Trump ignores “sweeping” election interference. TRANSCRIPT: 4/24/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: We have a former Watergate prosecutor to break
down what Congress can and can`t do in a whole lot more, tomorrow 6:00 pm
Eastern. But don`t go anywhere because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: From Russia with love, let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews from Washington. Donald Trump is smart
to fear the Mueller report. It makes sense that he`s preoccupied with
defending himself in the wake of Mueller`s findings. The fact that he`s
screaming bloody murder right now and tweeting with such nervousness shows
he, more than others, even his critics grasp the danger to Donald Trump
from Mueller`s central finding that the Russian government interfered in
the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.
We`re witnessing right now, I believe, is a President who knows history
will chalk up his election in 2016 to the help he got from the Russians.
Trump fears that his presidency will have an asterisk next to it in the
history books like a major leaguer whose performance at the plate is
chalked up to drug use. As multiple witnesses told the Special Counsel,
the President is afraid, quote, that reports of Russian election
interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his
And today new reporting suggests that the President`s insecurity is so
profound that it`s causing the White House to turn a blind eye to the
Russian threat coming in 2020. The New York Times reports that before she
was fired, Kirstjen Nielsen tried to focus the White House on one of her
highest priorities as Homeland Security Secretary preparing for new and
different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.
However, Trump`s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the
President. According to The New York Times, chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
made clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign
Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his
victory. The rebuff makes clear that his administration`s posture toward
Russia is see no evil hear no evil and this story comes as Jared Kushner,
the President`s son-in-law and top advisor downplayed Russia`s
unprecedented role in the 2016 election.
Yesterday, Jared said the investigation of Russian interference was worse
than the interference itself, let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP`S SON-IN-LAW: I think the
investigations and all of the speculation that`s happened for the last two
years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of
Facebook ads. Now, if you look at the magnitude of what they did and what
they accomplished, I think the ensuing investigations have been way more
harmful to our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “But this wasn`t just a couple of Facebook ads,” as he put it.
Again, the Mueller report made clear. This is the lines for the history
books. The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election
in sweeping and systematic fashion. In fact it`s the leading line of the
I`m joined right now by Ben Rhodes former Deputy National Security Adviser
under President Obama, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS
NewsHour, Charlie Sykes is the Editor-in-Chief of The Bulwark. I want to
start with you, Ben, on this line.
I have been trying to figure out for two weeks why this guy has behaved so
wacky lately if he won, if he said he won in the Mueller report. And I`m
thinking back, wait a minute, what does he really care more about? His
legitimacy. “I won. I won. I won, mommy. I won. I won. I won. I did
it. I did it. I did it.” Well, now this says you did it with some help
BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA:
Yes. Well, first of all he at no stage has he acted like an innocent man.
I think that as you said just confirming the reality of Russian
interference does call into question the legitimacy of that victory and in
part because what gets to the core of our democracy more than whether or
not you`re aided by foreign power or a foreign adversary in order to get
into that office.
I think the more concerning thing, Chris, though is maybe he wants them to
help him again. When you have Rudy Giuliani out there saying it`s OK to
accept Russian help, what you`re essentially saying is, “Hey, Russia,
here`s a blinking green light. Come back in and help us again in 2020.
MATTHEWS: Charlie, what do you think about this? I`m trying to figure out
a little bit of psychobabble here, but the importance of the psychobabble
in this case is understanding Trump because he has fired Kirstjen, what was
her last name?
MATTHEWS: Nielsen, of course, they`re gone, Nielsen, of course, and he
seems to not want to hear it anywhere within his counsels. He doesn`t have
anybody. Mick Mulvaney say, “Don`t bring that up.” He doesn`t like that.
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE BULWARK: This is like FDR after Pearl
Harbor saying, “I don`t want to hear about the Japanese. Don`t talk to me
about the Japanese or the Germans.” Look, this is a part of the Mueller
report that I`m glad is getting attention. I think was overlooked.
The voluminous documentation of the extent and the scope of the Russian
attack and that it`s not over, this is not looking just to the past. It is
ongoing and given the return on investment of their interference in the
2016 election, we`re going to see next year may be even broader and more
dramatic. So the question is, is this President going to do anything about
it? Is he going to mobilize this government to protect our democracy?
And I think this is something that Congress really has to look into because
I get the focus on the obstruction of justice which I think is important
and the coordination with the Trump campaign, but the reality is no doubt
this country was attacked, is under attack and will be attacked and the
President doesn`t want to hear about it. That`s a problem.
MATTHEWS: You know, Charlie, the great FDR quote that is better I think
even than the one you mention was he said, “Never mentioned the word rope
in a family where there`s been a hanging.” And I think that he is really
sensitive, Yamiche. He does not want talking about the Russians and what
they did so clearly to help him.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: It`s because it
goes to the core of his biggest fear which is that he won`t be seen as
somebody who rightly should be president. The President is really someone
who is focused on his personal issues and I think the White House would
say, “Don`t look at our rhetoric. Look at what we`ve done.”
But when you have Jared Kushner out there calling this - a couple of
Facebook ads, what we know is that this was not a couple of Facebook ads,
not only was it something on social media but there were protests, there
were real protest set up, there`s also website set up to target African-
Americans in some cases, telling them not to vote. There were so many
things that Russia did, but I know I`ve been talking to White House sources
about this and they say, one, Mick Mulvaney doesn`t remember telling
Kirstjen Nielsen this and that –
MATTHEWS: Can`t remember. Well, that`s a similar pattern, I don`t
ALCINDOR: They cannot remember. Also, I talked to some sources at DHS
they say, “Take this with a grain of salt, because now that she`s not in
DHS anymore she`s someone who wants to look at her own reputation and her
own legacy, so there could be allies doing that.” But the big issue here
is, of course, that we all have heard the President over the last couple of
years say, “You know what? I`m not sure if Russia has a real big impact to
MATTHEWS: It could be anybody.
ALCINDOR: There are so many intelligence agencies which have been telling
us for months and even years that they did have an impact.
MATTHEWS: And then, of course, Robert Mueller`s report comes out and
confirms doubles down all of the 17 intelligence agencies that said so
before. And by the way, those who doubt did the little Russian help like
bringing up those embarrassing emails out of the DNC and all of that stuff
and Robert Podesta or John Podesta stuff and all of that stuff with
Palmieri and all of that stuff was embarrassing. We all knew those
stories. They got out because of their hacking of the DNC and Podesta.
And just look at these numbers, Trump didn`t win by a landslide. He won
Pennsylvania by 0.7 of 1 percent. He won Michigan by 0.3 of 1 percent. He
won was Wisconsin by 0.7. Yes, he won. Jefferson was right, you win, you
win. But he won in such a close election. He must wonder if he doesn`t
get reelected, how the history book is going to see him. A guy who won a
fluke election because he got Russian. But anyway, most alarming and led
the President`s continued cover-up is that the Russian threat to American
democracy still looms.
According to The New York Times, “One senior official described homeland
security officials as adamant that the United States government needed to
significantly step up its efforts to urge the American public and U.S.
companies to block foreign influence campaigns. But the department was
stymied by the White House`s refusal to even discuss it, the officials
said. As a result, the official said, the government was failing to
adequately inform Americans about continuing influence efforts.” Ben,
you`ve been in the business, not politics, government.
MATTHEWS: In this case, government. The number one job of American
president is to protect us.
RHODES: Yes and protect our democracy. And this is a blinking green
light, again, not just to Russia but other foreign adversaries could be
looking at this and looking at us not making these preparations and not
taking defense of our democracy. And if you`re China or you`re Iran in
addition to Russia, you`re thinking, “Well, I`m going to come in too. I`m
going to have my own foreign influence operation in your election.”
And they`re getting an open door. The Trump people are holding the door
open for foreign adversaries to attack our elections. And the reality is
we should be changing our laws, it should be illegal to do what these
people did in the model report. I was on a national presidential campaign,
I didn`t need to meet with the representatives of foreign adversary. That
should not be, I think, the only reason it wasn`t illegal yet is because
nobody ever imagined that any nominee would do that.
We have to be securing our election infrastructure. What if the Russians
actually tried to change the vote to help Donald Trump –
MATTHEWS: I want to ask you, Charlie, you are reasonably a concerned
American official in National Security area, what would you do to smack the
Russians back into their corner so they wouldn`t try it again? How do you
teach them a lesson they don`t forget?
SYKES: Well, the first thing you do is you understand that you`re in the
middle of cyber war and that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of
that war. Because Ben is absolutely right, this is what is terrifying
about all of this, is the signal that he is sending saying that it`s a hoax
or having the secretary of everything, the boy genius, Jared Kushner, say
it`s just a few Facebook ads.
Because, of course, what you have now is the President not only not leading
the country in defense but providing sort of a cover to minimize the danger
of all of this and that is actually the kind of thing that ought to be
bipartisan concern. OK. If Republicans want to provide cover against
impeachment proceedings, that is one thing. But they have to take
legislative steps to make sure that in fact this country is protected, that
is the number one responsibility of the federal government and the
And all of this rhetoric that you`re getting from the White House makes you
wonder, are we committed to doing all this. One of the first things that
John Bolton did as National Security Adviser was to abolish the position of
cybersecurity coordinator in the White House. The Mueller report says that
Donald Trump brought Corey Lewandowski in and wanted him to go to Jeff
Sessions, tell him to unrecuse and limit the investigation to only future
attacks which would have let everyone off the hook for the 2016 attacks.
All of this, I think, is a blinking green light. It is an invitation and I
think the Democrats whatever they do in terms of hearings ought to start
teeing up legislation to make it absolutely clear that this sort of
behavior is not acceptable.
MATTHEWS: I have to add, Yamiche, I talked to some young people who buy
into this thing about safe places. They don`t want to hear harsh hurtful
ideological lines from other people. Trump is like that. He wants a safe
space in the White House, literally. A place where I don`t hear any
discordant words about how the Russians help. It`s hurtful to him.
Do you realize what Mick Mulvaney is doing here? He`s protecting the
President of the United States from realities because he doesn`t want to
hurt his feelings.
ALCINDOR: Well, there are people –
MATTHEWS: And this is astoundingly babying of a president.
ALCINDOR: Well, there is this idea that the President has surrounded
himself with people that he feels like he can trust and that are loyal to
him and he wants that loyalty to include kind of shielding him from some of
the things that he doesn`t want to talk about.
ALCINDOR: I think, of course, one of the most striking things about the
Mueller report was this idea that people - that he`s not guilty of
obstruction of justice because people didn`t want to carry out his orders
and I think that ghosts that idea that the President in some ways has aides
around him trying to protect him, which I guess in some ways is what the
White House would want in some ways. If you are someone like Donald Trump
and you have to not discuss the things that you don`t want to discuss.
MATTHEWS: That`s like putting blinkers on the horse. I just want to get
to this next point, Ben. As The Daily Beast reported in February, Trump`s
2020 campaign was the only one, going forward to 2020, that`s declined to
rule out the use of hacked materials in the next election. Here`s what
Vice President Mike Pence didn`t say when asked today whether Trump`s
campaign would forswear or actually accept Russian help in the next
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret using emails stolen by Russian
intelligence officers during that campaign and do you pledge to not do so
in this upcoming presidential campaign?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is
taking strong action against the founder of WikiLeaks. We`re seeking
extradition and we`ll be holding him accountable. Questions that were
raised by the Special Counsel, the questions that were raised in the last
election in this aftermath have been answered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Charlie Sykes it reminds me of Molotov after World War II. I
mean it`s just guy has simulated humanity there, but he`s basically just
talking this thing that Trump wants to hear which is nothingness, white
sound. That`s what he gives them. Nobody can remember what he just said,
by the way.
SYKES: Right. And so he`s actually gotten pretty good at all of that when
you think about this. But how do you answer those questions and that`s a
fundamental question. Do you regret inviting the Russians to find
Hillary`s emails? Do you regret praising WikiLeaks? Do you regret
exploiting information that we now know was hacked by the Russians. And it
should be an easy question going forward, would you pledge not to accept
illegal foreign interference, that should be an easy question.
But, again, that`s not the answer that Donald Trump will tolerate and
that`s why I think people ought to be really concerned about what`s coming,
not what happened in the past but what is about to happen in plain sight in
our election next year.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think Mike Pence is afraid that one false move and it`s
Nikki Haley`s job. Anyway, thank you, not his anymore. Thank you, Ben
Rhodes. That`s my theory, Nikki Haley. I`m sorry. He`s a ruthless guy.
Ben, you got to believe this. This is the fun of politics, the other
ruthlessness of guys like Trump knowing you can`t trust their loyalty at
all. Anyway, Ben Rhodes, thank you, sir. Thank you, Yamiche. You`re
always great to be on the show. Thank you, Charlie Sykes.
I don`t know where you are, but you`re great. Thank you. You`re always
out there somewhere in the West somewhere. Anyway, President Trump is
vowing no cooperation at all with congressional investigators. The
President believes he`s above the law and answers to no one. I am the
boss. I answer to no one. How do you respond when you`re the Democrats
who fought so hard to win the House of Representatives this last November.
And with it, the power of the subpoena. The power to this chairmanships
means something. This President is laughing at them. He`s awful. They
got to find a weapon against the President. Resistance from the right also
coming up. Can anyone stop Donald Trump from winning the new Republican
nomination. There`s a Larry Hogan from Maryland, John Kasich, former
Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is trying and today calling the President
to resign. That`s strong talk. Bill Weld is coming here just a minute.
Much more ahead tonight, stick with us.
[18:18:17] MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Trump is using
the Mueller report now as a pretense to behave like a king, telling
Congress, “I answer to no one.” This morning, the President said as much
telling Democratic committees to buzz off when it comes to getting
information about his taxes, financial ties and information on why he
ignored CIA concerns and gave his daughter and son-in-law top-level
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, we`re finished with it
and I thought after two years we`d be finished with it. Now, the House
goes and starts subpoenaing. They want to know every deal I`ve ever done.
We`re fighting all of the subpoenas. They`re not going to win against me.
I say it`s enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well along with ignoring the U.S. Constitution, the President is
also ignoring the outcome of the 2018 midterm congressional elections when
the American public was given a choice more the same or a check on the
presidency. The President lost that one. The public opting instead to
entrust control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats and with
it the power to investigate and issue subpoenas which is exactly what
they`ve been doing.
Well, today eight committees in the House requested information from the
President. There they are. His administration and companies tied to his
private business. However, House Democrats say that the Trump
administration has either ignored or delayed document requests 35 times
since January and rejected requests for officials to appear before the
committee nine times. And just this morning Attorney General William Barr
followed the boss` directive and ordered one of his deputies not to appear
before the House Oversight Committee to discuss why Jared Kushner and
Ivanka Trump were granted security clearances.
Well the goal of the Trump administration is according to Bloomberg News to
keep Democrats` myriad inquiries tied up for months. Virginia Congressman
Gerry Connolly told a local radio station that the President has triggered
what it`s likely to become a constitutional crisis. Gerry Connolly joins us
right now. He`s a member of the House Oversight Committee. And also
joining us is Nadeam Elshami, former chief of staff to Nancy Pelosi.
I want to start with the congressman.
I get the feeling that this body language out there by the president that
it`s intimidating. The public hears this guy say, oh, it`s premature to
ask for that, or that`s just partisan, or, we will tell you about it in two
weeks, some date they come up with. I will tell you. I will respond to
They act so – like they`re the imperial gods, and they decide that you
guys are just something below them.
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): That`s right.
MATTHEWS: How did they got – are they going to get away with this?
And that`s why I said I think he has actually triggered a constitutional
crisis. We`re in it. The legislative branch is a separate, but equal co-
branch of government. Article 1 is about Congress` power. That`s why they
wrote it as Article 1, not Article 2 or Article 14.
And if you read The Federalist Papers, Madison clearly saw Congress as the
preeminent branch of government. You ignore Congress` demands at your
peril, your legal peril, your constitutional peril.
And if he wants to get into that battle by having an across-the-board
defiance of legitimate constitutional requests by Congress, then the fat is
in the fire.
MATTHEWS: Well, the third branch of government is the courts. Are you
confident that some appellate court, maybe all the way to the Supreme
Court, is going to back up you with contempt of Congress rulings? Will
they go and incarcerate people at the White House?
Will they demand – will they somehow force Trump to play ball?
CONNOLLY: I believe – I believe they will.
And I believe case law would suggest that. Courts have been pretty
MATTHEWS: This Supreme Court?
CONNOLLY: Well, even…
MATTHEWS: With Kavanaugh on it.
CONNOLLY: Even this Supreme Court has to think long and hard about taking
on the entire legislative branch of government.
If our system of constitutional checks and balances means anything, even to
Mr. Kavanaugh, it means you have to uphold the right of Congress to demand.
I`m getting a new skepticism about this today. When I watched the rulings
on the census asking about citizenship, look, this can argue – we can
argue about that in all kinds of ways.
But it tells me, when the court so clearly leaned in the direction of the
president yesterday and the secretary of commerce, that they`re in a mind
to – like everybody else in this White House and administration, they`re
kowtowing to the president.
NADEAM ELSHAMI, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO NANCY PELOSI: Look, we can`t
control the judiciary, all right?
What we can control is what could happen in Congress. And I have trust in
Chairman Cummings, Chairwoman Waters, Chairman Nadler. They`re going to
get it done.
But let`s take a look…
MATTHEWS: What is their weapon?
ELSHAMI: Well, I think the weapon is the subpoenas. The weapon is the
MATTHEWS: He`s saying, I`m ignoring those.
ELSHAMI: They`re going to continue to proceed going forward.
Look, they have to do a couple of things, one, put pressure on the
Republicans in tough districts. They`re going to start feeling the
pressures. And Cummings issued a bipartisan subpoena. And we will see
what happens to it.
I believe Barr and I believe others are going to come to testify.
MATTHEWS: You are going to beat Republicans you couldn`t beat last
ELSHAMI: Yes, I believe we can.
MATTHEWS: Really? You`re very optimistic.
I just want to know what your – I just whether they`re going to come in
with a really crowbar to go after this guy.
Anyway, along with telling Congress to get lost, President Trump fired up
this tweet about impeachment: “I did nothing wrong. If the partisan Dems
ever tried to impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not
only there no high crimes and misdemeanors. There are no crimes at all by
me at all.”
The Constitution, by the way, does not work that way. If the House votes
to impeach, and the Senate convicts him, the decision is done. It`s over.
There`s no appeal. The Supreme Court has nothing to rule on this.
Congressman, why did – you guys say The Federalist. You know what he
hears when he hears The Federalist? Something in a book somewhere.
MATTHEWS: I don`t read books.
CONNOLLY: Well, he`s about to learn the hard way, I think, Chris.
If impeachment, in fact, materializes, what he`s going to learn is, the
only role for the Supreme Court is the Supreme Court justice presides over
the trial in the Senate, period. They have nothing to say.
MATTHEWS: No ruling.
CONNOLLY: No ruling at all.
They have no constitutional role.
MATTHEWS: OK, you`re making my case. So why don`t – you guys for
MATTHEWS: It is your one weapon that nobody can get away of.
CONNOLLY: I would say to you that the jury`s out on that.
But I think we`re moving closer to impeachment because of the Mueller
report itself and what he just did in the last 48 hours.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think about this?
You go back in history and you look at the way things really work. Joe
McCarthy wasn`t censured or condemned because of what he did with
ELSHAMI: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Because they didn`t want to judge themselves. He was condemned
because he wouldn`t play ball with the committee investigating him.
MATTHEWS: And now the question is the fact that the Congress is issuing
subpoenas and all to his people. If he ignores them, is that going to be
ELSHAMI: The power of the committees is immense.
They have the ability to dig into this president, into his administration.
And there`s something that we kind of don`t talk about too often. And that
is the whistle-blowers.
There are a lot of whistle-blowers all across this government talking to
committees and prepared to talk to committees.
ELSHAMI: Look, the president, they got his schedule, for example.
That`s – that`s someone who`s very close to the president leaked that
outside. And there are others who are well…
MATTHEWS: What was that was leaked?
ELSHAMI: His schedule.
ELSHAMI: That is someone who is extremely, very close to the president who
CONNOLLY: And we had a whistle-blower who came forward on the whole issue
of security clearances, including to his son-in-law.
ELSHAMI: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: The arrogance of people like the secretary of treasury. I know
he`s loaded. He`s got a lot of money. He doesn`t need the job. But he
comes out and says things like, that subpoena for the tax returns was
premature, like he`s like some British guy. That`s premature.
And he comes out and says, yes, they – oh, that`s partisan. Well,
everything`s partisan. And then he said the other day, I will be thinking
about that. I will make a decision on whether to respond to that subpoena
I mean, he just makes these arbitrary judgments, like he`s the boss.
CONNOLLY: You know, you…
MATTHEWS: Where do they get this attitude?
CONNOLLY: You asked earlier, what`s the power of Congress?
And I would say to you, there`s – there`s the obvious power that everybody
is familiar with, but then there are latent powers that have not been
deployed. But they are immense.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s time for them to come out of the closet.
CONNOLLY: I agree. And there`s already…
MATTHEWS: To use a metaphor, and come out and do it.
CONNOLLY: I agree.
But there is already talk about fining people talking $25,000 a day for not
complying with a subpoena.
CONNOLLY: The need for them to lawyer up. Their reputations, their
careers can be profoundly damaged. And, ultimately, people can go to jail
MATTHEWS: I think – I think your caucus needs a cheering section. You
need pom-poms. You need people cheering. Go, go, go! I just think you`re
all – you`re smart people and very calculating. Sometimes, I think a
little mad dog is better than calculating. Just my thinking.
But you`re a member of Congress. I`m not.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Gerry Connolly. Thank you.
And you worked for the speaker. And she`s smart. She`s one of the smart
ones. Thank you, Nadeam Elshami.
Up: Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is coming here to talk about
Trump. And he says he should resign. That`s pretty clear. He`s called
him a one-man crime wave. I like it. Bill Weld joins me here to talk
about what he says the crisis of trust in the presidency right now.
And he was a very popular governor up in Massachusetts. He will be right
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tomorrow, former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to officially jump
into the 2020 race for president and shake up an already crowded Democratic
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the field of primary challenges against
President Trump is not nearly as deep. Only one Republican has stepped up
to take on the president. That`s former two-term popular Massachusetts
Governor Bill Weld.
But former Republican Senator Bob Corker says it would be a good idea for
the country to see a more robust Republican primary fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB CORKER (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: And it would be a good thing for our
country, should that occur, from the standpoint of issues, in that if you
had a real primary, where you had someone that was really being listened to
and of substance, these things that we were talking about – and I could go
through a list of them – they would actually be debated in a real way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, however, says there`s no
need for a debate because the Republicans are the party of Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It`s the party of Donald Trump right
now. And the Republicans that don`t realize that had better get on board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is former Massachusetts Governor and
2020 Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld.
Governor, what do you think of Rush Limbaugh acting like he`s like King
Caucus, he`s like the boss who brings the party in, unites his party?
BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They tried to shut down the first-
in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. They said we didn`t need it, and
it should all be for Trump. And that lasted about one minute, because
people in New Hampshire are smart enough to know that about 50 percent of
their clout in this country comes from having the first-in-the-nation
So that went nowhere. But they`re sending out messages from Washington,
from the RNC, from Trump headquarters, saying, don`t let there be any
discussion. If anybody representing Bill Weld shows up at a Republican
committee meeting, move to adjourn. If that doesn`t work, move to table.
If that doesn`t work, then walk out.
They`re just terrified there will be any discussion.
MATTHEWS: Is it fear or love? What unites everybody behind Trump right
now, four out of five Republicans?
WELD: It`s not love. It`s fear.
And I don`t know why people should be scared of saying the emperor has no
new clothes, but they seem to be.
MATTHEWS: Well, in op-ed on The Bulwark today, you write that there`s a
crisis of trust in this presidency, and that it`s time for the president to
resign – quote – “How can a president function if he instinctively lies
to not only the public, but to his own staff? There is one essential truth
that leaps from the pages of the Mueller report. No one can trust Donald
Resign, was that a figure of speech?
WELD: No, no, it`s not a figure of speech.
MATTHEWS: Do you really think – you`re calling…
MATTHEWS: What is it? How would you describe your call for him to resign?
WELD: This country would be so much better off with Mike Pence than with
Donald Trump, that I can`t begin to explain the magnitude of that
People don`t feel normal these days. They feel anxious. Polling shows
that people would love a return to normal conditions, what Warren Harding
was pleased to call normalcy. But they can`t get it as long as Trump is
out there sowing division.
And I was right there when President Nixon had to go. And Donald Trump is
saying, oh, no, I`m not going to comply with any subpoenas because they`re
partisan on the other side.
That`s nothing but a declaration that he`s going to refuse to engage. And
what he doesn`t comprehend is, there`s law out there.
WELD: There`s a little case called the United States vs. Nixon decided in
1974 in the summer that says the president is not above the law.
And one time shortly after he left, President Nixon was talking with David
Frost, the British journalist, and he said, well, when a president does
something, it can`t be – and Frost led him on and said, it can`t be a
violation of crime, criminal law if the president does it; is that right?
And President Nixon, former President Nixon, said, well, yes. But he later
backed off that position, because it`s a ludicrous position.
It is, however, President Trump`s position.
MATTHEWS: Well, the problem is that ignorance is bliss here. And I think
about a president`s lacking of any knowledge.
Somebody was citing The Federalist Papers a few minutes ago on this
private. He doesn`t care about The Federalist Papers. He doesn`t – he
thinks the U.S. Supreme Court can win this thing in some sort of
arbitration dispute with the Congress.
WELD: Yes. Yes. No.
MATTHEWS: Where did he get that one from?
WELD: Well, I don`t know. But if ever there was a political question that
the Supreme Court would refuse to touch, it`s that one. The congressman
from Virginia nailed that one. There`s just no basis for saying that.
And I don`t think the president really cares what`s in the Constitution,
and I don`t think he`s going to trouble himself to look. He`s just saying,
I`m not going to engage with anybody between now and 2020. I`m simply
going to say, they`re partisan.
So he wants to hyper – hyperspace Wookiee the extreme antagonism between
the D`s and the R`s that are already there and hope that he wins the coin
flip between the D`s and the R`s in 2020.
That`s abdicating responsibility.
MATTHEWS: I have to tell you about my worry right now. I got it from my
son today, because he has some – very interesting observation.
He`s a smart historian. And he told me about the New Hampshire primary
ballot. Now, apparently up there in New Hampshire coming in the next
primary up there next winter, you get to choose which ballot you pick up.
So a moderate Democrat or a moderate Republican might say, I`m going to
vote for Bill Weld against Trump, because that`s going to really send a
bigger message. Or that moderate person could say, I`m going to vote for
Joe Biden, because I want the Democratic Party to move a little more to the
If you win, if people do go to you and vote for you against Trump, Biden
loses. Is that good for the country?
WELD: Well, I don`t know. My argument to the voters up there…
MATTHEWS: It`s a good question. And I want an answer. What`s going to
happen up in New Hampshire? Because you got your best shot up there
WELD: Well, I will tell you, my argument up there is, if you vote for me
against Trump, if you don`t want six more years of Trump – and, believe
me, that that`s a scary phrase, six more years of Donald Trump.
If you don`t want that, then if you vote for me against Trump, then you`re
taking a direct vote against Trump. If you vote for one of 15 remaining
candidates in the Democratic Party, there may be many wonderful candidates
in that pack, including Joe Biden, with whom I have a long and positive
relationship, but there`s 15 of them. So it`s a more diluted vote against
And you may not guess right.
MATTHEWS: OK, I`m going to think that through. I still think you`re a
danger for Biden, because moderates are going to like you up there. I know
you`re popular in Massachusetts, and that`s pretty close.
Anyway, thank you, Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld.
WELD: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump is pushing a right-wing conspiracy
theory now about the Obama administration spying on his campaign. He says
it`s just a question of time before the truth comes out.
This is another birtherism thing, another thing about Ted Cruz`s father
shooting Kennedy, all this crapola coming from one president. Amazing.
OK, Mr. President, we`re going to wait for this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Just one day after President Trump accepted an invitation from Queen
Elizabeth for a state visit to the U.K., he is once again spreading a
baseless conspiracy theory that the United Kingdom helped spy on his
presidential campaign. In a tweet early today, the president cited a
report from a former CIA analyst on the conservative One America News
Network accusing British intelligence of helping the Obama administration
spy. Adding: Wow, it`s now just a question of time before the truth comes
out and when it does, it will be a beauty.
Well, President Trump and his administration embraced this hard right media
conspiracy once before, two years ago, citing a report from a Fox News
commentator. In fact, here`s then-press secretary to the White House, Sean
Spicer, in March of `17.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: On Fox News, on March
14th, Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, three
intelligence sources have informed that Fox News that President Obama went
outside the chain of command, he didn`t use the NSA, he didn`t use the CIA,
he didn`t use the FBI, and he didn`t use the Department of Justice.
He used the GCHQ. What is that? It`s the initials for the British
intelligence spying agency. This so simply by having two people saying to
them, the president needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate
Trump`s conversations, involving President-elect Trump. He is able to get
it and there`s no American fingerprints on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What nonsense. At least he`s wearing a green tie for St.
Anyway, the time – at that time, British intelligence agency Spicer cited,
the one GCHQ slapped down that charge, calling that allegation utterly
ridiculous. But that didn`t stop President Trump from commenting in a
joint press conference meeting with German Angela Merkel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as wire tapping, I
guess this past administration at least we have something in common
perhaps. We said nothing. All we did was, quote, a certain very talented
legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I
didn`t make an opinion on it.
That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so, you
shouldn`t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is so Nixonian, to just play that dishonest thing off on
Anyway, Fox News itself disavowed the report they did, acknowledging the
network couldn`t confirm the story. When asked about the president`s tweet
today, a spokesman for the British intelligence agency referenced the
statement they made two years, telling reporters, actually telling
“Reuters” the allegations the GCHQ was asked to conduct wiretapping against
the then-president-elect are nonsense. Once again adding, they are utterly
ridiculous and should be ignored.
Well, President Obama isn`t one to ignore a hard right conspiracy theory
when he`s got his hands on one, and the debunk claim from British
intelligence isn`t the only one the president and his allies have embraced.
And all that is coming up next.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was an illegal
investigation. It was started illegally. Everything about it was crooked,
every single thing about it. This was an attempted coup. This was an
attempted take down of a president. And we beat them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump just two weeks ago before the release of the
redacted Mueller report calling the investigation an attempted coup.
That`s what he was talking about there, the Mueller report.
And just like when he championed the racist birther conspiracy theory, his
bizarre theories about Ted Cruz`s father having a role in the Kennedy
assassination, and doubling down on the debunked British intelligence
claim, the president is going off the deep end, accusing Mueller
investigators of trying to illegally seize power.
Well, last night on Fox News, hard right commentator Rush Limbaugh picked a
part of the president`s claim, responded to remarks Hillary Clinton made
that anyone else would have been indicted based on the information on the
Mueller report, and that Congress should act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Hillary Clinton and her pals in the
Obama Department of Justice and the FBI, they are the ones who colluded
with the Russians. For Hillary Clinton to be talking about impeaching
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton needs to be investigated, she needs to be
indicted and she needs to be in jail. And many of her co-conspirators in
this whole sordid affair which amounted to nothing more than a silent coup
to overturn the election results of 2016.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Limbaugh went on to accuse Clinton of having sour grapes
about the 2016 election. President Trump tweeted a video of his appearance
saying: Thanks, Rush.
For more, I`m joined by Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and former
senior FBI official. And Kelly Magsamen, former National Security Council
staffer in both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.
You know, I think there was a case of anatomy of a murder, where they asked
the jury, don`t think of a blue cow. Don`t think of a blue cow. And,
obviously, you get that picture in your head of a blue cow, and it`s like
this crazy stuff.
Once you get it to people`s heads of some coup, “Seven Days in May` thing.
Oh, yes. Oh, yes, that thing. That thing didn`t exist.
KELLY MAGSAMEN, VP FOR NATIONAL SECURITY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:
Yes. I mean, I think this is the president trying to mount his defense and
he`s going to use conspiracy to do it and he thinks it works for him. He
is now taking these conspiracy theories and he`s making them international
involving our closest ally, the United Kingdom. So, he`s recycling
conspiracy theories at this stage. So, I think he`s going to continue to
go back to this.
MATTHEWS: Why now?
MAGSAMEN: I think –
MATTHEWS: Why – two weeks, at least week after that Mueller thing, why is
he jabbering and coming out with this stuff every day like rain man? Why
is he coming out with this stuff over and over again? Why is he doing
MAGSAMEN: I think he`s a man obsessed with what`s happening and a man
slightly unhinged about what is happening to him and his reputation and his
presidency. And I think he`s sort of lost it.
And when I woke up and saw the tweet about him accusing the British
intelligence of spying on his campaign, you know, that was not only
embarrassing, but sort of reminded me of a crazy uncle who`s kind of lost
it and is out tweeting.
MATTHEWS: Chuck, I would always say that countries with less develop
political cultures than ours, less Democratic in our history, they`d say,
if you win an election, you arrest the other side. If you lost, you`d say
it was rigged.
And now, he is using there was a coup attempt. He`s using the language of
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, we don`t use that language in
this country at least until today, this era. We don`t even think that way,
right? That`s not how we operate. That`s not who we are or at least
that`s not who we were.
You know, to Kelly`s point, the notion that GCHQ, which is the British
equivalent of the NSA, would run an operation against us is ludicrous. The
Brits are our closest allies and as Kelly well knows, we are part of a fact
of five countries. The five closest intelligence allies in the world, that
includes the Brits, of course, but also the Canadians and the New
Zealanders and the Australians.
We don`t spy on one another ever. We work together. We share our stuff.
We don`t spy on one another.
MATTHEWS: Kelly, see, this is information. I feel like we are in an
alternative universe with Trump. Information, that`s something I didn`t
know. I now know it. Trump would not know this now. He would hear that
and he wouldn`t know it, because it contradicts to his notion that the
whole world is out to get him.
MAGSAMEN: Yes, to your point, GCHQ has been essentially in disrupting
terrorist plots, for example, against American and European citizens. They
are a very close partner of the United States. I suspect that DNI Dan
Coates is on the phone right now as well as Gina Haspel on the phones with
their British counterparts, trying to play nice at this stage, and make up
for what the president is saying.
MATTHEWS: Those are public servants.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, you remember that Attorney General Bill Barr picked up
on the president`s charge of spying while defending his decision to order a
review of the Russian investigation`s origins. Here`s the president`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We want to make sure that during – I
think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. I`m not suggesting
that those rules were violated, but I think it`s important to look at that.
And I`m not just – I`m not talking about the FBI necessarily, but
intelligence agencies more broadly.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): So, you are not suggesting, though, that
BARR: I don`t – well, I guess you could – I think spying did occur.
Yes, I think spying did occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Was that for the president?
ROSENBERG: Boy, I don`t –
MATTHEWS: He just took that – he is just sitting there thinking out loud.
He`s thinking, Trump is watching me right now. That`s what I thought.
ROSENBERG: There was this long pause before he said I think spying
occurred. We don`t spy. We the United States of America do not spy on
ROSENBERG: If we need to surveil, Kelly, and I can`t imagine that would
ever happen, we would go to get authorization to do that. The term is so
loaded and so wrong. And I`m surprised because Bill Barr knows better.
MATTHEWS: Why does he go back and try to attack the former president so
MAGSAMEN: Well, I think he`s obsessed with the former president in all
ways, shape and form. But I also think, you know, this is part of a
broader playbook that I think he has. It reminds me a lot of, to your
point, authoritarian playbooks.
So, you know, attacking the press, attacking your political opponents,
talking about conspiracies against you, talking about silent coups. These
are all words that dictators and authoritarians use abroad and he`d seen be
effective, looking at Erdogan and Duterte and Bolsonaro in Brazil. I mean,
it`s like a kinship that he`s got and I think he sees that as effective.
MATTHEWS: What about the word? Because these words are translatable.
Coup is a word, it`s a French word. We all know what it means, coup
d`etat. The military takes over from an elected government.
Now, he`s accusing somebody of pulling a coup. I don`t know how you master
it without the military behind you. How would you take power in our
country without the military?
ROSENBERG: It would be a lonely coup.
MATTHEWS: You don`t have one person coups.
ROSENBERG: Yes, right, a one-man probably does not succeed, thank God.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I just keep thinking about the world, “Agence France
Press”, “Reuters”, all these world news agencies are quoting this guy like
he`s a regular president and they`re believing, what the hell is going on
Anyway, thank you, Chuck, as always. Great to have you on.
And, Kelly Magsamen, thank you so much. I love the fact that you work for
Republicans and Democrats and you did, too. We need people like that more
Up next, the Trump team is already looking at Pennsylvania for the 2020
race. The Dems would be wise to do the same. The Democrats could lose
Pennsylvania next year, and Republicans could lose it. That one is up in
the air and it`s probably going to decide the matter.
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: The top advisers of Trump`s reelection campaign met in
Harrisburg today to talk about 2020. They know if they can win
Pennsylvania for President Trump, they can win it all again. It`s that
simple and that tough for both sides.
Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 with three winning arguments. He would do
something about illegal immigration. He would oppose abortion. And he
would not be Hillary Clinton.
It worked because a lot of blue collar voters have come to believe the
Democratic Party of their parents had grown too elite and took working
people for granted. As the Pittsburgh friend of mine said, people don`t
mind being used, they mind being discarded.
Well, heading into 2020, another trio of targets awaits Donald Trump. He`s
made clear he would readily hit the Democrats for open borders, late term
abortion and socialism. The theory of why this trifecta would work was
propounded 70 years ago by a Beverly Hills public relations guy named
Murray Chotiner. He was Richard Nixon`s first campaign adviser.
The Chotiner rule was that voters can take up no more than three issues in
any election, the goal of any campaign should therefore be, to make sure
all three issues are about your opponent and that all three issues are
negative. In the early 1950s, the Republicans destroyed the Democrats with
communism, corruption, and Korea. Those are three reasons why the eloquent
Adlai Stevenson never got to speak to the country from the Oval Office.
In the 1980s, the Republicans hit Michael Dukakis for letting lifer Willie
Horton out on weekend furloughs, refusing to fine teachers for not leading
their classes on a Pledge of Allegiance, and being a, quote, card carrying
member of the ACLU.
Well, that trio took Dukakis, his lead of 17 points in August down to an
eight-point deficit by election.
And right now, the one Democrat who might be bulletproof on the
Republicans` big three targets, illegal immigration, late term abortion and
socialism, is a man who`s announcing his run tomorrow. Joe Biden can beat
Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. And I said that because maybe other
Democrats can, too, but Biden definitely can beat him there.
It`s worth thinking about this because without the Keystone State, the
Democratic Party is not getting through the Oval Office door.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the