Trump draws bipartisan condemnation. TRANSCRIPT: 3/20/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Mike Murphy, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Betsy Woodruff, Jamie Raskin, Howard Dean, Reed Hundt, Michael Steel
Transcript:

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  That is it for THE BEAT.  Thanks as always for

spending some time with us.  We`ll be back at 6:00 PM Eastern tomorrow. 

But don`t go anywhere, because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The ghost in Donald Trump, let`s play

HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Tonight, there`s a ghost

in the White House, and the ghost appears to be winning.  The spirit of

John McCain, dead in these seven months, is haunting this American

President to the point where Donald Trump talks like his old rival is right

there in the executive mansion with him.  He speaks in the present tense

about how he`s not happy with McCain. 

 

And late today he complained out loud that he never got a thank you for

giving the war hero, quote, the funeral he wanted.  Who`s going write on a

thank you note?  It`s been another day of Trump unleashing his fury against

the ghost of Senator John McCain.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  A lot of people are asking because they love

me, they ask me about a man named John McCain.  So I have to be honest. 

I`ve never liked him much, hasn`t been for me.  I`ve really probably never

will. I endorsed at his requests and I gave him the kind of funeral that he

wanted, which, as President, I had to approve.  I don`t care about this.  I

didn`t get thank you.  That`s okay.  We sent him on the way, but I wasn`t a

fan of John McCain.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  How do you explain that grotesquery?  Anyway, yesterday hours

after similar outburst, McCain`s widow, Cindy, posted a stranger`s

expletive latest message that I can`t show you calling Senator McCain a

trade risk war monger.  And that`s the kind of stuff the President kicking

up here.

 

And earlier today, daughter, Meghan McCain, again, defended her father. 

Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN:  I think if I had told my dad,

seven months after your dead, you`re going to be dominating the news and

all over the Twitter.  He would think it was hilarious that our President

was so jealous of him, that he was dominating the news cycle in death as

well.  Do not feel bad for me and my family.  We are blessed.  We are a

family of privilege.  Feel bad for people out there who are being bullied

that don`t have support.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Senator Johnny Isakson had joined fellow republican Mitt

Romney in calling out the President`s distasteful attacks.  Isakson told

Georgia public broadcasting that he found the President`s comments

deplorable.  That`s his word.  Let`s listen.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), G.A.:  I want to be crystal clear that, we need to

talk about the politics, of the military in any way we want to but we don`t

talk about our veterans in any way but to drag on them for the service they

rendered.  It`s deplorable what he said.  And we should never reduce the

service that people give to this country.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  By contrast, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Arizona

Senator Martha McSally, who holds McCain`s old seat, defended the late

Senator on Twitter without condemning Trump.  That`s careful by them.

 

President Trump who is juggling a trade war with China now claimed the

national emergency at the border and failing negotiations with North Korea,

also escalated his feud today with the husband of close adviser Kellyanne

Conway.  George Conway, responded with a series of tweets, capped off by

this one, quote, you are nuts.

 

Tonight, we`re joined by Omarosa Manigault Newman, former Senior White

House Official, and also Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press White House

Reporter.  But, first, let`s turn to Mike Murphy, a former Adviser to John

McCain.

 

What did you make, Mike, of the comment by Cindy, his daughter, that he

would find this ridiculous and hilarious that this President can`t get over

him?

 

MIKE MURPHY, FORMER MCCAIN ADVISER:  No, I think it`s true.  I think the

John McCain I knew well would be howling with laughter at the idea.  He

still got this insecure baby on the White House tied up in knots from the

grave.  I mean, it`s just a tale [ph] into how insecure and just childish

Donald Trump is.  I mean, that`s kind of the funny side.  The sad side of

this is that we have a President of the United States who`s such a

narcissist, so self-obsessed, so prickly and foolish that he`s insulting

just about everybody who`s ever worn the uniform here.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  That`s the word, that`s the key word.

 

MURPHY:  You know, John McCain was a tough [ph] character, I loved him, but

he was respected across the board even if he disagreed with him.  And what

Donald Trump is doing it`s just so beyond the pale, it`s horrifying.

 

MATTHEWS:  I think you hit the right word, uniform.  John McCain suffered

five-and-a-half years in the Hanoi Hilton, being beat up most of the time

in solitary, all kinds of hell.  He had to tap on the wall to talk to any

other human being.  And here`s the guy who got a concierge doctor to get

him out of the war.  I think he might feel a little moral inferiority here.

 

Anyway, part of John McCain`s legacy was the moment laid in the 2008

presidential race, when he, John McCain, defended his opponent, Barack

Obama, right near the election to a republican voter.  Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I can`t trust Obama.  I have read about him and he`s

not – he`s an Arab.  He is not –

 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), A.Z.:  No, ma`am.  No, ma`am. No, ma`am.  He is a

decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreement with on

fundamental issues and that`s what this campaign is all about.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Mike, that`s what I love about politics, right there.  And it

make – and Donald Trump has never given us a moment like that.

 

MURPHY:  And I doubt he will because I don`t think he understands what a

moment like that is, which is why he`s unfit to be President of the United

States.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about the republican voter out there.  I mean, I grew

up in a republican family.  I`d left them pretty early but then I`ve always

been surrounded by brothers and people like that, my parents.  And they

were sort of close call [ph] republicans, they weren`t rich.  But they are

– my parents, but they believed in fiscal responsibility, personal

reliability, personal self-reliance, all those good values and then respect

for other people.  They were decent people, obviously.  And this guy,

Trump, doesn`t seem to value anything, this republican.  Why do republicans

value him?

 

MURPHY:  Well, I think there are two things going on.  The practical

politicians are afraid of their own primary voters.  So with a few notable

exceptions, they`re cursing him in private.  I mean, if Trump could read

minds, if you were the amazing Kreskin Trump, and he walk to the Senate

caucus, he`d curl up into ball and shiver.  The problem is it`s all a

private.  They don`t have the courage to be public about it, most of them,

which is a shame because this is a test and they`re all going to go down in

history.

 

Now, in the republican primary electorate, Trump is not as powerful as he

looks.  Yes, he`ll get an 80, 85 percent approval rating.  But that`s like,

I root for the Red Sox, I may hate our pitcher, but that doesn`t mean I`m a

Yankee.  If you ask a republican, should Trump get a primary, should there

be choices, the number is pretty high in Iowa Caucus, center of the

[INAUDIBLE] poll two weeks ago, it was 41, 40.  So, you know, we`ll see. 

We`re going to go into a very turbulent time here, as Trump threatens to

wipe out the party in 2020 and the party is going to have to make some

practical decisions rather than hiding behind a rock about this guy.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, during the 2016 presidential campaign, South Carolina

Senator Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a train wreck after he attacks

Senator McCain.  Let`s watch that.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.:  How could anybody wanting to be Commander-

in-Chief even suggest that John McCain and people like him or anything less

than a hero?  So he`s train wreck, he`s a car wreck.  And I think he showed

yet again why he`s not going to make it through this process.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  And now, four years later, the senator, that same human being,

has a more nuance take on –

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRAHAM:  I think the President`s comments about Senator McCain hurt him

more than the legacy of Senator McCain.  I will try to continue to help the

President.  My job is to represent the people of South Carolina.  They want

me to work with the President where I can.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Exhibit A, Mike.  Exhibit A.  Why?

 

MURPHY:  Yes.  Look, Lindsey is my friend but I wish he`d get shot full of

truth serum.  I know what he`s doing, I believe.  He thinks he can have

more of a positive influence from inside the circus tent of the Trump White

House than from outside it.  But that`s a Faustian bargain.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, you`re the greatest.  Mike Murphy, thanks for coming

on tonight.  I want to go now to Omarosa, right now because you were on the

train – actually the plane or the bus, whatever with the President, the

current President when he went crazy over John McCain.  What is it?  This

is something about McCain getting in his bone matter or something.  What is

this?

 

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Well, he`s

obsessed with McCain.  He`s obsessed with him because he`ll never be the

hero that McCain is.  What we`re watching is the third season of the Trump

Reality TV Show.

 

What happens in the third season is you turn the hero into the heel and you

have a plot twist and he keeps repeating these things over and over again. 

And it`s going to get more and more bizarre because he`s not trying to

become the best President, he`s trying to be the best reality star, and

that`s what we`re seeing in this bizarre behavior from Donald Trump.

 

MATTHEWS:  It reminds me of an old fairy tale, mirror, mirror on the wall,

who`s the fairest of them all.  And every time he hears something about,

you know, Snow White, every time he hears about McCain, it drives him

livid.

 

NEWMAN:  Yes.  But you know what the problem is, it shows that he`s

unstable and he really should not have access to the nuclear codes if a

Tweet can trigger him or even the thought of someone is deceased can send

him off the rails, the way he is.

 

MATTHEWS:  Like Jacob Marley.  Let me go to, Jonathan Lemire on this thing. 

You know, Jonathan, the last time I said he was talking to the President,

he said, I`m not happy with John McCain right now.  Like it`s happening

right now, here in the present tense.  And then today he complains he

didn`t get a thank you note, what, from John McCain for his funeral.  What

was the story about the funeral that seems to be bugging this President?

 

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Typically, dead

men can`t give thank yous for their funerals.  What we see here though is a

president who does not let any slights go.  And for the record, yes, Trump

played a role in the funeral proceedings, but it wasn`t something he gave

to John McCain.  The Congress decides who lies in state.  The National

Cathedral presides over the services there.  The State of Arizona took care

of what happened there for McCain.  What the President did do was arrange

for military transport for McCain`s body from Arizona to Washington.  He

provided for a band, some horses for the escort.  So, yes, he played the

role.  But he wasn`t – he didn`t take care of the whole thing.  And it`s a

bizarre claim to suggest that he did.  But this is what we see time and

time again from this President.

 

Yes, McCain, has been particularly under his skin.  Perhaps, as some have

said, he has that war hero resume that the President does not.  But we also

see it with George Conway, the husband of Kellyanne Conway, his Senior

Adviser, who has been very critical and very publicly so towards the

President on Twitter.  And Trump, despite aides telling him for weeks to

just ignore it, can`t.  He lashes out time and time again, including today

on Twitter, where he called him – I believe the quote was a total loser.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he called George Conway.  And as I mentioned a moment ago,

President Trump escalated his feud with Conway.  Speaking to reporters

today, President Trump called his adviser`s husband, Kellyanne`s husband, a

total whack job.  Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  How do you feel about George Conway?  How does he fit the

standard of, firstly, the best campaign?

 

TRUMP:  Well, I don`t know him.  Yes, I don`t know him.  He`s a whack job. 

There`s no question about it.  But I really don`t know him.  He – I think

he`s doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.  Kellyanne is a

wonderful woman and I call him Mr. Kellyanne.  The fact is that he`s doing

a tremendous disservice to a wife and family.  She`s a wonderful woman.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Reminder, that`s the President of the United States.  Earlier

today, the President, his only morning room [INAUDIBLE] Tweeted George

Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway, by those who know him. 

He`s very jealous of his wife`s success and angry that I, with her help,

didn`t give him the job he so desperately wanted.  In other words, he`s

blaming the wife for not get the husband a job he wanted.

 

Home wrecker, I barely know him but just take a look.  A stone cold loser

and husband from hell.  Anyway, Kellyanne Conway, who has remained silent

for the majority this, back and forth, finally weighed in.  She defended

the President.  Time to let it go [ph].  He left it alone for months out of

respect for me.  The President is obviously defending me.  Was he trying to

drive a wedge?  I know it`s politics.  Is he trying to drive a wedge in a

family here?

 

NEWMAN:  Well, let`s clarify something.  During the campaign, George Conway

was all throughout our campaign offices.  He walked around Trump Tower

quite frequently and sometimes with the children.  So for Trump to say he

didn`t know George, that`s a complete lie.  But I think it`s, again, a part

of this reality thing where this fighting and this turning [ph].  He also

said that George Conway was a husband of from hell.  And I think that`s

ironic coming from Donald Trump in his inability to be faithful to his wife

and how he`s treated Melania particularly.

 

But I think what we`re seeing is more from Kellyanne a lack of a commitment

to her marriage.  If anyone insulted John Allen Newman, I would not be

working for them any longer.  That`s where the line should be drawn.  But

it says more about Kellyanne staying and working for Donald Trump, who

insults her husband and the father of her children.

 

MATTHEWS:  I want to end with Jon Lemire.  What is it – I know this calls

for psycho information.  But why do people put up with this?  I mean, we

went through Access Hollywood and everybody said they`re going to quit. 

That`s was the end off the line.  We`re all get off the bus.  Kellyanne,

won`t get off the bus even though he`s attacking her husband.  What`s this

sticky glue that keeps people so tucked in bed with Trump?

 

LEMIRE:  Well, I think it probably varies person to person, some that I

have spoken to surrounding the President.  It`s a few different things. 

Some do believe they`re making a difference to their country.  I think for

others, they`re a little perhaps more reluctant to admit this.  But it`s

approximately power and it`s being part of the show of being in the West

Wing keeps them there.

 

But you`re right.  Very few moments – there were very few moments where a

staffer has quit out of principle.  Gary Cohn did but that was over

tariffs, not because of something the President said or did.  Remember, he

stuck by him for what he said after Charlottesville.

 

But, certainly, there`s a sense among White House aides that the President

has been particularly sort of distracted and they`re worried about that of

late.  And there is a few things going on here at once, not just this with

the attacks against McCain and George Conway.  But let just remember the

weekend Tweet storm with 70 odd tweets in two-and-a-half days, which seemed

really a display a lack of focus.  I think the impending release of the

Mueller report, which could come at this point any day or any week, is part

of it, the growing investigations from the House Democrats, another, the

fact the President has complained to people around him that he`s being

blamed for the shooting in New Zealand.

 

And even over the weekend, let`s remember, he views Fox News as a safe

harbor, if you will amid all of these complaints against the media.  And

even Fox was kind of rough on him this weekend, including suspending

Jeanine Pirro, one of his favorites, one of the most Pro-Trump anchors they

have.  And he was upset about that too, leaving Fox News, to be on the

receiving end and a couple of these scornful Tweets, which is not something

we often see.

 

MATTHEWS:  Omarosa, I get the sense he looks at the world right now.  The

blue sky is all behind him.  Dark clouds are coming.

 

NEWMAN:  Yes.  He knows that the walls are closing in on him.  And there`s

nothing good that`s going to come out to this Mueller report, but also all

of the investigations that will center on him but also his children and his

family.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it doesn`t look good for him.  Anyway, thank you, Omarosa

Manigault Newman, and thank you, Jonathan Lemire.

 

Coming up with the release of the Mueller report said to be imminent,

everybody thinks it`s coming.  President Trump is stepping up his attacks

on the probe itself while the White House stonewalls Congress to

investigators.

 

Plus polls show Joe Biden will be the instant frontrunner if he joins for

the race the president, so what`s keeping him?

 

And what`s wrong with electing presidents by a simple popular vote? 

Several of the new democratic candidates are all for that.  Trump used to

hate the Electoral College.  But now, of course, he loves it because 3

million extra votes for Hillary Clinton might have had something to do with

his thinking.  Much more ahead, stick with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  So nearly two years, the entire

country is on Mueller watch right now anticipating the completion of the

Special Counsel`s investigation any day.  The waiting game appears to be a

major source of anxiety for Mr. President, who has been vetting his

frustrations on a daily basis – hourly basis lately.

 

Trump`s now challenging the very premise of Mueller`s appointment,

questioning why – why he`s asking does the Special Counsel gets to write a

report.  Here he is.  This is manic.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  No collusion.  No collusion.  I have no idea when it`s going to get

released.  It`s interesting that a man gets appointed by a deputy, he

writes a report.  I just won one of greatest elections of all time in the

history of this country, and even you will admit that.  And now, I have

somebody writing a report that never got a vote.  It`s called a Mueller

report.

 

And it`s sort of interesting that a man out of the blue just writes a

report.  I got 63 million votes.  And now, somebody just writes a report? 

I think it`s ridiculous.  But I want to see the report.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Hillary got 66 million votes, Mr. President.

 

While Attorney General William Barr will decide which parts of the Mueller

report are made public, the president said today, he doesn`t mind if it`s

all released. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

QUESTION:  Does the American public have a right to see the Mueller report?

 

TRUMP:  I don`t mind.  I mean, frankly, I told the House, if you want, let

them see it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump`s remarks could have big implications down the road.

 

As “The Washington Post” reports: “It would seem Trump has authorized the

disclosure of detail about his own conduct.  If Republicans or the Justice

Department want to fight it, Trump may have just made that more difficult

for them.”

 

I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland

who sits on the House Oversight Committee, and Betsy Woodruff, political

reporter for The Daily Beast.

 

First of all, to the reporter.

 

A lot of buzz.  This is coming sometime soon.  We don`t know what.

 

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST:  It`s coming at some point.

 

Maybe I will eat crow for this tomorrow, but I don`t expect it to be in the

immediate, imminent future.  We can say with a high level of confidence

that Attorney General Bill Barr does not yet have the report in his

possession. 

 

And just from talking to people who know him and kind of know the way he`s

likely to think about this, once he gets it, it`s very likely there`s going

to be a protracted approval process, in part because the president`s

lawyers are all but certain to argue, whether or not persuasively, that

portions of the report would be covered by their very broad understanding

of executive privilege.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, even though the president said let it out.

 

Congressman, he said let it out.  I just saw him on the South Lawn.

 

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND:  He did say that.  So he agrees with the

House of Representatives, which says, let it out.

 

WOODRUFF:  This wouldn`t be the first time, though, that his lawyers said,

no, no, no, no, we`re not going with what the president says.

 

MATTHEWS:  Would get it on the Hill, your committee, Oversight?  Who would

get the actual document, if William Barr put it out?

 

RASKIN:  Well, it would come to the Judiciary Committee.  It would come to

the Oversight Committee, but, very quickly, it would go to every member of

the House.  And that means the American people would get it.

 

MATTHEWS:  Pretty quickly.

 

RASKIN:  In a matter of minutes. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  I didn`t ask you the question.  You think it`s imminent? 

 

RASKIN:  I don`t know.  I mean, the rumors are just like bouncing off the

walls.

 

But who knows?  I mean, the president`s – we can`t take much more of this,

because the president is so stressed out, and he`s stressing out the whole

country.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about that. 

 

He acts like a cat on a hot tin roof, like this is getting hotter and

hotter, and this weekend 50 some tweets, the last couple days going crazy

over a man who died seven months ago, in sort of a ghost-like – he`s like

he`s – I don`t know.

 

He`s gaslighting himself is what it looks like.

 

RASKIN:  I think is a serious problem. 

 

I mean, to me, it underscores the importance of at least having a structure

in place to deal with, not necessarily this president, but some president

not being able to discharge the powers and duties of office.

 

And that`s what the 25th Amendment, which was authored by Birch Bayh, who

died last Thursday, is all about.  He and Bobby Kennedy put it in, in the

wake of the Kennedy assassination.

 

MATTHEWS:  If you were in the Cabinet right now, would you put him in for

the 25th Amendment?  Will you execute it?

 

RASKIN:  Well, the Cabinet is not going to do it.

 

MATTHEWS:  But if you were on the Cabinet, would you do it, watching his

performance lately?

 

RASKIN:  Well, I would make sure there`s a structure in place for a real

discussion.

 

Now, right now, they`re trying to crack down on any discussions.  All these

people who are refugees from the administration who are writing books say

that people talk about the 25th Amendment, and then they go after them and

say, this is inappropriate even to talk about, which conflicts completely

with the whole purpose of the 25th Amendment, which is, in the nuclear age,

we need to make sure that the president is somebody who`s physically and

mentally fit to the task.

 

But the part of the 25th Amendment that`s unremarked is that it says the

vice president and the majority of the Cabinet or the vice president and a

majority of a body set up by Congress can act to transfer power…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you think we should have that body set up?

 

RASKIN:  I think we need to have that body for this presidency and for

every future president.

 

MATTHEWS:  Just sort of a shadow Cabinet that sits there?

 

RASKIN:  The legislation that I have drafted has 17 members on it.  Half of

them will be former presidents, vice presidents, attorneys general,

secretaries of state, half of them physicians and psychiatrists, a 17th

member who`s a chair chosen by this bipartisan, bicameral body.

 

But I think we got to take seriously this problem.  I mean, I know it`s the

source of a lot of amusement, the president`s mental state, but obviously,

mental health is not a laughing matter.  And if it continues to decline, we

have got a serious problem on our hands.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, the president is trying to claim that an unelected

official shouldn`t be allowed – he`s talking about Robert Mueller – be

allowed to investigate him.

 

But he`s also stonewalling congressional committees, which have a

constitutional obligation to oversee the executive branch. 

 

By the way, in a “Washington Post” op-ed, the chairman of the House

Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, a great man from Maryland, says: “The

White House has refused to hand over any documents or produce any witnesses

for interviews, despite numerous requests.”  Chairman Cummings says: “It

reflects the decision at the highest levels to deny congressional oversight

altogether.”

 

So we`re getting a two-face here.  One, the president says, let out all the

information.  On the other hand, he`s denying any documents that could be

useful to a report.

 

WOODRUFF:  Well, and the president has long had a good cop/bad cop dynamic

with his lawyers, which is, he goes out in front of the cameras and he

says, I`m on board with whatever you`re doing, I`m going to play nice, I

have nothing to hide.

 

And then his attorneys zoom in and say, oh, no, you don`t, we`re not doing

this. 

 

This was an issue in the John Dowd era, when Trump said that he would be

perfectly happy to sit down for an interview with Mueller.  We all know

that didn`t happen, and it`s not going to happen. 

 

There have been other points in time when he`s sort of made these expansive

promises, and then his lawyers have said, yes, he didn`t mean that at all. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What happens to the subpoena power?  I have been watching you

guys get control of the House.  You got control of the House.  I thought

the subpoena power came with it. 

 

Why can`t you just demand this stuff? 

 

RASKIN:  Well, we may end up getting to that place.

 

I mean, right now, what the president`s doing is quite striking, because

all the former presidents, from Obama through Bush, have cooperated with

requests for documents from the White House.  And even we`re getting basic

cooperation from the rest of the administration. 

 

It`s in the White House itself where the president seems to be clamping

down completely.

 

MATTHEWS:  But Nixon – the Congress had to subpoena Nixon. 

 

RASKIN:  Yes. 

 

Well, you would have to go back to Nixon to find a fight over an executive

privilege.  But this president seems to be saying, I`m not going to give

you anything. 

 

I mean, that`s quite extraordinary.  That`s astonishing.  So he`s raising

the stakes very quickly in terms of House control over the constitutional

oversight process. 

 

This is our duty. 

 

MATTHEWS:  This conversation with the president today is really striking,

because the president is saying, it`s not about rule by law.  It`s about

who gets the most votes.  Mueller didn`t get any votes.  I got 63 million. 

That`s how he`s talking.

 

So he shouldn`t be allowed to report on me.  He`s not allowed to issue a

report. 

 

It`s crazy talk.  He`s – in other words, every act of a government by law

has to be voted on.  But, by that definition, then Hillary Clinton, who has

more votes than him coming out of this election, should investigate him. 

 

I mean, I have never heard anybody say, you can`t investigate me unless you

got more votes than me.  What is he talking about?

 

WOODRUFF:  Well, first, it`s an implicit endorsement of the congressional

investigation… 

 

MATTHEWS:  Because they all got elected.

 

WOODRUFF:  … since Democrats in the House got a whole bunch of votes. 

 

But, second, it also highlights just a very poor understanding of the way

law enforcement works. 

 

Law enforcement officials are insulated from voters on purpose.  They

aren`t supposed to decide who to prosecute or who to investigate because

they want to win elections that are coming up.

 

And Trump`s argument that somehow Mueller should be able to be impeached or

voted out or should have to stump in Iowa in order to get authorization to

work – to enforce America`s allies is just totally antithetical to the

entire history of how law enforcement is supposed to work in this country

and basic values when it comes to rule of law.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, luckily, the people don`t agree with Trump on this.

 

A new Associated Press finds – poll finds that a majority of Americans, a

healthy one, 62 percent, are confident that Mueller`s investigation is

being conducted family and impartially; 37 percent – that`s a familiar

number of Americans – say they`re not confident.

 

Sounds like the hard-core Trumpies. 

 

RASKIN:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  But 60-some percent is impressive, 62.

 

RASKIN:  Well, I mean, they have – they have run it by the book.  There

have been no leaks. 

 

That`s why nobody has any idea really when the Mueller report is coming

out.  And they have had a lot of success in terms of the indictments, the

prosecutions, the law enforcement material that`s been turned over to other

prosecutors, like in the Southern District of New York.  And so people are

impressed by the work they have done.

 

And, of course, Betsy`s point is right.  At the federal level, we don`t

elect prosecutors.  Some local prosecutors are elected, district attorneys. 

But we have designed our process to keep partisan politics away from law

enforcement. 

 

That`s a basic fallacy that the president has been committing ever since he

took office.  He thinks that law enforcement reports to him and he can

interfere in individual cases.  It`s really quite an extraordinary mistake

he`s made.

 

MATTHEWS:  I like what you said about, we better be prepared for the 25th

Amendment. 

 

Anyway, thank you – for its execution.  Thank you, U.S. Congressman Jamie

Raskin of Maryland and Betsy Woodruff.

 

Up next:  A new report says Joe Biden is busy lining up big money donors. 

So, what is he waiting for? 

 

That`s my question.  Late in April, I hear, maybe the third or fourth week

in April.  Boy, this is late in the game.  Is he going to be the cavalry

attacking from the hill?  Maybe he hopes that.

 

Back after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

Will he or won`t he now?  Former Vice President Joe Biden has still not

publicly announced whether he`s going to run for president or not.  He

really hasn`t.  But, privately, he is out there telling people, at least a

half-dozen supporters, he`s in, and asked for their money to line up the

money. 

 

According to “The Wall Street Journal”: “Mr. Biden has expressed concern to

these people that he wouldn`t be able to raise millions of dollars in

online donations immediately, the way some other Democratic candidates

have.”

 

And while Biden continues to mull his decision, it may help that he leads

in the polls.  A new CNN poll has Biden at 28, followed by Bernie Sanders

at 20, Kamala Harris at 12.  Surprisingly, former Secretary of State John

Kerry, who is not even in the race, made that list ahead of a number of

declared candidates, which tells you about Kerry`s – respect for Kerry,

but also about the problem a lot of them are facing of just getting known. 

 

Also, a new poll from Emerson College – that`s up in Boston – has Biden

leading President Trump head to head by 10 points, a wider margin that any

of the other Democrats beat Trump.

 

For more, I`m joined by Howard Dean, the former DNC chair in 2004. 

 

It doesn`t seem like that long ago, but it`s 15 years ago that you and John

Kerry went at it.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  What is stopping – because when Beto got in the race last week,

I said, God, Biden better get going here.  They might be going after the

same vote in some places. 

 

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR:  I don`t know. 

 

I mean, I have no view into the mind of Joe Biden.  But I do think that the

– if you can`t raise a lot of money on the Internet, this is going to be

very tough race for you.  Politics has changed dramatically, even in the

last four years. 

 

And those young people that helped us win the 40 seats we just picked up,

that`s what`s driving the race, especially on the Democratic side.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Biden also let it slip last week – almost let it slip

that he was getting into the race, as he was touting his progressive

record.  Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m told I get

criticized by the new left.  I have the most progressive record of anybody

running for the – if – anybody who would run. 

 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Here`s a great question, first of all.  We can`t get into his

record.  Of course, he`s been a liberal Democrat all his life.

 

But here`s the question – with a few differences, like bussing, he was

against.  But here`s the question.

 

DEAN:  The Iraq War.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, that`s a big one, wasn`t it?

 

DEAN:  Yes, it was a kind of a big one, yes.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  You and I were on that right side of that one.

 

But you`re right.  He was for the – he will have to explain why he was for

the Iraq War.

 

DEAN:  Right.  Right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  And what good was his experience?

 

DEAN:  Well, look, I mean, everybody loves Joe Biden.

 

One of the problems is, if everybody loves Joe Biden, and he is at 28, what

does that say?  He`s going to be formidable.

 

I think – I think Joe`s greatest attraction is that he`s – is that 10-

point margin over Trump.  He`s a safe candidate.  And people really want to

beat Trump in the worst way.  But there are a lot of really attractive

candidates that are there – out there now.  And they`re all – almost all

in.

 

Some of them are not…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  What is your bet about any – any Democrat?  Say we start from

the left, Bernie, we go all the way to more conservative candidates, in the

Democratic sense, Biden.

 

Does it matter who runs, or is this going to be about Trump?

 

DEAN:  It absolutely matters who runs, because there`s a way to take on

Trump, and there`s a way not to take on Trump.

 

What you don`t do is get in Trump`s face.  Trump is going to remind

everybody why they don`t like him all campaign long.  I`m not – I`m

totally neutral in this race.  I really am. 

 

But I think Klobuchar provided a great example of how to deal with Trump. 

Trump sasses her on the Twitter.  She just says, I wonder how Donald`s hair

would look in this snowstorm, and then back to jobs, you know, climate

change and so forth. 

 

That`s what we have to do.  Just do this, as Obama did to Trump, and just

let him give his own message, because his message is not popular with

Americans.

 

MATTHEWS:  Who do you think can do that?

 

DEAN:  I don`t know yet.

 

MATTHEWS:  Who can stand in a room 10 feet from him?

 

For example, Hillary Clinton, one of the smartest people to ever run for

president, stands there giving her speech during a debate.  And Trump comes

up like this colossal beast from behind her and looms over her from – what

do you do in weird situations like that?

 

DEAN:  Well, there are a few things to do.  I`m not going to share them on

television.

 

But I think – I think Hillary should have waved her arms around a lot.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Wave him away?

 

DEAN:  No, double Trump off.

 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I see.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about Biden`s decision to – he reactively,

instinctively didn`t like being accused of not being as progressive as the

newbies.

 

Is it smart for him to compete with the left lane and just say – or just

say, you know what, I`m a center-left guy, on some issues, I`m more

conservative, it was probably stupid to vote for the war in Iraq, but I`m

not going to say I`m the most left candidate here?

 

DEAN:  So, here`s the deal.

 

I really don`t think this is about the Democrats attacking each other.  And

they have actually been quite good about not doing it.  Some of their

followers have, but, for the most part, they`re not.

 

MATTHEWS:  Except over marijuana. 

 

DEAN:  I missed that one. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes, because Cory Booker took a little shot at Kamala Harris

over, you shouldn`t be out there bragging about having used illegal drugs. 

 

DEAN:  Oh, all right.  Well, I guess they – I mean, if that`s the worst

thing anybody says during the campaign, we`re in great shape. 

 

The real problem is, look, the competition is here.  If you dis your

opponent in the Democratic race, it`s going to cost you.  There are 13

other people you can choose from.  Why would you pick somebody like that? 

And you`re not going to.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

Usually, the third guy wins. 

 

DEAN:  Yes, that`s right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s what – I attack – A attacks B, and C wins.

 

DEAN:  Right.  That`s exactly what happens. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, former – former Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed

scrutinizing Biden`s potential rivals.

 

He attributes the rise of Beto O`Rourke to the – what he calls the

Kardashian era of politics, pointing to what he called the me-centered

nature of O`Rourke`s existence. 

 

Gingrich writes; “In the age of the Kardashians, O`Rourke may be the

perfect candidate.  He is in because he is in.  He should lead because he

likes to lead.  He should applaud and – we should applaud and watch him in

awe because that is our role.  Somehow, I doubt all this will work.”

 

I got to say something.  Some candidates have lift.  They`re not smarter

than the other candidates.  You had it for a while back in `04.  Lift.  You

just go up and you levitate for a while, and it`s magical.  Even Beto says,

I don`t know what it`s doing – my wife and I don`t get it, what makes us

magic.

 

He`s got it right now.

 

DEAN:  He does.

 

And it`s a riot to hear…

 

MATTHEWS:  Newt Gingrich.

 

DEAN:  … Gingrich complain about the me, me, me candidate, right?

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, the guy who didn`t like getting on the front end of the

plane.

 

DEAN:  Yes.  I think he`s – is he running with Kanye West of who can give

the best advice to Democrats?

 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Tantrum because he didn`t get on the right door of plane.

 

DEAN:  Exactly. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

 

Governor Dean, thank you for coming in.  And good luck with your work with

the Democratic database. 

 

Up next:  How about we just count the votes?  How`s that for an idea?  We

just count the votes to decide who wins the presidency?

 

Elizabeth Warren wants to do away with the Electoral College, in favor of a

national popular vote.  Where do the other candidates and Americans at

large stand on this question, just count the votes?

 

We`re back after this. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Several Democrats running for president have said they`d support or even be

open to eliminating the Electoral College altogether, after the popular

vote winner was denied the presidency twice in just the past 20 years.

 

Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My view is that

every vote matters.  And the way we can make that happen is that we can

have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College and

everybody –

 

BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think there`s a lot to that

because you had an election in 2016 where the loser got 3 million more

votes than the victor.  It puts some states out of play altogether.  They

don`t feel like their votes really count.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you support getting rid of the electoral college? 

 

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA:  Absolutely.  It`s got to

go. 

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`m open to the

discussion.  I mean, there`s no question that the popular vote has been

diminished in terms of making the final decision about who`s president of

the United States.  So, we need to deal with that.

 

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Let`s restore

power of the people.  Let`s bring our democracy back to the direct

democracy it was supposed to be.  One person, one vote.  How about getting

rid of Electoral College?

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump tweeted that brilliance of the Electoral

College is that you must go to many states to win.  With the popular vote,

you go to just the large states, the cities would end up running the

country.  Smaller states and the entire Midwest would end up losing all

power, and we can`t let that happen. 

 

I used to like the idea of the popular vote but now realize the Electoral

College is far better for the USA.

 

Well, as Trump pointed out, he`s had many different positions on the

Electoral College in the past.  And that`s up next on HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

BLITZER:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

President Trump tweeted last night that he used to like the idea of the

popular vote.  In a strongly worded on election night 2012 however, he said

that the Electoral College was a disaster for democracy.  After he lost the

popular vote in 2016 however, he said multiple times that he could have won

the popular vote if he had tried to, figure one that out.

 

Last night, he tweeted campaigning for the popular vote is much easier and

different than campaigning for the Electoral College.  It`s like training

for the 100 yard versus a marathon.

 

It`s an argument he made several times, while going back and forth on the

popular versus the Electoral College.  Let`s watch him in action. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The Electoral College is

hard.  It`s hard, and harder to win than popular vote.  Popular vote you go

to three, four states, boom, boom, boom.  You win – it`s like the 100-yard

dash versus running the mile.  You practice differently. 

 

I would rather have the popular vote because to me, it`s much easier. 

 

The Electoral College is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know,

than it is to Republicans. 

 

The Electoral College is very, very hard.  They say almost impossible for

Republican to win.  The odds are stacked. 

 

The Electoral College is genius. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I`m joined right now by Reed Hundt, the CEO of Making

Every Vote Count, and Michael Steel, former spokesman for the House Speaker

John Boehner. 

 

Michael, why don`t we just count all the votes?  What`s wrong with the

popular vote? 

 

MICHAEL STEEL, FORMER JOHN BOEHNER SPOKESMAN:  Because this is the

compromise that our founders gave us.  At a time when President Trump is

shredding democratic norms in this country, the last thing we need do is

destroy another one.  We did it under the Founders` legacy and play the

game the way it was meant to be played.  Protecting small states,

protecting minority rights, not increasing division by having –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  What`s wrong with one, one person, one vote?  You`re talking

about 300 years ago.  What about now?  Why don`t we have a popular vote

now? 

 

STEEL:  Because this is a compromise that was designed to protect small

states –

 

MATTHEWS:  They used to elect senators by the legislature of your state

would pick senators – 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Why don`t we do it, popular vote? 

 

STEEL:  Because this allows candidates to campaign all over the country to

have a national message and national campaign rather than speaking just to

their bases and ginning up the voters on the coast. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Reed Hundt?

 

REED HUNDT, CEO, MAKING EVERY VOTE COUNT:  How are you?

 

MATTHEWS:  Would you like – what`s wrong with Electoral College?

 

HUNDT:  The Electoral College causes the campaigns to focus on almost no

states at all.  More than 40 states there, were no visits, no get out the

vote because the election results were assumed.  More than 80 percent of

the American population was ignored. 

 

And in this election, we`re already saying in 2020, the election will be

decided only in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and maybe Wisconsin.  It`s

ridiculous. 

 

MATTHEWS:  If we went to a popular vote right now, what would it look like

in the presidential camp – would they spend their time in California, to

roll up huge majorities in New York?  Is that what people would do?

 

STEEL:  Of course. 

 

HUNDT:  So, here`s the way I look at it – 

 

MATTHEWS:  Why would you go to Alaska in a popular vote? 

 

HUNDT:  Here`s the way I look at it.  Does a cell phone call go everywhere? 

Yes.  Does Amazon send packages everywhere?  Does Walmart build a store in

Arkansas? 

 

Businesses know to reach every place in the country.  They know how to sell

their product to everybody, and campaigns would use all the same techniques

that businesses use in order to reach absolutely everybody in the country. 

 

STEEL:  And I don`t want that.  I don`t want a candidate sitting in an

apartment in New York dialing for dollars and running television ads.  I

want to make candidates get out in the country, go to a diverse collection

of states and actually meet voters, talk to them, hear their concerns and

make their case, and that`s what the Electoral College forces them to do. 

 

MATTHEWS  What do you think people think of democracy when they see Hillary

Clinton, or any candidate get 3 million or 4 million more votes than the

winner and walk away the loser?  By the way, if Trump had come up with 3 or

4 million short, what do you think he would have done? 

 

STEEL:  Right, it`s massively frustrating. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Frustrating?  Trump might have rejected the results. 

 

STEEL:  Which is why it`s so popular in the Democratic primary right now. 

It`s a base play to frustrated Democrats who have seen this happen twice in

20 years.  I get it. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well – OK. 

 

According to Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans would support

amending the Constitution so the person with the most votes wins, while 41

percent support keeping the Electoral College.

 

Explain that Reed.  Why do some people want to keep the electoral vote? 

 

HUNDT:  First of all, let me give you an up to date poll, we did a poll,

our group that concluded last week, 76 percent of the people in Ohio

believe that every vote in the country should be counted equally and the

majority believe that whoever wins the national vote ought to be president. 

If you go state to state across the country, everybody is going to show in

their state a majority that believes the national vote winner should be the

president because that`s fair play, because that`s the way –

 

MATTHEWS:  You mean in little states like Montana which has one electoral

vote or one member of Congress, electoral votes, even those state would

like to go to the popular vote? 

 

HUNDT:  They all believe that the national vote winner should become the

president.  And in states like Montana, everybody has the following

experience.  The candidates pay no attention to them.  The results are –

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let`s talk turkey here.  It takes 3/4s of the states to

change the Constitution.  Is there an alternative route?

 

HUNDT:  Yes, there is.

 

MATTHEWS:  There is, by the way, 13 states are currently signed on to what

is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact where states pledged

to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. 

The compact wouldn`t take effect until enough states sign up to equal the

270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

 

And right now, the participating states have a total of 181.  Are you going

to get to 270? 

 

HUNDT:  Any state in the United States can pass a law deciding how its

electors are going to be appointed and I predict that as the Democratic

candidates and the Republican candidates go through the primaries in the

spring of 2020, in every single state, this issue will be joined.  And the

legislators in every single state are going to have to say to the people in

that state, are we supporting the national vote?  Are we supporting the

idea of an equal vote for every single person?  That`s the way it will play

out in 2020.

 

STEEL:  And I predict that if, say, my state North Carolina votes for

Kamala Harris for president, Trump wins the popular vote, and North

Carolina tries to send electors pledged to Trump to the Electoral College,

there will be riots in the street. 

 

This is a system that was created as a compromise to protect the smaller

states, protect rights and the system has worked for some –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  What happens when we have a president lose a campaign by 10

million votes, because it`s getting that way, it`s popularizing and doesn`t

get the job?  What people are going to do then, talk about rioting? 

 

HUNDT:  To me, President Trump should want to go out and win the national

popular vote just like he said the time before this.  He is somebody who

actually would love to do that campaigning.  And he said it before, his

handlers should get out of the way and let him go out and try it. 

 

STEEL:  Yes.  I mean, every candidate I think for president would like to

win the popular and electoral vote, but the system that we have now, you

don`t determine the winner of a baseball game based on attendance.  It

tells you something, but it doesn`t tell you who won or lose.  The

Electoral College tells you who won or lose the presidential –

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s a hell of a comparison. 

 

Anyway, thank you, Reed Hundt, sir.  And thank you, Michael Steel, as

always.

 

Coming up, what I call keeping up with the Trumps.  You`re watching

HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  My topic tonight could be called keeping up with the Trumps. 

Donald Trump Jr. is attacking British Prime Minister Theresa May in the

newspapers over there for not taking, quote, advice from my father on how

Britain should exit from the European Union. 

 

The man who once met with the Russian agent to get dirt on Hillary Clinton

is now thrash talking the woman was leading Britain`s government. 

Meanwhile, his brother in law, Jared Kushner, that other beneficiary of

President Trump`s nepotism, is readying his plan to guess what?  Re-divide

the Middle East. 

 

How busy these presidential busy bees are.  One decrees what he calls his

father`s wisdom on how the British depart from Europe with, I`d bet, not a

thought to the consequences, what this breakup will do to the British

aisles, especially Northern Ireland, what it will do the future of the

British Commonwealth, what it will do the economic health of Europe itself. 

 

The Trump son-in-law decrees what he, Jared Kushner, believes should be the

new Mideast order, the status of Jerusalem, the boundaries of a Palestinian

state, as well as those boundaries of Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. 

 

I wonder if the folks who voted for Donald Trump had this in mind when they

voted out of resentment for the country`s elite because is there anything

so elite as to name members of your own family to direct events over whole

spaces of the planet, from England to the Arabian desert. 

 

That said, I wonder if delusions of grandeur is not limited to just one

member of the family Trump. 

 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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