IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump's use of "executive time." TRANSCRIPT: 02/04/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.

Guests: Danielle Moodie-Mills, Peter Baker; Kelly Magsamen, Jeff Schapiro, Ezekiel Emanuel, Jonathan Lemire, Gwenda Blair, Jeh Johnson

Show: HARDBALL Date: February 4, 2019 Guest: Danielle Moodie-Mills, Peter Baker; Kelly Magsamen, Jeff Schapiro, Ezekiel Emanuel, Jonathan Lemire, Gwenda Blair, Jeh Johnson

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. I will be back at 6:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow.

But don`t go anywhere. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Don`t confuse me with the facts. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

We have a lot to get to tonight, including the latest from Virginia where Governor Ralph Northam is still in office, despite a near-universal call from Democratic leaders for him to go. He still says, by the way, he is not in that picture.

And a new insights of how President Trump is spending his working days, if that`s the right name for them.

But we begin with a dramatic new example of President Trump yelling "look, mom, no hands." Refuse to take the advice from his own he him picked intelligence officials. The consequences could be dire including being manipulated into a new hostility toward Iran and even a possible military action in Venezuela. There is nothing like a neocon, nothing a neocon like John Bolton likes better than a President who doesn`t read.

Well, last week, Trump called his Intel chiefs na‹ve. In a new interview with CBS, the President again expressed lack of faith in them, especially when it comes to their judgment about Iran.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you are going to trust the intelligence that you receive?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am going to trust the intelligence that I`m putting there. But I will say this, my intelligence people, if they said in fact that Iran is a wonderful kindergarten, I disagree with them 100 percent. When my intelligence people tell me how wonderful Iran is, if you don`t mind, I`m going to just go by my own counsel.


MATTHEWS: Well, he went on to indicate U.S. troops should remain in Iraq if only to keep an eye on Iran.


TRUMP: Being in Iraq was a mistake, OK. Being in Iraq. It was a big mistake to go, one of the greatest mistakes going into the Middle East that our country has ever made. One Of the greatest mistake that we have ever made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you want to keep troops there now?

TRUMP: Well, we spent a fortune on building this incredible base, we might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran. Because Iran is a real problems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s news. You are keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike Iran?

TRUMP: No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch.


MATTHEWS: Is this John Bolton doing or is this wag the dog? Trump attempt to distract from his domestic problems, his political problems. The President`s comments comes just days after his Intel chiefs contradicted him on the threats posed by Iran. ISIS, North Korea and Russia in Congress testimony.

The President later said their remarks aired in live television, by the way, where mischaracterized even though they are clear as a bell on tape. Well, according to a new report on Time magazine, some in the intelligent committee are alarmed by the President`s willful ignorance. That`s the phrase over analysis presented in those intelligence briefings.

Report notes intelligence officials quote "describe futile attempts to keep his attention to use by using visual aid aides, confining some briefing points to two or three sentence and repeating his name, Donald Trump, entitle president of the United States as frequently as possible.

He goes on to add, according to sources, what is most troubling are Trump`s angry reactions when his has given information that contradicts positions he has taken or believes he holds.

Two intelligence officers even reported that they have been warned to avoid giving the President Intelligence assessments that contradicts stances he has taken in public.

I`m joined right now by Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the "New York Times," Kelly Magsamen, former national Security Council and Pentagon official under President Obama.

Peter, this is - I don`t know where to say. This is disturbing or what. The President doesn`t pay attention. He got to keep his eyes open with toothpicks during these briefings. And yet my fear, not that he is ignorant of what he should know, is that his brain is empty and available to people like John Bolton, the way W`s was. I fear presidents who don`t read or don`t know what they are talking about because troublemaking people like John Bolton and Elliot Abrams find their way into power and manipulate people like Trump. Your thoughts.

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, remember of course from the very beginning he has been skeptical of the intelligence agencies. He said before he took office that he didn`t need a daily intelligence briefing because he didn`t need them to tell him things he already knew day after day. He later change gears and did accept the idea that a daily briefing was a useful thing.

Also, really on the course, he doubted their conclusions about the Russia intervention. That he trashed the intelligence agencies his first days in office. And I think that skepticism as continued through today. Even though the current head of the intelligence agencies are his own appointees Dan Coats, Chris Wray, Gina Haspel. Those are all people he put in place there.

You know, a certain degree of a skepticism of intelligence is a requirement of the President. The question is whether you are disregarding it all altogether, right. If they say to him look, we don`t think North Korea is going to give up his nuclear weapons. And he said, OK. I get that. But I`m going to try anyway, then that`s one thing.

He said that back to Margaret Brenner. He said I get that. They may be right about that but I`m going to try anyway. It`s a different thing if he rejects their assessment of facts without a contrary set of information to base it on. For instance, they say Iran is not currently building a nuclear weapons. If he says he doesn`t believe that, we are not sure why he would - what he is basing that on.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Kelly on this question. Do presidents act like this? I mean, I thought the most important time of the day for the president, when they get their daily intelligence, when they find out what they should worry about, where the focus of their worry should be in the world, so they can focus our intelligence, can focus of diplomatic power or even our military power at certain points. How do you direct a U.S. foreign policy in blindness?

KELLY MAGSAMEN, VICE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL POLICY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes. The way it normally works is the president receives very early in the morning a full presidential daily briefing book. When I was working for President Obama, President Obama would have read that book before he even entered the oval office. And then he would have sat down with his national security team, including the national security adviser to discuss that intelligence and figure out the way to formulate policy.

I think Peter is right. The President gets to choose his own strategy on anything from North Korea to Iran, but the President is not entitled to his own facts. I think that is where the problem is.

This "Time" magazine report sort of feels to me like you have the intelligence communities that trying to get the President to eat his vegetables and so they have basically figured it out ways to present information to him that`s as amenable to him as possible. And that`s a real challenge if you are actually trying to have an informed strategy on everything.

MATTHEWS: Does it scare you that the President of the United States is flying blind?

MAGSAMEN: It does scare me a little bit. It also scares me that the President is sort of willful ignorance and ability to disregard the facts gives people like John Bolton a very easy opening to push the President in directions that are potentially dangerous.

MATTHEWS: Do you smell the fact we are being directed by a neocon now, we are all of the sudden talking about military action in Venezuela. We are talking about, once again, hovering over Iran looking for an excuse to strike. It does look like either wag the dog or neocons in action with the weak-minded president. Your thoughts.

MAGSAMEN: Yes. I mean, I think the challenge is the President has no north star on foreign policy. And so, whoever is in the room last, and is definitely usually not the intelligence community, is the one that is able to get him to pursue an option. He also deeply inconsistent. Here is the president that is going to run on, you know, ending the war but then may potentially open a new war front in Venezuela. So there are all sorts of inconsistencies and there is no national security process that I am aware around some of these big questions. And that`s what is (INAUDIBLE) for this opening.

MATTHEWS: Well, just last week the Senate voted to rebuke President Trump`s plan to withdraw U.S. military forces from Syria and Afghanistan. The President said there`s very little ISIS left in Syria and defended the draw down (ph) in Afghanistan. Here he goes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it concerning here by your intelligence chiefs though is that you could in that vacuum see resurgence of ISIS. See a resurgence of terrorists like al-Qaeda.

TRUMP: Sure. And you where we will be? We will come back if we have to. We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes, we can come back very quickly.


MATTHEWS: Peter, in a matter of a very few days said he went from I`m pulling y troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan to I`m keeping my troops in Iraq not because of Iraq but because I want to have a listening post on Iran. I want to keep military forces in to do the job of intelligence. I`m not going to listen to my G-2 (ph), my intelligence people. I`m going to keep armed forces, lots of them in Iraq so they can listen when they are going to dinner night. They listen around at the cafes? I mean, this is an insane idea. Using military forces ground, guys on the ground, women on the ground, to do the job of Intel. And we are in Iraq so we can maybe fight Iran? What`s this about? He flipped again.

BAKER: Well, there is no question Iran is a central focus of his foreign policy. He sees Iran as the major threat in the Middle East. And everything else is more or less subordinated to that strategic perception and strategic direction on his part. So Iraq is not all that important in and of itself. It is important mainly as an ally -- sorry, as a neighbor of Iran. And it`s important to keep troops there to, as he says, to listen there.

But also, I think, the argument I think that he may not be making is some people make though is keeping the troops in Iraq to some extent helps keep a check on Iran in the sense of Iran`s influence on Iraq.

One thing to remember of course is the toppling of Saddam Hussein, open a vacuum that Iran walked right in Iraq over these last 15 years. And you know, when our troops are not there, they have less influence. America has less influence there. He didn`t articulate it that way. He talked about it as you said as more of an intelligence thing. It`s hard to see how that works. But you know, I think you would see a lot of consensus among policy makers in Washington that keeping some troops in Iraq is probably a wise thing because they do feel Iran would fill that vacuum.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is dumber than dumber, though, Peter and Kelly. Because here he is keeping our troops in there after having brought in a Sunni or Shi`a government, which is aligned basically with Iran, having replaced a Sunni government which was against them, which was a perfect buffer against them, a natural buffer that we had on hand. We destroyed the Sunni government, brought in the Shi`a government, which is pro-Iran and said we are sticking around in the Shi`a-led Iraq so we can keep an eye on Iran. It doesn`t make any sense.

Kelly, your last thought on that? Just a geopolitics.

MAGSAMEN: Yes. I mean, I think we need to remember that the Iraqi government gets a vote here. It was clear to me today that the Iraqi government was surprised by the President`s comments on the purpose of U.S. troops in Iraq so watch that space. I think some things will change.

MATTHEWS: Well, they are pro-Iranian. That`s why they want us there. Obviously, they don`t want - ready to jump into Iran if they are pro- Iranian. This is nuts.

Anyway, thank you Peter Baker. And thank you, Kelly Magsamen.

We are joined right now by Jeh Johnson, former secretary of homeland security under President Obama.

Thank you, Jeh, for joining me. Mr. Secretary.

What do you make of this? I mean, you have been briefing presidents for a long time. And here is a president don`t want to know anything.


MATTHEWS: Yes. Not my fall, I tried to get you on years ago.

JOHNSON: So tomorrow night is the state of the union.


JOHNSON: Three years ago, state of the union, I was the designated survivor. And I was sitting at my undisclosed location, watching HARDBALL, Chris Matthews, thinking that this was some big secret, and suddenly, Chris Matthews, I`m handed a piece of paper, Jeh Johnson is the designated survivor tonight. I almost fell off my chair. And you said something that I thought was a quite a broke-rib (ph). Without blinking an eye, you said, you know, this makes a lot of sense. No presidency named Johnson begins well.

MATTHEWS: Did I say that?

JOHNSON: Yes, you did.

MATTHEWS: Oh, my God.

JOHNSON: You said the speeches.

MATTHEWS: I was thinking about Lyndon Johnson and Andrew Johnson.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: They both didn`t end well.

JOHNSON: So let`s get down to business. Kelly is right. The most important part of a president`s day is the, and a cabinet secretary, is the daily intelligence briefing. And you are flying blind if you are responsible for any part of national security and you don`t read the intelligence or have it at least have it read to you. It`s like trying to fly a plane when the windshields are fogged up and the instruments are down. I never could have managed cyber security and aviation security without my daily intelligence briefing.

And then just as Kelly said with the president, you read it, including the PBD and then you have the briefers go back over with you to make sure you got it.


JOHNSON: And those were the basic tools for navigating national security. And if you don`t use them, that`s a big, big problem.

MATTHEWS: Well, and being a professional, if you miss the day, you would fall back from what you heard the day before and your hunch. But Trump is surrounded now by John Bolton. I mean, this is a concern. His national security advisor is a real hawk.

JOHNSON: Well, not only that. Look, occasionally, I would read a report where I would have a sense this analyst is a little over his skis. He is kind of reaching for an assumption.


JOHNSON: And so, it`s incumbent upon the consumer and then bring them in and say why did you reach to that conclusion? And very often, you can detect the weaknesses, they are not perfect. But you have to rely on what your briefers and all these intelligence agencies say. And you know, we do a much better job now than pre-9/11 of connecting the dots and detecting overseas` terrorist plots, for example. And without that, you really are - - that`s a huge problem.

MATTHEWS: My problem with W., when he was president, George W. Bush, is he look like the guy at business school that left and didn`t like the nerds. He didn`t like the (INAUDIBLE) bookish, right, the pencil next. He hang out with the judge, right. And then he gets to be President and he surrounds himself with the nerdy guys that they will tell him what is going on. He had no way of resisting them and the neocons got around them like well, Cheney and the whole bench of them and then he went along with the stupid war.

JOHNSON: The intelligence community should know how to fashion their intelligence briefing for their president who are dealing with that at times. Some people like Barack Obama are readers. Others are not so. So you figure out ways to get them --

MATTHEWS: Do you think Trump is a reader? Anyway, in their testimony last week, the intelligence chiefs made no immense of what Trump had deemed a crisis is the southern border who are going to near territory (ph). When asked about another possible shutdown, the President said he is not taking any off the table.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you shut down the government again?

TRUMP: We are going to see what happens on February 15th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not taking it off the table?

TRUMP: I don`t take anything off the table. I don`t like to take things off the table. It`s that alternative. It`s national emergency. It is other things. And you know, there have been plenty national emergencies called. And this really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers.


MATTHEWS: What do you make of that assessment by him?

JOHNSON: Chris, I have been saying this to member of Congress in the last two weeks. At all costs, we have to avoid another government shutdown. This last one has caused damage to our security, our homeland security that will last months if not years in terms morale, retention, recruitment, reenlistment.

The number one obligation of the president is to be the custodian of the executive branch of the federal government. And if the President and the Congress don`t keep the government open for business and pay the workers, they are failing at their most basic responsibility in government.

MATTHEWS: OK, plan b, national emergency. If he doesn`t, he is still talking of it as an option.

JOHNSON: So now you are asking me to play lawyer and I was the general counsel of the defense department. The earlier authority that they seemed to be floating where they would mil-con money, military construction money and put it toward another military project really didn`t work. That was a square peg in a round hole because that`s overseas building. That`s overseas facilities.

The most recent one having army civil works projects that are already under way and diverting and reprogramming that money to another one is slightly more legally plausible but hugely politically objectionable. Because you are taking money away from the infrastructure projects from the damage from the hurricanes and wildfires and putting it toward the wall. And I see huge -political objections opposition to that from the interest in Florida and California.

MATTHEWS: Here is a huge question. Northam. Tell me what your reaction was when you saw the picture.

JOHNSON: Well, I hesitate sitting here of 30 Rock, telling the governor of Virginia of what he should do. On the other hand, Chris, my slave ancestors, my father side, are all from Lynchburg, Virginia. They buried there. And that is a legacy that in my view the state of Virginia, Charlottesville aside, has moved a long way away from. And the governor needs to think about someone other than himself. He needs to think about the interest of the state that he has pledged to serve and whether or not the state can afford to have somebody with the stain on his personal record in office for the next couple of years.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Thank you, Jeh Johnson. We are having dinner tonight after all these years.

JOHNSON: Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS: And a secluded - just kidding.

JOHNSON: You are buying.


Coming up, next, decision time for President - Governor Northam. Top Democrats say he should resign. But what if he doesn`t resign? That`s the big question.

And also, it the Democrats` hot policy issue right now, Medicare for all. How do you transform a program design for retirees into a system that benefits everyone with their whole lives and how would you finance it? It our big it`s our big idea tonight.

Plus, early in his presidency, Trump said this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many days a week are you working?

TRUMP: I`m working long hours, long hours. Right up until 12:00, 1:00 in the morning.


MATTHEWS: The leak of President Trump`s private schedules painting a very different picture tonight. Why would a Trump staff member want to publicly ridicule the President?

Much more after this break.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam remains in the governor`s mansion tonight, despite those quick calls for his resignation following the release of this racially disturbing photo from a 1984 medical school yearbook page, his page.

A source tells NBC News the governor is continuing to deliberate about his future after huddling with his cabinet this morning.

The response of the Democratic Party was quick and nearly unanimous: Northam has to go. And the governor didn`t do himself any favors with his changing responses to the offensive photo over the weekend.


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: I`m deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.

But I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I`m ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.

When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page. But I believe then and now that I am not either of the people in that photo.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by the Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network and, of course, host of "POLITICS NATION" here on MSNBC, and Danielle Moodie-Mills, radio host with SiriusXM, which I watch all the time -- actually listen all the time -- and Jeff Schapiro, columnist and political reporter with "The Richmond Times-Dispatch."

I want to talk to the reverend, because I want to get -- this is one time, my colleague, I do ask you to speak for the community, the African-American community in this country.

And, speaking as a leader of the community, what do you see when those two pictures show it? There`s two figures together. Let`s look at them.

Can we show the pictures?

AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Well, I can talk while you show.

MATTHEWS: There they are.

SHARPTON: I think what we see is the Klan uniform is a terrorist uniform.

You see lynching. You see bloodshed. You see people that were killed because of the color of their skin. This is not just some kind of comedic kind of thing. This represents to us actual lynchings that all of our families or most of our families had some kind of engagement with.

And for this gentleman, the governor, to say that, I take responsibility for my decisions, and then turn around the next morning and say, it wasn`t me, one does -- it not only sounds disingenuous. You have to ask yourself the question, Chris.

You raised the possibility that you could have been in the picture, which is disturbing, because you should know it right away, couldn`t have happened, I would have never done that.


SHARPTON: The fact that he even entertained it convicted him.

Then he comes back and says, no, it wasn`t me. I talked to my classmates.

You have to talk to your classmates if you were not in a picture with a Klansman?


SHARPTON: And then said, but I put on blackface to do Michael Jackson 1984 -- 1984, Michael Jackson was on the Victory Tour.


SHARPTON: I did the community affairs there. I saw tens of thousands of white kids imitating Michael Jackson, having on the "Thriller" jacket and all.

None of them had blackface; `84 was the year Reverend Jesse Jackson won the Virginia primary, that he was in school in Virginia. So you were mocking at a time of black advancement, of black really break -- blacks really breaking through mainstream.

And you would put on blackface, and then talk about, and it was hard to get it off. I think he should resign immediately.

MATTHEWS: Well, Danielle, what do you make of the culture of this school? Because he was not alone. And this was frat boys, other -- these doctors. And they were going to -- apparently going to work with poor people.

That was the mission of that school, apparently.

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, SIRIUSXM: I`m so glad, Chris, that you bring that up, because that to me is the most disturbing point, is that, when you look at, I don`t know, black women`s maternity mortality rate, when you look at the numbers, the fact that black women, when they`re going to deliver babies, are more likely than their white counterparts to die in the delivery room, and we want to understand why there is a racial gap there, and understand that these were medical students.

This is the creme de la creme, right? We hold doctors and lawyers up to these unreachable standards and say, like, this is the epitome of education and excellence.

And so, one, the high school -- the college yearbook editor, why was that OK? And I was talking...


MATTHEWS: Or the moderator.

MOODIE-MILLS: And just, why was this something that you said, you know what, I want people to remember me by this?

That`s what yearbooks are for, to set out, this is what I want folks to remember me by. And I find it very hard to believe -- many of us still hold on to our yearbooks, right?


MOODIE-MILLS: That this was the first time in 30 years that he saw this image?

No one, not one of his friends said, you know what, Northam, have you seen your page, it`s crazy, you should have -- you should talk to somebody about this?

I just -- it doesn`t make any sense.


Small point, but I wonder about Ed Gillespie. He was the Republican who ran against him. What about his oppo operation? Couldn`t they have found this?

MOODIE-MILLS: I mean, my...


MATTHEWS: Talk about lazy at the switch.

Anyway, while many lawmakers called for Northam -- have called for his resignation, there are a few coming to his defense. Here they are.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN: Do you believe he should resign?

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I don`t today. I mean, I think there`s a rush to judgment that is unfair to him. One, he says he wasn`t in that picture. Two, I think we ought to fairly ask him, did he know the picture was on his page of the yearbook?

And then, three, really, he ought to be judged in the context of his whole life.

JIM MORAN (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I would like to get all the facts before us.


MORAN: And the other thing is, he -- how much more motivation could a man have to prove himself and to advance the cause of racial justice, frankly?


MATTHEWS: Jeff Schapiro, let me tell you. Let me find out. We need to know from you the local reaction down there.

What is -- is this guy -- could he conceivably sit there and just say, I don`t care what the world says?

JEFF SCHAPIRO, "THE RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH": Mr. Matthews, we`re getting into "House of Cards" territory here, and that this is becoming incredibly knotty and uncertain story.

Not only is the governor facing some serious questions. The lieutenant governor, who would succeed him should Northam resign, is answering questions about sexual harassment allegations.

So what we are seeing as well is a test, at a somewhat micro level in a swing state, of the Democratic Party`s zero tolerance policies on race and sexual relations.


MATTHEWS: Just explain what was -- it was apparently he was on a -- a relationship with a woman, and something happened. What was it that happened that was in the area of sexual assault or however you define it? What did he do wrong?

SCHAPIRO: The allegation is -- and this was something that the press did not look into or chose not to plumb, shall we say, deeply -- that he made - - excuse me -- Justin Fairfax, before he was in public life, made unwelcome advances toward a woman.

The allegations surfaced on the same Web site on which that horrific photograph from Governor Northam`s med school annual appeared.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re going to have to find out more reporting on that.

I think it`s interesting, Reverend, that NBC, which is pretty good at this stuff, has yet to prove to its own satisfaction that he`s in that picture, but your view of that, the governor?


SHARPTON: My view is that he said he was. Then he said he wasn`t.

He called many of the legislators, who have appeared on this station, appeared on my show, saying: "He called me. He said he was in picture and he was sorry."

You can say that, as one of the responders said, that you have got to get more evidence.

He gave the evidence. His defense was, Chris: I didn`t rob Wells Fargo. I robbed Chase.


SHARPTON: I didn`t use blackface in that picture, but I did on Michael Jackson.

What is there to investigate?

MATTHEWS: I don`t know, except standing next to a guy with a Klan costume on to me raises it a bit higher.

I don`t know if there was a dance contest. I don`t know if he thought he could dance. I don`t know if he moonwalked. I don`t know anything, because it`s just his hearsay now.

MOODIE-MILLS: He gave a tutorial on national television on Saturday about how to use blackface.


MOODIE-MILLS: I mean, he said, you only use a little bit, so that you`re able to get it off.

I tell you, I grew up in a -- in a majority white suburb, where Halloween would come around, and little kids, brown and -- black and brown, would get dressed up as traditionally white characters.

Never once did I see any of them use nursing white shoe polish on their face in order to convey Cinderella or He-Man.


MOODIE-MILLS: So I`m confused about why this is acceptable and why he thought that his admission around Michael Jackson and blackface was going to somehow excuse him from the Sambo and the Ku Klux Klan blackface.

Blackface is blackface.

MATTHEWS: 1984 is a long distance from the minstrels. It`s a long distance from the Mummers in Philadelphia. It`s a long distance from Al Jolson in the old days.

And this guy`s in medical school.

MOODIE-MILLS: Medical school, 25 years old.


SHARPTON: And this is his defense, which means it`s a normalized kind of thing to him.


SHARPTON: To defend yourself about blackface by saying, I did blackface, shows you a mentality of someone that could have done blackface and stood with the Klan.

MATTHEWS: I don`t even believe the shoe polish story. I think that makeup you`re looking at there is amazing. What did he do? And why did he do it in that context next to a Klansman?

He knew exactly what he was doing. It`s horrible.

Anyway, thank you, the Reverend Al Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I wanted you on the show so much time tonight.

And, Danielle Moodie-Mills, thank you.

And, Jeff Schapiro, it`s always great to have you on, sometimes on more enticing topics than this baby. Thank you so much for coming on tonight.

SCHAPIRO: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: This is a terrible story for Virginia.

Up next: kicking off a new series we call "The Big Idea," a serious look at the topics and policies we think will be driving the debate heading into the 2020 presidential election, especially on the Democratic side.

First up, the Democratic discussion of Medicare for all.

Stay with us.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I have to tell you it`s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In 2017, Republicans weren`t able to agree on a replacement for Obamacare. And now Democrats are trying to figure out their health care plan, with Medicare for all becoming the latest progressive buzzword.

A recent Kaiser poll shows that a majority of Americans, 56 percent, and 81 percent of Democrats, support a national health care plan. But the field of potential 2020 Democratic candidates have a very different sense of what that plan would look like.

They range from entirely replacing private insurance companies with a government plan, to giving all Americans the option to buy into Medicare, to lower the age that Medicare kicks in naturally.

Let`s watch.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: How do we get universal coverage? Medicare for all, lots of paths for how to do that.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care. And you don`t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company. Let`s eliminate all of that. Let`s move on.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: People will say, Medicare for all, Medicare for all, and nothing will change. And I think if we can make that change of Medicare 55 or Medicare, it will make all the difference in the world for millions of people, and then we get to the next step.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: When we said that health care is a right, not a privilege, and that we should create a Medicare for all single-payer system, I was told I`m crazy, it`s extreme, I`m a fringe guy.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the chair of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Zeke, thank you for joining us, Doctor.

And I guess you would have to explain, what does Medicare for all actually mean, as you hear it?

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Well, I think, as Elizabeth Warren said there, there are a variety of different views on it.

At one, there`s the Bernie Sanders view, which is, get rid of all the insurance companies and have everyone do traditional Medicare. At the other extreme, it could be, well, if you want to buy into Medicare if you don`t have an insurance policy or you can`t -- there`s not an affordable one out there for you, then you can get into Medicare.

And then, in between, there`s a variety of other possibilities. But one of them is, the Medicare Advantage arrangement would be open to everyone, and you -- among the options there are not just private insurance plans that you could select, but traditional Medicare. So there`s a spectrum of what it might mean. And a lot of people are not defining too carefully at the moment their views, although Senator Harris and Senator Sanders have been pretty clear about their view.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is really about financing of health care, not so much health care, but financing of it.

And I was just thinking that the systems that I have been involved in, from the time you`re 15 years old as a stock boy in a drugstore, you`re paying into it until you`re 65. And then, if you live 10 years more, you get -- which is about average, 10 to 11 years for a male -- you get 10 or 11 years of coverage for all those 50 years you paid in.

If you`re a woman, you may be fortunate to get 15 years. That`s your life expectancy.

But to go from that to a system where you`re covered for health for your whole life, how could you possibly pay into it during your lifetime, your working life, to offset the costs of your health care from day one, when you`re born? How would it work?

EMANUEL: Well, let`s distinguish -- let`s distinguish two things, Chris.

One is, what`s the total cost of health care? And, actually, most of the analyses show that, if you do Medicare for all, the total cost of health care doesn`t change, doesn`t increase. It actually might decrease a little bit.

So the issue is, where`s the money coming from? Now, yes, as a stock boy or as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, I get my insurance, my employer sponsors it, but it basically is coming out of my salary in a hidden way as a fringe benefit.

So if you went to Medicare for all, that money that`s really coming out of my salary would have to be transferred to the government. And then the government would dole it out, as you point out, either to doctors and hospitals through traditional Medicare or to insurance companies and doctors and hospitals through Medicare Part C.

I think it`s important to distinguish. One is how the money changes, but the fact is, it`s not going to be more money. It`s just going to be, which ledger is that on? Is it on the tax leisure or is it on the employment fringe benefit ledger?

MATTHEWS: Can we afford Medicare for all from birth to death? Can we, the way our government works?

EMANUEL: Well, as I said -- as I just said here, Chris, the actual total price, when the experts look at it, is not going to be much different than what we`re paying now.

It`s a matter of which pot it comes from, not that the pot is going to grow. So Medicare for all is not actually growing how much we`re spending on health care.


EMANUEL: Your audience needs to remember, each year, we spend $3.5 trillion. That makes the American health care system the fifth largest economy in the world.

We in the United States spend more money on health care than the British economy, than the entire French economy. And we`re just below the German economy. So we`re spending a lot of money.

The issue on Medicare for all is, where does it come from, rather than, are we going to grow it?

MATTHEWS: Thank you. I think we are going to be talking a lot about this over the next year.

Thank you, Dr. Zeke, Ezekiel Emanuel, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Up next: What exactly is executive time, and why does is it reportedly take up to 60 percent of Donald Trump`s schedule? Executive time, 60 percent he`s doing that, I guess, or he`s up in his bed.

You`re watching this. We will be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back.

Donald Trump built his brand as a hard-charging businessman who never quits, never tires and never backs down. And throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, he boasted about his incredible work ethic. He also frequently attacked then President Barack Obama for what he suggested was a lack of drive and not spending enough time on the job.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m going to fight for every American in every last part of this nation. We have -- we have a president who doesn`t fight. He goes out and plays golf all the time. If you love what you do, you don`t take vacations. You`re happy.

I love working. I`m not a vacation guy, right? Like Obama. He plays golf in Hawaii, flies on a 747.

If you`re in the White House, who wants to take a vacation? What`s better than the White House? Why these vacations.

I promise you, I will not be taking very long vacations if I take them at all. There`s no time for vacations. We`re not going to be big -- we`re not going to be big on vacations.


MATTHEWS: Promises, promises.

In May of 2014, Trump tweeted President Obama looks absolutely exhausted. He was not a natural leader, he was not meant to lead, it`s tough work for him. And that`s what makes a new leak from someone in the White House today especially embarrassing. It has to do with the president`s schedule and his actual day-to-day work either, if that`s the right word for it.

That`s coming out right after the break, along with the question of why someone on the president`s own staff would go to such lengths to embarrass his or her own boss so brutally.

Stay with us.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

"Axios" has gotten its hands on President Trump`s private schedules for nearly every working day since the midterms. Three months of them. It shows he`s spent about 60 percent of his time, about 300 hours, in executive time. That`s the phrase.

Executive time is a euphemism, of course, invented by former chief of staff John Kelly for the unstructured time President Trump spends tweeting, calling his pals and watching TV. The fact that a White House source took the time to compile and leak that information in tutu is fairly shocking.

Former White House staffer Cliff Sims who just wrote a book, a tell-all book about his time at the White House tweeted: We got these schedules e- mailed to us every morning. Just consider the sheer amount of time and effort it would take to compile two months worth of schedules. If most leaks are involuntary manslaughter, this was premeditated murder.

I`m joined now by Jonathan Lemire, "Associated Press" White House reporter, and Gwenda Blair, author of "The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and the President".

Glenda, why is this president so incapable of having loyalty upward toward him that they at least establish wouldn`t try to openly sabotage him, which is what this leak does?

GWENDA BLAIR, AUTHOR, "THE TRUMPS": Back at Trump Tower when he was a real estate developer from the whole time forward, his M.O. was to have people at each other`s throats.

MATTHEWS: His throat?

BLAIR: Each other`s throats, but to make them feel completely uncertain about their jobs, whether they were going to have them, to try to avoid any kind of horizontal loyalty and have them have to be loyal to him. But in the White House, I think there`s no loyalty at all because they have -- there`s no long-term project there.

MATTHEWS: So somebody sat down, he or she, sat down and tabulated every schedule all the way back to the election, take them up -- they -- I think they did type it up so they couldn`t source it out and put that in an envelope and wasn`t an electronic obviously and sent that to a reporter to embarrass this president. And they did. It`s going to be a good story.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: No question. Nearly 400 people have access to this information. A smaller group has a more private schedule. That is still one of the individuals that works for the president of the United States took the time to do this and there is no question this is a leak meant to embarrass.

Now, does every minute of executive time mean the president is watching cable or tweeting? No. But part of the time he`s watching cable and tweeting. And the White House has been taken aback by this and there are furious spinning reports trying to suggest the time is spent calling political allies and calling world leaders, and that`s true, that`s some of it, but they recognize this paints a portrait of a president who doesn`t work very hard. They realize that is an embarrassing picture.

MATTHEWS: Does he got his feet up? I mean, where is he -- sitting around in his bathrobe like Reggie Van Cleese (ph), some smoking jacket. I mean, what is he doing? He`s not in the Oval Office apparently, he`s not in the workplace.

BLAIR: No. What I think it paints is a picture of a president who doesn`t hesitate to throw people under the bus. And that`s why it got leaked, because there`s no loyalty at all.

LEMIRE: Most of this time, you`re right, it spent in the residence and not the Oval Office. It is -- there are certainly -- this is a situation he created at the Trump Tower as well, the Trump Organization. He likes to have a sort of free-wheeling, unstructured time. He didn`t like having every minute of a day scheduled, and Kelly created the concept of executive time because Trump was rebelling against the minutia of his day, every day being --

MATTHEWS: And the minutia is what she should know, like what`s going on in Iran.

Anyway, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended the president`s habits, telling "Axios", President Trump has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves. There`s also a defender of the president. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich compared President Trump to war time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, tweeting, the ignorance of history of the current elites is pathetic. Churchill slept late, worked late, took a nap every afternoon, putting on his pajamas.

And here`s what former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hundred ninety-seven hours of executive time, is that too much?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: It depends on what he`s doing in executive time. He`s watching you exclusively, that`s too much time. I would tell him to turn off the TV. I think he`s spending time on the phone consulting with people during that time. I know that I speak to him often during that executive time, period.


MATTHEWS: The scary thing, Gwenda, is that he`s listening in the same bubble that we see him operating in. And it`s true in the left too, I must say, the anti-Trump do that, they live into a very narrow circle and listen to each other.

If he`s only listening to his buds, his pals and they`re telling them how great he is, that is not helping the world.

BLAIR: He`s using this executive time to wall out the world. To keep out that intelligence, to only -- the only thing that seems to get through is people who agree with him. And when he was at Trump Tower during this earlier time, he wasn`t very different.

But he had -- he had dad behind him. He dad`s contacts, his financial and political contacts who smoothed out the bumps, bailed limb out and did a-- bailed him out and did that stuff, but I think Donald thought he did it himself. He thought he did it himself, that he is the smartest guy in the world, he`s the best deal maker in the world and now in the White House he thinks he knows it all.

MATTHEWS: Put your head around this, Jonathan, because you are a White House reporter from "The Associated Press". If you can`t walk up to the lower press office and ask where is he and they don`t know, where is he?

LEMIRE: Or if you don`t see the marine out in front of the West Wing, which is the sign when he`s in the Oval Office. If it`s not there, that means more times than not he`s in the residence, he`s upstairs, he`s in the bedroom, on the living room, in the second floor of the White House and that is where he spends most of his executive time. And to be clear there is work being done during that time.

But other parts is exactly right, he`s a consumer of cable news. He`s on Twitter. He`s on the phone with political allies and just the old friends from New York who he consults with --


MATTHEWS: Does he ask people in the United States government -- Kennedy used to do that, Churchill used to do that, they call middle level people to find out what going on? Do any of that government chief executive work like you would do it you were president, most people do?

BLAIR: You know, I looked up executive today just to see like what`s the definition. It`s to manage things, to make things carry through.

He does the exact opposite. It`s not to manage things smoothly. That`s not what he wants. He wants it to be in chaos and uproar because that is his comfort zone.

MATTHEWS: Does he know he`s head of the government?

BLAIR: He knows he`s head of the --

MATTHEWS: Does he actually know that? I don`t think he does.

LEMIRE: And he also views the government with such distrust. We know that most of this, he painted the picture of the deep state and he`s not making those phone calls.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Jonathan Lemire. Thank you, Gwenda Blair, with your expertise.

Up next, what the numbers maybe telling us about the Democrats fight for 2020. I just saw an interesting poll. A couple of them.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Like everyone else around me, I`ve been trying to anticipate the Democratic fight for 2020. Let`s begin with the outlook that any Democratic nominee has a decent chance of betting Trump. In a new ABC/"Washington Post" poll 56 percent of adults, 56 percent, said they definitely would not vote to re-elect this president. This means there is a good reason for Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, all strongly progressive, to run.

For example, a Gallup poll in November shows 41 percent of Democrat and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer the party become more liberal. But here is the rub. That same Gallup poll shows 54 percent of the same people want Democrats to become more moderate.

A poll by Pew Research shows the same pattern. Forty percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning registered voters want the party to be more liberal, 53 percent want it to be more moderate.

How will this affect the fight for the nomination? As the old experts in Massachusetts used to put it, the shape of the field determines the winner. What if a moderate like Joe Biden jumps in and lets the hard progressive fight it out on the left, each trying to outbid the others in the most aggressive agenda. This might well leave a lot of moderate voters looking for a candidate and this could be what is luring Joe Biden into the race and possibly Michael Bloomberg or Terry McAuliffe.

The question is, which one of these candidates has the stuff to take on the progressive champ and win? Even if it takes from February all the way to the convention?

And that`s HARDBALL for now.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.