Trump says shutdown could last for years. TRANSCRIPT: 1/4/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.

Christina Greer, Tim O`Brien, Carrie Sheffield, Josh Gotheimer; Carlos Curbelo

Date: January 4, 2019
Guest: Christina Greer, Tim O`Brien, Carrie Sheffield, Josh Gotheimer;
Carlos Curbelo

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I`m out of time. HARDBALL starts now.


Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Chris Matthews.

President Trump and congressional Democrats are no closer to a deal to
reopen the government as that partial shutdown barreled today into its 14th

Emerging from a nearly two-hour meeting from inside the White House this
afternoon, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called the talks
contentious. President Trump called them productive. Democrats saying
President Trump admitting that he told them he is ready to keep the
government shut down as long as it takes to get money for a wall.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: We told the President we needed
the government open. He resisted. In fact, he said he would keep the
government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also said you said in the meeting, this is him
quoting you, I just want to check, that the shutdown could go on for months
or even a year or longer. Did you say that?



TRUMP: Absolutely I said that. I don`t think it will but I am prepared.
I hope it doesn`t go even beyond a few more days. It really could open
very quickly.


KORNACKI: The President`s comments came in a lengthy Rose Garden news
conference following that meeting with congressional leaders from both
parties. President Trump and congressional Democrats remain at odds over
his demand for $5.6 billion for a wall. Trump said he is convening working
groups from both the White House and Congress through the weekend to come
up with some sort of a solution to the impasse. As the shutdown reaches
the two-week mark now, the President was asked about the delay.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did it take this many dates for a working group
to come together? Why didn`t you just hush the details out today?

TRUMP: Well, sometimes that`s what happens in a negotiation. It does take
longer than it should. And sometimes you agree to things that could have
been agreed to two weeks ago, but that`s just the way a negotiation is.


KORNACKI: But with Congress adjourned until Tuesday, the standoff is
almost ensured of lasting at least until Wednesday at the very earliest.
The President was asked if he would consider bypassing Congress in some way
to build the wall.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don`t need congressional approval to build the

TRUMP: No, absolutely. We can call a national emergency because of the
security of our country, absolutely. No, we can do it. I haven`t done it.
I may do it. I may do it. But we could call a national emergency and
build it very quickly. And it`s another way of doing it. But if we can do
it through a negotiated process, we`re giving that a shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is that a threat hanging over the Democrats?

TRUMP: I never threaten anybody. But I am allowed to do that, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second question –

TRUMP: It`s called a national emergency.


KORNACKI: For her part, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the two sides made
some mild progress today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you make any progress on a dollar figure for what
the President want or what you all want from him?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: How do you define progress in a
meeting when you have a better understanding of each other`s position, when
you eliminate some possibilities? If that`s a judgment, then yes, we made
some progress.


KORNACKI: I`m joined now by New Jersey Democratic congressman Josh
Gotheimer, former Republican congressman Carlos Curbelo from Florida,
Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer for “the Washington Post” and Jonathan
Lemire, White House reporter for “the Associated press.”

Thank you all for being with us.

Congressman, you are the only one on the panel with a vote in this
potentially, if and when it comes to that so let me start with you. The
President said today that he told those congressional leaders that he would
be willing to let this go on for months, maybe even a year. What is your -
- do you think it is realistically possible this thing? We are measuring
it in two weeks right now. Is it possible this could stretch on into

REP. JOSH GOTHEIMER (D), NEW JERSEY: I mean, I think that`s absurd. I
think what we need to do is actually stay the table, both sides and keep
working together until we get the government reopened. I just don`t
understand. We passed this week out of the House legislation to reopen the
government. One of the first moves the Democrats did and we did hit the
week, it`s going to go to the Senate now. It is basically what they passed
a couple of weeks ago in a bipartisan way. It passed this week in a
bipartisan way, including members of the problem solvers caucus which
Carlos was a member of until recently. And I just don`t see why we can`t
get together and get the government back open.

KORNACKI: Let me ask you. Is that the Democratic position now? It
sounded like listening to the Democratic leaders today, saying they went
into that meeting telling the President just reopen the government first,
then have that discussion, have that negotiation over border security,
fencing, wall, whatever it`s going to be, any side is bog to want to call
it there. Is the Democratic position now though just clean continuing
resolutions to open this in no negotiation of any other sort until and
unless that happens?

GOTHEIMER: Well, I know what my position is. I don`t know what the other
positions are. But I will tell you this. I think we should sit at the
table and talk to each other. We should reopen the government because that
just makes sense. It`s costing us in productivity. It`s costing us
dollars. It`s costing small businesses not getting loans here in my
district. It is – air traffic controllers tell me the skies are at risk.

So what I think we need to do is reopen the government. And then of course
we should be talking about having tougher borders. There is plenty of
options on the table. We should continue that discussion and we should
keep working on it. There is no reason why you can`t do both. And so I
don`t think – I think it`s a false choice. And I think we should do our
dual responsibility, the right thing which is get the government back open
and work on making sure our borders are secure.

KORNACKI: OK, the other piece of this - one of the other piece of this,
John Lemire, you heard that clip there, the President saying there is this
idea of invoking a national emergency in building this somehow by executive
fiat. I know he raises this possibility of dramatic if vague executive
action from time to time. Does this fall in the category of bluster or is
there something going on in the background here where the White House is
actually prepared to try to make some kind of executive move on this?

few initial steps to look at it. It`s unclear whether he actually does
have the authority, whether it`s going to be a legal thing for him to do.
But I think this more falls under the category of the President sort of
talking big, being presented with you wanting to present an option that is
better than what he currently faced.

This is a - he is a little bit of a corner right now. And I think there is
a growing reality in the White House that`s what happened here. That he
was, you know, he caved to the pressure of members of the conservative
media who said to him if you take this original deal that didn`t have money
for the wall, that`s a loss. You are throwing away your presidency and he
balked. He signaled he was going to sign it. He was signaled he was going
go forward with this and he changed his mind.

And this is a moment where there are very few – there are not that many
Republicans. We are seeing some signs of strain in the Senate right now,
some who have said, Susan Collins and a few others, have said that they
should reopen the government, that this should not be how we do it. That
the border security stuff should be separate to the idea of the government
being open.

When the President ask you so often does, is focused almost exclusively on
his base, believing that they are behind him for this fight. They think
that this is why he was sent to Washington. This was his signature
campaign promise. He is to upend government. And he thinks that if he
were to suddenly cave right now, he might for the first time risk losing
even some of that support.

KORNACKI: Well, you mention those Republican senators, Cory Gardner, Susan
Collins. One person who was conspicuously absent from that Rose Garden
today, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

According to “the New York Times” quote, McConnell for the first time is
facing pressure from members of his own party to step in to resolve the
stalemate. But McConnell told “Politico” I don`t see how that leads to an
outcome. And I want to get an outcome that will be determined by the
President and Senate Democrats.

Here is what Trump said when asked why McConnell wasn`t in the Rose Garden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is he not here at here in the Rose Garden right

TRUMP: Because he is running the Senate. I mean, Mitch McConnell has been


KORNACKI: Well, Carlos Curbelo, somewhere in this chain here. House
Democrats, Senate Republicans, Trump White House, there has to be some kind
of give here to get the government reopen. A lot of folks are looking at
the Senate right now as the most likely place for that because of that
dynamic we were just talking about here. Some of these Republicans, maybe
who are up in 2020, who are more from swing states, do you think that`s a
realistic possibility, that there will be pressure, political pressure from
the Republicans on the Senate side that budges this along?

REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: I think it is a possibility, Steve.
When we think about what`s happened here, both sides in this conflict have
kind of locked themselves into a labyrinth and turned off the lights. And
I think there is one obvious way out. It`s something Josh and I worked on
in the 115th Congress, and that is a compromise on immigration. Probably
the most divisive issue in our country right now.

There is a very elegant compromise out there that`s been staring at members
of Congress and the administration for two years. And that is more border
security to fight drug trafficking and human trafficking at the southwest
border combined with a permanent solution, a path to citizenship for DACA
dreamers, for the young immigrants brought to our country as children.

You are hearing more and more talk about this. Lindsey Graham is
expressing a willingness to engage in this discussion. Vice president
Pence has said this is possibility. I think this is the obvious way out of
this conflict where both sides can claim victory because otherwise, the
only way out is for one side to appear to capitulate before the country.
We know the President is in no mood to do that. And certainly Democratic
leaders in the House and Senate aren`t either. So I think that`s the

And people in Congress need to listen to members like Josh Gotheimer and
others, problem solvers who can make these deals happen, who can sit at the
table and actually find some consensus here. I think that`s what is

KORNACKI: That possible compromise you are talking about is yes, it has
been floated before. It did come up in the Rose Garden today, that
possibility of DACA for border security, fence wall, again, whatever
anybody would end up calling it. The President seemed to be saying that
court rulings last year had changed his thinking on that. But that does
continue. The possibility does continue to linger out there that that
might ultimately be some kind of solution here.

But Jennifer Rubin, let me ask you about this as well. Obviously,
political calculations here enter into the posture on any side. If
somebody is feeling in a government shutdown the political heat, we have
seen in the past that`s always when that side will end up folding.
Democrats it doesn`t seem are feeling much political heat right now in
terms of their posture on the House side.

I`m wondering, just watching the President with that sort of stream of
conscious press conference there in the Rose Garden today, the thought
occurred to me more than once, that he himself – I don`t know about his
party – but he himself might be enjoying this standoff.

enjoying it or not. He certainly was incoherent, however. And if he is
going to bring up these mysterious powers that he apparently has, he might
want to ask the historians who were there when Harry Truman was in office
and tried to seize the steel mills and the Supreme Court said no, you don`t
have these secret emergency powers.

But he really is in a box. And I don`t think it`s fair to say that both
sides are in a box. The Democrats are in the cat bird seat right now.
They voted to open the government. They are going through their agenda.
They are going to push a whole bunch of bills on to the doorstep of Mitch
McConnell. And what is Mitch McConnell doing? Nothing. I don`t think
that`s a sustainable position for him or his members.

Listen, he is a part of the first branch of government too. And for him to
sit back and say I have no role here. I`m just a minion of the presidency
and the White House degrades the office that he has and degrades the United
States Senate. So I think he is going to have to get off his back side and
get into this.

Why doesn`t he vote on the bill that came over or make changes to that bill
and send it back or put his own bill on the floor? He is being entirely at
this point passive, in part I grant you because he doesn`t know what Trump
is going to do. But you know what the solution to that is? The Congress
makes a deal. They pass laws. They send them to the White House, and the
executive branch decides if he is going to sign or veto them.

That`s how the system is supposed to work. The system is not supposed to
work that the Senate gums up the works or the House gums up the works in
order to protect the President from having to do anything. That`s just not
our system of checks and balances. And I don`t think doing nothing is a
solution for Mitch McConnell.

KORNACKI: Right. Carlos, let me ask you about that, because you know a
little bit from the inside there, the Republican side on Capitol Hill how
the thinking goes on these things. Try to put yourself - you are out of
office now, maybe it could be a little bit more expansive in your thoughts
here. But try to put yourself politically in the shoes of Mitch McConnell
right now, who all the reporting suggests feels he got burned by the White
House a couple of weeks ago on this. He has got some members. Cory
Gardner from Colorado is starting to get a little uncomfortable. What is
the play here for McConnell?

CURBELO: Well, I think you are exactly right, Steve. McConnell did get
burned. And one thing that I learned about Mitch McConnell is that he only
gets burned once on one issue, on any one issue. And I don`t think he is
going to proceed until he is sure that whatever the solution is can pass
the House, can pass the Senate. Obviously that means 60 votes and get the
President`s signature.

So I think in this case, senator McConnell`s really doing the best anyone
could, given his position, which is just to encourage the White House and
Democrats both in the Senate and in the House to negotiate until there is
something that`s amenable to all parties.

And again, I think the only such solution is that DACA plus border security
compromise. And I don`t really see Senator McConnell moving. And part of
the story here, Steve, is that the country has grown so numb to these shut
down situations. You look at these financial markets. They are kind of
ignoring it. I think most Americans are ignoring the situation, obviously
with the exception of the federal workers who are suffering through this.
But the country is so sick of this shutdown drama. So many people don`t
take it seriously anymore. It`s just another example, an indication of how
far our politics has fallen in this country.

RUBIN: I just think that`s totally wrong. That`s totally wrong.

KORNACKI: I just want to get – well, one quick thing here I want to
follow up though on this. Realistically, this idea, and again, congressman
– former congressman Curbelo is putting it out there. DACA border
security deal. In terms of the White House`s (INAUDIBLE). We heard what
the President said publicly today. Privately, is there any movement there?

LEMIRE: There has been at least a rekindling of some discussion. In fact,
he was telling last night, people I talked to close to the White House
noticed that Sean Hannity on FOX News, who frankly sometimes acts as an
unofficial White House spokesman floated this very idea on his show last
night. The question is, was that a float with the President`s blessing or
is that his attempt to steer the President a certain way, which we know
sometimes advisers to Donald Trump find the best way to advise him is to do
so through television.

This is something that the President himself was – they were considering
this deal remember last year, a similar structure. And then of course as
he said today, the courts stepped in and he sort of turned on - he turned
on it. They are not actively seeking out this deal, but I don`t think they
have ruled it out entirely just yet. It`s going to depend on where else
this goes in the next few days and weeks.

KORNACKI: OK. Thank you to congressman Josh Gotheimer from New Jersey,
former congressman Carlos Curbelo from Florida, Jennifer Rubin from “the
Washington Post” and Jonathan Lemire.

Coming up, Nancy Pelosi is most powerful woman in American politics right
now. MSNBC`s owned Joy Reid sat down with the new speaker of the House
today. She is here to give us a preview.

Plus, are vulnerable Republican senators feeling in political heat to
reopen the government? I`m going to head over to the big board. We are
going break down some interesting numbers there. And more from the Rose
Garden today where President Trump said the shutdown could last months or
even years. Are the American people going to be OK with that?

And finally, let me finish tonight with Democrats and the I word.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

After eight years in the comparative wilderness on Capitol Hill, Nancy
Pelosi is now the most powerful and important Democrat in American
politics. The speaker of the House and the highest ranking Democrat in
Donald Trump`s Washington. Pelosi claiming back the speaker`s gavel
yesterday, and joined by a large and diverse new class of Democrats.

Those Democratic freshmen include 24 people of color, 42 female members,
and the first Native American representatives, to mention just a few

In the hours since retaking the majority, Pelosi and the Democrats have
passed legislation with their offer to end the shutdown and introduced
legislation on voting rights, ethics reforms, and a bid to require the
release of presidential candidate tax returns. Obviously, if those bills
make it out of the now Democratic House, they will still need to clear the
still – the Republican Senate, where Mitch McConnell holds sway, if
they`re ever going to reach to it the president`s desk.

Joy Reid, host of “AM JOY,” sat down with Speaker Pelosi for an exclusive
MSNBC town hall. It`s going to air at 10:00 tonight. She asked about the
new speaker about relationship with Mitch McConnell.

Let`s watch.


JOY REID, HOST, “AM JOY”: Mitch McConnell, your colleague, your
counterpart in the Senate, has made it clear that, even though these were
Senate bills that were passed by Republicans, that he won`t put them back
on the floor unless the president approves of them.

How do you get around this conundrum if the other half of the first branch
of government will only act at the behest of the president?

Mitch McConnell is doing – and I say this as respectfully as possible –
is saying, we`re not needed. Congress might as well stay home. All we
need is one person to show up, Donald Trump.

And that`s not what our founders had in mind. They talked about co-equal
branches of government, Article 1, the legislative branch, the people`s
branch of government.


KORNACKI: And Joy Reid joins me now, again, counting down here to that
town hall tonight.

Joy, a lot of interesting stuff in here. But just to connect it to what we
have been talking about, what everybody`s talking about right now, this
shutdown is still ongoing. So you see a little bit in the answer there you
got from Pelosi an attempt a little bit publicly maybe to shame McConnell
into doing something.

But how is that going to play out over the next few days, do you think, in
terms of the dynamic between Pelosi and McConnell, the Capitol Hill side of
this shutdown?

REID: You know, I have to say, Steve – and I think you, as a historian of
sort of the way that Washington has worked – history is full of powerful
speakers, the Tip O`Neill, Sam Rayburn sort of class of speakers, the Newt
Gingriches, people who wield considerable power in the body, and also full
of powerful Senate leaders.

You think of LBJ, of course, being the classic version. But at one time,
Mitch McConnell styled himself that kind of Senate leader. When President
Obama was in office for eight years, Mitch McConnell wielded power quite
ruthlessly and made it very clear that the president was not a more
important or powerful figure than him, as far as he was concerned.

As soon as Donald Trump was elected president, Mitch McConnell immediately,
as did most Republicans, as did the former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan,
subordinated himself to this president, and he`s still doing it.

So I think what you saw today was Nancy Pelosi trying to push Mitch
McConnell to say, guard the power of the United States Senate, let`s make
ourselves once again a co-equal branch of government.

This tradition of sending bills to the president`s desk and letting him
veto if he wants, it`s gone. The president – the current president
doesn`t has to veto anything, because he has to approve before the United
States Senate will even vote on a bill.

I think, both in her acceptance speech for the speakership, and today in
the interview that I did with her at Trinity Washington University, Nancy
Pelosi said, Mitch McConnell, do your job, guard the Senate, send a bill to
the floor, and let the president – send a bill to the president`s desk,
and let him veto it if he wants.

KORNACKI: Well, another – another part of this town hall that, again, is
going to air a couple hours from now, Nancy Pelosi was asked about what
kind of challenges she faces, as the most powerful female politician in the
country right now.

Let`s watch.


PELOSI: Whatever the path is, whether it`s right out of college or
whatever, know your power. Just know your why. Why are you interested in
public service? Whatever it is, the academic world, military, corporate
America, whatever it is, know your why.

Know your subject. Know why you`re doing it. Know what it is. Know about
it, so that you can speak with authority on it. Have a plan. Be
strategic. And communicate. You – if you show your vision, your
knowledge, your plan, you will be able to attract. That connection is so

And so have your own confidence. Don`t worry about their hangups.


KORNACKI: I guess that`s an interesting question, too, just a broader one.
And I`m curious what your sense of it, Joy, is, what Nancy Pelosi`s vision
of the speakership is, because this is somebody – she`s a legislative

She understands coalition politics. Politically, she`s a disciple – it
was 40 years ago, Phil Burton, who had her – the congressional seat before
she did, he was a legislative master. She comes from that same school.

What is her vision of this speakership in the Trump era?

REID: Well, you know, and we got to it a little bit later in the
interview, talked a little bit more personally about her.

This is a woman who comes from a household of executives, two mayors, her
brother, as well as her father. She understands and is not embarrassed
about wielding power. She sees the speakership the way that past speakers,
the Tip O`Neill school, saw the speakership.

It is a tremendously powerful office. It`s called the third most powerful
office because of the vice president. But, in a way, it`s the second most
powerful office. This office has the ability to go head to head with the
president. She`s not embarrassed about wielding that power.

I think what she was getting to in that answer, Steve, we`re in this era
where everything a woman who seeks power or holds power does get hyper-
scrutinized, including by us. If you`re dancing when you were in high
school, we`re going to scrutinize that. If you`re cursing, we`re going to
scrutinize that.

If you just want to be president, suddenly, we`re digging into everything
about you and scrutinizing down to your DNA. Women who seek power
instantly get the question, are you likable? Are you being nice enough?
Are you – I mean, it`s a very different way that we treat men who seek

And so one of the things that`s unique about Nancy Pelosi even before she
was speaker is, she`s not embarrassed about seeking power. She sought the
speakership. She was clearly going to get the speakership. She wasn`t
going to be deterred by all these arguments about it being unlikable or
unpleasant for a woman to step up and say, no, give me the gavel.

She did it. She said, give it to me. She said win. However you need to
win, say what you need to say. But when it comes time to vote for the
speakership, I`m going to win.

And I think that that is a model for the way that women potentially can
seek and hold power, that you don`t have to worry about likability. This
woman runs that body. She counts those votes. She doesn`t put a bill on
the floor that she doesn`t think she can get passed. And she, more than
anyone else, besides Harry Reid and President Obama`s persuasive powers,
made health care happen, right, the Affordable Care Act.

And now she`s there to defend it. So I think that her vision of the future
– I even asked her what her legacy is going to be – is that the things
that she wants done in government, she wants it to be able to at least get
to a vote. If those things don`t pass the United States Senate, in her
view, that`s on Mitch McConnell.

She`s going to demonstrate what Democrats are capable of doing with power.
And whether that`s transparency, whether that`s protecting health care,
whether that`s environmental protection, she intends to show Democrats can
do this, led by a woman.


Again, the town hall with Nancy Pelosi, it`s going to air at 10:00 Eastern,
two-and-a-half-hours from now.

Really good stuff there, Joy. Can`t wait to watch it. Thank you for
joining us.

REID: Thank you.

KORNACKI: And don`t miss Joy Reid`s wonderful show “AM JOY” tomorrow
morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

Up next, going to head over to the big board, the shutdown and the Senate.
Will the 2020 map lead to some surprise Republican cracks in the current

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


KORNACKI: All right, welcome back to HARDBALL.

So we have been talking about it. Where is there going to be somebody,
some group, some party that budges when it comes to the shutdown right now?
There`s the House Democrats, Senate Republicans, Trump White House.

We talked in the top of this show about the potential on the Senate side.
And why? Because you have got some Republican senators there who maybe are
up for reelection next year in 2020 who maybe come from states that are
swing states, vulnerable senators. Are they going to be the ones who feel
the political heat and change the equation of the shutdown?

So we thought we would take a look. Where might, might some of those
senators be?

So, first of all, here we go. New Senate taking the oath of office
yesterday, 47 Democrats, 53 Republicans. You got those two independents
who caucus with the Democrats. That`s the current balance of power.

Now, let`s take a look here. Where are the Republicans who are going to be
up for reelection next year, in 2020? Every state that is painted in red,
you got a Republican who`s up for re election next year. A lot of these
are deep red states. They`re not going to be competitive races, probably
not going to be a lot of political pressure on Republicans in those states.

So where – and this is going to be possibly – where possibly in this mix
of states could you see Republicans who end up vulnerable in 2020? This
gets a little more interesting. Take a look at this.

Some of these are probably stretches, Kansas, Pat Roberts announcing today
he`s not going to be running for reelection. That`s a very big stretch.
You saw Democrats have a good midterm there. We put Mitch McConnell on
here. I know it`s Kentucky. Most recent polling we have seen on McConnell
in Kentucky has his approval rating there in the 30s.

Those are bad numbers. But, really, where`s the action here? Colorado,
state that Donald Trump lost. Cory Gardner, he has already come out and he
said, hey, Republicans just pass a clean C.R. and reopen the government.
Maine, that`s the other state. Hillary Clinton won this in 2016, Maine.
Trump didn`t win the state.

Susan Collins running for reelection in 2020, she`s made some noise that
suggests she`s feeling at least some political heat that maybe is different
from her colleagues. So, keep an eye there.

Arizona. Remember, Martha McSally just lost the Senate race, then got
appointed to the other seat. Now she`s got to run in 2020. This is a
state Trump won, but only won narrowly in 2016. So, keep a close eye

I think Joni Ernst in Iowa, it`s a Trump state, but it`s one Democrats have
some thoughts of maybe trying to claw back or at least get close to in
2020. Georgia. Obviously, Georgia a state Democrats look at and say the
future they think they can compete there. Maybe in 2020. Could that be
trouble for David Perdue next year?

Of course, Texas, again, that might be a reach for Democrats. Beto
O`Rourke did get within three points, John Cornyn running for reelection

So, again, that`s the mix of senators. You have to see these folks, a lot
of these folks really start to get publicly nervous about the politics of
this. That could maybe change the thinking of Mitch McConnell, the
Republican leadership.

By the way, the flip side, just want to show you this quickly. We talked
so much in 2017 and 2018 about that dynamic of Democrats. Remember„ 10
Democrats in 2018 in the Senate had to run for reelection, 10 Democratic
seats in states that Trump had won, Trump country, Senate Democrats, the
biggest challenge.

How many of those are there going to be in 2020, by the way? Just two,
Doug Jones in Alabama, and Gary Peters up in Michigan, of course, a
Michigan state Trump barely won, only two. So that landscape for Democrats
looks very different in 2020 than it did in 2018.

So, again, we will have a lot more time between now and Election Day 2020
to talk about Senate races, but wanted to give you a sense of how that
might factor in to the current shutdown conversation.

Up next, more from President Trump`s wide-ranging, fact-bending news
conference in the Rose Garden.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There appears to be no end in sight for the government shutdown, after the
president`s lengthy press conference in the Rose Garden today.

Digging in his heels, President Trump confirmed to reporters that he told
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the shutdown could continue for
months or even years.

The president was also asked about his remarks from last month, when he
told Democratic leaders that he would be proud to take responsibility for
the shutdown. Let`s watch.


QUESTION: Are you still proud to own this shutdown?

the way you say that, but once – I`m very proud of doing what I`m doing.
I don`t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the
benefit and for the safety of our country.

We`re going to be working very hard over the weekend and we`ll see if we
can do something.

So you can call it whatever you want. You can call it the Schumer or the
Pelosi or the Trump shutdown. Doesn`t make any difference to me, just


KORNACKI: And for more, I`m joined by the Roundtable.

Christina Greer is an associate professor of political science at Fordham
University. Carrie Sheffield is a conservative commentator and founder of
Bold TV. And Tim O`Brien is executive editor at Bloomberg Opinion.

Thanks to all of you for being with us.

Tim, let me just start with you, because you have a perspective on Trump
that not everybody has. And I`m just curious what you make of the public
performance we saw today from him, because I`m trying to read it. And
there`s two possibilities that jump out at me.

One is, is this a guy who feels cornered and is looking for a way out of
this? Or is this somebody who`s enjoying the moment he`s found himself in?

I think he loves being in the spotlight so much, that it doesn`t matter
whether he`s cornered or not, if he can get people to pay attention. He
loves being in that space.

However, he is definitively cornered. And I think one of the things this
incident is showing is that the president actually isn`t a very good deal-
maker. The people who supported him said he was going to go to Washington,
he was a businessman who would apply business skills and a long history of
deal-making to getting things done in Washington, draining the swamp, et
cetera, et cetera.

Anybody who knew, actually, the particulars and facts of his business
history knew that he was repeatedly taken to the cleaners on a lot of
significant deals.

And the reason was because he didn`t bone up on the facts, he lacked the
patience to see things through their end, and he usually made it about an
appearance of winning, rather than authentically getting something he

And I don`t think he`s familiar with this – with the history of government
shutdowns and Washington. I don`t think he`s interested in giving up
ground in order to get a result that might benefit him. And so he`s left
now without any leverage. And he`s aware of it.

And I think that`s why you`re getting all this word salad from him.

KORNACKI: Well, that`s what – Christina, that`s what I`m kind of
wondering if – and I don`t know specifically. I keep trying to imagine
what`s the specific combination that`s going to let everybody come to the
table and sign off on something.

But I do have the sense, what Tim was just saying, the appearance of
winning, the appearance of victory, that that`s going to have to be an
element of this from Trump`s standpoint, trying to create that somehow.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. And he`s trying to shift the
narrative. So, it`s like, oh, so now we can call it Schumer and the

The problem is, Nancy Pelosi outmaneuvered him in that meeting that we had
a few weeks ago. And so – when she walked him into that trap, and he just
said, yes, I will own it.

And now he realizes, this is real. We have hundreds of thousands of
Americans who are not getting paid, right? And so his party is going to
suffer pretty soon. Obviously, the winds of change will work against him.
And so he is cornered.

He`s used to just packing up his marbles, filing for bankruptcy, and
leaving you holding the bag. He can`t do that right now. So he`s trying
to figure out how he can try and change the frame. But this isn`t “The
Apprentice.” We don`t have editors who can just all of a sudden change and
make it seem like you`re winning, when you`re not.

This is someone who actually, as a lifelong New Yorker, is not a deal-
maker, right? He – in many ways, anyone who`s done business with him in
New York knows that he has been a crook. And he`s actually – he doesn`t
not really know how to do business. Daddy was giving him lots of money.
Daddy was constantly covering for him. Daddy was constantly bailing him

And he was able to build up a reputation that said one thing, but the
reality was something totally different. Now we`re in Washington, D.C.
Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, many of the Democrats, they understand the
institution of Congress, but we`re seeing now they understand the
institution of the presidency much better than the president.

KORNACKI: So, Carrie, if he doesn`t get 100 percent of what he`s asking
for, the $5.6 billion wall – I mean, his definition of the wall has
changed. But let`s just say $5.6 billion in a wall, if he does not and is
not able to get 100 percent of that, what could he get that talk radio base
that revolted a few weeks ago would go along with him and say it`s a


Well, he has said there – there might be some talk about, if you could
declare some sort of national emergency, because, let`s be honest, we do
have a national emergency on our southern border. And anyone who would say
otherwise, I would really challenge them and say look at life expectancy in
this country.

It`s declined for the second time.


KORNACKI: Are you saying that that`s what the base needs to hear from him,
that short of – short of getting 100 percent, he`s got to go in that
direction for them to feel he`s getting a win here?

SHEFFIELD: He`s got a control the border.

And then – and that`s how he won. That`s how he mopped the floor with the
establishment. That`s how he mopped the floor when he won the presidency
and also the Republican nomination. It was immigration.

So I think woe be unto any Democrat who doesn`t understand the reason Trump
is in the White House is because of immigration. And we do have a border
crisis. We do. Life expectancy declined in this country for the second
year in a row. We haven`t seen that since World War I.

One of the key reasons was drugs. And drugs – and an AEI showed that


SHEFFIELD: Can I finish? Drugs coming over our southern border, fentanyl,
is driving a lot of this decline in the life expectancy. This is a crisis.

And so I think this is…


GREER: But what is the question about the win?

KORNACKI: I`m just trying to figure out, right, what does it take?



KORNACKI: What would – we saw a couple weeks ago his vice president went
in there with an offer. It looked like there was going to be a deal here.

And talk radio revolted, and there was no deal. So I`m saying, if he
doesn`t get 100 percent, what can he bring back that is not going to
produce that same result?


I think what he`s trying to find is an alternative, if Congress won`t come
to the table. I think the reason why he didn`t get what happened with the
Senate, it was Mitch McConnell`s fault. Mitch McConnell should have shown

The House, under House Speaker Paul Ryan, passed the bill with the funding.
And so Mitch McConnell could have taken the – quote, unquote – “nuclear
option,” the way he did judicial…

O`BRIEN: Mitch McConnell tried to deal – deliver a deal to Trump months
ago, and Trump pulled the plug on it at the last minute.

SHEFFIELD: But it didn`t have the border funding.

O`BRIEN: This is, again, something who can`t even do a deal with members
of his own party.

This is not Mitch McConnell`s fault. This solely resides with President

SHEFFIELD: No, no, no. The House passed a funding bill that included
funding for the border wall.

O`BRIEN: If there`s a crisis on the southern border, which there actually
isn`t – which there actually isn`t – apprehensions on the southern border
are at year – you know, decade lows.


O`BRIEN: There`s not a crisis on the – that`s a manufactured idea.


SHEFFIELD: Let`s talk about the crisis…


KORNACKI: But let`s just – let`s reset, because I`m – again, I`m just
trying to figure out.

The government has been shut down for two weeks here. And we know what the
position is, clearly, from Democrats here in the House. They have put
their offer on the table. They have passed it.

We are waiting. And we just put this out there. We want to see what
happens in the Senate, because nothing`s happening there now. And there is
a question of whether there`s going to be some movement from the Cory
Gardners and from some of these other vulnerable senators.

And then there`s a question of what will the president ultimately accept

And, Christina, I guess that`s – we listened for an hour-and-a-half today.
And, rhetorically, I heard a lot. I heard a lot of posturing. But I`m
unclear. A wall, a fence, money for this, I`m unclear exactly where that
line is where he can say, I still will call – I will call this a victory
and take it.

GREER: Right.

Well, I mean, we know that the president has to use the wall as a race-
baiting tactic to make sure that his base stays with him, because he is
creating this dangerous boogeyman that`s there.

We also know that he`s – he just wants to win. So, as Tim said, we don`t
know if he – if he really cares about this wall, if he really cares about
the fight. He just likes the posturing.

And so when he goes back and talks to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and
he`s trying to negotiate and make these deals that he`s so famous at doing,
they are very clear. Nancy Pelosi has said several times, how many ways
can I say no? We are not giving you $5 billion. We can talk about sort of
securing certain places along the southern border, but we actually don`t
have this crisis of the caravan that the president is creating, because
that`s for his talk radio base.

Like, that is very clear. So, the problem is, the president doesn`t deal
with facts or truth. And so when we`re trying to move forward with policy,
we have to sort of undo some of his mind-set.


GREER: Hold on. Let me finish.


GREER: So the interesting thing, though, is, we also know that this
president doesn`t respect his own party.

So he may actually decide to just do a deal with Nancy and Chuck, based on
however they can figure their negotiation, and leave Mitch McConnell


GREER: … completely in the wind, because he doesn`t speak to anyone via
– unless it`s via Twitter.

KORNACKI: So I will ask it a different way, Carrie Sheffield.

I was asking specifically if you have a sense what he could bring back to
the base, and the base would still say it`s a victory.

How scared of that – how intimidated by the base is he? I guess that`s
that`s the question I would then. Does he have to go back to them? Or
could he cut some other kind of a deal here?

SHEFFIELD: Well, that`s what I was saying. When he floats the possibility
of declaring a national emergency, which would give him access to potential
other funds.

But I do want to push back on the question of this being a racist trope. I
mean, this president has seen historic low unemployment among African-
Americans that we have never seen in this country.

GREER: Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.

SHEFFIELD: We have also seen historic wins as far as helping with criminal
justice reform.

O`BRIEN: That didn`t begin with President Trump.


KORNACKI: I`m trying to keep us on the wall.


GREER: We have to deal in facts.


KORNACKI: Let me go back to you, Tim.

Let me ask you this question this way. Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump,
the dynamics that Trump – and you were hinting at this before – the
dynamics that Trump faced in the business celebrity world that he comes
from, vs. the dynamics of dealing with somebody like Mitch McConnell, is
there – how much overlap is there?

A lot or a little?

O`BRIEN: Well, I mean, he`s run a business that promoted him as a
marketing tool. He never really built relationships with other people.
He`s never built strong teams around him. He`s never known how to push
something through by building relationships with other people.

I think that that informs his entire relationship with the GOP, regardless
of his relationship with Democrats. And what he`s focused on here right
now isn`t the policy. He doesn`t have a clear sense of what kind of policy
he wants on the southern border or what kind of policy he wants on

He`s focused on the wall because he`s concerned about his reputation, which
is an entirely different can of worms. And what he is digging in around
is, he doesn`t want to have to say, I didn`t get my wall.

He doesn`t – he doesn`t care about whether or not he can have an outcome
that said, we are dealing with a rational approach to how to handle
migration on the southern border, and here`s how we`re doing that. He`s
saying, I`m digging in for a wall because I said I was going to do it.

And, actually, people in his own party and the opposition don`t think it
makes sense. And until he lets go of it, he`s going to get beaten up on
this issue.

SHEFFIELD: But you can`t go two blocks in New York without seeing a Trump
– the Grand Hyatt was brokered by him. At age 28 is when he started it.

O`BRIEN: No, it was brokered by the Pritzkers.

SHEFFIELD: Well, he was the runner for the Pritzkers. He was the one who
started – I mean, why is – why is he – his name is everywhere. Why…

GREER: His name is everywhere.


O`BRIEN: This is a useful thing to remember, because his name is
everywhere, but he`s not responsible for building a lot of projects his
name is on.


SHEFFIELD: The Wollman skating rink came under budget because of his



We – again, we – the government is still shut down. The terms of the
standoff are not entirely…


KORNACKI: And the terms of – the terms of it are not entirely understood.
I think that is what makes this, to me, different than past shutdowns that
we have seen.

It is unclear to me exactly what the bottom line is for every party that is
involved here. I think that`s what makes this different. And that`s why,
at the beginning of this, I said it looks like the stakes, relatively
speaking, in the scheme of the federal budget are not that high, and yet
it`s going on a lot longer, I think, relative to that, than we expected.
It`s an unusual one.

Christina Greer, Carrie Sheffield, Tim O`Brien, thank you for being with

HARDBALL back in just a minute.


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

Newly sworn-in Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib made headlines today, not for
being one of the first two Muslim women to join the U.S. House – that was
yesterday – but then after that for using an expletive in calling for the
president`s impeachment.

Here`s what she said at a progressive event last night.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: People love you, and you win.

And When your son looks at you and says, “Mama, look, you won, bullies
don`t win.” And I said, “Baby, they don`t,” because we`re going to go in
there, and we`re going to impeach the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).



KORNACKI: Today, the president responded to the new congresswoman`s
remarks and the prospect of impeachment.


TRUMP: Well you can`t impeach somebody that`s doing a great job. That`s
the way I view it. I have probably done more in the first two years than
any president, any administration in the history of our country.

And you don`t impeach people when there was no collusion, because there was
no collusion.

Using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was that, I
thought that was a great dishonor to her and to her family.

I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America.



KORNACKI: HARDBALL is back in a minute.


KORNACKI: And Let Me Finish tonight with Democrats and the I-word.

At least one new Democratic member of Congress is all on board with
impeachment. We just played it a minute ago, Rashida Tlaib making it clear
with her comment last night.

And another long-serving member, Brad Sherman, has already introduced fresh
articles of impeachment. He says it`s time to get the ball rolling now.

The rank and file of the Democratic Party is already there too – 78
percent of them, according to the exit poll from November`s midterm, 78
percent of Democrats say Congress should impeach President Trump. That is
where the grassroots energy in the Democratic Party is.

Democratic voters want to hear it, and they want to see it. But Democratic
leaders aren`t there, not now anyway. For one thing, that same exit poll
finds impeachment isn`t nearly as popular outside the Democratic base.
Only 34 percent of independents say they want it; 57 percent are against

There is also fear of a backlash from Americans who voted for Trump. This
is what Jerry Nadler, the new Democratic chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, who would oversee any impeachment hearings, this is what he had
to say recently.

He said – quote – “You would have – you have to be reluctant to do an
impeachment” and – quote – “You don`t want half the country to say to the
other half for the next 30 years, we won the election, you stole it from

That may become the dilemma for Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats in the
months ahead. Their base wants this. Soon, there will be a whole bunch of
Democrats out there running for president. They will be talking to that
party base. How many of those Democratic candidates will start calling for
impeachment? How many other members of Congress will speak up?

And then if, say, sometime in the middle of 2019, Robert Mueller were to
then give all of them more ammunition, well, what will Democrats with the
power in Congress do then? Will they give that base the impeachment push
it wants, or will they say to that base, hey, we want him out too, and the
way to do it is through the election next year?

It`s a dilemma that hasn`t come to a head for Democrats yet, but, in 2019,
it may very well.

That is HARDBALL for now.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” – and Chris Matthews is back Monday.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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