Trump feuds with intelligence chiefs, TRANSCRIPT: 1/30/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.
Date: January 30, 2019
Guest: John Brennan, Thomas Friedman, Juanita Tolliver, Cliff Sims, Kelly
Magsamen, Eric Swalwell, Jay Inslee
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I don`t need no intelligence. Let`s play
Good evening. I`M Chris Matthews in Washington.
Early today President Trump behaved weirdly even by his standard. He rip
into to his own U.S. intelligence community after they openly challenged
him. In a series of tweets, the President who possess zero experience in
foreign intelligence gathering, told his administration`s intelligence
officials they are naive and should go back to school. And yesterday, the
President`s top national security official including FBI Director
Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National
Intelligence Dan Coats presented a stark warning about the most pressing
security threats to the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The composition of the current
threats we face is a toxic mix of strategic competitors, regional powers,
weaker failed states and non-state actors using a variety of tools in overt
and subtle ways to achieve their goals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, at times their assessments directly contradicted the
President`s more rosy interpretation of the current state of foreign
affairs. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have won against
ISIS. We have beaten them and beaten them badly.
COATS: ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of
fighters in Iraq and Syria.
TRUMP: We have made a lot of progress as far as denuclearization is
concerned. Things are going very well with North Korea.
COATS: North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is
unlikely to completely given up its nuclear weapons.
TRUMP: I have President Putin. He just said it`s not Russia. I will say
this I don`t see any reason why it would be.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Not only do the Russians continue to do it
in 2018 but we have seen an indication they are continuing to adapt their
model and that other countries are taking a very interested eye in that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, during that testimony director Haspel was asked about
Iran`s nuclear capabilities. Her seasoned assessment did not align with
that of the President`s. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since our departure from the deal, they have abided by
the terms. You are saying they are considering but at the current moment
they are –.
GINA HASPEL, CIA DIRECTOR: Yes. They are making some preparations that
would increase their ability to take a step back if they make that
decision. So at the moment technically they are in compliance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: In compliance.
President Trump was particularly disturbed by that perspective tweeting,
the intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and na‹ve when it
comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong.
In response to the President, former CIA director John Brennan who spent 25
years with the agency tweeted, your refusal to accept unanimous assessment
of U.S. intelligence on Iran, North Korea, ISIS, Russia and so much more
shows the extent of your intellectual bankruptcy. All America especially
members of Congress needs to understand the danger you pose to our national
John Brennan joins me now.
What is the danger of the President being basically out to lunch about the
real threats out there?
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, there are several. First all of
it is very dispiriting to members of the intelligence community who work
day and night to try to keep this country safe. So his public
disparagement of their leaders I think did not go down well. I would say
that Donald Trump should be ashamed of himself, but I know he knows no
But more importantly, people around the world and other governments round
the world, both our partners and our adversaries, how are they going to
take seriously what U.S. intelligence says if Donald Trump continues to
disagree with it publicly. And not just disagree with it, that is fine.
You can disagree with it. But to be insulting and be disparaging of it is
something that I think there are a lot of folks who are just wondering
what`s Donald Trump is thinking when he does stuff like that to the
intelligence community of the United States.
MATTHEWS: What is his motive? But first of all, I want to ask you a
bigger question because it is great to have you here. What should we be
worried about? When you worry in the middle of the night, you wake up and
you think, you know, in 20 years we are going to have a real problem and
this is getting worse and we are not working on it. What are those areas?
BRENNAN: Well, I don`t think he understands the complexities of the
problems associated with North Korea`s nuclear program. We have not gotten
anything from the North Koreans. And I think Kim Jong-un has demonstrated
just how easy it is to play Donald Trump like a fiddle, which is what he
has done and there is going to be another summit. And I think he has been
duped by Kim Jong-un.
Iran, you know, tearing up the U.S. agreements with Iran, the joint
comprehensive plan of action when it was a unanimous agreement of the U.S.
Security Council and provoking the Iranians now and pushing them in the
direction that we were trying to dissuade them from previously.
I don`t know whether or not he is looking for some type of confrontation, a
military clash or whatever, but these are things that he needs be mindful
of, just how impactful it is in U.S. national security interest. His
reckless announcement about pulling U.S. troops out of Syria. I don`t know
what we are going to do in Afghanistan. But what we can`t do is just to
give up all the progress that we have made in these areas because of his
MATTHEWS: Do you think he recognizes reality in globe? I mean, the world
we live in, will he - or is he like a 5-year-old kid or 8-year-old kid who
says I`m not drinking my milk. I don`t care how good it is. I`m just –
what is this resistance about to reality to you?
BRENNAN: Well, I don`t want to insult five and eight year olds, quite
frankly. But he does have this petulance. He does have this sense that he
knows better than everybody else. He says he know military better than
generals. He knows intelligence better than intelligence professionals.
He knows technology better than anyone else. It is just something that he
is blinded by his own arrogance and it`s very unwarranted because the world
stage is a very complex one and the more he just goes in with his gut and
the less he listens to intelligence and diplomats and on military officials
and generals, the less he is going to be able to protect the national
MATTHEWS: Well, last night, this is getting weirder but it is FOX. Lou
Dobbs attacked Dan Coats, his DNI right now, the top intelligence guy in
the country, calling him anti-Trump because Mr. Coats provided a non-
partisan assessment of our global threats. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What in the world is the intelligence
community doing? Are they persisting in what they started as this
President was a candidate? They are anti-Trump. OK, great. Get over your
bad selves. He is commander-in–chief. I mean, there`s something rancidly
(ph) wrong with this intelligence community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? He is ransacking, he is attacking
them for doing their job of telling the President the truth. It`s not the
President`s job to be G2 for these guys and tell them what`s going on.
BRENNAN: There`s something rancidly wrong with (INAUDIBLE), shown by
people like Lou Dobbs and others who are allowing Donald Trump to get away
with this. Good on Dan Coats, good on Gina Haspel for speaking exactly
what the intelligence community believes about these very critical national
security issues. And they need to be able to continue to say that with the
force of their confidence that they have in the assessments, which they
did. So I`m big fans of Dan Coats and Gina Haspel more today than I ever
MATTHEWS: I just wonder, what do you think Trump would have done during
the Cuba missile crisis when they came to him with pictures and said here
is the objective fact? They are putting intermediate range missiles that
can hit every city but Seattle. Do you think he would recognize the truth?
Is he capable of seeing the truth when it is place in front of him?
BRENNAN: I shovel to think. And over the last 50, 60 years, the
advancements in weapons systems has just been exponential. And if we are
confronted with a situation like that today, God help us in terms of what
Donald Trump may decide to do given that he is commander-in-chief and has
these authorities. That`s why the members of Congress particularly
Republicans continue to enable it, should be ashamed of themselves.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he might go to war with Venezuela or Iran to get
him out of this political problem? Would he wag the dog?
BRENNAN: I certainly hope not. And I`m hoping that the officials in the
White House and the Pentagon and the intelligence community will stop him
from doing that.
MATTHEWS: Interesting projection. Thank you very much, director Brennan.
Three years into his administration, President Trump has forced the
resignation of roughly 40 people at the top. Ten of those people
experienced foreign policy advisers, national security experts or military
officials. Maybe that`s not surprising given Trump`s rhetoric during the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There`s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.
I know more about ISIS than the generals, believe me.
I know more about courts than any human being on earth. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are you consulting with consistently so that you
are ready on day one?
TRUMP: I`m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good
Nobody but me will know how to do. I`m the king of banking law. I`m good
Nobody know more about trade than me. I mean, I made so much more money
than Mitt, you know. I have a store that is worth more money than Mitt.
It is store.
I`m an outsider. Used to be an insider to be honest with you, OK. I know
the inside and I know the outside and that`s why I`m the only one that can
fix this mess, folks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m the only one.
After secretary of defense James Mattis` departure this past December, “New
York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman called on the Republican Party to
fire Trump unless his behavior change.
The columnist wrote, Trump`s behavior has become so erratic, his lying so
persistent, his willingness to fulfill the basic functions of the
presidency like reading briefing books, consulting government experts
before making major changes in appointing a competent staff are so absent,
his readiness to accommodate Russia and spurn authorities, allies so
disturbing in his obsession with himself and his ego over all other
considerations so consistent, two more years of him in office could pose a
real threat to our nation.
Thomas Friedman is also the author of the bestseller, “Thank you for being
late, an optimist guide to thriving in the age of accelerations.”
And Thomas Friedman joins me right. Thank you, Mr. Friedman.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, AUTHOR, THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE: Good to be here, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Sometimes the President looks like – sounds like Professor
Irwin Corey, the world`s greatest authority. The clown that used to come
can on talk shows and brag about incredible knowledge and had none.
FRIEDMAN: Yes. He knows more about climate and climate scientist. He
knows more about ISIS than generals and intel chiefs. And it is kind of
militant ignorance, Chris, that is really dangerous.
Right now, we are really lucky. The world has been rather benign, OK, both
economically and geopolitically in the two years of the President has been
here. But what if we are facing crisis with country where the intelligence
chief used to say, Mr. President, you must act. We must act as a country.
And he has already delegitimized them. Can you imagine where the country
would be in that debate when you delegitimize your own intelligence chiefs
whom you appointed?
MATTHEWS: Well, that happened today. And my reaction - my question to you
is because you wrote a column back in December that the Republican Party
should get rid of this guy. How do you raise the stakes to say don`t you
get now? Mitch McConnell and the rest of you, guys, don`t think - Cornyn,
all the rest of them over there in the Senate. How do you make the case
now more strongly because it is at worst? It is getting worst.
FRIEDMAN: Because I don`t think you can. I think that the Republicans
have made up their mind. They are going to go down with this guy for the
next two years, absents on even more barren behavior and that`s why my own
personal focus is how do we get a Democrat or Republican to challenge him
who can defeat this President.
For me, it is not about left, right, center, Medicare or not Medicare. It
is not about tax and not taxes. I think it`s about the very institutions
of our country that are at stake. These are very different election for
MATTHEWS: You know, back - and I just read the long church by Andrew
Roberts, book I read on church. And one thing he talked about, the man who
did see the problem coming with the Nazis said he talked about the years
that the locusts ate under Baldwin. And when I see - afraid of is not the
problems we see but the ones we don`t see because we have a leader to point
to them. This idea that Russia and China are getting together, there is a
reproach (ph) month, the thing that scared us so much in the early `50s
when they both had nuclear weapons.
What do you see going over? Because that seems to be something - nobody is
guarding that gate.
FRIEDMAN: Well, you really have two things going on. My friend Michael
(INAUDIBLE) in fact written a book that is going to come out shortly about
you have the rise of Russia, Iran and China. Three sort of traditional
powers now coming to challenge us. That`s on one side. And on the other
side, you have weakening states. So you know, one of the hardest things to
manage actually in geopolitics is weakness. States falling apart you are
like Venezuela or in Central American states spilling out people. And to
manage weakness on one side and rising powers on the other takes incredible
deftness which I don`t see on this president.
MATTHEWS: Aren`t we through our sanctions we are pushing now against
Venezuela causing more migration, more problems in that country
FRIEDMAN: Well, a lot of people already spilled. There`s probably thee
million refugees in the states around Venezuela. These are problems from
hell. Managing weakness is one of the hardest things in the world.
MATTHEWS: OK. Wag the dog. Do you see it? Is the coming? I listen –
you put together John Baldwin. He recognize global hawk. That`s just
Middle East. He is everywhere he wants to fight. He is talking very
tough. He apparently scribbled on his notebook the other day, 5,000 troops
to Columbia on the border with Venezuela. Are we going to war down there
to save Trump`s problems here at home?
FRIEDMAN: I kind of doubt it right now. What I say about Trump, he
reminds me a little of leaving Netanyahu in this sense. Both tough talkers
but actually been into this very cautious. I`m not sure Trump who has been
trying to get us out of the Middle East is so eager to send troops down to
Latin America and I have no idea what he is thinking right now. But one
thing I know for sure –.
MATTHEWS: What about the chemistry of these two guys?
MATTHEWS: Let me finish this point. These problems like Venezuela or like
Afghanistan or like Syria, one thing we know for sure, they can only be
solved by multilateral solutions. You need a lot of allies, a lot of
partners to try to go alone into any of these things would truly be a
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you something. If John Bolton, his head of national
security, and Hillary Clinton, a moderate Democrat as President, I would be
worried because Bolton wants to go to war.
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, he may want to go to war but the American people
don`t want to go to war right now. I can tell you that for sure.
MATTHEWS: I agree with that. By the way, I remember a guy saying it was
against stupid wars. Remember him? Where is he?
Anyway. Thank you, Thomas Friedman. Great book as always.
Coming up, Donald Trump held yet another one-on-one meeting with Vladimir
Putin. We just found out about it without any American officials present.
That alarming report coming up next. He is still hanging out with Putin.
And Putin is still doing his dirty stuff against us.
And President Trump is reportedly fixated on the author of a new tell-all
book about his White House. What`s trump worried about? We have the
author coming here later in the hour.
Stick with us on HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: From the press reports, Donald Trump met
privately with Vladimir Putin and no one in the U.S. government has the
full story about what was discussed. Would this put you in a disadvantaged
position in terms of understanding Russia`s efforts to advance its agenda
against the United States?
COATS: Well, Senator, clearly this is a sensitive issue and it is an issue
that we ought to talk about this afternoon. I look forward to discussing
that in a closed session.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Closed session. Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Oregon Democratic Ron Wyden with a timely question the director of
national intelligence Dan Coats during that hearing yesterday.
The tales of President Trump`s five meetings in four countries with Russian
president, there they are, Vladimir Putin over the last two years have been
shrouded in secrecy, of course. That includes an encounter in December at
a G-20 meeting in Argentina, in Buenos Aires. At the time the White House
acknowledged the meeting as brief and informal.
But a new report alleges it was more substantive than previously admitted.
The “Financial Times” reports the leaders huddled virtually alone. Noting,
Trump was accompanied by Melania Trump, his wife, but no staff while Mr.
Putin was flanked by his translator.
The report goes on to add, according to a Russian government official`s
account, the two leaders spoke for about 15 minutes before a number of
foreign policy issues. While the report has been independently - actually
not yet independently confirmed by NBC News.
It comes on the heels of a bomb shell “Washington Post” article earlier
this month detailing the extent Trump has gone to the conceal his
interactions with Putin. According to the Post, those efforts include on
at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own
I`m joined now by California congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who
serves on the House intelligence committee and Kelly Maxim (ph), a senior
Pentagon official in both Obama and Bush administrations.
Congressman, what – what is it about these meetings? They`re almost like
quiet dates. I mean, he`s meeting with a person as if there was no world
around them, except their relationship.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: That`s right, Chris.
It`s like a “Sopranos” episode where Tony is going to a poorly lit parking
garage and meeting with a leader from another mob. I mean, it`s not
presidential. You don`t hear of Donald Trump meeting this fashion with
Theresa May or Macron or Trudeau. It`s only with somebody who leads a
country that doesn`t want us to succeed.
But I think the question here is, what came out of this meeting? Because,
if you look at the timing, this was in November of 2018. And just a month
later, abruptly, Donald Trump does something that would really please
Vladimir Putin, which is pulling us out of Syria.
And, by the way, Vladimir Putin is not somebody who has earned an audience
with Donald Trump. He`s changed nothing about his behavior. General
Mattis said earlier, at the end of last year, that they meddled in the 2018
election as well.
So, again, this is all the wrong reasons, all the wrong people, and it`s
hurting us here at home.
MATTHEWS: Kelly, give us a sense of what normally happens when heads of
state of the biggest countries, the most important countries militarily in
the world meet.
KELLY MAGSAMEN, FORMER DIRECTOR FOR IRAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Yes.
Well, this is definitely not what normally happens. And it`s a very
disturbing pattern. I agree with the – with the congressman.
But what normally happens is, there`s a notetaker with the president.
Usually, it`s the national security adviser for head of state meetings.
And if there`s not a notetaker, usually, the president will then go and
meet with his staff afterwards and explain what happened during the
meeting, so that everyone has a presidential record of what actually
And that`s really important, so that our adversaries can`t use those kinds
of engagements against us and spin it their own way.
MATTHEWS: Tell me how that would be…
MATTHEWS: Tell me how this gives an advantage to Putin, these private
meetings with no notes.
MAGSAMEN: Well, first of all, it puts the president in a room with Putin
Putin is a very skilled man, very manipulative. And Putin can also go back
and work with his Foreign Ministry and say that something occurred in the
meeting that didn`t occur in the meeting. So it`s really important,
especially in the case of an adversary, to have witnesses in the room, as
best you can, and to certainly keep your national security team informed.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me, Congressman, this is like giving him a chance to
interview the president. I mean, it`s almost like an interrogation
There`s nobody else around. And he is just fly-fishing, basically, to get
whatever he can get out of Trump. It`s interesting that Putin would want
to do that. Why would Trump, except to keep Putin happy?
SWALWELL: Well, Putin helps Trump. Putin helped Trump. And we know that
he`s going to continue to do that.
But, Chris, Putin`s interest is not the same as Donald Trump. And we have
come to learn this in our House Intelligence investigation. Donald Trump
likes Putin because, transactionally, he`s benefited from Russian money
going into his businesses, from what the Russians did in the last election.
Putin benefits because it`s – collaterally, he gets somebody who wants to
help Russia`s interests. But he`s really – he`s really able to undermine
our democracy, our rule of law, our interests in enforcing human rights
across the world.
And also, again, the fact that Donald Trump would meet with him in this
way, and not tell us – and we had to learn about this from a Russian
source – to me is a consciousness of guilt. He`s not telling us because
he knows it looks bad, because it is bad.
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, today, a new court filing from special counsel
Robert Mueller shows how Russians continue to sow chaos in the U.S. and
The Mueller team alleges that information from documents it shared with
lawyers defending a Russian social media company – quote – “appear to
have been altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign
aimed apparently at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian
interference in the U.S. political system.”
The special counsel`s office said the documents were posted by a Twitter
account that has since been suspended on a computer based in Russia.
Kelly, they`re still doing it. They`re now acting to sort of obstruct
justice, to kill this investigation into what they did in 2016. And
they`re doing it in 2019, still.
MAGSAMEN: Exactly. Exactly.
I mean, they`re going to keep doing it. And I find it interesting that
yesterday – or today, the president called his intelligence community
There`s only one person right now that`s naive, and it`s Donald Trump, as
it relates to dealing with Russia. These guys are very aggressive. They
have – they know what they want, and they`re getting it out of this
MATTHEWS: I`m a relative amateur in this, except that I have been
And I do notice human behavior. Every single time Putin gets near Trump,
he`s got that smirk. And that`s the smirk of a guy that knows we don`t –
what we don`t know, but knows that the other guy knows what he knows.
In other words, Trump knows what Putin`s got on him. That`s the way it
looks to me, Congressman. I don`t know how it looks to you.
SWALWELL: I think that`s right. It`s the cat that swallowed the canary.
That`s the look that I see in Putin.
MATTHEWS: Yes, same thing.
SWALWELL: But when I look at Russia running this play, again, here we are,
years after they interfered in our election, and they`re still doing the
same thing that the special counsel has exposed.
And here we are, on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday. If you keep throwing the
hook and ladder, and the defense isn`t stopping it, any great coach is
going to have his team run that play over and over, until the defenses are
put up to stop it.
And this president will not confront Putin about it, despite saying he has.
And so they`re going to keep running this play against us. Now, we`re in a
position now, in the majority, where we can fund election awareness
resources, we can fund resources to defend the ballot box.
But without the president asserting our interests, Russia`s going to keep
doing this, until they`re stopped.
MATTHEWS: Terrible stuff.
Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell of the Intelligence
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
MATTHEWS: And, Kelly Magsamen, thank you so much for your expertise.
Up next: Potential 2020 candidates are united against Trump, but, of
course, this happens, divided within each other. That`s what happens. You
compete with each other to get the nomination against Trump. Big surprise.
Could a third-party bid, however, spoil the Democrats` chances against
Trump, someone outside, running outside the Democratic Party?
We`re back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A big fight in the Democratic Party right now is being played out between
2020 contender Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is pitching a
wealth tax on the ultra-rich, and former New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, who compared it to socialism.
Under her plan, American households with more than $50 million of assets
would pay a 2 percent tax annually. Those with more than a billion dollars
would pay 3 percent.
Bloomberg, a billionaire himself and potential 2020 nominee, shot down that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We need a healthy
economy. And we shouldn`t be embarrassed about our system.
If you want to look at a system that`s non-capitalistic, just take a look
at what was perhaps the wealthiest country in the world, and today people
are starving to death. It`s called Venezuela.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Warren responded on Twitter, writing – quote – “What`s
ridiculous is billionaires who think they can buy the presidency to keep
the system rigged for themselves, while opportunity slips away for everyone
Well, this is just one of the ideological battles that the party will face
as more candidates enter the race for 2020.
In the end, one thing they all agree on is that they need to beat Donald
Joining me right now is Democratic Governor of Washington State Jay Inslee.
Governor, thank you.
What do you – where are you win on this fight? Are you for this – the
idea, which has never been tried in this country that I know of, of a
wealth tax, not income – but how much money do you save and own, you would
be taxed on that. Your thoughts?
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Well, I haven`t looked at that specific
But I know the sentiment that drives it. And that is, we have had such
massive income inequality in our country, and we need to do the things that
we`re doing in my state. I have proposed a capital gains tax. It`s small,
but it helps finance our schools.
And I just think that`s fair for folks who have done so exceedingly well,
rather than taxing single mothers who are trying to buy shoes. I think we
ought to repeal the Trump tax cuts. Those were absurdly unrealistic and
Look, we got to look at the massive subsidies of the oil and gas industry
in our tax code. Then we have to look at the things that will really right
the ship of state on better-paid family leave and minimum wage increases
like we have had.
So there`s a bunch of things we have got to do to right this ship of state.
We need to have better consumers and a middle class.
MATTHEWS: But what about this new idea of taxing wealth, not income, but
how much money you still have? What do you think about that
philosophically, a wealth tax, obviously for super rich people? But that
concept, where are you on that?
INSLEE: I just – to be honest with you, I just haven`t thought that much
But I think we ought to start with the thing that is most obvious, which is
to right the income tax situation in the Trump – in the Trump tax
giveaway. And there are many things we need to do even before we get to
that new idea that can right and bring in more fairness to our tax code.
I think what people rebel about – I don`t think it`s an issue of envy
about people who have done well and are billionaires. I just think that
people think that we ought to have a fair tax system. And I think you can
deal with that through the income tax, through the capital gains tax,
through the oil depletion allowance and other things in our extraction
fossil fuel industry.
INSLEE: That`s the way I look at it.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk pure politics.
I think that makes a good argument there about income, and you can hit the
income, you can hit the cap gains, you can hit the wage income and the
INSLEE: Yes. Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: But what about this more tricky question politically? What
happens if a guy runs or a woman runs outside the Democratic Party, like
Jill Stein did last time, and grabs 10 or 20 million votes?
What – is that a danger to knocking off Trump, just by the numbers?
INSLEE: I got to tell you, I think it`s maybe the most dangerous idea
floating around America right now.
And, look, I went through this. I was a huge opponent of the Iraq War.
And who gave us the Iraq War was, in a sense, Ralph Nader. He picked off
just a few percentage points in Florida. He gave us the George Bush
presidency. And we got the Iraq War, and we`re still dealing with the
horrendous consequences of that.
So, when I see a candidate like Howard Schultz, who`s been a successful
businessperson in my state, thinking about splitting the Democratic vote,
and allowing Donald Trump to be reelected, I can`t tell you how disturbing
that is to me and disappointing.
And I know I`m not alone. I know there`s a lot of people…
MATTHEWS: You`re not alone, sir.
INSLEE: I`m not alone.
MATTHEWS: You`re not alone.
I have been listening for 24 hours to this. It is a loud cry against this.
I`m going to talk about – by the way, you sound like me talking about this
and the Iraq War. I don`t know how the hell we got into that war.
INSLEE: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: But we got it because we got the wrong presidents.
MATTHEWS: When are you going to make up your mind, Governor, about running
INSLEE: In the next few weeks.
Look, I think…
MATTHEWS: Next few weeks?
INSLEE: Yes, a couple weeks.
We need a president who will make climate change a priority and a foremost
issue in the country. And I believe that is because we`re the first
generation to feel the sting of climate change, but we`re the last
generation that can do something about it.
And we know this is a time of great peril, but it`s also a time of great
promise of economic growth.
INSLEE: And I think we need a Democratic candidate to espouse that. And I
may be carrying that banner.
MATTHEWS: What`s that mountain behind you?
INSLEE: I`m not sure. But it could be Mount Rainier. If it`s really
MATTHEWS: I think it is.
INSLEE: … and it`s 14,000 feet, it`s Mount Rainier.
MATTHEWS: It`s Mount Rainier.
INSLEE: You ought to come out and climb it someday. It`s a good one.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: Come back and tell us when you`re running, Governor. Thank you
much, Governor Inslee, of the state of Washington.
INSLEE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: President Trump son`s Eric weighed in last night on some of the
plans being pitched by Democratic candidates, like Senator Warren.
Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: Elizabeth Warren wants another bite at the
apple after you paid all your taxes.
ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I mean, it`s –
it`s – it`s – it`s insane.
And they become so radicalized. And it`s not – it`s not going to work.
They have become crazy. I mean, the message doesn`t even make sense
anymore. It`s almost an anti-American message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by former Democratic Congressman Joe
Crowley of New York and Juanita Tolliver, campaign director for the Center
for American Progress Action Fund.
I have got to talk to you right away, Joe, right off the bat about this
idea of this guy, a billionaire, as Bernie Sanders would say, a
billionaire, running for president as an independent, also against Trump,
but not running for the nomination of the Democratic Party.
What do you make of that?
JOE CROWLEY (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think if anyone was
going to do that, wouldn`t Mike Bloomberg have decided to do that himself?
Here`s a guy that ran for mayor, switched parties, then became an
independent, then became a Democrat to run for president. So I think he
has the experience of having America`s mayor of New York City, has that
I don`t diminish his business acumen or what he`s achieved in life, but I
But I do think that, clearly, what happened in the last election – and we
have seen this over and over again – that that third-party candidate, more
often than not, with the exception of Perot, not benefit Democrats in any
way, shape or form.
MATTHEWS: It does seem that way.
JUANITA TOLLIVER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: At all.
TOLLIVER: Like, honestly, I think he needs to follow Bloomberg`s lead
Bloomberg said he knew better than to pull a stunt like this.
MATTHEWS: Well, you can`t win, so what are you doing?
There`s an Electoral College.
TOLLIVER: You can`t win. Honestly, you`re reelecting Trump, is what
MATTHEWS: And you have the Electoral College sitting there.
TOLLIVER: Exactly right.
MATTHEWS: You don`t win any states.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the ideological battle.
MATTHEWS: Democrats have generally been center-left, sometimes left, over
the years. They push for opportunity, good public education and things
like that, national health, to the extent we have been able to do it under
Now this thing about taxing wealth at the top, that sounds to me, like, a
little different. Your thoughts, Juanita.
TOLLIVER: I mean, yes, it`s different.
And, honestly, when are you going to have the opportunity to really dig
into and debate these type of proposals than a primary? So welcome the
I welcome the diverse perspectives, because, honestly, this is one of the
biggest, best crop of candidates Democrats have seen in a while.
MATTHEWS: And a lot of them.
CROWLEY: I agree with that, though, that the debate is important to have
that and have that discussion.
But I think what`s also lost here is the Trump tax cuts that went through.
CROWLEY: The elimination of the estate tax. This is – our country has no
divine right of kings, right?
MATTHEWS: Look, I live in a high-tax state. And anybody that does hates
this thing, because all it was, was Trump`s revenge against New York, New
Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts.
CROWLEY: Oh, my God.
TOLLIVER: And it was a massive give to the wealthiest of the wealthiest
CROWLEY: If you`re mobile, if you can move to Florida, if you can move to
TOLLIVER: What a privilege.
MATTHEWS: That`s what`s going on right now, I think.
Senator Warren`s push for taxing the wealthy should come as no surprise
here. Just a few of her remarks about taking on the wealthy. Here it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We got a problem where the big
corporations, the billionaires, they`re calling the shots.
America`s middle class is under attack.
How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted
more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.
Giant companies and right-wing billionaires have been pouring unlimited
sums of money into making sure our government works for those at the top
and leaves everyone else behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m not sure. Look, I think she`s great as a populist. I like
her whole style. I think going after Wall Street is very appropriate to
the Democratic politics today, progressive politics.
Calling Mike Bloomberg, however, a guy who goes into politics to protect
billionaires, well, he does stuff I don`t like exactly. I think his
smoking thing was smart in the end. I thought it would ruin a lot of bar
life, but he was right to get the people out in the cold smoking.
CROWLEY: Our students are better off for it.
MATTHEWS: That`s right. And they smoke out in the cold.
I think the Big Gulp thing was a mistake. But I think that`s too much the
nanny state, if you will. But I don`t think he`s ever been in politics for
MATTHEWS: He`s got the money.
CROWLEY: And, in fact, Mike has been ahead of the curve in many respects,
his NYC 2030 plan, you can adjust the pricing, planting a million trees in
New York City, opening up park space to New Yorkers who never had it
before, access to the water.
I used to say in my neighborhood would Woodside, Queens, we had no running
water. We had no ponds, no lakes. Our access to the – to water was
Rockaway Beach. And now you can take a canoe, a kayak and actually go into
the Hudson or the East River. And that connectivity, he had a lot a lot to
do with that, and at great risk.
CROWLEY: There were a lot of people in opposition, still are, to that as
MATTHEWS: How it`s look for you right now? Give me an overview of this
election right now. Who`s running that you like?
TOLLIVER: I honestly like everybody.
I haven`t seen anything yet that, as far as policy-wise, that will turn me
off, because that`s what I`m looking at.
MATTHEWS: Aren`t you stunned that nobody`s over 8 percent or 9 percent in
TOLLIVER: No. Why I would be stunned at this stage?
MATTHEWS: Well, you would think that Biden would be able to get about 20
on name I.D. right…
I think there`s definitely something to the fact that we have a lot of
fresh faces breaking in.
And, as a woman of color, I`m extremely thrilled about that.
MATTHEWS: I think – I think – I think the woman from California is
looking very strong right now.
TOLLIVER: The woman of California came out strong.
CROWLEY: Great rollout. Great rollout.
TOLLIVER: Look at that week she had.
MATTHEWS: Very strong.
Thank you, Joe Crowley. Thank you, Juanita Tolliver. Please come back,
both of you.
Up next, a new tell-all book. Now, we`re getting to dirty stuff. A White
House insider puts on the room, he`s talked about what it`s like to be in
the room with Donald Trump as results started coming in on election night.
What was Trump thinking when he knew he`d lost Virginia? This is rough
Don`t go anywhere. Wait until you catch this. “Team of Vipers” author
Cliff Sims coming here in a minute. It`s HARDBALL. Don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like to promise and
pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all of the people of the
United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and
historic presidential election if I win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s not funny.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump in 2016 saying he`d accept the election results if
he won. A new book shows Trump considered protesting the results if he
didn`t win. Former White House communications aide Cliff Sims wrote that
on election night of 2016, quote: Trump was coming unglued about reports
streaming in from Virginia showing Hillary Clinton ahead there. He writes
that at 10:20 p.m., Trump pulled out his phone to tweet he was going to
protest the results if he did win the election.
According to Sims, he was talked out of that idea and he came up with a
compromise to get Fox`s Rupert Murdoch on the phone and tell him to make
this a big deal if we need to.
Sims writes that, unfortunately, at that moment, Ohio was called for Trump.
According to “The Washington Post`s” Josh Dawsey, the president seems to be
a bit fixated this week on Cliff Sims` book.
And yesterday, Trump tweeted: A low level staffer that I hardly knew named
Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and
fiction. He pretended to be an insider when he was nothing but a gofer.
He signed a nondisclosure agreement. He`s a mess.
Well, that gofer that Trump seems to be so afraid of joins me next. Lots
coming here on the inside in Trump world.
Back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As I just mentioned, Trump tried to claim this week that they hardly knew
Cliff Sims, author of the new book, “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary
Days in the Trump White House”.
Sims, a former White House communications aide, responded by tweeting out
multiple pictures of him interacting with Mr. Trump. Cliff Sims joins us
Cliff, thank you.
Here`s what you wrote in your book: Trump`s greatest fear was obscurity.
If he was noticed, he mattered and he didn`t much care if the admiration
was – the attention was good or bad, as long as it wasn`t indifferent.
That`s so interesting.
CLIFF SIMS, AUTHOR, “TEAM OF VIPERS”: Yes.
MATTHEWS: In other words, he didn`t want to be known for anything in
particular, just be known.
SIMS: I think if you look back just the history of his career. It`s been
all about, I mean, devoting himself to building and maintaining the brand.
And that`s why people never thought he`d actually run for president.
MATTHEWS: But what purpose?
SIMS: I don`t know. I don`t know if I can get inside his head about that
exactly. But I know that that feedback loop that he has with media is one
that is important to him, and when he`s in a conversation, that`s how he
MATTHEWS: OK. I don`t have a problem with him personally as a human soul
necessarily. But there`s things he does really are wrong, I argue. One is
if you win in less Democratic countries, you start arresting people you
beat. And if you lose, you say the election was rigged. He seems like
Hillary, lock her up and you report in your book that it looked like he was
going to lose the election in 2016, he was going to claim it was rigged.
SIMS: Well, it was actually in Virginia where the governor of Virginia,
and I don`t remember the exact details but essentially they passed a new
law that allowed felons – criminals of some sort to be allowed to vote
SIMS: And he saw that headline and so he saw the spread in Virginia it
looks like he was going to lose and he got frustrated and he was like
wanted to tweet about it. Actually, Steve Bannon was the one who said, no,
no, we need to be patient tonight. We need to patient.
Jared kind of chimed in –
MATTHEWS: You mean he claimed at the moment that he had a real reason to
say the election was stolen?
SIMS: In Virginia. In Virginia, he felt like it was unfair what was going
MATTHEWS: But they had changed the law, hadn`t they? So how could it be
stolen if it was a change of law?
SIMS: Fortunately, he didn`t tweet, because, I mean, what a way to start
off – I mean, because he then wins later on the night.
MATTHEWS: Do you think if he had lost the election, he would have said, I
lost fair and square to Hillary? Would he have done that?
SIMS: I think – yes, I think probably so. I think it was a moment of
peek there that thankfully was –
MATTHEWS: But you also wrote that the president`s Charlottesville response
did not cause you to reconsider working in the White House because you flat
out did not think Trump was racist. But why did he – I think he uses the
race issue. I don`t know what some people saw.
But did he constantly say Barack Obama was from a foreign country? That he
wasn`t an American?
MATTHEWS: Why did he keep doing that?
SIMS: I don`t know because that was way before my time there.
MATTHEWS: You can`t hide from it. You went to work for a guy that used
race against his predecessor.
SIMS: Yes, and I`ve talked about the birther issue. I think it was
racist. I think it wrong. There`s no question about that, and there are a
lot of things about that. Especially the race issue is one that I`ve
repeatedly said, I`ve talked about it in my book, while my personal
interactions, behind the scenes interactions with Trump made me no reason
to feel like he was racist, ever treated anybody in a racist way.
That is an issue in which I would love to see him stuff up and lead in a
way that really only a president can, because you got that bully pulpit to
bring racial reconciliation.
MATTHEWS: How long were you at the White House?
SIMS: Five hundred days.
MATTHEWS: Were you proud of a lot of those 500 days?
SIMS: I was proud of the policy. I`m proud of being identified with those
MATTHEWS: What about the man? He`s got a job that`s called president of
the United States and that includes head of state. He`s the
personification, for better or worse, of our country right now, in the
world, and to young kids growing up in this country. Are you happy with
role? Did you helped build up this guy to be our head of state?
SIMS: There are good and bad things about him just like everyone. And so,
I`m proud to work in the White House. One of the last lines in the book –
MATTHEWS: White House, of course, I worked in the White House but you`re
working for Trump.
SIMS: And I`m proud I worked for Trump, good and bad and otherwise. And
people ask all the time, like, what you say you hate things he did in
certain occasions, but you don`t hate him and I say –
MATTHEWS: Would anything have made you walk?
SIMS: Well, sure. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, “Access Hollywood” didn`t make you walk?
SIMS: Well, at that point, we felt like it was an A-B choice. And I
couldn`t think of anything I thought would be better if Hillary Clinton had
MATTHEWS: OK, let me tell ask you about something I did find familiar. Do
you believe right now the 31st – the 30th of the month of January right
now, do you believe the are people in the White House right there in the
West Wing who the president should put on his enemy`s list that are not
loyal to him?
MATTHEWS: Who are they? Give me some names.
SIMS: I mean, I don`t want to do that.
SIMS: I do name some in the book. Most of them are not there anymore.
People who I felt like were not loyal to him.
MATTHEWS: Is Kellyanne loyal to the president?
SIMS: I think publicly, yes. I think privately –
MATTHEWS: Privately not?
SIMS: – there`s a lot of evidence that she`s not and at bare minimum says
very negative things. I mean, I witnessed when she said very negative
things behind his back about him, sure.
MATTHEWS: Why does he have people around him he doesn`t trust? I don`t
SIMS: That`s something I wrestle with in the book and try make sense of
that. One of the great mysteries of this presidency is that he did not
really invest himself in the staff, in making sure he had – outside of his
family. Trust his family implicitly, the Trump world –
MATTHEWS: Is he morally fit to be president of the United States? Morally
SIMS: I think he is but that does not let him off the look for things of
his character I find troubling at times.
MATTHEWS: But you think he`s fit? You want to answer, yes or no? Fit or
SIMS: Yes, fit, and I say that in historical context of things we have
found out about past presidents at the time because the media didn`t have
access the way that we do know now, didn`t know, that we learned about LBJ,
about Kennedy, about these different people, big flaws in their character.
Donald Trump has big flaws. There`s no question about that.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s just a question of exposure you think? That`s the only
difference between him and Roosevelt?
SIMS: Well, I don`t know. Obviously, I wasn`t there for Roosevelt.
SIMS: Maybe you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, I wasn`t. I wish I was. Thank you, Cliff Sims, for coming
MATTHEWS: Up next – the name of the book is “Team of Vipers.” Excellent
title, by the way.
Up next, the effective third-party candidates on our presidential elections
is not always a bad thing but it usually is.
Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Our country`s history shows that both good and bad people have run for
president as third-party candidates. In 1912, Roosevelt run on a Bull
Moose ticket, he split the Republican vote and elected Democrat Woodrow
In 1948, Democrat Henry Wallace ran on the progressive ticket and Democrat
Strom Thurmond ran on the Dixiecrat ticket but President Truman still won
In 1968, George Wallace ran as an independent splitting the Democrat`s
solid South, giving the election to Richard Nixon.
In 1980, moderate Republican John Anderson and liberal Democrat Pat Lucey
ran together on a third party but had no real impact on the vote count.
Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in a landslide.
In 1992, Ross Perot of Texas ran what seemed to be a vendetta campaign
against President George Herbert Walker Bush. Democrat Bill Clinton won
that election with just 43 percent of the vote.
In 2000, Ralph Nader running on a Green Party ticket won 92,000 votes in
Florida, with Al Gore losing that state by a contested 537 votes. With
assistance from the Supreme Court, that gave the election to George W.
In 2016, Green Party candidate Jill Stein pulled a decisive number of
Democrats from Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. We
know who won that one.
So, Howard Schultz should recognize the history here, that third party
candidate doesn`t always spoil things, but usually does.
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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