Trump ordered Gary Cohn to block merger. TRANSCRIPT: 3/4/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Ben Rhodes, Ted Deutch, Amy Klobuchar

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: So count us an official jealous of our colleague

Rachel Maddow who will have Chairman Jerry Nadler tonight. 


That does it for THE BEAT.  I will see you back here at 6:00 p.m. eastern

tomorrow.  But don`t go anywhere, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts



CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Did I miss anything?  Let`s play HARDBALL. 


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews up back from two weeks in beautiful New

Zealand.  And you know, getting up at 5:00 in the morning 8,000 miles away

to hear Michael Cohen was well worth it because it gave me a clearer

picture of this President. 


Cohen testified what it was like being in the room with Trump, taking

orders from him, feeling his attitude toward those women he had been with. 

It`s different than just hearing he had paid some women off.  Or catching

his flippant attitude toward the country and the Vietnam War he was

fighting at the time.  And all the moral and patriotic issues affecting

those in Trump`s in my generation. 


Cohen told us how he, rich Donald Trump, suggest that anyone who accepted

the call to duty was a chump.  Quote, “do you have think I`m stupid?  I`m

not going to Vietnam.” 


So let me now resume where I left off.  This is where the investigation of

Donald Trump is now clearly headed. 


The committee with the power to draft articles of impeachment, House

judiciary has launched a sweeping new probe with the President starting

with the payments to those women, targeting potential obstruction of

justice, public corruption and abuses of power. 


In a dramatic opening salvo today, the chairman of that committee,

Congressman Jerry Nadler, demanded documentary evidence from over 80 people

and organizations associated with Trump.  Nadler`s committee wants info

about the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump`s

intervention with the FBI in behalf of Michael Flynn, the firing of James

Comey, efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, possible Russian financing

and the hush money payments that Michael Cohen testified about last week. 

Chairman Nadler says the President`s payoff before the election could prove

to be a basis for impeachment. 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You said in the past that there could be crimes that

are not impeachable offenses.  Is a campaign finances falling like the one

outlined against President Trump one of those? 


REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK:   A violation – seeking to sabotage a

fair election would be an impeachable offense. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is that what you saw? 


NADLER:  Well, we will see. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, facing the Democratic onslaught, President Trump tweeted

today, or actually yesterday, I am an innocent man being persecuted by some

very bad, conflicted and corrupt people.  And here`s what Trump said today

during a tribute to the North Dakota state football team. 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you going to cooperate with Mr. Nadler? 



with everybody.  And you know the beautiful thing, no collusion.  It`s all

a hoax.  You are going to learn about that as you grow older.  It`s a

political hoax.  There`s no collusion.  There`s no anything.  Folks, go and

eat up. 




MATTHEWS:  That little guy in the back was Mike Pence, by the way. 


I`m joined right now by Democratic congressman Ted Deutch of Florida who

sits on the House judiciary committee itself, Ben Rhodes, former deputy

national security adviser under President Obama and Barbara McQuade wade is

a former federal prosecutor. 


Congressman Deutch, where are you headed right now?  You have in your head

right now a sense of where the judiciary is headed in terms of this vast

new probe that you Democrats now control.  Where you going? 


REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA:  Yes, I sure do.  We definitely do. 


Chris, Democrats are just doing our job in the committee that is charged

with providing oversight, a check on this president and this

administration.  The announcement is to make clear that we are embarking

upon a careful and methodical approach to get to the truth.  We don`t have

to rely on what`s in the headlines, we don`t have to rely on anything that

the President says.  We are going to start by getting all of these

documents.  Those will inform the decisions that we make, the people who

will be called into testify before us, but all of this to look at the

President`s potential abuse of power, the corruption we have seen in this

administration and the obstruction of justice. 


In each of these case, we have been governed thus far by whatever the most

– the biggest headline is of the day.  That`s not the approach.  We have

got to be careful, methodical and we are going to get to the truth so the

American people will be clear about what`s needs to happen next. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, here`s a headline from today, Congressman Nadler, your

chairman, Jerry Nadler is talking about the fact for Trump to cover up

through payments to women, information the public would normally have

gotten from them during the course of a campaign especially on this final

weeks constantly sabotaged of a fair election.  Do you see it that way?  In

other words, something that`s impeachable. 


DEUTCH:  The President committed a felony in order to become President of

the United States.  That`s what the chairman was referring to today.  And

we even have his signature on checks showing the effort that he went to –. 


MATTHEWS:  Sure.  Is that sabotaging a fair election?  Is that sabotaging a

fair election, to use the words of your chair? 


DEUTCH:  Sure.  It certainly looks like it is.  But what we have started

today is a process to gather all of the information.  The reason we reached

out, Chris, to so many people is because we don`t want to have to just rely

upon what Michael Cohen said.  We don`t want to just rely upon what we read

in newspaper stories.  We need the input from everyone who has information

that can contribute to.  In this case, what certainly looks like a serious

case of an attempt to commit a felony in order to win the presidency and

then obstruction of justice to cover it up. 


MATTHEWS:  Barbara, thank you for joining us tonight.  I`m just back from

two weeks away and I have been missing so much of this.  But I want listing

– I did watch Mr. Cohen at 5:00 in the morning over there, a different

time world in New Zealand. 


But let me ask you about this question about pardoned being tethered or

teased with this guy.  What do you make of that?  Certainly as a question

of basically something that would be a basis clearly in itself, it seems to

me, an impeachable offense for people on behalf of the President, they did

so.  And clearly, the committees are looking at.  Did they offer him, if

you shut up right now after we gathered all that information from your

office, all those e-mails and everything else and tapes, if you shut up now

and keep quiet, if you stonewall, we will get you out of this.  What do you

make of that? 


BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes.  Of course, the facts matter

whether that happened would have to be confirmed.  But if it did, there are

some who say that the President`s power to pardon is absolute and he can

pardon anyone he wants but –


MATTHEWS:  Even to cover his own trail, to cover up evidence on his own

criminality.  Can you do that legally? 


MCQUADE:  No, I don`t think so.  Just as he has powers to appoint others

and to issue executive orders and other kinds of things.  If he did so for

a corrupt purpose, say he was being paid a million dollar bribe, that

certainly would be abuse of power.  And I think in the same say, if he were

to pardon someone for a corrupt purpose, that is to prevent them from

implicating himself in crimes or impeachable offenses, I think that would

be an abuse of power and itself an impeachable offense. 


MATTHEWS:  And it seems to me, the only motive here that he would have. 


Anyway, the President is blaming Michael Cohen`s testimony, believe it or

not, for the failure of this summit with Kim Jong-un over at Hanoi. 


And yesterday he tweeted, for the Democrats to interview in open hearings a

convicted liar and fraudster at the same time as the very important nuclear

summit with North Korea is perhaps a new low in American politics that may

have contributed to the “walk.”  Never done when a President is overseas. 



Ben, your thoughts about that?  He is blaming it all on Michael Cohen. 



say three quick things, Chris.  First of all, when the Republican Senate

caucus sent a letter to Iranian leaders during the Iran nuclear

negotiations, cheered on by President Trump, he said nothing.  So the

hypocrisy here is evident. 


Second, there is no way that the Cohen testimony had any bearing on North

Korea`s negotiating positions.  That`s why he couldn`t get a deal.  And the

third point is the reason the summit failed is they didn`t prepare for it. 

You don`t put the head of state in the room with the other head of state

without teeing up the agreement first.  They thought they could wind Trump

in, have him in go in and flatter Kim and have Kim sacrifice his leverage

in the nuclear program.  They failed in this because they didn`t do their

homework and they failed the test and now he is seeking to deflect blame. 


MATTHEWS:  And Trump thought that Kim Jong-un, this tyrant over there of

ridiculous country, a tyrannical country is flatterable, like Trump is



RHODES:  Yes, absolutely not.  And by the way, you don`t need to flatter

people who you are negotiating with.  You actually want to be hard-headed

about it.  And when he says, Trump says he takes this murderous dictator`s

word for it, that he had nothing to do with the killing of an American who

is in his custody that belies our belief because we know that Kim Jong-un

rules that place with iron fist.  He knows everything that goes on there. 


If he is going to take Kim Jong-un`s word for everything, then he is going

to get taken to the cleaners (ph) in this negotiation. 


MATTHEWS:  I don`t think he read his history.  Do you remember when Neville

Chamberman (ph) tried to flatter Hitler?  It didn`t quite work.  He grabbed

check as a racket. 


Anyway, let me go to the congressman on that.  What do you make that this

overlay that the President suggests between (INAUDIBLE), you know, awful

hearings at your committee, the committee that Elijah Cummings committee,

an oversight, really do us a damning attack on our president, to put it

lightly.  Is that something that cause Kim Jong-un to be that cold feet or

what?  How do you put it together?  Any way or it is just nonsense for the



DEUTCH:  That`s, Chris, that is nonsense from the President.  But we are at

the point where it doesn`t - that`s why today is so important.  It doesn`t

really matter what the President says as we embark upon this investigation. 


We know – the President knows it not just a Mueller investigation.  He

knows that there are investigations in federal court in New York, in

federal court in Virginia, that there are investigations in state court

that there are so many people who are looking at all of the potential areas

where there were violations of law. 


But what we have to be careful about, Chris, is not allowing, when the

Mueller report comes out, not allowing the justice department to say on the

one hand our policy is not to indict sitting Presidents and on the other to

say and we don`t put out information about people who are unindicted,

therefore permitting a cover-up of anything that the President may have

done.  That`s another reason why what we are doing today and what we

announced today what we will be doing over the coming months is so



MATTHEWS:  I agree with you.  That makes so much sense. 


Anyway, during his more than two-hour speech at CPAC this weekend,

President Trump said his call to Russia for Hillary Clinton`s e-mails,

remember that, notorious call, was just a joke. 




TRUMP:  If you tell a joke, if you are sarcastic, if you are having fun

with the audience, if you`re in live television with millions of people and

25,000 people in an arena and if you say something like, Russia, please, if

you can, get us Hillary Clinton`s e-mails, please.  Russia, please!  I`m

laughing.  We were all having fun.  And then that fake CNN and others say,

he asked Russia to go get the e-mails.  Horrible. 




MATTHEWS:  You have heard of the Twinkie defense, this is the pinky lee

defense.  Here`s what Trump actually said in July of 2016. 




TRUMP:  Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the

30,000 e-mails that are missing. 


KATY TUR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Do you have any qualms about asking a

foreign government, Russia, China, anybody to interfere, to hack into a

system of anybody`s in this country let alone your rival? 


TRUMP:  Let the President talk.  Look, here is the problem. 


TUR:  No, no, no.  You just called for a moment ago, Mr. Trump.  You said

the Russians, I welcome you to find those –. 


TRUMP:  He has no respect. 


TUR:  You said I welcome them to find those 30,000 e-mails of Hillary



TRUMP:  Well, they probably have them.  I would like to have them released. 


TUR:  Does that not give you pause? 


TRUMP:  No, that does not give me pause.  If they have them, have them.  To

be honest with you, I would love to see them. 




MATTHEWS:  Barbara McQuade, here he is saying it wasn`t a joke, it was a

serious proposition.  Russia, help me out on this campaign. 


And by the way, on a larger question, so much of what we think might well

be abuse of power, obstruction of justice, the President going to the FBI

director Comey at the time and saying can you let my friend Michael Flynn

off on this Russia thing?  Can you get him out off?  Can you get him of

this thing? 


And then the other question of firing Comey so – because he wouldn`t do

it.  He wouldn`t bear allegiance to the President?  So much of this in a

broad daylight like that.  It just seem people would skip the best case for

impeachment.  It`s right there looking at us.  Your thoughts? 


MCQUADE:  Yes.  You know, I think that the statement about Russia, if you

have the e-mails looks a lot different now that we know some of the other

things that were going on in that time frame, like the Trump Tower meeting,

this testimony by Michael Cohen that President Trump had heard from Roger

Stone about the release of e-mails, the allegation in Stone`s indictment

about coordination with WikiLeaks.  All of those things look more



But I think you have to look at it in light of the very thing President

Trump himself said once, which is I could shoot someone on 5th avenue and

get away with it.  And it seems like that is the way he runs his business

and his presidency.  If you do it out in the open, it is harder to say what

you are doing is illegal.  But maybe that is his best defense, I`m doing it

in plain sight. 


MATTHEWS:  Ben, I want to talk to you.  You worked for Presidents.  I long

ago did.  And I – we have a norm in our head of what`s decent, you know. 

You treat our allies pretty well.  You treat our adversaries like

adversaries appropriately.  You don`t start a new cold war.  This President

is so dizzying how many rules he has broken of what normal – we consider

American behavior. 


RHODES:  Yes.  I mean, every now and then, Chris, you have to step back and

think that of the 44 people who came before him, there is not one who would

do anything remotely like this. 


And the other thing, Chris, is that these guys through the campaign and

through the first two years, just acted like the rules didn`t apply to them

whatsoever.  They are breaking laws, they are violating norms, they are

covering their track or trying to obstruct justice.  And what has happened

now in our system is because of the midterm elections, for the first time,

what I see on the list from Nadler is people being held to account.  You

know, they acted like that was never going to happen.  Well now there is

real power in Washington in somebody else`s hands.  And this whole picture

can be put together. 


Now, as we said, it is not just that he called for Russia to do this.  It

is his meeting with them at the same time, these people were.  And that he

knew that what they were up to, right?  And if you assemble this whole

picture, I think it looks much more damning than any one thing in



MATTHEWS:  Congressman Deutch, last thought to you in Florida which is -

remember that line in Godfather II?  This is the business we have chosen. 


The American people picked this President a guy who in the Access Hollywood

tape said that he could do anything physical he wanted to do with women,

criminal or not, he could do it and get away with it, they voted for him. 

He said I can shoot somebody on say 5th Avenue, they voted for him.  A lot

of this behavior has been in broad daylight, a broad daylight hold up of

American values.  And yet, here we are saying should we or not, should we

impeach, or wait for Mueller to give us some informing to help us out here. 

Where are you on impeachment, sir? 


DEUTCH:  Yes.  Look, Ben makes a really important point, Chris, which is,

yes, that`s what happened in the last Presidential election.  Two years

later, the American people decided they needed a check on President Trump

and they elected a Democratic House. 


The whole issue of impeachment is the most serious step that we can take to

deal with someone who poses a danger in the White House.  The way that you

get to impeachment, if we ever get to it, is to lay out in a very careful

way all of the facts for the American people to see, not just to rely on

what we have seen.  There is plenty there in broad daylight, you are right. 

Just because he talks about the things that he has done, doesn`t mean they

don` matter.  They do.  That`s a key part of what we need to look at going



MATTHEWS:  Well, let me not be crude about it but President Clinton, who

was a mixed bag like a lot of people in politics, me, everybody, we are all

mixed bag, was impeached because he lied about a relationship with a woman. 

This President we now know with documentary evidence last week he paid off

a woman about a relationship while President.  What`s the difference? 

Paying off or lying?  Marley? 


DEUTCH:  No, Chris, the paying off – it not just that he paid off a woman

and that he wrote the check when he was President, he did it in order to

become President.  There is plenty there that leads us to believe that the

President in this case violated the law, did it to become President and

then tried to cover it up.  Over the coming weeks and months, you will see

because of what we`re doing so much more laid out clearly for the American

people and then we are going take that wherever the ultimate decision is in

order to ensure that no one, especially the President of the United States,

is deemed to be above the law. 


MATTHEWS:  Congressman, thank you.  And your member in your committee,

(INAUDIBLE).  This is a very important cause for our country, sir.  Ted

Deutch from Florida, U.S. Congressman. 


Ben Rhodes, expert on foreign policy and he has actually win with - a win

with a regular president, a really good one.  He has worked with the real



Thank you, Barbara McQuade for your expertise we always needed.  


Coming up, senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is going to

play HARDBALL, so to speak.  In a moment, we are going to talk to her about

the Trump investigation, the race for the White House, which she is very

much in and the showdown over Trump`s the national emergency. 


Plus, coming off a bad week, coming off a bad week, Trump unloads the

longest speech in his presidency.  Fidel Castro didn`t talk this much. 




TRUMP:  And unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of

positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn`t be there and

all of a sudden they are trying to take you out with bullshit, OK?  With





MATTHEWS:  Well, that was Presidential language. 


Anyway, hugging the flag, there he is attacking his enemies, he says, and

still talking about crowd size, strange fascination with size. 


Ron Reagan is going to join us to discuss Trump`s manic performance this

weekend.  We got a lot to talk to about tonight.  Stay with us for Amy. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


The House Judiciary Committee`s sweeping demand for evidence marks a major

escalation by Democrats investigating President Trump`s administration, his

business and his family members. 


The Judiciary Committee will focus on three areas of interest, obstruction

of justice, public corruption, abuse of power.  Among the 80-plus targets

are the president`s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr. – there he is – Trump

Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, and former White House counsel Don

McGahn.  Never thought he`d be on the list.


And the expanded investigation is also significant because the Judiciary

Committee obviously has control over impeachment.


I`m joined right now by Democratic Senator and 2020 presidential candidate

Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. 


Senator, thank you for joining us. 




MATTHEWS:  I want to ask you some big, broad questions to start with.  Then

we will get to the question of health care I know you`re working on,

especially prescription drugs questions. 


Let me ask you about this approach of – I guess it`s the approach of Jerry

Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary, the impeachment committee,

potentially, and, of course, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and

others, that the smart move and the right move for Dems right now, the next

year, perhaps, look into real investigations and find out the facts.  Don`t

be talking impeachment. 


Your thoughts?


KLOBUCHAR:  They have an obligation. 


The American people in 2018 said that they wanted to see a check and

balance on this White House, as well as an optimistic economic agenda.  So,

what I see is two things happening.  You have to allow the Mueller

investigation to be completed.  We want to see that report public. 


That has been a major focus of my work on the Judiciary Committee.  We have

a new attorney general who has not 100 percent committed to making that

report public. 


And then, of course, you`re going to see investigations about some of these

potential campaign finance issues.  You have a foreign power that`s been

trying to not just meddle – I hate that word – that`s what I use when I

call my daughter on a Saturday night to ask her what she`s doing.




KLOBUCHAR:  But invade our democracy.


And so I think that you can have both things going on.  But, in the end, we

also have to be a check on this administration when it comes to really

worsening income inequality, to not doing anything about pharmaceutical

prices, to not really moving an infrastructure package forward.


MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m with you on all that.


But let me ask you a question about Deutch.  Congressman Deutch was just



He said, basically, you can`t can rely on Mueller`s investigation, because

Mueller might feel constricted.  He can`t indict a president, if he

believes that`s the truth and that`s – that`s the standard.  And you

shouldn`t be talking about people`s guilt or innocence, unless you`re

willing to indict them, that this whole problem with the president`s

involvement in all these affairs could fall between the cracks.


If you can`t indict him, you can`t talk about him.  Therefore, his report

won`t have any information about him.


How do you respond to that? 


KLOBUCHAR:  Well, first of all, the Mueller investigation is so important,

because it`s looking at the whole picture. 


You have had dozens of people that have been investigated, indicted, and we

have learned more and more about what Russia has done, and we hopefully

will learn a lot more in that report. 


Secondly, as these investigations go forward in the House, yes, there`s

other things that will be looked into.  But, as you know – you have had

other senators on your show, Chris – we`re the jury when it comes to those

kinds of issues.  So we`re not going to opine on what the facts show at

this moment. 


But I think you can do two things at once.  We`re Democrats.  We can do



MATTHEWS:  Well, meanwhile, the resolution to terminate President Trump`s

so-called national emergency has now enough Republicans in your body to

support – actually to pass – to stop it from passing.


Kentucky Republican Rand Paul said he`d vote on support of the resolution

stopping the president, joining Maine`s Susan Collins, North Carolina`s

Thom Tillis, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.


Today, Senator Paul said there will likely be more defections from the





SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY:  I do believe that there is at least 10

Republican no-votes.  We will see, possibly more.


My reason for speaking out now is that I think we all need to think this

through before we get too far down the road.




MATTHEWS:  If you can`t override the president with your rejection of the

declaration of a national emergency, what good is accomplished here,



KLOBUCHAR:  Well, Chris, this is very significant, though, because you have

a number of Republicans now saying what I believe, that this is



There was an agreement made in Congress, hard-fought agreement, on how much

money should go toward border security, not paying for this wall that he

has been talking about for years, and chanting about at rallies, but just

smart security measures. 


Instead, he goes forward with something that is unconstitutional, is going

to create all kinds of eminent domain issues, takes money away from our

military housing, and puts it into something to meet a campaign promise. 


And so the fact that you have Republicans that are saying the same thing

that we are saying is significant for our democracy.  I think it`s a good



MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about health care.


KLOBUCHAR:  But you are right about overriding. 


Keep going.  Health care.


MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about health care.  And you`re – and I think you

have shaped up a position which makes sense to a lot of people, not just

moderates, but progressives, a lot of them, which is the idea, we`re –

where are we right now?


We have got Obamacare that`s got to be improved, fixed, so, everybody says,

this is a good system, at least trying for a number of years to see if it

works.  Tell me how you would see that fit in with your whole concern about

prescription drugs. 




We have to get to universal health care.  And, of course, I support a

public option moving forward with Medicaid, Medicare expansion.  But

prescription drugs has been overlooked for years, really over the past

decade, huge increases in prices for simple drugs like insulin. 


And that is why I have led the effort on Medicare negotiation to unleash

the power of 43 million seniors, and something I`m going to be talking

about tomorrow with Robert Reich.  We are doing a series of meetings

tomorrow.  And we`re doing a hearing in the Senate on antitrust. 


And I know that sounds like kind of an esoteric topic, but it`s not.  Big

pharmaceuticals are literally paying off generics to keep their competitors

off the market.  And the ones that lose are consumers, to the tune of $2.9

billion just over a few years.



Online travel agencies, 83 – over 90 percent of the market that is owned

in that range – and I want to get the exact number for you – owned by

actually two companies, rail, class one rail, down to four companies, the

exact number on the Monopoly board. 


And this consolidation that we`re seeing in our country cries out for

tougher action on antitrust.  And if they`re not going to do it because the

judges are too conservative, I have a bill that makes our laws as

sophisticated as the kind of mergers that we`re seeing now, with

monopsonies and with companies that literally are now billion-,

multibillion-dollar mergers.


And the American people have stood up to this in the past.  It`s time to

stand up to it again.


MATTHEWS:  It sounds like you`re for true free enterprise.  That sounds





KLOBUCHAR:  That is what this is about.  You can`t have capitalism and

innovation if you have monopolies.


And that is something Adam Smith recognized.  I`m actually – I`m going to

come out with a book on this, something I have been working on for the past

year with Knopf, a book on the history of this going back to Teddy

Roosevelt, when, as you know, in the Midwest, the farmers and the workers

stood up and said, enough is enough.


And we have been gliding towards the Gilded Age again.  And we need to get

back, yes, to the true capitalist spirit of entrepreneurship.  And that`s

what this hearing is about tomorrow. 




Amy Klobuchar, trustbuster, thank you so much for joining us tonight. 


KLOBUCHAR:  There you go.


Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Just how much influence does the president`s favorite

TV network – you know which it is – really have in the West Wing?  Who`s

calling the shots, them or him? 


We have got two new reports – actually, a great new report from “The New

Yorker” magazine about what makes FOX News tick at the White House. 


Stay with us.







your friend, Justice Jeanine. 


Do we love Sean Hannity, by the way?




TRUMP:  I love him.


Steve Doocy.


Thank you to my very good friend Rupert Murdoch.  There`s only one Rupert

that we know.


Roger Ailes, a great, great man, and one of the greatest men in the history

of television, Roger Ailes from FOX.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


It`s no secret that President Trump and FOX News have benefited from a –

let`s call it a symbiotic relationship the last few years.


Now, in an explosive New York – report from “The New Yorker” magazine,

former White House aides say the relationship is so key to this president,

the one with FOX, that he`s influenced more by FOX pundits and guests than

by his staff or intelligence experts who brief them.


In other words, they`re calling the shots.


According to “The New Yorker”`s Jane Mayer, President Trump has told

confidants that he ranks the network`s reporters loyal to him on a scale of

one to 10, like in a beauty contest.  Sean Hannity receives a solid 10, of

course, while Steve Doocy, the co-host of “FOX & Friends,” gets a 12, two

bonus points for his enthusiasm. 


One aide told the magazine that President Trump sees FOX`s support as key

because it`s important for the base. 


Well, in return – catch this part – the “New Yorker” article spotlights a

troubling pattern in which the president himself works on behalf of FOX

News` interest, economic interests. 


According to one well-informed source, President Trump ordered Gary Cohn,

his then national director of Economic Council, to pressure the Department

of Justice to file a lawsuit blocking the merger of AT&T and Time Warner,

an apparent effort to retaliate against CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.


NBC News has reached out to FOX News and its parent company, 21st Century

Fox, for comment.


From more, I`m joined Dylan Byers, NBC News senior media reporter, and

Jason Johnson, my old pal, politics editor at


I first want to go to Dylan there.


Without getting into the details of antitrust and all this, why is the

president of the United States working for FOX? 



reverse-engineer this, OK?


FOX News has, from its inception, been a business.  And it is focused on

the bottom line.  And the business that Rupert Murdoch realized, the

business opportunity he saw in the United States was that he could

capitalize on the anxieties and resentment of conservatives who feel like

they didn`t have a voice in the media.


Over the course…


MATTHEWS:  Just what he did in Britain, in Australia.


BYERS:  Just what he did in Britain, just what he did in Australia.


MATTHEWS:  Go down market and to the right, down market and to the right.


BYERS:  That was a huge business opportunity. 


And for 20 years, that built up over time to a place where its ultimate

realization was President Trump.  That was the ultimate realization of the

FOX News business model. 




MATTHEWS:  Who`s the toy here, the president or FOX? 


BYERS:  Well, look, FOX is doing great from a bottom-line perspective. 


I think Trump has ensured that he has a core base that he can reach through

FOX News.  Like you said, it`s a symbiotic relationship.  I think they`re

both – I think it`s mutually beneficial.  I think they`re both doing quite

well because of it. 




BYERS:  And I think that, to me, the salient detail from Jane Mayer`s

reporting in “The New Yorker,” there`s so much here about this symbiotic

relationship that`s really – it feeds liberal outrage over the whole, how

can a media organization do this in America? 




BYERS:  That`s sort of beside the point. 


To me, the really key detail is what you cited, which is Trump ordering

Gary Cohn and then Chief of Staff John Kelly to block the AT&T-Time Warner

merger, because that`s when it – that`s when it changes.  That`s when it

becomes about the president doing something on behalf of his friends in

business, in this case Rupert Murdoch. 


MATTHEWS:  Jason, let`s talk about that relationship and which way it



It looks like it works both ways.  And I tell you, it seems to me, in this

media world, which is very polarized, obviously – let`s not kid ourselves

– it`s very polarized – it`s one thing to agree with the point of view of

a political interest of a party.


It`s another one to be – feel like you`re working with them and you`re

working for them. 




MATTHEWS:  That`s a huge difference.  I mean, you can walk down the street

and find people that say, I agree with Reagan on this, but not on that.  I

agree with – if I`m not working for them, there`s a big difference. 


Your thoughts? 


JOHNSON:  Yes, and also when it`s editorial control, Chris.


Look, back in the `80s, George Will liked Reagan.  I mean, like, there have

always been individual writers and reporters and columnist who have had

close personal relationships or even wanted to advocate on behalf of a



But that was not an editorial mandate.  That was not from on high.  And

that`s what you have happening with FOX News. 


MATTHEWS:  And you don`t go to meetings.  You don`t go to meetings.  You

don`t sit down with him.


JOHNSON:  Exactly. 


MATTHEWS:  You don`t talk – imagine – I can`t imagine anybody on the

center-left or middle left or wherever, on the left even, that I know of

sitting down and talking turkey with Nancy Pelosi on how to get the agenda



It`s unimaginable.  But you see Sean showing up at rallies.  That`s

different, it seems to me.  Your thoughts? 


JOHNSON:  Showing up at rallies, promoting anything the president wants,

showing up in campaign commercials. 


But, Chris, I would say the most disturbing thing about this article for me

was basically FOX engaging in their own catch and kill.  It`s one thing if

you don`t want to cover a story because maybe you have a bit of an

editorial bias in favor of a candidate.


But you have a reporter who found out about illegal activity.




MATTHEWS:  Well, talk about it, because it`s in the article, the payoff to

the women.  Yes, go ahead. 


JOHNSON:  Yes, the payoff to women, Cohen using campaign funds, breaking

the law in order to pay off Stormy Daniels, is one of the key moments, one

of the climaxes, sort of, of this story. 


And FOX News said, hey, sorry, we`re not going with that story. 


So when you have a network that is willing to hide crimes on behalf of a

candidate, that`s no longer news.  That`s not entertainment.  That`s just

state TV. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, go ahead. 


And, by the way, just, in all fairness, because FOX has denied that, the

person who was accused by that – that person over at FOX of saying, kill -

- we`re not running this story, even though it`s a good story.


BYERS:  Right.




MATTHEWS:  … have denied that.


BYERS:  Right.  They denied it to “The New Yorker.”


We have reached out to both FOX, the parent company of FOX News.  No

comment from either one.


For me…


MATTHEWS:  What did you learn from this piece?  Anything?  Because you`re

an expert on this.


BYERS:  Yes, I did.


You know what I learned?  So, I think this piece, outside of the sort of

the – the silver bullet of trying to stop the AT&T-Time Warner deal, which

is a separate, very significant deal…


MATTHEWS:  Carrying water for FOX.


BYERS:  What this – the carrying water for FOX is really – it offends

liberal sensibilities.


But I think it highlights to me that we are so far away from a 20th century

model of media, wherein there`s this notion that somehow media has to meet

certain standards, certain sort of not just editorial standards –

standards, but also – almost moral standards, standards of integrity.


This throws into sharp relief the fact that the media business is a

business, particularly on cable news.  And, very often, decisions are made

that don`t have anything to do with being impartial, not carrying water,

holding up both sides of an argument.


That is just not the world we live in anymore.  That is a – that is a –

you can market that.  You can market integrity to your viewers. But Fox

News doesn`t need to do that.  What Fox News is doing is it`s marketing, we

are the voice for the disenfranchised, largely white, lower middle class in

this country and in that Trump world, that 30-plus percent that identifies

with Trump, identifies with Sean Hannity – 


MATTHEWS:  It`s like – 


BYERS:  – they`re never going to leave. 


MATTHEWS:  – weeklies and old shoppers in the neighborhoods.  If you want

to get your story covered in local politics, in the local newspaper, you

got to buy ads. 


BYERS:  Right, right.


MATTHEWS:  It reminds me of that, guys.  Thank you so much, Dylan Byers and

Jason Johnson.


And up next, after a bad week of listening to Michael Cohen, President

Trump spent the weekend in the tender embrace of the true believers and,

boy, did he enjoy it.  For two straight hours, he talked.


We`re back after this.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


Following the president`s very rough week that included a failed second

summit with North Korea and a blistering testimony from his former fixer,

the president spent this weekend at his happy place.  For more than two

hours on Saturday, the president spoke to the annual gathering of

conservative voters where he unleashed an unfiltered scream of

consciousness, taking on the Mueller investigation, his former attorney

general, the Democrats and others.  And usually you have to go to the New

York Port Authority to hear something like this. 


Anyway, here it is. 





script right now. 


Please get us the e-mails! 


You put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for

a long time that shouldn`t be there and, all of a sudden, they`re trying to

take you out with bullshit. 


Then that fake CNN and others say, he asked Russia to go get the e-mails. 



The attorney general says, I`m going to recuse myself.  Right now, we have

people in Congress that hate our country. 


I see senators that are there in 20 years, white hair.  See, I don`t have

white hair. 


I`m in the White House, I said I was lonely.  I say, let`s go to Iraq! 


I have one of the great inventions in history.  It`s called TiVo.  I met

generals I don`t know.  General one, general two, general three.  I said,

what`s your name?  Sir, my name is Raisin.  What the hell kind of a name? 

I said, Raisin like the fruit? 




MATTHEWS:  It was his longest speech since taking office, and according to

“The Washington Post”, included 104 false and misleading claims.  As Trump

walked on stage, he stopped to embrace the American flag, something he`s

done on three other occasions. 


And during his rambling speech, the president once again aired one of his

favorite grievances.  You`ll not be surprised, it was about size.  Size. 

He just won`t let it go.






TRUMP:  They did the same thing at our big inauguration speech.  You take a

look at those crowds.  Nobody`s ever seen it, the Capitol down to the

Washington Monument, people.  But I saw pictures that there were no people. 

We had a crowd, I`ve never seen anything like it, and I have to live – I

have to live with crowd size.  It`s all a phony deal, folks. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


To President Trump, crowd size still matters.  Two years after his

inauguration, he still can`t get over it.  Speaking to CPAC this weekend,

President Trump laid out all his grievances in that supportive crowd. 


And joining me now to review his performance is Ron Reagan. 


Ron, I do believe you have to go back to my days at community college and

go to the New York Port Authority and seeing those gentlemen standing there

with conditions that`s not their fault, speaking to no one with long

orations that are not necessarily connected to reality. 




MATTHEWS:  This speech this weekend, what do you make of him? 


REAGAN:  Yes.  Well, I mean, it`s true that if you ran into somebody on the

street who sounded like Donald Trump did this last speech, and has really

for quite some time now, you`d be moved to call the authorities.  You know,

you`d want them kind of taken inside somewhere, you know, out of the



His whole id was on display there.  His rage at Jeff Sessions, his contempt

for the press and the media, his obsession with, yes, crowd size and things

like that.  Of course, his fear of Robert Mueller and the, quote, bullshit





REAGAN:  Always projecting, as usual, the use of the “B” word there is

really telling that if you translate that into English from Trumpism

English, it`s “I`m a bullshitter”.  That`s what he`s saying when he`s

saying that. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s right.  It`s like that he – it`s about him. 




MATTHEWS:  And I was thinking when I was away on vacation with my wife for

two weeks.  He`s a showoff.  The kids we had in class seventh grade, eighth

grade, middle school, you got a kid in the class who basically is bored and

thinks let`s focus on me for a little while, starts making noises or

whatever, jokes or whatever, a wise-ass comment. 


And you go, oh my god, I guess this kid wants to talk about himself.  This

is Trump.  He`s the showoff. 


REAGAN:  Yes.  And, of course, he gets so much affirmation from these

crowds who just eat this stuff up, you know?  It`s the 30 percent of the

country that`s really a problem for the rest of us.  But they just eat this

stuff up. 


MATTHEWS:  Forty-six.  Bad news, 46 today. 


REAGAN:  Yes, yes, well. 




MATTHEWS:  Forty-six job approval in our NBC poll, “Wall Street Journal”

poll.  They are hard as a rock. 




MATTHEWS:  Meanwhile, “Washington Post” reporter Robert Costa described the

relationship between the president and the Republican Party, writing,

acquiescence to Trump is now the defining trait of the Republican Party. 

More than two years into his presidency, overwhelming and at times erasing

principles that conservatives viewed as the foundation of the party for

more than half a century.  You know, they allowed the guy to declare a

national emergency, a lot of them, not all. 


And, you know, why have a Constitution you don`t need?  Now, we got Trump.


REAGAN:  Well, imagine if Barack Obama declared a national emergency for

anything basically. 




REAGAN:  They`d have been going out of their minds here. 


But look, they know what Donald Trump is just the way we know what Donald

Trump is.  But they have decided they don`t care.  It`s – you know, it`s

well past time now for us to be kind of marveling at whatever new atrocity

Trump comes up with here. 


We know what he is and we know he poses a danger to the nation.  So do most

members of the Republican Party, but they have decided to do nothing about

it.  They have decided they don`t want to defend their country against this

individual.  And when he goes down, those people, they`re going with him. 

They ought to consider that. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, under the heading of I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue

or is nothing sacred, one of the speakers at the conference this weekend at

CPAC criticized, quote, the ghost of the late Senator John McCain. 


When she spoke on immigration, leading to a standing ovation from some in

the audience.  Here goes. 





metastasized and both parties are to blame.  And yes, I`m looking at you,

retired Paul Ryan, and yes, I`m looking at you, Mitch McConnell.  And yes,

I`m looking at you, Bush family.  And yes, I`m looking at you, the ghost of

John McCain. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, John McCain`s widow, Cindy, responded in a tweet.  You

never knew Senator John McCain.  You should be so lucky. 


Well, that`s a family – a spouse`s response to a ridiculous insult. 


REAGAN:  Yes.  You know, when Maya Angelou said when somebody tells you who

they are, believe them.  When somebody shows you that they have no human

decency, believe them. 




REAGAN:  And these people do that over and over again.  Really they have no

sense of self-reflection whatsoever apparently, and no shame.  Was that



MATTHEWS:  Lindsey Graham, please speak up.  Lindsey Graham, sir, please

speak up.  It`s your time. 


REAGAN:  Yes.  You know, yes.  Yes.


MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry, I`ll still hopeful. 


Thank you, Ron Reagan, my buddy.  Thanks for coming on. 


REAGAN:  You bet.


MATTHEWS:  Up next, what I saw as important in the Michael Cohen hearing. 

I heard a lot that morning I got up last week.  Like the rest of you, I

watched it all and I was struck by a new sense of Donald Trump. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Watching Michael Cohen from afar, I sensed what it was like to

be taking orders from this president, what it must have been like being

that long-ago doctor who was told to provide a medical deferment for his

young, wealthy patient to get him out of the draft, or paying women to not

say something.  President Kennedy said the reason we read biographies or

history is to answer the simple question, what was he like? 


Michael Cohen spent seven hours telling us what Donald Trump is like when

he wants something done.  What Trump is like when he wants his relations

with women erased.  What Trump is like when he talks about service to his

country.  What it`s like to hear Trump talk about African-Americans living

in poor neighborhoods. 


All of this reinforces the picture he gave us through all those months of

claiming that Barack Obama could not possibly be who he is, a successful

African-American with a quality education, a natural born American to boot. 


I`ve always believed that Trump`s original political sin was saying the

first black president of the United States was somehow fraudulent.  Do we

want a person described here as so vividly and passionate by Michael Cohen

last week sitting in the oval office? 


That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 







Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC.  All materials herein are

protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,

distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the

prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter

or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the