Trump shifts focus to retaliation. TRANSCRIPT: 3/26/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: – later on in the show, including starting
tomorrow, we wanted to tell you about that.
And that`s it for me tonight. I`ll see you back here 6:00 P.M. Eastern.
HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump with a vengeance. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. We`ve got Arnold
Schwarzenegger, the Terminator on tonight. The former two-term Governor of
California is in Washington to terminate partisan gerrymandering, which he
called a scandal in American politics. By the way it`s a cause I fully
But remember the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, about a man who
destroys himself trying to get revenge on his enemies. Meet The Count of
Mar-a-Lago. Because while the democrats are calling for the release of the
full Mueller report, Donald Trump is out there seeking vengeance on those
he blames for the investigation itself. The democratic chairs of six house
committee are now demanding the release of the full report from the
Department of Justice. It`s clear the public is with them by the way.
A new Politico morning consult poll conducted over the last three days
shows that 82 percent of Americans say the Mueller report should be
released, and that includes 75 percent of republicans who want the Mueller
out. While the report cleared the President of collusion, Special Counsel
clearly did not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice and Trump wants
Speaking from the Oval Office yesterday, the President accused his
political opponents of treason. And now he`s pointing the finger without
any evidence at the predecessor`s administration. Here`s how he two
questions served up by Fox News today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You`re accusing people who launched the
investigation into your campaign of treasonous acts. How high up do you
think it went?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it went very high up. I think what
happened is a disgrace. I don`t believe our country should allow this ever
to happen again. This will never happen again. We cannot let it ever
happen again. It went very high up and started fairly low but with
instructions from the high up. This should never happen to a president
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think it reached the West Wing of the Obama
TRUMP: I don`t want to say that but I think you know the answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s also blaming the press, Tweeting the mainstream
media is under fire and being scorned all over the world as being corrupt
and fake. For two years, they pushed the Russian collusion delusion when
they always knew there was no collusion. They truly are the enemy of the
people and real opposition party. Well, now, the republican acolytes are
following his lead using Barr`s exonerating letter to justify new calls for
The House Minority Leader demanded that Congressman Adam Schiff relinquish
his chairmanship with the Intelligence Committee. Senator Lindsey Graham
renewed his call for investigation of the investigators at the FBI and
Justice Department. The Trump campaign issued a memo asking networks to
reconsider allowing certain guests to appear on television at all.
And Press Secretary Sarah Sanders posted a parody March madness bracket
intended to mock reporters and pundits who had covered the Russia probe.
They promise that all these recrimination are based merely on a summary of
Mueller`s report by the Attorney General, not the report itself.
NBC News is, today, reporting it will take weeks, not months, for the
Attorney General to make a version of the Special Counsel`s report public.
I am joined right now by U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings who sits in the
House Judiciary Committee, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for
PBS News Hour and he`s the Former Deputy of National Security Adviser –
well, actually, Ben Rhodes is the Former Deputy National Security Adviser
under President Obama. Everybody can`t do everything.
I want to go to Congresswoman. First of all, I just want to a little plea
here. If the President was so damned innocent, why does it take two years
to get cleared on collusion? Two years by a man he honors now, Robert
Mueller, digging in and digging in and looking at all this [INAUDIBLE], and
finally, after two years, he`s able to clear him on collusion and still
says I can`t exonerate him on obstruction.
And he says it was a waste of time. It was the opposite of a ways of time.
It was a thorough going investigation we had to have in this country. We
had it because we are vigilant of our democracy. We did it, turned out on
one case to be exonerating, perhaps, and in another case definitely not
exonerating. My thoughts – that`s my thought. Yours, Congresswoman, what
do you take of the vengeance campaign of this President?
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), F.L.: Well, Chris, it`s good to be on your show.
And, look, you know, we live in a nation of laws. There`s a rule of law,
there`s a thing called the constitution, there is the Department of
Justice. And, look, the Department of Justice did their job. The Special
Counsel was appointed. The President has said, all along, it was a witch
hunt. Well, you know, if it was, this witch hunt yielded 37 indictments,
six people around the President pleading guilty. They either pleaded
guilty, been indicted or going to jail and a dozen other cases that have
been farmed out to other jurisdictions.
Look, the Special Counsel has spoken. Certainly, he says that the
coordinating or conspiracy part did not rise to the level that he needed to
consider moving forward on that. But as you have already established, he
left the door open on the obstruction of justice. And I believe that
without having seen the full report, we certainly need to see that, but I
believe that the Special Counsel was sending a message really that he would
appreciate Congress actually making the decision on the obstruction of
justice. So there`s a lot to be seen. But the President needs to respect
the rule of law, the constitution and the investigatory process.
MATTHEWS: Let me get Ben on this. Ben, you`ve been in politics, you`ve
been in high level positions. It just seems strange that instead of saying
doing a little bit of victory lap or at least the exoneration so far on the
collusion part is sweating out the rest of it is, he`s decided to go on
offense. And he really wants to have certain members of Congress removed
from Congress, others removed from their committees. What do you make of
his vengeance strategy?
BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, Chris, I mean,
this is consistently his play to try to rally his base, fire people up.
The fact of the matter is if you felt so good about what`s in this report,
then why won`t he let the report be released? He is President, he can
declassify anything he wants.
So the first thing is, I`m not, for one, willing to just accept the four-
page memo of an Attorney General who auditioned for the job by writing a
memo to Trump, saying that the Mueller investigation was discredited.
Let`s see this full report, first of all. Then for the President`s
proclivity to attack his enemies with no basis.
I mean, Chris, in the clip you played, accusing the Obama administration of
all kinds of things with no specifics. So this a man who criticized a very
thorough investigation as a witch hunt, then standing there with absolutely
nothing to back it up, accusing his predecessor of high crimes and
misdemeanors with absolutely no supporting evidence.
The fact of the matter is Barack Obama in eight years, there were zero
indictments in our administration. This Special Counsel administration
yielded many indictments of people around Trump. Frankly, his lawyer was
caught up committing a crime that Trump directed him to commit. So Trump
doesn`t want to talk about that. He wants to talk about the people that he
wants his supporters to attack, and that`s not a way to lead this country.
MATTHEWS: Well, and suggests, as you said, the Obama administration was to
catalyst for the Russian probe itself. Obama, did it. The President
contradicts his earlier claim that the FBI`s investigation started with
Christopher Steele`s dossier. He spent months saying it`s all about the
dossier. What turns out that neither claim is accurate, they`re both
basis, it wasn`t the dossier and it wasn`t Obama. It`s the New York Times
revealed two, four years ago. The FBI first opened the Russia probe
because Trump Adviser, George Papadopoulos, bragged to an Australian
diplomat that he had got political dirt on Hillary Clinton, Yamiche?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWS HOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What`s
MATTHEWS: Why is he coming up with more and more people to hate and more
and more reasons why he was investigate if he`s clean?
ALCINDOR: At the core of President Trump is someone who wants to fight
back, punch the guy, punch the opponent and really overdo it in some ways,
the reaction. Here is someone who went to the Senate today, talked to
republicans and said that Mueller report was BS. And I talked to Lindsey
Graham today. He told me that the President was bouncing around like
someone who had been reelected. He said it was like a mini election for
him. Those were his words.
I think when you think about the dossier and the fact that the President
isn`t even acknowledging that Lindsey Graham said yesterday that he saw the
dossier and that John McCain came to him and said, what do I do with this
thing, and he said, turn it over to the authorities, and that`s what
happened. That`s not at all part of this discussion. And it`s because
President Trump just sees this as an opportunity to make this a campaign
issue. And as a result, he`s doing his victory lap and also going on the
MATTHEWS: I want to go back to, Ben, on the one thought, because it seems
to me there is some sort of cleverness behind what Trump`s up to here and
perhaps with the help of Bill Barr, the man he put in as Attorney General.
Remember how W claimed the presidency in 2000 real quick said, I won, Gore
lost, and he created that sort of reality for a while, someone we went to
the recount and always seemed like somehow Gore was the poor loser, even
though I think he was being the honest guy there, accepting the results of
And so what Trump be up to here of saying, I won, I`m exonerated, these
other guys are the bad guys, they`re the felons basically, not me. And
know, eventually, we finally do see the Mueller report a month from now,
two months from now, they`ve all already won the PR battle. Is that what -
- because, otherwise, it doesn`t make sense, because if they`re going to be
completely shattered by the results to the Mueller report when it does come
out, why are they lying now, if they`re lying?
RHODES: No. Chris, I think you`re 100 percent right. And if you watch the
last few months felt very orchestrated. You know, right after the midterm
elections, he fires Jeff Sessions. He puts in place Barr, again, a man
who`d written memo saying that the Mueller investigation was not credible.
Then they knew that they had in Bob Mueller somebody who unlike James Comey
– remember when James Comey decided not to charge Hillary Clinton, he went
out and give a press conference and talked about all the concerns. They
knew that Bob Mueller played straight and he`s silent, and that Bob Mueller
was just going to file this report and not say anything. And they knew
that Congress wasn`t going to see that report right away because they knew
it was going to go first to the Attorney General`s Office.
So what they understood is that they would have this window to shape public
perceptions on what happen. So Barr gets this report, nobody else has to
seen it. Barr gets to interpret this report to Congress in this four-page
memo. Trump is out with a vengeance declaring victory, even though Trump
himself, if the reports are right, the White House hasn`t even seen this
report. So Trump is out saying it fully exonerates him. And what happens?
He has one part of the media that is immediately going to rally to his
side. You know, his right-wing media has his back.
Then, all anybody else has is this letter from Barr essentially saying that
the report validates Trump`s version of events even though we have this
much bigger caveat from Bob Mueller saying that on the question of
obstruction of justice, he is expressly not exonerating Trump, right? And
if the obstruction of justice reveal –
MATTHEWS: I`m with you. Well, you`re with me. We`re together on this.
Let me go to the Congresswoman, because this about the line of politics as
timing is everything, the timing of this, so that he gets to shape the
opinion. The President himself gets to shape the opinion about the verdict
on him. He gets to do it thanks to Bill Barr, the man he put in there to
help him do it perhaps. And now, months from now we`re told today, we
might get the full report. By then, everything is jelled and Trump has won
the argument. What do you think of that, Congresswoman?
DEMINGS: Well, we know that William Barr was auditioning for the job when
he wrote his 19-page report basically saying the President could not
obstruct justice. But, you know, if the President has full faith and
credit now in the Mueller investigation and the Mueller report, the Mueller
investigation also clearly shows that Russia deliberately and intentionally
interfered with our election.
So maybe the President, while we`re waiting for the report to be release,
he can spend his time holding Vladimir Putin accountable and making sure
that Vladimir – that Russia is not able to interfere in our 2020 election.
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be smart presidency.
ALCINDOR: I would just add this. I wrote a story about two years ago
about people that grew up in authoritarian regimes seeing echoes of that in
President Trump. He likes these figures, like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-
un. In some ways, they are the people that say if they lost an election,
or even if they won an election, I am going to jail my opponent, I am going
to make sure that these people pay. That`s the difference usually between
America and third-world countries and other places. And as a result, we
see that part of President Trump`s personality coming out after the Mueller
MATTHEWS: Thank you. And so if I – if I lose, it was rigged. If I win,
you go to jail.
ALCINDOR: That is the deal.
MATTHEWS: That`s in deal in crazy countries. Anyway, we thought we
weren`t a crazy country until recently. Anyway, while Trump`s allies
embrace the results of the Mueller probe, they`re still attacking the
investigation itself, saying it should have never happened. Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP`S SON: This was the greatest farce ever
perpetrated on our democracy. It`s a disgrace and it`s a stain on our
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW: This must be a day of reckoning
for the media, for the deep state, for people who abuse power and they did
it so blatantly in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did should scare everybody. Did the investigators, did
the prosecutors use the law for political purposes? If that turns out to
be true, that is bigger than Watergate.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Ben on this, because you`ve handle public
relations as part of national security concerns. And, again, back to you,
what is their plan here if it comes out in a couple of weeks, if it takes
longer? I`d like they`d come out next week. But I think there will be
pressure on Mueller to do so. But what is this gnashing of teeth about?
What is this attempt?
They`re not going to get rid of Adam Schiff. He`s going to still be
Chairman of intelligence. They`re not getting them out of Congress out of
the committee job. They`re not going to get people persona non grata on
television. I think people like John Brennan have admitted, they
overreached in what they said before about the President`s potential
collusion with the Russians. I think it`s very honest thing by him.
Others will do the same. But this was an honest investigation.
And I think people should be proud we have these kinds of investigations by
somebody as good as Mueller who even the President praises. But what`s
this trashing going to accomplish, Ben?
RHODES: I`ll tell you exactly what, Chris. And, first of all, let`s not
forget that this investigation has discovered a lot of criminal activity.
What`s going to happen now, the republicans, they know the democrats have
control of the House. There are going to be investigations that do reveal
corruption, that do reveal all kinds of misdeeds probably by this
The Mueller report will ultimately get out and there will be very damaging
information for the President. They are preemptively trying now to
discredit anything that democrats do or any future discovery of things that
Trump has done. They want to take this moment and use it for maximum
purchases, right, so that Trump is the aggrieved party, there is a deep
state, there is a witch hunt they are trying to color in their supporter`s
minds whatever happens in the future.
This is clearly the PR strategy. They know there is going to be more
damaging information, they`re trying to get ahead of that and make this
just a he said, she said thing and that Trump`s opponents, they`re saying,
because of this last couple of days and because of Barr`s memo, they are
using that to say that whatever happens from now on is just an extension of
this deep state exercise and it`s a classic muddy the waters kind of
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. Well I think the politics of resentment, which
the President is a champion of resentment needs more and more reasons for
aggrievement. Thank you so much. U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings and
Yamiche Alcindor, as always, Yamiche, and thank you, Congresswoman, so much
for tonight. Ben is going to stick with us for the segment.
Coming up, the President`s hostility to intelligence and those who
gathered, including the top guy, did not begin with the Mueller report or
the dossier. He`s got a problem with people to know what`s going on. And
even now, the President speaks of his top intelligence official in the U.S.
government with contempt that – well, his nickname for the guy Mr. Rogers,
Mr. soft guy from the neighborhood.
Anyway, what`s driving this tension between Trump and the Director of
National Intelligence, Dan Coats? And who wants to manage to keep these
people from killing each other, at least one firing the other or one
And later, as I promise, Arnold Schwarzenegger comes on with HARDBALL to
talk about what he calls the scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), C.A.: Congress now has a below 20
percent approval rating but 98 percent of them get reelected. So this is
crazy. So the system is wrong. And I think what Ronald Reagan said in the
80`s that it`s anti-democratic and it`s un-American. That`s exactly what
it is. And it`s a national scandal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A scandal. I spoke to the former California Governor about his
fight against gerrymandering as the Supreme Court takes up that
And I also asked him about President Trump`s relentless attacks on
Schwarzenegger`s friend, the late Senator, John McCain. Stick with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people came to me, Dan
Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it`s Russia. I
have President Putin. He just said it`s not Russia.
I will say this: I don`t see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump in Helsinki siding with Vladimir Putin over his
director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, on the question of whether
Russian meddled in the 2016 election or not.
While Robert Mueller`s investigation concluded the Trump campaign did not
conspire with the Russian government during the campaign, but, according to
Attorney General Bill Barr, it did outline the ways Russia did interfere.
Got it, Mr. President?
Still, President Trump`s refusal to condemn Russian efforts is just one
area where he`s at odds with his DNI, his director of national
And now NBC News has learned that Vice President Mike Pence talked Coats
out of resigning at the end of last year over examples like this, these
baby – these beauties. Trump pushed Coats to find evidence that former
President Barack Obama wiretapped him. He demanded Coats publicly
criticize the U.S. intelligence community as biased. And he accused Coats
of being behind leaks of classified information.
It adds that Mike Pence has also stepped in whenever Trump is souring on
Coats, who he privately calls Mr. Rogers.
I`m back with Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to
And joining me now is Courtney Kube, NBC`s national security reporter, who
got this story.
This is so sad.
COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY PRODUCER: Yes.
MATTHEWS: The president is so determined to kiss up to Putin that, in
front of his DNI, the director of national – his G2, the number one person
that tells him what`s going on in the world, he trashes him make Putin like
him an inch more that day.
And, remember, there have been – look, President Trump, when he was
candidate Trump, had a bad relationship with the intelligence community.
This is nothing new. But he – it`s continued.
And even until weeks after this, what rMD-BO_Carol Lee and I write about in
the story about when Dan Coats almost resigned in December, and Vice
President Mike Pence pulled him back from the ledge, only a few weeks
later, at the worldwide threat assessment testimony, when Dan Coats talked
about how Iran is basically within the realm of the JCPOA still, about how
North Korea has no real interest in denuclearizing, things that were really
contrary to what President Trump believes, within hours, he was on Twitter
trashing the I.C., the intelligence community, once again.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you a have theory about this, Ben?
Because it seems to me that he`s got a real problem with intelligence,
uppercase I or lowercase I. He doesn`t seem to like people who have the
RHODES: Yes, Chris.
I mean, the common thread here is, whether it`s the media or the
intelligence community or the Justice Department, he has an aversion to
facts, if those facts are not consistent with the current narrative that
And the problem with that is that, in a democracy, you need facts as the
basis for compromise and legislation, certainly for foreign policy. I was
in the presidential daily briefing every single day with the director of
national intelligence, Jim Clapper.
He would come in. He would tell us the facts. And I can tell you
something, Chris. Every single day, there was something that we didn`t
want to hear. There was something going wrong in the world.
RHODES: There was something we were trying to do that wasn`t working out.
But Jim Clapper`s job was to come in, tell it to us straight, and walk out
the door. And that`s what President Obama expected from him. And if you
don`t make your decisions based on facts, you`re going to have failures,
like what happened with North Korea.
Coats said they didn`t want to denuclearize. Trump goes to Hanoi. The
summit collapses. Well, maybe he should have listened to his intelligence
MATTHEWS: Another “Godfather” reference pops into my head. Tom Hagen, the
consigliere, said, my boss insists on getting bad news immediately.
All smart people want bad news immediately.
The tension between the president and Director Coats has occasionally
played out in public. Last July, for example, Coats reacted to news that
Russian President Vladimir Putin had been invited to Washington during a
live interview with my colleague Andrea Mitchell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We have some
breaking news. The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir
Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.
DAN COATS, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Say that again?
MITCHELL: You – Vladimir Putin coming to the…
COATS: Did I hear you? Did I hear you?
MITCHELL: Yes. Yes.
COATS: That`s going to be special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s one thing for Andrew Mitchell to chuckle at that
because of the surprise nature, the way it was announced, on Twitter.
MATTHEWS: But there you have the president`s G2, his number –
intelligence guy, showing more than chuckle-worthy over it. He looks like,
oh, my God, here he goes again.
KUBE: I was in the room for that.
And I remember it was – everyone was amazed. And I will be honest with
you. Afterwards, the conversation was, how much longer is Dan Coats going
to last in this administration?
Because the perception was, he was making fun of the president. Of course,
afterwards, he apologized directly to the president. He put out a
statement saying he wasn`t trying to be in any way dismissive.
But I want to go back to something that Ben was saying.
MATTHEWS: But all these guys and women, I suppose, too, around the
president all seem to laugh at him, not with him, at him.
KUBE: Yes. Well, I don`t know.
But, I mean, I want to go back to something that Ben said, because he laid
out two of the things, the fundamental differences with how President Trump
is such a different consumer of intelligence, based on his experiences with
President Trump, he wants certainty with what he`s told in intelligence.
And, as Ben knows well, intelligence rarely deals in certainty. They often
deal in degrees of confidence, which are not always high in the
KUBE: The second thing is, President Trump – the way it`s been explained
to us from intelligence officials who have briefed him is, he just doesn`t
have a large attention span. He doesn`t want to listen for a long period
of time. And he doesn`t want to hear all the details.
So that – Ben is the person – perfect person who can explain how
different he is as a consumer of intelligence from what we have seen in
MATTHEWS: Are you listening, voters? We have a president who isn`t
interested in hearing the facts.
Anyway, the relationship between Dan Coats and Trump has been strained from
the start. NBC News reports that, according to current and former senior
administration officials, Coats found it particularly hard to hide his
exasperation with Trump`s insistence in the weeks after taking office that
Obama had wiretapped him during the 2016 campaign.
Over and over again, Trump raised the issue, and over and over, Coats told
him he wasn`t wiretapped, officials said. But the president didn`t want to
hear it. It was a recurring thing, and began early on. A senior
administration official said – who observed the exchanges said: “You could
tell the Coats thought the president was crazy.”
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. I`m not used to this.
Ben, we both worked in really sober-minded political worlds. When you have
the director of national intelligence thinking the president is crazy,
sounds like, I don`t know, “Seven Days in May” or something.
Well – well, what`s so disturbing about this is that Barack Obama did not
wiretap Trump Tower. Barack Obama does not issue orders. The U.S.
president doesn`t issue orders to have wiretaps.
So, clearly, if Trump is asking him to go find out that this was true,
Coats says no. And Trump doesn`t like the answer.
The underlying problem – you can laugh at it, but the underlying problem
is, in a democracy, like, that should be the end of the discussion. And
what was just so disturbing in that very good report is that he kept coming
back to it and kept saying, no, you have to come back and tell me that this
And when they said, no, it`s not true, he wouldn`t take that for an answer.
Well, in a democracy, if something is not true, the president can`t just
order his intelligence community to make it true. And that`s what should
be so concerning here.
This is such an undemocratic way of approaching the multibillion-dollar
enterprise that is the U.S. intelligence community. In addition to just
cutting him out, in the clip of Russia, the common thread between Russia
and Syria is that we would never announce a major decision, like inviting
the Russian president for a summit or pulling troops out of Syria, without
a process that included the intelligence community.
So the fact that he was cut out of something of that consequence to
national security, that too should be alarming to people.
MATTHEWS: And it fits so neatly with a president who would demand personal
loyalty from an FBI director and fire him when he wouldn`t give it, a man
who would get rid of his attorney general, a guy doing everything with –
the president`s involved with in possible obstruction of justice – I think
it was obstruction on justice.
Fits neatly with this kind of crazy attitude towards national intelligence
and Dan Coats.
Thank you so much. Great reporting tonight, Ben Rhodes. Great analysis.
Courtney Kube, great reporting. We`re living off of you.
MATTHEWS: This is your work.
Up next: President Trump is pushing to invalidate the entire Affordable
Care Act, according to – protections for preexisting conditions, including
those, despite Obamacare`s steadily increasing popularity in the country.
It is popular, like Medicare is popular. And the president`s going against
More on that in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Five months ago, President Trump promised that Republicans would protect
preexisting conditions, while accusing Democrats of wanting to eviscerate
health care. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans will always
protect patients with preexisting conditions. Please remember that.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Republicans will always protect patients with preexisting
conditions. We`re doing it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: The Democrats like to spread false rumors. They`re the ones that
won`t be able to, because there will be nothing left when your system is
Republicans will always protect patients with preexisting conditions. I
wish people would get that into their heads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, late last night, the Department of Justice made a move to
do just the opposite.
According to a one-page court brief, the DOJ is backing a recent court
decision that would invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act. If
President Trump and his Department of Justice get their way, 52 million
Americans with preexisting conditions could be denied coverage.
In fact, more than eight years after the ACA was enacted, the law is so
deeply embedded in our system in this country, that a reversal would have
far-reaching consequences that would affect millions more.
Democrats, who took control the House on the promise to protect the
Obamacare, pounced. Here they go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The GOP will never stop
trying to destroy the affordable health care of America`s families.
This House, with a Democratic majority, we`re here to strengthen those
protections and to lower health care costs further, because this House,
this Democratic House is for the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the administration`s court filing came just hours before
Democrats rolled out a new plan, as the speaker just said, to strengthen
Their plan would expand federal insurance subsidies and reverse some of the
damage done by Trump administration policies.
For more, I`m joined by U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, a Democrat from
David, thank you so much, Congressman.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: My pleasure.
MATTHEWS: And I – one thing I could never understand is why the Democrats
didn`t expose Trump.
When he says, I`m going to keep protections for people with preexisting
conditions, like diabetes, how can he say he`s going to protect anybody,
when he doesn`t have a health care plan, and he wants to get rid of the
only one we have, which is Obamacare?
MATTHEWS: It doesn`t make any…
MATTHEWS: I`m going to save the tail on the cow, but I`m getting rid of
What are you talking about? It doesn`t make any sense.
No, I mean, the president tweeted, the Republican Party is going to be the
– is the party of health care. And it`s ironic.
On – at the very same time the president has directed his Department of
Justice to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, to get rid
of coverage for preexisting conditions, 20 million people will lose their
health insurance, more than 50 million Americans will lose coverage for
preexisting conditions, and at the very same time he does that, Democrats,
we introduced today legislation to fortify the Affordable Care Act, to
protect coverage for preexisting conditions, to expand the tax credits, to
lower the costs.
So there`s a real contrast between Democrats that are fighting to drive
down health care costs, protect coverage for preexisting conditions.
And the president, though he says he`s doing the opposite, is in fact take
– trying to take away coverage, trying to end the ACA, and rip away
coverage from 20 million Americans.
MATTHEWS: I was struck by the emotion of President Obama just recently, in
the last several hours really, when he talked to freshman Democrats, and he
talked about how, you got to fight for what you`re willing to lose your
In other words, you got to put all your bets, you put everything you have
got, your entire career in politics, on one thing. Pick the one you care
most about. He said, in my case, it`s health care.
That`s how important it was to Obama.
And we all hear stories from our constituents, people – parents who used
to lie awake at night praying that their child would not get sick, because
they didn`t have health insurance because they were born with a preexisting
condition, or people terrified that they would lose their job and be out of
work because they got an illness and couldn`t get the kind of care they
People`s lives were transformed when they have access to quality,
affordable health care. This is a right, not a privilege for the few.
Democrats have made that a centerpiece of our work. We`re here to fight to
And President Obama is right. It`s made such a difference in the lives of
millions and millions of Americans. And now the Republicans – Republicans
are back at it, trying to take away health care, trying to take away
coverage for preexisting conditions, while the president`s tweeting that
he`s for health care.
It`s just – it`s horrible.
MATTHEWS: I know. But he hates Obama so much, he wants to destroy his
legacy. That`s what I think. I think it`s…
CICILLINE: I mean, that`s right.
MATTHEWS: Don`t you agree it`s personal with this guy?
CICILLINE: It`s personal, absolutely.
He – rather than start off with a big infrastructure plan, he gets into
office, the first thing he wants to do is repeal Obamacare, because he
can`t bear the fact that President Obama led the effort to ensure that
millions of Americans have access to high-quality health insurance.
MATTHEWS: Weren`t you amazed when you got elected to Congress how bad the
roads are even in D.C.? Aren`t you amazed at what Penn Station looks like
in New York even now?
MATTHEWS: Aren`t you amazed that nothing`s been done, nothing?
CICILLINE: And Democrats, we ran on an agenda, as the speaker just said,
for the people of this country, driving down health care costs, driving
down the cost of prescription drugs, a very serious effort to rebuild our
country, a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan that will create 16 million
Work is on that already. The American people want us to deliver on the
promises that we made. And infrastructure is a reality for everyone.
People experience it every day, the quality of our roads, our bridges, our
ports, our schools.
And Democrats will introduce a plan to actually respond to that in a
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know who picked you guys, but you, Cicilline, and
Hakeem Jeffries and Cheri Bustos are fantastic.
MATTHEWS: Whoever picked you three guys to talk out for the party…
CICILLINE: Our colleagues did.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a smart move. You`re all three great, and the other
Anyway, thank you so much, David Cicilline of Rhode Island.
CICILLINE: Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: Coming out: Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
joins me to talk about the Supreme Court fight over partisan
It`s so undemocratic.
And he`s got some other strong comments about what this country needs for
the future, including what we need as a Democratic candidate for president
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s a political battle with massive ramifications for future elections.
The U.S. Supreme Court had arguments today over political gerrymandering in
two states, North Carolina and Maryland, namely who gets to draw the
boundaries of congressional districts. Republicans in North Carolina
boasted about creating as many districts as possible that would favor
The consequence, according to “The Associated Press”, Republican candidates
received 51 percent of the two-party vote compared to Democrats 49 percent
statewide. Yet Republicans want a 9-3 seat advantage over Democrats in the
In fact, one congressional seat, a Republican seat remains undecided. So,
it`s really 10-3. Even though the votes are even-steven and voted for both
And then there`s Maryland, the other case before the court today.
According to NBC News again, Republican voters challenge the redrawing of
Maryland`s sixth congressional district in 2011, which allow Democrats to
take over seats in the U.S. House that Republican Roscoe Bartlett held for
over two decades. He had been reelected in 2010, by the way, by a 28
percent margin, after the redistricting of 2011, he lost by 21 percent.
Well, the Democratic governor of Maryland at the time acknowledge the
intent, the motive, was to, quote, create a district where the people would
be more likely to elect a Democrat, than a Republican.
Well, a very strong advocate for doing away with political parties and
gerrymandering is former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. My
interview with him on that and other topics coming up right after this
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor of California, has
emerged as a strong advocate for ending partisan gerrymandering. He spoke
today at the National Press Club alongside former Attorney General Eric
Holder on the day the Supreme Court heard arguments about two cases of
gerrymandering, in North Carolina and Maryland.
And this afternoon, I sat down with the governor to discuss that and other
MATTHEWS: Governor, I was just at the National Press Club, I caught you
talking about how gerrymandering is a scandal and you`re going to terminate
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: That`s right. I`m
going to say hasta la vista, baby, to gerrymandering.
But, I mean, you know, when I was governor, I saw first hand of how
gerrymandering is really ruining the whole system. And it`s not really
good for the people. It`s good for the politicians because they protect
their seats. They elect and pick the voters, rather than the voters
picking them, and it`s job security, and all those kinds of things.
But the problem is they don`t have to get anything done because you can`t
get rid of them. You can`t get them out there. I mean, look, Congress now
has a below 20 percent approval rating, but 98 percent of them reelected.
So, this is crazy. The system is wrong and I think what Ronald Reagan said
in the `80s, is it`s anti-democratic and it`s un-American.
That`s exactly what it is. It`s a national scandal.
MATTHEWS: What does it do to our ideology in the country, left/right?
Does it shift it, the fact of gerrymandering?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think it creates more extremes. This is I think
why today or in the last, you know, two decades, you really didn`t see any
kind of motivation amongst the politicians here in Washington to work
together because what happens is the way you draw the district lines, the
left has to be way to the left, the Democrats, have to be way to the left,
the Republicans in order to win in that district because they`re locked in
just Republicans have to be way to the right.
So, now, when they come to Washington, way to the right and way to the
left, they can`t get together to go and cross the aisle or to meet or to
come up with some kind of a compromise, because if they worked, they go
back and they get kicked out of their district to get voted out in the next
election. So, that`s the way the system works. That`s the way the
district lines are drawn and that`s why we in California have fixed that.
And we have created an independent commission. And that doesn`t look at
politics. It just looks drawing the lines, the district lines in the same
way and since then, we have seen great changes. The approval rating of the
legislature has come from 20 percent to 50 percent. The Democrats have now
to address Republican issues. Republicans have to address Democratic
issues, and then much more work together.
It`s not perfect. The Democrats will always be Democrats and the
Republicans will always be Republicans. That`s perfectly fine.
SCHWARZENEGGER: But work together and solve the problems as they come
MATTHEWS: The Supreme Court got involved in the 2000 presidential
election. They intervened in Florida because they said equal protection.
They were counting different in each district, each county.
Why don`t they get involved in this? Are you hopeful that they are going
to stop this inequality?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, the day – the reason why I`m here in Washington was
because I want to hear the Supreme Court`s arguments and the different
debates about the Maryland case and the North Carolina case.
Those are two extreme cases because one is, the Democrats get, you know,
kind of – the favor and one, the Republicans. And in Maryland, it`s one
of those crazy things in a way you have, that the Republicans getting 35
percent of the votes but they only 12.5 percent of representation. So,
it`s a fixed system.
SCHWARZENEGGER: And in North Carolina, think about that, the Democrats
have 47 percent of the votes but only get 23 percent of the representation.
So, this is absolutely crazy. It`s not – so, this is the cases the
Supreme Court is hearing. And they, of course, have a dilemma on their
hands as always, which is should the court really get involved in something
that was meant for politicians to work out?
And so, this is what – I saw the day, in kind of reading between the lines
is that`s what they`re struggling with. You know, if we get involved, then
don`t all the cases end up at the court, at some local court and then all
of the decisions are being made by judges, rather than politicians.
So, it`s a fair argument. But I think it`s a way smart enough to help the
situation and to really get involved and solve this problem once and for
all, because the power auditions like this suggested in the Supreme Court,
the opposition that the politician will self heal.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Two hundred years we`ve had gerrymandering and nothing has
MATTHEWS: It worked in Pennsylvania, though, where I grew up. It was –
it used to be 13-5 Republicans, even though the state was pretty even and
now it`s 9-9.
MATTHEWS: It`s pretty fair.
Let me ask you about something you`ve expressed your feelings about and
you`re gnawing about, and that`s McCain. John McCain has been villainized
by this president. What`s your feeling about that?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, look, to me, it makes no difference what anybody
says about McCain. I get angry about it no matter who it is because McCain
was a very dear friend of mine. He was a big supporter of mine when I ran
for governor and my initiatives, and especially when I was fighting for
environmental issues, which he was one of those great Republicans that also
thought that there is global warming and we should do something about it
and should fight it.
He was a great war hero. He was a great senator. He was just fantastic in
every way. So, anyone that attacks him, I will fire back, you know? I
will not let that go.
And so, you know, McCain was a – you know, just a national treasure.
MATTHEWS: Do you think you were too much alone in that? Not too many
people stood up for John McCain within the Republican Party?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I was always alone with everything. It`s nothing
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about –
SCHWARZENEGGER: Being an Austrian with this kind of (INAUDIBLE), and I
say, I want to be a bodybuilding champion. I was alone pretty much there,
MATTHEWS: I agree. Your career was unbelievable.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, about the long-term impact on your party and the
country of Donald Trump?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I don`t look at it that way because I`m so focused
on redistricting –
SCHWARZENEGGER: And I think all evils are created because of
gerrymandering. The reason why, you know, I was voted in as an outsider
because of the look of an outsider.
SCHWARZENEGGER: They did not think about gerrymandering then.
The reason why Donald Trump gets voted is because they look for an
outsider, someone that`s different. That`s not the status quo. And Cortez
and all those people, the people searching for some answer, who could be
But the fact of the matter is that people have to be educated, what you
really have to solve, have to tackle is the gerrymandering. That`s where
the evil starts and that`s where it ends.
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re sticking to the topic and I appreciate that.
But last question: is there any Democrat you see running for president that
you can imagine voting for in 2020? Anybody good look to you?
SCHWARZENEGGER: You know, it too early to tell, really, because, I mean,
it`s always good to come out of the gate and to be enthusiastic. But, you
know, with our elections, it`s more sustaining power, because unlike Europe
which we have six-week election period. It`s two years.
MATTHEWS: So true.
SCHWARZENEGGER: So, it is like the sustaining power. How can you sustain
this? How can you be fresh to the audience all the time?
And if that someone steals your show, how do you raise the money? How do
you communicate well? How do you stay on top all of the issues going on
And I think the Democrats have as good a shot as ever because, you know,
people look at different ideas. If they can articulate – if they can
articulate what the future is if they are in control, it`s not going to be
when you talk about, you know, changing the voting age. It`s not going to
blow out anyone`s (INAUDIBLE).
They talk about the Electoral College, they should get rid, that`s not
going to do it. I mean, people say, wait a minute, these are a bunch of
babies whining here because they lost the election, or something like this.
No, show leadership. Here`s the way the country will look, this is what I
would do with climate change, this is what I do with job creation. This is
what I would do to get rid of the national debt. This is what I would do
about immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform and paint a
picture for the people to get enthusiastic and get excited over.
So, that`s the way you win elections. So, you know, there`s so many things
still that can change, as you could see the last day in the week, it has
changed all now. With them coming out and saying, you know, Trump did not
collude with the Russians.
So, that changed a lot of the dynamic now with what`s going to happen in
2020. So, here`s the good shot, if you can place it right, then you guys
have a good shot. Always, who is the one that is the most enthusiastic and
paints the best picture of the future.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Governor.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you very much, absolutely. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, my thoughts on what former Governor Schwarzenegger had
to say there.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me say quite simply that I admire very much what we just
heard from Governor Schwarzenegger, what he had to say about
gerrymandering. It is a scandal. And as he said so well, voters should
pick the politicians, not the other way around.
Politicians shouldn`t be out there designing the shape and popular content
of their districts just so they can`t get defeated. So, it`s now up to the
Supreme Court to take action. People shouldn`t be robbed of their
representation in Congress by political slight of hand.
As “The Washington Post” warns every day, democracy dies in darkness.
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the