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Trump draws bipartisan condemnation. TRANSCRIPT: 3/20/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Mike Murphy, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Betsy Woodruff, JamieRaskin, Howard Dean, Reed Hundt, Michael Steel

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  That is it for THE BEAT.  Thanks as always for spending some time with us.  We`ll be back at 6:00 PM Eastern tomorrow.  But don`t go anywhere, because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The ghost in Donald Trump, let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Tonight, there`s a ghost in the White House, and the ghost appears to be winning.  The spirit of John McCain, dead in these seven months, is haunting this American President to the point where Donald Trump talks like his old rival is right there in the executive mansion with him.  He speaks in the present tense about how he`s not happy with McCain. 

And late today he complained out loud that he never got a thank you for giving the war hero, quote, the funeral he wanted.  Who`s going write on a thank you note?  It`s been another day of Trump unleashing his fury against the ghost of Senator John McCain.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  A lot of people are asking because they love me, they ask me about a man named John McCain.  So I have to be honest.  I`ve never liked him much, hasn`t been for me.  I`ve really probably never will. I endorsed at his requests and I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which, as President, I had to approve.  I don`t care about this.  I didn`t get thank you.  That`s okay.  We sent him on the way, but I wasn`t a fan of John McCain.


MATTHEWS:  How do you explain that grotesquery?  Anyway, yesterday hours after similar outburst, McCain`s widow, Cindy, posted a stranger`s expletive latest message that I can`t show you calling Senator McCain a trade risk war monger.  And that`s the kind of stuff the President kicking up here.

And earlier today, daughter, Meghan McCain, again, defended her father.  Let`s watch.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN:  I think if I had told my dad, seven months after your dead, you`re going to be dominating the news and all over the Twitter.  He would think it was hilarious that our President was so jealous of him, that he was dominating the news cycle in death as well.  Do not feel bad for me and my family.  We are blessed.  We are a family of privilege.  Feel bad for people out there who are being bullied that don`t have support.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Senator Johnny Isakson had joined fellow republican Mitt Romney in calling out the President`s distasteful attacks.  Isakson told Georgia public broadcasting that he found the President`s comments deplorable.  That`s his word.  Let`s listen.


SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), G.A.:  I want to be crystal clear that, we need to talk about the politics, of the military in any way we want to but we don`t talk about our veterans in any way but to drag on them for the service they rendered.  It`s deplorable what he said.  And we should never reduce the service that people give to this country.


MATTHEWS:  By contrast, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Arizona Senator Martha McSally, who holds McCain`s old seat, defended the late Senator on Twitter without condemning Trump.  That`s careful by them.

President Trump who is juggling a trade war with China now claimed the national emergency at the border and failing negotiations with North Korea, also escalated his feud today with the husband of close adviser Kellyanne Conway.  George Conway, responded with a series of tweets, capped off by this one, quote, you are nuts.

Tonight, we`re joined by Omarosa Manigault Newman, former Senior White House Official, and also Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press White House Reporter.  But, first, let`s turn to Mike Murphy, a former Adviser to John McCain.

What did you make, Mike, of the comment by Cindy, his daughter, that he would find this ridiculous and hilarious that this President can`t get over him?

MIKE MURPHY, FORMER MCCAIN ADVISER:  No, I think it`s true.  I think the John McCain I knew well would be howling with laughter at the idea.  He still got this insecure baby on the White House tied up in knots from the grave.  I mean, it`s just a tale [ph] into how insecure and just childish Donald Trump is.  I mean, that`s kind of the funny side.  The sad side of this is that we have a President of the United States who`s such a narcissist, so self-obsessed, so prickly and foolish that he`s insulting just about everybody who`s ever worn the uniform here.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  That`s the word, that`s the key word.

MURPHY:  You know, John McCain was a tough [ph] character, I loved him, but he was respected across the board even if he disagreed with him.  And what Donald Trump is doing it`s just so beyond the pale, it`s horrifying.

MATTHEWS:  I think you hit the right word, uniform.  John McCain suffered five-and-a-half years in the Hanoi Hilton, being beat up most of the time in solitary, all kinds of hell.  He had to tap on the wall to talk to any other human being.  And here`s the guy who got a concierge doctor to get him out of the war.  I think he might feel a little moral inferiority here.

Anyway, part of John McCain`s legacy was the moment laid in the 2008 presidential race, when he, John McCain, defended his opponent, Barack Obama, right near the election to a republican voter.  Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I can`t trust Obama.  I have read about him and he`s not -- he`s an Arab.  He is not --

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), A.Z.:  No, ma`am.  No, ma`am. No, ma`am.  He is a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreement with on fundamental issues and that`s what this campaign is all about.


MATTHEWS:  Mike, that`s what I love about politics, right there.  And it make -- and Donald Trump has never given us a moment like that.

MURPHY:  And I doubt he will because I don`t think he understands what a moment like that is, which is why he`s unfit to be President of the United States.

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about the republican voter out there.  I mean, I grew up in a republican family.  I`d left them pretty early but then I`ve always been surrounded by brothers and people like that, my parents.  And they were sort of close call [ph] republicans, they weren`t rich.  But they are -- my parents, but they believed in fiscal responsibility, personal reliability, personal self-reliance, all those good values and then respect for other people.  They were decent people, obviously.  And this guy, Trump, doesn`t seem to value anything, this republican.  Why do republicans value him?

MURPHY:  Well, I think there are two things going on.  The practical politicians are afraid of their own primary voters.  So with a few notable exceptions, they`re cursing him in private.  I mean, if Trump could read minds, if you were the amazing Kreskin Trump, and he walk to the Senate caucus, he`d curl up into ball and shiver.  The problem is it`s all a private.  They don`t have the courage to be public about it, most of them, which is a shame because this is a test and they`re all going to go down in history.

Now, in the republican primary electorate, Trump is not as powerful as he looks.  Yes, he`ll get an 80, 85 percent approval rating.  But that`s like, I root for the Red Sox, I may hate our pitcher, but that doesn`t mean I`m a Yankee.  If you ask a republican, should Trump get a primary, should there be choices, the number is pretty high in Iowa Caucus, center of the [INAUDIBLE] poll two weeks ago, it was 41, 40.  So, you know, we`ll see.  We`re going to go into a very turbulent time here, as Trump threatens to wipe out the party in 2020 and the party is going to have to make some practical decisions rather than hiding behind a rock about this guy.

MATTHEWS:  Well, during the 2016 presidential campaign, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a train wreck after he attacks Senator McCain.  Let`s watch that.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.:  How could anybody wanting to be Commander- in-Chief even suggest that John McCain and people like him or anything less than a hero?  So he`s train wreck, he`s a car wreck.  And I think he showed yet again why he`s not going to make it through this process.


MATTHEWS:  And now, four years later, the senator, that same human being, has a more nuance take on --


GRAHAM:  I think the President`s comments about Senator McCain hurt him more than the legacy of Senator McCain.  I will try to continue to help the President.  My job is to represent the people of South Carolina.  They want me to work with the President where I can.


MATTHEWS:  Exhibit A, Mike.  Exhibit A.  Why?

MURPHY:  Yes.  Look, Lindsey is my friend but I wish he`d get shot full of truth serum.  I know what he`s doing, I believe.  He thinks he can have more of a positive influence from inside the circus tent of the Trump White House than from outside it.  But that`s a Faustian bargain.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, you`re the greatest.  Mike Murphy, thanks for coming on tonight.  I want to go now to Omarosa, right now because you were on the train -- actually the plane or the bus, whatever with the President, the current President when he went crazy over John McCain.  What is it?  This is something about McCain getting in his bone matter or something.  What is this?

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Well, he`s obsessed with McCain.  He`s obsessed with him because he`ll never be the hero that McCain is.  What we`re watching is the third season of the Trump Reality TV Show.

What happens in the third season is you turn the hero into the heel and you have a plot twist and he keeps repeating these things over and over again.  And it`s going to get more and more bizarre because he`s not trying to become the best President, he`s trying to be the best reality star, and that`s what we`re seeing in this bizarre behavior from Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS:  It reminds me of an old fairy tale, mirror, mirror on the wall, who`s the fairest of them all.  And every time he hears something about, you know, Snow White, every time he hears about McCain, it drives him livid.

NEWMAN:  Yes.  But you know what the problem is, it shows that he`s unstable and he really should not have access to the nuclear codes if a Tweet can trigger him or even the thought of someone is deceased can send him off the rails, the way he is.

MATTHEWS:  Like Jacob Marley.  Let me go to, Jonathan Lemire on this thing.  You know, Jonathan, the last time I said he was talking to the President, he said, I`m not happy with John McCain right now.  Like it`s happening right now, here in the present tense.  And then today he complains he didn`t get a thank you note, what, from John McCain for his funeral.  What was the story about the funeral that seems to be bugging this President?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Typically, dead men can`t give thank yous for their funerals.  What we see here though is a president who does not let any slights go.  And for the record, yes, Trump played a role in the funeral proceedings, but it wasn`t something he gave to John McCain.  The Congress decides who lies in state.  The National Cathedral presides over the services there.  The State of Arizona took care of what happened there for McCain.  What the President did do was arrange for military transport for McCain`s body from Arizona to Washington.  He provided for a band, some horses for the escort.  So, yes, he played the role.  But he wasn`t -- he didn`t take care of the whole thing.  And it`s a bizarre claim to suggest that he did.  But this is what we see time and time again from this President.

Yes, McCain, has been particularly under his skin.  Perhaps, as some have said, he has that war hero resume that the President does not.  But we also see it with George Conway, the husband of Kellyanne Conway, his Senior Adviser, who has been very critical and very publicly so towards the President on Twitter.  And Trump, despite aides telling him for weeks to just ignore it, can`t.  He lashes out time and time again, including today on Twitter, where he called him -- I believe the quote was a total loser.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he called George Conway.  And as I mentioned a moment ago, President Trump escalated his feud with Conway.  Speaking to reporters today, President Trump called his adviser`s husband, Kellyanne`s husband, a total whack job.  Let`s watch.


REPORTER:  How do you feel about George Conway?  How does he fit the standard of, firstly, the best campaign?

TRUMP:  Well, I don`t know him.  Yes, I don`t know him.  He`s a whack job.  There`s no question about it.  But I really don`t know him.  He -- I think he`s doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.  Kellyanne is a wonderful woman and I call him Mr. Kellyanne.  The fact is that he`s doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family.  She`s a wonderful woman.


MATTHEWS:  Reminder, that`s the President of the United States.  Earlier today, the President, his only morning room [INAUDIBLE] Tweeted George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway, by those who know him.  He`s very jealous of his wife`s success and angry that I, with her help, didn`t give him the job he so desperately wanted.  In other words, he`s blaming the wife for not get the husband a job he wanted.

Home wrecker, I barely know him but just take a look.  A stone cold loser and husband from hell.  Anyway, Kellyanne Conway, who has remained silent for the majority this, back and forth, finally weighed in.  She defended the President.  Time to let it go [ph].  He left it alone for months out of respect for me.  The President is obviously defending me.  Was he trying to drive a wedge?  I know it`s politics.  Is he trying to drive a wedge in a family here?

NEWMAN:  Well, let`s clarify something.  During the campaign, George Conway was all throughout our campaign offices.  He walked around Trump Tower quite frequently and sometimes with the children.  So for Trump to say he didn`t know George, that`s a complete lie.  But I think it`s, again, a part of this reality thing where this fighting and this turning [ph].  He also said that George Conway was a husband of from hell.  And I think that`s ironic coming from Donald Trump in his inability to be faithful to his wife and how he`s treated Melania particularly.

But I think what we`re seeing is more from Kellyanne a lack of a commitment to her marriage.  If anyone insulted John Allen Newman, I would not be working for them any longer.  That`s where the line should be drawn.  But it says more about Kellyanne staying and working for Donald Trump, who insults her husband and the father of her children.

MATTHEWS:  I want to end with Jon Lemire.  What is it -- I know this calls for psycho information.  But why do people put up with this?  I mean, we went through Access Hollywood and everybody said they`re going to quit.  That`s was the end off the line.  We`re all get off the bus.  Kellyanne, won`t get off the bus even though he`s attacking her husband.  What`s this sticky glue that keeps people so tucked in bed with Trump?

LEMIRE:  Well, I think it probably varies person to person, some that I have spoken to surrounding the President.  It`s a few different things.  Some do believe they`re making a difference to their country.  I think for others, they`re a little perhaps more reluctant to admit this.  But it`s approximately power and it`s being part of the show of being in the West Wing keeps them there.

But you`re right.  Very few moments -- there were very few moments where a staffer has quit out of principle.  Gary Cohn did but that was over tariffs, not because of something the President said or did.  Remember, he stuck by him for what he said after Charlottesville.

But, certainly, there`s a sense among White House aides that the President has been particularly sort of distracted and they`re worried about that of late.  And there is a few things going on here at once, not just this with the attacks against McCain and George Conway.  But let just remember the weekend Tweet storm with 70 odd tweets in two-and-a-half days, which seemed really a display a lack of focus.  I think the impending release of the Mueller report, which could come at this point any day or any week, is part of it, the growing investigations from the House Democrats, another, the fact the President has complained to people around him that he`s being blamed for the shooting in New Zealand.

And even over the weekend, let`s remember, he views Fox News as a safe harbor, if you will amid all of these complaints against the media.  And even Fox was kind of rough on him this weekend, including suspending Jeanine Pirro, one of his favorites, one of the most Pro-Trump anchors they have.  And he was upset about that too, leaving Fox News, to be on the receiving end and a couple of these scornful Tweets, which is not something we often see.

MATTHEWS:  Omarosa, I get the sense he looks at the world right now.  The blue sky is all behind him.  Dark clouds are coming.

NEWMAN:  Yes.  He knows that the walls are closing in on him.  And there`s nothing good that`s going to come out to this Mueller report, but also all of the investigations that will center on him but also his children and his family.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it doesn`t look good for him.  Anyway, thank you, Omarosa Manigault Newman, and thank you, Jonathan Lemire.

Coming up with the release of the Mueller report said to be imminent, everybody thinks it`s coming.  President Trump is stepping up his attacks on the probe itself while the White House stonewalls Congress to investigators.

Plus polls show Joe Biden will be the instant frontrunner if he joins for the race the president, so what`s keeping him?

And what`s wrong with electing presidents by a simple popular vote?  Several of the new democratic candidates are all for that.  Trump used to hate the Electoral College.  But now, of course, he loves it because 3 million extra votes for Hillary Clinton might have had something to do with his thinking.  Much more ahead, stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  So nearly two years, the entire country is on Mueller watch right now anticipating the completion of the Special Counsel`s investigation any day.  The waiting game appears to be a major source of anxiety for Mr. President, who has been vetting his frustrations on a daily basis -- hourly basis lately.

Trump`s now challenging the very premise of Mueller`s appointment, questioning why -- why he`s asking does the Special Counsel gets to write a report.  Here he is.  This is manic.


TRUMP:  No collusion.  No collusion.  I have no idea when it`s going to get released.  It`s interesting that a man gets appointed by a deputy, he writes a report.  I just won one of greatest elections of all time in the history of this country, and even you will admit that.  And now, I have somebody writing a report that never got a vote.  It`s called a Mueller report.

And it`s sort of interesting that a man out of the blue just writes a report.  I got 63 million votes.  And now, somebody just writes a report?  I think it`s ridiculous.  But I want to see the report.


MATTHEWS:  Hillary got 66 million votes, Mr. President.

While Attorney General William Barr will decide which parts of the Mueller report are made public, the president said today, he doesn`t mind if it`s all released. 


QUESTION:  Does the American public have a right to see the Mueller report?

TRUMP:  I don`t mind.  I mean, frankly, I told the House, if you want, let them see it. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump`s remarks could have big implications down the road.

As "The Washington Post" reports: "It would seem Trump has authorized the disclosure of detail about his own conduct.  If Republicans or the Justice Department want to fight it, Trump may have just made that more difficult for them."

I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland who sits on the House Oversight Committee, and Betsy Woodruff, political reporter for The Daily Beast.

First of all, to the reporter.

A lot of buzz.  This is coming sometime soon.  We don`t know what.

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST:  It`s coming at some point.

Maybe I will eat crow for this tomorrow, but I don`t expect it to be in the immediate, imminent future.  We can say with a high level of confidence that Attorney General Bill Barr does not yet have the report in his possession. 

And just from talking to people who know him and kind of know the way he`s likely to think about this, once he gets it, it`s very likely there`s going to be a protracted approval process, in part because the president`s lawyers are all but certain to argue, whether or not persuasively, that portions of the report would be covered by their very broad understanding of executive privilege.

MATTHEWS:  Well, even though the president said let it out.

Congressman, he said let it out.  I just saw him on the South Lawn.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND:  He did say that.  So he agrees with the House of Representatives, which says, let it out.

WOODRUFF:  This wouldn`t be the first time, though, that his lawyers said, no, no, no, no, we`re not going with what the president says.

MATTHEWS:  Would get it on the Hill, your committee, Oversight?  Who would get the actual document, if William Barr put it out?

RASKIN:  Well, it would come to the Judiciary Committee.  It would come to the Oversight Committee, but, very quickly, it would go to every member of the House.  And that means the American people would get it.

MATTHEWS:  Pretty quickly.

RASKIN:  In a matter of minutes. 


MATTHEWS:  I didn`t ask you the question.  You think it`s imminent? 

RASKIN:  I don`t know.  I mean, the rumors are just like bouncing off the walls.

But who knows?  I mean, the president`s -- we can`t take much more of this, because the president is so stressed out, and he`s stressing out the whole country.

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about that. 

He acts like a cat on a hot tin roof, like this is getting hotter and hotter, and this weekend 50 some tweets, the last couple days going crazy over a man who died seven months ago, in sort of a ghost-like -- he`s like he`s -- I don`t know.

He`s gaslighting himself is what it looks like.

RASKIN:  I think is a serious problem. 

I mean, to me, it underscores the importance of at least having a structure in place to deal with, not necessarily this president, but some president not being able to discharge the powers and duties of office.

And that`s what the 25th Amendment, which was authored by Birch Bayh, who died last Thursday, is all about.  He and Bobby Kennedy put it in, in the wake of the Kennedy assassination.

MATTHEWS:  If you were in the Cabinet right now, would you put him in for the 25th Amendment?  Will you execute it?

RASKIN:  Well, the Cabinet is not going to do it.

MATTHEWS:  But if you were on the Cabinet, would you do it, watching his performance lately?

RASKIN:  Well, I would make sure there`s a structure in place for a real discussion.

Now, right now, they`re trying to crack down on any discussions.  All these people who are refugees from the administration who are writing books say that people talk about the 25th Amendment, and then they go after them and say, this is inappropriate even to talk about, which conflicts completely with the whole purpose of the 25th Amendment, which is, in the nuclear age, we need to make sure that the president is somebody who`s physically and mentally fit to the task.

But the part of the 25th Amendment that`s unremarked is that it says the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet or the vice president and a majority of a body set up by Congress can act to transfer power...


MATTHEWS:  Oh, you think we should have that body set up?

RASKIN:  I think we need to have that body for this presidency and for every future president.

MATTHEWS:  Just sort of a shadow Cabinet that sits there?

RASKIN:  The legislation that I have drafted has 17 members on it.  Half of them will be former presidents, vice presidents, attorneys general, secretaries of state, half of them physicians and psychiatrists, a 17th member who`s a chair chosen by this bipartisan, bicameral body.

But I think we got to take seriously this problem.  I mean, I know it`s the source of a lot of amusement, the president`s mental state, but obviously, mental health is not a laughing matter.  And if it continues to decline, we have got a serious problem on our hands.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, the president is trying to claim that an unelected official shouldn`t be allowed -- he`s talking about Robert Mueller -- be allowed to investigate him.

But he`s also stonewalling congressional committees, which have a constitutional obligation to oversee the executive branch. 

By the way, in a "Washington Post" op-ed, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, a great man from Maryland, says: "The White House has refused to hand over any documents or produce any witnesses for interviews, despite numerous requests."  Chairman Cummings says: "It reflects the decision at the highest levels to deny congressional oversight altogether."

So we`re getting a two-face here.  One, the president says, let out all the information.  On the other hand, he`s denying any documents that could be useful to a report.

WOODRUFF:  Well, and the president has long had a good cop/bad cop dynamic with his lawyers, which is, he goes out in front of the cameras and he says, I`m on board with whatever you`re doing, I`m going to play nice, I have nothing to hide.

And then his attorneys zoom in and say, oh, no, you don`t, we`re not doing this. 

This was an issue in the John Dowd era, when Trump said that he would be perfectly happy to sit down for an interview with Mueller.  We all know that didn`t happen, and it`s not going to happen. 

There have been other points in time when he`s sort of made these expansive promises, and then his lawyers have said, yes, he didn`t mean that at all. 

MATTHEWS:  What happens to the subpoena power?  I have been watching you guys get control of the House.  You got control of the House.  I thought the subpoena power came with it. 

Why can`t you just demand this stuff? 

RASKIN:  Well, we may end up getting to that place.

I mean, right now, what the president`s doing is quite striking, because all the former presidents, from Obama through Bush, have cooperated with requests for documents from the White House.  And even we`re getting basic cooperation from the rest of the administration. 

It`s in the White House itself where the president seems to be clamping down completely.

MATTHEWS:  But Nixon -- the Congress had to subpoena Nixon. 

RASKIN:  Yes. 

Well, you would have to go back to Nixon to find a fight over an executive privilege.  But this president seems to be saying, I`m not going to give you anything. 

I mean, that`s quite extraordinary.  That`s astonishing.  So he`s raising the stakes very quickly in terms of House control over the constitutional oversight process. 

This is our duty. 

MATTHEWS:  This conversation with the president today is really striking, because the president is saying, it`s not about rule by law.  It`s about who gets the most votes.  Mueller didn`t get any votes.  I got 63 million.  That`s how he`s talking.

So he shouldn`t be allowed to report on me.  He`s not allowed to issue a report. 

It`s crazy talk.  He`s -- in other words, every act of a government by law has to be voted on.  But, by that definition, then Hillary Clinton, who has more votes than him coming out of this election, should investigate him. 

I mean, I have never heard anybody say, you can`t investigate me unless you got more votes than me.  What is he talking about?

WOODRUFF:  Well, first, it`s an implicit endorsement of the congressional investigation... 

MATTHEWS:  Because they all got elected.

WOODRUFF:  ... since Democrats in the House got a whole bunch of votes. 

But, second, it also highlights just a very poor understanding of the way law enforcement works. 

Law enforcement officials are insulated from voters on purpose.  They aren`t supposed to decide who to prosecute or who to investigate because they want to win elections that are coming up.

And Trump`s argument that somehow Mueller should be able to be impeached or voted out or should have to stump in Iowa in order to get authorization to work -- to enforce America`s allies is just totally antithetical to the entire history of how law enforcement is supposed to work in this country and basic values when it comes to rule of law.

MATTHEWS:  Well, luckily, the people don`t agree with Trump on this.

A new Associated Press finds -- poll finds that a majority of Americans, a healthy one, 62 percent, are confident that Mueller`s investigation is being conducted family and impartially; 37 percent -- that`s a familiar number of Americans -- say they`re not confident.

Sounds like the hard-core Trumpies. 


MATTHEWS:  But 60-some percent is impressive, 62.

RASKIN:  Well, I mean, they have -- they have run it by the book.  There have been no leaks. 

That`s why nobody has any idea really when the Mueller report is coming out.  And they have had a lot of success in terms of the indictments, the prosecutions, the law enforcement material that`s been turned over to other prosecutors, like in the Southern District of New York.  And so people are impressed by the work they have done.

And, of course, Betsy`s point is right.  At the federal level, we don`t elect prosecutors.  Some local prosecutors are elected, district attorneys.  But we have designed our process to keep partisan politics away from law enforcement. 

That`s a basic fallacy that the president has been committing ever since he took office.  He thinks that law enforcement reports to him and he can interfere in individual cases.  It`s really quite an extraordinary mistake he`s made.

MATTHEWS:  I like what you said about, we better be prepared for the 25th Amendment. 

Anyway, thank you -- for its execution.  Thank you, U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Betsy Woodruff.

Up next:  A new report says Joe Biden is busy lining up big money donors.  So, what is he waiting for? 

That`s my question.  Late in April, I hear, maybe the third or fourth week in April.  Boy, this is late in the game.  Is he going to be the cavalry attacking from the hill?  Maybe he hopes that.

Back after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Will he or won`t he now?  Former Vice President Joe Biden has still not publicly announced whether he`s going to run for president or not.  He really hasn`t.  But, privately, he is out there telling people, at least a half-dozen supporters, he`s in, and asked for their money to line up the money. 

According to "The Wall Street Journal": "Mr. Biden has expressed concern to these people that he wouldn`t be able to raise millions of dollars in online donations immediately, the way some other Democratic candidates have."

And while Biden continues to mull his decision, it may help that he leads in the polls.  A new CNN poll has Biden at 28, followed by Bernie Sanders at 20, Kamala Harris at 12.  Surprisingly, former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is not even in the race, made that list ahead of a number of declared candidates, which tells you about Kerry`s -- respect for Kerry, but also about the problem a lot of them are facing of just getting known. 

Also, a new poll from Emerson College -- that`s up in Boston -- has Biden leading President Trump head to head by 10 points, a wider margin that any of the other Democrats beat Trump.

For more, I`m joined by Howard Dean, the former DNC chair in 2004. 

It doesn`t seem like that long ago, but it`s 15 years ago that you and John Kerry went at it.


MATTHEWS:  What is stopping -- because when Beto got in the race last week, I said, God, Biden better get going here.  They might be going after the same vote in some places. 


I mean, I have no view into the mind of Joe Biden.  But I do think that the -- if you can`t raise a lot of money on the Internet, this is going to be very tough race for you.  Politics has changed dramatically, even in the last four years. 

And those young people that helped us win the 40 seats we just picked up, that`s what`s driving the race, especially on the Democratic side.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Biden also let it slip last week -- almost let it slip that he was getting into the race, as he was touting his progressive record.  Let`s watch.


JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m told I get criticized by the new left.  I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the -- if -- anybody who would run. 



MATTHEWS:  Here`s a great question, first of all.  We can`t get into his record.  Of course, he`s been a liberal Democrat all his life.

But here`s the question -- with a few differences, like bussing, he was against.  But here`s the question.

DEAN:  The Iraq War.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, that`s a big one, wasn`t it?

DEAN:  Yes, it was a kind of a big one, yes.


MATTHEWS:  You and I were on that right side of that one.

But you`re right.  He was for the -- he will have to explain why he was for the Iraq War.

DEAN:  Right.  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And what good was his experience?

DEAN:  Well, look, I mean, everybody loves Joe Biden.

One of the problems is, if everybody loves Joe Biden, and he is at 28, what does that say?  He`s going to be formidable.

I think -- I think Joe`s greatest attraction is that he`s -- is that 10- point margin over Trump.  He`s a safe candidate.  And people really want to beat Trump in the worst way.  But there are a lot of really attractive candidates that are there -- out there now.  And they`re all -- almost all in.

Some of them are not...


MATTHEWS:  What is your bet about any -- any Democrat?  Say we start from the left, Bernie, we go all the way to more conservative candidates, in the Democratic sense, Biden.

Does it matter who runs, or is this going to be about Trump?

DEAN:  It absolutely matters who runs, because there`s a way to take on Trump, and there`s a way not to take on Trump.

What you don`t do is get in Trump`s face.  Trump is going to remind everybody why they don`t like him all campaign long.  I`m not -- I`m totally neutral in this race.  I really am. 

But I think Klobuchar provided a great example of how to deal with Trump.  Trump sasses her on the Twitter.  She just says, I wonder how Donald`s hair would look in this snowstorm, and then back to jobs, you know, climate change and so forth. 

That`s what we have to do.  Just do this, as Obama did to Trump, and just let him give his own message, because his message is not popular with Americans.

MATTHEWS:  Who do you think can do that?

DEAN:  I don`t know yet.

MATTHEWS:  Who can stand in a room 10 feet from him?

For example, Hillary Clinton, one of the smartest people to ever run for president, stands there giving her speech during a debate.  And Trump comes up like this colossal beast from behind her and looms over her from -- what do you do in weird situations like that?

DEAN:  Well, there are a few things to do.  I`m not going to share them on television.

But I think -- I think Hillary should have waved her arms around a lot.


MATTHEWS:  Wave him away?

DEAN:  No, double Trump off.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I see.


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about Biden`s decision to -- he reactively, instinctively didn`t like being accused of not being as progressive as the newbies.

Is it smart for him to compete with the left lane and just say -- or just say, you know what, I`m a center-left guy, on some issues, I`m more conservative, it was probably stupid to vote for the war in Iraq, but I`m not going to say I`m the most left candidate here?

DEAN:  So, here`s the deal.

I really don`t think this is about the Democrats attacking each other.  And they have actually been quite good about not doing it.  Some of their followers have, but, for the most part, they`re not.

MATTHEWS:  Except over marijuana. 

DEAN:  I missed that one. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes, because Cory Booker took a little shot at Kamala Harris over, you shouldn`t be out there bragging about having used illegal drugs. 

DEAN:  Oh, all right.  Well, I guess they -- I mean, if that`s the worst thing anybody says during the campaign, we`re in great shape. 

The real problem is, look, the competition is here.  If you dis your opponent in the Democratic race, it`s going to cost you.  There are 13 other people you can choose from.  Why would you pick somebody like that?  And you`re not going to.


Usually, the third guy wins. 

DEAN:  Yes, that`s right. 

MATTHEWS:  That`s what -- I attack -- A attacks B, and C wins.

DEAN:  Right.  That`s exactly what happens. 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, former -- former Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed scrutinizing Biden`s potential rivals.

He attributes the rise of Beto O`Rourke to the -- what he calls the Kardashian era of politics, pointing to what he called the me-centered nature of O`Rourke`s existence. 

Gingrich writes; "In the age of the Kardashians, O`Rourke may be the perfect candidate.  He is in because he is in.  He should lead because he likes to lead.  He should applaud and -- we should applaud and watch him in awe because that is our role.  Somehow, I doubt all this will work."

I got to say something.  Some candidates have lift.  They`re not smarter than the other candidates.  You had it for a while back in `04.  Lift.  You just go up and you levitate for a while, and it`s magical.  Even Beto says, I don`t know what it`s doing -- my wife and I don`t get it, what makes us magic.

He`s got it right now.

DEAN:  He does.

And it`s a riot to hear...

MATTHEWS:  Newt Gingrich.

DEAN:  ... Gingrich complain about the me, me, me candidate, right?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, the guy who didn`t like getting on the front end of the plane.

DEAN:  Yes.  I think he`s -- is he running with Kanye West of who can give the best advice to Democrats?

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Tantrum because he didn`t get on the right door of plane.

DEAN:  Exactly. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

Governor Dean, thank you for coming in.  And good luck with your work with the Democratic database. 

Up next:  How about we just count the votes?  How`s that for an idea?  We just count the votes to decide who wins the presidency?

Elizabeth Warren wants to do away with the Electoral College, in favor of a national popular vote.  Where do the other candidates and Americans at large stand on this question, just count the votes?

We`re back after this. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Several Democrats running for president have said they`d support or even be open to eliminating the Electoral College altogether, after the popular vote winner was denied the presidency twice in just the past 20 years.

Let`s watch.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My view is that every vote matters.  And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College and everybody --

BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think there`s a lot to that because you had an election in 2016 where the loser got 3 million more votes than the victor.  It puts some states out of play altogether.  They don`t feel like their votes really count.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you support getting rid of the electoral college? 

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA:  Absolutely.  It`s got to go. 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`m open to the discussion.  I mean, there`s no question that the popular vote has been diminished in terms of making the final decision about who`s president of the United States.  So, we need to deal with that.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Let`s restore power of the people.  Let`s bring our democracy back to the direct democracy it was supposed to be.  One person, one vote.  How about getting rid of Electoral College?


MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump tweeted that brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many states to win.  With the popular vote, you go to just the large states, the cities would end up running the country.  Smaller states and the entire Midwest would end up losing all power, and we can`t let that happen. 

I used to like the idea of the popular vote but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the USA.

Well, as Trump pointed out, he`s had many different positions on the Electoral College in the past.  And that`s up next on HARDBALL.


BLITZER:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump tweeted last night that he used to like the idea of the popular vote.  In a strongly worded on election night 2012 however, he said that the Electoral College was a disaster for democracy.  After he lost the popular vote in 2016 however, he said multiple times that he could have won the popular vote if he had tried to, figure one that out.

Last night, he tweeted campaigning for the popular vote is much easier and different than campaigning for the Electoral College.  It`s like training for the 100 yard versus a marathon.

It`s an argument he made several times, while going back and forth on the popular versus the Electoral College.  Let`s watch him in action. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The Electoral College is hard.  It`s hard, and harder to win than popular vote.  Popular vote you go to three, four states, boom, boom, boom.  You win -- it`s like the 100-yard dash versus running the mile.  You practice differently. 

I would rather have the popular vote because to me, it`s much easier. 

The Electoral College is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans. 

The Electoral College is very, very hard.  They say almost impossible for Republican to win.  The odds are stacked. 

The Electoral College is genius. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I`m joined right now by Reed Hundt, the CEO of Making Every Vote Count, and Michael Steel, former spokesman for the House Speaker John Boehner. 

Michael, why don`t we just count all the votes?  What`s wrong with the popular vote? 

MICHAEL STEEL, FORMER JOHN BOEHNER SPOKESMAN:  Because this is the compromise that our founders gave us.  At a time when President Trump is shredding democratic norms in this country, the last thing we need do is destroy another one.  We did it under the Founders` legacy and play the game the way it was meant to be played.  Protecting small states, protecting minority rights, not increasing division by having --


MATTHEWS:  What`s wrong with one, one person, one vote?  You`re talking about 300 years ago.  What about now?  Why don`t we have a popular vote now? 

STEEL:  Because this is a compromise that was designed to protect small states --

MATTHEWS:  They used to elect senators by the legislature of your state would pick senators -- 


MATTHEWS:  Why don`t we do it, popular vote? 

STEEL:  Because this allows candidates to campaign all over the country to have a national message and national campaign rather than speaking just to their bases and ginning up the voters on the coast. 

MATTHEWS:  Reed Hundt?


MATTHEWS:  Would you like -- what`s wrong with Electoral College?

HUNDT:  The Electoral College causes the campaigns to focus on almost no states at all.  More than 40 states there, were no visits, no get out the vote because the election results were assumed.  More than 80 percent of the American population was ignored. 

And in this election, we`re already saying in 2020, the election will be decided only in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and maybe Wisconsin.  It`s ridiculous. 

MATTHEWS:  If we went to a popular vote right now, what would it look like in the presidential camp -- would they spend their time in California, to roll up huge majorities in New York?  Is that what people would do?

STEEL:  Of course. 

HUNDT:  So, here`s the way I look at it -- 

MATTHEWS:  Why would you go to Alaska in a popular vote? 

HUNDT:  Here`s the way I look at it.  Does a cell phone call go everywhere?  Yes.  Does Amazon send packages everywhere?  Does Walmart build a store in Arkansas? 

Businesses know to reach every place in the country.  They know how to sell their product to everybody, and campaigns would use all the same techniques that businesses use in order to reach absolutely everybody in the country. 

STEEL:  And I don`t want that.  I don`t want a candidate sitting in an apartment in New York dialing for dollars and running television ads.  I want to make candidates get out in the country, go to a diverse collection of states and actually meet voters, talk to them, hear their concerns and make their case, and that`s what the Electoral College forces them to do. 

MATTHEWS  What do you think people think of democracy when they see Hillary Clinton, or any candidate get 3 million or 4 million more votes than the winner and walk away the loser?  By the way, if Trump had come up with 3 or 4 million short, what do you think he would have done? 

STEEL:  Right, it`s massively frustrating. 

MATTHEWS:  Frustrating?  Trump might have rejected the results. 

STEEL:  Which is why it`s so popular in the Democratic primary right now.  It`s a base play to frustrated Democrats who have seen this happen twice in 20 years.  I get it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well -- OK. 

According to Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans would support amending the Constitution so the person with the most votes wins, while 41 percent support keeping the Electoral College.

Explain that Reed.  Why do some people want to keep the electoral vote? 

HUNDT:  First of all, let me give you an up to date poll, we did a poll, our group that concluded last week, 76 percent of the people in Ohio believe that every vote in the country should be counted equally and the majority believe that whoever wins the national vote ought to be president.  If you go state to state across the country, everybody is going to show in their state a majority that believes the national vote winner should be the president because that`s fair play, because that`s the way --

MATTHEWS:  You mean in little states like Montana which has one electoral vote or one member of Congress, electoral votes, even those state would like to go to the popular vote? 

HUNDT:  They all believe that the national vote winner should become the president.  And in states like Montana, everybody has the following experience.  The candidates pay no attention to them.  The results are --

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let`s talk turkey here.  It takes 3/4s of the states to change the Constitution.  Is there an alternative route?

HUNDT:  Yes, there is.

MATTHEWS:  There is, by the way, 13 states are currently signed on to what is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact where states pledged to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.  The compact wouldn`t take effect until enough states sign up to equal the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

And right now, the participating states have a total of 181.  Are you going to get to 270? 

HUNDT:  Any state in the United States can pass a law deciding how its electors are going to be appointed and I predict that as the Democratic candidates and the Republican candidates go through the primaries in the spring of 2020, in every single state, this issue will be joined.  And the legislators in every single state are going to have to say to the people in that state, are we supporting the national vote?  Are we supporting the idea of an equal vote for every single person?  That`s the way it will play out in 2020.

STEEL:  And I predict that if, say, my state North Carolina votes for Kamala Harris for president, Trump wins the popular vote, and North Carolina tries to send electors pledged to Trump to the Electoral College, there will be riots in the street. 

This is a system that was created as a compromise to protect the smaller states, protect rights and the system has worked for some --


MATTHEWS:  What happens when we have a president lose a campaign by 10 million votes, because it`s getting that way, it`s popularizing and doesn`t get the job?  What people are going to do then, talk about rioting? 

HUNDT:  To me, President Trump should want to go out and win the national popular vote just like he said the time before this.  He is somebody who actually would love to do that campaigning.  And he said it before, his handlers should get out of the way and let him go out and try it. 

STEEL:  Yes.  I mean, every candidate I think for president would like to win the popular and electoral vote, but the system that we have now, you don`t determine the winner of a baseball game based on attendance.  It tells you something, but it doesn`t tell you who won or lose.  The Electoral College tells you who won or lose the presidential --

MATTHEWS:  That`s a hell of a comparison. 

Anyway, thank you, Reed Hundt, sir.  And thank you, Michael Steel, as always.

Coming up, what I call keeping up with the Trumps.  You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  My topic tonight could be called keeping up with the Trumps.  Donald Trump Jr. is attacking British Prime Minister Theresa May in the newspapers over there for not taking, quote, advice from my father on how Britain should exit from the European Union. 

The man who once met with the Russian agent to get dirt on Hillary Clinton is now thrash talking the woman was leading Britain`s government.  Meanwhile, his brother in law, Jared Kushner, that other beneficiary of President Trump`s nepotism, is readying his plan to guess what?  Re-divide the Middle East. 

How busy these presidential busy bees are.  One decrees what he calls his father`s wisdom on how the British depart from Europe with, I`d bet, not a thought to the consequences, what this breakup will do to the British aisles, especially Northern Ireland, what it will do the future of the British Commonwealth, what it will do the economic health of Europe itself. 

The Trump son-in-law decrees what he, Jared Kushner, believes should be the new Mideast order, the status of Jerusalem, the boundaries of a Palestinian state, as well as those boundaries of Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. 

I wonder if the folks who voted for Donald Trump had this in mind when they voted out of resentment for the country`s elite because is there anything so elite as to name members of your own family to direct events over whole spaces of the planet, from England to the Arabian desert. 

That said, I wonder if delusions of grandeur is not limited to just one member of the family Trump. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.