Show: HARDBALL Date: February 5, 2018 Guest: Alexi McCammond, John Brabender, Jim Kenney, Peter Baker, Charlie Dent
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Memo versus memo. Let`s play "Hardball."
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
On a day that`s seen some win share on Wall Street, the Dow Jones plunged 1600 points this afternoon before recovering slightly to close down by almost 1200 points. And more on that coming up tonight.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the battle between Donald Trump and the prosecution rolls on. Trump`s Republican defenders continue to hold up a deceptively crafted memo to unfairly smear the FBI and the justice department. They argue that Trump`s former campaign Adviser Carter Page was strongly -- wrongly, rather, surveilled even though a federal judge found probable cause to suspect him of being a foreign agent.
And now the President has effectively confirmed what we already knew, that the whole charade is, in fact, intended to defend him from the special counsel`s probe. As Trump tweeted on Saturday quote "this memo totally vindicates Trump in probe." He`s like Caesar now. He refers to himself in the third person. But the Russian witch hunt goes on and on. There was no could he collusion. There was no obstruction. The word now used because after one year of looking endlessly finding nothing, collusion is dead. This is an American disgrace. That`s all Trump.
Anyway, however, some Republicans appeared to be breaking with the President, carefully defending the so-called memo while saying it should have no impact on the special counsel`s work. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), TEXAS: I actually don`t think it has any impact on the Russia probe for this reason.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The memo has no impact on the Russia probe?
GOWDY: Not to me it doesn`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were in favor of the memo coming out. Do you agree that it vindicates Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is a separate issue.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: This really doesn`t have anything directly to do with the Mueller investigation of Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This memo has, frankly, nothing at all to do with the special counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob Mueller should be allowed to turn over every rock, pursue every lead so that we can have trust in knowing what actually the Russians did or did not do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He is challenging the President.
Anyway, Democrats on the House intelligence committee who view the memo as a one-sided hit job have been fighting the release of rebuttal in an effort to get the record straight. After blocking the release of that rebuttal last week, Republicans acquiesced late today and the committee unanimously voted unanimously to send it to the White House for review. So the Democrats rebuttal memo is coming out if the President says so.
Here is the ranking Democrat on that congressman Adam Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We think this will help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies in the majority memo. Majority found them in an insupportable position when they released the misleading memo and refused to release the Democratic response. So I think they were compelled to take the action they did today. And we think this will be very useful information for the American people to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: An administration official tells NBC News that the White House will treat the Democratic rebuttal the same way they handled the Republican memo last week. The President has the authority to block it within a five-day review period if he chooses to.
Joining me right now is Republican congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania who like best and the better part of the world celebrating the Eagles first super bowl victory last night with his son. There they are together, his father and son. Peter Baker is a White House chief correspondent for "The New York Times" and Andrea Mitchell, of course, a Philly lady herself is NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of, of course, at noontime "Andrea Mitchell Reports"" on MSNBC.
Charlie and Andrea, you too first because of your greatness and because you come from a city of stature originally. I must say, it`s been an amazing night for those of us who have heart as we say in Philly.
Let me ask you, Andrea, about the significance of this fight politically. I have never heard the word memo used outside an office. It`s been -- I can say confected into something really important, this memo, and somehow it`s taken on some sort of a laminated life of its own. Now that Democrats have their own memo, is that it`s a battle of the memos starting probably tomorrow or the next day when Trump approves the release of the Democratic memo. Are we going to get any closer to the truth in this prosecution or are they both sort of countervailing distractions?
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST, ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS: Well, I think the Republicans succeeded. Nunez succeed in one regard, putting it out in a highly unusual way without the Democratic response, the minority report coming out at the same time unlike what Dianne Feinstein did AT Senate intelligence when she was leading it and the Republicans had a different point of view.
Always in the past these reports, the memos have been put out simultaneously. So the Republicans got a head start. The problem is that it was such a flawed document that it fell like a led balloon. So it didn`t prove their point at all. In fact, it contradicted the point they were trying to make.
There are, in fact, some Democrats I have spoken to who would prefer to let the whole matter drop, just let this flawed Republican document be its own worst argument, if you will, rather than having the Democrats prolong this debate even as there are perhaps bigger issues to pursue, which is the dreamers, the deadline on spending and all the rest of the issues that both parties need to slug out this week.
MATTHEWS: Charlie, congressman, what is smarter for a Republican in a dicey situation this November? Is it better to look like you want the prosecution to proceed, you want to turn over every rock as one member of Congress put it or just look like you are playing defense for Trump? What`s the smart position to be in?
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The smart position is you want the investigation to proceed unimpeded and without interruption or intervention. I think that`s the smart play. And frankly, I don`t think that either of these memos should have been released. That`s my view on this thing. Why risk a source or a method for what is a transparently partisan exercise. So I think the smarter play, of course, is to allow the investigation to proceed. If you`re in a marginal or swing district, that should be your response.
MATTHEWS: Peter, do you think looking at this as a straight reporter that you can see any elevation, any importance of all of this conversation about whether Carter Page should have been surveilled or not? It seems to me we have got enough evidence floating around that he should have been surveilled. He was out bragging, we get that on the next segment, bragging about being basically an adviser to the Kremlin on trade issues. He is certainly in love and in with them and now they say that he wasn`t of interest seems absurd to me. Your thoughts about all of this. Is any of this helpful to understanding whether the President was colluding with the Russians during the campaign?
PETER BAKER, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIME: Yes, I think what`s important to remember here is that the Republican memo last week and the democratic memo that we will get this week, they are basically talking points. They are talking points for each side of a partisan committee in which they have evaluated the evidence and giving it to us in a selective way in order to make their best case.
Neither of these memos is an actual original document. They are not from the FBI. They are not from the FISA court. They are not from the justice department. My colleague, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman have filed a request now with the FISA court saying let`s release the actual documents. Let`s look at the actual applications that were made so we know what the FBI said even if it`s redacted to some extent to protect sources and methods. Let`s see if we can get the original documents to make an independent evaluation rather than to depend on partisans who are pro or anti-Trump to tell us what they think.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Devin Nunes is working on his own or in collaboration with the White House, Peter?
BAKER: Well, clearly --.
MATTHEWS: Is this staff people working with the White House, with the people down at the Eisenhower EOB? Are they working with those people?
BAKER: I don`t know the details of how it came together, but they are clearly shared interests. They clearly have the same point of view on this. And you saw the President`s tweet as he said, he thinks this vindicates him. He said in the speech today, he is sort of eluded to that. But of course, it doesn`t actually go to the main question. It doesn`t answer the questions that really are the center of this which is did the President`s campaign, you know, coordinate in some way with Russians and did the President of the United States do something to obstruct justice. Those are still the main questions. This back and forth over the Carter Page warrant doesn`t really get at those main questions.
MATTHEWS: Andrea, I get the sense watching this thing that the operation on the Republican side of the intelligence committee is really working in cahoots with the White House staff people, with the people at the NSC over there. I just sensed and watching the way this thing is going, this is last year, with the midnight ride over there picking up materials and taking them back to the west wing. The staff people seem to be all interlocked and personally connected to each other.
MITCHELL: I mean, you are right to be suspicious because that`s starting with what Devin Nunes did when he went down to the White House and was clearly being fed information from the NSC. And now that question has been asked repeatedly by Mike Quigley again today when they had their closed hearing. What was the role of the White House staff and your staff? Did they work together? Did they collude, if you will, and he didn`t get any straight answers, not today nor last week. So Nunez is not being at all clear about this.
It`s very, very suspicious though, the timing, the President`s tweets, the praise from the President, and the incredible personal attack of a sitting member of Congress against Adam Schiff from the President of the United States this morning on twitter. That`s pretty remarkable.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s the same old ground hog day performance by the President. Getting up and tweeting these personal and (INAUDIBLE) attacks calling him little Adam Schiff.
Anyway, this morning, did President Trump attacked the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff of California saying among other things that he shouldn`t - that he should be stop. This is typical grade school ground, I should say, out on the parking lot during recess conversation quote "little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper. Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped."
Well, responding to the President`s tweet, Schiff wrote, Mr. President, I see you have had a busy morning of executive time. Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or really anything else.
Congressman Dent, you are leaving this fun House of politics. I don`t know how you -- this isn`t what I came into 40 some years ago. And this is what I left when I left maternity BVM high - grade school in bustling Northeast Philly. This is the way kids talked to each other on the school lot in sixth grade or so. Little Adam Schiff. He is making fun of the man`s physical stature as part of a political argument. What`s the relevance of his physical stature to this discussion of adults? Your thoughts, Charlie?
DENT: There are absolutely is none, Chris. I mean, this is un-precedential behavior. And frankly to accuse Adam Schiff of leaking classified material, that`s a crime and that`s a very serious charge. So I think the name-calling and the insults are very unhelpful to this whole process and it is discouraging.
I mean, Congress (INAUDIBLE). This is the intelligence committee. This is one of the few committees that should be able to do things on a bipartisan basis. They have the opportunity to work on issues behind closed doors in secret that lends itself to, you know, more open and frank conversations. And you can resolve issues. I was chairman of the ethics committee. We had to do things behind closed doors on sensitive personnel matters all the time. And it does allow for a level of bipartisanship that you wouldn`t have in a committee that`s in open session.
MATTHEWS: Well, intelligence committee has always been like that. That`s always been the ethos of the intelligence committee. Andrea knows that. I know that.
Let me go to Peter Baker on this. If you project down the road this late winter and spring and into the summer and into that at the end of the year and you look at what the special counsel Robert Mueller is doing, what he might be able to get to by the year, and then you look at what looks to be the smoke screen to try to protect them along that way or protect the president along that way, it looks like whenever I say or anybody else says in criticism of Devin Nunes that he is going to continue to put up these flares. He is going to keep putting him up. He said he is going to have more. He is putting - there are going to be more of these memos that is linking the names of Democratic operatives and media people who are friends with Hillary Clinton. They are leaking the fact that they`re going to keep dropping these.
Peter, is this going to be a battle of smoke bombs against prosecution for the rest of this year?
BAKER: Well, look, one thing we have learned from past political investigations like this is if you are under investigation, one of the tactics you have is to create another narrative which is to give your supporters, at the very least, something else to focus on other than your own behavior. Certainly, we saw that during the `90s with the Clintons. We saw that and other times even with Nixon they ran after Democrats and tried to say they did the same things.
So there is a national strategy to say, wait a second, don`t pay attention to what I have done. Pay attention to what they are doing. Investigators are flawed and they are biased and they are out to get us.
MATTHEWS: How much does "The New York Times" decide how many rat holes to go down? How do you decide how much of these are simply rat holes aimed at the strikes and how many are really aiming down the main channel of knowledge we would like to gather? What didn`t the president or didn`t he do in terms of collusion, obstruction, or money laundering.
BAKER: Well, we can keep our focus on the main topic while still looking at these other issues. I think look, the conduct of investigators is an important and fair question. I mean, in general we have had debates in the past about people with the power to investigating whether that has been used properly. Those are totally within the normal scrutiny of the media and Congress and so forth.
But that, again, doesn`t answer the main question. And the main question is what did the President do? When did he do it? And so forth. And I think we are going to be still pursuing those questions in the big way. I think you are going to be looking in the next few days, maybe next week or so to get an answer to this question of whether the President will give an interview to Robert Mueller, the special counsel, whether he will answer questions, you know, to the investigators about his actions and about the actions of his campaign. And that will reset, I think, some of the conversation to the main point.
MATTHEWS: Andrew, one last question. Are you impressed by the manner in which the President`s people and his allies have really decided to pro, to basically go ahead here in terms of their strategy which is to attack?
MITCHELL: Well, his lawyers are saying, we are cooperating, we are cooperating. We are not planning to - he is not planning to go after Mueller or Rosenstein. But he unleashed just today when he was in Ohio giving what was supposed to be a tax reform speech, not a political speech, he attacked the Democrats who did not applaud for him at the state of the union and said, you know, some people say that it`s treasonous. Well, you know, maybe it is and suggested they were guilty of treason. And think about the implications of that.
MATTHEWS: I know.
I mean, it`s crazy. And it certainly is disturbing that our politics have descended to this level. I know it`s something the congressman Dent does not appreciate.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t want to make the usual reference but when you start talking about loyalty to one person, we know that that say, history of.
Anyway, thank you, congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. Congratulations to us all actually (INAUDIBLE). What do you think of the announcers a?
MITCHELL: I thought they were a little bit too pro Boston.
MATTHEWS: I think they were in love.
Anyway, Peter Baker, thank you.
Coming up, how can you trust anything from Devin Nunes after he said Trump never met George Papadopoulos. He never met him And we got the picture that they gather, evidence to prove otherwise. And Trump even called Papadopoulos an excellent guy during the campaign. Trump keeps saying there`s no collusion. But let`s see what Mueller gets from people like Papadopoulos and Carter Page? They are pieces -- they are persons of interest and pieces of interest, too.
Plus, the long wait is over. My hometown Eagles, the Eagles are super bowl champs. And to the city of Philadelphia, their fans, it means, just about everything. It does.
And back to politics, the Republicans are gearing up for the 2018 elections coming this November. They are hoping to run against Nancy Pelosi. The ultra (ph) get somebody from the either coast (INAUDIBLE) whatever and run against that person, -whether it is Tip O`Neill, (INAUDIBLE) and Teddy Kennedy, who ever, they would love to do this. But they got plenty of their proms starting with the holocaust tonight. They got running on their ticket, a Republican ticket in Illinois, in the third district in Illinois. He doesn`t believe in the holocaust. Well, he is an interesting fellow, isn`t he? We will get to that in the roundtable tonight.
Finally, let me finish tonight and saying something about the city of Philadelphia which is very important to understand.
This is "Hardball" where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know if you heard the latest, but the market is up about 150 points. We broke a very, very big barrier, 25,000.
The stock market is smashing one record after another.
You know, our stock market I think since election was 82 or 84 times where we set a new record for the stock market.
You look at the companies pouring back into our country. You look at the stock market at an all-time high.
The stock market is shattering one record after another.
It`s going to continue, folks, because we have a long way to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball."
President Trump has constantly tied himself to the rising stock market given what it had today on Wall Street, however. That might not be the smartest political move. The Dow plunged nearly 1200 points today net closing down net 4.6 percent. It cast a scary day, however, in the market with the Dow, I`m watching it, it is 1600 points. There it goes in that red.
For more, I`m joined by MSNBC`s Ali Velshi.
You know, I have never been a big fan of day traders. And this President seems to be a day trader.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, VELSHI AND RUHLE: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, everyday, I`m going look at wagons, greatest, and I`m not going to talk the market down. But would you make it a correction or what was it?
VELSHI: Yes, I think we are on the way to a correction. In the normal world, Chris, you would seeing the market go up a bit and then re-trade and go up and retreat a bit. Retreat of it.
We haven`t seen any of those retreat a bit in the last two years. So nobody likes it when they all come in one day, right. But what we have had is a parabolic market, right. You want the market to do that. Our market is doing this. And the fear is that it has to do this. So it`s an adjustment. I wouldn`t panic too much about it. I actually think there`s probably more to come. But the average investor, look at the left side of the screen, does not like the scene, a 4 handle in front of a percentage in one day. We have seen more than eight percent in one week.
MATTHEWS: When is it smart to buy bonds, sir? I know that your expertise --.
VELSHI: Well, that`s part of the issue.
MATTHEWS: When is it smart to buy bonds?
VELSHI: Right. So part of the issue here is we reached an inflection point on Friday in which good economic news becomes bad news for the stock market, right.
Bonds yields or interest rates have been going up for a few weeks. Ask anybody who has been trying to get a mortgage. A 30-year mortgage has gone up to 4.25 percent. It was in the high 3`s last week.
So, this is the normal course of events. The stock market does well. The economy -- the stock market leads the economy usually. The economy is doing well, starts to heat up, and then interest rates start to go up, and then people move money into fixed income, like bonds.
And when you move that money into bonds or whatever else you move it into, you take it out of the stock market. So, this is the normal cycle of events.
I wouldn`t have most people change their fundamental view of how much they have got in stocks and bonds. That should really be a function of your risk tolerance and how old you are and how close you are to retirement.
But the fact is, this is an adjustment that should have been happening over two years. And you would have felt it normally. If you should be 20 percent in bonds, or 30 percent in bonds, that`s actually where you should be right now. I wouldn`t make any massive adjustments to your holdings because of the last week.
MATTHEWS: Macro. Quick macro question. Why is bad for -- we want wages to go up.
MATTHEWS: People in the middle, people making an average income need a wage increase. So, wages go up -- when wages go up, why is that bad for the market?
VELSHI: Wages go up, people spend more money. That creates more demand. The economy gets hotter.
The only way you manage an economy from getting too hot, from inflation getting too high is you raise interest rates. Raising interest rates means there`s money to be had for no risk, as opposed to money to be had for risking it in the stock market. So, that makes the stock market go down.
So, it`s very typical that when you have an unemployment rate that is good, when unemployment goes down, it becomes more expensive for companies to operate.
MATTHEWS: Oh, great.
VELSHI: They have to pay more for wages. They have to pay more to borrow money. So, that`s a normal course of events.
What is not normal about this is the velocity of the reaction, right? We don`t normally see 1,000, 1,500 points a day. But if you take it out of the equation and you go macro, this is not too serious.
MATTHEWS: Let`s pray for calm.
Thank you, Ali Velshi. You`re the best.
VELSHI: And go, Eagles.
MATTHEWS: Eagles, they have gone the distance.
VELSHI: They have.
MATTHEWS: They have won. Rocky town is Rocky town tonight.
VELSHI: That is right.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The man behind the Republican memo, Congressman Devin Nunes, isn`t helping his own credibility. He claims -- he says that President Trump never met this guy George Papadopoulos.
The only problem is, we have a picture of them sitting together. What are you going -- do you believe me or your lying eyes? Look at this. He never met the guy.
Yes, he has, Mr. Nunes. Your flackery for the president is embarrassing even you, I think.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
If you`re wondering why the FBI was interested in former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, look no further than Page`s own words.
"TIME" magazine reports that in August of 2013, Page bragged about his Russian connections in a letter to an academic publisher, writing: "Over the past half-year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their presidency of the G20 summit next month."
Well, Page wrote that letter after he had already crossed the FBI`s radar.
In June of 2013, the FBI interviewed Page regarding his contacts with Russian intelligence operatives. And three years later, in March 26, 2016, interview with the "Washington Post" editorial board, Trump cited Page as a member of his foreign policy team, along with George Papadopoulos, whom he called an excellent guy.
Well, now Page is at the center of that House Republican memo portrayed by Trump`s allies as a victim of wrongful surveillance. Papadopoulos, meanwhile, is now a cooperating witness in special counsel Mueller`s probe, having pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russians.
Well, today, the man behind that House Republican memo, Congressman Devin Nunes, was asked about Page and Papadopoulos. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Congressman, in the big picture, this whole things about Carter Page. Some say, well, what about Papadopoulos? They started looking at him earlier. What do you say to that?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, I would say that if Papadopoulos was such a major figure, why didn`t you get a warrant on him? If Papadopoulos was such a major figure, you had nothing on him. The guy lied. As far as we can tell, Papadopoulos never even knew who Trump was or never even had met with the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Never even met.
Well, that`s not true exactly. There`s actually photographic evidence to that Papadopoulos met the president. Papadopoulos was photographed in March of 2016 meeting at a meeting Trump`s foreign policy advisory staff seated at the table there with the candidate.
He`s not that far away from him, like two seats away from him.
For more, I`m joined by Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst, and Clint Watts, former FBI special agent and an MSNBC national security contributor.
I want to go to Clint on this question.
Would there be reason if Carter worked for the Russians, was there economic adviser on trade issues, was there reason to check him out, to surveil him, to bug him, to wiretap him, if you will, if he was known to work with the Russians at the time the Russians were involved with influencing our elections?
CLINT WATTS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.
I think the thing we should look at is, imagine you`re an FBI agent that has looked at Carter Page before during that 2013 case. You see him get named as an adviser. Then you see him pop up in Moscow and take the stage there and give a very pro-Russia, anti-American speech in many ways.
This would a natural trigger. They would almost be negligent as investigators not to look back into this. You have got someone cozying up to a presidential candidate going into the election year, and again Carter Page before seemed to not realize he was possibly being targeted for recruitment.
Carter Page engages in these relationships and he`s doing basic business intelligence. And they even note in the original 2013 case that they thought they could offer him business relationships or some sort of incentive to work with the Russians. It wasn`t about actually going out and making him an agent and sort of bringing him in.
We call them fellow travelers in the espionage business, find people that talk like you and think like you that can influence the target, in this case Trump.
MATTHEWS: Paul, he wanted to be known as that, it seems. It isn`t like we`re indicting this guy. We`re not engaged in communist baiting like the old days. This guy is running around, dancing around, saying, hey, look, I know all of these Russians. I`m cool. I`m hip. I have got Russian friends.
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. That`s right. Trump, so -- that`s right, Chris.
So, Trump and Nunes have been ginning up this false narrative that the warrant to spy on Carter Page was based on unreliable information from the Steele dossier and it was just a pretext to spy on the Trump campaign.
And we now know that the FBI had suspected that Carter Page was a Russian operative since 2013. And, in fact, they didn`t start spying on him until a month after he left the Trump campaign.
And so it`s...
What is this -- you know, it`s like a fake foul in sports. They keep calling it -- I`m going to go back to Clint on this.
It`s a fake foul. Some guys are -- I was watching the game. Some people are pretty good at this, looking like they have had just their helmets pulled or something. And they`re very good at it. They show the tug.
And I was just wondering whether it`s -- in the world of spoofs, when you deal with spies, is there an assumption that a guy like Carter Page is what he looks like, a guy working, a fellow traveler, a guy working with the Russians, with the Kremlin?
I think there always is that assumption. But you play out multiple scenarios, because you`re worried about the most dangerous scenario, that the Kremlin is penetrating the campaign of a future president. That`s what they`re worried about.
WATTS: And when I go back and look at all of this, when I hear about this is all much ado about nothing, have we heard about any other Trump campaign aides needing to build relationships with any other country?
I haven`t. There`s significant evidence of Papadopoulos, Page. We saw changes in the policies and platforms.
WATTS: Manafort, Flynn. everybody had some sort of connection with Russia. I can`t pick any other country in the world that they thought they needed to reach out to.
MATTHEWS: Well, the whole family seems to be dying to meet Russians. It`s like a college mixer. Like, who can I meet? Who can I get together with? It`s unbelievable. Can I meet this guy, can I meet that guy?
Let`s talk about Devin Nunes. Devin Nunes, what do we make of him, about Papadopoulos, saying that he didn`t have any connection with the president?
Paul, and we have this picture. This picture is pretty devastating. They do know each other. They`re sitting at the table together. And Trump`s bragged about this guy. There they are at a big meeting. It looks like an important meeting. He`s sitting there a couple of seats from the president.
And now Nunes comes out on television this morning and says they don`t know each other. What`s he talking about? It sounds crazy.
BUTLER: Trump has tried to disassociate himself from both Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
But he during the campaign said that they were both foreign policy advisers.
BUTLER: And here`s the connection between the two.
Around the same time that Carter Page is going to Moscow and saying all these very favorable things about the Russians, George Papadopoulos is saying that we need to send somebody -- we meaning the Trump campaign -- we need to send somebody to Russia, but it can`t be the big guy. It can`t be Trump.
And lo and behold, who goes to Russia? Carter Page.
MATTHEWS: Yes, a cutout.
Thank you so much.
That`s spy talk, isn`t it, cutout?
Anyway, thank you, Paul Butler. It`s great to have you on, as always.
Clint Watts, it`s great. We miss you. Thanks for coming up next.
Up next: underdogs no more. My team, well, many people`s team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are Super Bowl champs for the world right now.
A big Eagles fan, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is coming here coming up next.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: And time runs out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the end of game.
ANNOUNCER: And for the Philadelphia Eagles, the long drought is over, finally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Fly, Eagles, fly.
What can I say?
And welcome back to HARDBALL.
Last night, the Philadelphia Eagles made history, winning their first ever Super Bowl. It was a stunning moment for the underdog team and for the Philadelphians, who have been hoping for a national champion single the Eagles beat Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers back in 1960.
We`re joined right now by the proud mayor of Philadelphia, James Kenney.
Sir, thank you.
I think a lot of people who are from the Delaware Valley, as we call it, don`t understand the culture. Would you explain why it`s so darn important for Philly to win a football game?
JIM KENNEY (D), MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, first of all, let me say, how about our Eagles, Chris.
MATTHEWS: How about our Eagles.
KENNEY: Were they awesome, or what?
MATTHEWS: I`m with you. I`m with you. The Eagles.
KENNEY: I was listening to talk radio on the way over to the studio. And there was a guy on there who was explaining what his theory was.
And this is kind of how deep it goes. He believes that so many generations of people have passed on without seeing a Super Bowl win that they were all up in heaven last night actually pulling for us, and that`s how we got over the top.
KENNEY: So, that kind of mentality gives you an idea as to how deep the Eagles are held by not only Philadelphians, but people in Delaware, Southern New Jersey, Lehigh Valley, Reading, Allentown.
And it`s just -- I never thought I would see it. This is the team, this was the time. And we`re so proud of our team, of our coach, of our players, the ownership.
Everyone was just wonderful. And it`s brought great joy to our city.
MATTHEWS: So, what`s it going to be like on Thursday, when the team marches through town?
KENNEY: It`s going to be crowded. So, people should find a way to get on public transportation. That`s number one.
Number two, we had a -- the Eagles didn`t get back today until about 2:00, so it was hard to plan for them for a Tuesday event. Wednesday is supposed to be a rain day all day. So, Thursday is sunny and 34. It`s going to be brilliant. And we`re going to have a ball downtown. Everybody is going to have fun.
MATTHEWS: Philly is a city of neighborhoods. And people -- I grew up with people in neighborhoods. You identified your neighborhood as your parish basically.
MATTHEWS: And even when people moved to South Jersey, when the neighborhood changed, they still -- oh, she`s from over in Saint A`s or Maternity or Saint Christian`s or something.
You know, that really is different, I think, than the rest of the world. It`s really a neighborhood city that way.
KENNEY: It is.
It`s a blue-collar city still. People are very passionate about the birds. I love all of our sports teams, but this is a football town. It`s even more of a football town now that we have won the Super Bowl. I`m just beside myself. I was crying last night.
I watched it at home because I wanted to see the replays. I wanted to take every play in and absorb every play. And it was just a wonderful piece of work by both the offense and the defense. And the play calling of coach Pederson was excellent.
MATTHEWS: The calls were. And that amazing, wild go-around-the-right-end play, with that wide-open receiver was one of the most -- that`s something out of a movie.
Anyway, thank you very much. And congratulations, Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia.
KENNEY: My pleasure.
MATTHEWS: It`s a proud city, and it`s going to be that way for a long time because of what happened last night.
Up next: The Republicans are dust...
KENNEY: Go, birds.
MATTHEWS: Go, birds -- are dusting off their anti-Pelosi playbook. Boy, they`re getting desperate.
They`re going to knock the lady from San Francisco when they`re really in trouble. But they`re not without their own issues, including the fact that they`re running a Holocaust denier in Illinois.
Aren`t they proud?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
If history has taught us anything, it`s that mid-term elections favors the party that`s out of power. That`s for sure. Since World War II, the party who control the White House has lost an average of 28 seats in the first midterm election, 28 seats is the average loss. Republicans only have to lose 24 to lose the House.
Anyway, they`re aware of that in history. They`re dusting off the playbook to mobilize Republican voters. And their play, paint control of the House under Nancy Pelosi is far worse than under Paul Ryan.
Well, the president previewed that message today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this is not a good day for Nancy Pelosi. She`s our secret weapon. No, she`s our secret -- I just hope they don`t change her. There are a lot of people that want to run her out. She`s really out there. And I`m supposed to make a deal with her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Democrats remain hopeful because President Trump is also historically unpopular with his approval ratings hovering around 38.
For more, I`m joined by the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Jon Allen, national political reporter for NBC News Digital, Alexi McCammond who is a deputy "Axios" editor -- news editor at "Axios", somebody moved the prompter too fast, and John Brabender is a Republican strategist.
Since I boggled your name, Alexi, let me start with you. I will reserve judgment. Picking on somebody from one of the coasts, usually ethnic, and making them the poster person of the Democratic Party is all business for the Republicans.
They did it with -- way back to some guy from the Bronx back in the `40s. They did it with Bella Abzug from West Side of New York. They did it with Tip O`Neill. They did it with Teddy. N Now, they`re doing it -- Teddy Kennedy -- now they`re doing it after Nancy Pelosi.
They love to get an ethnic sort of person from one of the coasts and make them the bad person.
ALEXI MCCAMMOND, NEWS EDITOR, AXIOS: Well, it`s easy to paint her as the San Francisco elitist. She didn`t really understand middle class America, because of her crumbs tax cuts comment. But after Paul Ryan botched it with the $1.50 tweet, it`s sort of --
MATTHEWS: Explain the $1.50 tweet.
MCCAMMOND: So, he tweeted that it was amazing that this woman, I believe she was the secretary somewhere, got $1.50 extra in her paycheck because of the Republican tax cuts.
MATTHEWS: That was worth bragging about?
MCCAMMOND: Well, Paul Ryan thought so. I believe the tweet since then has been removed. So, before that, maybe they can paint her --
MATTHEWS: So, what`s worse, going a thousand bucks dirt or $1.50, a lot of money? Who stands more stupid? I don`t know.
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think in a lot of ways, they`re going to cancel each other out. But what`s interesting about the Ryan comment is Ryan has projected himself as this regular guy. He comes from a district that when he first got there had a lot of Democrats in it. He wants them to think that he`s in touch with them and this $1.50 is so out of them and sort of in addition to that, or looking it at a macro sense --
MATTHEWS: Has he bought a candy bar lately? I mean --
ALLEN: Of course not.
MATTHEWS: There`s no change.
ALLEN: This teacher gets a buck fifty, that`s like 1/6 she would get if everybody got the same.
MATTHEWS: What about this ethnic politics? OK, Nancy Pelosi looks well-off, she`s well dressed. You know, she seems like she comes from pretty good circumstances. But is that why they go after her? Why don`t they go after Pelosi? Why don`t they go after all these people.
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, she`s remarkably progressive or liberal, which doesn`t play with independents or middle America, number one. Number two is her favorable numbers are horrific. You think Donald Trump`s --
MATTHEWS: Are they worse than Paul Ryan`s?
BRABENDER: I`m sure that they are. But let`s -- here`s my problem. I think it`s a mistake of our party to think the way we`re going to win the 2018 elections is by going -- I think we have a great story to tell. We have a much better story to tell right now than we did four weeks ago. You know, 3 million just got bonuses. We got the lowest unemployment rate.
MATTHEWS: What about the market today?
BRABENDER: ISIS is on the run. Yes, there was a correction today, I agree with you. But I`ll guarantee you that it is going to stay where it is or go higher.
And if all those things, the economy is great, and it`s a share --
MATTHEWS: While you`re flying high, I`ve got one for you. This is a gut punch.
BRABENDER: By the way, thank you for picking New England. As a Steelers fan, I have to get that in there.
MATTHEWS: Republicans are set to face a new round of challenges when Arthur Jones, a notorious holocaust denier, he runs for office all the time, and white supremacist, is expected to claim the Republican nomination for United States Congress in Illinois, the third district in March. While Republican leaders have disowned Jones, state Republicans didn`t bother to muster a credible candidate because the district is so Democratic.
"The Chicago Sun Times" reached out to Jones to see if anything had changed his way of thinking. Here`s what he had to say. This is the Republican nominee for Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARTHUR JONES, GOP NOMINEE FOR CONGRESS: Economic policies of Hitler brought that nation up from the very bottom. In 12 years of his rule, they went from the age of the biplane to the age of the rocket. To me, the Holocaust is what I said it is. It`s an international extortion racket.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, Jon? Do you think the Democrats might be able to exploit that more than Pelosi?
MATTHEWS: Just a thought.
ALLEN: I think Arthur Jones is well outside the mainstream of anybody`s political thought. But also, the Republican Party`s political thought. The problem for them is --
MATTHEWS: Can I ask you a question?
ALLEN: -- they won`t get him off the ballot.
MATTHEWS: Can I ask you a question? Has anybody -- why do Holocaust deniers exist? I mean, it is fact. You can go to Yad Vashem, where they got all the names. You can go to -- the names are known of the millions of people that were killed by Hitler in the camps.
Why did they deny? Why don`t they live in it alone and say, that was a bad, horrible part of history, that`s not what I consider conservativism or even the right? Why don`t they shut up about it if they don`t believe it?
MCCAMMOND: I cannot answer that. I mean --
MATTHEWS: Jumping into this again, again and again.
MCCAMMOND: To John`s point about this guy being an outlier, I think that it`s true. But then we also see folks like Roy Moore who was abhorrent and the Republican Party didn`t necessarily distance themselves from him. We saw Cortland Sykes (ph) in Missouri who says feminists are the she-devil.
MATTHEWS: Can I say, I can defend putting the Ten Commandments in a courtroom hallway. I mean, I may not agree with it, but they don`t concern evil, OK? There`s a difference with Holocaust denial.
MCCAMMOND: Of course.
BRABENDER: First of all, let`s be clear, this is not the Republican candidate, this is a Republican candidate because he checked the box that says he`s a Republican because they don`t have a box that says I`m crazier than anybody else. Sorry.
MATTHEWS: You are right (ph).
BRABENDER: We don`t support this guy.
MATTHEWS: OK, you win. You won. He`s not a Republican.
Well, during a visit to a manufacturing plant in Cincinnati today, the president accused Democrats from being un-American for their lack of reaction to his State of the Union Address. Let`s go over this. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You`re up there. You`ve got half the room going totally crazy wild, they loved everything. They want to do something great for our country. And you have the other side, even on positive news, really positive news like that, they were like death, and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yes, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not?
I mean, they certainly didn`t seem to love our country very much, but you look at that and it`s really very, very sad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Alexa, I see you shaking your face. You don`t agree that he is our country obviously.
MCCAMMOND: Well, I just think it`s funny when I hear treasonous. I think that Steve Bannon obviously referring to that meeting between Trump`s son and Russians, which he also called un-American and treasonous, and now he`s saying that Democrats not standing and applauding is treasonous?
MATTHEWS: Applauding him.
MCCAMMOND: Applauding him. Is Don McGahn going to explain to him what treasonous means?
MATTHEWS: You`re pretty good.
You`re staying with us. And next, we`re going to get some free headlines from these guys about tomorrow.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Senator John McCain and Senator Chris Coons today introduced a bipartisan immigration bill designed to grant permanent legal status to Dreamers. The legislation also provides funding for border security, although it does not include money for Trump`s border wall.
The bill appears to be a nonstarter, of course, for the president. And this morning, Trump tweeted, any deal on DACA that does not include strong border security and the desperately needed wall is a total waste of time.
The current impasse on immigration comes as Congress scrambles to avoid another government shutdown this coming, believe it or not, Thursday.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Jonathan, tell me something I don`t know.
ALLEN: So most campaign Websites, they`ve got the about the candidate, the issues, all those tabs. Art Jones, that candidate who`s flying under the Nazi flag, so to speak, has a section on his website called conflict flags or flags of conflict. It`s what he thinks about the American flag, the Confederate flag, the Mexican flag and the Israeli flag.
MATTHEWS: Where does he stand on these flags? Is he for or against them or what?
ALLEN: He`s kind of for the Confederate flag, he`s for the American flag, against the Mexican flag, and very against the Israeli flag.
MATTHEWS: Oh, is he?
ALLEN: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: He`s a consistent bloke, isn`t he? I`m not kidding. Anyway, thank you.
MCCAMMOND: A hundred forty-two staffers of House Republican members showed to Paul Ryan`s office this morning to collect just coffee and bagels but their $5,000 checks from Paul Ryan for their 2018 campaigns. He game them all --
BRABENDER: Super Bowl ads, the scoreboard we know is Philadelphia. They`re now combing views and shares today to determine the winner of the Super Bowl ads. It`s going to be Doritos versus Mountain Dew is going to be the winner when they count all the views.
MATTHEWS: I like the Australian one. The Australian travel is the one I like. I always wanted to go to Australian.
Jonathan Allen, Alexi McCammond and John Brabender.
When we return, let me return about my home city of Philadelphia. Stick around for this. It`s going to have a lot of heart.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me explain something. It`s about my home city of Philadelphia.
The thing is, there is something different about it. I`m not talking about the kids who come there to go to college. It`s about the people who were born there. As someone said in New York, they want to know how much money you got. In Washington, D.C., they want to know how much power you`ve got. In Philadelphia, they ask, how long you been here?
It`s a city of neighborhoods. Actually, of parishes. And even if you moved from the old neighborhood, people still tell each other what parish they come from. Even for families now living in south jersey, it`s they`re over from St. A`s or Maternity or St. Chris`s.
When you buy a cup of coffee, the waitress calls you hon. And if you see a kid doing something, the guy at the local market asks if you`re behaving yourself. The guy at the local market asked if you`re behaving yourself.
This isn`t to say this isn`t a tough town. Get caught in the wrong neighborhood and get asked about it, you might say something like you`re from nowhere. Nowhere is a good place to come from if you`re in a wrong one.
You know, this Rocky thing, too, is real. It really is a city about some regular guy getting a shot at the title. And yesterday, the whole city of Philadelphia not only got its shot, it was more than that.
You could see the look in those players` faces before game time. They weren`t there just to go the distance, but to win, the Super Bowl. Philadelphia, the city of all that feeling and guts, is now world champion.
This is the week the underdog stands on top -- don`t you think? -- before the whole world.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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