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Trump renews attacks on McCain. TRANSCRIPT: 3/21/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Mitch Landrieu, George Will, Yamiche Alcindo, Sherrod Brown,Caroline Fredrickson, Gerry Connolly

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  It`s Bob Mueller that a lot of us are thinking about whether tomorrow will be a Mueller Friday.  As we`ve explained today, no public clues, say, one way or the other.  We just saw arrive to work, and that`s all we know.  We`ll see what happens.

That`s it for me.  I`ll be back with you tomorrow.  "HARDBALL" starts now.


Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  The earth turns.  And with each day, each turn comes a new day, new weather, new events.  People smile, they cry, and they wonder what is going on with this president.  What causes him to ignore all decency, all sanity and political sense and only hear that tapping on the window of John McCain trying to get in.  Just when you thought it could not get worse, the President lets loose a vicious new tirade against the late senator.


REPORTER:  Senator John McCain is dead.  Why are you doing this?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  So it`s not a good portion of my time.  It`s a very small portion.  But if you realize about three days ago, it came out that his main person gave to the FBI the fake news dossier.  It was a fake.  It was a fraud.  It was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the democrats.  They gave it to John McCain, who gave it to the FBI for very evil purposes.

I`m not a fan.  He was horrible on what he did with the repeal and replace.  It was -- what he did to the Republican Party and to the nation and to sick people that couldn`t have great healthcare was not good.  So I`m not a fan of John McCain, and that`s fine.


MATTHEWS:  Well, here, the legends of ghosts roaming the White House.  But this is a real one.  The spirit of john McCain is living rent free in this presidential bedroom, so close that President Trump fears to roll over lest he`d bump in to the late Arizona senator.

Well, this is the grotesquery that looms from the upstairs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a live president cohabitating with a deceased robber, a macabre nightmare that seeps from the White House with every breath of this disturbed President.

Trump`s vendetta seemed to reach its apex yesterday when the President lamented that he was never thanked for giving him McCain, quote, the kind of funeral he wanted.  Well, John McCain`s daughter, Bridget, who has remained a private figure since she was targeted during the 2000 presidential campaign, called on this President to be decent and respectful.  Tweeting, even if you were invited to my dad`s funeral, you would have only wanted to be there for the credit and not for any condolences.  Unfortunately, you could not be counted on to be courteous as you are a child in the most important role the world knows.

Well, people close to the President tell the Washington Post that his attacks might be all about the looming report on Russian election interference from the Special Counsel`s Office.  While others said he simply has fewer advisers to restrain him from airing his grievances.

A former White House official told Politico that even aides who are used to his unconventional style have been left uncomfortable by the recent attacks.  A current aide told Politico, it does not appear to be a great use of our time to talk about George Conway or dead John McCain.  Why are we doing this?

Well, yesterday, the President called the husband of close adviser, Kellyanne Conway, a total loser.  George Conway responded by posting a diagnostic criteria list for narcissistic personality disorder, which includes these symptoms, a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and lack of empathy.  He ended with this Tweet.  You are nuts.

Mark Salter, a long-time aide to President -- or Senator McCain picked up on the President`s state of mind.


MARK SALTER, AIDE TO SENATOR MCCAIN:  I think you have to be genuinely a wreck of a human being to be jealous of a dead man.  The problem isn`t his disrespect to John or John`s family.  The problem is Trump.  He has no self-control and he is the most powerful man on the planet.  And that`s what republicans, all republicans, for the sake of the party`s future, for the sake of the country, ought to be saying, ought to be addressing.  It`s glaringly obvious.  This man is unfit for the office.


MATTHEWS:  Not fit for the office.

For more, I`m joined by Mitch Landrieu, former mayor of New Orleans and author of In the Shadow of Statues.  Mr. Mayor, about a year ago, I heard you were at the Preston [ph], at the Gridiron.  And what struck me, first of all, is a very strong performance, which I know you bested the President, that I thought.  But what I liked about it, as you said, I don`t pick my friends for the basis of politics.  Now, that is almost unimaginable in this city.

But, usually, politicians can walk past the guy they just debated and say how is the wife, say, hello, to her.  Have a nice weekend, some civility amidst the fighting.  This president makes it totally, utterly personal to the point he won`t let a deceased rival go.  It`s still personal.  Explain and criticize.

FRM. MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU (D), N.O.:  Well, a couple of things.  I would observe, for example, that Steve Scalise is my congressman.  He lives not too far from me.  He and I are friends.  We served in a legislature together.  We hardly agree on what the time of day is, to be honest with you.  But we like each other.  and we actually go to Mardi Gras parades together.  And when we get together, we argue where you can be hard on the problem and soft on the people.

There`s a phrase in law, it`s Latin phrase, res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself.  The President`s actions and his words speak for themselves.  I mean, we don`t really have to spend a lot of time psychoanalyzing what he`s doing or why he`s doing it.  We can just determine as decent human beings that he`s doing is wrong.  If he was sitting at the table with his daddy and he spoke like that, I don`t think he`d hang around for a long time.  You wouldn`t let the guy be your coach.  You wouldn`t let the guy do anything.  And so it just seems so strange that he wants to spend the nation`s important time doing something so awful.

So, first of all, John McCain was a great American hero.  You don`t have to agree with him to really understand what commitment he made to the country.  So President is wrong in saying what he`s saying.  But the more important thing is by focusing so much attention on this and on George Conway, we`re not focusing on really important things, not the least of which is the Mueller investigation. But put that aside for a minute.  We`re talking about how --

MATTHEWS:  Well, he can`t put it aside.  That`s his problem.

LANDRIEU:  No.  But what I`m saying to you is if you put that aside just for a second, this is what we`re not talking about, how to rebuild the roads, bridges and the streets of America, how to fix the healthcare system, how to fix a thousand things that need to be fixing so that regular Americans can have an opportunity for themselves and their kids.  And so this is the problem.

MATTHEWS:  Mitch, that`s your argument, and I`m with you.  But it`s not the problem of the President.  I want you to tell me, is he fit to be President?

LANDRIEU:  Well, he`s obviously not acting in a way that president of the United States should act.  And I think that because he won`t let this go for four or five days, people can question what in the world he is thinking about.  It doesn`t -- it seems out of boundaries.

MATTHEWS:  Is he educable?  Is he correctible?


MATTHEWS:  In other words, he`s going to stay this way for the rest of his presidency.  This is who he is.

LANDRIEU:  This is -- well, let me say this.  Without me having to guess about it, let`s think about what has actually happened.  You`ve known a lot of presidents over your time.  Generally, the majesty of that office will curb even the most difficult personality into humility because it`s so awesome.  We expected maybe that was going to happen with him.  We now have a lot of days of experience with him.  He`s not going to change.  This is who he is.  He is authentically who he says he is.  And, unfortunately, who he says he is and what he says he is is not capable of really running the office well, and that just happens to be the case.

And I think if we sit around and wait for him to change and concentrate on his behavior rather than what we need to do to make the country better, I just -- I think we`re we`re going to be waiting a long time.  But as I like to say in my neighborhood, don`t hold your breath.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a real conservative republican and is the latest republican to criticize the President`s attacks on John McCain.  After being pressed by constituency at a town hall today, the senator told Politico, John McCain is a dear friend of a mine, so, no, I don`t agree with President Trump and does need to stop.  She joins a handful of republicans that have issued and her dying [ph] comments about the President`s insults.

Sources tell with The Washington Post that the president takes particular pride in the fact that GOP voters prefer him over McCain.  Adding, the aide say, he has bragged that republicans might cringe but not punish him over the attacks.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for coming on tonight.  It is great to have you on.  And I`m sorry that you`re not running in this race.  I think you`re going to juice [ph] it up a little bit.  Thank you very much.

LANDRIEU:  Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS:  George Will, we have George right now and Yamiche Alcindo.  I want to start with George on this because you`ve written some pretty good stuff on this.  I think it is -- I don`t think he`s educable.  I don`t think he`s going to change.  People are telling me the aides are telling him he shouldn`t do this, people around him say, don`t do this.  And he`s obsessed almost like an Edgar Allen Poe figure with this tapping at the window.  He thinks McCain is trying to get in or something.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  Thomas Mallon, the fine Russian [ph] novelist, [INAUDIBLE], it`s like Scrooge and Marley`s ghost [ph], fury, haunting.  Look, you keep and is he educable, no.  This isn`t about education.  It`s not that he doesn`t understand something.  A fish got to swim, birds got to fly, he has to disparage.  It`s a metabolic urge.  I never have read a new story that says Trump`s strategy on X or Trump`s strategy regarding Y.  He doesn`t plan, he doesn`t -- that`s like -- it`s what the philosophers call category mistake.  It`s like talking about a sincere sofa.  He just doesn`t do those things.

MATTHEWS:  You mean like he`s a furniture?  Well, let me ask you this, Yamiche.  It seems to me that there`s something of Snow White in this guy, the wicked queen.  Mirror, mirror on the wall, who`s the fairest of them all.  And he thinks he`s hearing in the John McCain funeral and references McCain for what he suffered for what he suffered for his country, his moral superiority and the fact that he went.  And just a week or two ago, we got the word of how Trump has some concierge doctor up in Manhattan that got him out of the war.  The moral distance between these two guys is pretty drastic.

YAMICHE ALCINDO, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Let`s set aside that this is not just President Trump wanting to talk about all sorts of things other than the Mueller report, which everyone wants to -- which everyone is waiting on and then also to sign [ph] there.  But the President, really, I think, is haunted by the John McCain funeral.  I was on the phone with you the day that John McCain was laid to rest.  And you said on air and everyone talked about the idea that if you`re a president sitting in that row, you`re thinking this is what my funeral is going to look like.  President Trump had to be sit back and think, this is not what my funeral is going to look like.

Add to that, the fact that he`s talking about John McCain and this dossier.  That`s not where the Mueller probe started.  Just the fact that he`s mentioning him is based on a lie.  What we know is that George Papadopoulos was bragging to an Australian diplomat while he was drinking.  That person then called the U.S. government and said, hey, they Trump campaign says they have dirt on Hillary Clinton coming from Russia, and that`s how this all got started.  So even based on how he`s attacking John McCain is based on a lie.

MATTHEWS:  And here`s another one.  Today, the National Cathedral here in Washington disupted President Trump`s claim that he had approved McCain`s funeral, telling NBC, the Washington National Cathedral was honored to host the funeral service for Senator John McCain.  No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the President or any other government official.  And as for Trump`s claim that he was never thanked, two days after Senator McCain`s death, family spokesman, Rick Davis, said this.


RICK DAVIS, MCCAIN FAMILY SPOKESMAN:  The combined efforts of the Trump administration, the White House, Secretary Mattis and the Department of Defense especially and the Military District of Washington are very experienced in these issues related to the logistics of a funeral of this magnitude.  And we really thank them for coming together very quickly in pulling together all the federal resources.


MATTHEWS:  Well, I guess this was only on television, which the President watches relentlessly, and he didn`t get the thank you.  But I keep -- I know you`re a baseball guy and I was thinking of Yogi Berra`s line, if you don`t go to other people`s funerals, they won`t go to yours.  I mean, it`s crazy but it has a lot.  So he`s angry about the superior funeral.

WILL:  He is angry, period.  He is angry about fill in the blank.  What was the first controversy of this presidency?  The size at the inauguration.  Photographic evidence disproved his claims didn`t matter.  He goes to the CIA the day after his inaugurated stance in front of the Wall of Honor of those who have died in service of the CIA and whines about the crowd size.  The man is pathologically insecure and that explains almost everything about him.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Kellyanne Conway, the President`s adviser, called her husband`s attacks on the President unusual and explained why the President fought back.  Let`s take a look.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT:  He`s protective of me and that`s what people should take from this is that I`m not being asked to choose between my marriage and my job.  Donald Trump has never been -- the President has never made me feel that way.


MATTHEWS:  Yamiche, you have to do some, well, soap opera explanation.  Why is the President going after George?  Why is George going after the President?  I don`t get it.  The stuff George has said, you`re nuts.  That`s pretty strong.

ALCINDO:  It`s very strong.  It`s tough to understand why --

MATTHEWS:  I hear he`s a very smart guy, by the way, George.

ALCINDO:  I think it`s tough to understand what`s going on, other than the fact that he, like a lot of other republicans, went into this administration or thought of this administration saying, okay, we`re going to watch and see how this is playing out.  The campaign was a campaign.  He`s going to govern like a regular president.  And he is -- I mean, we all remember those conversations, right?

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Hope springs eternal.

ALCINDO:  Because he hasn`t that, he, like so many others, are Tweeting and angry about this.  I think Kellyanne Conway is stuck in the middle in a way that I think no one should want to be stuck in the middle, which is that she has a job to do while her husband is attacking her boss, and her boss is in the middle of arguing.  I think Kellyanne Conway, there are people who obviously criticize her about the way she defends the administration.  But she`s not been on Twitter picking fights in a way that her husband has.  So it just leaves you to shake your head.

MATTHEWS:  George, Mitch Landrieu had a quick thought, because most of us grew up with the idea that once you become President, the office does something to you, and it certainly did with Harry Truman.  And we never thought that Harry Truman is anything more than a Kansas City pol, haberdasher, those old lines against him.  Roosevelt once said his idea -- someone who said Roosevelt`s idea of being President was to be Franklin Roosevelt.  In this case, the horror is that Donald Trump`s idea of being president is being Donald Trump.  What`s the horror story we`ve unleashed here?

WILL:  Americans have a kind of belief in presidential alchemy, that is the alchemist used to say, well, we can turn lead into gold.  But I think 270 electoral votes turned so loud into a president.  Guess what?  That`s not how the chemistry works.

MATTHEWS:  In fact, the loud turned the presidency into loudest.  Anyway, thank you, Yamiche Alcindo, thank you George F. Will.

Coming up, unraveling the Mueller mysteries.  The unanswered questions as Washington waits for that Russian report to drop any day.  And what about their emails?  House Democrats are demanding answers after Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump used private email accounts for official government business as the White House continues to stonewall investigators.

Plus, Senator Sherrod Brown comes here to play HARDBALL tonight.  What should democrats be looking for in a presidential candidate?  And is diversity on the ticket a top priority?  He might know.

Much more ahead tonight.  Stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  All of Washington actually remains on high alert right now, tonight, awaiting the delivery of the Special Counsel`s report, which we`re told could be imminent.  What does imminent mean?  Tomorrow?  I don`t know.  Reporters staking out the Special Counsel`s office right now, capturing Robert Mueller, there he is, driving to work by himself, of course.  However, there has been no word as to when he will present his findings to the Justice Department despite repeatedly calling the investigation a witch hunt.  However, the President yesterday said the public should see the final report.  How is that for a flip?

A new poll by CNN shows the public agrees 87 percent.  Nine out of ten Americans say the Mueller report should be made public.  Who are these people that don`t think it should be made public?  However, Attorney General William Barr is not obligated to do so legally.

There are, of course, questions that Special Counsel needs to answer, like was the President, through his business dealings or otherwise, compromised by Russia?  Well, anyone else, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Prince, whoever, be charged with making false statements to Congress.  Why did Paul Manafort share internal polling data with a Russian intelligence operative?  And if the President has nothing to hide, why has he repeatedly obfuscated and misled the public with his frequent attacks on a legitimate investigation. Let`s take a look.


TRUMP:  Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it.  And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and russia is a made up story.

I am disappointed in the Attorney General.  He should not have recused himself.  I have President Putin.  He just said it`s not Russia.  I will say this.  I don`t see any reason why it would be.

Look, Comey is a leaker and he`s a liar.

So, very simply, Michael Cohen is lying.

I never directed him to do anything wrong.  Whatever he did, he did on his own.  He`s a lawyer.

The question was asked yesterday about pardons with respect to Paul Manafort.  I think they asked -- or whatever -- would you?  I said, I`m not taking anything off the table.

There should have never been a special counsel, in my opinion.  It`s an illegal investigation totally.


MATTHEWS:  I`m joined right now by Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, Chuck Rosenberg, of course, former U.S. attorney and former senior FBI official, and David Corn, my friend, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones."

I`m going to flip these cards and go to the bottom line here.

Chuck, you`re great at this.  Just a motivational question.  If he`s innocent of the main charge of collusion with the Russians, advancing a Russian conspiracy to interfere with our elections, the main thread of this thing, if he`s also -- also -- or possibly as well guilty of obstruction of justice for all those things we just saw, firing Comey, intimidating Comey, firing Sessions, the whole works, why did he do all that if he`s innocent? 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes, so one of the things that..

MATTHEWS:  Does strike you, as a law enforcement guy?  Why are you acting like you did it?

ROSENBERG:  One of the things we struggle with in law enforcement, in proving intent, right, is to get into someone`s mind. 

The more the president talks about all the things that he didn`t do, and that others did to him, and why this is a witch-hunt and a hoax, the more it illuminates what we call consciousness of guilt. 

I don`t know if he committed any crimes, but I know he talks a lot about how everything has turned on him and against him and it`s all unfair.  And to us, that`s consciousness of guilt.

MATTHEWS:  Is that what we mean in the old detective shows returning to the scene of the crime?

ROSENBERG:  Returning to the scene of the crime.

MATTHEWS:  What drives the bad guy or bad person to go back to where they did the killing?

ROSENBERG:  You drive by the bank that you robbed over and over and over again to see if anyone`s investigating the bank robbery. 

And so the president...

MATTHEWS:  Like the guy who starts the fire, the pyromaniac, goes back and watches the fire. 

ROSENBERG:  Well, right, returning to the scene of the crime.

The president, through his words, his tweets, his actions, his conduct, seems to be really concerned about something.  Did he commit a crime?  I don`t know. 

MATTHEWS:  But, Caroline, if he`s opposing all these investigations on pure constitutional grounds, like it`s wrong to question a guy, I don`t think he makes a case, because there`s so much prima facie evidence that the Russians interfered in our election to everybody. 

There`s so much prima facie evidence that his people were in -- were in regular dealing with Russian figures close to the Kremlin. 

CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY:  Absolutely.  There`s -- there`s reams of evidence.

But I think, to add to Chuck`s point, I think the other psychological element here, whether or not Trump actually conspired directly with the Russians, he wants people to think he won this election fair and square.

And just like he denied that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote, he wants to deny that Russians might have wanted to help him and that he might have wanted their help.  And so there`s -- in addition to possibly returning to the scene of the crime, there`s also this sense of denial, extreme denial, that he actually didn`t win the popular vote, and he might have only won the electoral vote because the Russians put him over the edge. 

MATTHEWS:  So he`s still fighting with Hillary Clinton, in the same way he`s still fighting with John McCain. 

FREDRICKSON:  He seems to be.  These ghosts are still lingering. 

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  We have to remember that, in this scandal, which I think you can argue is the most consequential -- consequential presidential scandal in history, he basically helped the Russians get away with the attack.

Whether that`s a crime or not, while they were attacking the election throughout the 2016 campaign, he kept saying it wasn`t happening, even after he had received briefings that it was.  So he has -- wants to cover up the taint, but he also wants to cover up this profound can`t of betrayal.

He wants to -- he wants us to forget that he lied to the American public about dealing with Putin and Russia and Putin`s own office while campaigning in order to make hundreds of millions of dollars.  There`s so much he did that is wrong, whether it`s a crime or not. 

And we have gotten focused on the criminal side of this, which he wants, because, if he can`t be indicted, if he can argue the collusion case, he doesn`t have to win.  He just has to make it messy.  He`s already done so much, though, that if we weren`t living in these tribalized times of -- time of politics, he would have been raked over the coals, and the public would have rejected him for this.

MATTHEWS:  I`m going to ask you about, when Jerry Ford, who everybody liked -- they didn`t dislike him -- nobody disliked him -- when he pardoned Nixon, everybody like me was saying, damn it, I want to know what happened.  And unless we have a trial, we will never find out what happened.

Will we, Chuck, in this report, whenever it comes out, tomorrow morning, next Wednesday, who knows when, will we find out the denouement?  Will we get a sense of what happened with Russia, what happened with Trump, the whole thing?

ROSENBERG:  Leon Jaworski`s report in Watergate, Chris, as you know, came out 40 years later.  So, will we ever see a report?  I think so.

MATTHEWS:  But if it comes out, will it to be written to answer those questions?

ROSENBERG:  Well, here`s the problem. 

You have stuff that will inevitably be in the report that we shouldn`t see, because it`s either classified or grand jury information or, importantly, because it pertains to ongoing investigations. 

There`s a way to handle classified information.  You could redact it or declassify it.  There`s a way to handle grand jury information.  You can get an order from a judge to disclose it. 

But if you have ongoing investigations -- and I imagine we do in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere -- that stuff should remain confidential until those investigations are over. 


FREDRICKSON:  But I`m just going to say that the one thing, though, that they did have, since they didn`t really have a report in Watergate, they did have a road map, though, that was given to Congress to follow what the grand jury testimony and the evidence told them.

And the same thing could happen here, where you may not get much in the report from Mueller.

MATTHEWS:  From Jaworski, yes.

FREDRICKSON:  But you may -- and we already do have, from the litany, the variety of indictments and prosecutions that have already taken place, there`s a pretty good road map already for Congress to follow. 


In a "New York Times" op-ed today -- I got to get to this -- it`s coming out tomorrow -- FBI Director James Comey writes: "Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be" -- here`s another guy who believes it -- "unfit to be president United States, I`m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal -- that he`s a criminal.  I`m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to clear the president."

Comey says that: "I am rooting for a demonstration to the world that the United States has a justice system that works because there are people who believe in it and rise above personal interest and tribalism." 

So I guess that`s the question, is -- I don`t know whether I believe Comey or not.  I don`t think he is that pious, that he doesn`t care what happens here.

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But I do think it would be nice to know that we are a country of law. 

CORN:  Well, there are two things here. 

There`s the law, and finding out what the heck happened.  They`re not the same thing.  So, Mueller may know all.  It`s not his job necessarily to tell all.  His job is to prosecute cases.

And the report, I think we`re hyping this.  The report, under the Justice Department guidelines, regulations, he only has to tell the attorney general what his prosecutorial decisions were.  Now, maybe he`s going to do 5,000 pages.

MATTHEWS:  But Comey went beyond that with Hillary Clinton before the last election. 

CORN:  That`s right.  He did.

MATTHEWS:  He went out and said, I don`t like her, even though I`m not indicting her.

CORN:  And he got reamed for that, right?

But -- so Mueller doesn`t have to do that.  So the real issue is what you were talking about.  Whatever Mueller presents to the attorney general, there`s still an obligation for the public to know what happened.  That now will go to Congress.  They can pick up on Mueller.  Maybe they will get a copy of his report.

But Mueller`s report could literally be a dozen pages that tell us nothing new.  It`s not the end of the game here.  No one should think that.

MATTHEWS:  I agree.  I agree. 

But I think it`s very important, just as a citizen, and I suppose commentator, I think going into the 2020 election, it would be nice to know what happened in 2016.

FREDRICKSON:  Absolutely.  I think the public absolutely has a right to know if Russia -- we know Russia interfered our election. 

We know the president and his campaign had interactions with the Russians.  We know the Russians tried to directly help the campaign.  The public needs to know how far that went, how far up the chain, so that we can feel confident in our system of justice, but also in our system of democracy. 

MATTHEWS:  Will we get an asterisk in the history books, thanks to this investigation, so we can put next to the 2016 election that little thing like Barry Bonds used drugs kind of thing?  Will there be an asterisk?

ROSENBERG:  Roger Maris.


MATTHEWS:  Yes, or what`s the name, Lance -- what`s the name? 

ROSENBERG:  Armstrong.

MATTHEWS:  Armstrong. 

And we`re going to get a little asterisk that said, yes, he got the election, but -- will we get enough information from Mueller to have that in the history books?

ROSENBERG:  I think we already know, from our intelligence community communities` unanimous analysis and opinion, that we have an asterisk there, right?

They can`t tell us how many votes flipped.  They can`t tell us how many people changed their minds.  They can tell us and they have told us that the Russians interfered in the election, and to benefit President Trump. 

MATTHEWS:  Will it say Trump helped?

ROSENBERG:  Would...

MATTHEWS:  Will it say that Trump helped them? 

ROSENBERG:  Well, the -- right.  I`m waiting to see the report.

CORN:  Well, he did help them by making it a political issue whether this was happening.


ROSENBERG:  Well, and that`s -- and that`s a fascinating open question that I hope Mueller answers, and I hope we get to read it.

MATTHEWS:  About the poll question. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, what do they want with that, except to fine-tune and do the little micro-marketing of voters and the stuff we know goes on today, and trashing him with the black community and people like that -- her, rather, Hillary. 

Anyway, thank you, Caroline.  What a beautiful name.  My daughter is a Caroline.  Caroline Fredrickson, Chuck Rosenberg, and David Corn, also beautiful names.

Up next:  What are Democrats looking for when it comes to a presidential candidate?  Is diversity on the ticket a must?  That`s a big question. 

Senator Sherrod Brown, who recently left the campaign, joins us right now.  Actually, he never really got in it, but he`s not in it. 

Anyway, we will right back with Sherrod Brown of Ohio. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

With 319 days until the Iowa caucuses, there are already more than a dozen presidential candidates in the Democratic field.  There they are.  Not yet on that list, former Vice President Joe Biden.

As he decides whether to make a third try for the presidency, Biden`s team is said to be discussing a number of unconventional ideas.  And according to Axios today, one idea being debated by some of his advisers is announcing a vice presidential running mate right out the gate, with Stacey Abrams of Georgia as that V.P. choice.

However, there is skepticism about naming a running mate at all this early, including from one Democrat in the House leadership. 


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA:  I think it would be a mistake for Joe Biden to come out or any other candidate and announce a running mate right out of the gate.  That`s taking a lot for granted. 


MATTHEWS:  I`m joined now by Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

What do you think of that, that talk of a ticket right from the gate? 

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  Well, I love Stacey Abrams. 

I don`t know.  I think they`re going to be a lot of unconventional things.  It`s a huge number of candidates.  I love Jim Clyburn, and I trust his judgment.  I was with him, and Connie and I were with him and his daughters in South Carolina two or three weeks ago. 

We will see how it all plays out.  I think that -- I assume that Joe Biden gets in the race.  I assume he will do some interesting things in this race.  And we will see.  But I -- it`s the most interesting, diverse field we have ever had.  And I think we will have -- I don`t predict things in politics very often, but I think we will have perhaps the most diverse ticket we have ever had.  So we will see. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about that, because I listen constantly.

You were out there actually looking at the field and thinking about getting into it, I think.  And what did you see in terms of the stresses on the party?  I mean, you have got a lot of the -- what they call in the Democratic Party the base.  That`s African-Americans mainly.

Is it their turn to have a candidate on the ticket?  Just a simple fact, whose turn is it?  Is it their turn?

BROWN:  Well, the voters -- the voters in the primaries are going to decide, the primaries and the caucuses.

I think the winner in this, the person that gets through this -- and here`s where I will make a prediction -- the person that gets -- that becomes the nominee, with a running mate going in or not, will be the candidate, man or woman, who has sold -- has done the best job of talking about the dignity of work, talking about honoring and respecting work, talking about the Democratic Party being the party of workers.

And the other prediction I`d make is, come January 20, 2021, whoever raises her right hand or his right hand will include in that speech discussion of the dignity work, and not as a slogan.  For me, it`s who I am.  It`s not a slogan it.  And it`s how they will govern. 

And they -- I think, whichever candidate does that the best, about dignity of work and how they will govern with those messages and through the eyes of workers, is the one that`s the next president. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it`s odd that, in this time of 2019, heading into 2020, that the three front-runners in the Democratic Party, which is dominated by women in terms of numbers, and minorities are a huge part of the party, that the three top people running right now are Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Beto right now in some of these numbers?

He shows up there right near the top with Kamala.  I guess Kamala Harris is three.  But is it still a door open for a white male to put an all-white male ticket together?  Or is that just how the question? 

BROWN:  Well, I would assume it won`t be an all-white male ticket.

I think that Bernie and Joe are leading because Bernie and Joe are the best known.  They have -- Joe has been around for 45 years in politics and been vice president eight of those.  Bernie was a -- obviously, the runner-up candidate four years ago. 

So they are the best known.  And anybody getting in this race knows that, not necessarily those are the two to beat, but those are the two that are going to lead through the spring and summer, I assume, until the candidates really mix it up.  And then we will see who comes out. 

But I don`t -- I mean, I don`t think that really matters much, what the polls say now. 


I think the Democrats, whoever it is, the candidate is, has faced three vulnerabilities that Trump will hit hard, and he hit them last time.  One is open borders.  He will say, yes, I got the wall.  You can argue about the wall, but at least I got something.  They got nothing. 

The other is going to be socialism.  The very word scares a lot of suburbanites, who are afraid it means their taxes are going to go up.  And, third, it`s late-term abortion, which not just Catholics, but a lot of people don`t like the idea of late-term abortion.  It doesn`t seem consistent with Roe v. Wade. 

I think those are three weaknesses.  It`s possible Trump can win with those three things going for him, even as weak as he is.

BROWN:  Well, it`s possible, but it`s unlikely, if Democrats do this right.

And it`s making the contrast.  I mean, Trump -- Trump has betrayed workers, number one.  He promised these workers and Lordstown at the GM plant there would be jobs coming in.  Instead, during -- since he was elected, we have lost 4,500 jobs at that plant and thousands more in the region, in the Mahoning Valley, a valley of -- an area of about a half-a-million people. 

He has betrayed workers and betrayed all the kinds of promises he made.  He gives a tax cut to the richest people in the country.  And they then -- they then want to raise the eligibility age for Medicare or go after Social Security, Medicare, Head Start, all the -- all the values we stand for. 

So Trump`s going to say what he`s going to say.  But if we make that contrast -- I mean, I run in a state that`s increasingly conservative and more Republican than sometimes I would like it, and I go into areas where they know I`m pro-choice.  They know I have been for marriage equality for 20, 25 years.  They know I get an F from the NRA.

But I get a lot of their votes because I talk about the dignity of work.  I talk about their kid getting into Owens or Sinclair or Eastern Gateway Community College and getting some breaks in life. 

I talk about health care for their kids and their parents.  And you take the debate, and you make the contrast between who we are -- who we are and who Trump is and what he stands for, and we win, no matter the background noise and the cacophony and all the -- all the white noise that he keeps putting out there. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, and I hear you.  I believe you.

Thanks so much, Sherrod Brown, senator from Ohio.

BROWN:  All right, of course.  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Remember a few years ago, when a high-ranking government official got in hot water from using her -- remember her -- private e-mail account for official business? 

Well, now the House Oversight Committee wants to know more about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner`s now admitted use of private e-mail accounts and an encrypted messaging app to conduct White House business. 

Well, I think we`re back into the problem area. 

That`s up next.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

While Trump supporters still shout "lock her up" over Hillary Clinton`s use of a private email server while secretary of state.  Well, now comes word Trump`s son in law, Jared Kushner, has used or continues to use the encrypted messaging app WhatsApp as part of his official goodies in the White House. 

And according to a letter sent to the White House today by House Oversight Committee Chair Cummings that`s the case.  According to the Presidential Records Act, officials are prohibited from using electronic messaging accounts, unless they copy their official email account or forward a complete copy of the record to their official email.  Chairman Cummings notes that when asked how Kushner preserves records of his conversation, Kushner`s lawyer Abbe Lowell told the committee in December that he takes screen shots of those communications and forwards them to his official White House email account.  Well, his lawyer also confirmed that Kushner had communications with people outside of the United States. 

While CNN reported last year that Kushner talked to MBS, of course, the notorious Saudi prince, using WhatsApp.  When asked whether Kushner has ever used WhatsApp to discuss classified information, Mr. Lowell replied, that`s above my pay grade. 

Well, Lowell said today that Cummings` letter was not completely accurate, noting he never said Kushner`s communications were with foreign leaders or officials, but that he has used those communications with some people.  Well, Cummings said that the White House has failed to produce most of the documents his committee had asked for on federal records law since 2017, and asked them to confirm by March 28th, whether you intend to comply voluntarily with each request or whether the committee should consider alternative means, that would be a subpoena, to obtain the information it needs. 

And Kushner`s use of private messaging app is only the tip of the iceberg of what Cummings` committees investigating.  All this is coming up next.  What`s good for the goose is good for the gander, look out, royal family.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings letter today not only revealed that Kushner, that`s Jared Kushner, still uses a private messaging app to do government business but we also learned that his lawyer told the committee that Ivanka Trump continues to receive emails related to official business on her personal email account. 

"The Washington Post" reported in November that Ivanka used the personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business just last year. 

And Cummings also said today that the committee has documents that show that K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security advisor, and former chief strategist Steve Bannon also used their personal email for their official business. 

As "The Washington Post`s" Phillip Bump notes, there`s reported at least seven members of Trump`s White House have used unofficial communications for the work. 

I`m joined now by Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who sits on the Oversight Committee, that`s the committee Elijah Cummings chairs.  And Heidi Przybyla, NBC national political correspondent. 

I want to go to politics, first, Heidi -- lock her up.  I always thought that was the weirdest thing to get excited about.  But the passion of the Republican rallies, and that`s what they are, against Hillary Clinton was we got her, she used email, she had a private server. 

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, I was there.  There was not a place we landed in, whether it was in Phoenix, or in North Carolina, whether there weren`t men with signs yelling "lock her up". 

And the whole campaign, if you look at the coverage, the saturation coverage, the number one issue that was covered in the campaign was Hillary Clinton`s emails.  So, there`s not a sole in this White House that can claim ignorance over -- 

MATTHEWS:  The law.

PRZYBYLA:  -- the law and procedures in the White House. 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, President Trump constantly attacked, as Heidi said, constantly attacked Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.  Let`s watch him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It`s unbelievable how Hillary Clinton got away with the email lie, the email scam, the email corruption. 

She should have been disqualified for running for president from the first batch of emails. 

We know Hillary can`t be trusted.  We`ve learned that with America`s security.  You take a look at her email situation.  Can we trust her with our security? 

If that were a Republican that what she did with the emails, they would have been in jail 12 months ago. 

I guarantee you one thing, we`re going to be talking about those emails every moment of every day. 


MATTHEWS:  So, what about the royal family`s emails now?  Jared and Ivanka? 

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA:  You know, I`m reminded of the old expression, if you`re going to be a phony, at least be sincere about it. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make (VIDEO GAP) after the experience of all the "lock her up" nonsense? 

CONNOLLY:  It`s just this culture of impunity and it`s kind of this counter-deflection Trump has.  So, lock her up, meaning I hope you don`t find that I should be locked up.  He`s a liar, meaning actually, I`m the liar.  And they do this all the time to deflect attention away from themselves.  But this was pretty jaw dropping. 

MATTHEWS:  And what about talking to foreign leaders like MLB and -- actually, I was getting the name that ends with -- MBS.  What about that conversation is erased because apparently this WhatsApp app does is destroy itself.  So, there`s no way to trace it. 

PRZYBYLA:  Well, that`s the big distinction here.  After all the investigations and probes into Hillary Clinton, they found three emails that had a small C for classified on them, out of 30,000.  And in this case, the initial reports indicate that there may have indeed been more serious classified information traded here if the reporting is accurate that Kushner was communicating with other foreign leaders on WhatsApp, specifically with CNN`s report of the Saudi crown prince and other officials that K.T. McFarland who apparently was using her AOL account to discuss the transfer of Saudi nuclear energy.

So there was very much a concern here that there were actual state secrets and classified information that may have been exchanged.  Again, I say may because we don`t have the information.  And if you talk to Abbe Lowell, he`s the -- 

MATTHEWS:  That`s the lawyer for him.

PRZYBYLA:  That`s the lawyer for Kushner.  He said, I have been misquoted, I never said who exactly Kushner was trading messages with.  I said he has a lot of friends overseas, friends, and so, the points stands that we don`t have all the information and it appears that White House is not going to be in a position, or does not going to agree to give us the information. 

CONNOLLY:  And let`s remember this is compounded by the fact that Jared Kushner tried four times to get a security clearance and didn`t get it.  So, we got someone who really is entitled to a security clearance who is handled and is handling classified material with foreign leaders. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think he`s up?  I mean, he`s talking about this grand plan to give the Saudis -- take some land for the Saudis, give it to the Jordanians, give some Jordanian land.  And he`s just redrawing the whole map of the Middle East, and he`s nobody.

Who is he to go after this stuff.  And his brother is going after Brexit, going after Theresa May.  They`re acting like they`re running the world, these people. 

CONNOLLY:  I think there`s a culture of impunity and they know no boundaries, and the rules don`t apply to them. 

MATTHEWS:  Their daddy never sent them to bed I guess. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia.  Heidi Przybyla, as always.

Up next, my personal thanks to the man who tomorrow will become the longest living president in American history. 


MATTHEWS:  People ask me what my favorite job was over the years. 

Well, this one is certainly hard to beat.  I get up in the morning, I read the newspapers and online briefings, I digest it all knowing that it`s not just interesting but we`ll be useful when weighing through what happens between then and getting on HARDBALL at night. 

But tonight, I want to thank someone for another job I had which I love as purely as you like anything.  And that`s presidential speech writer, in fact writing for a president I truly admire who tomorrow, March 22nd, 2019, reach as landmark age of the longest living American president. 

Jimmy Carter has been around for a long time.  He`s 94.  He will have lived a day longer than George Herbert Walker Bush, long enough to know where he`s destined to stand in history.

I know where he stands with me.  He is a man who was never marred for a second by scandal or sleaze of any kind.  There was certainly no chatter matter about impeachment in Carter`s time and when it came time for him to go after his failed reelection campaign of 1980, he left the office with his head high, and his conscience clear.  He`s done his best and not his worst. 

And that is another gift he gave to those who served him, above and beyond the experience of flying with him on Air Force One, working on those old (INAUDIBLE) as the pilot took off in a steep 45 degrees.  He kept our reputations clean as well. 

It was the job I wanted after my time in Africa as a Peace Corps, speech writer to the president.  And thanks to the man who will become I got the chance to be that for the most honest and moral man ever to lead us, who honored the call of Prophet Micah to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.