTHEWS:  Is the problem the architect, Libeskind, or is it the commission?  Did someone tell him to combine a grave marker with an office building, and that‘s the problem?

TRUMP:  Well, I don‘t even blame the architect.  I mean, the architect was in what‘s called a charette.  A charette is where the architects get together and they come up with the best design.  And they had five or six firms competing.  And they chose this design.

So, who can blame them?  I mean, he came up with this design.  He was probably shocked when he got it.  But it‘s a terrible design, and not only the Freedom Tower, the buildings around it.  They have roofs at all different angles.  It looks like a junkyard.  And it shouldn‘t be built.  And instead of not being built, they‘re pushing forward to get it built faster.  And, I mean, frankly, I‘d rather see nothing than see that pile of junk.

MATTHEWS:  What role are you going to take?  I mean, you‘re not a sidewalk superintendent.  You‘re Donald Trump.  I mean, what role—will you lead a coalition to stop Governor Pataki from his strong support for the Freedom Tower?

TRUMP:  Well, there‘s not much of a role I can take. 

It all started when the “New York Post” called me and asked my opinion.  And I‘m the biggest developer in New York by far.  I‘ve done just about, I guess, everything you can do in the world of real estate.  And I see what‘s happening down there.  And it‘s a mess. 

And the developer is actually a friend of mine, but he didn‘t want to build this building, either.  If you look back at the records, I mean, when it was first foisted upon him, Larry Silverstein, he‘s a great guy.  He‘s a good guy.  He‘s a friend of mine.  But he didn‘t want to build this pile of junk.

And it‘s a shame.  It‘s really a shame.  We have a great opportunity.  And, you know, the terrorists win.  If we build this job the way it is, the terrorists win.  If we rebuild the World Trade Center, but a story taller and stronger, then we win.

I mean, I don‘t want to have the terrorists win, Chris.  And that‘s what‘s going to happen if we build this pile of junk.

MATTHEWS:  Well, this pile of junk, apparently, is going to be built, according to the governor, except he‘s going to move it back a few feet from the West Side Highway.  He‘s apparently named his chief of staff to oversee it.  He‘s brought in Jack Kallstrom, the counterterrorist expert, to make sure it‘s secure.

You believe none of these efforts are going to make the building what you want it to be?

TRUMP:  Well, I just think it‘s a terrible design.  And, by the way, it‘s not me.  It‘s everybody.  Everybody‘s unhappy.  They do polls; they do studies; they do everything.  Everybody‘s unhappy with it.

For some reason, the governor—who is a friend of mine.  I really like the governor.  I mean, I have him on “The Apprentice” tonight.  He‘s going to be on “The Apprentice,” the governor of New York.  And, you know, he‘s a good guy.

But, for some reason, somebody is just misleading him down this path, where we‘re going to have—look, we‘re going to suffer with these buildings for hundreds of years in New York City.  And it just is the wrong thing to do.  It‘s the wrong statement to make.  The right statement to make is to rebuild the World Trade Center.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the guys who really suffered, and the women, were the ones who had to jump off a 100-floor building to their deaths, rather than fry to death. 

Do you think people will go up in those towers, get a cup of coffee, take the elevator to the 100th floor of a new World Trade Center, knowing there are still terrorists in the world?  In fact, there will be more terrorists by the time we have the building done.

TRUMP:  Or a Freedom Tower.  I‘m not sure. 

To be honest with you, I think it‘s economically a very, very tough deal, because whether you build a World Trade Center or build Freedom Tower, a lot of people aren‘t going to go in.  I mean, Larry‘s having a hard time getting tenants for a building that‘s a block away, and it‘s sitting there empty almost complete.  And a lot of people aren‘t going to want to go in.

I mean, the fact is, whether you build the World Trade Center, or the Freedom Tower, or anything on that site, I think personally it‘s going to be a very hard rent.  So I‘m very happy to have my building at 40 Wall Street.

MATTHEWS:  Well, if that‘s the case, maybe you are for that third option of just leaving that amputation site down there, which makes a clear statement to the world.  We were hit hard.  It hurt us.  People died.  That‘s our memorial.

TRUMP:  Well, look, the market conditions are going to be tough for anything you build on that site.  So, the case could be made to build a great monumental park and call it Monumental Park, and that‘s what it would be.  So that case has certainly been made.

I know Rudy Giuliani at one point wanted that, or substantially wanted that.  And other people like that idea.  I like that much better than what I‘m seeing architecturally.

I think, whatever you build on that site, Chris, is going to be very tough to rent, for obvious reasons.

MATTHEWS:  So, in order of what you desire—and you‘re the number one developer in New York—you‘d like to see a World Trade Center rebuilt with an extra floor.  If you can‘t have that, leave the site for a memorial plot.  And the third alternative, and only third, would be this Freedom Tower.

TRUMP:  Well, I think the third alternative is not acceptable.  I would certainly say the second alternative would be acceptable, doing a great park, a great—you know, just something magnificent. 

I mean, we have Central Park in New York.  We have Riverside Park in New York.  Make this a great waterfront park and, you know, do something special.  But don‘t build Freedom Tower.  Freedom Tower, I mean, it‘s a wonderful name, but it‘s a horrible building.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about your show, “Apprentice,” live tonight.  Do you get jitters ever, Donald, about going on the air live?  I know you‘re a powerful guy, but tonight‘s live, and it‘s the finale.

TRUMP:  Well, actually, tonight is part of the finale.  And next week, it‘s live.  So, next week, I go on live. 

And, you know, I‘ve done a few of them, and I‘ve done you live.  Look, if I can do you live, I can do anything live, Chris.  That‘s the way I look at it.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re being kind.  How are these guys working out that you‘re hired from the show?

TRUMP:  Very good.  Bill Rancic has been terrific.  In fact, his one year just ended, and we extended him for another year.  He‘s doing a great job.  He‘s working in Chicago, mostly in sales.  And I‘m building a tremendous building at the “Sun-Times” site in Chicago, 92 stories.  It‘s selling like hotcakes.  And Bill‘s involved.

And Kelly Perdew is doing a tremendous job.  We have a company called Trump water, Trump Ice.  It‘s a water company, and it makes water.  I mean, it doesn‘t make it.  It sells water.  And it‘s terrific water.  And he‘s doing an amazing job.

So, Bill and Kelly have both been great.

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re going to have a woman winning this year, it looks like?

TRUMP:  Well, we‘re going to have a woman.  And I‘m getting hundreds and hundreds of e-mails and letters, and the women are very happy.  But you will definitely—there won‘t be suspense about that.  I mean, it will be a woman, because the final two are women.

And tonight‘s show is really terrific.  It‘s a great show.  And then next week is the live finale.

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s going to be at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at the great New York University, where my son goes, on the 19th, 9:00.

Donald Trump, thanks for coming on HARDBALL on this big day for you.

TRUMP:  Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.


MATTHEWS:  A final note.  We asked New York Governor Pataki to join us tonight, but he couldn‘t schedule us. 

When we return, former David Frum and “The Nation” magazine‘s Katrina Vanden Heuvel on the Bolton battle.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, what is the battle over John Bolton‘s U.N.  nomination really all about?

HARDBALL returns after this.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The fate of the Bolton nomination is now in the hands of the full United States Senate.  And the filibuster fight over federal judgeships is on track to go nuclear next week.  How will these fights affect President Bush‘s agenda in the second term? 

Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor of “The Nation” magazine.  And David Frum is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a former Bush speechwriter.  He now writes for “The National Review.” 

David Frum, big question.  What is the backstory here about the Bolton nomination?  What is the fight really over, some guy who may be a little tough on his co-workers, somebody who argues over intelligence, or is it over the Bush foreign policy? 

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT BUSH:  Look, there are two—there are two channels of backstory coming. 

One is the Democratic side, where they want to have a fight over the United Nations, but they don‘t quite dare say so, because they know they‘re on the unpopular side of that issue. 


MATTHEWS:  What issue being the issue?

FRUM:  What should the American relationship to the U.N. be? 


FRUM:  Should we accept an unreformed U.N. or should we insist on reform?

The second thing—that would not have been enough to cause all this trouble.  The other thing that‘s been going on has been a kind of power play by Colin Powell and some of his friends.  They didn‘t like John Bolton when they worked with him at the State Department.  And now they‘re trying to get a little after-the-fact revenge by scuppering him, by working on moderate Republicans or liberal Republicans on the committee.  Powell‘s mistake was that he left his fingerprints on this.  And so there were a series of...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s never been particularly good at avoiding that, has he? 

FRUM:  No, he hasn‘t.  Well, it‘s never hurt him before. 


FRUM:  But, in this case, he gave a series of interviews at the end of April to—on the same day, “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.”  And they reported that Powell had been telling Republican senators to vote no.  That made this a fight between Powell and the administration, which the administration could not afford to lose. 

MATTHEWS:  Katrina, how do you see this fight?  What is the backstory, as your—as the liberals are concerned on this issue?  Why is this fight over Bolton so important? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  Well, I love how David wants to personalize this. 

I do think, when the establishment divides, it is a delicious moment, when we learn more about this country.  But the important thing, Chris, it seems to me, is the culture.  It is not so much about John Bolton.  But here, we do have a serial abuser of intelligence and intelligence experts and a culture that is going to reward those who failed America, who have misled America, who have manipulated intelligence for ideological reasons and who are undermining legitimacy of America, credibility of America at a reformed United Nations. 

Everyone is for reform of the U.N.  But we have define failure down as a country and given golden parachutes to everyone from John Bolton, Doug Feith, Ahmad Chalabi, people who have done a disservice to the nation‘s interests and our security. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe in the U.N., Katrina? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Do I believe in the U.N.?  I believe that the U.N. is a source of legitimate—I do believe in the U.N.

And I think America needs the U.N., a U.N. that is reformed, a U.N.  that is best able to deal with the global challenges that the United States can‘t deal with alone in an interdependent world.  And I think this is bogus, what David is saying, that Bolton is going to come in and reform the U.N.  If a man who has no credibility, because he has systematically suppressed and manipulated intelligence, comes in, how will other countries in the world, which we need to do business with in effective and tough ways, trust America?


MATTHEWS:  Let David respond.  Let David respond. 

I‘m sorry. 

FRUM:  That‘s an excellent question.

I don‘t think John Bolton, I don‘t think anyone thinks that John Bolton single-handedly is going to reform the U.N., United Nations.  Here‘s the real question.  The United Nations, which we‘ve seen how massively corrupt it is, not just with the oil-for-food, but with these sex scandals involving peacekeepers in Africa.  The question the U.N. is asking itself is, how little reform can we get away with?  The U.N. does not want to reform.  It likes things the way it is.

MATTHEWS:  Who is the U.N.? 

FRUM:  The U.N. is the U.N. secretariat, Kofi Annan and the people who...

MATTHEWS:  Permanent bureaucrats from Third World countries. 

FRUM:  Europe, some of them Americans. 


FRUM:  From all over the world.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  David, that‘s not true. 

The U.N. is the Security Council, first and foremost.  The United States is the leading power at the U.N.

FRUM:  The scandals...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And the U.S. and Britain were deeply implicated in the oil-for-food scandals, not the secretariat. 


FRUM:  The scandals take place in the secretariat, and the noninvestigation of scandals, including sexual harassment at the U.N. and these terrible sex scandals in the field. 

The U.N. is wondering, that secretariat, how little reform can we get away with?  And it is judging the attitude of the United States.  When the United States and President Bush sends somebody like John Bolton, Kofi Annan has to think, these Americans are serious.  They mean it.  I‘d better change ways around here.  If the Bolton nomination were to be defeated, Kofi Annan would wipe the sweat off his brow and say, it was all a joke.  Back to business as usual. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re coming right back here HARDBALL in just a couple minutes, back after this with David Frum and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, more on this big fight and over this big nuclear, so-called nuclear option over the Senate filibuster.  That is coming up as early as next week.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with more with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation” magazine, and David Frum from the AEI, the American Enterprise Institute, former speechwriter for Senator Bush—I mean President Bush. 


MATTHEWS:  He now writes for “The National Review,” which was one of my early favorites as a young lad.

FRUM:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you.  Let me ask you all.  Let‘s go talk politics now. 

You first, Katrina.

Is this just to bloody up John Bolton or can you actually stop him? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, I think you can stop him.  I think...


MATTHEWS:  Where?  Give me the votes.  Just run through some names.  You need 51 votes to stop this, because 50 votes will get him through out of 100 senators.  I don‘t see them.  Do you? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, you...

MATTHEWS:  Where are these votes? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You may be right that the enforced loyalty coming out of this lockstep White House may be tough.  They have a probably put Voinovich already on the enemy‘s list that they compile in the basement. 

But I do think the bruising battle ahead should be to demand, in pattern consistent with the Senate‘s advise and consent role, these documents, this material that they have refused to give over Bolton, whether it‘s information on Syria, how he hyped threats, or these NSA intercepts showing how he may have spied on Americans he disagreed with, or on this consultant who worked with him. 

So, I do think there‘s more information that needs to be had.  And it‘s a larger issue than just John Bolton, to go back to that.  It‘s about, are we going to reward failure and manipulation of information in this country? 

MATTHEWS:  This issue, is this one—is this a presidential breaker issue?  In other words, if he loses on Bolton—I don‘t think he will.  But if he loses on Bolton, is this a real smash to the president‘s face internationally? 

FRUM:  It would be a big loss, if he were to lose this.  That would not have been true before April 25, before Colin Powell said, yes, it is me.  I‘m calling these Republican senators and telling them to vote no. 

Up until then, I think they could have walked away from Bolton and it would have been the sort of thing that happens all the time. 


FRUM:  But if—but if Bolton were to be defeated now, and if he were not to get all those Republican votes, that would be a statement that, if you‘re nominated, you‘d better go kiss up to Colin Powell. 

MATTHEWS:  I like your design here.  I like the design here right now. 

Colin Powell has influence with all the Republican senators. 

FRUM:  Some.

MATTHEWS:  He can get on the phone with any one of them.


MATTHEWS:  Well, a lot of them, more moderate ones, especially.

Do you think he‘ll play a role on the floor?  Suppose he calls up 10 Republican senators and tweaks a couple—splits a couple off from the party.  He could kill this nomination.

FRUM:  I don‘t know.  It is a heck of a gamble for him.  And he has already staked the gamble.  He has already said, if Bolton goes down, Colin Powell becomes the man to see for every foreign policy nomination in this or any other administration. 

And, suddenly, the president and—is not so much in charge of his own administration.  And that‘s why the president has to win and that‘s why he will win.  And that‘s why you see senators like Voinovich changing their mind, because they understand the stakes. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Thank, Chris, let‘s define loss for a minute. 

I mean, so Bolton gets through.  What kind of signal does that send to the world?  And if Bush and Condi Rice are serious about building new alliances and ties and multilateral institution-building, with John Bolton around, they‘re going to have a much tougher time, it seems to me.  That is loss of American credibility, face, legitimacy, and soft/hard power in the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he would be good in public diplomacy, John Bolton? 

FRUM:  Public diplomacy.  I don‘t know...


MATTHEWS:  Out in the world arguing our case before the world community?

FRUM:  Look, the United...


MATTHEWS:  Would he be good at that?  He is the U.N. ambassador, if he has the job.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Not with that mustache. 


FRUM:  Maybe the mustache needs to go. 

Look, the United States has had a lot of problems with public diplomacy over the last little while.  I don‘t know whether he would be successful with that.  But the immediate and pressing necessity is to make that institution, the United Nations, work in a less—in a way...

MATTHEWS:  So you believe in the U.N.?

FRUM:  I believe in internationalist institutions.  And a different U.N. could be one of them. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and David Frum.

Tomorrow on HARDBALL, dozens of military bases on the Pentagon‘s chopping block.  We‘ll examine why these proposed shutdowns have some states saying, not so fast, and what they‘re doing to fight off the Pentagon‘s budget axe.  That‘s tomorrow on HARDBALL.

And next on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith talks to Congressman David Reichert, who played Prince Charming to Nancy Pelosi and returned her missing shoe.  That‘s next on “COUNTDOWN.”



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