Speaker Pelosi pumps breaks on impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 4/22/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Jamal Simmons, Jennifer Palmieri





CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Impeach, now or never. Let’s play HARDBALL.


Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews in Washington. There is breaking news

right at this moment. Just minutes ago, House Democrats concluded a

conference call about their strategy moving forward in the wake of Robert

Mueller’s explosive report. To impeach or not to impeach, that is the

question for those lawmakers who must now weigh the bulk of the evidence

against the risks of impeachment.


If they do impeach, the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to convict

the president and remove him from office. But if they don’t impeach,

Democrats will abdicate a clear constitutional chance to hold this

president fully accountable.


And now NBC News is reporting tonight that during tonight’s conference

call, Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida implored her colleagues to act

saying, “I believe we have enough evidence now.” Well, Democratic

leadership, however, seemed to favor a more cautious approach.


According to “Politico,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her colleagues on that

call, “We aren’t going to go faster, we are going to go as fast as the

facts take us.” Well this comes after Pelosi acknowledged the division

amongst her caucus on impeachment in a letter today arguing that, “the

facts can be gained outside the impeachment hearings.”


That’s an argument. We’ll see if it’s true. This comes after the Democratic

chairmen of three powerful committees, judiciary, oversight, and

intelligence expressed similar caution when confronted with the question of

impeachment on the Sunday talk shows.




REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY):  We may get to that. We may not. As I’ve said

before, it is our job to go – to go through all the evidence.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Do you think this is impeachable?


NADLER:  Yes, I do. I do think that this – if proven, if proven, which

hasn’t been proven yet, some of this – if proven, some of this would be

impeachable, yes.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD):  I’m not there yet, but I can foresee that

possibly coming. But, again, the fact is that I think we have to do – be

very careful here.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful. Now, it

may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless. I think what we are

going to have to decide as a caucus is what is the best thing for the





MATTHEWS:  Well, despite the damning revelations of Mueller’s report

centered on obstruction of justice, the president said that he’s not

concerned about possible impeachment. Here is Trump at the White House

Easter Egg Roll today.





impeachment, Mr. President?






MATTHEWS:  Trump also tweeted this morning that, “Only high crimes and

misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me, so you

can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes.” See what

happens when you open him up? You don’t go on offense, he does. Not your

Republican president.


Well, however, Reuter’s poll conducted last Thursday and Friday says that

in the wake of the Mueller report, Trump’s approval rating has dropped to

the lowest of this year. Just 37 percent of Americans now say they approve

of his performance as president.


I’m joined now by U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna from California who serves on

the House Oversight Committee and was on that Democratic conference call a

moment ago. Joyce Vance is a former federal prosecutor. Of course, Peter

Baker, chief White House correspondent for “The New York Times” and Leigh

Ann Caldwell covers Congress for NBC News.


Leigh Ann, give us the sense, how did it go with the speaker who said let’s

not go now on impeachment or with the back benchers, who is winning?



put it, Chris. So, there does seem to be a mood shift among House Democrats

on this issue of impeachment and also on these investigations since the

Mueller report has come out.


I’m told by two sources who were on the call that everyone was very

concerned about the status of the country and the way that the president

has been acting. And so there is a shift in the appetite for continuing

investigations, but we don’t yet see any sort of talk of impeachment from

the leadership.


And that’s where it really matters. The chairman of six important

committees went through line by line on what they were investigating and

were going to continue to investigate, and they said they were going to use

every single tool in their arsenal.


They’re going to continue to conduct these investigations, but they did not

say that they were going to start impeachment proceedings just yet, Chris.


MATTHEWS:  Well, did the usual people who are back benchers, the young

members, many of color who came into the Congress, you know, AOC and the

others and Presley, did they make statements today on that conference call

for impeachment?


CALDWELL:  Not that I’m aware of. I was told about five or six members did

speak up, and there were a couple of members who did say that they

supported impeachment. You mentioned Val Demings of Florida. She said that

she has been in law enforcement for 27 years and the facts are evidence

that impeachment is possible now.


She really urged not waiting, just moving forward on it as we speak. And

then there was another member, Representative Huffman of California, and he

urged Democratic leadership to talk about the danger of not impeaching.


So he said that the messaging around the Democrats shouldn’t be do we

impeach or not but make the case to the public that it’s more important to

impeach than to not impeach, Chris.


MATTHEWS:  Thanks for the great reporting. I love on-site reporting. Great

for you being there and getting the information. Let me bring in

Congressman Ro Khanna. You were on that call. How is your reading? Is it

going – has Pelosi got the reins of our caucus in saying not now and she’s

wielding that power against impeachment. Is she there?


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA):  I think she does, but I think her tone has also

shifted post the Mueller report. She is now talking about our duty to

investigate this. She’s talking about the urgency. She’s saying let the

facts lead where they may and let’s have a strong public presentation to

the American public.


MATTHEWS:  Yes, but what’s that?


KHANNA:  Well, look, even during Watergate it took a long time before

public opinion changed. And so the question is when you know –


MATTHEWS:  Yes. OK, congressman. You’re a politician. I’m watching you.




MATTHEWS:  I will say this. Now or never? Don’t tell me some time this

summer after they hear from Mueller again and they hear from Barr again and

they hear from, oh, Don – what’s his name, McGraw or whatever his name –



KHANNA: Right.


MATTHEWS:  Do you don’t think that’s going to change what you don’t want to

do now? You don’t want to dive in the pool.


KHANNA:  I think Mueller’s testimony and having people see that could make

a difference.


MATTHEWS:  Could? Do you think it’s probable or plausible?


KHANNA:  Look, we just got the Mueller report a week ago.


MATTHEWS:  You’re nice to come in, but I think the whole caucus decided not

to impeach because if you’re not going to do it now, you’re not going to do

it in three months or six months. You know, the redacted little information

is going to change you from nothing to impeach the guy?


KHANNA:  I do think it’s important for the committees to do their work and

finish (ph) some reports.


MATTHEWS:  That’s good. That Reuter’s poll by the way taken after the

release of the Mueller report also finds these are interesting numbers to

take home with you tonight. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats, regular

people, say he should be impeached. Two-thirds, 75 percent of Democrats –

this is coming after the Mueller release, quit, you’re not worthy to be



So that’s the backdrop I’m looking at. Let me go to Peter Baker on this.

That is, of course, the people out there, just the people, but for some

reason the political people don’t want to go respond to that. Your

thoughts, Peter?



course, look, your poll says that – the poll you just cited says that two-

thirds of Democrats think he ought to be impeached, but you need two-thirds

of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to impeach. That means you need

20 Republican senators.


And now it’s been four, five days since the Mueller report came out and you

haven’t heard one Republican suggest they are anywhere close to the idea of

supporting impeachment. So, for Speaker Pelosi, she’s looking at this from

a practical point of view.


Do you go forward with something that doesn’t seem to have much chance of

success, simply on the idea that they ought to do it because of the matter

of principle and risk whatever political backlash there might be?


Or do you let this be settled at the ballot box and try to beat him on, you

know, on issues like health care and other questions? That’s the argument

you’re hearing take place among the Democrats.


MATTHEWS:  You know, Peter, I’m not happy with the idea of partisan

cheerleader because if you’re right, the politics do say probably the

smartest, safest move, like all those Democrats who voted for the Iraq war,

that was the smart move.


I’m so sick of the smart move because inevitably, the smart move like in

“The Godfather” gets you killed, because the cleverness of being against

impeachment. Here’s a question (inaudible), you can impeach with just a

majority of the house. You can indict this guy for history.


And let me get back to that Peter, as a journalist, you write the big

story. Well, if you were Trump, would you like to be impeached? Would you

really rather be impeached than not or in the end is he just playing a game

here? He knows it looks like hell in the history book to be impeached.


I don’t think Bill Clinton likes the fact that by the second or third

paragraph in his obit he’s going to see impeached along with Andrew

Johnson. Nobody likes being smacked by history that way. And so Trump says

oh, come at me – come at me. But I think the Democrats would be smart to

impeach him.


Let the Republicans defend this kind of behavior. I don’t know. That’s an

argument. Let me go to Joyce Vance here. Joyce, high crimes and

misdemeanors is about as clear a phrase as Robert Mueller’s I’m not going

to exonerate on obstruction of justice.


It seems like not only the Special Counsel but the founding fathers left us

with an uncertain trumpet. What the hell does high crimes and misdemeanors



JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  It means whatever Congress wants it to

mean, Chris. And so you make this really good point, which is that

impeachment is about the same thing as indictment. Mueller does an

investigation and decides whether to indict or not, but he’s looking at

very limited topics.


He’s only looking at whether there was a conspiracy between the campaign

and the Russian government and whether there was obstruction. Congress has

a much wider scope here.




VANCE:  They can decide that just about any element of conduct is a high

crime and misdemeanor. So lots of investigation, lots of opportunity to get

people on board for a shared set of facts that can be used for decision-



MATTHEWS:  Well, while the Special Counsel Robert Mueller outlined a strong

case that the president obstructed justice in his report, Senate Majority

Leader Mitch McConnell is today calling on Democrats to move on.




SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  I think it’s time to move on. This

investigation was about collusion. There was no collusion. No charges

brought against the president on anything else. I think the speaker has

actually been discouraging talk of impeachment, but that’s really up to the

House. If they want to do that, they can. I think the American people would

like to move on from this.




MATTHEWS:  Well, now let’s listen to McConnell, the same McConnell during

the impeachment talks about former President Bill Clinton back in the

1990s. “I am completely and utterly perplexed by those who argue that

perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors.”


Congressman, I want to ask you what I asked somebody the other night.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, two candidates for president. If they

switched position and Hillary won the election in the Electoral College and

it turned out the Russians helped her. It turns out that she played footsie

with Republicans – with the Russians.


That her people were meeting with them all the time. Their kid, Chelsea,

was up there meeting in New York in some tower up there talking to the

Russians. That all these people like Manafort, all her people were talking

to the Russians.


And it turns out that she tried to stop the investigation by firing the FBI

director and then tried to fire the Special Counsel. Do you doubt in a

million years that the Republicans wouldn’t have her burning at the stake

right now? They would have her out of office so fast and yet the Democrats

do not know how to play hard ball. Republicans see their opportunity and

they take them.


KHANNA:  No doubt the Republicans would impeach here and that –


MATTHEWS:  They would have gotten her out of here by now.


KHANNA:  But here’s the thing –


MATTHEWS:  No, really. You really think she would be able to survive in



KHANNA:  No, I don’t.


MATTHEWS:  Well then why don’t you guys play as tough as Republicans?


KHANNA:  Because we care about the country. Because there is a –


MATTHEWS:  Do you think it’s good to have Trump in the White House?


KHANNA:  I think it’s a tough, tough decision, and here’s why. There is no

doubt that he broke the law in Mueller’s report. There is no doubt that he

was trying to get Jeff Sessions not to be part of the investigation. He’s

telling his own White House counsel to try to fire Mueller. I mean –


MATTHEWS:  It’s all in public – in broad daylight he did this.


KHANNA:  It’s appalling, the behavior.


MATTHEWS:  And therefore.


KHANNA:  And I get the sense of setting a bad precedent. We get it. We have

to speak out. We have to make this case. The other side of this is we have

to look at how polarized this country is, how deeply divided the nation is,

what’s going to bring us together and what’s going to help to have a

positive agenda. And I think this is genuinely weighing on Nancy Pelosi.

I’ll tell you this, Chris –


MATTHEWS:  Maybe Nancy Pelosi’s job is to get re-elected as speaker, get

the House Democrat again next year. Maybe that’s a different question –


KHANNA:  I don’t think that because –


MATTHEWS:  – with the presidential re-election of Donald Trump. Maybe

that’s a different question.


KHANNA:  Someone on the call, and I’ll share this – someone on the call

said what are the poll numbers? Is impeachment good or is it not good? And

Nancy Pelosi cut him off and Nancy Pelosi said, look, this is not going to

be a political decision. We’ve been called by history. This is a duty we

need to make the case.


MATTHEWS:  She is going to go for impeachment?


KHANNA:  She’s going to make the case to the American public and see where

it is. But here’s the thing, Chris.


MATTHEWS:  Back to my question, congressman. Do you honestly can argue me

sitting here live that if they don’t do it now, which is April, they’re

going to do it in the summer some time? When are they going to act if all

these hearings, are they then move for impeachment?


KHANNA:  I think if there is a compelling case that is made and if more and

more –


MATTHEWS:  You don’t think it’s been made?


KHANNA:  I think what Congress –


MATTHEWS:  I heard you make it a few minutes ago.


KHANNA:  Well, Congress has to make it and Congress has to make it to the

American public. But here’s what I’ll tell you –


MATTHEWS:  Do you think Congress – do you think, I don’t want to play this

tough. You’re a good guy. I just want to tell you –


KHANNA:  No, no, no. I respect it.


MATTHEWS:  I know how these hearings – look how these hearings work. So

you get Barr up there and he gives you nothing. Barr’s a smart customer.

He’s going to give you nothing. Barr will give you nothing. Then you’re

going to get Mueller up there who is going to repeat what he said.


It took him two years to write his report. He’s not going to say something

different. He’s going to say I cannot exonerate him and you go, what the

hell does that mean? He’ll say I cannot exonerate him five times.


And then what do you got? You’ll get something from McGahn because McGahn

is actually on the record in the report, but you’re not getting anything

new. He said look – he said, you know, fire these guys and I said I

wouldn’t do it, so I’m gone. But we already know that. I just – what’s

new, pussycat? After all these hearings, what’s going to be more

impeachable than what we already got?


KHANNA:  Well, I think, one, the public is going do be more educated.

People don’t read a 480-page report. They watch T.V. and there is a

difference – and you know this. There was a difference when you have a

public hearing and where public sentiment is.


I will say this about Nancy Pelosi. Look, she’s in her late 70s. She’s been

speaker of the House twice. You don’t think she’s looking at how history is

going to judge her? She’s not looking at this in the midterms. It’s a

deeply difficult issue for the country and we need – we should get –


MATTHEWS:  She’s playing a smart political move.


KHANNA:  I don’t think it is politics. I think it’s a question of her

obligation to make sure –


MATTHEWS:  OK. I’m not knocking politics. That is what it is. So anyway,

despite Trump’s insistence yesterday that I have never been happier or more

content, new reporting indicates he’s more bitter than his tweets suggests.


According to “The New York Times” the president stewed about the Mueller

report in Florida on Friday, dismissing the findings and making clear he

was keeping track of who in his orbit had participated in the

investigation. How does that look, Peter, looking around for the rats, as

he would say?


BAKER:  The problem is that he’s trying to count who in his circle

participated in the investigation. He has to count almost everybody

basically, you know. Both of his White House chiefs of staff, his White

House counsel, his campaign managers. His own, you know lawyers.


I mean, it’s hard to find too many people who were close to President Trump

who were not interviewed at some point by the investigators. Many of them

gave over notes. They gave over e-mails. Some of them might not have had a

choice because of subpoenas, but, you know, he had access to basically all

that they had to give.


So, the president is looking around for scapegoats. He’s going to find a

lot of possible targets. But the one right now at the top of his list seems

to be Don McGahn, his former White House counsel, who told some stories

that were pretty damning of the president in terms of his desire to try to

thwart that investigation.


MATTHEWS:  Well said. Joyce – I don’t know where Vince came from – Joyce,

thank you. I have to ask you the money question. Attorneys operating in

Washington or in New York City or anywhere else, who is going to get paid

more by the hour, McGahn who tells the truth or Mr. Barr who is an

excellent attorney for the president? Who do you want defending you, the

honest guy or the somewhat creepy guy who looks like he helped, well, fudge

the truth?


VANCE:  You know, lawyers are only as good as their reputation, Chris. So

lawyers, I think, are well-served where they pay attention to representing

their clients, but doing so within ethical bounds and telling the truth.


It’s really difficult, I think, to have watched an attorney general,

someone who has been in the department before, take the stand at a press

conference and lie to the American people and do that knowing that the

report he was not telling the truth about would be released a couple of

hours later and we would all be able to read it. So it’s inexplicable and I

don’t think that his legacy will be strong as a result of what he’s done in

the last couple of days.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that’s good to believe. I hope I can. Thank you very much,

Congressman Ro Khanna of California.


KHANNA:  Thank you.


MATTHEWS:  Peter Baker, sir. Joyce Vance – not Vince – thank you so much,

and Leigh Ann Caldwell, for that on the spot reporting. Thank you so much.

You make it work here.


Coming up, the Republicans’ moral compass. Who is the voice of the party

right now? Is it Senator Mitt Romney who says he is sickened, that’s his

word, by the president’s dishonesty or is it Rudy Giuliani who says there

is nothing wrong with the campaign getting help from the Russians?


Anyway, when the 2020 battle rages on, Mayor Pete is climbing in the polls

right now, compares Bernie backers to Trump backers. A lot of people

understand that. They want a radical alternative.


Plus, why Joe Biden is suddenly changing his plans for his long-anticipated

launch. We thought it was going to be Wednesday in Philly on the rocky

steps of the art museum. Apparently that’s off. Much more tonight. Stay

with us.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


Since the attorney general published actually the redacted version of the

Mueller report last week, Republican lawmakers have remained quiet, didn’t

you notice?  Crickets out there. 


Senator Mitt Romney’s one of the few to speak out, saying: “I am sickened

at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by

individuals in the highest office of the land” – here it is – “including

the president.”  That’s Mitt Romney. 


Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who is up for reelection in 2020, told

Maine Public Radio that the report detailed a president – quote – “upset

by the special counsel’s investigations who tried several times through

intermediaries to end it.  And it is an unflattering portrait of the



Well, that’s softer. 


However, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani defended the actions of the

president and his associates on the Sunday talk shows.


Let’s watch Rudy. 





no.  There’s nothing – there’s nothing wrong with taking information from



JAKE TAPPER, CNN:  There’s nothing wrong with taking information…


GIULIANI:  It depends on where it came from.  It depends on where it came



You’re assuming that the giving of information is a campaign contribution. 


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  So it is now OK for political

campaigns to work with material stolen by foreign adversaries?


GIULIANI:  Well, it depends on the stolen material. 






MATTHEWS:  Anyway, so who’s the voice the Republican Party right now,

Romney or Rudy?  Big question.


For more, I’m joined by Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist, and Susan Del

Percio, Republican strategist. 


Susan, I go back to the most primitive, high school-ish way to ask this. 

If it had been Hillary doing the exact same damn stuff, the exact same

thing, taking stuff from the Russians, helping the Russians help her, she

would have been – I don’t know what they would have done.  They would at

least thrown her out of office, maybe worse. 




They would have had hearings upon hearings.  And they would have been

moving for impeachment in no time flat. 


It is nice to see that Mitt Romney is saying something.  He’s not calling

for anything, but he’s saying something, as only a man with five years left

until reelection can do.  Susan Collins in your intro is probably a little

softer because she is afraid of a primary.


And Rudy Giuliani is, frankly, off the edges, rims again, and just being

the president’s lawyer and a Donald Trump sycophant. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 






MATTHEWS:  Because I want to know who is going to speak for the Republican

Party, say, when everybody starts to do their revisionism in five or 10

years, when Trump is gone bye-byes, and they’re trying to make themselves

look like they were the most responsible people. 




MATTHEWS:  Will it be the sycophants, the panderers, the ones who want jobs

and need them, or is it going to be the occasional person who says, you

know what, this guy disgusts me?


SIMMONS:  Well, remember when John McCain ran for president.  It was the

mantra country first.  Right? 


These people have decided it’s Trump first.  It’s not country first.  It’s

Trump first.  And they’re willing to sacrifice whatever it takes in the

country in order to help Trump. 


And I don’t understand what it is that – what the spell is that he has

over them.  But history is not going to look kindly.  Everybody looks back

at the Clinton impeachment, but if we remember what really happened during

the Clinton impeachment, Democrats all over the place said, what Clinton

did was wrong.  Bill Clinton came out in August and said, what I did was



When is Donald Trump going to take responsibility for what he did?  And

when are the Republicans going to hold him accountable?  That is the



MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think you’re right. 


SIMMONS:  … that we have to really wonder about.


MATTHEWS:  One thing was similar, though, the move on line.  Move on is a

line used by partisans to defend, MoveOn.org nowadays. 




SIMMONS:  But that was after the president and the Democrats took



Joe Lieberman went to the floor of the Senate.  He didn’t send a tweet out. 

And obviously this is before Twitter.  But he went to the floor of the





MATTHEWS:  You really respect what Lieberman did?  Really? 


SIMMONS:  It doesn’t matter.


MATTHEWS:  He was so cute. 


What Lieberman did at the time was attack Bill Clinton on moral grounds,

but not on political grounds.  He pulled back.  He was exactly the message

Clinton wanted to get. 




MATTHEWS:  Because Bill knew he was guilty morally, so he dealt with that. 

But, politically, Lieberman didn’t lift a finger. 


SIMMONS:  OK.  Well, then let’s do that.  Let’s at least do that. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, great.  Well, you’re right.  A good argument.


The Mueller report laid out in great detail the lengths that President

Trump president went to impair – well, how about obstruct – the Mueller

investigation.  The president’s congressional colleagues say it’s time to

move on. 


But during the Clinton impeachment hearings, they expressed a very

different point of view.  Let’s watch. 




SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC)  You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime

to lose your job in this constitutional republic, if this body determines

that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your

role, because impeachment is not about punishment.  Impeachment is about

cleansing the office. 


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  I rise today to call attention to a serious

and deeply troubling crisis in our country.  This is a crisis of

confidence, of credibility and of integrity.  Our nation is indeed at a

crossroads.  Will we pursue the search for truth or will we dodge, weave

and evade the truth? 




MATTHEWS:  Susan, where did that piety go?




MATTHEWS:  The pious nature of those, especially Lindsey Graham, who had

the same haircut then, but he seemed to have a different basis of judgment. 

Bill Clinton was no damn good.  He had to be out of the White House. 


And this guy, he doesn’t say a word.  He’s crickets, crickets. 


DEL PERCIO:  Listen, I can’t defend it.  There is nothing to defend. 


This is – they are – they show no moral courage.  They show no commitment

to their job.  But, at the same time, Chris, what you just heard is what

the Democrats should be saying about Donald Trump now. 


They shouldn’t worry about politics.  I was on your show a few weeks ago –

or months ago talking about how the Republicans need to stand up and follow

the Constitution and vote against the president’s national emergency.  The

Democrats now have to do what they’re constitutionally responsible for and

hold this president accountable. 


MATTHEWS:  You know, one of the best novels about courtrooms was “Presumed

Innocent.”  And the writer says you have to point your finger in the

courtroom at the bad guy and say, he did it or she did it.  You got to do



Democrats seem to be pulling back from that.  They don’t want to point that

finger and say, this president’s no damn good. 


SIMMONS:  You know, people are having …


MATTHEWS:  Not when it comes to impeachment. 


SIMMONS:  People are having these very tortured arguments in the Democratic

Party about what to do, what – the right political thing to do. 


You had Elijah Cummings on in the earlier clip.  But what he said after the

clip you showed is, this is our watch.  This is our watch.  And history is

going to look back at us and going to have some – make some determination. 


So I think at some point, the Democrats are going to have to decide this. 

You know, I worked for…


MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  Let me get back to my point.  I want to ask the

same question. 




MATTHEWS:  If they don’t do it now, if they don’t begin proceedings now and

have a resolution through the House to begin the proceedings on

impeachment, will they ever, ever do it? 


SIMMONS:  Well, here’s the question. 


Can you start having – Ro Khanna said this when he was out here, the

congressman.  Can you start having hearings where you have people standing

and – sitting in front of Congress with their hand held high and saying

what they said to Mueller, but saying it on camera, so Americans are

witnessing it, and they’re being educated about what happened, not reading

a 400-page report, but being educated?


And that moves the ball forward to be able to take it out.  Here’s the

question Democrats…




MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that?  No, that’s an argument.  Do you believe



SIMMONS:  I think that it could happen, yes. 




SIMMONS:  Here’s the question Democrats have to answer that, because here’s

the worst alternate history.  What happens if you don’t impeach Donald

Trump, and he gets reelected? 


That’s a very tough moment.  You made a decision not to impeach him, and

yet he still gets reelected.  What do you do then?


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Susan, about how you treat a bully.  He’s going

to walk away and say, look, I bullied those people.  They’re afraid. 

Pelosi is the smart one.  She says not to go after me.  I won.


DEL PERCIO:  Well, Chris, when were in politics, it was good government is

good politics.  That’s not the case right now.  That’s not what the

Democrats are doing.  And they should, because if they took this to the –

to impeachment hearings right now, they could have it off their plate by

November, December. 


And they would have 11 months to fight the – on the issues they want to be

talking about.  But they need to do it now and get it over with.  This will

otherwise be a slow drip.  And they’re not going to start impeachment

processes in six months, eight months.  It’s just not going to happen. 

They should do it now. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, you know your politics.  I believe in that completely.  I

think timing is everything.  And now’s the time or don’t say you’re going

to do it later.


President Trump was asked if it bothered him that, according to the Mueller

report, so many of his aides refused to execute his orders.  Here’s what we

had to say about that. 




QUESTION:  Are you worried that your staff is ignoring your orders, as the

Mueller report portrays? 






MATTHEWS:  Well, that didn’t bother – that bothered him.  He doesn’t like

the word out that people don’t do what he tells them to do. 




SIMMONS:  Of course, he doesn’t like that, because, in his mind, it’s just

like it the Republicans in the Senate.  It’s Trump first. 


And if you aren’t doing what Trump wants, then he doesn’t want you there. 

Donald Trump is telling federal officials that it’s OK if they break the

law, because he will give them pardons.  How is that OK?


MATTHEWS:  I want a little door prize here from Susan, who is great to come



Susan, I got to ask you a little Republican insider thing. 




MATTHEWS:  What are the chances that Trump’s going to face a woman on the

other ticket?  I think are good.  I think there’ll be a woman on the

ticket.  I think the Democrats have got someone of color, perhaps, but

maybe someone of color is a woman, and they have a lot of options here, at

least one big one.  That’s, of course, Kamala Harris. 


But if they do that, doesn’t Trump have to match them?  Doesn’t he have to

put a woman on the ticket or risk losing Republican women?  It’s a big if,

but I think he does have to pick Nikki Haley and dump Mike Pence.  That’s

my theory.  And he’s ruthless enough to do it.  And he will show he knows

how to win. 


Put Nikki on that ticket, tough foreign policy, neocon, dynamite

politician.  He’s got a woman on the ticket as his successor.  And she will

be the next president.  Your thoughts? 


DEL PERCIO:  Well, he certainly – that would be – I can see that being a

wise choice. 


But don’t forget Nikki Haley has at times spoken up against Donald Trump. 

So that’s a big X against her with him.  And, no, he’s never going to find

a Pence – another lapdog like Pence. 




DEL PERCIO:  So I think he would rather have that and someone who’s just

constantly supporting him and telling them how wonderful he is and sitting

silently by watching the country fall apart than have someone who’s a real

leader, because he would – she would be the comparison everyone would be

looking to and be like, what does Nikki Haley think?


And he would hate being upstaged by her.


MATTHEWS:  OK.  We will see.  You may be right on the psychology, but I

think it would be the dynamite political move, frightening in the suburbs,

frightening for the Democrats.


Anyway, thank you. 


I don’t why I’m giving advice to Trump.


Anyway, Jamal Simmons, sir.  Thank you, Susan, so much, Susan Del Percio.


SIMMONS:  Thank you. 


DEL PERCIO:  Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  Up next:  President Trump tells supporters he would love to face

off against Bernie. 


You know, I think he respects Bernie’s brains and his political acumen. 

But what he reportedly says about Sanders behind the scenes may surprise

you.  More of that coming up after this. 


You’re watching HARDBALL.  We’re back after this. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


The already crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates is getting

more crowded this week.  Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to

announce his presidential bid as soon as Wednesday, two days from now 


On Friday, “The Philadelphia Inquirer” reported that Biden was expected to

announce Wednesday in Charlottesville, Virginia, before flying to

Pennsylvania for rallies in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  I can

confirm those plans have changed. 


Well, today, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton announced he’s running. 

A former Marine, he plans to make national security his top issue. 


Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders supporters didn’t like something Pete Buttigieg

said last Friday, when talking about how he’d address income inequality. 

Let’s watch. 




PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think the sense of anger and

disaffection that comes from seeing that the numbers are fine, like

unemployment is low, like all that, like you said, GDP is growing, and yet

a lot of neighborhoods and families are living like – like this recovery

never even happened.  They’re stuck. 


It just kind of turns you against the system in general.  And then you’re

more likely to want to vote to blow up the system, which could lead you to

somebody like Bernie, and it could lead you to somebody like Trump.  I

think that’s how we got where we are. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, Sanders’ campaign co-chair, Congressman Ro Khanna, who was

here from California, called it intellectually dishonest to compare Bernie

to Trump. 


Well, of course, he’s a partisan for Bernie. 


But a new report suggests an unexpected source may agree with Buttigieg and

has some surprising thoughts about Bernie Sanders. 


That’s coming up next. 







have been motivated to want to blow up the establishment, and, you know,

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump represent radically different ways of doing

that.  So even though they led different voters in very different

directions, I do think it’s meaningful that anti-establishment candidates,

the more dramatically anti-establishment the better, be it from the left or

the right, have been able to get so much support in recent years. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


That was Mayor Pete Buttigieg today doubling down on remarks he made, I

believe, drawing parallels between Bernie Sanders’ backers and President

Trump’s backers. 


Publicly, Trump expressed confidence in his chances against Sanders.  A new

report actually suggests behind closed doors he’s not believing Sanders’

political – he’s believing them, according to “The Daily Beast,” the

president is of two minds.  While he sees the senator as a vulnerable

opponent, he also has offered begrudging respect for his political acumen. 


President Trump will sometimes unpromptedly bring up Sanders’ own working

class support and acknowledge that there is, in fact, potential for the

senator to win over Trump supporters with his populist appeal. 


For more, I’m joined by experts Jennifer Palmieri, former communications

director for Hillary for America, and Jason Johnson, politics editor for



Jennifer, my thoughts – what are your thoughts?  I find it – I never know

what game Trump’s playing.  I never know what any politician is playing. 

Sometimes they build people up because they want them as their opponent. 


What do you think? 



Right.  I think that’s right.  Particularly with Trump, you can’t be sure

because I think unlike other politicians, he plays the game about what

might get reflected in the press and how he can use that to his benefit. 


So – but I can tell you I have my own experience with Senator Sanders as a

primary opponent.  He is a very effective candidate in many respects.  You

know, he has – he’s very consistent in the message that he delivers.  He

believes very, you know, very much to his core what he’s saying and he’s

been saying the same thing for 40 years.




PALMIERI:  He’s definitely struck a chord –


MATTHEWS:  I love that.  That’s the little shot. 


PALMIERI:  No, it’s true. 




MATTHEWS:  It is a true –


PALMIERI:  It’s true.  He has – he has – I mean, this – and I think this

is why – maybe this is what Trump respects about him.  This is why you

can’t throw Bernie Sanders off in a Q&A or in an interview, right?  Because

he believes what he believes and he’s believed it for a long time and he’s

not going to change his mind because someone’s, you know, trying to get him

in a gotcha question.  So he’s very focused in that way.


You know, I don’t know that everybody likes what he’s saying and I don’t

know that he’ll win the Democratic primary, but he is – I understand the -

- that why he is effective and why he has such committed supporters. 


But, you know, for Mayor Buttigieg, it’s a lesson not to talk about the

motivations of other people’s supporters, right?  That is where you get

into trouble.  So, it’s always a mistake to try to care for – for another

candidate to characterize how another – one of their opponents’ supporters

feel about them. 


MATTHEWS:  Jason, your thoughts about this doppelganger between the guy on

the left – I wouldn’t even call Trump on the right.  I don’t know what

he’s on.  I wouldn’t call it the right.  He’s on something. 


JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT POLITICS EDITOR:  Well, first off, I’ll go to the

straight numbers.  Now, depending on whim pollster and political scientist

you speak to, there’s anywhere from 13 to like 17 percent of Bernie voters

who did vote for Trump.  It’s not crazy.  And it’s not crazy to make



MATTHEWS:  But that’s the antipathy speaking from the primary fight in many



JOHNSON:  It was, but also people who wanted an outsider.  So, look, as

much as I think Buttigieg stumbled and he’s still doubling down, that’s not

an entirely crazy thing to look at.  But here’s the other issue –


MATTHES:  Look, there were Kennedy people back when I was in politics who

are voting for Trump because they’re mad at Carter for beating him in the



JOHNSON:  Right, but there were Hillary people who ended up voting for John





JOHNSON:  But I think those people still exist because they wanted an



Now, here’s the key.  I also think, and this is smart on the part of Mayor

Pete’s behalf, look, you’ve got to go for the king.  If he’s actually going

to sustain himself as a real contending candidate, he can’t hide behind Joe

Biden, he can’t hide and not attack Joe Biden, not attack Bernie Sanders. 


I actually think it is a smart strategy for him.  And, again, he if wants

to portray himself as the Midwestern outsider, who’s the guy you’re going

to go after, you got to go after Sanders. 


MATTHEWS:  I think, anyway, new one poll out today, guys, shows why Sanders

supporters could be taking on the South Bend mayor.  The University of New

Hampshire, Granite State Poll, it’s a good poll, I think, showed Sanders

leading the pack with 30 because he’s in the neighborhood.  With Joe Biden

at 18 because everybody knows him.  And Buttigieg with 15 percent. 


Jennifer, it looks like he can – I’m not saying he’s going to beat Bernie

up there in New Hampshire, but he might be the out-of-towner that gives him

the best fight. 


PALMIERI:  Well, it’s also – you know, it’s April.  I mean, it’s April. 

It’s eight to ten months, right, away before anybody starts to vote and I

think that, you know, but I disagree about – what Jason just said about

this being a smart thing for Buttigieg. 


Buttigieg didn’t go after Bernie, right?  He went after Bernie’s

supporters.  And that is – that’s not a good move. 


And I think part of what Buttigieg appeal thus far has been – for people

who really pay a lot of attention to politics, like those of us speaking

and those of us watching, were interested in the political analysis. 

Buttigieg is really good at political analysis.  That’s not great for

candidates, right? 


Candidates want to be talking to voters, not making good political

analysis.  So I think, you know, he’s a very talented candidate, but it’s

yet to be seen how – if that’s going to last and if we’re still going to

be talking about him in the same way when people start voting next year. 


MATTHEWS:  Can I say one thing that will upset people, because it’s true

numbers?  The only people who connect with people up in New Hampshire,

which is a really political state, Jennifer, as you guys know.  Bernie

Sanders, Joe Biden, and Buttigieg, that’s it. 




MATTHEWS:  Once you get the cut lines, running in the high teens and up to

20.  Then everybody is down in the slop.  There is nothing there. 


Warren, who’s known up there.  She’s from Massachusetts, 5 percent. 

Kamala, 4.  Cory, 3.  Kirsten Gillibrand, 1. 


Nothing.  Why? 


JOHNSON:  Yes.  Well, look, some of this is just name recognition.  It’s

just screaming a name recognition.  And here’s the thing –


MATTHEWS:  They’re on television every night, these people. 


JOHNSON:  Well, they’re not on television the way that Buttigieg is on

television.  They’re not known the way Bernie Sanders is known. 


MATTHEWS:  Kirsten has been on and off a lot.  So, is Cory’s been on and

off.  I disagree.


JOHNSON:  They’re not going to connect the same way.  They’re not going to

connect the same way with those voters. 


MATTHEWS:  OK.  We got to go.  Some people are working, some people aren’t. 

Jennifer knows this business. 


Jennifer, thank you for coming on.  Jennifer Palmieri.  And Jason Johnson. 


Up next, the latest from SRI – well, Sri Lanka.  Who’s SRI?  Sri Lanka,

with the death toll has risen to almost 300 people with hundreds more

wounded in those horrific Easter Sunday terror attacks on the Catholic

Church especially.


Stick with us.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


A curfew is in effect in Sri Lanka right now following the Easter Sunday

attacks that killed at least 290 people and injured at least 500 others. 

The coordinated bombings targeted churches, Catholic churches and luxury

hotels in three different cities.  And this morning, another bomb exploded

in the country’s capital.  As a bomb disposal team was trying to defuse it. 


For more, let’s go to NBC News chief global affairs correspondent Bill

Neely who is in Sri Lanka. 





a capital under curfew. 


The Sri Lankan government says it knows who carried out these attacks.  It

was seven local men, the suicide bombers, from a Sri Lankan Islamist group

who had foreign help.  Now, they say that this couldn’t have been carried

out, this attack, without foreign funding, planning and expertise, and that

does seem to be logical because while this group that they’ve identified is

an Islamist group who has promoted the ISIS ideology for a long time.  It

has absolutely no history of terrorist attacks like this.  And remember,

this was a sophisticated attack that would have taken months of planning. 


U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News that ISIS may have inspired these

attacks but that there is no evidence that ISIS or al Qaeda, no evidence

yet anyway, had any direct involvement in these attacks.  So, the question

is, who are these foreign terrorist groups who helped the locals?  Why did

these attacks take place at this time?  And crucially, Chris, why weren’t

they stopped? 


Because the government has now admitted that it was warned about the

attacks.  A government minister, who is also chief of staff of the

president, told me today that they had warnings three weeks ago from two

foreign intelligence agencies that a terrorist group was going to use

suicide bombers to attack Christian churches and tourist hotels.  Now, he

said to me that they passed these warnings on to security agencies. 


I asked why hotels and churches weren’t protected.  He said, look, we never

protect hotels because they have their own security, and we didn’t protect

churches because there are just too many churches, he said.  I pointed out

that there are only four or five prominent churches here in Colombo.  He

said we just weren’t expecting attacks on this scale, so big and so soon. 


So the government is apologizing for its intelligence failures, but that

really is cold comfort to the relatives of nearly 300 people who died.  We

now know that four Americans were among those dead, along with dozens of

other foreign nationals. 


Now, the aim of these attacks was clearly not just to kill and maim as many

people as possible, but also to destabilize the country, to sow divisions

in this country and to wreck one of this country’s main industries, the

tourist industry.  They get 2 1/2 million visitors a year here, 1 million

jobs depend on it.  It’s absolutely crucial to Sri Lanka. 


So if you – if you want to disrupt this country, that’s how you do it. 

Now, all of that speaks to something beyond simply local guys.  These are

the hallmarks of ISIS, and of al Qaeda. 


But so far no group has claimed responsibility.  There is now a state of

emergency in this country and it is a city and a country in shock.  And,

Chris, I have to tell you, in fear. 




MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Thank you, Bill Neely, from NBC News. 


Up next, it’s Earth Day today, 2019, and the president of the United States

doesn’t act like there is a climate change factor in the world today. 

You’re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Well, today is Earth Day, which this year comes a day after

Easter and the Monday following the start of Passover. 


And one of the common natures of religion is that all speak to mankind and

therefore life on Earth because it’s the only place where mankind exists. 

Well, given this, you would think we should all take a primary interest in

threats to Earth, as it is.  Let’s all agree the place for mankind can

survive, the only place.


But not Donald Trump.  Trump has a history of denying climate change.  In

his Earth Day message today, he does not even mention it or the role

scientists say mankind is contributing to it.  He makes no mention of the

world suffering what scientists in his own administration point to – the

flooding, the wildfires, the diseases caused by higher temperatures. 


You see, Trump believes that taking action on climate change works against

his belief in free markets.  To Trump, caring about climate change is to

take the side of college professors against real estate developers like

him, to take the side of the elite against the captains of commerce and



Here he is on “60 Minutes” last fall challenging the near universal

scientific judgment that map kind is accelerating climate change. 




LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTES:  Yes, but what about the scientists who say it’s

worse than ever? 



scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump’s refusing to say what he believes, of course,

knowing that to openly challenge science would make him seem like one of

the luddites in “Planet of the Apes.”  Instead, he poses absurdly as a

leader taken care of our shared human habitat.  Listen to Trump back in

2016 brag about being a very big person on conservation, about all the

environmental awards he’s won. 




TRUMP:  I know much about climate change.  I’ve received many environmental



Do you know that I’ve won numerous environmental awards?  I’m a believer in

the environment. 




MATTHEWS:  You know how many environmental awards Trump has won?  None. 

Did you ever think otherwise? 


How many trees in New York Central Park would be left standing if it were

up to him?  How much sunlight would there be in that park if Trump’s

tractors were allowed in? 


Today, Earth Day, Trump said what he had to say about climate change – he

said nothing. 


That’s all for HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 







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