Pelosi insists she will not pursue impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 6/20/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Here I just got from Mark Warner. He says, I was
curious about these press reports. Anything that involves pilot safety is
important to me. So this is a very real thing happening on the Hill. I
wanted to get that UFO update in for you.
That`s The Beat. HARDBALL starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Hope says nope. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington with breaking news. The
House Judiciary Committee has just released the official transcript from
Hope Hicks` closed-door testimony yesterday. Here it is, a lot of paper.
Not sure what`s in there. The close campaign aide to President Trump
appeared before the committee for over seven hours yesterday, much of that
time being blocked by White House lawyers from answering any questions.
For example, Hicks wouldn`t even say whether she had been truthful in her
testimony to Robert Mueller.
Also new tonight, we`ve got a report that former Vice President Joe Biden
phoned Cory Book last night in an attempt to smooth things over in their
conflict over Biden`s comments about working with old-time segregationists.
First up, tonight`s breaking news on Hope Hicks from the House Judiciary
Committee. According to that committee, four Trump administration lawyers
were present during the hearing yesterday and they intervened on 155
occasions to stop Hicks from answering questions. The word appearing most
prominently and repeatedly in the transcript I have here from yesterday is
objection, the word, objection.
Hicks could, however, speak about the campaign. Among other things, Hicks
said she supported Trump`s use of illegally hacked emails to attack Hillary
Clinton in 2016 defending it as, quote, publicly available information to
draw a contrast between the candidates. Those were her words.
When asked whether she`d accept foreign dirt again today, she said she
would not. She said she would report it to the FBI, if I thought it was
legitimate enough to have our law enforcement dedicate their time to it.
Additionally, Hicks said she was very surprised to learn that there were
over 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and people connected to the
Russian government. But Hicks was repeatedly blocked from discussing the
President`s obstructive behavior, which was in the Special Counsel`s
She also did not address Michael Flynn`s resignation, Jeff Session`s
recusal, James Comey`s firing or the President`s attempt to remove Robert
Mueller, the Special Counsel himself.
I`m joined by Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, Mike Memoli, NBC
News Correspondent, David Jolly, former republican congressman from
Florida. Thank you all.
Cynthia, I have to start with you. What is this thing, this word
objection? This is loaded, all this wasted paper, a lot of this paper
simply has the word objection on it.
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right. Another half of it has
the word absolute immunity, which is not a thing. The White House is
saying no senior official has to comply – can be compelled to testify
about what`s happened in the White House. It is not a legal – legally
supported – supportable argument. And the only time it`s come up in
court, it was shot down.
What the – the good news about absolute immunity is because it`s a
constitutional question, it can be handled rather summarily by the courts.
It can be done quickly. The bad news is that after if comes back, she`ll
just claim executive privilege. We`re going nowhere with this. She`s not
going to give any more information.
MATTHEWS: Even if you had her under subpoena, even if you brought her in
and said – she said, I`ll answer your questions, and she says, I don`t
remember that. I don`t remember that. What was –
ALKSNE: There`s a lot of I don`t recalls. It`s Trump`s spin. Did you
know that this woman – they didn`t even swear her in before she testified.
This is ridiculous waste. I mean, look, you and I have all this paper.
MATTHEWS: Okay. In a real world where real people had honest
conversations, which we`re not in, what I always thought of her as a
confidant of the President, somebody that he implicitly trusts not to rat
him out, that he can say anything and I can`t stand that guy or I`m BSsing
(ph) here, you know, I`m feeling bad, I mean, like he would share
everything with her, right? She knows it all about the Russians, about
Roger – what`s his name, all these people.
MIKE MEMOLI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And one of the things – the democrats
wanted this to be the moment where they bring the Mueller report alive.
Well, they didn`t do it here in one part because this is all happening
behind closed doors, first of all.
The other thing we learned –
MATTHEWS: Just to say it, she knows it all, right?
MEMOLI: She does. And that`s one thing that comes through very clearly in
this report is she was as close, if not, the closest confidante in the
entire operation. She said she was the only press staffer for a long time.
She defends her invocation of white lies, which she told the House
Intelligence Committee last year.
She admits to the committee here that she was being asked to draft
statements that she did not even bother to ask then-candidate, now,
President Trump whether they were true or not. She was doing so including
with Karen McDougal, the hush money payments.
So democrats wanted to –
MATTHEWS: Yes, just to make that point, I read the transcript. She said
he had – it had nothing to do with her. Did he ever asked anything to do
with her? No.
MEMOLI: I have no recollection.
MATTHEWS: She just did that. The right answer was, I don`t have anything
to do with this porn star or not, this model.
MEMOLI: What`s interesting though in the same token is the democrats also
asked her about her relationship with the President now. She said she`s
only talked to him five to ten times since she left the White House. The
other part which was interesting, they asked her, have you read the Mueller
report? She says, no, I lived the Mueller report.
MATTHEWS: She`s laughing at this thing?
MEMOLI: She is, at times, dismissive to the members of the committee as
well. She accuses them of not using those words but essentially to borrow
the President`s phrase –
MATTHEWS: Dave Jolly, politically, forget the law because, obviously, the
President ignores the law, he has taught his people how to behave like him.
FMR. REP. DAVID JOLLY (R-FL): Yes, sure.
MATTHEWS: You live in another world, laugh at the fact you can lie, laugh
at the fact you can deny reality, because, look, what did reality ever do
for this president. Go ahead.
JOLLY: Which is why, politically, House Democrats need to make a decision
do they go with the information they have or not? Because I think if they
try to extrapolate more information, we`re going to see a lot of episodes
Look, what she did is provide kind of a look in the mirror for Trump`s
personality and for everybody around him. What I found most ironic, most
intriguing, Chris, is this. She acknowledged that – she said, look, we
didn`t have advanced notice of the WikiLeaks and/or Russia collusion but we
were ready. We had a messaging campaign when the WikiLeaks release
dropped. We wanted to be ready to seize on that type of interference, if
And then she`s asked, well, during the transition, did you speak with the
President about how to message about Russian interference? And she said,
oh, yes. We decided to blame the intel agencies because the President was
concerned that if it looked like we were seizing on these moments, it would
undermine the legitimacy of his election.
This Hope Hicks, as much as she said objection or her lawyers wouldn`t let
her testify, the reality is we got a perfect glimpse into the soul of this
administration, which is they took whatever help they could get and then
they`re just going to ignore it and say, hey, nobody can touch us though.
Don`t worry about it.
MATTHEWS: So you raised a question, they didn`t even think to swear her
in. I was noticing the courtesy, the extreme courtesy they showed her.
Sheila Jackson Lee, who is a pretty tough democrat, said, are the cameras
bothering you? Let`s get the cameras out if they`re bothering you. I
mean, they seem like they were incredibly nice to her.
ALKSNE: Well, I mean, they were nice to her. They let her testify
ALKSNE: There`s no reason why they did that, especially if the goal is
we`re going to try to bring this to life. She`s privately. She`s not
sworn. Half of – half the lawyers in Washington, D.C. represented her,
they were all in the room. I mean –
MATTHEWS: Well, this is the dramatic point, Mike. What the democrats who
were pushing for some action, the ones that are still hopeful they can
actually get 218 in the House for impeachment and a shot at a conviction in
this Senate argue what`s missing from the Mueller testimony is the live
person doing it. But then, you know, it sounds like if they`re going to
get McGahn there to ever testify, the President`s lawyer, who did hear the
President say fire Mueller, he knows what the obstruction sounded like and
was, then don`t do it in back rooms too. And we`ll get a pile of paper the
next day and once again lost drama.
MEMOLI: They were differential to Hope Hicks because they needed to get
somebody in. They`re five months now, almost in their sixth month in the
majority and they haven`t been able to get anything. There`s a real
pressure building on Chairman Nadler, on Speaker Pelosi, of course, as
My understanding, my reporting is that they do still have some hope of
bringing Mueller in. They`re insisting on one public hour of testimony.
They want the public to hear him in his own words. He`s still resisting.
They may move on to some of his deputies.
ALKSNE: That`s what they should do. They should get Weissman and Jeannie
Rhee and those people in. There`s – whatever the reason why –
MATTHEWS: But if you have to subpoena, do you think they`ll be dramatic?
If you are forced to commit and be – you know, do –
ALKSNE: These are trial lawyers. They know how to tell the story. Come
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to tell it.
ALKSNE: You don`t know that. You don`t – I mean, I don`t know what –
MATTHEWS: Well, we know Mueller doesn`t want to come in.
ALKSNE: Mueller doesn`t want to come in or whatever the reason is. I`m a
huge Mueller fan, you know, this to Mueller. Just get somebody else. And
there are other trial lawyers there who are perfectly capable of doing it,
and let`s get them in.
MATTHEWS: Okay. Among the episodes that Hicks did not address in her
testimony yesterday was the misleading statement used to cover up the Trump
Tower meeting with Russians during the campaign, that infamous meeting on
the plane. Hicks was aboard Air Force One with the President on that day
that the news first broke in July of 2017 when he was president and she
helped him craft the cover story on behalf of his son.
According to the Mueller report, Trump rejected an initial draft of the
statement because he said, it said too much about the offer of Russian dirt
on Clinton. Instead the President confected this. He told Hicks to say,
only that Trump Jr., Donald Jr., took a brief meeting and it was about
Russian adoption. Well, was it about Russian adoption?
ALKSNE: No, it wasn`t about Russian adoption.
MATTHEWS: While in the sky, he was coming in with dirt that she was
offering the campaign on Hillary?
ALKSNE: That`s right. And the President had just met hours before with
Putin and I`m sure when the information finally comes out that Putin helped
feed him that story. And that`s what they did and they`ve gotten away with
MATTHEWS: Well, Hicks was also asked if she thought Trump was joking in
his ABC News interview when he said he`d accept dirt on a political
opponent from a foreign power. Hicks said, I don`t think that was a joke
based on what I saw. So what do you make of that, David? It sounds like,
again, she gave us a whisper of truth there.
MATTHEWS: It was no joke?
JOLLY: No, it wasn`t. I think we should believe Donald Trump when he says
he would accept interference. He did. The only reason he cleaned it up
the next day was because of the fallout of it.
I think, you know, Chris, though to some of your earlier questions, what we
also see in Hope Hicks is that if House Democrats are hoping for a smoking
gun by bringing anybody in to testify, they`re not going to get it. These
are going to be imperfect witnesses, right?
What she said about WikiLeaks, we didn`t coordinate ahead of time but we
were ready to react. On Lewandowski, she was asked, were you concerned
that Donald Trump asked Lewandowski to have Sessions unrecuse himself? She
said, I wouldn`t say, concerned, but maybe it was odd. What she`s – what
the House Democrats will get from any witness is imperfect testimony.
And so they actually have to be careful. If they think they`re going to
draw this out in the public eye, that strategy could very well backfire. I
still would make the case, stay within the four corners of the Mueller
report. Go with what you have. If it means impeachment or censure, do it,
if not, fine. But I`m not sure they get much traction by bringing more
people like Hope Hicks forward.
MATTHEWS: And I thought she was very well prepared for this, Cynthia.
You`re used to clients being prepared. She seemed like she was going to
defend Trump under the law as much as she get under this immunity BS
they`ve got. But when it came to her own future, which is long, she`s very
young and she`s a professional, she was made – she was very clear to say,
I know they shouldn`t have done it.
ALKSNE: Right, exactly.
MATTHEWS: In the hindsight that we have now, they shouldn`t have taken
money or support, information, basically wealth from a foreign power.
ALKSNE: Right, she covered herself that way. She covered herself on some
of the gray areas saying, I just don`t remember, I don`t recall. It`s like
reading an old transcript of an Oliver North testimony.
MATTHEWS: Protecting herself.
Meanwhile, two democratic members of the House have joined the growing list
of lawmakers calling for an impeachment inquiry. Today, Congresswoman Jan
Schakowsky, she`s from Lake Shore Drive, of course, in Chicago, followed
her Illinois colleague, Congressman Sean Casten, in urging the House of
Representatives to begin hearings. Now, they`re part of that group. It`s
a total of 72 House members have pushed for public support for impeachment.
However, their announcements came just as Speaker Nancy Pelosi takes an
even stronger stand against impeachment. Yesterday, Pelosi said she feels
no pressure to pursue it and won`t do so unless she has the votes to
convict Trump in the Senate, that means 2/3 in the Senate or she`s not
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It can`t be the democrats impeach in the House,
the Senate, in his view, exonerate, and the republicans exonerate in the
Senate. This president must be held accountable. So I feel no pressure
from my members to do anything and I have no pressure on them to do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Pelosi also ruled out a vote to censure the President
dismissing the possibility as an ineffective half measure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you could not convict in the Senate and you
couldn`t actually impeach, that the House could, for history`s sake, pass a
censure resolution that would force the republicans in the Senate to say
something about the President`s conduct. Is this something that you`re
PELOSI: No. I think censure is just a way out. If you`re going to go,
you`ve got to go. In other words, if the goods are there, you must
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jolly, let`s talk about this because I thought you wanted the
truth, at least as I know the truth. You know in the House when they need
218 for a passage in either party and they know it`s a tough vote, like
it`s a (INAUDIBLE). Nobody wants to vote for a (INAUDIBLE).
So you haul a bunch of 20 or 30 people there and you hold them on the floor
of the House on your side of the aisle, and you hold them there as you need
them. And you only make the ones you need votes, so you don`t waste any –
you don`t hurt anybody, you don`t have to hurt them at home.
It looks to me like Pelosi is doing something in football, I think we call
it prevent defense. We just let a couple a day released from the corral.
Okay, you can be for impeachment, Schakowsky. You`re from a liberal
district on the Lake Shore. I`m not going to hurt you with your well-
But it`s not going to make any difference because she can`t afford because
it`s June, it`s going to be July in a couple of weeks. She`s not going to
do impeachment. She has decided that months ago and yet she keeps talking
about timing and all that. I thought today was the clearest statement
she`s made, we`re not doing it ever, ever.
JOLLY: Yes. Look, Chris, she`s running out the clock. It`s six weeks
until August recess. They`ll come back to a debt limit debate and keeping
the government open. They`ll be looking at the holidays. She`s dragging
her feet because she does want to run out the clock.
The irony here is, you know, originally, Nancy Pelosi has said, we`re not
going to move until the American people want us to, until we`ve convinced
the American people there`s sufficient evidence. But the reality is she
has a lot rank and file members where the American people are saying to
Nancy Pelosi, through their representatives, please move on this.
I believe Nancy Pelosi when she says she feels no pressure from her rank
and file members because she`s the Speaker. She`s the queen. They`re not
going to put pressure on her. I think the pressure will come from
democratic voters but also, Chris, maybe as early as next week, 20
presidential candidates on national T.V. in primetime, how do they answer
the impeachment question? And if the Presidential candidates on the
democratic side of the aisle really start talking about impeachment, that`s
going to put the spotlight back on Speaker Pelosi.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`ll make the gentleman`s bet I make with you, with every
democrat I have on this show, I`ll bet you they don`t do it. It`s not
going to happen. I think this is kicking the can down the road, like they
do on immigration, like they do on every issue.
This Congress doesn`t decide things. They kick it down the road. They
don`t do anything. They shouldn`t be called lawmakers because they don`t
pass the law. They haven`t passed a law since the Voting Rights Act in
`65. They don`t do stuff. Please all pay attention. They don`t do it.
Cynthia Alksne, thank you. Mike Memoli, it`s all true. David, I hate to
break your heart, but you`re not there anymore. Anyway, David, thank you
for joining. You`re here.
Coming up, smoothing things over? We`ve got new reporting tonight about a
phone call between Joe Biden and Cory Booker about – well, about another
democrat about what they`ve been criticizing Biden over for his remarks
about working too warmly, I guess the phrase is, with old-time segis (ph).
Plus, just days after President Trump blamed Iran for attacks on shipping
tankers, a U.S. drone is shot down by Iranians. Can Trump de-escalate this
situation or has it pushed into the point of no return?
By the way, this drone, $100 million drone. It`s really an airplane.
Plus, a democratic candidate`s campaign launch is a viral sensation. Take
a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RETIRED COL. KIM OLSON, AIR FORCE: I was sent to the frontlines of Iraq to
rebuild. I got to tell you, it was a cluster. There was no reconstruction
plan, no political foresight. Our government couldn`t even pay the
security detail protecting Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, retired Colonel Kim Olson, you saw it there, walking
there, trying to flip a Texas congressional district to the democrat side.
She`s going to join us live tonight. Much more ahead.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Actually, Joe Biden is facing sharp criticism even today from his
Democratic rivals after referring to the civility of powerful
segregationist senators back in the `70s.
Biden`s remarks, made at a fund-raiser in New York on Tuesday night, gave
Democratic opponents an opening, obviously, to level their fiercest
criticism of him so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the bottom line here
is, why on earth would a Democrat speak nostalgically of working with a
QUESTION: Should Joe Biden apologize?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s going to have to
make that decision, but let`s be very clear. The senators that he is
speaking of with such adoration are individuals who made and built their
reputations on segregation.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think that
you should be bragging about working on a bipartisan basis with
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A guy running to be the
head of our party, which is a significantly diverse and wondrous party,
doesn`t understand or can`t even acknowledge that he made a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, last night Biden stood by his comments and dismissed
criticisms from his rivals, including that senator, Cory Booker, right
there, who said the former V.P. should have apologized immediately.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I could not have disagreed with
Jim Eastland more. And he was a segregationist.
I ran for the United States Senate because I disagreed with the views of
the segregationists. There were many of them in the Senate at the time.
What I was talking about was the Voting Rights Act. I was able to pass the
Voting Rights Act while, when I was a young senator, when he was still the
chairman. We voted against him. And we beat him in the Voting Rights Act.
QUESTION: How does it feel that your Democratic rivals are implicitly
saying that you have issues talking about race?
BIDEN: They know better.
QUESTION: Are you going to apologize, like Cory Booker has called for?
BIDEN: Apologize for what?
QUESTION: Cory Booker`s called for it. He`s asking you to apologize.
BIDEN: Cory should apologize. He knows better. There`s not a racist bone
in my body. I have been involved in civil rights my whole career, period,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Booker shot back, comparing Biden`s – Biden`s conduct to
that of President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: He`s falling back into the defensive crouch that often people say,
which is, Cory called me a racist, or I`m not a racist, which is not what I
said and not what I`m calling him.
And this is the problem. He knows better. And at a time when Donald Trump
never apologizes for anything, and starts to create that kind of, I think,
toxic sentiment that you never apologize, never apologize, never apologize,
I know Joe Biden. He`s better than this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, late today, NBC News confirmed that Biden called Booker
after that interview to smooth tensions, but stood by his remarks.
Meanwhile, several prominent legislators out there have defended Biden,
notably, U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest
ranking African-American in the House of Representatives, who invoked
another infamous segregationist.
Clyburn told Politico: “I worked with Strom Thurmond all my life. You
don`t have to agree with people to work with them.”
For more, I`m joined by Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of progressive
programming for SiriusXM, and Michael Steele, former RNC chair.
I guess I will start with Zerlina about this.
What do you want to be said now? Here it is, Thursday night. This thing
started two nights ago. Has this got legs? I think it has for the
weekend. But what should be done now by the Democrats to move somewhere
with this positively, if that`s possible?
ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUSXM RADIO: Look, I think that this is a moment where
the other Democrats that are not Joe Biden saw an opportunity to draw a
contrast with Joe Biden.
I think that there are generational differences with how people see whether
or not you should be willing to work with people who literally deny my
humanity, or whether or not you should stand up and be an outspoken
I think, in this moment, Joe Biden should take a hard look at the impact of
his words. It`s not really the intention, whether he meant to be racist or
whether he is racist. That`s not the question. No one is claiming that.
What critics like myself are saying is, he was tone-deaf in his remarks,
and he should think about the impact of those words on the communities of
color that are being directly hurt by Donald Trump`s policies and policies
going all the way back to those segregationists.
So I think it`s a disconnect between where the party is right now and where
Joe Biden is. And he`s going to have to reconcile that.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, politically, I`m
looking at this and I`m laughing, because I`m saying, if this is the fight
you want to have now, oh, just wait until this sucker heats up.
And Trump is going to sit there and ride this horse all the way to victory
OK, so set that aside for a moment. All of this apologizing for things
that, during context, place and time, all of that matters. Where was the
outrage then? Well, it didn`t – it wasn`t there, because this was not how
a lot of people looked at the politics of the day.
You know, Chris…
MATTHEWS: I was there.
STEELE: You know a lot. You know you were on the Hill. You know a lot of
MATTHEWS: I know what it smelled like when I got there in the morning in
the `70s, and all the cooking was Southern cooking. They ran the Congress
of the United States, these Southern grandees and seggy.
The guys that voted against the civil rights bill ran everything. They ran
Appropriations. They ran Armed Services. They ran Judiciary. They ran it
STEELE: So the question becomes today, how does a Joe Biden articulate and
have that conversation?
I don`t think it`s something the country`s overly enamored about or cares
that much about at this point in the summer, but it is a lesson in politics
for Joe to recognize how they`re going to come at him and how they`re going
to make for him account for a time and place that no one else – I mean,
does Barack Obama now take back his eulogy of Senator Byrd, when he said
that, you know…
MATTHEWS: Bobby Byrd, yes.
STEELE: Robert Byrd – that over the arc of his 92 years sort of bent
towards justice? Really?
STEELE: The former, you know…
MATTHEWS: Grand kleagle.
STEELE: … grand pooh-bah of the Ku Klux Klan?
MATTHEWS: I know.
STEELE: So, this is the slope that Democrats are finding themselves on.
And I think it`s a dangerous one.
MATTHEWS: It`s a real debate.
Well, some in Biden`s orbit have reportedly warned the president in the
past against – him against referencing segregationists, and former Senator
James Eastland, for example, in particular.
According to “The Washington Post,” one Biden adviser said: “It might move
him to pick a different senator, but he`s not someone you can go to and
just say, you have been doing this X-many of years, and you can`t do it
Politico reports: “A campaign source said invoking segregationists has been
a point of contention, but there`s only so much we can do. This is his
I agree with you, Zerlina. And I know how it sounds, and I do also know
that I – I went back and read – because I knew about Ted Kennedy as a
young senator 10 years before, had to go up there and sit there and drink
Scotch in the morning, to the point of getting looped, so this guy would
give me your committee assignments, because this guy, seggy, as he was,
decided what some committees Ted Kennedy got to sit on.
And you had to bow down to that guy to get anything, because it was an
oligarchy in those days. Well, your thoughts too. I mean, you know this
from history. You were young, but you – this all happened. You know what
happened. They were running the place.
MAXWELL: Yes, I mean, I wasn`t here for it, but, obviously, I have read
MAXWELL: And I have to say this, though.
I think that, you know, it both shows that Joe Biden has been around a very
long time. So when he was talks about, I was there as when we passed the
Voting Rights Act, as a millennial, that`s like, whoa, it reminds me
MATTHEWS: Well, he wasn`t there. Actually, he`s wrong. The Voting Rights
Act was `65. He came in, in `73.
MAXWELL: Right. He`s talking about the early `70s.
MATTHEWS: He`s talking about registrations of it, yes.
MAXWELL: But whenever – when he`s name-dropping that, that does seem like
a very large disconnect between where millennials are on these issues and
But I think that I`m not laughing, Michael.
STEELE: I know.
MAXWELL: I don`t think this is funny.
I think that the conversation that we`re having actually is serious. I
think that the gaffe that Joe Biden made is minor in its context. But the
larger conversation about race relations in this country, the impact on
communities of color, the Trump administration`s policies, like caging
children, or, most recently, where he said he doesn`t regret saying the
Central Park 5, who were innocent men, should have been executed, those
types of things have a real impact in the real world.
And the Democrats need somebody who can actually stand up and fight back
against that. And claiming that you can compromise with people who deny
your humanity is not representative of a strong and vocal advocate. That
is what I am saying.
No one`s calling Joe Biden a racist. No one is denying that Joe Biden has
worked on these issues. It`s just saying that he has to understand the
time we`re living in.
MATTHEWS: I`m with you completely. I understand this. And I`m going to
say at the end of the show Biden better learn how to talk like a 2020
Democrat, not in 1972 Democrat. He`s got to learn how to talk, because he
will be speaking for the Democratic Party, if he`s lucky enough to win the
But back to the question of, what would a senator do? It`s harder for you,
a women of color of your age, to imagine, I guess, lucky for us all, but
you walk in the United States Senate and they say, here`s the deal. You
want to work on civil rights, you got to get on the Judiciary Committee.
You want to work on immigration, you got to get on the Judiciary Committee.
And the chairman is this old seggy, who sits around looking at oil maps all
day, but you got to go into his office at dawn. What would you have done?
MAXWELL: I`m going to tell you a secret, Chris.
As a woman of color in the year 2019, I have to navigate spaces and deal
with people who don`t think that I`m equal to them or as smart as them or
as capable as them.
So, people of color, women of color, women, we have to deal with this type
of dynamic all the time. We have to deal with people that don`t agree with
us on issues or have abhorrent views to our literal existence and humanity.
So I`m not saying that you would not eventually come to some sort of
compromise and push forward legislation. What I`m saying, that, in the
Democratic primary – he`s not in office. He`s not in the Senate. He`s
talking about, back in the day, when he used to have a more civil tone with
people who were segregationists.
And that`s the problem. It`s not the idea of compromise. It`s the fact
that you`re talking about it with such tone-deafness in this moment where
it just seems like you`re out of touch.
MATTHEWS: OK. We will see. It`s a great debate.
Thank you, Zerlina, for being a big part of this.
MAXWELL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Michael Steele.
Up next: President Trump says, we will soon find out how the U.S. will
respond to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone. This – look at this thing.
This is not some little thing flying around your backyard. This is an
airplane that isn`t manned.
We`re back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Early this morning, the commander in chief of Iran`s Revolutionary Guard
announced that it had shot down a U.S. military drone in Iranian airspace.
U.S. Central Command confirmed the attack, but disputed the location,
saying the drone was over international waters.
Well, the Pentagon release video purportedly showing a trail of smoke after
the drone was shot down over the Gulf of Oman. President Trump offered a
stark warning then to Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran made a big mistake.
This drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it all
documented. It`s documented scientifically, not just words.
And they made a very bad mistake. OK?
QUESTION: How will you respond?
TRUMP: You will find out.
QUESTION: Are you willing to go to war with Iran?
TRUMP: You will find out. You will find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yet, just moments later, the president suggested that Iran might
not have done it intentionally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have a feeling. I may be wrong. And I may be right. But I`m
right a lot.
I have a feeling that it was a mistake made by somebody that shouldn`t have
been doing what they did.
QUESTION: Are you saying you think it wasn`t intentional to strike the
TRUMP: I don`t know. I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you
want to know the truth. I think that it could have been somebody who was
loose and stupid that did it.
But we will be able to report back, and you will understand exactly what
happened. But it was a very foolish move. That, I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Interesting stuff.
The escalating tensions began, of course, with President Trump`s decision
to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 deal limiting Iran`s nuclear
And late today, President Trump, along with military officials, hosted top
congressional leaders, along with the several committee chairmen and
ranking members, to brief them on the situation as it stands.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters he`s worried that the
president and this administration may bumble into a war.
Will both sides walk back from the edge, or have we reached the point of no
return? We should worry. This is serious.
That`s coming up next.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States, National
Security Adviser John Bolton announced a trip to the region to meet with
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bolton, according to “The Washington Post” is reportedly dominating Iran
policy, keeping a tight rein on information that gets to the president.
That`s pretty scary.
Moments ago, House Republicans called for a measured response to Iran`s
“New York Times” columnist Nicholas Kristof warned: We are facing very real
risks of a cycle of escalation without good face-saving exit ramps for
either Trump or Khamenei. This could get scarier.
For more, I`m joined by Nicholas Kristof, and Wendy Sherman, former under
secretary of state for political affairs and author of “Not for the Faint
Nick, thank you.
This is real, right? This is not a trumped up wag-the-dog situation by
this administration, right?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The risks here are very
real. I mean, you know, we don`t know whether there will be an explosion,
but we are essentially on a collision path and there are not a lot of exit
ramps. I mean, there are some, but the basic problem is that we have two
bellicose nationalists, each of whom is somewhat reluctant to go on a
different path, and there are not a lot of face-saving ways that they can
And there`s a real risk of that collision but also simply other than the
state, you know, the navy, the U.S. Navy is concerned there are so many
ships in the Gulf, so many hot heads around that you can have things go
wrong and, you know, every Iranian knows in 1988, the U.S. mistakenly shot
down a civilian Iranian airliner with 290 people on board. You know, both
sides can make mistakes and then the escalation – I`m not sure Americans
appreciate just how messy and how dangerous this could be, how much it
could engulf the region.
MATTHEWS: It`s a real country.
Madam Secretary, it seems to me that Ronald Reagan, who looks very measured
at this point, when Colonel Nicholson was killed over in Berlin that time,
he said, I`m not going to war with it. When the Korean airline was shot
down over Russian airspace by that field commander, he said, I`m not going
to blame the country for that.
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS:
When pilots were downed in the E3 in China, President Bush in a matter of
ten days very quietly, calmly through careful diplomacy got them back
safely. We lost an important ship that had a lot of intelligence on it,
but, you know, that was the stakes that were played then. I think the real
concern now is the one that Nick pointed out, which is we are in an
escalatory cycle of the hard hard-liners here and the hard hard-liners
there, and they are just symbiotic really getting each other to spiral up.
You know, we all know that sometimes coercive diplomacy is the right thing
to do. But this administration is all about coercion and nothing about
MATTHEWS: Did you see the two Janus masks of the president? I didn`t.
Last comment from him, he says, you know, they made a big mistake but maybe
it was an accident. In other words, getting them off the hook. Himself
off the hook.
KRISTOF: Yes. I mean, frankly I thought that was – it was welcome that
president Trump made that comment and also welcome that the other day, he I
think told “Time” that the damage to the tankers was, you know, very minor,
that he – you know, it really does seem that President Trump is aware of
the possibilities of things going very wrong, of escalation.
But the – while he`s aware of it, he`s surrounded by aides, both Bolton
and Pompeo, who see Iran through this prism of hostility and seem to want
to escalate and I`m not sure that president Trump, you know, is prepared to
take a face-saving way. I think for all of that seeming awareness he has,
that things could still go very badly very quickly.
MATTHEWS: To that point, Lindsey Graham who spoke to the president today
had a warning for Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): So here`s what Iran needs to get ready for,
severe pain inside their country, that their capabilities pale in
comparison to ours. We`re not going to let them disrupt navigation of the
seas, attack our allies and U.S. interests without paying a price. So if
they`re itching for a fight, they`re going to get one.
REPORTER: How close are we to doing that? How close are we to doing that?
GRAHAM: We`re a lot closer today than we were yesterday and only God knows
what tomorrow brings.
(EDN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Wendy, that`s Lindsey playing Charles Laughton in
“Advise and Consent.” The old Southern guy wants to fight, it`s a macho
SHERMAN: Right, indeed. There`s a lot of macho thing going on here,
between as Nick said, Pompeo and Bolton.
You know, we are just getting closer and closer and closer to this blowing
up. Iran is not going to sit back, that`s the problem here. The odd thing
here is we`re all counting on the president, Donald Trump, to save us in
this situation. That`s not a place I like to be.
MATTHEWS: Fire John Bolton, that`s a great sign we`re not going to war.
Just fire the guy tonight and everybody will relax for a while.
By the way, Bolton is building up his strength in the NSC. He`s pushing
people out, bringing his people in. You know, the American Enterprise
Institute will be empty by next week.
Anyway, Nicholas Kristof, thank you. Ambassador Wendy Sherman, it`s good
to have two sober-minded people. I hope we got one at the White House for
an hour or two.
Anyway, coming up next, my next guest calls herself Colonel Marvel. With a
resume as impressive as hers, you would, too.
Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
After Beto O`Rourke came close to winning in 2018, Democrats are hoping to
turn Texas blue in 2020. One of their top targets is the 24th
congressional district currently held by Republican Kenny Marchant, a
district that Trump and Beto won.
Well, this week, one of Marchant`s Democratic challengers, retired Air
Force Colonel Kim Olson, released an ad highlighting her military
experience. The ad went viral online. Let`s watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM OLSON (D-TX), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I was sent to the front lines
of Iraq to rebuild. I`ve got to tell you, it was a cluster. There was no
reconstruction plan, no political foresight. Our government couldn`t even
pay the security detail protecting Americans.
(END VIDEO CLP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this morning, Olson tweeted: Colonel Marvel reporting for
duty, comparing herself to Captain Marvel, the fictional pilot turned super
Retired Air Force Colonel Kim Olson joins me now.
I don`t think I`ve ever used the word “cluster” the way you used it so
provocatively, but you`ve got the right to do it. Tell me, what about
Trump has edged you into this risky business of running for public office?
What about Trump?
OLSON: Well, it`s not just about Trump, Chris. And thanks for having me
on the show.
It`s for kind of what it represents. That we have a nation in which those
of us that wore the uniform swore an allegiance to the Constitution of the
United States of America, against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I
have that same expectation of our commander-in-chief. And those of us that
served in the military to help defend those foundations that make this
nation great. And it`s my belief that this particular president is
undermining all those institutions.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Texas. It`s a tough state, proud state, been
Republican for a while now. I can remember, I guess, as recently as `68,
it voted for Hubert Humphrey over Nixon.
MATTHEWS: But ever since then, it`s been a Southern state. What can you
to move it?
OLSON: Well, I think that we showed we can move it in 2018. And you know,
there are lots of warriors on the ground that walked blocks, that
registered voters, that got the vote out. We had record turnout for the
first time in almost three decades because we had folks that did the hard
Look, anybody out there can be a warrior. And you win these little battles
a little at a time. And that`s how you turn states like Texas from red to
blue, because the issues we face in this state aren`t blue issues and
aren`t red issues. They`re red, white, and blue issues. And it takes all
of us to get them fixed.
MATTHEWS: Are you a moderate, a progressive, or a conservative?
OLSON: I`m Kim Olson and I`m an American and I`m from Texas. And I want
to lead in this district.
MATTHEWS: OK, but when your voting record – when you get your voting
record out there after a day– a couple of weeks in Congress, people are
going to know what you are. You`re going to vote progressive or vote
moderate or conservative. They`re going to know it.
OLSON: They are. So it depends on what the issues are. And I vote to
represent the constituents, I vote for what`s in the best interest of our
And again, you`re there to serve. This isn`t about you. This is about
serving those who put you in office.
And oh, by the way, those of us that are elected officials ought to work
harder than the people that we`re representing, and I`m not sure that`s
actually happening these days. And that`s why I think the video went
viral, Chris, is because people are looking for leaders who can be
reasonable and represent them and actually speak truth to power. And stand
up when things aren`t right.
And that`s the kind of woman I`ve done, and I`ve done it in my entire
career. And I`ll do it when I get into Congress.
MATTHEWS: When I was growing up in politics, you had to have served in the
military. You had to have some record as a service person to even think
about running for national office. And now we`ve had, starting with Bill
Clinton, since the Cold War has been over, but we have all sorts of
What is the advantage of someone who`s been in it, who`s been overseas in
conflict, in combat? What`s the advantage?
OLSON: Well, I think the first – just as you were saying earlier in your
show. We`re over here rattling our sabers to take on another country. And
I remember, I was in Iraq the first ten days after we stopped bombing it,
trying to rebuild a country with no exit plan at all and no strategic
foresight as to what we were going to do with this place.
And so, having had boots on the ground, and right now, I`ve got skin in the
game. My son is deployed halfway around the world defending this country,
wearing a uniform just like I did. As a matter of fact, working in the
same kind of warfare that I did 20 years ago.
You know, being in endless wars is not what great nations do. Great
nations need to be the peacemakers. They need to be the role models. And
they need to be the ones that take the world out of constant warfare.
MATTHEWS: Good luck. I can give you all the advice I`ve got. It won`t
make a lot of difference, but do use a lot of radio and meet a lot of
people. TV is very hard to get on, but getting on radio is a lot easier,
social media. There are so many ways to meet people now.
But, you know, you seem to have got the energy. And that could be it. The
difference between you and the other guy.
Thank you so much. You got the energy and the will.
OLSON: Thanks, Chris. You bet you, sir. Thanks for having me on, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I`m glad to have you on, Colonel Jim Olson who knows what she`s
Up next, it`s weird, big fish.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: The South Carolina primary is showing its strength this weekend.
Most of the Democratic candidates for president are heading there tomorrow
for Congressman Jim Clyburn`s annual fish fry. This is the first time a
minority of their or a majority of them will vote altogether. Several days
before, 20 of them head – they go head to head in the first debate of the
2020 race here on MSNBC, NBC, and Telemundo.
What`s important about South Carolina and the picking of the Democratic
nominee is that it`s the locale of the first 2020 contest that represents
the modern Democratic Party in all its diversity. More than half of the
voters in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary there will be, in fact,
These demographics are important. We all know the historic role that
slavery played in expanding South Carolina`s large minority population. We
all should know the role that minorities are going to play in the future of
the Democratic Party.
Why? Because of Donald Trump`s birtherism and latest statements on the
Central Park Five has made the Republican Party a comfortable home for
those opposed to African-American aspirations. This has emphasized the
role the Democratic Party might play in advancing those aspirations.
It explains this past week`s heated Democratic conversation about former
Vice President Biden`s words about his past dealings with Democratic
senators from the old segregationist south. It is up to the primary voters
as to who the Democrats run in 2020, whether they are young or old, from a
minority community, or not.
The important point, as we`re hearing this week heading into the South
Carolina fish fry, is that the voice of the Democratic nominee be that of
the Democratic Party of 2020. Whichever candidate is chosen, they must
represent today`s party, which all its freshness of hope, with all its
diversity of wisdom and youth, with all of its demands for equal rights,
equal treatment, equal respect and equal aspiration for all Americans as we
move forward into the new century.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the