Robert Mueller concludes investigation. TRANSCRIPT: 3/22/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And what comes next, involves our Congress and our
public and involves you. So, stay tuned, stay involved and thank you for
watching our special coverage here tonight on THE BEAT. I will be part of
more special coverage of the Mueller report, including this Sunday. I`m
learning here, 9:00 P.M. Eastern, it`s official, a special on the weekend.
But don`t go anywhere because Chris Matthews, takes over our continuing
breaking coverage now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Mueller has landed. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews up in New York. The investigation is
over. And according to a Senior DOJ Official, there will be no further
indictments. That means no charges against the President, his children or
associates after all those meetings with the Russians. Not only that but
the Special Counsel completed its report and signed off on it without ever
directly interviewing the President of the United States about collusion or
obstruction of justice.
After two years of looking into President Trump, his campaign at the
Kremlin`s unprecedented interference in the 2016 election, Special Counsel
Mueller has now delivered his findings to the Justice Department. And
today, at 5:00 P.M., word came from the Justice Department, that they
notified Congress that the Russian probe is officially over, leaving the
fate of Mueller`s report in the hands of Attorney General William Barr.
In his letter, Barr`s letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees,
Barr`s stated simply that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his
investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related
matters. Barr said, I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be
in a position to advise you of the Special Counsels principal conclusions
as soon as this weekend.
Separately, this is Barr again, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney
General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other
information from the report can be released to Congress and to the public.
Well, there are major questions left to answer tonight, big questions and
calls from Congress for Robert Mueller to answer them.
We have the best reporters possible tonight. Joining us now, our NBC Ken
Dilanian, The Atlantic`s, Natasha Bertrand, and Former Federal Prosecutor,
Paul Butler. Also joining me by phone, The New York Times`s Michael
Ken, my biggest question, and I`m going to have this along until somebody
answers it. How can the President be pointed to as leading collusion with
Russia, aiding a Russians conspiracy to interfere with our election, if
none of his henchman, none of his children, none of his associates have
been indicted? At best, there was RICO situation where he was giving
orders to people to do stuff with the Russians. If none of them were
indicted, how can he be blamed? I`m just questioning. That`s my big one.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Chris, I think the answer is
he cannot be in a criminal sense. You`re right to question that because we
know that under Justice Department doctrine, the President can`t be
indicted. So we can consider the possibility that Mueller is accusing him
of impeachable offenses that would normally be crimes in this report. But
the point you just raised argues against that. Trump can`t conspire with
himself. If he was conspiring with it the Russians, he would have had to
have some help at least with Roger Stone. That was sort of the last leg of
the triangle. And when he didn`t charge Stone conspiracy, that told us
something. It told us that they didn`t have it.
Now, I`m waiting to see what`s in this report, will they accuse Trump of
misjudgment, of negligence, of allowing himself and his campaign to be
manipulated by a Russian covert operation. What happen after he was warned
by the FBI? What`s steps did he take during his campaign? Did he open
himself up to this? And that`s all very bad but it`s not crimes, Chris.
They have not charge anybody in the Trump [INAUDIBLE].
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see. Let`s – maybe we can help here. If you are
a member of Congress or you think he missed the boat here, because we know
about the meeting at Trump Tower June of `16. We know about the meeting at
a cigar bar with Kilimnik. We know, my guy, we know but all those meetings
with in Kislyak at the Republican Convention in Cleveland. All of these
dots we`re to believe don`t connect.
DILANIAN: Well, that`s the conclusion in front of us, Chris. I mean, all
that stuff was suggestive. It didn`t prove anything. And, in fact, the
Trump Tower meeting at my reporting tells me was a bust. They didn`t
actually hand over any incriminating information. What it showed is that
Don Trump Jr. was willing to accept help. But we saw no evidence. They
actually accepted help, hacked emails or sort of analytical stuff from all
that stuff. It never panned out, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Second question, I`ve got to stick with you, my colleague, why
was there never an interrogation of this President? We were told for weeks
by experts, you cannot deal with an obstruction of justice charge or
investigation without getting the motive. You do not get the motive unless
you hear from the person himself who`s being targeted, a subject of the
investigation. How can they let Trump off the hook?
So far tonight, we have no reason to believe Trump is going to be charged
by rhetoric in the document itself, the Mueller report, that he will not be
charged with obstruction or of collusion without ever having to sit down
with the Special Counsel Mueller and answer his damn questions. How can
DILANIAN: That is a great question. The Special Counsel talked to Bill
Clinton, FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton but Donald Trump would not sit
down with him. My conclusion, Chris, is that President transmitted to
Mueller that he would take the 5th. He would never talk to him. And
therefore, Mueller decided it wasn`t worth the subpoena fight that would
delay the investigation and his report for months to go down that road,
knowing he would lose. You don`t have to testify against yourself. And if
at the end of the day, President Trump was just going to assert his 5th
amendment rights and never sit down with Mueller, which if you`re his
lawyer, that`s you would advice him to do. Then why delay the
But you could argue, he should have done it anyway. Mueller should have
sent the subpoena to stand on principal, to show he took that extra step.
He chose not to do that.
MATTHEWS: Michael Schmidt, your reporting on those two questions, why no
indictment of the people around the President for collusion, if there is
collusion? Bob Mueller believes there was collusion. And secondly, why no
interview? Why no questioning of the President?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, in terms of the
charges and stuff like that, there are a lot of parts of Mueller that have
lived on and will live on in other U.S. Attorney`s Offices in the eastern
seaboard, basically, from New York to Washington. So there are still
things that are being investigated here.
I think you sort of have to look at Mueller and his report as a sort of
midway point as these things go forward. And I`m just –
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Again, stop there. His job is to go to the
collusion question. That`s why he got paid all these months. That`s why
he had this huge team. They were to look into the collusion matter. He
can`t pass that off to somebody else, can he?
SCHMIDT: I don`t know. Those are very complex investigations. They take
a very long period of time. And Mueller has cast a shadow over the
President. And there had been – the President certainly would want this
to be wrapped up as soon as possible. But I don`t know. I mean, w don`t
know what Mueller found. We don`t know what Barr is going to tell us about
that stuff. So I`m not sure. We can make a judgment that they didn`t find
collusion or they didn`t this or didn`t find that. I just think that there
are still a lot more to play out. And we have to look at the results of
what Barr discloses.
MATTHEWS: Let me got Natasha in this question. You`ve been reporting
great on this stuff. My question is, why dump this at 5:00, close of
business on a Friday? That`s when you dump stuff you`re not proud of.
That`s when you sneak something through the media. 5:00 in the afternoon,
close of business, Friday for something we`ve been waiting for two years
and they`ve been working apparently on this report, closing up this report
for months, maybe since August, some of the writing. And now, they drop it
at 5:00 in the afternoon and we`re left with a question mark, where is the
collusion report, where is the obstruction report, and how come he never
interviewed the big guy ever? Your thoughts?
NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: This is a pattern that we`ve
seen from the Special Counsel since the beginning, right? I mean, he`s
dropped indictments on Friday. So I wouldn`t necessarily read too much
into that aspect of it. But you`re absolutely right. I mean, the fact
that Mueller is not recommending further indictments here is a surprise.
But at the same time, we don`t know what the report says.
Now, he might have found evidence of behavior that was perhaps unseemly or
behavior that was wrong, that did not rise to the level of criminal
activity. There`s a lot of this that is nuanced and perhaps couched in the
language of a counterintelligence investigation that does not rise to the
level of criminal activity.
But there`s so much we still don`t know, right? I mean, we still don`t
know, for example, one big question, why was Alfa Bank paying the Trump
organization server during the election? We never came to a conclusion
about that. What about Michael Cohen in Prague? There are reports that
his phone was there. What about that? What about all the meetings that
Jared Kushner had with the Russians at Trump Tower during the transition
period? Why did Mike Flynn lie about the sanctions phone call? I mean,
all of these things might actually be addressed.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think we`ll get those answers in this report? Do
you think we`ll actually get those non-indictment answers, if you don`t
indict the President because you believe you can`t? You don`t indict any
of the people around him. First of all, how can you blame the President,
even in any regard, if you`re not going to say, his henchmen carried out
his orders? I mean, I don`t get it.
BERTRAND: Well, that`s the big question, as to what – that`s the big
question, as to what extent will Mueller get into conduct that`s not
criminally chargeable, right? And that is what people are kind of
concerned about, is that we might never know the answers to the questions
because Mueller is going to stick to why he decided to prosecute and why he
didn`t decide to prosecute.
MATTHEWS: But, we didn`t want – a lot of people did not want that done
with regard to Hillary, those weeks before the 2016 election. If you`re
going to indict, indict, others, shut up. I mean, that`s a different stick
Let me go to Paul Butler who knows this stuff. Paul, you and I have
talked. You`ve been instructing me on this about the nature of a possible
RICO charge, the President overseeing a number of his henchmen, his people,
his kids all involved with the Russians. My question to you is how come
nobody has been indicted, and if not. Because we`re told by a DOJ official
in the background, there`s not going to be indictments in this report. How
can we say the President was a ring leader of something that nobody did
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Chris, I think the answers
to those questions are contained in the Mueller report. So when a federal
prosecutor doesn`t extend the investigation and elects not to bring
charges, she writes as lengthy memo explaining the reason why. So we can
be confident that the Mueller report contains a detailed analysis of why
charges weren`t brought against people like the President and Donald Trump
Jr. The question is whether Barr will release that information to the
Congress and to the American people.
The department has another policy that suggests that if charges aren`t
brought, then the reason should not be made public. So if, for example,
Barr knows from the Mueller report of high crimes and misdemeanors by the
President and Mueller says that the only reason he didn`t indict is because
of the DOJ policy against indicting a sitting President, Barr could sit on
that information, citing that other DOJ policy –
MATTHEWS: How can the President be responsible for high crimes and
misdemeanors if none of his people are responsible for breaking the law?
BUTLER: So the other part of the Justice Department policy is unless they
are confident that they could get a jury to convict, they don`t bring
charges. That`s higher than the legal standard of probable cause. So it
may be that they think that there`s sufficient evidence to charge people
with crimes. But if they don`t think they could get the conviction, they
wouldn`t prosecute. And that information, that analysis will also be
MATTHEWS: Come on, Paul. A D.C. jury wouldn`t convict in these sets of
circumstances, all this information about meetings with the Russians and
what it would look like to an average, common sense juror. And you don`t
think they thought they could get a conviction?
BUTLER: For issues like obstruction of justice, as firing the firing the
Attorney General – well, as firing the FBI director, does that count as
obstruction of justice? Those are complicated legal questions. And they
may, in fact, be complicated questions for jury. I think that Mueller
probably could have gotten a D.C. jury to indict or to convict based on
some of the evidence that we already know.
MATTHEWS: Okay. I was thinking more of the collusion stuff. Let me –
thank you, Paul. We`ll be back to you.
I want to go to Michael Schmidt. You write the big foot articles for The
New York Times` front page. What is the impact of tonight`s news and
tomorrow in Sunday`s papers and the Sunday shows with regard, put it
together with Nancy Pelosi said no impeachment on the table right now.
Well, this put – keep it off the table, put it back on or what, because
I`m curious. The big story of 2019 was impeachment. Is it still a big
story of 2019, the impeachment inquiry?
SCHMIDT: It all depends on what Mueller has found and what is relayed to
Congress. If it`s relayed to Congress that the President broke the law,
then this will head in a certain direction, I am sure, and that will push
the democrats on impeachment and their base will really want to do
something. If Barr says he didn`t find anything there, he`ll be under
pressure from the democrats to release as much information from the
investigation as possible so they can, quote on quote, check his homework
and see if the investigators truly followed the facts and were not impeded
But we, today, can`t make that assessment until we know what Mueller
concluded. And there`s some indication we`ll find out this weekend, maybe
some early summary of that. Barr was saying that he was going to brief the
Hill as early as this weekend about this. And we`ll just have to see how
far he goes.
MATTHEWS: Michael, let`s use your powers of deduction. If there was a
criminal conspiracy to advance the Russian interference in our elections in
2016 led by the President, all of his people would be involved. Many of
them would be involved. We know it could have been Flynn, it could be
Manafort, it could be certainly Roger Stone, Rick Gates, all his family
members, especially those who met with the Russians. How can you blame the
President for being a ring leader, a RICO type leader of a crime if none of
his henchmen are worth indicting? And they were not indicted today and
were told by the DOJ they will not be indicted. How can you build the case
in your own mind that there`s still a case for collusion against the
SCHMIDT: I`m not sure. You present some very logical reasons there why
that may not exist, and a case like that may not exist. I think what
you`re forgetting about is the issue of obstruction while there were a lot
of questions about Russia.
MATTHEWS: I`m not forgetting it. That`s another question. But go ahead.
SCHMIDT: Look, while there`s a lot of questions about Russia, there`s many
more about obstruction and about actions he took when he was in office.
And if you look at the questions that Mueller wanted to ask the President,
there were far more about obstruction than anything else. And he never
answered those questions. But Mueller continued to investigate. And
that`s where he spent a lot of time talking to current and former White
House officials to understand the President`s motivations as he tried to
gain control of the inquiry.
SCHMIDT: And I think that`s the other bucket here that sometimes people
forget about but where the President may have the most exposure.
MATTHEWS: Well, yes, I can see the President announcing in two or three
weeks. I split the double header. I get off collusion. All they got me
on is this argument of obstruction. By the way, I`m allowed to obstruct
when I`m innocent. I can hear the political argument right now. Michael
Schmidt, yes, go ahead.
SCHMIDT: Well, he already started saying that today a bit. There was sort
of a hint to that in his Fox Business interview that he did with Maria
Bartiromo. He`s basically saying, well, this was a fake investigation,
fake issue, the Russia thing was a whole hoax and I had to protect myself
from that. You could see that argument forming in what he was saying
MATTHEWS: And 88 percent of the republican people out there, voters
support Trump, they`ll support him on that obstruction.
Collusion has always been the name of the game. I think you know more.
Thank you, Michael Schmidt, a fabulous reporter of The New York Times.
In a joint statement, by the way, late tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
and Senate minority leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said the
following. Attorney General Barr must give President Trump and his lawyers
– must not give President Trump, his lawyers or any staff any sneak
preview, that`s their phrase, sneak preview of Special Counsel Mueller`s
findings or evidence and the White House must not be allowed to interfere
in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made
public. The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is
transparency. Well, that was strong.
Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro who sits on the
House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, you`re a politician. I just
want to know what you think of the political impact of this somewhat
unsatisfactory bit of news we had tonight, which is nothing about
collusion, really, except no indictments on collusion of the people around
the President, nothing really on obstruction of justice, there`s not going
to be any interview of the President by the Special Counsel. What do you
make of that set of news?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), T.X.: Yes. I guess a few things, Chris. I mean,
obviously, the country has been waiting for this report for a long time.
It`s owed to the American people. So I believe the acting Attorney General
shouldn`t make any changes to it, deletions, additions, should just let the
American people see it for themselves and make their own decision.
But there`re basically three buckets here that we`re talking about.
Collusion, as you`ve been talking about, obstruction of justice and then
any kind of business crimes, money laundering, insurance fraud, anything
like that. Let me deal with the last two.
I think that in that report, I would suspect that if there`re obstruction
of justice findings, that Bob Mueller will say, Congress has to deal with
that part. Based on what I heard Michael Cohen talk about in his
interviews with the Intelligence Committee, I believe that the Southern
District is probably looking or is looking at some of Mr. Trump`s business
dealings. So that`s those two buckets.
The third one is the collusion question. And I can`t say for sure what
they found on that. Obviously, they`re not going to go forward and do
indictments on the President because it`s DOJ policy or it`s been DOJ
policy in the past or any of the people around him, but we don`t know
whether that means they have no suspicion or no evidence of indictments and
simply didn`t think they had enough evidence to convict. We just don`t
know until we see the report.
MATTHEWS: What do you think about impeachment now? These last couple of
hours have changed a lot of views, I would expect. Does this make it more
or less likely that the Congress will conduct a formal impeachment process,
including perhaps indicting or rather subpoenaing Mr. Mueller himself and
make him sit on the stand under oath and tell us everything he decided or
didn`t decide to do?
CASTRO: Well, I do think that the Congress and the American people should
hear from Bob Mueller directly about the investigation, how he went about
it and so forth. I think the important piece for the Congress will be –
or the most important piece will be obstruction of justice piece and what
the Mueller report lays out in terms of its findings with respect to that.
MATTHEWS: How about under oath? Would you put the Special Counsel under
CASTRO: Sure. And I suspect that as a lifelong prosecutor and so forth,
somebody that served in the Justice Department, I don`t that he would have
a problem testifying under oath.
MATTHEWS: Do you hope that the Special Counsel will, at some point in the
next few days, either in the written report, which is now in the hands of
the Attorney General, will clarify what he discovered about this President
and the Russians?
CASTOR: Yes, I hope so. I think everybody hopes so, republicans,
democrats, liberals, conservatives. Look, our elections were interfered
with in 2016 and we know that there were Russian agents who were part of
that. And a big question throughout the last two years or so has been
whether and how much any Americans helped achieve that. So, yes, I think
everybody wants to know the answer to that.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. Thank
While waiting the report early this morning, the President laid down his
last line of defense. This is critical, I think. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion,
there was no obstruction. Everybody knows it. It`s all a big hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, no collusion is a big lead there.
Joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado who
sits on the House Judiciary Committee. I`m going back to your question.
How can there be a charge here or a claim of collusion? Formally, the term
is advancing a Russian conspiracy to interfere and screw with our
elections, basically. How can that be laid, that – that blame, that
accusation, be laid against the president by Mueller, if he`s not getting
any of Trump`s people here?
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D), COLORADO: So, thank you for having me, Chris.
I have been listening to the questions you have been raising. I think
they`re important ones. But I think it`s hard to speculate until we have
actually seen the report.
MATTHEWS: I`m asking. I`m not speculating. Why didn`t he – why didn`t
We were told by a DOJ official tonight there will be no indictments. That
means no indictments about collusion. Doesn`t that startle you, with –
after all these meetings?
NEGUSE: I suspect that the underlying rationale – and I would hope that
the underlying rationale is detailed in the report.
It`s why the Judiciary chairman – and you heard from Speaker Pelosi and
Leader Schumer. They`re ultimately making clear that they believe the
report should be released to the public and that the underlying findings
and evidence should be transmitted to the relevant committees in the
Congress, including the Judiciary Committee.
I mean, that`s why it`s important to get this report, so that we can
understand the rationale behind decisions to prosecute and decisions not to
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re being very patient. I`m not patient. I`m not
patient here, because we have waiting for this thing for two years.
It comes out on a Friday at 5:00 at night. Excuse me. That`s the dumping
ground, when you dump it at 5:00 – at close of business on a Friday.
By the way, does it bother you that the president of the United States, who
is the target of this whole inquiry, was never interviewed?
NEGUSE: Again, I want to read the report, so I understand better precisely
why he wasn`t interviewed.
And I would like to understand the special counsel`s rationale for not
issuing a subpoena and so forth. Some folks, again, have speculated as to
why that is. But I would like to see the report, so that we can ultimately
get a better sense of why that was the case.
MATTHEWS: Well, if I were Bob Bennett, who was Bill Clinton`s lawyer, and
if I were Bill Clinton, I would sure as hell say, you mean a president
doesn`t have to respond to a subpoena?
You mean a president can skip town and not ask for – when Bill was put in
that booth, he was forced to talk on the tape, talk all about Monica
Lewinsky, all on the tape, before that grand jury.
He had to do all that. You mean he could have gotten out of it, the way
Trump`s getting out of it? That`s what you`re assuming here.
NEGUSE: Again, I – I hear you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It`s doable. A president can just say, excuse me, I`m not
NEGUSE: I think it`s hard to make a judgment call without seeing the
report and the findings and the underlying evidence.
And let me just say, I think it`s important that we not lose sight of where
we are, and how far we have come, after a-22 month investigation, 37
indictments, multiple guilty pleas, a conviction, including multiple
advisers to the president, people like Michael Flynn and others.
So let`s – context matters. I think right now the focus should be getting
MATTHEWS: Yes, but nobody has been – nobody around the president has been
indicted ever since this two years began about collusion, which is the
heart of the inquiry. Nobody has faced justice on collusion yet.
NEGUSE: I think a couple of folks have raised the point – and I think
it`s a salient one – that we also can`t lose sight of the obstruction of
justice piece of this, and the reality that that was a big component of the
special counsel`s work.
And so, again, I would like to see the report and the findings become
public. I think the American public deserve to know the truth.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. I think, unfortunately, though, in the
way politics works in 2019, it`s the Democratic Caucus which will be
interested in that obstruction of justice question, whereas the Republicans
are going to wink at that baby.
They`re going to say he was innocent, of course he defended himself.
They`re going to buy the Trump line. Aren`t you afraid of that?
NEGUSE: I hope that`s not the case.
I mean, I think it`s going to depend on the evidence that comes out. And
it`s why I know I sound like a broken record, but, look, it matters.
MATTHEWS: You`re an optimistic guy. You`re an optimistic guy. The
Republicans are waiting for the evidence. That is astounding. You really
NEGUSE: Well, let me – let me say this, Chris, because, again, it`s –
context matters. History matters.
The last time that a special counsel was appointed under this statute was
with respect to the Waco incident in 1993. And back then, the – so this
notion made by some that the report should be made public with redactions,
and that the attorney general should only release a summary of findings and
so forth, is just not consistent with the law.
It`s not consistent with past practice. Release the report to the American
public. Transmit the evidence to the relevant committees in the House, so
that we can engage in our important constitutional oversight duties.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you, Congressman Joe Neguse, who is being very
judicious tonight from Colorado.
MATTHEWS: Still with me is Ken Dilanian, Natasha Bertrand, and Paul
Let me go back to Ken, because you have been watching my interrogative –
my interrogatives here, my questioning of people, because I am a bit
unsettled by the fact that all of this investigation has yielded so far no
indictments about collusion.
DILANIAN: You are asking all the right questions, Chris.
But there`s another way to look at this whole collusion question, which is,
so there wasn`t a criminal conspiracy. That`s obvious. There are no
conspiracy charges. But Natasha mentioned the counterintelligence aspect
What that means is that the FBI launched an investigation into the question
of, is Donald Trump compromised by a foreign adversary, by Russia? And
often the answer to that question is not a criminal charge.
If you`re a senior government official, and you have an affair with a
Chinese spy, you don`t get charged criminally with espionage. You get
fired and you lose your security clearance.
What if the Mueller report finds that the Trump campaign were dupes to a
Russian covert operation to manipulate our election, and they allowed
themselves, by their willingness to take meetings with Russians and accept
dirt from the Russians, they allowed themselves to be manipulated by a very
sophisticated Russian operation?
That would be a scandal that may well be impeachable, depending on the
facts. We have to wait and see. Just because there wasn`t a crime doesn`t
mean there isn`t a scandal.
MATTHEWS: Well, it isn`t all passive. The evidence we have so far is not
We know that his kid went to Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary. That is
not a passive action.
DILANIAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: He wasn`t waiting for it to be put over his transom. He went to
DILANIAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: We know that there was a meeting – we know that there`s
meetings with – lots of them with Kislyak. We know that the Russian –
the Republican – I shouldn`t say that – the Republican platform for 2016
was changed according to the purposes of the Russian government.
We know all this.
So what we can conclude, though, from the absence of any criminal charges
related to that is that it didn`t rise to the level of a criminal
conspiracy, but we can`t conclude that the Trump campaign was blameless.
MATTHEWS: So, if somebody was paid off for – with whatever form of
payment, whatever currency, to change the Republican platform on Ukraine,
that wouldn`t be a crime?
DILANIAN: No, of course it would. But I don`t think that fact pattern
exists. That would be bribery straight up, right?
So the question is, was there improper influence, which may not be a crime,
especially when you`re talking about a foreign adversary.
DILANIAN: But, remember, the FBI warned the Trump campaign that the
Russians were circling.
The question is, what do they do with that warning? Apparently nothing,
because they allowed themselves to be manipulated and used and turned
against the democracy, essentially. And the details that, we think, are in
the Mueller report.
And, Chris, this letter actually gives us a clue, this letter from Barr,
that the Mueller report is perhaps more detailed than we thought, because
he talks about giving the baseline information of declinations to the
And then, in the next paragraph, he says, but there`s this other
information that I`m going to discuss with my lawyers about whether we can
make this public.
Well, the other information, that`s the stuff we really want to see, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Paul on this, because you`re the lawyer here and
What about – what – the things that are missing, the dog – as Sherlock
Holmes would say, the dog that didn`t bark here, there are all kinds of
laws about denial of people`s public service, that you engage in purposes
beyond those of your appointment or your elective official position. And
you`re doing stuff really for someone else. You`re denying public service
– services to the public here.
If you`re over there fobbing for the – for the Russians, isn`t that a
BUTLER: I think it very well might be a crime, but then it depends on the
And, so, we can look at Mueller as being a very efficient and productive
prosecutor, but also called a somewhat conservative one.
BUTLER: So, 199 criminal charges, 37 people charge individually, and seven
guilty pleas or convictions, every single person who Mueller has charged,
he`s gotten, with the exception of Roger Stone, who hasn`t had his day in
And so what that means is, he only brings cases when he has unimpeachable
evidence that he knows he can win. And it may be that, for people who
haven`t been charged, he didn`t feel he had that quality of evidence.
But, very quickly to Ken`s point, President Trump is far from out of the
woods. So the president appears to have made a number of misleading
statements about Trump Tower Moscow when he was a candidate for president
of the United States.
Now, it`s not a crime for a candidate for office to lie. At the same time,
the Russians knew he was lying. And so he may have been compromised in a
way that has important national security implications and that could also
lead to his impeachment and removal from office.
MATTHEWS: Natasha, what changed at 5:00 Eastern time tonight? What`s
different now than it was two, three hours ago?
BERTRAND: We know that Mueller`s investigation is over. We don`t know
that the investigation is over, right?
So, the House will continue to investigate things like Deutsche Bank. They
are probably going to subpoena Mueller, according to Adam Schiff, the chair
of the House Intelligence Committee.
And I think that the biggest lingering question now is, is Trump
compromised by the Russians? Because there`s really nothing else that
logically explains his behavior, his deference towards Vladimir Putin.
That is the biggest lingering question, I think, that Schiff wants answered
particularly. He`s already said that that is one of the biggest things
that he wants to investigate.
And I think that we are also losing sight of the fact that Trump`s
submitted written answers to Mueller. So were there any consistencies in
those answers that perhaps Mueller wanted to charge him with, but couldn`t
because he`s a sitting president?
So these are questions that I think the report might answer. I mean, we
really don`t know at this point. But you would expect it to. I mean,
there`s just so much out there that we don`t know.
But I think the biggest question is, what explains the president`s behavior
towards Vladimir Putin? What explains his behavior throughout the course
of the campaign? Is he compromised by the fact that he was looking into
doing a Trump Tower Moscow? And does that explain the behavior of everyone
around him during the campaign?
I think that, just because there were no indictments related directly to
conspiracy, “his henchmen” – quote, unquote – as you call them, were
MATTHEWS: Not for collusion.
BERTRAND: Perhaps not about that main conspiracy question.
MATTHEWS: Not yet, yes.
BERTRAND: Not for collusion, but the purpose of it was to get information,
presumably, to flip them against the president, to get information about
what happened during the campaign.
Whether or not that information rises to the level of criminal activity,
apparently, Mueller didn`t think so. But we`re probably going to learn a
lot more as the days – as the days go on.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Ken Dilanian. And thank you, Natasha
Bertrand and Paul Butler.
Moments ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weighed in on the report
and warned President Trump and his lawyers not to interfere with the
release of it. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Now that special counsel
Mueller has submitted his report to the attorney general, it`s imperative
for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying
documentation and findings to Congress.
Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his
staff any sneak preview of special counsel Mueller`s findings or evidence.
And the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about
what parts of those findings or evidence should be made public.
The watchword is transparency. The president himself has called, without
qualification, for the report to be made public. There is no reason God`s
green earth why Attorney General Barr should do any less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I want to bring U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu of California, who
sits on the House Judiciary Committee and joins me by phone.
Congressman, what do you think is the thinking behind the leadership in
both houses on the Democratic side about not having the president get a
sneak preview? That was their term.
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes. Thank you, Chris, for the question
Let me first say that today is a historic, proud day for America. Despite
multiple attempts by the president to stop this investigation, Robert
Mueller and his team were able to complete it.
And the fact that he kept his job, and Deputy Attorney General Rod
Rosenstein kept his job, I think, shows the strength, the vitality of our
institutions. So let`s not lose sight of that.
In terms of the report, the American public and Congress should see the
entire report. If it`s classified, if the report is classified, Congress
should see it. And we should not have any interference from the White
House before we see the full report.
MATTHEWS: Well, back to my question, what`s the concern about the
president getting a look before the rest of the country does at this
LIEU: The concern would be that they would tamper with it, that they would
put pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to not release certain portions
or to redact certain portions of the report. And that would be
MATTHEWS: What do you – you said this report was a conclusion.
But my question is, it wasn`t really conclusive, because they never
interviewed under oath the president. And we were told for weeks by
experts in prosecution you have to get to motive when it comes to
obstruction. You have to figure out what the person says who is being
And we have never gotten an on-the-record, under-oath interview –
interrogation, I think is a better word for it – of the president, ever.
LIEU: That is correct.
I`m a former prosecutor. It would have been really great if Donald Trump
was courageous enough to do an interview. But he`s not required to, as a
target of an investigation. He could simply clam up and not say anything,
if he wanted to do.
So there was no legal formal requirement that he had to submit…
MATTHEWS: Why did Bill Clinton accept – why did Bill Clinton have to be
taped before the American people about Monica? He had to go through that
humiliation of being asked all about it on television, basically, for all
of us to see. And this president skips town.
LIEU: Bill Clinton could have asserted his Fifth Amendment rights. He did
not have to do that. He chose to do it.
I would have hoped Donald Trump would have chosen to testify the way that
Bill Clinton did. But he didn`t have to do it, legally.
MATTHEWS: What`s the next step? I mean, you have got the Congress decides
on impeachment. The speaker has said it`s off the table.
Is it back on the table or still off the table? Where`s impeachment? It`s
now March, late March. Is it something that`s going to come up in the next
couple months or not?
So, the mission of special counsel Mueller is fairly narrow, right? He`s
looking at whether he can get enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable
doubt that someone committed a federal crime. The committees in Congress
have a much broader mission.
We want to know, did Donald Trump, his family or his associates commit any
crime, whether or not it was related to Russia? Second, did they engage in
any ethical misconduct, whether or not it rose to levels of a crime? And,
third, how do we keep this from happening again and how do we explain this
to the American people?
So, our investigations are going to continue. Based on what we find, we
will have a conversation with the American people and decide, should we go
forward or not with impeachment? But we don`t have enough of a record to
decide that question yet.
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s winning right now, the case for impeachment or the
case against it? What`s winning as of tonight?
LIEU: I don`t think we have enough facts to go forward with impeachment.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much.
LIEU: We, first off, would need to see the entire report from Mueller as
MATTHEWS: It`s great to – I always want you on, Congressman Ted Lieu of
LIEU: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I`m going to bring in now Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of
Illinois. He sits on both the House Intelligence Committee and the
Oversight Committee, led by, of course, Elijah Cummings.
Let me ask you this, Congressman. You`re smiling. I don`t know why
anybody is smiling tonight, but let me ask you this.
My two questions tonight, if there`s collusion on the part of the
president, how come none of his people, his family, his henchmen, none of
his associates, none of them have been indicted, and there`s not going to
be any more indictments?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D), ILLINOIS: Well, we don`t know that there was
collusion by the president. But we need to see the report to understand
why he decided not to charge.
I mean, theoretically, it`s possible, although unlikely, that he may have
thought that the charges may have risen to the level of an indictable crime
with regard to the president, but he could not charge him in this regard…
MATTHEWS: What about his people?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: … and nobody else was involved, and, theoretically,
others weren`t involved.
MATTHEWS: Well, nobody has charged that president personally went out and
organized this whole thing all by himself, that if he was involved with
collusion with the Russians, he had his people involved at doing it for
No indictments of any of his people, not of his kids, nobody, no
KRISHNAMOORTHI: One – right.
One evidence of – piece of evidence of collusion that I thought was pretty
striking was the meeting between Mr. Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik in
that cigar bar in New York…
KRISHNAMOORTHI: … where he passed private polling data to Mr. Kilimnik,
who was thought to be an agent or connected to the Russian intelligence
In fact, Mr. Manafort lied about this in the proceedings in which he was
recently sentenced. And I`m just curious, what did Mr. Mueller say about
this particular episode? And did it get passed off to someone else to
One other thing I just want to mention very briefly, Chris – and I know
you`re focused on this collusion issue, but I would just like to know…
MATTHEWS: Because that`s why we had a special counsel.
I think that, with regard to this collusion issue, I would like to know
what Mr. Mueller thought he could not pursue on his own, but he needed
assistance from other investigative agencies or other U.S. attorneys, who
are also continuing their investigations.
In other words, I`m just curious whether, in this report – and I think
that the American people must see this report, by the way – whether this
was a midterm report or a final thesis.
In other words, did he basically farm out the rest of the investigation to
other U.S. attorneys to complete the investigation?
MATTHEWS: We will see. Good thought.
Thank you so much, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: Thank you for joining us.
Stay with as.
Much more coming up on tonight`s breaking news. Special counsel Mueller
has concluded – this is his final report – and submitted it to the U.S.
attorney general, William Barr. We will see what Barr does with it.
Apparently, over the weekend, he is going to feed some morsels to the
members of Congress.
We will be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
More on tonight`s big story tonight.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation into Russian
interference in the 2016 election. NBC News reports there will be no
further indictments, no more indictments. The report is now in the hands
of Attorney General Barr. Barr has notified members of Congress he may be
able to brief them on some of these morsels, he says the big stuff, over
For more, I`m joined by Shannon Pettypiece, White House reporter for
Bloomberg News. Daniel Alonso is a former federal prosecutor, Malcolm
Nance, author of “The Plot to Destroy Democracy.”
I want to start with you, Malcolm.
What`s your reaction to this whole thing, since 5:00, when you heard, no
indictments, no interview with the president?
MALCOLM NANCE, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: It`s the no indictments part that
gets me, because there`s one indictment, one indictment which I thought was
critical to the entire matter.
That was the indictment for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, because, if
there`s going to be a bridge between Roger Stone and the Trump White House,
well, it`s one thing for Mike Pompeo to come out and say that they are a
non-state intelligence agency.
It`s another thing to bring the criminal indictment against them, the way
that they did against the Internet Research Agency.
NANCE: So, whether it`s out there somewhere or whether it`s going to be
handed off to the Eastern District of New York to be processed later – of
Virginia to be processed later, I don`t know.
But that should have happened.
MATTHEWS: In the narrative we have all covered now, everybody watching
pretty much, Roger Stone knew ahead of time about the e-mail dump on
Podesta, the DNC, the whole thing. Nobody can tell the future. He had an
And that`s – you were suggesting that could have been the direction of a
But this investigation is a counterintelligence investigation. I recall
two years ago saying that means spy hunt.
MATTHEWS: We`re looking for spies.
NANCE: The FBI spy hunters are doing it.
Unless it`s a very specific individual who has handed over intelligence to
a foreign power, who was an actual paid spy of a foreign power, those
things don`t get adjudicated the way that you would think, all right?
This is an investigation of the president of the United States and his
immediate staff who may have conspired…
NANCE: … with a foreign power. And this report may spell it all out and
leave it for the Congress to…
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree with that. It`s always possible.
Let me ask you, Daniel, about this. If you`re in a – we understand, the
reporting is right now, the president sitting outside on the terrace of
Mar-a-Lago, probably an ideal setting, sitting there with his family or
Should they feel that they just – they just skipped justice, that they got
away with everything?
DANIEL R. ALONSO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No.
I mean, there – we just don`t know that. I mean, they don`t know. They
probably know more than we do, frankly.
MATTHEWS: All those meetings with the Russians, and they`re going to walk,
they`re going to go scot-free?
ALONSO: Yes, I think – I think, frankly, that probably is right.
If there are no indictments on the so-called collusion question, it shows
that all these set of stars that we have been looking at for all these
months maybe don`t make a constellation like we might have thought.
MATTHEWS: But what about the fact that the special counsel has given up on
interviewing the president, who I have been told by people like yourselves,
you got to get the motive, you got to interrogate the guy?
ALONSO: Well, let me disagree a little bit with the people that have told
In the typical criminal investigation, you don`t investigate – you don`t
get to interview the target, even in the typical obstruction investigation.
Yes, you need to know what his or her intent was. But you learn that
through other sources.
Now, in a corruption investigation or an investigation of a high-level
public official, time was when they would not dare take the Fifth. That`s
not something thing that they would do, because they would get so much
public condemnation for doing it.
I think that`s changed. I have been noticing that in recent years, that
they tend to do it and sort of say, well, look, that`s my right.
MATTHEWS: But if they`re running for office again, they tend not to do it.
ALONSO: It all depends.
But I think that they can – they can make a plausible argument, as I think
the president`s lawyers have made here, that he has the right to not…
MATTHEWS: By just saying it`s an impeachment – I`m sorry – it`s a
perjury trap. Just keep saying that over and over again.
ALONSO: Well, that – but it`s not a perjury trap just because you`re
Obviously, when you interview somebody, you`re looking for the truth…
MATTHEWS: OK. Are the kids clear?
ALONSO: Of the conspiracy piece? I would say likely.
Of anything else, I would guess…
MATTHEWS: What about New York?
ALONSO: I think the Southern District is very much investigating the Trump
Let me go to Shannon.
Shannon, let`s try to go back to when we started here. Robert Mueller was
named by Rosenstein to investigate possible collusion by the president
advancing a Russian conspiracy to interfere with our elections.
We don`t have anything on that tonight, except we don`t have any
indictments of his people in regard to that particular inquiry.
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, we don`t have any – right.
An indictment means there was criminal activity. It does not rule out that
there was questionable activity, things that the public might find
distasteful that anyone involved in that campaign might want to do.
But the president`s lawyers and the lawyers of the people involved in this
have been saying all along that, yes, maybe there`s questionable activity
or things that are unsavory, but was a crime broken? What crime is
And people have mentioned conspiracy. Well, that`s a very hard crime to
prove and to establish. It`s not necessarily illegal to give information
to a Russian spy, if you don`t know it`s a Russian spy, per se, or you`re
not sure, they can`t prove that you knew that, unless it`s classified
So, internal polling data, you can share that with someone posing as a
Russian professor, and that`s not necessarily a crime. So I think there`s
a lot we don`t know. And I think just ruling out the indictments does not
rule out that there could be things in this report that the public would
find very distasteful.
MATTHEWS: The only last question to you is, the Democrats – we follow
politics here at HARDBALL – have been riding this camel through a lot of
miles through the desert, waiting for an explosive report that would decide
whether the president did something impeachable or not with regard to
Russian collusion or obstruction of justice.
Isn`t there a sense of disillusion here? There`s no – that clarity has
not yet come to bear?
PETTYPIECE: I mean, we have been seeing the Democrats trying to hedge this
in recent days and weeks, trying to talk about how it`s not just about
Russian interference in the election, it`s about any foreign interference
in the election, trying to put – to talk about the other investigations
they have into this administration.
The Democrats have seemed very aware that they need to diversify their
MATTHEWS: I know that, because they`re partisan politicians. I understand
that completely, but you have to get some Republican buy-in to get anything
like an impeachment effort. You got to get some buy-in.
PETTYPIECE: Yes, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: And I don`t know if tonight`s news is going to add that – add
to that case.
PETTYPIECE: Right. Well, I think we still…
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Your thoughts?
PETTYPIECE: We still don`t know so much of this.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Well said.
Thank you, Shannon Pettypiece, as always. Daniel Alonso, thank you, sir.
Thank you, Malcolm.
I thought you would be more – spitting more fire tonight, Malcolm.
PETTYPIECE: Thank you.
NANCE: I have one last thing to say.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
NANCE: That document, that report could be an impeachment document, I
mean, could be itself an indictment of the president. We just don`t know.
It`s too early to say.
MATTHEWS: Will we know this weekend?
NANCE: Who knows?
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much.
Much more on the breaking news tonight. It`s huge. Robert Mueller has
completed – completed – that`s the word – his investigation.
We`re back after this.
MATTHEWS: Great graphics.
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
At the end of the special counsel investigation tonight at 5:00 Eastern,
the focus now, of course, shifts to the attorney general, and, of course,
to the Congress and what this report might mean for the fate of Donald
For more, I have got a great panel to close the show with tonight, David
Corn, my friend, of course, Joy – all my friends tonight – Joy Reid,
Charlie Sykes, Michael Beschloss.
MATTHEWS: This is an all-star team.
So I`m going to step back a bit. I have expressed my skepticism about
where this is going because of no indictments of the people around the
president, none of his henchmen, about collusion itself.
I`m going to talk with Charlie on that.
Charlie, you`re probably the most conservative guy on the panel right now.
So let`s start with you.
Charlie, what do you think the right wing will say tomorrow morning, when
they`re having coffee in their little dinettes around the country and as
they talk to each other Saturday night? Will they say, he got away with
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE BULWARK: Yes, they are.
They`re going to – they`re going to spike the football. They`re going to
claim vindication. And it`s all premature.
Look, I don`t think that the president`s critic should be as disappointed
as they sound tonight. And I don`t think that the spin that the president
has been vindicated is actually too – again, we don`t know what is in that
And, keep in mind, as Ken mentioned earlier, something might not be a
crime, but it can be a scandal. Being compromised might not be an
indictable offense, but it might be impeachable. Lying to the American
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that? Come on, Charlie.
MATTHEWS: Do you really believe that…
MATTHEWS: … that you can impeach a guy because of scandalous behavior,
but not criminal behavior?
MATTHEWS: High crimes and misdemeanors in the Constitution, high crimes.
Well, and especially because we know that the president cannot be indicted
under Justice Department guidelines. So, yes, that`s a political judgment.
And there are things that you can do within the law that constitute an
abuse of power. And I`m not saying that`s actually going to happen.
But, again, let`s go back to the fact that, right now, we`re in this giant
spin room, but we do not know what is in that report. And, also, this
report is not the only investigation. You still have the SDNY. You still
have the congressional investigation.
MATTHEWS: I know. But this is about collusion.
SYKES: You still have New York investigation.
MATTHEWS: This is primarily…
SYKES: … not out of the woods yet.
MATTHEWS: Let me – I agreed with all that, but, if I were Trump, I would
be having a happy dinner tonight.
SYKES: Yes, he is.
MATTHEWS: Because he did the blade of the guillotine tonight.
Joy, your thoughts?
JOY REID, HOST, “AM JOY”: Right. And I think – I have just been talking
to some Republican sources.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with Charlie or me?
REID: I agree more with you, in the sense that I have been talking to
Republican sources who are saying that the mood in Trump world is, they`re
high-fiving, because the idea that they didn`t see any indictments here
MATTHEWS: No kids indicted.
REID: Right, that, in their mind, they`re through the collusion piece of
it after this. And so, in their mind it cleared – they will – the
talking points tomorrow will be, Donald Trump has been cleared of any
collusion, the Russia investigation is a bust.
Now, the other question, I think, that a lot of people should legitimately
be asking is, how much are we prepared to trust William Barr? Because
William Barr shows himself…
MATTHEWS: About – about hiding it?
REID: He shows himself to be an absolute just defender of the president,
in the Devin Nunes school.
So I don`t know that I 100 percent trust…
MATTHEWS: He`s that bad? He`s that bad?
REID: I don`t know that I…
MATTHEWS: That`s terrible.
REID: OK, maybe in the guy who preceded him school.
Do we trust that he is going to release a summary that is a complete and
full and accurate representation of what is in that report?
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you. Let me ask you.
REID: We may never see what`s in the report or really know what`s in it.
He may bury it.
MATTHEWS: Can he – in terms of burying things, if the president says no
collusion – I can just see it on “Saturday Night Live” – no collusion.
MATTHEWS: Alec Baldwin.
If he says that, and that turns out to be the case, they don`t have a
criminal case against him for advancing a Russian conspiracy, OK, can he
then say, corollary, since I was innocent of the investigation focus,
therefore, I was right to defend myself, therefore, there`s no obstruction
REID: Well, he will say that.
MATTHEWS: There`s no justice – can he get away with that with his
REID: I mean, with his base, yes, and with the Republican Party, because,
remember, the only thing the Republican Party – their prime directive,
protect Trump, because Trump is the Republican Party now.
MATTHEWS: So, it will give him the benefit of the doubt?
REID: The sort of worship him is what the party is about. It`s what the
party is organized around.
If there`s nothing in there that is a complete and clear indictment of the
president, they will all rally around him, they will refuse to act.
And the Democrats, without a clear…
MATTHEWS: That`s a useful anthem, by the way.
MATTHEWS: Because it`s true in every regard, in every regard.
REID: That`s what they will do. They are just the rear guard. It is the
politburo at this point. They`re not going to anything unless…
MATTHEWS: OK. I say phalanx. That`s my Roman term for it, the phalanx.
REID: That`s a nicer way to put it.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to David on this, because you have been following this
year. You have been writing about the Russia – your book is great on
What does this do in terms of – none of the kids, none of the henchmen
have been indicted. How can the president be guilty of being a ringleader,
if nobody around him committed a crime vis-a-vis collusion?
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think we fell into a
trap, that the only issue out there was criminal collusion, which isn`t
even a defined legal concept.
We have a situation in which Trump ran for president, he did collude with
Putin`s office to try to advance a business deal, and lied to the public
about it. His top three advisers, Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner, met
with a Russian emissary to try to get a secret Kremlin plot to help Trump
going, then lied about it.
Manafort met with a Russian intelligence associate and talked about a
secret Russian peace plan that would help the Kremlin, did this at the
behest of a Putin-friendly oligarch, and then lied about it.
And, of course, the big lie, Trump spent the whole campaign saying the
Russians were not attacking the election to help him, when they were, when
he was briefed it was happening.
So we have fallen into a trap of focusing on this issue of criminal
collusion, when we see time and again that he was doing things that were
scandalous, as Joy and others have pointed out.
MATTHEWS: I agree. I agree, except we have a prosecutor. Prosecutors go
That`s all I`m saying.
MATTHEWS: Michael, I want you in here.
CORN: But this is bigger than crimes, is what I`m saying.
REID: Yes, it should be. It should be, David. If we had a sane
Republican Party, it would be.
MATTHEWS: We will see if it`s impeachable. It`s an argument. That`s all.
Tonight, we don`t have the fact.
Michael, no indictments tonight, that`s my big question, no indictments.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No indictments, that would
have been a lot more of a powerful statement.
But I would say a couple of things, Chris. Number one, let`s wait a couple
of days to find out what`s really in the report, going beyond the criminal
aspect of it.
And the other thing is, if this doesn`t change, this is the first time in
230 years that a lot of Americans think that our last presidential election
may have been decided by a hostile foreign power.
And this is also the first president in 230 years – George Washington was
inaugurated 230 years ago next month – in which a lot of Americans are
suspicious that Donald Trump is acting on behalf of the Russians and has a
secret relationship there.
The report may shed light on that, it may not. You`re going to have a
Democratic House during the next year-and-a-half working very hard to
answer those questions.
MATTHEWS: What is the threshold for impeachment, given all that we know
now? Is it scandal? Is it is it playing patsy with – loosey-goosey with
the Russians, that may not be criminal, but you`re working with the bad
guys out to do us bad?
Is that impeachable by high crimes and misdemeanors?
BESCHLOSS: As you remember, Gerald Ford said that the standard for
impeachment in the House is whatever the House says it is.
REID: Yes, it should.
REID: And the thing is, is it shows the insanity of the current moment
that, for the average Republican in Congress, that should be enough.
What you just heard Michael Beschloss just say, what David Corn just said,
the idea that a president of the United States would willingly take the
help of a hostile foreign power to get himself elected, so that he could
make money, something as mundane and crass as that, or for whatever other
reason, he`s in bed with America`s adversary, that should be enough.
MATTHEWS: That argument was made to Robert Mueller, and he didn`t indict.
I like your argument.
REID: No, but it should be enough for the Republicans on impeachment.
REID: Impeachment is a separate political process.
The idea that they don`t care, the idea that they don`t mind, it`s shocking
MATTHEWS: Do you think it will? Do you think it will, Joy? Do you think
it will turn Republican heads?
REID: But – no. Current Republicans, this party is a cult of
personality. And, shockingly enough and just depressingly enough, they
MATTHEWS: Well, it shows that Robert Mueller is not a politician. He`s an
investigator with very narrow guidelines.
BESCHLOSS: Correct, yes.
MATTHEWS: Apparently looking at the law very narrowly.
MATTHEWS: And not looking for a larger sort of cultural frightening aspect
that the president of the United States and all the people around him were
having all those meetings with Russians, and doing what they wanted done,
because why did we change the Republican platform?
Why did all this happen? Why was the president so gung-ho pro-Moscow all
these years now?
REID: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Joy Reid. Thank you, Charlie
Sykes. And my friend, Michael Beschloss, thank you, sir.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the