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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/11/2017

Guests: Seth Kaplan, Chris Coons, Anne Gearan, Adam Entous, Ken Vogel, Karine Jean-Pierre, John Feehery, Jeff Guinn

Show: Hardball with Chris Matthews Date: April 11, 2017 Guest: Seth Kaplan, Chris Coons, Anne Gearan, Adam Entous, Ken Vogel, Karine Jean-Pierre, John Feehery, Jeff Guinn

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Eastern promises.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Atlanta.

Well, tonight, the intrigue grows in this country. Is Donald Trump headed to a nasty confrontation with the man in Moscow who helped elect him? And why did a major American airline drag someone from a plane like a Hefty bag of passenger trash? And the true story of who did or did not drink the Kool-Aid in the largest murder-suicide in American history.

First, what`s with Trump on the Russian front? Despite sending mixed signals over the weekend, it`s clear today that the administration is now unified in their message on Syria, and they`re taking a confrontational approach toward both Bashar al Assad and his chief ally over in Russia, Vladimir Putin.

And that new tone was most evident in the rhetoric that press secretary Sean Spicer used today to make the point that there`s no justification for the use of chemical weapons and that Russia has no business supporting the Assad regime. In so doing, Spicer equated chemical weapons with nuclear weapons and invoked the name of Adolf Hitler. Let`s watch.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We can`t condemn every act, but I think to literally see someone use gas -- and it was pointed out -- you know, you think about that. It is in the same category as nuclear weapons for a reason. It is that lethal. It is that deadly. It is that horrific. Use of chemical weapons is put in the same category of weapons of mass destruction and so many other things because of what it does to an individual.

We didn`t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a -- you know, someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn`t even sink to the -- to the -- to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you`re Russia, ask yourself, is this a country that you and a regime that you want to align yourself with? At what point do they recognize that they are now getting on the wrong side of history in a really bad way really quickly?

And again, look at the countries that are standing with them -- Iran, Syria, North Korea. This is not -- this is not a team you want to be on.


MATTHEWS: Well, Sean Spicer meant to say that chemical weapons were not used in combat during World War II. He was quick to clarify, when asked in the briefing, and he later released a statement saying, quote, "In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. However, I was trying to draw a contrast of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people."

Anyway, and moments ago, Spicer apologized for that. Let`s watch.


SPICER: To draw any kind of comparison to the Holocaust was inappropriate and insensitive, and obviously, especially during a week like this, regret that. It was a distinction that didn`t need to get made. They both did horrendous, heinous things to innocent people, and to make any kind of comparison is really regrettable and a mistake.

I`m absolutely sorry, especially during a week like this, to make a comparison that has -- that is inappropriate and inexcusable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy Pelosi says you should be fired. Is your job safe?

SPICER: I -- I -- you know what? I made a mistake. I`m owning up to it. And you know, this is -- obviously, I would expect or I`d hope that everyone understands that we all make mistakes and ask for forgiveness.


MATTHEWS: Well, despite Spicer`s mistake, it`s clear the White House is taking a more aggressive posture on Syria right now, indicating that the stakes of last week or the strikes of last week are not a one-off move but part of a broader policy on the use of chemical weapons.

It`s a point that Secretary of Defense James Mattis -- that`s "Mad Dog" Mattis -- hit home with a stern warning to Syria late today.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If they use chemical weapons, they are going to pay a very, very stiff price.


MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Democratic senator from Delaware, Chris Coons. He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, give us a sense of, what do you think the Trump policy is now toward Assad`s regime in Syria and their ally, Russia, Vladimir Putin especially? What`s our policy as this administration?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Chris, we don`t really know, and I think President Trump owes the United States a clear policy on how we`re going to be behaving moving forward towards Bashar al Assad and his murderous regime in Syria.

We`re in the sixth year of Assad`s war against his own people. He`s killed more than 400,000 Syrians and turned millions into refugees. I am hopeful that Secretary Tillerson`s visit to Moscow, his meetings with their foreign minister, Lavrov, and possibly with Putin, is an opportunity for President Trump and his administration, his leaders to make it clear exactly what position they intend to take.

Obviously, Sean Spicer didn`t have a good day. I think it was wise of him to correct his comments. And my hope is that we can now focus on working with President Trump and his administration, those of us in Congress on the Foreign Relations Committees, and help them focus and sharpen what their policy and strategy is going to be because they`ve made such contradictory statements just in the last two weeks.

MATTHEWS: Well, the secretary of state, Tillerson, said we`re not going to be able to live with an Assad regime, and the press secretary, Sean Spicer, no matter how badly he said it, basically compared Assad and his use of chemical weapons with Adolf Hitler. So it`s pretty clear they see them both certainly as menacing in terms of our foreign policy. What more would you like to hear?

COONS: Well, I`m encouraged that -- frankly, that President Trump and Secretary Tillerson and Ambassador Haley have moved from a position two weeks ago of saying that we`re just going to have to live with Assad and we need to focus on ISIS to recognizing that Assad is a brutal murderer.

But I think we need to have clarity. How much farther are we willing to go? The White House was saying today that Russia almost certainly knew that Syria was about to carry out a chemical weapons attack. Are we going to ratchet up sanctions against Russia for their ongoing support for Assad? Are we willing to use force against Assad if he uses barrel bombs or other conventional weapons against his civilian population, as he`s been doing for years?

And how are we going to engage our vital allies across NATO and Western Europe in the fight against Assad, if that`s the direction President Trump chooses to go? He`s the president, and it`s important that he develops and clarifies for the American people what policy he`s going to be pursuing going forward against Bashar al Assad.

MATTHEWS: Well, here are my questions, Senator. Maybe you have the answers. First of all, Trump hasn`t said anything. He`s let everybody else talk. A guy who talks an awful lot hasn`t said anything what he thinks about -- about -- what he thinks now about Assad, whether he thinks this is a one-off, attacking him -- that airfield once, or is he really going to go at them again?

And also, not only is there silence from Trump, but you`re also getting Putin saying that there was no nerve gas used. So you really don`t have a meeting of the minds yet at all in terms of communication.

Are you worried that we`re not going to get a Trump statement or that Putin`s going to continue to lie about this or both?

COONS: Well, I think my first piece of advice to the president would be don`t make major statements on this in a tweet. Take your time. Consult with your secretary of defense and secretary of state and national security adviser and produce a more thorough and thoughtful statement in the next couple of days about what President Trump intends in terms of our direction.

Now, this is a very dangerous moment. This is no longer reality TV. This is reality. We have American troops on the ground fighting in Syria against ISIS, in Iraq against ISIS. We have hundreds in Syria, thousands in Iraq, and they`re quite exposed if Russia`s ally, Iran, chooses to take action against them. They`re at some risk if Assad turns against American or coalition airplanes conducting missions against ISIS in Syria.

It`s a complex and difficult situation, and I think the president needs to be clear with us what his intended next steps are.

MATTHEWS: What did you make of this Spicer -- well, I`ll call it a faux pas because I think he was thinking -- you know, I remember growing up hearing from my father and others that, you know, World War 1, the gas was used. I remember all the horrible pictures coming out of World War I from battlefield use of gas and the gas masks and what it did to people.

And even when Hitler, the worst person ever perhaps, was surrounded, they didn`t resort to that in the battlefield. I think that`s what, clearly -- that`s what I think Spicer was talking about. What do you make of his message sending today?

COONS: To be generous, Chris, I do think that what he was trying to do was to say that the use of chemical weapons air-dropped against civilians is a horrible thing and that it deserves to be confronted in the way that Trump did with an attack against the airbase that launched the chemical weapons use against Syrian civilians.

It`s never a good idea to bring Hitler in as an example, and obviously, Spicer tripped up quite a bit. And this is a particularly inappropriate week to be overlooking the horrors of the Holocaust.


COONS: So I do think the larger point here, Chris, is that the administration, its spokesman, Mr. Spicer, is trying to say that Bashar al Assad is an absolutely horrible person and that Putin and Putin`s regime is going to rue the day that they stood by as Assad carried out terrible attacks against his own people year in and year out.

And they`re trying to increase pressure on Putin to make a choice here, to decide whether to rejoin the West. Remember, Putin was kicked out of the G8. The G7 is just meeting this week in Italy. There are sanctions against Putin`s regime for his aggressive actions in the Ukraine and in Syria.

And so to be generous, what I think Spicer was trying to do today was to raise the level of rhetorical pressure on Putin to make a choice about whether to keep backing Assad.

MATTHEWS: Right. I agree with you. I also think even -- we don`t have to have Passover occurring at this time, which it is, and we should show reverence toward that, but I think we know that Hitler`s use of sarin (sic) gas in the gas chambers were unforgettable for everyone.

Thank you so much, and we should never forget.

COONS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Joining me right now is Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post," of course, and an MSNBC political analyst, and Anne Gearan, who covers diplomatic affairs for "The Washington Post."

Let me -- let me bring you in on this. Robert, you`re pretty good at reading Trump. And I was wondering, why has he been so quiet on this Russian front of late personally? He doesn`t seem to want to say anything. Is it to avoid a personal feud with Putin?

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Not so much to avoid a feud with Putin, but based on my reporting, Chris, this is a president who didn`t run as part of an ideological project on foreign policy, had this non-interventionist streak in how he articulated his position on Iraq intervention during the race. And now he finds himself surrounded by military figures in his cabinet, hawks, some of them inside of the White House, and he`s been more favorable to the idea of intervention in spite of his positive views toward Russia.

So it`s somewhat of a muddled foreign policy based more on the president`s instincts and his changing outlook.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it might be to cover his tracks for what happened during the campaign, and if there was any action in cahoots with the Russians over that year, which is now being investigated by the FBI and two houses of Congress -- do you think this new fight or tiff with Russia serves the purposes of covering tracks perhaps?

COSTA: I don`t want to guess. I haven`t seen anything like that in my reporting so far.

MATTHEWS: So you think these are unrelated, this concern about the investigation and his actions with regard to Putin right now?

COSTA: I think that some correlation about the strikes in Syria as a means of covering up a connection with Russia -- I have not seen that in my reporting so far, though I think Russia remains something -- somewhat of a cloud, a major cloud over this administration about its connections. There are ongoing federal probes and congressional investigations about just what was done from the Russia side in influencing the campaign.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Anne on this question. Anne, it seems to me that there`s always an element of almost Romanov absurdity, a royal family absurdity with the Trumps. Now, it`s one thing to have Jared Kushner sitting in on all meetings, doing all travel, representing the president as some sort of viceroy.

But then we get -- look at his. Eric Trump, the son of the president, said that his sister Ivanka may have played a role in the president`s decision to respond to Syria`s chemical attack. Quote, "Ivanka is a mother of three kids, and she has influence. I`m sure she said, Listen, this is horrible stuff. My father will act in times like that."

Well, referring more broadly to the advice the Trump family gives to the president, Eric Trump also said, "I think it gives you a sounding board who is a little more unconventional than the 37 people that might happen to be standing around a table at that one time who just want to appease."

Well, Sean Spicer was asked today whether the president`s daughter influenced his decision to strike Syria, and here`s what Spicer said.


SPICER: There`s no question that Ivanka and others weighed in to him, as - - as -- you know, it was asked earlier. I think there was a widespread acknowledgement that the images and the actions that have been taken were horrific and required action.


MATTHEWS: You know, Anne, some of this takes your breath away. First of all, the son, who`s the -- you know, the son of the president of the United States, says his father -- certainly, the family looks upon all the people around the president, the cabinet members, the top aides, the national security advisers, the Joint Chiefs as a bunch of appeasers, a bunch of yes men, and the only people that the president can rely on are his son, his daughter-in-law -- I mean his son-in-law and his daughter.

I mean, it`s like it is the Romanovs. The real advisers to this president, he`s saying, are the family, the royal family.

ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean, his remarks about appeasers were certainly eye-opening. But I think the rest of what we learned from Trump, Jr.`s, remarks here isn`t necessarily that surprising. This is a guy who ran a family business, is comfortable in the role of running a family business with a very small group of people around him, many of them related to him, and he`s translating that to the White House.

I mean, as Robert said a few minutes ago, he`s also surrounded by a ring of foreign policy hawks, and that`s new to him. And we now have those two circles sometimes competing with one another, and in the case of whether or not to launch a strike in Syria, apparently agreeing, Ivanka, according to her brother, for perhaps different reasons, but agreeing nonetheless that American credibility was on the line, that the United States had to do something. And Trump clearly listened to his daughter and to the hawks and their argument, as well.

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts on this, Robert, the family role compared to the official people around the president? Who`s got the upper hand?

COSTA: I think when you think about the family, and we so often talk about Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president and his son-in-law, but Ivanka Trump, his daughter, remains someone who may not be a foreign policy expert, but she`s part of these high-level discussions inside of the West Wing, sometimes informally, but she is now a federal employee. She`s working on her father`s staff, and she has weighed in with a broad portfolio.

When you think about Jared Kushner, when I think about them in the course of my reporting, Kushner, his wife Ivanka, even the sons, Don and Eric -- they have the ability, though they don`t always do it, to weigh in on major decisions, domestic and foreign.

MATTHEWS: And they weren`t elected. Anyway, it is a royal family.

Anyway, thank you, Robert Costa, Anne Gearan. We`re seeing this -- we know what happened to the Romanovs.

Anyway, coming up, three House races that should be easy Republican wins right now in this spring season could be tight as heck as GOP members face angry town halls out there for even going out and meeting the public, let alone running for reelection, because of what they`re up to with "Obama care." Anyway, that`s ahead.

Plus, the outrage over that United Airlines passenger who was thrown off that plane. At first, United`s CEO defended his employees for how they dealt with the situation. But today, he issued an apology -- that was coming.

And what really happened at Jonestown, remember that, where more than 900 people died in the worst mass suicide in American history, which gave life to that phrase, drinking the Kool-Aid?

Finally, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch."

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Barack Obama is set to make his reentry on the international stage. The former president will head to Germany next month to talk about democracy with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two will be part of a panel discussion marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and it will coincide with the beginning of President Trump`s trip to Europe. He`s scheduled for a NATO summit -- the president is -- in Brussels the same day.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, Congress is in recess right now, or what they call district work period, and some Republican members are getting an earful from angry constituents back home.

Here`s Florida Republican Congressman Ted Yoho holding a town hall last night in his district.


REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: I don`t believe the federal government should have a role in providing health care for everybody.


YOHO: I understand that.

My job is to defend the Second Amendment. I am not going to support Planned Parenthood.


YOHO: This is not about women`s health.





MATTHEWS: Well, and remember this guy, South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson? He was the guy who yelled "You lie" to President Obama in the middle of a joint session to Congress.

Well, last night, Congressman Wilson faced constituents back in his district, and here`s what he -- well, it looked like.


REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I have also supported the local solicitor here, and the solicitor in Lexington of all efforts to make sure that violence against women is fully enforced to protect...



AUDIENCE: You lie! You lie! You lie! You lie! You lie!


MATTHEWS: Well, it`s rough out there, isn`t it?

You could say, by the way, what goes around comes around.

But some moderate Republicans are avoiding town halls altogether, because, well, based off what they`re seeing in these town halls held in solid Republican districts.

"USA Today"`s Heidi Przybyla reports: "The lack of town hall meetings in key swing districts during a spring break that lasts until April 23 underscores the party`s precarious political position on health care and peaking civic activism by progressives."

We know all about that.

"TrMDNM_he migration away from public forums has been going on now for months, despite complaints from constituents and local media."

Heidi Przybyla is a senior political reporter for "USA Today." Michael Steele is former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Both are MSNBC analysts.

Let me go to Heidi with your piece.

Your piece is that -- well, who are the people that are holding meetings and letting people come in and really hit them hard over Obamacare and -- because they`re trying to get rid of it, and they voted on it, and who are the ones who are not even -- don`t even have the guts to face the public right now?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, like you saw, there`s a number of safe Republicans who are going out there and facing their constituents, and then there`s this whole other category of more moderate Republicans.

I had seen a number of editorials across the country basically calling out members for not holding town halls, and I thought, well, there must be something to this. So, I looked at some of those moderate Republicans who actually cast a vote on health care.

There were three different committees that voted on health care, even though the full house didn`t. And I totaled them up and looked at the town hall aggregator of what`s going on around the country, and found that not many of them were willing to actually hold a traditional town hall.

There are some, but, Chris, these are not your traditional town hall formats. There may be one-on-one interview with radio stations. They`re Facebook Live, other formats, but not where constituents can directly hold them accountable.

When I reached out to some of these moderate Republicans, you can understand. Some of them were honest with me and said, look, I don`t think it`s productive for these meetings, these encounters to devolve into shouting matches.

But, on the other hand, you know, some of the analysts I talked to said one of the worst things you can do in politics, what`s worse than being on the wrong side of an issue is looking like you`re running away from it with your tail between your legs.

And that is what they risk now, because you have these activists now going out, holding empty town hall forums, putting up billboards, putting up missing signs around town. And so the thought is that eventually this could come back and not be so helpful.

MATTHEWS: Well, Michael, what would you rather have if you were running for reelection in a congressional district? Would you rather have pictures of you being booed and yelled at and tough questions flying at you, I guess everything short of tomatoes coming at you, or would you rather have nothing on television?


MATTHEWS: What would you rather have?

STEELE: I would take the booing and the tomatoes.

MATTHEWS: You would take booing?


No, you go into the -- you go into the teeth of the argument. You go in, you make the case. Now, look, the other side -- and Heidi`s done some great reporting on this in sort of digging behind the numbers and taking a closer look at it.

But the fact of it is, for a lot of these folks, is that they`re in strong red districts. They don`t -- they`re not that concerned about reelection. What they are concerned about is exactly what some of the members have said to Heidi, and that is, I don`t want to subject myself to a roomful of progressive Democrats who have come to yell at me.

If you look at the political makeup and the argument and the reaction to some of the things that certainly these conservatives were saying, that`s not a typical Republican conservative response.

So, they`re balancing. They`re balancing the imagery that you suggest, Chris, of having the boos and the yelling vs. the crickets over whether or not, at the end of the day, that`s a commercial they want played against them in the fall of next year. And a lot of them are sort of opting out of making that commercial in the first instance.

MATTHEWS: Heidi, who is in the audience? Can you tell? Everybody has a right to show up at a public meeting. The question, of course, is what message do different people get to send?

If they`re progressives from that congressman`s district, well, that`s fair game. If they`re being trucked in from outside, is that the kind of thing going on? Are they just activists from the center-left or the left who say, I don`t like this guy Trump, and I`m going to say so? Who are they? PRZYBYLA: Well, look, none this is scientific, right? Every town hall is different.

But what I can tell you is that what we`re seeing is that this activism is taking place organically across districts. It`s not just in bluer-leaning districts. It`s in red districts.

I will give you an example. Out in Carson City, Nevada, Dean Heller has been refusing to do a town hall. Well, they have been really pressuring him. They formed a local working families party, local chapter, all local people. And just today, Dean Heller announced that he`s going to go ahead and do that town hall.

So, anybody who thinks this isn`t real is making the same mistake that the Democrats made in 2009 with the Tea Party.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the Democrats can -- and I`m not knocking it one bit. But parties tend to imitate each other when the other party wins. You learn from the other side.


MATTHEWS: Hard-nosed, ideological, cohesive argument against your opponent does work. The Republicans and the Tea Party people blasted away at Barack Obama for eight years. They`re still doing it. Against Hillary, they`re still doing it.

Is that kind of hard-nosed approach going to work for the -- I hate to go now to Michael, because you`re not from that side, but it`s your turn.

STEELE: No, but -- no, it`s...

MATTHEWS: Is it going to work on both sides? Because it did work for your party.

STEELE: It can.

But keep in mind, we didn`t focus on Barack Obama in 2010. We focused on Nancy Pelosi. And the idea was, you know, creating -- because she was most representative of the government. She was the speaker of the House. She had control of the Congress, and the Democrats had control of the Senate.

Sol, you`re absolutely right about making that ideological argument. But you have to anchor it to something. And the question for the progressives right now is, what is this anchored to? Are you mad at Trump? OK. About what? And how do you then galvanize independent voters and some potentially like-minded Republicans to cross that aisle and come over to your side to make the case next November?

So, all of the shouting and screaming right now has to mean something on the back end. And that`s going to be the challenge for chairman Perez and the Democratic Party, is to galvanize it in a way that you can get that crossover appeal, as we saw in 2010.

MATTHEWS: Michael, did you vote for Trump?

STEELE: Did I vote for Trump?


STEELE: No, I did not. Not at the time, no.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

Did you vote for Hillary?

STEELE: Oh, heck no.


MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

I just want to know sometimes. Just a little time check there.

Heidi, I won`t ask you. You`re just a regular journalist.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Heidi Przybyla. And great piece.

Thank you, Michael Steele.

STEELE: All right.

MATTHEWS: I love to keep you on your toes.

Up next: a story that`s outraged -- I voted for Hillary, OK?

Up next: the story that outraged the flying public. How can United Airways -- Airlines forcibly remove -- I mean, they dragged him out of that plane like he was a Hefty bag of passenger trash. It wasn`t too pretty.

Anyway, we`re going to talk about that. And what do they do on the overbooked flights? And why do they overbook flights? Tonight, United`s CEO is of course apologizing. That was coming. But what`s become of the P.R. nightmare for this airline? Nothing. It`s still going to last them forever.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.







MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was the video of United Airlines passenger Dr. David Dao being forcibly removed from a plane in Chicago on Sunday night because four crew members of the company needed to be on that flight to Louisville.

Well, the Chicago Department of Aviation placed one of the officers involved on leave.

Well, at first, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz apologized -- quote -- "for having to re-accommodate" -- I love that word -- "these customers."

But his letter to employees yesterday did not admit any wrongdoing. Munoz said: "This situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused, and it became necessary to contact Chicago aviation security officers to help our employees. By the way, our employees followed establish the procedures for dealing with situations like this."

Well, airlines can legally overbook flights, of course, and require passengers to give up seats for crew members, I`m told, as long as they ask for volunteers first.

But the graphic video quickly went viral, and United stock took a plunge today.

Well, Munoz wrote another letter today, this time with a humble undertone, stating: "I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way. I want you to know that we take full responsibility, and we will work to make it right."

Well, joining me right now is Seth Kaplan, managing partner of "Airline Weekly."

Seth, thank you for joining us. You understand this stuff.

Cut through the malarkey, if you will. What are they saying they should have done when they found out they wanted four of their crew people to get to Louisville, and they had to get some people out of those seats, so they could put their people in, and nobody was buying the offer to be paid out of their seats? What should they have done?

SETH KAPLAN, "AIRLINE WEEKLY": Well, they should have figured it all out before the guy is given a boarding pass and is sitting in a seat ready to push back.

And I think they have made a big mistake for themselves, for the airline industry by, you know, just kind of making it sound like, hey, this is something that happens. Flights are oversold. We have some involuntary denied boardings, because, yes, that stuff happens.

But that`s not happening here. And I don`t know how, as the CEO, you can`t look at that and how your first reaction can`t be, I just can`t believe how we treated a customer. And what he said today, I would have been impressed if he said that two days ago.

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s his answer? I know that`s your...


MATTHEWS: You said they shouldn`t -- you said they shouldn`t do that. But he`s not saying they shouldn`t do that. He`s just coming out with these phony apologies they do when the plane takes off late.

They don`t mean anything.

KAPLAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: My question is, what does he think they -- under his rules, they would have done otherwise? Let the guy stay in his seat?

What would they normally -- what is he saying the right way for them to have treated him was?

KAPLAN: Well, right.

Well, he`s saying, look, you know, it was oversold. We couldn`t get enough volunteers. You have got to get somebody off as an involuntary denied boarding.

The thing is that once that guy is sitting in the seat -- this is different from how it usually is. Usually, this goes on out in the gate area. It`s not pleasant, but it`s kind of like you found out your flight was canceled or you showed up late for a flight, and there goes the flight. Right? The doors close.

This isn`t like that. And I think someone needs to figure out that, look, we have to offer whatever it takes to get somebody out -- off. We need to consider not letting those crew members fly.

And, look, I know that they`re thinking, look, I would rather inconvenience this one person than the hundreds of people on the flight that that crew is supposed to work later. I get it.

But, in this case, Chris, you just can`t let this happen. Obviously, it would have been worth it for them to do something more. And, you know, the history in the airline history, Chris, is that either you solve the problem, or somebody else is going to solve it for you, and you as an airline might not like how they do it.

So, they`d be a lot better served getting out in front of this and saying, look, this can`t happen.

MATTHEWS: Well, I got two words, Seth. You`re the expert. Two words: the friendly skies. That`s what they call themselves.

Thank you, Seth Kaplan.

New reporting, by the way, from "The Washington Post" about connections between an adviser to the Trump campaign and the Russians, that`s coming up in just a second.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.



"The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that the FBI obtained a secret FISA court order last summer to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. According to law enforcement officials, it was part of an investigation into possible connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.

"The Post" reports, quote, "The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page`s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. In this case, Russia according to the officials."

Page told "The Post", "This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance. I have nothing to hide."

Well, "The Washington Post`s" Adam Entous broke the story and he joins us now.

Adam, does this tell us that the FBI thought there might be something in cahoots between the Trump campaign and the Russians in trying to swing the election?

ADAM ENTOUS, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Well, what I think it really shows us is that over the last -- over the last few months and certainly over the summer, when the intelligence was coming in about Russia`s effort to try to intervene in the election, that they were actively trying to figure out the nature of these relationships. And as I`m sure you know, the hurdle is pretty high for getting a FISA on a U.S. person.

And so, they had to make the case that Carter Page in this case was acting as effectively as agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, in order to get that warrant. And so, what it shows is at least last summer, that there was an active effort on the part of the FBI to try to get additional information and better understand the relationships that were developing.

MATTHEWS: So, when the director of the FBI, James Comey, recently said they were conducting an investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians, Vladimir Putin`s operation, that wasn`t an investigation that was just commencing. That had been going on at least through last summer?

ENTOUS: Correct. In his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Comey specifically said that the counterintelligence investigation was launched in late July. We believe that based on our conversations with our sources, that this FISA warrant was one of the first actions that were taken as part of that investigation in order to try to better understand, you know, where Carter Page in particular fit in connection to Trump and what his contacts were on the Russian side.

And as has been revealed by "BuzzFeed" and others in recent weeks, Mr. Page had communications with a Russian official who was later determined to be a member of the Russian intelligence service.

MATTHEWS: Does this relate to what happened in the Seychelles?

ENTOUS: At this point, you know, frankly we don`t -- I have no reason to believe that there`s any connection between those things. I can`t rule it out at this point.

The meeting in the Seychelles --


ENTOUS: -- of course, that you`re referring to was on January 11th, long after the Trump campaign and the transition distances itself from Page. And that was a meeting between Erik Prince, who was the founder of Blackwater --


MATTHEWS: Right. Blackwater, yes, another associate.

ENTOUS: -- and his sister is in the cabinet with Trump, meeting with a Russian -- some proxy for Putin at the behest of the UAE. I, at this point, do not have anything to connect these two events.

MATTHEWS: So many tentacles to this story so far. Anyway, Adam Entous, congratulations on that scoop. It`s a big one.

For more, I`m joined right now by our roundtable: Ken Vogel, of course, chief investigative reporter for "Politico", excuse me, and Karine Jean- Pierre, who`s senior adviser for, and John Feehery, Republican strategist.

I`ll start with John on this. What do you make of this? It could be cut either way. You either say, you know, there`s been an investigation of a possible cahoots, a relationship between the Trump people and the Russians, or you could say proves -- well, it doesn`t really prove it, but you could argue that it somehow covers Trump`s tweet a couple weeks ago that he said that President Obama had him wiretapped during the campaign. How are you looking at it?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I would like to get more information. I`d like to know what the president knew about this. I`d like to know if they were listening in at Trump Tower. I`d like to know all of the ramifications of this. I`d like to know how much Carter Page actually had to do with the campaign. And I`d like to know how much more the FBI kind of knew about the Russian influence.

I mean, I`d like to know all of this stuff and figure out, you know, how -- what to make of it. I think the story is a big story. But I think we need to make more -- get more information before we know -- make the determination of where this goes.

MATTHEWS: Ken, what have you got?

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Yes, I think it`s possibly more significant not for the Carter Page aspect of it because Carter Page, in fact, was only nominally involved in the campaign. He was involved early on, and he kind of fell out of favor with them and wasn`t really like a full-time adviser, wasn`t part of their meetings on the foreign policy committee.

But it does suggest that the FBI was looking seriously at some of this stuff during the campaign, and there are other people who are potentially - - who are more -- were more involved with the Trump campaign and also had deeper ties to more serious players in Russia, including Paul Manafort, who became essentially the campaign manager, as well as Michael Flynn, who became the national security adviser.

And I think this suggests that if they`re looking at Carter Page, it stands to reason that they`re probably also looking at -- maybe not a FISA warrant, but also looking at these more serious players.

MATTHEWS: Well, Jean-Pierre, that is the question, whether this is a tentacle coming from Moscow or a tentacle coming from our country on behalf of Trump. But somebody is trying to connect with somebody.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG: Yes, I agree. I think all of these loose dots are actually more of a connection that leads to concrete evidence that there is -- there was potentially something happening, a collusion with Russia. And, look, I think at the end of the day, we really need a bipartisan independent commission. I think that would be the way to go here.

You have a president in his first hundred days, he has an FBI investigation and also two other investigations going on, and we need to get to the bottom of this.

MATTHEWS: I know. It`s a short period, but one news just broke. We`re just covering it. Thank you all, Ken Vogel, Karine Jean-Pierre, and, of course, John Feehery.

We`re coming back with a fascinating new look at one of the darkest moments in U.S. history in the past 40 years. Remember don`t drink the Kool-Aid.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: For many Americans, the images of Jonestown are seared into their memory. The site of more than 900 people lying dead in the jungle of Guyana, a place they were lured to by a preacher named Jim Jones.

Here`s how NBC reported the shocking news nearly four decades ago. Just a warning: some of these images are extremely graphic.


REPORTER: The Americans lay rotting in the sun just where they died. The Guyana government wanted the world to see the most incredible mass suicide in history. The majority apparently died willingly at the urging of Jim Jones, the religious zealot who was their leader.

Today, American military pathologists came to examine and direct the removal of the decomposing bodies. It was the most macabre sight any of the doctors, soldiers, and reporters had ever seen. Entire families took the poison together, laid down, some embracing, others holding hands, and died.


MATTHEWS: Well, in the hours before their deaths, residents of Jonestown were visited by U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan. He was on a mission to determine whether people were being mistreated and held against their will. Ryan was accompanied by journalists, including a camera crew from NBC News.

Jones, who was rapidly becoming unhinged, lashed out when confronted with the information that some of his followers wanted to leave with the congressman. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it concern you, though, that this man for whatever reason, one of the people in your group --

JIM JONES, PEOPLE`S TEMPLE: People play games, friend. They lie. They lie. What can I do about liars? Leave us, I just beg you. Please leave us.

We will bother nobody. Anybody who wants to get out of here can get out of here.


MATTHEWS: Well, 15 defectors chose to go with Congressman Ryan and his crew. The scene in Jonestown then grew tense.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You bring those back here! You bring them back! Don`t you touch my kids!


MATTHEWS: Well, Jones never had any intention of letting people leave Guyana. While Congressman Ryan, his aides and the journalists awaited their departure at a nearby airfield, members of Jones temple followed them and opened fire. Congressman Ryan was killed. So was a defector, and three journalists, including NBC News cameraman Bob Brown and reporter Don Harris.

Back in Jonestown, the macabre finale was already under way as Jones gathered his followers and told them their deaths would be a revolutionary act. Then, they were served punch spiked with cyanide. More than 900 died, including 300 children.

Author Jeff Guinn chronicles this all in his amazing new book, "The Road to Jonestown", which is out today. He joins me right now.

Jeff, thank you.

Was it Kool-Aid? Just to get that product straight. Was that what they were drinking when they took the suicide -- the poison?

JEFF GUINN, AUTHOR, "THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN": No, they weren`t. At Jonestown, everything was bare bones, and the flavor was Flavorade, a cheap Kool-Aid knockoff. They couldn`t afford the real thing.

MATTHEWS: What about the fact of murder or suicide? How many of these people, while they were hypnotized to some extent I guess by this guy. But how many of their own volition chose to end their lives? Do we know?

GUINN: Well, certainly -- we certainly know that the 300 children didn`t, and we can`t be certain about the old people who probably made up another third. But of the rest of the people there, certainly some believed in Jim Jones, would do anything he wanted them to do and voluntarily committed suicide. Others had bought into what Jones believed and had told them that enemies were approaching any minute and would destroy them.

But there were certainly a large contingent who didn`t want to do that, but there were guards holding them at gunpoint, and those who wouldn`t take the poison voluntarily were held down and forcibly injected. We know this because their bodies had abscesses, and when they were discovered later, a couple days later, this proved that many of them did not die voluntarily.

MATTHEWS: What are "White Nights"?

GUINN: "White Nights" were something that Jones declared when he`d call everybody in Jonestown just under a thousand people to the main pavilion, claiming that there was some new emergency. Usually, it would be that there were enemies approaching and they had to get ready to defend themselves.

At a white night a few months before November 18th, 1978, he actually told his followers that he had poison drink that they must take because their enemies were closing in. Only after they drank, did he tell them there was no poison, that this proved that they were dedicated socialists and his followers.

That told Jones that when the time finally came when he thought that this grand final gesture should be enacted, that at least a majority of the people in Jonestown would probably cooperate. That`s when he ordered the cyanide to be brought in.

MATTHEWS: Why do I keep thinking of John brown when I read this story? I mean, what is -- there`s some -- there`s something there of good intentions or idealism bent wrong.

How would you describe his journey to that day of killing?

GUINN: Jim Jones was a demagogue in many typical ways. He would tell his followers there`s us and then there`s the enemy. He identified himself as the only one who can save you.

These are things that if we hear them, they should scare the hell out of us. But Jones also was a dedicated civil rights activist. He helped integrate the segregated city of Indianapolis long before civil rights laws. He led people`s temple with social programs for drug addicts and the poor. They accomplished some tremendous things.

Most of all, he appealed to his followers through their better nature. Your job, if you join me, is to work together to create a socialist example that will create a world where there is no racial prejudice or economic inequality. People followed him through the best of their natures.

MATTHEWS: Jeff Guinn, thank you. This book is called, your book is called "The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People`s Temple." And if you`re not fascinated with this story, you`re not like me.

When we return, let me finish tonight, with Trump Watch. He`s not going to like it.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Tuesday, April 11th, 2017.

I`ve said for some time the Trump presidency resembles, if it resembles anything, a royal favor with special favor to the Russian royal family before the communists grabbed power.

Just watch the way these latter day Romanovs set policy. Jared Kushner, the son-in-law, is given reign over pretty much everything. He sits in all decisions and may well be the one making a good number of them. He heads off to Iraq to meet with the U.S. military commander as if he were a viceroy, a stand-in for the president himself.

And then there`s the president`s son, Eric, who says that the key to understanding Trump`s decision to fire away at Syria lies with his sister, Ivanka. He says watch her and her children, Donald`s grandchildren, and you see the power behind the throne. If she didn`t like those pictures coming from Syria, that explains why Trump acted, why he sent those cruise missiles there. Again, it`s about the family.

Young Trump said something more disturbing. If you want to list things to worry about, he said that his father the president is surrounded by 37 appeasers. Yes, man, I said, he means people who just tell Trump what they think he wants to hear, where the family gives him the right direction.

What a perfect definition of a country run by a royal family, again, on the Russian model, the Romanovs, a bad example of having it all and blowing it.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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