49 killed in New Zealand mosque terror attacks. TRANSCRIPT: 03/15/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.
Date: March 15, 2019
Guest: Chuck Diamond, Khizr Khan, Jason Johnson, David Jolly, Adrienne
Elrod, Abby Livingston, Tim O`Brien; Ro Khanna; Paul Butler; Natasha
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump sets the ambush. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. As this city and the
country, of course, await the delivery of the Special Counsel`s final
report, the President is proving that old habits die hard.
Today, he said something brazenly new and also undeniably Trumpian, that
there should be no Mueller report whatsoever. In Twitter tirade early
today, Trump sought to protect himself by disparaging law enforcement
itself. Misquoting from a right wing news outlet this morning, the
President, quote, he wrote, new evidence that Obama are a team of the FBI,
DOJ and CIA were working together to spy on and take out President Trump,
all the way back in 2015.
Well, the catalyst for his latest outburst, according to The Washington
Post, was a long debunked conspiracy theory that the FBI infiltrated
Trump`s campaign, something The Post bluntly described as unmitigated
Nevertheless, Trump went on to say, the Special Counsel should never have
been appointed and there should be no Mueller report. This was an illegal
and conflicted investigation in search of a crime. This should never
happen to a President again. Once, a reminder, that Trump has well-
documented history of promoting and even inventing conspiracy theories for
the clear purpose, in this case, of undermining the whole Russia
In 2017, Trump made the false accusation that former President Obama had
him wire tapped. He`s promoted the groundless allegation that it was
Hillary Clinton, not his campaign, that colluded with Russia. He said,
without evidence, that the Special Counsel was meddling with the midterm
elections. And most recently, he propagated the conspiracy theory that CNN
was tipped off, presumably, by authorities to the arrest of Roger Stone.
All of this has been a deliberate smokescreen intended to distort and
discredit the findings of the Special Counsel the moment the report is
This comes as of his more prosecutors filed a new memo in the case of the
President`s former deputy campaign chair, Rick Gates, having already
delayed his sentencing on four occasions. Both Mueller and Gates are now
requesting another 60-day postponement, saying Gates continues to cooperate
on with respect to several ongoing investigations. That`s fascinating.
Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He`s a
member of the House Oversight Committee. Natasha Bertrand is a Staff
Writer at The Atlantic. Paul Butler is a Former Federal Prosecutor. And
Tim O`Brien is the Executive Editor at Bloomberg Opinion.
Tim, tell us the story why is this President, and maybe a rational reason
for this, crazy like a fox reason, does he hear the footsteps of a final
report coming coming in the next couple of weeks or sooner and he`s trying
to put out the word in his crazy way that everything that`s catching him in
the act of collusion, obstruction, whatever, is all part of a conspiracy to
get him from the time he was born? That`s basically what he`s pushing.
TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION: Well, as you noted in
the top of the program, Chris, everything old is new again. This is not
new behavior by the President. He has been trying to undermine the
integrity of the investigation and the people prosecuting it since it
began. And I think it`s because he`s concerned about the possible outcomes
that all of this entails to his family, to his business, to his
administration, the transition team, the inauguration. There`s not any
part of his life as a politician or a businessman that this investigation
Typically, when he`s gone on a spree on Twitter, flagging everyone in the
investigation, it is because he hears footsteps and as default then as to
criticize it as a witch hunt or develop inane conspiracy theories to
explain it in away.
I think what`s interesting about some of the events today is yesterday and
the day before you had a lot of, I think, anticipation in the media that
the Mueller investigation was coming to a conclusion. Largely, I think,
recently, because Andrew Weissmann, one of the senior senior prosecutors
involved in it was leaving Mueller`s office and it appeared that ribbons
were being tied around some of this.
I think what you got today with Rick Gates, you know, there`s a request now
to extend the investigation, an 60-day. As part of that, they said there
are still several ongoing investigations that would with suggest Mueller
wants to tie up. I think it`s interesting that we still haven`t heard much
about where this will go relative to Jared Kushner, to Donald Trump Jr.,
and even the President. There were some indications that Mueller was not
going to put the President under oath. Perhaps there`s still time to do
The bottom line is we don`t know what`s going on internally in this
investigation. But, generally, the President himself is a good barometer
of when things are heating up because he takes it to Twitter.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, this reminds of those things that we`re dealing
with a lot a terrorist. There`s a lot of chatter out there, a lot of noise
level we`re picking up with this metadata. Trump is acting publicly like a
guy who`s got a creative ambush. I`m going to hit these people, they`re no
damn good, they shouldn`t be believed. So my 40 plus percent of the
country is going to believe me and not Mueller`s report.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Here`s what he should be aware of. We just voted
420 to 0 for the Mueller report to be public. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows,
who I sit on on the Oversight Committee, who defend Trump if you have one
word of criticism, I mean, they`re voting for this report to be public.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think they`re motivated to say the public deserves to
know the truth about the guy they adore?
KHANNA: Because they take Trump at his word. If there`s no collusion,
what`s there to hide, you know?
But here`s the fact, Chris, and you know this, Trump is surviving for one
reason. It has nothing to do with the law, it has nothing to do with
evidence, it has to the do with the republican majority. And he needs to
be very careful if he`s going to break with the republican majority and put
them in a tough vote, and they can`t vote for concealing the Mueller
report. So I think he`s miscalculating his politics.
MATTHEWS: Paul, join us here because economically – no, I`m sorry,
legally, all this is just throwing dust in people`s faces. Does it help?
Is there a public jury out there he`s working? I mean, in the end, isn`t
it like Nixon, the tapes with Nixon, the evidence is going to bring him
down or not? Is that what the public on the right things?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So the actual jury would be the
Senate. The President, if impeached, would be impeached by the Congress.
And the Senate would determine whether he`s removed from office. So to the
extent, he is saying it`s a rigged investigation and that the Mueller
report will be compromised, that`s playing into his base, both with the
politics and the republicans in the Senate.
So there could be a battle if the Justice Department doesn`t release the
Mueller report. So if the Senate and Congress hold to their word with,
they`ll subpoena the report. And I don`t know how that would come out. So
the report is supposed to be a confidential report to the Attorney General.
And then the Attorney General submits another report to Congress. So if
Barr`s report is incomplete, if it seems like he is trying to hide
something, that`s when Congress acts to subpoena, that could go all the way
to the Supreme Court.
MATTHEWS: Well, somebody is hiding stuff because Mueller is certainly good
at hiding. Because after that take-home exam the President got months ago,
we still haven`t seen a word from it, at least we haven`t. Anyway, with
multiple outlets reporting the Special Counsel`s report could be delivered
imminently, we have surprisingly a few answers to several key questions
raised over the course of this long investigation.
For example, Jerome Corsi resisted a plea deal and the risk of being
indicted. Will he be still charged? There`s George Nadir, who arranged
secret meetings for the campaign and got immunity. What information did he
provide? Then there`s that mystery foreign corporation that resisted
Mueller`s subpoena. What evidence is Mueller seeking there? And then
there`s Michael Flynn, who, of course, who`s cooperation was called
significant. So what did he provide? And what about material seized from
the raid on Roger Stone`s house and all that stuff in his basement and what
was found there? Those are just some of the outstanding questions hanging
over the probe.
Natasha, I have so much to ask you. You`ve been following this thing so
well. Number one, is it close, the report? Can you tell?
NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: It seems like it is wrapping
up. And it definitely seems like it is closer to the end than to the
beginning. I think that is very safe to say. But we just found out today
that Rick Gates is continuing his cooperation, not just with New York
prosecutors or prosecutors in D.D. or whoever, but with Mueller`s team. He
is answering questions about the donations to the Trump`s inaugural
committee, for example. He`s answering questions about the Middle East
influence into Trump`s campaign. This isn`t just about Russia, right?
So Rick Gates is really kind of the silent person in the background
throughout the entire campaign who had direct visibility into the things
his boss, Paul Manafort, was doing throughout the entire campaign. And
Paul Manafort, I`m increasingly convinced, is really a linchpin of this
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about it. Let`s have one piece of it because Rick
Gates and Paul Manafort were both at that Havana cigar bar meeting with the
Russian, with Kilimnik, right? If there was a conspiracy involving the
Russians and the Trump campaign, it`s hard to imagine that Manafort wasn`t
part of it, right?
BERTRAND: Right. And this is –
MATTHEWS: Is that fair to say? He had to be part of it.
BERTRAND: He was the one member of the campaign with the most high level
on extensive ties to various Russians, whether it was Oleg Deripaska,
Konstantin Kilimnik, just all the dealings that he had with Russian
oligarchs during his time working in Ukraine. So it definitely would defy
all imagination that he had nothing to do with this.
MATTHEWS: And Rick Gates would sit there?
BERTRAND: And Rick Gates was at the Havana Club with Paul Manafort when he
shared the internal Trump campaign polling data just after the DNC
Convention, when WikiLeaks emails were dumped just after the platform, the
Ukrainian platform, was changed to be more favorable towards Russia.
MATTHEWS: The RNC Convention.
BERTRAND: Right, the RNC Convention. There were just so many – this was
a very pivotal moment in the campaign. And the fact that he was handing
over 75 pages of internal polling data and discussing a peace plan for
Ukraine that was favorable to Russia, it just raises a lot of questions
about whether Paul Manafort`s story is really over when it comes to
MATTHEWS: How do you see this –
BUTLER: If I could just add –
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Paul. You talk ahead, Paul.
BUTLER: Just to add to what Natasha was saying. To a prosecutor, that
meeting at the cigar bar stinks to high heaven. And so, first of all, Paul
Manafort, in the middle of a busy campaign, takes out time to go to a cigar
bar with a former Russian intelligence officer. He gives this Russian
intelligence officer proprietary data from the Trump campaign, and then all
three at the meeting leave through separate doors, come on now. Something
fishy was down.
O`BRIEN: And the question is why – and why did he give him proprietary
campaign data? I would think it was probably to suggest that Donald Trump
had a good shot at becoming President of the United States. And what he
was signaling and sharing that was that this was someone they would have to
deal with diplomatically and they should line up at the door.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, who do you – just be the Polaroid camera here.
Develop this. You have just heard Gates is still being interviewed. Gates
is cooperating. Gates was in the room with the Russians. Gates was with
Manafort the whole time. If there was collusion, as they argue [ph], it
must have been Manafort-related. This could be developing into the final
KHANNA: And here is why it matters. There is evidence possibly that Trump
had a policy towards Ukraine that was softer and didn`t stand up to Russia
because of this collusion. I mean, here is the irony. For the party that
brags about winning the cold war, the republicans, and lionizes Reagan,
they seem oblivious to the idea that our policy towards Russia and Ukraine
maybe influenced by a president meeting with a foreign influence.
And then on Saudi Arabia with Tom Barrack, where Rick Gates was there,
where Tom Barrack wants to put nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia and they
have a whole plan, the first administration, to do this because of deals
that Tom Barrack`s, who ran his inaugural committee, where Rick Gates was
the deputy. It`s just mindboggling that you wouldn`t have some republicans
saying, American national security matters.
MATTHEWS: It seems like it`s all transactional. Everything had something
to do with Trump, the deals he had and associates he`s set up. And I
always wondered why is Paul Manafort known particularly as a guy who deals
with Russians became his top guy?
KHANNA: I mean, Chris, you were on the Hill. I mean, there used to be a
time where people used cared about the country, where it didn`t matter, I
mean, where you would never compromise America`s national interest. And
here, you have an administration that we have evidence maybe influencing
American foreign policy, comprising our national interest because of a
person`s personal gain.
MATTHEWS: I was there in another era when people like Reagan and Tip
O`Neill who wanted to negotiated with the good Russian, Gorbachev.
Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna of California. Natasha
Bertrand, as always, your expertise is welcome here. Paul Butler, sir,
great vigor here. This may be coming something. Maybe we cracked it here.
But it does seem all fall together. It has to do with Rick Gates talking.
Rick Gates was in the room. He knows what he`s talking about and he wants
to give it to the Special Counsel, it looks like. And he`s got a lot of
story to tell. That could be the final chapter we`re looking at. Thank
you so much, Tim O`Brien, for your experience with this president that we
Coming up, terror in New Zealand, of course, online hate is turning into
real-life violence 8,000 miles away. How much are politicians to blame
when they spout the toxic rhetoric of fear because there is a global market
Plus, Trump`s big defeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S PRESIDENT: Congress has the freedom to pass this
resolution and I have the duty to veto it, and I`m very proud to veto it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the President gets out his veto pen after a dozen Senate
republicans join in a bipartisan rebuke of him. Is Trump`s own party
finally turning on him?
Much more ahead, stick with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Every Friday, of course, millions of
Muslims around the world gather for their holy day of worship. But on this
day, hundreds were gathered at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New
Zealand when a heavily armed man walked in and fired indiscriminately at
terrified worshipers, killing 41 of them.
It`s believed that that same man who was apparently live streaming the
massacre, can you believe that, drove four miles to the Linwood Mosque in
Christchurch and murdered seven more. A 49th victim later died at the
Well, dozens more, including small children, are being treated right now
for gunshot wounds. And authorities warn the death toll could rise.
The suspect, the 20-year-old man from Australia, has been charged with
murder and made his first court appearance a short time ago. While
Australia`s Prime Minister described him as an extremist right wing
terrorist, authorities are investigating an apparent manifesto the shooter
left behind filled white supremacist views. Two others have also been
taken into custody as police try to determine what role they played.
Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand condemned the terrorist
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Many of those who will have
been directly affected by the shooting may be migrants to New Zealand.
They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their
home, and it is their home. They are us.
The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have
no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of
extreme and unprecedented violence, which is clear this act was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: While in the United States, law enforcement and civil rights
groups say they have been seeing an uptick of hate motivated crimes of
late. According the FBI, the number increased of these hate crimes for the
third consecutive year starting in 2016. The Council on American-Islamic
Relations said, has seen a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias
For more, I`m joined by Khizr Khan, of course, the Gold Star father, and
Rabbi Chuck Diamond, former Rabbi at the Tree of Life Synagogue in
Pittsburgh, remember that, which suffered a similar gun attack when a
gunman entered their temple, killing 11 people.
I want to start with Khizr. This is such a beautiful country. I was just
there with part of my family, my wife and sister and brother-in-law. It`s
a quiet country, it`s rural, it`s beautiful farms, it`s people that are
really nice to you. There`s a little bit of ethnic diversity in Auckland
and maybe in Christchurch. But it`s not city crowded with border wars and
neighborhood fights and ethnicity.
And it just seems horrible that they went after this little Islamic
community of immigrants, mainly from India.
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: Well, first, Chris, my
heartfelt condolence to the victims of this heinous murder, to all Muslims
at large and people of other faiths as well.
I was saddened to hear the tragedy. And it is that kind of peaceful
communities that these terrorists seek, where there is less challenge, so
that they can maximize their victims.
One quick caution to all faith communities today is that, please, please,
protect your places of worship. Protect – to the max, protect your
KHAN: They do not distinguish between one faith or the other. Today, it
is Muslim. Yesterday, it was my brothers and sisters in Tree of Life in
Prior to then, it was the African-American Christians in the church. Prior
to then, it was Sikh brothers and sisters. It is that, the – this hate is
in disguised under the name of supremacy.
KHAN: One quick caution that I wish to leave you with this thought.
And that is, in this division and hate, there is a foreign hand. Our
adversaries wish to sow this hate and this division, so that we will
continue to fight this for many years to come.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to the rabbi on that, because – Rabbi Diamond, thank
you for coming on, because this must bring back terrible, terrible
RABBI CHUCK DIAMOND, FORMER TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE RABBI: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And the hatred of the other is really what that`s about. And
the other is anyone different than you, comes from a different background,
has a different religious belief.
But it – you combine hatred, and you combine that with firepower, the
ability to reel off after bullet after bullet after bullet by just pulling
a trigger a few times, it`s not like walking in and punching a couple of
guys because you`re mad at them. It`s not an old street fight between
We`re talking about the ability to walk in and just blow away 41 people,
drive to – drive to another place of worship a few miles away, shoot seven
more, the deliberation of this. But it doesn`t take any guts to do it.
You just go in and do it, if you have the guns.
DIAMOND: Yes. Well, I agree.
And I agree with everything Mr. Khan said.
Mr. Khan, you`re – you`re one of my superheroes. You`re an American
superhero. And I appreciate all the sacrifices your family have made for
this country. And I hope that, at some point in the future, you and I can,
arm in arm, go together to do good things in the world.
Chris, it takes a – I have said that. It takes hatred and guns. And you
can see the damage it does.
I was devastated to hear the news coming from New Zealand. Now,
Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, such a lovely community, this will
never happen to us. And it did.
New Zealand, everybody talks about New Zealand being such a wonderful
country, which it is, but yet it can happen there. It can happen anywhere.
And we have to be diligent. We have to watch each other`s backs. And we
have to appreciate people for who they are, for being people.
You`re right, Chris. This is about hatred for – hatred of others, people
who are different.
But, you know, Mr. Khan, you and I aren`t so different. And we share a
lot. The attack on New Zealand was an attack on all of us.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the
mosque attacks over there and called on political leaders to address the
growing menace of Islamophobia.
Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIHAD AWAD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CAIR: We ask our political leaders to
address the growing menace of Islamophobia and hate that has been
perpetrated by political leaders, by ideologues, by people who want to run
for public office, by people who won public office on the backs of
immigrants, blacks, Jews, Muslims, and all minorities.
We hold them accountable, because their words matter, their policies
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump, who condemned the attack, seemed to
minimize the threat of white nationalism generally.
Let`s him here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t really. I think
it`s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I
guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that`s the case.
I don`t know enough about it yet.
They`re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it`s
certainly a terrible thing, terrible thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Khizr, why do you think he plays it down?
MATTHEWS: I want to go to Khizr first. I`m sorry, Rabbi.
DIAMOND: OK, no problem.
KHAN: This is nothing new.
This is political expediency. He is known for that. He will exploit
anything to benefit himself. This is – he`s talking on behalf of his
base. This is what this terrorist in New Zealand wrote in his manifesto.
He says: “Trump is the symbol of renewed white identity and common
KHAN: That is what…
MATTHEWS: By the way, let me go to how Trump does this discrimination
number in this horrible world.
If somebody comes into the country without papers and kills somebody in San
Francisco or anywhere, they become – the victims are all angels. And I
understand that, the way he does that, that rhetorical – but in a case
where a white nationalist kills all kinds of people, it`s very short
It`s like, let`s move on. Let`s get over this quickly. It`s just an
isolated case of a guy who had – quote – “has problems.” I wasn`t sure
what that meant, sociologically or psychologically. It`s a dangerous way
of phrasing it, I thought, because he might be – who knows what he was
doing with that phrase.
Your thoughts, Rabbi? He is very discriminatory in what he condemns.
DIAMOND: Well, I agree.
And the rhetoric is important coming from one of the most powerful people
in the world. His words matter. I don`t know enough about the situation.
You know enough to tell that it`s wrong. This is wrong. The killing of
people in New Zealand is wrong. White supremacy is wrong. It`s not a
matter of good people on both sides.
And I think the rhetoric, the statements have to be stronger from our
leaders, and also the people who enable our leaders, who let them get away
with these – you know, Chris, this show is called HARDBALL. I see this as
Wiffle ball, these statements that comes from our leaders.
And it`s got to be, there`s no question. This is wrong. How hard is it to
MATTHEWS: Well, we have a global market now for hatred.
MATTHEWS: During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump reportedly – or
repeatedly, rather, spoke about the threat coming from the Muslim community
– he was very direct about this – and from people of the Islamic faith,
because the faith itself, he said, was awful.
He threatened to implement a ban on Muslims coming into country because
they`re Muslim. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look, there`s something going on, the Muslims.
The Muslim community has to help us, Mika. They`re not helping us. The
Muslim community is not reporting what`s going on.
The Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know
what`s going on.
We have to look at the Muslims, and we have to do something. We cannot
stand by and be the stupid people while our country is destroyed.
I think Islam hates us. There`s something – there`s something there that
– there`s a tremendous hatred there. There is a tremendous hatred. We
have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KHAN: How wrong he is.
There are over 10,000 Muslim soldiers serving in the United States Army
that have taken the oath to defend the Constitution and this country.
There are hundreds of first-responders in New York that responds to the
call of duty without regards to religion and all.
Muslims are physicians. Muslims are in various professions serving most
patriotically, serving in this nation. How wrong he is, like on every
issue. This is a politically expedient person. He is a ship without a
rudder. That is why we see all these investigations, all this corruption
that is coming together now in – on surface, so that this nation knows now
where we are headed.
My only concern is that, how will we recover from this hate and division?
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re talking about it. That is the start.
Thank you, Khizr Khan, sir. Thank you for your contribution to this
Rabbi, it`s great to have you on. You seem like a great guy.
DIAMOND: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And I`m glad – Howard Fineman is from – our buddy here is from
Squirrel Hill. And…
DIAMOND: Yes. We went to the same high school, not at the same time.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m sure you were both A students.
Thank you very much, Rabbi Chuck Diamond.
DIAMOND: Thank you. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump`s first veto overturns a measure
approved by a Republican-controlled Senate. So he got beat in his own
Is this a sign Republican leaders are finally ready to start standing up.
Or is it a one-off? We will see. Or a two-off?
We`re back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump has issued the first veto of his presidency. It came just
one day after the Republican-controlled Senate delivered an embarrassing
rebuke of this president on his signature issue, passing a resolution, they
did, to terminate his national emergency declaration at the southern
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will be signing and issuing a formal veto of this reckless
resolution. And that`s what it was.
And I have to in particular thank the Republicans, strong, wonderful
people, the Republican senators that were on our side and on the side of
border security. They were very courageous yesterday. And I appreciate
that very much.
Congress` vote to deny the crisis on the southern border is a vote against
Today, I am vetoing this resolution. Congress has the freedom to pass this
resolution, and I have the duty to veto it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, a dozen Republican senators crossed party lines to vote
with the Democrats on the measure blocking the national emergency
“The New York Times” reports the president may have found Congress`
breaking point here, noting: “The mere act of defying Mr. Trump foreshadows
potential new difficulty for the president, as he seeks to push his agenda
through a Democratic-controlled the House and a less pliant Republican-
The House, by the way, will vote to override President Trump`s veto later
this month, although it`s expected to fall short of the necessary two-
thirds majority to override.
For more, I`m joined David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from
Florida who is no longer affiliated with the Republican – formerly known
as a Republican, and Jason Johnson, politics editor for The Root.
MATTHEWS: I got to start with you, formerly Mr. Republican.
Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Sure.
MATTHEWS: Are Republicans falling out of line, finally? Is this a one-off
or the beginning of something big?
JOLLY: I think it`s more of a one-off, Chris.
At the end of the day, I don`t think the political issue will be over this
question of executive authority, much like during the immigration debates
over President Obama`s executive orders, at the end of the day, your voters
in 2020 want to know where you are on policy.
And I think a lot of these Republicans that may have stepped out of line,
if you will, will still be running on Donald Trump`s border security
agenda, still on building the wall.
I think that the bigger issue here, the bigger vulnerability for the
president himself is today he writes into law, under his signature, with
his veto that in fact he lied to his supporters in the American people
about Mexico paying for it.
I think that`s the message that hits the president where it hurts. This
debate over executive authority, while historically exceedingly important,
is not likely to be a political issue in 2020.
MATTHEWS: Can I challenge you on that?
MATTHEWS: Do you think any voter, knowing that there`s nationalism – we
call it patriotism on our side of the border. We call it nationalism on
That any voter honestly thinks that the Mexican government would survive a
day if they built a giant wall keeping their people in, the way that the
East Germans and the Russians did back in the Cold War? Build a wall to
keep your people from leaving the country.
What – you really think Republican voters are that dumb, that they would
believe such a thing? Come on.
JOLLY: I think Trump has cultivated – listen, I think Trump has
cultivated such loyalists, he has defined the issue for the voters, and the
voters have accepted it.
And, at the end of the day, look, if the president`s running on border
security, and Democrats are soft, Republicans are saying, we`re not there
with the president on border security, I don`t know who wins that debate
and 2020, to be honest, Chris.
MATTHEWS: But I want to go back to my point and rub it in a little bit.
You got elected by Republicans for a while there. And you think they`re as
soft-headed, as naive to buy that another country will accept our majesty,
the Goliath of the north, and bow to us and say, oh, yes, master, we will
build a wall and pay for it, so that you will be happy that none of our
people get into your country?
That`s insane for you believe it.
JOLLY: Look, you`re breaking down – you`re breaking down the Trump
JOLLY: I would say, you have got…
MATTHEWS: I`m intending to…
JOLLY: … 60 or 70 percent are Trump loyalists.
MATTHEWS: I can see him buying – I don`t see people being that dumb, but
JOLLY: What put Trump over the line are not the people that believe that.
You`re exactly right. It`s what I call the for-profit Republicans that
held their nose and stuck with him because they knew he would put green
dollars in their back pocket.
But, at the end of the day, the base is the base. And, yes, I think they
believe Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Yes, let me think.
What do you think, Jason?
JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Well, I…
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about today.
The Republicans have been adamantly with this guy, 88 percent late polling.
Nine out of 10 Republican voters like this guy, and they stick with him as
doing a good job.
Look, the Republican base is going to stick with him because their
explanation for everything, whenever Trump fails policy-wise, it`s always
Congress` fault. They believe in him. They believe in his principles.
They just think that he`s surrounded by a bunch of weaklings who aren`t as
committed to his agenda.
What I see with this, it`s not just that this is a one-off. If you think
of the main principles of the Trump campaign in 2016, it was getting rid of
Obamacare, of building that wall. He`s failed twice.
These are the two biggest things that he promised.
JOHNSON: He failed to get rid of Obamacare when he had a complete control
of the House and the Senate.
JOHNSON: Now he can`t get the wall done.
MATTHEWS: I`m a little more romantic than either of you.
MATTHEWS: Let me just try this by you, Jason, first.
I grew up with watching boxing every Friday night. We loved boxing. It
was always about Marciano. And it was – God, it was everybody, Sugar Ray
Robinson. It was everybody. And then it was, of course, our hero came
along, Muhammad Ali.
But to get to Muhammad Ali, he had a beat a guy who was unbeatable.
MATTHEWS: Sonny Liston.
MATTHEWS: Prisoner, frightening guy. People – it was like Mr. T.
imagery, absolutely frightening guy.
Nobody can beat him, until he couldn`t beat anybody.
MATTHEWS: Is there going to be a point where Trump can`t win anymore?
He`s lost two in a row now on Yemen and on the declaration. That`s a bad
week for him. He`s got three defeats this year, right, big defeats.
JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: So you think you don`t see coming here a crack in this wall?
JOHNSON: Well, the crack in the wall isn`t with his base.
The crack in the wall is with the Republicans in the House and the Senate.
They learned in 2018 that Trump is not as much of a magical elixir when
you`re running for reelection as they thought he was going to be.
That`s what allowed them to make some of the principled decisions that you
saw this year. I can win in Ohio again, and I don`t have to have Trump. I
can win in this particular state, and I don`t have to have Trump`s support.
That`s what really happened.
But, legislatively, look, this is a process thing, not a principle thing.
They`re all in favor of border security. They just don`t want a wall.
MATTHEWS: I don`t see any victories.
David, doesn`t – you root for a president,don`t you have to have some
victories? I mean, he`s losing on North Korea. It looks like a joke. He
meets in Hanoi? And, by the way, he didn`t go to Vietnam the first time.
He went this time. And he got made a fool of himself this time.
And you got to wonder. You got to wonder what – don`t they say, I want to
see some white smoke go up, some hope?
MATTHEWS: Some – there`s no sign of victory from this guy anymore.
Doesn`t it hurt?
JOLLY: Well, I think, Chris, what today teaches us, it`s not that the
Republicans are breaking rank. I really don`t think that`s going to be the
But it forecasts a weakened hand of the president of the United States.
Just take the Democratic-controlled House, for instance. Any of the
president`s legislative success now has to happen with the blessing of
Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats.
How likely is it that the president will be able to point to any success
between now and next November working with Capitol Hill? I think the
answer to that is going to be no. The president could reach next November
in a very weakened state. I think that`s the lesson from this week.
MATTHEWS: Well, the goose eggs, as we say in sports, add up, my friends.
They add up.
JOLLY: That`s right. That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And, at some point, you become a loser.
Thank you, David Jolly. Thank you, Jason Johnson.
JOLLY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker says a woman
will be on the ticket next year either way, no matter what.
I like that kind of declaration. Another candidate reportedly has Texas
Senate Republicans quaking in their boots. They`re scared of Beto down
there. So let`s talk about politics coming up.
Back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The 2020 presidential campaign is now in full swing, with the Democratic
candidates campaigning across Iowa, New Hampshire today and at least five
early primary states over this coming weekend, starting tonight.
Newly announced candidate Beto O`Rourke has been in the race for a full 24
hours now, but said today he`s not going to release any – how much money
has been raised so far. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You alluded to the financial hurdles of this. Can you release
any of your fund-raising figures over the past 48 hours?
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can`t. I can`t right now.
QUESTION: Well, you could. Why not?
O`ROURKE: Oh, you`re right. I could.
Let me – let me answer the question even better. I choose not to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, so far, Democratic candidates have mostly waited until
they have raised at least a million dollars to release their numbers.
Bernie Sanders announced that he`d raised a whopping $6.5 million in the
first 24 hours as a candidate. Kamala Harris said she had raised $1.5
Both John Hickenlooper and Amy Klobuchar announced that they had raised at
least a million over 48 hours in their race. And Jay Inslee, the governor
of Washington state, announced after 72 hours that he had raised a million.
But which candidate is Trump most worried about facing? We`re going to
have new reporting on that next on HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Who is a bigger threat, Beto O`Rourke or Joe Biden?
TRUMP: I will just say, whoever it is, I`ll take them on, OK, him or her.
Whoever it is, I`ll take him or her on. I think it`s going to be tough for
somebody, but you know what? Whoever it is, it makes no difference to me
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m laughing. It makes no difference.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump yesterday asserting that he could be any of the
2020 Democratic candidates.
But Politico reported today: “Behind closed doors, the president`s fixated
on Biden, while top Democrats – or top aides have tried to assure their
boss that the former vice president is doomed.”
Well, according to Politico: “Aides told Trump he shouldn`t be overly
nervous as long as Biden is pulled to the left of the primary, according to
I`m joined right now by Abby Livingston, Washington bureau chief of “The
Texas Tribune,” and Adrienne Elrod, who was a senior adviser to the Hillary
Clinton 2016 campaign.
Why do you think the president is afraid of Biden, Adrienne?
ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HILLARY FOR
AMERICA: For two reasons.
Number one, polls show right now that Vice President Biden, in a head-to-
head against Donald Trump, many of those polls show that he would win. So
I`m sure Donald Trump has seen those polls.
Secondly, he knows, Donald Trump knows that Joe Biden is one of the only
candidates who could really make a major play with white working-class
voters. Joe Biden`s always done well in his past elections with white
working-class voters. He can reclaim some of those Rust Belt areas that we
lost in 2016.
Trump knows this.
MATTHEWS: Why would he do – why would Joe Biden, just for those who don`t
follow politics – there may be a few watching – why would those people
like Biden, the people that the president is afraid will vote for him?
MATTHEWS: Why would they vote for him?
ELROD: Because I think that, first of all, these folks have known him for
a long time. He`s been in public office for a long time. They know that.
Number two, he`s from a region that is a very white working-class region.
He`s from Delaware. He does very well in Pennsylvania. And these folks
And, look, a lot of these white working-class voters voted for President
Obama in 2012. We unfortunately lost them in 2016, but they could
potentially be up for grabs if somebody like Vice President Biden is
leading the ticket.
I agree with that. I think there`s another point.
Abby, why do you think the president is afraid of Biden? He said he`s more
afraid of Biden than he is of Beto. What do you think? Is he lying?
ABBY LIVINGSTON, “THE TEXAS TRIBUNE”: I agree completely with this
analysis that Adrienne just said.
I mean, you look at this, this cuts into – it`s not just a political
calculation. I mean, Biden is from Scranton, I believe. And that is a key
state in Trump`s coalition. But it also – it strikes at the heart of his
These – Biden speaks their language in a way that Hillary Clinton wasn`t
quite able to. And so I think this is as much ego as political.
MATTHEWS: I think, no matter all the ears in Washington, all the aura of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and all that, Biden is undeniably,
clearly still one of the people he came from. He is not a celebrity. He`s
not a member of the elite.
He doesn`t go to all the parties. He doesn`t hang out with celebrities
from Hollywood. He doesn`t look like any of the Clintons. And I think
people say, no matter how fancy his talk is about foreign policy, he`s
clearly still Joe from Scranton. And I think that`s what wins. I think
Let`s talk about Beto, because, Abby, you know all about him.
Beto, the president took at shot at his sort of kinetic matter of
campaigning, waving the arm and all that. He seemed to be looking for the
nickname. He`s going in for the kill already, Trump.
Why do you think Trump is already worried about Beto? There he is, very
dramatic public performing.
LIVINGSTON: I was sort of struck with that. It felt like he was
scrambling for something. He was reaching. And it was just the obvious
thing in front of them.
I just wonder if he hasn`t read enough clips on Beto to find something
about him to mock. But I was sort of – it felt a little thin, compared to
how vicious some of his insults are towards other candidates.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it wasn`t like calling him an Indian name or something like
that. It was like he sees that. You`re right. Was that cursory or he has
figured, I can get this guy on his kinetic animation, he is too animated
LIVINGSTON: I think that`s – I think you just hit the nail on the head,
I mean, Donald Trump, anybody who he sees as a threat, he gives a nickname
to. So, look, we know now with Joe Biden, probably with Beto as well, he`s
going to have multiple nicknames by the time this is all over with.
MATTHEWS: Well, in an interview with CNN, former presidential candidate
Jeb Bush – he`s back – said that he thought someone should run against
Trump just because Republicans ought to be given a choice.
He added that beating Trump in 2020 will be difficult for anyone because he
has a strong loyal base and it`s hard to beat a sitting president, “But to
have a conversation of what it is to be a conservative, I think, is
Adrienne, you first on this.
Statistics say that, if you get challenged in your primaries, you`re
probably going to lose. Is that what Jeb is up to? Weaken Trump for the
ELROD: You know, I`m not sure what Jeb is up to.
But I will say this. I think Republicans – even as a Democrat, I`m saying
this – I think Republicans deserve to have a choice in this primary. I
think it`s going to be very hard.
MATTHEWS: Is there any Republican you might vote for?
ELROD: Absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: I just love to ask these things.
ELROD: I have before, by the way, but not in this race, obviously.
MATTHEWS: I have too, a long time ago.
ELROD: A long time – exactly.
But, look, I think Republicans want to have a choice. I think a debate
would probably weaken Trump, since he tends to be so…
MATTHEWS: Who do you think could stand up to him in a debate, in a room,
in a room 10 feet apart? Kasich, could he look up, stand up?
Who could stand in a room and say, nice try, buddy?
ELROD: I think Kasich would do OK. But I think somebody like Mitt Romney
would be very formidable. I don`t think he`s going to do it, but I think
he would be formidable.
I think Larry Hogan would do well too.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Abby a top – a hot question.
If Beto manages to win the nomination for president of the Democratic Party
next summer in Milwaukee, can he carry Texas?
LIVINGSTON: I don`t know. It would be a very expensive bet.
But I can tell you, when I talk to Republicans in the state, it`s not just
the presidential question. It`s the vice presidential question. The House
Democratic campaign arm is targeting six congressional seats in the state
The difference between Republicans feeling good about those seats and
worrying about Armageddon is whether or not O`Rourke is on the national
MATTHEWS: And if he`s a running mate, it helps.
Anyway, thank you, Abby. Please keep coming back.
Adrienne, as always.
Up next: HARDBALL is hitting the road. I will be in Iowa on Monday to sit
down with the – one of the 2020 presidential candidates.
More on that after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am very confident that,
this election, we will make history, because, no matter what – I`m looking
you in the eye and saying this – there will be a woman on the ticket.
I don`t know if it`s in the vice president`s position or in the president`s
BOOKER: But, if I have my way, there will be a woman on the ticket.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey today stating
his desire to see history made in 2020.
I will have a chance, by the way, to ask him about that very question and
others on Monday when I sit down with Cory Booker for an extended interview
on the road out there in Iowa, in Davenport.
There`s a lot to cover, of course, in this interview, from impeachment to
the president, and everything else, all kinds of stuff about Trump, and to
questions of gender and race. Does the Democratic ticket in 2020 have to
be diverse, have to be?
And then there`s President Trump and his attack on Democrats as the party
of socialism. How does Senator Booker respond to that canard?
You`re not going to want to miss it. Cory Booker plays HARDBALL Monday
And, at 8:00 p.m., Chris Hayes hosts a special town hall event in Michigan
with 2020 Democratic contender Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Monday is going to be a big night here at MSNBC. Be sure to tune in early.
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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