GOP senator “Do not recall” Trump’s remarks Transcript 1/12/18 Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: January 12, 2018
Guest: Patrick Gaspard, Ginger Gibson, Karine Jean-Pierre
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: In a hole. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good
evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. One day after yesterday`s now
infamous oval office meeting, President Trump`s expletive of choice used to
describe an entire continent is today reverberating around the world.
As “the Washington Post” was the first to report, the President said in an
oval office on immigration yesterday, why are we having all these people
from s-hole countries come here? And speaking of immigrants from Haiti,
Trump reportedly said, why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.
Despite facing widespread international outrage, the President is now un-
repent trying for now at least to weather the storm with that owning up to
his words. This morning, he issued the denial on twitter saying the
language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough but this not the language
One is remark about immigrants from Haiti. President disputed part if not
all or but not all of what he reportedly said. Quote “never said anything
derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is obviously a very poor and
troubled country. Never said take them out. Made up by Democrats. I have
a wonderful relationship with Haitians, probably should record future
meetings. Unfortunately, no trust.
Well, among the lawmakers in yesterday`s meeting, Democratic senator Dick
Durbin of Illinois was the first to dispute the President saying he did use
that language, not once but repeatedly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: He said, Haitians, do we need more
Haitians? And then he went on and he started to describe the immigration
from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That`s
what he used these vile and vulgar comments calling the nations they come
from shitholes, the exact word used by the President not just once but
repeatedly. I think back to Presidents throughout history and I cannot
imagine a moment where a President sunk to that depth. That`s what breaks
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Think he is a good man.
Anyway, responding Durbin`s account of the meeting, Republicans senators
Tom Cotton and David Perdue said in a joint statement quote “we do not
recall the President saying these comments specifically.” I love the “we
do not recall.” How does the two different brains work exact the same way?
Anyway. However, South Carolina`s post current reports that Senator
Lindsey Grandma confirmed Durbin`s account to colleagues. Senator Tim
Scott quote graham, Scott said, told him the reported were basically
Well, Graham who reportedly stood up to the President in the meeting
yesterday said all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I
It was against this backdrop today that we witness a study in contrast at
the White House where the President this morning delivered remarks honoring
civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King. When given the opportunity to
clarify or apologize for making his racially charge comments the other day,
Trump remained silent. Let`s watch his silence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, will you give an apology for the
statement yesterday? President, are you a racist? Mr. President, will you
respond to the serious questions about this statement, sir? We are talking
to the President. Mr. President, are you a racist?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was April Ryan, our friend, making that request.
Today, to answer that charge, joining me right now is Joy Reid, host of
MSNBC`s “AM Joy” which is on every weekend. Everybody watches it.
Jennifer Rubin is a conservative columnist, you know, we should just say
columnist. We never say liberal columnist. And the conservative columnist
in “the Washington Post,” and an MSNBC political analyst, but you like
conservative right? \
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And Eli Stokols is White House reporter for the “Wall Street
Journal” and he has no politics. He is just an analyst here.
Let`s start with Joy. Because I love have you on Friday because then
everybody knows you are on the weekend. And you know, the word, I don`t
know why we don`t say it because we say other nasty words. But we are not
going to say this one because it`s sort of our deal here at MSNBC and NBC.
But everybody in America know the word now. It is how he sees countries
where people come from who are black.
JOY ANN REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Where my
parents came from, you know. And it is interesting because I was on text,
email and phone with several Haitian American friends even while I was on
the air who are still texting me and just infuriated. I mean, when you
think about the contributions of the Haitians have made to this country
from fighting in the revolutionary war, to overthrowing the Napoleonic army
and making the Louisiana possible, to really create in the culture of New
Orleans. Haiti has been inextricably bound to American history from the
very beginning of this country. Haitians fought in World War II where
members of the tusky airman.
And then if you go to Africans, well, my God. This country was built by
the back breaking free labor of Africans. The house Trump lives in was
built by African hands. He is sleeping inside of a home that was built by
African hands who got nothing in return. And African-Americans have merely
asked this President for basic respect. He hasn`t given it.
So you, as an immigrant and a child of immigrants myself, I was disgusted
by his comments. But I think, Chris, I`m even more repulsed by people like
Lindsey Graham who don`t have the guts to come out and condemn Trump
publicly. How shameful for those men to sit around that table, listening
to this racist commentary and don`t have the courage to walk out to a
camera and do what Dick Durbin did. Shame on them. Shame on Lindsey
Graham just telling Tim Scott. Come out what you told them. Shame on him.
MATTHEWS: Well, in this history lesson which we are all reminded of
because it is something we should know. I mean, most of us come from
grandparents from other parts of Europe, parts of Europe. The African-
Americans that you meet on the street have all been here before we ever got
here by hundreds of years in most cases. That`s just a fact, you know.
People like Michelle Obama`s family go way back. And also by the way add
to one more stark iconic reality, I think it was the lady of freedom on the
top of the capital building was also put there by slaves.
Anyway. Your thoughts?
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I do agree with Joy.
That the most shameful thing, because unfortunately, we have got used to
and we have accepted and we know this President is a racist. And to quote
his own staff, a dope, is the behavior of the Republicans.
To have Mr. Cotton and to have Mr. Perdue jointly say we have no memory of
this. How sniveling of that? How cowardly they has been? You either
remember something like that or you are just going to cover for him. They
know it`s wrong. They won`t say it and they don`t even have the guts to
keep their mouth shut. They have some kind of weigh in –.
MATTHEWS: Durbin said he used that term a lot.
RUBIN: Yes. How do you forget that?
MATTHEWS: Well, I would hear it.
Anyway. Eli, you have to be the anchor person on this conversation. I
don`t know what you can add at this point.
ELI ESTOKOLS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I don`t
really know if there is left to say. I was in that room today when the
President was reading from a piece of paper the remarks about MLK, and
ignoring the shouted questions at the end. And it was really - I mean, it
is a another surreal moment in this presidency to sit there and to know the
context, to know that this is a comment that he made yesterday, an
incendiary racist comment and to see him there today extolling the virtues
of Martin Luther King. I mean, just staggering. You don`t really know
what to make of this.
MATTHEWS: How would you like to be Ben Carson, instead? Ben Carson,
whatever you think of his politics, I think he is a good guy. But he has
to play this part as an African-American cabinet member.
RUBIN: Actually, he doesn`t. He can leave. And that`s what bothers me as
MATTHEWS: You mean quit.
RUBIN: Yes. Not a single person in the White House staff, not a single
person works for in those senators who doesn`t remember walks out the door
and says no, this is a bridge too far. What is the matter with these
MATTHEWS: Well, one reason is the alarming behavior by Republicans that we
have all noted there that goes beyond any of these moral questions. They
seem to be marching in line like North Korean infantry men. They just do.
You know, let`s get back to that, Joy. Why do Republicans say yes, sir
every time Trump says do this? Every time.
REID: I don`t know. Yes. You know, it is interesting because, you know,
there are different ways to look at it. And I agree with Jennifer. Ben
Carson absolutely does not have to be there. He has a career and a
reputation that was separate and distinct from Donald Trump. Donald Trump
disparaged him during the campaign and now he is as sniveling and supine as
the rest of them. And all of those African-Americans, Trump`s sort of
black friends that were (INAUDIBLE), Darryl Scott answering on his behalf.
Katrina Pierson, all these people. They obviously are just grubbing for
position and looking for something for themselves. None of them have any
credit with the black community except Tin Scott (ph).
MATTHEWS: You don`t know their motive.
REID: They are there. They are decorative.
MATTHEWS: They call them the worst kind of good soldiers.
REID: Yes, exactly. But I mean, but when it comes to people, as I am
compounded by the senators, people in a co-equal branch of government,
people with their own separate dignity and constituencies who represent
states. Why do they feel they have to bow down to this President? I truly
don`t understand it.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Democratic party not that these are two options, the
only options at the table are not like that. They don`t behave.
Anyway, as I mentioned, some of - in that way. Anyway, as I mentioned,
some of Trump`s allies found ways to defend the President`s remarks.
Congressman Jim Renacci who is running for the senate in Ohio said the
President shouldn`t be judge for what he says because many often share his
beliefs. Let`s go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He lamented about the immigration program, those in
front of him, and say why would take so many people from these s-hole
countries. What`s your reaction to that?
REP. JIM RENACCI (R), OHIO: Well, look. I said all along, the President
many times said says what people are thinking. I learned as a business guy
you have to be careful what you say because people pick everything up. I
always say judge the President after four years. Let`s judge the President
after what he ever done. Let`s not judge the president on what he says.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that in Ohio, Eli? Is that going to sell
with Republican suburbanites?
ESTOKOLS: No, with suburbanites. No. I mean, this is the same
(INAUDIBLE) we have seen from Republicans basically since the inception of
the Trump presidency. And it is - I mean, none of this is really new. I
mean, the language was shocking yesterday but none of this is surprising.
This is who Donald Trump has been. And who has shown himself to be over
decades in this country. And he was elected largely by a movement that was
fuelled by his unsubtle brand –
MATTHEWS: He seems to accept Norwegians are OK.
RUBIN: Yes. And white southern evangelicals who are continuing to applaud
him. And by that way, talk about shameful. These are people who are
religious leaders saying that it is appropriate language? I mean, it is
ESTOKOLS: But the Norwegian thing is important because that takes away any
fig leaf the White House could have use to say, he didn`t mean - it wasn`t
to be racist. When you are basically saying we don`t want people from
those countries, where black and brown people are, but we all take it from
this Norway country that is full of white people. It is explicit. It is
clear what Trump is saying. And the White House really didn`t push back
very hard on this.
MATTHEWS: It reminds me of the “Saturday Night Live” skit about this.
Secretary of state Florida wanted to be a side to healthy country. Anyway,
that is ridiculous.
Anyway, this is real, though. Meanwhile, House speaker Paul Ryan called
the President`s remarks unfortunate. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Yes, I read those comments later last
night. So first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate,
unhelpful. And whether you are coming from Haiti, we have got great
friends from Africa in Jamesville who are doctors, who are just incredible
citizens. And I just think it`s important that we celebrate that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator John McCain issued a stronger rebuke in his statement
today. Quote “respect for the God given dignity of every human being no
matter their race, ethnicity or other circumstances of their birth is the
essence of American patriotism. Our immigration policy should reflect that
truth and our elected officials, including our President, should respect
RUBIN: You know, how pathetic this Paul Ryan? How far he has fallen? He
says it`s unfortunate. You know, it`s unfortunate when I get a hang mail.
It is unfortunate when I get run in my stockings. This is not unfortunate.
This is outrageous. And look at this is a man who has fairly more
respected who by the way has been pro-immigration his whole life. Now,
trying to play it down.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, what I think he says.
Let me go to Joy on this. I think everything Paul Ryan hears or thinks
about has to do with his agenda. It`s not very personal. It`s all about
this sort of iron run objectivist goals he has. Less taxes, less
government, you know, less entitlement programs, you know. That`s his goal
in life. And anything that advances it is fortunate. Anything that
doesn`t advance is unfortunate. He doesn`t care about these moral
questions of these issues of what – how we should talk as Americans.
REID: I agree with you. There has never been a more single minded
politician than Paul Ryan. He cares only about eviscerating the social
safety net, repealing the 20th century, all of the new deal, the great
society wants all that gone. And it is true. He is pathetic. I think
it`s one of the darkest sort of chapters in the Trump era is Paul Ryan
But I do have to day this. With that other person that you played on FOX
News said is true in a sense because Donald Trump was elected – if you go
back and you look at the data on the election of Donald Trump racial
grievance was really a driver of getting him across the finish line. He
played to people who have what they want to call economic anxiety but he
supplied them a cause for their pain. He said if you are losing your jobs
in Jamesville or in the plants in Pittsburg, it`s not because your employer
is greedy and wants to export your labor to overseas workers, it`s because
of brown people. It is really – you should go ahead feel good about
blaming Mexicans for your wows. That is actually a big comfortable space.
And anybody, any Republican looking to get elected or reelected in 2018
understands that racial grievance is a big part of the driving Republican
sort of force behind Republican voters, at least that voted for Trump. And
they know that they are afraid – anger to those people.
MATTHEWS: It`s like the LBJ quote, I read today, that said if you want to
get the white working class just tell them we are so white people that they
are better than the best of the black people. And they are going to feel
better about there a lot. And also feel better about voting for rich
people as they basically take their money.
Anyway, the President has a history of making these kinds of charges and
his remarks. I have been saying this for about ever since we heard of
Trump for President candidate. Let`s take a look.
TRUMP: Trump comes along and says, birth certificate. He gave a birth
certificate. Whether or not that was a real certificate, because a lot of
people question it, I certainly question it.
They are bringing drugs, they are bringing crimes, they are rapist.
He is Mexican. We are building a wall between here and Mexico.
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims
entering the United States.
His wife, if you look at his wife she was standing there, she had nothing
to say, she probably, maybe she wasn`t allowed to have anything to say.
We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago.
They call her Pocahontas.
Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?
I don`t know anything about David Duke, OK. I don`t know what you are even
talking about with white supremacists or white supremacy. You wouldn`t
want me to condemn a group I know nothing about.
But you also have people that were very fine people on both sides.
Anyway, this latest wasn`t the first time the President showed such callous
disdain to the country of Haiti. The “New York Times” reported in
December, they are doing Jun oval office meeting, he said Haitian
immigrants quote “all have AIDS.” That is according to one person who
tended to be. However, the White House denied it.
Anyway, here we go again. I want to go back to Joy this weekend. I think
the story has legs. I would expect you will be getting to it tomorrow with
REID: Yes, absolutely. And I think the big question on the table now is
really in a sense for Democrats. Because how do they continue to sit
across the table from this man? The question was asked when hoe hired
Steve Bannon, given the white nationalist leanings of Breitbart and his own
personal reviews, why Democrats would sit across the table from him them or
after Charlottesville after of (INAUDIBLE) of other incident.
So the question is whether or not there can be good faith negotiations with
such a person. With Stephen Miller still will bring in his ear and still,
you know, with the attorney general`s views still whispered in his ear.
And I think Democrats need to make a decision, make a gut check here,
whether or not it is worth sitting around that table with this kind of man
given that he –
MATTHEWS: I`m betting Republicans to be Republicans, Joy.
REID: Yes, they know. The Republicans will fall in line like you said,
there are the North Korean army marching behind their leader (ph).
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) those pictures in that uniformity and
representation. I think of what Republican caucus of the senate.
Anyway, thank you Joy Reid. Thank you Jennifer Rubin, columnist. We got
to be equal around here. Eli Estokols, great objectives journalism.
Coming up, what is the rest of the world hearing in Trump`s vulgar language
about countries he doesn`t like? Well, we are going to get a lot of
reactions around the world because it is coming. What we are hearing in
Africa (INAUDIBLE). We are going to talk Patrick Gaspard, the former U.S.
ambassador to South Africa who is of Haitian ancestry and was born in
Congo. He has got all three bases covered to talk about this issue.
Plus the other obsession Trump can`t quit, blaming President Obama. Is it
because he is black? He blames him for everything. This time Trump said
Obama was the reason Trump isn`t going to London now. Figure that out.
But once again Trump didn`t have the facts straight.
And if this is the week Trump aimed to dispel all the charges from Michael
Wolff`s book about his fitness for office, didn`t it backfire
spectacularly? We are going to get to that with the “hardball” round table
Finally, let me finish that with Trump watch. I think it is a good one.
And this is “Hardball” where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump is keeping the Iran nuclear deal alive at
least for now. Today, the President said he would once again waive
sanctions against the Iranian regime in order to give his administration
and its European allies a chance to overall the 2015 nuclear deal.
In a statement Trump said, this is a last chance in the absence of such an
agreement. The United States will not again waive sanction in order to
stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an
agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the president`s vulgar comments made headlines across the globe, from
newspapers in El Salvador and Haiti to this Kenyan cartoon. Well, the
world did not take the president`s comments lightly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSIE DUARTE, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS: Ours
is not a shithole country. Neither is Haiti or any other country in
PAUL ALTIDOR, HAITIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Haitian Americans
fought along side by side with U.S. soldiers for the independence of this
country. We have been a good neighbor. We have been a good friend. We
have been a good partner of the United States over the years.
RUPERT COLVILLE, SPOKESMAN, UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN
RIGHTS: These are shocking and shameful comments from the president of the
United States. I`m sorry, but there`s no other word one can use but
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, today, the government of Botswana over in Africa said in a
statement that it had summoned the U.S. ambassador to Botswana to express
its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the president of the U.S.
The Botswana government has also inquired from the U.S. government through
the ambassador to clarify if Botswana is regard as an S-hole, that phrase,
A spokeswoman for the African Union said in the statement: “Considering the
historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the U.S. during the
Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted behavior and
I`m joined right now by Patrick Gaspard, the former U.S. ambassador to
South Africa and the president of the Open Society Foundation.
Ambassador, thank you for joining us.
And because of your background, I have to have – I wanted so much to have
you on. And I have known you a little bit.
Tell us about your background and what that – how that sort of educates
you to the damage this does.
PATRICK GASPARD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: Well, Chris,
thank you for having me on.
You had me on eight years ago this week after the devastating earthquake in
Haiti. And at that time we saw an outpouring of the heart and passion of
just who Americans really are.
And this moment, I think, does not reflect that. But it is about
astounding. Chris, as you know, I am Haitian American. My parents are
from Haiti. And I was actually born in the Congo. And I had a long career
of service to and partnership with people in the continent in the diaspora.
So this is personal. It strikes right at home. And when one considers
that, on this day, 200,000 Haitians lost their lives and were fortunate and
blessed to have the partnership of the United States, where they could
come, seek opportunity and restore themselves to mark that anniversary, and
then Dr. King`s holiday, with these reprehensible remarks from Donald Trump
is beyond the pale.
Not surprising from him, but I`m astounded to see the lack of fierce
rebuttal from national Republicans like Paul Ryan.
MATTHEWS: I was lucky to be out of the country for a couple weeks, the
last several weeks in South America.
And I have to tell you, it`s very interesting with people how – and you
have been our ambassador to South Africa and you have traveled the world.
And do you get a sense that when people hear Trump talk along this vulgar
line that they hear our country?
How do they disaggregate, if you will, separate Trump from the country he`s
been elected to be president of? I just worry about they think he`s our
GASPARD: Chris, all Americans should be as concerned about that as you
You were a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland. You understand the kind of
deep reservoir of goodwill that we built through those kinds of
partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Caribbean, in Asia, and
I have friends who are in the diplomatic corps, career Foreign Service
officers who have given the best of themselves to represent America
overseas, and they are absolutely disoriented in this moment. They`re
constantly being asked to explain one outrage after another from the
occupant of the Oval Office.
They struggle to do so, as we saw with the resignation today of our
ambassador to Panama. Of course, they lean on our founding documents.
They lean on a history of openness and inclusion. They lean on the history
of Irish Americans, like you, Chris, who when they first came to the United
States were subject to ugly vitriol, but who organized themselves, voted
and became full participants at the table of democracy and have made
So, they lean on that history and they help those overseas understand that
our better angels will continue to govern immigration policy, trade policy
and security partnership.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s become a tougher argument for all of us.
Anyway, in his comments, President Trump appeared to assume that African
immigrants won`t help the United States economically. But, according to
the Migration Policy Institute, sub-Saharan African immigrants were more
highly educated than the U.S.-born population, us, in other words.
They note that, in 2015, 39 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants to
this country had a bachelor`s degree or higher, a graduate degree, compared
to just 29 percent of the total foreign-born population.
People who come from Africa are more educated than people coming from
Europe and other parts of the world at 31 percent. Anyway, Nigerians and
South Africans especially are well-educated, the most highly educated, with
57 percent of people coming from those two countries having at least a
Let`s talk up Africa for a minute, Ambassador. Let`s stop this.
The ANC in South Africa, which has had a couple bad leaders, it looks like
they have a great one now, Cyril Ramaphosa. I have been rooting for that
guy ever since black rule, basically, majority rule.
Tell me. Give us some good news about South Africa, if you can.
GASPARD: Well, I will give you good news about the region. It has some of
the fastest growing economies in the world.
We know that there are young people there who are more innovative than
anyone else on the planet. In South Africa alone, Chris, there are over
600 U.S. companies that are building industry that are responsible for over
10 percent of the economy in the region.
And they tell me – this is IBM. This is Google. This is the Ford Motor
Company. They tell me that their employees in South Africa are the
exemplar of the kind of employees that they need all around the world.
And that`s true all throughout the region. A few years ago, Chris, you had
me on your show with a young woman who was part of President Obama`s Young
African Leaders Initiative. And I remember how blown away you were by how
dynamic she was, by how ambitious she was, and how clear she was that she
was not coming to the United States to learn and seeking a handout, but she
was coming here as a partner and coming back and bringing those skills to
her community in South Africa as a way of transforming her country and
helping to lead to a more broadly shared economy.
These are rich, deep partnerships. These are vital cultures. And these are
people who, when they come to the United States, make a contribution that`s
over and above what we could possibly hope to obtain.
So, leaders in the U.S. right now, Republicans who are hearing these
comments and not speaking from a place of outrage, need to understand that
our economic progress in the future, our security in the future are
dependent on these relationships and the incredible people in South Africa,
in Kenya, in Nigeria, in Mozambique, and, of course, in my heart of hearts,
MATTHEWS: For everybody listening, everyone listening right now, I want
you to say that that`s my voice of America. You just heard Ambassador
Patrick Gaspard. He speaks for our country, the country we love.
And thank you very much, Ambassador, for coming on.
GASPARD: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump cancels his upcoming visit to London,
and he blames President Obama. You figure. Once again, Trump has got his
facts all screwed up and, once again, he`s shown a reflexive need to make
everything about Barack Obama.
What is this obsession with blaming Obama? If he`s not blaming him, he`s
blaming Hillary Clinton.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
When the going gets tough for Donald Trump, he lashes out against his
favorite target, Barack Obama. And amid the fierce fallout over his vulgar
comments of this week, the president sought to divert his followers`
attention by criticizing Barack Obama.
And late last night, after British newspapers reported that fears of mass
protests had scuttled the president`s visit to the United Kingdom, Trump
tweeted: “Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of
the Obama administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest
embassy in London for peanuts, only to build a new one in an off location
for $1.2 billion. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon. NO!”
According to the State Department and the U.S. Embassy itself, it was
George W. Bush`s administration, not Barack Obama`s, that decided to
relocate and build the new U.S. Embassy in London.
It`s yet another incident of President Trump attacking his predecessor.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the last eight years, the
past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all of the other
And we have gotten rid of a lot of really bad pieces that were signed by
President Obama, believe me.
They voted because they believed the lies of President Obama.
I don`t draw red lines. President Obama drew a red line, and I was the one
that made it look a little bit better than it was, but that could have been
done a lot sooner.
They ask me, what about race relations in the United States? Now, I have
to say they were pretty bad under Barack Obama. That, I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Ashley Parker, White House correspondent
for “The Washington Post” and an MSNBC contributor, and David Cornell,
Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones.
Ashley, for the reporting, can you give us a sense, from people just
hearing about this now, Trump saying, well, I decided not to go to London
not because of the bad press, not because they don`t want me, not because
there`s going to be a certain percentage of the entire British population
out to protest me, but because I don`t like the relocation of the U.S.
Embassy, how`s that square with the chronology?
ASHLEY PARKER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, it squares with a pattern that
President Trump has demonstrated previously, which is, he does not like to
be publicly humiliated or insulted or wounded.
And so he will often sort of preempt something bad or embarrassing by
making an announcement like this on Twitter. As you know, of course, it
was not President Obama who actually moved the location of the embassy. It
was President George W. Bush who made that decision in 2008. And it was
moved for security reasons. So, he`s incorrect to attribute that to
But it does seem like him sort of preempting what could have been a quite
uncomfortable visit for him to London.
You know, David, it seems to me – you and I have been watching this –
that the Europeans don`t like this guy. Most of the world doesn`t like
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Wherever you go, they – I have only been – I was, as I said,
in South America recently, the last couple weeks.
They don`t like him because they think he has a race problem. They think
he does look down on people of color, and most of the world that I have
been around is people of color. And the fact, they don`t like it. And
British people don`t like him because of his manner, I think, and his
CORN: Well, he`s vulgar – well, vulgar. But also most Americans aren`t
liking him as well these days.
So, he`s in a minority position around the world.
MATTHEWS: What about his excuse?
CORN: Well, he doesn`t have an excuse.
This is a guy who has a long history of racial controversies, if you want
to be polite about it. And you and I spent many years – and you were very
confrontational on a good way on this – when he was a birther, and which
was – I don`t think there`s any way to the see it without having some
racial aspect to it.
Here was the first African-American president, and he kept claiming, when
there was absolutely no evidence, that he was a pretender to the throne, he
didn`t belong there, he didn`t deserve to be there.
And yet Mitt Romney accepted his endorsement. CPAC had him show up, though
he was pushing a nutty conspiracy theory. So I think he`s been enabled by
Republicans. And the election only taught him that he can get away with
saying the worst things.
And even Paul Ryan during the campaign when he was talking about Mexicans
being rapists and when he went after an American judge for a Mexican
heritage, Ryan said, these are racial issues.
And yet he succeeds, and he`s only learned up to now, up to this week, that
he can get away with it.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me it`s an old excuse, as a tackling dummy for him,
Let me ask you about the embassy. Of course, the American Embassy, those
of us who have been lucky to see it in Grosvenor Square, is in a beautiful
part of London. It`s a wonderful leafy neighborhood. You want to wander
around there. Who wouldn`t want to wander around that neighborhood?
But in cases kill there or in Nairobi, because of security concerns, they
have moved the embassy out into somewhere outside the city, where they can
put the bunkers up and put all the cement up. You know what is going on?
But isn`t that exactly what Trump demanded in the aftermath of Benghazi,
that we should be tougher in putting up our defenses around embassies and
diplomatic facilities? Isn`t this what he wanted?
PARKER: It was not a decision – again, I think part of the problem is,
this was a decision that President Trump made about the embassy.
It was, again, a George W. Bush decision. But the president has a lot of
frustration about inheriting problems from his predecessors. That`s
something he`s voice repeatedly. He`s complained about it on North Korea.
And so while it fits in line with him wanting to secure Americans abroad,
again, it wasn`t his decision. And, frankly, it seems like a little bit of
a flimsy excuse to just get out of a visit to London that was not going to
be particularly enjoyable for him.
CORN: And it`s not even a problem. You can – moving the embassy was
judged by security experts that it was necessary.
And the embassy is being built. It`s not plagued with issues. So he`s
creating a problem that doesn`t exist, so he can blame Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: It is for the peanut gallery. It`s for his most far-right
people who will buy anything he gives him, so, tonight, Friday night, when
they`re sitting around talking about Trump, they will take his side and
say, well, you know they had a problem with the embassy.
No, we didn`t. Trump`s problem is with Trump.
Thank you, Ashley Parker of “The Washington Post” and David Corn of Mother
Up next: This was the week President Trump was supposed to push back on
charges he was not fit for the office of president. Well, clearly, that
plan went out the window a couple days ago.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday, we had a
bipartisan meeting with House members and senators on immigration reform.
It was a tremendous meeting. Actually, it was reported as incredibly good
and my performance – you know, some of it called it a performance. I
consider it work. But it got great reviews.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Wow, welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump basking in the blow of his immigration meeting
this past Tuesday. For a short time, it seemed to dispel some charges from
Michael Wolff`s “Fire and Fury” book about his very fitness for office.
But it didn`t last long, did it? Trump started the week with that show of
deal-making on immigration only to reverse course the next day. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital because
this should be a bipartisan bill. It should be a bill of love. Truly, it
should be a bill of love, and we can do that. But it also has to be a bill
where we`re able to secure our border.
We don`t need a 2,000 mile wall. We don`t need a wall where you have
rivers and mountains and everything else protecting.
REPORTER: Would you be willing to sign an immigration deal that ultimately
does not include funding for the wall or would that be a red line for you?
TRUMP: No, no.
TRUMP: It`s got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We
need the wall for safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, on Thursday the president complicated matters by ranting
to senators about immigrants from s-hole countries being allowed to enter
the United States. He also tweeted criticism of a surveillance
reauthorization bill his own administration was lobbying Congress to
approve, then reversed course two hours later.
In a lengthy interview with “The Wall Street Journal”, Trump said, I
probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
But when asked about his combative tweets, Trump told “The Journal”, you
see that a lot with me. And then somebody is my best friend. I`m a very
What a week.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Ginger Gibson, political
correspondent for “Reuters”, Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser for
MoveOn.org, and Beth Fouhy, of course, our own senior politics editor at
MSNBC and NBC.
Beth, I want to start with you. He seemed like he was on a – sort of
parole this week, prove he`s not as nutty as Michael Wolff portrayed him as
being. He stuck to that for a day and then off the rails.
BETH FOUHY, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, MSNBC & NBC NEWS: Yes, but see – and
I think if you`re referring to the bipartisan meeting he did in the Oval
Office where he invited cameras in, yes, he was trying to show that he
could function, that he could run a good meeting, that he could seek input,
he could sound plausible and defensible as a president.
I actually found the whole conversation a little bit off, because Michael
Wolff`s thesis is not the president is mentally unstable. It`s his staff
does not believe he`s up to the job. And that very much was borne out in
that meeting. He didn`t know anything about the substance of what he was
discussing on DACA. He simply was saying he wants a deal, any deal, he was
ready to take Dianne Feinstein`s offer of a clean DACA, if necessary, just
to get a deal, and it took Republicans to step in and say, no, no, no,
that`s not what you want, Mr. President.
He also sort of dealt with this as a TV producer. And this is content.
And as the cameras were leaving, he said, I hope I gave you guys enough
material. So, it`s as though he was producing a show about a presidency
rather than actually executing the job.
MATTHEWS: That`s how he fixes a problem. He also referred to it, Karine,
as a studio. He called the cabinet room his studio.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: Yes, the presidency is a
reality TV show for him. I mean, that`s the way he`s kind of taking this
all on. He did that as a candidate. He`s doing it as president.
The other thing, too, I totally agree with Beth`s analysis. That other
part that I would add to it is that every time they say, that`s not me,
they say that Donald Trump is going to turn a corner, right? He`s going to
– he really is going to be presidential.
Days later, we see the real Donald Trump. He can`t help himself because he
is truly who he is. Which is there is no mystery to him.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think if he think – do you think he`s politically
JEAN-PIERRE: No, I don`t –
MATTHEWS: Why would he say in front of Durbin and a bunch of Democrats, a
lot of them progressives like Durbin, I guess, why would he use that term
s-hole – I can`t say it on television. But he said it, he gave them what
they wanted, which is something they had used against him to be political
about, right, Ginger?
GINGER GIBSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: I think –
MATTHEWS: They`re going to – by the way, how is he going to get a
Democrat to cut a deal with him on immigration if he made those comments
about the people that are involved.
GIBSON: That`s actually the hardest part. We`re in an even numbered year
which means these people have to stand up to voters this year, and the
Democrats are going to say, the last person they want to be seen making
deal with, even on something that they want, is going to be Donald Trump.
I think when we see him say things like this in a private setting, there is
a bit of a thought that he`s the president, that he can do these things,
that he can muck it out behind closed doors because he`s in charge. It`s a
little bit of a fairytale version of a presidency that Donald Trump had
coming to it, that we still see coming back that he thinks that it`s OK.
MATTHEWS: You got have to cover the straight news for us. But tell me,
where does he stand on DACA? Do we even know?
FOUHY: He wants a deal.
MATTHEWS: Any deal.
FOUHY: Any deal. He said, just send me something I can sign. You guys
work out the details.
He did tweet quite a bit this morning that he will not accept a DACA that
doesn`t address chain migration, the family migration. Also, he wants a
MATTHEWS: He wants a wall.
FOUHY: But other than that, he`s pretty flexible.
MATTHEWS: I notice “The Washington Post” is starting to give him the wall.
Very interesting in their lead the other day.
Anyway, last night – we have to lighten this up a little bit. Last night,
I asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe how he would respond to physical
provocations by President Trump should he run in 2020? You remember this
memorable moment by the way during the second presidential debate where,
look at this weird movement by Trump. He wants to loom behind Hillary
Clinton and then he notched it up by getting closer to it when she was
trying to answer questions. This is spooky.
OK. So, I asked Terry what he – the governor what he would do if Trump
tried that on him?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What would you do in a debate with him if he tried that? If he
come over and lean over back of you, what would you do?
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: You`d have to pick him up off the
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. You mean you`d deck him?
MCAULIFFE: Listen, this guy got in my space, you want to get in my space.
I`ve always said, Chris, you punch me, I`m going to punch you back twice as
hard. And it wouldn`t be hard to do it.
But, you know, this guy thinks he can intimidate everybody. It`s
disgraceful. It`s embarrassing. But I`ll tell you, when we take him on
back in his face with the facts, don`t take anything from him and hit him
back as hard as you possibly can. But if he ever leaned in my space, that
would be the last time Donald Trump ever did that. I promise you that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What did you make of that, Beth?
FOUHY: I thought he was a little disrespectful to his good friend Hillary
Clinton, suggesting she should have punched Trump in the middle of a
televised debate. I don`t think that would have been a great idea.
But, look, Democrats want somebody who is going to take the fight to Trump.
That`s what terry was doing. So the extent that he`s talking about like
getting up in his face, whether it`s physically or literally or
metaphorically, that`s what Democrats want.
MATTHEWS: What do you think, Ginger, everybody is trying their stuff out,
GIBSON: Democrats are going to be in the process of testing their foils,
one against Trump, or it`s the tough guy, the Terry McAuliffe model. We`re
going to see –
MATTHEWS: Or the nice Oprah.
GIBSON: The nice celebrity Oprah version, the other celebrity, the biggest
celebrity. And then we`re going to see the bookish, wonkish foil. We`re
going to see folks like Cory Booker, like Amy Klobuchar –
MATTHEWS: Rhodes scholar Booker, yes, right.
GIBSON: And make the argument that they can be the best foil.
JEAN-PIERRE: Really quickly, I just want to say, I think the focus has to
be 2018. If you want to stop Donald Trump, if Democrats want to stop
Donald Trump, they have to win back Congress. I think 2020 is, we have a
lot of time.
MATTHEWS: You know what? I disagree. I want to see some greatness and I
want to seem some leadership. They`re going to win in `18.
JEAN-PIERRE: I do, but 2018 –
MATTHEWS: I know you`re going to sell – I understand why you`re selling
it with Move On. You`re going to win the House this year anyway.
The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will give me
some headlines to talk about tomorrow and over the weekend.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is the type of week don`t you think that the Sunday
morning political talk shows are designed to cover. And I`ll be part of
the conversation this weekend with an appearance on NBC`s great “Meet the
Press” this Sunday. You won`t want to miss it.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.
Ginger, tell me something I don`t know for the weekend.
GIBSON: For the weekend, my colleagues at “Reuters” have found not one but
two loopholes in the tax code, the brand-new tax code, already that might
need mending. Millions of dollars in taxes that companies like Apple are
going to be able to avoid paying. A problem with the code that could make
selling grain for farmers a real problem, favoring co-ops over big
companies. And that`s probably going to have to be fixed real quick.
So, we`re going to see Congress acting quickly to try to plug some holes in
the tax code already.
JEAN-PIERRE: So, I know we`ve been focusing on all the crazy things that
Donald Trump has said, racist things that he`s said. And we have to chase
these headlines and cover it, which is very important.
But there is one thing we have to keep our eye on the ball is, which is
protecting Bob Mueller and the Russia investigation. We have 700 events
across the country already. We have over 182,000 people who have committed
to take to the streets if Donald Trump decides to go that route and fire
MATTHEWS: So, MoveOn.org does not want to move on from this?
JEAN-PIERRE: We just want to protect democracy.
MATTHEWS: All right. Thank you. Yes, I get it.
FOUHY: So, President Trump had his physical today. There is no legal
requirement for a president to have an annual physical, nor to disclose its
result. It is simply a convention that was adopted in the middle of the
20th century, also releasing taxes. He`s not releasing his taxes. We`ll
see if he releases the results of his physical.
MATTHEWS: I want him to release his grades in school because he keeps
bragging about going to a good school. Tell us your grades. There`s no
audit going on over your grades, brother.
Anyway, thank you, Ginger Gibson, Karine Jean-Pierre and Beth Fouhy.
When we return, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch”. You`re watching
MATTHEWS: “Trump Watch” Friday, January 12th, 2018. When the president of
the United States speaks, the world listens. They take his word and many
don`t want to hear this, as that of his country. You might say it comes
with the job description. More than that, it comes with history, that of
the American presidency.
Woodrow Wilson spoke of making the world safe for democracy. Franklin
Roosevelt of the four freedoms. Ronald Reagan of our country being a city
on a Hill. And now, Donald Trump speaks, speaks for our country, speaks
Do the peoples of the Caribbean and Africa think we Americans see their
countries as no more than holes of human waste? Do they ignore the Peace
Corps volunteer living and working with them? Do they ignore the U.S.
program begun by President George W. Bush to fight HIV/AIDS? Do they
ignore everything good about our country when they hear the U.S. president
say what they just did?
Donald Trump wants to be liked, I get that, but so do most of us, we want
our country be liked, even perhaps especially by people who will never have
the wealth to visit here, or even to come in actual contact with one of us.
It would be great if this president were to make some effort now and the
next few days to try and change the condescending message he has sent to an
I spent two years working in Africa with the Peace Corps, teaching business
to people who could not have treated me better, more warmly. It would be
good if our country, if our president, began to act and speak as nice to
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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