Trump ordered Gary Cohn to block merger. TRANSCRIPT: 3/4/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to cooperate with Mr. Nadler?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cooperate all the time
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Yes. Well, I would
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You have heard of the Twinkie defense, this is the pinky lee
defense. Here`s what Trump actually said in July of 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Chris.
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.
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
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
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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-,
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.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She`s my friend and she`s
your friend, Justice Jeanine.
Do we love Sean Hannity, by the way?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I love him.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 TheRoot.com.
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?
DYLAN BYERS, NBC NEWS SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, you have to almost
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.
JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Right.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know I`m totally off
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
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?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
RON REAGAN, AUTHOR: Yes.
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
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE MALKIN, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Sanctuary cities have
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
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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