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Things just got very, very heated between Rudy Giuliani and Chris Matthews

Rudy Giuliani is the highest-profile Donald Trump supporter to publicly raise questions about Hillary Clinton’s health. While Trump himself relies more on innuendo, the former New York mayor prefers to be more direct. He says Clinton looks sick. He raises questions about her coughing and mental fitness for the presidency. But he has no evidence to back these claims up.

So when he went on MSNBC’s "Hardball" on Thursday, he could have seen this coming. Maybe.

In a lengthy and heated interview, Matthews went hard at Giuliani for his claims about Clinton’s health. Giuliani also found himself suggesting Trump doesn’t really have any questions about President Obama’s birthplace — something Trump himself has yet to say.

It’s truly must-see TV. Below is the transcript, via MSNBC, with our analysis. Click on the yellow, highlighted text for our annotations. To annotate yourself, sign up for an account at Genius.

MATTHEWS: Do you think there were any signs of illness last night by the former secretary of state? Signs of illness?

GIULIANI: No, but I thought there were the day before when she coughed for about, I don't know, 15 minutes and then coughed on the airplane and then spit something up. I don't know what’s wrong with her but they kind of hide her —

MATTHEWS: Mayor, mayor, mayor. Have you got any evidence besides — do you have any evidence that she’s ill?

GIULIANI: I don’t.

MATTHEWS: What is the evidence?

GIULIANI: The evidence is —

MATTHEWS: You have no evidence that she’s ill but you say she’s ill. What is that? You don’t think like that.

GIULIANI: Chris, Chris, let me answer the question, okay?

MATTHEWS: Sure. Go ahead.

GIULIANI: I have eight times online since January in which she’s had massive coughing fits in which she couldn’t complete her speech. I’ve seen her lifted onto airplanes. And I don't know what’s wrong with her. And then in the FBI report it says that she can’t remember her exit interview from the FBI because of her concussion because she didn’t have a memory. But she was acting as secretary of state at the time which means we had a secretary of state who was acting who doesn’t have a memory of what she was doing. So these are not illegitimate issues. Beyond that …

MATTHEWS: Well, then you were surprised then — you must have been surprised then, Mr. Mayor, to watch her performance last night when she was quite professional, quite smooth. She didn’t sweat. She didn’t seem to act in any way bothered by an illness at all. Were you surprised how healthy she looked like last night, then?

GIULIANI: I was surprised at how angry she was last night. I thought I saw a very ...

MATTHEWS: But how healthy she was. Did you think she was healthy last night?

GIULIANI: Well, look, I don’t — I don’t — I don’t know whether she’s not — whether she’s sick or she’s not. I do know that there are 14, 15 videos of her that show her in very, very strange condition. I don’t know what it is.

But that’s not my real issue. My real issue is that the woman exposed thousands and thousands of classified documents, which, if I exposed one of them when I was in the Justice Department, they would have put me in jail. That’s what I know.

MATTHEWS: okay, I'm not getting anywhere with you. Mr. Mayor, you are adamant on this subject. You are adamant. I just want to end this.


MATTHEWS: You are adamant there’s a health concern with the candidate for president of the Democratic Party.

GIULIANI: I don’t know.

MATTHEWS: You say there’s a health condition problem.

GIULIANI: I don’t know.

MATTHEWS: Well, what are you saying? What is he saying?

GIULIANI: All I do is see all these incidents of her coughing all the time. I don’t know what it is. And I have seen her in several other situations where she didn’t look healthy. And then I see in the FBI 302, which was put out on Memorial Day weekend in print about this big where you needed to use a magnifying glass to read it, but I read it twice, I saw something that really concerned me.

It said she can’t remember her exit interview from the CIA because she had no memory for a period of time after she had a concussion. She was secretary of state when she had no memory. Now there’s something really seriously wrong with it.


Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) is a big fan of Donald Trump – and he said some strange things while campaigning for the Republican nominee. (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

MATTHEWS: okay. Do you believe these debates coming up — do you think these next debates will be a test of her health? The three hour-and-a-half debates coming up between and Election Day, will they be adequate to test her health?

GIULIANI: I think these debates coming up are going to be a test of who the American people like better, who they want in their living room more, who they think is better capable of being president of the United States.

And I don’t think a woman who has revealed numerous classified information, doesn't know that the letter “C” means confidential. God almighty, I mean, Chris, I was in the Justice Department for three years. I remember my entry briefing by the CIA. I can tell you the date of it. I remember my exit interview from the CIA. And I remember that “C” in parentheses meant confidential.

She said she thought it meant alphabetical order. But nobody bothered to ask did she ever see an “A,” a “B,” a “D,” or an “E.” If I were cross-examining her I darn well would have asked her that question.

MATTHEWS: Let’s go to the commentary last night by your candidate last night. Donald Trump said he welcomed praise from Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Let's watch this point he made.


MATT LAUER, NBC ANCHOR: When referring to a comment that Putin made about you, I think he called you a brilliant leader, you said it’s always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his country and beyond.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters who, by the way, some of them are based right here at the same time.

LAUER: Do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer?

TRUMP: Well, I think when he calls me brilliant I will take the compliment, okay? I mean, the man has very strong control over a country. Now, it’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system. But certainly in that system, he has been a leader far more than our president has been a leader.


MATTHEWS: Now, there’s two ways to address the question of what do you think of Putin. One is what do you think of him as a leader in the sense of I’m now putting a scale together of toughest world leaders. okay. Putin’s up there.

But in terms of our adversarial relationship with him, should we be saluting him as a great leader at this point or should we be telling the American people we have challenges from this guy who may be threatening NATO, who may be threatening the Baltic states, who may be causing us trouble in the Middle East, maybe instead of just saluting his grandeur, shouldn’t we be tougher on him in our public statements than your candidate is being?

GIULIANI: But, Chris, what you left out of that was he went on to say that all that praise wouldn’t mean anything to him in negotiating with Putin. Plus that day, he gave a speech in which he said he's going to take our Navy which is now at World War I levels, he’s going to take it up to 350 ships.

He’s going to take our Army up to 6,000. And Obama and Hillary are going to take it down to 4,200. He is going to take our Marine Corps from 23 battalions to 35 battalions. And he’s going to reestablish and modernize our nuclear program.

So Ronald Reagan is going to go into negotiations with Putin from a position of strength. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama gave up the game on day one when they reset the relationship with Russia and they gave up the nuclear defense of Poland and the Czech Republic.

Putin took a look at them and said, I can push these guys around the world. These are children compared to me. Donald Trump is not a child.

On Sept. 7, during a town hall event hosted by MSNBC, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed he would have “a good relationship” with Putin. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

MATTHEWS: Well, look, that’s a decent argument. You didn’t mean Ronald Reagan. You meant Donald — you said Ronald Reagan there a minute ago. You really meant Donald Trump.

GIULIANI: Because I see …

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Trump last night. Go ahead.

GIULIANI: Because I see a comparison between the two. Peace through strength. What you don’t grasp is that day he gave a speech in which he said he’s going to build the U.S. military up to Ronald Reagan levels.

If we build our military up to Ronald Reagan levels, Putin’s not going to push us anywhere because he can't match us.  Six percent, 5 percent of our GDP for him to match us, he has to spend 25 percent of his GDP and it will bankrupt his country. Donald Trump knows how to use …

MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about something else.

GIULIANI: Donald Trump knows how to use leverage in negotiations. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, never being in business, never really negotiating, give away for nothing things they shouldn’t give away.

They gave away the defense of the Czech Republic and Poland to reset the relationship with Russia for nothing. The day they did that, Putin, who is a KGB killer, figured out I can push these guys around the world. They will not — he will not be able to push Donald Trump around the world. Believe me.

This guy is not going to get pushed around.

MATTHEWS: You say that we have given up our support of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and those countries, and Poland. Why so? Because we didn't put the monitors there, the nuclear monitors. Why is that giving up on defending Europe? Where have we done that? Where has Obama done that?

GIULIANI: If you read history, right, if you read Gorbachev’s memoirs, Gorbachev memoirs said the key thing in winning the Cold War was our insistence on nuclear defense, because they knew they couldn’t match us. We have proven in Israel that nuclear defense works. Our technology …

MATTHEWS: Iron Dome works. Of course, and Star Wars was never proven. But you’re right, Mayor, it was a brilliant bluff of the Russians. We said we could do it …

GIULIANI: Not a brilliant bluff.

MATTHEWS: Well, we didn’t do it. So we don’t have a shield. A nuclear shield, right?

GIULIANI: Let me make the following point. Here’s why nuclear defense makes sense. And I know something about this. A missile can take an airplane out of the air. A better missile can take a missile out of the air.

We are technologically ahead of Russia and China. We can develop a nuclear shield for the United States, for Poland, and for the Czech Republic. Russia is deadly frightened of that. They have been trying to get us to give that up for 20 years since Reagan.

Clinton wouldn’t give it up, Bush wouldn’t give it up. He gave it up on the first day.

MATTHEWS: okay. We don’t have a strategic defense — we don’t have a strategic defense system.

GIULIANI: And here’s the worst thing …

MATTHEWS: We just don’t have one.

GIULIANI: I asked Secretary Gates, what did they get in return for giving up the nuclear shield of Poland and the Czech Republic? And you know what his answer was? Nada. They got nothing.

MATTHEWS: okay. Let me ask you one last question. I have to ask you one last question. I know you don’t like this question but I think it’s appropriate given you are a major — as you just demonstrated, strong surrogate and defender of the candidacy for president of Donald Trump.

A couple of his people, including his vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, and of course, Dr. Ben Carson, have both come out in the last days, hours, practically, and said they believe that President Obama is a legitimately elected president of the United States.

In other words, he was born in the United States. Do you confirm that? Do you agree with that?

GIULIANI: I confirm that and Donald Trump now confirms that. You know, Hillary Clinton …

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

GIULIANI: He did two years ago — two years ago — three years ago.

MATTHEWS: When did he — he has now accepted that birtherism was nonsense, when did he do that?

GIULIANI: Look, Hillary Clinton’s campaign — Chris, Hillary Clinton’s campaign …

MATTHEWS: He did not do that yet. I am waiting for him to do it.

GIULIANI: Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the first one to bring up the fact that there was a question …

MATTHEWS: Where did they do that? Where did they do that?

GIULIANI: Donald Trump has said that three, four, five years ago.

MATTHEWS: Give me the example of when they did that. You just said that Hillary Clinton accused the president — has Hillary Clinton ever accused the president of being foreign-born, ever?

GIULIANI: Her campaign did during the primary.

MATTHEWS: Her campaign, the Hillary for president campaign did this?



MATTHEWS: No, it didn’t. There's no evidence the Hillary campaign ...

GIULIANI: I was always responsible for everything in my campaign.

MATTHEWS: I want to know whether you believe that your candidate for president believes he would succeed a legitimate president or not.

GIULIANI: Yes. He believes …

MATTHEWS: Does he believe he would succeed a legitimate president?

GIULIANI: Donald Trump believes now that he was born in the United States. But that issue was raised originally …

MATTHEWS: When is he going to say it?

GIULIANI: That issue was raised originally …

MATTHEWS: When is he going to say that his president is legitimate?

GIULIANI: … by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

MATTHEWS: This is a fundamental question, Mr. Mayor. Is the president of the United States legitimate or not? Do you believe it? If you believe it, why doesn’t your candidate state it?

GIULIANI: I believe it. He believes it. We all believe it. But it took a long time to get it out.

MATTHEWS: He does? Are you speaking for him now? Are you speaking for Donald Trump tonight, on live television? Are you saying for him, I'm saying he’s about to buckle and say finally, that Barack Obama is a legitimate president of the United States?

GIULIANI: He is the one who got him to finally produce the birth certificate. Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue.

MATTHEWS: okay. And …

GIULIANI: He picked this up from Hillary Clinton when she was viciously attacking him.

MATTHEWS: He has subsequently said he does not accept that as the final word. okay. Can you commit to your candidate saying within the next 24 hours that President Obama is a legitimate president? Can you commit for him that he will say that?


GIULIANI: He has said it already. And the fact is …

MATTHEWS: No, he hasn’t.

GIULIANI: … that is an issue that was originally introduced by Hillary …

MATTHEWS: You are wrong on the fact here, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: Well, every once in a while, I am. But I think he did. And the fact is I believe he was legitimately …

MATTHEWS: I think you’re wrong. okay.

GIULIANI: … born in the United States …


MATTHEWS: But you say you’re — all I can ask you. okay.

GIULIANI: But the point is that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is the first one to do it because all she does is engage in negative campaigning against Barack Obama and against Donald Trump, her only ...

MATTHEWS: First of all, she has never said that. And your candidate has on numerous occasions. And I’m asking you the final word, we will end this back and forth. Can you say authoritatively on behalf of Donald Trump that he was wrong in saying the president was born in another country? Can you say that now?

GIULIANI: I believe he picked up on what Hillary Clinton's campaign said. He pushed Obama, Obama finally produced the birth certificate. And it showed he was born in Hawaii.

MATTHEWS: And therefore?

GIULIANI: Therefore he’s an American citizen.

MATTHEWS: As per Donald Trump.

GIULIANI: As per Donald Trump. As per me. As per everyone else.

MATTHEWS: Donald Trump says so? He has told you that? Has he ever told you this privately that he believes this president is legitimate?

GIULIANI: He has told me that he is proud of the fact that he finally got Obama to produce his birth certificate.

MATTHEWS: okay, fine. I think we have it on the record now, Mr. Mayor. I’m glad you came on. But I do want to put this to rest. I don’t think this is funny. I think when you accuse the president of the United States of being someone who snuck in the country and assumed an identity …

GIULIANI: Now wait a second, wait, wait, wait, wait …

MATTHEWS: … because that’s what Trump has been doing for years now.

GIULIANI: Not when your opponent in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, who has lied probably 1,000 times over emails, the Clinton Foundation …

MATTHEWS: Let me just tell you, there’s no record at all, Mr. Mayor, on the record right now, we checked this before you came on because one of producers, our senior producers thought you might say this, there is absolutely no record ever of Hillary Clinton or anyone in her campaign ever saying that President Obama is not legitimate.

GIULIANI: Her campaign raised it …


GIULIANI: … originally.

MATTHEWS: You’re wrong.

GIULIANI: I’m not wrong. I’m right about that.

MATTHEWS: Look, anybody can say anything they want. But she can control her own campaign. And she has never said so, nor has anyone speaking for her.

GIULIANI: Her campaign …


MATTHEWS: Now you are speaking for Donald Trump. And we are ending this now because we are spending a lot of time on it but I think it is important. You say this president was legitimately elected president of the United States and you say your candidate agrees with you.

GIULIANI: I believe he was legitimately elected president. And instead of talking about the fact that Hillary Clinton violated probably about 40 different federal laws, we are talking about this, which is ridiculous.

MATTHEWS: okay. Thank you. Well, it is ridiculous. And I’m trying to put the ridiculousness to bed. The president of the United States is the president of the United States.

GIULIANI: Let’s talk about the fact that we’re …

MATTHEWS: We are trying to pick the next president, not review the birth of the current president. Anyway, thank you, Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

GIULIANI: So let’s talk about the next president being someone who would be prosecuted if she wasn’t a Clinton, because I would have prosecuted her. And I have seen plenty of people prosecuted for much less, like Martha Stewart. You know how many false statements she made to the FBI?

MATTHEWS: okay. Thank you so much.

GIULIANI: They are so long I can’t count them.

MATTHEWS: And the FBI had a right to review that. And they did and they found her not in any criminal violation. Anyway, thank you, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: Three days after the ...

MATTHEWS: We have to go on. It’s a live show.

GIULIANI: Three days after the interview.

What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail

MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 7: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on Monday November 07, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)