Giuliani tries to clean up contradictions. TRANSCRIPT: 1/22/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.
Date: January 22, 2019
Guest: Hakeem Jeffries; Jackie Speier, Jill Wine-Banks, Claire McCaskill,
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: – very special we think unusual related to the
Mueller probe and we would like you to see it. It will be on the show
tomorrow 6:00 p.m. eastern. That`s all I can say.
Don`t go anywhere, though. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: An offer he couldn`t refuse. Let`s play
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews live from Washington where the government
remains down but the BS is sky high with Rudy Giuliani all over the TV and
the President`s state of the union still in the dark. The question is will
he or won`t he? Will Donald Trump appear next Tuesday night? And will
Rudy ever not appear?
We have big HARDBALL show tonight. Claire McCaskill will join me to talk
about the shut down or actually showdown between President Trump and
speaker Pelosi over state of the union and the government shutdown now in
Plus, a new tell-all both from a White House insider paint a picture of a
chaotic west wing with the President having an enemy`s list of his own
aides he doesn`t trust.
We begin with Rudy Giuliani`s confession that Donald Trump pushed a real
estate deal in Moscow right up until the 2016 election that casts the Trump
campaign in a dark new light. It means that trump was seeking Russian
rubbles at the same time Kremlin weighed an un-precedent influence campaign
to deliver him American votes.
Not only that, the timeline of Trump`s Moscow project raises new suspicions
about his foreign policy proposals during the 2016 election. That includes
his talk of breaking up NATO, lifting sanctions and recognizing Crimea, all
kisses to Russia. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you about NATO.
It`s obsolete and we are paying too much money. Either they pay up
including for past deficiencies or they have to get out and if it breaks up
NATO, it breaks up NATO.
I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK. And I mean, where
we have the strength. I don`t think you would need the sanctions. I think
that we would get along very, very well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you became President, would you recognize the
annexation of Crimea as Russian territory and also if the U.S. were going
to lift sanctions that are currently (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: We will be looking that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Giuliani tried desperately yesterday to take back his
confession about the timeline in the Moscow project. Nothing about it
sounds hypothetical. Giuliani said the same thing in December. He said
that President told Mueller in his written testimony that talks over the
Moscow project could have gone off all the way to the election in November
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Donald Trump know that Michael Cohen was pursuing
the Trump tower in Moscow into the summer of 2016?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: According to the answer that he
gave, it would have covered up to November of – November of 2016.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that answer from Giuliani last month is exactly what he
said again on Sunday. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MEET THE PRESS DAILY: I`m guessing you had to
answer this question in written form by Mr. Mueller. So it`s your
understanding it ended when?
GIULIANI: Probably, up to, could be up to as far as October or November.
Our answerers cover until the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Our answers cover until election.
I`m joined by John Brennan, the former director of CIA and an MSNBC
national security analyst.
Boy, it sounded like a direct question in this room the other day on Sunday
on “Meet The Press.” Did this include – getting included in the
President`s written responses to Robert Mueller? And it said we had
negotiations with the Moscow deal all the way to the end of the election.
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I think he is trying to cover the bases
all the way up to Election Day. But it`s quite clear I think in my mind
that Donald Trump was uncertain whether or not he is going to prevail in
the election. And he was keenly interested for many years in trying to get
a Trump tower in Moscow.
And so, keeping those interactions and engagements open and trying to
entice the Russians in terms of what it is that he might be able to do, I
think it just reflects that there were active business discussions ongoing
when Donald Trump was running for President of the United States.
MATTHEWS: Well, the obvious conflict was even obvious to Donald Trump
because he has lied about this all along. He never has admitted that he
was doing these dealings with Putin who has to approve any real estate of
that magnitude during the time he was campaigning as an American leader,
trying to pretend he was looking out for the American people when he was
actually work on a deal all that time.
BRENNAN: Well, I think Trump is always been interested in his own profile,
public profile but also in his own pretty purse. And I think he was
pursuing some financial opportunities while he was considering first the
run for the President and then also during the campaign. And that`s why I
think the Mueller investigation is really important to try to get to the
bottom of what was underway in terms of what was talked about, what was
promised, what was pledged, because certainly since Election Day, Donald
Trump`s behavior and actions towards Russia and toward Mr. Putin are quite,
quite puzzling in terms of what is he doing? Is he trying to pay back? Is
he trying to cover up? Is he trying to follow through on some commitments?
And the FBI financial investigators among the best in the world. And I am
hoping and confident that they are going to come up with whatever might
MATTHEWS: Every time we see the President with Putin, Putin is smirking.
He is smirking all the time. And he is cold customer, very cold. And I
get the sense that he knew everything we are talking about. His
intelligence people informed him that Trump was trying to get a deal on the
tower. Skyscraper in Moscow in which he was going to allow him having a
penthouse suite for $50 million worth. All that time he is watching Trump
campaign and deny all the time that he was working such a deal. He knew
Trump was lying to the American people.
BRENNAN: Yes. And I think it`s quite clear that Mr. Putin knows a lot
more than the American public knows about what Mr. Trump has done and said
vis-a-vis Russia. The two-hour one-on-one conversation that Mr. Putin had
with Mr. Trump in Helsinki. There`s still not been a readout that Mr.
Trump has given to his national security team. And so I think over the
MATTHEWS: Here he is smirking again. I`m sorry, Mr. Director. He smirks
every time he gets in a room with a guy.
BRENNAN: Well, there`s some type of special rapport relationship between
the two of them. And I think Mr. Putin, who is an exceptionally well-
trained KGB officer, intelligence officer I think has exploited and has
cultivated this relationship and now is taking full advantage of it.
MATTHEWS: Would Trump be behaving any differently right now in terms of
public policy toward Russia if there weren`t compromised?
BRENNAN: I don`t know the answer to that question. Again –
MATTHEWS: Doesn`t he act like a guy that has been taken?
MATTHEWS: He acts like he has something, an ulterior motive that is not
apparent. And again, whether or not he is trying to cover up something,
whether he is fearful of what Mr. Putin might do. But it does make any
sense because the national security establishment is very much critical of
his, of Mr. Trump`s policies towards Russia.
Even the Republican senators that were abandoning him with the recent vote
in Congress. That rather than relax the sanctions on Mr. Deripaska, a
number of Republicans said no, that`s not the right thing to do. So why is
he doing this at such a political cost within his party, within the
national security environment? It`s really quite unclear.
MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump Jr. is also playing down the family`s Moscow
project and his part in it. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When was the last discussion can about this Trump
tower deal? Because Rudy got everybody really confused, I have to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I don`t know. I don`t talk about things that I
don`t know about. You know, unfortunately, that sometimes happens. They
are no different than anyone else. But the reality is this wasn`t a deal.
We don`t know the developer, we don`t know the site, we don`t know the –
anything about it. Ultimately it was Michael Cohen essentially trying to
get a deal done, you know. He was there for a long time. He wasn`t
exactly a deal guy. He didn`t bring too many to the table. So I don`t
think anyone took it too seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But Michael Cohen`s guilty plea may clear that Cohen quote
“discussed the status and progress of the Moscow project with Trump and he
briefed family members of Trump within the company about the project. We
also know that Trump Sr. signed a letter of intent with the Russian coming
pursue the Moscow deal.
And I guess the question is, is it a possible that the family didn`t even
know this? That Cohen was out there as a lone rider cutting these deals
that who is now, of course, being dump by the Trumps?
BRENNAN: Well, I feel it hard to believe that Cohan would have went out on
a limb when he was such a part of the Trump, you know, syndicate at that
time. But I must say during the summer and fall of 2016, when I was
director of CIA, there were a lot of very, very curious interactions
between U.S. persons that may have been affiliated with the Trump campaign
and with Russian officials or Russian citizens. And Jim Comey and I had a
lot of conversations about it. That`s why I said in public testimony that
it was right the FBI pulled these threads to find out whether or not
individuals, would it be Michael Cohen or others were being duped or were
actually cultivating on their own the relationship with Russians that they
were trying to then capitalize on. Because I do think that Mr. Trump
really looking to be able to increases his financial interests in the event
that he didn`t win the election.
MATTHEWS: You know, right up here in Washington, on Wisconsin Avenue, at
that high promontory up there overlooking the city with a line of sight to
the White House, we have got the Russians. We got the residence sure up
there, what are they saying? In your sense, you are the pro here, what do
you think that you think about Trump? And what he is up to? When they
watch him on TV and they report the soft intelligence every night about
Trump`s kisses he keeps blowing to Moscow, how do they interpret that over
there? The experts here, rather, about what is going on between those two
BRENNAN: Well, I think first of all, Russians are laughing at what`s
happening United States because we are in such disarray and because Mr.
Trump is pursuing these mindless policies that I think are undermining U.S.
national security interest. So even though Mr. Putin has not achieved his
objective of getting sanctions totally removed, I think what Mr. trump is
saying, you know, the dissolution of NATO or other types of things –
MATTHEWS: Yes. Getting rid of NATO, it seems to me like a dream, like a
high school kids crash dream. You are going to get rid of the greatest
bull work against us since 1947.
BRENNAN: Beyond their wildest expectations and an American president will
be saying this about the world`s greatest alliance that has kept this
country and Europe free and safe over the last 70 years. But also the
reckless announcement about pulling our troops out of Syria and other types
of things that he is doing. It`s just playing into Moscow`s hands. So I
do think that they are continuing to react to all of the pivots that Mr.
Trump is making.
MATTHEWS: Is he loyal?
BRENNAN: Is who loyal?
MATTHEWS: To the country.
BRENNAN: To himself he is.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much John Brennan, former director to CIA and an
expert all his life in defending his country,
Joining me right now, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California who
sits on the House intelligence committee and U.S. Congressman Hakeem
Jeffries of New York who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.
Thank you both for joining us right now. I think I`m looking at Chuck
Schumer and Nancy Pelosi stay next to each other.
But you are lucky. You are much – congresswoman, you are much looser, I
But let me ask you about what has been going on in this Russian probe and
the fact that this, Rudy Giuliani seems out of his mind. He is making
references to tapes. He is making reference at the (INAUDIBLE) even
talking about tapes. He will admit to the fact that the President signed
on as his written response to Robert Mueller about working with - about
Rudy Giuliani`s role and what he told in then – all this stuff and then he
denies it all. What do you make of what is going this carry-on White House
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I actually think it`s
intentional. I think it`s his way of leaking out explosive information
drip by drip and then confusing everyone by saying one thing one day and
contradicting himself the next. So when in fact the Mueller investigation
becomes public, people aren`t going to be shocked and surprised by what
they hear and they`ll be confused, which is exactly what Donald Trump and
Rudy Giuliani want to have happen.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you congressman, if Trump was going to engage in a
big business deal right through the election and obviously in conflict with
everything he is saying to the American people at the time, why wouldn`t he
be willing to collude on other matters like getting Hillary, beating her?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That`s a very reasonable
question and with each passing day, with each bit of additional information
and evidence that comes into the public domain, the cloud of suspicion over
Pennsylvania Avenue and the Trump campaign grows stronger. That`s why we
need a full and fair an investigation, which is currently being led by
special counsel, Bob Mueller, into whether there was a serious conspiracy
between the trump campaign at the highest levels and Russian spies to sell
out our democracy and artificially place Donald Trump into 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue. And we as House Democrats are determined to make sure
that when that investigation reaches its logical conclusion, that
information gets presented to the American public.
MATTHEWS: Well, here is another example right in today of how Trump
appears to be helping the Russians. Remember this guy, Deripaska? There
he is billionaire, there is a picture over there, billionaire Russian
oligarch. He used to work with Paul Manafort. Manafort reportedly get -
owes him millions of dollars. He is into him for that. And even offered
him briefings in the Trump campaign during the summer of 2016.
Well, this month, the Trump administration defended their sudden decisions
to lift U.S. sanctions on Deripaska`s company saying he had made major
financial concessions in exchange for relief.
However, the “New York Times” is now revealed a binding confidential
document signed by both sides. And it appears to show that Deripaska could
actually benefit from the agreement. That document reportedly shows that
the deal contains provisions that free him from hundreds of millions of
dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of
his most important company.
Congresswoman, what do you make of this constant throwing of kisses,
blowing of kisses to Moscow? I have never seen an American Presidents more
SPEIER: So Chris, I would also say that there is a couple of other things
we have to look at. Mr. Mnuchin, who is the treasury, secretary, who put
this together also sold his interest in a Hollywood studio to Leonard
(INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) as it turns out also gave a million dollars to
the Trump inaugural. (INAUDIBLE) also is the second largest holder of
(INAUDIBLE) stock which is the company that Deripaska owns.
The company has actually seen that shares increase by 125 percent since the
announcement was made about the sanctions being removed. This is a
travesty and it shows once again that President Trump all roads lead to
MATTHEWS: Congressman, what can the Congress do, the House of represents
which is run by Democrats now knew? What can you do before you get a
Robert Mueller report? That could be six months on, it could be February,
could be next summer, God knows when. What can you before that to
investigate this president?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think we are going to see active investigations ongoing
conducted by Jackie in the intelligence committee as well as under the
chairmanship of Jerry Nadler with respect to unfolding and unraveling some
of these connections so that the information he gets presented to the
American people in the event that the department of justice decides to
block access to the Mueller investigation.
As you know, Chris, having worked here in a high-level within the
institution, we pride ourselves in the House in being a separate and
coequal branch of government and we have a constitutional responsibility to
serve as a check and balance on an out of control executive branch. We
are going to take that responsibility seriously. I think that`s going to
be led by both the Intel committee as well as the judiciary committee.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, can you get enough evidence on your own to
consider impeachment, to consider it? Or do you have to have Robert
Mueller? People are saying right now around the edges that the Congress
shouldn`t wait for Mueller, that they should act on their own investigative
ability to find the evidence one way or another and decide on impeachment.
Do you need Mueller?
SPEIER: I think we do need Mueller. I think he has so much more
information than we have at this time. But I was really struck by the poll
today that shows that 67 percent of the Americans don`t trust the President
of the United States. Is that a high crime and misdemeanor? Is that a
lack of trust in the President of the United States that we should act
upon? It`s certainly something we need to start considering. But I do
think the Mueller investigation and its report is going to be key to our
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much. Both of you, Congresswoman Jackie
Speier of California and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn. By that
way, you represent my son now. He lives in your district, Mr. Jeffries.
JEFFRIES: I`m proud to do it.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much.
Coming up. Rudy Giuliani says he doesn`t care that his epitaph could be he
lied for Trump. How is that for an epitaph? Put that in your tombstone.
But he will be daddy, so it doesn`t matter. That`s a grand look.
Anyway, also Donald Trump is reportedly planning a walk-through, catch
this, for his state of the union address, the speech Speaker Pelosi has
suggested that he forego during the shutdown. Is he going to win the
showdown? I don`t know. Former Senator Claire McCaskill is coming here to
talk about it.
And a fortune of a White House in chaos. A new book a tell-all by a former
staffer dishes dirt on Trump, drafting an enemy`s list of his own staffers.
Can you believe that? And a Presidential chief of staff ultimately
wanting to get fired. We are back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Rudy Giuliani was hired as the public face to fight Robert Mueller. But
the former New York mayor has been a torrent of contradictions, confusion
and conspiracy theories.
And today brought another example. To clean up comments about the
president`s involvement in the Moscow Trump Tower discussions, Giuliani
made things worse.
In an interview with “The New Yorker,” Giuliani retreated from his previous
denials, saying it doesn`t matter because, “even if he did do it, it
wouldn`t be a crime.”
Well, Giuliani also tried to knock down that explosive set of allegations
by BuzzFeed that Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress by claiming he
had been through all the tapes.
Well, in the next breath, Giuliani said to the reporter: “I shouldn`t have
said tapes. No tapes,” like he`s erasing his words. “No tapes. Well, I
have just listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.”
Confused? You`re not alone.
Giuliani`s verbal acrobatics have left even some of the White House people
perplexed. A senior administration official told NBC News that Giuliani`s
recent comments were “not helping.” And in regards to his television
appearances – quote – “If nothing good can come of it, don`t do it.”
For more, I`m joined by Jill Wine-Banks, a former assistant special
prosecutor during the Watergate investigation, and Michael Steele, former
Republican Party chairman.
Jill, thanks for all this.
And I keep thinking of Ron Ziegler back in the Nixon administration during
– during Watergate that Nick von Hoffman, the columnist, referred to as a
Schwarzwald clock figure, a cuckoo that came out once in a while, said
something ridiculously wrong and dishonest, and then retreated back into
MATTHEWS: Well, Rudy Giuliani is not a Schwarzwald clock figure, but he is
out there like a rodeo clown.
What`s his role? To distract us, to take the heat, to muddy the waters?
How do you see his role?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I think he is distracting
us. And we shouldn`t let him distract us.
If there is a theory behind his ridiculous statements, it`s hard to figure
out what it is. But, possibly, it is to deliberately distract or to sort
of announce in advance what bad news is coming, because, as defense
lawyers, it is not atypical for us to try to get it out before it comes
out, so that it sounds less bad to a jury.
But, in this case, I think when it comes out in context, it will sound even
worse, because he`s been going back and forth. If he would at least stick
to one story, it would be better, but he doesn`t. He says, tapes. Oh,
whoops, I shouldn`t have said tapes. Oh, well, there were tapes, but it
has nothing to do with this.
You can`t get away with that.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of this? Do you think he`s always clear-
headed when he does these interviews, to put it bluntly? Is he always
sharp of mind when he decides to go on television?
Sometimes, when he goes on with Chris Cuomo…
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: … it`s after dinner. I`m not sure that`s the best time to go
out on national television.
STEELE: Oh, stop.
I think – I think if there is any degree of confusion, it comes from
whatever conversation or exchange he had with Donald Trump beforehand. And
so he`s trying to sort of mix together all the various angles that probably
Trump has talked to him about, because, at the end of the day, Rudy is
there to be the front man for Donald Trump, and to basically parrot back to
the public what Donald Trump is…
MATTHEWS: Does he know what he`s talking about?
Because he does this thing they used to – the communist suspects back in
the bad old black list days would say, I`m not a communist, but, if I am,
so what? And he keeps saying he didn`t do it, but, if he did, so what?
STEELE: It`s kind of out of that school.
MATTHEWS: He always has that fallback thing he does.
STEELE: Right, because then – then that puts the onus on you to prove,
what`s so bad about what I`m doing?
STEELE: And so it puts – it puts you a little bit on the defensive to
come back and go, well, this is what is wrong with what you`re doing.
So he throws it out there and say, well, so what if it is, what`s the big
deal, why are you making such a big deal of this?
It dumbs down the conversation.
MATTHEWS: Is it a prevent defense?
STEELE: And it`s obvious – yes, very much a prevent defense.
MATTHEWS: Is it a prevent defense?
STEELE: Oh, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Let them have the yardage.
MATTHEWS: Jill, I don`t know if you follow NFL, but, basically, it`s let
them have the yardage, we`re ahead in touchdowns, we will give them a few
He says, things might be illegal, might be legal. First of all, he says he
didn`t do it. Then he goes, well, he may have had that conversation. Yes,
he may have had that business deal right through the end of the election.
Oh, yes, he may have been colluding, but that`s not illegal.
That seems to be non-lawyerly. But what do you make of that kind of
fallback he keeps pulling?
WINE-BANKS: Well, the best news of this, as a lawyer who has heard almost
every lawyer joke you could hear, is that he`s really acting as a P.R.
agent. He`s not acting as a lawyer.
WINE-BANKS: I don`t know when he last practiced law. So he`s giving P.R.
people a bad name, instead of lawyers.
And I`m relieved about that, because he`s making legal gobbledygook. It`s
MATTHEWS: Well, another bizarre exchange – here he is – Rudy Giuliani
was asked if he was at all worried that his public legacy would be affected
by his tenure as Trump`s lawyer.
He told “The New Yorker” magazine: “Absolutely. I`m afraid it will be on
my gravestone. Rudy Giuliani, he lied for Trump. Somehow, I don`t think
that will be it, but if it is, so what do I care? I will be dead.”
This is Rudy talking.
MATTHEWS: “I will be dead. I don`t think, as a lawyer, I ever said
anything that`s untruthful. I have a sense of ethics that is as high as
anybody you can imagine.”
STEELE: He cares. Trust me, he cares. He does care very much.
And the defensive tone of that, the way he comes back around on that, tells
you that that is concerning to him, how he`s perceived publicly.
I mean, he was the mayor of New York at 9/11. And that…
MATTHEWS: America`s mayor.
STEELE: That had a level of gravitas to it that surpassed everything.
And now, compared to what he`s doing, you know, yes, he`s…
MATTHEWS: I`m with Michael, because, with all Rudy`s problems, like
announcing his divorce on television, all the Donna – with Donna Hanover,
and all the terrible personal stuff, he was somebody during the hell of
those days after 9/11 that was giving us the news as he got it.
I remember him talking about anthrax and coming out explaining, we just got
this and we just got that. That`s what you want. You want the cop, the
police commissioner, the mayor on the corner when there`s a five-alarm
fire. You want them standing there giving you the stuff.
Now he`s giving us what you call gobbledygook. It`s not a good show.
I worked with him in the organized crime section. And he was a very
revered and respected lawyer. He did a good job then.
And something has diminished him. It`s his behavior, of course, has
diminished him. But I don`t know why he is acting this way. And that`s
something that worries me as to, why is he acting this way?
MATTHEWS: Well, I think it was Joe Louis, the great boxer, who became an
official greeter out at Caesars Palace. Some people get these second
careers, aren`t as – they`re not quite as spiffy as the first.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Jill Wine-Banks, and thank you, Michael Steele.
Up next: Are Republican lawmakers willing to risk the wrath of their
people who vote for them for Trump`s $5.5 billion wall? Are they willing
to fight for the wall as much as he will? And how does putting government
employees out of work help advance that agenda?
That`s coming up next. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Will he or won`t he? White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders just told
reporters moments ago that President Trump is moving forward, as she said,
with plans to deliver the State of the Union address one week from today –
that`s next Tuesday – despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi`s request to
According to the White House, that might mean delivering it somewhere other
than the Capitol.
A senior administration official tells NBC News that White House
speechwriters are working on – quote – “separate passages” – close quote
– if Trump were to deliver it somewhere else and perhaps to an audience
other than members of Congress.
Pelosi was asked about that earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: We understand that the White House has sent a letter to the
sergeant at arms that President Trump still intends to come give the State
of the Union here next week.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We just want people to get
paid for their work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: With no resolution expected by tonight, for the 32nd day,
government shutdown, 800,000 federal employees will miss another paycheck
at the end of this week. Today was the deadline.
But President Trump tweeted that he has never seen Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell and Republicans so united on an issue.
Well, that unity will be tested on Thursday, when the Senate will vote on
two bills to reopen the government. The first bill is the president`s
proposal that includes the money for the border wall. The second is the
Democrats` proposal to simply reopen the government until February 8,
without the president`s border wall.
Both proposals are expected to lose.
For more, I`m joined by former Democratic Senator from Missouri – and
Missouri – Claire McCaskill.
MATTHEWS: Senator, it`s great to have you on.
It`s not so great you lost, but it`s so great to have you on, and you`re
part of our family now. Thank you for coming on.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You bet. It`s my pleasure. It
will be fun.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
And let me ask you about this crazy game of chicken. The president seems
to be threatening Pelosi with, I`m going to show up whether you invite me
or not. I may show up in the Senate. I may show up at Dubliner, the
saloon, I mean, near the White – near the Congress.
I don`t know where he intends to hold this thing. But what do you make of
MCCASKILL: Well, it`s a little bit of theater on his part. That`s what
he`s good at, is trying to dominate a new cycle with outrageous stuff.
There`s no way he is going to give the State of the Union address from the
House chamber without the speaker of the House signing off on it.
MATTHEWS: I know that.
MCCASKILL: So, I`m betting, I`m just betting that he ends up with one of
those rallies. He loves him some rallies.
So I`m betting he ends up with an auditorium full of very, very rabid Trump
supporters, where he will riff for 45 minutes about how much he`s winning
and how great everything is. That`s what I`m predicting.
MATTHEWS: And that message will be, I warned you about the deep state and
how the Democrats, the liberals, the media. They control the White – the
government, and now I`m the outsider.
Does he want to be the outsider? Does he want to be the guy shut out of
MCCASKILL: I think he wants to be seen as the guy who is against the
establishment and against the status quo.
The problem is, he`s – he`s gone so far. So many people are out there
that are suffering right now that aren`t getting paychecks. So many people
are seeing this as, really? You guys can`t figure out how to pay the
people who are supposed to be protecting the border, who are supposed to be
making sure that people who go through airports aren`t terrorists?
I mean, you can give all the lip service you want to national security, but
he is really stretching national security with his unwillingness to reopen
the government and then sit down and work a deal in the middle on some
And I will tell you what we need at the border. We need more port of entry
officers. That`s where the drugs are coming in, and we`re way understaffed
at the ports of entry. I`m not talking about the agents that patrol the
border. I`m talking to people in the ports of entry.
That`s what we should be talking about. How do we stop this fentanyl from
coming in the country, with adding more people at the ports of entry?
MATTHEWS: You really think Trump cares about drugs? I think he cares
about the Hispanic and Latino people coming from below the border that his
constituents are mad about.
MATTHEWS: That seems to be what is – he`s playing the ethnic card here.
It`s not about drugs. It`s ethnicity and race, I think.
MCCASKILL: I don`t think he cares about anything, other than himself and
keeping his base.
And so, yes, there`s an undercurrent of race there. But he keeps talking
about the drugs. If he really wanted to do something about the drugs, he
would sit down, and we would hammer out – they would hammer out some kind
of compromise around stopping the flow of drugs through the mail and
through the ports of entry.
And – but here`s the thing. The thing they`re going to vote on Thursday
that Mitch is going to put on the floor for the Republicans and what`s
called a side-by-side for the Democrats – the Democrats are going to put
something up – everybody`s going to be able to vote to reopen the
government, and then they`re going to go home.
If they were serious about getting that passed, Chris, they never would
have put a poison pill in there basically blowing the asylum process out of
the water. They put that stuff in there because they`re not serious about
getting votes for it.
But with neither the Senate bill expected – neither bill expected to past
this Thursday you mentioned, the question remains, how`s the government
One Republican with close ties to both the White House and congressional
leaders told “The Washington Post” that White House officials and GOP
leaders would accept virtually any offer from Democrats to end the impasse,
hoping they sell it to Trump as a victory and move forward.
I think that`s so interesting. You`re pointing out basically that
senators, in a CYA move – in other words, protect themselves at home –
will be able to say they voted to reopen the government.
But, of course, they will be voting for a bill which either has the wall in
it or doesn`t have the wall in it, and both are deal-breakers.
And the thing that really shows McConnell`s hand – if McConnell wanted to
get a bill passed – we passed a bill last year when I was still in the
Senate 100 to nothing that would have funded the government.
MCCASKILL: If McConnell wanted to get a bill passed, he wouldn`t have put
stuff in it that he knew would scare off most of the other side.
And that`s the things he stuck in there about asylum, basically ending the
asylum process, for all practical purposes, for many, many people through -
- throughout the world that might want to come to this country because of
untenable conditions in their own nation.
So I don`t think he`s serious about Thursday. I think he`s just posturing.
If Mitch McConnell wanted this to end, he could figure out a way to get it
ended before the weekend.
MATTHEWS: What`s the story on the guy`s face we just showed, Mitch
McConnell? I mean, he seems to have no moral purpose. I don`t even know
if he has any ideology, except I guess lower – less taxes, I guess. That
helps him politically.
But he just survives. And he doesn`t stand for anything. He – especially
during this crisis in the government shutdown, he doesn`t stand for
anything. And he just stands by and watches Pelosi fight it out with the
president. How`s he do it?
MCCASKILL: First of all, he does have an ideology. It`s called: I want
to remain majority floor leader.
So all you have to do is figure out, what is he going to do to protect his
members? He wants to make sure that those senators, Republican senators,
that are in tough states in 2020 get reelected. He`s always wanted to be
majority floor leader. He only wants to be majority floor leader, and he
wants to stay majority floor leader.
He doesn`t care about Donald Trump. He cares about staying majority floor
leader. And so what he`s going to do is what he thinks he needs to do to
protect his members, period, end of discussion.
MATTHEWS: God, it sounds like Bibi Netanyahu.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, he just likes the job.
Let me ask you about the Democratic Party looking at 2020 and states you –
it looks to me Missouri`s almost insurmountable, at 13 points. I mean,
Trump really seems to have your state, Ohio pretty much too.
Should the Democrats be looking at a different map? Should they be looking
at North Carolina and Arizona, states that are much – were much closer in
2016? Where should they be looking to win this thing, if Trump runs again?
MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, I think Ohio is a state we have to look at.
Sherrod Brown was reelected there last year.
Trump, his numbers are not great in Ohio. I think that`s definitely going
to be a battleground. And even though Trump won my state by almost 20,
MCCASKILL: … you know, our election was much closer than that. So, I –
here`s the bottom line, we`ve got to nominate somebody who`s inspiring, who
has great ideas, who is going to convince the American people that he could
actually move the needle in things that matter in their life and it has to
be somebody that is relatable to places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Iowa, Florida, Arizona.
Those are the places – North Carolina. Those are the places that this
presidency will be in play. He is not doing well in those states and he
won all of them in 2016.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I hear you, Senator.
MCCASKILL: So, we can turn this around. We just have to nominate the
MATTHEWS: Please keep coming back with that leadership call. Thanks so
much, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Up next, tune in tomorrow night. We`ve got to this, Mitch McConnell is
coming on. Mitch McConnell? Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New
Orleans is coming. He`s one of really, perhaps a dark horse for 2020
there, a very powerful guy.
And coming up next, a new book shows the chaos in the Trump`s White House.
It`s all about loyalty, not to country or party, but to guess who? Donald
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We`re getting another insider account of life in the Trump White House.
This time, it`s a book “Team of Vipers” from a little known former special
assistant to the president, Cliff Sims.
“The Washington Post” got an advanced copy of the book in which Sims
describes a White House he called absolutely out of control.
And one example references Trump`s reaction to criticism for House speaker
– then Speaker Paul Ryan shortly after the violent white supremacist
protest in Charlottesville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I do believe that he
messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral
equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity, when we need extreme
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: According to this book, comments like those inspired the
presidents to telephone Ryan. “The Post” reports from the book, quoting
President Trump telling Ryan, Paul, do you know why Democrats have been
kicking your blank for decades? Because they know a little word called
loyalty. Why do you think Nancy Pelosi has held on this long? Have you
seen her? She`s a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth, another
Republican gets elected, but they stuck with her. Why can`t you be loyal
to your president, Paul?
Well, the book also goes on to describe President Trump calling Ryan
distancing himself from Trump in October 2016, in the aftermath of that
“Access Hollywood” tape. Quote, I remember being, this is Trump talking, I
remember being in Wisconsin, and your own people were booing you. You were
throughout dying like a dog, Paul, like a dog and what did I do? I saved
Well, “The Post” also reports that Sims, quote, recalls a private huddle in
which he and Keith Schiller, the president`s long time bodyguard and
confidant, helped Trump draw up an enemy`s list with a Sharpie on White
Quote, this is Trump: We`re going to get rid all of the snakes, even the
bottom feeders, he told them.
But wait until you hear what former chief of staff John Kelly told Sims
about his job bhiend close doors, and that`s coming up next, and you don`t
want to miss it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Although I read it all the
time, pretty consistently, I`m not quitting today. I don`t believe and I
just talked to the president, I don`t think I`m being fired today, and I`m
not so frustrated in this job that I`m thinking of leaving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was a pumped up guy, former chief of staff, John Kelly, describing his
job back in October of `17, not too many months ago.
Kelly`s discontent was widely reported, right until his departure last
month. Former White House staffer Cliff Sims offers up an insider`s
account of Kelly`s unhappiness in his new book, what a great title, “Team
According to excerpts obtained by “Washington Post”, Kelly once confided to
him in a moment of exasperation, this is the worst blank job I ever had.
People apparently think that I care when they write that I might be fired.
If that ever happened, it would be the best day I`ve ever had since walked
into this place. Wow.
I`m joined now by Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent to the “PBS
NewsHour”, and Dana Milbank, whose sense of humor this matches. He`s a
columnist at the “Washington Post.”
Yamiche, it seems like there`s no loyalty. I`m a big believer in loyalty
to the guy you work, even Trump. But these books are just coming out.
Omarosa, this guy, and they talk about everything that happens in there.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: I mean, it`s
partly because the president had this kind of open door policy where you
had staffers that would never usually have this much access to the
president being able to walk in to the Oval Office and really kind of spew
whatever they wanted.
But in this book, I got my hands on a copy as well, what you see is really
a Trump White House that`s out of control, where people are just doing
whatever they want and where the president himself is more interested in
watching TV and talking about chyron, than listening to the speaker of the
house, Paul Ryan. That`s pretty remarkable.
MATTHEWS: We`ve had Nixon`s enemy`s list, which made sense, in some
perverse way. But he had an enemy`s list that he put together of the
people working for him in the White House.
MATTHEWS: Bottom feeders, he called them. What he called these people
that he`s getting advice from every day, bottom feeder.
DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: There are enemies everywhere
for this president. And, you know, I think the remarkable thing would be
if somebody writes a book and says there`s order in the White House or that
the president –
MATTHEWS: Rudy Giuliani will do that one.
MILBANK: He may be the only person left who actually could do that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s find the flip side, the silver lining here. It seems he
wanted to spank Paul Ryan for loyalty. The role model he hung up was Nancy
Pelosi and now he`s going to war with her.
ALCINDOR: And it tells you that even he has political differences with
Nancy Pelosi, that he respects her.
MATTHEWS: No nickname.
ALCINDOR: No nickname yet. No nickname that stuck in. There`s also this
idea that she knows how to deal with her people. That she – that the
Democrats – that whatever their issues are with Nancy Pelosi, they rally
So, President Trump is saying, even if I think Nazis are very fine people,
I deserve your loyalty and you need give to me and he`s not getting that
from the Republican Party because he never really wanted him to be
president in the first place, and he`s realizing that Nancy Pelosi just has
more love in her party, or more fear in her party than he does.
MATTHEWS: I think she`s got both. I think people are afraid of her, but
they like her.
Anyway, meanwhile, as Yamiche alluded to, excerpts of the book released by
“Axios” detailed the former reality TV star president`s cable news
obsession. According to “Axios”, in the book, Sims writes, the most
Trumpian tactic the communications team employed was arguing with TV
networks about the chyrons, the words displayed at the bottom of the screen
that act as headlines for whatever the commentators are discussing. People
watch TV on mute the president told them. So, it`s those words, those
sometimes beautiful, some nasty little words that matter.
In other words it`s not just television, it`s television without the sound,
it seems to be his focus.
MILBANK: You know, there are people who think in paragraphs. Lindsey
Graham, just last week, was saying Trump is sort of a one-page guy. I
think he overstates it a bit. I think Trump is a one-line guy, you know?
I mean, we all know MSNBC has the best chryons in the business and everyone
is proud of this, but you know –
MATTHEWS: Here they are. Trump obsessed over sometimes nasty TV banners.
MILBANK: Right. And that`s all that people are watching now. But that`s
all that Trump is watching, it`s basically distilled down to the insult,
the tweet, the chryon. Unfortunately, and I think this book adds to this
impression, it`s just how the president thinks. He does not seem to have
an attention span, any sort of depth of understanding or ability to analyze
MATTHEWS: How many characters are there in a tweet? I think that`s how
many characters he can handle at the time. But, you know, Mike Deaver, the
genius behind Reagan, he used to say, they have a piece on about how to
manipulate the media, and often thanked Leslie Stahl, good solid, Leslie,
because they just wanted to see the pictures.
ALCINDOR: I think that this is a president that it sometimes reflects
American society, as someone who`s been a writer and has been on TV, there
are people who call and yell at me just because of the headline and for a
while I`d say you need read my entire article. But then I realize
sometimes people only read the headlines, and the headline which a lot of
writers don`t write for themselves, that could be the most important part
people take away from your article.
So, as much as the president is in some ways reflecting not a depth of
knowledge. He`s also reflecting what a lot of Americans see, which is that
they really do read things and only care about –
MATTHEWS: I`m with you, Yamiche.
MILBANK: And he`s not wrong, as a salesman, but he`s wrong in terms of
governing. That`s why he`s getting clobbered in the shutdown.
MATTHEWS: Perversely correct.
Anyway, Yamiche Alcindor and Dana Milbank.
When we return, the student at the center of that face-to-face
confrontations speaks out. Stay tuned.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Kentucky high school students were in the spotlight this weekend after a
video went viral showing them inciting Native American veteran Nathan
Phillips. There you go. In the original video, student Nick Sandmann
appears face to face with Phillips. Phillips says he stepped between the
students and another group to defuse a tense situation.
NBC`s Savannah Guthrie spoke to Sandmann in an exclusive interview today
and she had some tough questions for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you feel from this experience that
you owe anybody an apology? Do you see your own fault in any way?
NICK SANDMANN, COVINGTON CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: As far as standing
there, I had every right to do so. I don`t – my position is that I was
not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I`d like to talk to
I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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