Trump expects Mueller interview TTranscript 1/24/18 Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: January 24, 2018
Guest: Richard Blumenthal, Chuck Jones, Catherine Rampell, John Brabender, Anita Kumar
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s our show. “Hardball” starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: (INAUDIBLE). Let`s play “Hardball.”
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
First he fired the director of the FBI. Then the President asked the guy
replacing him, who did you vote for? Well, that is the reporting from the
“Washington Post” about an incredible oval office meeting shortly after
Andrew McCabe became the FBI`s new acting director.
Quote “Trump according to several current and former U.S. officials asked
McCabe a pointed question. Whom did he vote for in the 2016 election?
McCabe said he didn`t vote at all according to the officials. McCabe who
has spent more than two decades at the bureau found the conversation with
Trump disturbing,” said one former U.S. official.
Well, Trump also reported vented his anger to McCabe to the new acting FBI
director about political donations to McCabe`s wife who ran for the
Virginia state Senate in 2015 as a Democrat. Her campaign received several
hundred thousand dollars in donations from the political action committee
controlled by Clinton ally and then Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.
Well, that campaign happened before McCabe become Comey`s deputy.
Today the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn`t deny Trump
asked that question how McCabe voted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the President make a habit of asking career
government officials their voting habits?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not that I`m aware
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he ask Andrew McCabe how he voted?
SANDERS: Look, the President and Andrew McCabe have had limited and pretty
non-substantive conversations. I can`t get into the details of what was
discussed. I wasn`t there. There are wide spreads reports of his
retirement. We are making sure that we are focused on the FBI and DOJ
serving all Americans fairly and efficiently. And we are going to move
forward from there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Talking about a string of non-sequesters.
Anyway, President Trump`s political questioning if McCabe fits a pattern,
of course. According to James Comey, Trump asked for his loyalty during a
one-on-one meeting with him early in his presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: The dinner was an effort to build a
relationship. In fact, had he asked specifically of loyalty in the context
of asking me to stay. I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing
development because it was very, very awkward. He was asking for something
and I was refusing to give it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, “the New York Times” reported earlier this month that
President Trump instructed the White House counsel to stop attorney general
Jeff Sessions from recusing himself in the Russian investigation. But
Sessions didn`t back down. And according to Times, the President erupted
in anger in front of numerous White House officials saying he needed his
attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump then asked, where is my Roy
Of course, that is a reference to the lawyer and fixer who once served for
Joe McCarthy as his top aide.
For more, I`m joined by Nicolle Wallace, host of “Deadline White House”
here on MSNBC, MSNBC political analyst Eli Stokols and Jonathan Capehart,
opinion writer for the “Washington Post,” who is also an MSNBC contributor.
Thank you very much for sticking it around.
Nicole, it seems there`s a pattern here of this President. He does act
like he`s hiring people if not in the old political school category of the
political machine brought you up, if haven`t come up for the machine, if
you are not one of our toddies, you shouldn`t be here or in the private
sector notion, hey, you are working for me, buddy. Did you vote for me? I
mean, it seems interesting the way he sort of looks at career service here.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST, DEADLINE WHITE HOUSE: It`s stunning. And it`s
what makes Trump`s allies, Trumps friends, people who are still in touch
with the President who are behind his agenda who don`t want to see him get
in any trouble political or legally much more worried about the obstruction
of justice investigation into the President than the collusion
investigation into the President. His friends and allies think that this
was a campaign that couldn`t include with its own press office. I`m sure
you have heard that line on your show from their surrogates. They have
dismissed that for many, many months. But in the last I would say six to
ten weeks, even the President`s closest allies are deeply concerned about
what you just described that his ideas, and you put up that interview, he
did that over the holidays. He went rogue and did an interview with the
“New York Times`” Michael Schmidt where he said I admired the way Holder
protected Obama. I wanted, you know - and he has talked about wanting his
own fixer, wanting his own Roy Cohn.
So when you speak to people inside the Trump orbit, it`s exactly what you
described. It`s that style of wanting fixers, of wanting to be protected,
of wanting people to - of wanting his Ray Donovans around to clean up his
messes that makes people wonder if he did in fact stumble into obstruction
MATTHEWS: You mean the TV Ray Donovan, not the other one.
MATTHEWS: Not the one from the Nixon administration.
Let me ask you what - got you in here. It seems to me that this is up guns
the civil service code of the FBI. I mean, I just watched the Mark Felt
movie a couple of months ago. It`s all about the FBI`s pride of service
and pride of independence. And James Comey and Bob Mueller personified,
both of them together, personified the independence integrity of the FBI.
And there you have a President who knocked off this guy, James Comey,
because he was independent. And then along comes Bob Mueller say, yes, I
will help fight this might because this is a fight I believe in all my
life. The institution and the FBI is on trial here. No President should
come along here, no matter who he is, Republican, Democrat, right wing or
whatever this guy is, has a right to come in and bop off the head of the
FBI because the guy in this case, a guy, is doing his job.
WALLACE: That`s right. And I put three more men in the same category that
you made for Jim Comey and Bob Mueller. Chris Wray is very much of that
code. He knows and is a lot more similar to Bob Mueller and is he to
Donald Trump and anyone around Donald Trump.
You have also got an Andy McCabe, a lifelong career FBI agent, respected by
Presidents of both parties respected all the way through the rank and file.
And you do remember, the FBI just isn`t in Washington and it isn`t just in
the United States. It`s around the world. So the FBI, the world over is
watching how Andy McCabe`s fate is handled under not just this new
president but this director of the FBI. He has to march a very, very, very
careful line between appearing to be not loyal to Donald Trump but on the
Trump team while also keeping the trust and maintaining what you just
described as the independence and integrity of the FBI.
MATTHEWS: And not only has he sort of decapitated the FBI by getting rid
of Comey, but the President is now apparently leading a sort of vigilante
raid against the FBI. Republican allies of the President stepped up their
attacks on the FBI and the justice department claiming bias and corruption
on a large scale.
At issue text messages sent between two FBI employees we never heard of,
some of which criticize President Trump. And one of the employees Peter
Strzok worked on Robert Mueller`s team before being reassigned last July by
Bob Mueller. He got rid of him because he shouldn`t it be being political,
even in email and text messages.
Anyway, this week the FBI acknowledged they were missing some messages
between those two employees from December of 2016 through May of 2017. And
according to Trump`s allies this adds up to a deep seated conspiracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may be time to declare war outright against the deep
state and clear up the rot in the upper levels of the FBI and the justice
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole apple is solid but there are worms that have
eaten their way all through the upper leadership. We need a house
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It illustrate a conspiracy on the part of some people
and we want to know a lot more about that. We will be continuing our joint
judiciary oversight investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This makes Watergate look like you know, stealing a
snickers bar from your local candy store. It`s that big. It`s that
corrupt. It`s that deep. It`s that profound.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not surprised there`s a secret society within the
establishment that was designed to get rid of Trump, to deny Trump the
election. We were never supposed to know any of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Don`t you love that right wing inflection? It`s a certain way
Anyway, last night on FOX News, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he
had an informant, he didn`t say who was, claiming some sort of secret
conspiracy within the FBI working against President Trump. Let`s watch the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: What this is all about is further
evidence of corruption more than bias but corruption at the highest levels
of the FBI. That secret society, we have an informant talking about a
group that were holding secret meetings offsite. There`s so much smoke
here, so much suspicion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. Stop there. A secret society. A secret
meetings offsite of the justice department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have an informant saying that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Good for Bret. And at lease he is asking.
Well today, Johnson wouldn`t say who the informant was what this alleged
group was doing at this offsite meeting or even if the informant was an FBI
employee himself or herself. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, do you really believe there`s a secret society
within the FBI trying to take down the President.
JOHNSON: Listen, all I said is when I read those texts it, that`s Strzok
and Page`s term, that didn`t surprise me. Because I have heard from an
individual that there were FBI agents or, you know, management at the FBI
holding meetings off site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off site to do what exactly?
JOHNSON: I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: These toddies are amazing.
Eli, let me ask you and then Jonathan, it seems like the Republican call to
arms now is going out and kick up some dust, make up anything you can, do
anything to deflect or distract or discredit from Bob Mueller because they
think trouble is coming.
ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right. That is why they are
creating that hysteria that you just saw in the clip about secret societies
and the deep state. This is straight out of the old sort of McCarthy
playbook, you know. He wants to know where his Roy Cohn is, there are all
those people you just showed on television.
MATTHEWS: They call it the fog machine. Reagan lose in the second debate
to Mondale, create fog.
STOKOLS: I mean, but it is remarkable. I mean, when talking about Johnson
says secret society and they say just quoting the text. Well, viewed in
context what we have seen those texts between Strzok and Page, they look to
be joking about holding some sort of secret meeting. There is no actual
evidence at this point that there is some secret society of FBI agents
meeting in the wings.
You look at the composite picture of these text messages, they show two
people who had a lot of opinions about a lot of things. They were just as
disparaging to Hillary Clinton as they were to Donald Trump. They talked
about joining the Mueller investigation. Strzok was quoted as saying
something to the effect I don`t even think there`s a there there. So these
are not people out there with some vendetta and ax to grind against Donald
Trump. And yet, that is the portrayal that you get from the people who are
trying to protect.
MATTHEWS: OK. Can I just read (INAUDIBLE)? You don`t call something
secret a secret society. You don`t talk about a secret society. You don`t
reference a secret. If it`s secret, you don`t talk about it. The idea
that this senator who is obviously intelligent enough to be a senator.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: You question me, OK. Fair enough. Why would he say it is a
CAPEHART: And I say it like that, Chris, because Senator Johnson should
know better. If indeed there is a secret society, then he as a member of
the Senate should make that charge in a hearing. Bringing that mole or
whatever he called that person in. Put a black screen in front of them.
And disguise their voice. But have them come and speak before is the
American people in a Senate hearing and talk about the secret society.
What he is doing is undermining the legitimacy of the FBI, the justice
department, and just people`s faith in our institutions. You are right.
They are trying to create fog and they are doing something that they think
is going to help them with short-term game. But in the long-term, they are
destroying – they are hurting this country.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with Eli that the best surmise is they are afraid
something really bad is coming?
CAPEHART: Absolutely. I think they believe something bad is coming. They
are trying to muddy the waters to ensure that whatever Bob Mueller comes up
with, that they will be able to say, we can`t trust this because fill in
the blank. But it is my hope that the American people will take a look at
whatever Bob Mueller comes up with, go into it with an open mind, read it,
and come to their own conclusions and hopefully realize that the people who
have been going on television and going on radio and spouting this nonsense
have indeed been spouting nonsense.
STOKOLS: They are telegraphing their own fears in that way.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so.
STOKOLS: I think Trump telegraphed when he said I want your loyalty, his
own nervousness about this. This is damaging to them. They just - you
don`t seem to see that.
MATTHEWS: Nicole, you know communication as well as anybody we could
possibly have on the show. Let`s talk about modern communications. One
way is to make sure you have got a good team together to make together like
he was trying to do. Make sure he wanted the FBI director – he wants the
attorney general to be his Bobby Kennedy, if you will. He wanted a strong
Then he decide, well, we are losing. I don`t have a strong team. We have
got a weak team. So we are going to lose this game so we have got to
create fog out there, you know, like you`re playing a game of checkers and
you are losing so you knock the checkerboard off the table or you lose at a
game of cards. I know that`s an 8-year-old tactic. You are losing a game,
you ruin the game. Is that what they are doing, do you think? If you talk
to Republicans, are they admitting they are putting fog up there?
WALLACE: I think it`s something a lot more sinister. And I think it has–
it really has the potential to break apart the very coalition that elected
Donald Trump. If you remember, that convention speech that Donald Trump
gave in Cleveland, it was so shocking because it had at its center law and
order. That was the theme of his candidacy.
The FBI just as an institution is sort of center right. They are mostly
libertarians. The agents in question, they hated every politician. There
were anti-Bernie messages, anti-Chelsea Clinton messages, anti-Eric Holder
messages, anti-Loretta Lynch messages.
The fact that the Republicans have put the entire Republican Party brand on
the line to smear and assassinate the character of the entire FBI over text
messages between two agents who were having an affair who disparage – one
of them disparaged everyone is political suicide.
MATTHEWS: Let`s hope truth will win out and lying will not.
Thank you so much. It is great to have you on.
Thanks so much, Nicole Wallace, for sticking around. Eli Stokols, as
always. Sir Jonathan, good to have you back. We do miss you, sir.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, a new NBC News report on the Russian investigation.
National security advisor Michael Flynn concealed his interview with the
FBI from President Trump for two days. Why did he do that? This is a top
Democratic senator says all roads to the investigation leads to Donald J.
Trump. All roads in this investigation leads to Trump. That`s pretty
Plus, with Trump heading to Davos this week, to hobnob with the global
elites, we are going to hear from a union leader in this country who says
despite what you hear from the White House, Trump has broken his promise to
working class Americans and the workers he talks to say they feel betrayed.
And Trump versus Schumer. The President looking to score political points
by bullying the Senate Democratic leader and the fate of the DREAMers hangs
in the balance.
Finally, let me finish tonight with two very different versions and visions
This is “Hardball” where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Late today, President Trump said he was looking forward to
talking to Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you talk to Mueller?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m looking forward to it
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set?
TRUMP: There`s been no collusion whatsoever. There`s no obstruction
whatsoever. And I`m looking forward to it. I do worry when I look at all
of the things and you people don`t report it with what`s happening if you
take a look at you know, the five months-worth of missing texts, that`s a
lot of missing texts. And as I said yesterday, that`s primetime. So you
do sort of look at that and say what`s going on. You do look at certain
texts where they talk about insurance policies or insurance where they say
the kinds of things they are saying. You have got to be concerned. But I
would love to do that. I would like to do it as soon as possible. Good
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will you do it, Mr. President? Do you have a
TRUMP: So here is the story. I don`t know, no. I guess they are talking
about two or three weeks. But I would love to do it. You know, again, I
have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “Hardball.”
As we learned from “the Washington Post” just yesterday, special counsel
Robert Mueller is interested in questioning the President about the
circumstances surrounding Michael Flynn`s departure from the White House.
Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller since at least last month when he
pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a private west wing interview that
took place one year ago today.
And now NBC News is reporting that Flynn did not have a lawyer present when
the FBI questioned him and that he concealed that interview, believe it or
not, from the president – quote – “A lawyer for the National Security
Council typically would be informed of such a meeting and be present for
it, one person familiar with the procedure said. But that didn`t happen in
this instance. And Flynn didn`t even include his own personal lawyer, two
people said. He met with the two federal agents alone.”
Furthermore, “Two people familiar with the matter said that Trump was
unaware that Flynn had spoken with the FBI until two days after the
interview took place.”
That means that Trump learned of the interview with the FBI on January 26.
According to former FBI Director James Comey, it was the next day, on the
27 of January, that the president famously asked Comey for a pledge of
I`m joined right now by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of
Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Julia Ainsley
is an investigator reporter with NBC News.
Thank you so much.
You were a former attorney general for all those years in Connecticut. So,
explain to me, Senator, about why would a guy who is head of the National
Security Council walk – allow two FBI agents to pretty formidably approach
his door, come in and sit with him, taking notes, no doubt, all alone?
Was he afraid to tell Trump that he had blown it, that they did in fact bug
him, that they knew about the meeting with the ambassador from Moscow?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: He was either afraid, or he was
totally foolhardy, or he thought that he could conceal, as he lied to the
FBI about those meetings with the Russian ambassador and others.
But we know for sure that a president of the United States learning that
his national security adviser concealed a meeting with the FBI should have
fired him on the spot.
Instead, he kept Flynn in the White House and allowed him to resign only
when “The Washington Post” in fact reported that he had lied.
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re a prosecutor. What does that tell you? The fact
that he was afraid to separate from the guy, the guy knew something on him,
they had something on him, because had he told them to talk to Kislyak and
he knew all about it?
How is that possible? I think that`s what happened.
BLUMENTHAL: I think it tells me that there is a suspicious motive here and
that, in fact, all of these lines lead to the Oval Office, that Donald
Trump eventually is the one who will be held responsible.
There`s a credible case right now of obstruction of justice against Donald
Trump. And I have asked, in fact, that all of the interviews before the
Judiciary Committee be fully disclosed to Robert Mueller.
We wrote a letter today to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator
Grassley, asking him to make those interviews available, because I think
there`s some very material and important evidence that would further shed
light on what the motives were.
MATTHEWS: Let`s follow up on the legs of your prosecution theory. If
Trump told Comey, I want your loyalty, what does that tell you?
BLUMENTHAL: It tells me that Donald Trump is fearing something in the FBI
investigation. And, in fact, his having learned from his counsel, Don
McGahn, about that interview with Flynn led him to want that loyalty from
MATTHEWS: If the president, which we know he did, told Comey, I want you
to go easy, and it was always – it was an order – Go easy on Michael
Flynn, what`s that tell you?
BLUMENTHAL: And that request, by the way, was made the day after Flynn was
permitted to resign.
What it tells me is that Donald Trump has an apprehension. He wants to
either delay or stop or in some way impact that ongoing investigation into
collusion, and with corrupt intent. And that`s the key here, Chris,
because it reflects on corrupt intent. He may well have committed
MATTHEWS: Two other things. He told McCabe he wanted to know what your
voting record was. I want to know whether you`re loyal to me. Did you
vote – he didn`t care if he was a Republican or not. He wanted to know if
he voted for him.
And then he wasn`t satisfied and attacked him for being involved with a
wife who was a Democrat. That was his big sin.
But I just want to – anything else here? Because he went along for those
days. Does this sound like obstruction?
I will get to Julia on this.
The fact that he kept saying publicly, like he was sending rosebuds to Mike
Flynn, I`m with you, Michael, even after he fired him, I`m with you, like
he was trying to keep him under control and to keep his mouth shut. That`s
the way I heard it.
How did you hear it? Is that obstruction?
BLUMENTHAL: Concealment is obstruction done with the intent to stop an
investigation going forward or influence a witness to avoid telling the
MATTHEWS: Yes. Is that what it sounded like to you?
BLUMENTHAL: And it certainly raises that suspicion.
I`m going to be somewhat cautious, because the one who really knows here…
MATTHEWS: But you said there`s enough now to bring a charge of
BLUMENTHAL: There`s a credible case of obstruction of justice against
Now, Robert Mueller is a very experienced professional prosecutor, and he
is not going to bring a charge just on a credible case. He wants proof
beyond a reasonable doubt.
MATTHEWS: As the former attorney general and longtime respected – I`m
warming you up here – attorney general of Connecticut, would you have
brought the charge of obstruction of justice based on what you knew in this
BLUMENTHAL: I think Robert Mueller is the one who has all of the evidence.
I would want to know more and have more evidence than I know right now, but
Robert Mueller may well have it.
MATTHEWS: Julia, you`re the detective here, so tell us what`s missing
here, because what else do we know in terms of a possible obstruction
charge? Because it seemed to be where they`re headed.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
So, Chris, we have talked about on your show how Mueller is looking into
these key 18 days, between the time that Sally Yates talked to Don McGahn
and the time that Flynn was actually fired.
I would even want to look back further to the time that Flynn spoke to
those key advisers at Mar-a-Lago who told him to go ahead and have this
conversation with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. At what point – was it
before the call, was it after the call, was it before he was fired – that
this White House actually distanced themselves from Michael Flynn?
Did he conceal that meeting because he wanted to conceal what was going on,
or did he have an understanding with the president and with the staff that
he was going to keep this line the whole time? A lot of that is unknown.
And it could be that he just got overconfident, thought he had the support
of this whole White House, and thought, I don`t need a lawyer.
It`s something we have also seen from former generals in the past.
MATTHEWS: Well, I love the way you did this, because you pointed out the
two surrogates for Trump who told Flynn to meet with the Russian
ambassador. One of those surrogates for the president was his son, right?
AINSLEY: Yes, if we go back and you look at the plea agreement, when he
laid out everything that had happened, we looked back, and it looks like
K.T. McFarland was one of the people that we later confirmed.
MATTHEWS: And the other was?
AINSLEY: Was his son, exactly.
AINSLEY: And so…
MATTHEWS: Well, if it comes from the son and it comes to K.T., who has
also just been given a big ambassadorship, I wonder whether he couldn`t
assume, hey, the boss is telling me to meet with Kislyak.
AINSLEY: Right. And they`re all in Mar-a-Lago with, guess who, the new
president-elect, Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Thoughts on that?
BLUMENTHAL: Very, very important point, because George Papadopoulos is
also a key person here. He`s the one who had knowledge about the dirt on
Hillary Clinton, or the e-mails that were stolen and hacked and offered to
the Trump campaign.
And he in turn being in touch with Donald Trump Jr., and the transcripts
that we have of our interview on the Judiciary Committee I think are very,
very important to this investigation.
And to answer your underlying question, Robert Mueller knows what Flynn
knows, because Flynn has to be cooperating with Robert Mueller. If he in
any way prevaricates or distorts or holds back, he is in a world of hurt,
because there`s a high bar for his cooperation.
MATTHEWS: Do you think there`s a big chart, both of you, somewhere in the
special counsel`s office, with a big chart showing all these characters,
Papadopoulos and all these characters, and the sons and the daughter and
all, the son-in-law, and all the roles that they played with arrows
Do you think, Julia, there`s such a thing? You guys probably have one.
AINSLEY: Yes, I was just about to say, I feel like, as a reporter, I need
one of those.
I`m going to look like one of those crazy people with the string connecting
all the dots. But it`s a lot to keep track of. And I think it`s hard also
for the American people to keep track of who has done what and who is the
MATTHEWS: I try to work on that.
AINSLEY: Me too.
BLUMENTHAL: In the pre-computer days, when I was the U.S. attorney in
Connecticut and we were doing mob cases, we had those charts, which linked
them – almost an organizational chart. And so…
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, but the guys with the nicknames, the mobsters with the
BLUMENTHAL: And they had a few nicknames.
BLUMENTHAL: So I have no doubt that somewhere on a computer or on the wall
there is a chart.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I used to read “The Philadelphia Inquirer” every Saturday
morning to see the mob killings with these crazy nicknames.
Anyway, thank you, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Julia Ainsley.
Up next: President Trump is headed to Davos to mingle with the global
elite. There he is headed. But back here at home, he`s getting some heat
from the unions, the labor unions. Our next guest says that the president
is a con man who has broken the promises he made to the working people.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, later tonight, President Trump will depart for the World Economic
Forum over in Davos, Switzerland, to hobnob, of course, with the elites of
the global financial world.
He will ostensibly promoting his America-first agenda and the message of
populism that propelled him to the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need a leader that can
bring back our jobs, can bring back our manufacturing. Today is our
Today, the American working class is going to strike back, finally.
I will get a call and he will say, Mr. President, Carrier air conditioner
has decided to stay in the United States. And maybe they will build a new
plant and maybe they will build a new factory and maybe they will do lots
of things. And I don`t care where they build it, as long as it`s in our
Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without
consequences. Not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that last clip was from the presidential transition, when
Trump touted a deal with Carrier Corporation to keep 1,100 jobs in Indiana.
At the time, my next guest was the president of the union representing the
So, has President Trump lived up to his promises to working Americans?
For more, I`m joined by himself, Chuck Jones, former president of the
United Steelworkers Local 1999 out in Indianapolis.
Mr. Jones, tell us the whole story. What`s it been like? What`s happened?
What`s been the effect of the Trump presidency economically?
CHUCK JONES, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL 1999: Well,
people voted for him based on his commitments and his promises to keep jobs
here in this country.
I wasn`t one of them, but a lot of our folks were. And he kept on
campaigning that, if he was president, Carrier wouldn`t be going anywhere.
As of last week, they have laid off over 600 here in Indianapolis, another
700 in Huntington, Indiana.
And then he also said one of our other plants, Rexnord, it wouldn`t be
going anywhere. It`s closed down in its entirety, moved to Mexico.
Donald Trump broke the record in one year for 93,000 jobs being outsourced
or left this country under his watch.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about his image. He is still out there giving
speeches. He`s still getting crowds. He`s still singing the song.
How do you put that in contrast to the reality in terms of industrial
manufacturing jobs in this country, especially in the – what we call the
Rust Belt, that part of the country that you represent, which is all the
way from Philadelphia, all the way across most of the Midwest, where most
of the real jobs have been jeopardized?
JONES: Well, I think, for the most part, it took people, some longer than
others, to feel like Trump`s a liar. He took Bernie Sanders` message and
he ran with it. And people wanted to believe in something that things
would get better in this country.
And they bought his message. And he`s had a year now. And he hadn`t
delivered at all to the working-class people one iota.
MATTHEWS: What do you think is going on with trade? The issue of trade
was his hot issue.
Is there anything changing in U.S. trade policy vis-a-vis our competitors
around the world, India, China, Brazil? Are we competing any better on
steel and things like that with the BRICS countries?
JONES: No. For the most part, we can`t compete with $3-an-hour wages they
pay the Mexican workers. And it`s even cheaper in some other countries.
So we can put out a good-quality product irregardless of what it is. And
the companies can be profitable. But, you know, with the wages as they are
with $3-an-hour wages they pay the Mexican worker, which, by the, way isn`t
our enemy, we haven`t got a chance.
MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead.
JONES: Here in Indianapolis, we have suffered job losses, but it`s
throughout this country. And something`s got to be done in order to call
to a halt. Trump promised. He needs to deliver. He hasn`t done anything.
MATTHEWS: Well, in an interview with “The New York Times” the other day,
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka offered a blistering critique of President
Trump`s first year of office.
Trumka told the newspaper: “Broken promises are bad enough. But President
Trump has also used his office to actively hurt working people.”
Would you agree with that, hurt working people? Would you go that far?
Would you go as far as Trumka?
JONES: Oh, yes.
And Rich Trumka is right on. Everything that Donald Trump`s done since he
took office is hurting the working-class people, from his appointments on
Department of Labor, to some of his regulations that he`s gotten away with.
Nothing has been positive that I`m aware of.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Chuck Jones, a labor guy speaking for the
labor men and women in this country.
Up next: President Trump goes after the man he calls can crying Chuck
Schumer. It seems like he`s more interested in scoring cheap political
points and name-calling than actually working to hammer out a deal for the
Why are you dumping on the guy you`re supposed to be negotiating with? We
have only got a few weeks.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, tonight, the future of nearly 700,000 DACA recipients remains unclear
as President Trump continues to wage his war against fellow New Yorker
Chuck Schumer. It`s a battle of the burgs you might say, pitting too long
time acquaintances against each other.
Last night, President Trump responded to the news Schumer rescinded his
offer to build part of the border wall. The president tweeted: Crying
Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat,
that if there`s no wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and
security together with a strong military for our great people. That`s the
Well, today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced
that the White House will release a framework for an immigration bill on
Monday, so something is happening. It will include securing the border,
that`s the wall, closing legal loopholes ending extended family migration,
canceling the visa lottery and providing a permanent solution on DACA.
For more, I`m joined by HARDBALL roundtable members, Catherine Rampell,
columnist for “The Washington Post”, John Brabender, Republican strategist,
and Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy newspapers.
Thank you all.
What is the strategy confident president to dump personally on Chuck
Schumer after having not talked to him, since they had their long talk on
Friday and then to make fun of him and Crying Chuck, this is a guy who is
his debating partner, his negotiating partner?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it certainly does
not suggest that they`re going to be negotiating in good faith, right? I
mean, the whole reason supposedly while we had yet another C.R., another
stopgap funding measure was so both sides could come back to the table,
work out their differences and decide here`s how we`re going to solve the
problems that Americans care about.
By mocking Schumer on Twitter, by calling him names, by crowing about the
fact that Democrats have conceded and that they`ve failed, that does not
show good faith. That does not show they`re actually going to come to any
sort of agreement. It`s really just about scoring points and winning.
MATTHEWS: Does he want this fight or he wants this solution? I`m talking
about the president. Would he rather have the DACA left in limbo, keep his
hard right happy because he`s done nothing on immigration than making a
deal here? Does he want a deal, Trump?
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: I think he wants a
deal. I think he wants the deal on other things. I think he wants those
things. I think he wants the wall, the chain migration, family migration.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`ll get his right wing to go along with any deal
that allows any person who came in this country illegally to stay here?
KUMAR: Let me tell you –
MATTHEWS: Will he let anybody do that?
KUMAR: So, reported this week that he`s actually looking at 1.2 Dreamers,
not just 700,000. So, those are people eligible for DACA but didn`t apply.
I called people to get reaction. And all these people that you would think
were opposed were actually OK with it. They want to see what he gets in
MATTHEWS: Do you that will be a deal, John? Do you think Trump believes
there is a deal out there? Because he stayed quiet, he went hibernated the
whole weekend at the White House, didn`t get involved in this.
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think the
whole environment has changed. I got to be honest with you, I believe
Schumer and the Democrats are in a much weaker position. First of all, if
you look at the Quinnipiac poll that came out, the Democrats in the Senate
got more blame for the shutdown than either the president or the
Republicans in the legislature.
MATTHEWS: They did?
MATTHEWS: What poll was that?
BRABENDER: Quinnipiac. So, I mean, it`s a realistic poll. That`s number
Second of all, this is on the heels of the Republicans passing tax cuts.
Schumer has actually done something that the president, Ryan and McConnell
have not been able to do. They will actually have unified the Republicans
based on shutdown.
MATTHEWS: Where are you – what`s your party position? They want to let
the DACA people stay here safely or not?
BRABENDER: I think what you`re going to see is Monday, the president`s
going to say we will negotiate on that as long as we get what we want.
There are going to be things such as the wall is going to be critical. And
not the wall where we just throw a few dollars, but something legitimate to
build it, things like sanctuary cities will be very, very important to this
I think there is a deal that could be made. What`s going to be really
interesting to me is I had been a believer all along that Schumer just
doesn`t want a deal and say I tried. This president isn`t reasonable, we
can`t deal. Because of the shutdown and Schumer looking bad in that, it
makes it look really bad if he takes his ball and walks away from the table
a second time.
MATTHEWS: Look, I agree, it`s a tough situation because I know the
Democratic Party. I know there`s a fight now between the progressives and
the dealmakers who want to cut deals. And Trump and Schumer is now on the
side of the dealmakers. He`s the lead dealmaker, right? He a little – he
has to keep their trains running. It`s got to work.
RAMPELL: And the base actually does care a lot about DACA, right? I mean,
Republicans care about DACA, too. It`s not something that`s solely an
issue of the far left. Almost all Americans support it.
MATTHEWS: Center to a far left, what will they pay? Will they allow some
wall to get DACA?
RAMPELL: I don`t think that people care so much about not building the
wall except in more of a symbolic sense, right? I mean, it`s not like we
don`t want to waste money on this. It`s fiscally irresponsible. I don`t
think that`s –
MATTHEWS: Give up on family migration. I think that`s a hard one to get.
RAMPELL: I think that`s a much harder sell.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s very hard to tell families they can`t reunite here.
KUMAR: I think if you`re President Trump, you want the wall. You want
funding. You want border security. And every proposal has included some
border security. He`s going to call it a wall. He`s going to get some
money and call it a wall.
MATTHEWS: What about the stuff that`s much harder, diversity lottery,
which brings a lot of minorities to the country, and the other thing, the
family migration which brings in a lot of minorities through other family
KUMAR: Yes, if you look at what the Senate – bipartisan Senate deal was,
they included both of those things. It wasn`t much. It was changing some
categories, eliminating certain things. But it wasn`t wiping them out. I
think you`ll see some compromise on that.
MATTHEWS: Do you want to compromise, John? Or do you want –
BRABENDER: No, I think there should be a compromise. But I think what the
Republicans are going to do and I think you`re going to see this Monday, is
they`re going to say, our first thing is national security. Are we going
to do immigration that protects Americans?
Number two is, are we going to do it in a way that protects the American
worker. So, we know who is here, where they`re working.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I`m for that.
MATTHEWS: Are we going to have comprehensive immigration coming out of
this? You say comprehensive?
BRABENDER: Well, I think there will be some type of comprehensive
KUMAR: By February 8th?
BRABENDER: That does get done.
RAMPELL: Not going to happen, though.
BRABENDER: I think if the president says here`s what I want and Schumer
says, I`m sorry, we`re not building the wall, we`re not getting rid of
sanctuary cities it, all of a sudden, America is going to say, it`s the
Democrats, not the Republicans that are starting this –
MATTHEWS: Who wins on this issue politically? Come November, this time
around, who is benefitting?
RAMPELL: I like to think in terms of what gets us the better policy. I
hope the policy that we get.
MATTHEWS: Help me here.
RAMPELL: Well –
MATTHEWS: I agree with you on the policy. Have you ever thought the
politics of this thing?
KUMAR: I think in six months, something else will come up and they`ll be
voting on something else.
BRABENDER: No, they`re not going to vote on anything in six months. It`s
too close to the election.
MATTHEWS: It`s still a hot issue on both sides. It`s like abortion
rights. Things like that. It`s not going away.
Anyway, “The Daily Beast” reports that West Wing officials have become
consumed with a singular objective, keeping president Trump away from
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They will fear his proclivity to
change his tune based on what the last person advised, could be exploited
by Schumer and Democratic leaders. “The New York Times” further notes that
an adviser to Mr. Trump once pointed out if he the president had to choose
between spending time with Schumer or McConnell, he would pick the
Democratic leader almost every time.
Do you have thoughts about the sociability of these guys?
RAMPELL: Well, they do seem sometimes simpatico, right? Sometimes not. I
do think it`s true that Trump seems to echo whoever was whispering in his
ear most recently.
MATTHEWS: What`s this Crying Chuck? It doesn`t sound like his buddy, his
BRABENDER: Well, look, I think what this really says bigger is that this
president as we know is not a politician. I think he truly believed that
on the negotiations a week ago that he and Schumer were going to come to
some agreement. They`re going to put their arms around each other and
I think he`s now half second-guessing whether he can deal with Schumer and
we`re going to find out.
KUMAR: Look what he did with Lindsey Graham, all those tweets and all
those criticisms. And now, they`re buddies. They`re going to negotiate
and get along. So, I think that in a week or two, the president will get
over it and he`ll negotiate with him.
MATTHEWS: Will we have a deal at the end of February?
RAMPELLL: We`ll have a deal on some things, probably not everything. But
there is always the likelihood that we could still have yet another
shutdown. I just don`t know that Democrats are willing to deal with it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, the roundtable, that`s really dysfunctional. I
mean, it`s not functional.
RAMPELLL: Well, welcome to America in 2018.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us. And next, these people will
tell me something I don`t know.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Alabama Republicans are looking to avoid a repeat of last
month`s special election, a stunning upset that sent Democrat Doug Jones to
the Senate. The Alabama statehouse voted 67-31 largely along party lines
to do away with special elections for the state`s U.S. Senate seats. Under
the new legislation, the governor would appoint an interim replacement that
would serve until the next statewide election. Republicans say the bill
would save the state millions of dollars. Democrats meanwhile have dubbed
the legislation the anti-Doug Jones bill and argue that people should be
able to vote on a replacement senator as soon as possible.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.
Catherine, tell me something I don`t know.
RAMPELL: So, we just got over a shutdown showdown, right? In about a
month, we`re going to have a similar one over the debt ceiling. For some
reason, no one is talking about it. We technically already hit our ability
to continue borrowing in December. Since then, Treasury has been just
engage in extraordinary accounting measures in order to keep us from
defaulting on our debt and setting off a worldwide financial crisis. We
only have a few more weeks left until Congress can get it back together and
keep that from happening.
MATTHEWS: Yes, John?
BRABENDER: Since the shutdown, there was an internal Republican report
that showed engagement on Republican sites have been up 38 percent which is
usually a big precursor to the generic ballot shrinking. In fact, there
has been some polls out now with the generic ballot shrinking.
MATTHEWS: But I see the Democrats up by 12.
BRABENDER: There are different polls where it was as low as four and five.
So, there seems to be some movement going on in the generic ballot.
MATTHEWS: We`ll see.
KUMAR: President Trump heads to Davos tonight to the World Economic Forum
and on Friday, he gets to meet with the president of Rwanda. The first
African head of state he`s going to meet since his disparaging remark at
the White House a couple weeks ago. Rwanda has been really upset about the
remark and it will be interesting to see –
MATTHEWS: Will Paul Kagame take him down?
KUMAR: I don`t know what`s going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much, Catherine Rampell, John Brabender
and Anita Kumar.
When we return, let me finish tonight with two very different visions of
Africa. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a tribute to a man who represents
what is great in post-colonial black Africa, and then a man who knows
nothing at all about it.
Hugh Masekela is the South African jazz performer who just died. He became
known in this country in the `60s for “Grazing in the Grass.” He`s best
known in his country of birth for his decades-long opposition to apartheid.
“The Guardian” newspaper calls Masekela one of the world`s finest and most
distinctive trumpeters, with music from South Africa and across Africa.
Exiled from his country for 30 years, Masekela was also a powerful singer
and songwriter and an angry political voice using music and live
performances to attack the apartheid regime that banished him from his
In 1997, he and Miriam Makeba joined Paul Simon on the world tour promoting
Simon`s album “Graceland”, which had been recorded with black musicians in
South Africa. Even when he had returned to the country of his birth under
the leadership Nelson Mandela, after having lived and worked in the U.S.
and Botswana, Hugh Masekela continued to comment fearlessly on political
events in South Africa and around the world, having issued more than 40
albums across his career, his final one was “No Borders” in 2016.
Among his many awards he`s gotten was South Africa`s highest award, the
Order of Ikhamanga.
Hugh Masekela versus Donald Trump, two very different visions of Africa,
don`t you think? Let`s hope the American president gets his head straight
on that continent.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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