Show: HARDBALL Date: September 6, 2017 Guest: Mark Krikorian, Ruben Kihuen, Tim Ryan, Tom Hamburger, Joyce Vance, Anita Kumar, John Brabender, Steve McMahon
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Family ties.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
After a summer of anticipation, congressional investigators on Capitol Hill may be closing in. In an interview behind closed doors, the Senate Judiciary Committee will tomorrow interview Donald Trump, Jr., the central campaign figure in that June 9th meeting with Russians at Trump Tower last year.
Donald Trump, Jr., first said that meeting was about adoptions, issuing a misleading statement drafted in part by the president himself. However, e- mails later showed he agreed to meet on the promise of information that would incriminate Hillary, information from the Russian government. His now famous response, "If that`s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer."
In an exclusive interview with NBC, the Washington (sic) lawyer in that meeting, Natalie Veselnitskaya, denied making good on that promise, saying she passed no significant information about Clinton, incriminating or otherwise, and that she was not representing the Russian government.
Yet the story notes, quote, "Intelligence experts have theorized that Veselnitskaya may have been a pawn in a scheme by Russian spy agencies to test the waters, seeking to determine how the Trump team would respond to an explicit offer of Russian help."
While tomorrow`s interview will be conducted by committee staffers, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut plans to attend. Here`s what he told reporters earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: The critical part of his testimony will be following the financial dealing, the approaches and promises that were made about the meeting and other meetings that may have occurred and what he hoped to gain -- apparently, dirt on Hillary Clinton. He said, "I love it" when he was promised it. The question is whether he will cooperate and he will be fully cooperative.
QUESTION: On that point because his story has changed so many times over this process, are you confident he will tell the truth tomorrow?
BLUMENTHAL: There are penalties if he lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Also tonight, there`s some breaking news on the Russian effort to influence the 2016 election. "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that the social media company Facebook, quote, "told congressional investigators Wednesday that it has discovered it sold ads during the U.S. presidential election to a shadowy Russian company seeking to target voters."
Well, as "The Washington Post" notes, the discovery is likely to fuel pointed questions from investigators of whether the Russians received guidance from people in the United States.
I`m joined now by one of the authors of that report, Tom Hamburger of "The Washington Post."
Tom, of course, the clawing question here is, who was calling in this Facebook effort? I mean, somebody`s paying for it over in Moscow. But who in America was telling them what to look for and how to use it and what to sell?
TOM HAMBURGER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, Chris, that`s exactly the question. And it`s one that members of the Senate and House Intel Committees tell us, after receiving this report from Facebook, they want answers to. What we know so far is that a Russian organization purchased about $100,000 worth of ads between mid-2015 and 2016 targeting voters during the presidential campaign.
MATTHEWS: Then what they were advertising? What were their sale pitches?
HAMBURGER: So the sale pitches -- there were a very small proportion mentioned candidates, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, by name. But most were actually targeted on socially -- on social issues, the most divisive ones -- gay rights, gay marriage, Black Lives Matter, and questions of racial -- racial identity and unrest.
MATTHEWS: They were trying to stir things up.
HAMBURGER: That`s the way it seems, and that`s how it was viewed by the folks who reviewed them. And the agency that bought the ads, it seems, or the group that it`s been traced to, are ones that have been known for promoting Russian propaganda on U.S. sites in the past.
MATTHEWS: God, that`s the old cold war stuff by the Soviets. They love nothing more than somebody being kicked out of their house in a bad neighborhood. They love that stuff.
Anyway, thank you, Tom Hamburger of "The Washington Post."
HAMBURGER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Donald Trump, Jr.`s interview with the Judiciary Committee tomorrow comes after he said in July that he had disclosed everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP`S SON: I just want to truth to get out there. And that`s part of why I released all the stuff today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So as far as you know, as far as this incident`s concerned, this is all of it.
TRUMP, JR.: This is everything. This is everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, however, in the days that followed that interview, it was revealed there were additional Russians in that meeting, in fact, that Donald Trump, Jr., had omitted from his story. And one of the participants, a Russian-American lobbyist, appeared before a White House Justice last month.
I`m joined right now by Ken Dilanian, reporter with NBC`s investigative unit. Joyce Vance is a former federal prosecutor. And Heidi Przybyla is senior politics reporter at "USA Today" and an MSNBC political analyst.
I want to go -- I want to go to Heidi right off the bat here. What`s worrisome, if you`re Donald Trump, Sr., tonight about your boy going before the star chamber?
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you`re finally on the record and under oath. And of course, going back to that meeting, if you remember, one of the key things was the e-mail was incriminating simply because it said, This -- from the Russians -- is part of our campaign to help your father. So one of the first questions is going to be what campaign?
And I have to say -- and I only say this with just a little bit of irony, at some point, these committees and Mueller are going to ask where`s Don, Junior`s, server? Because if this is the one e-mail we`ve seen, what about the other e-mails before? Were there e-mails after? What campaign?
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Joyce. Ms. Vance, thanks for joining us. You`re the expert on the prosecution case here. It just seems to me that there`s a lot of collusion right in our face. I don`t think we have to go looking too far for it.
Here`s the son of the candidate responding to some sort of proffer from a Russian that they`ve got some dirt that they can give them or sell them, or whatever, trade them against their opponents, oppo research, we call it, oppo, something of value, an in-kind contribution (INAUDIBLE) the campaign that they were offering up for some sort of deal.
Isn`t that collusion itself, going to such a meeting?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So on its face, this looks awfully close to a federal campaign, a federal election violation. Federal law prohibits a foreign government or a foreign individual offering a donation or anything of value in connection with an American election. And these e- mails alone really give the impression that Donald Trump, Jr., and the other participants in this meeting have a lot to fear from Bob Mueller when they get there, that Trump, Junior, has a lot of exposure tomorrow when he meets with Senate Judiciary Committee staffers.
MATTHEWS: What about I mean, taking the 5th? I mean, I guess -- and when you said, "I love it," that`s pretty gushing, to say not only do you have the evidence, I might want to get some dirt on Hillary, and they were behind in the campaign I think back in June of last year -- to say he loved getting this information -- in fact, he wanted to get it later in the year when it had more firepower, closer to November. I just ask you, do you think this -- he`s not an old or young man. He`s a young adult.
Is he smart to take the 5th tomorrow and say, I can`t be acknowledging that?
VANCE: Trump, Junior, is going to have a bad day no matter which way he plays it. He`s under penalty of perjury. He has to tell the truth. If he doesn`t, he really is exposing himself to time inside of a federal prison. If he takes the 5th Amendment, though, invoking his right to avoid testifying in order to avoid incriminating himself, it looks terrible. It`s a tacit acknowledgement, really an explicit acknowledgement that he believes he`s guilty of certain crimes.
Probably his best strategy and the one I would expect to see him use here is to continue this storyline that he was a political neophyte, that he didn`t really know what he was doing, that people should have mercy on him.
I don`t think Bob Mueller will have mercy. And I wouldn`t expect Senator Blumenthal to show it tomorrow, either.
MATTHEWS: A tough assessment. Ken Dilanian, look at -- put it all together, this latest word we got from Hamburger at "The Post," about this -- you know, this friend (ph) or whatever was going on here with buying Facebook time, buying $100,000 in ads to push some -- some agitprop, if you will, using an old term, propaganda to stir up bad feelings in this country during an election period. And of course, this new reminder now that the Russians really did try to hurt Hillary. They tried to help the Trump people do part of the hurting.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC INTELLIGENCE REPORTER: Yes, you know, this Facebook thing is really interesting, Chris. I think this is an unexplored aspect of the Russian interference. There`s a lot more to learn about how they use fake news and U.S. social media companies. We`re just at the beginning of this.
But in terms of the meeting, you know, as incriminating as those e-mails were from Rob Goldstone offering explicit help from the Russian government, Natalia Veselnitskaya told NBC News in recent days she didn`t actually offer anything incriminating. And from her...
MATTHEWS: Well, she said that.
DILANIAN: Yes. That`s been her story. And she`s also telling us that she has not been approached or -- you know, or interviewed by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, which is curious to me because I know that her partner, Rinat Akhmetshin, the lobbyist, the Russian-American lobbyist who was at this meeting has already testified before Mueller`s D.C. grand jury about this meeting.
There`s no doubt that this meeting is a key aspect of this investigation for both Mueller and the House and Senate.
DILANIAN: The question is, what does her story add up to? Even if her story is true, it still may be the case that this was an overture from the Russian government, Russian intelligence agencies to see how the Trump campaign was going to react to this explicit offer of help from the Russian government.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get back to Heidi, who shares my interest in politics and trying to figure -- it seems like this young -- well, not young, let`s just say son of the candidate -- decided he heard what sounded awful alluring, this sexy bit of dirt that he could get his hands on about Hillary Clinton, whatever it was, and certainly, that`s why he held the meeting. That`s why he hosted it right there in Trump Tower. And now for this lawyer, about whom I have no reason to believe one way or another, comes out and says, Oh, that never happened, even though we know it happened...
PRZYBYLA: Well, let`s just say...
MATTHEWS: ... in that meeting to discuss how much dirt they could give on Hillary.
PRZYBYLA: In her initial interview, when she was first outed as having been in this meeting, she was asked, Do you have any ties with the Kremlin? And she very memorably said "Nyet" and looked down like this.
PRZYBYLA: Of course she has ties to the Kremlin. So at that point, she kind of lost her credibility. And Chris, her dangle, her ask -- she came into that meeting with an ask. Her ask is the one thing that Vladimir Putin wants most, which is to have that Magnitsky Act overturned. There`s just no way that she didn`t have ties with the Kremlin.
MATTHEWS: Well, it was revealed last night that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have subpoenaed the FBI and Department of Justice for information about Christopher Steele, the British -- the former British intelligence officer, MI6 officer, who assembled that dossier on Donald Trump.
As the ranking member of that committee told me last night, he sees it as a Republican effort to undercut Steele`s credibility. Here`s Congressman Adam Schiff from last night here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I do have concerns with the majority issuance of these subpoenas to the DOJ and FBI. That was done over our opposition in the minority.
I think it`s part of an effort to discredit the author of the dossier, and I think there`s a view if they can discredit Christopher Steele, they can discredit the whole Russia investigation or the whole Russia involvement in our elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ken, it seems to me that this is partisan politics, not that I`m shocked by it, but it looks to me like the Republicans want to defend Trump from too much -- too much prosecution, too much investigation, if you will. It looks like they`re trying to turn the tide here against the FBI and the dossier. Rather than get to the truth, they`re trying to deflect (INAUDIBLE)
DILANIAN: I think that`s -- I think that`s what it looks like to any responsible person, Chris. And what`s really peculiar about this is that Devin Nunes supposedly had recused himself from this investigation.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I remember.
DILANIAN: Recall he`s the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He was involved in this subpoena. So what is he up to? You know, he`s already been in the hot seat for this sort of issue about unmasking that even Richard Burr...
MATTHEWS: For also being a toady. Being a toady.
DILANIAN: Exactly. So the question is -- and what are they trying to get at here? You know, the FBI was in talks to pay that British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, you know, to get information about his investigation. They took it very seriously.
So there is something -- there is something of interest here. I`m interested to know what was the FBI`s relationship with Christopher Steele, how seriously did they take that dossier? What parts of the dossier have they corroborated? And that`s all of interest to the investigation. But the way the Republicans are going about it, directly issuing a subpoena without even asking for the information, raises a lot of questions of their motive, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, last night, I got -- Ken, I got the clear intimation last night that the ranking Democrat on that committee, Adam Schiff of California, has a great deal of at least -- he`s somewhat believing in that dossier, including what may have happened in that hotel room.
Anyway, I want to get to something that`s really gotten to me with -- with Joyce Vance. This is about prosecution. I would say that whatever else happens in this whole prosecution, which could go on for a couple of years, it`s serious business. And whatever else happens, we`ll be able to say Trump was given a thoroughgoing investigation. I think Mueller is going to do the job.
Now, however Trump comes out, the country will be able to say this was done in the right way. This looks professional to me, including going after the tax returns, which he`ll probably do, following the money, as Senator Blumenthal said you should. I think this is going to be one tough, hard- nosed investigation. How do you view it?
VANCE: I think you`re exactly right. The decision to make Bob Mueller -- to bring him back from private practice to head the special counsel investigation -- there`s no one that people inside of the Beltway who understand how prosecutions and investigations work would have had greater faith with. And I think that that will translate -- Mueller is very good at talking about investigations. He had this experience during Enron of making it believable to people who really didn`t follow Enron closely. He`s do that here.
And I have a lot of faith that at the end of the day, the American people will look at this investigation, whether there are indictments or whether there aren`t indictments, and they will believe that this was done right and that the country is ready to move forward.
MATTHEWS: Well, something in Washington is working, at least, and I`m glad it is this. Of all the actions, I`d like to see this one done well.
Ken Dilanian, sir, thank you, as always. Joyce Vance, it`s great having you on, and my colleague, Heidi Przybyla. Thank you all. First-rate panel tonight to start the program.
Coming up, President Trump says he has no second thoughts about his decision to end the Dreamers program. Seems like he`s only got second thoughts. And despite tweeting he might revisit the issue of Congress fails to act. What? No second thoughts, and he will revisit? What`s that jamboree of thought have to do with anything?
Up next, we`re going to talk to a member of Congress who spent part of actual -- part of his youth in this country as an immigrant.
Plus, Congress is back, and I want to know what Democrats are offering beyond just blasting Trump. What would America look like if Democrats were actually fully in charge right now, the presidency, both houses of Congress? What would they be doing? I`m going to ask Ohio`s Tim Ryan, the congressman from Youngstown, who`s going places, it seems.
And our strategists, one Democrat, one Republican, take an early look at the 22 (sic) election tonight -- the 2020 election. Which Democrat is best positioned to beat Trump at this early point? Will it be Biden, Warren, Bernie, or perhaps someone, dare I say, younger?
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with something I`ve wanted to say for a long time, and I`m going to say it tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: President Trump traveled to North Dakota earlier today to deliver a speech on tax reform. Trump made headlines by praising North Dakota Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp at the event, even inviting Heitkamp onto the stage. The president also brought another surprise guest out to the podium. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Come up, honey. (INAUDIBLE) bring Ivanka up. Come on.
Sometimes they`ll say, You know, he can`t be that bad a guy. Look at Ivanka. No, come on up, honey. She`s so good. She wanted to make the trip. She said, Dad, can I go with you? She actually said, Daddy, can I go with you? I like that. Well -- Daddy, can I go with you? I said, Yes, you can.
IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP`S DAUGHTER: Hi, North Dakota! We love this state, so it`s always a pleasure to be back here. You treated us very, very well in November and have continued to. So we like sharing the love back. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The traveling Romanovs.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, yesterday, the Trump administration said the fate of hundreds of thousands of dreamers were now in the hands of Congress. Hours later, President Trump seemed to offer a caveat.
He tweeted: "Congress now has six months to legalize DACA. If they can`t, I will revisit this issue."
Well, the White House hasn`t clarified how he plans, the president plans to revisit the issue.
And today, in a quick gaggle with reporters on board Air Force One, President Trump was asked about that. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, what do you say to the those who say there are mixed signals coming from the White House over DACA?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No mixed signal at all. Congress, I really, believe wants to take care of this situation. I really believe it, even very conservative members of the Congress. I have seen it first-hand.
If they don`t, we`re going to see what we`re going to do. But I will tell you, I really believe Congress wants to take care of it. We discussed that also today. And Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I. And I said if we can get something to happen, we`re going to sign it and we`re going to make it -- we`re going to make a lot of happy people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m getting a lot of mixed signals from this guy.
What is the president`s message on dreamers and what, if anything, can the U.S. Congress to do to solve the problem?
I`m joined by U.S. Congressman Ruben Kihuen -- or Kihuen -- Kihuen -- I`m sorry -- it`s my mistake -- Kihuen of Nevada. He came to the United States as a child with his parents and stayed after his visa had expired, later becoming a citizen. And then Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
So, I guess I want to get from you, Congressman, first of all, why doesn`t Congress -- I know -- I can play naive, and I will play naive. We have these people here in this country. They are, for all practical purposes -- grew up American, have American accents, think they`re American. Let`s make it at least non-prosecutable, their situations.
Why doesn`t Congress just bring the bill up, pass it in both houses, get it to the president, whiz it by and make it law?
REP. RUBEN KIHUEN (D), NEVADA: Well, first of all...
MATTHEWS: Codify, in other words, what President Obama did by E.O., by executive order?
KIHUEN: First of all, let me say that it`s disheartening to see what the president did to these 800,000 young dreamers.
MATTHEWS: I know.
KIHUEN: These are young Americans who grew up in America.
Just two days after he said that he loved the dreamers, it`s very disappointing. But now it`s in the hands of Congress.
MATTHEWS: Well, what are you -- what are you going to do about it?
KIHUEN: So, we have co-sponsored the DREAM Act and also the American Hope Act, two great pieces of legislation.
MATTHEWS: What will bring this problem to a close? What will reenact, in effect, what Obama did for the dreamers?
What we need to do, Congress needs to stop playing political games with these young dreamers. We have to come together like adults.
MATTHEWS: How did you bring a vote to the floor? How do you make it happen?
KIHUEN: Speaker Ryan has said multiple times that he is interested with working with the Democrats. We have to bring enough Republicans on board.
And I can tell you this. Every single Democrat in the caucus...
MATTHEWS: Is it going to happen?
KIHUEN: We need to bring Republicans to the table.
MATTHEWS: OK. Is it going to happen?
KIHUEN: I would hope that this happens. These young dreamers deserve an opportunity at the American dream.
MATTHEWS: Sir, what do you think about this? Are you for or against the Congress codifying what Obama did?
MARK KRIKORIAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: I`m for it under certain circumstances.
The president getting rid of DACA was necessary. It was an illegal act by President Obama.
MATTHEWS: By your -- that is a very controversial claim, because it is in effect now, and there are some attorneys generals who are fighting it, I agree. But you say you speak for those 10, or who do you speak for who say it`s illegal?
KRIKORIAN: The district court in Texas, the appeals court, the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court, and the Supreme Court ultimately didn`t rule that it was something that should be -- that was allowed to the president.
And President Obama himself said before he issued it that was -- it`s beyond...
MATTHEWS: The question now, what should the policy be? Can the policy be enacted by Congress and should it be?
KRIKORIAN: The answer is yes.
But the reason the DREAM Act hasn`t passed until now is because, from the beginning, it was a marketing gimmick for amnesty for all illegal immigrants, rather than trying to focus...
MATTHEWS: How do you know that?
KRIKORIAN: That was the whole point of it, because when the dreamers a number of years ago tried to cut their own deal, they were cut off at the knees.
MATTHEWS: There are mixed signals right now being sent to the dreamers. I`m trying to get the straight signal.
The president reiterated yesterday he has love for the dreamers, but in talking points distributed by the Department of Homeland Security, there was a blunt message for those dreamers. This is an official document today: "The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare and arrange their departure from the United States."
Congressman, what is that supposed to say?
KIHUEN: Well, look, the bottom line is, these 800,000 young Americans, they are already going to our universities. They`re already working.
In Nevada, 13,000 of them. Across the country, 800,000. This is going to have, if we take away this DACA status, $640 billion economic impact, adverse economic impact, in our economy in the next 10 years.
So these young dreamers are the future of America, and we`re taking away the only dream that they know.
I myself, I was a dreamer. I am the first dreamer to ever serve in Congress.
MATTHEWS: What happened? Tell me your history.
KIHUEN: Well, my family came here. My father came here, took advantage of Ronald Reagan`s 1986 immigration reform.
Two years later, I arrived here with legal status. We overstayed our visas, and then we were able to readjust, because this country had compassion. This country had an immigration system that actually worked.
MATTHEWS: How did you get legalized, to use the term? How did you become a citizen?
KIHUEN: We were adjusted through Ronald Reagan`s 1986 amnesty.
We were able to readjust our status from an expired visa to...
MATTHEWS: Did you come before or after the act was passed?
KIHUEN: We came after the act in 198...
MATTHEWS: And you qualified for that. I didn`t know it worked -- worked for the future. I didn`t know that.
KIHUEN: So my father was the first one who became legalized and then he petitioned for us.
But, again, I know the fear that these young Americans are going through. Now I`m a member of Congress. These young Americans deserve an opportunity at the American dream, just like it was afforded...
MATTHEWS: You know what I never hear? I never hear anyone tell me about how we`re going to end this debate and have a comprehensive bill and put it behind us, like any other country in the world can do.
Why can`t we have a progressive American prideful immigration policy that we`re proud to enforce? Why doesn`t that -- why does that elude us the time, sir?
KRIKORIAN: We can`t -- this is too big an issue to have a 1,000-page bill to deal with everything. Dealing with the DACAs is possible.
It`s a targeted measure.
MATTHEWS: Every other country in the world has an immigration policy. Why can`t we have one?
KRIKORIAN: We have one too. We just have a badly run and messed-up one.
MATTHEWS: It`s not enforced.
KRIKORIAN: But specifically on this issue, the reason the dreamers haven`t gotten green cards is because the promoters of the DREAM Act have never been willing to negotiate, to compromise.
MATTHEWS: Let me just start with that, because we know in 2015, there was a bill that passed the U.S. Senate. I believe you supported it, Congressman.
It had 14 Republican supporters and the Democratic Party behind it. It swept through the Senate with like 67 votes. It should have been enacted. The House, because of the Hastert rule and the refusal of the Republicans to bring it up, never became law.
But we need a law, don`t we, that we believe in?
KRIKORIAN: The problem is...
MATTHEWS: Say it. You`re...
KRIKORIAN: No, no, I`m not.
MATTHEWS: Don`t we need a law that we believe in?
KRIKORIAN: What happened in 1986, that was the problem, is the lack of credibility. We can`t believe in it. In 1986, the deal was amnesty in exchange for enforcing the law in the future.
MATTHEWS: I know that.
KRIKORIAN: It was a con.
MATTHEWS: OK, Congressman, I know where you stand.
Why don`t we pass a comprehensive bill that has restrictions on people being hired illegally in this country? Get rid of the magnet of illegal jobs, but also make it possible for people who have made their lives here to be Americans eventually.
It seems to me that`s the deal that is on the table. The right wing won`t accept it. I think that most progressives will take it if it`s put on the table as a deal.
KIHUEN: Look, in 2013, we had a bill that included border protection, passing a background check to...
MATTHEWS: E-Verify. E-Verify.
It included funding for border agents. It included learning English, but all with a path to citizenship.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
KIHUEN: That bill should have passed.
MATTHEWS: What was wrong with that?
KRIKORIAN: What was wrong with it was not the idea, but the sequence, because it was a repeat of what we had in 1986.
The enforcement was never going to happen.
MATTHEWS: You can`t start with the enforcement on hiring before you legalize people.
You got to give them a promise, or else you will be arresting everybody for illegal hiring.
Anyway, you got to put the sequence right, this way.
Anyway, U.S. Congressman, thank you.
KIHUEN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Ruben Kihuen, thank you for joining us. And thanks for being an American, in fact. That`s a good thing, too, since...
MATTHEWS: ... a congressman, if you get elected.
Mark Krikorian, keep up the fight. It is a legitimate debate, but I think we have got to put all our cards on the table.
Still ahead, our next guest has said that the Democrats have a worse brand than President Trump, and he`s a Democrat. We`re going to talk to him. This guy is fascinating, Tim Ryan. I think he`s running for president. He`s a congressman from Youngstown, Ohio, one of the problem areas, if you will, for the Democratic Party these days. He`s out there pitching his argument. We will have him here in a moment.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The 2018 midterm elections are roughly 400 days away, and Democrats are trying to chart a path forward. And, today, they scored a big victory.
President Trump, defying his own party, signed off on a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to lift the debt ceiling and fund the government for three more months.
Republican leaders were livid, but Minority Leader Schumer praised the deal. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Earlier today, we had a very productive meeting with President Trump, Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan. In that meeting, we agreed to pass aid for Harvey, a continuing resolution and an increase in the debt ceiling, both of those until December 15. This is a really positive step forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, is it?
Well, this was a small step forward, I would, for a Democrat. What`s the bigger vision they`re painting for America?
For more on that, I`m joined by Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan from Youngstown, Ohio.
Most people don`t care about debt ceilings. And, by the way, that looked like -- Chuck Schumer looked like he was the cat that swallowed the canary there, because he got a three-month deal, forcing the Republicans to vote twice on raising the debt ceiling. Pure partisan politics.
OK, I`m fine with that. But what`s that about building this country up? And how is this country going to look any different five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, if the Democrats ran the whole show?
Don`t you guys have to -- and women have to show the country once in a while a picture of physically what America is going to look like if you were running this show to remind them why you should vote Democrat even when you`re losing some of these elections, keep the hope alive even?
REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: No doubt.
MATTHEWS: I don`t have any picture in my mind of what the Democrats would do.
RYAN: I think it starts with our communities, rebuilding the communities.
And that`s not just public sector spending. But we have about 75 million millennials and 75 million boomers who all want to move into walkable communities. This sounds a little wonky. But that`s a construction boom waiting to happen to rebuild some of these communities that have been absolutely decimated.
You have the public spending on light rail and sidewalks and streets, but there`s trillions of dollars in private sector spending that would get behind something like that.
These communities need to be vibrant places. Chris, let me tell you, it is unacceptable what these communities look like. I was home in August and I drove through some of mine and I visited some other ones. This cannot happen in the United States, where half the community is empty factories.
And even if you get one -- so, we have got a billion-dollar -- new billion- dollar steel mill in Youngstown. You know how many people work there? Four hundred. If you spent a billion dollars 50 years ago, you would have 20,000 people working there.
So, we have got to figure out the global economy, automation, artificial intelligence and how to connect that to these working-class community.
MATTHEWS: How come when I travel, and I have traveled a bit, when I`m in China, and I see -- I get on a train that goes 300 miles an hour, and you don`t know you`re moving? China, a country we thought was poor, the cranes are up even on Friday night.
They`re constructing new cities with five million people in them, cities we have never heard of. They just keep building and building. Why can`t the Democrats have a public works push like they did in the `30s?
We built -- Washington, D.C., this city was built in the Depression. Lincoln built the railroad system in the middle of the Civil War. Eisenhower, the supposedly do-nothing Republican, built the interstate highway system.
And I don`t know a Democrat I identify with building anything, not even rebuilding Penn Station, that dump in New York, or the LAX Airport. They`re all dumps. And you travel around the world and everything looks great.
Why are we the last in line to build anything anymore? What happened to construction? How about the construction trades? Why aren`t they in bed with the Democrats right now and saying, we`re going to build and create jobs, really high-paying jobs? What happened?
RYAN: Well, I think a lot of us were saying this at the time, when we did the Recovery Act.
MATTHEWS: I don`t hear it.
RYAN: Well, when we did stimulus.
MATTHEWS: You`re dicking around, Mickey Mousing around with the debt ceiling. It`s Mickey Mouse.
And then you have revenue-neutral measures that don`t spend any money. And then you talk about -- I don`t -- and pay-fors. Why don`t you spend some money and build? There`s 2 percent interest out there.
RYAN: I totally agree with you 1000 percent.
I was one of the voices along with guys you remember, Dave Obey and Jack Murtha and some of these guys during the stimulus bill.
MATTHEWS: They were my heroes.
RYAN: They were saying, this needs to be double.
There was only $120 billion in transportation money in that. That`s when we should have had the opportunity, because the train, no pun intended, was leaving the station. So we needed a bigger stimulus bill.
We have got to rebuild these downtowns. There`s no question about it. We have got to rebuild the neighborhoods. You can go to Birmingham or you can go to Youngstown, and there`s -- most of the town needs rebuilt.
MATTHEWS: I hear a voice here. And I hear the voice of a candidate. Are you running?
Why don`t you just say you`re running? What do you got to lose?
RYAN: I don`t know if I am.
MATTHEWS: You`re up -- you were in New Hampshire the other day. You`re all around the country. How many states have you been in, in the last month?
RYAN: I was in Kentucky. I was Alabama. I will be in Indiana. I`m going to West Virginia. None of those are early primary -- I go if I`m invited. I was invited to Iowa.
MATTHEWS: You`re going to Iowa for the...
RYAN: I was invited to Iowa. And they invited me back, which I thought was a good sign.
MATTHEWS: And you`re laughing. Why don`t you say you`re running instead of laughing?
RYAN: Because I don`t know if I am.
MATTHEWS: OK. It seems to me...
RYAN: Do you know what you`re doing three years from now, Chris?
MATTHEWS: I`m going to be here, if I`m lucky. I know exactly what I`m doing.
MATTHEWS: But I look at these candidates.
I like Joe Biden. I see the merit in Elizabeth Warren. I`m not a huge Bernie fan, but I think he`s OK. He`s better than what we got now.
And I think all these guys are in their 70s and women and Hillary and Nancy Pelosi, all these older people. And I keep thinking, when`s the new generation going to step up and say, it`s our turn? Your turn? Is it your turn?
RYAN: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: What is this pussyfooting?
RYAN: What I`m saying is, I want to be part of a -- we`re trying to rebuild the party here, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Do you want to be president of the United States, yes or not? Would you like to be president of the United States?
RYAN: I don`t know. Maybe one day.
The key is for us -- here`s the problem with Democrats, Chris. And I`m not trying to avoid the question, but all I`m saying...
MATTHEWS: You keep hitting my hand, like I`m going to give you a break. He`s hitting my hand.
RYAN: I feel like I`m at the Irish club with you here.
MATTHEWS: Why do you keep hitting the hand? Just tell me. Would you like the people out there to think of you as a future president?
RYAN: I want to be a major leader in the Democratic Party and the country. I will put it -- I will leave it at that.
The problem with Democrats is, all we do is run for president. Nobody runs and organizes around these midterm elections. And that`s part of the reason why we are where we are. Donor class, organization never happens in the midterm election.
Tim Ryan, U.S. congressman from Ohio, from Youngstown itself.
Up next: Hillary Clinton says that Bernie Sanders did lasting damage to her campaign last year, that he paved the way for Trump`s crooked Hillary attacks. Is that true?
And which Democrat is in the best position to beat Trump in 2020? We`re going to get to the heart of what Mr. Ryan just talked about. We may even mention him.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD: I guess you`ll just continue to think about what you might do in 2020, and we can talk about the next time.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Lord, I don`t even know what I`m having for dinner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the flirtation continues politically at least.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was U.S. California Democrat Senator Kamala Harris. She`s on a lot of list all of sudden, on her potential 2020 presidential ambitions.
While Harris is dismissing the speculation on the surface, "The New York Times" reports that she is one of as many as 20 prospective Democratic candidates who are taking steps that could lay the financial foundation for a campaign even if actually running turns out to be only a transitory thought. They`re so well-spoken at `The Times".
Although the beginning of the 2020 election is set to begin in early 2019, three big names have resurfaced as possible contenders. You know them well. Joe Biden, the former VP, Elizabeth Warren, the hotshot of the progressive movement, and Bernie Sanders, who`s sort of the veteran soldier of that movement.
Sanders, meantime, faces criticism from his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton. Clinton says he did, quote, lasting damage to her campaign and blames him for paving the way for Donald Trump`s "Crooked Hillary" attack. So, among the Democrats can take on President Trump in 2020?
Let`s bring in tonight`s roundtable. It`s pretty well-rounded. Anita Kumar is White House correspondent for "McClatchy", John Brabender is Republican strategist, and Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist.
Let`s talk about the guy -- it`s a guy in this case, Joe Biden. I believe he`s running for president. When I right?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I don`t know if you`re right. But I believe you`re right. And if I were --
MATTHEWS: That`s important information to have.
MCMAHON: No, no. I think -- I think he`s always running, and he`s running until he isn`t running. And that`s a good thing to remember with Joe Biden.
If I were his campaign consultant or if I were speaking to him directly, Vice President, I would say what he should do, because you got 20 candidates potentially --
MATTHEWS: You`re getting ahead of your skis here. I just want to know who you think is running.
MCMAHON: I think everybody is running. Everybody you mentioned and 17 more.
MATTHEWS: John Brabender, who would scare you if you were Donald Trump?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, that`s interesting because there`s going to be 25 candidates, 23 of them aren`t even going to matter because they`re going to be so far left and they`re going to push the party left and that`s the greatest thing for the Republican Party. If we could get Hillary running --
MATTHEWS: Who could win --
BRABENDER: I think Biden is actually a legitimate -- I guy from Scranton, Pennsylvania who can talk their talk, who sounds like a really interesting guy but talk down-to-earth. I think Biden is actually a pretty formidable candidate if he were to be the nominee.
MATTHEWS: What about the age issue? He`ll be a tad older than Trump. Will that matter? When they`re all in their 70s, will that matter?
BRABENDER: I don`t think so. I think if you`re vibrant enough, which he seems to be --
MATTHEWS: Joe Biden seems to be pretty --
BRABENDER: I think people put that aside. I mean, I really do. So, I think it`s interesting --
MATTHEWS: OK, Anita, you may be the youngest person here -- I don`t know, but talk the gender issue and the age issue.
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: I don`t think the age issue matters.
KUMAR: Because in 2016, who are the big -- who are -- Clinton and Trump. You know, two older people, Sanders. You know, we had a poll that was, you know, dated now. But it was back in the 2016 race and 71 percent of people said it was a benefit. Age was a benefit.
MATTHEWS: Even when you get into later 70s.
KUMAR: Yes, because people are living longer.
MATTHEWS: I think we`ve never been in that territory before. Is it like Tony Bennett after you reach a point, you become --
KUMAR: People are living longer and they are working longer and they have --
MATTHEWS: OK, here`s the question, can the Democrats run -- I`ll be blunt now. At this point in time, the 2020 election can they run two white men given the nature of the party, the make-up of the party today? Can they just run two white men still? Or does there have to be balance, gender balance, ethnic balance of some kind?
KUMAR: I think there has to be balance. And I think that --
MATTHEWS: Two white guys won`t do it?
KUMAR: I think on the Democratic side, that`s why you`re seeing Cory Booker and you`re seeing Deval Patrick and you`re seeing other -- Kamala Harris.
MATTHEWS: Is it a deal breaker if it`s two white guys?
KUMAR: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: I think it is. That`s my thinking.
BRABENDER: Well, we`re -- so, they`re going to then go to the Republicans and I appreciate you saying that, but I think the real battle that the --
MATTHEWS: What do you mean they`re going to go to the Republicans?
BRABENDER: Well, what you`re saying, are they going to penalize the Democrats if they only have two white men? And I`m saying, if they penalize them, they`re going to vote for Republicans --
MATTHEWS: I would think people putting the ticket together will anticipate the problem.
BRABENDER: Well, but here`s the real battle. If you go back to the last election, the real problem was non-college educated women voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in Rust Belt states. They`ve got to go back, the Democrats never had a message to working families and I think that`s -- the candidate the Democratic should want is somebody --
MATTHEWS: They counted on the college women to do all the voting for them --
BRABENDER: And it didn`t work out.
MATTHEWS: Steven, where were you on that question of balance? Because I think if I were Joe Biden in his late 70s, I`d say, a white guy, he`d talk about, I would say, what would balance my ticket across the country. Well, I`m from the east coast, I think Kamala Harris, who`s gotten all the bright, you know, everybody says very smart, very young and gung-ho, very attractive politically, will win any election she goes in. Put her on the ticket.
MCMAHON: Well --
MATTHEWS: If you`re Sherrod Brown, do the same thing.
That ticket balance makes sense to me. But I heard you`re around playing around with some new ticket you come up with already which involves a Hispanic candidate. I think it balances.
MCMAHON: Well, actually, the first ticket, if I were advising Joe Biden, this is when I got a little ahead of my skis, and I want to bounce this off of you, John, because -- if I were advising Joe Biden and I`ll do it right here for free on television tonight, I would tell him to pledge to serve only one term, which deals with the age issue. And put Kamala Harris on the ticket and say, I`m going to pave the way for the first female president and just let the energy in the Democratic Party --
MATTHEWS: John, wouldn`t that be the point to say I`m too old for two terms?
BRABENDER: I agree.
MATTHEWS: Once you say that, I think you limited your potential.
BRABENDER: I think you`re right on who you pick as your running mate. I think you`re wrong on saying --
MCMAHON: You just said Joe Biden would be a great candidate. Let me ask you a question, would he have won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio?
BRABENDER: I don`t know, but I do --
MATTHEWS: I want to come to the left, so I think what I hear, and I`m sure if a moderate, something on left on, war, making -- I want everybody to vote, I don`t want anymore crapping around, screwing around voting, some things I`m on the left on, but some I`m not. The progressives, do they have a veto power in this election with the Democratic side? Can they say, no -- old Dukakis (ph), no more all white guys, that`s over? We want a woman, we want a progressive, will they say that -- will the millennials say that?
MCMAHON: No. I mean --
MATTHEWS: What do you think, Anita?
KUMAR: I think that everybody is going towards the left in the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: Everybody is going left?
KUMAR: I mean, many of them.
MATTHEWS: The one doesn`t wins then, because nobody --
KUMAR: Many of the candidates are going left. I mean, the party is moving left.
But I do think they`re going to be looking for a fresh face after what happened last time with --
BRABENDER: Gender and race are not going to matter that much once there`s going to be numerous women running, there`s going to be numerous candidates of color.
MATTHEWS: Well, if the Democrats blew it in 2020, the only thing stopping Trump and you heard it here, is the two-term limit in the Constitution, because someone has got to stop him. And that means the Democrats better come up with a candidate because the Republicans aren`t going to do it. They`re not going to fight him.
The roundtable is staying with us. This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be back at the HARDBALL roundtable. Up next, they`ll me three things I don`t know. Back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Anita, tell me something I don`t know.
KUMAR: With all the talk about DACA this week, I`m going to tell you that Donald Trump is going to hold out for border money when he does this DACA deal. He`s asking Congress to --
MATTHEWS: Wall money?
KUMAR: Border wall money. He`s been talking about it for weeks, and that`s what he`s going to do.
MATTHEWS: Oh, God, then nothing is going to happen. Go ahead, John.
BRABENDER: The Freedom Caucus in the House has been secretly meeting and they are aggressively --
MATTHEWS: Steve Bannon?
BRABENDER: Well, they are aggressively now looking for a new speaker of the house, the back, who will not be a member of Congress and a list of names on their list are not a member of Congress.
MATTHEWS: When`s the last time that happened?
BRABENDER: I don`t think it`s ever happened.
MATTHEWS: It`s always on the books you can do it.
MATTHEWS: They could pick a pope or was a bishop, of course, you`re going to make him a bishop.
Go ahead, Steve.
MCMAHON: Pay dirt today in the Russia investigation. There`s been a lot - - there`s been a lot of focus on whether or not opposition research is a thing of value, ads, and when ads are directed on a particular target on a particular issue in particular states, which is where this is going to go, is campaign financial violations and that`s big time heavy duty stuff, as we both know --
MATTHEWS: So, we know the Russians, or according to the new breaking story late tonight, the Russians were buying ads on Facebook.
MCMAHON: Right, which is the beginning of pay dirt.
MATTHEWS: Follow the money.
Thank you, Anita Kumar, for coming on and joining our panel. John Brabender, as always. Steve McMahon as always.
Call up, call up Joe Biden and find out the facts.
When we return -- don`t do it on television -- let me finish with something I`ve wanted to say for a very long time and never said it. But tonight I`m going to say it. We`ll see how it goes.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I don`t want to talk about Trump tonight or about the Republicans he`s taken hostage or the Democrats watching what Trump will do next. Allow me if you will to talk about our country.
What I would do if I was in a position to lead this country, a position I cannot imagine me having. I picture a country united coast to coast from the Atlantic to Pacific with state-of-the-art transportation, where the people of the heartland are as much a part of the action as those living in New York, or Los Angeles, where there`s no east coast or left coast looking down on America from above, but united right across the continent, economically, culturally, patriotically.
In other words, no more flyover country. No more discarded cities and towns of rusted factories and deserted main streets. But an entire country alive from sea to shining sea.
I know Americans who have thought like this, built like this. Abraham Lincoln who built the Transcontinental Railroad, in the midst of the civil war. Dwight Eisenhower, who built the transcontinental highway system during the supposedly do nothing 1950s.
I can draw you a picture of country where Penn Station in New York stood as a celebrated American gateway, where Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver, and other cities of war were concourses of a busy, united, exciting America.
I can see all of this in my mind. What I cannot see looking across this great country`s horizon is the politician with the guts to stand up and say, this is the America I want to build.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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