Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 9/14/17 Sputnik and new theory of war
Date: September 14, 2017
Guest: John Brabender, Adolfo Franco, Michael Schmidt, Jim Rutenberg,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump dates Democrats.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
About 24 hours ago, Donald Trump was sitting down to dinner with House
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
Chuck and Nancy, as the president calls them, joined the president and a
few members of his cabinet to discuss trade, China and protections for what
some call “Dreamers,” those covered by DACA.
What happened in the ensuing hours has left Republicans and Trump base off-
guard. Around 9:30 PM, the White House put out a statement that the
president had a constructive working dinner with the Senate and House
minority leaders to discuss policy and legislative priorities.
Fifteen minutes later, Pelosi and Schumer`s offices put out a statement of
their own, that the president agreed to, quote, “enshrine the protections
of DACA into law” with a package of border security, including the wall –
excluding the wall, rather, that`s acceptable to both sides.
Well, shortly thereafter, according to Politico, the White House
legislative office was in damage control, saying the president only agreed
to work on fixing DACA soon, conceding he wouldn`t insist that wall funding
be part of this particular deal.
Well, early this morning, hours after the initial dinner, the president was
doing his own corrective tweeting. No deal was made last night on DACA.
Massive border security – massive border security – would have to be
agreed to in exchange for consent, would be subject to vote. But he added,
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young
people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really?
Congressional Republicans were blindsided.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well from what I`ve heard, it sounds like a deal to
make a deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the president did make a deal, we`ve still got to do
what we do on Capitol Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a big theme of his campaign, and I think him
changing course on this is at his own peril. But you know, his base will
be very, very unhappy with this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “At his own peril.” What`s clear is that the past 24 hours have
left members of the president`s party, the Republicans, feeling bypassed,
even pushed aside.
For the latest on how these negotiations are being received, I`m joined by
Yamiche Alcindor of “The New York Times” and an MSNBC contributor.
So Yamiche, give me a sense of what the aftershocks are up there on the
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, the common ground that the
president was able to reach with both Democrat – with Democrats has really
left Republicans on the Hill both confused and on the defensive.
I`ve been talking to people, and in interview after interview, those
Republicans are saying that they don`t understand how the president would
go out to the White House and have dinner and over chocolate cream pie
basically say that he was going to give up what was a large messaging tool
during his campaign.
Dave Brat of Virginia, who is part of the House Freedom Caucus, which is,
of course, that very conservative group in the House – he said that he
thinks that the wall absolutely is something that needs to be an important
part of border security, and he says that the whole election was
essentially about the wall.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think he`s on base with reality. Anyway, let me
ask you about the one thing I always ask about. And it breaks the heart of
the people that deal in generalities. Will they get enough votes to get
through the House? Will they get a vote in the House on this proposal to
basically codify – “enshrine” is the word – DACA?
ALCINDOR: I think that they will absolutely be able to get the votes if
the president sticks to his negotiating tactics and decides that he wants
to allow the Democrats a large role in figuring out what this legislation
actually has inside of it.
Now, people I`ve talked to say that McConnell says that he`s in some ways
open to that idea that the president is going to play point on this. But
the president doesn`t have a lot of experience when it comes to crafting
actual policies. So essentially, what comes to the House floor is going to
be a bill that was written by Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Well, Yamiche Alcindor, for that update. It looks promising.
For more on what the president was thinking, I`m joined by Adolfo Franco
and John Brabender. Both are Republican strategists. Gentlemen, you know,
I think from Trump`s point of view, John and Adolfo – I think from his
point of view, I want this baby off of my back. I want these people to be
allowed to stay here, whether I have to do it by EO, I`ll do it that way,
but I don`t want to be the bad guy sending home these kids – people who
were brought here as kids.
Same thing Democrats have their constituency, it`s Hispanic, people from
that part of the country and that part of the world from Mexico and other
Latin countries mostly. They want to help these people. They have a
particular interest in helping them, more than the Republicans.
The only outsiders here are the right-wing Republicans, who have some
notion of a wall, which I never thought was real. But what do you think?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, all the
president did was decouple the whole idea that the wall had to be specific
to this piece of legislation. Second of all, he said no amnesty. He said
there`s no citizenship. And there has to be significant security added to
this at the borders, not some guy with a flashlight, like the Democrats
like to do.
Here`s the thing, though. The Democrats are running a bit of a scam here.
The way that Pelosi and Schumer did this, they ran out there to try to put
their spin on it, not what the president said, because they knew what the
reaction would be.
MATTHEWS: How do you know what the president said to them?
BRABENDER: Well, I know it as well as anybody else.
MATTHEWS: Well, they were there!
BRABENDER: But the point is, why would – what would be their incentive to
run out with these statements…
MATTHEWS: Because they won!
BRABENDER: No. They`re trying to derail it. They do not want…
MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re a conspiratalist (ph) now!
BRABENDER: They do not…
MATTHEWS: They won the argument. They want to look out for these people
they call Dreamers…
BRABENDER: They were so happy with what happened…
BRABENDER: … that they were out there…
MATTHEWS: How many wins have the Democrats had lately?
BRABENDER: No. They were out there trying to imply it was something that
it wasn`t and to see what the response would be.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, I`m not Pollyanna, you know, Adolfo, but I believe
it`s a win-win for Trump and the Democrats. It`s a win-win. They both
want to help these people for totally different reasons, but they want to
ADOLFO FRANCO, FORMER MCCAIN ADVISER: Well, I completely agree with that.
What I am surprised about – and I actually do agree with John, but what I
MATTHEWS: Agree with him what, that this was some clever spin to disrupt
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this way. There was a clarifying statement today by
Pelosi`s office that said, yes, there was no – there was no final deal.
They had agreed in principle. But let me just back up for a minute…
MATTHEWS: That`s pretty good, agree in principle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, but it is in principle. Two things to keep in
mind. First of all, the president is now being criticized for
bipartisanship or efforts to make a bipartisan deal, what people have been
calling for for many months. But most importantly is, you`re going to step
back, Chris – when DACA – when the announcement was made, it was
consistent with his message. It`s unconstitutional. It`s consistent with
the last few months where he said he had…
MATTHEWS: You can`t do it by EO.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. And – and then he said six months! That, I
think, demonstrates, frankly, his compassion and willing to work with
MATTHEWS: What are we arguing about here? What`s going to happen – don`t
you all agree that if the Congress doesn`t act, the president will act? He
doesn`t want this on his back.
BRABENDER: Well, this is where the big story, in my opinion is, is not
whether they agreed or disagreed. It`s that this president has decided he
can no longer negotiate through the Republican leadership and he is going
to become the negotiator at this point on many things.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s ask (INAUDIBLE) Republicans watching would like to
know, I think. Why didn`t he go to Mitch and Ryan, the speaker first, have
the dinner with them about this and then say, Hey guys, you may not like
this, but tomorrow, I`m having dinner with Nancy and Chuck. We`re going to
work this thing out. Why didn`t he start with the Republicans? Why did he
start with the Democrats?
BRABENDER: In my opinion, the lack of repeal of “Obama care” changed the
rules at the White House on everything. I think he feels that he can be a
better negotiator, get what he wants, and then get the Republicans on
MATTHEWS: Is he goosing them? Is he pushing them along, saying, Look, I
got the Democrats, now you guys got to act?
FRANCO: I don`t think he`s goosing them. I think what he has done – and
I think – I believe this to be the case – is I think he is looking beyond
DACA and coupling DACA. He`s not coupling with the wall. But he is going
to refer to massive increases…
MATTHEWS: Right. Well, that`s what he said today.
FRANCO: … in border security. And I think this is going to be an
opening to get something that would have been inconceivable even a week or
MATTHEWS: Well, I…
FRANCO: You see the opposition from Congresswoman Sanchez and now from the
Democrats. There`s disarray on the Democratic side now!
MATTHEWS: What are they complaining about?
FRANCO: They`re complaining about the fact is – they don`t want – they
want a clean DACA. They want to enshrine this cleanly. They`re now upset
with the Democratic leadership for saying now…
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, there`s always going to be people at both ends.
Look, President Trump`s supporters exploded at the news that the president
is pursuing a deal with Democratic leaders. Immigration hardliner – here
he goes again – U.S. Congressman Steve King tweeted, “President Trump –
if the Associated Press is correct, Trump base has blown up, destroyed,
irreparable and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”
Ann Coulter – here we go again, who wrote a book about why she supported
Trump – responded to the president`s defense of Dreamers by tweeting, “At
this point, who doesn`t want Trump impeached?”
The president pushed back, telling reporters that he`s not looking for
amnesty, as you said. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re not looking at citizenship. We`re not looking at amnesty.
We`re looking at allowing people to stay here. We`re working with
everybody – Republican, we`re working with Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it looks to me like this is part of – it`s sort of like
the symptomatic problem. We have a lot of young people in the country,
800,000 or whatever it was, who were brought here mostly by their parents.
They didn`t have a big thought about it or idea about it. They`ve
considered themselves in most cases, I believe fair to say, Americans.
They just aren`t here legally, and they want to give these guys a break.
And I`m not sure it is – I think Trump isn`t going all the way with
amnesty, if you will. He`s not giving them citizenship or even a route to
citizenship. He`s just saying the government will be off your back, just
like Obama said.
FRANCO: Well, he said, We`re going to take care of people. That`s what he
said. Those were the president`s words. The are – this – this – what
you should show up here is the polling for Republicans and Trump
supporters. Two thirds of Trump supporters favor DACA.
FRANCO: And the vast majority of Republicans favor DACA.
MATTHEWS: This is win-win!
MATTHEWS: This is win-win!
FRANCO: But you mentioned left and – you said extreme left and the
extreme right in Congress…
FRANCO: … have different views.
FRANCO: But the vast majority of Republicans…
MATTHEWS: I`m with you. You`re arguing with nobody. I`m sitting here and
I`m not arguing with you!
FRANCO: But what he`s done, I think, intelligently on this is he`s moved
the Democratic Party to a position where I don`t think they were very
recently, and that…
MATTHEWS: How so, because they`re for stronger border protection?
FRANCO: Well, for stronger border protection – we have yet to see the
details when he refers to a great deal of more border protection…
FRANCO: … and maybe a different way to do border protection.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me – let me – look, I`m a – like, one of these
people in the Middle East. I want a final solution. I want to end this
debate in our lifetime.
Why can`t he go back, now that we`re all in the mood for getting together
and kumbaya – why doesn`t one of these sides say, OK, we`re in the mood to
get some deals made? Why don`t we go back to the deal with had with the
thing that passed the Senate with a whole bunch of Republicans behind it,
12 or 15 Republicans behind it, that basically said, We`re going to let
people have a path to citizenship. They get in line behind everybody else,
but also, there`s no more illegal hiring. It`s all part of the deal.
And Republicans (INAUDIBLE) from Kennedy, Jack – Teddy Kennedy was for
this. Chuck Schumer was for this. A lot of Republicans like Lindsey
Graham were for it. McCain was for it.
Why can`t they go back to a final deal and end this…
MATTHEWS: Please guys, why can`t we end this debate? The people that are
here are going to stay here. Stop the flow of illegal immigrants in the
future. End this debate. Why can`t we do it?
BRABENDER: If you understand the 2016 election, I`ll tell you why we won`t
do it. Always the context is, What about these people here illegally?
What are we going to do about them? Oh, let`s take care of them. And
that`s just going to encourage a lot more people.
MATTHEWS: Not if you can`t hire people illegally.
BRABENDER: What Republicans are doing are contextually first saying, Why
don`t we look at the working Americans here that are impacted and make sure
whatever we do isn`t going to negatively impact them, as well.
MATTHEWS: What do you think? Why don`t we have a deal?
FRANCO: For this reason…
MATTHEWS: In other words, the government is hopelessly…
MATTHEWS: … hopeless to deal with immigration.
FRANCO: Well, we can deal with immigration, but we have to do it in
sequence. What are we doing about the border? What are we doing about…
MATTHEWS: You`ll never win that with Democrats. Democrats will never
FRANCO: We had a deal in 1986 with President Reagan.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you want a total deal?
FRANCO: Because a total deal has to first attend to the problems that we
have currently, which is still immigration coming in illegally. My
question is, if we take care of DACA today, will we have a DACA situation
in five years with new…
MATTHEWS: Let me explain the sequence. You want to get into the sequence.
MATTHEWS: You can`t outlaw illegal hiring now because there are so many
people here who are not here legally because they would never be able to
work tomorrow morning! You have to do it sequentially. You have to say,
OK, from now on, starting this date, anybody comes in the country past this
day can`t work here illegally. We`re going to enforce the e-verify system.
We`re going to enforce it!
FRANCO: People do it all the time. There`s an underground economy.
There`s a cash economy. There`s all kinds of overstay situations. We have
MATTHEWS: It`s against the law, enforce the law.
FRANCO: Well, I am for enforcing the law. It`s the Democrats that have
called for suspension of the enforcement of the law.
MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, this afternoon, Rush Limbaugh, who always likes to
solve the problems like this, when talking about DACA negotiations,
reminded the president why he was elected. And here`s what Rushbo said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Boil everything down. Trump – is
Trump – I`m asking you who voted for him. Is he this tone deaf? Is he
this ignorant? Does he not know what got him elected? Does he – I mean -
- and I`m telling you, some of the staunchest Trump supporters are out
there, and they`ve jumped ship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is this going to help Lou Barletta run for the Senate…
MATTHEWS: … about Bob Casey? Does this help a Republican…
BRABENDER: Whether it`s Rush or Steve King, they`re all responding to what
they thought based on what the Democrats said. So you had Pelosi and
Schumer high-fiving every time you saw this. The truth of the matter is,
though, Rush Limbaugh is right. Who elected him were a lot of Democrats in
Rust Belt states, were tired about the Democrats not doing anything about
real immigration reform or protecting these borders.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you both, Adolfo first. Do you think President Trump
truly wants to help out these people who came here because their parents
brought them here?
FRANCO: I`m convinced of it and…
MATTHEWS: OK, next. Do you believe the Democrats, Pelosi and Chuck
Schumer, really want to help these people whose parents brought them here?
BRABENDER: I believe that their goal, and I truly believe this, is to do
everything they can to hurt Donald Trump because…
MATTHEWS: OK, they`re not here to help those people.
MATTHEWS: So they`re not there to help those people.
FRANCO: I think they`re playing political with this. I really do.
FRANCO: I don`t think President Trump is.
MATTHEWS: You`re hopeless. Anyway, thank you, Adolfo Franco. You`re a
good guy (INAUDIBLE) At least you have a heart and some kind of belief
system. You think everything is political.
BRABENDER: No, I think those two are.
MATTHEWS: They are usually, but this time, I think it`s right. Anyway,
John Brabender, thank you.
Coming up, new reporting out this evening that President Trump demanded –
you won`t believe this – that Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was with
him from the beginning – he demanded that he resign after Trump learned
that Special Counsel Mueller had been appointed to lead the Russia
investigation. Trump blamed the appointment on Sessions`s decision to
recuse himself and reportedly called Sessions to his face in the Oval
Office – to his face, the attorney general of the United States – an
Plus, in the wake of Charlottesville, Congress has passed a resolution
condemning neo-Nazis and the KKK. Trump says he`ll sign it, but once again
today, he couldn`t resist a shot at those he called the “bad dudes”
confronting the neo-Nazis and KKKers. We`re going to talk to Virginia
governor Terry McAuliffe about that baby.
And before President Trump took office, Jared Kushner committed $1.8
billion he didn`t have to develop a prominent Manhattan skyscraper with the
address of – this was trouble – 666. And according to the new report,
investors are now fleeing from the project. They don`t want the scrutiny
and conflict that comes with working with the Trumps.
Finally, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch.” He won`t like it.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: South Korea`s ministry of defense has confirmed the North Korea
launched an unidentified missile from the outskirts of Pyongyang tonight.
According to a Japanese government official, it flew over a northern
Japanese island and later landed in the Pacific.
The launch occurred at the same time the South Korean air force was
conducting a live fire exercise. And it comes after North Korea tested a
new nuclear device earlier this month. The White House says the
president`s been briefed on the launch.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. “The New York Times” is reporting new
details about how President Trump confronted his attorney general, Jeff
Sessions, after learning that a special counsel had been appointed to lead
the Russian investigation. Blaming the appointment on Sessions`s decision
to recuse himself, Trump told Mr. Sessions that choosing him to be attorney
general was one of the worst decisions he had made.
He called him an idiot right there in the Oval Office and said that he
should resign – to his face. Sessions told associates it was the most
humiliating experience in decades of public life. I expect it was.
Ultimately, his resignation was not accepted, however, by the impulsive
Meanwhile, Politico reports late tonight that Paul Manafort`s spokesman is
expected to testify before a Washington grand jury tomorrow. That should
I`m joined right now by one of the authors of “The New York Times” report
on Sessions, Michael Schmidt. Thank you, Michael.
This is just emerging now, but you guys have had your bases covered. What
do you have, seven sources for this baby, seven sources that were in the
Oval Office and said the president called his attorney general that he
appointed, that was with him from the beginning, is an idiot?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Yes.
What we tried to do is look back on the day that Mueller was appointed to
try and understand, you know, what was Trump`s reaction to it, where was he
and what happened.
And he`s sitting there in the Oval Office with Sessions. He finds out
about it, and he immediately turns on Sessions. He believes that Sessions`
decision to recuse himself from the investigation, which he had done in
March, was the sort of ultimate sin here, and that had allowed for the
Justice Department to appoint a special counsel, which Trump at that point
was very deeply concerned about.
MATTHEWS: What stopped him from following on his impulse, and keeping
SCHMIDT: I think that several senior White House officials, including Vice
President Pence, realized that the impact of getting rid of the attorney
general would be probably disastrous for the White House.
At this point, he had already gotten rid of the FBI director, already
gotten rid of the acting attorney general, already gotten rid of his
national security adviser. Trump has shown that he can survive a lot of
things. And my guess is, he probably would get through it.
But there was no clear indication of – that they could actually get a new
attorney general through Congress. Congress probably would have turned
that process into a big-time sort of thing about the administration on
MATTHEWS: Boy, it does tell me and I guess all of us how much he feared
this special prosecutor, especially with the resume running behind Mr.
Mueller. This guy doesn`t lose.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, go ahead on that thought.
SCHMIDT: Well, the thing is that what he says to Sessions, he says that,
you have not been loyal to me.
And this is a theme that we have seen with Trump before. He asked Comey
about loyalty, asked Comey to pledge his loyalty. And it`s clear that
loyalty to Trump is more important than an investigation about – a
freewheeling investigation that can go where it is.
And Trump is very concerned about who is running this investigation.
Whether it was Comey, whether it was Sessions or Rod Rosenstein, or in this
case Mueller, Trump is obsessed about who has run it.
MATTHEWS: I understand. He doesn`t want any independents out there and
certainly not going after him.
Thank you, Michael Schmidt of “The New York Times,” another great report.
In their report on Russia meddling in the 2016 election, the U.S.
intelligence community described Russia state-funded media outlets Sputnik
and R.T. as part of Russia`s state-run propaganda machine.
In an in-depth report for “The New York Times Magazine,” Jim Rutenberg, for
next week, by the way, examines how these Russian media outlets take
advantage of open societies – quote – “R.T. and Sputnik operate on the
stated terms of Western liberal democracy. They count themselves as news
organizations protected by the First Amendment.”
It`s enough cover to wage what Putin`s top deputy, Dmitry Peskov, calls an
informational war. He says that the modern media landscape – quote –
“creates a perfect opportunity for mass disturbances or for initiating mass
support or mass disapproval.”
Now, as Yahoo! News reports, Sputnik is under investigation for potentially
violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, FARA, which is intended to
check foreign propaganda.
I`m joined right now by “New York Times” media columnist Jim Rutenberg, the
author of the “Times” report.
Congratulations. Amazing piece of work, masterly.
Jim, let me ask you about this – it is sort of Tokyo Rose stuff, if you
will. It`s propaganda. It`s meant to try to infiltrate us.
Why do people like the organization on Capitol Hill allow R.T. and Sputnik
and those kind of organizations to get in and join them as so called, well,
Why doesn`t somebody just put up the wall and say you`re a bunch of flacks
and propagandists; you have no more right to be here than somebody flacking
for a business film; you`re not journalists?
JIM RUTENBERG, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: I think there`s just a feeling that
it`s a slippery slope, we are the United States of America, that we`re an
And, you know, once we get in the business of deciding whose news is and
who isn`t, it`s just – it`s a very uncomfortable place for journalists,
for the government.
And that`s the trick here. Right? This is why it`s a very effective tool.
If you have a big vast information machine that can operate in a foreign
capital and kind of get into the fabric of media, well, off to the races.
MATTHEWS: But all R.T. does and Sputnik is push these bogus stories, like
the one you have in your piece about Lisa, some woman who was a young girl,
13 years old, was supposedly a Russian ethnic who lives in Germany, who was
supposedly, at least for 24 hours, the victim of a crime.
It turns out she was just with her boyfriend or some guy for the 24 hours.
It was clear there was no crime there, or at least not the crime that was
described. And they ran with that story, even though – even when it`s
demolished as fact.
RUTENBERG: Yes, that`s the thing.
But it always does – or not always – sometimes, it`s outright the reports
get knocked down. Sometimes, there`s a grain of truth. Sometimes, there`s
more truth. Sometimes, there`s complete credibility.
It`s a mix, which is also what makes it a little bit hard to put your
finger on. So, that case you referenced, the public was very upset, and in
comes not just R.T., not just Sputnik, but local Russian media there in
Germany and also bots and trolls and Twitter and Facebook. So, it`s a
whole big storm that gets created.
How is this connected – it seems like it is – to the whole Russian probe
we`re all covering here almost every night? Which is, somewhere in the
Kremlin, I think in the heart and mind of Putin, they decided, he decided
that he didn`t like Hillary Clinton.
He wanted – at least if she won, she`s going to be a miserable president.
He wanted to make sure of that by undermining her in every way in
credibility, and maybe be able – in the end, he said maybe can pull it for
Was that all part of this nexus or this matrix of, we`re all in this
together, we`re on the side of Trump and against Hillary?
RUTENBERG: I think, first of all, they can point to stories that R.T. did
that were critical of Trump. But often, when they got in on the Hillary
side, it was the conspiratorial stuff, a lot of the WikiLeaks and health
concerns, and sometimes even more conspiratorial, the Seth Rich conspiracy.
But I don`t know how – I mean, look, the Kremlin is open about one thing.
They believe that they aren`t the ones who started this information war,
the U.S. did. Hillary Clinton is very much seen as a part of the
establishment of the U.S. that they think are bringing, you know, kind of
trouble to their borders with democracy sort of movements and NGOs and even
the Western media.
So, to them, this is fighting back. And they`re open about that much.
They deny a lot of what is coming at them from our intelligence community,
they weren`t meddling. But they are open that there is an information war.
They think that they were at some point the victims of it. And now they`re
That`s sort of the way they put it to me in plain terms, at least Putin`s
spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I don`t take the comparison to Voice of America, because I
listened to Voice of America in the boonies over in Africa for two years.
And I found, as a Peace Corps volunteer, that it was like BBC. It`s
incredibly honest. It`s incredibly forthright as a news organization.
It`s not a propaganda vehicle, from what I – they talked about civil
rights and all the embarrassing stuff for us back in the `60s.
It wasn`t what you would want to talk about if you were a flacking
Jim Rutenberg, a great piece of work.
RUTENBERG: Thanks a lot.
MATTHEWS: I read it all. It was big. And it`s coming this Sunday, for
those who really want to understand Russian propaganda 2017.
And we will be right back. This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not all of those people were
neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacist, by
Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down
of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump last month after the white supremacist rally in
Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent, killing one woman.
Well, this week, Congress sent him a resolution which called for – quote -
- “rejecting white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-
Nazis and other hate groups.”
It was passed unanimously, by the way, by both chambers, by the House and
the Senate. And the White House says the president looks forward signing
But the president was criticize for not initially disavowing these groups
and blaming what he called both sides for the violence.
On Wednesday, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott – it`s not Tom, Mr.
President – sat down with the president and talked to him about that
initial response to the Charlottesville violence.
Let`s watch this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I wanted to make sure that we were
clear on the delineation between who`s on which side in the history of the
nation. And so we had a good conversation.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the president gave his impression of their talk on Air
Force One today. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We had a great talk yesterday. I think especially in light of the
advent of Antifa, if you look at what is going on there, you have some
pretty bad dudes on the other side also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He can`t resist.
We`re joined right now – we`re joined right now by Virginia`s Democratic
Governor – or Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Governor, it`s amazing. He just can`t resist throwing in this moral
equivalence. Pretty bad dudes. He`s president of the United States, and
he`s talking like that.
OK, what does he mean. The anti-fascists are pretty bad dudes?
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: First of all, there`s no moral
equivalent of the folks who came to Charlottesville, Neo-Nazi wearing
pictures of Adolf Hitler, white supremacists, and KKK.
There`s no moral equivalent. The people who were there protesting on the
other side were protesting against hate. Had they not come, Chris, we
would not have had those incidences.
Unfortunately, Heather Heyer, 32-year-old young woman, was killed when a
guy weaponized his car. I lost two state troopers, both of them very close
personal friends of mine. One was my pilot. The other had served on my
MATTHEWS: Really, your personal pilot, the guy who…
MCAULIFFE: Very close.
MATTHEWS: … flew you around?
MCAULIFFE: Went down in a helicopter.
So the president needs to show leadership. And I had talked to the
president before he gave his speech, and that`s what I said to him. There
is no moral equivalency. I came out Saturday night, told him to go home.
MATTHEWS: Who is he afraid of offending by stating he doesn`t like Nazis?
I mean, really.
MCAULIFFE: You know, I got – my father served in World War II. I got a
son in the Marine Corps.
I just don`t understand it. We have got men and women who have fought and
are fighting today to preserve our great freedoms and liberties. And just
came out and say it.
MATTHEWS: I`m with you.
MCAULIFFE: They`re neo-Nazis.
MATTHEWS: I would rather talk about this resolution today, which I agree
with. Everybody agrees with it.
I don`t like the – the fight over statues, the problem with it – and
you`re a Virginia governor. You`re from a Southern state now.
MATTHEWS: And you`re representing people who have mixed views on this.
My problem with that is, I think it should be done locally. I think people
have to make up their minds. And it could take a couple of years to take
some statues down, a couple more next year. Put them in museums. Treat
them with historic respect, but not look up to them.
But I also think you have problems like the Gettysburg battlefield. What
are you going to do there, take down the generals from one side of the
battle, not down the other? What do you with the guy in Washington Street
in Old Town, Alexandria, which is a young, humble, obviously grit soldier,
Southern soldier with his head down in defeat?
It`s called Appomattox. There it is. It`s not about, we`re the right side
of the war.
MCAULIFFE: With his back to Washington.
MATTHEWS: Yes. We`re not the right side of this war. We just lost it.
MCAULIFFE: Listen, they ought to be in the battlefields, the museums.
Listen, there`s no question.
MATTHEWS: How about that one there, should it stay?
MCAULIFFE: Listen, well, first of all, under Virginia code, no statues
before 1997. It`s all local control and the General Assembly, unless
there`s something specifically in the code that protects it.
MCAULIFFE: That particular statue you were talking about, it`s in the code
of Virginia. So it would take the General Assembly changing it.
Let me ask you about this whole Democratic Party. Where do you see the
party going? I mean, Hillary`s book, by the way, which I – I think the
book is really good. Some of her defenses on TV get defensive, like they
often do in debates with people like Matt Lauer.
But she basically said, I had – people counted on me by the millions, and
I let them down, election. It was clear, she accepted the defeat, I
thought rather graciously, in the beginning of the book, you know?
Now we get all that stuff. Bernie Sanders, she blames. That is going on.
So, where are we going to be? Where are the Democratic Party going to be
as we look down the road to 2018, 2020, Bernie Sanders with a strong
regiment of supporters, a lot of young people? I mean, he says we don`t –
schools are going to be free. Health is going to be free. He makes it
MATTHEWS: And his brand of sort of old-time socialism has been updated to
being very appealing to the young people.
Hillary Clinton is a moderate Democrat, no matter what she says. You`re a
moderate Democrat. Who is going to win that fight?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, the person who ought to win the fight is
the one who has the best ideas and who gets results doing it.
Let`s look at Virginia today for a second. Unemployment has gone from 5.4
to 3.7. We have totally transformed our criminal justice system. I have
taken juvenile justice down from 600 down to 200, record amount of jobs,
record capital investment.
Unemployment claims, I just announced the other day 44-year low. People
want results from politicians.
MATTHEWS: Do they?
MCAULIFFE: They`re tired of talk.
MATTHEWS: They don`t want ideology?
MCAULIFFE: They want results.
I can tell you, the people in Virginia, they`re happy, record investment in
K-12, $2.4 billion investment in our higher-ed research facility. We have
I`m almost getting to full employment. I have so many open jobs I got to
fill. That`s why we`re forming our education system. We are now teaching
cyber-security in kindergarten. We`re leading on work force development,
50,000 stem age credentials I announced…
MATTHEWS: I`m with you on that.
But your state, like North Carolina, a little bit behind you, but on the
same route, it`s modernizing. It`s becoming a high-tech state.
MATTHEWS: Highly educated, tremendous university system.
MATTHEWS: Then you have states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan,
that haven`t been able to get on that track. They`re still in the
industrial age in many ways.
And they don`t like what`s going on now, because they`re losing jobs and
pay. How do you talk to those people?
MCAULIFFE: Yes. You got to build that new economy.
The one thing I`m probably…
MATTHEWS: Do you think that will work, a new economy in states like
Pennsylvania, a new economy?
MCAULIFFE: Well, look at Virginia, a very rural state.
MCAULIFFE: But you know what is nice, Chris?
The unemployment in my rural communities has all gone down, Lancaster,
Paige, very rural. Down seven percentage points. Every one of our
counties has gone down. We`re leading cyber-security, data analytics.
We`re leading on unmanned aerial systems.
It is a new economy. You have got to get into that. That`s why governors
have to lead. We`re out front on job creation, economic empowerment,
MATTHEWS: See how good he is?
Terry McAuliffe, who still wears the green tie of his people.
Thank you, Terry McAuliffe.
MCAULIFFE: The Irish…
MCAULIFFE: And the American flag.
MATTHEWS: Up next – both of them. That`s good.
MCAULIFFE: Got the whole deal.
MATTHEWS: Up next, we`re going to get a report from St. John. And that`s
one of the islands really hit by Hurricane Irma. That`s in the Virgin
Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: I did not collude with Russia,
nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. I had no improper
contacts. I have not relied on Russia funds for my businesses. And I have
been fully transparent in providing all requested information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I don`t know.
Denying any collusion with Russia, President Trump`s son-in-law there, an
adviser, Jared Kushner also denied any impropriety in that December meeting
with the head of Russia`s state owned bank.
Well, since that meeting, Kushner has divested from his family`s business.
However, “The Washington Post” reports today that as investigations
proceed, pressures at 666, there`s a problem, 5th Avenue are building. In
2007, then 26-year-old bought that Manhattan address for $1.8 billion, the
highest price paid at that point for any office tower in the United States.
“The Washington Post” points out that expert speculate that Kushner had
vastly overpaid and that months after buying the building, the great
recession pummeled values.
Now, Kushner`s role in government has made the Kushner company`s Manhattan
property toxic to potential investors. As Kushner friend Tom Barrack told
“The Washington Post”, Kushner`s move to the White House just about
completely chilled the market. Potential investors just said, no way,
can`t be associated with any appearances of conflict of interest.
Let`s bring in tonight`s HARDBALL round table. Eliza Collins is Capitol
Hill reporter for “USA Today”, Jason Johnson is politics editor for “The
Root” and MSNBC contributor as well, and Zeke Miller is the White House
correspondent for “Time”.
Zeke, I want you to start on this. It looks to me that this young guy put
down his note for $1.8 billion without any way to pay for it, hoping that
somehow the revenues from rentals would bring it in. Then he runs into
trouble because there was a great recession. He had the sell off the
retail spaces, killing his revenue flow and then he sold off like half of
the office space, again killing off a lot of his revenue flow. So, he owes
tons more all this money. There`s nobody to invest in him and he`s got a
very little revenue flow coming from rental.
I don`t see how he`s not in the hock big time and he`s not going to get out
of it, while he`s a senior assistant to the president.
ZEKE MILLER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: It`s certainly a
financial issue for him and part of the reason why he`s having trouble
attracting investors is that people don`t want to associate themselves
MATTHEWS: How can he sit in the White House and try to get himself out of
the ditch while he`s in the White House?
MILLER: You know, there are processes in terms of what he controls, what
he doesn`t control in terms of how he tried to divest from that. But that
is an open question. We need to hear at some point from Jared Kushner how
he`s not exposed, how he`s not vulnerable here if he is in that financial
MATTHEWS: OK, I`m Jared Kushner. I`m at the White House, here`s my
number, 456-1414, the United States White House.
So, he calls around the Chinese or probably the Russians asking for money.
Isn`t that a conflict of interest? I need money. By the way, you`re going
to reach me? I work at the White House.
All of these foreigners were all thinking and buy any government, a lot of
them. They always think you can buy because a lot of governments can be
bought. Hey, here`s a way to buy the government. Bail this guy out.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, it`s not only a conflict of
interest, it`s not only a problem for him, his businesses and President
Trump, but here`s the most valuable thing he has. He`s got a security
JOHNSON: So when people do call him, they`re not asking to invest in his
businesses. They`re asking him very likely to reveal or give hints about
information that would endanger him and endanger this entire
administration. So, you know, he`s sitting on a gold mine, but it`s not –
MATTHEWS: What makes you think that being something he can negotiate?
JOHNSON: Well, because those would be the kind of question you would ask.
Think about the meeting that he went to that Don Jr. had. It`s like, hey,
you`re a government person. Do you know anything about Hillary Clinton?
You can imagine those kinds of questions being asked of Kushner. Look, we
don`t want you to give us state secrets. Just tell us a little bit of what
was going on in the White House.
MATTHEWS: OK. I want to know what he was doing with the head of the
Russian bank. You might go to the bank for money.
ELIZA COLLINS, CAPITOL HILL REPORTER, USA TODAY: He said it had nothing to
do with his businesses.
MATTHEWS: Even though he`s in hock.
COLLINS: Well, it`s just – there`s an issue here, especially with
investors, don`t want to get involved with anyone in the White House. He`s
now under investigation for things like these meetings, where it comes up,
when he talks to Congress potentially.
COLLINS: Why would you want to subject yourself to this and be, you know,
questions there`s an FBI investigation, a congressional investigation, and
then also just news, headlines, conflicts of interest.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, the argument that the president makes is that
there`s no – he has no involvement economically with Russia, and denied
involvement, Zeke. And over and over again, we keep hearing about these
MILLER: Yes. I mean –
MATTHEWS: All entangled in the same meetings for all we can tell.
MILLER: That`s been their problem on this, they deny, deny, deny, and then
it drips out that the denials were blanket when they should have been
caveated every which way. You know, in terms of what Robert Mueller has to
deal with now, it`s always – it`s – maybe it`s not the crime –
MATTHEWS: Do you think the president can fence himself off from his family
now? I never liked this nepotism. I didn`t like it in the beginning. I
fought it here. And they got away with it. They found a law that allowed
them to do it. They have good lawyers.
And my question is, can the president separate himself from his own family
MILLER: The question is, legally or politically?
Politically, probably not. He fought –
MATTHEWS: OK, he`s not taking them on the trip to China. What does that
tell you? He`s not taking Ivanka or husband Jared Kushner on this trip to
China. Is that related to this? Is there a taint there? He`s saying, OK,
I`m not going to travel with them anymore.
Or is John Kelly, the chief of staff, finally getting control of reality in
the White House and saying, Mr. President, you`ve got to stop hanging
around with their Romanov family of yours, they`re causing you trouble?
COLLINS: I think John Kelly could very well be putting separations. But I
don`t think President Trump is saying I want you guys to stay away because
MATTHEWS: How come they`re not going to China with him? Do you know?
COLLINS: I mean, there`s –
MATTHEWS: Do you know, Zeke? Who knows why they`re not going? Because we
got the word –
JOHNSON: Because it`s dangerous, because people don`t want to be involved.
And also, they don`t –
MATTHEWS: Let read you. I don`t often read this newspaper, “The South
China Morning Post”.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner`s trip to China may have been canceled
because some officials in the White House decided the couple were not
suitable to make preparations for U.S. President Donald Trump`s visit to
JOHNSON: They sent this guy to negotiate Middle East peace process. He`s
got no expertise in this, outside of the fact that they have –
MATTHEWS: Well, finally, somebody`s noticed.
Anyway, “The South China Morning” did report that. Anyway, what do you
make of it? This thing is going to bug Trump. It makes look like his
daughter is tainted.
COLLINS: Well, Ivanka Trump also has her whole fashion line and there`s
issues with that in China. So, that could be John Kelly saying no, but who
MATTHEWS: There`s something I know nothing about.
JOHNSON: Everybody is afraid of a desperate man. This is like, you know,
Denzel at the end “Training Day”. No one takes your phone calls anymore.
You`re in trouble. You`re in hocked to a bunch of different people, and
the fear that being connected with Jared Kushner could put you in ire in
the United States, but possibly get you in some sort of international
trouble, no one wants to touch –
MATTHEWS: Reference to Denzel Washington, Oscar winning performance in
“Training Day” here. Go ahead.
MILLER: No, I mean, part of that, too, in terms of that trip is, you know,
the Chinese in particular are sensitive to issues of protocol. Are they
the best face of the United States, the best face of the presidency?
Certainly, John Kelly is well-versed in those things.
MATTHEWS: He`s looking good. They`re going to give him an Oscar for being
chief of staff at this point.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will
tell me something I don`t know. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Eliza, I love that name, tell me something I don`t know.
COLLINS: I`m going to go to Capitol Hill.
COLLINS: Talked to Mark Meadows today. Conservatives say –
MATTHEWS: Leader of the Tea Party.
COLLINS: Leader of the hard line Freedom Caucus, very conservative, said
they`re not worried about this deal with the Democrats because they`re
working with the White House on legislation that would do DACA.
MATTHEWS: They`re going to deal with it on their side?
COLLINS: Yes, he said they`ve had meetings with the administration.
MATTHEWS: It would be helpful to those young people, the 800,000 here?
COLLINS: He said that there will be something for those 800,000 people.
MATTHEWS: Maybe. We`ll see.
JOHNSON: What you may not know is a month ago, the Missouri state
legislature was going to kick out Maria Chappelle Nadal because she is a
state senator who posted on Facebook that she hoped that President Trump
was assassinated. What you may not know is that yesterday they decided, I
guess we can only censure her instead of kick her out. Why? Because they
found that another Republican in their own party had actually posted anyone
that complains about Confederate monuments should be hung, and they didn`t
want to apply the same standard to their own party.
MATTHEWS: The proper term, by the way, is hanged.
MATTHEWS: We got to get that right.
Thank you, Zeke.
MILLER: Yes, at the White House they believe the last two weeks have been
among the best of the Trump presidency, between the response to the
hurricane which has been shown competence and also DACA.
MATTHEWS: I agree. I don`t like him, but I bet he`s over 40 percent, I
made that bet last night.
Anyway, Eliza Collins, Jason Johnson, no money, just a gentleman`s bet,
More to come tonight. I`m not sure I`ll stay but I think he will creep up
to 40 percent this week.
Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The Caribbean, of course, took a devastating hit from Irma, known for their
sprawling beach resorts and islands. They`re now recognizable with
destroyed – look at this – destroyed buildings, scattered debris, damaged
boats, residents still without power or cell reception. This is a real hit
For the latest on what`s happening on the ground, let`s go to Stephanie
Ruhle in St. John on the U.S. Virgin Islands.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We are here in Cruz Bay in St.
John. For anyone thinking that Irma is over, the aftermath continues.
Here in the U.S. Virgin Islands, every person, whether they lost their
house or lost their job, they have been affected by this storm.
Tonight, as the rain continues, we`re even trying to stay, the road is
washed out. There is no vegetation left. So, it is so dangerous there
could really be landslides.
Already, FEMA has come. They have delivered 400,000 meals, 270,000 liters
of water. But that is only the beginning.
The hospitality industry many say, it accounts for 60 percent of the GDP
for islands like this, but it is not 60 percent. It is closer to 80
percent. And the real question is going to be: how long is it going to
take to really get infrastructure back?
Earlier, we went up and saw the health clinic. They have so few supplies
at this point. Remember, this isn`t the continental U.S. It is going to
take such a long time to really restore things.
We`ve spoken to people today who have lost their homes, who now are simply
trying to get tarps ahead. It`s going to be another night with rain above
and people are simply trying to stay safe.
Luckily, there is more military presence. There`s a curfew put in place,
so you don`t see people walking around the streets. There was some looting
earlier this week. But it`s really people trying to look for food and
And at this point, countries like this, islands like this, we need to
remember that it`s the U.S. Virgin Islands. And they certainly need aid.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Stephanie Ruhle.
By the way, I did sit on that dock in Cruz Bay once. What a place.
When we return, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch.”
MATTHEWS: “Trump Watch”, Thursday, September 14th, 2017.
The great liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. said politics is a
learning procession. You learn as you go along. Well, yesterday, the
Democrats joined in correcting a mistake they made in the wake of
Charlottesville. In the wake of that neo-Nazi protests, they allowed the
issue to shift from the president`s moral equivalency about Nazism and
anti-Nazism to the question of statutes of Confederate leaders. The
Democrats shifted the question which 90 plus percent of the people
disagreed with President Trump to an issue that remains a hot debate
somewhere between the 40 yard lines.
This is not the first time I recall that the Democrats decided to pick the
wrong line on which to fight. I remember when President Reagan was caught
selling missiles to the ayatollahs in Iran, and they allowed the issue to
shift to the administration using the profits from that sale to arm the
Contras in Nicaragua. Why did the Democrats let Reagan shift from an issue
of national betrayal to a question of whether or not we should arm an anti-
communist faction in Central America? It was another case of choosing an
ideological position on which to fight over a winning issue on which to
Well, yesterday, the Democrats got it right by joining in the joint
resolution which President Trump will be forced to sign that puts the fight
back where it belongs, in condemning neo-Nazis and KKK`ers and other
American hate groups. It`s not only the moral position to take, it`s one
that will clearly remind the country that it was the Democrats who had it
right after Charlottesville and the Republican president who had it wrong.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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