Trump backs down. TRANSCRIPT: 1/24/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.

John Hickenlooper, Tina Smith, Philip Rucker, David Litt, Nadeam Elshami

Date: January 24, 2019
Guest: John Hickenlooper, Tina Smith, Philip Rucker, David Litt, Nadeam

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: – lies to Bob Mueller thee judge says Manafort
can wear suite instead of prison outfit. We will also talk politics with
Washington State governor Jay Inslee. A lot to talk about whether he might
run for president. That`s all tomorrow on “THE BEAT.”

But don`t go anywhere. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Let them eat cake. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews live in Washington with the government
shutdown cutting into the lives of 800,000 federal workers by forcing them
to miss their second paycheck tomorrow. At least one Trump administration
official appears to be living (INAUDIBLE) universe.

With the shutdown now on 34th day, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross offered
meager compassion for the inflicted workers and only squinting recognition
of the pain caused by the ongoing shutdown.

Ross was asked today about reports of air traffic controllers missing work.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you worry about safety at this point?

WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Well, I do worry about safety. And it`s
kind of disappointing the air traffic controllers calling in sick in pretty
large numbers. Depending on the week –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many of them can`t afford to support their families

ROSS: Well, remember this they are eventually going to be paid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, there are reports that there are some
federal workers going to homeless shelters to get food.

ROSS: And I know they are and I don`t really quite understand why.
There`s no real reason why they shouldn`t be able to get a loan.


MATTHEWS: Get a loan? He later said he wanted to make sure federal
workers were aware they had options.

But Speaker Pelosi on Ross` comments.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: He says he doesn`t understand why
they have to that. I mean, is this the let them eat cake kind of attitude
or call your father for money or this is character building for you? It`s
all going to end up very well as long as you don`t get your paychecks. I
can don`t quite understand why as hundreds of thousands of men and women
are about to miss a second paycheck tomorrow.


MATTHEWS: Well, the President seemed to miss the pointed of Pelosi`s
remarks writing on twitter, Nancy just said she doesn`t understand why.
Well, very simply without a wall it all doesn`t work. That`s Trump talking
on tweet.

It`s just the latest example of the President and others in his orbit,
including his chief economist and daughter-in-law simply not getting the
shutdown`s real effect on federal workers` lives.


that people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments. They
always do.

workers were going to take vacation days, say between Christmas and New
Year. And then we have a shutdown and so they can`t go to work and so then
they have the vacation but they don`t have to use their vacation days and
then they come back and they get their back pay and in some sense they`re
better off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In terms of the workers who are coming to work and
not getting paid, what would you say to them?

fair to you and we all get that but this is so much bigger than any one
person. It is a little bit of pain but it is going to be for the future of
our country.


MATTHEWS: Meanwhile the country`s aviation industry and former homeland
security officials are issuing dire warnings about the dangers of the
shutdown. Five former homeland security secretaries, including former DHS
secretary turned chief of staff, John Kelly, urged the president and
Congress to fund the agency.

In a letter writing, DHS employees who protect the traveling public,
investigate, counterterrorism and protect critical infrastructure should
not have to rely on the charitable of others for assistance. This is

Anyway. Also, sounding the alarm, free aviation union representing air
traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants wrote on a joint
statement, they wrote, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently
at play, nor predict the point in which the entire system will break. It
is unprecedented.

I`m joined right now by Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.

Mr. Mayor, you run a city, a big one.


MATTHEWS: And you know what can go wrong. What`s your thinking about the
lack of understanding of these people in the White House and their friends
like the secretary of commerce?

GARCETTI: We needed any conformation that Washington lives in a parallel
world, we heard it today where Wilbur Ross was talking about this liquidity
crisis. This is a pay your bill crisis. This is an electricity crisis.
This is a food on your table crisis. And it`s so fundamentally out of
touch with real America where I live, where my constituents live.

In fact, in Los Angeles we are going to be announcing tomorrow that we are
going to start helping our TSA agents, our custom agents, our air traffic
controllers, giving them zero interest loans so they don`t lose their
homes, they don`t miss their car payments, they don`t have to go to food
banks and they don`t lose their jobs because they have to take another one
that pays them.

MATTHEWS: You know, when Trump ran, he think he made a good case to a lot
of working people that he was more in touch with them than the elite, the
culturally Democrats in Washington. Is he losing that cred?

GARCETTI: It is the greatest coned. I think we have seen in the modern
American politics. This is somebody who has been fundamentally out of
touch with working people, who stiffed his own workers, who doesn`t care if
his policies close down a GM plant in Youngstown. It`s the opposite of
what he promised. So if you want to keep getting coned, go ahead. But I
think people are waking up to exactly what the truth is –.

MATTHEWS: What you just said inspires me to ask the next question. Do you
think Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has taught Democrats who are
thinking about running in 2020 against Trump, how to take him on?

GARCETTI: Absolutely. You can`t take him on by arguing back with him,
yelling at him and getting the shouting match. You have to stick to your
principals, you have to act like a parent with somebody who is having a
tantrum. I`m a parent. I am a foster parent. I know who those lessons
too that you treat a kid who is having a tantrum in a certain way. You
stay calm. You keep moving forward and you make sure we are focused on the
real things because he wants to drag you down.

MATTHEWS: Has she been right in this fight? Because it has been become an
iconic fight. He says the wall. It has to be the wall. Nothing else. It
has got to be a barrier. It has to be a physical barrier along the Rio
Grande, along our southern border.

Nancy Pelosi can answer that will be an immorality. It was like
unconditional surrender on her terms which is smart to me that tough.

GARCETTI: I think she has been amazing but I also think we have to find
our common principle just settled a six-day strike in Los Angeles with
teachers and a school district. You have to want to settle and you have
parties that are willing to. When the president gets up and leaves because
he doesn`t like what he hears, that`s not leadership.

MATTHEWS: How do you bring people together when you have people out in the
street, teachers wanting more, not just more pay, but smaller classes, they
want materials to have teach kids with?

GARCETTI: First of all, it is the strength of 60,000 people marching in my
city in the middle of rain which is a snow day in L.A. It was inspiring.
It was great. But then I said to both parties come to city hall and we
aren`t leaving until we get this done. We can caricature each other in
America, say you are this and I am that, divide each other or we can find
our common ground. It is not coming out of the White House but it is
coming out in local government.

MATTHEWS: Are you going to run?

GARCETTI: Stay tuned to HARDBALL with Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS: Well come here to do it.

Thank you, Mayor Eric Garcetti. Thank you.

Today President Trump said he would not cave in on his demand for a border
wall one day after he did cave in on the state of the union. He lost that

In a pair of tweet last night, Trump wrote as the shutdown was going on,
Nancy Pelosi asked me to give a state of the union – oh, really - I
agreed. She then changed her mind because of a shutdown suggesting a later
date. This is her prerogative. I will do the address when the shutdown is
over. I`m not looking for an alternative venue for the state of the union
address because there is no venue that can compete with the history and
tradition and important of the house chamber. I look forward to giving a
great state of the union address in the near future.

Speaker Pelosi addressed the President`s decision at the capitol this


PELOSI: The President accepted the fact that a state of the union should
be at a time – a state of the union should be at time when we can talk
about the state of the union when government is not shut down. I`m glad we
could can get that off the table because I know it`s a source of many

It`s so unimportant in the lives of the American people in terms of -
especially those who victims of the shutdown, hostage to the President`s
applause line in a campaign speech. Thank goodness we put the matter to
rest and then we can get on to the subject at hand. Open up government so
we can negotiate how best to protect our borders.


MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Peter Baker, “New York Times” chief
White House correspondent, Nadaem Elshami, former chief of staff to Speaker
Pelosi and Elise Jordan, cohost of “Words Matter” podcast. Thank you.

I want to ask Peter and then I want to ask Nadine and I want Elise, all
three of you to answer the same question. The ferocious heavyweight Boxer,
Sonny Listen, spent a lot of his life in prison. Everybody is afraid of
him. A young guy came along named Cassius Clay let Mohammad Ali who
knocked him out a couple of times. This guy could never win again. Sonny
Listen is finished. He couldn`t lose until he couldn`t win.

Nancy Pelosi just defeated Donald Trump. Is this the end of Donald Trump
as a ferocious contender, Peter Baker?

wouldn`t put money on a that yet. I think he has got a lot of fight left
on. Doesn`t mean he`s going to win this particular one but obviously he
hasn`t yet given in. What they are talking about today was some sort of a
temporary reopening of the government. He says that he would do it if
there was a pro-rated share of money for the budget wall in there, even if
not the full amount he wanted. That`s at least some movement. So we will
see where it leads. We have a couple Senate votes moving that neither side
right now has the votes they need proceed the way that they would like to.
That means they have to meet in the middle someplace.

MATTHEWS: Nadaem, it seems the speaker is just as iconic in her demand
that we don`t have a wall. She doesn`t want a dime to go to a barrier
where there is a metal steel, whatever, iron, or it is brick on border.
She said no. Where are we at on this? He wants something that is a

wall. He wants $5.7 billion for a wall. And I don`t believe this talk
that he, you know, he wants to down payment to open up the government.
Because that`s not going to be good enough for him because he could change

Look. Democrats are going to come can up with a proposal that`s pretty
comp comprehensive on immigration reform and on border security. He is
going to dismiss it. The problem is Republicans are starting to feel the
heat and they told that to Pence today.

MATTHEWS: If you were Nancy Regan – no, Nancy Pelosi. Both tough
actually. Would you fight this on to the finish and say no barrier, not a
nickel. No barrier.

ELSHAMI: Not a nickel for a wall. Not a nickel President Trump`s wall.
And I was surprised – I shouldn`t say I was surprised that when the
President thought that he was actually going to deliver the state of the
union address. She wasn`t going to allow that to happen, no way, no how.
He wasn`t going to stand there and have a monument to talk about his wall.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think you are right. I`m not amazed.

Let me go to Elise on this. I think the question, Elise, is does this guy
not get, not only does he not get the culture, the political culture of the
Democratic Party that Nancy Pelosi leads, he doesn`t get her character and
her toughness it seems because he stuck his neck out like Mussolini, only
it didn`t work so well. And then it turns out that she said keep pushing
me, keep pushing me and then I`m going to say no and that`s what she did.

not been challenged in this way by a co-equal branch of government. You
know, God bless Nancy Pelosi for stepping out and saying that she has
representing Congress. She has this power and this authority. And you
look at the contrast between Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and it`s just

But I do think that if anything, Donald Trump, by prolonging the shutdown,
as American cans are starting to feel the impact in transportation, in
their daily lives, as so many honest workers who have done an honest day`s
work are not getting paid and the cumulative effect of that is – I point
to a new poll in Marquette University poll in Wisconsin where 49 percent of
those polled say absolutely not. They will not vote for Donald Trump. And
so I do wonder if we`re starting to see a shift – yes. In Wisconsin.

MATTHEWS: OK. Late today President Trump said it would have been
disrespectful to give the state of the union speech somewhere other than
the capitol. He was also asked about Secretary Ross` comments about
federal workers. Here he goes.


TRUMP: I do understand him. Perhaps he should have said it differently.
Local people know who they are. When they go for groceries and everything
else. And I think what Wilbur was probably trying to say is that they will
work along. I know banks are working along. If you have mortgages,
(INAUDIBLE), the folks collecting the interest and all of those things,
they work along and that`s what happens in times like this.


MATTHEWS: Peter Baker, at the Times, and you write the big story. You are
the big foot there. What is the story about this? It doesn`t seem to me -
- I look at all the phony votes in the Senate today. I look that what the
President says, what the speaker says. I don`t think they are close to a
deal. What do you see?

BAKER: Now, you know, look, they are dug in, as you just heard. I mean,
the problem is that you once you have past a financial disagreement to make
a moral argument, it is very hard to meet an agreement.

If it`s immoral, as Nancy Pelosi said to have a wall at $5.7 billion, it`s
immoral at $1 billion or $1. So how do you meet in the middle? And when
you meet in the middle, of course, that`s to give her some policy that she
wants. The President reached out a little bit last weekend but it too
little, too late according to the Democrats and so far you haven`t seen a
counter proposal. We will see one I think in the next day from them on
border security, not the wall specifically.

I mean, you can see how they would get there if they chose to. They were
fines the difference and finally put an end this. But both sides are
pretty dug in and they have made it a moral argument. Making a moral
argument makes it hard to back down without looking bad to your base. And
this on both sides, the first test of their relationship of divided
government. Either side looks at it as if they back down and lose face;
that will be a bad precedent for the next two years.

MATTHEWS: And Nadaem, you start with a cause and end up with a fight.


MATTHEWS: Because once you are in the war, you are in a fight.

ELSHAMI: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Tell me about Nancy Pelosi and what she`s like when she faces
eye ball to eye ball, a close contact of rival.

ELSHAMI: She was like what you saw when she was at the White House when
the President attempted –

MATTHEWS: Called her Nancy?

ELSHAMI: Yes, Nancy. He doesn`t know what to call her. (INAUDIBLE). He
can`t figure her out.

MATTHEWS: He can`t call her madam speaker.

ELSHAMI: Well, you know, madam speaker, Nancy, it doesn`t matter because
she knows what`s on the other side. She has the facts on her side. She
has a majority on her side. Which he has not come to accept and once he
accepted the Democrats are in charge with the House and he wants to sit
down and act like, you know, then he can do it.

MATTHEWS: Do you think, Elise, struck a bell there this last couple of
days for not just the coequal branch of government but coequal gender
what`s the answerer? I think, Elise, that`s your question. And I think it
is a good - what`s the answer? Is she making real history here?

JORDAN: Well, you look at Donald trump and he has a real problem dealing
with strong, powerful women. And Nancy Pelosi is the most strong,
formidable, powerful woman he has met. And so, I think that on top of
complicating Donald Trump not being proficient in the art of the deal as he
is like to brag for decades, he has really met in her someone who is
competent, capable, understands how to govern and understands the political
strategy needed to unite all of her troop behind her. And Donald Trump has
not proven that he has – that he can go up against her and win.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s come up against a wall, actually.

Thank you so much, Elise.

Anyway, thank you, Peter Baker. Thank you Nadeam Elshami and Elise Jordan.

Coming up, two failed votes in the U.S. Senate and the government`s still
shut down. But there is one sign of – well, some people said optimism
that President reportedly acknowledge the cause of the shutdown are getting
higher by the day. And calls the whole exercise quote “kind of stupid.”
He got that right finally.

Plus, Michael Cohen has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Senate which means we
are just days away from hearing the former fixer tell all. My colleague
Ari Melber is going to join us on what to expect from that highly
anticipated testimony. By the way, he is under subpoena. No more walking
away out of fear. He has got to show up or he goes to jail. Stay with us.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Thirty-four days now into the government shutdown, and Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell has finally emerged from his shell. Today, the
Senate voted for the first time in over a month on reopening the

But did it – well, did it do anything to accelerate an end to the
shutdown? I don`t think so.

President Trump, under intense public pressure, showed the first sign of
budging, however.


not going to go anywhere, we thought.

And now Mitch is negotiating with Chuck Schumer. And we will see what

If they come to a reasonable agreement, I would support it, yes.

QUESTION: Even if there`s no wall money? Or does it have to have wall

TRUMP: I only – look, look, I have other alternatives if I have to, and I
will use those alternatives if I have to.


MATTHEWS: Wow. He`s warning about an emergency action by the president.

Anyway, according to “The Washington Post,” the president expressed concern
over the cost of the shutdown. A source, paraphrasing the president, told
“The Washington Post” that Trump told a room of people: “This is a kind of
stupid and every day thing – this goes – this goes on. The cost keeps
getting higher.”

A Republican-backed bill today would have funded the government, while also
providing $5.7 billion for the president`s proposed wall, with temporary
relief for DACA recipients. But it failed 50-47. That`s 10 votes shy of
the 60 you need in the Senate.

The second bill from the Democrats would have temporarily funded the
government at existing levels with no wall money at all. That failed, a
little better, though, 52-44.

Well, since the shutdown started, Senator McConnell, the Republican leader,
had been unwilling to move on anything without Trump`s approval.

Let`s watch that.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The proposal outlined by
President Trump that we will consider here in the Senate is the only
proposal, the only one currently before us, that can be signed by the
president and immediately reopen the government.

I made it clear to the speaker we`re not interested in having show votes
here in the Senate. We`re interested in bringing up something that the
House has passed, 60 senators will support, and the president will sign.

In other words, make a law.


MATTHEWS: Well, that wasn`t for long – for long anyway, because he passed
– pushed a bill today that had no chance of winning.

Meanwhile, House leaders are crafting their own version of a funding bill
to reopen the Department of Homeland Security, which is expected to include
at least $5 billion for border protection, but won`t include new money for
a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.

For the latest, I`m joined by Senator Tina Smith, Democrat from Minnesota,
and former Democratic governor of Colorado, the great John Hickenlooper,
another executive.


MATTHEWS: You have been an executive for all those years out in Colorado.

What do you make of this political gamesmanship that`s going on? The
public watched the Senate vote today on two measures that weren`t going to
pass, and everybody knew it. What are they doing, except dicking around?

language like that, even though I`m not in office.

MATTHEWS: Well, dickering around, dickering around.


HICKENLOOPER: That`s better.

I look at it as, how do sane people get to this point? And the president
is not a fool. I think he`s just dreadfully miscalculated and followed his
impulses. And now he`s backed himself in a corner. I`m not sure he sees a
way to get out.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he was just running it from Rush Limbaugh and Ann
Coulter? Because he was ready to cut a deal before they spoke up and said,
you can`t go anywhere without that wall.


No, I think he made – when he rushed into it, and with a lot of bravado,
and sort of like a – like a child, right, with all that – without really
thinking about, what am I going to do next?

And now he`s got in a place where he`s stuck with these demands that he
realizes no one – I mean, putting a wall up there has become a symbol that
the rest of world will see as locking people out, right? And that`s the
last thing – someone told me the other day as I was coming out here that,
if you think of exports from America, one of the great ways that cash comes
into America is from tourists coming in from around the world.

That is supposedly down 8 percent in the last couple years. That – you
put a wall up, and you see what you do to that source of revenue for the

MATTHEWS: Senator, let`s talk about the Democratic Party and the

You think – maybe I`m playing great skeptic here, but I don`t think Trump
can move without a wall of some kind. He needs to get – if it`s 50 feet
or 20 feet, he`s got to put up something. And I believe that Speaker
Pelosi, who`s leading the party, your party now, says that`s immoral.


MATTHEWS: This sounds like a real iconic battle here.

SMITH: It is an iconic battle.

But just a minute ago, the clips that you showed demonstrate how difficult
it is to negotiate with this president, because, if you`re going to have a
negotiation, you need to have a clear understanding about what each side
wants and what they`re going to settle for.

And he was – he constantly moves the goalposts and is really all over the
place. And it`s just ridiculous. And, meanwhile, I mean, I have people in
Minnesota and all over the country whose lives are being damaged by this.

And Wilbur Ross` idea is, people should just go get a loan. I mean, it`s
so out of touch with…

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s a billionaire.


SMITH: Well, yes, so, maybe he should loan – maybe he could be…


MATTHEWS: By the way, I have got to ask you, because this is real.

I have been covering politics for most of my life, and I have ever seen
anything, a power play like Nancy Pelosi, the speaker. And this president
walked right into it, into the punch.


MATTHEWS: It looked like he didn`t know she was going to do it. He kept
writing these letters, these cleverly written letters.


MATTHEWS: And she said, nice try, buddy, you`re not going to do it.


He just – he…

MATTHEWS: As a woman – I mean, I don`t like to do this, but we all live
in identity politics.

If you have a – looks to me like, next year, there`s a very good chance
the Democratic nominee for president will be a woman. It just looks like,
at least 50/50. Is Pelosi showing the way, how you fight with Trump, if he
is the nominee?

SMITH: I think she is.

I think she`s showing that you have to be tough, you have to be clear, you
have to be willing to take some hits, at the same time that you don`t lose
track of what it is that you`re trying to accomplish. And she`s done such
a good job with that.

MATTHEWS: He is afraid to give her a nickname.



SMITH: “I call her Nancy.”

MATTHEWS: That`s the only thing he – Governor, that`s all he got in his
arrow – his quiver, is, I can give you a bad name.


HICKENLOOPER: Yes, who knew that he would be so good at this, that he –
if he really wanted to put his mind to creating a strong woman and raising
her up and making her a real hero in this country, he did it.


HICKENLOOPER: He was so good at it. Who thought?

MATTHEWS: He was – he was the guy.

SMITH: I think he`s intimidated by her.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, I think he`s intimidated, yes.

SMITH: Yes, I do.


SMITH: I think he`s intimidated by her. He doesn`t quite know what to do
with her. He can`t figure it out.

And she`s like the – she`s like the fifth-grade teacher who said, go back
to your desk and don`t come out again until you get your homework done.

MATTHEWS: But you know, she is – and I say this very positively – old-

It`s all about loyalty. It`s not clever electronics or social media and
all that stuff. I`m sure she knows that stuff. It`s about, who are you
with? What said are you on? What`s your principle you`re going to fight

And then you fight tooth and nail, and you say, no, buddy.


MATTHEWS: The big no.

Hey, I got to ask you, are you run for president, Governor?

HICKENLOOPER: We`re working on it.

MATTHEWS: Executive ability, from the West.

HICKENLOOPER: Give me another month. Let me work it through.

We`re – we have gone around the country and gone to different states,
talked to a lot of people. My wife is – she is probably – I would say
she`s getting excited about it. So we`re moving in the right direction.

MATTHEWS: Well, I – a great man used to work in this room, Tim Russert.

And his great question, which I now put you – ready?


MATTHEWS: What would stop you from running?

HICKENLOOPER: If my wife or my son put their foot down, or if I went out
there, and people just didn`t care about pragmatic solutions.

I have – I have spent the last 16 years trying to bring people together in
non-confrontational situations, and getting environmentalists and oil and
gas people to find compromises and move forward.

If that suddenly is going to be thrown out the window, then it`s not worth
my time, but…

MATTHEWS: And you`re very proud of where you come from, and your business
background and all. You showed me around your old restaurant and all that


MATTHEWS: Close to the people. You relate.

HICKENLOOPER: But the one thing about – I was walking through TSA coming
– flying out to D.C., and there was a couple people talking.

And one of them was a craft beer guy.


HICKENLOOPER: And he was saying, the government shutdown, nobody thinks of
these little guys. This is a little, teeny brewer. But they make new
labels for special beers. And they have to get them approved by the BATF,
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It`s shut down.

So now the all the work they have been doing, it grinds to a halt. So, I
mean, there`s just so many places it comes in and impacts working people,

MATTHEWS: Do you realize there`s a chance that, in a big debate later this
year, when you`re in a debate with the other candidates for president, and
the issue of craft beer comes up, you`re going to own that debate, because
you produced it?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Governor. It`s been an honor to have you. I
hope you get in this race.

Thank you, Senator. Welcome.

SMITH: Thanks so much, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And former Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado.

Still ahead: another development in the Michael Cohen case. After
postponing his public testimony before the House Intel Committee, Cohen has
now been subpoenaed – that means you got to show up – by the Senate Intel
Committee. That happened today. And, this time, he`s got no choice. They
made an offer he cannot refuse.

We`re back after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump`s longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, has been made
an offer he can`t refuse, as I said. Today, the Senate Committee on
Intelligence subpoenaed Cohen to appear before the committee next month.

In fact, unlike Cohen`s decision yesterday to delay his voluntary testimony
in front of the House Oversight Committee, he can`t have that luxury this
time. If he doesn`t show up, he could be held in contempt and go to

Cohen pulled back his offer to testify to the House Intelligence – or
Oversight Committee after what he said were ongoing threats from the
president himself against his family, like this one.


sentence reduced, he says, I have an idea. I will tell – I will give you
some information on the president. Well, there is no information. But he
should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that`s the one
that people want to look at, because where does that money – that`s the
money in the family.


MATTHEWS: Talk about witness tampering.

Cohen`s adviser Lanny Davis said he expects his client to honor the
subpoena from the Senate committee, but still says the president`s
perceived threats worry Cohen.


LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: When the top law enforcement
person in the country, the president of the United States – it`s amazing
that I`m about to say this – calls somebody who tells the truth a rat and
then praises people who are refusing to tell the truth, then you`re sending
a signal of lawlessness by the highest office in our country.

So Mr. Cohen is concerned that, when you`re labeled a rat, and you`re in a
federal prison, there could be some danger from other people.


MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by my colleague Ari Melber, host of “THE

That reference was clearly to Whitey Bulger, who was known as an informant
and went, was sent – I always thought was very suspiciously sent to the
wrong place, and he was killed within hours by the prisoners.


ARI MELBER, HOST, “THE BEAT”: Beaten to death, dramatically, yes.

MATTHEWS: So what do you think about the threat here? How clear is this?
I referred to it as witness tampering, because you`re telling a guy you`re
afraid is going to testify against you in Congress – you threaten the
family memory. You have threatened the father-in-law.

It is like Johnny “Five Angels” in “The Godfather,” Fantangelo, and
bringing the brother in from Sicily, because you`re going to kill him if
the guy testifies.

MELBER: Well, Chris, the Fantangelo analogy is one that Lanny Davis made
on MSNBC late today, as you were coming on air.

And it was striking. And I pressed him on. I said, wait, if you`re – if
you`re citing that scene in “The Godfather II,” which, of course, has the
congressional hearing, and they bring in the family member, the brother,
are you saying you`re worried about violence?

And Davis then said yes. He brought up Charlottesville and said that, even
if not Trump himself is not ordering violence, he is trying to foment it
among people who may ultimately lash out.

And he says – he`s with Michael Cohen tonight – they`re here in Midtown
Manhattan – and he says they fear for the safety. So it`s dead serious.

And then the congressional side is, the chairs of these committees in the
House have warned the president they view it, Chris, as potentially
criminal tampering.

MATTHEWS: What more do you think Cohen has that he hasn`t given up already
to Mueller and the New York – New York prosecutors?

What`s Trump worried about that he hasn`t given up yet? It seems to me
he`s given a hell of a lot up to get his sentence reduced so much.

MELBER: I think you`re asking the big question.

If Mueller has all the key stuff – and he did say in his filings that
Cohen was credible and helpful to – quote – “core issues.” Well, that
sounds like the core stuff that Mueller is there to investigate, election
tampering and obstruction. Then what else is there?

Well, there is the way Donald Trump acts and the way that his company runs
for – going back years, even in matters that may not be chargeable.

Obviously, Donald Trump thinks that Cohen will say something that could
hurt him. That doesn`t mean it`s true. You have someone who has, of
course, confessed to misleading Congress before. The president`s defenders
have a point there.

But, at a minimum, I don`t think any rational person can debate the fact
that Donald Trump looks shook, looks scared, is doing incredibly
incriminating, embarrassing things on air, as you just showed, to try to
delay or prevent this testimony.

So that means that Cohen`s got something. If you`re asking me, do I know
what it is tonight, I don`t.

MATTHEWS: Well, on your show last night, you had quite a collection of
witnesses from the Russian probe. My God, you asked them whether Cohen
should step up and testify. Let`s listen to your panel`s reaction.


MELBER: Do you think, in your opinion, that he should step up and speak to
Congress before he goes to jail?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really don`t have any opinion it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he should.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really – I really couldn`t care less. I would like
him to go to jail as soon as possible and stay there a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more openness, the better.


MATTHEWS: You know, Ari, I thought I was watching “The Insider” there with
the tobacco industry executives all testifying, four white guys all saying,
blah, blah, blah, blah.

MELBER: Were you waiting for the hands to go up?

MATTHEWS: Yes, yes, I was. They were not the cooperating witnesses.

But what do you think this guy`s going to do? As we said, it`s the
“Godfather” reference again, an offer he can`t refuse. He`s going to be –
well, he will be held in contempt if he doesn`t show up.

And can he use the Fifth when he gets up there before the Senate Intel
Committee? Can he take Fifth?

MELBER: So, two things.

He can take the Fifth less than the average person, because he`s already
done the self-incrimination on certain matters and confessed. So he has
less of that argument, unless he`s asked about things that he would say are
outside of the plea deal and the confession that he made.

So the short answer – and, believe me, lawyers would debate this, so it
could go to court. But the short answer is, he has less Fifth Amendment
protection than the average person.

The second point, Chris, that goes to what you have been pointing out here
in your broadcast tonight, and why it is just so chilling, this is an
unusual situation. You have a longtime loyal defender of the president and
attorney to the president, who is scheduled to go to prison, who said he
would now testify and come clean, who then backed down because of the
threats you just reported on and outlined, and now a clash where the
Congress says, guess what, buddy, it may not be your call.

That`s why it`s so big that the Democrats have subpoena power, and the
senators on the Republican side going after him as well. And so the
question then becomes about the deadline, Chris. Rarely, do you have a
subpoena fight with an incarceration deadline.

So we`re all going to be watching the next couple weeks, does Lanny Davis
and Cohen, do they try to delay it out past his reporting date to prison?


Let`s go into the belly of the beast here. This guy is not like John Dean.
John Dean was not Richard Nixon`s confidant. This is Chuck Colson. This
is the real fixer.

This is like Valachi giving you the design of the structure of the capos
and the mob and how it all works together. This is the guy that knows all,
because he`s the guy Trump called in the middle of the night with girl
trouble, women trouble, all kinds of trouble.

Whenever he had a really dirty problem, he would call Michael Cohen and
say, what do we do about this? We got to pay somebody. We got to scare

He knows it all, right? Isn`t that what scares Trump? Because Trump may
not even remember how much he`s confided in this guy.

MELBER: I think that`s a very reasonable inference.

And we have to remember the way that Donald Trump works. There are people
out there who think Donald Trump is dumb or out to lunch. Not when it
comes to his personal interests, his problems and his money.

He may be hands-off all sorts of parts of the job of the presidency; 37
percent of presidential appointees are vacant two years in because he won`t
appoint him. He won`t do the work.

But, boy, as you just said, when it came to accusations, gag orders,
silence agreements,, hush money, “National Enquirer,” threatening
reporters – I could go on – we don`t have enough time on cable news for
it. And we have a lot of time, Chris. It`s a long list.


MELBER: And so I think you`re putting your finger on it.

What is it that Donald Trump knows that Michael Cohen either can say
truthfully or say credibly? Because I don`t think Cohen just saying words
and making it up with no evidence and no storyline and no corroboration is
going to move anyone.

I think it`s that Donald Trump worries about, as you say, all the problems
that Michael Cohen was called to fix…


MELBER: … because, again, one thing you got to remember about Donald
Trump, this is a guy who would have hush money payments, make people sign
the deal and then he wouldn`t sign himself. That`s how secretive he was.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: It`s not a mystery to Donald Trump. He`s
like a guy in Philly, one of the guys in Abscam (ph) said Georgy knows,
what Georgy`s done. And that`s the thing we have to remember. It`s not a
mystery to Donald Trump what he`s done wrong in life. He knows it all.

Anyway, thank you, Ari Melber. Great colleague. Thanks so much.

MELBER: Thank you, Chris.

Up next leaking, gossiping and in fighting. The new tell-all book from a
former White House staffer tells the ways in which Kellyanne Conway became
one of Trump`s most influential advisors and leakers. “Hardball” back
after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “Hardball”. Since becoming president, Donald
Trump has routinely denounced anonymously source reporting as fake news
attacking the leaks that have fuelled those stories. Let`s watch.


see from these people. The fake news.

They have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.

And the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to get those leakers, Mr. President?

TRUMP: We`re going to find the leakers. We`re going to find the leakers.
They`re going to pay a big price for leaking.


MATTHEWS: Now in a new book “Team of Vipers”, former White House
Communication Aide Cliff Sims depicts Trump`s inner circle of a snake pit
of competing advisers all leaking against each other. And in a lengthy
excerpt published by Vanity Fair now, Sims portrays Kellyanne Conway as the
most prolific leaker of all.

Sims details an episode when he was tasked with drafting a statement for
Conway using her personal computer at the White House. As he worked on
that statement, Sims says “Kellyanne was sitting at her desk texting away
and since her iMessage account was tied to both her phone and her laptop, I
could inadvertently see every conversation she was having.”

According to Sims, “Over the course of 20 minutes or so, she was having
simultaneous conversations with no fewer than a half-dozen reporters, most
of them from outlets the White House frequently trashed for publishing fake

Sims writes that, “As I sat there trying to type, she bashed Jared Kushner,
Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon and Sean Spicer all by name.” Not only that
but “Conway also recounted private conversations she`d had with the
President, during which, at least in her telling, she`d convince him to see
things her way, which she said was a challenge when you`re dealing with
someone so unpredictable. She was talking about the President like a child
who had to be set straight. I was sitting there, watching this, totally

Well, as damaging as that sound, Sims reveals much more about the leaks
coming out of the White House. He also alludes to another source close to
the President, very close to the President. In fact, I won`t reveal who
that is after this break.


MATHEWS: Welcome back to “Hardball”. While President Trump has never
hidden his disdain for unanimous sources, the new book “Team of Vipers” by
Cliff Sims suggest that he, President Trump, might be among those leakers.
An excerpt from the book on Vanity Fair right now, since the recounts in
occasion when Trump tried to persuade a prominent reporter to reveal his
sources over the phone.

Taken aback by the President`s request, the reporter laughed somewhat
nervously saying, obviously could not reveal their sources. Then according
to Sims, the writer of this new book, Trump tried to cut a deal.

Well, I guess that`s fine, he replied. But of course, you know I could
give you so much better stories, so much better. And after a little more
unsuccessful coaxing, Trump relented. The reporter hung up without a hot
scoop from resource close to the President, who was the president of

With that last lines, Sims appear to suggest the President himself was
leaked to the press, disguising himself as the source close to the

Joining me now by our friend, Philip Rucker, who was the reporter of a book
in “The Washington Post” and David Litt, former senior speechwriter for
President Obama.

Phil, this book, which you somehow got a hold of fast, this is apparently a
seven-figure deal. There still a demand in the publishing and still for
dirt inside this White House.


MATTHEWS: This is dirt.

RUCKER: Well, it`s his memoir from inside the White House, but it`s just
filled with intrigue and all sorts of scenes of dysfunction and chaos, and
duplicity among the aides as well as and frankly among the President. Sims
is quite flattering in his portrayal of the President but certainly not in
his portrayal of some of his co-workers, including the former chief of
staff in the White House, John Kelly

MATTHEWS: David, I`ve never heard of a White House so disloyal to a
president. I mean – and I don`t know what they`re doing there, but when I
ask reporters like Phil, is it hard getting stories out of the White House?
They laugh at me. It`s so easy like with Kellyanne is out there pitching
stuff from all different directions and the President himself as a source
and then they all complain about fake news when it`s all coming right from

all, I`d appreciate if you refer to me as a source close to David Litt for
the remainder –


LITT: – of this conversation. Yes, I think it`s crazy. I mean it`s not
just the availability of information. It`s just – it`s the pettiness of
all of it. You know, people wrote stories from the Obama White House or
the Bush White House all the time. But it`s these personal feuds rather
than national issues and you just think what are people going to work every
day to do? What`s the point here?

MATTHEWS: Well, I wonder, Phil, the win that favor the press is fickle.

RUCKER: Yes. And this is a president who likes to see these arguments
playing out in public. He reads the newspapers. He watches shows like
this one. And he likes to see the debate playing out. He likes to see the
friction among his advisors and I think that`s why so many of his aids and
officials in the administration talk to reporters like me and appear on
television to make their cases because it`s a very public process.

MATTHEWS: What a den of vipers. Anyway, as a private citizen, Trump had a
habit of calling reporters to private – to provide flattering news about
himself but he would do so while posing as an imaginary publicist named
John Barron. And I bid this secure a place on the Forbes list of the
richest Americans for example, Trump told to reporter in 1984 in a phone
call that most of his father`s assets had been transferred to him, or well,
pretending this guy – pretending to be this guy John Barron. Here we go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What`s your first name, by the way?



BARRON: Let me tell you what the deal is just you understand.


BARRON: Fist of all, most of the assets have been consolidated to Mr.
Trump, you know, because you have down Fred Trump. And I`d like to talk to
you off the record if I can, just to make your thing easier.


BARRON: Is that all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that`s fine.

BARRON: All right, but I think you can really use Donald Trump now, and
you can just consolidate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that perhaps for tax purposes, it`s been
– the ownership has been transferred to Donald Trump?

BARRON: Correct, correct. That`s correct.


MATTHEWS: David, I don`t think Obama ever did this?

LITT: No. I`m going to go out on a limb and say he did not come up with
his own fake publicist. I – we only heard the audio from that, I can only
hope that President Trump had a sock puppet or some sort of ventriloquist
dummy while he was in character as John Barron, at least that shouldn`t
been entered that.

MATTHEWS: He didn`t even disguise his voice really, I mean he didn`t do
the old tricks of this (INAUDIBLE).

RUCKER: We sort of laugh about it but that is the definition of fake news.
I mean he is literally lying about his identity to advance a story that may
or may not by true. He used to do this all the time with the tabloids in
New York about his personal life, about you know, which women were coming
on to him and then in all come his stuff.

MATTHEWS: OK, I`m going to come after you, Phil, OK ready? You ready,
trade craft question –

RUCKER: I know.

MATTHEWS: – when you`re reporting on the White House there`s all kinds of
smart people, reporting like you.


MATTHEWS: Do you have sort of a diagram, when you know, if you want to get
something on Kellyanne, go to these people?


MATTHEWS: If you want something on Jared Kushner, go to these people?
Because you know the tribal lines, you know the defense for it.

RUCKER: What you do now, what you –


RUCKER: It`s the ideological split among some of the advisors. So, you
know for trade, for example, which officials in the administration have a
free trade viewpoint, which ones are – have a different viewpoint, and you
know where to go for different pieces of information. But it`s not as
tribal as you`re mapping out there. It`s really not.

MATTHEWS: You`re laughing. Anyway, thank you, Phil Rucker, thank you
David Litt.

Coming up, one shining truth to emerge from this shutdown of the government
is the political strength of Speaker Pelosi. Trump sees it, the whole
country now sees it. “Hardball” back in a minute.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “Hardball.” The one clear shining truth to
emerge from this month-long federal shutdown is the political strength of
Speaker Pelosi. Having worked, by the way, for the legendary Speaker Tip
O`Neill, I have – thinks on what worse in that job.

Here`s an example. Trump has tried patronizing Pelosi. Well, not after
his usual tricks of branding the speaker with a nickname, he tries to
belittle this constitutional officer who is second in line to the
presidency by referring to her as Nancy. She hasn`t let him get away with


TRUMP: Well, Nancy is in a situation where it`s not easy for her to talk
right now and I understand that and I fully understand that. We`re going
to have good discussion and we`re going to see what happens but we have to
have border security.

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Mr. President, please don`t
characterize the strength that I bring because it`s me, as leader of the
House Democrats, who just won a big victory.


MATTHEWS: And so first and foremost the Speaker of the House has demand
respect from the presidency. It`s what Speaker O`Neill did with President
Reagan back in the `80s and what Speaker Pelosi has done with President
Trump now. The second rule is to make it crystal clear where you stand.
No one does where Speaker Pelosi stands on Trump`s demand for the wall.
She says it`s an immorality.

Well, last night at 11:00 p.m. Eastern we saw the first white flag, white
flag flying from the Trump White House. Speaker Pelosi said the President
could not deliver a State of the Union while the government was closed.
Trump had to announce he was going along with that.

Leadership is an interesting aspect of human behavior and it`s easy to
detect. A leader is someone with lots of people following her. Trump sees
it, the whole country sees it. And that`s “Hardball” for now.

“All In With Chris Hayes” starts right now.


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