Congress demolishes Trump’s wall. TRANSCRIPT: 02/12/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.

Katie Hill, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joseph Moreno, Dan Nowicki, Robin Kelly, Matt Gorman

Date: February 12, 2019
Guest: Katie Hill, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joseph Moreno, Dan Nowicki, Robin
Kelly, Matt Gorman

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We will be back here as 6:00 p.m. Eastern

And coming up next, it is “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump`s wall, false. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed to avoid a second shutdown of the
federal government. They closed the bargain. They demolished funding for
President Trump`s border wall. The bipartisan committee reached an
agreement in principal just as Trump was about to take the stage last night
in Texas to make a pitch for his signature campaign promise. It was clear
today the President lost.


I just to see it. The answer is no, I`m not. I`m not happy. I don`t
think you are going to see a shutdown. I wouldn`t want to go through it,
no. If you did have it, it`s the Democrat`s fault. But I don`t think it
is going to happen. But this would be totally on the Democrats.


MATTHEWS: Well, the tentative agreement includes just $1.4 billion for a
border barrier. That is about 55 miles of new fencing, not a concrete
wall. It is a fraction of the $5.7 billion the President was demanding to
build about 200 miles of barriers. It`s also less than $1.6 billion in a
Senate compromise before the government shutdown.

Well, Friday is the deadline for the deal to be approved by the House, the
Senate and the President. When asked about it, President Trump signaled he
might not support it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Sir, will you sign Congress`s border deal?

TRUMP: I have to study it. I`m not happy about it. It`s not doing the
trick but I`m adding things to it.


MATTHEWS: But late tonight in a series of tweets, the President said he
was looking over all aspects of the plan and added that regardless of wall
money, it`s being built as we speak. The President has already taken a
beating from his allies especially from the hard right in the media.

Last night, FOX News host Sean Hannity broke away from the President`s
speech to slam this proposal.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: By the way, on this new so-called
compromise, I`m getting details. $1.3 billion? That`s not – not even a
wall or barrier? I`m going to tell this tonight and we will get back into
this tomorrow. Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you
will have to explain.


MATTHEWS: Another FOX host, Laura Ingraham also panned the deal. And Ann
Coulter tweeted Trump talk as good game on the border wall but it is
increasingly clear he is afraid to fight for it. Can this be his yellow
new deal?

A white House official today told NBC News that even if Trump were to sign
off quote “other options are on the table to build a more substantial
barrier but not through a government shutdown.”

On Capitol Hill, Senate leaders from both parties said it`s time to end
this stalemate.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I had recommended that it if it
becomes what we think it is, I do recommend he sign it.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: The President should not make the
same mistake he made a couple of months ago when there was a bipartisan
agreement and he wouldn`t sign it and caused the shutdown. Please, Mr.
President, no one got everything they wanted in this bill, but sign it and
don`t cause a shutdown.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined by U.S. congressman Katie Hill, a Democrat from
California, Robert Costa, national political reporter from the “Washington
Post,” Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS News Hour
and Jason Johnson is politic editor at

Robert, is this stalling grad? Is this the first big defeat for this
president? He could more defeats to come?


Just talking to Senator Shelby at the capitol. He explained to the
president this is the best you are going to get. The President is going to
review the details, of course. People on the right wing, they don`t like
it like Sean Hannity and others, members of the freedom caucus. They are
not going to support it but the President has something in his back pocket,
officials tell me, taking executive action, using an executive order to
take federal funds from elsewhere and put them on the border. To him he is
going to make the case if that is the way of going to brink.

MATTHEWS: But he decided not to go with the brink of another government
shutdown and not to with an emergency declaration, right. So he is going
to the more subtle way?

COSTA: He doesn`t have leverage anymore. White House officials privately
acknowledged that. They know there are many votes in the Senate to keep
the government open even if the President refuses to do so. They know that
Senate Republicans will fight him on a national emergency. So in their
eyes, they have to take this deal. Complain about it, fume about it on
twitter, would sign it, then use executive power to say to the base, I`m
doing all I can.

MATTHEWS: You know, congresswoman, this all begun I think when you are
speaker. The speaker of the House said it`s an immortality to build a
wall. The word “wall” became unacceptable. It seems like that`s when the
victory began on your side.

REP. KATIE HILL (D), CALIFORNIA: I mean, I think that the Speaker has done
an incredible job of negotiating this whole process. And she really showed
her leadership skills and how adept she is in handling this whole

MATTHEWS: Why is a wall more offensive and more immoral than a fence?

HILL: You know, I do think that there has been a lot made of the semantics
of the wall. And personally I think it`s going to be a relief to me to
move beyond this and (INAUDIBLE), 55 miles some kind of barrier is - it is
not the end of the world. It`s something that I think is, you know, it
makes sense in certain parts. It`s an extension of what we already had.
It is, you know, it is coming from experts of where it makes the most
sense. And we are – we have to recognize that we still only have the
House of Representatives, right. We don`t have the Senate. We don`t have
the presidency.

And to me this is we are definitely coming out on top in this arrangement.
We have 1.375 going towards that compare to the 1.6 that he has in the deal
that he shut down the government for. We got fewer beds for ICE overall.
And I think this allows us to really set the stage for what is going to
come next.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, what do you make of this? Because I think Democrats,
the party left which was pushed him for basically a cap on the beds because
they want less people being picked up here by ICE, in fact some want to get
rid of ICE. They don`t want to anymore detentions unnecessary. They
basically went along with this deal. Trump went along with less money than
he could have - actually started with, with the Senate proposal in the
beginning. So he lost, the left lost a little. The right in the form of
this President lost a bit. What have we accomplished in this government
shutdown for the American people? Anything?

accomplished was how divided government is going to work. This idea that
President Trump can shut down the government and get his way is now I think
something that the President understands isn`t going to happen. And I
think on the Democrats side, they realize that they also can`t completely
hold the line and say the President can`t get anything that he wants
because they also had to make a deal here.

I think when it comes to the wall, it is clear that Democrats said that
they weren`t going to give any not $1 for the wall. And what we have is
Democrats saying yes, we are going to give money for new fencing. The
President is going to be able to call that a wall. Democrats are now
having this conversation about whether or not there`s a difference concrete
versus metal. Some of the sources I`m talking to say it is not a wall
because that`s not concrete. That`s negotiating on President Trump`s terms
and to arguments he wants to have whether or not - it is something as a
wall because of the materials.

And then when it comes to the detention beds, even though the number looks
like it might be smaller, you have this idea that the President can also
stretch these funds out to get to the 52,000 beds he initially want if he
wants to do that.

I have been hearing from conservative activists and liberal activists.
They are both are angry. So that tells me that there is compromise here.
And that it is a solid bill because everyone seems to have not gotten
exactly what they wanted.

MATTHEWS: Well, today, President Trump repeatedly suggest that walls
already being built. Figure one that out, but here he is.


TRUMP: I`m happy with where we are going. I`m thrilled because we are
supplementing things and moving things around and we are doing things that
there fantastic and taking from far less, really from far less important
areas and the bottom line is we are building a lot of wall right now. We
are building a lot of wall.


MATTHEWS: We are building a lot of wall.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina argued Trump could get the rest of
the money he needs for the wall by taking money from other areas or by
taking more drastic action. Here`s Lindsey.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: As to the money for the barrier,
if he can use it steel barriers, like he has been talking about, I would
say that is overall a pretty good deal and he will make up the difference
between 1.375 and 5.7 through executive actions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Even with this deal, do you think he will
still declare a national emergency?

GRAHAM: Absolutely. Because it`s well short of what he needs.


MATTHEWS: Jason, this guy, Lindsey Graham, has certainly signed up for the
cattle drive all the way. He is not quitting. I never seen anybody more
loyal than anybody since Sancho Ponzo (ph) or Tono (ph) or someone like
that or I don`t know who, if we are going back to the cowboy movies.

But what in the world are we getting here? It looks to me like every time
we have a government shutdown, when the American people get some more beds
and 50 more feet of fencing.


MATTHEWS: I mean, is this some pathetic country somewhere would be doing
thing like this with the fight between the parliament and the President.
It seems so – I could give it a pallianau (ph) thing and Yamiche gave a
little effort of (INAUDIBLE). I could do that and say oh, great, our
government is back to compromise. This thing is really working because
nobody is happy. Well, that includes the American people. Nobody is
happy. Not just two sides in a fight in D.C. It looks like –


MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.

JOHNSON: Yes. You know, this is sort of government by abuse, right? You
make millions of people suffer and then you say look, what we accomplish
after torturing you unnecessarily.

Look. The idea of a government shutdown as a negotiating tool has never
been a good idea but it is now essentially broken. No one will ever be
able to shut down the government again as a cogal for negotiation. The
Republicans have no strength for it. The Democrats will never stand for it
again and the end result is not the things that would have made a
government shutdown ultimately valuable for either side which is something
about DACA or comprehensive immigration reform.

But I also, Chris, think I think the bigger issue is this and this is
something I think a lot of Democrats have learned and Republicans have
quietly began to accept when I have had conversations in people sort off
the record, is Trump did the worst thing possible. He didn`t just lose the
battle. He empowered his enemies. He has made Nancy Pelosi more strong,
more respected and more capable than she was before the shutdown. And
that`s not something he is going to be able to stop.

MATTHEWS: I think that - I watched Nancy Pelosi. She showed up at some
big event the other night, a concert or something. It is the kind of thing
you show up at when you are winning and then apparently she has been seen
at a lot of night spots in San Francisco lately. You always show your face
a lot when you are winning. It just - it so interesting to me about - what
he just there, momentum.

HILL: Yes. That`s exactly it. And it sets us up in a good position for
what we want to do next. I do think that it really proved to everyone that
a shutdown isn`t the way that you do this, right, and this isn`t a
negotiating tactic that`s going to work. I think that it`s left the
Republicans bruised moving to the next phase.

You know, whatever he tries to pull after this in terms of, you know,
executive action, it`s clearly going to be a half measure. It is probably
going to get stopped in court and it is certainly not going to be
satisfactory to his base no matter what, so.

MATTHEWS: What I like Nancy Pelosi, she is a leader. And I work for a
speaker. I know the limits of what - because it is really about personal
authority, prestige. There is no power. You can`t fire a member of
Congress. You can`t be the beat them in the primary. That`s not nice.
Roosevelt couldn`t even do that.

But when she did that little thing in the state of union. You guys - OK.
This is the whole monitor bivalent. But even now in the last few hours, it
seems to me she was able to at least keep the people more aggressive in
terms of the ICE and people like that, Ocasio (OAC) and the others. I
mean, they have a point of view and she has to accommodate that. But she
also has to get the government running again. I think she How does she do

HILL: I mean, she really never seizes to amaze me with that and how she
controls the caucus. I mean, the people that she put on the negotiating
group with appropriations clearly was very strategic and, you know, members
of the congressional Hispanic caucus. And you know, that represents the
whole spectrum of people in the Democratic caucus and, you know, it`s
pretty brilliant. It is going to get a lot of people on board.

We will probably lose a few within the Democratic caucus, but I think we
are going to get some Republicans and ultimately that will get you votes
and that`s what Nancy is a pro at.

MATTHEWS: Ms. Lori David would say pretty, pretty good.

Anyway, and a tweet this morning, freedom caucus chair, Mark Meadows. The
other end of the line criticized Democrats saying quote “is this the best
they can do? It is obvious they have no interest in serious border
security. At this point, it is clear Potus should take executive action.
But several Republican senators warning against a second shutdown.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: There is no way that the country should be
put through another disastrous government shutdown. My hope is that the
President will sign the bill into law.

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: I hope we have this behind us. We don`t
shut down for anything. This has reaffirmed my leaf that shutdowns are bad


MATTHEWS: Let me go to Robert on the President how he is going to deal now
with the media on the right. I mean, Sean Hannity is a talented, talented
host of a TV show. Ann coulter is amazing. She survived for years without
really having a job just being able to write books that guys buy, I guess.
They make him feel excited or (INAUDIBLE). But they do. They like her
books. She is a good writer. And of course Laura Ingram has been around
forever. She is great on television now. She is good on radio. But they
are basically performing to a minority of people and they are good at it,
the 10 or 20 percent or even less. And they are good at building an
audience. But that`s not 50 percent of the country. Does the President
know that? It`s not a leadership position be to in to follow their lead.

COSTA: Well, they will bring it back to Congress. You think about mark
Meadows, the freedom caucus chairman, those voices on the right, they could
be in the presidency or in the coming days. And this has Republicans on
Capitol Hill nervous because they know the President is likely going to
sign this deal based on their own conversations and mine with White House
officials. But there`s a chance they worry that he could push its sign
what is called the CR, a continuing resolution that doesn`t appropriate
anything that just keeps the government open. And that could happen if the
right puts that kind of pressure on him.

At this moment, the White House I think wants to move away and have a deal
but there`s always that chance he says no deal, no appropriation, just keep
the government open. I want to continue to negotiate.

MATTHEWS: But what would be his exit strategy if he did the CR route?
Still the hard right and the media and show him the rest of the
(INAUDIBLE). He wouldn`t be more comfortable then, would he?

COSTA: The argument from the right wing today has been if you do a CR, you
keep the government open and don`t do these appropriations, you just put
pressure on Democrats, in their view, for having more time on the clock for
negotiations. But that is not going to hold water. Senate Republicans and
Senate Democrats, the leaders in both parties today said sign the deal, Mr.

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, finally.

JOHNSON: Yes. Look. The President is trapped. If he goes for an
executive order, it`s going to get knocked down by the courts. We can see
that by Roberts. He is not going to allow this sort of thing to happen.
The Republicans in the Senate have absolutely no passion for this kind of
bill. This is a huge “L” and a loss for Donald Trump. And he has got to
figure out some other part to have a domestic agenda other than his wall or
he is going to waste a ways of 20, the rest of 2019 and get picked apart by
the Democrats wanting for president.

MATTHEWS: You are building a see-through John Roberts is better than mine.
I know he supported – opposed that measure in Louisiana which would have
basically banned abortion in the state. I`m not sure he may owe the
President one right now.

Anyway. U.S. Congressman - Congresswoman Katie Hill, thank you, of

Robert Costa of the “Washington Post.”

Yamiche Alcindor, PBS News Hour.

Jason Johnson, the Root.

Coming up, 27 months after the election and Trump supporters are still
chanting lock her up? They can`t get over it. Why is he still attacking
Hillary Clinton when it`s his guys getting locked up?

Plus lift off in Arizona.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You nearly lost your life serving your country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what do you do when bad things happen?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to move ahead and try to make a difference in
the world.


MATTHEWS: That`s a great ad. Take a look at it.

Anyway, Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut and husband of former U.S.
congresswoman Gabby Giffords, launches his bid for the U.S. Senate with a
staring video. These are really nice video. Will Senator Kelly begun
control`s biggest champion adding real legislation to the country`s usual
thoughts and prayers as in the face of gun violence.

And my rally is bigger than yours. President trump`s thin skin`s response
to Beto O`Rourke making fun of his name, too. And was last night`s Beto`s
audition for a White House run? I bet it is.

We`ve got a lot to talk about tonight. Stick with us.



collusion was between Hillary and the Democrats and the other side with


TRUMP: That`s where the collusion…


AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

TRUMP: That`s starting to make a lot more sense. But that`s where the
collusion is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump, of course, and his supporters last night in El
Paso digressing into a familiar attack on his one-time political rival
Hillary Clinton.

Under the circumstances, the president`s the last person to be calling for
someone to be locked up. To date, 34 people been charged with crimes in
the Mueller probe. Among them are Trump`s campaign chairman, his former
national security adviser, his longest serving political adviser, his
personal fixer. At least two of them, if not all, will serve time behind

I`m joined right now by Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of
Texas, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. And Joseph Moreno is a
former federal prosecutor.

Let`s start with the politics and the congresswoman.

Why do you think Trump keeps going back to that old thing he does of
trashing Hillary?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: I think he`s turning fake news on

He is the individual pre his inauguration that refused to accept 17
intelligence agencies who came together and said Russia interfered with the
2016 election.


JACKSON LEE: They didn`t talk about Hillary Clinton. They talked about
Russian interference.

For two years, we have sat dumbfounded by the Republican Congress that
refused to investigate extensively the idea of this interference. And only
through the firing of James Comey, the appointment of Mr. Mueller, who I
know very well, that a special counsel was selected to investigate the
obstruction of justice, which they then had the authority to do many other
lines of investigation, which is what special counsels do.

And so there`s a pile-on, with five people indicted, convicted, 26
Russians, five – three companies, Russian companies, and all the president
can say is to push back and to bring back Hillary, because he has no
defense for all of his close allies that are now headed to jail.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to you, Joe, about this.

What do you – what do you make of the Senate Intelligence Committee not
really able to get closure here? I mean, they – basically, the chair, who
is, I think, OK – the chairman is Burr from North Carolina – he seems OK.
He`s worked well with Mark Warner.

But he`s coming out with what he says is, what you see is what you get.
Basically, you have got to see into it. You have got to intuit into it a
high crime or misdemeanor. But I`m not saying it`s there, but it might be

what this country needs.

And it`s disappointing that the Senate is speaking, when – admitting at
the same time, we`re not finished with our investigation. So one is, it`s
inconclusive. There is evidence. You have to look. You have to look,
whether it`s direct, whether it`s circumstantial. But at the end of the
day, they`re not finished.

And I think ultimately we need them to get to an answer. We need to have
the facts come to light, and we need to find what the special counsel has
found in these past two years.

MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, your committee, the House Judiciary Committee,
Congresswoman, has now hired two new lawyers, attorneys, to help with their
oversight responsibilities.

According to NBC, the issues they will be focused on, abuses of power, the
rule of law, and obstruction of justice, could well produce threads that
lawmakers could use to lay the groundwork for impeachment.

How do you see what your committee is doing now and how that might lead to
an impeachment later this summer?

JACKSON LEE: Chris, we`re not rushing toward impeachment, and we`re not
rushing away from it.

Attorney Eisen and Barry Berke, two outstanding lawyers. Of course, you
know that Eisen was the ethics counsel for Mr. Obama. And, of course,
Barry Berke is a well-renowned trial lawyer, well-known to defend white-
collar crime.

We`re going to be meticulous. The question is that – John Dowd, lawyer,
just came out with a very confusing statement today that there`s nothing
there, there`s nothing there, there.

But he doesn`t think that perjury, false statements and obstruction of
justice is something? We`re going to follow the themes that have been laid
out in the public arena, but also the materials that we have and we will be
securing dealing with bad acts.


JACKSON LEE: And we will do our job.

And we, as the Judiciary Committee, under Article 1, of course, have the
oversight responsibilities of the Department of Justice and over the
breaking of the law of the highest office in the land. That is the
president of the United States.

We do have authority under the impeachment provisions. It comes first
through the House Judiciary Committee. We are the grand jury. The Senate,
of course, is the trial. But we also have the right to investigate. And
that`s what we`re going to be doing. And we`re not going to rush to


JACKSON LEE: And we have two outstanding professionals that are going to
provide that basis for our investigation.

MATTHEWS: In the background of all that, Congresswoman, we have got most
Americans now viewing special counsel Robert Mueller as more credible than
President Trump, no surprise, but fact.

A new “Washington Post” poll shows that 56 percent of Americans say they`re
more likely to believe Mueller`s version of the facts; 33 percent say they
would believe Trump`s.

Now, let`s talk about that 33 percent, because we all know who that 33
percent – they are the hard-core Trumpies. And my concern is, later this
summer, the committee, the Judiciary, does a great job in the House, they
bring up basically an indictment, based upon all the evidence they see,
some of it circumstantial.

But a person seeing it says, it ain`t all coincidence. This stuff all fits
together. The Russians wanted this. The Trump people were willing to give
them back. They were working hand in glove. It`s clear.

But a third of the country says, I don`t see that.

What happens? Is it better to go through the impeachment process or better
to wait for the election next year?

MORENO: Follow the evidence.

So, if there`s credible evidence, if there`s evidence that are of high
crimes and misdemeanors, other wrongdoing, the House and the Senate are
obligated. It`s their oversight role. We want them to do that. We want
them to restore some semblance of confidence in our institutions.

So if the evidence is there, don`t take the path of least resistance.

MATTHEWS: That`s what you believe.

That`s what Barbara Jordan said in a speech I told her we watched, because
she`s one of your, well, illustrious predecessors.

JACKSON LEE: My mentor, yes.

MATTHEWS: But she said basically, it`s the job of the House to find
evidence, and if it looks like a case, bring it. It`s up to the Senate to
be the judge.

JACKSON LEE: Absolutely.

Not only that. Impeachment is a political process. We would hope that,
when we do a thorough investigation, there will be Democrats, Republicans
sitting on that panel. We obviously want some Republican, one Republican,
to see the merits…

MATTHEWS: In the House.

JACKSON LEE: In the House, because, obviously, during the impeachment of
Richard Nixon, Democrats and Republicans voted on, in essence, the

MATTHEWS: We all watched it on television, before you were born. We all
watched it every night. We all watched it.

JACKSON LEE: I`m so glad you said that.

So, it is our task. We`re in the majority. And it`s our task to lay the
groundwork and begin the process. It is, as you said, if the evidence is
there, we need to follow the evidence, and we need to investigate.

MATTHEWS: I want – you were a colleague – your colleague – you lost a
colleague this week out in Michigan.

JACKSON LEE: We did. We did.

And thank you for your kind words. I listened to you. You knew John
Dingell. I am obviously wearing mourning colors, because two planeloads
attempted to get to Detroit. There will be another ceremony here. And we
were turned around because of the ice.

But, on the plane coming back, we prayed, because we were not able to get
there. And then we were able to welcome him during the transition when his
body came to the United States Capitol, and greeted his wife, Debbie


JACKSON LEE: And we will again have the opportunity to mourn him on

But let me just say, as an African-American in particular, what a great
fighter for civil rights and justice and, it was well-known, a friend of
Barbara Jordan, and just a great fellow with a great sense of humor.

Everyone admired and loved John Dingell, the oldest and longest serving
member of the United States Congress in the history of the United States.


Well, it`s nice to have a constituency that likes you, isn`t it?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, big John, we called him, John Dingell. What a guy.
Anyway, I`m going to be at that mass with you on Thursday.

The congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you for coming from Houston,

JACKSON LEE: Thank you for having me.

MATTHEWS: One of the successors of Barbara Jordan.

And, Joseph Moreno, thank you sir, for joining us.

Up next: Former astronaut Mark Kelly says he`s ready for his next mission,
to boldly seek – sounds like “Star Trek” – the U.S. Senate seat formerly
held by John McCain.

More on Captain Kelly and his campaign announcement video, which is really
good, actually, after this break.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There`s an interesting Senate race shaping up out in Arizona. Retired
astronaut Mark Kelly announced this morning he`s running for the late
Senator John McCain`s seat in 2020.

Sitting next to him was, of course, his wife, former U.S. Congresswoman
Gabrielle Giffords.

Let`s watch.


serving your country.


M. KELLY: But what do you do when bad things happen?

GIFFORDS: Move ahead.

M. KELLY: I learned a lot from being an astronaut. I learned a lot from
being a pilot in the Navy. I learned a lot about solving problems from
being an engineer.

But what I learned from my wife is how you use policy to improve people`s

So, please join us. Man the torpedoes full speed ahead.

GIFFORDS: Full speed ahead.


MATTHEWS: Admiral Farragut.

Anyway, in 2011, Giffords was severely wounded when she was shot in the
head by a mentally ill man who opened fire at one of her constituent
events. She was being a congresswoman and meeting the voters, the
constituents, when she was shot for being a congresswoman.

It left six dead and 13 injured, including herself, Giffords. And since
then, Mark and Gabby have advocated for stronger gun safety regulations,
like universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and
prohibiting those on the no-fly list from buying a gun.

If Kelly wins the Democratic primary, he would likely be – go head to head
to head with Senator Martha McSally, who was appointed to the open Senate
seat after losing her Senate race against Kyrsten Sinema. Isn`t that
amazing, to having somebody sitting in there that lost?

Anyway, last year, McSally received an A rating, of course, from the NRA.

I`m joined right now by Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, co-chair
of the House Gun Safety – actually, Gun Violence Prevention Task Force,
and Dan Nowicki, national politics editor with “The Arizona Republic.”

I just want to talk to – we will get to the big picture here, but I want
to get to the – is this – tell me about Arizona. Is it a purple state
now, the purple sage? Is it really that way in the middle politically?

DAN NOWICKI, “THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC”: Well, I don`t know if it`s realigned.

Kyrsten Sinema was the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in about 30
years there. And she did it by kind of distancing yourself from some of
the other Democrats. She ran as kind of a nonpartisan Democrat. She ran
as a centrist, moderate, whereas Martha McSally kind of ran as a Trump

So she was able to beat more Martha McSally. Couldn`t really crack 50
percent. It`s very – it was still a pretty close race. So I don`t know
if there`s any realignment there. But, certainly, in the Trump era,
there`s a lot of dynamics that are shifting around. And things are
changing in Arizona.

MATTHEWS: And what does the ad that Mark Kelly`s put out tell you about
what he thinks the state is made of politically? It sent a message to me.

NOWICKI: Right. Well, I think…

MATTHEWS: Well, I think Mark Kelly understands that there`s a – Arizona
has an independent streak. And that`s been reflected in its senators,
including Jeff Flake, John McCain, Barry Goldwater. And I think he`s
trying to tap into some of that.

Kyrsten Sinema did too. Sinema really kind of showed Democrats how to win
statewide in Arizona. And I think the Democrats are feeling really good in
Arizona. And I think they`re going to try to repeat that in 2020.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

REP. ROBIN KELLY (D), ILLINOIS: Thanks for having me.

MATTHEWS: You`re from Illinois, you`re leading this big fight for gun
safety, against violence.

I mean, we have had all these school shootings. And every day they happen
here, we start all over again, and we say thoughts and prayers. And all
that`s fine, but no action.

KELLY: You`re definitely right.

And that`s why I don`t participate in the thoughts and prayers. I haven`t
stood up and done the moment of silence for over two years now, because we
stand up, we sit down, and we do nothing.

But, hopefully, HR-8 will be the beginning of doing something with the
background check bill.

MATTHEWS: Do you think rural states like – I always saw it as sort of a
mixed bag as a rural state, but do they get it, that when kids get ahold of
guns and gangs get a hold of them and people that are a little bit mentally
unstable get ahold of guns, that people are going to get killed?

KELLY: I think some people get it. And I think more and more people are
getting it.

And I`m saying that because some of the people that won, they weren`t
afraid to talk about the need for gun violence prevention and laws around

MATTHEWS: What do you think is the chances of getting something done on
background checks to start with?

KELLY: Well, I definitely think it`s going to pass the House. It`s been
bipartisan for a long time. We just could not get Speaker Boehner, Speaker
Ryan to even call the bill.

It will be tougher in the Senate. But I`m hoping all the advocacy, all the
energy around this will – they will take it over to the Senate and put the
pressure on, frankly, the Republican senators.

MATTHEWS: Yes, there won`t be a cork in the bottle anymore.

Anyway, as we approach the one-year anniversary of the school shooting in
Parkland, Florida – one year it`s been – a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows
the more Americans want tougher gun laws, but don`t believe lawmakers can
make it happen.

According to the new poll, more than half of Americans believe lawmakers
should make it tougher for people to own guns, and 58 percent say they are
not confident that our lawmakers will actually do something to improve the

Hmm. Sounds like pessimism is reigning here.

KELLY: It does, but I think, because they have seen such a partisan
divide, even though I always tell people we get along better than people
think – but I think they have seen what`s happened over the years.

But I think we can get some things done. I have legislation that asks the
surgeon general to put out a report every year about the impact of gun
violence. And I think that has a chance of passing in both the House and
the Senate.

MATTHEWS: Dan, how about in Barry Goldwater country, John McCain country?
Is gun ownership just the NRA way, or is there something more moderate from
that they can win?

NOWICKI: Well, Arizona very much is a gun-friendly state, but, like I
mentioned earlier, things are – seem to be changing.

And Mark Kelly running as a moderate, centrist Democrat – and the way he`s
going to finesse the gun control message is sort of, we`re not going for
your – we`re not going to grab your guns. We`re not trying to undermine
the Second Amendment, just commonsense regulations that are going to try to
keep guns out of the wrong people.

Mark Kelly stresses his family owns guns. So he`s kind of presenting
himself as a commonsense gun owner who just wants to fix some quirks in the

MATTHEWS: Well, I think he`s got the credentials. He`s not a gun hater.
He just wants gun safety.

Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly. Thanks for coming out

KELLY: Thank you for having me.

MATTHEWS: And, Dan Nowicki, thank you from “The Arizona Republic,” a great
newspaper, by the way. It used to run my syndicated column years ago.

Up next: a tale of two rallies, a remarkable seen in El Paso last night, as
Beto O`Rourke fact-checked Trump`s misleading statements in real time from
across the street. This is – well, this is mano a mano, don`t you think,

Stay with us.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The image created by dueling allies in El Paso is a tableau of American
politics in the 21st century. You have a more hopeful vision of America
delivered by former Texas Congressman Beto O`Rourke and a darker visions
delivered by President Trump.


BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: We know that there is no
bargain in which we can sacrifice some of our humanity to gain a little
more security. We know that we deserve and will lose both of them if we
do. We stand for the best traditions and values of this country – for our
fellow humanity and who we are when we`re at our best and it`s El Paso,

on and we have stopped it. We are taking out thousands and thousands of
people from MS-13. We`re bringing them the hell out of our country.


But if we had proper border security including a powerful wall, we wouldn`t
have to work so hard.


MATTHEWS: Hyperaware of the optics, President Trump wasted little time
taking on O`Rourke.


TRUMP: The young man who`s got very little going for himself except he`s
got a great first name, he is – he challenged us. So, we have, let`s say,
35,000 people tonight and he has 200 people, 300 people. Not too good.


In fact what I do – what I would do is say, that maybe the end of his
presidential bid.


MATTHEWS: With more Democrats declaring their intent to run in 2020, the
president and his campaign staff have taken notice. Just last week, Trump
told the “New York Times” that of the declared candidates, Kamala Harris
had the best, quote, opening act, close quote, because she had better
crowd, better enthusiasm.

O`Rourke`s events seemed to have touched a nerve with the president, not
just with him, but also with his 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, who
tweeted: It looks like Beto only has 900 guests at his so-called march.
Tiny. We have 35,000 attendance, 8,000 inside and tens of thousands in the
parking lot and streets.

But that`s not true. Stay tuned to hear just how far away from reality
Donald Trump and his aides really were.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

During President Trump`s hour-long speech in El Paso last night, he went
after Beto O`Rourke twice, claiming he could only get 15 people to his
protest rally. The number gets smaller and smaller.

The president noted O`Rourke again during a post-rally interview that aired
on Fox.


TRUMP: Very few people showed up to his rally and this place is packed
with thousands and thousands outside. And I guess he challenged us to an
event. So maybe this means he`s going to have to drop out because this was
not a good situation for him. I don`t know why he did it.


MATTHEWS: Well, according to NBC News and other sources, about 7,000 to
8,000 people attended O`Rourke`s rally, and not the 200 he`s talking about.
While 6,500 were allowed in for Trump`s rally, several thousands more
assembled outside. So, they`re pretty much even.

For more, I`m joined by Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, and Matt
Gorman, a Republican strategist.

Look, the numbers are pretty competitive. We agree, right?


MATTHEWS: What`s this about? Does he take on people he wants to run again
or people he`s afraid of? Which is it? I can`t tell if he`s picking

GORMAN: He`s certainly elevating Beto, and I think that`s good for both of
him, right? Beto wants to be seen as going one on one with Trump –

MATTHEWS: But it`s not good for John Delaney.

GORMAN: Certainly not. Certainly not good for Kamala or Cory or other


GORMAN: But Trump wants to elevate him. I think he thinks Warren and Beto
are the most beatable out of the whole –


GORMAN: I think so.

MATTHEWS: Who`s he afraid of, buddy?

GORMAN: Kamala. I think – and Klobuchar. I think it depends what lane.

MATTHEWS: What do you think? Looking at across the aisle here at Trump.

his reelect in a lot of – from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Ohio, if you
look at Trump`s reelect right now at historical low, I think almost – I
think the battle for the presidency, a lot of that is going to be played
out in the Democratic primary because this is a historically unpopular
president. I think you`re going to see a large field, so many people
jumping in to this because the president doesn`t break 43 percent approval.

MATTHEWS: Everybody – look, I`m thinking like a pol now, everybody must
say to themselves whether you`re Bernie and you`ve done it before or you`re
the youngest guy out like Buttigieg who say, anybody can beat Trump.
Anybody can lose to Trump. You don`t know.

BELCHER: Well, you don`t know. But what I do know is that this
president`s reelect and his approval numbers are pretty solidly in the low

MATTHEWS: But then he knocks the other guy`s head off.

BELCHER: But this is the other problem: 10 million more voters voted
Democrat this past midterm than ever before. All of the sudden, those
suburbs around Philadelphia that were once red, aren`t red anymore.


BELCHER: And that`s the fundamental problem. He has not broadened the
Republican Party. Mitt Romney did a better job of broadening the
Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: You know what I was thinking, I`m hearing right now growing up
in Philadelphia, this is the description, what happened to Frank Rizzo.
Frank Rizzo reached a point where he got to get 87 percent of the white
vote to win. Nobody`s going to get 87 percent of the white vote. He got
83 percent and lost.

If your core doesn`t really change, it`s the same old core, then you have
to keep getting a bigger percentage. It doesn`t work. It isn`t big

GORMAN: No, I mean, look, you mentioned Pennsylvania in 2018. It was a
bloodbath for us. I mean, especially in those Philadelphia Pittsburgh
suburbs, that`s going to be a problem.

I will say president Trump is good when he has an enemy, when he has an
opponent. He makes it into a choice. Maybe we see those numbers rise a
little bit, there`s no guarantee.

MATTHEWS: I think he wants Elizabeth right now. I think, I`ll say it, his
word – Indian word Pocahontas. He does it over and over again. He`s in
love with it.

BELCHER: Be careful what you ask for and careful what you wish for.

MATTHEWS: You mean for him?

BELCHER: Yes, for him. I think Elizabeth Warren would – she`s going to
raise money. She`s going to take the fight to him. Clearly, she`s going
to take the fight to him like no other.

MATTHEWS: Well, there`ll be no fun to fight her.


MATTHEWS: No fun anyway.

BELCHER: Well, in Texas, President Trump debuted a few new slogans. One
had a familiar ring to it. Let`s take a look.


together. I really do believe my slogan. Stronger together.

TRUMP: We`re only getting stronger together.

CLINTON: We truly are stronger together.

TRUMP: Stronger together.

CLINTON: Stronger together.

TRUMP & CLINTON: Stronger together.


MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton didn`t miss a chance. She weighed in this
morning. President Trump and the Republican Party should now copy her
health care, tax and voting rights. That`s pretty cool.

What do you think? Why would he say – didn`t he know that was her slogan?

GORMAN: It`s not a particularly good one either.

MATTHEWS: It didn`t work.

GORMAN: It didn`t.

Look, “Make America Great Again” certainly seemed to stick. But, look, I
think he needs to portray the Democrats as divisive. He needs to portray
them as out of touch or, you know, angry if you will.

So, I think that`s part of the plan. I wouldn`t stick with it for the
whole way. But I think that seems to be his overall goal.

MATTHEWS: OK. Bottom line, what`s a tougher threat to Trump? He
personally comes in there with their face looking angry or mishappy,
upbeat. I mean, does the politics – we used to call the politics of joy
with Hubert Humphrey. Would that work today or you have to show a little
anger at this guy? Because I think a lot of base voters really don`t like
Trump, and they want to see that in your eyes.

GORMAN: I think Democratic primary voters want anger, but the key is
whether you have anger, whether you`re not, got to be authentic. You don`t
have the healer be the fighter, don`t the fighter be the healer. I think
people – one thing about Trump, he`s authentic. Better or worse.

BELCHER: I agree with the authentic part. History doesn`t show angry
candidates win primaries. And I`ll go back even further than that.
There`s not a lot of American history that says angry candidates win
American presidencies. I can disagree with Ronald Reagan all I want, as
example. His belief and his exceptionalism of America stood out. Barack
Obama had that same sort of Reaganesque, exceptional, America great thing.

That`s where the majority is. Now, you can talk about – you can talk
about 42, 43 percent. But if you want to win the majority, you better not
be the angry candidate.

MATTHEWS: Cornell Belcher, thank you for your wisdom.

Thank you, Matt Gorman. Surprising unanimity of thought here, and


MATTHEWS: I don`t need to agree with anything except you`re smart.

Up next, he`s smart. Up next – every dog has his day. But not in this
White House.

We`re back after this.


MATTHEWS: I wonder if President Trump has just stepped in something. I`m
talking about his observation in El Paso about why he`s the rare American
president who doesn`t have a dog.


TRUMP: I wouldn`t mind having one, honestly, but I don`t have any time.
How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn? Would that be –


Right. Sort of not – I don`t know, I don`t feel good. Feel as little
phony to me.


MATTHEWS: A little phony having a dog.

Well, “The Washington Post” reported said it was the great Barbara
Streisand who noticed this oddity about this president. She asked last
fall, does the president not have a dog? He`s the first president in 120
years that doesn`t have a dog in the White House.

I thought back among the presidents. I knew about Franklin Roosevelt and
Fala. It was his brilliant speech defending Fala against a cheap political
attack that blew his 1944 rival out of the water.


hearing malicious falsehoods about myself, but I think I have a right to
resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.


MATTHEWS: Well, here in Washington, at along the Tidal Basin surround the
Jefferson Memorial, there`s a bronze statue of the World War II president
with the famous dog who may have won him his fourth term.

And then there was Checkers, the middle class pooch Nixon put before the
public to defend his honor in the TV address known as the Checkers speech.

It turns out FDR and Fala, Dick Nixon and Checkers were not the only
president-canine couples. Barbara Streisand had it totally right.
According to “The Post”, every president starting with William McKinley in
1897 has had a friend of the canine type living in the White House.

So, Donald Trump may have a real problem here. It`s been said in
Washington that if you want a friend, get a dog. If President Trump ever
takes that advise, he won`t know if the barking you hear from the White
House is coming from him.

That`s HARDBALL for now.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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