House expected to authorize subpoena for report. TRANSCRIPT: 4/2/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Ted Lieu, Robert Costa, Elliot Williams, Jackie Speier, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Feehery, Ruben Gallego, Luis Miranda
Transcript:

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  We heard directly from Chairman Jerry Nadler,

tomorrow, we`ll be watching the big vote on his Committee`s potential

subpoenas for the full Mueller report, all that up ahead.

 

But don`t go anywhere.  Right now, “HARDBALL” is up next.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The Democrats` big weapon.  Let`s play

HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  The Democrats` victory

last November gave them the weapon they need to make war on Donald Trump. 

It`s the subpoena, the power to demand testimony, documents, whatever they

need to drag the truth from the people around this president.  Let`s see

where and how they are using it.

 

Today, the House Oversight Committee led by Congressman Elijah Cummings

voted to authorize subpoenas in their investigation of White House security

clearances.  Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee led by Congressman

Jerry Nadler will vote to authorize the subpoena for all 400 pages of the

Special Counsel`s report without redactions.  That`s because the Justice

Department has failed as of tonight to deliver the report by the

Committee`s deadline, which was today.

 

And now, President Trump who insists he has nothing to hide is bashing

Democrats for seeking the full report.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  If they do vote out the authority for subpoenas, will the White

House fight it?

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it`s ridiculous.  We went

through two years of the Mueller investigation.  The Attorney General now

and the Deputy Attorney General ruled no obstruction.  They said no

obstruction.  And to there is no collusion, there is no obstruction, and

now we`re going to start this process all over again?  I think it`s a

disgrace.  These are just Democrats that want to try and demean this

country, and it shouldn`t be allowed.  And I`ll totally live by what the

Attorney General.  I have great respect for the Attorney General.  I live

by what he said.

 

It`s a 400-page report, right?  We could give them 800 pages and it

wouldn`t be enough.  They will always come back and say, it`s not enough. 

It`s not enough.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  So you are the country?  Anyway, the House Oversight Committee

voted along party lines today to authorize a subpoena of the former White

House Personnel Security Director, Carl Kline.  According to a White House

whistleblower, Kline and others overturned the recommendations to deny the

security clearance application of at least 25 White House employees.  In

other words, people like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, among dozens of

others, were granted access security secret information intelligence

despite the warnings of the career civil servants who had reviewed their

FBI background checks, something in there they didn`t like.  It comes after

reporting last month and revealed that the President personally intervened

in order to grant his daughter and son-in-law permanent clearances.

 

I`m joined now by U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who sits in the House

Oversight Committee, Congressman Ted Lieu sits on the House Judiciary

Committee, Elliot Williams, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General,

and Robert Costa is a National Security Reporter and Political Reporter at

The Washington Post.

 

Let me go to Congressman Lieu about this thing.  Talk about why you`re

going to a subpoena authorization tomorrow.

 

REP. TED LIEU (D), C.A.:  Thank you, Chris, for your question.  It`s been

over ten days since Robert Mueller completed his report and Congress and

the American people still don`t have it.  So what is Attorney General Bill

Barr hiding?  We`re going to authorize subpoenas to get the full report

because we don`t trust Bill Barr.

 

Based on public reporting, Attorney General Barr did did not want to

eliminate healthcare, but he was buckling under pressure for Donald Trump,

and now, he is in court trying to eliminate preexisting conditions.  Who

knows what else is going to buckle on to under Donald Trump.  We don`t want

him to make inappropriate redactions.  That`s why we`re going to subpoena -

- authorize the subpoena for the full report.

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he is a dishonest A.G.?

 

LIEU:  I`m sorry, Chris.  Say that again.

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he`s dishonest, because you`re talking about his

dishonest little twist of facts?  If he is going to use whatever

redactions, whatever tricks he has up at his sleeve, you`re suggesting he`s

hiding the truth?

 

LIEU:  It`s possible.  It has been over ten days so we don`t know why we

don`t have the report yet.  In addition, he went way beyond what the

Special Counsel statute actually said, the Special Counsel regulation.  He

did not have to write a four-page memo that said that no obstruction of

justice occurred.  That is a decision that Special Counsel Mueller was

suppose to have made.  He did not make it.  My view is Congress should be

making that, not the Attorney General, because the whole point of the

Special Counsel regulation is to not have people like a political appointee

like Bill Barr make that decision.

 

MATTHEWS:  Robert, let me tell you about the politics with you, and you`re

a specialist in this in covering it.  What is this about?  Because it seems

to me that the Attorney General has become in the last week really the man

in the middle here.  He is the one that decides.  He decides so far what we

know.  He`s the one that decides whether the President has been exonerated

or not in terms of obstruction of justice.  He said he is basically

exonerated, even though Mueller didn`t do it.  He has a lot of power.  Is

he a political guy here or is he public servant?  How would you break it

out in terms of his perception right now?

 

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  The

Congressman laid it out.  His perception is both that`s and political.  But

the way this situation is developing based on my talk with republican and

Democratic sources is that this may go to the courts, that the Attorney

General may not give Congress sufficient information in the view of House

Democrats and this fight goes to federal court, perhaps all the way to the

Supreme Court if Congress does not feel they are getting enough

information.  But the Attorney General feels he`s giving them enough and

within the parameters of his own jurisdiction.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, how would they decide this?  How would they decide it? 

They`ve got to look – here`s the whole report.  It took two years.

 

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FMR. DEPUTY ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Bless you.

 

MATTHEWS:  It always happens this is time of night.

 

The big question is what do you do if you`ve got an Attorney General and

put in there by Trump because you said the right things about his powers as

President in the executive role and he thinks you`re going to look out for

him.  You can look like Roy Cohn or you maybe want to look like Bobby

Kennedy.  But are you working for the President here?  Are you working for

the public?

 

WILLIAMS:  Well, we hope he is working for the public.  Now, look, he came

in under a bit of a cloud with that 18-page memorandum before he was

appointed, where he laid out his views on obstruction of justice.

 

Let`s be clear.  Congress is a party here, we are hearing from a couple

members of Congress, and they vote a partisan Congress voted 420 to nothing

to see the findings – the report and its findings released in full to

Congress.  So Congress has an entity who has the duty to oversee the

executive branch.

 

MATTHEWS:  So a lot of republicans.  In fact, almost all of them said,

let`s look at this.

 

WILLIAMS:  Everyone who voted on it said, let`s look at this and the

underlying findings of the report as well.

 

MATTHEWS:  So there is a difference between the Republican Party at large

and the President here?

 

WILLIAMS:  It`s got to be because –

 

MATTHEWS:  He doesn`t want us to – he obviously is ready to dump on it

even if it gets out.

 

WILLIAMS:  Well, yes, I mean, if it gets out, he will spin it in manner, no

collusion, which is nonsense, because it`s not even a word in the federal

criminal code.  But he will spin it.  But, again, the members of Congress

agreed and voted unanimously to get this information out.  And so we as a

public and Congress as the body that oversee this has a right to get to

this information.

 

So even though that Barr has said he will get the information out within

two weeks, Congress does – is well within its authority to get it out now.

 

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you for coming on.  It seems

to me that the Democrats don`t trust the republicans, and I see why.

 

On both accounts, your committee`s account and the Judiciary Committee

account, first of all, they don`t trust Barr.  They want to see the whole

report, not his version of it.  Number two, they don`t trust the President

passing out these top secret clearances to his family.  It seems to me that

this nepotism has reached the limits where you trust Jared Kushner, who the

FBI doesn`t trust, to see everything, everything, anything that goes on in

U.S. foreign policy or concerns around where are our top secret jewels, he

got his access to.  Your thoughts?

 

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), C.A.:  Well, it`s pretty remarkable that we are in

a situation now where a whistleblower who has worked in the White House for

18 years under both republican and Democratic administrations has come

forward because she believes that she can`t go up the chain of command

anymore and have her reviews have the kind of clarity that they deserve.

 

So she started making a list of 25 people who got security clearances who

were not cleared by the FBI and she brought it to the Oversight Committee

because she says, that`s our last hope.  This is someone who is fearful for

her job, who has already been retaliated against by having two weeks with

no pay because they see that as insubordination because she keeps

continuing to not recommend that certain individuals get security

clearances that is consistent with the FBI, and then, again, her boss

overturns it.

 

So you`ve got that issue.  And it`s really kind of interesting in the

Oversight Committee where they were ringing their hands about this.  And

yet just two years ago – just a year ago, they were subpoenaing all kinds

of documents from Hillary Clinton, never even had the courtesy of telling

the Democrats on the committee.  We`ve actually had an open hearing about

it today.

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you suspect Jared and perhaps Ivanka have done wrong

that got the FBI to say no, don`t let these people see top security

materials?  I mean, that`s serious, but they know that she is the daughter

of the President, they know that he is the son-in-law of the President,

they know he has entrusted great power to these two people, and yet, they

say at the FBI, at the public servant level, don`t trust them.  What is it

they have on these two people?

 

SPEIER:  So you are declined a security clearance if you have a conflict of

interest, if you have some financial interest with a foreign entity,

whether you`ve had either a criminal act or bad behavior.  Those are the

circumstances under which a security clearance is not recommended.

 

So we need to know what the FBI found, why they chose not to offer those

security clearances and then why the White House overturned that.  We are a

country of laws.  And all of a sudden, it seems that the President thinks

that he doesn`t have to comply with any of those laws.  And that`s

fundamentally what the problem is.

 

MATTHEWS:  We`re just looking – we saw a footage there of the young couple

there greeting Pete Sessions, who is – Jeff Sessions rather, who was

dumped by the President.  It`s interesting how quickly history moves in

this administration.

 

Anyway, when it comes to Jared Kushner`s security clearance, NBC News has

reported that the FBI and CIA background checks flagged concerns about his

family`s business, his foreign contacts, his foreign travel and meetings he

had during the campaign.  However, in an interview on Fox last night,

Kushner brushed off that allegation.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR:  I can`t comment for the White

House`s process.  But what I can say is that over the last two years that I

have been here, I have been accused of all different types of things and

all of those things have turned out to be false.

 

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX HOST:  Do you pose a grave national security concern to

the country, Jared Kushner?

 

KUSNERH:  Look, I can say that in the White House, I worked with phenomenal

people.  And I think over the last two years, the President has done a

phenomenal job of identifying what are our national security priorities.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  At no point during that interview was Kushner asked whether his

father-in-law intervened to grant him security clearance.  Elliot, this a

problem.

 

WILLIAMS:  It is.

 

MATTHEWS:  The fact that the FBI is – I take them totally seriously.  I

have been through those background checks, working out at the top security

level to be a White House speech writer for the President in a piece

[INAUDIBLE] through a couple of these full fields.  And something in that

full field jumped at them.

 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  And I`ve been through the whole process twice and then the

sort of follow-up ones.

 

Here is the thing.  I think this isn`t about Jared Kushner and whether he`s

a grave threat to national security.  It`s about the constant devaluing of

the opinions of the national security community that we keep finding with

this administration and the lawyers too.

 

MATTHEWS:  Like when the President refuses to say the Russians screwed with

our elections.

 

WILLIAMS:  Or Saudi Arabia, the unwillingness to say that Saudi Arabia is a

threat to the United States.  And, again, and pardons, and on and on them,

people devote their careers to thinking about who is at risk and who is

posing a threat just automatically get their opinions –

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here is a woman who has the nerve to bring this out to the

public, whistleblower Tricia Newbold, who worked for 18 years as a security

specialist at the White House.  Explains why she is speaking out now in an

exclusive interview with my colleague, Peter Alexander, on NBC Nightly

News.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC HOST:  Why is this issue so important that you felt

the need to speak out?

 

TRICIA NEWBOLD, WHITE HOUSE SECURITY SPECIALIST:  The protection of

national security is not a Democratic issue or a republican issue.  It`s an

American issue.  And we as security professionals owe it to make all our

recommendations in the best interest of national security.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Lieu, I want you to weigh in as a political figure,

a leader of the opposition party.  What do you make of this President in

terms of his respect for law, respect for national security, respect for

the truth?  Where would you put him in all of those three categories?

 

LIEU:  I give him an F.  And the whole conversation with Jared Kushner just

highlights why we need the Mueller report.  As Representative Speier knows,

there is a range of conduct that may not rise to the level of a federal

offense, but can constitute misconduct.

 

For example, former Trump Officials Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, David

Shulkin, Price and many others were forced to resign not because they

necessarily violated federal laws but because they engaged in misconduct,

such as conflicts of interest, abuse of power.  We want to know if people

like Jared Kushner or others engaged in that kind of conduct, as well as

the President.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, of course,

Congressman Ted Lieu, both of California, Elliott Williams and Robert Costa

of the Washington Post.

 

Coming up, President Trump`s healthcare layaway plan, you can call it, let

Obamacare coverage for 20 million people die now under a court decision and

promised voters a republican plan sometime after the 2020 election.  Isn`t

that nice?  It`s like Wimpy and Popeye.  I`ll gladly pay you on Tuesday for

a hamburger today.  This was a big issue in the midterms.  How could this

play out in the 2020 elections?  It`s not going to help the republicans

because healthcare is a top Democratic issue.

 

Plus, Senator and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand plays HARDBALL

tonight.  We`ll talk about the Green New Deal, the accusations against Joe

Biden and if they are different from what forced Al Franken from the

Senate.

 

And Trump literally added insult to injury in Puerto Rico.  He says, the

American citizens there are taking from the U.S. like it`s a foreign

country.  What`s behind all this angry bitterness by the President?  Much

more ahead.  Stick with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

One week ago, a perceived victory over the Special Counsel`s investigation,

President Trump decided to pick a fight with Democrats, endorsing a court`s

decision to strike down Obamacare all the way, get rid of it, terminate it. 

And last night, he capitulated, however, by Tweeting, the republicans are

developing a really great healthcare plan with far lower premiums and

deductibles.  That will be taken right after the election when republicans

hold the Senate and win back the House.  It will be truly a great

healthcare that will work for America.

 

Well, today, he was asked why he reversed course.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I wanted to delay it myself.  I want to put it after the election

because we don`t have the House.  So even though the healthcare is good,

really good, it`s much better than when the plan comes out, which we`ll be

showing you at the appropriate time, it`s much better than Obamacare.  So

when the plan comes out, you will see it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Does anybody believe he`s a great salesman?  Does anybody

believe this guy, the President, has a healthcare in mind at all?

 

Anyway, privately, the quest to push for an alternative now ahead of the

2020 presidential election got an icy reception from fellow republicans in

the Congress.  According to Axios, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy

told Trump over the phone that the decision to fight this issue now made no

sense.

 

Well, earlier today, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell told reporters that he

and the President are finally on the same page.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Is there a distance between you and the President on what he

wants to do on healthcare and where you see the healthcare debate standing

right now?

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), K.Y.:  Yes, not any longer.  We had a good

conversation yesterday afternoon and I pointed out to him Senate

Republicans` view on dealing with comprehensive healthcare reform with the

Democratic House of Representatives.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Notice how the republican guys pulled back, the two senators

there from him, they don`t want to be in that picture.

 

Democrats were not quite as forgiving, however.  Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK.:  Translation, they have no healthcare

plan.  It`s the same old song they have been singing. Therefore, repeal. 

They have no replace.  President Trump confirmed that he will hold

Americans hostage through the 2020 election when it comes to health care. 

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  This is his secret plan. 

They`re not going to pass it until after the 2020 election. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what`s left unsaid is that what happens to the millions of

Americans, 20 million of them, whose coverage could disappear at the

Supreme Court upholds the decision by a Texas judge to declare the health

care law totally unconstitutional.

 

For more, I`m joined by Michelle Goldberg, columnist in “The New York

Times,” and John Feehery, Republican strategist. 

 

It seems to me that President Trump has made a political mistake here,

because, if the court strikes down, Michelle, if they do proceed to uphold

the Texas judge`s decision, if they get rid of health care altogether,

Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, if they get rid of it, voters going

into next election will have nothing.  And millions of families won`t have

any health care. 

 

The Democrats will be saying, bring back Obamacare.  The president will be

saying something.  I don`t know what he will be saying.  But they will have

an empty-handed alternative, empty-handed alternative going into the next

election.  It just seems like it opens the door for the Democrats.

 

Your thoughts, Michelle?

 

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I think that`s true. 

 

And even if the Supreme Court doesn`t strike down Obamacare, we still –

they`re still going – Democrats will still be able to say going into the

2020 election, to be able to say truthfully, this election is about whether

or not Donald Trump is going to take away your health care, right?

 

Donald Trump has all but said it.  If we win, Obamacare is toast. 

 

And so, given the fact that you have seen kind of furious uprisings

whenever Donald Trump has threatened to do this in the past, there was huge

opposition to the Republican health care bill, it was a major issue in the

midterms, it motivated people to get out, I don`t see why it wouldn`t

motivate people to get out again, when Donald Trump has made this threat

extremely explicit. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You wrote a great column about Joe Biden. 

 

GOLDBERG:  Thank you. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Maybe we will have minute to talk about that at the end of this.

 

But let me know – I will go to John on this.

 

What`s your party`s position?  I know you`re a Republican, but you`re also

an independent thinker.  What do you have on health care to compare with

Obamacare? 

 

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, not a whole lot.  There`s a

couple of buckets here. 

 

First, there`s the bucket of what they could do in a bipartisan way.  The

president and members of Congress are negotiating on drug pricing.  That`s

one thing.  Medical technology, they could talk about this.  There are some

bipartisan things they could do. 

 

There`s also the things that they have to do politically, have a vote on

preexisting conditions, saying that you`re for that, but then both the

House and Senate…

 

MATTHEWS:  How can you be for that, if you`re a Republican, and you don`t

have a plan?

 

FEEHERY:  You need to protect yourself from a 30-second ad.

 

MATTHEWS:  But how do you do it? 

 

FEEHERY:  Just have a vote saying you`re for preexisting conditions. 

 

And the third thing is, set up some things to mend Obamacare, but not end

it, because I think Michelle is right.  If you – if you take away

Obamacare right now, the Republicans are in big trouble.  And I think

members of the House and the Senate realize that.

 

Now…

 

MATTHEWS:  What happens if the Supreme Court does this?  It`s a 5-4

Republican court.

 

FEEHERY:  Well, I think that will happen.  If it does happen, it will be

probably be a while.

 

I don`t think – I think they will uphold it in the Fifth District.  I

think that, frankly, that`s not going to happen.  But if it does happen, I

think Republicans better hurry real quick to come up with a plan to mend

it, not end it, and just get some basic things in there, like on

preexisting conditions, because that`s how they lost the midterms last

time.

 

MATTHEWS:  You know what?  You know what, Michelle?  When the Republicans

say they`re going to give you protection on preexisting conditions and for

children up to 26, I say, that`s like promising a really good air

conditioning in a car you`re not going to give me.

 

I mean, what does it mean you`re going to give me this – this preexisting

condition without a plan that it would be part of? 

 

GOLDBERG:  Right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  There is no plan.

 

GOLDBERG:  I mean, yes. 

 

So, of course, everybody`s going to say that they`re for preexisting

conditions.  And it`s not just kind of guaranteed coverage for preexisting

conditions.  It`s also guaranteed that those premiums won`t be

astronomical. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

 

GOLDBERG:  Right?

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s the idea.

 

GOLDBERG:  And so – and I don`t even think that they are making that

promise, even if that promise would be empty. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the two parties seem to have strong emotional issues.

 

For Democrats – because, I mean, part of it is that more women vote

Republican – vote Democrat.  There`s a lot of reasons for this.  But

health care is so high with the Democrats.  Illegal immigration is the

Republican health care issue.  They get – they get so angry, so hot on it. 

 

The emotional issue, I think the voters connect with.  They say, I get it. 

If I don`t like illegal immigration, I will vote for Republicans.  If I

want health care protection, I will vote Democrat.  Is that fair, because

of the parties` emotions?

 

FEEHERY:  Listen, I worked for several members of Congress.  I worked

really hard on health care.  There`s ways you can make incremental progress

without being so vulnerable to this whole charge.

 

MATTHEWS:  But aren`t they against it as principle?

 

FEEHERY:  Well, there`s a history where Republicans had some concerns about

Medicare being socialist, for example.

 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

 

FEEHERY:  But now…

 

MATTHEWS:  Reagan said that about Medicare.

 

FEEHERY:  But now you got to deal with reality of where we are right now. 

 

And the thing is, not just report Democrats like health care.  Republicans

like health care too.  So it`s in the Republicans` interest to come up with

plans that work in the marketplace.

 

MATTHEWS:  I will tell you what they do like.  They like Medicare. 

 

FEEHERY:  Right. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Because everybody likes Medicare, because, finally, when you get

old, you get something.  For once, you get something.

 

Anyway, President Trump has been all over the map on health care.  Let`s

take a look. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And the health care, the

plan is terrible.  It`s terrible.  And we`re going to take care of

everybody. 

 

But we`re going to end up with a great plan that costs much less money for

the people and much less money for the country. 

 

Obamacare is collapsing.  And it`s in bad shape.  And we`re going to take

action.  There`s going to be no slowing down.  There`s going to be no

waiting and no more excuses by anybody.  I think we`re going to have a

tremendous success.  It`s a complicated process, but, actually, it`s very

simple. 

 

We have come up with a solution that`s really, really, I think, very good. 

Now, I have to tell you, it`s an unbelievably complex subject.  Nobody knew

that health care could be so complicated. 

 

We are going to have a plan that is so much better than Obamacare. 

Obamacare is a disaster.  We`re going to have a plan that is so much better

than Obamacare.  So the health care is going very well. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Michelle, we`re going to have Kirsten Gillibrand on in just a

moment.  I`m going to ask her about it, but you first.

 

Joe Biden, can he get through this?

 

GOLDBERG:  You know, I think he can get through this. 

 

I just – like I wrote in my column, I`m not sure that somebody who is so

out of step with where the sort of energy in the Democratic Party is needs

to get into this race and sort of swim against the tide, right?

 

I don`t think – this wasn`t really a MeToo story.  It was a story about

ignoring boundaries and I think being unaware of changing norms and maybe

how other people react to what he thought was a friendly, affectionate

touch. 

 

That said, I think his ability to sort of read the current political

environment and kind of read where manners are today, frankly, is relevant

to whether or not he`s the person to lead the Democratic Party right now. 

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s very nuanced.  Thank you so much, Michelle Goldberg.  I

did think it was a good column today. 

 

Thank you, John Feehery, my friend. 

 

Up next:  Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

will be here.  I will ask her about the president`s threat to close the

border and also those accusations, or commentaries, in fact, as well about

Joe Biden, and if they are different from what forced Al Franken out of the

U.S. Senate.

 

Don`t go anywhere. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We don`t even

remember what it`s like to have a president who`s brave.  Do you remember

what it`s like when a president says, let`s send a man to the moon, or when

a president says, let`s past the Civil Rights Act? 

 

That`s what bravery looks like.  It`s when you`re willing to take on the

battles that no one else is willing to take on, and you are willing to do

the thing that is really hard to do. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

That was 2020 presidential hopeful Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

yesterday, as she was making her pitch to progressive activists at the We

the People annual summit here in D.C.

 

The New York senator described to the audience what she is willing to do to

keep President Trump from another four years in the White House. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GILLIBRAND:  I`m willing to stand up to President Trump.  I am not – I am

the only – I am the senator who voted the most against President Trump for

his Cabinet nominees. 

 

I am going to stand up to him every chance I get, because that is who I am. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joins me right now. 

 

I like what you said about courage.  So, President Obama, former President

Obama, said the other day candidates should focus on the issue they`re

willing to lose on, the one they care most about, that they`re willing to

take a loss on it. 

 

What`s yours?  What your issue that`s worth losing this election over?

 

GILLIBRAND:  I have several, but I think you have to address global climate

change, because it is the greatest urgent threat to humanity that exists. 

 

And I think Democrats who are afraid to dream big don`t understand what

leadership is.  You have to be brave enough to say you have to do this now,

not because it`s easy, but because it`s hard, just like John F. Kennedy. 

When he said he wanted to put a man on the moon, he didn`t know if he could

do it in 10 years. 

 

But he knew it would be an organizing principle of how great we – we are

as a nation, how entrepreneurial, how innovative, how strong, and…

 

MATTHEWS:  And he beat the spread. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  And he did it.

 

MATTHEWS:  He got it by `69.

 

GILLIBRAND:  And he did it.

 

So we need a president who`s going to say, we must address global climate

change and regain our leadership on the world stage, and actually lead

other countries to do the right thing.  Why not a space race with China

over green energy?  Why not actually say, let`s see who can address global

climate change with clean energy and renewable fuels faster, and see whose

scientists and entrepreneurs are the best?

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

 

Most people now watching right now and listening say, OK, Ocasio-Cortez has

got the Green New Deal.  You`re talking about the green part.  But what

about the rest of it, the ideological part of it, the left part of it?  Are

you happy with that? 

 

GILLIBRAND:  So it`s a lot more simple… 

 

MATTHEWS:  Because that`s where – what Trump will run against. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Yes. 

 

But it`s a lot more simple than people think.  The Green New Deal is just a

platform of ideas, ideas, in fact, that we have been working on, that I

have been working on for 10 years.  It`s clean air, clean water.  I have

been serving on the Environment and Public Works Committee, making sure we

can clean up poisoned water with PFOA for 10 years, from lead, from PCB. 

 

The second piece is infrastructure.  There`s no more bipartisan idea than

rebuilding America`s infrastructure, high-speed rail, rural broadband, new

electric grid, more mass transit. 

 

And last is green jobs.  And we know that, if you train young kids in STEM

and give them the opportunity to be able to be the next workers in wind,

solar, geothermal, hydropower and biofuels, they`re going to have the jobs

of the future and it`s going to create economic growth. 

 

So that is the base of the bill.  The thing that`s aspirational is net zero

carbon emissions in 10 years.  And so, just like putting a man on the moon,

you don`t know if you`re going to accomplish it.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  You sound like a real progressive.  And I just wonder about your

own evolution, because I want to talk about some other people later who

have evolved. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I think we have all evolved. 

 

But immigration, for example, you used to be very big on more funding for

ICE.  Now you`re basically for getting rid of it, as it is.  Explain that

evolution. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Yes. 

 

So let`s talk about border security first, and then I will talk about

evolution. 

 

Democrats are not afraid of border security.  They are not afraid of

keeping this country safe.  And I will continue…

 

MATTHEWS:  Why do we have 11 million people in this country illegally,

either because they crossed the border illegally or they overstayed their

visa?

 

If we`re doing a good job in this country of protecting our border, why do

we have so many people who came into the country illegally?

 

GILLIBRAND:  Because – well, right now, because they`re desperate, because

countries like…

 

MATTHEWS:  No, 11 million. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  OK, but, right now, it`s El Salvador.  It`s Guatemala. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Yes. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  It`s gang violence.  It`s civil war.  It`s hunger.  It`s fear. 

 

But, traditionally, we are a country that has benefited from immigration. 

We are stronger because of our immigrant roots.  We are stronger because

immigrants have come to this country and helped build this country.  It`s

the entrepreneurialism.  It`s the innovation. 

 

So for the 12 million people that are here, we need comprehensive

immigration reform. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but should the Democrats be proud of the fact that they

have helped enforce the border, or happy over the fact they like

immigrants, even if they`re legally here? 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

GILLIBRAND:  No, let me be clear.

 

What President Trump has done is confuse the issue.  There are two parts of

immigration. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I understand.

 

GILLIBRAND:  There`s the border security part, which is to fight against

cross-border terrorism, human trafficking, gun trafficking, and drug

trafficking.  That`s the part we will all fund.  That is the part that we

have to continue to make sure actually get the resources.

 

MATTHEWS:  What about just poor Mexicans who want to move to the United

States?  Isn`t that the biggest chunk of people?

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

GILLIBRAND:  I will address that.

 

But the second half are people who want to come here because they`re

seeking asylum.  That`s where President Trump has gone off the rails. 

That`s where he has been inhumane.  And, frankly, he`s been frightened,

frightened of immigrants and refugees.  He`s been a coward. 

 

MATTHEWS:  OK, now to a very personal thing, because you were a colleague

of Joe Biden.  He was a senator, of course.  And he`s now recent vice

president.  He`s under a lot of heat this – I don`t think a lot of heat. 

He is under heat. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of it?  What should he do?  Is there anything

he can do now at this point in his career? 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Well, you know, Chris, this is something I have taken very

seriously over the last seven or eight years I have been in the Senate.

 

MATTHEWS:  I know, with the women in military especially.

 

GILLIBRAND:  Fighting against sexual assault in the military, sexual

assault on college campuses, and actually changing the rules for the House

and Senate on harassment. 

 

So, I think, with these allegations specifically, I think it`s something,

if Vice President Biden decides to run, he`s just going to have to address

directly with the American people, because…

 

MATTHEWS:  What should he say?

 

GILLIBRAND:  … these individuals feel demeaned, and that`s not OK. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I have heard this.  I think – I think the speaker was fabulous

on the other – it`s not what he thought, what he felt.

 

GILLIBRAND:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s how people receive it, that behavior. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Yes. 

 

And so I think there`s a conversation happening in this country, and it is

about, do we value women, and that, when we allow this space for women to

come forward to tell their truth, to tell what – what they have

experienced, you have to not only receive them and believe them, so that

you can then investigate.

 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  You can`t investigate…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  But you know what I`m trying to do here, get an answer on this

very tough question.  Is he a fit man to be the nominee for the Democratic

Party?  Is he fit for the office? 

 

GILLIBRAND:  I think it`s an issue that he`s going to have to address

directly with voters, and the voters will decide. 

 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about him and Franken, Al Franken.  How are

they different, those cases?  You were very, very strong…

 

GILLIBRAND:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  … in your decision, your belief that he shouldn`t have served

in the Senate any longer. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Well, they`re very different.  Senator Franken, obviously, had

eight credible allegations against him that were corroborated in real time.

 

Two of the…

 

MATTHEWS:  Was there more that didn`t get out?

 

GILLIBRAND:  I am not at liberty to say that. 

 

But what I do know and what is public is that there were eight credible

allegations.  Two of them were since he was senator.  And the last one

happened to be a congressional staffer. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  And so, for me and many others, we just couldn`t stay silent

anymore.  It`s not that he didn`t have the right to stay on and do his

ethics investigation and sue every woman who came out against him.

 

Those are all his decisions.  My only decision was, do I stay silent or

not?  And, as a mom of boys, Chris – Theo`s 15, Henry is 10.  And the

conversations I was having at home weren`t great.  Theo was: “Mom, why are

you so tough on Al Franken?”

 

And I was almost apoplectic, because I had to say: “Theo, it is not OK ever

to grope a woman anywhere on her body without her consent.  It is not OK to

forcibly kiss a woman ever without her consent.” 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, were are you on Biden, then, given all that? 

 

GILLIBRAND:  So, we have two allegations.  The fact that the first woman

said that she felt demeaned, I think it`s an issue that he`s going to have

to address with the voters. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Should he quit?

 

GILLIBRAND:  It`s something he`s going to have to talk about and understand

what is happening. 

 

And all of it…

 

MATTHEWS:  But you`re not – I want to end on this, because people are

going to ask me.

 

GILLIBRAND:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you call on him to leave the race – not to enter it?

 

GILLIBRAND:  No, I do not.

 

And I`m – what I`m saying now is that it`s something he`s going to have to

address. 

 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  And the truth is, is that we, as a country, have to decide

whether we value women at all, because today is Equal Pay Day. 

 

So it`s the day actually in the year when a woman has to work all last year

and up until today to earn the same as a white man doing the same job.

 

MATTHEWS:  Equal pay, we agree on that.

 

GILLIBRAND:  So, do we value women?

 

MATTHEWS:  I think equal pay, if you aren`t for that, you got a problem,

something wrong with you.

 

Anyway, thank you, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. 

 

GILLIBRAND:  Thank you.

 

MATTHEWS:  One of the real candidates for president of the United States. 

 

Up next:  Trump complains that he gets so little appreciation for being, in

his words, the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico.  Do you think

the people there, struggling with the hurricane, agree?

 

We`re back after this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

After months of attacks on Puerto Rico where almost 3,000 people died after

Hurricane Maria in 2017, President Trump tweeted this morning that, quote,

Puerto Rico got $91 billion, more money than has been gotten for a

hurricane before and all the local politicians do is complain and ask for

more money.  The pols are grossly incompetent and spend the money foolishly

or corruptly.  Well, that`s the president talking. 

 

As “The Washington Post`s” Philip Bump points outs, nearly everything Trump

just said about Puerto Rico is wrong.  Bump knows that Puerto Rico has not

received $91 billion for hurricane recovery.  So far, about $11 billion has

been sent to the island.  Trump`s $91 billion number comes from the $41

billion has been set aside, but not spent for recovery combined with $50

billion expected to be spent over the life of the recovery effort which

could take several decades. 

 

Bump also points out that Hurricane Katrina cost more than $120 billion and

that Trump has no evidence to show that Puerto Rico`s leaders are

mishandling the money. 

 

Trump has praised himself, of course, multiple times for his response to

Hurricane Maria. 

 

Let`s listen. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think that Puerto Rico was

an incredible, unsung success. 

 

I have taken better care of Puerto Rico than any man ever. 

 

I did a great job, I did an extra – I got things to Puerto Rico that

nobody could have gotten. 

 

REPORTER:  Mr. President, between 1 and 10, how would you grade the White

House response so far? 

 

TRUMP:  I`d say it was a 10. 

 

I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. 

 

We love Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico.  We also love Puerto Rico. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this morning, he took his boasting to another level. 

That`s coming up next on HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

This morning after attacking Puerto Rican leaders for how they spent their

hurricane recovery money, President Trump tweeted that, quote: The best

thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump. 

 

I`m joined right now by Arizona Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego, the

first vice chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Luis Miranda,

founding president of the Hispanic Federation and father, I should say

this, of “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

 

You know that all the time.  We always do that, sir.  And we`d do it again

anyway.

 

Let me go to the congressman about this. 

 

What do you make?  I mean, the numbers are all off.  He`s just crazy about

the numbers he`s talking about here, the president.

 

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA:  Honestly, he`s way over his head.  He has

zero understanding of what`s actually happened in the island, has zero

concept what the island actually is.  He doesn`t quite understand these are

Americans.  You know, we have the person who called it the other country. 

 

You know, it doesn`t surprise me.  This is the one who was capable of

failing casinos.  He failed 3.1 million Americans on Puerto Rico.  And he

should learn to accept that and try to work with us to fix it. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Mr. Miranda. 

 

Do you think it`s a question of politics that he doesn`t see those people

out there in the island as his constituents because they can`t vote in

presidential elections?  Or is it just a disdain for minority people or

what?  Why does he talk so disdainfully of Puerto Rico? 

 

LUIS MIRANDA, FOUNDING PRESIDENT, HISPANIC FEDERATION:  It`s vintage racist

Trump.  Let`s speak on the most vulnerable, let`s attack Democrat by

pitting the people from California, the people from Texas, from Florida,

from Puerto Rico all with disaster relief need, but let`s speak on the most

vulnerable so that the others, and then a throw a number out of his head,

$91 billion so that the number sticks and people begin to talk about oh, my

god, the people of Puerto Rico are really corrupt.  They got $91 billion,

when it`s totally a lie. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the administration of the funds, because

that`s where he`s getting at.  He suggested the money is going down a hole

and nothing is getting done with it.  Do you have confidence, sir, that the

billions spending there, U.S. money, is working for the people who are U.S.

citizens?  Is it working?  Are we saving that country, that island?  

 

MIRANDA:  Well, first of all, the billions have to arrive. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I know, it`s not a country.  Go ahead. 

 

MIRANDA:  No, the billions have to arrive.  What happened is that money has

been appropriated.  Ten of the $15 billion that got to Puerto Rico was

actually spent by FEMA and FEMA by its own analysis indicated that they

didn`t do a good job right after Hurricane Maria.  When Trump gives himself

a 10, he is actually contradicting his own FEMA staff who believes they did

not do a good job. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here he is throwing out the paper towels and I don`t

understand that thinking.  But that`s goofy.  He is throwing out the –

don`t squeeze the Charmin here, whatever that is.

 

Anyway, in an interview on MSNBC today, White House deputy press secretary

Hogan Gidley called Puerto Rico I did that by mistake a minute ago, a

country.  Actually, it`s actually a U.S. territory.  It`s a commonwealth

status. 

 

Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY:  The governor

has done a horrible job and trying to identify someone to take the blame

off of him and not having a grid and not having a good system –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC HOST:  These are things that – 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, he back tracked on those comments later in the

interview.  Here he goes.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JACKSON:  I think you referred to Puerto Rico as that country. 

 

GIDLEY:  A territory, yes.  Yes, that was a mistake. 

 

JACKSON:  Slip of the tongue? 

 

GIDLEY:  A hundred percent, slip of a tongue.  It`s not on purpose, Hallie. 

That was a definition of the slip of the tongue.  So, it`s a territory and

they mismanaged all the money. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  On a tweet this morning, President Trump appeared to pit Puerto

Rico against the rest of the country writing that politicians are grossly

incompetent, spending money foolishly or corruptly, and only take from the

USA. 

 

Let me go back to the congressman on this.

 

You have been over there.  Tell me about it.

 

GALLEGO:  I was just there recently.  Look, number one, the president

doesn`t clearly understand what`s going on.  We have a fiscal control board

and even the money that goes to Puerto Rico has to go through a comptroller

that is nominated by Republicans and Democrats. 

 

Number two, talking to the local governor and city council members, mayors

of the island, the problem is that FEMA is not actually approving these

projects fast enough.  There is so much red tape and burdensome red tape

that has been created by this administration that a lot of that money is

not moving fast enough.  So, the actual incompetence here is on the part of

the Trump administration.  And the fact that the president can`t focus this

because he is blinded by rage, or by whatever it is, that he is stopping

them from doing the real work of fixing Puerto Rico, it`s actually the

administration`s fault.  It`s not the people of Puerto Rico. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Who is overseeing this?  Who is making sure that FEMA and other

agencies are doing the job? 

 

GALLEGO:  There is a fiscal control board that was actually approved by

Congress in a bipartisan manner back in 2016.  It is approved, it`s a

fiscal control appointed by the House, the Senate, and the president.  So,

that money actually comes in first and they oversee the money before it

gets decided by the local government. 

 

So, the president is entirely wrong.  The administration is entirely wrong. 

They have no concept of what they`re doing and they`re just looking for

blame. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Miranda, in human terms, tell me what`s going on right now. 

It`s two years now since Maria.  What`s it like in Puerto Rico right now? 

 

MIRANDA:  Still moving.  We just came from doing “Hamilton”, my son doing

“Hamilton” in Puerto Rico.  But the struggle continues. 

 

When you are promised lots of dollars for rebuilding, in fact the $91

billion, it`s really the number of the money that is needed over decades to

rebuild Puerto Rico.  So, little by little the country is getting better,

but out of the money that has been allocated, take for example, HUD.  Of

the $15 billion, $2 billion have arrived to Puerto Rico for projects. 

 

So everything is going slower not because of the government of Puerto Rico,

but because not a penny – it`s actually make it through agencies in the

U.S. to help Puerto Rico.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks.  Sir, it`s great to have you on so much. 

 

Ruben Gallego, Congressman, thank you.

 

GALLEGO:  Thank you.

 

MATTHEWS:  And Luis Miranda. 

 

Up next, what will progressive candidates do to appeal to voters in states

like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio, the other swing states to win in

2020? 

 

We`re back in a minute. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  I have been thinking about who is going to take back the White

House, who`s going to win the Democratic nomination next spring, then go on

to defeat Donald Trump in November 2020. 

 

What if the Democrats nominated a candidate who supports the key

progressive issues of today, getting rid of the Electoral College,

increasing the size of the U.S. Supreme Court, creating a government-run

national health system, paying a significant chunk of college tuition,

liberalizing abortion laws, especially late in term, and presenting

immigration policies that allow interpretation as open borders, including

socialists, by the way, in the Democratic coalition. 

 

Suppose the candidate, she or he, carrying all those positions as the one

pick to go up against Donald Trump, how will this choice strike the voters

in such electoral swing state as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin,

Minnesota, Ohio, even Virginia and North Carolina?

 

It`s hard to identify a leading candidate resisting the move to the left,

very hard, because all seem determined to hold their own among those young,

strongly progressive, often minority voters expected to make up the voting

base in the early states. 

 

I have a strong memory of how this pattern of Democratic behavior worked

out the last time the party went hard to the left.  It was 1972.  George

McGovern was the chosen nominee.  Everyone enjoyed themselves.  The

convention was giddy with excitement, even not that well-organized.  I was

there watching the Massachusetts delegation actually dancing in a circle,

they were so happy. 

 

The Democrats lost 49 states that year to Richard Nixon, who not only

carried the Electoral College, losing only Massachusetts and D.C., but 60

percent of the popular vote. 

 

It can all be different on election night in 2020.  Trump could get elected

no matter who the Democrats put up. 

 

But these are facts to consider.  One, almost half the party electorate is

either moderate or conservative.  In other words, to the right of the

progressives.  Two, independent voters are also to the right of the

Democratic progressives.  Three, so are those stray Republican voters a

Democratic nominee they might need. 

 

Bottom line: going into the primaries is not the same as going to the

country. 

 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  It really is.  

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

 

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

BE UPDATED.

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