Joe Scarborough plays hardball. TRANSCRIPT: 3/27/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We`re going to talk about everything he knows and
why he says he has ideas about what is in the Mueller report because he was
in the grand jury room.
That`s it for us. “HARDBALL” is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Jumping over the bar. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. The democrats are not
waiting for William Barr. They`re talking right now about subpoenaing
Robert Mueller himself to testify about his 22-month investigation. And
this would allow the democrats to leapfrog the Trump appointee, head of the
Justice Department and get directly to what Nancy Pelosi has called the
goods. That`s the big news tonight.
Along with what former FBI Director James Comey just told NBC News just
minutes among the headlines there. Trump tried to burn down the
institution of the FBI. That is rough stuff.
In a little while, I`ll talk to my colleague, Joe Scarborough, here about
President Trump who`s using enhanced credibility. He`s claimed over the
Mueller report to attack old enemies. A big show tonight.
We begin with former FBI Director James Comey speaking out about the
Special Counsel`s probe. In exclusive interview with Lester Holt with NBC
Nightly News, Comey discussed Robert Mueller`s conclusions, as described by
the Attorney General on Sunday.
More importantly, however, he weighed in on what we still don`t know about
the Special Counsel`s report, which no one has seen. Among those
unanswered question is, why Mueller did not make a call on whether the
President obstructed justice or not. Comey says the whole point of the
Special Counsel was to prevent political appointees, like Attorney General
Bill Barr, from making that decision. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, HOST, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Mr. Mueller decides not to make a
judgment on that particular issue. Does that surprise alone you?
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It does. The purpose of the Special
Counsel is to make sure that the politicals, in this case, the Attorney
General doesn`t make the ultimate call on whether the subject to the
investigation, the President of the United States, should held criminally
liable for activities that were under investigation. And so the idea that
the Special Counsel wouldn`t reach the question and hand it to the
political leadership doesn`t make sense. I`m not prejudging. I`m just
saying it doesn`t make sense on its face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It doesn`t make sense to a lot of people. Comey himself was –
himself, a central witness in the obstruction case as he doesn`t understand
why the President wasn`t subpoenaed to answer questions about obstruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLT: Do you ask yourself why Mueller did not subpoena President Trump to
try to get to the heart of this intent question on obstruction?
COMEY: Yes, I do. And I don`t know the answerer to that. I have the same
question about how the Attorney General could resolve the question, which
he says in his letter, turns upon the President`s intent without the
president having been asked what his intent is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And Comey said the conclusion of the probe, it vindicates the
FBI itself, which has been the subject of the President`s relentless
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLT: Do you take this as a rebuke of you and your leadership and the FBI?
COMEY: No, I actually see it the other way. It establishes, I hope, to
all people no matter where they are in the spectrum that the FBI is not
corrupt, not a nest of vipers and spies but an honest group of people
trying to find out what is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of
Texas, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Michael Schmidt covers
national security for The New York Times. Cynthia Alksne is a former
federal prosecutor, of course, and Heidi Przybyla, National Political
Reporter for NBC News.
I want to go to Michael on that one. First of all, Comey looked at me like
the guy Trump should be afraid of because he looks like a law enforcement
guys, person, who – his wonderful way of saying, how could we not have
investigated the Russian situation? How could we not– all the evidence
and smoke, if you will, of a deal between the President`s people, the
President and the Russians, all the interactions between them. He said
imagine if Obama in a parallel universe had those kind of relationships
with the Iranians, do you think we might have investigated it? I mean, it
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: What he`s
hitting on here is the perception problem that Barr has. Because the
Special Counsel, the person that Comey was saying, who was there to follow
the facts, to insulate the investigation, to make sure the
result was not looked at politically for some reason didn`t make a
decision. 200 years in the Justice Department, I can`t find anyone who
found an example of this, where a U.S. Attorney essentially, what Mueller
was here, couldn`t come to something.
And what Comey is something is basically that that leaves the decision to
go to the politicos, to go to Barr, to go to Rosenstein.
MATTHEWS: And he knew it would go to Barr?
SCHMIDT: And they are the ones that make it. So the decision, Barr may
have made the right call but the perception is that he, the politician, who
wrote the memo many months ago unsolicited to Trump`s legal team is the
person who was ultimate decider.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, a lot of people defended their vote for the war
in Iraq by saying all we did was give him the authority to go to war.
Right. You gave it to W. He was going to go war. This guy, Barr, was
appointed after he wrote letter after letter, article after article on how
he was going to support the President on obstruction of justice. You give
him the authority, he`s going to use it.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), T.X.: Yes. I remind you and the American
people of the Article 1 Authority, and that is our authority in the United
States Congress. Although elected, we will have to take off the political
hat and really get into the investigatory hat. The American people deserve
it. I`m not deterred by the Mueller report. It is it done now. I am
prepared to deal with the Mueller report by getting the Mueller report and
insisting that Attorney General Barr does not wait a couple of weeks. We
do not need to have him massage the report, summarize the report, as he
tried to do over the weekend.
I was shocked he gave an extensive letter. I simply wanted a few points
for him to say the Mueller is en route to the United States Congress. So
we will have to use our subpoena power in several instances in order to get
the truth and begin a full investigation on both issues, the collusion,
although we certainly acknowledge Mueller and also the lack of decision on
MATTHEWS: Well, in ruling that the President did not obstruct justice,
Attorney General William Barr argued that it`s difficult to bring
obstruction charges when the President himself hasn`t engaged in the
underlying crime, the collusion here. However, Comey took issue with that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLT: Is that a legal principal that you have always understood?
COMEY: No. That`s part of my confusion. I don`t think the A.G. said that
was the justification. He cited it as a factor, and that`s just not been
my experience as a prosecutor for decades. Every day in this country,
people are prosecuted for obstructing justice to avoid embarrassment, to
avoid harm to their business, to avoid threats to their families where
there isn`t an underlying crime that they committed. And you wouldn`t want
it any other way, because if you had to always prove the underlying crime,
you would create incentives to obstruct because people get away with both
if they successfully stop an investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, it strikes me that knowing Trump and his suspicions of
the so-called deep state and everybody else, and he also wonders about his
kids and his other people. He may have wondered as he was obstructing
apparently, a lot of smoke there, that all kinds of people, Donald Jr.,
Gates, Manafort, he didn`t know what any of them were up to particularly.
So he may have been just trying to obstruct justice to protect all matter
of folk. Your thoughts.
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he may have been. But
Comey is right. I mean, the general rule is you can be convicted of
obstruction of justices whether or not the underlying crime, it turns out
be a conviction.
I will say this about the confusion concerning Mueller and the decisions
that he`s made. The one thing Mueller is known for is being thorough and
by the book. And we can safely assume that Mueller gave the reason why he
made this decision not to make a final call on the obstruction. And he
wrote that in his report in some detail and argued it with legal citations.
For some reason, Attorney General Barr did not feel the need to share that
with us. And that does concern me, that instead of telling us why and what
Mueller was thinking, which is so critical to this report and to the
findings, he chose to just put his own spin on what had happened. And
that`s a big concern for me.
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, NBC News is reporting tonight, just now, in
fact, that according to three lawmakers involved, House Democrats on key
oversight committees are exploring legal options right now, including the
possibility of subpoenaing Special Counsel Mueller himself. A report note
sending a subpoena straight to Mueller, possibly bypassing Attorney General
William Barr is one of the several options democrats are considering as
they seek to obtain the full report. Adding democrats involved in the
oversight process say, they recognize that subpoenaing Mueller directly
would be a nuclear option.
Congresswoman, I have to ask you about it. You can subpoena the Justice
Department. You can subpoena the Attorney General or the Special Counsel.
What`s the difference?
LEE: Every one of them. And I would say there is a great interest in
subpoenaing Attorney General Barr because of his summarization and, of
course, Mr. Mueller. The reason is we don`t believe that the President
would allow Mr. Mueller to come voluntarily. We believe Mr. Mueller would
come voluntarily. But if he is not able to do so, yes, we would subpoena
him frankly because I actually think Mr. Mueller had some confidence in the
Article 1 institution of Congress by leaving that question open for us to
assess even though in the Mueller report we might find what his
And in order to do our job, Mr. Mueller might voluntarily appear but he
might be stopped by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General by
way of the President. And so we`d have to subpoena both Mr. Barr for his
interpretation and his acknowledgment or announcement that the President
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Heidi, who reported this. Heidi, how do we know –
how likely is it they`ll go directly, the democrats are going to go
directly to Mueller?
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It seems like it might
be more likely now, Chris, that just in the past few moments, the Judiciary
Chairman, Jerry Nadler, said that he had a conversation with Barr, in which
Barr told him he will not meet this week`s deadline. Nadler told him, that
deadline is firm.
So even before that, Chris, democrats were consulting lawyers on key
committees about what their legal options are. As the Congresswoman
pointed out, there are pitfalls and Barr could try and block this.
However, based on my reporting, democrats feel that they are on solid
ground based on recent precedent. What is that precedent? It`s when James
Comey gave a declination on Hillary Clinton`s emails that he was not going
to prosecute. He was up here within days testifying before the House
Oversight Committee. It was a very similar situation, Chris, where
republicans argued that the then Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, was
conflicted because she`d met on a plane with Bill Clinton.
Well, in this case, we also have an Attorney General who democrats say is
conflicted because of his opinions that he made known about this
investigation. So democrats are weighing this along with other legal
options. But they do say this may be a way to try and force this
information to come out. Because democrats are very concerned about the
timeline here, Chris, in term of the President basically misstating the
contents of even this cursory memo saying that he`s been cleared on
obstruction when the memo actually says otherwise.
MATTHEWS: You know, there`s two great – and you have to do this analysis
as well as reporting. Doing the old tricks is delay it, delay it, delay
it. Bill Clinton would have been in worse shape in early `98 than he was
later in `98 when they found out all the truth came out about him and
Monica. But sometimes an argument, when you put it off and put it in [ph],
it`s a powder keg when it explodes. If they hold off that report, hold it
off for a couple weeks, a month or so, and it does come out and shows that
there`s so much spin on what Mueller – that Barr put on it, the Attorney
General, that it wasn`t the truth, that he looks like a liar, that`s not
going to help this President.
SCHMIDT: No. I mean, that`s the problem –
PRZYBYLA: It`s not just the – pardon me.
SCHMIDT: No. That`s the problem with the perception here. That is the
issue, is that Barr looks like he is the President`s guy, I mean, because
Mueller, the person there, to prevent all this political wind didn`t make
The interesting thing here on the analogy to Comey is that Nadler did not
like Comey`s press conference. He did not like the disclosures that Comey
made then. Because he said, look, you`re not bringing criminal charges –
MATTHEWS: By the way I agree with him. I agree with Nadler. If you`re
not going to prosecute, keep – go ahead. That`s your job.
SCHMIDT: But the question here now is that the Congress – the Justice
Department has decided not to prosecute the President. But all the
documentations now are going to go to the Hill?
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a great question. Here`s what Comey said about
Mueller`s decision not to seek conspiracy charges related to collusion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLT: The language was pretty clear. There was nothing between this
campaign and Russia. So on that basis, should he be breathing a sigh of
COMEY: I don`t know that I read the letter from the Attorney General that
way. I read him as saying the Special Counsel didn`t find that the
evidence established that there was any conspiracy between America and the
Russians. What other evidence there is, what evidence that might be that
falls short of that standard, I have no idea.
HOLT: Establish is the word that you`re honing in on there?
COMEY: Correct. And so I don`t know what the Special Counsel found and
I`m prepared, I hope, everybody has to wait and get the transparency we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, how about consistent justice here by the justice
people? It seems to me that a lot of people I know were very upset, and I
thought so reasonably, that when Comey came out and said he wasn`t going to
charge candidate Secretary State Hillary Clinton on those email matters and
he kept talking and said, but she was really bad and she did bad things,
and basically put some tar on it. He put some stain on her. And this time
around, people are going, well, why did he make a call on whether they
prosecute or not and that do his job and go quiet? Because this time, he
said, I`m not exonerating him. But what does that mean for a prosecutor.
I thought a prosecutor`s job was to prosecute or not.
ALKSNE: It definitely is. And so that`s true when it comes to the
decisions and any decisions about Don Jr. or Ivanka anybody else who could
have been prosecuted and Mueller has declined to prosecute, and so we
should not be getting a discussion about their behavior.
The President is in a different position though, because under the
Department of Justice regulations, he could not have been prosecuted as a
matter of regulation. So the only option really was for Mueller to give
that – give the information and give it to the House Judiciary.
MATTHEWS: I have to contradict you there. Barr in his letter contradicts
what you just said. He said, we did not go by those guidelines.
ALKSNE: Well, that`s what Barr says. But what we don`t know is what
MATTHEWS: Well, okay. You`re saying Barr is lying?
ALKSNE: That`s the whole point. That`s what we need to know.
MATTHEWS: Is Barr lying?
ALKSNE: I`m saying Barr has spun – I`m saying he has spun this as well as
he can for the President.
And let me just say this about Mueller coming up to the Hill right away.
I`m all for that because I want to hear what he says because I trust him.
But he has the same 60 [ph] problems right now that Barr has. And that has
to be resolved before he can testify. And, additionally, if they want to
ask him questions about the conspiracy question, he`s got
So it`s not as easy as we`re going to slap a subpoena on Mueller. There
are lot of things that have to happen before he can speak freely to the
House Judiciary. And if it`s completely doable, we can get a court order,
I mean, there`re lots of things to do, but it`s not just something simple.
And I don`t want people to get that impression.
MATTHEWS: Well, the democratic answer is we want the truth and we want the
information as soon as possible and the American people are going to have
to make some of the judgment themselves, and the one way they can make the
judgment if they see this report.
U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, it`s always an honor to have you on,
of Texas, Michael Schmidt, of course, Cynthia Alksne and Heidi Przybyla for
that great reporting for us, that the democrats aren`t going to wait for
Barr because they don`t really trust him, they`re going to go for the guy
himself, Mueller, a fascinating story and a great reporting.
By the way, coming up right now, the next minute right after the
commercial, Joe Scarborough is [INAUDIBLE] and we`re going to talk about
the President. It`s totally weird story. It`s a [INAUDIBLE] to all this,
the President`s weird appetite for revenge. He`s the count of Mar-a-Lago.
All he wants to do is get even even if it can kills him. We`ll see.
He`s calling people treasonous, referring to democrats and journalists who
are doing their jobs. Trump`s Obamacare kill shots coming up too. Why
does he want to kill Obamacare? And how can he repeatedly claim he`s going
to protect people from pre-existing conditions when he has no healthcare
And why is he killing the Special Olympics? I`m going to talk to House
Democrat Whip Jim Clyburn. Much more ahead, stick with us.
Welcome back to HARDBALL. Feeling vindicated, I guess, an (ph) emboldened
President Trump has continued his revenge efforts, his tour, if you will,
On Twitter, president went on the – after the media again, writing: “The
fake news media has lost tremendous credibility with its corrupt coverage
of the illegal Democrat witch-hunt of your all-time favorite duly elected
Well, sources told “The New York Times” that, while the president was on
Capitol Hill today, he told Republicans that he was going after the meeting
because – quote – “People love it when you attack the press.”
Well, that`s deep.
And according to Politico, during that same meeting, the president also
told – urged senators not to – quote – “let Democrats off the hook” for
how they treated him and his family.
Well, back in 2011, Trump explain why revenge was so important to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP SR., PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You got to get even with
people, because ,even if you don`t come into contact with them, everyone
else knows you`re a fighter, and you`re not going to take crap, and other
people aren`t going to take advantage of you.
So I think it`s really important. If somebody screws you, screw them back
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Screw them back in spades. That`s the voice of our current
MATTHEWS: But remember the story of the Count of Monte Cristo.
My favorite new – story, the count of Monte Cristo destroys himself trying
to get revenge on his enemies. President Trump is the count of Mar-a-Lago,
don`t you think?
For more, I`m joined by my colleague Joe Scarborough, host of “MORNING
“The Count of Monte Cristo,” when we were kids reading classic comic books,
was a good guy. But, in reality, he was destroying himself, because he
gets out, he can`t even get his old girlfriend back, because she thinks
he`s so vengeful, he`s not the same guy anymore.
Well, Trump apparently hasn`t changed, like the count of Monte Cristo.
He`s still – he`s still Donald Trump.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST, “MORNING JOE”: No, he`s always been Donald
And it works well if you`re speaking to a crowd of people that are
screaming and yelling for you. And they come to Trump rallies because it`s
like going to see a rock show. It works pretty well if you`re going on TV
and you`re debating Rosie O`Donnell.
It does not work well when Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House. It does
not work well when you have to deal with federal judges in Kentucky that
overturn your plans on Medicaid. It doesn`t work well when you have to
deal with Madisonian democracy.
And that`s – that`s what Donald Trump is so bad at. That`s why he still
can`t figure out how John McCain was able to stop his efforts to kill
Obamacare. And he certainly has no clue how to deal with Nancy Pelosi.
You notice – Donald Trump loves to beat everybody up. You notice, though,
he`s smart enough to stay away from Nancy Pelosi. He does not hammer Nancy
Pelosi, because he knows she`s got the power.
MATTHEWS: Well, John McCain, of course, had some moral advantage over him,
having bombed – haven`t been shot down over the enemy capital at the time
and being fished out of the water, while they broke all his legs.
And he was there with this concierge doctor, getting out of the whole
You know what I think is interesting? In the midst of all his supposedly
great weekend – and I guess to him, it was a great weekend – he got off
the hook on the collusion for a while and maybe off the other one,
obstruction – he goes after Adam Schiff, one of the warriors going against
MATTHEWS: Calls him a pencil neck. Talk about high school talk. That`s
something from high school, pencil neck, and says he couldn`t hit a drive
MATTHEWS: What is this about? It is so weirdly personal. I don`t know.
What do you make of it, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, the thing is, after I won my first election,
nobody could understand why the first thing I did was reach out to my
opponents, especially those where it had gotten really personal, it had
gotten really ugly.
And they were the first person I went to. It`s what Donald Trump doesn`t
understand about politics. And I know people are going to say, well, who
are you to talk about what Donald Trump does or doesn`t know about
His problem is, right now, this is a great opportunity for him to move past
40 percent. I mean, he`s the only president in U.S. history, in recent
polling at least, in modern history, to not go above 50 percent, because he
keeps picking these fights.
I mean, it reminds me of that scene – you love movies – it reminds me of
Jeremy Renner`s character in “The Hurt Locker.” He`s going – he`s
cheating death throughout the entire movie. He finally gets sent home from
Iraq. And then he finds himself cleaning out the gutters.
And after scooping out like this second handful of leaves, you know what
the final scene of the movie is? And that`s him back in Iraq on a deserted
street marching down to defuse a bomb and try to cheat death one more time.
Donald Trump is an action junkie. A week may be a lifetime in politics,
but, in Trump`s D.C., in Trump`s world, a day is an eternity. And that`s
why he`s picked a fight he can`t win on health care.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s something we`re going to get to later in the show,
Joe, but you have opened it up.
And that one, he can`t win, because all the polling shows that, just like
Republicans are hopped up over illegal immigration – and fair. That is
what they`re hopped on. They`re Americans too. Democrats are much more
hopped up over something really close to them, which is health care,
because it affects their kids, their life, their later years in life, the
SCARBOROUGH: Well, yes.
MATTHEWS: And Trump is walking right into that Gatling gun of defeat. Why
is he doing this? To answer your question.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, again, he`s addicted – he`s addicted to chaos.
Also, he doesn`t understand. I mean, he thinks that he can somehow
leverage this into a victory on health care by wiping out Obamacare. I
mean, he must not have paid attention to the results of the poll – of what
happened in November.
I mean, Republicans had the largest defeat since 1974, the largest vote
total loss in the history of midterm elections. And, yes, he lied about
Russia. The vice president lied about Russia. Flynn lied about Russia.
His campaign manager, everybody around him lied about Russia.
But Americans really didn`t care about that. But Donald Trump also lied
about health care. He promised universal health care when he was running.
That ended up being a lie. And he reversed himself. He promised people
that their deductibles were going to be lower, that health care costs were
going to be lower, that they were going to have better coverage.
He promised he wasn`t going to cut Medicare, and ends up in his latest
MATTHEWS: Yes, he does.
SCARBOROUGH: … he wants to slash $845 billion from Medicare.
This is a dream for Democrats. This is how Bill Clinton beat up
Republicans. It`s same thing, where you have got Republicans that are
cutting Medicare to pay for tax cuts for the rich. This guy – and this is
what Democratic candidates have to understand. He ran as a populist. He`s
governing as a plutocrat.
And he`s just like every other politician that`s been bought off by
billionaires. Like, you look at his tax cuts. What did he say, Chris,
after passing the tax cuts? He said – he went down to Mar-a-Lago.
MATTHEWS: Another – he`s going to give us another tax cut.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Well, he went down to Mar-a-Lago, and that very night,
he said to his billionaire buddies, I just made you guys a lot of money.
So, yes, Jeffrey Epstein, he made a lot of money on Trump`s tax cuts.
Robert Kraft, he made a lot of money on Trump`s tax cuts.
SCARBOROUGH: Boeing made a lot of money on Trump`s tax cuts.
But workers in Wisconsin didn`t. Workers…
MATTHEWS: I like the way, Joe, you enumerated all the people who have
their own problems, not just Trump.
MATTHEWS: It`s true.
SCARBOROUGH: They`re also – hey, they`re also his buddies.
MATTHEWS: I know.
SCARBOROUGH: And there are pictures of them at Mar-a-Lago with Donald
MATTHEWS: I know.
SCARBOROUGH: But that is who got richer after the tax cuts.
SCARBOROUGH: And so now Donald Trump is going to pay for those tax cuts by
cutting Medicare and Medicaid?
MATTHEWS: And Special Olympics.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, President Trump`s getting support from his allies. Joe,
I really want you to watch this little montage. Just take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: This was the greatest farce ever
perpetrated on our democracy. It`s a disgrace, and it`s a stain on our
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: This must be a day of reckoning for the
media, for the deep state, for people who abuse – abused power, and they
did it so blatantly in this country.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re all singing from the same music stand there, every
one of them. They`re going for dirt.
They`re going for – they`re like the kid in “Good Will Hunting.” Not only
did he have to win the fight on the playground. He`s got to smash the
kid`s head into the cement to show he won. Your thoughts?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but the problem is here every one of those people have a
Don Jr., are you really going to get on TV and talk about a farce, when you
get caught trying to get dirt from the Russians, and then you lied about
it? And then the president the United States, on Air Force One, concocted
a story to lie about it and say that it was about, what, adoptions? A lie.
And you have got Sean Hannity? What was Sean – how clean were Sean
Hannity`s hands in this story? Seth Rich? Ask Seth Rich`s parents about
how cruel Sean Hannity was to them. They lose a son, and then they have
Sean Hannity dragging their son, their dead son, through the mud, and
trying to make political hay by it?
Lindsey Graham, oh, my God, where do I even start? Go back and look at
Lindsey Graham`s quotes, what he said about Donald Trump. Oh, yes, oh, and
Hey, Chris, do you think South Carolina Republicans might be interested in
primary season to know that, after Donald Trump attacked John McCain, who
was it who told John McCain to send the dossier to the FBI? Was it anybody
in the deep state? No. Was it Nancy Pelosi? No.
Hey, South Carolina primary voters, it was Lindsey. It was Lindsey Graham.
So I just – Chris, they should really just shut up and be glad they got
away with it, and be glad that, at least for now, there`s an attorney
general that`s trying to stop every American in Wisconsin, in Michigan, in
Pennsylvania, in Florida, across the nation, stop all of us from reading
what`s in that report.
MATTHEWS: I think you have identified all the glass houses for us tonight,
MATTHEWS: My colleague, my morning doppelganger, Joe Scarborough, thank
you so much for coming on tonight, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Chris, for having me.
MATTHEWS: We will all be up. We will be up at 6:00 in the morning to
catch the next “MORNING JOE.”
Up next: The Trump administration`s suddenly surprise shift on Obamacare
left many Republicans scratching their heads – how it`s causing health
care havoc for millions of Americans. A smart move heading into `20.
You don`t go after people`s health care. You don`t do it.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Your administration is making very clear that you think the
Affordable Care Act is invalid and should be struck down. What is your
DONALD TRUMP SR.: Let me just tell you exactly what my message is. The
Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You
We will – you watch – we`re going to be the party of great health care.
And the Democrats have let you down. They have really let you down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump thinks, if you say something again and again, apparently,
it becomes true. And, this time, it`s health care, the issue that helped
cost Republicans that House in 2018. They lost because of this issue.
NBC News has learned that President Trump, egged on by Chief of Staff Mick
Mulvaney of South Carolina, has his administration now supporting a federal
court decision that kills, kills, eliminates altogether the Affordable Care
It`s a move that ran against the best judgment of Vice President Pence,
apparently, we hear, the secretary of health and human services, and, of
course, the attorney general. He also opposed this, politically.
Well, despite those objections, the president`s full-steam ahead and has
defended the movie earlier today in the Oval Office. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP SR.: Obamacare is a disaster. And it`s still horrible, no
good. It`s something that we can`t live with in this country.
If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan
that`s far better than Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, yesterday, during a victory lap of sorts on Capitol Hill,
the president told Republican senators he planned to make health care a top
issue for the next two years going into 2020.
The move left some Republicans dumbfounded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I`m very disappointed and vehemently
opposed to the administration seeking to invalidate the entire Affordable
The answer is for the administration to work for with Congress and
president a plan to replace and fix the law, not to, through the courts,
seek to invalidate it altogether.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Axios is reporting that House Minority Leader Kevin
McCarthy – quote – “told Trump over the phone that the decision he made,
made no sense.
For more, I`m joined by House Majority Whip U.S. Congressman James Clyburn
of South Carolina.
Mr. Whip, thank you so much for this.
What – how…
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I guess ask you a logic question. How do you keep protections
against people – or people with preexisting conditions and protections up
to kids who are 26-year-old children of them, how do you do all that if you
have no plan? It doesn`t make sense.
CLYBURN: No, it doesn`t.
MATTHEWS: No plan to do that with.
CLYBURN: No, it doesn`t.
Thank you so much for having me, Chris.
And the fact remains, this president has once again misled the American
people. He said time and time again that he would protect people with
And we are told that 52 million Americans are under 65 have preexisting
conditions that would make them ineligible for the Affordable Care Act. So
it would seem to me that the first thing you ought to be doing is improving
what we have already done.
He says they will be – the Republican Party is going to be the party of
health care. He has not shown us what that means. He says repeal and
replace. He talks repeal all day, every day. I have never heard him offer
one suggestion as to replacement.
On yesterday, Democrats had a press conference around 2:30 in the
afternoon, and we laid out for the American people what we`re going to do
to improve the Affordable Care Act. And this president has now been
pushing these junk policies.
CLYBURN: We are going to get rid of junk policies. We are going to get
rid of any attempt not to cover people with preexisting conditions.
We are going to say to those people in these communities whose children are
born with diabetes that you will be able to bring those children onto your
insurance policy. And children who are still in college, they can stay on
your insurance policy until they`re 26 years old.
If you were doing anything, it seems to me, you ought to be lifting the 26
to around 30.
CLYBURN: Because the way the economy has gone with this president, they
are going to have trouble finding jobs.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s hard to ask you a question like this, but what`s the
politics in this for him? I mean, one thing that unites all communities in
this country is health care. Certainly, the whole issue of Medicare,
Medicaid is very popular in the country for people of limited means.
People have Alzheimer`s in their family. They need help with Medicaid, all
kinds of middle-class people, not just working poor people. Those programs
are very essential to the livelihood of most American families, except for
the very rich.
CLYBURN: Yes, that`s quite true.
In fact, we know for a fact that the largest form of bankruptcy in the
country is over health care, people – the cost of it. And so what we
ought to be doing is working together to shore up the Affordable Care Act,
make it the kind of program that it should be to protect American families.
That`s what we have always done in this country. We said at the day we
passed the bill that it was a first step, that, incrementally, we will get
to where it needed to be.
But, all of a sudden now, this president wanted to go back to where we were
when insurance companies could deny coverage to people with preexisting
conditions and also kick people off the policies once they got sick.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
CLYBURN: We`ve gotten rid of all of that, and I believe that the American
people should remember that old adage. Fool me once, shame on me – on
you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Well said.
Next time we have you on, I want you to explain to me South Carolina. Ha!
You got Mulvaney down there, you got Lindsey Graham. You got a – what a
CLYBURN: Well, I`m still learning this state, Chris. I`ve only been there
for 70-plus years. I`m still learning.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. You`re the best man.
CLYBURN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. You`re the best man down there. Thank you so much,
U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Up next, President Trump reportedly doesn`t want another dollar going to
Puerto Rico, to get back on their feet in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Is
this President Trump being fiscally responsible or is there something else
going on here? Like what do you think?
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now I hate to tell you,
Puerto Rico, but you`re throwing our budget a little out of whack because
we`ve spend a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that`s fine. We`ve saved a
lot of lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump in 2017, two years ago, just weeks after Hurricane
Maria hit Puerto Rico, taking a swipe at money going to hurricane recovery
down there. Well, you remember during that same visit, the president
tossed paper towels to a gathered crowd during a visit to a relief center
in San Juan.
As Puerto Rico continues the can difficult recovery from the storm a year
and a half ago, he reportedly thinks the island is getting too much money.
According to “Washington Post” during a meeting last month, Trump asked top
advisors for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico,
believing it`s taking money that should be going to mainland, to here,
mainland United States.
The report adds: A senior administration official with direct knowledge of
the meeting described Trump`s stance, he doesn`t want to another single
dollar going to that island.
But believe it or not, Trump had more to say about Puerto Rico, and that`s
coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Puerto Rico is incredibly successful. I actually think
it`s one of the best jobs that`s ever been done with respect to what this
is all about. I think Puerto Rico is an incredible unsung success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That`s President Trump last fall actually calling Hurricane Maria recovery
efforts in Puerto Rico an unsung success. But the president reported he
doesn`t want another single dollar going to that island. And during a
private lunch with Senate Republicans yesterday, he again complained about
the amount of disaster aid going to Puerto Rico. The president, “The
Washington Post” reports, by the way, and according to officials familiar
with that meeting, Trump noted to GOP senators that Texas, also battered by
a spate of hurricanes, was awarded $29 billion in aid, while South Carolina
got $1.5 billion to recover from storms. Trump then questioned why Puerto
Rico got what he said was $91 billion, he claimed.
The report adds Trump remarked that one could buy Puerto Rico four times
over for $91 billion. Both are wrong.
I`m joined now by San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and Democratic U.S.
Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York City who served as a whip of the
Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Mayor, thank you so much for joining. What do you make of the president
saying your country has gotten so much money?
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Well, you know, the
president continues to show that he`s a bully. He continues to show that
he`s a racist and he continues to show that he does not get it. He is
embarrassed. It truly is what it is.
You know how sometimes the kids in the sand box really likes a little girl
but just pushes her over because that`s the only way he knows how to do
things? Well, President Trump only knows how to bully people, and he was
embarrassed worldwide by this paper towel throwing incident and by the fact
that 3,000 Puerto Ricans have died and he continues to sentence the Puerto
Rican people to an uncertain livelihood.
He has been ignorant about the relationship between Puerto Rico and the
United States. He has been ignorant about the meat of the Puerto Rican
people and rather than acting as a commander-in-chief, he continues to act
as a bully in chief.
MATTHEWS: What kind of vote would he get on the island? If you could vote
for president, how would he do?
CRUZ: Well, you know, this is the point. He thinks it`s about voting.
But even people that are Republican in Puerto Rico or agreeing with the
Republicans are trying to just wash themselves and push themselves away
from President Trump. A little too late.
The Republican resident commissioner also said to the Puerto Rican people
that the president had done a great job and he truly has not done so. He
continues to undermine the livelihood of the people of Puerto Rico and he
continues to show the world what the U.S. is not about.
Representative Espaillat was here in San Juan and he had the opportunity to
go with me to a hospital, a private hospital that had lost all power and we
saw first hand how people had to be moved away.
He doesn`t know what is going on. He was born with a silver spoon in his
mouth and never understood this is about lives, this is about saving lives.
This is about putting food on the table. This is about giving people the
opportunity to thrive –
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
CRUZ: – and even to survive. He doesn`t get it because he doesn`t want
to get it. For him, it`s all about giving tax cuts to the rich but not
giving the people that really need his support what they are owed.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Madam Mayor. Thank you for joining us from
Congressman, you are – you live in New York. You represent New York, and
yet your are leader of the Hispanic Caucus. How do you get Americans to
get past Trump on this?
REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: I tell you his vision of giving
Puerto Rico $91 billion is totally false. In fact, FEMA has $20 million
and they`ve only allotted for spending $1.5 billion.
And the reason why they`ve done that is because it`s so difficult to
navigate that bureaucracy. So if you lost your home, you have to bring a
notarized affidavit or an original deed to get that funding to fix your
roof and that`s been a problem. But a recent University of Michigan report
reveal that nine days after the hurricanes hit in Texas and in Florida, you
had $100 million being sent there. Puerto Rico, $6 million.
Nine days after the hurricanes hit, 30,000 workers in Texas and 60,000 in
Florida, 16,000 in Texas, 10,000 in Puerto Rico. So the response was
horrible. And Puerto Rico is still reeling back from this very lax, sloppy
and lazy response to a storm that took 3,000 lives.
So, the president continues to lie, saying that he sent $91 billion.
Medicaid reimbursement is a big problem over there. That`s why they face a
fiscal implosion. Two hurricanes hit, not one, but two hit the island, and
the response was not adequate. It was not fast enough –
MATTHEWS: Are you getting backing from the Democratic leadership in the
ESPAILLAT: We want to back Puerto Rico, yes. The leadership wants to do
ESPAILLAT: The congressional members, Nydia Velasquez and Jose Serrano and
Soto that are from Puerto Rico also want to support –
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Good luck.
ESPAILLAT: Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: For coming on. Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, thank you as always,
Mayor, for coming on the program. Please come back and keep us up-to-date.
U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York City, on the west side.
Up next, more on the topic dear to my heart, the Special Olympics, coming
MATTHEWS: I was thinking today of the best Republican values. You know
them, self reliance, enterprise, get out there and compete, and then I
thought about the Trump`s decision to obliterate federal funding for
Special Olympics today. Why would anyone do such a thing? Why would a
Republican do it?
Look at these young people to doing their best, racing with all they`ve
got, and loving and doing it. Really loving it.
Have you ever seen such smiles? Well, for whatever budgeting reason, the
Trump people at the Department of Education just zeroed out the Special
Olympics. Dumped it totally. Not another nickel for this gung-ho
enterprise that set up a world for young Americans where they can compete
on their own terms and learn, yes, learn, the thrill of victory.
If you think about it, Mr. President, the Special Olympics is wonderfully
pro-life. It gives kids born with Down syndrome, for example, a chance to
experience the excitement of being more fully and publicly alive, the
possibility of victory, and the personal honor that comes with doing your
I remember a line from a long ago Walt Disney movie so dear to my heart –
it`s not what you got, it`s what you do with what you got that counts. And
this president and this education secretary should reconsider and do the
right thing here and back the Special Olympics. You, sir, just had a good
weekend. How about giving these kids theirs?
That`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the