Impeachment threat grows. TRANSCRIPT: 03/14/2018. Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: March 14, 2018
Guest: Karen Bass, Ted Deutch, Daniel Gelillo, Susan Page, Susan Del Percio, Tom Perez, Peter Emerson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Democrats rising. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
It`s the latest sign that the party of Trump should hit the panic button.
Democrat Conor Lamb pulled off a stunning upset in last night`s closely
watched special election in Pennsylvania, deep in the heart of Trump
NBC News declared Lamb the apparent winner early this morning. It is an
ominous sign for Republicans in November. Trump carried that same district
by 20 points in 2016. And overall Democrats have over performed in the
eight special elections since 2016 by an average of more than 12 points
compared to the Presidential race in 2016.
Last night`s contest became a litmus test of sorts for the President and
his party. Today some Republicans expressed a sense of dread.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE DEN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: If you are a Republican in a safe
seat, you`d better be ready.
REP. KEVIN CRAMER (R), NORTH DAKOTA: I don`t think you need to be alarmed
but certainly need to be reflective on what happened.
REP. MIKE KELLY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Every race is a wake-up call.
(INAUDIBLE) to see what we did right and what we did wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the President who travelled to the district twice
dispatched two of his children there, his vice President there, his
interior secretary there and his top, top strategist claimed credit, catch
this, for shrinking the margin between the two candidates, cutting the
Paul Ryan agreed with the President in that nonsense. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Look, I think the President helped
close this race. I think you saw the public polling. The public polling
wasn`t looking good and the President came in helped close this race and
got it to where it is right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Toddies (ph).
Anyway. Meanwhile, Trump allies told “the Washington Post” the poor
showing Tuesday was not a reflection on the President. But instead a
reminder the GOP should be embracing candidates who emulate the unscripted
former reality TV star.
Here is why last night`s results are so scary for Republicans. Currently
there are 114 Republican-held House seats now considered easier for
Democrats to win than Pennsylvania`s 18th district. That means 114
potential past evicted for Democrats in November, all easier pass than what
they pulled the victory at last night. Democrats need by the way just 23
seats to take control of the House.
And taking control would mean Democrats controlling committees on the
House. That means intelligence and judiciary, having subpoena power in the
hands of Democrats and ultimately controlling the President`s fate through
the Democrats`, it would be the Democrats control of impeachment.
Nearly 60 Democrats have already voted to move the House toward impeaching
President Trump, already 60.
For more on what this election means going forward, I`m joined by Robert
Costa, national political reporter for the “Washington Post” and political
analyst for MSNBC, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for “USA today” and
of course our big guest tonight Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic
National Committee. Susan del Percio, Republican strategist.
I want to start with the two reporters up top.
Robert you first. This victory last night, I know it turned out going into
it that if Saccone, the Republican candidate, had won it would have been an
upset. It gotten so bad as an outlook. I know we are calling it an upset.
But it looked so bad for the Republicans. And if Saccone has squeaked the
victory, that would have been considered a big one.
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Republican
lawmakers I`m talking to are very troubled today, Chris. They say if you
can`t win, if a Republican can`t have a clean win in a district Trump won
by 20 percentage points in 2016, that doesn`t bode well. Because this is
Trump country, a land of steel mills and coal mines. This isn`t the
Philadelphia suburbs. It`s western Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: And if Democrats run marines and you are always a marine, you
are not ex-marine, you are always a marine, if they run guys run where
young and clean with no record to run against and they come across - they
look attractive and everything else going for them, how do you look –
that`s the right message. Will the Democrats get that message? You can`t
just run candidates. You have to run the right ones in the right places.
COSTA: That`s the question for Perez. I mean, look. Primary season just
started in Texas.
MATTHEWS: Will get to him.
COSTA: Well, I`m telling you. Chris, look at what happened in Texas.
There was infighting going on in those Texas primaries just a couple weeks
ago. You got a whole round of Democratic primaries coming up soon. You
are not going to have Conor Lamb and Doug Jones like you had in Alabama and
every Democratic race. And that is the Democratic challenge.
Are they going to have the same war they had in 2016? The Bernie Sanders
Democrat versus the establishment Democrat? Or can they come together and
have the same kind of candidates and recruitment they had in 2006 when they
won the House last time.
MATTHEWS: Susan, how does it look in Texas? Because that is another
state. They are looking at all the big states for pick up. (INAUDIBLE)
the Dems come November?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Yes. You know, I think
Texas is one of those places that Republicans - that Democrats often think
is about to turn their way. But it seems to me this is maybe still a
little bit early in the transition of the demographic and other transition
of Texas for this to be a great state for them.
What this race in Pennsylvania shows, that there are Republican held House
districts in places like Michigan and Wisconsin and Illinois and New York
and New Jersey that now look much - I think much more, the prospects seem
much brighter than they did 24 hours ago.
MATTHEWS: What about the picking of candidates? I know it is very hard
for party leaders like the one we are going to talk to in a second here to
actually pick their favorite candidate but there are candidates who look
better going in the general election than other candidates. I mean, you
can be very left, for example, in some parts of the country and
successfully and other parts you would better not do that. You better go -
you know, trim your sail a bit going into say places like Texas or western
Pennsylvania. You can be pro-choice but be a little bit careful about how
you say it, for example. I think the way Lamb said it personally pro-life.
Don`t be too militant in that area in certain parts of the country. What
do you think?
PAGE: I think you need a candidate that fits the district, obviously. I
mean, the candidate you want to run in California is different from the
candidate you want to run in Ohio. So that is something that I think the
party mounting the challenge, Democratic Party this time, has to be pretty
And the question is, will they have that big tent strategy where Democrats
backed Conor Lamb even though he said he was not in favor of Nancy Pelosi
as their leader and he is not in favor of gun control, he is not in favor
of banning assault weapons.
So this is a question for the party going forward about how flexible they
will be on some of these issues that have been litmus tests for party up to
MATTHEWS: It will be interesting if he says he won`t vote Pelosi when you
runs in the next district where you has to run for a full term because he
is not going to get to vote for Pelosi in this term. He is not only be
going by December. So that promise is meaningless. Sorry, Mr. Lamb or
Let me go right now Tom Perez. Well, that`s a great question. Are you guys
ready to do what`s necessary? As I once heard in a great movie, are you
willing to do what is necessary to win 218 votes in the House? In other
words, find candidates who may not pass the litmus test of the real
progressives but pass the litmus test of the voters in that district?
TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, Conor Lamb is a
great example of what we are doing. I have known Conor since I worked at
the justice department and we worked in some work in Pennsylvania. He is
the real deal. And you know, people –.
MATTHEWS: – when he says I`m not voting for Pelosi?
PEREZ: Well, Conor Lamb has to do what is best in his district. The
beauty was, Chris, this wasn`t about Nancy Pelosi. The Republicans are –
MATTHEWS: They say it is.
PEREZ: But the Republicans tried to make it about it. And the reason
Conor Lamb won is because he was fighting for those mine workers who didn`t
have their pensions. Healthcare was the number one issue, Chris, in that
district. And they voted for Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Health care in Pennsylvania, because healthcare says to a wife
of somebody working or a woman, middle aged woman, if the husband loses the
job, that means no healthcare. It means in all families, you lose your
job, you lose your healthcare. It has always been an issue. With
Obamacare, it`s even more fragile sometimes.
PEREZ: Absolutely. But here is what I have been learning over the last
year. This is not an aberration. This is a continuation of a trend. We
have seen it in state special elections just in 2018. We have won special
elections in Kentucky, in Wisconsin, in New Hampshire, in Florida. The
list goes on. And the common denominator is we are fielding spectacular
MATTHEWS: How many Conor Lambs you got in your pocket right now?
PEREZ: Well, we got a tremendous stable of remarkable candidates. Down in
Texas, we got a great stable. We can take on Pete Sessions and elect the
first two Latinas to congresses in Texas.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, you found the new Jack Murtha in this guy. You
have the perfect guy for southwestern Pennsylvania. And in the wake of
last night`s loss, House Republican leaders are working on their messaging.
Here is what they had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: It`s really important to also talk
about what would happen if Nancy Pelosi became speaker again. And last
week we got a really good glimpse of that because the Democrats laid out
their alternative to our tax cut plan. They get the majority. If
Democrats get the House and Senate, their bill will raise taxes.
PRE. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGER (R), WASHINGTON: $40 million in the hands of
real people in our communities will go a lot further than if it was just
sitting in Washington, D.C.
RYAN: We need to execute. We need to get our message. We need to make
sure that our candidates aren`t massively outraised and outspent on TV as
to which the case between these two candidates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Susan, give me a sense of what you think the Republican reaction
will be in terms of message right now, to lose in a safe district for them
that`s not safe?
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first, I mean, last night`s
election results should be very concerning to Republicans. If 2017 was the
canary in the coal mine, last night`s result is the first case of black
lung for the Republicans or saying there`s no question.
Now what Republicans need to do is focus on their district. When they
start talking about Nancy Pelosi in a swing district, the other candidate
will talk about Donald Trump. Now I think that there were a lot of very
good points brought up earlier. How far to the left will some of these
candidates go in a swing district against a Republican? And that will be
the challenge for the Democrats. Of course, the challenge for the
Republicans in swing districts is to run from their home base and not from
Washington. If they run from Washington, people are sick of it. And that
was part of congressman elect Lamb`s message was he was from the district.
He hasn`t gone Washington.
MATTHEWS: Is the name Trump a plus or negative for the typical candidate
for re-election this year, Susan?
DEL PERCIO: Well, it`s a double edged sword because for some of these
candidates, they need to get the Trump base out for them to win. That
could be the margin of victory. At the same time, they can`t turn off all
MATTHEWS: I know.
DEL PERCIO: Because we see this all the time.
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you the question, what`s better to be for Trump or
question him? If you are a Republican.
PAGE: Well, I mean, it depends where you are a Republican. If you are a
Republican from a swing district, you can`t talk about Trump. He will
bring you down. And we saw it. Even with Trump up 20 points two years ago
or not even two years ago, Trump does not endorse well. His endorsement is
not meaningful. People don`t care. That`s why his approval rating is in
the 30s while people think that the economy is doing well and it`s rating
in the 50s.
MATTHEWS: What do you make, Tom Perez, you are the Democratic leader, and
I just - I don`t know. I`m blown apart sometimes by what conservatives and
evangelicals will take from Trump. They were so tough on Clinton. I mean,
I was tough on Clinton. He wasn`t square with us about the Monica
business. But a lot of people said, well, move on, ignore it, a lot of
progressives said that. But for some reason, you can see sort of
progressives because they are more tolerant. But when you see a
conservative evangelical saying give the guy a buy. Give him a mulligan.
I mean, doesn`t that amaze you? And does that is work with somebody like
Stormy Daniels` stuff and firing your secretary of state like he is a
criminal, treat him like a bum. Is that bad behavior hurting him?
PEREZ: You usually get one mulligan every 18 holes. Not one mulligan
every hole. And I think what`s happening now and why you see Donald Trump
becoming such an albatross is that people understand that he is dishonest.
He is deceitful. He promises we are going to deal with the dreamers and
then he turns around and does the opposite. He promises on common sense
gun violence. And then he literally turns around and does the opposite.
He promises I`m going to help workers out and in Green County where you
have all the coal miners he is screwing them on the issue of pensions. He
is hurting people on the issue of healthcare. It`s honesty. And the
culture of corruption here.
And I will tell you one of the people who was in this clip on the
Republican side, Catherine McMorris Rodgers, she has a great opponent in
district five out in Washington State, a woman named Lisa Brown. And I
believe we can win everywhere. I was out in Washington State recently. We
MATTHEWS: Congratulations, Tom. Mr. Chairman, last night you won a big
one in Pennsylvania.
Thank you, Robert Costa, as always. You could talk a lot more about
Pennsylvania. I know that.
And thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you, Susan Page and Susan Del Percio.
Coming up, one day after firing his secretary of state by tweet, Donald
Trump`s planning more changes to his administration. He is remaking his
cabinet in his own America first image and surrounding himself with people
who agree with him. Yes men and yes woman. Let Trump be Trump. Of
course, that`s ahead.
Plus, students across the country are leading the fight for common sense
gun laws. And today, they protested Washington`s doing nothing on guns
with a nationwide walkout. It is like the Congress has walked out, too.
Will their walkout force Congress to act?
And if you listen to Trump, he says he hires the best people and likes to
listen to many different ideas. But when it comes to his actions, it`s
quite the opposite. The west wing is a revolving door. If you say
something he doesn`t like, you are gone. Nobody gets to stick around but
the yes men. What`s this say about Trump as a leader? No link in there.
Finally, let me finish tonight with a big thing that happens 50 years ago
This is HARDBALL” where the action is.
MATTHEWS: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley today joined the international
community in chastising Russia accusing that country of carrying a chemical
weapons attack on UK soil. Haley said the United States believes Russia is
responsible for a nerve agent attack in Britain that targeted a former
Russian spy and his daughter. She called the attack a defining moment for
U.N. Security Council. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: If we don`t take immediate
concrete measures to address this is now, Salisbury will not be the last
place we see chemical weapons used. They could be used here in New York or
in cities or any country that sits on had council. Member states say they
oppose the use of chemical weapons under any circumstance. Now one member
stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another
member. The credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to
hold Russia accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For its part, and the United Kingdom has taken swift action
against Russia. Today, British Prime Minister Theresa May voted the
immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats living in the country.
In the statement late today, the White House said it supports that
decision. Is she different than Trump or what?
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The recent departures of secretary of state Rex Tillerson and economic
adviser Gary Cohn who are both viewed as steadying influences on the
President have stoked new fears that an already erratic President will have
even more latitude to make impulsive decisions.
According to “the Washington Post,” the President has rash decision to go
it alone on tariffs and North Korea have shaken and alarmed the west wing
staff. With less dissent from his closest advisers the President`s allies
say that Trump has been liberated to manage his administration as he did
his private business, making decisions that feel good in the moment.
A person who has spoken to the President now tells the “Associated Press”
that Trump in recent days has told confidantes that he feels emboldened and
far less willing to put up with disloyalty around him. There are signs
more departures could come from the White House possibly including Trump`s
second national security advisor H.R. McMaster who has butted heads with
The uncertainty is feeling anxiety within - fueling it within the west wing
as one official tells “Axios,” this is the most toxic working environment
on the planet. This atmosphere is ripping people apart. There`s no
leadership, no trust, no direction. And at this point, there is very
Meanwhile, it was announced today Gary Cohn will be replaced by Larry
Kudlow, the longtime CNBC anchor and economist.
Joining me right now is Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass of California,
and Phil Rucker is White House bureau chief at “The Washington Post” and an
MSNBC political analyst.
First the news, Phil. Thank you for joining us tonight. You guys know
what`s going on.
You and Ashley and the rest have been sniffing out trouble for a long time
now. Who is – how many more heads are – it seems like Trump`s openly put
– calling it hunting season. He said on the driveway a couple days ago,
yes, I`m almost where I want to get. In other words, more heads to go.
PHILIP RUCKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
So, Chris, I was just talking to a few senior White House officials this
afternoon about this. And there`s a feeling that there will definitely be
more departures and changes to come, in part because the president is more
than a year into this job. He has a very clear sense of who he thinks is
doing a good job in the Cabinet and the senior staff, who is doing a bad
job, who he gets along with, who he doesn`t get along with,.
And one official said, look, think of it as a thinning out of the inner
circle. He is going to try to rely on people that he has good
relationships with, a good rapport, who he feels like get him and
And so that`s why you`re seeing a move like replacing Rex Tillerson with
Mike Pompeo at the State Department, someone the president has a real
comfort level with.
MATTHEWS: You know, just thinking back to our best presidents, I mean the
ones that succeeded politically – you can argue left, right all night –
but Roosevelt had Harry Hopkins. Reagan had Jim Baker. They relied on
certain people – and Mike Deaver.
They relied on certain people all the time, because they need a
consigliere, that somebody says, well, wait a minute, you didn`t think of
this, Mr. President, or you don`t know what this is going to lead to, or
there`s a consequence here you haven`t considered.
You need somebody to second-guess you, not challenge you all the time, but
be a bigger brain for you. Does Trump think his brain, his well-advertised
I.Q., is enough to answer all the big questions, make all the big decisions
without help? Is that what he thinks he can do?
RUCKER: I think he does. He feels like he knows how to do this job now,
and in those first few months, he was learning, he was managed by people
like Mattis and Tillerson and John Kelly, who is now the chief of staff,
the sort of generals around him.
And he now feels like, look, he can make these decisions on his own. And I
think he`s also going to look to get rid of people who are creating
distractions, that create bad headlines and bad political optics for him.
And the first place to look would be the VA, the Veterans Affairs
Department, where Secretary Shulkin, he seems to be under a lot of heat
right now, and may be out soon.
MATTHEWS: You know, I was just thinking of all the presidents I admired.
And Reagan, I do in certain ways. But like Kennedy, I really admired. He
had like Ted Sorensen around. He called it his intellectual blood bank.
People need people. I don`t know how you operate, but…
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: … I think a member of Congress, you need somebody to check
What do you think of that idea? Is that a good idea? Am I going to cancel
that meeting? Is that a smart move or not? Or who – this guy doesn`t
think he needs advice from anybody.
BASS: Well, but the problem is, is that if you add to that the fact that
he doesn`t read, he doesn`t want to have briefing memos, he doesn`t want
information, he comes into the job with very little knowledge, and so he
has experts around him, like Mattis and McMaster, and he doesn`t want to
listen to them?
So who he is going to have at his side? Basically, his friends, donors,
people that were in the construction…
MATTHEWS: His kids.
BASS: His kids.
MATTHEWS: It is like the Romanovs, as I have said a million times.
Anyway, Tillerson and Cohn now join a growing list of top-level aides,
staffers and Cabinet members who have resigned or been fired in what
amounts to a mass exodus from this administration, which is only 14 months
old. Look at that list.
According to an analysis by a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution,
Trump`s first-year turnover rate was 34 percent in 2017. That`s higher
than all recent presidencies and more than double the Reagan – the record
during the Reagan administration during his first year.
So, it`s not an ideological problem here. It`s just a problem.
MATTHEWS: Are the people – when you get your head rolled by tweet, you
know, Phil, and you`re in Africa, and the only thing that stops you from
being fired while you`re there, according to “The Post” today, is that John
Kelly said, give the guy a break. Don`t lop his head off when he`s in
foreign territory, and – but warn him I`m going to do it when he gets
home, so three hours after he`s home.
In other words, Trump`s inclination was to fire the guy while he`s overseas
on assignment. Why would he want to do that?
RUCKER: Well, I think it`s more that he just decided at that moment he had
had it with Tillerson. He wanted to fire him. He wanted to make the
And once he decided to make that change, he wanted to announce it. He is
someone who likes to break his own news on Twitter, and had to be convinced
he needed to wait for the secretary of state to finish his mission.
MATTHEWS: But it looks bad.
RUCKER: You know what?
RUCKER: It looks however it looks, but, look, I mean, he waited. He
waited until Tillerson was back in the U.S. for about three hours, and then
Go with him on jet lag. Get him while he`s weak and groggy, and then stick
it to him.
RUCKER: And he was sick.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he had a bug.
BASS: What he doesn`t think about is that we have to think what this looks
like to the rest of the world.
So, already, we know what the president said about the entire continent of
Africa. This is his secretary of state`s first trip to the continent.
MATTHEWS: By the way, that particularly infelicitous term will be
remembered for decades.
BASS: Well, exactly.
And so, to me, full attention should have been given to this trip. So, now
what do you think the African heads of state feel?
MATTHEWS: Well, if I were in Kenya or Nigeria or Ethiopia expecting a
grand trip by the top foreign minister of the United States, the most
important country in the world and probably the most important state visit
we`re having, and he gets fired on our watch…
MATTHEWS: … it`s an insult to us.
BASS: Which says you don`t look very – you don`t consider very much to
But you know what? I have ambassadors in my office all the time who come
in and say, what is going on in the United States? They come…
MATTHEWS: And what do you say?
BASS: Well, you know what I say?
I tell them, basically, that foreign policy is a bipartisan issue. You
have to come to Congress, because you can`t really count on the
administration. I can`t tell them what the administration`s position is.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I don`t think the secretary of state could either.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass. It`s great to
have you over here.
And, Phil Rucker, you guys are doing it. You`re doing it.
RUCKER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next: Tens of thousands of students today staged a
nationwide protest. This was impressive today, calling for action on gun
control. Will this movement really force Congress to do anything? How is
that for a standard? Anything.
I will speak to one of the organizers of today`s protest. He`s a young
And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: I want to tell you, as the representative of
Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the community of Parkland, what you`re doing
here today warms our hearts.
The opportunity that you have to lead, the inspiration that you are taking
from the student survivors of Stoneman Douglas and that the country is
taking from all of you is going to change America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch in Washington, D.C., today,
where thousands of students gathered in front of the White House – there
they are – to protest inaction on gun violence exactly one month after
Parkland school shooting.
The D.C. protest here was part of a nationwide school walkout that took
place across all 50 states.
Let`s listen to some of the students who participated today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s become evident that students are the ones who
are dying in these shootings. It`s our people. It`s us in school, when
we`re trying to get an education. I won`t die saying nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m out here because I`m ready to spread the word,
spread the message to keep our voices being heard. I mean, it`s a lot of
violence going on. And it`s just time for someone to stand. And it`s our
youth that needs to stand up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re educated. We have goals in our lives. And we
have got drives. And now we have a purpose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this afternoon, the House passed the Stop School Violence
Act, which provides some funding for strengthening school security, threat
assessment teams and law enforcement training. It does not, however,
address gun control.
And it`s been endorsed by the NRA.
I`m joined right now by Congressman Ted Deutch, who introduced that House
bill, and Maryland student Daniel Gelillo, who – David – Daniel Gelillo,
who helped organized today`s D.C. walkout.
Let`s go to Daniel, because we don`t get enough noise from you guys. And I
mean noise in a positive sense.
Do you think this is going to work? It`s worked in Florida. They have
actually raised the age to 21 down there.
DANIEL GELILLO, STUDENT PROTEST ORGANIZER: Yes, I think that there we`re
going to start seeing stuff really soon.
And these protests will turn into voting movements, which will turn into
the House and Senate voting for some actual legislation that will keep us
MATTHEWS: What would you like to see? Are you guys united on what – do
you want to raise the age for buying guns to 21? Do you want to go tougher
background checks, which include gun sales? Or what do you want?
GELILLO: All of that.
We also need a ban on semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15. Like I said
last time I was here, those weapons just don`t have any purpose for
civilian use and they need to be off our streets.
MATTHEWS: Are you bipartisan?
GELILLO: Hard to say right now, but I think that this is a movement.
MATTHEWS: You got Republican – you got Trump people with you, young
people who are Trump supporters with you?
GELILLO: I saw a guy with a make America great again hat out there for
some reason, but I don`t know for sure.
MATTHEWS: But they`re in the minority, though?
MATTHEWS: Congressman, this bill of yours, is this the best you could do?
DEUTCH: No, no.
MATTHEWS: Well, I know it`s not. Thank you for saying that, because it
didn`t look like much.
DEUTCH: Of course not.
MATTHEWS: I did the math. It`s $50 million, which is a lot of money by
But for a country of this size – I`m sorry – and for 50 states, it`s
about a million a state. What will get out of it? You are going to get
some guy with a gun standing at the door? And not even that, apparently.
DEUTCH: Here`s what you have to remember.
This – don`t let anyone tell you, Chris, that this is a response to what
happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
MATTHEWS: Even though it`s your bill.
DEUTCH: This is – look, it`s a good bill. I introduced the bill before
DEUTCH: It`s a good small piece of legislation that is a good thing to
pass. It`s not the response to this. And don`t let anyone kid you into
thinking that it is.
MATTHEWS: Where are we on school safety?
Like, some minimal things like there`s only one door you can come in. and
there`s somebody there, whether there`s a metal detector or there`s
somebody there who is armed. I don`t mean a teacher, but an actual law
Is that where we`re at, something like that, at minimum? Or what do we
have as sort of best practices on protecting our students?
So, there`s now, I think, finally a discussion – and I had this today with
one of my colleagues from Minnesota. How do we ensure that there are best
practices in school safety? How do we make sure that that`s an important
debate that we`re having and then we focus on mental health?
But the big issue, the things that we have to do are the things that Daniel
and all of those kids who walked out today are advocating. We have to pass
universal background checks.
MATTHEWS: But you can`t get a vote because of this character Paul Ryan.
MATTHEWS: You know how the House works. You have taken civics.
If the speaker doesn`t bring it up, there`s no vote. They won`t vote on
GELILLO: I don`t think he will be speaker of the House much longer if he
continues to act this way, to be completely honest.
GELILLO: 2018, the election is coming very soon.
MATTHEWS: So, you think the Democrats are going to do something if they
get in there?
GELILLO: I think they – it`s more likely that they will.
Well, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on the Parkland
Let`s listen to Ryan Petty, the father of one of the students killed. I
heard a bit of this. It`s something. He asked why the massacre wasn`t
prevented. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN PETTY, FATHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM: The senseless murder of so many,
including my own beloved daughter Alaina, tests the limits of faith.
Nikolas Cruz and the deadly danger he posed were the worst kept secrets in
Parkland. Yet every relevant authority knew he was deeply troubled with
the potential for lethal violence.
Yet despite the fact that each of these agencies were fully authorized and
empowered to take action well before tragedy struck, not one of them
fulfilled their duty.
The testament of their failure is 17 dead children and teachers, 17 more
with life-altering injuries, a burden we must bear forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Daniel, as a student, you`re fresh to the experience. Most of
us have forgotten what it feels like. Do you think you could pick out the
danger of a kid who just graduated? He was kicked out. He had a bad
experience in school. He was bullied. He wasn`t – unpopular.
Can you pick out the ones who are really worth putting under surveillance?
GELILLO: Well, why do we need to pick out people?
MATTHEWS: Well, how do you know – picking out this guy, Nick Cruz?
Stopping this from happening, what could you have done?
GELILLO: If he didn`t have access to guns, this would not have happened.
I think that`s the bottom line. If Nikolas Cruz did not…
MATTHEWS: But suppose his parents gave him a gun or he got – one of these
people shot their parent and grabbed the guns.
GELILLO: If there was no access to guns, this would not have happened.
Like, what more has to be said?
MATTHEWS: OK. I hear you. I hear you.
DEUTCH: Chris, if you just – if you look at what happened in the Florida
legislature, where, for the first time in decades, they defied the NRA and
they passed 21 to buy a gun and a three-day waiting period and gun
restraining orders, those are the kinds of things that Congress should be
passing right now.
And, by the way, we don`t know that we can always prevent these. But if we
had that 21 to buy a gun, he wouldn`t have been able to buy the gun where
he did. If we had universal background checks, we would prevent mass
After this – what happened today and the March for Our Lives, which is
coming up in 10 days, there is a moment, a movement that has been created.
These students are going to ensure that things will change.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m with Daniel, but I`m pushing you – I`m pushing you
because the argument we keep hearing from the right is, it`s all about
And now, by the way, once they got this guy on trial, they want to execute
him. So all this talk about, it was mental illness, forget about that.
That`s to solve the gun issue for them, right?
Now they want to – they don`t think he`s mentally deficient. They want to
execute him. Anyway, isn`t that is what going on?
DEUTCH: Well, listen, we can`t – here`s the thing. Of course we should
be talking about mental health, but we can`t demonize people with mental
illness as part of this.
MATTHEWS: Of course not.
I`m just saying they use the mental illness as one of the dodges on gun
control. And once they get this guy in trial, they will want to execute
him. And they don`t really believe it was a mental case.
Anyway, thank you, Congressman.
DEUTCH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You`re a very forceful spokesman.
You are too, sir.
GELILLO: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Daniel Gelillo, for putting this whole thing – I
have never heard of anybody putting something this effective together so
Up next: President Trump promised to hire only the best people, those who
would challenge his ideas. But, in reality, have you noticed, his
administration has proven to be just the opposite. It`s a classic case of,
do as I say, not do as I do.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are those that are
saying it`s one of the finest group of people ever assembled as a cabinet
and I happen to agree with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he happens to agree with it being the finest cabinet put
together. Well, that was President Trump back in October. Not a million
years ago, in October, calling his cabinet the finest group ever assembled.
Of course, he assembled it.
Here`s what he said about that same cabinet yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So, I`ve gotten a lot of people over the last year, and I`m really
at a point where we`re getting very close to having the cabinet and other
things that I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Heads are going to roll. It joins a list of things he d that
turned out not to be true. He said he would hire the best people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re going to deliver. We`re going to get the best people in the
world. We have the greatest people in the world. We don`t use them.
We`re going to use our smartest and our best. We`re not using political
hacks anymore. That`s the people that do these deals. They`re political
We want experts, our finest people. We don`t want people B-level, C-level,
D-level. We have to get our absolute best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, since then, Trump`s administration has set a record for
turnover. Last week, Trump waived off the chaos engulfing the White House
saying he just likes to listen to people argue, then make a decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of
view. I certainly have that. And then I make a decision. But I like
watching it, I like seeing it and I think it`s the best way to go. I like
different points of view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I like different points of view. And yet, the president
continues to get rid of people who disagree with him. His top economic
adviser Gary Cohn was driven out after disputing Trump`s trade policy. And
here`s what he said about Rex Tillerson yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got
along actually quite well. But we disagreed on things.
When you look at the Iran deal, I think it`s terrible. I guess he thought
it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something. And he felt a
little bit differently.
So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a very
similar thought process. I think it`s going to go very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But perhaps Trump`s biggest whopper was what he said repeatedly
about his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton.
That`s next with the HARDBALL roundtable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an
unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis.
Her current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her
presidency. And will make it virtually impossible for her to govern.
The investigation will last for years. The trial would probably start.
Nothing will get done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump, of course, on the campaign in 2016 saying that if
Hillary Clinton was elected, the scandals would never end. Well, now, just
14 months into his administration, there`s a special counsel investigation
swirling around his presidency.
On top of that today, a hearing date was set for the lawsuit adult film
actor Stormy Daniels filed against the president and his personal lawyer.
Let`s bring in the roundtable. Eli Stokols is MSNBC political analyst,
Kimberly Atkins is chief Washington reporter for the “Boston Herald”, and
Peter Emerson is a Democratic strategist.
So, let me ask you, Kimberly, how is this faring? The irony is a replete
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, BOSTON HERALD: Can you imagine
if someone was president when their campaign aides have been indicted?
That`s what we have right now. There`s been an ongoing investigation. No
end in sight, and just one scandal and hiccup and problem after another
with this presidency.
But the same people who decried how terrible that would be if it were
Hillary Clinton largely ignore it – what`s going on on the Republican
MATTHEWS: I keep wondering whether normal people meaning somewhere in the
center or center left or center right, not extreme in any way, how can they
justify Trump`s behavior? His basic bad behavior, the way he treats human
beings, the way he treats colleagues, firing people by tweet. It`s not the
way people are supposed to treat – your parents tell you don`t talk like
that to other people, don`t treat them like that, when they`re going to
school with you in third grade or you`re president, he`s secretary of
state, or she is secretary of state. Nobody acts like that.
ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, except Donald Trump and he`s
been in the public life for such a long time, that maybe this is baked in
with people, the allegations from women during the campaign. They didn`t
prevent his election ultimately. And I think that.
STOKOLS: Well, it`s just difficult to know. I mean, in spite of all the
controversy and pending investigation, the White House turnover over 40
percent in the first 15 months, in spite of all of that, his approval
rating doesn`t budge much. It`s in the high 30s or the low 40s. That`s
really a shocking thing given the sort of chaos that we see on a daily
MATTHEWS: Peter, what do you think of this? Why does he get away with
PETER EMERSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don`t think it`s shocking at all,
because I think, in fact, they have nowhere else to go. They`re still
holding onto the hope of his promises. Make America great again which
translates into jobs and wages for them. Where else are they going to go?
But the interesting thing is the younger generation breaks up their
relationships by Twitter. So, in some ways, it`s quite ironic that Trump
just broke up with Tillerson via Twitter when all the young people I know
do the same thing.
MATTHEWS: Kimberly, I didn`t know that was the new way to send a “Dear
John” letter is by tweet.
ATKINS: Apparently so. Apparently so. I take your word for it. But look
MATTHEWS: That`s a safe answer.
ATKINS: But, look, the Donald Trump that they have is the Donald Trump
they saw on reality TV, the Donald Trump who was the brash talking
businessman. That is not a surprise. So, this – what they are seeing is
something that was promised on the campaign trail. It`s not like all of a
sudden he has changed.
MATTHEWS: Was Stormy baked in?
STOKOLS: Almost every aspect of this presidency is meant for public
consumption whether it`s the tweets or whether it`s the appointees to the
cabinet in many cases drawn from the ranks of cable television.
MATTHEWS: That`s true.
STOKOLS: And I think that it is increasingly difficult for the country to
tell the difference between entertainment and government and things that
actually matter because everybody is consuming this like it`s a show. The
Stormy Daniels episode, the Sam Nunberg episode last week that everyone has
already forgotten about. Every day there is something. And it`s just –
MATTHEWS: I don`t know if I`m going by this. Kimberly, you`re going to
start everybody. It seems to me people know one thing about the
presidency. It`s one person that they elect. It`s one person. The whole
country gets to do it. You pick one person and you have to trust their
judgment when there`s a crisis like an airplane pilot. You have to trust
the judgment of the person up front when there`s a crisis.
Do they trust? Does his behavior suggest you should trust him?
ATKINS: No, and polls show people don`t necessarily –
MATTHEWS: But they still –
ATKINS: And, look, there have been presidents throughout history – what`s
different now, there have been presidents that may not have seemed that
trustworthy but they had a good team. He is now eroding that team and
Trumpfying that team around him. And I think what we`ll have to see is the
polls that subsequently have that because people think, oh, well, you have
John Kelly there, he`s a moderating force.
MATTHEWS: How longing is going to that last?
ATKINS: That`s changing rapidly. So, you`re going to have somebody who
people don`t necessarily trust.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three
will tell me something I don`t know. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Eli, tell me something I don`t know.
STOKOLS: So, Larry Kudlow likely to be named to head the National Economic
MATTHEWS: Yes, I`ve known him forever.
STOKOLS: So, you know, we`re just talking about all the people that the
president appointed and then who have left. He loves loyalty. And he
loves the superficial qualities. How do they look and sound on television?
Kudlow is talking to couple of sources today who are remembering back
during the transition, he wanted this job that went to Gary Cohn during the
transition. One of the reasons he didn`t get it at that time was because
Trump perceived him not to be loyal enough because he was critical after
the “Access Hollywood” tape came out. Obviously, with more than a year
later, that`s water under the bridge.
MATTHEWS: That`s under the bridge, it`s gone.
STOKOLS: I guess so.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Kimberly?
ATKINS: Remember DACA?
ATKINS: We haven`t talked about that in awhile. But, apparently, the
White House floated another trial balloon of a DACA plan to attach the
spending bill that has to pass to keep the government funded, some
temporary reprieve for recipients in exchange for some border security.
One reason you probably didn`t hear much about it is because it was dead on
arrival with Republicans on the Hill.
MATTHEWS: They still want the diversity –
ATKINS: They still want the tougher attacks on legal immigration which
means that there will be a stalemate.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re the bad guys, not him.
ATKINS: Well, we`ll see. He can change his mind.
EMERSON: So, Trump is setting yet another example of behavior by another
high level appointee in terms of mixing personal business with government
business. Barry Myers has been nominated to head the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency. He`s the owner of AccuWeather. He`s
triggered an inspector general`s investigation before his confirmation
hearing begins. And three former administrators of NOAA have called for
MATTHEWS: He fits the pattern, doesn`t he?
Anyway, Eli Stokols, Kimberly Atkins and Peter Emerson.
When we return, let me finish tonight with something that happened 50 years
ago this week. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me end tonight with something I spoke about just minutes
before the show tonight at a Senate ceremony marking the half century
industry of New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy`s announcement for
Fifty years ago tomorrow, March 15th, Senator Robert Kennedy gave an
instruction to his aide Frank Mankiewicz, quote: Better reserve the Senate
caucus room for tomorrow.
Robert Kennedy hoped to put off walking into this room to declare for
president and hoped to do it in 1972 when the matter`s nomination would be
open. As I write in “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit”, he didn`t want to
challenge a Democratic president. Kennedy was a good politician and knew
this wasn`t good politics.
Yes, Lyndon, Johnson had just gotten a scare from Eugene McCarthy four days
earlier in New Hampshire, but Johnson had not just won but beat him on a
write-in without the name Lyndon Johnson even being on the ballot. Bobby
had tried an 11th hour maneuver to change Johnson`s war policies in Vietnam
the day before he and Ted Sorenson had gone secretly to the Pentagon to
talk about the commission idea with Johnson`s defense secretary, Clark
Johnson shot it down and decided it would be admitting defeat on the
Vietnam War issue.
Here was Bobby that Saturday, March 16th, the day before St. Patrick`s Day
walking into this room that held so much history for him, so much personal
history. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations where had he worked
for and against Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Rackets Committee where he
battled Jimmy Hoffa and underworld figures like Sam Giancana, and most
poignantly, the same spot where his beloved brother declared for president
in 1960, eight years later.
Again, Bobby had hoped to wait four years for his campaign. He didn`t want
to divide the Democrats now in three directions, Johnson, himself and
Eugene McCarthy. But he decided finally that morning he had to try. He
saw the war tearing the country apart. He wanted very much to hold it
And that showed and who came out to salute him along the railroad tracks
when he was carried on his funeral train to join his brother in Arlington.
We will always remember the people of Baltimore singing the “Battle Hymn of
the Republic,” but also the little families of all backgrounds quietly
saluting their fellow patriot.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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