Biden solidifies frontrunner status, TRANSCRIPT: 4/30/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Ed Goeas, Cornell Belcher, Jackie Speier, Jimmy Gomez, Eric Swalwell, Greg Bower, Richard Blumenthal
Transcript:

 YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST:  We`re going to have it all covered here

tomorrow night.

 

That does it for me.  I`m going to see you back here tomorrow morning on

First Look at 5:00 A.M. Eastern.

 

HARDBALL with Chris Matthews starts right now.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Biden riding high?  Let`s play HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews up in Washington.  Big political news

tonight on two fronts, the man who man who built his declaration for

president last week on the moral imperative to defeat Donald Trump has shot

up in three major polls.  The man he targeted for defeat is meanwhile

escalating his battle against the constitution, suing his own banks to

block the subpoena to turn over financial records.  We`ll get to that soon.

 

But for his part, Joe Biden is off to a blockbuster start today.  As I

said, a triad of new polls today in the last 24 hours, all show the former

Vice President with a jacked up lead over his democratic rivals, making him

the clear front-runner for now.  The Quinnipiac poll has Biden at 38, up

nine points since last month.  A CNN poll has Biden at 39, more than double

his nearest competitor, an 11 point increase from a month ago.  And a

morning consult poll has Biden at 36.

 

Biden is already focusing, by the way, on the man he hopes to replace. 

When Biden launch his campaign last week, he didn`t even talk about his

youthful leaders in Scranton, which he apparently wanted to do.  But some

and no more reminiscence about growing up with Grandpa Finnegan, none of

that, he was looking forward to the future, the need to replace President

Trump and the battle, he said, for the soul of America.  He sounded more

like a general election candidate skipping over the primaries.

 

Apparently, it worked.  Today, he stayed on message during his first visit

to Iowa as a 2020 candidate.  Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  Our very democracy, everything has

made America America is at stake, and we know why.  Limited to after four

years, this administration will go down in history as an abhorrent moment

in time.  But give eight years in this administration in the White House,

we`re going to forever and fundamentally change the character of the

country.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Sticking to the script there, (INAUDIBLE), Heidi Przybyla, NBC

News National and Political Correspondent, Cornell Belcher, Democratic

pollster, Ed Goeas is a Republican pollster.  Thank you.  And what I`m

thinking on it, and I`ll try this proposition, Ed, basically, you`ve got a

bump in the polls and all these three polls absolutely.  It sort of went up

significantly (INAUDIBLE) to start with.

 

For the last couple of weeks, ever since the Mueller report did not

knockout Donald Trump, as many hoped it would on the democratic side,

there`s a sense, almost a fear that this guy can get re-elected.  And along

comes Biden saying, forget everything else.  The thing that matters is

we`ve got to defeat this guy.  We`ve got to knock this guy out of the

presidency for moral reasons.  No more arguing about nuances of ideology,

we`ve got to beat this guy.  I think that worked, Ed.

 

ED GOEAS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  Well, it did from several different angles. 

One is it brought to light his high name I.D. that he already had, a

favorable image that he has.  And that makes him as a major competitor to

Donald Trump.  If you look at all the other polls that look at a general

election match up, he is leading from 8 to 11 points over Donald Trump.

 

And if you look at particularly the CNN poll, it really did show that that

is a key thing for the democratic voters.  They want the person that can

beat Donald Trump.  It`s as high as Medicare for all, it`s a high as global

warming, it`s high as other ratios and much higher, quite frankly, than

progressive issues.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s check that with the expert.  Here`s my thinking.  I`ll go

over it again one more time.  I am bordering my argument here because it`s

my argument.  I can tell from people that are watching this program and

other programs like it, there has been a sort of a deflation over the

couple last weeks.  They thought that that train was going to come at him,

that the Mueller report was going to blow him out of the saddle, it didn`t

have the inclusivity to it that we all thought it would have and some will

argue about it forever.  But now, they want somebody else to knock him out. 

Mueller won`t do it.  Somebody else is going to do it.  Biden says, I`m

your man.

 

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  Well, if the campaign is

fundamentally about who is best prepared or best positioned to beat Trump,

I think that`s a field and a lane that I think Biden would like for the

conversation to be about.  If it`s a conversation about who in fact is

going to be the progressive leader, the new sort of meta leadership for the

progressives in this country and a vision, forward-thinking vision, so as

broader than just about taking about Trump, I think a lot of the other

candidates and the field would certainly like to make it about that.

 

MATTHEWS:  When do the voters make – in your experience, when do voters

make up their mind they are picking a president and when will they say,

which ideological flavor I like, because everyone has got their own tastes.

 

BELCHER:  In the primaries – well, primaries are different than the

general.  And we know the primary voters are very different.  One thing I

will caution, and I know we`re big on the poll, one thing that I will

caution is the frontrunners right now is not historically the frontrunners

six or seven months –

 

MATTHEWS:  I know that.  But why did he go up.  Because Jeb was always

dying.  He was up, way up, but then they (INAUDIBLE) years ago, way at the

top and name I.D. starts to go.  But Biden`s name I.D. has always been. 

Why did he go up this way?

 

BELCHER:  Well, I don`t know why.  Well, he announced when he got a lot of

attention.  But – and Ed knows this better than I do.  Look, we spent tens

of millions of dollars to change that number.  So it`s going to change. 

And as more candidates start spending money and get better to five (ph) and

start putting their cases for the future out there, that number is going

change.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me – Heidi, your thoughts as a stray reporter.  No pollster

advantage here.

 

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, I`d go to the

numbers.  And Ed kind of touched on this.  But it is more important –

electability is more important than any issue.  It`s more important than

all of the issues.  46 percent of the democratic primary voters now say

electability is the top issue.  And I think that is reflected in this kind

of safe harbor at least at this moment in time of Joe Biden.  He`s seen as

the guy –

 

MATTHEWS:  But do you think it`s up hill to beat Trump now?

 

PRZYBYLA:  I think democratic voters have a lot of anxiety about a split,

okay, whether it`d be a split within their party or whether it`d a Howard

Schultz-like figure who comes in, there`s a Bernie who gets the democratic

nomination that emboldens an independent bid from somebody like a Howard

Schultz, and that is the path to a Trump victory.  And I do think that is

what they`re most concerned about.

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s pretty smart.

 

PRZYBYLA:  But, you know what, long-term –

 

MATTHEWS:  That is a logical thing.

 

BELCHER:  And the Russians helped along with that last time around.  Look,

the third party, the protest vote last time around absolutely killed

Hillary Clinton.  If you look at Trump`s numbers in Wisconsin, if you look

at his numbers in Michigan, he`s numbers aren`t that radically different

than what Mitt Romney did earlier.  But the other third party is split off

already.

 

MATTHEWS:  Jill Stein vote.

 

BELCHER:  Jill Stein but the other third party –

 

MATTHEWS:  Gary Johnson (ph).

 

BELCHER:  – really hurt Hillary.

 

PRZYBYLA:  Another warning though for Joe Biden in terms of the long-term,

okay?  Democratic voters are going to continue to feel this way throughout

over the next nine months.  Is that going to be the number one issue that

they prioritize?  And I just – as a reporter who was there and who covered

Hillary Clinton, she took so much abuse after the election was over about

making Trump the issue and making Trump`s temperament the issue.  And the

autopsy of that election was that that was a huge mistake.

 

Now, Joe Biden is coming – well, they said she should have talked more

about – we had an uplifting message and talked more about her agenda, and

that was a mistake.

 

GOEAS:  (INAUDIBLE) ignore the fact that we have never had in the history

of modern day politics, a candidate nominated for either party on election

day with over 50 percent unfavorable.  We had both candidates there this

time.  Trump`s numbers are flat on that.  He knows that he has to drive his

opponent, whoever the democrat ends up being, over at 50 percent

unfavorable rating for him to have a chance of winning.  But 19 percent of

the people who voted on election day disliked both candidates.  And Trump,

they broke in Trump`s direction last week.

 

BELCHER:  Can I say one quick thing about the primary before we go there? 

It`s also – look, there`s always an anti-establishment push and the

democratic primary, and Hillary was the establishment – I think Biden

establishment now and Sanders took advantage of that.  Obama wrote the

anti-establishment push in 2008 all the way to the nomination.  There will

be a challenge of anti-establishment candidate.  And the candidate who

garner that vote and consolidate that vote is going to give Biden

(INAUDIBLE).

 

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Well, I do think that Trump has got his cannons aimed in

three directions, socialism, late term abortion and open borders.  He wants

a candidate who fits that mold, and he may get one.  We`ll see.  The new

polls also showed Joe Biden has strong support among minority voters. 

These are, I think, impressive, but I`ll be checked on this.  The CNN poll

showed that he has the support of half of all non-white voters given all

the other opponents.  In a morning consult poll, for example, 47 percent of

African-American women say they support Biden.

 

I talked to him months ago, three or four months ago.  He had this great

confidence, maybe because of Jim Clyburn or people in the –

 

BELCHER:  Barack Obama?

 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about it.  He didn`t mention that today.  So that`s

obviously powerful.

 

BELCHER:  Well, to me, that`s the ace in the hole.  And I think, well, he

started rolling some of that out today.  Look, one of the things that we

heard in 2010, going into the 2010, was – from democrats was, especially

African-Americans, where not enough democrats had the President`s back. 

You cannot make the argument that Joe Biden has not had Barack Obama`s

back.  And Barack Obama is the most popular democratic figure – well,

Michelle is actually more popular for a democratic figure right now.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that will be an issue on the primary fight.  Will some

democrats go to the left?  Well, they will.  I think they`d go to the left

of Obama, politically.  You do have to say he didn`t do enough in terms of

cleaning out the Wall Street situation.

 

BELCHER:  I think you see that with Elizabeth Warren right now.  But I also

think you see it with the Cory Bookers.  Look, and here`s the thing, I

think, for the African-American –

 

MATTHEWS:  Cory Booker is going to Wall Street?

 

BELCHER:  No.  I`m saying going – I`m not saying going to the left

especially with social justice issues where I think a lot of the African-

American voters are, especially the young African-American voters are right

now.  The social justice issues, which they can hit Biden on, especially

talking about the criminal –

 

MATTHEWS:  Like Kamala and that too.

 

BELCHER:  Yes, you can.  And I think you will see a more negative primary

than I think you`ve seen in the past.

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m fearful of that.  Anyway, this morning the Biden campaign

released a new ad, a website ad, I guess, that plays heavily on Biden`s

relationship that you just said.

 

BELCHER:  Yes.

 

MATTHEWS:  So a relationship with the most popular democrat next to his

wife.  Let`s watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  This is an extraordinary man with an

extraordinary career in public service, somebody who has devoted his entire

professional life to service to this country.  The best part is he is

nowhere close to the finish.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Guys, you know, I forget how great of a voice Obama had.  That`s

a wonderful voice.  Biden also spoke about their relationship today while

in Iowa.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BIDEN:  The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama is an extraordinary

man.  You measure a man or a woman`s worth and their courage based upon how

they react to overwhelming crisis.  I watched this guy.  There wasn`t a

day, not a single solitary day that I served with him that I wasn`t proud

to be with him.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  This is almost like a George Herbert Walker Bush about Reagan,

Nixon trying talking about Eisenhower, certainly not Al Gore talking about

Bill Clinton, which I think is a dumb thing on his part.  He didn`t talk

about him this way.  But will this embrace work for like a third term of

Obama, basically?

 

PRZYBYLA:  Well, it`s a question of how it is he distinguishes himself from

a third term of Obama, but putting the Obama coalition back together is

another issue.  And if he does that, it would be –

 

MATTHEWS:  What is that?  What is that coalition?

 

PRZYBYLA:  Well, look, we get into loaded issues here about the

participation rate, and you can talk about this of African-Americans. 

Because what we saw was whether it was due to Russian trolls targeting

them, voter suppression.  We knew there was a new voter I.D. law, for

example in Wisconsin.  The numbers in urban areas or if it was just they

didn`t like Hillary Clinton were way down from what they were in previous

elections.

 

BELCHER:  Minus 4 million votes.

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that thing?  The New York Times point the

German town in Philadelphia is being – it`s a middle class black

community.  It`s not poor people.  And – but they went down on Hillary. 

They were low on Hillary.  What was that about?

 

BELCHER:  Well, that`s about a disconnect.  Not only did she miss the mark

with African-American, she also missed the mark with younger voters,

millennial vote.  Look, about 8 percent of our electorate was new vote in

2008.  A lot of that was younger voters.  They did not turn out and support

Hillary at the same rate.

 

GOEAS:  If Hillary hadn`t been doing polling in the state for the last

couple of weeks of the campaign, well, we were seeing the polling was that

they would go in.  And what the democrats often do, and they`re very good

at, they have a big event, the two best surrogates on either side of the

aisle was probably the President and Mrs. Obama.  And they would get the

crowd excited and march them across the street and do early voting.

 

But what we saw in those media markets is that the African-American vote

came down on the intensity when they saw that.  They saw they loved Barack

Obama, they loved Michelle Obama, and they say, and you want us to vote for

her?  And  they probably lost Pennsylvania because of what they did the

night before with the election with the big event there in Philadelphia. 

Because the turnout in Philadelphia alone –

 

MATTHEWS:  With Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi.

 

GOEAS:  They had both the Clintons, both the Obamas there.  And I guarantee

you, there was no early voting.  And I guarantee you that the next day that

the African-American vote in the City of Philadelphia was suppressed not

because of what republicans were doing but because Barack Obama set her up

of we don`t want her, we love him.

 

MATTHEWS:  We`ll go through that.

 

The Washington Post is breaking a major story as we speak.  Special Counsel

Robert Mueller told Attorney General William Barr that the depiction of his

findings failed to capture context, nature and substance of his probe,

expressed his concerns in a letter to William Barr after the Attorney

General publicized Mueller`s principal conclusions.  Wow, that`s what many

of us thought that the guy did not translate well.  He made no effort to

translate.  He suppressed the Mueller report.

 

BELCHER:  Well, yes, of course, he did.  He works for Donald Trump.  But

what I find interesting in the polling that showed that the Mueller report

didn`t change the vast majority of voters` mind didn`t move one way –

 

MATTHEWS:  That was the idea of Mueller.  That was Barr`s idea.

 

BELCHER:  That was Barr`s idea.  However, to Ed`s point, you are talking

about a president who is stuck consistently at 46 percent.  I don`t know

how you get re-elected consistently at 46 percent.

 

MATTHEWS:  Because people lie to pollsters.

 

Let`s go to – no, they do.  They don`t want to Robert Costa with that. 

Bob Costa, let me go to this story.  It seems to me an amazing story

because a lot of people thought you are just reporting that Barr failed to

translate the reality of the Mueller report.

 

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  That`s

correct, Chris.  My colleagues at The Washington Post, our team that covers

the Department of Justice, Matt Zapotosky and others are reporting tonight

that in that period between when the Attorney General released his summary

of Mr. Mueller`s findings and the release of the full report by the

Attorney General, the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, sent a letter to the

Attorney General expressing his dissatisfaction with the way the Justice

Department and in particular the A.G. handled his own report.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s no evidence that I`ve seen that the A.G. responded

appropriately to that.  He had – they did not correct the course that he

set 48 hours after the Mueller report was in his hands.

 

COSTA:  This is a developing story.  The Post is only at this moment

reporting that a letter was sent right after the Attorney General came out

and made his statement summarizing the report.  The Post has been reporting

for weeks that Mr. Mueller`s team has been unhappy with the way Attorney

General Barr has handled this all.

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to – thank you, Robert.  Let me to congresswoman

Jackie Speier of California.  This is – I`m sure you expected this because

everybody who thought like you, I think it`s fair to say, thought this was

what`s going on, that this Barr guy comes in there working for the

President covered up the real intent, which was to point to the real

misconduct, perhaps illegal conduct of the President, especially on the

obstruction of justice front and said he was exonerated, which was he was

not.  And now, it`s coming about.  He didn`t like being lied about.

 

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  No surprise here.  If you remember, there was a

lot of rumors that people within the Department of Justice who had worked

on the Mueller report were disappointed in the four-page summary that then

Attorney General Barr delivered before he delivered the entire document.

 

I do think that it`s going to be very important for the house committees to

call on Mr. Mueller to come forward and testify before the committees. 

That`s where we`re going to get the truth about what has gone on over the

last two years in these negotiations to first be interviewed and not be

interviewed.

 

What they did uncover and highlight the areas where he clearly is calling

on Congress to take action on the obstruction of justice component of his

review.

 

MATTHEWS:  One of the things that Mueller has said that really distorted

the reality of the situation was to say that the issue of whether a

president can be indicted while serving as president, he said that did not

guide Mueller.  It turns out it did guide Mueller.  Mueller did not indict

because that was Justice Department guidelines from the Office of Legal

Counsel.  He followed those guidelines, that`s why he didn`t indict the

President on the obstruction of justice.  At least that was a central

reason why he did not do it.

 

Mueller purposely came out and said that wasn`t guiding him.  He let the

President off the hook because the president was exonerated.  I mean, that

is a hell of a distortion, Congresswoman.

 

SPEIER:  Well, not only is it a distortion, it is an outright manipulation

of the report and the statements by Special Counsel Mueller.  And I think

it underscores the fact that we now have an Attorney General who is not the

Attorney General of the American people, but the President`s personal

attorney in conjunction with his many other attorneys that he has

representing him.

 

This is a true disgrace.  And that`s why it`s incumbent on the House in

particular to hold these hearings and hold them in public so the American

people can hear from Robert Mueller and others about what was really going

on.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I want to thank you so much.  Let me go – Congresswoman,

thank you, Jackie Speier from California.

 

Let me bring in Pete Williams, NBC News Justice Correspondent.  It turns

out, Pete, not only did he contact the Attorney General and said he wasn`t

happy with the way his words and the judgments were translated to the

public, but also he called him up said, why don`t you release executive

summaries, that he did so right away and it took almost, what four weeks

for him to do so.

 

PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, let me tell you what I

know about this after talking to senior Justice Department officials.  This

was after the Attorney General released his initial letter summarizing what

he called the top line conclusions of the Mueller report.  After that,

Robert Mueller did say to Barr that he thought that that was not – that it

did not accurately convey all the sense of the report and suggested later

in a follow-up call that Mueller should release the executive summaries of

the report.

 

Now, what justice officials tell me is what is similar to what the Attorney

General said publicly about this, that, number one, he could not release

the executive summaries because at the top of every page, and you can see

this now if you look in the Mueller report, is a notice that says, this may

contain grand jury information, which, of course, can`t be disclosed

legally.  So he basically said to the Special Counsel staff, I can`t tell

what the grand jury material in this is, and secondly, his concern was that

he didn`t want to release the report piece meal.  So that was his response.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

WILLIAMS:  And, of course, we know now – we have all seen the report, so

we can – we can judge for ourselves whether the attorney general

accurately characterized it in his initial letter or not. 

 

But it is correct that Mueller did suggest to him that he didn`t think his

letter was accurate. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What about the argument that he wanted – that he thought the

context was delivered wrong? 

 

And what about the protocol of why the special counsel, even though he

wrote a letter and made a phone call to the attorney general right after

that report, the four-page report by the A.G., why he wouldn`t go public,

if he wasn`t satisfied with the reaction by the A.G., which was…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

WILLIAMS:  Well, I`m going to speculate here and suggest that that`s not

his style, that, at that point, Robert Mueller was the special counsel.  He

was like a U.S. attorney.  He was, in essence, working for the Justice

Department. 

 

And Barr in every sense of the word was his boss.  So I think it was an

internal conversation, and he didn`t intend to go – didn`t intend to make

it public. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks so much, Pete.  It`s always great to rely on a straight

newsman on things like this, because there`s so many opinions out there. 

 

I want to talk to U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell right now from California. 

 

Congressman, you know, you`re running for president now.  And here`s a

question before the American people. 

 

Why didn`t we get the Mueller report clear?  Why didn`t we just get it? 

Why was it held up for four weeks while it was marinating in the hands of a

political appointee of the president?  Why were we given it in a way that

was spun, not only 48 hours afterwards, but a few hours before it was

actually released, spun like a movie preview, spun so you would see it a

certain way? 

 

That`s not great American democracy in action?  Your thoughts? 

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No, Chris. 

 

And it`s clear that Mr. Barr always wanted to be Donald Trump`s personal

lawyer.  That`s how he`s conducted himself.  He`s sought to protect the

president, in the way that he applied for the job, the way that he has gone

after the intelligence community and accused them of spying on the Trump

administration, and the way that he`s characterized the report. 

 

That`s all the reason that he needs to get before Congress this Thursday. 

We have asked him to come.  And I think the fact that he`s trying to wiggle

out of that, and he`s only willing to do a home game with the Senate, and

not face the majority in the House of Representatives, shows that he has a

consciousness – consciousness of guilt in the way that he`s handled

himself and protected the president. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Hold on, Congressman. 

 

Let me go to Robert Costa of “The Post” for more information. 

 

I`m looking at the report here that says in “The Post” that Mueller

believes that Barr`s report, that the one he delivered with a four-page

note after he had his hands on the Mueller report, said that Mueller`s

report was – did not get captured in Barr`s report, either in context,

nature or substance. 

 

What else is there?  It sounds like he`s saying, you did not deliver the

truth. 

 

COSTA:  And that summary by the attorney general defined early headlines on

the Mueller report.

 

And in recent minutes, just in the last few minutes, Chris, talking to top

Democrats on Capitol Hill, they say it`s time for the attorney general to

not only go before the House Judiciary Committee, but to keep talking about

the process and his interactions with Robert Mueller. 

 

They`re going to have tough questions for the A.G. when he comes to Capitol

Hill.  And this is on top of questions for others in the Justice

Department, like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote an

effusive resignation letter this week to President Trump and also for “The

Washington Post,” promised the president he`d – quote – “land the plane”

when it came to the Mueller investigation.

 

So, you have several fingers inside of the top ranks of the Justice

Department under scrutiny for how they handled the conclusion of this

report and its release to the American people. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Robert Costa.

 

Let me bring in Jimmy Gomez, congressman from California.

 

Thank you, sir, for joining us. 

 

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA):  Thanks for having me.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, clearly, the Mueller report, if you had gotten it cold,

without through the distillation process and marination process of Mr. Barr

and Rosenstein, you would have got a report that said the president`s

guilty of obstruction of justice, all kinds of – 10 instances listed.

 

You would have said, my God, the guy`s in big trouble.  But because it was

slowed down and worked down, and we were prepared for it step by step in a

way that had a soft landing, nobody knew what the hell it said. 

 

GOMEZ:  Yes. 

 

No, first, this reporting is appalling.  We – Congress needs to get ahold

of that letter, see what it actually says.  What did Mueller write to

Attorney General Barr?  And Barr has to come before the American people

through Congress, the House of Representatives, so we can ask him some very

pointed questions. 

 

And you`re right.  They actually – this attorney general is acting, as

everybody said, as his personal attorney, but also as his spin doctor,

spinning the narrative of the Mueller report before it was ever released.

 

MATTHEWS:  Is this obstruction of justice?

 

GOMEZ:  I think that there there`s a great case to be made. 

 

I think that that`s why we have to have these hearings.  We have to make

sure that we bring the American people along.  And I have actually…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  But what it`s look like to you, Barr`s performance, from day

one, when he got ahold of that incredible document, a two-year project, by

Robert Mueller, a straight arrow public servant?

 

He hands it to him.  Forty-eight hours later, he delivers a four-page thing

that says the president`s been exonerated on all fronts.  Four weeks later,

we get his version of it, his redacted version, with all the spinning, and

calls a press conference before he releases the document that is redacted

to make sure everybody got the right spin. 

 

It was all public relations. 

 

GOMEZ:  Yes, of course. 

 

And I never trusted this attorney general, Bob Barr, from the very

beginning.  I actually in December, in a closed-door hearing, asked Comey,

do you trust him to be forthright with the American people?  Comey said he

trusted him.  I never did. 

 

And that`s why we had questions from the very beginning.  And you`re right. 

He`s been spinning for the American people.  And if it smells like

obstruction of justice, it probably is. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he`s not going to get the Profile in Courage Award from

the Kennedy Center. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I want to bring in David Corn right now, Washington

bureau chief for “Mother Jones.”

 

David, your thoughts about this breaking story that we just got our hands

on from “The Washington Post”? 

 

And the story is that just what we all thought, that Mueller must have been

totally frustrated by the way his words were misinterpreted by Barr, to the

point where his message was, there`s 10 instances which he laid out in

great illustrated form of obstruction of justice that were erased,

basically, in the four-page report by Barr, and then four weeks later was

set up in a way that looked like they didn`t even exist and in spinning

operation that day. 

 

Your thoughts, your reporting? 

 

David?

 

Let me go to Congressman…

 

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hello?

 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Swalwell, thank you for hanging in there. 

 

What are we going to do?  What`s the members of your committee going to do

about this now?  I mean, give me a look forward.  This information is

coming out, unfortunately, like all rolling disclosure.

 

Rolling disclosure, my favorite phrase, because politicians never tell you

the bad stuff.  You have to find it out.  And then they say, oh, yes.  Oh,

yes, that`s true, too. 

 

What do you think is going to happen as a result of this “Washington Post”

the point that this whole thing was covered up? 

 

SWALWELL:  We`re going to hear from Barr.

 

We`re going to hear from Rosenstein.  We`re going to ultimately hear from

Mueller.  And if Barr backs out this Thursday, he`s going to get

subpoenaed.  If he doesn`t answer the subpoena, he`s going to face

contempt.  And I actually think he should face impeachment. 

 

If he`s going to just say, I`m not going to follow the law, I`m not going

to follow Congress, there has to be consequences.  I hope it doesn`t come

to that, Chris.  But what do you do when you have an enabler like this who

just enables the president`s worst instincts?

 

They have to be held accountable.  And you have to speak their language as

well.  That`s the only thing they understand. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Supreme Court of Kavanaugh and Roberts and the

rest of them, a 5-4 Republican-appointed Supreme Court, they`re going to

give cert, they`re even going to bring up this matter and take the side of

the Congress against the president?  You believe that? 

 

SWALWELL:  Yes.  Yes, I think precedent is on our side. 

 

They would have to wildly deviate from precedent to say that we don`t have

the right to get ongoing – to get an investigation into the president. 

There`s no executive privilege for that.  You would have to be quite

inventive.

 

MATTHEWS:  You mean the way they widely deviated from precedent when they

gave the presidency to George W. Bush. 

 

SWALWELL:  You still have to have faith in our system.

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry.  That was something.  That was a deviation, if there

ever was one.

 

SWALWELL:  Yes.  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell,

running for president.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SWALWELL:  Thank you, Chris. 

 

MATTHEWS:  According – and, by the way, congratulations.  He got it into

our first NBC/MSNBC debate.  He`s made the cut. 

 

According to “The Washington Post,” days after Barr`s announcement, Mueller

wrote a previously unknown private letter to the Justice Department, which

revealed a degree of dissatisfaction with the public discussion of

Mueller`s work that shocked senior Justice Department officials, according

to people familiar with the discussions.

 

Mueller`s letter to Barr said, among other things, that: “There is now

public confused about critical aspects of the results of our

investigation.”

 

The story reveals that – quote – “Justice Department officials said

Tuesday they were taken aback by the tone of Mueller`s letter, and it came

as a surprise to them that he had such concerns.”

 

And this comes one day before Barr`s Senate testimony.

 

Let`s bring in David Corn now.  He`s available, Washington bureau chief of

“Mother Jones.”

 

David, I have been waiting for you. 

 

CORN:  Yes.  

 

MATTHEWS:  Give us a sense of how much this confirms your suspicions. 

 

CORN:  We saw Barr do that four-page letter. 

 

And then we saw Barr do this kind of phony press conference, when he was

just trying to contextualize the report and really say things that were not

true, total exoneration, no collusion. 

 

And it seemed to me, if you read the report, Mueller really is drawing

within the lines.  He is not leaning too far into conclusions.  He`s being

very straightforward. 

 

It reminded me of like a report you might see in the 1980s, someone who`s

not trying to get a lot of social media buzz, and you have to read the

report to fully understand what Trump did on the obstruction charge and

what might have happened on the interactions with the Russians. 

 

And I can see how Mueller could take great offense, when he`s so careful

and deliberative, to then see Barr come in and say, this is what the report

says, when it`s not what it says. 

 

And while – and that this is in some ways – it`s not an obstruction of

justice, a perversion of justice.  Barr was – excuse me – Mueller was

really playing by the rules.  In fact he`s gotten some criticism for being

too confined and restrained in how he described what he found.

 

And to have Barr come in and just totally pull the rug out from under him

and say, this proves the president was right when he said no collusion,

this proves the president didn`t obstruct justice, so – at least my

reading of it proves that – I can see why Mueller would have been taken

aback. 

 

And this is one reason, I expect, that members of the House Judiciary

Committee want to call him up and ask him about these things, which are not

confidential matters, not about grand jury testimony, and see what he says

about Barr`s characterization.

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

CORN:  And I can only imagine what the hearing is going to be like tomorrow

and the day after, if Barr still goes up to Capitol Hill. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, David. 

 

Let`s bring in Greg Brower, former – Brower – former U.S. attorney and

senior FBI official.

 

Greg, a couple points.

 

First of all, just the charge here that`s just come from – from the

special counsel in a letter to the attorney general: “You failed the

capture the context, the nature and the substance of my two-year report.”

 

That`s pretty profound. 

 

GREG BROWER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  It really is, Chris. 

 

I have been saying since the beginning that the worst thing that the

attorney general could possibly do is say something that mischaracterizes

or is flat-out contradicted – contradicts the eventual Mueller report. 

 

And so there`s been, as you know, in the last couple of weeks, since the

report has been out, a lot of argument that he in fact did just that, that

he kind of sugarcoated it, he soft-pedaled it and he – frankly, according

to some, he mischaracterized the report. 

 

Now it appears that you have the special counsel himself saying that that`s

exactly what happened.  So it`s clear that Bob Mueller will have to

testify, probably side by side, or at least with in – some following or

before the attorney general, and their stories are going to both have to be

heard by Congress and the American people. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I have got Heidi Przybyla here.

 

Heidi, it seems to me that one of the big – and I hate to call it a lie,

but it seems like one.  When we first got that four-page letter from A.G.

Barr, from the attorney general, it said that Mueller did not use the

Justice Department guidelines in deciding not to indict.  In other words,

he didn`t indict him on the merits because he wasn`t guilty. 

 

It turns out that Mueller did follow those guidelines.  He did not indict

the president because, under the guidelines, you`re not supposed to indict

him.  That is the essential distortion of what Mueller went through.

 

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  When we finally got the

report, Chris, everyone in – or all of the Democrats in Congress said,

this reads like an impeachment referral, like this was supposed to be a

determination that would be made by Congress. 

 

That was language that was actually in the report.  But, Chris, there was a

poignant moment that kind of foretold all of this, when Barr gave his press

conference spinning the reprise, spinning the report.

 

And we asked him, the media, why is the author of the report not standing

up there beside you?  And that was when the press conference abruptly

ended, if you remember.

 

Now, based on this reporting, because I have been reading through it while

you have been on the air here, he – Mueller is saying that not only was

the report misrepresenting his work, but he may have actually been

suppressed, because here it says that he was pressing in his letter to have

Barr also release those executive summaries. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

PRZYBYLA:  That is obviously something that was denied, as the public sat

and stewed for three weeks and public perceptions were formed.  And now

Mueller is saying that that is what created public confusion around this

report, and that it undermined potentially even the very central purpose of

creating a special counsel in the first place. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Cornell, you`re an expert on public opinion.  How much do you

think the P.R. way they handled this, with a four-page report covering up

the fact that they – saying that they didn`t indict because they didn`t it

think was worth indicting, when, in fact, they didn`t indict because you`re

not supposed to, they were deferring to Congress, as Heidi put it?

 

And the fact that they covered up all the elements, the 10 elements of

examples, illustrations of obstruction of justice, all that covered up for

four weeks, what was the impact on the landing of this report? 

 

CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER:  Bamboozled.

 

We – they won, because now – because he put it out there, and they got

week after week of press that the president needed and they wanted.  And

guess what?  Republicans rallied around him. 

 

It`s gone, right?  It`s corrupt.  But, Chris, they won the Mueller report

battle.  They have thus far.  Now, what Congress does is another question. 

But public opinion right now, we have seen poll after poll.  It means

nothing. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Right. 

 

What do you think, Congressman? 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Did you miss the chance because they were too clever at their

disgusting, but successful political manipulation?

 

GOMEZ:  They haven`t won yet. 

 

And that`s why we have a process, right?  We have always had concerns. 

When we saw the four-page memo and then we read the Mueller report, it was

very clear.  And that`s why we`re pushing to have this investigation

through the appropriate committees, because that`s when we dig out every

single fact and have it in front of the American people. 

 

You know what?  There`s still a lot of time on the clock, and we`re going

to play it all the way to the end.  And I know it`s painful.

 

MATTHEWS:  I know, but, Congressman…

 

GOMEZ:  I know it`s painful.  I know it`s painful.

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You`re elected.  I`m not.  But I will tell you, I have

watched this game.  We watched the way they did it.  Justice delayed is

justice denied. 

 

They spent four weeks covering up this baby.  Isn`t it possible that the

president`s lawyers will fight these…

 

GOMEZ:  That`s one ugly baby, by the way.

 

MATTHEWS:  Huh?

 

GOMEZ:  That`s one ugly baby, though.

 

MATTHEWS:  And he will fight these subpoenas for records.  He will fight

these subpoenas for documents.  He will fight them all the way until

Christmas.  He will then have – you guys have to have deliberation. 

 

No, you get the witnesses finally.  You finally get the witnesses.  Then

you`re going to deliberate about whether to begin impeachment.  Then you

have – he could run out the clock. 

 

GOMEZ:  He can.

 

But you know what?  We`re going to – we have to do it the right way.  And

you know what?  I voted for starting debate on articles of impeachment

twice, twice.  And I will do it again. 

 

But I don`t… 

 

MATTHEWS:  Were you right?

 

GOMEZ:  What is that?

 

MATTHEWS:  Were you right? 

 

GOMEZ:  I think I was right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think you were too.

 

Let`s go – hold on for a second.  I like clarity here. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you.

 

Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, joins me now my phone. 

 

Cynthia, I – Cynthia, I just have to ask you.  You`re learning this the

way we`re learning it, flash news.

 

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  The whole thing was covered up. 

 

ALKSNE:  Well, if you`re wondering why Barr is looking for an excuse not to

come to Congress to justify, I think now we know why.  Because he`s afraid

this is going to come out. 

 

I mean, this is why he`s looking for every imaginable excuse.  No, I can`t

be questioned.  This is why he is afraid to be questioned by counsel,

because this was sitting in his file.  And he knew the big bomb waiting to

go off. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go back to the point I`m going to hit on for the

next few minutes, because I`m stunned by it, because I was misled by it.

 

When I first heard Mueller`s four-page report, when he came on and said,

this is what was in the Mueller report, he said, basically they – they

didn`t indict the president because he wasn`t guilty.  They were

exonerating, basically, when, in fact, it came out that Mueller was simply

following Justice Department guidelines you don`t indict a sitting

president. 

 

That`s a fundamental difference in reality from what we got as – as a lie

– from Mueller. 

 

ALKSNE:  That`s exactly right. 

 

The attorney general of the United States..

 

MATTHEWS:  We need the truth from Mueller and a lie from Barr. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, go ahead. 

 

ALKSNE:   That`s right. 

 

The attorney general of the United States, the most important law

enforcement officer in the history of the world, has lied to the American

people.  And we just have to face that.  That is exactly what happened.  He

has to be called into account for it.  And we need to get Mueller up there

to explain exactly what he did and why he did it. 

 

And you are correct.  When you read them the Mueller report, the reason why

he did not press any charges is because the Justice Department guidelines

forbid him to do it.  And he is not a guy who breaks the rules. 

 

He is fundamentally a Marine, and he follows the rules.  And that`s what he

did here.  And Barr took advantage of that.  Now, I hope – I hope it isn`t

too late for the American people to actually learn and absorb what actually

happened. 

 

But it may very well be.  We just don`t know.  But we do need to get

Mueller up there very quickly to Congress to explain what he did.

 

MATTHEWS:  It seemed to me, Mueller, until he says otherwise, was preparing

a report for use by the Congress for an – impeachment hearings, for

impeachment proceedings.  Here it is.

 

ALKSNE:  It`s clear in reading that`s exactly what he was doing. 

 

And, if any – if his name was not President Trump, he would be indicted

today. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Let me…

 

ALKSNE:  When any normal prosecutor reads that memo, that is an indictment

memo.  That`s what it is. 

 

And the only reason why it`s not it`s because the Justice Department

guideline, and Bob Mueller follows the rules. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Robert, we`re having a Perry Mason moment, to use an old

reference, which is something`s happening in the world, the courtroom of

public opinion now that we didn`t know. 

 

We now know, thanks to your paper`s reporting, that Robert Mueller was not

happy, he was dissatisfied with the report made by the attorney general 48

hours after getting his report, wherein the attorney general made very

erroneous statements about that report in terms of, as your paper reports,

context, nature and substance, which is the whole ball game, and, most

importantly, lied about the fact that the – the special counsel didn`t

indict the president because you`re not supposed to, not because he was

innocent. 

 

Where is this reporting going now, because – I guess I have to a question. 

How did we get the letter at this point, all these weeks later? 

 

COSTA:  It`s sometimes hard to be a reporter. 

 

It takes time to build the sourcing to understand what`s actually going on

inside of that black box that is the Department of Justice, which is very

tight-lipped.  But reporters at “The Post” and other outlets have been

working hard to try to get the real story here on what happened in the

interactions between the special counsel and the attorney general.

 

Talking to Adam Schiff this morning, the congressman from California who

chairs the House Intelligence Committee, he told me he`s already in

discussion with the Department of Justice about getting Mueller to testify

to tell his own story.  And that clamor is only going to build in the next

few hours and the coming days. 

 

Will the special counsel be allowed in front of television cameras to sit

down and say what he wrote in that letter to the attorney general, to

finally tell his version of events of how this investigation concluded?

 

MATTHEWS:  Does Mr. Barr, the attorney general, know that he has been outed

here, that he has been exposed as having received that letter from Mueller? 

Does he know that?  He knows it now. 

 

COSTA:  He can turn on the television.  Now it`s a question of what is the

special counsel willing to say publicly and this is a question for Capitol

Hill. 

 

I would like to ask the congressman here as well.  I`m already hearing from

some Capitol Hill sources.  There can be talk of impeachment among

Democrats for the attorney general, that they`re very unhappy with this

development.  Obviously, they want to investigate more and have hearings. 

 

But early, early discussions among my Democratic sources in the House is

that this is appalling behavior based on the things they are reading and

they would like to pursue action and pay close attention tomorrow and

tonight.  What does Speaker Pelosi say?  She has a tight grip over her

party. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, already respond to that.  Do you want to respond to that

again because I asked you that a while ago? 

 

GOMEZ:  No, no, listen, I think that, you know, it is pretty appalling.  I

never trusted William Barr from the beginning.  I think a lot of Democrats

had that same position. 

 

We have to call him in and if he refuses, keep going, right?  If it means

impeachment, so be it.  But everything is on the table. 

 

MATTHEWS:  “The New York Times” is also reporting on this story.  According

to “The Times”, a rift between Mueller and Barr appeared to develop as the

special counsel wrapped up his inquiry. 

 

Quote: Mr. Barr and senior Justice Department officials were frustrated

with how Mr. Mueller ended his investigation and crafted his report,

according to two people with knowledge of those discussions and another

person briefed on the matter.  They expressed irritation that Mr. Mueller

fell short of his assignment by declining to make a decision about whether

Mr. Trump broke the law.  That left Mr. Barr to clear Mr. Trump without the

special counsel`s backing. 

 

The senior department officials also found Mr. Mueller`s rationale for

stopping short of deciding whether Mr. Trump committed a crime to be

confusing and contradictory, and they concluded that Mr. Mueller`s report

showed that there was no case against Mr. Trump. 

 

Mr. Brower, what do you make of that one?  I don`t know if I believe that. 

But your thoughts? 

 

BROWER:  Yes, I don`t know about that either, Chris.  But I`ll tell you, I

think, in my view, three things have to happen.  The first is that this is

a bit of a contrarian view, but the House Judiciary Committee needs to

forget about the staff asking questions and get the attorney general up

there. 

 

I had a lot of experience with the minority and the majority members of the

committee.  There were plenty of members in the majority who can ask

questions, who can effectively cross examine.  I think they just need to

get him up there, take his objection off the table and ask those questions. 

 

Secondly – 

 

MATTHEWS:  How about giving a half hour to one of the members?  Because the

five-empty rule is something you can play if you`re a witness. 

 

BROWER:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  I think that`s within the chairman`s

purview, and that`s exactly what should happen.

 

Secondly, Mr. Mueller is going to have to testify.  There`s no doubt about

that. 

 

And third, I would say, and, Chris, the cynics in the room might laugh at

this, but somebody on the Republican side in light of this news will have

to say enough is enough.  What`s going on here?  We need a full accounting

of everything that happened. 

 

This has to be bipartisan even if it`s just one member at the outset. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I hope Mitt Romney is watching MSNBC right now.

 

I want to bring in Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, a member of

the Judiciary Committee where Attorney General Barr is scheduled to testify

tomorrow. 

 

Well, you`re going to get your first shot at him tomorrow, Senator

Blumenthal.  What do you think about the questioning you would go to? 

 

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT) (via telephone):  This disclosure adds a

breathtaking new dimension to the questioning tomorrow.  It`s an absolutely

stunning rebuke of the attorney general of the United States by a career

prosecutor who has consummate respect.  And what he is saying essentially

is that the attorney general mischaracterized in contents, nature and

substance his report. 

 

And he memorialized this criticism.  That`s extraordinarily important that

he put to paper and wanted it to be in the file.  And there is going to be

a lot of tough questioning about this letter tomorrow. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank God for a free press once again.  Thank you so much,

Senator Blumenthal, of Connecticut.

 

I`m going to go to Heidi on this.

 

Where are we going? 

 

PRZYBYLA:  Well, Chris, just a little bit of information from a Democratic

leadership source.  That they say that not only will you hear from

leadership, that it is very important that Barr come this week, but in

terms of timing, they expect Mueller to be in that chair next week, no

later. 

 

MATTHEWS:  This is from the House? 

 

PRZYBYLA:  This is from the House Democratic leadership. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, Congressman? 

 

GOMEZ:  Great.  You know, the sooner the better.  I don`t have my cell

phone on me – 

 

(LAUGHTER) 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s bring in Elise Jordan, “Time Magazine” contributor,

Michelle Goldberg. 

 

This whole show, we have torn down the front page.  We didn`t have any

idea. 

 

Michelle, this is big stuff.  I mean, this is across the front page of “The

Times” and “The Post” tomorrow and all the other quality papers.  This is

the fact that Mueller was basically betrayed by Barr in a way a lot of us

thought he might have been. 

 

But to come out and find out that the context, the nature, the substance of

the two-year Mueller report and was disfigured in the presentation and the

fact that they lie – and that`s a good word for it – about the fact that

they didn`t indict the president because of the Justice Department rules,

not because he was innocent.  It`s astounding how that was misinterpreted. 

 

Your thoughts? 

 

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, I think in some

ways it`s always been obvious that Bob Barr`s four-page memo, the summary

that he later said wasn`t a summary completely mischaracterized the Mueller

report.  If you sat down and read the 400-plus pages of the Mueller report,

but obviously, most people don`t have time to do that. 

 

And so, what I think that what`s important about Mueller`s rebuke of Bob

Barr, is both that sort of he understood how the gap between what he

produce and what Barr was telling the public and he really pointed out that

the point, one of the main points of this investigation was to give some

sort of public narrative that everybody could trust about what happened,

right? 

 

To give some sort of resolution to all the confusion and doubts about the

2016 election at Trump`s behavior in it and after it.  And Bob Barr, you

know, that closure was so necessary for the country and Bob Barr basically

blew it up by going out there and misrepresenting the contents of the

report in a way that allowed Republicans to pretend it said something that

was completely contrary to what it actually said.  You know, it still

allows them to say no collusion. 

 

You know, in his quest to protect the president, he basically – he made it

almost impossible for the report do, which was to give the country some

clarity and some closure. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Here`s what – just get – so you don`t have to wait for the

newspaper tomorrow everybody watching, this is what – this is what Robert

Mueller said in his criticism of the four-page summary document by the

attorney general. 

 

The summary letter the department sent to Congress and released to the

public on March 24th, that was a Sunday, did not fully capture the context,

nature and substance of this office`s work and conclusions.  There is now

public confusion about critical aspects about the results of our

investigation.  This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the

department appointed the special counsel to assure full public confidence

in the outcome of this investigation. 

 

So, what he is saying as special counsel is you, Mr. Attorney General, have

ruined the public impact of this report by distortions.  Elise?

 

GOLDBERG:  Right, that was the point. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Elise, your thoughts?

 

ELISE JORDAN, TIME MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTOR:  Chris, I`m staggered that the

original summary came out March 24th and by April 18th, the actual full

report comes out.  So much time passed in interim of Barr setting the

narrative and Robert Mueller clearly being very upset that his two-year

report findings had been in his view, distorted.  And so, it took so long

for this relief to happen. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What`s your point?  What do you think?  What do you think that

means? 

 

JORDAN:  Well, and you have an institutionalist playing by the rules when

no one else that he is up against is following those rules. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

 

JORDAN:  So, what is the service to the American public if your job is to

tell the truth and get at the truth and then through the institution, the

truth is distorted?  This is a very disturbing episode for American

democracy. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Elise, you understand public relations and timing.  Remember how

Bill Clinton was in huge trouble in February of `98, and by August, he was

in a little trouble, some trouble.  Time works to the defense of a lot of

people, because people`s shock wears off and especially with this

marination process, which was so purposeful. 

 

Four weeks?  Are we really believing it took four weeks to redact the grand

jury testimony and some names?  They could have done that over a weekend. 

Come on.  They held that and marinate it, to wear down the public`s

interest.

 

Michelle, what do you think?  I think they knew it.  These guys – whoever

did the PR on this thing knew what they were doing.  I mean –

 

GOLDBERG:  Right.  I mean, I think that if the report had just came out and

we had access to it at the same time, the headlines would have been 10

episodes of obstruction of justice, right?  And it would have been obvious

that this was sort of a road map for impeachment, that Mueller was abiding

by the Department of Justice rule that a sitting president can`t be

indicted.  And so – but there is serious evidence that he committed crimes

or indictable offenses and he laid it out for us and, you know, it would

have looked – it would have, I think, forced both the serious conversation

about impeachment and maybe the start of an impeachment process. 

 

Instead, he was able to muddy the water so the question of whether or not

Trump had, whether or not the report showed evidence of obstruction of

justice became kind of confused and subject to partisan misinformation. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, let me ask you as a member of the committee and a

member of Congress as a Democrat, suppose Mueller had released his report

to the public well before the 48-hour period and the memo that came out and

well before all this marination, as I call it, went on for four weeks and

just drop it out there.  There were 10 instances of presidential

obstruction of justice and we went to Congress to now have this report. 

We`re handing it to you.

 

Wouldn`t that be a different world we`d be living in right now? 

 

GOMEZ:  No, it definitely would be a different world.  I`m not on

judiciary, but I actually read the report.  I look at different segments. 

I read the judiciary review of it.  It`s pretty stunning. 

 

But we knew what they were doing.  Everybody knew.  But the reason why we

couldn`t move it forward is because people just think it`s Democrats being,

you know, sore losers, right.  That`s not what it`s ever been about.  We

have to kind of dig it out. 

 

What Mueller has done by finding – sending this letter and having it on

file, it gives the concerns we had credibility.  Now we have something to

push forward with. 

 

MATTHEWS:  The news of Mueller`s letter, of complaint, actually, to the

attorney general comes after Barr waited four weeks to even acknowledge

that he had any disagreement with the special counsel.  Here`s how he did

reveal his disagreement in that press conference just before releasing the

redacted Mueller report. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BARR:  Although the deputy attorney general and I disagreed with some of

the special counsel`s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes

examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely

solely on that in making our decision. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Cynthia, that`s an astounding acknowledgment as part of this

rolling disclosure, which is to acknowledge that they were pointing to

obstruction of justice in the Mueller report, many instances of it.  He

said he didn`t agree with all those instances.  But he`s acknowledged

finally for the first time after four weeks of sitting on this that that`s

what the Mueller report called for, action on obstruction of justice. 

 

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone):  Right, but not as

much – he still down played it dramatically.  It was not clear, the

differences between Mueller and Barr, as highlighted by this letter we`ve

gotten today. 

 

And his excuse about, oh, I needed these four weeks in order to get the

grand jury material because it said grand jury material at the top of the

paper, that`s ridiculous.  Obviously, Mueller wrote this thing with

executive summary that could be released immediately.  And you`re

absolutely right, it could have been done in a weekend.  And it certainly

could have been done before he submitted that four-page memo, which was

not, frankly, did not reflect what Mueller was saying. 

 

MATTHEWS:  David, you spent years working on this.  You wrote a great book

about this.  All this stuff about playing footsie with the Russians, which

is illustrated rather well in the report, even if there wasn`t actual

criminality proven, there were all kinds of examples of them playing ball

with the Russians, taking advantage of Russian help in the `16 election to

defeat Hillary Clinton.

 

All kinds of meetings, all kinds of stuff that would normally defeat any

Democratic candidate for president, I can tell you, just from having

experienced life in this country.  Democrats would get blamed much more

worse. 

 

And my question is, historically, this Mueller thing has been deflated, and

its political impact because of skullduggery by an attorney general.  This

is worse than John Mitchell stuff. 

 

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONMES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF (via telephone):  Well, I

heard all the guests earlier tonight.  I think we`re not done on that.  The

Mueller report came out before Barr tried to do his little math trick and

say there was no collusion so that all the issues you just raised about

attractions between Trump people and Russians and more importantly, Trump

trying to benefit from the Russian attacks and equally important denying

the attack while it was happening so as to exploit it basically being in

with Putin in terms of the disinformation campaign. 

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

 

CORN:  But that stuff didn`t get into the headlines because of Barr.  But I

think we`re in the third inning –

 

MATTHEWS:  David, we got a problem.  You sound like you`re on a tug boat

somewhere.  We`re going to have to come back to our onshore witnesses. 

Thank you so much.  We`ll have you on tomorrow night. 

 

Heidi, report on the significance of this and how this is going to roll the

next few days. 

 

PRZYBYLA:  Chris, one of the main arguments here and the concerns of

Democrats goes right to the two volumes of the report that the obstruction

could have actually stopped us finding the true extent of this

administration`s ties and potential coordination.  And so, this is going to

reopen this argument here on the hill to not only have public hearings but

if this administration continues to stonewall, to talk – and congressman,

you can speak to this – but to talk about how possibly opening an

impeachment inquiry would help Congress have greater tools to compel

witnesses to testify, to get documents because this is only going to

increase the hunger for more information. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that charge?  I believe in it.  Once you

open impeachment procedure, you have a tremendous advantage in the courts

because they understand that it`s the only – the only procedure there is

to judge branch, by Congress is impeachment.  The only guarantee we`re

going to have truly equality among the branches of government. 

 

GOMEZ:  No, I agree with you.  At the same time, we still have to start

this investigation and really dig deep. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Can you get the subpoenas honored if you don`t have an

impeachment process? 

 

GOMEZ:  You know t I`m not a constitutional attorney, but you know what? 

We`re going to follow up on every step.  We`re going to ask for those

subpoenas. 

 

I understand they can stonewall.  But I have a feeling if they stonewall

and continue to stonewall, it`s just going to create an avalanche effect, a

snowball effect on calling for impeachment.  So, it actually will achieve

the opposite result they want. 

 

 

MATTHEWS:  You might be right.  I hope you are because we need the truth. 

I do remember when Nixon was on the skillet, the Supreme Court came in big

time, and the Congress got all the tapes.  They got it all. 

 

Anyway, let me go to Michelle Goldberg and Elise Jordan for one last

thought about – Michelle, you on the big story.  You write the big

magazine articles, the big stuff.  It seems to me this is part of a saga

which began way back with the Russian connections.  And then as – you

know, as Heidi pointed out brilliantly, I hadn`t thought of this, a lot of

the obstruction led to us not getting the facts about the coordination and

the collusion, if you will, and the continuing of the Russian conspiracy by

American agents, i.e., Trump people. 

 

So, all along it`s a dynamic.  They have been covering their trail so

successfully that they`re still potentially going to get re-elected, this

crowd.

 

GOLDBERG:  Well, and I think that, you know, another thing that would have

been the headline had the report just dropped on its own was there was, I

believe, over a hundred pages – I could be wrong, but there was a

substantial amount of the report that was just about the various

connections that the Trump administration or that members of the Trump

campaign had with Russians. 

 

Not even about Trump`s financial entanglements but just about all of these

kind of strange meetings, including the meeting in the Seychelles that Erik

Prince lied to Congress about and has now been referred to the – there`s a

criminal referral to the Justice Department.  That in itself, it documents

a huge amount of not apparently criminal conspiracy but a huge amount of

cooperation, collusion. 

 

I also think it`s significant that, you know, the report itself says we did

not look at this through the lens of collusion.  Collusion isn`t, you know,

a term in criminal law.  We looked at it through the lens of criminal

conspiracy, because if you just read the plain language of the report, you

can only describe what they`re – you can only describe all these meetings

as collusion. 

 

But because they buried it and allowed Bill Barr to go up there and say

over and over again no collusion, no collusion, no collusion, again, when

the report shows the opposite. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Elise?  Let me ask you a question, a really nasty question, but

I don`t mind asking a colleague like you.  Who do you think of as a likely

Republican who might come along?  Is it Mitt Romney, and the senator from

Utah?  Someone to come up and say, you know what, this cover-up has got to

stop? 

 

JORDAN:  I think Mitt Romney, I would certainly put him as, you know, at

the top of my list in terms of hoping to see justice served and hoping to

see our institutions protected and not abused for political purposes. 

 

I think I still am just astonished that this letter leaked.  After two

years of Robert Mueller`s investigation being so tightly sealed, it just

gives you a sense of how great the anger at what Mueller feels is a

misrepresentation, that this finally leaked. 

 

And also, reading the story and the defensiveness of the Department of

Justice sources quoted, this is not going to go away.  And they had a PR

coup at the onset by seizing the four-page summary, and they really – I

think they really have messed themselves up here. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Good thinking.  Somebody leaked this and it wasn`t Barr`s

people.  You can bet that. 

 

Anyway, Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler of New York just tweeted:

Mueller has written a letter objecting to Barr`s summary of his reported

because it did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of his

investigation.  I have demanded the letter, and Barr must answer for this. 

Mueller must be allowed to testify. 

 

So, that`s the story going into tomorrow in the Senate.  Then coming in

later.

 

Final thoughts, Congressman, just a couple of seconds, couple of minutes. 

 

GOMEZ:  You know, I take this job very seriously.  I always go back to that

oath.  We swear to defend and uphold the Constitution, not a president, not

an elected official, the Constitution.  So I hope the Republicans start

living up to that oath. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks so much. 

 

I want to thank all our guests tonight. 

 

That`s HARDBALL for now. 

 

Breaking story tonight, the biggest we`ve had.  Thank you so much for

joining us. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

 

 

END

 

 

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