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New charges stem for Manafort and Gates. TRANSCRIPT: 2/22/2018. Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Jim Himes; Barry Grissom; Greg Pittman; Chris Grady, Donna Edwards, Brett Stevens, Annie Linskey

Show: HARDBALL Date: February 22, 2018 Guest: Jim Himes; Barry Grissom; Greg Pittman; Chris Grady, Donna Edwards, Brett Stevens, Annie Linskey

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: "Hardball" starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Should teachers have guns? Let`s play "Hardball."

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington where two huge national stories are reaching a boil. One is guns and how they`re being used to kill our children at school. We`ll hear from a teacher who doesn`t want to carry a gun into class. And the latest on a President who doesn`t want to cause real trouble with the National Rifle Association.

The other story tonight, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his long-time deputy Rick Gates have been charged with additional crimes today the ongoing federal investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. This promises added pressure on Manafort and gates to cooperate with Mueller, perhaps forcing them to flip to the side of the prosecution.

A grand jury returned multiple new counts against the former Trump advisers filed today in what`s called a superseding indictment. Among them are counts of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy, as well as subscribing to false individual income tax returns. The indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates fraudulently secured more than $20 million in loans by falsely inflating Manafort`s income and his company`s income.

These additional charges are on top of the multiple charges made in a previous indictment against the two men last October which included conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements. All relate to the work that Manafort and gates performed for the former pro-Russian government of Ukraine.

With both defendants already facing serious potential jailtime, up to 80 years in Manafort`s case, today`s development is further evidence that the special counsel intends to squeeze them in an effort to gain their cooperation in the Russian probe.

Joining me right now is Democratic congressman Jim Himes from the House intelligence committee and Barry Grissom a former federal prosecutor.

Congressman, I`m looking at a pattern here. 13 up to 16 indictments last week against the Russians, individuals and companies. Then (INAUDIBLE) -- what`s his name? Van Der Zwan this week. And of course, that additional identity thief last week. These indictments are mounting up. Congressman, is this putting the pressure and forcing the President Trump of into this kind of frenzy he has been in lately of tweeting?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, it certainly looks that way, Chris. And I think it, you know, creates questions on part of all of us, the public as well as those of us involved in this investigation about exactly how Mueller and whether he can make the connection between these many Crimes that he has now charged Paul Manafort and Rick Gates with and the question of what they know about any possible collusion connecting, of course, to the Russia investigation. He has more than enough leverage at in point, obviously, to induce cooperation.

MATTHEWS: Well, Paul Manafort, I don`t know him. I met him a few times during the campaign. He was a major figure in Washington politics and lobbying. He`s 68 years old. He is facing 80 years in prison. Well, that would be a long time to serve, up to 146 he would have to be to fill out that term. And then they are adding more. It`s funny if you`re not Paul Manafort. And then in addition to that, this is almost like an Al Capone style prosecution. This is throwing the books at these guys to the point where they have no choice but to cooperate. Do you think they are going too far, the prosecutors, just a thought?

HIMES: You know, I wouldn`t second --

MATTHEWS: I`ll go to Mr. Grissom. Are you ready? What do you make of this? Is this normal procedure to hit this many charges and pack this much on to people you think might cooperate?

BARRY GRISSON, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: What you want to do is obviously to have the cooperation. And I think these superseding indictments that came down today demonstrate that Mr. Mueller is upping the ante in this case.

And I will also add, this isn`t your average case that gets prosecuted in any U.S. attorney`s office. We are talking about issues had surround the highest places in government. So I think given the pressure that we all want to find out what the facts are, to get to the bottom line here, I think this is an appropriate use of the prosecutorial tools that they have. And I think this additional pressure, as you said, this additional time where someone in their 60s you don`t want to spend the rest of your life in prison. So I would give serious consideration as to whether or not I wanted to work with the prosecutor in this matter.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to the congressman on this. How does this fit into the pattern what you think about Manafort if he has got crimes here, if he has been involved with money laundering? And I don`t even quite understand money laundering but I`ve seen how it`s prosecuted is used here.

There are three elements to potential prosecution of the President. One is laundering himself, money laundering, the other is colluding with the Russians during the campaign and afterwards and third, of course, is obstruction of justice. It seems like he is doing a domino game, using dominos. Go to Gates, use Gates to get to Manafort, use Manafort to get to Trump. What do you think? How does it look to you, congressman?

HIMES: Well, that`s a logical theory here, Chris. And you know, again, we don`t know what the connection is because of course, none of these charges pertain to specifically to the Russia investigation. That is, was there is collusion? Was there any cooperation between the President`s people and campaign?

But of course, given that Paul Manafort was the chairman of that campaign, the most senior person, given that he was in rooms where these things might have been discussed, obviously, now he has a real incentive to both let Robert Mueller know that and therefore, on my side, in the Congress and the House and the Senate, it raises -- let me put it this way. It gives some security to the notion that these investigations are not done, that there are more to come and that we need to keep digging.

MATTHEWS: What I`m amazed at or rather always involved in is finding out new stuff like today or yesterday when we learn this. It comes just after NBC News reported yesterday that federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House, in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans.

The possible quid pro goal involves Manafort and banker Steven Caulk (ph) who served as an economic adviser to the Trump transition but was never offered a job in the administration. His bank made three substantial loans to Manafort following the election, one in December of 2016 and two in January of 2017. A source tells NBC News at least one of the bank`s employees quote "felt pressured" to approve the deals. These home loans related to the properties included in the superseding indictment filed today.

So Mr. Grissom, I want to talk to you about that. This is what shows to me it the overlay between a guy trying to have these beautiful homes, one out in the Hamptons, Long Island out there, the other one in park slope, the nicest part I believe of Brooklyn, these homes of these mortgages basically approved.

Here`s the question. To get these mortgages he is promising jobs in the Trump White House. That to me brings a connection point between his private money making and his connection to Trump. Your thoughts?

GRISSOM: Absolutely. As I said before, this not being your normal run of the mill case. We are talking about someone who as its alleged is that they are offering them a position in the executive branch in a quid pro quo arrangement.

We haven`t gotten to the bottom of all these facts yet. There`s still newly more dominos as you said that`s going to fall here. The thing we all as citizens have to a great deal of comfort in is that Mr. Mueller is an outstanding prosecutor. And he is playing this exactly the way you would want him to play it. There are no leaks coming out of his team. They are taking it one step at a time. And they are making sure that when they come forth with an indictment, they truly have, as I said, all their ducks in a row. And I think that`s the case here.

MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman, it`s not like Manafort if he is guilty of this deal offer of giving a guy a job in the White House, if he will give him his mortgages, these very lucrative mortgages. He is not like I know somebody over at the bureau of labor statistics I might be able to find a slot for you. He is talking about the White House. Only one guy can give you a job at the White House. So this suggests a deal involving the President to get a financial advantage for his campaign chair.

HIMES: Well, that`s a real possibility. And you know, I would make two observations about it. One, this is not a White House that is known for having bright lines between the official duties that everybody inside the White House has and, of course, the businesses outside of the White House. And that applies to the President`s family, you know. There`s all sorts of questions what sort of financing and other activities Jared Kushner has done while he had a very responsible position in the White House.

So of course, this is not a White House that is particularly good at drawing those bright lines. And of course, the other piece is exactly what you said which is, you know, maybe the President but who else in the White House may have known what inquiries may have been made by Paul Manafort and, you know, who else knows what in this instance.

MATTHEWS: Amazing stuff. I`m constantly impressed especially the last couple weeks, gentlemen, by what Robert Mueller has up his sleeves. He is like the titanic being hit by an iceberg. It is all this huge iceberg underneath. I can only imagine what he is doing with money laundering. He is doing all this with the Russians. He`s coming up, as you said, congressman, he isn`t giving us a people of a warning what`s coming. If I was Trump, I had no idea what is coming at me but I would be worried about Paul Manafort facing now prison until he is 146 years old which is a hard stretch. And then adding on that another 40 or 50 as this poor guy is looking at hell.

Thank you very much to congressman Jim Himes in Connecticut and Barry Grissom for your expertise.

Coming up, our other top story tonight. It is a top story. Donald Trump`s prescription for stopping school shootings, arm the teachers. That`s what he wants to do. We will hear about what a teacher thinks about that. In fact, the teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school itself who says that`s a very bad idea and he ought to know.

Plus, the right wing wants you to believe more guns equals less gun violence. More guns means less trouble. Anyway, America already has more guns than any in the country in the history of humanity. How is the solution to our gun violence epidemic more guns? Well, that`s what the NRA wants you to do. Buy more guns. Make more money from the gun manufacturers and it has wondered anyone thanks them seriously.

And the anger over guns in this country could be turning into a political move, maybe. We see the activism now. But will it translate into votes this November? Will it have legs?

Finally, let me finish tonight with the loss of a great man.

This is "hardball," where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Another major indictment was handed down today, this one against Republican Missouri governor Eric Greitens, a St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens on a felony charge of invasion of privacy. The charge stems from affair Greitens had with a woman in 2015 and allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman if she ever spoke publicly about their affair. While, Greitens have acknowledged having been unfaithful is previously denied any attempt to blackmail the woman. His attorney says the charges are baseless and the governor is innocent.

And we will be right back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to use strong background checks. We`re going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18. We are getting rid of the bump stocks. And we are going to be focusing very strongly on mental health because here is a case of mental health.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball."

A day after students, teachers and parents affected by school violence himself - themselves, implored the President to do something to fix the problem of school violence. President Trump expresses a willingness to move on a number of fronts. But it was his proposal to arm some teachers that is getting the most attention, today. Here goes.


TRUMP: We have to harden our schools, not soften them up. A gun free zone to a killer or somebody that wants to be a killer, that`s like going in for the ice cream. That`s like here I am, take me. Frankly, have you teachers that are marines for 20 years and they retire, they become a teacher. And they`re army, Navy, air force, they are coast guard, there are people that have won shooting contests and you know, they are for whatever. This is what they do. They know guns. They understand guns. If they really have that aptitude because not everybody has an aptitude for a gun. If they have the aptitude, I think a concealed permit for having teachers and letting people know that there are people in the building with a gun, you won`t have in my opinion, you won`t have these shootings. And what I would recommend doing is the people that do carry we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus.


TRUMP: Arming teachers is has long been championed by the NRA, of course, a group President Trump praised today. In fact, I think he was reading from their script. But it also has a long list of critics including Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I don`t support that. And I would admit to you right now I answer that as much as a father as I do as a senator. The notion that my kids are going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something that quite frankly I`m comfortable with.


MATTHEWS: Well, Bill Bratton, former New York City police commissioner tweeted today proposals to arm American teachers are the height of lunacy.

I`m joined by Robert Costa, national political reporter for the "Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst. I`m also joined by Greg Pittman, a history teacher at Stoneman Douglas high school and Chris Grady, a senior there.

I want to the people of most involved. First of all, I want to go to Chris Grady who was wonderful to be on the show the other day.

Chris, what do you think of having a teacher with a gun?

CHRIS GRADY, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: Yes, I have asked a lot of my peers about it. I have spoken to a lot of teachers. And everybody`s against it. We know that`s not the long-term solution. It`s just going to make a lot of kids uncomfortable. And you`re asking a teacher to fight with an assault rifle with a handgun. That seems like a pretty unfair fight to me. So, it`s just not an ideal solution.

MATTHEWS: Greg, talk about it. What did you think when you first heard this had notion of packing, when you go into class every morning?

GREG PITTMAN, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: Exactly. Actually, we as teachers periodically discuss various issues. This is one that we had it before have discussed and even more seriously now. We think it`s a very, very, very bad idea. I am a gun owner. I think it`s -- it would be very difficult for teachers to go into a classroom and have a gun.

One, where do I put the gun? Do I put it in my pocket in a holster, in my desk? Is it locked up somewhere? Number two, there is a potential shooting situation on campus. Now I have got to make a decision now as a teacher, do I shoot the student because maybe they have done something or they are doing something and they are a threat. What if I`m wrong and I make mistakes and the student is dead. Three, police and other whatever, SWAT come on campus and then I have got a gun and I accidentally getting shot.

I am in the profession to teach. I did not sign up to be SWAT, to be a policeman, to be in the army, whatever, other military or uniformed services that have done that. I am not paid to do that. They barely pay us to teach as it is. That`s another whole joke.

But no. I`m not going to be making a decision should I shoot a student or students with a pistol. That`s not the call I want to make and certainly other teachers that I have discussed this, we all think this is a very bad idea.

MATTHEWS: Chris, I want you to imagine you go to class next week or two years from now in another class and you know the teacher is carrying a gun. Wouldn`t -- where would your focus be starting the first minute of class? Would you be -- I don`t want to put your words in your mouth. But what would be sort of physical reaction, visual reaction to that fact that the man or woman in front of you teaching Algebra, whatever, has a concealed weapon on them in? What would you be wondering or thinking about?

GRADY: Well, that`s pretty much all I would be thinking about. You know, I know most teachers are incredible people who just want to teach. But you never know when a teacher might have a bad day or if one of them snaps and they take it out on their students. And so it`s just a very uncomfortable thought knowing that my teacher has a weapon that could cause death just sitting in our classroom where we are supposed to be learning.

PITTMAN: And, Chris, just to jump in with that...

MATTHEWS: Sure. Go ahead. You`re in it.

PITTMAN: The same thing.

We -- I didn`t mention it, but the same thing earlier. We have discussed too what happens when a teacher that`s a disgruntled employee, they`re mad at an administrator, they`re mad at another teacher, someone else on campus.

We`re adding more guns into the mix. It only stirs up the equation, the possibility of more people getting shot for reasons other than protection. Not a good idea, as Chris just said. Not a good idea, extremely, extremely poor judgment on somebody that`s not in the classroom that`s making these suggestions.

MATTHEWS: You know, Robert, you and I were talking before we went on the fact that I was a Capitol Policeman for a while, and I did carry a gun, 38 Special. Nothing -- none of these automatic or semiautomatic weapons. This is a classic pistol, a revolver.

And you always knew you had the gun on you. It was part of the fact you`re walking around. I got a gun on me. It never leaves your mind. You`re responsible for that gun. You`re responsible for what you could do with it. And the idea of being a teacher and having it on your mind all the time would be really complex.

But let`s talk about your expertise, not mine. This question of the president, when he throws out the idea -- and, hold on, fellows -- when he throws out the idea, well, maybe he`s for magazines. These magazines have too many rounds in them. Or maybe we have an age requirement of 21 years to buy an AR-15 or anything like that, do you think he means any of this stuff or the bump stock banning?

Do you believe -- because he`s done this with DACA. He throws it out there while it`s hot and popular. And then you notice that two or three weeks later, he`s got more, more conditions. Oh, we`re going to get rid of the family unification, we`re going to get rid of diversity lotteries.

All of a sudden, he`s not for what he`s says he`s for.

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You have to wade through all these issues carefully to figure out exactly what he`s going to do, because on the issue of arming teachers in schools, he offered a presidential perspective.

But this is not necessarily going to be a federal decision or presidential decision. It`s a local decision for states, for local municipalities to decide how they want it handle it.

MATTHEWS: Concealed carry.

COSTA: Concealed carry, weapons in schools.

But the real issue is, talking to lawmakers today on Capitol Hill, is can there be Republican appetite for background checks in Congress?

MATTHEWS: I wonder whether he wants to do any of this stuff. But I know he`s flirting with it because right now he has to look like he`s doing it.

Anyway, last night at a forum down in Florida, Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, in last week`s shooting down there in PARKER: , confronted Senator Marco Rubio about his record on guns.

Let`s watch this.


FRED GUTTENBERG, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: Your comments this week, and those of our president, have been pathetically weak.


GUTTENBERG: Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I absolutely believe that in this country if you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle and I will support a law that takes that right away.

Now, I think what you`re asking about is the assault weapons ban.


RUBIO: So let me be honest with you about that one. If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it. But I want to explain to you why it would not.


GUTTENBERG: Senator Rubio, my daughter running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back.

RUBIO: Yes, sir.

GUTTENBERG: With an assault weapon, the weapon of choice.

RUBIO: Yes, sir.

GUTTENBERG: OK. It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can`t stand with everybody in this building and say that, I`m sorry.



Meanwhile, Chris, you were in that forum last night, Chris Grady.

And you asked Rubio yourself a question about large capacity magazines.

Here you go.


GRADY: Would you agree that there is no place in our society for large capacity magazines capable of firing off -- over -- from 15 to 30 rounds and if not more?

RUBIO: I traditionally have not supported looking at magazine clip size, and after this and some of the details I have learned about it, I`m reconsidering that position, and I tell you why.


RUBIO: While it may not prevent an attack, it may save lives in an attack.


MATTHEWS: What do you think about people like Rubio, Senator Rubio, who takes millions of dollars from the NRA? What do you make of him when he`s talking to you? Is he talking to you as an individual person or as someone who has been bought? How do you look at it?

GRADY: Well, I mean...

MATTHEWS: Chris Grady.

GRADY: It is -- yes, it is good to hear that he`s reconsidering his position.

But, again, actions speak louder than words. And until he actually supports a bill or legislation that would limit the size of these magazines, then obviously you have to take what he says with a grain of salt.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Greg on this.


MATTHEWS: I`m very impressed.

Greg, I got to ask you -- I only have a few minutes now. I have been watching you on all your appearances.

PITTMAN: I understand.

MATTHEWS: But one thing I was impressed by the kids, they did not -- they don`t argue ideology. They don`t argue pro or against, right-wing or left- wing or the Tea Party or any of that stuff.

They talk -- the phrase they chose -- and, of course, it is polite. They say B.S. And we know what that means. That is the way they listen to politicians now. They don`t listen like they disagree with them. They listen like they don`t believe they`re saying what they believe.

They`re us. They`re just giving us something to get through the night. Tell us of that, as a person who watches these students and interprets them all day long. What is it? Are they up to something? Have they figured out that grownups don`t say what they believe, they say what will get them where they want to go?

PITTMAN: I think that`s exactly it.

Again, I teach American history, 11th grade. And in that class, I -- prior to the last week or so, I have taught my students and joked with them, guys, in not long from now, you all are going to be the leaders of our country. You`re all going to be able to vote. I said you need to get news apps on your phones. You need to pay attention, and not just with all the local school gossip and the other things that they`re with.

Exactly. So, I can tell, from everything I have seen, from discussing these issues with my students and listening to these students, they realize that they`re getting nothing but political B.S. from our elected officials.

Doesn`t matter the party, even though one party tends to be maybe a little more on this issue. But, again, they know that? And guess what? I`m going to inform these politicians these kids at Stoneman Douglas are not paid actors, as some of the far right have said.

They are hardworking, brilliant students that don`t always read what they`re supposed to read in our classes. That`s another story. But they`re well-prepared. They`re well-spoken. And on this issue, it`s not going to go away.

They`re serious. And they realize that these politicians, they usually give them lip service. They give them the B.S. And then they`re going to try to be on to the next problem of the day, which they won`t solve any of them.

These kids, and along with some of their teachers, such as my -- are not going to let this drop, not going to let this die. You watch social media, and you look at the action that`s spreading to other campuses now and around the country.

I believe these politicians have -- if they`re not careful and don`t come up with solutions, regardless of party -- it`s not about party. It`s about saving our most important asset in this country, our children, protecting their future, providing a safe environment for us to teach and them to go to school in.

That`s what it`s about. And these kids know, so far to date, everything they have heard from all the elected officials mainly is B.S.

Again, actions speak louder than words. And as Chris says, let`s see what they do, because I know the what they do. I`m old enough. I`m 60. I know that they tend to do this, and then next issue. And no problems have been solved, and we will be onto the next shooting.

These kids aren`t going to let that happen. And those of us that care about them are going to try to assist in any way to lend our voice and our experience. Some of these people in Washington need to talk to the real teachers in the real classrooms that are there, and not just the NRA and other political lobbying bodies.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you. What a great teacher you must be, Greg Pittman. Thank you so much. I wish it wasn`t the horror that brought to you us. But I`m so glad to have you heard from you.

And, Chris Grady, you too, sir.

PITTMAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I`m so glad to have met you this way, not because of this reason, but because it`s just great to meet you.

And, of course, Robert Costa, it`s always great to meet you again.

Up next: The right-wing solution to the gun violence is always more guns. Brilliant. Sell more guns. Do you think of that? Who do you think -- who thinks of this stuff? Make more money, sell more guns, have more people with guns and more gun fights. Actually, more gun fights is their answer.

That`s certainly what the NRA wants. And it doesn`t help that our president is reading from their NRA script. Listen to the talking points from him or Wayne LaPierre. It is the same scripts. Give the teachers guns, more guns.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In the week since the Parkland, Florida, shooting, the National Rifle Association has remained relatively silent. Well, today, we finally hear from chief executive Wayne LaPierre, who accused some gun safety advocates of exploiting the Parkland tragedy.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Just a week ago, we were all horrified by another terrible tragedy at an American school.

As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain. The elites don`t care, not one whit, about America`s school system and schoolchildren. If they truly cared, what they would do is, they would protect them.

For them, it`s not a safety issue. It`s a political issue. They care more about control and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment.


MATTHEWS: At times, the president seemed to be speaking from the NRA script. Here he goes.


LAPIERRE: It`s a bizarre fact that, in this country, our jewelry stores all over this country are more important than our children. Our banks, our airports, our NBA games, our NFL games, our office buildings, our movie stars, our politicians, they`re all more protected than our children at school.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want my schools protected, just like my banks are protected.

LAPIERRE: And we drop our kids off at school that are so-called gun-free zones that are wide-open targets for any crazy madman bent on evil to come there first.

TRUMP: If you`re going to continue with this nonsense about a gun-free zone, gun free, it sounds so good. It`s like it sounds so great. It is such a target for the killer.

LAPIERRE: The National Rifle Association originated the National Instant Check System. It was our bill. No one on the prohibited persons list should ever have access to a firearm, no killer no, felon no, drug dealer.


TRUMP: The NRA is ready to do things. They actually came up with certain of the rules.


MATTHEWS: Well, he had a tip sheet, didn`t he?

Anyway, the NRA spent roughly $30 million helping Trump get elected to the presidency, 30 big ones, and more.

For more, I`m joined by Bret Stephens, "New York Times" columnist and MSNBC contributor, and former Congresswoman Donna Edwards, a senior fellow at the Brennan Institute -- or Center for Justice.

Let me go to Bret on this, because you have been writing about this.

The trouble with taking 30 million bucks to get elected the president, people suspect you might be on take. That is a problem.


And, you know, I think it`s one of the great missed opportunities of the Trump presidency, because one of the promises of the presidency is that he had the political clout among Republican voters to break with some of the more stale orthodoxies of the party, having been a former Democrat himself.

Wouldn`t it have been an astonishing victory for him if he had simply broken with what everybody knows is a failed NRA orthodoxy of the kind you just heard from Mr. LaPierre?

So, in addition to being a political missed opportunity, of course, it`s moral dereliction by the president to go down this -- to go down this path. But it`s one of the ways in which you could have imagined a better version of Donald Trump breaking through the sort of stale politics being brought to you by the NRA. Instead, he`s caving to it.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman? Donna?

I hear. We can use tape to show it. It didn`t take a lot of effort to show that he`s aping the words of LaPierre about teachers having guns, about how they were the ones that came up with the background check, which is nonsense. He`s caught.

DONNA EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, he`s blowing smoke.

I mean, $30 million to elect Donald Trump president, $24 million spent getting the House and the Senate that Wayne LaPierre wanted. The fact of the matter is that the National Rifle Association, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are the ones who stand in the way of commonsense gun laws that would protect children in schools and people on our streets.

MATTHEWS: You know, Bret, it`s hard to read you. You`re talking about the possibility of getting rid of the Second Amendment. We haven`t gotten rid of those single digit amendments in a while. I can`t think of getting any of them.

I know we have played around with booze for a while, the 18th and the 21st. Are you serious? Do you think you could ever get three-quarters of the states to get -- to take away the Second Amendment? Or actually to change it back to its intent, which is if you are going to join a militia and you want to have a musket, you can still do that.

You can still have a musket and join the militia, but you can`t have a multifiring school shooter as a gun.


And you could amend the Second Amendment to say perhaps the right to bear an arm, one, would be protected.

Look, the reason I have been writing these columns is, I don`t think that the United States gets at the root of its gun problem, which is the fact that we have about 300 million guns in this country, without getting at its constitutional substructure.

I`m not under any illusions about the political difficulty about this, but if you -- if we had been having a conversation 25 years ago, and you or I had mentioned the possibility of marriage equality, for example, you would say that`s a pipe dream. I also think that part of the...

MATTHEWS: But that was a court decision.


MATTHEWS: Just like -- that`s the opposite of the Heller decision.

At one moment, the court decided 5-4 we`re going to have marriage equality. The same court goes 5-4 and say everyone has a -- in the D.C. case, the Heller case, everybody has a right to a gun, regardless of militias or anything else.

So, it`s the courts that are -- it`s not the states. They`re not doing this.


STEPHENS: But, Chris, even before -- Columbine happened many years before the Heller decision. This country was awash in guns long before, what was it, 2008, when that decision came down.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

STEPHENS: So, you know, one of the problems that gun control advocates have is that piecemeal gun control tends not to work, because if Indiana has a permissive regime and Illinois doesn`t, guns come in through Indiana.


STEPHENS: So, all of us are familiar with the loopholes by which guns become as prevalent as they are.

I`m simply saying that we really have to have a serious conversation about why we enshrine this as a right. And we`re not going to get started unless we are talking about it.

By the way, I`m not by any means as opposed to responsible people owning guns, as responsible people own guns in, say, Japan or Australia or the United Kingdom, countries that don`t have nearly the kind of firearms violence that we do here, because they have onerous restrictions who can own a gun.

And we have a permissive environment, in which someone like Cruz was able to get his hands on an AR-15 and mow people down.

MATTHEWS: You were in the Congress. Is the Congress going to outlaw the Second Amendment?

EDWARDS: Well, no, they`re not going to do that, so let`s go for the low- hanging fruit.

Get assault weapons. Do universal background checks and make sure that you get these high-capacity magazines off the market.

MATTHEWS: Can that happen?

EDWARDS: Can do -- Congress can do those things. And you know who is going to make it happen? These young people are going to make this happen.

MATTHEWS: You`re a hopeful person.

Thank you so much, Brett Stevens.

STEVENS: I agree with that. Do all of it.

MATTHEWS: OK, Congress -- she`s a practical person. I think you`re a dreamer. I`m not sure I agree with it.

STEVENS: You can dream and be pragmatic at the same time.

MATTHEWS: We should tinker with the Second Amendment. I`m not sure we can get rid of it.

Thank you, Congresswoman Donna Edwards. And thank you, Brett Stevens.

Up next, will the anger over gun violence transform into a lasting political movement in this country and will it add to the blue wave Democrats are hoping to see this November? Will this help the women especially in the suburbs help the Democrats take back the House?

The HARDBALL roundtable tackles that one. You`re watching HARDBALL.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need the support of everybody and we need people to understand that this is not partisan. This is not about red or blue. This is about life or death. And things like this, we need to have people come out and we need to vote out the people who are supporting the NRA, because we cannot have people who do not value the safety of our schools but value money instead.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was a student, of course, at Stoneman Douglas High School. We`re hearing from them now at an anti-gun violence protests in Florida today. The current anger over guns in this country could be transforming into a political movement ahead of this fall`s midterms.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable for some expertise. Jason Johnson, politics editor at "The Root", Annie Linskey, national political reporter for "The Boston Globe", and Howard Fineman, of course, contributor at I want to know -- is the NRA now a bad brand in the suburbs? Is it a bad brand?

JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM: Yes, it is. But it`s a bad brand in the suburbs, but whether or not that`s going to having enough of an impact by the time we get to November, we don`t know. It depends if there`s another school shooting, it depends on how much a candidate is taking and it depends on whether or not a Democrat is willing to stake their claim on this guy or this woman takes money from the NRA.


ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: For the time being, it`s a bad brand. But the NRA knows how to play the winning game. It`s always in the spotlight for a week, maybe two weeks. But three months from now, you know, are we going to be talking about this? My guess is short of another shooting is past is prologue, we will not be.

MATTHEWS: Howard, are you hopeful or do you believe it has legs this movement?

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, we`ve all gone to school in parkland. By which I mean it`s been a civics lesson for everybody and a continuing civics lesson. And the fact that it was articulate high school kids running down the hall.

MATTHEWS: All of them.

FINEMAN: The fact that it was in a suburb that was quite like many, many, many suburbs around the country, and the fact that it`s in a swing state of Florida, I hate to be you know, coldly analytical of --

MATTHEWS: That`s why you`re hear.

FINEMAN: -- of the Electoral College. Connecticut, everybody knows where Connecticut is politically. Florida is balanced right on knife point.


FINEMAN: -- which makes it a national lesson, a national litmus test here.

But you`ve got to look district by district. I`ll take you to Pittsburgh area, my hometown. That special race coming up March 13th. The Democrat Conor Lamb who is a marine and who is a prosecutor, he`s not going to put this at the forefront.

MATTHEWS: And that tells you what?

FINEMAN: It tells me that he`s still got rural counties that he`s got to try to win if he`s going to pull off that major upset in that area.

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t want to look like a Nancy Pelosi liberal Democrat.

FINEMAN: He doesn`t to. However, there are 20 other House districts come fall. Clinton won.


MATTHEWS: Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, all those collar counties around Philadelphia, is it good to go after your guy, the opponent as an NRA guy?

FINEMAN: I think it`s much better now than it was, because I think the NRA has taken one step too far. They`re starting to sound in defending AR-15s, everybody in the country now knows what an AR-15 is, thanks to the kids in Florida.

MATTHEWS: I think nobody wants their teacher riding shotgun.


MATTHEWS: I think it`s chilling because you know in tough schools, the teacher -- they`ll be students challenging him with a gun, taunting him with a gun. You can imagine it and know what it`s going to be like.

JOHNSON: Chris, I`m in a classroom, I`m in a college classroom. There were shootings at Virginia Tech. I love my colleagues. I don`t want them carrying guns. I don`t want them carrying guns in the hallway. Someone is going to leave one somewhere, let alone the fact that the possibilities for workplace violence.

MATTHEWS: Look, I`m looking at you. I can tell if you`re carrying a gun. Every student will be looking around where`s the gun. It bulges here. You can`t hide a real gun.

LINSKEY: It puts the issue front and center in more people`s lives than this conversation generally goes. I mean, all of a sudden, you do have every single parent thinking to themselves, wait a minute, do I want that? It affects more people that way.

MATTHEWS: Guns in the classroom.

FINEMAN: OK, that`s bad, bad, bad politically for the Republicans and for Donald Trump. Because what you`re doing, even for conservatives, I think they`re beginning to realize that the NRA has taken so far they`re going to restrict other freedoms of American life in defense of AR-15s.

You`re going to turn every teacher in America into a spy if not a cop. You`re going to make them have to turn over material to the government to surveil kids. What they`re doing, what the NRA is doing now is actually diminishing freedoms in the name of protecting AR-15s.

MATTHEWS: I`m shocked to know that`s going on.

FINEMAN: That`s an argument you can make to conservatives.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. It looks selfish.

The roundtable is sticking with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

And up next, of course, we`re honoring black history this month, of course. Each member of the roundtable will tell us about their hero in African history.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

In honor of Black History Month, as I said, we`ve asked each of our roundtable guests to tell us which African-American figure inspired them personally.


JOHNSON: So, there`s always the famous people that we heard of, but I really think the history of this country and African-American history is about the people you haven`t heard of, the small community activists. I want to talk about Ida Clark who passed away in the 2006 at 84 years old. She was twice widowed. She lived through the Newark riots in the 1960s. She lived through housing discrimination in the `70s and `80s, became an advocate for affordable senior housing for people of all color. She served as housings commissioner in Newark for 20 years. She fought twice against Cory Booker being elected mayor. But upon her passing, he actually sent a bouquet and letters and commendations from Jon Corzine who was the government at the time. It`s that kind of person who builds our cities, who saves our communities.

MATTHEWS: Ida Clark.

JOHNSON: Ida Clark.

MATTHEWS: Can you Google her?

JOHNSON: Yes, you can. She was my grandmother.



LINSKEY: Well, I sort of in this moment in particular, I`m going to pick a leader who as a young student rode busses in the south to stand up to entrenched forces. That`s John Lewis. You know, I recently read his autobiography which I would highly recommend to your viewers.

And he`s really you, you know, he an fought and fought and fought at a time when, you know, he easily became easily could have become discouraged, but kept on. I think that`s a lesson that`s important if you want to effect real change in the country. He was able to do it.


FINEMAN: Well, as a journalist, Chris, I`m going to look to W.E.B. Dubois, because even though he was trained as a sociologist, I regard him as one of America`s great journalists of any color. I put him up there with Edward R. Murrow or John Hersey, you name it, because he took his skills and approach into the city of Philadelphia originally into the 7th ward of Philadelphia, and described the lives of black people there and their community and their culture in an indelible and journalistic way.

It bears reading today. And it was written 120 years ago and as a touchstone journalistically. It also taught me that the most American story is the black story.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you. That`s why we`re doing it.

Thank you, Jason, and thank you, Annie, and thank you, Howard.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the announcement that evangelist Billy Graham will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol beginning next Wednesday, February 28th.

For someone who grew up in Reverend Graham`s global preaching, this national honor seems only appropriate. There was really been no one like him, this man who went and taught the Christian gospel to more people than anyone in human history. Like other Roman Catholics, I could only wonder at the power of his faith, his strength in endorsing to the thousands who joined him in his crusades, who believe in him, as no other. I remember a Christian brother of mine, a teacher at La Salle High School, saying without embarrassment, he wished we had Billy Graham on our side.

Of course, he was. His Christian teaching being so plain it included many, indeed his belief in humanity so heartfelt.

Here`s what the "New York Times" had to say about this great, charismatic leader. As Mr. Graham`s popularity grew, so did his stature with Christian critic who had dismissed his interpretation of Scripture as overly literal. He told audiences that heaven was a physical place, though not necessarily in this solar system.

Well, here I am chatting with him on that very subject of heaven in 2005. He was conducting one of his -- it was his last great crusade. It was on the site of the Old New York World`s Fair.


MATTHEWS: You know, when you talk about going to heaven, it is almost sounds to me like one of those guys with the NBA playoffs say they`re going to Disneyland.

BILLY GRAHAM, EVANGELIST: Well, I don`t know about that. I`ve never interviewed anybody in the NBA playoffs, but I`ll tell you how I feel. I feel wonderful about it. I`m looking forward to going to heaven.


MATTHEWS: Perhaps it was this pure confident faith that made him such a presence. You felt yourself, by the way in the company of God`s own love. Maybe it was that simple humility. I will never forget meeting him.

Billy Graham died yesterday in his home in the North Carolina mountains. He was 99.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.