Biden speaks publicly for first time. TRANSCRIPT: 4/5/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Judy Chu, Tim O`Brien, David Corn, Shannon Pettypiece, Rick Reilly
Transcript:

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST:  Ari will be back here Monday night, 6:00

P.M. Eastern.

 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts now, everybody.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump`s darkest secret.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Mathews from Washington.  President Trump has put

aside killing Obamacare.  He`s put aside his threat to shut down the

border.  He`s given up all together his crackpot birtherism theory about

President Obama being born abroad.  But one thing he has never given up on

is his Captain Ahab-like obsession to hide his tax returns from the

American public.

 

And now, now Democratic Congressman Richard Neal is using his powers as

Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee to force the IRS to turn those

returns over.  Neal is setting a 1924 law that clearly states, quote, upon

written request, the Secretary of the Treasury shall furnish such committee

with any return or return information.  And while the law could not be more

clear, the President is talking as if it doesn`t apply to him.  Big

surprise.

 

Here`s trump earlier today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Hey, I`m under audit, but that`s up to

whoever it is.  From what I understand, the law is 100 percent on my side.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, hours after those remarks, the President`s lawyers sprung

into action, making it clear that Trump will fight to keep his tax returns

secret from Congress in a detailed four-page letter to the Treasury

Department.  Trump`s lawyers wrote that Chairman Neal cannot legally

request and the IRS cannot divulge this information.  His lawyers said the

Ways and Means has no legitimate committee purpose for requesting the

President`s tax returns and it`s all about scoring political points against

the President.

 

Well, Trump`s attorneys are urging the Treasury Department to get a legal

opinion from the Department of Justice before allowing the IRS to turn over

the President returns.  It comes after the President suggested that he

intends for the Attorney General as if he were his Attorney General to get

involved.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  – the commissioner of the IRS not to disclose to the House Ways

and Means Committee your tax returns?

 

TRUMP:  They`ll speak to my lawyers and they`ll speak to the Attorney

General.

 

REPORTER:  Will you direct the IRS to do that?

 

TRUMP:  They`ll speak to my lawyers and they`ll speak to the Attorney

General.

 

MATTHEWS:  He does not like this issue.  He wants to hold those things

secret.

 

Anyway, meanwhile, there are other indications that the President, in

anticipation of Congressman Neal`s request, has already taken other steps

to protect himself.  We`ll get to that as well.

 

But, first, I`m joined by U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu of California, a

democrat who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee.  Tim O`Brien, of

course, is the Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion.  Joy Reid is host of

A.M. Joy on MSNBC.  And David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief of Mother

Jones.  Thank you for joining us.

 

I want to go to Congresswoman.  Thank you for joining us.  What do you make

of this that the President is out saying it`s illegitimate for the

government to carry out the law?  That sounds to be a contradiction in

terms.

 

REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA):  Well, Chris, let me say that the law is totally

unambiguous.  It says that upon request, the IRS shall furnish those tax

returns.  And it doesn`t say may furnish.  It says shall furnish.  And, in

fact, in every 60103 request that has been made, those returns have been

provided.  Never has a return been denied.  And this is over the nearly 100

years of the existence of this law.  So if the President doesn`t provide

it, it would break precedents, it would actually break the law.

 

MATTHEWS:  Tim – thank you, Congresswoman.  W will be back to you in a

moment.  Tim, it seems to me that this president will take all kinds of

heat for not disclosing his tax returns.  You will have people imagine that

he is covering up a crime or he`s covering up the fact that he`s not as

rich as much as he says he is or he never pays any taxes.  There`re all

kinds of conclusions that reasonable people, and not just people on the

left, would think he is hiding.  Why is he willing to pay that price?  Is

it so horrible when we find this out that he`ll do anything to keep this

secret?

 

TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION:  Chris, Donald Trump has

never cared what reasonable people thought.  So that`s not going to start

happening with his tax returns.  When he is putting out there that he is

under audit, and that`s a reason he can`t turn the returns over, that`s a

red herring.  Richard Nixon, of all people, Richard Nixon turned his taxes

over while he was being audited.  Trump has said that he`s been audited for

last 12 years, though no one in the IRS believes that.  The IRS in the past

has come out and said it would be unusual for someone to be audited a few

years in a row, much less 12.

 

And then I think the other issue here of him punting this over to DOJ and

somehow saying that the OLC has a role in determining this shows how much

he blurs the lines around separation of powers.  Congress is exercising its

legitimate oversight powers when the requesting of the President of the

United States be transparent and straightforward about potential financial

conflicts he or she may have at administering their duties in the executive

branch.  And these tax returns speak to those things.

 

I think the reason Trump doesn`t want them to come out is because you would

see possible funding or investment from overseas, which obviously gets into

things like influence from Russia or the Gulf region or China, things that

he doesn`t want talked about.  It would reveal how robust his business

really is, another thing he doesn`t want to talk about.  And I think he`ll

do anything he has to avoid this.  But I think he`s on very shaky legal

ground to say Congress doesn`t have a right to get the documents.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump`s attorneys called Congressman Neal, he`s the

Chairman of Ways and Means, request harassment.  However, The Washington

Post points out that the law Congressman Neal is following, quote, was

written in part to give Congress the ability to scrutinize the tax returns

of executive branch officials to investigate conflicts of interest or other

potential improprieties because – I love this line, because of the Teapot

Dome scandal of the early 1920`s.

 

Joy Reid, as any student of history knows, this is probably the low point

and credibility of any presidents.  He was Harding, Warren Harding.  He

basically died from it.  The horrible thing about it is people using their

interest, their influence at the Department of Interior to make money, the

worst kind of corruption is all about money.  And Trump is now saying this

doesn`t relate to him and it exactly relates to him, it seems to me.

 

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Yes.  It`s the same way that he sort of treated the

emoluments clause.  I mean, one of the arguments that bolsters Michael

Cohen`s theory that he never intended to be president is that Donald Trump

doesn`t feel that he has to follow any of the traditions than any prior

president has to try and prove that they are above reproach and that

they`re not using the White House to make money.  They`re not making money

off of the office.  He doesn`t care what he has to do to stop people from

finding out about his businesses.

 

And the thing is that Donald trump, and Tim O`Brien knows this better than

I, Donald Trump has always operated with the help of consigliere, people

who help shield him from consequences.  And he believes – he seems to

pretty openly believe that everyone in the executive branch is supposed to

do the same thing, whether it`s saying he wants his Roy Cohn.  Why can`t he

have an Attorney General who will protect him, the idea that he wanted to

fast track getting the IRS counsel in and saying that`s more important even

than getting William Barr in place, that he wants all of these people in

place who have written op-eds, like the current IRS commissioner did,

saying he doesn`t have to release his tax returns although that was

demonstrated that they believes he doesn`t have to follow these rules. 

That`s how he thinks he`s supposed to operate.

 

MATTHEWS:  David, and seemly, the law here is clear.  I don`t know how many

lawyers he got or many pages of legal argument he makes.  It`s clear that

he`s got a problem and he knows it.

 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  I think at some point

in the Trump years, we are heading to a true constitutional clash.  We keep

saying there is a crisis and there have been flashpoints ready.  And by

that, I mean, there is going to come a moment in time when he is going to

be told under the law, you must do this, and he`s not going do it.  So

they`re going to be –

 

MATTHEWS:  Is this impeachable if he ignores that law?

 

CORN:  Well, certainly –

 

MATTHEWS:  He says, I`m not giving – I`m going to tell the IRS not to

release it?

 

CORN:  I mean, that`s committing a crime.  And this will end up probably in

the courts.  It may even end up to the Supreme Court and before a guy named

Brett Kavanaugh and his comrades there.

 

So – but I think there is no way he is going to let this happen.  He will

order Steve Mnuchin, if he has to, say no.  And they will take this to

court.  Bill Barr has already shown –

 

MATTHEWS:  So our country`s future will be determined constitutionally at

that point by Roberts and Kavanaugh probably, and maybe Gorsuch.

 

CORN:  But whether the President –

 

MATTHEWS:  Somebody we don`t know how they`re going to vote?

 

CORN:  Whether the President and his administration have to follow a very

clear law or not, that`s going to end up being, I think, a tremendous

fight.  And there are may be others coming down the pike too here.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, new reporting also suggests that the President may

have already taken steps to shield himself, as Joy just suggested.  The New

York Times revealed earlier this year Trump asked Senator McConnell, the

republican leader in the Senate, to prioritize a confirmation vote for his

nominee to be the Chief Counsel of the IRS.  Chief Counsel of the IRS,

think about that, why he cared so much about it.

 

Most curious, however, was the urgency of Trump`s request.  Trump indicated

to McConnell that it was a higher priority than voting on the nomination of

William Barr as Attorney General.  As the story notes, Trump`s request

raised questions about whether the President had other motivations.  And so

why was the President so determined to get this guy confirmed as the top

lawyer inside the IRS?  The democrats made no secret of their plan to

obtain Trump`s tax returns.

 

And as The Washington Post points out, the timing is very difficult to

dismiss as a coincidence.  Trump`s pick, Michael Desmond, who was confirmed

in late February for the job, is a tax attorney who briefly advised Trump`s

company before Trump took office.

 

Furthermore, as The New York Times points out, Desmond formerly worked with

Sherry Dylan, who is currently a tax lawyer for the Trump organization. 

She`s best known for addressing the President potential conflicts of

interest just before Trump took office.  Dylan has also backed the

President`s claim that he is under audit, saying in a 2016 letter that

Trump`s personal tax returns have been under continuous examination by the

IRS since 2002.

 

Tim O`Brien, it looks like Trump has put more preparation into defending

and hiding his tax returns that he put into any meeting, any summit meeting

with any world leader.  This seems to be far more important to him, hiding

his papers.

 

O`BRIEN:  Remember when he rolled down the escalator and announced that

he`s running for President?  The first thing he spoke in 2015, in the

summer of 2015, the first thing he spoke about wasn`t policy or how he

wanted to serve the American people.  The first thing he talked about and

the thing at the top of his campaign announcement was that he was worth $10

billion.  There are two things to take note of with that.  He is lying.  He

is nowhere close to being worth $10 billion.

 

The second thing is he defines himself by pretending he is worth $10

billion and getting his tax returns out into the public realm would give a

lie to all that posturing he has been doing for decades around those sorts

of numbers.  And then again, it gets to what it would expose about his

financial relationships at home and abroad.

 

And there are many weaknesses Donald Trump has, but one of his core

strengths is he has a reptilian ability to survive and he knows when things

are a threat to him.  And he actually thinks ahead about those things in

ways he doesn`t think about other things.  And I think he was thinking long

and hard about the returns.  He had been asked about it repeatedly during

the campaign and he repeatedly said in the early days of the campaign, of

course, I`ll make them public.  Of course, I`ll make them public.  And the

campaign wore on, he dreamed up an excuse of being under audit and

therefore being unable to release them.

 

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, if this fight is going to go on, where do you see

it heading?  Because if you`re right with the law and he just has a lot of

lawyers, but he`s not right with the law, even though he`s put people at

the IRS, like a General Counsel to look out for him, Michael Desmond, where

does this thing end up and how many months is it going to take to get it to

the Supreme Court so you can win your case?

 

CHU:  Well, we are going to continue to pursue this.  Actually, they are

supposed to provide the returns on April 10th.  We are going to send

another letter asking for them.  And this may go to a subpoena eventually,

it may go to court.  But we do know that we stand on solid ground. 

Certainly we deserve those returns.  Every president for the last four

decades have revealed their returns voluntarily.  He is the only that has

not.  And when we did a 60103 request of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and

Nelson Rockefeller, they provided their returns.

 

So the basis for providing them is very, very clear and we feel that we

will stand on solid ground in court.

 

MATTHEWS:  Is this impeachable if he says, no, no way, Jose, I`m not going

to do it?  I`m not releasing my tax returns.  I`m telling my people not to

do it my Treasury Secretary, my IRS Chief Counsel, no.  I just say no to

you guys.  What do you do then?  Is this impeachable?

 

CHU:  Well, first things first.  We want to see what is in those returns. 

But certainly I would have to say we stand on the solid ground that he

would break precedents and that he would break the law if he doesn`t

provide his returns.  And that is very serious.  That is not what the

President of the United States should be doing, the most powerful man in

this country, the man who has the sole ability to sign federal bills into

law and has power over an entire branch of government.  That is not what he

should be doing.

 

And so we will look at it.  But first things first, we have to first

establish whether he has provided us the returns or not.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Congresswoman, for coming on tonight.  Let me

go to Joy for the last question.  The politics of this thing, do you think

on the democratic side in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has a

Congress, a lot of young people, a lot of progressives, do you think

they`re going to stand for this or will this be if he just thumbs his nose

at all those people just elected, will they fight now more – with greater

toughness for an impeachment move?

 

REID:  I mean, the reality is, Chris, I think that anyone who cares about

the constitution should hope they do.  Because Donald Trump has repeatedly

asked the question and everything he that does, well, who is going to stop

me?  He doesn`t respect the emolument clause, he doesn`t respect the

constitutional limitations on the presidency of the United States.

 

He thinks this is like a city council that he can just buy off.  And he

stack this executive branch with cronies and with people who are willing to

protect Trump first, to do his bidding first.  He`s tainted the Justice

Department this way.  He`s tainted every department from interior on out,

education, everything is all about protecting him and him alone.

 

That is not the way American democracy was meant to function.  We don`t

have a king.  But Donald Trump is testing the proposition that no one is

going stop him.  And the democrats are the only game in town where that is

concerned.  The House of Representatives is the only constitutional entity

that can put a stop this to this president`s abrogation of the constitution

because the republicans aren`t going do it.

 

The republicans have already made it very clear they`re going to do

nothing, that they`re going to let him do whatever he wants.  He can

operate as freely as he wants as long as he gives them the courts.  As long

as he gives them courts, he can have everything else.

 

And so I think anyone who cares about democracy, if you put party aside, if

you care about a limited presidency that is not a monarchy, I think the

American people better hope somebody stops him.

 

MATTHEWS:  Can`t do better than that.  How can I argue with that?  Thank

you, Joy.  I mean it, Joy.  I`m not kidding you.  That`s well said.  Thank

you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, of course, Tim O`Brien, Joy and

David Corn are sticking with us.

 

Coming up, Michael Cohen makes a last ditch effort to delay or even reduce

his prison sentence of three years, saying he has 14 million documents that

could provide congressional investigators with more dirt on Donald Trump.

 

Plus the President`s golf game and what it reveals about him.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I just wanted to say – look at that.  Those hands can hit a golf

is ball 285 yards.  Those are good strong – and I actually said I was the

best golfer of all the rich people, to be exact.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  I`ll talk to Rick Reilly, the author of a new book, Commander in

Cheat.  He calls Trump a compulsive cheater on the golf course.

 

Much more ahead, stick with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP`S EX-LAWYER:  I have lied but I am not a liar.  And I

have done bad thing but I`m not a bad man.  I have fixed things but I am no

longer your fixer.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

In just 30 days, President Trump`s lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is set to

begin a three-year prison sentence for a series of crimes, including

violating campaign finance laws and lying to the Congress. 

 

And now Cohen is making a last-ditch effort to try and postpone or even

short his three-year sentence.  Cohen`s legal team sent a letter to the

Democratic chairs of key House committees saying that Cohen has regained

access to millions of files seized by federal agents, including several

they believe have significant value to the committees.

 

Cohen`s lawyers argue, if he has more time to sift through those files, he

could possibly provide more dirt on his former boss to the congressional

committees. 

 

We`re also learning for the first time what Cohen revealed to the special

counsel and to the House Intelligence Committee in his non-public

testimony. 

 

According to his lawyers, Cohen provided evidence that President Trump was

involved in or at least knew about a criminal conspiracy to collude with

Russia during the election, participated in obstruction of justice,

including covering up the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, and

suborned perjury by instructing Cohen to make false statements to Congress

about the Trump Tower Moscow deal.

 

Well, President Trump was asked today if he worried about what Cohen could

still share. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

QUESTION:  Are you worried about Michael Cohen`s hard drive?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  No, they have already got

it.  He`s old new.  He lied numerous times during his last testimony.  They

have had that for many months.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Joining me now is Jill Wine-Banks, a former assistant Watergate

special prosecutor.

 

And back with me, of course, are my colleagues Joy Reid and David Corn.

 

Jill, I have read a lot of just what I just read there about what Cohen`s

lawyer says he has to use against the president, if you will.  Why wasn`t

that available to Mr. Mueller and his team? 

 

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR:  Well, it probably was

available to Mr. Mueller, and it was, before it was taken from Mr. Cohen,

available to Mr. Cohen.  And it could be available to him again while he`s

in prison, either in one of two ways. 

 

One, prisons do allow computers, and my understanding is, this was his hard

drive that has been returned to him.  And so he can use it while he`s in

prison.  He does not have to be outside of jail for that. 

 

Or he can be housed very near to Congress, if Congress wants to talk to him

or any prosecutor wants to talk to him.  He still can serve his sentence

while cooperating. 

 

MATTHEWS:  If you`re a prosecutor, and you had access to Mr. Cohen, and

with him all his stuff, his 14 million files, which is almost incredible to

think about in the hard drive.  But I don`t know how many I have got, but

that`s a lot, it seems to me, 14 million.

 

Would you think that he would have the secret?  In other words, he would

know where the – to use an old phrase, where the bodies are buried, in a

way that Mueller might not have known where to go? 

 

WINE-BANKS:  Yes, I think it is very likely that you need a guide through

that many files, and that it would be helpful to have his cooperation. 

 

And since he wants to reduce the sentence, it really behooves him to act in

his own best interest by giving whatever he possibly can think of. 

 

But this happened, obviously, during Watergate.  Many of our witnesses were

serving jail time while they were being prepared for trial.  We brought

them in daily from a nearby facility.  Many of them were at Fort Holabird,

which is not far from the D.C. courthouse. 

 

And they cooperated with us fully.  So this is in the days before

computers, so that they actually had documents.  Now, my understanding is

he does have boxes and boxes of documents.  That might be easier for him to

review and refresh his recollection, which is what witnesses always do. 

 

It`s easy for him to refresh his recollection by looking at the computer,

or by looking at actual documents. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, David.  I will put my cards on the table.  I

looked at what we`re getting, this filtering out of the Mueller

investigation.

 

We`re finding out that there was more alarming information about perhaps

obstruction of justice.  We have heard there`s all kinds of evidence in

there that there was collusion. 

 

In other words, something may have been very tightly balanced there, very

finely balanced about whether he called for what is the equivalent of a

prosecution with the president. 

 

And, therefore, it would seem to me, if you got 14 million files here, that

could tip it the other way in both cases, collusion and obstruction.  So,

what – don`t we want more information if we can get it? 

 

CORN:  Well, the prosecutors have had this information, right?  They took

it from him.  They gave it back.  That`s why he`s getting access to it now. 

It was about a year ago that he was raided, right?

 

So they have gone through it the way they can.  I agree with Jill that

there`s probably a way that he can go through that and maybe find some

things.  Maybe something will re-trigger a memory.

 

MATTHEWS:  Will they give him all this in prison? 

 

CORN:  Well, I don`t know.

 

I think it – but I think it really depends on what the prosecutors want. 

If they still think there`s more there, and I think he has to…

 

MATTHEWS:  Who are the prosecutors now?

 

CORN:  Well, there – well, we`re probably talking about the Southern

District of New York…

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

CORN:  … and others who – picking up the bits and pieces of Mueller`s

investigation.

 

I mean, a lot of this is probably not related to Russia, but the 10 years

he spent working for Trump.  And, remember, we missed testimony this past

week, the last week.  Felix Sater was supposed to testify publicly.  What`s

his story? 

 

It`s about Trump`s business deal in Russia while he was running for

president.  Who was the point man on that?  That was Michael Cohen.  So

there`s still more to come out there.  And, hopefully, Michael Cohen can

contribute to that story after Sater testifies. 

 

But I do think there`s probably a way for him to do that and prove that his

sentence should be reduced, even if he goes to jail. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Joy, president and his walk-by he does with the press, where he

deigns to answer questions, usually on the South Lawn, he said it`s old

news.  That is one of the oldest tropes in politics.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Old news, been there, done that.

 

REID:  Yes.  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  We know all that.  Your hand movement was exactly right there.

 

REID:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Forget about it. 

 

REID:  Yes, forget… 

 

MATTHEWS:  Or this one.  Knock it off my shoulder.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  But the fact is, we know Trump.  And, often, the way to – the

path to his truth is the opposite of what he says. 

 

REID:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  And if Cohen has been working with the guy, who is his Tom

Hagen, to use a “Godfather” reference you all know, all these years…

 

REID:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  … he knows all the skunky stuff he`s done.  He knows it all. 

Every time he heard the word Russian, he`s got it. 

 

And if he`s sitting – even in prison, he`s sitting there with nothing else

to do… 

 

REID:  Yes.  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  … except dig for dirt to get him out sooner. 

 

REID:  Right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I would be afraid of him.  

 

REID:  Well, and Donald Trump should be.

 

I mean, he was the person, right, that was the closest to him and knew the

most.  Look, given the fact that we have seen so many people caught up in

this scandal we can sort of call Russia-gate get such light sentences, 14

days here, 12 days there – I think George Papadopoulos served like 11

days.  People have been lying to the FBI. 

 

We don`t know what Michael Flynn is going to get.  I don`t really see a

problem, as a citizen, with lightening Cohen`s sentence.  Manafort to me

got a pretty good deal for all that he did to defraud the United States. 

 

So what would be the harm in letting this guy help the American people

understand more about what the president of the United States was up to, if

there was dirt?  I would say Congress is the only one who can do it now,

because William Barr stands between us and Robert Mueller. 

 

So Congress is the only entity who can do it.  Put him back in front of

Congress and let him testify.  Let me tell what knows.

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry, Jill.  I`m sorry, Jill.

 

You know, Jill, I had this great scenario, of like a prison movie, where

he`s sitting in jail.  I know whether it`s Lewisburg or wherever it is,

Allenwood, someplace reasonably posh.  And the other guys are lifting up

their barbells.  And while they`re doing their barbells, he is sitting

there with his computer figuring out how he can screw the president of the

United States.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  I think it make him a very popular guy in the jailhouse.  Tell

me how that would work.  Would he be able to secund some of the other

inmates to help him with the paperwork?  I mean, really, I`m asking.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

WINE-BANKS:  Well, there`s always jailhouse lawyers. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

 

WINE-BANKS:  Jailhouse lawyers could help him, I`m sure. 

 

And people would be volunteering, I will bet you.  But, yes, he certainly

can do it from jail.  They allow computers.  He can use his computer, and

he can find what he can be refreshed with. 

 

I think he probably has a lot more to give.  And a lot of it will be of

value to the Southern District, which is the one place that hasn`t been as

sold on his cooperation.  Mueller thought he cooperated fully. 

 

So, if he can help the Southern District make cases based on real estate

fraud or whatever else he knows about that happened in their jurisdiction,

that might help him get his sentence reduced. 

 

And, really, when you look at his sentence compared to some of the others,

it is a pretty stiff sentence compared to them.  But I`m sure that the

judges who made these judgments used the guidelines and feel that they have

fairly sentenced him.

 

So, unless he gets cooperation from the Southern District recommending that

he be lightened – he`s already got that from Mueller.  So, we will have to

wait and see whether this letter intended to get him a lighter sentence and

to delay his starting his sentence is effective or not. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Jill Wine-Banks, Joy Reid, and David Corn.

 

I`m thinking they get him in a prison situation where all the check kiters

are, the white-collar criminals, he could really put together quite a team.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Joe Biden and Donald Trump are already trading jabs,

and we haven`t even rang the bell for the first round.

 

And later on, these two political pugilists – after this break, we`re

going Biden against Trump. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I just want you

to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

 

BIDEN:  And you guys can sit on the edge or what – if – I don`t want you

to have to stand all along, but it`s up – by the way, he gave me

permission to touch him.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

That was, of course, former Vice President Joe Biden today speaking

publicly for the first time since a number of women have alleged he made

physical contact they felt was inappropriate. 

 

Biden spoke with reporters after addressing a conference of electrical

workers.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BIDEN:  I made it clear that, if I made anyone feel comfortable (sic), I

feel badly about that.  That was never my intention, ever, ever. 

 

QUESTION:  Are you sorry for the way that you made these women feel?

 

BIDEN:  I`m sorry I didn`t understand more.  I`m not sorry for any of my

intentions.  I`m not sorry for anything that I have every done.  I have

never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. 

 

QUESTION:  Is this whole episode of the past week, is this going to change

how you campaign? 

 

BIDEN:  Well, I think it`s going to have to change somewhat how I can

campaign. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Biden effectively acknowledged he`s running for president

today.  He`s not yet a candidate formally, but he`s that – that`s not

stopping President Trump from taking swipes at his would-be opponent. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

QUESTION:  Do you see Joe Biden as a threat?

 

TRUMP:  No, I don`t see Joe Biden as a threat, no.  I don`t see him as a

threat.  I think he`s only a threat to himself. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  While the president is publicly confident, as you saw, about his

chances vs. Biden, “The New York Times” reported in January, this January,

that the president was especially fixated, speaking frequently about Biden,

the former vice president whom Mr. Trump regards as his most dangerous

potential opponent. 

 

Anyway, Trump`s concerns about Biden seemed evident today.  Shortly after

Biden finished his remarks to the electrical workers here in Washington,

the president tweeted: “I have employed thousands of electrical workers. 

They will be voting for me.”

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  I bought them.  They – I own them.

 

For more, I`m joined by Shannon Pettypiece, White House reporter for

Bloomberg News, and Mike Memoli – Memoli.

 

MIKE MEMOLI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Memoli.  It`s all

right.

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry.  It`s my mistake.

 

MEMOLI:  You`re not the first.

 

MATTHEWS:  I have heard it a million times.  National political reporter.

 

Thank you both.

 

Mike, you`re the expert.  You`re the – Biden.  I don`t know.  He`s – to

me, he`s – pretty obvious who he is.

 

MEMOLI:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  And when he is overdoing things with personal space, people – I

haven`t noticed it, but everybody`s – it`s all in the pictures.  I haven`t

seen it in person, but I have seen it in the television shots. 

 

He does it.

 

MEMOLI:  He does it. 

 

He said this week, I get it.  I get it.  I understand I have to limit my

space. 

 

But then you see him on stage today, and he can`t help it.  I mean, this is

who he is.

 

MATTHEWS:  Is he doing that to just to make it a lighter thing, like

hugging that kid around his neck?

 

MEMOLI:  You can hear the advice from staff to him as he`s doing this.

 

His instinct is to do one thing.  And then he says, oh, I can`t do it

anymore.  So he tries to make light of it. 

 

Of course, I was there.  And he had to come out and apologize.  Not really. 

Joe Biden isn`t in the mood to apologize.  But he knew he had to address

it, because I can tell you other campaigns were already jumping on this. 

They thought maybe he had moved beyond it. 

 

And then he brings it up again himself.

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the people on the – anybody – is anybody behind

pushing this story?  I know there`s people who delight in it.  There`s

always somebody delights in the zero sum game of politics.

 

Trump delights.  People who are going to have to run against him if he

runs.  Who out – is there anybody known to be pushing the story?  

 

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS:  Well, on the Trump world universe,

where I sort of exist, they are kind of delighted to see this and that they

feel like it is the Democrats starting to cannibalize themselves, which is

what they have been waiting for and hoping for. 

 

There is a bit of glee among them to see the MeToo movement, which they

felt almost derailed Kavanaugh, coming back to bite the Democrats, is the

way they view it. 

 

And, yes, their strategy and what they have been advising the president to

do is sit back, let the Democrats fight amongst themselves, try and look

presidential in these next few months.  And then, when you get an opponent,

you can go after it. 

 

Of course, the president hasn`t done that.  But that`s sort of the strategy

that they have been hoping for.

 

MATTHEWS:  Is Trump more afraid of Biden than he is of, say, Bernie at the

other end?

 

MEMOLI:  I think the president is obsessed with his firewall, the states

that he flipped from red – blue to red.  And he sees Biden right now as

the one who`s most likely to flip them. 

 

So what`s always going to be interesting about covering this primary is,

the president`s going to be color commentator, right?  He can`t help

himself.  He`s going to be analyzing what he sees happening.  But Joe Biden

is certainly for now the candidate he sees as the biggest threat. 

 

If he sees somebody else, he will target somebody else.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he can`t call him a socialist.  He can`t go him – after

abortion.  You can`t – the usual targets don`t work with Joe. 

 

You can`t certainly call him an elitist. 

 

PETTYPIECE:  Yes, I mean, I would agree exactly with what you`re saying. 

 

When you talk to people in Trump world, they – their biggest concerns

right now are Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, those sort of purple states. 

And when they look at the head-to-head polling between Trump and all the

other Democrats, Biden, they feel like, is the only one who is close, who

is within the margin or beating them. 

 

They can – if they hold on to everything from last time, they can only

lose Michigan and Pennsylvania.  And they feel like right now it`s – they

feel like Wisconsin`s almost lost and Michigan and Pennsylvania is what

they have to hold onto.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the former vice president and President Trump traded jabs

on Twitter yesterday.  The president tweeted a video mocking Biden`s

statement promising to be more mindful of personal space, writing: “Welcome

back, Joe.”

 

Biden responded, writing: “I see that you`re in the job” – or “on the job

and presidential, as always.”

 

That was sarcastic, Mike.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MEMOLI:  Yes.

 

And there was actually some debate among his team about whether to even

respond.  Do you take the high road, let Trump be Trump, and move beyond

it? 

 

Because they`re – what was really interesting is, as they were trying to

sort of calibrate the politics of this week, was he suffering, was he not,

they thought Trump did him a huge favor.  Here is the party now going to be

able to rally around Joe Biden against Trump. 

 

So whether or not it was a good idea to reengage in that fight himself, we

will see.

 

MATTHEWS:  Unintended consequences.  I have been trying one out in my head

today.  This has been three days.  Every day, I have read all the papers,

three columns a day, practically, women especially, with very strong

arguments, some nuanced.

 

But it seems to me, this gives Trump – I`m sorry – Biden a chance to be a

fighter.  And one thing we know about the Democratic progressives, whatever

they think of moderates – they`re not big on moderates – but they want a

fighter. 

 

And if Biden can spend these days showing he`s a fighter and he`s not going

to roll, they might like that.  May.

 

PETTYPIECE:  Yes. 

 

Well, that`s what – it`s been interesting.  Is he going to take the

Trumpian approach to this sort of controversy?  You remember, in the

“Access Hollywood” tape, Trump`s advisers at first tried to tell him to be

– to apologize.

 

He made a very awkward video.  And then he just sort of let go and said, I

have to do what I`m going to do. 

 

Biden, on that stage today, he could have – he could have let it go, try

to drop the subject, let`s get everyone to stop talking about it, which is

what a lot of people advised him to do.  Instead, he brought it back up. 

He leaned into it.  He made a joke about it.  He went out and didn`t really

apologize.  He didn`t sort of bow down and apologize over and over again. 

 

So…

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s the old rule of politics.  Never explain.  Never complain. 

Your friends don`t need it.  Your enemies won`t buy it. 

 

Think about that one.

 

Anyway, Shannon Pettypiece.

 

Trump didn`t invent this.

 

Mike Memoli, thank you. 

 

Up next: the new book detailing the lengths Donald Trump will go to win a

golf game.  Hmm.  Author Rick Reilly – this is going to be a riot – joins

us to talk about what he describes as Trump`s habitual cheating and what it

may tell us about the man himself. 

 

We`re back after this.  Don`t miss this.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump frequently boasted

about his golf game.  Let`s watch. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I have been a good golfer over the years.  I have won a lot of club

championships and things.

 

I think I deal with pressure well.  I mean, I have won many club

championships.

 

Have I won many club championships?  Does Trump know how to close?

 

I hit a ball 280 yards.  Stand up, my club champion.  Stand up.  Do I hit

the ball good?  Do I hit it long?  Is Trump strong, huh?

 

QUESTION:  What is your response to the “Washington Post” article claiming

that you cheat during golf?

 

TRUMP:  That`s absolutely false.  I win at golf.  I win at golf.  That, I

can tell you.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  And now, as President Trump uses golf to attack his opponents,

in a speech to House Republicans last week, for example, he said that House

Intel Chairman Adam Schiff would be a week off-the-tee golfer who could

only drive the ball 50 yards.

 

And he compared Fed Chairman Jay Powell to a bad putter. 

 

Well, in his new book, “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,” Rick

Reilly writes that: “Trump doesn`t just cheat at golf.  He cheats like a

three-card monte dealer.  He throws it, boots it, and moves it.  He lies

about his lies.  He notes that: “The way Trump does golf is sort of the way

he does a presidency, which is to operate as though the rules are for other

people.”

 

Reilly details a rich history of Trump`s career in golf, ranging from

cheating during the game, to lying about his scores, to convincing people

he had won club championships.  But did he actually win any of those

championships?

 

That`s up next.  You can`t miss this on HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

Trump likes to boast about how great he is a golf, once tweeting that he

had won 18 club championships. 

 

Well, in his new book, Rick Reilly notes that winning 18 championships is

like an NFL quarterback saying he`s won 18 Super Bowls.  “It`s a lie that

is so over-the-top crazy town, it loses all credibility among golfers the

second it`s out of his mouth.”

 

Anyway, Reilly, the author, takes a look at those 18 supposed

championships.  Twelve of those were senior golf championships which Reilly

compares to bowling with bumpers. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, two of them were at clubs that weren`t even open yet. 

That`s tricky.  One wasn`t even the right number of holes.

 

And an executive at Trump Westchester said Trump couldn`t have won its 2004

championship, because he “never won any of the eight years I worked there,”

which leaves two at Trump International, where Reilly says he has never

seen a signed scorecard or spoken to any objective person who remembers him

winning or not winning. 

 

He notes that the final score on the 18 club championships is lies 16,

incompletes two, confirms zero.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m joined right now by the acclaimed sports journalist Rick

Reilly, author of “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,”

 

RICK REILLY, AUTHOR, “COMMANDER IN CHEAT: HOW GOLF EXPLAINS TRUMP”:  Well,

how about the one he won in Philadelphia when it was being held at

Bedminster?  It`s 87 miles away.

 

He calls up and says, hey, who won the club championship today?  And they

go, Joe Smirch (ph) shot a 75.  And he`s like, well, I shot 72 up here. 

Put – make me the champion.  And they`re like, what?

 

MATTHEWS:  He shot par? 

 

REILLY:  But he…

 

MATTHEWS:  He didn`t.

 

REILLY:  He didn`t.  He shot 82.

 

But he says, I shot 72.  So, they had to take Joe Smirch`s name and put his

up?

 

MATTHEWS:  We all – everybody watching the show is familiar with this

guy`s slip of truth or whatever you call it. 

 

He doesn`t talk the truth.  But let me ask you about doing it in your face. 

So, you`re playing with him. 

 

REILLY:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You have got a scorecard.  He`s got a scorecard.  And you`re

keeping an honest scorecard.  And he`s not.  And how does he look at –

does he say anything?  Does he – you know he`s not keeping the score. 

 

REILLY:  He`s open about it. 

 

I played with him.  And I was keeping score.  We were having a $10 bet,

total score.  And he said: “I made a six there.  Give me a four.”

 

I`m like, what?

 

MATTHEWS:  He just said that?

 

REILLY:  Yes.  And one time, he says, “Give me – this chip-in is good.”

 

Chip-in is good?  I have heard of a putt.

 

MATTHEWS:  You get a gimme on a chip?

 

REILLY:  You got a gimme chip-in?  I never even heard of that.  That`s

incredible. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So you`re not even on the green.

 

REILLY:  Oh, the bird moved.  Oh, you talked.

 

MATTHEWS:  You`re not even on the green, but you got to give him it.

 

REILLY:  And he`s a terrible chipper.  He`s right.  He`s a really good

driver of the golf ball.  Can`t chip to save his life. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Furtherance, but not towardance.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Right?

 

REILLY:  Dude, I have seen him putt around bunkers. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

REILLY:  That`s how bad he chips. 

 

MATTHEWS:  But what is it – what about the people that play?  I have heard

things about like – what`s the difference between him and Clinton? 

Because I have heard Clinton took a lot of mulligans.

 

REILLY:  I played with Clinton as president.  He didn`t take…

 

MATTHEWS:  What is the difference between these two guys?

 

REILLY:  He didn`t take mulligans.  He took billigans.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

REILLY:  So, he would hit his first shot.  And he would say, I`m playing

that one.  But then he would hit five, six more to practice.

 

MATTHEWS:  But he wasn`t as dishonest as Trump, right? 

 

REILLY:  Well, that is – that`s illegal, but not dishonest.  He`s doing it

to get better. 

 

But Trump is so bad, that he will kick your ball into the bunker if you`re

not watching. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Didn`t you write in your book that he would take somebody else`s

ball if he wanted it?

 

REILLY:  Yes.  He`s done that.  He`s done that. 

 

So you said, how – what do people say?  Well, he cheated Tiger Woods. 

Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, against him and Faxon.

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m not a golfer.  My family`s golfers.  I will say something. 

The essence of golf is character, because you so – you can so easily

cheat…

 

REILLY:  Of course.

 

MATTHEWS:  … that you have to be honest, or it doesn`t make any sense.

 

REILLY:  We call our own fouls on – we call our own penalties. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

REILLY:  You`re 200 yards over there.  I got to trust you`re going to do

it.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it`s all about trust.

 

Anyway, President Trump has fixated on how often Obama played golf ball

while he was president.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s watch. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  We have a president who doesn`t fight.  He goes out and plays golf

all the time.  He plays more golf than the guys on the PGA Tour play. 

 

I`m not going to be playing much golf, believe me.  If I win this, I`m not

going to be playing much golf. 

 

I like to play golf.  You know, it`s – I`m a good golfer, believe it or

not.  I should play Obama for the presidency. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  I like beer.

 

Anyway, Donald Trump has spent 177 days at his golf properties since

becoming president. 

 

He tells the working people out there, I`m not going to be some elitist

playing golf all day.  And then he plays golf all the time. 

 

REILLY:  And he plays golf all the time.  And, by the way, last year, he

played 66 times.  You know how many times he posted a score, which you`re

supposed to do to keep it fair?  Once.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, how does he know his handicap? 

 

REILLY:  Because he cherry-picks.  It`s taken him eight years to…

 

MATTHEWS:  What is his handicap? 

 

REILLY:  Two-point-eight.

 

You know what Nicklaus` handicap is, Jack Nicklaus?  Three-point-five. 

 

MATTHEWS:  But he`s 2.8. 

 

REILLY:  I will say it right now.

 

MATTHEWS:  So, in other words, he – he plays golf in the mid-70s. 

 

REILLY:  No, he doesn`t.

 

MATTHEWS:  I know, but he says he does. 

 

REILLY:  Yes, but it`s all baloney.  He`s not a 2.8.

 

If he`s a 2.8, Queen Elizabeth is a pole vaulter, OK?  It`s not possible.

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  You know what I call this book?  You know what I call

this book?  It`s a little early the year.  This is beach reading.

 

This is – if you want to have fun and get to bed at night, and go to sleep

at night after you`re – because it`s just totally – it`s not exactly

harmless. 

 

REILLY:  It gets worse, Chris.  It gets worse.

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s just discerning about this guy.

 

REILLY:  You know he keeps eight goats on one of his courses?  Do you know

why?  In a pen.

 

MATTHEWS:  Cheaper than the lawn mowers? 

 

REILLY:  It`s an $80,000 farm tax break. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I got you. 

 

Trump regularly touted his golf properties during the 2016 campaign.  Let`s

watch. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I have a club in Virginia.  Do you all know my club, Trump

National?

 

It`s the best there is in the tristate.  It`s one of the best golf courses

in the country. 

 

What do we do with Doral?  The golf courses are world-class.

 

Loudoun County on the Potomac River, one of the most beautiful clubs you

have ever seen and one of the best golf courses anywhere in the world. 

 

I own, like, just about the greatest clubs in the world. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Rick, you write in your book that he overvalued those

properties by millions of dollars and that these courses aren`t ranked as

highly as he says they are. 

 

These – every course is worth $25 million, I read today, according…

 

REILLY:  Fifty. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Fifty.

 

REILLY:  He said they`re all worth $50 million at the same time he was

suing the tax boards for valuing – valuing them over $2 million.  So

that`s a $48 million lie, if you`re scoring at home. 

 

Tonight, he is at Trump Los Angeles.  And that`s the course he says is

better than Pebble, even though it`s never been ranked in the top 200.  And

if you walk in Trump Los Angeles wearing a Pebble shirt, he makes – that

pro shop – he makes you take it off.

 

MATTHEWS:  What does a cheater in golf, what`s it teach about life? 

 

REILLY:  Golf is like bicycle shorts.  It reveals a lot about a guy.

 

And this reveals everything about him. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, my God.

 

Thank you, Rick Reilly.  Great writing again and a great book. 

 

I mean, I know people buy books, but this is the weekend.  This is your fun

for your weekend, like Trump or not.  Well, if you really don`t like Trump,

this is your perfect book.

 

REILLY:  Yes, you`re done in two hours.

 

MATTHEWS:  What real sportsmanship looks like.

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.  There it is. 

 

I`m going to talk about the good sportsmanship in a minute.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  A lot of America, a lot of this country is going to be watching

the Final Four this Saturday and Monday. 

 

So I want to say something for those of us who love basketball, the smell

of the asphalt in the summer, shooting baskets even when it gets dark, from

a friendly game of horse all the way to the Final Four. 

 

I want to say something about a team that didn`t make it to this weekend,

the Tar Heels of Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina basketball

team, and what they showed us a week ago tonight.

 

I had gone home after HARDBALL last Friday night to watch the game.  And I

caught the incredible shooting by Auburn.  Did they really hit 17 three-

pointers?  How do you beat that? 

 

And then came what I want to talk about tonight, which is not about the

final score, which was all Auburn, but a scene of sportsmanship that

grabbed me the moment it happened and stuck with me and probably always

will.

 

It came when Auburn star Chuma Obeke – Okeke, rather, twisted his leg

going down headed to the basket.  You could tell it was really a bad

injury, but even faster to realize it was North Carolina player Brandon

Robinson, number four there, who reached down to help Obeke – Okeke.  I

keep saying it wrong. 

 

In an act of real sportsmanship, the Carolina team then comforted Okeke off

the floor. 

 

Now, I`m not the first to pay tribute to this superb instinctive conduct by

UNC, but I wanted to recall the team that didn`t make it to tomorrow, but

will be remembered for what it showed us. 

 

So let`s hear it for the Tar Heels and the class they showed a week ago

tonight in the heat of battle with so much on the line. 

 

That`s HARDBALL for now. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.

 

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

BE UPDATED.

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