Show: HARDBALL Date: January 4, 2019 Guest: Christina Greer, Tim O`Brien, Carrie Sheffield, Josh Gotheimer; Carlos Curbelo
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I`m out of time. HARDBALL starts now.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: No end in sight. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Chris Matthews.
President Trump and congressional Democrats are no closer to a deal to reopen the government as that partial shutdown barreled today into its 14th day.
Emerging from a nearly two-hour meeting from inside the White House this afternoon, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called the talks contentious. President Trump called them productive. Democrats saying President Trump admitting that he told them he is ready to keep the government shut down as long as it takes to get money for a wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: We told the President we needed the government open. He resisted. In fact, he said he would keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also said you said in the meeting, this is him quoting you, I just want to check, that the shutdown could go on for months or even a year or longer. Did you say that?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did. I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that your --
TRUMP: Absolutely I said that. I don`t think it will but I am prepared. I hope it doesn`t go even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The President`s comments came in a lengthy Rose Garden news conference following that meeting with congressional leaders from both parties. President Trump and congressional Democrats remain at odds over his demand for $5.6 billion for a wall. Trump said he is convening working groups from both the White House and Congress through the weekend to come up with some sort of a solution to the impasse. As the shutdown reaches the two-week mark now, the President was asked about the delay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did it take this many dates for a working group to come together? Why didn`t you just hush the details out today?
TRUMP: Well, sometimes that`s what happens in a negotiation. It does take longer than it should. And sometimes you agree to things that could have been agreed to two weeks ago, but that`s just the way a negotiation is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But with Congress adjourned until Tuesday, the standoff is almost ensured of lasting at least until Wednesday at the very earliest. The President was asked if he would consider bypassing Congress in some way to build the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don`t need congressional approval to build the wall?
TRUMP: No, absolutely. We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely. No, we can do it. I haven`t done it. I may do it. I may do it. But we could call a national emergency and build it very quickly. And it`s another way of doing it. But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we`re giving that a shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is that a threat hanging over the Democrats?
TRUMP: I never threaten anybody. But I am allowed to do that, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second question --
TRUMP: It`s called a national emergency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: For her part, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the two sides made some mild progress today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you make any progress on a dollar figure for what the President want or what you all want from him?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: How do you define progress in a meeting when you have a better understanding of each other`s position, when you eliminate some possibilities? If that`s a judgment, then yes, we made some progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I`m joined now by New Jersey Democratic congressman Josh Gotheimer, former Republican congressman Carlos Curbelo from Florida, Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer for "the Washington Post" and Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for "the Associated press."
Thank you all for being with us.
Congressman, you are the only one on the panel with a vote in this potentially, if and when it comes to that so let me start with you. The President said today that he told those congressional leaders that he would be willing to let this go on for months, maybe even a year. What is your - - do you think it is realistically possible this thing? We are measuring it in two weeks right now. Is it possible this could stretch on into months?
REP. JOSH GOTHEIMER (D), NEW JERSEY: I mean, I think that`s absurd. I think what we need to do is actually stay the table, both sides and keep working together until we get the government reopened. I just don`t understand. We passed this week out of the House legislation to reopen the government. One of the first moves the Democrats did and we did hit the week, it`s going to go to the Senate now. It is basically what they passed a couple of weeks ago in a bipartisan way. It passed this week in a bipartisan way, including members of the problem solvers caucus which Carlos was a member of until recently. And I just don`t see why we can`t get together and get the government back open.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you. Is that the Democratic position now? It sounded like listening to the Democratic leaders today, saying they went into that meeting telling the President just reopen the government first, then have that discussion, have that negotiation over border security, fencing, wall, whatever it`s going to be, any side is bog to want to call it there. Is the Democratic position now though just clean continuing resolutions to open this in no negotiation of any other sort until and unless that happens?
GOTHEIMER: Well, I know what my position is. I don`t know what the other positions are. But I will tell you this. I think we should sit at the table and talk to each other. We should reopen the government because that just makes sense. It`s costing us in productivity. It`s costing us dollars. It`s costing small businesses not getting loans here in my district. It is -- air traffic controllers tell me the skies are at risk.
So what I think we need to do is reopen the government. And then of course we should be talking about having tougher borders. There is plenty of options on the table. We should continue that discussion and we should keep working on it. There is no reason why you can`t do both. And so I don`t think -- I think it`s a false choice. And I think we should do our dual responsibility, the right thing which is get the government back open and work on making sure our borders are secure.
KORNACKI: OK, the other piece of this - one of the other piece of this, John Lemire, you heard that clip there, the President saying there is this idea of invoking a national emergency in building this somehow by executive fiat. I know he raises this possibility of dramatic if vague executive action from time to time. Does this fall in the category of bluster or is there something going on in the background here where the White House is actually prepared to try to make some kind of executive move on this?
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: There have been a few initial steps to look at it. It`s unclear whether he actually does have the authority, whether it`s going to be a legal thing for him to do. But I think this more falls under the category of the President sort of talking big, being presented with you wanting to present an option that is better than what he currently faced.
This is a - he is a little bit of a corner right now. And I think there is a growing reality in the White House that`s what happened here. That he was, you know, he caved to the pressure of members of the conservative media who said to him if you take this original deal that didn`t have money for the wall, that`s a loss. You are throwing away your presidency and he balked. He signaled he was going to sign it. He was signaled he was going go forward with this and he changed his mind.
And this is a moment where there are very few -- there are not that many Republicans. We are seeing some signs of strain in the Senate right now, some who have said, Susan Collins and a few others, have said that they should reopen the government, that this should not be how we do it. That the border security stuff should be separate to the idea of the government being open.
When the President ask you so often does, is focused almost exclusively on his base, believing that they are behind him for this fight. They think that this is why he was sent to Washington. This was his signature campaign promise. He is to upend government. And he thinks that if he were to suddenly cave right now, he might for the first time risk losing even some of that support.
KORNACKI: Well, you mention those Republican senators, Cory Gardner, Susan Collins. One person who was conspicuously absent from that Rose Garden today, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.
According to "the New York Times" quote, McConnell for the first time is facing pressure from members of his own party to step in to resolve the stalemate. But McConnell told "Politico" I don`t see how that leads to an outcome. And I want to get an outcome that will be determined by the President and Senate Democrats.
Here is what Trump said when asked why McConnell wasn`t in the Rose Garden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is he not here at here in the Rose Garden right now?
TRUMP: Because he is running the Senate. I mean, Mitch McConnell has been fantastic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, Carlos Curbelo, somewhere in this chain here. House Democrats, Senate Republicans, Trump White House, there has to be some kind of give here to get the government reopen. A lot of folks are looking at the Senate right now as the most likely place for that because of that dynamic we were just talking about here. Some of these Republicans, maybe who are up in 2020, who are more from swing states, do you think that`s a realistic possibility, that there will be pressure, political pressure from the Republicans on the Senate side that budges this along?
REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: I think it is a possibility, Steve. When we think about what`s happened here, both sides in this conflict have kind of locked themselves into a labyrinth and turned off the lights. And I think there is one obvious way out. It`s something Josh and I worked on in the 115th Congress, and that is a compromise on immigration. Probably the most divisive issue in our country right now.
There is a very elegant compromise out there that`s been staring at members of Congress and the administration for two years. And that is more border security to fight drug trafficking and human trafficking at the southwest border combined with a permanent solution, a path to citizenship for DACA dreamers, for the young immigrants brought to our country as children.
You are hearing more and more talk about this. Lindsey Graham is expressing a willingness to engage in this discussion. Vice president Pence has said this is possibility. I think this is the obvious way out of this conflict where both sides can claim victory because otherwise, the only way out is for one side to appear to capitulate before the country. We know the President is in no mood to do that. And certainly Democratic leaders in the House and Senate aren`t either. So I think that`s the answer.
And people in Congress need to listen to members like Josh Gotheimer and others, problem solvers who can make these deals happen, who can sit at the table and actually find some consensus here. I think that`s what is needed.
KORNACKI: That possible compromise you are talking about is yes, it has been floated before. It did come up in the Rose Garden today, that possibility of DACA for border security, fence wall, again, whatever anybody would end up calling it. The President seemed to be saying that court rulings last year had changed his thinking on that. But that does continue. The possibility does continue to linger out there that that might ultimately be some kind of solution here.
But Jennifer Rubin, let me ask you about this as well. Obviously, political calculations here enter into the posture on any side. If somebody is feeling in a government shutdown the political heat, we have seen in the past that`s always when that side will end up folding. Democrats it doesn`t seem are feeling much political heat right now in terms of their posture on the House side.
I`m wondering, just watching the President with that sort of stream of conscious press conference there in the Rose Garden today, the thought occurred to me more than once, that he himself -- I don`t know about his party -- but he himself might be enjoying this standoff.
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don`t know if he is enjoying it or not. He certainly was incoherent, however. And if he is going to bring up these mysterious powers that he apparently has, he might want to ask the historians who were there when Harry Truman was in office and tried to seize the steel mills and the Supreme Court said no, you don`t have these secret emergency powers.
But he really is in a box. And I don`t think it`s fair to say that both sides are in a box. The Democrats are in the cat bird seat right now. They voted to open the government. They are going through their agenda. They are going to push a whole bunch of bills on to the doorstep of Mitch McConnell. And what is Mitch McConnell doing? Nothing. I don`t think that`s a sustainable position for him or his members.
Listen, he is a part of the first branch of government too. And for him to sit back and say I have no role here. I`m just a minion of the presidency and the White House degrades the office that he has and degrades the United States Senate. So I think he is going to have to get off his back side and get into this.
Why doesn`t he vote on the bill that came over or make changes to that bill and send it back or put his own bill on the floor? He is being entirely at this point passive, in part I grant you because he doesn`t know what Trump is going to do. But you know what the solution to that is? The Congress makes a deal. They pass laws. They send them to the White House, and the executive branch decides if he is going to sign or veto them.
That`s how the system is supposed to work. The system is not supposed to work that the Senate gums up the works or the House gums up the works in order to protect the President from having to do anything. That`s just not our system of checks and balances. And I don`t think doing nothing is a solution for Mitch McConnell.
KORNACKI: Right. Carlos, let me ask you about that, because you know a little bit from the inside there, the Republican side on Capitol Hill how the thinking goes on these things. Try to put yourself - you are out of office now, maybe it could be a little bit more expansive in your thoughts here. But try to put yourself politically in the shoes of Mitch McConnell right now, who all the reporting suggests feels he got burned by the White House a couple of weeks ago on this. He has got some members. Cory Gardner from Colorado is starting to get a little uncomfortable. What is the play here for McConnell?
CURBELO: Well, I think you are exactly right, Steve. McConnell did get burned. And one thing that I learned about Mitch McConnell is that he only gets burned once on one issue, on any one issue. And I don`t think he is going to proceed until he is sure that whatever the solution is can pass the House, can pass the Senate. Obviously that means 60 votes and get the President`s signature.
So I think in this case, senator McConnell`s really doing the best anyone could, given his position, which is just to encourage the White House and Democrats both in the Senate and in the House to negotiate until there is something that`s amenable to all parties.
And again, I think the only such solution is that DACA plus border security compromise. And I don`t really see Senator McConnell moving. And part of the story here, Steve, is that the country has grown so numb to these shut down situations. You look at these financial markets. They are kind of ignoring it. I think most Americans are ignoring the situation, obviously with the exception of the federal workers who are suffering through this. But the country is so sick of this shutdown drama. So many people don`t take it seriously anymore. It`s just another example, an indication of how far our politics has fallen in this country.
RUBIN: I just think that`s totally wrong. That`s totally wrong.
KORNACKI: I just want to get -- well, one quick thing here I want to follow up though on this. Realistically, this idea, and again, congressman -- former congressman Curbelo is putting it out there. DACA border security deal. In terms of the White House`s (INAUDIBLE). We heard what the President said publicly today. Privately, is there any movement there?
LEMIRE: There has been at least a rekindling of some discussion. In fact, he was telling last night, people I talked to close to the White House noticed that Sean Hannity on FOX News, who frankly sometimes acts as an unofficial White House spokesman floated this very idea on his show last night. The question is, was that a float with the President`s blessing or is that his attempt to steer the President a certain way, which we know sometimes advisers to Donald Trump find the best way to advise him is to do so through television.
This is something that the President himself was -- they were considering this deal remember last year, a similar structure. And then of course as he said today, the courts stepped in and he sort of turned on - he turned on it. They are not actively seeking out this deal, but I don`t think they have ruled it out entirely just yet. It`s going to depend on where else this goes in the next few days and weeks.
KORNACKI: OK. Thank you to congressman Josh Gotheimer from New Jersey, former congressman Carlos Curbelo from Florida, Jennifer Rubin from "the Washington Post" and Jonathan Lemire.
Coming up, Nancy Pelosi is most powerful woman in American politics right now. MSNBC`s owned Joy Reid sat down with the new speaker of the House today. She is here to give us a preview.
Plus, are vulnerable Republican senators feeling in political heat to reopen the government? I`m going to head over to the big board. We are going break down some interesting numbers there. And more from the Rose Garden today where President Trump said the shutdown could last months or even years. Are the American people going to be OK with that?
And finally, let me finish tonight with Democrats and the I word.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
After eight years in the comparative wilderness on Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi is now the most powerful and important Democrat in American politics. The speaker of the House and the highest ranking Democrat in Donald Trump`s Washington. Pelosi claiming back the speaker`s gavel yesterday, and joined by a large and diverse new class of Democrats.
Those Democratic freshmen include 24 people of color, 42 female members, and the first Native American representatives, to mention just a few milestones.
In the hours since retaking the majority, Pelosi and the Democrats have passed legislation with their offer to end the shutdown and introduced legislation on voting rights, ethics reforms, and a bid to require the release of presidential candidate tax returns. Obviously, if those bills make it out of the now Democratic House, they will still need to clear the still -- the Republican Senate, where Mitch McConnell holds sway, if they`re ever going to reach to it the president`s desk.
Joy Reid, host of "AM JOY," sat down with Speaker Pelosi for an exclusive MSNBC town hall. It`s going to air at 10:00 tonight. She asked about the new speaker about relationship with Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, HOST, "AM JOY": Mitch McConnell, your colleague, your counterpart in the Senate, has made it clear that, even though these were Senate bills that were passed by Republicans, that he won`t put them back on the floor unless the president approves of them.
How do you get around this conundrum if the other half of the first branch of government will only act at the behest of the president?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I think that what Mitch McConnell is doing -- and I say this as respectfully as possible -- is saying, we`re not needed. Congress might as well stay home. All we need is one person to show up, Donald Trump.
And that`s not what our founders had in mind. They talked about co-equal branches of government, Article 1, the legislative branch, the people`s branch of government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Joy Reid joins me now, again, counting down here to that town hall tonight.
Joy, a lot of interesting stuff in here. But just to connect it to what we have been talking about, what everybody`s talking about right now, this shutdown is still ongoing. So you see a little bit in the answer there you got from Pelosi an attempt a little bit publicly maybe to shame McConnell into doing something.
But how is that going to play out over the next few days, do you think, in terms of the dynamic between Pelosi and McConnell, the Capitol Hill side of this shutdown?
REID: You know, I have to say, Steve -- and I think you, as a historian of sort of the way that Washington has worked -- history is full of powerful speakers, the Tip O`Neill, Sam Rayburn sort of class of speakers, the Newt Gingriches, people who wield considerable power in the body, and also full of powerful Senate leaders.
You think of LBJ, of course, being the classic version. But at one time, Mitch McConnell styled himself that kind of Senate leader. When President Obama was in office for eight years, Mitch McConnell wielded power quite ruthlessly and made it very clear that the president was not a more important or powerful figure than him, as far as he was concerned.
As soon as Donald Trump was elected president, Mitch McConnell immediately, as did most Republicans, as did the former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, subordinated himself to this president, and he`s still doing it.
So I think what you saw today was Nancy Pelosi trying to push Mitch McConnell to say, guard the power of the United States Senate, let`s make ourselves once again a co-equal branch of government.
This tradition of sending bills to the president`s desk and letting him veto if he wants, it`s gone. The president -- the current president doesn`t has to veto anything, because he has to approve before the United States Senate will even vote on a bill.
I think, both in her acceptance speech for the speakership, and today in the interview that I did with her at Trinity Washington University, Nancy Pelosi said, Mitch McConnell, do your job, guard the Senate, send a bill to the floor, and let the president -- send a bill to the president`s desk, and let him veto it if he wants.
KORNACKI: Well, another -- another part of this town hall that, again, is going to air a couple hours from now, Nancy Pelosi was asked about what kind of challenges she faces, as the most powerful female politician in the country right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Whatever the path is, whether it`s right out of college or whatever, know your power. Just know your why. Why are you interested in public service? Whatever it is, the academic world, military, corporate America, whatever it is, know your why.
Know your subject. Know why you`re doing it. Know what it is. Know about it, so that you can speak with authority on it. Have a plan. Be strategic. And communicate. You -- if you show your vision, your knowledge, your plan, you will be able to attract. That connection is so important.
And so have your own confidence. Don`t worry about their hangups.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I guess that`s an interesting question, too, just a broader one. And I`m curious what your sense of it, Joy, is, what Nancy Pelosi`s vision of the speakership is, because this is somebody -- she`s a legislative master.
She understands coalition politics. Politically, she`s a disciple -- it was 40 years ago, Phil Burton, who had her -- the congressional seat before she did, he was a legislative master. She comes from that same school.
What is her vision of this speakership in the Trump era?
REID: Well, you know, and we got to it a little bit later in the interview, talked a little bit more personally about her.
This is a woman who comes from a household of executives, two mayors, her brother, as well as her father. She understands and is not embarrassed about wielding power. She sees the speakership the way that past speakers, the Tip O`Neill school, saw the speakership.
It is a tremendously powerful office. It`s called the third most powerful office because of the vice president. But, in a way, it`s the second most powerful office. This office has the ability to go head to head with the president. She`s not embarrassed about wielding that power.
I think what she was getting to in that answer, Steve, we`re in this era where everything a woman who seeks power or holds power does get hyper- scrutinized, including by us. If you`re dancing when you were in high school, we`re going to scrutinize that. If you`re cursing, we`re going to scrutinize that.
If you just want to be president, suddenly, we`re digging into everything about you and scrutinizing down to your DNA. Women who seek power instantly get the question, are you likable? Are you being nice enough? Are you -- I mean, it`s a very different way that we treat men who seek power.
And so one of the things that`s unique about Nancy Pelosi even before she was speaker is, she`s not embarrassed about seeking power. She sought the speakership. She was clearly going to get the speakership. She wasn`t going to be deterred by all these arguments about it being unlikable or unpleasant for a woman to step up and say, no, give me the gavel.
She did it. She said, give it to me. She said win. However you need to win, say what you need to say. But when it comes time to vote for the speakership, I`m going to win.
And I think that that is a model for the way that women potentially can seek and hold power, that you don`t have to worry about likability. This woman runs that body. She counts those votes. She doesn`t put a bill on the floor that she doesn`t think she can get passed. And she, more than anyone else, besides Harry Reid and President Obama`s persuasive powers, made health care happen, right, the Affordable Care Act.
And now she`s there to defend it. So I think that her vision of the future -- I even asked her what her legacy is going to be -- is that the things that she wants done in government, she wants it to be able to at least get to a vote. If those things don`t pass the United States Senate, in her view, that`s on Mitch McConnell.
She`s going to demonstrate what Democrats are capable of doing with power. And whether that`s transparency, whether that`s protecting health care, whether that`s environmental protection, she intends to show Democrats can do this, led by a woman.
KORNACKI: OK, Joy Reid.
Again, the town hall with Nancy Pelosi, it`s going to air at 10:00 Eastern, two-and-a-half-hours from now.
Really good stuff there, Joy. Can`t wait to watch it. Thank you for joining us.
REID: Thank you.
KORNACKI: And don`t miss Joy Reid`s wonderful show "AM JOY" tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Up next, going to head over to the big board, the shutdown and the Senate. Will the 2020 map lead to some surprise Republican cracks in the current standoff?
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
KORNACKI: All right, welcome back to HARDBALL.
So we have been talking about it. Where is there going to be somebody, some group, some party that budges when it comes to the shutdown right now? There`s the House Democrats, Senate Republicans, Trump White House.
We talked in the top of this show about the potential on the Senate side. And why? Because you have got some Republican senators there who maybe are up for reelection next year in 2020 who maybe come from states that are swing states, vulnerable senators. Are they going to be the ones who feel the political heat and change the equation of the shutdown?
So we thought we would take a look. Where might, might some of those senators be?
So, first of all, here we go. New Senate taking the oath of office yesterday, 47 Democrats, 53 Republicans. You got those two independents who caucus with the Democrats. That`s the current balance of power.
Now, let`s take a look here. Where are the Republicans who are going to be up for reelection next year, in 2020? Every state that is painted in red, you got a Republican who`s up for re election next year. A lot of these are deep red states. They`re not going to be competitive races, probably not going to be a lot of political pressure on Republicans in those states.
So where -- and this is going to be possibly -- where possibly in this mix of states could you see Republicans who end up vulnerable in 2020? This gets a little more interesting. Take a look at this.
Some of these are probably stretches, Kansas, Pat Roberts announcing today he`s not going to be running for reelection. That`s a very big stretch. You saw Democrats have a good midterm there. We put Mitch McConnell on here. I know it`s Kentucky. Most recent polling we have seen on McConnell in Kentucky has his approval rating there in the 30s.
Those are bad numbers. But, really, where`s the action here? Colorado, state that Donald Trump lost. Cory Gardner, he has already come out and he said, hey, Republicans just pass a clean C.R. and reopen the government. Maine, that`s the other state. Hillary Clinton won this in 2016, Maine. Trump didn`t win the state.
Susan Collins running for reelection in 2020, she`s made some noise that suggests she`s feeling at least some political heat that maybe is different from her colleagues. So, keep an eye there.
Arizona. Remember, Martha McSally just lost the Senate race, then got appointed to the other seat. Now she`s got to run in 2020. This is a state Trump won, but only won narrowly in 2016. So, keep a close eye there.
I think Joni Ernst in Iowa, it`s a Trump state, but it`s one Democrats have some thoughts of maybe trying to claw back or at least get close to in 2020. Georgia. Obviously, Georgia a state Democrats look at and say the future they think they can compete there. Maybe in 2020. Could that be trouble for David Perdue next year?
Of course, Texas, again, that might be a reach for Democrats. Beto O`Rourke did get within three points, John Cornyn running for reelection there.
So, again, that`s the mix of senators. You have to see these folks, a lot of these folks really start to get publicly nervous about the politics of this. That could maybe change the thinking of Mitch McConnell, the Republican leadership.
By the way, the flip side, just want to show you this quickly. We talked so much in 2017 and 2018 about that dynamic of Democrats. Remember,, 10 Democrats in 2018 in the Senate had to run for reelection, 10 Democratic seats in states that Trump had won, Trump country, Senate Democrats, the biggest challenge.
How many of those are there going to be in 2020, by the way? Just two, Doug Jones in Alabama, and Gary Peters up in Michigan, of course, a Michigan state Trump barely won, only two. So that landscape for Democrats looks very different in 2020 than it did in 2018.
So, again, we will have a lot more time between now and Election Day 2020 to talk about Senate races, but wanted to give you a sense of how that might factor in to the current shutdown conversation.
Up next, more from President Trump`s wide-ranging, fact-bending news conference in the Rose Garden.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
There appears to be no end in sight for the government shutdown, after the president`s lengthy press conference in the Rose Garden today.
Digging in his heels, President Trump confirmed to reporters that he told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the shutdown could continue for months or even years.
The president was also asked about his remarks from last month, when he told Democratic leaders that he would be proud to take responsibility for the shutdown. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you still proud to own this shutdown?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, I appreciate the way you say that, but once -- I`m very proud of doing what I`m doing. I don`t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and for the safety of our country.
We`re going to be working very hard over the weekend and we`ll see if we can do something.
So you can call it whatever you want. You can call it the Schumer or the Pelosi or the Trump shutdown. Doesn`t make any difference to me, just words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And for more, I`m joined by the Roundtable.
Christina Greer is an associate professor of political science at Fordham University. Carrie Sheffield is a conservative commentator and founder of Bold TV. And Tim O`Brien is executive editor at Bloomberg Opinion.
Thanks to all of you for being with us.
Tim, let me just start with you, because you have a perspective on Trump that not everybody has. And I`m just curious what you make of the public performance we saw today from him, because I`m trying to read it. And there`s two possibilities that jump out at me.
One is, is this a guy who feels cornered and is looking for a way out of this? Or is this somebody who`s enjoying the moment he`s found himself in?
TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION: It may be both, because I think he loves being in the spotlight so much, that it doesn`t matter whether he`s cornered or not, if he can get people to pay attention. He loves being in that space.
However, he is definitively cornered. And I think one of the things this incident is showing is that the president actually isn`t a very good deal- maker. The people who supported him said he was going to go to Washington, he was a businessman who would apply business skills and a long history of deal-making to getting things done in Washington, draining the swamp, et cetera, et cetera.
Anybody who knew, actually, the particulars and facts of his business history knew that he was repeatedly taken to the cleaners on a lot of significant deals.
And the reason was because he didn`t bone up on the facts, he lacked the patience to see things through their end, and he usually made it about an appearance of winning, rather than authentically getting something he wanted.
And I don`t think he`s familiar with this -- with the history of government shutdowns and Washington. I don`t think he`s interested in giving up ground in order to get a result that might benefit him. And so he`s left now without any leverage. And he`s aware of it.
And I think that`s why you`re getting all this word salad from him.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s what -- Christina, that`s what I`m kind of wondering if -- and I don`t know specifically. I keep trying to imagine what`s the specific combination that`s going to let everybody come to the table and sign off on something.
But I do have the sense, what Tim was just saying, the appearance of winning, the appearance of victory, that that`s going to have to be an element of this from Trump`s standpoint, trying to create that somehow.
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. And he`s trying to shift the narrative. So, it`s like, oh, so now we can call it Schumer and the Pelosi.
The problem is, Nancy Pelosi outmaneuvered him in that meeting that we had a few weeks ago. And so -- when she walked him into that trap, and he just said, yes, I will own it.
And now he realizes, this is real. We have hundreds of thousands of Americans who are not getting paid, right? And so his party is going to suffer pretty soon. Obviously, the winds of change will work against him. And so he is cornered.
He`s used to just packing up his marbles, filing for bankruptcy, and leaving you holding the bag. He can`t do that right now. So he`s trying to figure out how he can try and change the frame. But this isn`t "The Apprentice." We don`t have editors who can just all of a sudden change and make it seem like you`re winning, when you`re not.
This is someone who actually, as a lifelong New Yorker, is not a deal- maker, right? He -- in many ways, anyone who`s done business with him in New York knows that he has been a crook. And he`s actually -- he doesn`t not really know how to do business. Daddy was giving him lots of money. Daddy was constantly covering for him. Daddy was constantly bailing him out.
And he was able to build up a reputation that said one thing, but the reality was something totally different. Now we`re in Washington, D.C. Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, many of the Democrats, they understand the institution of Congress, but we`re seeing now they understand the institution of the presidency much better than the president.
KORNACKI: So, Carrie, if he doesn`t get 100 percent of what he`s asking for, the $5.6 billion wall -- I mean, his definition of the wall has changed. But let`s just say $5.6 billion in a wall, if he does not and is not able to get 100 percent of that, what could he get that talk radio base that revolted a few weeks ago would go along with him and say it`s a victory?
CARRIE SHEFFIELD, GLOBAL FOUNDER, BOLD.COM: Sure.
Well, he has said there -- there might be some talk about, if you could declare some sort of national emergency, because, let`s be honest, we do have a national emergency on our southern border. And anyone who would say otherwise, I would really challenge them and say look at life expectancy in this country.
It`s declined for the second time.
KORNACKI: Are you saying that that`s what the base needs to hear from him, that short of -- short of getting 100 percent, he`s got to go in that direction for them to feel he`s getting a win here?
SHEFFIELD: He`s got a control the border.
And then -- and that`s how he won. That`s how he mopped the floor with the establishment. That`s how he mopped the floor when he won the presidency and also the Republican nomination. It was immigration.
So I think woe be unto any Democrat who doesn`t understand the reason Trump is in the White House is because of immigration. And we do have a border crisis. We do. Life expectancy declined in this country for the second year in a row. We haven`t seen that since World War I.
One of the key reasons was drugs. And drugs -- and an AEI showed that drugs...
SHEFFIELD: Can I finish? Drugs coming over our southern border, fentanyl, is driving a lot of this decline in the life expectancy. This is a crisis.
And so I think this is...
GREER: But what is the question about the win?
KORNACKI: I`m just trying to figure out, right, what does it take?
SHEFFIELD: Sure. (CROSSTALK)
KORNACKI: What would -- we saw a couple weeks ago his vice president went in there with an offer. It looked like there was going to be a deal here.
And talk radio revolted, and there was no deal. So I`m saying, if he doesn`t get 100 percent, what can he bring back that is not going to produce that same result?
I think what he`s trying to find is an alternative, if Congress won`t come to the table. I think the reason why he didn`t get what happened with the Senate, it was Mitch McConnell`s fault. Mitch McConnell should have shown leadership.
The House, under House Speaker Paul Ryan, passed the bill with the funding. And so Mitch McConnell could have taken the -- quote, unquote -- "nuclear option," the way he did judicial...
O`BRIEN: Mitch McConnell tried to deal -- deliver a deal to Trump months ago, and Trump pulled the plug on it at the last minute.
SHEFFIELD: But it didn`t have the border funding.
O`BRIEN: This is, again, something who can`t even do a deal with members of his own party.
This is not Mitch McConnell`s fault. This solely resides with President Trump.
SHEFFIELD: No, no, no. The House passed a funding bill that included funding for the border wall.
O`BRIEN: If there`s a crisis on the southern border, which there actually isn`t -- which there actually isn`t -- apprehensions on the southern border are at year -- you know, decade lows.
O`BRIEN: There`s not a crisis on the -- that`s a manufactured idea.
SHEFFIELD: Let`s talk about the crisis...
KORNACKI: But let`s just -- let`s reset, because I`m -- again, I`m just trying to figure out.
The government has been shut down for two weeks here. And we know what the position is, clearly, from Democrats here in the House. They have put their offer on the table. They have passed it.
We are waiting. And we just put this out there. We want to see what happens in the Senate, because nothing`s happening there now. And there is a question of whether there`s going to be some movement from the Cory Gardners and from some of these other vulnerable senators.
And then there`s a question of what will the president ultimately accept here?
And, Christina, I guess that`s -- we listened for an hour-and-a-half today. And, rhetorically, I heard a lot. I heard a lot of posturing. But I`m unclear. A wall, a fence, money for this, I`m unclear exactly where that line is where he can say, I still will call -- I will call this a victory and take it.
Well, I mean, we know that the president has to use the wall as a race- baiting tactic to make sure that his base stays with him, because he is creating this dangerous boogeyman that`s there.
We also know that he`s -- he just wants to win. So, as Tim said, we don`t know if he -- if he really cares about this wall, if he really cares about the fight. He just likes the posturing.
And so when he goes back and talks to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and he`s trying to negotiate and make these deals that he`s so famous at doing, they are very clear. Nancy Pelosi has said several times, how many ways can I say no? We are not giving you $5 billion. We can talk about sort of securing certain places along the southern border, but we actually don`t have this crisis of the caravan that the president is creating, because that`s for his talk radio base.
Like, that is very clear. So, the problem is, the president doesn`t deal with facts or truth. And so when we`re trying to move forward with policy, we have to sort of undo some of his mind-set.
GREER: Hold on. Let me finish.
GREER: So the interesting thing, though, is, we also know that this president doesn`t respect his own party.
So he may actually decide to just do a deal with Nancy and Chuck, based on however they can figure their negotiation, and leave Mitch McConnell looking...
GREER: ... completely in the wind, because he doesn`t speak to anyone via -- unless it`s via Twitter.
KORNACKI: So I will ask it a different way, Carrie Sheffield.
I was asking specifically if you have a sense what he could bring back to the base, and the base would still say it`s a victory.
How scared of that -- how intimidated by the base is he? I guess that`s that`s the question I would then. Does he have to go back to them? Or could he cut some other kind of a deal here?
SHEFFIELD: Well, that`s what I was saying. When he floats the possibility of declaring a national emergency, which would give him access to potential other funds.
But I do want to push back on the question of this being a racist trope. I mean, this president has seen historic low unemployment among African- Americans that we have never seen in this country.
GREER: Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.
SHEFFIELD: We have also seen historic wins as far as helping with criminal justice reform.
O`BRIEN: That didn`t begin with President Trump.
KORNACKI: I`m trying to keep us on the wall.
GREER: We have to deal in facts.
KORNACKI: Let me go back to you, Tim.
Let me ask you this question this way. Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, the dynamics that Trump -- and you were hinting at this before -- the dynamics that Trump faced in the business celebrity world that he comes from, vs. the dynamics of dealing with somebody like Mitch McConnell, is there -- how much overlap is there?
A lot or a little?
O`BRIEN: Well, I mean, he`s run a business that promoted him as a marketing tool. He never really built relationships with other people. He`s never built strong teams around him. He`s never known how to push something through by building relationships with other people.
I think that that informs his entire relationship with the GOP, regardless of his relationship with Democrats. And what he`s focused on here right now isn`t the policy. He doesn`t have a clear sense of what kind of policy he wants on the southern border or what kind of policy he wants on immigration.
He`s focused on the wall because he`s concerned about his reputation, which is an entirely different can of worms. And what he is digging in around is, he doesn`t want to have to say, I didn`t get my wall.
He doesn`t -- he doesn`t care about whether or not he can have an outcome that said, we are dealing with a rational approach to how to handle migration on the southern border, and here`s how we`re doing that. He`s saying, I`m digging in for a wall because I said I was going to do it.
And, actually, people in his own party and the opposition don`t think it makes sense. And until he lets go of it, he`s going to get beaten up on this issue.
SHEFFIELD: But you can`t go two blocks in New York without seeing a Trump -- the Grand Hyatt was brokered by him. At age 28 is when he started it.
O`BRIEN: No, it was brokered by the Pritzkers.
SHEFFIELD: Well, he was the runner for the Pritzkers. He was the one who started -- I mean, why is -- why is he -- his name is everywhere. Why...
GREER: His name is everywhere.
O`BRIEN: This is a useful thing to remember, because his name is everywhere, but he`s not responsible for building a lot of projects his name is on.
SHEFFIELD: The Wollman skating rink came under budget because of his executive...
KORNACKI: Well, OK.
We -- again, we -- the government is still shut down. The terms of the standoff are not entirely...
KORNACKI: And the terms of -- the terms of it are not entirely understood. I think that is what makes this, to me, different than past shutdowns that we have seen.
It is unclear to me exactly what the bottom line is for every party that is involved here. I think that`s what makes this different. And that`s why, at the beginning of this, I said it looks like the stakes, relatively speaking, in the scheme of the federal budget are not that high, and yet it`s going on a lot longer, I think, relative to that, than we expected. It`s an unusual one.
Christina Greer, Carrie Sheffield, Tim O`Brien, thank you for being with us.
HARDBALL back in just a minute.
KORNACKI: Welcome back.
Newly sworn-in Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib made headlines today, not for being one of the first two Muslim women to join the U.S. House -- that was yesterday -- but then after that for using an expletive in calling for the president`s impeachment.
Here`s what she said at a progressive event last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: People love you, and you win.
And When your son looks at you and says, "Mama, look, you won, bullies don`t win." And I said, "Baby, they don`t," because we`re going to go in there, and we`re going to impeach the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Today, the president responded to the new congresswoman`s remarks and the prospect of impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well you can`t impeach somebody that`s doing a great job. That`s the way I view it. I have probably done more in the first two years than any president, any administration in the history of our country.
And you don`t impeach people when there was no collusion, because there was no collusion.
Using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was that, I thought that was a great dishonor to her and to her family.
I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: HARDBALL is back in a minute.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: And Let Me Finish tonight with Democrats and the I-word.
At least one new Democratic member of Congress is all on board with impeachment. We just played it a minute ago, Rashida Tlaib making it clear with her comment last night.
And another long-serving member, Brad Sherman, has already introduced fresh articles of impeachment. He says it`s time to get the ball rolling now.
The rank and file of the Democratic Party is already there too -- 78 percent of them, according to the exit poll from November`s midterm, 78 percent of Democrats say Congress should impeach President Trump. That is where the grassroots energy in the Democratic Party is.
Democratic voters want to hear it, and they want to see it. But Democratic leaders aren`t there, not now anyway. For one thing, that same exit poll finds impeachment isn`t nearly as popular outside the Democratic base. Only 34 percent of independents say they want it; 57 percent are against it.
There is also fear of a backlash from Americans who voted for Trump. This is what Jerry Nadler, the new Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who would oversee any impeachment hearings, this is what he had to say recently.
He said -- quote -- "You would have -- you have to be reluctant to do an impeachment" and -- quote -- "You don`t want half the country to say to the other half for the next 30 years, we won the election, you stole it from us."
That may become the dilemma for Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats in the months ahead. Their base wants this. Soon, there will be a whole bunch of Democrats out there running for president. They will be talking to that party base. How many of those Democratic candidates will start calling for impeachment? How many other members of Congress will speak up?
And then if, say, sometime in the middle of 2019, Robert Mueller were to then give all of them more ammunition, well, what will Democrats with the power in Congress do then? Will they give that base the impeachment push it wants, or will they say to that base, hey, we want him out too, and the way to do it is through the election next year?
It`s a dilemma that hasn`t come to a head for Democrats yet, but, in 2019, it may very well.
That is HARDBALL for now.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" -- and Chris Matthews is back Monday.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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