Trump attacks Mueller team. TRANSCRIPT: 4/29/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: John Singleton made a huge impression and an
impact on so many of our lives.
That does it for me this evening. I will see you tomorrow morning bright
and early at 9:00 A.M. and, again, with my partner, Ali Velshi, at 1:00
And now, I hand you off to my friend and colleague, Chris Matthews.
“HARDBALL” starts right now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Why is the General so scared? Let`s play
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York. The latest clash over
the Mueller report has pitted Congress against the Department of Justice
over the Attorney General`s testimony. It comes after William Barr
threatened to cancel his scheduled appearance before the House Judiciary
Committee just days before the hearing this Thursday. Barr is objecting to
the proposed format of questioning, specifically he`s refusing to take
questions from counsel on the committee`s staff. According to The
Washington Post, a Justice Department official said that if the democrats
insist on following their plan, Barr might not come.
However, democrats are threatening to subpoena Barr if he doesn`t comply,
accusing him of trying to dictate the terms of his testimony. Here`s the
Chairman of that committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): It`s not up to the Attorney General to tell the
committee how to conduct its business. So we will decide what the most
effective way of asking questions are, and that`s what our decision is.
REPORTER: Have you spoken to the Attorney General at all about this and
what will happen if he doesn`t show up?
NADLER: We have told him we expect him to show up on Thursday and we`re
going to conduct the inquiry as we have said we would. If he doesn`t show
up on Thursday, we`ll have to go to subpoenas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, democrats insist on allowing their committee counsel to
question Barr in part because they are often more effective at pressing a
witness. Of course, they are better than the members. For instance,
Robert Kennedy made a name for himself in the `50s as chief counsel for the
Senate committee that the rued out organized crime and corruption in U.S.
labor unions. Likewise, Fred Thompson served on as minority counsel in the
Senate Watergate Committee in the early `70s. He famously asked the
question that revealed the existence of a secret taping system in the Nixon
White House. That was a good job, don`t you think? And when it comes to
the testimony of a sitting cabinet official, Attorney General Edwin Meese,
there he is, was questioned by committee lawyers during the Iran-Contra
hearings, and that was in the late `80s.
However, a Justice Department spokeswoman argued in a statement yesterday
the Attorney General agreed to appear before Congress, therefore the
members of Congress should be doing the questioning. Well, Barr`s
objections have created another showdown.
Of course, I`m joined right now by Berit Berger, he`s a former federal
prosecutor, John Heilemann, our MSNBC National Affairs Analyst.
I want to go to John first on the politics of this. The cheek of these
people at the White House, they put out statements like they called to
testify by the Congress, which is an equal branch of government. And they
say that`s premature to ask me to come. Or they talk like they set the
terms. And here he is saying, I will not be questioned by the committee`s
general counsel. Where do they get this from? Donald Trump and his
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: They get it from Trump who
has been throughout his time in the presidency has had no respect for the
notion of co-equal branches of government and has had that an instinctive,
I don`t think it well worked out, not like an intellectual but an
instinctive sense of the supremacy of the executive, that none of these
rules apply to him, he`s going to do what he wants.
And so everything in, as you know, organized crime families, Chris, the
fish rots from the head down. So they all get it from Trump. And
everything we`ve seen from Barr has been that whatever his reputation in
the past, an institutionalist and a conservative in a traditional sense has
all been blown apart from the moment he walked in and joined this
administration. He`s become, as has been said on multiple occasions for
multiple infractions, he`s become a political hack and a Trumpist, which is
actually where this comes from, which is I don`t have to play by your
rules, I – you know, it`s Trump.
MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t know who is going to win this fight because
I`m getting depressed about Congress` inability to get their way. If they
issue a subpoena, will that work? Pete Williams was on today saying not
necessarily at all.
BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It may work but it`s not going to
work any time soon. I mean, to your question of who wins, nobody wins
right now that actually wants to get answer to their questions. I mean, a
subpoena battle, if it actually went to the courts and it would go there in
the context of like a civil lawsuit, this could take months or years. The
whole issue is going to be moot by the time a court actually comes out with
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the question. Maybe it`s time for the Congress to
play HARDBALL. John, why in the world did the committee tell the Attorney
General, we`re going to use counsel to ask some of the questions? Why
didn`t they just jump him, have him up there then the counsel ask him
questions? He can`t get out of the chair once he`s sworn in. Why did they
tell him ahead of time?
HEILEMANN: As many instances of brazenness, as we`ve seen from the
administration, it still seems like we`re – some people at least are able
to be caught by surprise. I`m sure that the committee looking back at, for
instance, the testimony of the Kavanaugh confirmation of Christine Blasey
Ford who sat and had committee staff question her.
MATTHEWS: And outside counsel.
HEILEMANN: And outside counsel. I am sure that House Democrats said,
well, there`s no way republicans will object to this. We just had these
high profile hearings and testimony a few months ago. How dare – they
would never try to object on this basis. You`ve got to expand your
imagination for the degree of brazenness this administration will pull.
MATTHEWS: Berit, I don`t understand why they told them ahead of time. Why
did they tell the Attorney General ahead of time? Well, maybe some of the
questions will be asked by the counsel. And then he says, well, I don`t
think so. And then they get into this stupid argument. He made the
testimony before the Mueller report was released, Barr repeatedly expressed
his willingness to testify. He didn`t set any conditions for the hearing
and acted like he had nothing to hide. Well, he obviously has something to
hide. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The report will be made public –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In reaching your –
BARR: – hopefully next week and I will come up and testify at that point.
As I said, once the report is out, I`ll be testifying and I`ll be glad to
discuss all aspects of the process.
I`m glad to talk to people about it after that and I`m already scheduled to
testify about that.
I said I`d come up to the Hill as soon as the Hill will have me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I think a lot of people who watch the way this came
out honestly wonder about this guy`s guts. I mean, here`s a guy that comes
out and distorts completely the Mueller report, two years of research by an
honest public official, a civil servant, Robert Mueller, who tried to find
out what was going on with the Russians, what was going on with the
American politicians who were at least benefiting from what they were up
to, what was done in terms of obstruction of justice.
And this guy comes out afterwards, 48 hours later and he sits there with
his deputy, Rosenstein, and says it`s complete exoneration on all fronts,
when, in fact, this 400 pages of the opposite of exoneration. You don`t
take 400 pages to say a guy is innocent. There are a lot of details of
lack of innocence in there. They`d like to talk to him about that.
So he says, I`ll come up and answer all your questions until he finds out
it`s not going to be one of those stupid hearings where every member of
Congress gets five minutes and each one goes off on their own tangents.
And in each case, as the guys used to say in the `60s, Bogarts (ph) the
answer, talks for four or five minutes, not answering the question and that
never works to get the information. We saw with Hillary, they couldn`t get
to Hillary, even if they had a case. And here`s the problem. And here we
BERGER: You`re exactly right. I mean, the set up of having everyone have
five minutes where they spend most of the time giving political speeches or
grandstand, that`s not a way to get actual substantive answers. And maybe
that`s what the Attorney General is scared of in this context (ph), because
these 30 minutes, by having trained staffers and lawyers, they are going to
be well-versed in these legal issues when he has a lot to answer for here.
These are significant issues. He`s got to talk about what were these legal
theories that led him to conclude that there was no obstruction. He`s got
some significant things to talk about and it seems like he doesn`t want
that done by real professionals.
MATTHEWS: They don`t want a half hour interrogation by prosecutors.
Anyway, I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of
Texas. She serves on the House Judiciary Committee.
Congresswoman, thank you. But, quickly, why did you decide to bring in
counsel like in the old days of Bobby Kennedy and Fred Thompson and people
like that? Why did you decide that counsel would be more effective in
grilling the witness?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, first of all, let me say to you,
good evening, and this Judiciary Committee, 2019 Judiciary Committee, is
painstakingly going to really direct its questions to the crux of what we
want to know. So there will be certainly comments made by members, but we
are going to be focused on important answers to important questions.
The reason, of course, because precedent has been set, it`s been done in
Whitewater and Watergate and a number of others. No, this is not an
impeachment proceeding, but it is an investigatory oversight proceeding and
there is nothing unusual.
Democrats are courteous, rather. They believe – if they believe in the
rule of law, they believe in the protocol of apprising the witness that
they will be under oath and then there will be other aspects of the
questioning, which was going to include not only the lawyers, but it was
going to include closed-door questioning by members of Mr. Barr. And that
has been done over the last year. I`ve been questioning a number of
witnesses on a number of issues.
MATTHEWS: would you play HARDBALL on this, Congresswoman? I`ve got to get
to the point. Would you play HARDBALL and say if, you don`t come up under
our terms, we don`t want you? What are you going to say?
LEE: Well, let me say I`m not going to and I don`t think the Judiciary
Committee is going to accept any rejection or refusal by Mr. Barr if we
have to take this to the highest court in the land. We hope we will not
have to do that.
But let me be clear, he is following the tone and the admonitions set by
the President, who wants to create a constitutional crisis. The President
wants to lead us down a path that democrats are trying to be deliberate and
thoughtful and to get to the truth.
The President has now changed his tune on the Mueller report. He`s
castigating Director Mueller. He is saying that this report is not
truthful. He`s attacking Mr. McGahn. He wants to now pull back on his
complimentary words when he thought the American people were buying into
his narrative that he had been exonerated. They know he`s not been
exonerated. They know he had been associating with Russian operatives, the
adversary of the United States. They know that that was wrong.
And as you well know, Chris, I`ve introduced legislation to say that if you
do cavort with the enemy that you be subject to criminal fines and
incarceration if you do not report it to the FBI.
So the narrative that has been created by the administration, Attorney
General Barr thinks he can play that on the House Judiciary Committee. We
have subpoena power. We have the right to go to court. And I would hope
General Barr, who served under President H.W. Bush in a manner of
integrity, would not want to undermine his reputation in this unnecessary
fight when we have laid out for him the way that the hearings will be
organized in a very fair and equitable manner.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of
Texas, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
Meanwhile, the President continues to attack congressional democrats and
Mueller`s investigators on Twitter. And at a rally on Saturday night, he
called some of those involved in the investigation of him and his Russian
connections scum. This is the President of the United States talking.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: When you look at what`s happened with the
scum that`s leaving the very top of government, people that others used to
say, oh, that`s one that – these were dirty cops. These were dirty
players. They got caught like nobody ever got caught.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Berit, what do you make of that?
BERGER: It`s just so troubling to hear. I mean, as somebody who worked in
the Department of Justice, to hear the President talking about the agents
and the prosecutors who spent so much time at that is just disheartening.
But the President also wants to like have his cake and eat it too, right?
He wants us to believe portions of the Mueller report that didn`t find a
conspiracy with the Russians, the one who comes for obstruction who wants
to say, oh, they were scum, they were radical democrats. You shouldn`t
MATTHEWS: Why are democrats so courteous? Sheila Jackson Lee, the
Congresswoman, just said, we`d like to be courteous. They`re courteous,
they tell him what he`s going to face, hard questioning for a half hour by
committee counsel. By the way, any Attorney General should be able to
withstand a half hour of tough questions. They are – he is, in fact, a
lawyer. He ought to be able to handle it.
HEILEMANN: Why are democrats so courteous?
MATTHEWS: Yes. Why do they tell him how are they going to do stuff? Why
don`t they just do it to him?
HEILEMANN: Chris, this is like the perennial question of your career, why
democrats care more about – they care about process. They care about
MATTHEWS: And what`s been different on this case?
HEILEMANN: They lose. They lose. They lose over and over again. It`s
not a new phenomenon.
MATTHEWS: Okay. All this tough talk about the subpoena, it hasn`t worked
HEILEMANN: It`s not – and, look, the one thing I disagree with the
Congresswoman about is she says Trump wants to provoke a constitutional
crisis. All Trump wants to do is stall out the clock. He`s not thinking
about constitutional crisis. He doesn`t know what that means. Always
thinking about it is if we can tie this up in court long enough, I can get
to the next election day without these issues having come up or they`re so
close to election day, it seems like dirty pool for us now to be litigating
them. I mean, this is just a – this is a pure four corners office.
MATTHEWS: He is smarter than the democrats?
HEILEMANN: I think on this issue, he understands that he`s playing a
winning hand, that the process, that he can play the process in a way that
allows him to win in the short-term, meaning the short-term between now and
November and next year.
MATTHEWS: See how hard it is to say that? It`s hard to say he`s smarter
than the democrats, but he keeps winning little battles over the
constitution. They`ve got to start playing tough.
Anyway, thank you, Berit Berger. It`s great to have you on with your
experience. John is sticking around a bit for the next segment.
Coming up, Joe Biden holds his first campaign rally out in Pittsburgh,
scores a big union endorsement. The firefighters are already with him. Is
he the best bet for democrats, whose top priority, listen to how I phrase
this, whose top priority is beating Trump. Is he the best bet for them?
Plus, the latest deadly attack on a synagogue, another one coming six
months to a day after an attack in Pittsburgh on a synagogue there. What`s
fueling the rise in hate crimes across the country and why does President
Trump`s response always seem so halfhearted?
Much more ahead, stick with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Donald Trump is only president –
is the only president who has decided not to represent the whole country.
The President has his base. We need a president who works for all
Americans and we can afford this. We can do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Pretty excited. Welcome back to Hardball. That was former Vice
President Joe Biden at his first campaign rally. It was in Pittsburgh
about an hour or two ago. Biden kicked off his first week of the campaign
trail speaking at a union event there focusing on an economic message and
two key themes of his newly launched campaign. Let`s hear him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: By the way, I make no apologies. I am a union man, period.
I believe that Pittsburgh and my native town of Scranton and my hometown of
Wilmington and Claymont, they represent the cities and towns that made up -
- make up hardworking middle class Americans, who are the backbone of this
nation. That`s not hyperbole. The backbone of this nation.
I also – I also came here because, quite frankly, folks, if I`m going to
be able to beat Donald Trump in 2020, it`s going to happen here. It`s
going to happen here in Western Pennsylvania.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Biden got a big boost, of course, from organized labor today
with the endorsement of the International Association of Firefighters
Union, a decision that didn`t sit well with President Trump, of course.
The President unleashed a series of Tweets attacking Biden and complaining
about the firefighters` endorsement today. Writing, I`ll never get the
support of dues crazy union leadership, those people who rip off their
membership. Later adding the dues sucking, firefighters will always
support democrats even though the membership wants me. Some things never
change. Well, that`s Trump.
Biden responded writing, I`m sick of this president badmouthing unions.
This afternoon in Pittsburgh, Biden drew a moral contrast with the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. And I believe – I believe
and hope they know who we are. We have to let them know who we are. We
democrats, we independents who have the same view have to choose hope over
fear, unity over division and maybe most importantly, truth over lies,
truth over lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me now is the great Harold Schaitberger, Schaitberger
rather, General President of the International Association of Firefighters.
Thank you, sir, for coming. Harold, it`s great to have you on.
Tell me why – you only have got a minute or so, but tell me why Joe Biden?
Why did you guys move so quick? You`re an international union. You have
300,000 members to endorse Biden.
HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, GENERAL PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
FIREFIGHTERS: Well, Chris, first of all, it`s great to be back on Hardball
with you. It`s been a while. But let me just say that this was an easy
decision. It wasn`t that we gave Joe Biden an endorsement. Joe Biden
earned an endorsement from the IFF and firefighters that we represent.
He`s been supporting us every step of the way, going back to the early
1970s, which I can personally attest to, by the way, when you were working
for Tip O`Neill, helping to pass the Public Safety Officers` Death Benefit
bill, to extend overtime rights for firefighters and other public workers,
to ensure collective bargaining rights for all workers, the fight against
right-to-work laws, to protect our retirement plans and not let them go to
Wall Street as the next cash cow as 401(k)s.
Joe Biden has performed over 40 years in the United States Senate and as
vice president of the United States, and we are loyal. And, Chris, you
MATTHEWS: I know. Let me ask you about your votes.
SCHAITBERGER: And when we make our decisions about, if you have our back,
we have your back, and he`s had our back, and that`s why we endorsed him
MATTHEWS: Well, everybody who has a brain and a heart loves firefighters.
Let me ask you this. About half of your rank and file voted for Trump last
night, a lot out of anger, I think resentment against the establishment of
both parties. How do you get them to vote positive, when the mood was so
negative last time?
SCHAITBERGER: Well, first of all, I would remind you that, with some of
the polling that has been reported, which is true, about a number of our
members voting for President Trump at that time, the first factor is that
Joe Biden was not in that polling and Joe Biden was not in that race…
SCHAITBERGER: … although at that time we also encouraged and were
supporting and hopefully putting him to enter into that race.
Today, I can tell you that, on balance, Joe Biden will speak to, connects
with, is genuine, is not a phony…
MATTHEWS: I know.
SCHAITBERGER: .. and will be able to bring home a lot of workers,
including a lot of our members, that felt disenchanted by the Democratic
Party and nominee in 2016.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Harold Schaitberger. Thank you so much,
international president of the firefighters. Thank you, sir, for coming
In his tweets this morning, the president once again inserted himself into
the Democratic contest, taking several shots at Biden.
He wrote: “The media, fake news, is pushing sleepy Joe hard. Funny. I`m
only here because of Biden and Obama. They didn`t do the job and now you
have Trump, who is getting it done big time.” I`m trying to get the rhythm
right of his thinking.
Anyway, he later added: “Sleepy Joe Biden having his first rally in the
great state of Pennsylvania. He obviously doesn`t know that Pennsylvania
is having one of the best economic years of its history, with lowest
unemployment ever, a now thriving steel industry that was dead, and great
Back with me, John Heilemann, MSNBC national affairs.
Look, he put a little shot in there against the candidate last time. He
said, basically, Biden wasn`t on the ticket last time. Hillary Clinton,
the former secretary of state, was.
Do you think Biden – well, I think he might have had a better shot among
the firefighters, just knowing in terms of class and friendship and
association than Hillary Clinton, who seemed a little more elite in many
ways, socially, academic, the whole routine.
But what do you think about Biden? Do you think he can get people to vote
positive? Because, in the end, it`s going to be the gut-punching of Trump
against him if he`s the nominee.
HEILEMANN: Well, I just – I don`t want to skip ahead, because I think the
questions of Biden vs. Trump, you can talk about those all day long.
The difficult thing that Joe Biden faces is this nomination fight where the
party that has grown up in the era of Obama, in the era of post-Obama, in
the era that – the party that defined the 2018 midterms…
HEILEMANN: … is not the same party that Joe Biden was a stalwart of.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
HEILEMANN: The Democratic Party has changed.
And so a lot of questions relate not to union members, although they are
important, an important constituency. And I think they – a lot of them
will be loyal to Joe Biden. But he`s got to go out and broaden out.
And whether he can appeal to young voters, whether he can appeal to
nonwhite voters, whether he can play with a huge chunk of the Democratic
Party now, the most active, most energetic part being women.
How does Biden play out with those voters? He has – on issues, he has a
history that raises questions for some of the progressive parts of the
party and all those constituencies. And he has a manner that is a little -
- that feels to a lot of younger voters like a little antiquated.
That doesn`t mean he can`t overcome it, but he`s got some challenges to
face, I think.
MATTHEWS: Well, a new “Washington Post”/ABC poll shows Biden leading the
Democratic field with 13 percent. That`s not – that means 87 percent
against you. None of the other candidates are in double digits.
Let me ask you about those things. You`re not a political consultant.
Never have been. I have been in politics. Would you advise him to go the
apology route or something more modified like, I`m always learning, I
learned a lot from that experience, whether it`s Anita Hill?
You have to apologize in certain cases, I think Anita Hill. But other
cases, like, what would you say against abortion rights, where he is
against late-term? He was against partial birth as it was called by its
How does he change on things that he honestly had an opinion on and point
of view on?
HEILEMANN: Well, I think it`s a different – there are obviously different
I think most voters will accept the notion of someone`s views evolving over
time if the person can give an honest, credible explanation for how that
happened. I do think…
MATTHEWS: But he doesn`t like doing that.
HEILEMANN: Well, that – and that, I think, is a problem, because I do
think people, as part of what they want now from their politicians, they
want honesty and authenticity.
Everyone is allowed to change over their lifetime, but if you change just
for political convenience, if you just change for political calculation,
you have a bigger problem. But you got to tell the story. How did you get
from the A to B? And I think…
MATTHEWS: Well, at the same time, I would ask him on a tough one.
HEILEMANN: And that`s not an apology.
MATTHEWS: I`m not here to knock candidates, but…
HEILEMANN: But that`s not – also, that`s not apologizing.
HEILEMANN: That`s not apologizing for your past view.
MATTHEWS: I know.
What do you say about – well, forced bussing was the hottest issue in
neighborhoods back in the `70s. And people say, why should my white kid be
driven to another – a tougher neighborhood? Why does he have to be the
social change agent? Why does he have to have this job, this kid, mine?
And he said, I`m against that. Can he honestly come out and say, yes, I
think they should have been bussed to that neighborhood?
MATTHEWS: I don`t think he will.
HEILEMANN: I don`t think he can. I don`t think he should.
But I think, to your point, as you just started to explain, I think now as
distant as we are from bussing, people now don`t talk about the complexity
of that issue, and the number of families who were perfectly embracing of
the notion of equality and integration who thought, but who just thought
that they their – they thought it would disadvantage their children to
have to spend many hours in busses.
MATTHEWS: NIMBY, not in my backyard.
HEILEMANN: But people had complicated views about it.
My point is, I don`t think Biden`s going to back away from that. But he`s
got to explain…
MATTHEWS: He`s going to be asked.
HEILEMANN: He`s got to explain that it wasn`t a measure for him, that he
didn`t – it didn`t mean he didn`t believe in integration, he didn`t
believe in racial justice, and he`s going to have to make that sale.
MATTHEWS: I think he`s going to get a large African-American vote, even
with other African-American candidates – or candidates in the field who
are of color.
I think there is something about him. We will find out. But he thinks –
I have talked to him – he thinks he has good chemistry, he has a good
HEILEMANN: He has always been warmly received by African-American
audiences. He`s gotten along well with them in the past.
MATTHEWS: I think he will beat Bernie, if it`s him against Bernie among –
in the black community, but two white guys talking.
MATTHEWS: I still think he can beat Bernie on that issue.
Thank you so much, Heilemann, one of my favorite guests, even though I
never see you.
Anyway, up next: a chilling series of hate crimes targeting houses of
worship. Why houses of worship are people attacking? Don`t they believe
in God? Why do they go kill people who also believe in God in a different
way? Why is the matter? Well, they`re evil.
What steps, if any, by the way, is President Trump taking? None, none to
stop this. That`s it, simple word, N-O-N-E. Nothing.
You`re watching. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
On Saturday, a gunman armed with an AR-15 – that`s a semi – actually,
it`s an assault rifle – charged into the Chabad of Poway Synagogue out in
Southern California, near San Diego, killing a worshiper and injuring three
others, including an 8-year-old kid.
The suspect, who is now in custody, was arrested a short time after the
assault. Police say that there were indications his assault weapon might
have malfunctioned. In other words, it jammed after the gunman fired
numerous rounds inside.
Well, this weekend`s shooting happened exactly six months after 11 people
were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue out in Pittsburgh, joining a
growing list of white supremacist attacks from Christchurch in New Zealand,
Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Mother Emanuel Church, of course,
infamously in Charleston.
President Trump, who called Saturday`s attack a hate crime, has been under
renewed scrutiny for his less-than-explicit denunciation of the rise in
white nationalism. In fact, in March, shortly after the terror attacks on
those two mosques in New Zealand, the president was asked if he was
concerned by the seeming rise in white nationalism.
Here`s what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t really. I think
it`s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, according to recent data from the Anti-Defamation
League, white supremacist propaganda efforts nearly tripled last year from
the year before.
So what`s going on?
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked what steps the
president was actually taking to counter the rise of domestic terror.
Here`s what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Can you point to any tangible steps the president has taken?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, I think the
most important thing he`s done is to embrace the people of these
communities that have been impacted and to condemn this behavior and call
it out by name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Earlier this month, The Daily Beast, that news organization,
reported that the Department of Homeland Security has disbanded – catch
this – it`s disbanded a group of intelligence analysts focusing on
So they`re breaking down any effort by the government to stop this stuff.
And shortly after taking his office, the Trump administration cut funding
to local organizations working to counter violent extremism, including that
by white supremacists.
For more, I`m joined by Khizr Khan, Gold Star father, of course, Khizr is,
and Rabbi Chuck Diamond, former rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue in
Rabbi, Rabbi Chuck…
RABBI CHUCK DIAMOND, FORMER TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE RABBI: Yes.
MATTHEWS: … what do you – as a man who is a victim, a potential victim,
whose community, his congregation is – must be really on nerves about
this, is this something that you sense is tangibly becoming a threat to
Jewish houses of worship?
DIAMOND: I believe it`s a threat to all houses of worship, and I believe
the question is not if this will happen again. I really, truly believe it`s
when and where.
People are afraid to go to synagogue. I heard a story today of a young
lady, a mother whose daughter was scared to go out in the hall to play
during services. And those of us who grew up going to services know that
that`s an important part of the experience. She`s scared to go to Sunday
So, yes, I think…
MATTHEWS: What`s going on? Is it – usually – all we have is history.
We have religion, but we have history, too.
And we say, well, at times of economic crisis and people are looking for
scapegoats, at times of physical fear from abroad, we look for scapegoats
at home for fifth columnists or whatever.
There is nothing.
Well, let`s go to Khizr on this.
I don`t sense any major threat to America right now. The economy is
humming, pretty much. Why would people be all of a sudden breaking out as
individuals and killing people because of religion and race or ethnicity?
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: Chris, thank you.
First, I offer my deepest condolence for the passing of Lori Gilbert Kaye.
And I pay tribute to her valor, standing up to that hate.
And to answer your question, Chris, this is Russia-directed. They have a
person that they wanted to be in White House. This president sits in the
White House aided and supported by our adversary Russia.
And that is why his condemnation of this violence and this division is
half-hearted. And this hate and this division is aided and celebrated by
our enemies, by the enemies.
MATTHEWS: Why? Why do they want us to go after Islamic people and Jewish
people and other groups? Why – and African-Americans, obviously, Emanuel
Church in South Carolina.
KHAN: Well, first…
MATTHEWS: Why do they like that? Explain.
KHAN: Well, first, that is the way they can sow the division to weaken us,
to divide us.
That had been their goal, to weaken United States of America. This break
of this union, the only way they can find is that this time around it is
First, I thought that it will be only Muslims, but then came
Charlottesville. Then came Charleston. Then came Pittsburgh, and now San
As our friend Rabbi Diamond says, that people are afraid to go to places of
worship. All faiths are afraid to go to worship. The only winner in this
hate and division is our adversary.
And I warn those hatemongers and those white nationalists, don`t become the
tool of Russia.
KHAN: They wish to use you to sow the hate and division in the hearts and
minds of Americans. Don`t be a tool of our adversaries.
MATTHEWS: Well, on Friday, President Trump once again defended his
ambiguous comments about Charlottesville.
Kellyanne Conway called his defense darn near perfect. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “STATE OF THE UNION”)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: When President Trump condemned
racism, bigotry, evil violence, and then took it many steps further and
called out neo-Nazis, white supremacists, KKK…
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Was his response perfect?
CONWAY: … that is – that is darn near perfection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, sources tell “The Washington Post” that President Trump,
amid renewed discussion about his less-than-emphatic condemnation – quote
– “is not eager to relitigate his response to Charlottesville and is
unlikely to give a speech tackling the issue.”
Rabbi, you know, as a member of the Jewish community, a leader, in fact, of
a congregation, you know the history of anti-Semitism is long. It`s worse
at certain times than others, but it`s there.
I look at the Sri Lanka killing, or the attacks on three Catholic Churches
over there in Sri Lanka, so far from here. It just seems that – what is
it about going after housing of worship, whether they`re a black church, a
Baptist church, a Catholic Church, a synagogue, an Islamic mosque? Why do
they go after people when they`re most close to God?
Maybe this is a rhetorical question. When they`re most fervent, the most
devotional, when they`re trying to be really good people, at that moment,
they go to kill them.
DIAMOND: They`re cowards. They`re cowards.
They hide behind their assault weapons and their bombs, and they attack
innocent, defenseless people. And anti-Semitism has been around, as you
said, Chris, for a long, long time. And it exists a lot of times under the
But the rhetoric coming from our leaders has emboldened a lot of people to
step forward and to be inspired by these shooters. There are a lot of
other people I would rather be inspired by.
MATTHEWS: Well, I have a feeling – I hate to say it. I`m not a Marxist.
I have no other ideology, except I study politics.
I think Trump doesn`t attack the hard right because he knows they`re voting
Thank you, Khizr Khan. Thank you, Rabbi Chuck Diamond.
Up next: President Trump is doubling down on his rhetoric against illegal
immigration. How do the Republicans – how do the Democrats campaign
against – some Republicans would like to campaign against him, too.
More HARDBALL after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump was in rare form this weekend, performing, that`s the right
word for it, for his base at a campaign rally in Wisconsin. I watched the
whole thing. That`s the state, of course, that helped him get elected to
The performer-in-chief commanded the stage for 75 minutes, highlighting
accomplishments, attacking opponents. Focusing on his base, the president
made sure to hit the Democrats on the three issues he apparently believes
will get him a second term – late-term abortion, open borders and
Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are aggressively
pushing extreme late-term abortion, allowing children to be ripped from
their mother`s womb right up until the moment of birth. And we will say
again tonight that America will never be a socialist country. Ever.
Their entire party has been taken over by far-left radicals who want to
nullify and erase American borders. They want open borders. Democrats
want to allow totally unlimited, uncontrolled and unchecked migration, all
paid for by you, the American taxpayer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s going to be the Trump trifecta going into next year`s
Anyway, President Trump told his supporters he`s already begun transferring
detained migrants to sanctuary cities, even as the White House has played
down that idea since it was first reported earlier this month.
But let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re sending many of them to sanctuary cities. Thank you very
much. They`re not too happy about it. I`m proud to tell you that was
actually my sick idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that wasn`t the only border policy that Trump discussed
over the weekend.
In an interview with Fox, the president said it was a disaster for his
administration to end the family separation policy. Disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The problem is you have ten times more people coming up with their
families. It`s like Disneyland now. You know, before you`d get separated
so people would say let`s not go up. Now you don`t get separated, so it
turned out to be a disincentive.
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: That`s right, yes.
TRUMP: That`s obviously a disaster. It`s a disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So who is it that has been helping him shape some of the
president`s hard line policies, it`s someone Steve Bannon refers to as
being Trump before Trump. We`re talking about the man that Trump calls the
great Lou Dobbs.
We`re back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
When it comes to shaping some of President Trump`s hard line immigration
policies, his White House advisers take a backseat to a guy he watches on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, FBN HOST: The president is threatening closing the border.
It`s – as the president said when he campaigned, it`s time to end the talk
and to start acting.
I really believe that the way forward here is for him to declare a national
Tonight, we`re calling on the president to fire these incompetents in the
leadership of the Department of Homeland Security and Customs Border
Protection. They can`t act effectively –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, “The Washington Post” details the close relationship
between President Trump and Fox, especially Fox Business Network host Lou
Dobbs, writing the two speak as frequently as every day some weeks, every
day. The president told “The Post”, Lou has a very strong opinion on the
border and I do listen to that opinion.
For more, I`m joined by Danielle Moodie-Mills, host at Sirius XM, and Noah
Rothman, associate editor for “Commentary Magazine”.
Thank you both.
What do you make of this? Let`s start with the comic stuff. The
president, the great communicator of our time, seems to need help from Sean
and Lou. Why Lou?
DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, SIRIUS XM HOST: You know, I think it`s because he
really identifies with birtherism. He really identifies with his anti-
MATTHEWS: Was Lou on the birther thing?
MOODIE-MILLS: Oh, yes, he was. He was one of the most hardline birthers
that there was. And so for the longest time I always thought that it was
FOX News that was parroting Trump, and now I realize it`s just Trump
realizing whatever big anchor there is at Fox. That`s what he does.
And so if you look at Wikipedia, which calls him, you know, a conspiracy
theorist and says all of these different things about him, all of the notes
that he has hit on his show are some of Trump`s greatest hits.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about how politics works. Right now you have pols.
People on the left, progressive left, all the way left, moderate left.
You`ve got people on the right, mostly on the hard-right. There is not
much moderate right left anymore.
How come when he goes all the way with Lou Dobbs, he`s able to trail along,
not just 10 percent that watched Fox or 20 percent? He brings the whole 40
percent-something with him on immigration?
NOAH ROTHMAN, COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Well, a lot of the
right watches Fox News and agrees with Fox News, the hosts, and the
positions. It`s sort of hard to say who is leading whom here.
ROTHMAN: The positions become part of the ether in the Fox News Network.
It`s reflected in the base and the base reflects Fox News. There is a
symbiotic relationship. Traditionally, a president would appeal to opinion
makers to get them on board with his policies, and if there is sort of an
inverse relationship here. As the Mueller report demonstrated, though, the
president doesn`t have great judgment and often a lot of the times, people
around him will rescue him from his worst instincts.
MATTHEWS: Yes, every time I hear him, I hear a politician. Maybe that
makes fun of all politicians. Almost everything that Trump says, whether
it`s pro-life, I don`t know if it`s a moral position. I don`t think he has
one at all. When I interviewed him back in `16, he said a woman must be
punished. Who knows what that meant? Punished.
MATTHEWS: What? You know he got votes out of that. I know he did.
And he talks about moving the Golan Heights, right to annexation. He talks
about moving the embassy. Everything – in many case, evangelicals,
millions of them said, oh, that`s my guy.
He`s always instinctively a constituent politician. How does he lose?
MOODIE-MILLS: I think that he – see, I don`t want to say that he is a
great politician. I think that he is a great TV personality. And he –
MATTHEWS: But there is always a group he`s pointing at that he wants. He
knows who he wants.
MOODIE-MILLS: He wants their applause. He wants their applause. He wants
Lou Dobbs is calling him saying you`re the smartest, you`re the best
leader. America loves you. You`re the best president that we`ve ever had.
He lives for that. He is a complete and total egomaniac and a narcissist
and he needs that adoration. And that`s Fox News, like Noah was saying,
it`s just this repeated cycle that feeds itself.
MATTHEWS: Let`s watch this.
While president Trump has received nightly encouragement from Lou Dobbs on
his hard-line immigration policy, it`s not fully shared by members of his
own administration. According to “Washington Post,” when the idea first
came up according to transporting detained migrants to sanctuary cities, a
top official on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement rejected the idea
because it was rife with budgetary and liability concerns, and noting that
there are PR risks as well. Imagine that there is a bus that gets in an
accident moving people to Seattle or some place like San Francisco, the
Anyway, as the president urges the administration to reinstate its
controversial family separation policy, it was then Homeland Security
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who pushed back. She knew how bad it looked.
ROTHMAN: Yes, and child separation wasn`t a policy that was cooked up in
the opinion makers section of politics and then implemented as policy. The
first person that talked about that was then DHS Chief John Kelly, who he
said, he might be using this policy, which is already in effect, as a
MATTHEWS: It looks like Sophie`s choice, doesn`t it?
MOODIE-MILLS: That`s a great way to out it.
MATTHEWS: Do you know what I mean? Separate the kids from the parents.
ROTHMAN: Yes. I mean, you have to do that because you can only hold
people for 72 hours. That was something that DHS already did, and HHS
This would be an entirely different thing. It would be a lot of strain on
ICE. Again, you have to reorient all these funds that are not appropriated
for it to get people on buses to ship them from the border to the coast.
It`s a big deal, I don`t think it`s going to be policy –
MATTHEWS: One thing we know, Trump`s not going to change.
MOODIE-MILLS: No, he`s not.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to win again?
MOODIE-MILLS: He – I think that there is a likelihood that he does.
Right now, you know, Biden is trending really well, but also Biden has run
before and we know that he starts out really strong and then he kind of
pitters out. We have, you know, 500-some-odd days left. We`ll have to see
who can step up.
MATTHEWS: Who can beat him? Who is the best bet?
MOODIE-MILLS: I think that right now, the best on policy is Warren. I
think that –
MATTHEWS: No, the best to beat Trump?
MOODIE-MILLS: The best bet Trump right now, I would say a combination of
Kamala Harris and Biden and Warren.
MATTHEWS: I think so too. You`re with me.
MOODIE-MILLS: I don`t know either.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Danielle Moodie-Mills. It`s like I`m
thinking. Thank you, Noah Rothman. Thank you.
Up next, why don`t the many candidates for president ever refer to their
party`s record of success? Nobody`s bragging about the Democrats anymore.
It just seems absurd what the Democrats have been able to do on civil
rights and health care over the years starting with FDR, and they all act
like they`re the first guy or woman in the game. What`s the matter with
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: This Saturday, the White House Correspondents Association had
historian Ron Chernow speak at its associations dinner. It was, of course,
an aberration in more ways than one.
The usual thing is to have a comedian speak at the Saturday night affair.
The usual thing, let`s face it, is to ignore history every day of the week
52 weeks a year. But given the election next year, wouldn`t it be more
educational to voters to have politicians speak at least a little bit about
history when they make their pitches to voters?
I am stunned by how little our many Democratic candidates say of history,
even the basics how we got here as a country. They don`t even talk about
the role of their own party in that history. How Franklin Roosevelt
created the social security system, the greatest anti-poverty program ever
invented in this country. Yes, a Democratic president did that.
How Harry Truman ended segregation in America`s arms services, opening the
way for what many people believe is the country`s greatest areas of equal
opportunity. How John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert declared the
American presidency for civil rights. How Lyndon Johnson won passage of
the historic civil rights and voting rights acts, also the creation of
Medicare and Medicaid.
Democrats did all of that, and how Barack Obama created the first national
program for health care. Yes, Democrat Barack Obama did that. What
bothers me is that in seeking the Democratic nomination for president,
today`s hopefuls fail to lay out the role their own party has played in
taking our country this far. It`s the candidates of the past who built the
country we have today, and the candidates of today have the potential to
change the world we live in tomorrow.
Elections matter because who wins matters. It`s not just about arguments
day to day between the man in the White House and who wants to replace him,
it`s the direction, it`s the direction we want history to go. And that is
entirely in our hands.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
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