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Iowa voters play Hardball. TRANSCRIPT: 3/19/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Katie Rogers, Karen Bass, David Enrich, GlennKirschner, Barbara Boxer, Dana Milbank

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  That`s our show.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.


Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews.  Back in Washington, President Trump still stewing over perceived slights, continued his vocal and public airing of personal grievances today.  Here he goes.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  The incredible thing is that we can win an election and we have such a stacked deck and that includes networks, frankly.  When you look at the networks, when you look at the news, when you look the news casts, I call it fake news.  Look at what`s happening with the networks, you look at what`s happening with different shows and it`s hard to believe we win [ph].  It`s a very, very dangerous situation.


MATTHEWS:  Well, continuing his feverish attacks against the press, the Special Counsel`s investigation in social media, the President escalated one of his more vicious lines of attacks.


REPORTER:  Mr. President, why are you attacking Senator John McCain seven months after his death?

TRUMP:  I`m very unhappy that he didn`t repeal and replace Obamacare, as you know.  So I think that`s disgraceful, plus there are other things.  I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.


MATTHEWS:  That`s sitting next to another world leader, the President of Brazil, he`s attacking the dead John McCain.

While striking out at the late senator, the President also opened another line of attack, this one against prominent conservative lawyer, George Conway, husband, of course, of one of his closest advisers.  Trump called Kellyanne Conway`s husband a total loser.  This comes after George Conway called the President called a narcissist, a pathological liar and unfit for office.  Conway told The Washington Post, the mendacity, the incompetence, it`s just maddening to watch.  The Tweeting is just a way to get it out of the way so I could get it off my chest and move on with my life that day.

Well, Trump`s rantings are an extension of his weekend taunts when, according to The Washington Post, President Trump toggled between a range of frustrations, including the expected timing of the release of a report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  I think that`s what`s driving him crazy.  Anyway, The New York Times report advisers warn the President that even his supporters don`t like the Tweet storms and advised him to act more Presidential.

For more, I`m joined U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass from California, Michelle Goldberg, Columnist at the New York Times, Michael Steele, former Chair of the Republican National Committee, and Katie Rogers, and New York Times` White House Correspondent.

I want you all to give us a sense of this.  Michelle, thank you for joining us tonight.  Why is the President going into this crazy world really torquing up the nuts, nutsiness?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES:  Because he`s one of them.  I mean, you know, look, I can`t say whether there`s a strategy behind this or whether it`s just an expression of the President`s own sense of grievance and instability.  You know, what it shows once again is that this man should not be President and that every day, this kind of farce of a presidency is allowed to go on is a betrayal of the country by the Republican Party, even though we`re all completely inert to it.

MATTHEWS:  But right now, Michelle?

GOLDBERG:  Why is he doing it right now?  Again, I feel like --

MATTHEWS:  He`s like a cat on a hot tin roof.  He is just going really weird up there.  Go ahead, your thoughts.

GOLDBERG:  You know, I think we just don`t know.  I think that either -- you know, look.  There was the story about in the New York Times about Deutsche Bank, which shows that he`s consistently inflated his assets and it`s questionable whether he`s even a billionaire, which in itself is something that`s always set him off.  There`s a new book, a very damming book about his daughter and Jared Kushner that just came out today.  And then presumably there`s going to be more developments in the Mueller case this week.  There has been kind of some hints in some filings of the filings that something else is coming.

But, fundamentally, first of all, the American people should not have to kind of wonder what it is that is unhinging their President.  They`re entitled to a level of stability and transparency.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Brazil looks very calm and sedated compared to us these days.  Moments ago, Senator Mitt Romney Tweeted, I can`t understand why the President would once again disparage as exemplary as my friend, John McCain, heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self- sacrificing, empathetic and driven by duty to family, country and God.

Well, we wonder what role Mitt Romney was going to play.  Maybe he`s going to play conscience, but he`s certainly playing colleague.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN:  Well, yes.  But how many hours later is it?  I mean, that`s the thing.  I mean, in the hours -- the immediate hours after the President`s Tweets, there`s been deafening silence from republicans.  I don`t care whether they`re in leadership or outside leadership.  There`s not been pushback on this president`s attack on the deceased, let alone the fact that the deceased is a war hero and someone that America admired, quite honestly.

But here is the rub [ph] to your question.  What is setting Donald Trump off is a myriad of things that all colliding at the same time.  But at the core of it is this neediness to be in the conversation, this neediness that if anyone says anything or identifies someone else at the table, he is going to find a way to take away that energy to take away that interest.  Even today at the press conference with the President from Brazil, at one point, he just came up and said, thank you, thank you, thank you.  It was like -- you know, it`s like a game show, that every time you say something nice, thank you, thank you.  So this complete insistence on acknowledgment of his presence and what he`s thinking or doing, I think, for him, is maddening, but for the rest of us it`s downright scary.

MATTHEWS:  Katie, just talk about what`s going on right now.  What is going on, these fever praises [ph]?  Part of it, I think, is -- to answer my own question, is it`s like mirror, mirror on the wall, who`s the fairest of them all?  And he thinks somewhere out there, there`re people that respect John McCain because, you know, he did spent 5.5 years when Hanoi held him because he was shot down.  He didn`t surrender.  He was shot down right in that lake.  I`ve been there right in Hanoi, in the capitol of the enemy.  He was shot down right there.  And they brought him out of the water and beat the hell out of him, broke a bunch of his arms and legs.  He didn`t give up.  And the President with this eluded probably bogus bone spur, whatever the hell they cooked up with that doctor, the concierge [ph] doctor.  I mean, I would think he has a little moral sense of guilt here.

KATIE ROGERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES:  I think what`s interesting is we think that this is a new high or low for him, I suppose.  I mean, he goes on these sort of barrages --

MATTHEWS:  50 this weekend.

ROGERS:  That`s not the highest he`s done.  He did more this winter during the national emergency crisis.  But what`s different now is the degree to which he`s willing to hit really low, I think, in terms of a dead senator and a war hero, to your point.  I talked to a few people close to the McCain family in light of this.  And they`ve gone from visceral anger over this to like, why are you so obsessed with us?  Like what is -- they`re confused about why the President keeps bringing this up.  It could be the funeral when all of establishment Washington was giving John McCain the closest you can get to a state funeral and he was stuck in the White House going golfing.  That`s a personal slight to him.

MATTHEWS:  So is that envy?

ROGERS:  I don`t know if it`s that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you call it?

ROGERS:  I mean, it certainly is --

MATTHEWS:  I don`t know what you`d call it.

ROGERS:  It`s certainly political.  You know, he views John McCain as a political foe.  But also that was a personal slight and John got the last word.

STEELE:  And McCain is as big in death as he was in life in the minds and the eyes of a lot of Americans still.  And that sort of robs the President.  And I think he has not -- he can flash back to when McCain gave the thumbs down on healthcare and other things that he considers to be slights, but he has internalized and personalized a lot of this with John McCain, as he noted at the end there, I have never liked McCain and I never will.  Well why?

MATTHEWS:  Who is asking?

STEELE:  Right.  Who cares?

MATTHEWS:  And, Congresswoman Bass, you`re a politician.  I`m sure there is rivalry among politicians.  But he said today -- if you listen to his tense, he said, I`m not happy, in present tense, with John McCain.  I mean, he`s still haunting him.  He`s somewhere moving around the hallways of the White House, haunting like a ghost.  He said, I am not happy with John McCain today, March 19th, 2019.  He`s been gone seven months.  Your thoughts?

REP. KAREN BASS (D), C.A.:  Well, if you could just think about how he is going to react a month from now when all of the committees are in full force and subpoenas are flying and information is coming forward, if we see a Tweet storm like this and basically nothing is happening, you can only imagine how unstable he is going to be when we`re at it full force.  It`s really sad, it`s embarrassing and it`s actually painful, especially his comments in front of the Brazilian President.  Because you know then all of Brazil will have heard this and will look at our president and say, oh, my gosh, what is going on in the United States?

MATTHEWS:  You know, we used to have -- we grew up thinking Brazil have difficult problems with inflation and things like that, with the military coups and all that stuff.  And here, that guy is watching and saying, oh my God, am I standing to this?

Anyway, President Trump attack of George Conway followed his Tweet by Trump`s campaign manager, we all know that Donald Trump turned down Mr. Kellyanne Conway for a job he desperately wanted.  He barely worked the Justice Department and was either fired or quit or what, didn`t want the scrutiny?  Now, he hurts his wife because he is jealous of her success.  POTUS doesn`t even know him.

Well, George Conway told The Washington Post that he has a decade long relationship with the President and turned down a job offer at the Trump Department of Justice.  Last November, Conway told Yahoo News that he withdrew his name from consideration because he was not interested in the job.  Let`s listen to him.


GEORGE CONWAY, KELLYANNE CONWAY`S WIFE:  I`m watching this thing and, you know, it`s like the administration is like [Bleep] in a dumpster fire.  And I`m like, I don`t want to do that.  I don`t know.  I realized this guy is going to be at war with the Justice Department.


MATTHEWS:  Michelle, this is a cast of characters here.  I don`t know.  I mean, what does he do?  Just taunting this married couple, that Kellyanne and her husband, George, just trying to get them to fight with each other?  What?  This is sitcom stuff, not even sitcom.  It`s soap opera.

GOLDBERG:  I guess.  Although I would assume George Conway`s Tweets and comments probably hit close to home because George Conway is in a position to know the true character of this president and his administration.

One thing I wanted to add about why the President is particularly or could be particularly obsessed with John McCain right now.  His grievance -- a lot of his grievance about John McCain stems from McCain giving the Steele dossier to the FBI after the election.  And just recently, there was a big story proving at least one of the allegations in the Steele Dossier true and a lot of other ones have been substantiated as well.  And so that`s something, I think, we should keep an eye on.  If he`s really, really angry about the Steele dossier right now or he`s really obsessed with it, what does that mean about what we might expect to learn in the coming weeks?

MATTHEWS:  Katie, your thoughts about this?  By the way, I can see where he`s upset, that George Conway, Kellyanne`s husband, or Mr. Kellyanne, as they call him, he called the President a narcissist, a pathological liar and unfit for office.  I guess that would be a cause for concern.

ROGERS:  Yes.  I guess you could -- it stands to reason that the longer you poke the bear, so to speak, you know, you`re just inevitably going to provoke a reaction.  He had been asked by aides not to do anything, that George Conway was not worth it, that it didn`t rise to the level of it.  But this weekend, George Conway was sharing screenshots of -- bullet points of narcissistic personality disorder to Twitter, it was going viral, and eventually, something had to give.

I spoke to George earlier just briefly and said, you know what, what`s with the ramping up of the Tweets and you`re talking to reporters now?  And he said, this prompts a bigger reaction, being called out by the President.

So I don`t think it`s going to stop any time soon.  And you`re right, it`s like a telenovella.  It`s like sort of who`s on whose side?

BASS:  I think he`s spot on the diagnosis.  I think that`s something that we need pay attention to.

MATTHEWS:  Well, yesterday, Kellyanne Conway herself responded to a question about her husband`s Tweeting.


REPORTER:  Kellyanne, your husband has been Tweeting his concerns about the President`s mental fitness for office.  Are those concerns that you share?  Or how do you deal --



MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Anyway, I won`t ask you about the dossier, because it keeps coming back, Katie, the dossier, right?  And he`s blaming McCain for that, as well as everything, saying that he gave it to the press.  He didn`t give it to the press.  He gave it to the FBI after the election.  Why is still focusing on the dossier?

ROGERS:  Well, there was segment on Fox News where Ken Starr was talking about John McCain.  And there was a Tweet to the President`s Twitter account shortly after.  I think some of this is -- you can`t really think too deeply.  He watches television all weekend long.  He didn`t go out golfing.  He left for four hours to go to church over the weekend and he saw a segment on TV.  I mean, like it`s, of course, a nagging worry of his that these investigations are sort of swirling around.

But Twitter is sort of a pressure release valve for him.  And to put too much into what he`s thinking from moment to moment is -- we do this.

MATTHEWS:  We`ve got a new focus group out at Wisconsin that says, basically, it`s not working anymore.  What do you think, Michael, this Tweeting, Tweeting constantly, this misbehavior?  It doesn`t have anything to do with.  A report, by the way, so I actually sat down with a group, a focus group of swing voters in Wisconsin over this past week and several Obama voters who switched to Trump in 2016, that`s an interesting crowd, said they`re getting tired of his lies and the way he treats people, the human behavior of the guy.  In fact, one Trump voter said, I don`t think I`ll vote for Trump again.  I don`t think he`ll make it.

You know, this is a focus group as a pheasants under glass, you know, the whole thing.  You know the knock on them.  You never know if they`re saying it for show.

STEELE:  But they`re also smart pheasants.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  But you just never know when they`re telling it because that`s what you`re supposed to say.  I`m very skeptic about focus group.

STEELE:  No, I`m never skeptical to focus groups because they have the closest to getting your finger on the true pulse of some things out there, not all things, but some things.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Trump`s Tweeting is turning off the base?

STEELE:  Yes.  I think it`s not necessarily the base, but what is his base.  His base is the 90 percent of republicans that identify with Trump.  But there are other Americans too, it`s not just that 90 percent, all right?  I mean, why we guys keep acting like the only thing that`s voting out there are just Trump people.  The rest of the world gets to vote too.  Independent voters who move towards Trump are moving away.  That`s what that`s about.  That`s what`s being reflected in the vote that you`re beginning to see right now.

ROGERS:  I just think it`s important to note that his supporters have stuck with him through a lot worse, the things that he said.

MATTHEWS:  We got 46 percent, our latest number with him.

BASS:  You know, I sure would like to see some --

STEELE:  But that`s job approval.

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, go ahead.  What do you make of the fact 46 percent of our polling still give him job approval despite all this eight- year-old behavior, behavior by an eight-year-old, and all this other crazy Tweeting.  He said, yes, yes, but he`s our guy.  Why?

BASS:  Yes.  Well, I mean, I happen to believe that one of the reasons is because it`s the first time in our history that a President has had his own TV network.  So if that`s all you`re watching is that other network, you have an entirely different reality.

But I wonder about polling in some states that have been hit really hard and hurt because of his policies towards China, where they have lost contracts.  The Chinese have now moved to Brazil to get some of the products that they were getting from Kansas.  So I don`t know.  I think we need to pay attention to the areas that have been definitely hurt by his policies.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s in the Midwest too.  Anyway, President Trump has given a subdued response to the New Zealand mosque attack.  During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump often spoke about the threat posed in the U.S. from Muslims, as he put it.  But now, the President has always denied his rhetoric, an immigration policy played any part in fuelling that deadly violence down under.

However, a source close to the President tells The Washington Post that many of his political calculations are based on how his supporters, whom often calls, my people or the base, will see an issue.  So, Michelle, was he afraid to say anything good or bad, rather in this case, about the shooter because it might offend his base?  Is it that bad?

GOLDBERG:  So, honestly, I don`t know whether if he`s afraid or just -- you know, Trump is a liar.  But in some ways, he`s quote sincere and that he has a hard time saying things that he doesn`t mean in the moment, right?  He has a hard time kind of playing lip service to any deals that he doesn`t, in fact, respect.  It`s the same reason why he couldn`t pretend or he couldn`t kind of maintain the pretense that he objected to the white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville.

And so he`s just -- he doesn`t feel it, right?  He doesn`t feel any abhorrence for white nationalism and so he`s not capable of expressing it.

MATTHEWS:  And, Congresswoman, last word here.  I want to ask you about the President of the United States.  I know you`re a democrat.  He`s sort of -- I guess he calls himself a republican.  I`m not sure what he is.  But this indecency, this inability to express national -- for our country, he is a representative of our country in the world, inability to say, that guy used my name in a manifesto and I don`t want anything to do with that crumb.  He`s a killer and a bad human being.  He`s a murderer, a mass murder, probably sick, but who knows, but I don`t have to do anything with that guy.  He doesn`t seem to have that gut sense of I`ve got to get this guy separated from me.

BASS:  Well, I don`t think -- if you look back to the beginning of his campaign, he has never separated himself from white supremacists.  Remember, he didn`t -- you know, David Duke, he wouldn`t even disavow that.  What he needs to do is make a speech to the nation.  And now, unfortunately, the world, he needs completely denounce white supremacy, he needs to attack anyone that would associate him with it.  But I think anybody that has been favorable to him no matter who they are or what they believe, he will never come out against them.

It was so sad that he could not say the word, Muslim.  He couldn`t express any empathy to the people that had actually been killed.  But he has consistent about this.

MATTHEWS:  And he`s a consistent narcissist, because you just defined it.  It all revolves around him, as you pointed.  Thank you very much.  Thank you for coming in as always, Congresswoman Karen Bass from California, Michelle Goldberg, for your lyrical essay tonight, again.  Thank you so much, Michael Steele, my pal, thank you, and Katie Rogers, for your reporting for the New York Times here at the bureau here.  What a bureau.

Coming up, why would anyone lend money to someone with a reputation as a dead beat?  That would be Donald Trump.  A New York Time reporter joins me with info on Trump`s overseas piggy bank, Deutsche Bank.  They keep giving him money.  He never pays anybody back but they keep giving him more money, billions, they keep giving him.  Where are they getting their money from?  Perhaps further east over there in Europe?

Anyway, stop picking on President Trump and Devin Nunes mockery on social media has apparently hurt their feelings, how both men are trying to silence and punish their critics.  Much more of that tonight.  Devin, Devin Nunes, midnight ride, remember him working for the White House secretly? Stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

The House Intelligence Committee is now seeking to determine whether President Trump is currently under the influence of the Kremlin.  That`s according to NBC News, which reports that the chairman of that committee, U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff of California, is concerned the president may be compromised by his possible financial entanglements with Russia.

Schiff also says: "It`s very much an open question whether this is something the special counsel has looked at."

Two congressional committees and New York`s attorney general have already opened investigations of one of the only financial institutions willing to extend loans to Trump, Deutsche Bank, which has a sordid history of laundering Russian money.

Schiff that, if Mueller hasn`t looked at Trump`s relationship with the German bank, "They have not done a diligent investigation of money laundering."

This comes as a new report in "The New York Times" chronicles the president`s strange relationship with Deutsche Bank.  Even though Trump defaulted on his loans twice, the bank continued to place risky bets on him, despite the red flags, lending a total of well over $2 billion to a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable.

I`m joined right now by the author of that story in "The New York Times," David Enrich, and Glenn Kirschner.  He`s a former federal prosecutor. 

Thank you so much, David. 

Let me ask you.  Trump`s piggy bank, he could get money from Deutsche Bank, when nobody else would give it to him.  Why did they lend him money, a deadbeat?

DAVID ENRICH, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  They were desperate.  It`s as simple as that.

They wanted so badly to get a foothold in the United States, and to make themselves a household name, that they were willing to do business with a customer who had a well-earned reputation for stiffing his lenders.  And they didn`t care.  Anything to get a foothold.  And Donald Trump was their way in.

MATTHEWS:  Where is the -- where do they get their capital?  Where do they get their -- able to -- they must get money from somewhere.  Do they have huge investors?  Are they oligarchs from Russia?  Who`s giving all that money to Deutsche they have to lend out? 

ENRICH:  That`s a good question.

I mean, Deutsche Bank is one of the biggest banks in the world.  It has money coming in from basically every corner of the globe.  Certainly, Qatar is a big investor.  Russia is a very big, important country for Deutsche Bank.  Historically, for the past century really, Russia has been one of the kind of frontiers for the bank. 

It was -- the CEO, the longtime CEO of the bank, Joe Ackermann, was a huge champion of Russia and became quite close with Vladimir Putin and helped in the formation of one of Russia`s largest state-owned banks.

So, there are deep, deep, decades-long ties.

MATTHEWS:  Do they put -- do they give their money to -- do they deposit their money with Deutsche because they want high interest rates or because they want their money laundered? 

ENRICH:  Well, I don`t think it`s quite that simple. 

But they did business with Deutsche Bank because Deutsche Bank was there in Russia and it was a favorable place for them to do business.  I mean, Deutsche Bank recently got in a whole lot of trouble for being essentially a laundromat for Russian money, helping rich Russians whisk their money in rubles out of the country, converting it into dollars.

And, coincidentally or not, this coincides with the period in which the bank is doing a lot of lending with Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS:  Glenn, why wouldn`t -- if you follow the reasoning of Adam Schiff -- maybe he`s just skeptical, maybe he`s careful, diligent himself - - but he said it`s possible that Robert Mueller hasn`t looked down this direction.

How can you skip the heart of the matter of following the money?


You know, first of all, Bob Mueller doesn`t do red lines.  So if Bob Mueller believed that there was relevant information that he needed to subpoena from Deutsche Bank, I can assure you he would have done that. 

So, if he didn`t do that -- and it`s a little bit of speculation now -- there are probably one of two reasons.  One, he decided either he didn`t need it, or it wasn`t within his mandate for some reason.  That is to investigate contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians and anything that arises directly out of that. 

Or the other reason might have been, if he -- if he didn`t do it, it was because he didn`t get permission to do it, because we all know that any request he made for a subpoena or to return an indictment had to go through Rod Rosenstein.

Rod Rosenstein could very well have said, I`m not giving you authority to subpoena records from Deutsche Bank.  Not saying that happened, but if that did happen, Chris, we`re going to know about it, because there is that daylight provision that says, at the end of Mueller`s probe, that denial has to be reported out.

MATTHEWS:  There`s going to be a lot of unhappy people in this country, in fact, freaking mad, if it comes out that Mueller doesn`t do something because somebody told him not to do it, so we don`t get a good report.

Anyway, according to "The New York Times" again, Deutsche Bank continued to do business with Trump, despite concerns that would have scared away other lenders.

For instance, in negotiating alone for a skyscraper in Chicago in 2005, Mr. Trump told Deutsche Bank his net worth was about $3 billion.  But when bank employees reviewed Trump`s finances, they concluded he was worth about 780- something. 

Additionally, at least one executive cautioned that Mr. Trump should be avoided because he had worked with people in the construction industry connected to organized crime.  Nonetheless, Deutsche Bank agreed to lend Mr. Trump more than $500 million at that point.

When the loan came due, Trump sued to avoid paying it back.  And yet Deutsche Bank continued to lend to Trump, even after they determined he was overvaluing some of his real estate assets by as much as 70 percent. 

Again back to David, David Enrich.

Explain to me again, is it just an open question?  We don`t understand why any bank would keep pouring billions of dollars into a -- into a client who never pays back.

ENRICH:  Well, it is an open question. 

I mean, I think, logically, it doesn`t make a tremendous amount of sense why Deutsche Bank, despite all of these red flag, despite getting burned over and over again, keeps throwing money at the guy. 

What you -- you talk to Deutsche Bank executives -- and, listen, I have talked to dozens of them over the past several months for a book I`m writing on this topic.  And what they say is that, actually, at the time, this did make sense.  They got Donald Trump`s personal guarantee on tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars of this, which meant that, if he were to default, they can seize his personal assets.

They thought that they were making prudent loans.  And the reality is, some of these loans they have made in recent years that didn`t make much sense for them to make, as far as we know, Donald Trump has kept current on them.  As far as we know, he`s paying them back. 

He might not be, but we just don`t have any evidence to suggest one way or the other.  So it`s not entirely clear to me that the recent loans that Deutsche Bank did with Donald Trump -- for all we know, those might have been very profitable.

And, look, now they have got an ally in the White House. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s the question about the relationship.  And that`s really been the heart of this investigation.  Who owns Donald Trump?

Putin?  The oligarch who spent billions, and they sent all that money west either to buy houses in the South of France or to just launder the money for their own good?  And Trump was playing ball with his bank. 

KIRSCHNER:  Well, it sure looks like Deutsche Bank owns a big piece of Donald Trump.

  When I read David`s reporting, I mean, it -- this looks like a check-kiting scheme, where you`re using one credit card to pay the debt on another credit card.  I mean, Donald Trump was inflating his assets, really in an obscene way.

And Deutsche Bank seemed to know about it, and yet they continued to extend him loans.  One point, in the article that I read, they discovered that one of the loan officers` signatures was forged on some of the bank loan applications.

So, that -- a former career prosecutor, I have got to ask, is there somebody inside Deutsche Bank who is enabling this bank fraud by Donald Trump? 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Robert Mueller knows everything we`re talking about right now? 

KIRSCHNER:  I have a feeling he does.

Regardless of the reporting on people suggesting that maybe Mueller hasn`t done his due diligence on Deutsche Bank or on Trump`s assets generally, I have a feeling Mueller knows it all.  The man`s middle name is diligence.  So I think we`re going to get it.

MATTHEWS:  Last question to David. 

I ask this to a lot of people who do business with Trump or cover him.  You hear all the time that he`s a bit of a gonif.  He doesn`t pay his bills.  He`s a crook.  He`s a thief.  He doesn`t pay bills.  You hear it all the time.  He just doesn`t pay bills.  It`s his trick, is how he keeps cash- rich.  He doesn`t pay bills. 

It`s an extraordinary charge against a guy, and yet people keep doing business with him.  He has Trump Tower.  He`s got all these assets.  Why does he have this ability to have people live with the fact he`s a deadbeat?

ENRICH:  Because people are greedy, and institutions are greedy.

And if they think they can continue to wring money out of Donald Trump, well, they will keep throwing money at him.

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  What a statement about our culture, our economic culture in this country, that this guy thrives.

Thank you so much, David Enrich of "The New York Times."

ENRICH:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Glenn Kirschner, thank you, as always, sir.

Up next:  What matters more to Democrats, voting for their personal favorite in this upcoming race for president or for the one they think can best -- be the best bet to beat Trump?

I had the chance to ask voters in Iowa about that very question.  We will share some of their insights right after this break.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Ten months to the Iowa caucuses, and the campaigning there is already in full swing.

Yesterday, I sat down with Senator Cory Booker at Tommy`s Cafe out in Davenport, Iowa. 

I also talked to some Iowa voters there about what they`re looking for in 2020.  Let`s listen. 


MATTHEWS:  So here we are, the Iowa caucuses coming up any minute now. 



MATTHEWS:  What do you -- what do you think about the next president of the United States?  What are you looking for?

GANOE:  I`m looking for somebody that will be reflective of history, think about people, instead of money first.

MATTHEWS:  How important is it to you to beat Trump?

GANOE:  I would say 80 percent. 

MATTHEWS:  That`s the key?

GANOE:  Yes, I think so.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

GANOE:  But you have to have a good person.

JAMES PRESZLER, IOWA VOTER:  The main goal for myself and a lot of my friends and family are to get the mad king out of the White House.  That`s a big deal.

MATTHEWS:  So people are going to vote strategically, they are going to vote for the person they don`t impulsively like, but the one they think that can beat Trump?

PRESZLER:  I think so. 

MATTHEWS:  That`s pretty interesting. 


MATTHEWS:  Who can beat Trump? 


MATTHEWS:  Who`s the best bet right now, safest bet?

PRESZLER:  I think it`s kind of early right now.  I think there`s a few people out there that I think that can.  I watch a lot of TV, a lot of your show.

Beto O`Rourke is interesting, I think.  I think Cory Booker is interesting.  Kamala Harris, I think, is interesting. 

MATTHEWS:  It sounds like you want a candidate, like, in their 40s.

PRESZLER:  Don`t really think about age, although, honestly...

MATTHEWS:  Well, you just did.

PRESZLER:  You know what?  Actually, you`re right.  I actually think Biden`s too old.

MATTHEWS:  Are you looking for somebody that is the best bet to beat Trump or somebody who grabs you philosophically? 

CASSANDRA ERWIN, IOWA VOTER:  Ideally, both.  But electability is certainly a factor. 

KATELYN MCILLECE, IOWA VOTER:  I`m voting for the candidate that grabs me, not so much beating Trump.  They have to fit my views.

JEFF HARTFORD, IOWA VOTER:  Yes, Trump`s got to -- I mean, in my opinion, he`s got to be replaced with somebody that`s about the American people.  Cory talked a lot about it today, about unifying our country. 

And I think that`s really what has to happen.  We have to have a president that will try and bring everybody back together, because, right now, we`re a totally divided country.


MATTHEWS:  This country is thinking hard right now.  They really are, and feeling this thing hard, this choice coming up.

Up next:  President Trump says he will be looking into allegations of anti- conservative bias on social media platforms, like Facebook, this as his campaign spends big bucks buying targeted ads on Facebook.

More on the president`s personal love-hate relationship with social media - - after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump is renewing his attacks on social media companies, accusing them of bias against conservative users.  In the Rose Garden today, Trump said platforms like Twitter and Facebook are actively colluding against those on the right. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It seems to be if they`re conservative, if they`re Republicans, if they`re a certain group, there`s discrimination and big discrimination.  I see it absolutely on Twitter and Facebook which I have also and others I see.  I will tell you there is collusion with respect to that because something has to be going on and you see the level of, in many cases hatred they have for certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election.  You say that`s really unfair. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, it`s not the first time the president has complained about alleged bias by social media platforms. 

Let`s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You expressed concerns about social media companies unfairly censoring conservatives during the election.

TRUMP:  I think it`s a serious problem. 

Look at social media.  It`s a thing (ph) called free speech rights.  You look at Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants, and I`ve made it clear that we, as a country, cannot tolerate political censorship, blacklisting and rigged search results. 

We`re also standing up to social media censorship.  That`s the new thing. 


MATTHEWS:  Everything`s rigged.  Everything`s rigged against him.

And it`s not just Twitter and Facebook that seemed to be getting on the president`s skin.  Over this past weekend, he went after "Saturday Night Live" and all the light night talk shows.  He tweeted: It`s truly incredible that shows like "Saturday Night Live," not funny, no talent can spend all of their time knocking the same person, me, over and over, without so much of a mention of the other side.  Same with late night shows.

Well, Trump then issued this threat.  Should Federal Election Commission and/or the FCC look into this?  There must be collusion with the Democrats and, of course, Russia. 

And the president is not alone in accusing a social media company of biased.  One of his closest allies, as we all known, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of California is suing Twitter and others for $250 million over a cow.  You got to hear this one.  It`s coming up. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Congressman Devin Nunes, as we know, a close Trump ally, very close, is suing Twitter and three of its users for $250 million, a quarter of a trillion dollars, accusing them of defamation and negligence.  He also accuses Twitter of being bias against conservatives. 

In a 40-page complaint filed this morning in Virginia, the California Republican names the parody accounts Devin Nunes cow and Devin Nunes` mom, as well as a Republican strategist. 

So what did they tweet that he believes is worth $250 million in damages?  According to his complaint they include saying that Nunes is a treasonous cowpoke.  He`s udder-ly worthless and it`s pasture time to mooove, three O`s, to him to prison. 

According to Nunes, the accused falsely claimed that Nunes would probably see an indictment before 2020, and falsely stated that Nunes was voted most likely to commit treason in high school. 

It should be noted that in 2017, congressman -- that congressman --co- sponsored a bill called the Discouraging, Frivolous Lawsuits Act.  What a boomerang this is. 

For more, I`m joined by former Senator Barbara Boxer of California, of course, and Dana Milbank, satirical columnist for the "Washington Post." 

Senator, thank you so much.  What do you make of this guy?  I think Harry Truman said, if you don`t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen. 


MATTHEWS:  This is a guy who`s been playing ball with Trump in the back room for at least two years and now, he`s getting hurt feelings.  Your thoughts? 

BOXER:  I`m so sorry, Devin, but you picked the wrong career.  And you have Dana Milbank on, I`m sure he`s written horrible things about mwah. 

The fact of the matter is, when you go into politics, you certainly have some protections.  But believe me, the courts have ruled because you have a bully pulpit and a platform, you got to take it on the chin. 

He needs to grow up and do something else because this is absurd.  These people who have said things against him probably pale compared to what people said about Devin Nunes` opponent who, by the way, ran a great campaign.  Devin is hurt.  He didn`t win by a lot.  He`s going to get challenged again and all of this is a little bit of a diversion. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I`ve been watching them, 52 percent.  He got by but not by much. 

BOXER:  He got by.

MATTHEWS:  Dana, your thoughts?  I mean, you do for a living what this guy`s suing over. 

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I`ve worn my bovine bow tie in celebration and I am over the moon about this.  I think it is high time that somebody went after the cows in this country.  You know they kill, cows kill 20 American a year.  Their flatulence causes all kinds of problems with greenhouse gases.  Look, I don`t know what Devin Nunes was thinking in naming Devin Nunes` cow. 

But in the lawsuit, Devin Nunes` he cow had about 1,000 Twitter followers.  And as of early this afternoon, had about 130,000 Twitter followers.  So, it has indeed had that boomerang effect.

But I suppose, you know, if he does want to make a case that there`s victimhood of conservatives in social media, that may or may not be the case.  But the poster child is not Devin Nunes, who is now somewhat of a laughingstock. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here`s what Congressman Nunes said about his lawsuit last night on Fox.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (D), CALIFORNIA:  This is the first off many, Sean.  And what we`re doing here is we`re actually going after Twitter first because they are the main proliferator and they spread this fake news and the slanderous news.  How is it that every day, there`s conservatives that are being banned? 


MATTHEWS:  So the irony here is so rich, Senator.  He`s talking to Fox about political influence.  I`m sorry --

BOXER:  And Fox is like the president`s own private channel and he talks to the people over there.  I think they`re kind of his advisors and his probably chief of staffs. 


BOXER:  And it`s unreal. 

But in all sincerity, there is a serious think behind all of this.  The center piece of our democracy is freedom of speech and by extension freedom of the press.  And the fact is, you got to stand up and take it on the chin when you`re an elected official.

Donald Trump doesn`t know how to do it.  He can go after the honorable John McCain, even after John died, he can say anything he wants.  He can call people Pocahontas.  He can make fun of disabled people. 

But he can`t take a couple of tweets.  He can give them but he doesn`t want to get them.  And this is why the whole thing is outrages and Devin Nunes needs to choose a different career, because as long as you`re out there on the political stage, especially the way he is doing it, which is just sucking up to Trump everybody -- 


BOXER:  -- people are going to respond.  They just are. 

MATTHEWS:  I think he needs his diapers changed.  Anyway, he`s very upset.  Anyway, meanwhile, President Trump tweeted -- that`s pretty gross, wasn`t it? -- tweeted that he would be look into alleged bias at Facebook.  The president was responding to report that his social media manager was temporarily blocked from Facebook banned some of his comments have been reported as spam.  Wow.

Anyway, Facebook acknowledged the mistake and apologize, setting up policy that blocks users when identical repetitive activity comes from the same account to make sure it`s not coming from automated bot.  Of course.

What do you make of -- Senator, I`ll start with Dan on this and we`ll go back to the senator.

BOXER:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  He`s talking about going after the FCC and FEC, he doesn`t even know the agency he wants to go to, about "Saturday Night Live" but we all know, I watch this stuff, they`re pretty tough on Trump but that`s legal.  They`re allowed to be what they are.  And, by the way, the Democrats don`t write that material.  They`re not that good. 


MATTHEWS:  Professional writers write that stuff.

MILBANK:  And you have to have a little bit of sympathy for them.  And I do satire as well. 

The problem is President Trump does 98 percent of the goofy things.  So, who else are you going to make fun of?

And suppose they struggle to make fun of Democrats, which wouldn`t be terribly funny.  You know who would be the most upset he`s not getting the attention?  Donald Trump, because he wants to be the focus.  That`s why he can complain about that.  He`ll complain about Twitter and social media, even though he`s the king of Twitter. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator, he`s so right.  I watched Colbert last night and I got to tell you what he did.  He took the same material we worked on rather seriously, especially with Cory Booker in Iowa, the same material.  And for him, it was just comic material.  He took the same, he looked and read -- go ahead. 

BOXER:  Well, I was parodied on "Saturday Night Live" when I was questioning Condi Rice about the war.  And, you know, it was tough on both of us.  But that`s what you have to expect when you are in the public eye.  Period, end of quote. 

And, you know, it says you`re relevant, by the way.  So, don`t panic over it, just do your work and, you know, seriously when you look at dictators all through history, the first thing they did is, first, is go after the justice system and at the same time go after freedom of the press.  And also, I would hate to say it, you know, go after the artist and the writers. 

So, this is -- even though it`s outrages and ridiculous, to me underneath it all, it`s very serious.  The American people are not going to take this.  They`re going to continue to say what they want, do what they want.  There are laws out there that protect people. 

We don`t need to have Devin Nunes with his frivolous lawsuit out there.  He needs to do something else.  Go away, take a deep breath, calm down and do something else because as long as he`s in the public eye, he`s going to be parodied just like we all are.  It`s just the way it is. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Senator Boxer.  Thank you so much for coming on.

Dana Milbank, sir, you`re the cause of all this trouble. 

Up next, the government of New Zealand commits itself to gun reform just days after that devastating mass shooting and what would it take for us to do the same thing there.  They`re really doing their job, it looks, down in New Zealand.  I`ll be back with that really good example how to deal with horror.


MATTHEWS:  I want to say something about the horrible killings down there in New Zealand.  Most importantly on the way that country is dealing with it politically.  Kathleen and I just spent sometime down there and I was impressed by the prime minister then before the killings of last week and I`m more impressed about her now. 

We`ve seen how Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is clearly not about to fail her country in this moment of national decision making. 


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER:  The terrorist attack on Friday was the worst act of terrorism on our shores.  It was, in fact, one of the worst globally in recent times.  It has exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand`s gun laws.  Within ten days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer. 


MATTHEWS:  I expect we will see action, rapid action by American standard, on semiautomatic weapons, military style assault rifles, AK-47s and those big magazines that allowed that killer to end the lives of 50 people in the city of Christchurch. 

What`s impressive about the prime minister again in comparison to the United States in the Trump era is how incisive she is on moral leadership.  She called the victims of last week`s killing "us", saying that the killer is not part of us.  She said those gunned down whose families came to New Zealand for a better life from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Somalia and Afghanistan were New Zealanders, while the perpetrator who came from neighboring Australia was not New Zealander. 

He may have chosen us, the prime minister said.  We utterly reject and condemn him.  New Zealand is a land duty bound by a prime minister who shares her country`s heart with a head set on protecting its country.  What a fresh change 800,000 miles away from our country of almost 400 million firearms and a nine-member Supreme Court that can`t tell an AK-47 from an 18th century musket. 

That`s HARDBALL for now. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.