Show: HARDBALL Date: January 24, 2018 Guest: Richard Blumenthal, Chuck Jones, Catherine Rampell, John Brabender, Anita Kumar
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s our show. "Hardball" starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: (INAUDIBLE). Let`s play "Hardball."
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
First he fired the director of the FBI. Then the President asked the guy replacing him, who did you vote for? Well, that is the reporting from the "Washington Post" about an incredible oval office meeting shortly after Andrew McCabe became the FBI`s new acting director.
Quote "Trump according to several current and former U.S. officials asked McCabe a pointed question. Whom did he vote for in the 2016 election? McCabe said he didn`t vote at all according to the officials. McCabe who has spent more than two decades at the bureau found the conversation with Trump disturbing," said one former U.S. official.
Well, Trump also reported vented his anger to McCabe to the new acting FBI director about political donations to McCabe`s wife who ran for the Virginia state Senate in 2015 as a Democrat. Her campaign received several hundred thousand dollars in donations from the political action committee controlled by Clinton ally and then Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe. Well, that campaign happened before McCabe become Comey`s deputy.
Today the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn`t deny Trump asked that question how McCabe voted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the President make a habit of asking career government officials their voting habits?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not that I`m aware of, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he ask Andrew McCabe how he voted?
SANDERS: Look, the President and Andrew McCabe have had limited and pretty non-substantive conversations. I can`t get into the details of what was discussed. I wasn`t there. There are wide spreads reports of his retirement. We are making sure that we are focused on the FBI and DOJ serving all Americans fairly and efficiently. And we are going to move forward from there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Talking about a string of non-sequesters.
Anyway, President Trump`s political questioning if McCabe fits a pattern, of course. According to James Comey, Trump asked for his loyalty during a one-on-one meeting with him early in his presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: The dinner was an effort to build a relationship. In fact, had he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development because it was very, very awkward. He was asking for something and I was refusing to give it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, "the New York Times" reported earlier this month that President Trump instructed the White House counsel to stop attorney general Jeff Sessions from recusing himself in the Russian investigation. But Sessions didn`t back down. And according to Times, the President erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump then asked, where is my Roy Cohn?
Of course, that is a reference to the lawyer and fixer who once served for Joe McCarthy as his top aide.
For more, I`m joined by Nicolle Wallace, host of "Deadline White House" here on MSNBC, MSNBC political analyst Eli Stokols and Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for the "Washington Post," who is also an MSNBC contributor.
Thank you very much for sticking it around.
Nicole, it seems there`s a pattern here of this President. He does act like he`s hiring people if not in the old political school category of the political machine brought you up, if haven`t come up for the machine, if you are not one of our toddies, you shouldn`t be here or in the private sector notion, hey, you are working for me, buddy. Did you vote for me? I mean, it seems interesting the way he sort of looks at career service here.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST, DEADLINE WHITE HOUSE: It`s stunning. And it`s what makes Trump`s allies, Trumps friends, people who are still in touch with the President who are behind his agenda who don`t want to see him get in any trouble political or legally much more worried about the obstruction of justice investigation into the President than the collusion investigation into the President. His friends and allies think that this was a campaign that couldn`t include with its own press office. I`m sure you have heard that line on your show from their surrogates. They have dismissed that for many, many months. But in the last I would say six to ten weeks, even the President`s closest allies are deeply concerned about what you just described that his ideas, and you put up that interview, he did that over the holidays. He went rogue and did an interview with the "New York Times`" Michael Schmidt where he said I admired the way Holder protected Obama. I wanted, you know - and he has talked about wanting his own fixer, wanting his own Roy Cohn.
So when you speak to people inside the Trump orbit, it`s exactly what you described. It`s that style of wanting fixers, of wanting to be protected, of wanting people to - of wanting his Ray Donovans around to clean up his messes that makes people wonder if he did in fact stumble into obstruction of justice.
MATTHEWS: You mean the TV Ray Donovan, not the other one.
MATTHEWS: Not the one from the Nixon administration.
Let me ask you what - got you in here. It seems to me that this is up guns the civil service code of the FBI. I mean, I just watched the Mark Felt movie a couple of months ago. It`s all about the FBI`s pride of service and pride of independence. And James Comey and Bob Mueller personified, both of them together, personified the independence integrity of the FBI.
And there you have a President who knocked off this guy, James Comey, because he was independent. And then along comes Bob Mueller say, yes, I will help fight this might because this is a fight I believe in all my life. The institution and the FBI is on trial here. No President should come along here, no matter who he is, Republican, Democrat, right wing or whatever this guy is, has a right to come in and bop off the head of the FBI because the guy in this case, a guy, is doing his job.
WALLACE: That`s right. And I put three more men in the same category that you made for Jim Comey and Bob Mueller. Chris Wray is very much of that code. He knows and is a lot more similar to Bob Mueller and is he to Donald Trump and anyone around Donald Trump.
You have also got an Andy McCabe, a lifelong career FBI agent, respected by Presidents of both parties respected all the way through the rank and file. And you do remember, the FBI just isn`t in Washington and it isn`t just in the United States. It`s around the world. So the FBI, the world over is watching how Andy McCabe`s fate is handled under not just this new president but this director of the FBI. He has to march a very, very, very careful line between appearing to be not loyal to Donald Trump but on the Trump team while also keeping the trust and maintaining what you just described as the independence and integrity of the FBI.
MATTHEWS: And not only has he sort of decapitated the FBI by getting rid of Comey, but the President is now apparently leading a sort of vigilante raid against the FBI. Republican allies of the President stepped up their attacks on the FBI and the justice department claiming bias and corruption on a large scale.
At issue text messages sent between two FBI employees we never heard of, some of which criticize President Trump. And one of the employees Peter Strzok worked on Robert Mueller`s team before being reassigned last July by Bob Mueller. He got rid of him because he shouldn`t it be being political, even in email and text messages.
Anyway, this week the FBI acknowledged they were missing some messages between those two employees from December of 2016 through May of 2017. And according to Trump`s allies this adds up to a deep seated conspiracy. Let`s watch?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may be time to declare war outright against the deep state and clear up the rot in the upper levels of the FBI and the justice department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole apple is solid but there are worms that have eaten their way all through the upper leadership. We need a house cleaning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It illustrate a conspiracy on the part of some people and we want to know a lot more about that. We will be continuing our joint judiciary oversight investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This makes Watergate look like you know, stealing a snickers bar from your local candy store. It`s that big. It`s that corrupt. It`s that deep. It`s that profound.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not surprised there`s a secret society within the establishment that was designed to get rid of Trump, to deny Trump the election. We were never supposed to know any of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Don`t you love that right wing inflection? It`s a certain way of talking.
Anyway, last night on FOX News, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he had an informant, he didn`t say who was, claiming some sort of secret conspiracy within the FBI working against President Trump. Let`s watch the senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: What this is all about is further evidence of corruption more than bias but corruption at the highest levels of the FBI. That secret society, we have an informant talking about a group that were holding secret meetings offsite. There`s so much smoke here, so much suspicion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. Stop there. A secret society. A secret meetings offsite of the justice department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have an informant saying that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Good for Bret. And at lease he is asking.
Well today, Johnson wouldn`t say who the informant was what this alleged group was doing at this offsite meeting or even if the informant was an FBI employee himself or herself. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, do you really believe there`s a secret society within the FBI trying to take down the President.
JOHNSON: Listen, all I said is when I read those texts it, that`s Strzok and Page`s term, that didn`t surprise me. Because I have heard from an individual that there were FBI agents or, you know, management at the FBI holding meetings off site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off site to do what exactly?
JOHNSON: I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: These toddies are amazing.
Eli, let me ask you and then Jonathan, it seems like the Republican call to arms now is going out and kick up some dust, make up anything you can, do anything to deflect or distract or discredit from Bob Mueller because they think trouble is coming.
ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right. That is why they are creating that hysteria that you just saw in the clip about secret societies and the deep state. This is straight out of the old sort of McCarthy playbook, you know. He wants to know where his Roy Cohn is, there are all those people you just showed on television.
MATTHEWS: They call it the fog machine. Reagan lose in the second debate to Mondale, create fog.
STOKOLS: I mean, but it is remarkable. I mean, when talking about Johnson says secret society and they say just quoting the text. Well, viewed in context what we have seen those texts between Strzok and Page, they look to be joking about holding some sort of secret meeting. There is no actual evidence at this point that there is some secret society of FBI agents meeting in the wings.
You look at the composite picture of these text messages, they show two people who had a lot of opinions about a lot of things. They were just as disparaging to Hillary Clinton as they were to Donald Trump. They talked about joining the Mueller investigation. Strzok was quoted as saying something to the effect I don`t even think there`s a there there. So these are not people out there with some vendetta and ax to grind against Donald Trump. And yet, that is the portrayal that you get from the people who are trying to protect.
MATTHEWS: OK. Can I just read (INAUDIBLE)? You don`t call something secret a secret society. You don`t talk about a secret society. You don`t reference a secret. If it`s secret, you don`t talk about it. The idea that this senator who is obviously intelligent enough to be a senator.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: You question me, OK. Fair enough. Why would he say it is a secret society?
CAPEHART: And I say it like that, Chris, because Senator Johnson should know better. If indeed there is a secret society, then he as a member of the Senate should make that charge in a hearing. Bringing that mole or whatever he called that person in. Put a black screen in front of them. And disguise their voice. But have them come and speak before is the American people in a Senate hearing and talk about the secret society.
What he is doing is undermining the legitimacy of the FBI, the justice department, and just people`s faith in our institutions. You are right. They are trying to create fog and they are doing something that they think is going to help them with short-term game. But in the long-term, they are destroying -- they are hurting this country.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with Eli that the best surmise is they are afraid something really bad is coming?
CAPEHART: Absolutely. I think they believe something bad is coming. They are trying to muddy the waters to ensure that whatever Bob Mueller comes up with, that they will be able to say, we can`t trust this because fill in the blank. But it is my hope that the American people will take a look at whatever Bob Mueller comes up with, go into it with an open mind, read it, and come to their own conclusions and hopefully realize that the people who have been going on television and going on radio and spouting this nonsense have indeed been spouting nonsense.
STOKOLS: They are telegraphing their own fears in that way.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so.
STOKOLS: I think Trump telegraphed when he said I want your loyalty, his own nervousness about this. This is damaging to them. They just - you don`t seem to see that.
MATTHEWS: Nicole, you know communication as well as anybody we could possibly have on the show. Let`s talk about modern communications. One way is to make sure you have got a good team together to make together like he was trying to do. Make sure he wanted the FBI director -- he wants the attorney general to be his Bobby Kennedy, if you will. He wanted a strong team.
Then he decide, well, we are losing. I don`t have a strong team. We have got a weak team. So we are going to lose this game so we have got to create fog out there, you know, like you`re playing a game of checkers and you are losing so you knock the checkerboard off the table or you lose at a game of cards. I know that`s an 8-year-old tactic. You are losing a game, you ruin the game. Is that what they are doing, do you think? If you talk to Republicans, are they admitting they are putting fog up there?
WALLACE: I think it`s something a lot more sinister. And I think it has-- it really has the potential to break apart the very coalition that elected Donald Trump. If you remember, that convention speech that Donald Trump gave in Cleveland, it was so shocking because it had at its center law and order. That was the theme of his candidacy.
The FBI just as an institution is sort of center right. They are mostly libertarians. The agents in question, they hated every politician. There were anti-Bernie messages, anti-Chelsea Clinton messages, anti-Eric Holder messages, anti-Loretta Lynch messages.
The fact that the Republicans have put the entire Republican Party brand on the line to smear and assassinate the character of the entire FBI over text messages between two agents who were having an affair who disparage -- one of them disparaged everyone is political suicide.
MATTHEWS: Let`s hope truth will win out and lying will not.
Thank you so much. It is great to have you on.
Thanks so much, Nicole Wallace, for sticking around. Eli Stokols, as always. Sir Jonathan, good to have you back. We do miss you, sir.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, a new NBC News report on the Russian investigation. National security advisor Michael Flynn concealed his interview with the FBI from President Trump for two days. Why did he do that? This is a top Democratic senator says all roads to the investigation leads to Donald J. Trump. All roads in this investigation leads to Trump. That`s pretty clear.
Plus, with Trump heading to Davos this week, to hobnob with the global elites, we are going to hear from a union leader in this country who says despite what you hear from the White House, Trump has broken his promise to working class Americans and the workers he talks to say they feel betrayed.
And Trump versus Schumer. The President looking to score political points by bullying the Senate Democratic leader and the fate of the DREAMers hangs in the balance.
Finally, let me finish tonight with two very different versions and visions of Africa.
This is "Hardball" where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Late today, President Trump said he was looking forward to talking to Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you talk to Mueller?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m looking forward to it actually.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set?
TRUMP: There`s been no collusion whatsoever. There`s no obstruction whatsoever. And I`m looking forward to it. I do worry when I look at all of the things and you people don`t report it with what`s happening if you take a look at you know, the five months-worth of missing texts, that`s a lot of missing texts. And as I said yesterday, that`s primetime. So you do sort of look at that and say what`s going on. You do look at certain texts where they talk about insurance policies or insurance where they say the kinds of things they are saying. You have got to be concerned. But I would love to do that. I would like to do it as soon as possible. Good luck everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will you do it, Mr. President? Do you have a date set?
TRUMP: So here is the story. I don`t know, no. I guess they are talking about two or three weeks. But I would love to do it. You know, again, I have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball."
As we learned from "the Washington Post" just yesterday, special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in questioning the President about the circumstances surrounding Michael Flynn`s departure from the White House. Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller since at least last month when he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a private west wing interview that took place one year ago today.
And now NBC News is reporting that Flynn did not have a lawyer present when the FBI questioned him and that he concealed that interview, believe it or not, from the president -- quote -- "A lawyer for the National Security Council typically would be informed of such a meeting and be present for it, one person familiar with the procedure said. But that didn`t happen in this instance. And Flynn didn`t even include his own personal lawyer, two people said. He met with the two federal agents alone."
Furthermore, "Two people familiar with the matter said that Trump was unaware that Flynn had spoken with the FBI until two days after the interview took place."
That means that Trump learned of the interview with the FBI on January 26. According to former FBI Director James Comey, it was the next day, on the 27 of January, that the president famously asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty.
I`m joined right now by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Julia Ainsley is an investigator reporter with NBC News.
Thank you so much.
You were a former attorney general for all those years in Connecticut. So, explain to me, Senator, about why would a guy who is head of the National Security Council walk -- allow two FBI agents to pretty formidably approach his door, come in and sit with him, taking notes, no doubt, all alone?
Was he afraid to tell Trump that he had blown it, that they did in fact bug him, that they knew about the meeting with the ambassador from Moscow?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: He was either afraid, or he was totally foolhardy, or he thought that he could conceal, as he lied to the FBI about those meetings with the Russian ambassador and others.
But we know for sure that a president of the United States learning that his national security adviser concealed a meeting with the FBI should have fired him on the spot.
Instead, he kept Flynn in the White House and allowed him to resign only when "The Washington Post" in fact reported that he had lied.
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re a prosecutor. What does that tell you? The fact that he was afraid to separate from the guy, the guy knew something on him, they had something on him, because had he told them to talk to Kislyak and he knew all about it?
How is that possible? I think that`s what happened.
BLUMENTHAL: I think it tells me that there is a suspicious motive here and that, in fact, all of these lines lead to the Oval Office, that Donald Trump eventually is the one who will be held responsible.
There`s a credible case right now of obstruction of justice against Donald Trump. And I have asked, in fact, that all of the interviews before the Judiciary Committee be fully disclosed to Robert Mueller.
We wrote a letter today to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley, asking him to make those interviews available, because I think there`s some very material and important evidence that would further shed light on what the motives were.
MATTHEWS: Let`s follow up on the legs of your prosecution theory. If Trump told Comey, I want your loyalty, what does that tell you?
BLUMENTHAL: It tells me that Donald Trump is fearing something in the FBI investigation. And, in fact, his having learned from his counsel, Don McGahn, about that interview with Flynn led him to want that loyalty from Comey.
MATTHEWS: If the president, which we know he did, told Comey, I want you to go easy, and it was always -- it was an order -- Go easy on Michael Flynn, what`s that tell you?
BLUMENTHAL: And that request, by the way, was made the day after Flynn was permitted to resign.
What it tells me is that Donald Trump has an apprehension. He wants to either delay or stop or in some way impact that ongoing investigation into collusion, and with corrupt intent. And that`s the key here, Chris, because it reflects on corrupt intent. He may well have committed obstruction.
MATTHEWS: Two other things. He told McCabe he wanted to know what your voting record was. I want to know whether you`re loyal to me. Did you vote -- he didn`t care if he was a Republican or not. He wanted to know if he voted for him.
And then he wasn`t satisfied and attacked him for being involved with a wife who was a Democrat. That was his big sin.
But I just want to -- anything else here? Because he went along for those days. Does this sound like obstruction?
I will get to Julia on this.
The fact that he kept saying publicly, like he was sending rosebuds to Mike Flynn, I`m with you, Michael, even after he fired him, I`m with you, like he was trying to keep him under control and to keep his mouth shut. That`s the way I heard it.
How did you hear it? Is that obstruction?
BLUMENTHAL: Concealment is obstruction done with the intent to stop an investigation going forward or influence a witness to avoid telling the truth.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Is that what it sounded like to you?
BLUMENTHAL: And it certainly raises that suspicion.
I`m going to be somewhat cautious, because the one who really knows here...
MATTHEWS: But you said there`s enough now to bring a charge of obstruction.
BLUMENTHAL: There`s a credible case of obstruction of justice against Donald Trump.
Now, Robert Mueller is a very experienced professional prosecutor, and he is not going to bring a charge just on a credible case. He wants proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
MATTHEWS: As the former attorney general and longtime respected -- I`m warming you up here -- attorney general of Connecticut, would you have brought the charge of obstruction of justice based on what you knew in this case?
BLUMENTHAL: I think Robert Mueller is the one who has all of the evidence. I would want to know more and have more evidence than I know right now, but Robert Mueller may well have it.
MATTHEWS: Julia, you`re the detective here, so tell us what`s missing here, because what else do we know in terms of a possible obstruction charge? Because it seemed to be where they`re headed.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
So, Chris, we have talked about on your show how Mueller is looking into these key 18 days, between the time that Sally Yates talked to Don McGahn and the time that Flynn was actually fired.
I would even want to look back further to the time that Flynn spoke to those key advisers at Mar-a-Lago who told him to go ahead and have this conversation with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. At what point -- was it before the call, was it after the call, was it before he was fired -- that this White House actually distanced themselves from Michael Flynn?
Did he conceal that meeting because he wanted to conceal what was going on, or did he have an understanding with the president and with the staff that he was going to keep this line the whole time? A lot of that is unknown. And it could be that he just got overconfident, thought he had the support of this whole White House, and thought, I don`t need a lawyer.
It`s something we have also seen from former generals in the past.
MATTHEWS: Well, I love the way you did this, because you pointed out the two surrogates for Trump who told Flynn to meet with the Russian ambassador. One of those surrogates for the president was his son, right?
AINSLEY: Yes, if we go back and you look at the plea agreement, when he laid out everything that had happened, we looked back, and it looks like K.T. McFarland was one of the people that we later confirmed.
MATTHEWS: And the other was?
AINSLEY: Was his son, exactly.
AINSLEY: And so...
MATTHEWS: Well, if it comes from the son and it comes to K.T., who has also just been given a big ambassadorship, I wonder whether he couldn`t assume, hey, the boss is telling me to meet with Kislyak.
AINSLEY: Right. And they`re all in Mar-a-Lago with, guess who, the new president-elect, Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Thoughts on that?
BLUMENTHAL: Very, very important point, because George Papadopoulos is also a key person here. He`s the one who had knowledge about the dirt on Hillary Clinton, or the e-mails that were stolen and hacked and offered to the Trump campaign.
And he in turn being in touch with Donald Trump Jr., and the transcripts that we have of our interview on the Judiciary Committee I think are very, very important to this investigation.
And to answer your underlying question, Robert Mueller knows what Flynn knows, because Flynn has to be cooperating with Robert Mueller. If he in any way prevaricates or distorts or holds back, he is in a world of hurt, because there`s a high bar for his cooperation.
MATTHEWS: Do you think there`s a big chart, both of you, somewhere in the special counsel`s office, with a big chart showing all these characters, Papadopoulos and all these characters, and the sons and the daughter and all, the son-in-law, and all the roles that they played with arrows pointing?
Do you think, Julia, there`s such a thing? You guys probably have one.
AINSLEY: Yes, I was just about to say, I feel like, as a reporter, I need one of those.
I`m going to look like one of those crazy people with the string connecting all the dots. But it`s a lot to keep track of. And I think it`s hard also for the American people to keep track of who has done what and who is the key...
MATTHEWS: I try to work on that.
AINSLEY: Me too.
BLUMENTHAL: In the pre-computer days, when I was the U.S. attorney in Connecticut and we were doing mob cases, we had those charts, which linked them -- almost an organizational chart. And so...
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, but the guys with the nicknames, the mobsters with the nicknames?
BLUMENTHAL: And they had a few nicknames.
BLUMENTHAL: So I have no doubt that somewhere on a computer or on the wall there is a chart.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I used to read "The Philadelphia Inquirer" every Saturday morning to see the mob killings with these crazy nicknames.
Anyway, thank you, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Julia Ainsley.
Up next: President Trump is headed to Davos to mingle with the global elite. There he is headed. But back here at home, he`s getting some heat from the unions, the labor unions. Our next guest says that the president is a con man who has broken the promises he made to the working people.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, later tonight, President Trump will depart for the World Economic Forum over in Davos, Switzerland, to hobnob, of course, with the elites of the global financial world.
He will ostensibly promoting his America-first agenda and the message of populism that propelled him to the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need a leader that can bring back our jobs, can bring back our manufacturing. Today is our independence day.
Today, the American working class is going to strike back, finally.
I will get a call and he will say, Mr. President, Carrier air conditioner has decided to stay in the United States. And maybe they will build a new plant and maybe they will build a new factory and maybe they will do lots of things. And I don`t care where they build it, as long as it`s in our country. Right?
Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. Not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that last clip was from the presidential transition, when Trump touted a deal with Carrier Corporation to keep 1,100 jobs in Indiana.
At the time, my next guest was the president of the union representing the Carrier workers.
So, has President Trump lived up to his promises to working Americans?
For more, I`m joined by himself, Chuck Jones, former president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999 out in Indianapolis.
Mr. Jones, tell us the whole story. What`s it been like? What`s happened? What`s been the effect of the Trump presidency economically?
CHUCK JONES, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL 1999: Well, people voted for him based on his commitments and his promises to keep jobs here in this country.
I wasn`t one of them, but a lot of our folks were. And he kept on campaigning that, if he was president, Carrier wouldn`t be going anywhere. As of last week, they have laid off over 600 here in Indianapolis, another 700 in Huntington, Indiana.
And then he also said one of our other plants, Rexnord, it wouldn`t be going anywhere. It`s closed down in its entirety, moved to Mexico.
Donald Trump broke the record in one year for 93,000 jobs being outsourced or left this country under his watch.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about his image. He is still out there giving speeches. He`s still getting crowds. He`s still singing the song.
How do you put that in contrast to the reality in terms of industrial manufacturing jobs in this country, especially in the -- what we call the Rust Belt, that part of the country that you represent, which is all the way from Philadelphia, all the way across most of the Midwest, where most of the real jobs have been jeopardized?
JONES: Well, I think, for the most part, it took people, some longer than others, to feel like Trump`s a liar. He took Bernie Sanders` message and he ran with it. And people wanted to believe in something that things would get better in this country.
And they bought his message. And he`s had a year now. And he hadn`t delivered at all to the working-class people one iota.
MATTHEWS: What do you think is going on with trade? The issue of trade was his hot issue.
Is there anything changing in U.S. trade policy vis-a-vis our competitors around the world, India, China, Brazil? Are we competing any better on steel and things like that with the BRICS countries?
JONES: No. For the most part, we can`t compete with $3-an-hour wages they pay the Mexican workers. And it`s even cheaper in some other countries.
So we can put out a good-quality product irregardless of what it is. And the companies can be profitable. But, you know, with the wages as they are with $3-an-hour wages they pay the Mexican worker, which, by the, way isn`t our enemy, we haven`t got a chance.
MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead.
JONES: Here in Indianapolis, we have suffered job losses, but it`s throughout this country. And something`s got to be done in order to call to a halt. Trump promised. He needs to deliver. He hasn`t done anything.
MATTHEWS: Well, in an interview with "The New York Times" the other day, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka offered a blistering critique of President Trump`s first year of office.
Trumka told the newspaper: "Broken promises are bad enough. But President Trump has also used his office to actively hurt working people."
Would you agree with that, hurt working people? Would you go that far? Would you go as far as Trumka?
JONES: Oh, yes.
And Rich Trumka is right on. Everything that Donald Trump`s done since he took office is hurting the working-class people, from his appointments on Department of Labor, to some of his regulations that he`s gotten away with. Nothing has been positive that I`m aware of.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Chuck Jones, a labor guy speaking for the labor men and women in this country.
Up next: President Trump goes after the man he calls can crying Chuck Schumer. It seems like he`s more interested in scoring cheap political points and name-calling than actually working to hammer out a deal for the dreamers.
Why are you dumping on the guy you`re supposed to be negotiating with? We have only got a few weeks.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, tonight, the future of nearly 700,000 DACA recipients remains unclear as President Trump continues to wage his war against fellow New Yorker Chuck Schumer. It`s a battle of the burgs you might say, pitting too long time acquaintances against each other.
Last night, President Trump responded to the news Schumer rescinded his offer to build part of the border wall. The president tweeted: Crying Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there`s no wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and security together with a strong military for our great people. That`s the president.
Well, today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the White House will release a framework for an immigration bill on Monday, so something is happening. It will include securing the border, that`s the wall, closing legal loopholes ending extended family migration, canceling the visa lottery and providing a permanent solution on DACA.
For more, I`m joined by HARDBALL roundtable members, Catherine Rampell, columnist for "The Washington Post", John Brabender, Republican strategist, and Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy newspapers.
Thank you all.
What is the strategy confident president to dump personally on Chuck Schumer after having not talked to him, since they had their long talk on Friday and then to make fun of him and Crying Chuck, this is a guy who is his debating partner, his negotiating partner?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it certainly does not suggest that they`re going to be negotiating in good faith, right? I mean, the whole reason supposedly while we had yet another C.R., another stopgap funding measure was so both sides could come back to the table, work out their differences and decide here`s how we`re going to solve the problems that Americans care about.
By mocking Schumer on Twitter, by calling him names, by crowing about the fact that Democrats have conceded and that they`ve failed, that does not show good faith. That does not show they`re actually going to come to any sort of agreement. It`s really just about scoring points and winning. That`s it.
MATTHEWS: Does he want this fight or he wants this solution? I`m talking about the president. Would he rather have the DACA left in limbo, keep his hard right happy because he`s done nothing on immigration than making a deal here? Does he want a deal, Trump?
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: I think he wants a deal. I think he wants the deal on other things. I think he wants those things. I think he wants the wall, the chain migration, family migration.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`ll get his right wing to go along with any deal that allows any person who came in this country illegally to stay here?
KUMAR: Let me tell you --
MATTHEWS: Will he let anybody do that?
KUMAR: So, reported this week that he`s actually looking at 1.2 Dreamers, not just 700,000. So, those are people eligible for DACA but didn`t apply. I called people to get reaction. And all these people that you would think were opposed were actually OK with it. They want to see what he gets in return.
MATTHEWS: Do you that will be a deal, John? Do you think Trump believes there is a deal out there? Because he stayed quiet, he went hibernated the whole weekend at the White House, didn`t get involved in this.
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think the whole environment has changed. I got to be honest with you, I believe Schumer and the Democrats are in a much weaker position. First of all, if you look at the Quinnipiac poll that came out, the Democrats in the Senate got more blame for the shutdown than either the president or the Republicans in the legislature.
MATTHEWS: They did?
MATTHEWS: What poll was that?
BRABENDER: Quinnipiac. So, I mean, it`s a realistic poll. That`s number one.
Second of all, this is on the heels of the Republicans passing tax cuts. Schumer has actually done something that the president, Ryan and McConnell have not been able to do. They will actually have unified the Republicans based on shutdown.
MATTHEWS: Where are you -- what`s your party position? They want to let the DACA people stay here safely or not?
BRABENDER: I think what you`re going to see is Monday, the president`s going to say we will negotiate on that as long as we get what we want. There are going to be things such as the wall is going to be critical. And not the wall where we just throw a few dollars, but something legitimate to build it, things like sanctuary cities will be very, very important to this administration.
I think there is a deal that could be made. What`s going to be really interesting to me is I had been a believer all along that Schumer just doesn`t want a deal and say I tried. This president isn`t reasonable, we can`t deal. Because of the shutdown and Schumer looking bad in that, it makes it look really bad if he takes his ball and walks away from the table a second time.
MATTHEWS: Look, I agree, it`s a tough situation because I know the Democratic Party. I know there`s a fight now between the progressives and the dealmakers who want to cut deals. And Trump and Schumer is now on the side of the dealmakers. He`s the lead dealmaker, right? He a little -- he has to keep their trains running. It`s got to work.
RAMPELL: And the base actually does care a lot about DACA, right? I mean, Republicans care about DACA, too. It`s not something that`s solely an issue of the far left. Almost all Americans support it.
MATTHEWS: Center to a far left, what will they pay? Will they allow some wall to get DACA?
RAMPELL: I don`t think that people care so much about not building the wall except in more of a symbolic sense, right? I mean, it`s not like we don`t want to waste money on this. It`s fiscally irresponsible. I don`t think that`s --
MATTHEWS: Give up on family migration. I think that`s a hard one to get.
RAMPELL: I think that`s a much harder sell.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s very hard to tell families they can`t reunite here.
KUMAR: I think if you`re President Trump, you want the wall. You want funding. You want border security. And every proposal has included some border security. He`s going to call it a wall. He`s going to get some money and call it a wall.
MATTHEWS: What about the stuff that`s much harder, diversity lottery, which brings a lot of minorities to the country, and the other thing, the family migration which brings in a lot of minorities through other family members.
KUMAR: Yes, if you look at what the Senate -- bipartisan Senate deal was, they included both of those things. It wasn`t much. It was changing some categories, eliminating certain things. But it wasn`t wiping them out. I think you`ll see some compromise on that.
MATTHEWS: Do you want to compromise, John? Or do you want --
BRABENDER: No, I think there should be a compromise. But I think what the Republicans are going to do and I think you`re going to see this Monday, is they`re going to say, our first thing is national security. Are we going to do immigration that protects Americans?
Number two is, are we going to do it in a way that protects the American worker. So, we know who is here, where they`re working.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I`m for that.
MATTHEWS: Are we going to have comprehensive immigration coming out of this? You say comprehensive?
BRABENDER: Well, I think there will be some type of comprehensive legislation.
KUMAR: By February 8th?
BRABENDER: That does get done.
RAMPELL: Not going to happen, though.
BRABENDER: I think if the president says here`s what I want and Schumer says, I`m sorry, we`re not building the wall, we`re not getting rid of sanctuary cities it, all of a sudden, America is going to say, it`s the Democrats, not the Republicans that are starting this --
MATTHEWS: Who wins on this issue politically? Come November, this time around, who is benefitting?
RAMPELL: I like to think in terms of what gets us the better policy. I hope the policy that we get.
MATTHEWS: Help me here.
RAMPELL: Well --
MATTHEWS: I agree with you on the policy. Have you ever thought the politics of this thing?
KUMAR: I think in six months, something else will come up and they`ll be voting on something else.
BRABENDER: No, they`re not going to vote on anything in six months. It`s too close to the election.
MATTHEWS: It`s still a hot issue on both sides. It`s like abortion rights. Things like that. It`s not going away.
Anyway, "The Daily Beast" reports that West Wing officials have become consumed with a singular objective, keeping president Trump away from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They will fear his proclivity to change his tune based on what the last person advised, could be exploited by Schumer and Democratic leaders. "The New York Times" further notes that an adviser to Mr. Trump once pointed out if he the president had to choose between spending time with Schumer or McConnell, he would pick the Democratic leader almost every time.
Do you have thoughts about the sociability of these guys?
RAMPELL: Well, they do seem sometimes simpatico, right? Sometimes not. I do think it`s true that Trump seems to echo whoever was whispering in his ear most recently.
MATTHEWS: What`s this Crying Chuck? It doesn`t sound like his buddy, his soul brother.
BRABENDER: Well, look, I think what this really says bigger is that this president as we know is not a politician. I think he truly believed that on the negotiations a week ago that he and Schumer were going to come to some agreement. They`re going to put their arms around each other and leave.
I think he`s now half second-guessing whether he can deal with Schumer and we`re going to find out.
KUMAR: Look what he did with Lindsey Graham, all those tweets and all those criticisms. And now, they`re buddies. They`re going to negotiate and get along. So, I think that in a week or two, the president will get over it and he`ll negotiate with him.
MATTHEWS: Will we have a deal at the end of February?
RAMPELLL: We`ll have a deal on some things, probably not everything. But there is always the likelihood that we could still have yet another shutdown. I just don`t know that Democrats are willing to deal with it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, the roundtable, that`s really dysfunctional. I mean, it`s not functional.
RAMPELLL: Well, welcome to America in 2018.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us. And next, these people will tell me something I don`t know.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Alabama Republicans are looking to avoid a repeat of last month`s special election, a stunning upset that sent Democrat Doug Jones to the Senate. The Alabama statehouse voted 67-31 largely along party lines to do away with special elections for the state`s U.S. Senate seats. Under the new legislation, the governor would appoint an interim replacement that would serve until the next statewide election. Republicans say the bill would save the state millions of dollars. Democrats meanwhile have dubbed the legislation the anti-Doug Jones bill and argue that people should be able to vote on a replacement senator as soon as possible.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.
Catherine, tell me something I don`t know.
RAMPELL: So, we just got over a shutdown showdown, right? In about a month, we`re going to have a similar one over the debt ceiling. For some reason, no one is talking about it. We technically already hit our ability to continue borrowing in December. Since then, Treasury has been just engage in extraordinary accounting measures in order to keep us from defaulting on our debt and setting off a worldwide financial crisis. We only have a few more weeks left until Congress can get it back together and keep that from happening.
MATTHEWS: Yes, John?
BRABENDER: Since the shutdown, there was an internal Republican report that showed engagement on Republican sites have been up 38 percent which is usually a big precursor to the generic ballot shrinking. In fact, there has been some polls out now with the generic ballot shrinking.
MATTHEWS: But I see the Democrats up by 12.
BRABENDER: There are different polls where it was as low as four and five. So, there seems to be some movement going on in the generic ballot.
MATTHEWS: We`ll see.
KUMAR: President Trump heads to Davos tonight to the World Economic Forum and on Friday, he gets to meet with the president of Rwanda. The first African head of state he`s going to meet since his disparaging remark at the White House a couple weeks ago. Rwanda has been really upset about the remark and it will be interesting to see --
MATTHEWS: Will Paul Kagame take him down?
KUMAR: I don`t know what`s going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much, Catherine Rampell, John Brabender and Anita Kumar.
When we return, let me finish tonight with two very different visions of Africa. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a tribute to a man who represents what is great in post-colonial black Africa, and then a man who knows nothing at all about it.
Hugh Masekela is the South African jazz performer who just died. He became known in this country in the `60s for "Grazing in the Grass." He`s best known in his country of birth for his decades-long opposition to apartheid. "The Guardian" newspaper calls Masekela one of the world`s finest and most distinctive trumpeters, with music from South Africa and across Africa. Exiled from his country for 30 years, Masekela was also a powerful singer and songwriter and an angry political voice using music and live performances to attack the apartheid regime that banished him from his homeland.
In 1997, he and Miriam Makeba joined Paul Simon on the world tour promoting Simon`s album "Graceland", which had been recorded with black musicians in South Africa. Even when he had returned to the country of his birth under the leadership Nelson Mandela, after having lived and worked in the U.S. and Botswana, Hugh Masekela continued to comment fearlessly on political events in South Africa and around the world, having issued more than 40 albums across his career, his final one was "No Borders" in 2016.
Among his many awards he`s gotten was South Africa`s highest award, the Order of Ikhamanga.
Hugh Masekela versus Donald Trump, two very different visions of Africa, don`t you think? Let`s hope the American president gets his head straight on that continent.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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