Trump unleashes weekend tweet tirade. TRANSCRIPT: 3/18/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You know, there was one prosecutor Donald Trump
called after his election, Preet Bharara. He was also, as you`ll see right
here, the one prosecutor who refused to resign when Trump demanded he go,
and he was the fired. He is my guest tomorrow at 6:00 PM. Eastern on THE
BEAT, a big discussion of law and justice in the Trump era. I hope he`ll
And go anywhere. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews and a special edition with
Senator Cory Booker is up next.
HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Have you no decency? Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews from Chicago. Donald Trump is showing
right now a viciousness we have never before seen in the American
Presidency. Perhaps sensing doom at the hands of a damning Mueller report,
he`s spitting his anger with the violence at the Special Counsel, at CNN,
General Motors, Saturday Night Live and even Fox News. Trump`s vitriol has
found its hardest target and an American hero who spent 5.5 years in a
communist prison in Vietnam. This latest attack coming nearly seven months
Arizona Senator John McCain succumbed to brain cancer.
Perhaps it was McCain`s moral superiority that incites in Trump such an
undying grudge and bad aim at that. The President slammed McCain for
passing the Christopher Steele dossier along to the FBI back in 2016.
Quote, so it was indeed just proven in court papers that last in his class
at Annapolis John McCain that sent the fake dossier to the FBI and the
media hoping to have it printed before the election. He and the democrats
working together failed as usual. Even the fake news refused this garbage.
Well, Trump`s allegation is false. As NBC News points out, McCain gave the
dossier to the FBI in December of 2016, after the presidential election.
And there`s no evidence whatever he ever gave the dossier to the media.
Trump`s attack on McCain`s legacy is bringing outrage and condemnation, of
course, including from democratic senator and 2020 presidential hopeful
Cory Booker, who spoke with me this morning in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What was your instinctive reaction when you heard that?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), N.J.: Repulsive, repulsive. I mean, John McCain, he
and I disagreed, but he was probably one of the better mentors I had when I
first came to the Senate. He`s a hero. And a sitting president, a
Commander-in-Chief, what`s that say to other men and women that are serving
this nation? So I found it repulsive and just another example of his moral
vandalism and him just tearing at the fabric of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`ve got a lot more of that powerful interview coming up in the
program tonight. Trump`s fevered clamor over McCain, his late rival, was
in stark contrast to the Oval Office silence about the lives of the 50
Muslims who were murdered in New Zealand. Where he did show sympathy this
weekend was for the Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro who did not show on
her show Saturday night following her anti-Muslim comments about a member
of Congress. Donald Trump said, the radical left democrats working closely
with their beloved partner, the fake news media, is using every trick in
the book to silence the majority of our country. Wow.
Well, I`m joined now by U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois. Jill
Wine-Banks is a former Watergate prosecutor. Ron Reagan is an author and
political commentator. And Carlos Curbelo is a former republican
congressman from Florida.
Ron, I read what you thought about Trump. I don`t know what to make of it,
this macabre going after a man who`s passed away. We used to say in
society, said no ill of the dead. What`s he doing? What`s Trump up to
with his weird sort of attempt to assassinate a guy who`s already gone?
RON REAGAN, AUTHOR, MY FATHER AT 100: Well, Trump is being Trump. Trump
is a coward and he`s somebody who lacks normal human decency. What is it
about John McCain that sets him off? John McCain was everything Donald
Trump isn`t. John McCain was a man of integrity and a man of great
And we all remember that moment with the thumbs down that killed Trump`s
chance to undo Obamacare. I`m sure he`s never forgiven McCain for that.
And it`s not going stop him that John McCain is now dead and can`t fight
back. That`s perfect for Trump. He loves a target that can`t fight back.
It really is low. It doesn`t get much lower than this.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I get the sense that Trump feels – this is
important to me. I get the sense that he feels that something is coming.
He`s been in a frenzy lately. He`s been shooting in every direction, even
at the dead.
REP. ROBIN KELLY (D), I.L.: I think that he always does that when he feels
something is coming. When his kitchen is getting hot, he has to throw
shade somewhere else or create chaos. I think he`s very, very good at
that. And I think this is what is happening now.
MATTHEWS: Well, reacting to the President`s criticism of his friend John
McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham issued a response, but a tepid one, which
did not mention Trump by name. Graham said of McCain, he stepped forward
to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult
circumstances, and one of the most consequential senators in the history of
the body. Nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished.
By the way, daughter Meghan McCain Tweeted, no one will ever love you,
she`s talking to the President here, the way they loved my father. And
here is Meghan today on The View.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGHAN MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN`S DAUGHTER: My father was his kryptonite in
life, he`s his kryptonite in death. And I just thought your life is spent
on your weekends not with your family, not with your friends, but
obsessing, obsessing over great men you could never live up to. That tells
you everything you needed to know about his pathetic life right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman Curbelo, what do you make of this sort of postmortem
attack? What is it? Grave robbing? What would you call a guy who does
this kind of stuff? Your thoughts?
FRM. REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), F.L.: There are a couple of factors at play
here from my perspective. Number one, it`s clear the President is anxious
about something. I don`t know if it`s about the Mueller report or
something else, but 58 tweets over a weekend. I mean, I know a lot of kids
that do that when they get anxious, when they`re worried, they talk a lot.
It seems like that is what the President was doing over the weekend.
Combine that with the fact that he`s always been frustrated with John
McCain being regarded a hero, someone that both republicans and democrats
admire, someone who obviously contributed to this country more than the
President, more than most of us, to be fair. So that`s what`s at play
here, that combination, that mixture of feelings.
Now, the President might be anxious, might be frustrated. However, that`s
no excuse to disparage someone, especially someone who has passed away,
especially someone who sacrificed so much for this country. So I hope that
a lot of my fellow republicans really step up and say this is wrong, this
has to stop.
MATTHEWS: I think there`s a question. I want to get to Jill Wine-Banks
about the imminence of something from Robert Mueller. I sense everybody is
right. There`s a frenzy, almost like a cat on a hot tin roof. There`s
something that`s scaring this guy. The heat`s on. Let me ask you, Ron, in
the pantheon of American heroes, your dad is up there, right at the top,
top ten presidents probably by a lot of calculations, top 12 maybe. But
this guy, McCain, is up there too and another way as a senator. And I
wonder whether Trump realizes he will never ascend that mountain, that his
goal has always been division, rotten talk about people. It may even get
him re-elected. God knows anything can happen. He got elected once. But
it`s never going to make him a hero of the American people in history. Is
that what`s bugging him?
REAGAN: Well, listen, I`m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist here and I
don`t want to play one on TV.
MATTHEWS: But you`re pretty good. You`re pretty good at it.
REAGAN: But it`s been said that Trump is a narcissist and it certainly
seems that way to me. But remember that at the core of narcissism is a
crippling insecurity. This man who wants to boast that he knows more about
anything than anybody is actually quite sure deep inside that he`s a pretty
worthless guy. And that`s what you see coming out here, that this – you
know, this reacting to any slight or insult, whether from a late night
comedy show or another politician. It`s born of insecurity, not strength.
He would like you to believe that he is a tough guy, but he is anything
but. He`s a bully and he`s a coward.
MATTHEWS: I mean, you could write a movie about it, a ghost roaming the
White House upstairs and down, that the state floor and all the different
rooms and working its way upstairs, this ghost being John McCain, and
spooking the hell out of our president. I mean, he is spooked by this guy.
Anyway, Trump has been fixated on McCain way back since the summer of 2015.
Let`s watch him back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: He`s not a war hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a war hero.
TRUMP: He is a war hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 5.5 years in PW camp.
TRUMP: He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that
weren`t captured, okay? I hate to tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re not going to get captured if you`ve got a bone spur
and some doctor cooked that up to you. You won`t likely to be captured
Queens. The Vietcong are not coming over the Queens, Mr. President. Let
me ask you, Jill, about this guy. I mean, it`s ridiculous. Has he got a
reason to worry about just a little update on the court, on Robert Mueller?
I get the feeling he`s a cat on a hot tin roof. You know, he`s jumping
around, you know, he`s jittery, he`s attacking everybody all through
weekend, he won`t take a day off.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FRM. ASST. WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Remember, he doesn`t
know exactly what Mueller knows but he knows what he`s done wrong, so he
has plenty to worry about. He knows his lifetime history of wrongdoing in
New York. He knows how many people he`s cheated. He knows how much he`s
cheated on his taxes. We don`t know it. Hopefully, we will soon. But in
the meantime, he has plenty to worry about without anything else.
MATTHEWS: People in New York talk about him like he`s a goniff, like he`s
a thief. That`s how they talk about him.
WINE-BANKS: He is. He is. And I know right here in Chicago, the Trump
Tower construction, people didn`t get paid. And when they called his
lawyer to say, we`re going to sue, his lawyer said, no, we withheld just
enough that it will cost you too much to sue. You`re not going to sue us.
It`s not worth it to you.
MATTHEWS: That`s his game.
WINE-BANKS: Exactly. It`s a deliberate ploy.
MATTHEWS: Well, more predictably, the President went after Saturday Night
Live again perhaps not knowing it was in a rerun this weekend. He said,
it`s truly incredible that Saturday Night Live, not funny, no talent, can
spending all their time knocking the same person, me, over and over without
so much of a mention of the other side, same with the late night shows.
Well, Trump then issued a threat saying, should Federal Election Commission
and/or FCC look into this? There must be collusion with the democrats and,
of course, Russia.
One thing, Congresswoman, I know that democrats aren`t so good at is jokes.
I don`t think SNL calls you guys up and say, Kennedy [ph], a good stuff for
KELLY: And he`s a gift that keeps on giving so they don`t need to call us.
MATTHEWS: Well, what is this? What kind of an investigation would you
have? Or would you investigate Fox for getting calls from the White House?
KELLY: That`s ridiculous. I mean, he`s being ridiculous. And, again,
he`s worried. Like you said, he`s worried, he knows something is coming
and he knows better than we know what`s coming. And, hopefully, Mueller
MATTHEWS: Well, I think so. And he may not care much about the Muslims
then in New Zealand, but I don`t know what he thinks about because he won`t
say anything. But Jeanine Pirro, now there`s somebody he cares about. The
President appeared to be giving Fox News a pep talk. He said stop working
so hard on being politically correct, I did notice, which will only bring
you down, and continue to fight for your country, our country, the losers
all want you to have. Don`t give it to them, be strong and prosper. What
is this guy, Star Wars? Be weak and – Star Trek, be weak and die? They
can`t beat you, you can only beat yourself.
There`s a pep talk, Ron Reagan, I`ve got to let you handle. What is he
doing there? They don`t get politically correct, he`s crazy, they`re
totally right wing and they`re totally in his pocket and now he`s saying I
want more of you in my pocket.
REAGAN: Well, there`s a couple of aspects to this that`s really scary.
Again, he`s a narcissist, so any insult, any satire is seen as an
existential threat, as far he is concerned. But, you know, we laugh about
this stuff. We make fun of his outrageous, kind of crazy Tweets. But they
are the product of a mind that is not well balanced. And when you pair
that with some of the other things he`s been Tweeting or saying lately
about violence, for instance, having the military and the police and the
Bikers for Trump on his side and that, you know, things might get very
rough if things don`t go his way. You put together not well balanced and
encouraging violence, mix those things together, and we`re not laughing
anymore then. Then things get serious in a hurry.
CURBELO: Ron is absolutely right, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Curbelo, I don`t understand why you republicans who
are still in office, like Lindsey Graham, are supporting this Captain
Quake. I mean, why are they supporting him? They support him to
everything, no matter what he says. He can attack one of their heroes,
like John McCain. Lindsey was his buddy, may still be spiritually, but
will not take a shot at Trump.
CURBELO: When it comes to these issues of basic decency, it is
inexcusable, Chris, and I encourage all of them to speak up. I mean, these
are things that our parents taught us were wrong, our grandparents, when we
were growing up. You`d think when the President crosses those lines that
some republicans, or more republicans would stand up and say this is too
much. This is wrong.
When it comes to Fox News, it`s obvious what the President is signaling to
them. Number one, he considers them an extension of his campaign and his
operation. Number two, he is telling them, hey, white nationalists are
part of the base. You cannot discourage them. You need to keep them
excited. And that`s why he comes out in defense of this judge. That`s
when republicans really have to stand up and say, look, we cannot have
parties in this country that organize based on race and ethnicity. We need
to have parties that organize based on ideas for the future of the country.
And I really hope more republicans would stand up and do that.
Look at the example of Ronald Reagan and others, who, by the way, Chris, I
would put at the top five of the best presidents in our country.
MATTHEWS: Okay, good for you. Anyway, thanks so much, Congresswoman Robin
Kelly out here in Chicago, Jill Wine-Banks who lives out here and is
brilliant out here. Thank you, Ron Reagan, as always, for a good
psychoanalysis of this particular guy. Carlos Curbelo, thank you for that.
Coming up, my interview with New Jersey Senator and 2020 presidential
candidate, Cory Booker. You`re going to like this guy, I think. I like
him. It was a really interesting interview about everything. He`s a very
open guy. I mean, I hate to sound na‹ve but I think he`s an open person.
I think he opens about himself. More of his passionate response to
President Trump`s attack on the late Senator McCain, he`s got one too.
I also asked Senator Booker about New Zealand, that he thinks Trump is a
racist, waiting for [ph] that answer. We`ve got a lot to get to tonight in
a few minutes. Stick with us, a lot of Cory coming up. Stick with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now, to my interview with Cory
Booker, who`s running for the democratic presidential nomination, the
senator from New Jersey and former Mayor of Newark is offering himself to
voters as a uniter for the country.
Earlier today, I sat down with him at Tommy`s Cafe in Davenport, Iowa,
about three hours from here, for a wide-ranging discussion. I asked him to
start with about Trump`s rhetoric on race, the branding of the Democratic
Party by some as socialists, whether the President committed obstruction of
justice and if a President booker would ever think of pardoning Donald
I began by I asking him about John McCain and what he thought about the
President`s rough talk about his deceased former colleague.
BOOKER: Repulsive, repulsive. I mean, John McCain, he and I disagreed,
but he was probably one of the better mentors I had when I first came to
the Senate. He is a statesman and he has passed away. This is kind of a
moral vandalism that we see from this president with the idea that you
speak kind of the dead. And a guy who sacrificed for his country, who was
tortured for his country, who stayed there giving other people, would not
be released without other people going before him, who stood on the Senate
floor fighting against torture in our country. He`s a hero. And here, a
sitting President, a Commander-in-Chief, what`s that say to other men and
women that are serving this nation? So I found it repulsive.
And just another example of his moral vandalism and him just tearing at the
fabric of this country as opposed to bonding us together, he continues to
try to pits us against each other, now, pitting us against a dead American.
MATTHEWS: You`ve got a great headline in a local paper here. We`re in
Davenport, Iowa, right now. And The Quad-City Times, the local paper, has
a great quote from you on the front page slightly below the fold, pretty
good. This election is about uniting Americans. I want to ask you about
working in the Senate, the world`s greatest deliberative body. Name some
republicans you like in the Senate.
BOOKER: There`s a lot.
MATTHEWS: Name them. There`s 53 to go through.
BOOKER: Look, I have friends on the other side of the aisle.
MATTHEWS: Name them.
BOOKER: I just told you one. Tim Scott is a friend.
MATTHEWS: Go on.
BOOKER: Mike Lee is a friend from Utah.
MATTHEWS: OK, good.
BOOKER: Lamar Alexander, I wouldn`t say he`s a friend, but he`s a
statesman. I go to Inhofe`s office for Bible study. There are a lot of
MATTHEWS: That`s – that`s a good one. Inhofe, you get along with that
MATTHEWS: You agree with him on nothing.
BOOKER: We are Americans. Sincerely, we`re Americans.
BOOKER: Inhofe and I passed an amendment to an education bill together
that took care of homeless kids and foster kids. When I went into his –
to do Bible study, I saw his black grandchildren, adopted grandchildren.
BOOKER: So, you see people, when you when you strip away all the politics
and you meet them over prayer, you meet them in the gym working out.
You begin to realize that the lines that divide us are not as strong as the
ties that bind us. And I might fight him on most issues, but we still have
common ground. And, in America, if we can stop focusing on this
BOOKER: … and start seizing that common ground, we`re going to get a lot
MATTHEWS: You know what struck me on the ethnic thing, the racial thing
over the years is, the politicians, the good ones, Bill Bradley, Jack Kemp,
BOOKER: Yes, by the way, Bill Bradley and Jack Kemp, my very first fund-
raiser in Washington, D.C., they co-hosted that fund-raiser for me. Jack
Kemp was a friend.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re better on race because maybe they played with ball
players together and they were…
BOOKER: Football, I tell you, for – and basketball, again, when you sweat
with somebody, when you bleed with somebody on the football field, it
strips away a lot of the B.S., frankly, and you see their humanity. You
begin to see them first as human beings, in common cause.
BOOKER: It`s what the military does as well.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk – that`s love. And I love it, because I have worked
And I think we – you walk past a guy in the hallway or the woman in the
hallway, you got to – you got to treat them with respect. You share the
space with them.
BOOKER: Let me tell you, let me tell you, you cannot leave the people if
you don`t love the people and all the people.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about the other end of the spectrum, hate.
The guy who did the shooting down in New Zealand cited our president in his
But it`s not only – it`s not only hate in New Zealand. We have hate
groups here. We have hate leaders, David Duke and others, that see him as
their president. Here`s a guy that couldn`t condemn Nazis, whose bigoted
language from the time of the campaign – talk about pulling the race card.
I mean, he came down that escalator, started talking about Mexicans and
Muslims, started talking about our – the divisions in America.
MATTHEWS: Is he a racist?
BOOKER: He`s a guy that…
MATTHEWS: Is he a racist?
BOOKER: Racists thinks he`s racist. And his language hurts people.
His language is causing pain, fear. The way he`s talking is making people
afraid. I was down in Mother Emanuel Church. I have talked to people that
MATTHEWS: In South Carolina.
BOOKER: In South Carolina, where there was a hate crime.
People were afraid to go worship at a mosque or a synagogue, because hate
is on the rise. And these hate incidents are on the rise. And we have a
president that can`t stand up with any moral authority and remind us that,
when – when injustice – anywhere is injustice, it`s a threat to justice
everywhere, and it`s despicable.
MATTHEWS: How do we stop this world market, this global market for hatred?
Because somebody puts somebody down there in 8,000 miles away in New
Zealand, is on – connecting with other people that think and talk like him
on Inter – on the social media.
How do – is there any way that the people that don`t believe in that hate
can – can stop the social media from being the traffic for that?
BOOKER: So, I…
MATTHEWS: Any way?
BOOKER: Yes, we`re not helpless. We can`t surrender to cynicism. That`s
a toxic spiritual state. I think cynicism is a refuge for cowards.
It`s not enough to say – in America or the world, to say, I`m not a
racist. That`s not enough. Racism exists. You have to be anti-racist.
And those platforms that we have, let`s not use them for trivialities,
because other people are using their social media platforms to preach hate,
and we need to use our social media platforms to preach kindness and
decency and to try to revive civic grace.
There`s a researcher at Stanford that has shown that one act of decency and
kindness or love witnessed by others, it actually goes out. It ripples out
two or three degrees of separation.
MATTHEWS: How did – how did – President Obama tried to do that, right?
Or did he, enough?
BOOKER: Of course he – of course he tried to do it, yes.
BOOKER: And – and, look, we now need more than ever, after this
president, more than ever, we need a revival of grace in our country, a
revival of civic grace in our civic spaces.
And we need – this election – that`s why I tell Democrats, it can`t be –
you can`t make this election just about one office and one person, about
what we`re against. We need to talk about what we`re for.
BOOKER: And if we reduce this effort to just being against Republicans,
we`re going to beat Republicans, no, this election has to be about uniting
Americans again in common cause and common purpose, because when I talk to
folks in Iowa, I mean, they`re right to be angry, attacks on public
education, attacks on labor, here in this state…
BOOKER: … the loopholes to get around Davis-Bacon, attacks on farmers.
Farmer suicide rates are as high as they have been since the Great
Depression. I`m here just down the – down the street here, you see the
rivers rising, historic floods happening year after year after year.
All this stuff is happening because we are not seeing with a more
courageous empathy the suffering of our – of our neighbors. So, we need
to have a politics where we say, hey, we`re – we have got common cause.
We definitely have common pain.
But this campaign, this time in American history, more than ever, we need
to reunite in a common purpose, and put more indivisible back into this one
nation under God.
MATTHEWS: Well said.
Let me ask you about some of these current debates.
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, took impeachment off the table, at
least for now, not to talk about it. Where are you on that?
BOOKER: I`m waiting for the Mueller report. This is another bipartisan
Lindsey Graham and I worked together on a bill. Chris Coons got in, Tillis
got in to try to protect that – this counsel investigation. Let`s let him
finish his work and then make our determinations after that.
MATTHEWS: Still ahead, more of my important conversation with 2020
presidential candidate Cory Booker, including whether President Booker
would consider pardoning Donald Trump once he got into office.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In Davenport, Iowa, today, I talked to Senator Cory Booker about
everything, from socialism to adding extra Supreme Court justices. I also
asked him about impeachment and whether he would consider pardoning Trump
if he got into office.
Let`s take a look.
MATTHEWS: You went to Yale, the best law school. Everybody knows that.
No, I mean it. Everybody – everybody knows it is the best law school.
A constitutional question.
BOOKER: My dad didn`t.
He`s like, boy, you got more degrees than the month of July, but you ain`t
MATTHEWS: OK. Well…
BOOKER: Get out there – life is not about the degrees you get. It`s
about the service you give.
And you know a lot of these people that with Ivy League degrees are not
always that smart.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let`s talk about a couple of them.
BOOKER: I will take somebody in the inner city of Newark who knows a lot
more street smarts sometimes.
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re pushing me into my areas here, OK.
Yes, Jerry Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Would you consider pardoning Trump
if he took the presidency?
To bring together…
BOOKER: First of all…
MATTHEWS: You said you want to unite the country. Wouldn`t that unite the
BOOKER: You`re pushing me through a lot – to a lot of hypotheticals here,
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re running for president. If you`re president, would
you pardon your predecessor?
BOOKER: What`s he been – what has he been convicted of?
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s start with obstruction of justice.
You got to you got to believe that is in play here.
MATTHEWS: He fired his FBI director because he wouldn`t swear his
allegiance to him on the issues…
MATTHEWS: … that he`s being investigated on.
BOOKER: Right. So this…
MATTHEWS: He gets rid of his attorney general because he recused himself
on the issues he`s being investigated on.
BOOKER: But, see, this is the problem. This is the problem that a lot of
– this is why our justice system has lost so much legitimacy, is because,
as Bryan Stevenson says, we have a criminal justice system that treats you
better if you`re rich and guilty than if you`re poor and innocent.
There`s a whole bunch of people, if I`m president, that I`m looking to
pardon or who are being punished unjustly in this country.
BOOKER: There were more marijuana possession arrests in 2017 than all the
violent crime arrests combined.
BOOKER: And you know who doesn`t get arrested from smoking marijuana?
People on Yale`s campus.
BOOKER: The privileged can do – break laws, and not have to worry about
There`s no difference between blacks and whites for using marijuana or even
selling marijuana, but blacks are almost four times more likely to be
Now we have presidential candidates, senators bragging about their pot us,
while there are kids who can`t get a job because they have a nonviolent
offense for doing things that two of the last three presidents did. And
now we`re talking about a billionaire getting another pardon.
MATTHEWS: So you wouldn`t – you wouldn`t pardon in Trump in general, and
you don`t – you`re not willing to say he obstructed justice yet?
BOOKER: I`m going to wait for the Mueller report.
Let me ask you about a couple economic issues.
MATTHEWS: First of all, Amazon was going to go into Brooklyn and maybe
create tens of thousands of jobs. Local politicians, activists basically
discouraged it from doing that.
Where would you have been on that one?
BOOKER: I – where I was. I was trying to get Amazon to come to Newark,
MATTHEWS: OK. You would support that now?
BOOKER: Absolutely. Bring Amazon to Newark, and do it on our terms,
because we had a very good conversation with them about how we would do it
to make sure that…
MATTHEWS: So, New York, you think, was wrong to run them out?
BOOKER: I think that I would not have supported running them out, if I
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about breaking up the high-tech companies,
Where are you standing on that?
BOOKER: I think we have had too much corporate concentration from the
pharma industry to the farm industry. And we need to make sure that we
enforce our antitrust laws.
I will have a Justice Department, if I`m president of the United States,
that enforces antitrust laws. And a lot of these mergers that are going on
right now are hurting consumers, are hurting labor, hurting communities in
which these corporations exist.
BOOKER: And so we just need to use our antitrust laws.
I`m not going make a determination right now about which companies we`re
going to break up. There should be a process for that. But I am telling
you right now, unchecked corporate concentration – if you`re a farmer in
America right now, there`s three companies that control 70 percent of the
chemicals used, two-thirds of the seeds you use.
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
BOOKER: Driving up farmer prices.
The farmers` share of their tomato, the finished product now, has gone down
about 40, 50, 60 percent, depending on the good. That`s why farmers are
losing their farms, because people are profiteering off with this corporate
I talked to a guy who used to have – for his beef, he used to have five
companies to sell to. Now he`s have got one.
MATTHEWS: Where are you on this discussion about socialism now?
This country`s existed, as you know, with mixed capitalism. That`s how it
works. We have free markets, but we also have a social safety net. And we
also have antitrust and things like that. It`s always been a mix of
capitalism and socialism.
What`s wrong with being for capitalism?
BOOKER: Yes, well, the thing is…
MATTHEWS: It`s always been part of our growth.
BOOKER: I am for capitalism. And I`m tired of companies engaging in
socialism where they outsource…
MATTHEWS: OK, all right, that is – that is – OK, I agree.
BOOKER: Where they outsource their costs – they outsource their costs…
MATTHEWS: I know. That`s a good rhetorical flourish.
BOOKER: … onto society. It`s not rhetorical flourish. It`s true.
MATTHEWS: But I`m asking you…
BOOKER: I live in Jersey. I live in Jersey.
The Passaic River is polluted…
BOOKER: … because they outsourced their costs into my river and didn`t
We now have a Superfund site from corporations pushing out their costs onto
the public. So I`m a capitalist. Monopolies are not capitalism. If I
asked people in this diner to raise your hand how many people want to start
businesses, you might get half of the people starting.
Small businesses are the ones that are creating jobs in this country.
BOOKER: But we have a system that`s designed towards the biggest
We just gave corporate tax breaks to folks that were not even paying the
full effective tax rate.
BOOKER: And so we don`t have competition anymore.
MATTHEWS: OK, how about the word socialist, and where are you on that?
Are you a socialist?
BOOKER: I am not a socialist.
MATTHEWS: Well, you have got people in the party who are.
BOOKER: I am a Democrat. I believe in fundamental democratic principles.
I believe that we need more democracy, not less. I believe all this money
in politics is anti-democratic. I think gerrymandering is anti-democratic.
Heck, I even watched an election where somebody won the majority of vote,
got three million more, and the anti-democratic…
MATTHEWS: Do you think voter suppression is immoral?
MATTHEWS: I do. I think so.
Eric Holder, the former A.G., is talking about expanding the number of
people in the United States Supreme Court beyond nine to get more
progressives on there. Where are you on that?
BOOKER: I think we need to fix the Supreme Court. I think they stole a
Supreme Court seat.
MATTHEWS: Can we keep it at nine? Should we keep it at nine?
BOOKER: I think I would like to start exploring a lot of options, and we
should have a national conversation. Term limits for Supreme Court
justices might be one thing, to give every president the ability to choose
BOOKER: We have people holding on to those seats in ways that I don`t
think is necessarily healthy.
So I want to figure out…
MATTHEWS: Age limit?
BOOKER: Look, I think we – term limits might be a better way of saying
MATTHEWS: OK. Voter suppression, I asked you about.
The NFL. Would you encourage kids today, parents with kids, young
teenagers, to play football?
BOOKER: God, I would be a hypocrite.
I got into Stanford because of a 4.0, 1,600, 4.0 yards per carry, 1,600
MATTHEWS: That`s legit.
BOOKER: That`s legit.
BOOKER: I was a high school All-American football player.
MATTHEWS: No, but you played for a really great school.
BOOKER: And I played for some great coaches, like Denny Green.
MATTHEWS: I saw – we`re going to show the – some of your highlights on
the show tonight, and 81.
MATTHEWS: And I was asking you.
You get a reception in college football at the Stanford level, national
MATTHEWS: And you catch that ball right there on the sidelines.
MATTHEWS: And that moment of excitement. You caught the ball. You got
MATTHEWS: And then somebody whacks you, bring you down on the gravel with
all their might.
Is football too dangerous?
BOOKER: Well, listen, Notre Dame, we played against in South Bend,
MATTHEWS: You know who I was rooting for?
BOOKER: I`m sure you were rooting for Notre Dame.
BOOKER: But anybody – that is the mecca of football.
My dream was to get into that end zone and turn around and see Touchdown
Jesus. That was my…
MATTHEWS: Touchdown Jesus.
BOOKER: That was my – ever since Lou Holtz recruited me and showed me
that end zone himself, had me turn around. I don`t care what.
I had a – I was already a Christian, but, dear God, I had a conversion
moment that was – and I said I`m going to…
BOOKER: And I knew what Jesus wanted for me at that point was to score a
touchdown in that end zone.
MATTHEWS: You could have been Rudy.
BOOKER: And so when I caught a pass over the line, Todd Lyght, All-
American cornerback, comes up. He falls for my fake. He falls down.
For a hot second, I thought – I could hear the angels calling me to that
end zone. But you`re right. I got hit really hard, dragged out of bounds.
It takes your wind away, but the adrenaline`s running.
MATTHEWS: Should kids 12 years old play?
BOOKER: And “Touchdown Tommy” Vardell, you remember him?
MATTHEWS: Should they go into football?
BOOKER: I think – I love football. I think we should do things more to
make the game safer. But if I had…
MATTHEWS: Bigger helmets?
BOOKER: If I had – if I had – not bigger helmets. There`s actually a
lot of work going on in Rutgers University in my state to make – how do
you make helmets safer to absorb more?
BOOKER: I am really worried about what I`m seeing. I think the NFL should
be responsible for health care. I think the NCAA, the way the NCAA does
things is, to me, unconscionable.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Trump`s declaration of a national emergency at the
border and what Cory Booker might consider an emergency if he becomes
That`s straight ahead. Stay tuned.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In Davenport, Iowa, today, I talked to Senator Cory Booker about President
Trump`s declaration of an emergency at the southern border. Well, several
Republicans opposed the emergency because they feared what a Democratic
president might do with that additional executive power.
So I asked Senator Booker, is gun violence a national emergency? And
here`s what he said.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For me, it is. When you
live in a community where there`s shootings. An amazing young man shot,
was murdered at the top of my block where I live.
I deal with this urgency. I live in a low income inner city neighborhood
in Newark, New Jersey. And I see every single day the tragedies because we
do not have a national consensus in our policy makers, because we have
consensus amongst people, over 90 percent of Americans believe we should
have common sense gun safety, 86 percent of NRA members think we should
have universal background checks.
BOOKER: But we`re not doing it. So, is that an emergency? Forget your
political or legal definition, but for people who live in communities with
gun violence, people who are afraid for their kids at their schools, people
are afraid of their houses of worship, they feel a sense of emergency.
MATTHEWS: So, you would consider it as a national emergency, declaring it?
BOOKER: Again, I think we need to respect the separation of powers. But
for me as a president, you can call it emergency. I feel a sense of
national urgency to get these things done. And I`m going to be the
president, should I be elected, that`s going to make sure we have common
sense gun safety laws to stop the carnage we`re seeing.
America is not a war zone.
BOOKER: We should not have this level of violence.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get – let`s talk about the globe, because the president
of the United States is our chief diplomat. He`s our head of state in the
whole world. I mean, who do you admire when you read the papers and watch
the news in the world right now? Who world leaders we just say, that`s
sort of what we`re looking at, we like?
BOOKER: You know, I`m a big – I really respect Merkel. I think she is
MATTHEWS: The chancellor of Germany, yes.
BOOKER: Yes, but she`s been governing in a very complex world. She`s been
insulted and disrespected by our president. We have a president that finds
it easier to cozy up to dictators than he does to deepen and strengthen
MATTHEWS: Why does he go that?
BOOKER: But does he – I don`t – you know, his psychology, I don`t want
to go there.
MATTHEWS: Why does he like Putin? Why does he like guy? Why does he like
Netanyahu? He likes all these tough guys.
BOOKER: You know, the way he talked about it, the North Korean dictator.
I mean, this is a guy that to me has weakened our nation abroad.
BOOKER: He`s weakened our alliances, which make us strong, the way he
cozies up to dictators. He won`t even admit that America has been attacked
by the Russians and they are still coming at us.
A president`s job is to be the commander in chief. He is not making
America stronger, he`s making America weaker.
And by doing things – you want to talk about what our military is
concerned with? Read their reports on climate change. The military knows
that if we don`t do anything, there`s going to be more instability, more
famines, more refugees, more extremism. And we have a president that can`t
even admit that threat in this country.
MATTHEWS: Last couple of questions quickly. Venezuela, you know, I
sometimes think the neocons are back and want to take our army to South
BOOKER: Using military interventions in the last 20 years has really,
really worked well.
MATTHEWS: I know, I know the whole history.
BOOKER: Iraq, I mean, you can go through the places. There are ways to
solve this problem. But you know what? We`re going to do to need our
allies to do it and we`re going to need strong coalitions to do it.
MATTHEWS: Should we bring back – if it`s President Booker, would you
restore American support for the Iranian nuclear deal?
BOOKER: Look, I`m a strong supporter of that deal. I think it was the
thing that best protected Israel and Israel`s safety.
I think what this president has allowed Iran to do, Iran has grown in
strength. They now have a pathway from Syria. We see them doing things in
Yemen, to Lebanon.
So I think that the best way to check Iran is to stay strong with our
allies. This president after America made a deal, he turned his back on
America`s word and America`s deal, weakening that alliance at a time we
need a strong alliance in that region.
MATTHEWS: Senator Booker, thank you for your time.
BOOKER: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be back again.
BOOKER: I hope so. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Well, thanks again to Tommy and Chris Jones and everyone at
Tommy`s Cafe at Davenport, Iowa, for hosting us today.
Up next, reaction to my interview with Cory booker and Donald Trump`s
latest bizarre attack on Joe Biden. That`s ahead.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
With each passing day, the Democratic presidential field is getting larger
and more diverse. Currently, the pool stands at 13, but there will be many
more. We just gave you a taste of what one of those candidates, Senator
Cory Booker of New Jersey, had to say about his party and his place in the
For more on that interview and the rest of the growing pool of Democratic
presidential candidates, I`m joined by Natasha Korecki, national political
correspondent for “Politico”, and Aisha Moodie-Mills, Democratic strategist
and fellow at Harvard`s Institute of Politics.
Thank you both.
First of all, I want to start with Aisha.
What did you make of Senator Booker for that long interview?
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I thought that he came
across in the way that he intended to, which is he`s trying to restore
civility back into our process, into our politics, into our campaigning.
He talked a lot about decency. He talked a lot about bipartisanship.
I think that he struck a tone that he`s hoping will cut through this really
angry noise that we`re seeing of people just wanting to fight, fight, fight
against Donald Trump and kind of having a hopefulness. I`m –
MATTHEWS: Did you believe him?
MOODIE-MILLS: You know, I believe him because I think that he is genuine.
But I wonder if he`s a little bit tone deaf to what the base of the party
is really looking for.
These are not normal times. In fact these are very urgent times. And he`s
coming across sounding a little bit, a little bit kinder and gentler than I
think the severity of the situation we`re facing that the president
MATTHEWS: You think he didn`t know that when he started talking kind. He
didn`t know the party was in a ferocious mood. How could he not know that?
Aisha, you and I know it`s in a ferocious mood.
MOODIE-MILLS: He knows that. I think he`s trying to be – I think he`s
trying to above it, and you know, kudos to him for that. Kudos to him for
that for sure.
MATTHEWS: I think he knows what`s going on. I think he`s trying to offer
counterprogramming, something different for most, because a lot of it seems
to be, including him sometimes, and Kamala and the rest of them, are very
tough, and very angry at times.
NATASHA KORECKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Right, he`s
trying to breakthrough in that sense, and I think actually if you look at
the electorate in early states, recent Iowa poll shows that`s exactly the
kind of candidate they want.
MATTHEWS: They want ferocity.
KORECKI: They – no, actually they want somebody who can bring people
together. They want to unite. Booker doesn`t have a high name recognition
there yet, but that`s what – it`s the kind of candidate they`re wanting.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s tonal. I think Aisha is right. It`s tonal.
We`ll see which side wins. There are two sides, I think. We`ll see.
Former Vice President Joe Biden had an interesting slip up over the
weekend. Let`s watch him in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I`m told I get criticized by the new
left. I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the –
anybody who would run.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I didn`t mean it –
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Of anybody who would run.
(END VIDEO CLIPO)
MATTHEWS: Nice correction.
Anyway, President Trump, according to reports, is taking a Biden run very
seriously, tweeted: Joe Biden got tongue tied over the weekend when he was
unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for
president. Get used to it, another low I.Q. individual.
Well, President Trump has his own history of getting tongue tied. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The op-ed published in the
failing “New York Times” by an anonymous (ph), really anonymous (ph),
The wall is under construction. At lot of work has been done. A lot of
renovation (ph) – if you look at some of it.
They sacrifice every day for the furniture (ph) – future of their
Our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Nambia.
God bless the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Aisha, tongue tied. You know what, Joe Biden makes gaffe
occasionally certainly, but this president is unfamiliar.
Nambia, I`ve never been to Nambia. I`ve been all over the world, I`ve
never been to Nambia. There`s a country. Maybe that`s a new movie coming
What did you think of – how about this one, renerversion, renerversion and
furniture. We`re fighting for, what is it, we`re fighting for the
furniture of our children. This is powerful stuff.
MOODIE-MILLS: Yes. I mean, here`s the thing. I think or at least his
people, his supporters think that that`s charming. But it`s actually
We should all be afraid of and dismayed that the president of the United
States is clearly just not that bright. Like not that intelligent, that he
even knows how to put words together.
There`s a reason why he uses Twitter. He uses Twitter because not only
because it`s 140 characters, you can be succinct, you don`t really have to
be elaborate in your ability to put your thoughts together. It`s
problematic. He`s governing in the same way that he`s making those gaffes.
MATTHEWS: Natasha, this is childish but the president has been childish
going at him. But why can`t Joe Biden control himself? He had to do one
thing. Don`t announce for president.
KORECKI: Well, I think it`s something that we`re going to have to get used
to. He`s very gaffe prone, but I think if Donald Trump`s going after him
the way he is, it kind of shows he`s scared.
MATTHEWS: I`ll say something about Joe Biden. I like him. He`s never
hurt anybody with his gaffes. His gaffes can be goofy. But they never
hurt anybody, and that ought to be counted. No foul, what is it, no hurt,
no foul, whatever, same thing.
Natasha Korecki, thank you. Aisha Moodie-Mills, thank you both.
Up next, there`s – what`s triggering Trump`s talk of violent division in
this country? What`s spooking this guy? He`s unnerved, could it be his
sense of impending doom?
MATTHEWS: We have reached a state where anything is imaginable. I could
not until recently imagine a president attacking a dead rival who was
considered indecent for anyone, much less a president to do such a thing.
Well, that no longer applies.
It ended this weekend when President Trump attacked the late Senator John
McCain. It was not until recently that American president or anyone would
take, or relish of a violent struggle in our streets over a national
destiny. In other words, the onset of another civil war.
But listen to the words of Donald Trump, the president of our country, in
last Thursday`s interview with “Breitbart”.
Quote: It`s so terrible what`s happening. You know the left plays a
tougher game. It`s very funny, I actually think the people on the right
are tougher, but they don`t play it tougher. OK?
I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the
military, the support of the Bikers for Trump - I have the tough people,
but they don`t play it tough until they go to a certain point and then it
would be very bad, very bad.
What is Donald Trump talking about here? What is he threatening with these
menacing words about how the conflict in our politics is going to grow very
bad, very bad?
We have had every school child, should know, a civil war. Six hundred
thousand died in battlefields where men faced each other and fired to kill.
We fought, as Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural because one of
the sides would make war rather than let the nations survive. The other
would accept war rather than let it perish and the war came.
Why is Donald Trump talking this up, this talk of taking a national debate
into the streets? Listen to one of his acolytes, Iowa Congressman Steve
King posted on his Facebook account this week. Folks keep talking about
another civil war. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other
side doesn`t know which bathroom to use. Wonder who would win, King
What is triggering Trump`s talk of violent division in this country? Is it
his sense of impending doom that Robert Mueller is about to strike? Is he
revving up his troops in hope that in a real, out in the open fight, it
would give him protection behind the lines? Is he driving the country to
war so he can at least find a friendly bunker?
That`s HARDBALL for now.
Coming up, right now, a special “ALL IN” town hall event with Chris Hayes
and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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
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