Show: HARDBALL Date: February 13, 2019 Guest: Glenn Kirschner, Jackie Speier, David Corn, Tom Hamburger, Carlos Curbelo, Sean Patrick Maloney, Anita Kumar, Joe Kennedy III
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: -- on three out of five counts there regarding the allegation that Paul Manafort lied pulling up his own plea deal now he faces much lengthier prison sentence.
That does it for THE BEAT. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: A judge says Manafort lied. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
We have some late breaking news tonight. The federal judge in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has sided with the special counsel, ruling that Manafort lied the prosecutors in violation of the plea agreement he struck last fall. Most important, one of Manafort`s lies involves his contacts with Konstantin Kilimink, a business associate with ties to Russian intelligence. It comes just as we get a glimpse now of how the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russians.
"The Washington Post" is now reporting on the possible fulcrum of the Russian probe, a story of secret plans and a smoke-filled room high above Fifth Avenue. As we first learned Monday, this was a meeting in August of 2016 that according to Mueller`s prosecutor goes to the heart of what the special counsel`s office is investigating. It appears central to proving the campaign engaged in a conspiracy with the Russians. The meeting took place in Manhattan in an exclusive cigar club called the grand Havana room which bills itself as prestigious with an air of quite elegance that is a masculine but extremely modern setting.
It was against that backdrop that Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates sat down with Konstantin Kilimnik, the Russian operative. All three have been charged to the special counsel`s investigation. Rick Gates, however, is the one cooperating with prosecutors.
As "the Washington Post" notes now, one subject the men discussed was a proposed resolution, that`s their word, to the conflict over Ukraine. According to the transcript from a hearing last week, the judge also appeared to allude to another possible interaction at the Havana room, a handoff by Manafort of internal polling data from Trump`s presidential campaign to his Russian associate. The meeting appears to have been so sensitive that it ended with three men leaving through separate doors. Separate door, why would they do? Unless they were hiding something.
And now, the breaking news tonight is that the judge in Manafort`s case has today ruled that Manafort made multiple false statements, lies, to the FBI, the special counsel`s office and the grand jury regarding his interactions and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, the guy he met with in the cigar room.
I`m joined right now by Democratic congresswoman Jackie Speier, she seats on the House intelligence committee. She is from California. Tom Hamburger is investigative reporter who co-wrote that story in "the Washington Post," Glenn Kirschner is a former federal prosecutor, David Corn, of course, Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones" and Tom Winter, NBC News investigative reporter.
Tome, tell us what about happened with the judge`s ruling today about how Manafort broke his deal.
TOM WINTER, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: So Chris, this ruling that came in a written order just moments before you came on the air here tonight follows two sealed hearings, meaning no reporters, no public, just the people, the principals that were involved in this. And the judge says tonight that the, because of Manafort`s lies, and because of what she heard over the several days of hearings, that the special counsel Mueller`s office is not bound by their plea agreement with Paul Manafort which means that they are not bound to argue for lighter jail sentence for him and his Washington, D.C. case. That a federal judge in Virginia where he is already been convicted on eight counts and he has admitted to the rest of the counts that he did those crimes, that they can essentially, Chris, throw book at him.
And Paul Manafort faces a very real possibility of spending the remaining days of his life in jail. It is not a life sentence but it effectively is when you stack on the amount of years that could be piled on here.
The judge, and I think you keyed in on the exact point, that the interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik in communications with him, she found that based on the preponderance of the evidence that she saw, that Manafort lied about that. That in addition to that, Chris, that he also lied about another department of justice investigation. We don`t quite know what that is about.
And then a third topic that because of the redactions and because it is part of what they deep to be an ongoing investigation or at least an investigation that hasn`t been made public yet, even if it has concluded, is believed to be something that involves a super Pac. It was Trump`s kind of designated super Pac.
We don`t know the circumstances of that Chris, but it is three of the five things that Mueller cited that judge has found that in fact he lied interestingly. One the instances where she found that based on the evidence she saw that Manafort didn`t lie had to do with Manafort`s contacts with current Trump administration officials. So she found there that the government hadn`t met its burden of proof that Manafort lied about that. But that`s kind of the quick synopsis, Chris, tonight of what is a difficult ruling.
MATTHEWS: Well, that is hell of news coming on top of the fact. We are looking at a meeting, a certain meeting at this cigar hanging room of high above Fifth Avenue, at 666 Fifth Avenue, the interesting owned by Jared Kushner, interesting.
Let me go to Glenn Kirschner on this. It seems the most interesting meeting, and now we have the judge ruling that Manafort lied about that meeting or he lied about his relationship with this Russian who is close to Russian intelligence, the old KGB. He lied about. That he left by a separate exit. The three of them, a lot of suggestion here. They were doing something they weren`t proud to have the world know about it and now we know he lied about it.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. So Chris --.
MATTHEWS: The meeting with the Russian. It might have been what the Post is calling the fulcrum of the whole deal, the lock-up and the link-up that will lead to a lockups of -- between Russians and the Trump people.
KIRSCHNER: When I heard the reporting about the cigar bar meeting, a couple of tactical pieces fell into place for me as a former career prosecutor. And here is why.
There`s been so much litigation about whether Manafort lied or not, right? Multiple court hearings. There`s been testimony. And do we really think that the only thing going to was that Bob Mueller wanted Paul Manafort to got 12 years instead of ten years? I don`t think so.
And here`s how the cigar bar meeting falls into place with that litigation. Let`s assume you have three people at that meeting, Kilimnik, Gates, Manafort, right. Gates and Manafort have both told Mueller what was said at that meeting. Let`s assume quid pro quo was discussed at that meeting. The Russians will keep helping Trump get elected if you agree on lift sanctions once he gets elected, right.
So let`s assume Gates said, that`s what they said. Manafort said no, they didn`t. What do you have? You have couldn`t afflicting testimony from two cooperating witnesses on the big ticket issue. And now that a judge, a federal judge says, Manafort, you are a big fat liar. That neutralizes any bad information Manafort may have provided about that three-way meeting and gates is the man that Mueller can now hold up as telling the truth about what happened in that meeting before they went out their separate doors showing their consciousness of guilt.
MATTHEWS: Tom, I have been there at least once. A former NBC official took me to that cigar place. And I know why you go there. Because it is the only place you can smoke in a kind of a restaurant setting. It is kind of like big chairs, big comfortable leather chairs.
TOM HAMBURGER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Masculine but modern.
MATTHEWS: Yes, exactly, the way they saw. But it also has the aspect of (INAUDIBLE). It is not going to be talk in a public place where you don`t know who is sitting next to you. The guy sit next to you, there is some big shot. He probably has his own secrets. Why would he meet with the Russian represent Putin? Why would two guys meet with him up there? Right in the middle of the campaign he is running for Trump.
HAMBURGER: Yes. Remember the timing of this, this is August 2, 2016. The race is heating up. Both conventions have ended by this point. Paul Manafort campaign chair leaves campaign headquarters and goes to a cigar bar with one of his lieutenants in that campaign. Rick Gates, to meet with a Russian national. They left campaign headquarters in the midst of this very busy period. And what happens? This is so important and why the judge`s ruling today may be terribly significant.
From what we can glean from the transcripts, we know that there were discussions of two things. One was provision of some polling data from the Trump campaign to this Russian, said to be tied to Russian intelligence.
HAMBURGER: What would that be? Polling information. It could be a road map for the Russians who, all of our intelligence agencies have now ruled.
MATTHEWS: Were close in Wisconsin.
MATTHEWS: We are close in Wisconsin, Michigan.
HAMBURGER: Important to say we don`t know what it is but we gather from what we can see in the transcript that it was complex and the judge, we know, is interested in what it was. So we have on the one hand, something provocative.
MATTHEWS: All kinds of things you can use to go after women and minorities, whatever, right?
HAMBURGER: Perhaps, Chris. We don`t know. There was a reference at one point, a lawyer for Paul Manafort says the material that was turned over was not relevant. It was gibberish (ph). He uses the word gibberish (ph). And the judge says in this un-redacted portion that we read, exactly. That`s why it is so interesting. In other words, it may be very sophisticated data.
Chris, we don`t know. But I want to defense this because on the one hand, you have a provision of data to a Russian tied to Russian intelligence from the campaign. And on the other, you have a discussion of a Ukraine peace plan. Why is that important? Because it leads to the number one agenda item of Vladimir Putin which is ending sanctions. That the west imposed because of the Russian invasion.
MATTHEWS: And it is the near empire. He wants to bring back at least what he can of the Russian empire.
Anyway -- and that begins with Ukraine. As Tom mentioned, the grand Havana meeting up there at the cigar bar is especially suspicious because of its unusual timing in the summer of 2016. Remember, all this stuff happened. It came well after it was publicly announced in June of 2016 that Russia had hacked the DNC. Everybody knew about that. It came after WikiLeaks begun releasing the Russian hacked emails. And just days after Trump in a late July press conference, publicly asked Russian, right out in front of broad daylight, they sent him additional hacked email, in this case about Hillary Clinton. Let`s watched him in the act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted because you would see some beauties there. So let`s see.
But it would be interesting to see. I will tell you this. Russia, if you are listening, I hope you were able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Russia, if you`re listening, let`s get in bed together politically. It is one of the most outrageous they have been wrote. Then just two days before Manafort`s meeting, Trump also backed Russian`s land grabbing Ukraine suggested that the annex territory of Crimea should be part of Russia. He is selling them. He is selling them the deal. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, the people of Crimea, from what I have heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: From what I hear. From what I hear.
Listen, everybody. Manafort is talking to him all the time. Who else would be talking to him about Crimea with? We don`t have conversations in America with who deserves to own Crimea except the guy working for you or you are working for them, Russkies (ph).
Anyway. Again, the breaking news tonight is a judge has ruled that Manafort, Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors about his conversations with the Russian Kilimnik who is tied to Russian Intel.
Thank you. Thanks for waiting us out here, Jackie Speier. Congresswoman from California. You are on the Intel committee. We are getting all this intimate in this news like from a fire hydrant tonight of news. Your thoughts.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, what we do know is that Donald Trump is a liar and that he surrounds himself with liars, his inner circle. And we also know that he likes to make a lot of money. And throughout 2016, if the recording is correct about what has been told to us in the media, he was still working Trump tower in Moscow.
There was a letter of intent. It had no expiration date. So through all this period of time, he is not thinking he is going to win. He just wants to kind of grease the skids so that when he doesn`t win, he has a deal with Putin for 100-story Trump tower in Moscow, the largest building in all of Europe.
So we are all putting the pieces together and I think it is pretty obvious what`s happening here, this grand Havana cigar club. I wish I was a fly on the wall. Except I probably would have been exhausted by the fumes. But it was more that went on there than we even know today, I believe.
MATTHEWS: I know. Let me go to David Corn -- hold on, congresswoman.
David, I think he was going to a win-win strategy. I think he wanted to win. You don`t run for president unless you want to win but you have the fallback, I will be rich. I will be richer than ever. But I think he was working with the Russians. They wanted him to win. That was their deal. They wanted him to win, have influence, to repay them by getting rid of sanctions and ok`ing their grab, perhaps ultimately of all of Ukraine.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Yes. This is the collusion. I mean, we have had examples of public collusion. This is private collusion. One thing that didn`t come up in the timeline you just put up, was a few days before this meeting, Kilimnik sent Manafort an email saying, our friend wants to talk to you. He has messages for but the future of the country. This is regarded as a reference to Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch very close to Putin. So Manafort says, fine. I will see you Tuesday. Fly in and I will meet you. So he was responding to request basically to meet with an emissary of Oleg Deripaska.
MATTHEWS: And this guy, it is Kilimnik.
CORN: It is Kilimnik. And so --.
MATTHEWS: At the cigar bar.
CORN: And then why does he lie to Mueller and the others?
MATTHEWS: And why did they leave if separate exits?
CORN: This is what Manafort says. You know, we talked about this plan to bring peace in the Ukraine that could lead to the lifting of sanctions. But he tells Mueller, we didn`t talk about it again after that meeting. One of the lies that he has been charged with here or found to have lied, is that he continued to work on that plan with Kilimnik through the election, after the election, into 2018. So here was Manafort trying to work a pro-Russia initiative while he knew Russia was trying to help Trump. So if it is not an explicit quid pro quo, you have to believe there`s a lot of nodding and winking in that meeting (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: Tom Hamburger, you are an investigative reporter for the Post which does the best. And I`m watching this and I`m thinking, the same old line, the same of bargain (ph) that the -- they all soviets just used to use, peace. Peace means they win. OK, I watched. I heard that. One of the communist came up to me to. He is a German, I believe. I said why are you a communist one time? The guy says because I believe in peace.
What they mean by peace is they went, we lose. I know what they mean. In this case they meant they take over Ukraine and you live with it. That`s what their word, peace, means. You know about the meeting? Isn`t that what they wanted? That deal from --. So Trump, the new president or about to be President, I`m going to give you Ukraine.
HAMBURGER: What we know from what we can glean from the un-redacted portions of these filings is that there were repeated discussions between Paul Manafort and Kilimnik about a Ukraine peace plan.
HAMBURGER: Whether that peace plan really would result in peace or a land grab, I don`t know. I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: It was going to be a Russian deal.
HAMBURGER: We know though is that a peace plan would be a prerequisite. In a Greek peace plan with this administration with the west, the Trump administration with the west, is a prerequisite to lifting sanctions -- economic sanctions. The number one item on the top of the Putin wish list.
HAMBURGER: So we know that and we know also, we are not sure what was in this plan. But one thing we do know the usually secretive under wraps Robert Mueller operation, his -- one of his lead prosecutors Andrew Wiseman is in this transcript saying what was discussed at this meeting which we believe was polling data and a Ukraine peace plan? He said gets to the heart of what we are investigating.
MATTHEWS: Wow. It seems to me that your peace says this is the fulcrum of the deal between the Russians and the Trump people. We looked like we are getting very close. It smell to what is going on here.
Thank you so much, Tom Winter from the investigative reporting.
My other guests are sticking with me with much more of this breaking news. So this could be the big one. A federal judge says Robert Mueller`s office has proven that Paul Manafort deliberately lied to the special counsel. And not just lied, but lied about his meeting with the Russians. And particularly that night in August of 2016. At that Fifth Avenue way up above the street meeting with cigars.
Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Now we`re into an explosive news report tonight that the federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson has found that Paul Manafort deliberately lied to special counsel Mueller, in violation of his plea deal.
We`re back with U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Glenn Kirschner, and David Corn.
I want to go back to Glenn on this, and then I will get to the congressman.
Glenn, let`s talk about what happens when Manafort is a liar.
MATTHEWS: And the judge, Jackson, says, this guy`s a liar.
Is he any good to the prosecutor? What role does he play? Can he turn again and say, OK, I`m going to screw Trump now, finally?
KIRSCHNER: He -- he`s now toxic, Chris.
He will never see the inside of a grand jury room again. He will never see the inside of a courtroom, in the event there are future indictments dropped by Bob Mueller.
But, importantly, he can`t be a spoiler for Mueller. Why? Because if he contradicts anything that Gates or other cooperating witnesses say about Russian collusion, guess what? He`s a liar. And a federal judge has said he is a liar. So he can`t be sponsored. He can`t testify.
MATTHEWS: He`s no good for Trump?
KIRSCHNER: He`s dead. But he can`t be a spoiler.
You know how some teams like to be spoilers by coming in and just beating everybody down? He can`t be a spoiler. He`s done. Mueller had a tactical reason, beyond getting him more jail time, to get that judge to conclude he is a liar.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Congresswoman Speier on this.
If you have got a meeting between Trump`s campaign chair, the man running his -- and nobody probably runs anything for Trump, but at least he`s got the title and he`s got the cred dealing with the Russians. I`m the big boss. I`m Trump`s big guy. I`m meeting in a cigar bar with you up on this roof, where nobody except VIPs are up here, so it`s safe for us up here, probably all men, up there.
And he`s dealing for Trump. At what point would you, as the chair -- as a member of the committee, wants to see hands -- Trump`s hands on that, not just his guys doing this, assumingly with Russia -- with Trump`s support, but really working for Trump in this particular regard?
What do you need to know?
SPEIER: Well, we need to know, to what extent these two people were conspiring to commit a crime against the United States or to evade the United States in some way.
And the effort to identify Manafort as an emissary for the candidate Trump is something that we will have to investigate. It`s going to be hard to bring Paul Manafort in now to ask him any questions, because he is so tainted.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about -- do you have -- do you want to be - - in terms of any constitutional action against this president, do you think it`s important to have his fingerprints on the dealmaking, or simply that his top people were dealmaking with the Russians, in terms of sanctions relief, in terms of accepting the takeover of Crimea, and perhaps even some new relationship, some Finlandization, if you will, of Ukraine?
Any dealmaking like that, would you like to know that Trump said so?
SPEIER: Well, of course we`d like to know that Donald Trump said so.
I don`t know that that`s in the offing, but it is all evidence. It`s all evidence, growing evidence, of an unholy alliance, between then candidate Donald Trump and then President Donald Trump and the Russians.
And I`m convinced that it`s all about money. That`s what makes Donald Trump tick. And I`m certain that what we will find out over time is that this Moscow Trump Tower was a big part of it.
MATTHEWS: Well, despite the favoritism that Trump showed all the way through the campaign time and time again, Vice President Pence said this today.
It`s unbelievable how this acolyte talk sometimes.
Well, he is, saying the absolutely unbelievable. Here`s Vice President Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the face of these provocations, and in solidarity with Poland and our European partners, President Trump has done more to confront Russia`s actions than any president in modern history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: David, I have to tell you, I have watched him. We have watched him. He has been Russia`s best friend, on Syria, on everything, on Ukraine, on Crimea, on nuclear, INF, on blowing apart NATO, the worst thing that ever confronted Russia, really broke the back of the Soviet -- the Soviet empire.
Everything that Russians don`t like, he`s attacked. Everything the Russians like, he`s been for.
CORN: Let`s stick to the core matter here, the Russian attack on the U.S. election in 2016 to help Trump and to sow disorder here.
CORN: Trump throughout the campaign kept saying it wasn`t happening. He was colluding with the Russian disinformation campaign to deny it was happening, and then, throughout his presidency, has not taking it seriously.
And we had that tragic press conference in Helsinki, when he kind of said: Well, Putin says he didn`t do it. Our guys said he did. I don`t know. Putin has a point.
So, again and again and again, on the core -- he took an oath to defend this country. And he has not defended against this attack from Russia. And, in fact, he helped the attack occur by denying it was happening.
And now we have this collusion -- that`s the word for it here -- between his campaign chairman and an emissary of Putin`s closest oligarch, one of his closest oligarchs, in the middle of the campaign.
And whether Trump knew about it or not, can you -- you have been around Washington a long time. We have seen many campaign and political scandals where, even if you`re not the principal -- you`re the principal, you don`t know about it, but your chief of staff does something wrong.
MATTHEWS: I know how it works.
CORN: You get held responsible.
So, Trump is responsible for his campaign reaching out, at the request of Oleg Deripaska, to have this meeting and cut whatever deal that then the judge tells us Manafort has lied about consistently after he got caught.
MATTHEWS: Glenn, I did work in politics for years. And I will tell you one thing that people don`t know about outside politics.
When you write a speech, you write the speech for the guy you`re writing it for or the woman you`re writing it for. You know them, you know who they are, you know what they want. And, by the way, the minute they read it, they say, this is what I want.
There`s always that hand-in-glove relationship. It`s always there. It`s like a dentist. You go to the dentist, you don`t tell the dentist which teeth to work on. You don`t tell him how to work on them. You just trust him. He`s your agent or she is your agent.
MATTHEWS: That`s how it works. You don`t get orders. It`s all about a relationship. It`s sort of a symbiotic relationship.
Paul Manafort was brought in as Mr. Russia, Mr. Connection with the pro- Russian Ukrainians. That was who he was. He may have looked like a croupier, but that`s who he was.
KIRSCHNER: And, Chris...
MATTHEWS: That`s what he looks like. But he was working with the Russians.
Trump says, you`re the guy who worked with the Russians. You`re the guy that is pro-Russia against the Ukraine. You`re the guy who is -- OK, how can we work with these guys? It`s obvious.
KIRSCHNER: And to button up what David just said, what do we now know from Andrew Weissmann, one of the lead prosecutors on the Mueller team?
What did he say in open court? This goes right to the heart of what`s being investigated, which we all know is Russian collusion, Russian conspiracy. And so, when you put all these pieces together, it`s all there in plain sight.
MATTHEWS: This is going to be a location, this cigar bar, like Watergate. This is going to be one of those locations where you`re going to look up and say, you know what? That`s where they cut the deal.
Anyway, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, as always, thank you for coming on, from inside the action.
SPEIER: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. We`re just watching from the outside.
Thank you, Glenn Kirschner. You`re the greatest.
Corn, you`re my man on politics.
MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump says he`s looking for land mines that could blow up a bipartisan spending deal.
Why is he looking for land mines? Will Trump support the deal, despite not being -- quote -- "not happy"? It`s like Mikey. He likes it. It`s like cereal. Remember the kid in that commercial? Mikey likes it.
Come on. Grow up.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump remains publicly noncommittal about the House-Senate compromise on border security. He told reporters yesterday he wasn`t happy with the agreement that provides just $1.4 billion, plus about 50-plus miles of fencing.
Well, today, the president again said he`s waiting to see the details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we haven`t gotten it yet. We will be getting it. We will be looking for land mines, because you could have that.
We have a lot of things happening right now. We`re building a lot of wall right now with money that we already have. We`re going to take a look at it when it comes. I don`t want to see a shutdown. Shutdown would be a terrible thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the Associated Press reports he`s expected to grudgingly accept an agreement that would keep the government open, but provide just a fraction of the money he`s been demanding for his Mexican border wall.
Meanwhile, many of the president`s Republican allies -- is that we call them, allies -- stooges sometimes -- on Capitol Hill continue to argue he can find the money somewhere else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The president still has a few more tools in his toolbox to use to make sure that we have the border completely secure.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: What we have to do is have to encourage the president to take some type of executive action if Congress is not going to work.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the president`s inclined to accept the agreement, move on, and try to find money elsewhere, and most likely declare an emergency national.
QUESTION: The national emergency is still on the table? He`s inclined to...
GRAHAM: It`s definitely on the table. I will let him tell you whether or not he`s going to do it. But he`s very inclined to go that route.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters a vote on the legislation could come as soon as tomorrow. That`s Thursday.
I`m joined right now by Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney Patrick. That`s a mouthful, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York state, Anita Kumar, White House correspondent and associate editor of Politico, and Carlos Curbelo. He`s a former Republican from Florida.
I want to start with the former congressman.
Carlos, what do you make of this sort of interesting "Perils of Pauline" Trump`s pulling, "I don`t know whether I`m going to agree to it"?
He`s seen it. Come on. "I haven`t seen it yet."
What is he up to? What is your thought?
CARLOS CURBELO (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Chris, this is reality TV.
The president knows exactly what`s in this deal, because Republican lawmakers have been briefing the White House all week. And he`s going to sign it, mainly because his Republican allies in Congress, as you just said, have no tolerance for any more games.
They knew they were walking into a dead end back in December, when this all started. They went along with it anyway. But people have run out of patience. This is going to get signed. Who knows what the president will do after.
But in terms of trying to keep the country in suspense, that`s just reality television.
MATTHEWS: It`s amazing to watch this.
Congressman, you watch these really toughies on the hard-right media world. I know these people, Sean Hannity and, oh, God, Rush Limbaugh and all of them. They were all really tough on him the night before, you chicken, you loser, you weakling.
Now, last night, what a -- it was like Dinah Washington. All of a sudden, it`s OK. It looks like he`s figured it out. In other words, they were taunting him. They were like a mosquito who wants to bite the person for the blood, but doesn`t want to kill him, because they need the person for the blood.
These people don`t take it -- I wouldn`t take them seriously. Your thoughts?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Well...
MATTHEWS: He`s listening to Sean Hannity on what to do.
Look, I think what`s fascinating about this president is that he could have had and sold an honorable compromise in December. Instead, he waits three months.
MATTHEWS: ... money.
MALONEY: Three months, takes a worse deal, and wants to lie about it.
So he would rather lie about an abject failure than sell a good compromise. And a lot of people got hurt in between, including, by the way, a lot of the Coast Guard guys that I`m overseeing on my new committee, a bunch of folks who are -- who do nothing but their jobs.
Now we hear he`s holding up the deal on paying federal contractors. Just so people know, these are folks working in the cafeterias.
MALONEY: These are people who are doing often low-wage jobs.
MATTHEWS: You really want to play black water when it doesn`t do any bad stuff for us?
MALONEY: Well, and that`s the thing you`re going to hold up.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know if I`m going to pay them.
Anyway, thank you.
Today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the criticism the president could have gotten more money before the shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nancy Pelosi said directly that she wasn`t going to give a single dollar for the wall. So that`s just not true. This includes roughly $1.4 billion for the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as I was saying, on Monday night, FOX News host Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham panned the deal. Hannity called it a garbage compromise.
And, like I said, what a difference a day makes. Last night, they tried a new spin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": This is amazing, because they were referring to building walls as immoral. Now they`re funding these immoral behaviors.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Let`s not forget, while Trump isn`t getting everything he wants and definitely not what most of us want, Democrats are also breaking Pelosi`s pledge.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: One dollar? Yes, one dollar.
INGRAHAM: Well, try $1.375 billion. She might not want to call it a wall, but that`s what it is. And that`s not all bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: These people, I know what their business is, keep the audiences growing. That`s what they do.
And they`re talking to maybe 10 percent of the country. Does Trump know that, or does he think they`re 50 percent of the country?
ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO: Well, he watches them, but it`s not just them.
I mean, you had Mark Meadows, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, saying it was a bad deal.
But I feel like, in the last 24 hours, people have really changed their tune, just like they have, saying, if he gets -- finds some money elsewhere, signs the bill -- which he`s going to sign the bill, we hear -- and finds money elsewhere, then it`s OK.
MATTHEWS: Well, of course.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, how much can he grab from other pockets, other buckets?
MALONEY: Yes, that`s a really important point.
MATTHEWS: Can he get more than a billion? Can he get $2 billion?
MALONEY: Look, I represent West Point. That`s $250 million that has been appropriated, not contracted.
So when Kevin McCarthy talks about a tool in the toolbox, he`s talking about a hammer to smash the new science buildings for those cadets, their new dorms. That`s the next generation of military leaders.
That`s what he`s talking about doing. It`s an outrage. And their own guys don`t support it.
MATTHEWS: Who was the last guy to betray West Point? Wasn`t it Benedict Arnold?
MALONEY: That`s exactly right. And we know what happened to him.
MATTHEWS: He told the British where it was, yes.
MATTHEWS: And Colonel Andre got hanged.
MALONEY: Snuck away on the HMS Vulture, I believe.
MATTHEWS: Is this going to be an issue among all the members of Congress, that every dollar he takes to find for the wall, he`s taking from something they want?
MALONEY: I think the American people should know that we`re talking about disaster relief for California, the wildfires. That`s Kevin McCarthy`s state.
How about Puerto Rico, where we have done a terrible, terrible thing and are still trying to catch up? The fact is, is that this money is coming from somewhere. And it`s a game. It`s a game to hide a failure, when he could have had a good deal earlier.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MALONEY: And a lot of people didn`t need to get hurt.
MATTHEWS: Anita, you`re smart. Why is he still playing this game? Why is he looking for land mines? He`s like he wants to find them.
KUMAR: I think, this week, what I`m hearing is that he has known that he was going to sign the bill. This is the deal.
You can tinker a little bit. The text hasn`t come out, but he`s going to sign the bill. He has to show -- look like he`s fighting, that he is trying to get the bill to be better. Yesterday, he said he was adding things to bill.
I don`t think he`s really adding things to the bill at this point.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Curbelo, you have been through this election season, for the worst. And let me ask you about what you have learned, because it seems to me that Trump wants a wall. He wants bricks.
It`s almost like one of the Middle East kind of fights over all holy places. I mean, we`re fighting about bricks and particular locations that people have died for. It just seems to be strange that now a fence which is made of some other material is OK.
And the Democrats, led by the brilliant Nancy Pelosi, says it`s immorality, it`s immorality to put up a brick wall. It seems everybody`s getting so damn religious about this, iconic. One side is 100 percent pure, the other side is 100 percent terrible.
And yet here they are, getting in the middle of the night, cutting a deal where nobody gets anything that makes any sense. Who cares if there are 50 more -- 50 more -- 55 more feet of fence, where anybody can walk 55 feet around that fence?
I mean, everybody knows, if you want to get here to get a job for your family, you`re going to walk 50 feet. You have already walked perhaps hundreds of miles to get to the border. You`re going to walk another 50 feet to get across it.
Who are we kidding? This is a joke, this fight. Your thoughts?
CURBELO: Chris, that`s right.
And the bottom line is that institutions still matter in this country. And if you want to get a priority funded, and you`re the president, you have to go to Congress, build a coalition, negotiate.
And the president missed that opportunity. The president could have put an offer on the table that provided a permanent path to citizenship for dreamers, permanent relief for the TPS population, maybe put some of my old Democratic friends in a tough position.
Instead, he kept insisting, while offering nothing. And now he`s getting a bill that we could have passed in December of last year, with Republicans still controlling the House and the Senate. Instead, he`s getting the same bill, and the country has made no progress on the issue of immigration.
And, by the way, there`s some smart investments that can be made on the border. I think most Americans agree we can do better at the border, like most Americans agree that we need to be more compassionate with the victims of our broken immigration system.
If this president is the deal maker he promised to be, he could have put that deal on the table. He didn`t and he held out for less, or for nothing.
MATTHEWS: And he could do it, and he could stop hiring illegally, too. Anyway, I guess he`s trying to make himself look good on that one, but he`s been cheating all along.
Thank you, U.S. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York State. Anita Kumar and former Congressman Carlos Curbelo. Happy St. Patrick`s Day. It is coming in a month. It`s exciting.
CURBELO: Same to you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up next, the fight is on to define the Green New Deal. We`re going to talk about the Green New Deal coming up. Will Republicans succeed in painting it as a boondoggle? And will Democrats find a way to translate its idealistic framework into actual policy? A big history coming up on HARDBALL.
U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts will join us next.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Last week, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts unveiled the Green New Deal. The resolution sets the goal of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs for all, securing clean air and water, upgrading infrastructure and providing high quality health care for all. The proposal pushed by the progressives in the Democratic Party is the opening salvo, of course, in what`s expected to be a deeper, longer debate on climate change.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, countries must make rapid and unprecedented changes in the way people live or risk even more dangerous weather conditions and loss of species. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he wants to bring the Green New Deal to the floor, not because he`s had a change about his beloved Kentucky coal, but rather because the vote will force Democrats in the Senate to take a position on the issue.
There are currently 37 co-sponsors in the House and 11 in the U.S. senate.
One of those co-sponsors, U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III joins me here in a moment. Stick with us.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell`s effort to force the vote on the Green New Deal is better understood when you hear what other Republicans have to say about the Democrats` sweeping proposal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They introduced the so- called Green New Deal. It sounds like a high school term paper that got a low mark.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: There`s another victim of the Green New Deal, it`s ice cream. Livestock will be banned. Say goodbye to dairy, beef, the family farms, the ranches, American favorites like cheeseburgers and milk shakes will become a thing of the past.
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said that the world was going to be over in 12 years anyway. I don`t know why we would spend money if the world is going to end. They`re beholden to this radical base that wants the country to run on unicorns and gum drops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts.
What do you make of Trump? This case, Mitch McConnell`s game he`s playing?
REP. JOE KENNEDY III (D-MA), ENERGY & COMMERCE COMMITTEE: Look, I hope he does put it on the floor. I hope they do have a chance to vote on it. Look, what`s the Green New Deal says and I`m not sure that many of those folks that you just showed have actually read it. It`s not that long. I urge them to take a look it.
What it says is that we`ve got two major challenges in this country. One is climate change on this planet. And two is an economy that is not working for everybody.
And so, let`s take the reforms necessary that we need to make for our economy and make that actually address climate change. And it sets out aspiration that`s on the baseline, it says a very simple thing. We`ve got these major structural challenges. Government has to be at the table and a force to address them.
And so, let`s try to aim high to try to address those goals to make sure that American families not only do we have a better environment but have -- we could take down the level of economic anxiety that families are feeling across this country.
And if Republicans are going to be against that, then that`s on them. This is a chance for them to have a chance to get on the record and say, do they feel the economic insecurity? Do they acknowledge that science exists? Are they willing to actually use the powerful of our economy to address these structural inequities? That`s on them if they don`t.
MATTHEWS: Let`s break this into two questions. Why do you think Republicans -- they`re pro-business, of course. But most people are pro- business in some way. Why do they make fun, in those clips we just showed, they`re making fun of the climate change we`re facing as a species, people who live on earth. Why do they make fun of it?
KENNEDY: Look, better question for Republicans. I have met with plenty of businesses and some of the biggest businesses in the world where they indicate that climate change is one of the first -- the biggest challenges that they face. You talk to most businessmen around the country, business leaders, men or women, and they will acknowledge that --
MATTHEWS: We`re looking at it. The arctic is coming apart. It`s iceberg after iceberg. You got Florida, Miami is about 4, 5 feet above sea level now.
KENNEDY: Chris, you`ve been around this obviously a lot longer than I have. There was, however, a saying when I was in the court system trying cases, when you have the facts, you have the facts. When you have the law, you argued the law. And when you had nothing, you got loud.
They don`t have the facts.
KENNEDY: They don`t have the law. And so, what do they do? They stick their heads in the sand and claim that the science doesn`t exist, that there`s nothing we can do about it. That climate change isn`t real, that it`s a hoax. That the vast majority of every scientists in this world is wrong -- instead of actually trying to leverage the power of our economy and our government to address this problem.
And that`s why I hope Mitch McConnell puts this on the floor.
KENNEDY: Very seldom in this country do we have a chance for political leaders to cast a vote to say are you going to be on the right side of history or the wrong side. I look forward to Mr. McConnell making that choice for his caucus.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the economic issues, because you and I had a great breakfast a couple of weeks ago. And we talked about the corporate world, because they have the economic power. How come we have a corporate morality, a morality where people make -- you talked about the fact that big corporations are buying back stock.
MATTHEWS: That`s the first thing they need when they get a tax break. They raise the value of their stock. That`s very good for management and for the owners, but it doesn`t do anything for creating jobs.
KENNEDY: Look, this -- Chris, I think this fits in with the Green New Deal and I applaud my colleagues, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey, for putting this together. What this is a recognition that our economy, the American economy, has done more to bring more people out of poverty and provide for prosperity in the United States and around the world than any other economic system in history.
But we are seeing that the gains of that, particularly in the past 20, 30, 40 years, have gone to the top echelon of our society and that those gains have not been widespread. What we need to do is reconfigure that to ensure that workers get a fair shake for what they`ve done.
MATTHEWS: Because in the `50s and `60s, everybody, you could have one person in the family working -- that`s the way you wanted, you could actually afford that. Kids would go to college. They`d be able to play golf and live the middle class life for one person working. Those days are way gone.
KENNEDY: Those days are gone.
And so, look, the `50s and `60s obviously -- we had our own separate set of struggles. But with a single wage earner, you could provide a pathway for a lot of folks in ways, provide a pathway to middle class jobs and a safe and secure retirement. That is not the reality anymore and our government structures, our economic structures, not only have they caught up, they`ve been actively eroded -- those worker protections, the protections around pensions, the investments taking place.
I point out an example in my district which has been repeated in dozens of others around the country of a plant that had been in Fall River, Massachusetts, for over 40 years, Philips Lighting, that the company, got $340 million in global profits last year. Took $180 million in a stock buy back and then surely thereafter that shock buy back was announced, they said they were going to fire 160 employees in that plant --
MATTHEWS: So, the tax break led the wealth to the top.
Let me ask you about this 2020. You`ve endorsed Senator Warren of your state.
MATTHEWS: What`s that fight going to be about? You know, I had a breakfast with her -- a lunch with her one time. She`s very clear. She said I believe in capitalism.
MATTHEWS: I`m not a socialist.
Is that going to have the kind of ideological battle? I mean, I never heard of Democrats saying they were socialists recently. A couple are doing it, Bernie, of course, Ocasio-Cortez. This ideological thing, how is that going to work out in this debate because it is going to be ideological?
KENNEDY: So, there`s going to be exactly what I think we need to have which is a big robust debate in our country and I think we`ve got an incredible number of candidates at the top. I`m proud to support Senator Warren, my home state senator, my former teacher and somebody whose values I know are about trying to make the structures and the power of an economy actually work for everybody.
And that`s what she`s actually led her life to. That`s what she studied -- her main area of focus about bankruptcy, which as a student, I remember in office hours one day, wondering why of all subjects would you choose bankruptcy and she said because this is how a society has picked -- society treats those after they fall, do we pick them up and let them start again. That`s what we should be doing.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts.
Up next, the Trojan horse in the Trump White House. Back after this.
MATTHEWS: A Trojan horse stands today in Trump White House. Inside this gift horse are the armed soldiers of war, the same soldiers that took our country to the murderous war with Iraq. I don`t know what led Donald Trump, a man who campaigned so hard against stupid wars, to invite the loudest hawk of that stupidest of all wars, the invasion of Iraq, into his administration. Worst yet to make him his national security adviser but he did.
And now John Bolton is filling up his Trojan horse with the usual suspects, war planners for the next American invasion of who knows where. Bolton was pushing for an invasion of Iraq back in 1988 when he joined a neo conservative clack pushing Bill Clinton to attack Iraq. He eventually got his way with the help of Dick Cheney using 9/11 as the cause for war, even though Iraq had no discernible connection to the attack.
Well, today, Bolton has got his eyes on a pair of invasion targets, tweeting his call for regime change, the neo con countdown to invasion in Venezuela and Iran. It`s time for Maduro, Bolton tweets, to get out of the way. That`s the elected Venezuelan president the United States national security adviser is warning to, quote, get out of the way.
Bolton said a similar threat to the leader of Iran, warning not to expect to celebrate any more anniversaries. How did a war hawk like Bolton squeeze his way into this position of power, from where he can issue threats to countries that we, the United States, are coming to invade them?
As bad as Donald Trump can be, what is he doing getting his direction on matters of war and peace from someone so demonstrously (ph) dangerous as John Bolton.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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