Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 9/13/17 Pelosi and Schumer to the WH for dinner
Date: September 13, 2017
Guest: Chris Coons, Jackie Speier, Peter Baker, Craig Cooper, Katina
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Another Trumpster targeted.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
NBC News has learned that According to current and former government
officials, the inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work
with his father`s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, where he had a heavy
hand in the day-to-day operations.
But the younger Flynn is known best for pushing that conspiracy theory
known as “pizzagate,” the fabricated story that Hillary Clinton was running
a child sex out of a Washington pizza restaurant.
Well, in December, that outrageous claim provoked a gunman to fire shots
inside the restaurant, yet Flynn still tweeted this about this discredited
allegation. Quote, “Until pizzagate proven to be false, it`ll remain a
Reacting to the news of the expanded investigation tonight, President
Trump`s special counsel, Ty Cobb, tells NBC, “This does not impact the
White House to any extent with regard to its continuing cooperation with
the special counsel.” That`s what this guy said.
Anyway, the report that Flynn is the subject of the investigation also
comes amid new charges that his father, the senior Michael Flynn, had
deeper foreign entanglements than previously known. Democratic congressmen
Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel are probing Flynn`s involvement, the senior
Flynn`s, in a private U.S.-Russian business proposal to build 40 nuclear
power plants in the Middle East, as well as a trip to Saudi Arabia to
promote the plan in 2015.
In a letter to Flynn`s lawyer, the lawmaker say that it appears that
General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign
contacts with his security clearance renewal application in 2016. They
have requested all communications relating to the venture and say they`ll
refer their findings to special counsel Robert Mueller.
I`m joined right now by Democratic senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who
sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a
Democrat from California and a member of the House Intelligence Committee,
and Ken Dilanian`s a reporter with NBC`s investigative unit.
I want to start with Ken, our guy here. The subject of the investigation -
- explain the law on that. Michael Flynn, the younger now involved in
what? Why is he joining this mess?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC INTELLIGENCE & NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Chris,
a subject of the investigation means that prosecutors and the grand jury
suspect you may have committed a crime, but they need more information to
find out. So it`s more serious than being a witness, but not as serious as
being a target, which means you`re about to be indicted.
Now, we know that Mike Flynn, the father, appears to be facing serious
legal jeopardy over his failure to disclose his lobbying for the government
of Turkey and his various business entanglements, failing to clear things
on his security clearance application.
And Mike Flynn, the son, was, like, his father`s right-hand man. He was
his executive assistant. He was his chief of staff. He was involved in
all these dealings. He was involved perhaps in filling out forms. So that
may explain the special counsel`s interest in him.
Of course, there`s also the issue of leverage. If the theory goes that
Robert Mueller wants to flip Mike Flynn, the father, and get him to talk
about what he knows about Russian collusion, you know, investigating his
son and looking at potential crimes by his son is another way to put
pressure on Mike Flynn, the former national security adviser.
MATTHEWS: Well, in terms of a criminal – the way they do a criminal case,
tell me that, how it works. They start, as I understand it, from outside
the ring and work their way in closer. You start with the small fry who
may be vulnerable on particular charges that may not even relate to Trump.
You squeeze them on these charges, say, You want to go away for 20 years?
Maybe you`ll go away for two, three months or two or three years if you
tell us what you did with Trump. Am I right?
DILANIAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. You`ve got it exactly right. And
especially – we`re talking about a counterintelligence investigation here,
allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, which
would be really hard to prove, right? You need people who were involved to
talk about it.
So you begin investigating the potential players, and if they committed
other crimes having nothing to do with, you know, Trump-Russian collusion,
that`s still relevant because that gives Mueller leverage over these
people. So in the case of Flynn and Paul Manafort, they seem to have legal
jeopardy unrelated to Trump and Russia, but that`s very relevant to whether
they`re going to be compelled to talk about what they know, if anything,
about meetings they had, any potential collusion between the Trump campaign
and Russia. And adding the son and other ancillary figures…
DILANIAN: … just plays right into that, Chris.
MATTHEWS: While we finish with you on the legal question, what do you make
of the fact this lawyer for Flynn – Flynn, Senior – says no comment when
he`s asked if there`s collusion? Well, that seems a pretty soft,
undirected kind of response. Don`t you usually say your client`s innocent?
DILANIAN: You do.
MATTHEWS: … starting point?
DILANIAN: I agree with you. I was very struck by that. Everyone else in
this investigation has flatly denied collusion with Russia – Donald Trump,
Jr., Jared Kushner, the president himself. Mike Flynn`s lawyer, when we
asked him, said “No comment.” Now, he may just be being cautious. But of
course, the other – you know, if, in fact, his client was negotiating a
cooperation agreement with the government, that would be another reason he
would not want to directly contradict things that his client may be
DILANIAN: That`s just speculation at this point, but that is one thing
that crossed our minds when we saw that squishy “No comment” as you put it.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s pretty (INAUDIBLE) I didn`t use the word
“squishy,” but you did, but thank you. I – thank you for that help.
As I mentioned, NBC News also reports that the lawyer representing the
former national security adviser himself, who`s being scrutinized for his
contacts with Russia, had no comment when asked whether any collusion took
place. Quote, “The older Flynn`s lawyer, Robert Kellner (ph), declined to
comment Tuesday when asked how his client responds to allegations of
collusion with us.” In fact, he used the words.
His silence stands in stark contrast to what we`ve heard from other Trump
associates, as well as the president himself. For over a year now, it`s
been standard operating procedure for everyone in Trump`s orbit to deny
outwardly and conclusively any collusion with Russians to influence the
election. Let`s watch them in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So they`re investigating
something that never happened. There was no collusion between us and
Russia. There is no collusion. You know why? Because I don`t speak to
JARED KUSHNER, TRUMP`S SON-IN-LAW: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I
know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would certainly say
Don, Jr., did not collude with anybody to influence the election.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: So no collusion whatsoever…
WALLACE: … anybody involved with Trump and anybody involved with Russia
in the 2016 campaign.
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have
contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, of course not.
CHARLIE ROSE, CBS NEWS: Paul, let`s go back to this question of Russia and
hacking. Can you tell us what you know about the relationship and the
campaign knows and what Donald Trump believes?
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We – we – we have no
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I have to ask you, Senator, first of all (INAUDIBLE)
no, I`m sorry – we`ll go with the senator first. I`m sorry,
Congresswoman. We`ll get with you in a minute.
This – this whole mess – it just seems like it widens, it deepens, no
comment, Flynn, the older, Flynn, the younger, they`re all under
investigation. I get the sense that Mueller is not going to stop with some
narrow investigation. He`s looking at any criminality. In fact, that is
his mandate, any criminality. He`s going to squeeze whoever he finds
guilty of something.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Robert Mueller is an exceptionally
thoughtful, thorough, seasoned federal law enforcement leader. And if I
were representing someone who were on the target list of his investigation,
I`d be very concerned because I think he is going to persistently,
patiently and professionally keep at this, as you put it, starting at the
outside and just squeezing and working his way in until he gets to his
principal targets (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: The second question – I mean, I don`t want to play – what do
you call it? Nativist or chauvinist, meaning I only care about this
country, although I care primarily about this (INAUDIBLE) like most us do.
But there`s something weird about this constant word, Russia. Every
frickin` time we talk about any one of these people, the word Russia comes
up. I mean, what we now got Flynn involved with some deal with building
Russian-built nuclear facilities in Saudi Arabia. It`s like everybody
Trump dealt with was entangled with Russia, from Manafort to stone – I
mean, my God, you keep going through the list.
COONS: It is a strikingly…
MATTHEWS: Carter – Carter Page…
COONS: … pattern how many of the core campaign team neglected to
mention, forgot about or overlooked…
MATTHEWS: But we`re in bed with Russians!
COONS: … some significant contact…
MATTHEWS: Why Russia?
COONS: It is odd because there are so many other countries in the world.
There`s so many other places…
MATTHEWS: And it fits in with his love affair almost with Putin.
MATTHEWS: You`re smiling!
COONS: It`s an unsettling and constant strain that has now gone on for
nine months, where the number of folks in his immediate family and his core
campaign circle, or who were in his initial cabinet, had some inexplicable
contact or relationship with Russians.
Obviously, this is part of working from the outside in. The
investigation`s got, I think, quite a distance to go. But you`re right,
there is a truly unsettling consistent pattern.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Congressman Speier, thank you. It`s always great to have
you on. I know you understand politics, and I love to talk about it. I do
not understand why your committee majority has just signed on one of these
gofers from the White House, who was the guy that led Nunes, your so-called
leader, the chairman of your committee, on that midnight ride of Paul
Revere down at the Executive Office Building and then he shows up the next
morning with, Guess what I learned? He learned it from the night before
(INAUDIBLE) Executive Office Building the same Trump people, and now he –
they`re – they`re bringing – he`s bringing aboard a Trump guy from the
Can`t you guys just stand up and say, No, this isn`t what we do here? We
don`t bring in gofers from the other side to defend them. We`re
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: So Chris, the majority in the Intel
Committee controls the Intel Committee. They get to decide who they hire.
The minority also gets to decide who they hire. But we don`t have any
control over who is hired within the majority side.
MATTHEWS: You don`t have any control.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me tell you something. Back in the old days when you
were a – I don`t think you were born, in fact, Congresswoman. In fact, I
know you weren`t.
When Joe McCarthy was riding (ph) at his worst, the Democrats on that
committee led by Scoop Jackson and some other going to people said, You
know what? We`re not putting up with Roy Cohn and that crowd running this
committee anymore. They`re totally irresponsible. They`re terrible
people. They`re making – they`re making accusations that have no
foundation. They`re McCarthyites. We insist on having our own counsel.
And finally, they stopped going to meetings. And finally, they got Bobby
Kennedy to be their counsel on the Democrats`s side. So why don`t you go -
- go wild a little bit and say, We don`t want to have people working for
the defendant running our investigation of the defendant. Am I being too
SPEIER: There may come a time when we do that, but our intention is to
work with our Republican colleagues on that committee to do this
investigation and then come up with a report that we can both sign off on.
And you know, it has always been a bipartisan committee. It was
regrettable once Chairman Nunes went on his, you know, Paul Revere ride
that we then became more partisan, and when he had to recuse himself, sort
of, from the committee and its investigation.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk – are you going to try to get some of these
more interesting characters, like, oh, Donald Trump, Jr., people like that
– are you going to try to get them to testify in public so we can actually
– you know, like citizens, actually get to watch them and decide if we
SPEIER: You know, we`ve been calling…
MATTHEWS: I say that because people are implying that he isn`t believable,
that nobody really believes Donald Trump, Jr., when he shows up, that he
doesn`t really have a credible face.
SPEIER: Well, we are calling for public hearings and we would be delighted
to have Junior actually appear in public. And in the end, you know, the
public does have a right to know.
This has been an act of war by Russia, and it shouldn`t be lost on any of
us that they have used multiple platforms to undermine this democracy,
whether it was RT, their TV stations, or Facebook or hacking into our
political institutions, the DNC and the Republican National Committee, or
you know, furthermore, hacking into the very election system, both the
voting records – and I`m not convinced that they didn`t get into the
machines. And that`s what we`ve got to spend a lot of our time on.
MATTHEWS: Well, we have to see. We don`t know that yet. We don`t know
Let me go back to the senator. What`s your position on subpoenaing people
like Flynn, the senior Flynn, and maybe the junior Flynn, and also the
question of bringing in people who – Donald Trump, Jr., for example,
because I was getting the clear signal last week from senators that they
didn`t really believe him and they`d like to put him in public, so the
public could share their incredulity.
COONS: Well, Senator Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, has said we will have Donald Trump, Junior, in front of the
Judiciary Committee giving sworn testimony, televised, so that we can ask
direct questions and the general public can hear. She said, come hell or
high water, she`s going to get that done.
And so far, Chairman Grassley, the Republican chairman, and the ranking
member have worked very well together. They`ve come to agreement about who
they subpoena, who they request voluntary meetings with. And over the
August recess, the staff were very busy. They got more than 20,000
documents. I think there`s a ways for us to go in our obstruction of
justice investigation on the Judiciary Committee, but I do think we`re
MATTHEWS: Do you think Dianne Feinstein should run for re-election?
COONS: Oh, I think Dianne Feinstein is sharper on her best days than I
have ever been. So I`ll tell you, there are moments when she is a
remarkable, capable senator.
MATTHEWS: I`m with you. Let me ask you another question. Is your buddy,
Joe Biden, running for president?
COONS: You know, I don`t know that yet.
MATTHEWS: I believe he is.
COONS: I don`t know that yet.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with me?
COONS: But I`ll tell you…
MATTHEWS: You don`t know?
COONS: … I`d be thrilled if he would.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. You`d be thrilled if he would. There`s a story
Thank you, Senator Chris Coons, Congressman Jackie Speier and Ken Dilanian.
Coming up – guess who`s coming to dinner? Last night, red state Democrats
spent the evening at the White House. And tonight, President Trump is
hosting Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. What`s the president`s play here?
Plus, the death toll is rising following Hurricane Irma, and millions are
struggling without power in the Florida heat, and it might be days, even
weeks, before it comes back on. We`ll also talk to one woman who survived
the storm after the roof was ripped off her house.
And Hillary Clinton says that she would have won the election but for
people like James Comey and Bernie Sanders. We`ll get to that with the
Finally, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch.” He`s not going to like
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got an update on a story we brought you last night, an
important one. The Senate today blocked a proposal by Senator Rand Paul of
Kentucky to approve new authorization for the ongoing wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. In other words, the Senate voted to keep his amendment for an
up or down vote off the floor. The Senate doesn`t want to take
responsibility for these wars.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: More and more, we`re trying to work things out together. It`s a
positive thing. And it`s good for the Republicans and good for the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and
Nancy Pelosi are at the White House right now having dinner with President
Trump. That`s tonight now. NBC reports that they`re going to discuss the
Dream Act and health care, Democratic priorities.
Meanwhile, Republicans want to work out a deal on taxes and the debt
ceiling. This comes after the pair made a deal with the president last
week to give hurricane funding – funding for the hurricane and for
government spending to avoid the shutdown. Pelosi also met earlier today
with Republican House speaker Paul Ryan to talk about protecting those
affected by the president`s decision to rescind DACA.
I`m joined right now by “New York Times” chief correspondent at the White
House Peter Baker. Peter, it seems to me that there`s a basis here for
some reasonable deal-making. The president – or – the president wants to
get a debt ceiling bill through so it doesn`t embarrass the government. He
wants a continuing resolution to keep us from not having to pay our bills.
And also, the Democrats want the continuation of basically the ER, that
President Obama did for the people who came here as young people to this
country illegally, and also to deal with protecting health care, “Obama
care,” from any real assault. In other words, do no harm.
These seem like four reasonable deal-making elements that sides can agree
on and get us to Christmas without chaos.
PETER BAKER, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, they are reasonable, but this is
Washington, and so that doesn`t necessarily apply, right? You`re right.
On any given day, you can imagine certainly how in the past, Republicans
and Democrats could have come together and horse traded on some of these
issues, found some common ground, give a little here, give a little there.
This being Washington, you can`t count on it anymore.
But you`re right, there is a new-found intent, at least, by the president
to try to reach out to the Democrats. You mentioned the meetings today.
They had a number of them. And in fact, he`s having for dinner Chuck
Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. So this is a – you know, a new phase, in
effect, of his presidency. We don`t know whether it`ll last. It could be
over tomorrow. But there`s certainly room for deal-making if both sides can
find a way to get there.
We`re looking at a picture, by the way. It`s a picture through the – into
what looks like the Oval Office of this very aggressive, very demonstrative
Chuck Schumer. We know he is like that. He`s very New Yorkish, in the
sense of very open behavior, very demonstrative.
And there`s Trump pretty much the same way. They`re both mouthy guys.
They`re both talkers. They`re both love to think quick.
It just seems to me that they speak the same language, to put it lightly.
They`re both ready to make a deal. There is no cultural difference between
Chuck Schumer and Donald Trump. Basically, they come from the same block,
although one is from a different part of Brooklyn maybe. You know what I
MATTHEWS: So what is the problem with getting something done? I just
don`t see any failure to communicate there.
BAKER: Well, one of the problems – or one of the challenges at least for
getting something done is the disincentive.
If you`re a Democratic leader right now, there is a lot of people right
knew in your base looking at you a little askance, wait a second, don`t be
so quick to make a deal, especially with this guy. We spent seven months,
eight months looking at Donald Trump as evil almost, some of them would
say. And therefore suddenly making a deal, any deal is automatically
suspect, even if it`s a deal that might be a good one.
That is for starters on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, on
Trump`s side, he doesn`t necessarily control his own party. Paul Ryan and
Mitch McConnell were flabbergasted by last week`s deal, not happy about it.
He surprised them at a meeting. This deal didn`t really address any of the
It only sort of punted for three months. So whether President Trump can
bring his own party along is a bit of a challenge as well.
MATTHEWS: I remember a great Democrat, Adlai Stevenson, saying it`s the
job of leaders to lead.
And I agree with you about the concern on the progressive side in the
Democratic Party, the active left right now. But I think saving DACA is
worthy cause. Saving Obamacare is a very worthy cause, especially for
people who are on the progressive side of things.
I think I could go – if I were Schumer, I could come out and wave a paper
that said, look, I just got DACA continued indefinitely, and I have gotten
Obamacare, no more attacks on it, no more of this cutting in spending to
sell it or inform people how to use it, the tricks that the administration
has been pulling. That is all gone now. We have saved the program that
our president elected last time, Obama created.
Maybe his greatest achievement is now going to be saved at least for
further examination later down the road.
What do the Democrats gain from the government shutting down? What do the
Democrats gain from the government unable to pay its bills? The Democrats
are the governing party. They believe in government working. Republicans
are on the hard right, the Freedom Caucus crap, that crowd, they love
confusion and chaos and government shutdowns, you know what I mean?
It seems to me it`s in the – I can`t make this deal sitting here. But it
seems like there is a deal there to get some crap out of the way and also
get some good stuff done for the Democratic progressive side. It seems
BAKER: It does seem like there is a deal there to be done.
And you could see how President Trump was excited by last week`s fiscal
deal, again, not a very big deal, honestly, but he was so excited by the
reaction to it, by the sense of actually making progress, after feeling
frustrated by seven months of not getting very far with his Republican
allies on the Hill, and that is why he seems to be trying this out.
The trick is, though, of course, why do we have Paul Ryan as speaker? We
have Paul Ryan as speaker in part because John Boehner, his Republican
predecessor, got in trouble for making a fiscal deal with Barack Obama.
His own party rebelled to some extent, the Freedom Caucus you mentioned.
So there is a skittishness I think on the part of party leaders to cut
across the aisle. It used to be there was an incentive. You were rewarded
in Washington if you could call anything bipartisan. Today, there is a
disincentive structure built into the system.
MATTHEWS: Is your bet – you know this. You`re a New York guy.
Is there a deal there to be made on tax reform? Is there a Democratic
incentive to join the Republicans on something that gets rid of loopholes
that makes the system better for middle-class people? Is there a deal to
be made there with the Republicans?
BAKER: Yes, sure, of course there is.
Look, it has been done. Reagan did it with the Democrats in 1986. They
reformed the tax code top to bottom.
MATTHEWS: I was there.
BAKER: You were there. You know what it`s like.
The trick is, they had a Dan Rostenkowski and a James Baker. They had
deal-makers who wanted to get to a bottom line, Bill Bradley and Bob
Packwood, guys like that.
I don`t know that this generation has that. It`s an interesting question.
Can they reconcile their very different priorities in a tax reform and come
up with something that meets them in the middle?
That is really, really hard. If health care was hard, this in some ways
could be harder, because not only do they have Democratic priorities and
Republican priorities. You have a million special interests out there that
are trying to protect their own little section of the code that is really
important to their particular industry or their particular consistency
group, any one of which can bollocks up something on the Hill if things
gets really messy.
MATTHEWS: You`re so smart.
By the way, Rostenkowski, for all the trouble he caused himself, was really
clean and big on the big stuff. He really was good. And he and Baker
Thank you so much, Peter Baker, another Baker.
MATTHEWS: And up next, we will get the latest, very latest from Florida
and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which truly got hit hard. What a beautiful
part of the world, part of United States territory. Hit so hard.
It`s continuing trying to recover down there in the aftermath of Irma.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Eight patients at a sweltering nursing home in Florida have died after
Hurricane Irma knocked out their air conditioning. The victims ranged in
age from 71 to 99. The rehab center in Hollywood, Florida, has a poor
record with state inspectors, that according to “The Miami Herald.” More
than 150 patients have been evacuated.
In a statement, Florida Governor Rick Scott said he was – quote –
“heartbroken” and will demand answers.
Power is still out for more than four million Floridians, complicating
A student has died in a shooting at Freeman High School near Spokane,
Washington. The victim was killed when he tried to engage the student
gunman. Three others had been injured. The gunman is in custody – back
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s been a little over a week since Hurricane Irma made landfall, bringing
devastation and destruction. Initially, the Category 5 storm tore through
a string of Caribbean islands, then veered left, finally turning right,
sawing through Southern and then Western Florida, weakening through Georgia
and then South Carolina.
In its wake, Irma left has thousands with the bleak reality of rebuilding
their lives amid hot and dismal conditions. To date, 21,000 individuals
remain in Florida shelters. Roughly 38,000 federal personnel have been
assist in recovery and rebuilding after Irma.
Approximately three million meals and more than three million liters of
water have been transferred to states in the Southeast. The islands of St.
John and St. Thomas have received roughly 500,000 meals and about 300,000
liters of water.
As of today, roughly four million Americans in the continental United
States remain in the dark because of Irma, and roughly 300,000 in Puerto
Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still without power.
Sadly, as of Wednesday at noon – that`s today – NBC News has confirmed at
least 65 deaths related to Hurricane Irma. This includes eight patients
who died at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, because of the heat.
The next few weeks and months will remain a challenge for those battered by
Hurricane Irma, especially for those in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which some
say have been left in an apocalyptic state.
For the very latest, I`m joined on the phone by Katina Coulianos from St.
Thomas in the Virgin Islands. She weathered the storm from her home in St.
Katina, thank you for talking to us on the phone.
You know, I have been to Charlotte Amalie. I have been to Cinnamon Bay in
St. Thomas. What shape is it in now, that area of the world of our U.S.
KATINA COULIANOS, HURRICANE VICTIM: Well, I can`t speak for St. John,
except I hear that it`s worse than St. Thomas.
I was just a few minutes ago at a home overlooking Charlotte Amalie, and
the whole town is in pretty good shape. A lot of the – most of the
buildings have roofs and so forth. You can see we did have a storm surge,
and the first few days – we are under curfew. We`re allowed to go out
between 12 and 6:00 p.m.
But when you drive around, you can see where there was a lot of mud and so
forth, although they have cleaned it up. But you can see where there was
stuff. And they`re working hard to clean things.
Our roads are slowly becoming passable. There are a lot of downed power
lines. And all the utilities, things are down, so sometimes you`re down to
one line, one road, one lane trying to dodge around hanging wires and
things like that.
Now I`m overlooking the north side. I`m overlooking Magens Bay and
Windburg (ph) Valley, which is where I live. And there`s a lot more
damaged homes here. And the trees are much more devastated than let`s say
on the other side.
MATTHEWS: I see.
COULIANOS: But, all over, the trees look like winter occurred, no leaves,
lots of broken branches, many things uprooted, like that.
MATTHEWS: I hope you get that place back together. It`s a beautiful part
of the world. I have been there. I wish you best. I wish you the best,
Katina Coulianos, who witnessed it all and actually had a roof blown off.
For more on what is happening down in the Florida Keys on continental U.S.,
let`s go to NBC`s Jay Gray.
JAY GRAY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. Good evening, Chris.
We want to give a firsthand look at the devastation from this storm on the
ground in the Keys. These barrier islands were ripped apart. And as you
take a look, you can see the twisted metal, the splintered wood, the
That`s not debris, though. That`s people`s lives that are scattered across
these barrier islands. And now they have got the monumental task of trying
to recover and eventually rebuild here, though most you talk to say that is
exactly what they plan to do.
They also acknowledge they are going to need some help in doing that. FEMA
is on the ground here, obviously. You have got the National Guard, more
than 8,000 troops here working to clear away what they can, but in so many
areas like this one, the basic necessities that we all take for granted,
food, water, cell service, they don`t exist right now.
And so getting things cleared away and getting that back in here is the
primary mission. You have got people coming out, taking a look at what is
left, if anything, of their homes and trying to salvage anything they can.
But most here come in realizing that this is going to be a fresh start.
This is going to be something that they will have to do from the bottom up
The president travels to the state tomorrow. He will be on the west side,
in Naples, touring the devastation here.
We have talked to people here in the Keys about that. Generally, what
they`re saying is, they`re glad the president is going to be here. They
can`t stop. There is too much work to be done here to stop down when the
president comes to Florida, but they think, if he gets his eyes on the
devastation here, if he sees it firsthand, that he will be committed to the
It`s going to be a long, it`s going to be a difficult recovery, but again,
they say they are up to the task here in Florida – Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, NBC`s Jay Gray.
For more on the recovery effort in the Keys, I`m joined via Skype by Craig
Cooper, a Red Cross volunteer who has been working in the Florida Keys.
Thank you so much for joining us.
What do you think? How long is this going to take to fix what we have
already? I remember when they had a railroad that used all the way to Key
West. That got blown away and never was rebuilt.
I assume the highway and everything else is going to get rebuilt all the
way to the Key West.
CRAIG COOPER, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER: Well, we could have made it there
The good news, Chris, is that roads are being cleared. We drove as far as
Big Pine Key today. And it was absolutely heartrending to see what is
going on there. The devastation is as bad as everyone has seen on the
We have had some opportunities to talk to people. I actually was able to
connect with someone who was a friend of a family friend and to let them
know that they were OK.
But your question was, how long is this going to take? Obviously, it`s
going to take months, if not years. After Sandy, where I live up on Long
Island in New York, we`re still – there is a little bit of recovery still
happening all these years later.
MATTHEWS: FEMA is putting out word that 25 percent of the houses in the
Keys are demolished. Do you like that number? Do you think that is right?
Is it that bad?
COOPER: Well, the destruction that my partner Jim and I saw today as we
drove around was pretty bad.
And I think if you combine the communities that are very heavily devastated
with the ones that are in better shape, I don`t want to get into questions
of percentages, but I will tell you the devastation is certainly as bad as
we saw in New York after Sandy.
And it – after Hurricane Ike in Houston, along the Galveston coastline,
it`s that bad.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for that report. It`s a sad one, but thank you for being
there, Craig Cooper.
Up next: Hillary Clinton speaking out about President Trump`s firing of
former FBI Director James Comey. But she is also after Comey herself,
saying he cost her the 2016 election. Wow.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”: When it comes to the self-inflicted
wounds, when you look at the list of them – and you go through them in the
book – did you make enough mistakes yourself to lose the election, without
any of the other things you talk about?
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I will
say no, Matt. I don`t think that will surprise you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Matt asked the right question there.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Hillary Clinton, of course, talking about her 2016 defeat on “The
Today Show” this morning.
Secretary Clinton opened up about the factors that led to her loss. And
she didn`t hold back when asked who she thinks bears the brunt of the blame
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the
determining factor was the intervention by Comey on October 28th. It
stopped my momentum. It drove voters from me. And so, I think that in
terms of my personal defeat was the most important factor.
I was just dumbfounded. I thought what is he doing? The investigation was
closed. I know there`s no new information.
I feel very strongly that he went way beyond his role in doing what he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Despite her words on Comey, Secretary Clinton doesn`t agree with
President Trump`s firing of the former FBI director.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: When you heard the news that James Comey had been
fired by President Trump, what was your immediate reaction?
CLINTON: He was fired for the wrong reason.
LAUER: But should have been fired?
CLINTON: He should not have been fired for Russia. He should have been
disciplined, whether or not fired, that is not for me to say, but he should
have been disciplined for the way that he behaved on the e-mail
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: On “The View” today, Clinton was asked about her 2016 primary
rival, Bernie Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I know what it`s like to lose because I lost in 2008 to President
Obama. As soon as I lost, I turned around, I endorsed him. I worked hard
for him. I was arguing with my supporters at the Denver Convention in 2008
about why they had to quit complaining that I didn`t win and get out and
support Barack Obama. And I didn`t get that respect from him and his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in the HARDBALL round table. Sophia Nelson is a
contributor to NBCNews.com, Eli Stokols is White House reporter for “The
Wall Street Journal” and MSNBC political analyst, and Eugene Robinson, of
course, is a columnist with “The Washington Post” and our serious hero
Gene, I want to ask you about this. We all have to be somewhat prudent in
going after this because it`s very personal with Hillary Clinton.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: She lost and has the right to blame whoever she wishes, I
How do you calculate one particular thing that cost her the election, when
there are so many variables?
ROBINSON: Well, I don`t think you can. I mean, from her point of view,
she was way ahead in the polls before the Comey intervention, she did seem
to have momentum, I get all that. It`s not possible to quantify I don`t
And, for example, had she done better in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, she would be president today. Well, did the Comey
intervention only have an impact in those states or you know, it was
broader – how do you pinpoint that? I don`t think you can actually say
that, although one can understand why she would feel it.
MATTHEWS: I thought it was a good question by Matt Lauer, my colleague,
and I really he`s great in any, he`s sort of a Bogart-esque kind of way of
asking questions. He does it with some charm. But he pretty much nailed
her and got her to say, it`s not my fault. Which I`m not sure was the
total point of the book.
I think she wanted to take some blame but I don`t think she wanted it to
look like it was everybody else`s fault. I`m not sure this was the
subtlety she hoped for in that book writing.
SOPHIA NELSON, CONTRIBUTOR, NBCNEWS.COM: Well, I think it`s fair to say
I`m a Republican woman who voted for Hillary Clinton. And I can tell you
that there were other Republican women I know and other women who were on
the fence about her and when the Comey thing happened, they said I can`t do
it. I`m not doing the Clinton drama again.
MATTHEWS: Well, that was about Anthony Weiner and Huma, and the laptop,
and didn`t offer any new information. My problem with Comey was, why
didn`t he just run it through his system, find out if there was anything
there that was probative, useful in the investigation, and say there`s
nothing to it, and get it over with in three or four hours, but that`s all
it took. It didn`t take ten or 11 days to election day. Eli?–
ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Hillary has got a point when
she talks about Comey, when she talks about misogyny, when she talks about
all the things she talks about. But she`s got the point. The problem is
It may be cathartic for her. It`s not cathartic for Democrats, and it
makes her look, when she`s sitting there saying, I take responsibility, and
then saying, I didn`t make any mistakes, it makes her look sort of two-face
there, like she`s trying to have it both says.
The biggest problem when she said – the question that Lauer asked was
perfect about, did you make mistakes, and she said, I don`t think so. I
think her biggest mistake was trying not to make mistakes, running such a
risk-averse formulaic, data-driven campaign that looked almost bloodless
next to what Trump was doing. They thought they could follow the playbook
and get there and they just sort of misread the electorate and a lot of
things. I think that was a big mistake.
Did she make a gaffe every day? No, but, you know, that is not what the
campaign was about.
NELSON: She didn`t connect.
ROBINSON: There`s another factor, though. There was a lot of Clinton
fatigue out there, you know? I mean, let`s face it. She was probably
perhaps the best candidate Democrats could have put up. But she lost to
I mean, you know, you can`t lose to Donald Trump –
MATTHEWS: But still, Gene, think of the biggest –
ROBINSON: – and say I didn`t make any mistakes.
MATTHEWS: I think, every time I get up in the morning, I say the biggest
news today, no matter what else happens is that Trump is president of the
United States. I still can`t get over it. It still blows me away because
it`s not the way things work.
People generally are offended by the language he used. It was awful. And
I don`t care about his – talk about –
STOKOLS: It was a backlash to this idea about the way things were. People
didn`t want to be told you can`t vote for this guy.
MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary`s argument to follow through was that she only
carried California by 3 or 4 million votes, New York by a couple of
million, would she have carried more in those states if this thing had not
happened with Comey? Would she have carried California by 5 million votes,
New York by 4 million votes? I mean, I just wanted, one of you guys raised
the questions, how come it only affected the highly difficult, hard hit
industrial areas where she lost?
ROBINSON: Well, and the answer is, no, I don`t think it just affected
those states. I think it had – whatever impact it had, it was a broader
ROBINSON: But I think it`s pretty undeniable that the Clinton campaign
missed what was happening in those Rust Belt states.
NELSON: But there is a plausible argument, though, when we`re talking
about Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and those blue – I grew up in South Jersey,
right outside of Philly. You know what it`s like there. That`s blue
collar territory. She didn`t connect with white voters in this country.
Let`s just get the 800-pound elephant out in the room. Trump did, he
tapped into this anger, this fatigue, this frustration, and Hillary ran a
straight laced campaign and she didn`t connect with people`s pain, their
frustration, the racial tensions, the demographic changes in America, all
of those things were in the room.
MATTHEWS: OK. And what would you have said if you were sitting next to
her, three weeks before the election and said, you got to change your tune.
You got a lot of money out there to spend. You can get the right message
out, you are not addressing this white anger.
NELSON: There are people that told her that, her husband told her that.
NELSON: She didn`t listen.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know he did.
NELSON: She didn`t listen. Simple, I didn`t have anything else I could
say. She didn`t listen.
ROBINSON: Well, it`s also true, though, if there had been a bigger
African-American turnout, Obama-level African-American turnout in
Milwaukee, and Columbus and Cleveland, in Philadelphia, she would be
MATTHEWS: I know that. That is another argument.
ROBINSON: And Obama had a unique ability to bring people out.
MATTHEWS: He is also Obama. He was Obama.
What about this Bernie fight – last stone thrown her by Hillary Clinton
seems to be, she`s getting a little nervous I think is that blaming Bernie,
and that means something tomorrow, the next day, 2020. Bernie is still out
there campaigning, he`s got more – you`re wincing, but to a lot of people
– people at the other end of the age spectrum like him.
STOKOLS: Well, I mean, you just got this Democratic Party –
MATTHEWS: She doesn`t like him.
STOKOLS: The Democratic Party is trying to turn the page, trying to figure
out its identity going forward into next year`s election and obviously
2020. And this is just keeping the page turned back to 2016. The
Bernie/Hillary fight, that`s really the fight for the soul of the
ROBINSON: You can`t pretend that Bernie didn`t put his finger on something
because he really did. Or the candidates who had the position of universal
health care. Bernie Sanders and initially Donald Trump, two of the
candidates talked about trade –
MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary is one of the few –
ROBINSON: – talked about trade in a different way. Bernie Sanders and
MATTHEWS: In all the years of watching this, like you and I, Gene, I have
to tell you Hillary Clinton is one of the few losers who lost primary
fights and then went on to really help the general election.
ROBINSON: It`s true.
MATTHEWS: Because most of the time, Gene McCarthy, go through the list,
you know, Bobby – Teddy Kennedy, they didn`t help. They didn`t help.
Anyway, the round table is sticking with us. And up next, these three will
tell me something I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Senator Bernie Sanders today unveiled his Medicare for all plan,
a proposal that would transition the country to a government-run health
care system that would provide coverage for all Americans. At least 16
Democratic senators have signed on to cosponsor the bill, including
potential 2020 candidates like Senators Elizabeth Warren, of course, Cory
Booker and Kamala Harris. When Sanders put forth similar legislation back
in 2013, not a single Democrat signed on as a cosponsor. We`re still
waiting to hear the arithmetic.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL round table.
Sophia, tell me more of what I don`t know. You`ve already been pretty good
tonight. Go ahead.
NELSON: I tell you what, there`s an underreported story where the United
States has sent troops to Poland in fear of a Russian land grab there.
“Newsweek” reporting that but nobody is talking about it.
MATTHEWS: A Russian land grab?
NELSON: Yes, they think. So, we`ve sent some troops over there. We`ve
sent some military folks over there to Poland to defend.
MATTHEWS: Is this 1939?
NELSON: I don`t know what it is, but that`s something we ought to be
thinking about. Russians are at it again.
MATTHEWS: You`re sure about this?
NELSON: “Newsweek” reported it before I –
MATTHEWS: OK, great. Eli?
STOKOLS: The president this afternoon met with Tim Scott, the African-
American Republican senator from South Carolina at the White House. Scott
requested the meeting, wanted to talk about the president`s response to
Charlottesville. We don`t know too much about the meeting. Scott says
he`s expressed displeasure at the president`s initial response, also that
the president has obviously reconsidered his response, but we didn`t see
much of that. We just got a very short readout from the White House saying
that everything was great and they`re interested in the race –
STOKOLS: And actually called Tim Scott Tom Scott in the White House
readout of the conversation. That`s what we got.
MATTHEWS: I think he`s the saxophonist.
ROBINSON: While here in the East and most of the country, we`re talking
about the hurricanes, how incredibly wet it has been in Houston and in
Florida. Out in the Pacific Northwest, they`re talking about how hot and
how dry it has been. In Portland, there`s a big forest fires, one of the
kind they`ve never seen before.
We`re going to talk about climate change in this country. We should do it
now. We`re going to do it eventually, but we better talk about it.
MATTHEWS: Keep listening to Al Gore.
Anyway, Sophia Nelson, thank you, Eli Stokols, and Eugene Robinson.
When we return, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch. You`re watching
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Wednesday, September 13th, 2017.
It was another trifecta today on the Robert Mueller front. First, we
learned that the son of Michael Flynn is the subject of an investigation.
Remember him? He was the guy pushing the story that the pizza joint down
the street from where we used to do HARDBALL was some kind of child
prostitution ring. Some guy ended up by the way coming in there and
shooting his gun in the air thinking this was some den of evil.
Well, just to give you the picture, it`s one of those family places where
you bring your relatives, your brother-in-law`s family, whoever, the works
and you all grab a long table and keep ordering pizza. The prices are not
all that bad either.
Yet that Michael Flynn, the son. As we reported tonight, he`s one of the
subjects now of Robert Mueller`s probe. You have to wonder what kind of
thinking goes own with a guy like that, someone who`s benighted enough to
believe conspiratorial nonsense like the pizza story.
Item two today, it appears the senior Michael Flynn has also been caught
off base again, this time, he`s been found not reporting a little foreign
engagement involving Saudi Arabia and some nuclear facilities in cahoots
with – guess this – a Russian company. Why does everything have to do
with Trump and his team, especially his family always end up involved with
It reminds me of Denny`s, you know, that restaurant out in the highway.
You don`t start out the evening planning to go there, you used to always
end up there.
Anyway, finally, you got to love this one. This no comment from Flynn`s
lawyer. We`ve gotten use to hearing the lawyers around Trump`s world
denying all, from Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Donald Trump himself. The word
is always not guilty.
What do we make of the lawyer for Trump`s former national security director
now saying no comment when asked if there was collusion with Russia? No
comment doesn`t sound like the battle cry of a winning army.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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