ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And you can also always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That does it for me. Thank you as always for watching. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Watching the Russians? Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Nothing concentrates the mind, wrote Samuel Johnson, like the thought of an imminent hanging. Donald Trump fairing the imminent release of the Mueller report that expected to portray his campaign as a dupe of Russia, not to mention deliver alarming new evidence of obstruction is determined to somehow change the subject.
Today, he called the Mueller investigation an attempted coup and encouraged the Justice Department to make war on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: This was an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a president. And we beat them. What I`m most interested in is getting started, hopefully, the Attorney General, he mentioned it yesterday, he`s doing a great job, getting started on going back to the origins of exactly where this all started because this was an illegal witch hunt and what they did was treason. What they did was terrible. What they did was against our constitution and everything we stand for. So, hopefully, that will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it now appears that Attorney General William Barr is set to deliver on the President`s wishes. Yesterday, Barr said, he intends to review the conduct of the investigators who opened the Mueller investigation. And according to Bloomberg News, he`s assembled a team to do just that.
Today, in his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, Attorney General Barr appeared to endorse the widespread republican and Trumpian allegation that the Trump campaign was improperly surveilled or to use the Trumpian term, spied upon.
Here`s the Attorney General using that very term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: So we want to make sure that during - - I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. I`m not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it`s important to look at that. And I`m not just -- I`m not talking about the FBI necessarily but intelligence agencies more broadly.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): So you`re not suggesting though that spying occurred?
BARR: I don`t -- well, I guess you can -- I think spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur.
SHAHEEN: Well, let me --
BARR: But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated. And I`m not suggesting it was inadequately predicated, but I need to explore that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Barr is careful to say he`s not alleging that anything improper actually took place. He even says that the spying, as he put it, could have been warranted. But Barr still used the very term that the President has deliberately thrown around to smear law enforcement so relentlessly, by the way, for the last couple of years. As The Washington post points out, that is a highly disputed term when it comes to what the FBI did relative to the Trump campaign in 2016. And it lends legitimacy to what, at this point, is essentially a Trump conspiracy theory.
I`m joined now by John Brennan, the former Director of the CIA under President Obama. Director, spying, why is Trump and his cronies, including the new A.G. used that word?
JOHN BRENNAN, MSNBC SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I was very disappointed in what Attorney General said today about spying when he was referring to the investigation that was predicated certainly and that the FBI was trying to understand exactly what the Russians were doing.
U.S. intelligence agencies were spying against foreign adversaries so that we can understand the threat to our national security. But for the Attorney General, to imply or to say that they were spying domestically, he knows the language and he knows the terminology and knows what it connotes, which is an extra legal activity taking place when, in fact, the FBI and CIA and others were trying to understand just what the Russians were doing. And we know now it is incontrovertible that the Russians were trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
MATTHEWS: Now, according to the language of this guy, Barr, I don`t really like him much lately because of this game he`s playing here, a state trooper working at night along a state highway and he`s watching and he sees that somebody is going over 70 miles an hour. Is he spying on the cars or is he doing his job? This word spying is so ludicrously used here.
BRENNAN: Yes. And he thought about that question and answer and he did say there was spying. And so for -- and he`s former Attorney General as well. It`s not as though he`s just a new Attorney General. He is steeped in the law and he should be. And he should know the difference between a thorough FBI predicated investigation and spying against a foreign adversary.
MATTHEWS: To use another American word, is he a toady? Is he saying the kind language that Trump wants to hear him use?
BRENNAN: Well, unfortunately, I think over the past several weeks, I have been disappointed in Attorney General Barr. I had higher expectations for him. He shaped the narrative after the Mueller report. He, in fact, then also had this testimony today that I think was very carefully nuanced as a way to try to support Donald Trump`s positions. So he acted more like a personal lawyer for Donald Trump today rather than the Attorney General.
MATTHEWS: Here`s what I don`t understand about the Trump-Barr strategy. If it comes out next week, as it`s been reported, that the Mueller report, when we get a good look at it, a decent look at it, will show alarming evidence of obstruction of justice that the Russians did manipulate the Trump campaign, what good is it to go back and fill this out (ph) that they shouldn`t have had this investigation when it bears fruit, when it`s clear it did dig up some awful stuff? What`s the strategy?
BRENNAN: Yes. Well, look at the people who have been indicted and have been convicted in terms of what they did wrong. And so it`s unclear to me what he was trying to do. I also I think it was unfortunate that he arrogated to himself the determination about whether obstruction of justice did occur on the part of Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: He said he didn`t, just like that.
BRENNAN: Well, I think we have to understand more about the basis for Bob Mueller not making a determination there. I think Bob Mueller is a conservative individual and recognizes the Department of Justice policy is not to indict a sitting president. So I think he really wanted to have the Congress and the American people make that determination about the transgressions involved.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. Anyway, discussing the Russian probe last year, former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was extremely cautious about his choice of words on the activities of law enforcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was the FBI spying on Trump`s campaign?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: No, they were not. They were spying on -- a term I don`t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing, trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to get leverage and influence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So the FBI is trying to figure out what`s going on with the Russians because of all these problems, where this noise we`re hearing from Papadopoulos and all the rest of them about something going on over there, it`s spying. And I`m just wondering, spying seems to be perfect word if you believe in the deep state coming against Trump. If you believe these awful people that worked for the federal government sworn to public service for their careers, all are the bad guys, then you attach a word that they`re not like law enforcement but spies.
BRENNAN: Yes. In the summer of 2016, the CIA and FBI and NSA worked very closely together to try to understand as much as possible about what the Russians were doing. And those agencies that have a a foreign intelligence responsibility carried out their responsibilities and authorities to the best of their ability. And the FBI, which has the domestic role, was carrying out its investigation and its counterintelligence investigation. And I had many conversations with Jim Comey just to make sure that the CIA and FBI are working together, not doing anything inappropriate but making sure that we`re fulfilling our statutory and responsibilities.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s HARDBALL time. What do you think we`re going to find in the Mueller point when we get the redacted version of it? Are we going to get enough to scare the hell out of this administration or what?
BRENNAN: I don`t know. It`s clear that Donald Trump and his cronies are quite fearful of what may be in there. And I don`t know what William Barr is going to redact for various reasons that he has cited. I`m hoping that as much comes out as possible.
Let`s make one thing clear. The only thing that Donald Trump and his campaign were clear with by the Barr memo that was cited in the Mueller memo, was there was not an evidentiary basis to charge somebody with criminal conspiracy. It never said that there was no collusion or cooperation. So I think there`s a fair amount of information that is there that Bob Mueller uncovered about the interaction between the Trump campaign officials and the Russians.
And now, on the obstruction of justice issue, I think there is a real question about whether or not Donald Trump and others did obstruct justice, but that Bob Mueller decided that he was not going to be the one to indict a sitting president.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you so much, John Brennan. Thanks, Director, for coming on the show.
Once Barr used the word spying to describe the activities of legitimate law enforcement, senators of both parties attempted to clarify exactly what he was talking about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D-HI): Do you want to rephrase what you`re doing? Because I think the word spying could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out.
BARR: I`m not sure of all the connotations of that word that you`re referring to. But unauthorized surveillance.
JERRY MORAN (R-KS): You have indicated that there is the possibility that unauthorized surveillance or spying occurred.
BARR: Did you say that I said that it occurred? I just want to make it clear thinking back on all the different colloquies here that I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I`m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That`s all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I want to bring in now U.S. Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He sits the House Judiciary Committee. And also Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor.
First, on the politics, Congressman. It looks to me like this guy is on a tight rope. On one side, he wants to lean one way to make sure Trump keeps him in the job and the other way don`t look like an ass. I mean, clearly, I mean, he is saying things like they`re spying, spying that the state trooper stops for speeding, that`s not spying on you, that`s doing your job. If you are looking for the Russians and what they`re up to in our country because you think they are in to screw with our elections, that`s not spying, it`s law enforcement. He knows the (INAUDIBLE) and he used that word spying. What`s your thought?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Yes, I think there is no question about it. Look, the President said he wanted his Roy Cohn and he got it. I mean, here`s an Attorney General who`s tried to shape the narrative with a four- page narrative of the Mueller report who is protecting the President by not releasing its full contents to the Judiciary Committee. And now, he throws out in a casual way, spying, which is exactly the word the President used to promote this conspiracy theory of the deep state. That was purposeful.
Then he thought about it, I think, during the course of the hearing, he realized what he was saying. So I`m not saying anyone did anything wrong, but this was justified law enforcement activity. It`s what we would expect from the intelligence and law enforcement communities.
Spying suggests something unwarranted or impermissible. He said at the end, oh, I`m not saying they did anything unwarranted, but he`s clearly offering the President a lifeline to continue promote this conspiracy theory and undermine the brave men and women in law enforcement who do an incredible job everyday to protect our country and protect our democracy.
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, is the Attorney General supposed to be a civil servant or a puppet toon?
CICILLINE: Well, we should remember, well, of course --
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The attorney general is supposed to be --
MATTHEWS: No, Cynthia.
ALKSNE: Yes. The Attorney General was supposed to represent the people of the United States of America and he is not doing so. Today, he was completely irresponsible in the spying comment. He knows full well that that investigation began when George Papadopoulos was drunk in a bar and was talking about Russian emails. And then the Carter Page FISA warrant, just so people understand, to get a FISA warrant is a lot of work. There is a lot of oversight in the FBI. Then it goes to the DOJ. This warrant then goes to the FISA judges.
And if you think of federal judges, they are all really smart. The smartest ones, the most wonky, the most detailed, those are the ones who become the FISA judges. And the Carter warrant FISA warrant was not only given once, but three times it was renewed. This was not spying. This was not irresponsible by law enforcement in the United States. And for the Attorney General to say so is a stain on his reputation, which I frankly don`t even recognize the guy anymore. I am outraged that he would do that to the law enforcement and to the criminal justice system in the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: A lot of people are saying that. Some of Mueller`s investigators have complained that the Attorney General has not portrayed their findings accurately. As The Washington Post reported last week, they said the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant. We`re talking about he Mueller report itself. Yet, in today`s hearing, Barr repeatedly declined to explain why he cleared the President on obstruction of justice when the Special Counsel didn`t clear him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: I`m not going to discuss my decision. I will lay it out after the report is out.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Mr. Attorney general, the thing is you put this out there. I mean, the President went out and Tweeted the next day that he was exonerated. That wasn`t based on anything in the Mueller report with respect to obstruction of justice. That was based on your assessment. That was on March 24th. And now, you won`t elaborate at all as to how you reached that conclusion.
BARR: I will discuss that decision after the reporting --
VAN HOLLEN: Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
BARR: I don`t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.
VAN HOLLEN: So can you assure us that the key factual evidence in the Mueller report related to charges of obstruction of justice will be available in the public report?
BARR: I believe it will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s our senator from Maryland there, Chris Van Hollen.
Let me get back to David Cicilline of Rhode Island. It seems to me that the whole strategy here on the Trump crowd, including Barr who is now working for them, is to try to undermine the whole Mueller report itself, the fact there is a Mueller report. What good will that do if it comes out next week even in a redacted form that there was (INAUDIBLE) effort to manipulate the Trump campaign? If that gets out there, how can you say this investigation wasn`t worth it?
CICILLINE: Well, I mean, don`t forget, this investigation produced 199 criminal charges, 37 convictions, five people going to prison. But I think what Mr. Barr is going to do, he`s going to attempt to release a report that is so redacted, it has to be misleading to the American people, which is why we`re going to have to fight hard to make sure its full contents, absent, of course, the sources and methods that need to be protected, is released to the American people so people understand the facts.
But, look, he tried to shape the narrative with a four-page summary, made an obstruction of justice finding that he was unable to explain today. But we should remember, he auditioned for this job in an 18-page memo where he said, basically, a president can`t be charged with obstruction because he or she is in charge of the Justice Department. And he delivered on that commitment after being made Attorney General after looking at the report for a very short period of time.
So I think what we`re seeing, very sadly for those of us who believe in the rule of law and who believe in our criminal justice system, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies is an Attorney General who thinks he works for the President rather than took an oath to the constitution and to the people of this country.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline and Cynthia Alksne.
Coming up, there is breaking news this hour. The Treasury Department has rejected House demand to turn over Donald Trump`s tax returns by tonight. It was a midnight deadline. They are not going to meet it. They say so. That`s in spite of the law`s clear language that the IRS has to comply, that it shall reply.
So what will lawmakers do now? I`m going to talk to the Member of the House Ways and Means Committee what`s the next step, how do you fight the White House, how do you fight the Treasury Department.
And one of the newest democrats to join the race for president joins HARDBALL tonight. There he is, Tim Ryan, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan on the Mueller report, Medicare for all, which he supports and what will it take to beat Trump in Ohio.
Plus, who is the most influential voice in Trump`s ear? Here are some hints. It`s not anyone in his administration and it`s not Sean Hannity, but you`re close. Much more ahead. Stick with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We`ve got breaking news tonight. The Treasury Department says it will miss today`s deadline from House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal to hand over six years of President Trump`s personal and business tax returns.
In a letter to Chairman Neal released just moments ago, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wrote, the committee`s request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose and the constitutional rights of American citizens. The legal implications of the request could affect protections for all Americans against politically motivated disclosures of personal tax information regardless of which party is in power.
This morning, President Trump repeated his own refusal to release his returns using his well worn alibi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And while I`m under audit, I won`t do it. If I`m not under audit, I would do it. I had no problem with it. But while I`m under audit, I would not give my taxes.
I would love to give them, but I`m not going to do it while I`m under audit. It`s very simple. Remember, I got elected last time, the same exact issue, with same intensity, which wasn`t very much because, frankly, the people don`t care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Strangest time in the world.
Actually, 64 percent of the American people want to see the tax returns. They want him to put them out. So that`s not true.
Anyway, let me ask you about this. Thank you.
Joining us right now is Congressman Dan Kildee of the Ways and Means Committee and Heidi Przybyla.
Thank you for joining us.
Let me ask you about this -- this thing. The law says they shall.
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Right.
MATTHEWS: How do they get around this with this B.S. response tonight from Mnuchin?
KILDEE: Well, they just don`t do it.
And the president signaled pretty early on that he did not want to have these returns released. But the interesting thing is, we didn`t ask the president for these returns. We asked the commissioner of the IRS.
And it`s our position that there`s real clarity on this, that the commissioner is duty-bound to follow the law. He swore an oath to uphold the laws of the United States and its Constitution.
Section 6103 of the tax code is one of those laws. It says he shall furnish them. And it`s not up to the executive branch or anybody in it to determine for the legislative branch what they consider to be a legitimate subject of legislative inquiry.
We are looking at the question as to whether or not the IRS is properly enforcing laws, tax laws on the president of the United States and trying to determine whether we need to take action to ensure that they do. This is a legitimate legislative inquiry.
Now, there are other reasons that we`d like to see President Trump`s returns, but this is a specific and clear inquiry that is intended to inform the committee on its work.
MATTHEWS: What`s your next step? They said no.
KILDEE: Well, we will see.
I think Chairman Neal is really driving this. And I have a lot of faith in him that he`s doing this right. He`s been very deliberate about it. And so I think the next step is to speak to our counsel and make a decision about what we will do.
But I will -- I will assure you of this, and everybody. We`re not going to say, oh, OK. We`re going to continue to assert this position and we`re going to use every legal avenue available to us.
MATTHEWS: Heidi, I keep waiting for a reckoning. I keep waiting for somebody -- issue to get to the Supreme Court and have them decide that this president can do anything he wants, because it seems like that`s where we`re headed.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well...
MATTHEWS: Either we have a dictator or we have a constitutional system or not.
PRZYBYLA: Mick Mulvaney foreshadowed all of this weekend when he told us, you, the American people, will never see these tax returns.
And that is code for, the president is willing to take this all the way to the mat, possibly all the way to the Supreme Court. So, the congressman and I were talking about this before. This could really take a long time to play out. But that may be where -- exactly where it`s headed, because the Democrats are not showing that they`re going to cave in on this.
And the White House is giving every indication that they are not going to cave in on this. You had Mulvaney`s comments. We know, Chris, that lawyers at the Treasury Department and the White House general counsel were in touch in anticipation of this, even before the formal request came through.
And so what this looks like is just an attempt to stall the inevitable, which is that they`re going to say no, they`re going to give a denial, and then challenge you all to take them to court.
KILDEE: And this is really a problem, because the fact that there was dialogue between the White House and Treasury even before this request came in elevates...
KILDEE: ... some of our concern that the White House is trying to influence the Treasury Department, and specifically the IRS, when it comes to any question involving Donald Trump.
That`s the basis for the inquiry in the first place. And all they have done is add fuel to it.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s not a government response. It`s a personal attorney`s response.
Anyway, at a pair of hearings yesterday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin would not provide a specific answer on how he would handle that request for the president`s tax returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: We did receive the request.
As I have said in the past, when we received the request, it would be reviewed by our legal department. And it is our intent to follow the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Intent to follow the law.
Well, the 1924 law cited by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal clearly states -- quote -- "Upon written request, the secretary" -- that`s the secretary of treasury -- "shall furnish such committee," Ways and Means, "with any return or return information."
As Heidi mentioned, Mnuchin did acknowledge his department had been in contact with White House lawyers over the request.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MNUCHIN: Our legal department has had conversations prior to receiving the letter with the White House general counsel.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: And did they brief us to the contents of that communication?
MNUCHIN: They have not brief me to the contents of that communication. I believe that was purely informational.
QUIGLEY: You believe what was purely informational?
MNUCHIN: I believe that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, at a separate hearing later in the day yesterday, Mnuchin said his department was not taking direction from the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Did the White House ask your team not to release the tax returns?
MNUCHIN: We would not ever ask for the White House`s permission on this, nor did they give us the permission. As I have said, we consulted, which I believe was appropriate, of our legal department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s a nice legal term here.
And I go back to my question to you, Heidi, as the journalist here.
It seems to me that, when a law is as clearly written as that, and the letter is carefully prepared by the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to meet all the standards of the law, carefully written, over months, in fact, what`s the Supreme Court going to do here, the Republican Supreme Court?
Are they going to back...
PRZYBYLA: Well, I`m not a lawyer, but I can tell you that, politically speaking, as the political journalist, this is the president`s red line.
And he has made this clear from day one, that delving into his personal finances is crossing that red line. And we already have an indication, Chris, of what we might find in those tax returns, a story that I believe was grossly undercovered by all of us, about the Trump family`s history of dodging taxes, and that Trump himself personally benefited to the tune of close to $400 million in inheritance via tax dodges from his father.
So, if this was a Trump family tradition or something that they have done over the years, what do you think that we may find in those tax returns?
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re being audited, of course.
PRZYBYLA: Well, that`s...
MATTHEWS: Of course, I`m being sarcastic. We have no evidence at all he`s being audited, right, Congressman?
KILDEE: No evidence that he`s being audited. That`s actually one of the things we want to know.
And it`s not just whether his individual return is being audited, which has been a practice of the IRS. But in order to get an accurate view of Donald Trump`s financial situation, you have to look at these other entities. And that`s why they were included in the request.
We have no idea what whether the other entities are under what normally would be...
MATTHEWS: Do you know if he -- is he being audited?
KILDEE: We don`t know. He says he is.
PRZYBYLA: That`s part of what you can get, too, is the correspondence...
KILDEE: That is right.
PRZYBYLA: ... to prove if that was ever true, ever true.
MATTHEWS: Well, we have a law, and we have a president. We will see who wins.
The congressman, Dan Kildee, of Michigan, of Flint, Michigan, thank you for coming.
KILDEE: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Heidi Przybyla.
That`s Michael Moore country.
PRZYBYLA: Also of Michigan.
KILDEE: That`s right, a couple of them.
MATTHEWS: A Michigander. I love that word, Michigander.
Up next: Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan says working-class issues are in his bones and will be a central focus of his 2020 presidential campaign. He joins us to talk about those issues and more after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The path to the White House for Democrats in 2020 will require, most people think, for them to win back blue-collar voters in swing states that voted for Trump in 2016.
Well, today, seven of 15 Democratic -- there they are -- Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 were making their pitches to a conference of union workers here in D.C.
Here`s what a few of them had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m announcing the largest expansion in skills training and apprenticeships in America`s history.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In America, we need to protect working people, and that includes passing and having a workers bill of rights.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time to put a stop to the so-called right-to-work laws that destroy unions.
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By 2030, there`s going to be 30 million electric vehicles made somewhere. I want them manufactured in the United States. I want you guys taking care of the plants that make them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining us right now is one of those candidates. You just saw him, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. He`s in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now. I wonder why?
Let me ask you about this, because that`s the pitch. Make it here. How do people who voted for Trump, what do you want them to hear from you, Democrats?
RYAN: Well, first and -- first and foremost, bring the country together. We can`t do anything if we`re divided. And that`s going to be really important.
But, then, what`s the plan? And I think things like electric vehicles, where there`s going to be 30 million made in the next 10 years, how do we make those here? How do we make the batteries here? How do we make the charging stations here?
And then export that to the world. And make sure we`re cutting the workers in on the deal. But, right now, China`s cleaning our clock, Chris. They dominate 40 percent of the electric vehicle market. They dominate 60 percent of the solar panel market, because the president`s fiddling around on his phone, worried about Barbara Bush and everything else.
We`re getting our clock cleaned. And I will get this country organized around a big vision to dominate those industries.
MATTHEWS: How do you beat a president running at 58 percent in economic job approval?
RYAN: I don`t see that.
I mean, I think, yes, the stock market`s as high as it`s ever been, unemployment is as low as it`s ever been. But still 40 to 50 percent of the American people can`t withstand a $400 or $500 emergency.
MATTHEWS: I know.
RYAN: The top 1 percent control 90 percent of the wealth and the bottom 60 percent haven`t seen a raise since 1980. So there`s a lot of work. There`s a lot of anxiety.
We got all these statistics. We need to start asking, what`s the national stress level in the United States? What`s the national anxiety level in the United States? It`s going to be pretty high, and a lot of that`s going to be due to economics.
MATTHEWS: What do you tell a voter who voted for Trump, that you made a mistake? How do you -- how do you get them to turn -- man or woman in Ohio, overwhelmingly for Trump.
You`re saying -- how do you get them to say, yes, I made a mistake, I`m voting the other way next time? How do you get a person to do that?
RYAN: I understand. I understand why they did it. I mean, there`s so much economic anxiety. I`m not upset they did it. I`m upset he hasn`t delivered for them.
And I don`t think Trump has caused all the problems in the world. A lot of these are structural problems that have been going on a long time. My problem with the president is, he doesn`t care enough to fix them. He doesn`t have the attention span to fix them. He has zero plan, Chris, zero.
You go to China, they have their defense department, their infrastructure plan, their soft power plan within the context of their -- whatever -- their state department. You look at their research, you look at their development, everything is pushing in one direction on, how do you dominate industries?
And, right now, we have no plan. Artificial intelligence is out there, additive manufacturing, electric vehicles. We need the president of the United States to sit down with the business community, to sit down with the unions, to sit down with the educational institutions and say, how do we do this?
We don`t need a superstar. We don`t need a savior in the Democratic Party. We need a grinder and someone who`s going to bring people together for an agenda that`s actually going to help rebuild the middle class, which is on life support right now.
MATTHEWS: Look, that all sounds good to me. But I want to ask you about the way that most voters vote. They vote angry. They vote against. They resent.
They hear from Trump today and his attorney general there are spies who basically under -- basically undercut his campaign, the deep state is out to get him.
You know how he -- even a guy as sophisticated as William Barr trafficking in the same ridiculous lingo that the president uses about spying on him, when the FBI people were doing their jobs. How do you counter that?
RYAN: Well, the anxiety I mentioned, the resentment I mentioned is going to be that their lives have still not just gotten any better.
I mean, we just had a General Motors plant close, lose 1,700 jobs, every -- five jobs for every one in the plant. You`re talking about 10,000 jobs in our region.
People still can`t get ahead. This is what I`m trying -- I have been trying to say for years. People in the -- in the finance centers and people in the big cities that talk to each other at cocktail parties do not understand what`s happening with Middle America.
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
RYAN: They don`t understand that there is a recession in rural America right now. Things are bad. And you know what, Chris? The anxiety level is super high, and the stock market is high and unemployment is low. What the hell is going to happen if the economy takes a real serious turn for the worse?
We got trillion-dollar deficits out -- projected out into the future. We - - the clock is ticking, man. We have got to get busy here with a real agenda that`s going to tie this country back together and lift up the middle class. We`re going to be in real trouble if the economy has a downturn. The anxiety level is going to go through the roof. And that`s when things get really tumultuous.
MATTHEWS: Well, I will say this for you, Congressman. You`re not one of those elite -- elite, fancy Democrats that go to cocktail parties. You`re not one of those people.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. And I`m serious about that. I think you do appeal to regular people. And I appreciate you coming on the show tonight. Good luck in this race.
MATTHEWS: And you`re in an interesting lane right now.
I think Joe Biden may be joining that lane, but it`s going to be interesting to watch you guys. You`re a little younger than Biden, aren`t you, I think?
RYAN: You said that. You said that, not me.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.
Up next: when political loyalty becomes more important than the law. Donald Trump`s consolidating power like no president in modern history in advance of his anti-immigration agenda.
Let`s watch him. We`re going to talk about it in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump is consolidating power and living by his animating principle that he alone can fix it. According to reports, the president is tired of being managed and tired to being told no. As a result, he has taken a hacksaw to any individual or agency that stands in his way.
This week, DHS joined a slew of other departments and agencies that has been decapitated with the president looking to install people devoted solely to him. In another example, the president has floated the names of Herman Cain and Stephen Moore for posts with the Federal Reserve board, both actively boosted Trump on television, but both candidates have been receiving bipartisan push back.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have grown increasingly uncomfortable with those two nominations. Senator Mitt Romney told "Politico", we can`t turn the Federal Reserve into a more partisan entity. That would be a wrong course.
Despite those warnings, an emboldened president is being egged on by his closest allies. Stephen Miller has repeatedly pushed President Trump further to the right on immigration. And the president`s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, according to the "New York Times" has made it his job to encourage rather than restrain the president`s conservative instincts.
According to "The Times", this led to Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama called Mulvaney the most dangerous man in Washington. And as Miller and Mulvaney grow more powerful, there`s one man who has more even influence over the president`s decisions. It is shocking.
Stay tuned to find out who is the presidential whisperer. Right back.
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LOU DOBBS, FBN HOST: The Department of Homeland Security is flailing, failing to protect the southern border from the flow of illegal immigrants, and the problem is only worsening. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is flailing and her department appears utterly paralyzed under ineffectual leadership. Tonight, we are calling on the president to fire these incompetents and the leadership and the customs border protection. They can`t act effectively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
So, we see who the boss is there. According to "Daily Beast", one of the most influential voices in President Trump`s inner circle is Lou Dobbs. You saw him there.
The Fox Business host reportedly counseled Trump that ditched Nielsen in recent months. Writing in "The Atlantic," Tom Nichols warned that President Trump`s growing cadre of sycophants is the kind of politicization of senior positions normally only seen in authoritarian states, where appointments are kept within tight circles of people whose commitment or family connection to the leader is more important than experience or knowledge.
For more, I`m joined right now by Neera Tanden, CEO of Center for American Progress, and former adviser to President Obama. And David Frum, senior editor at "The Atlantic" and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
Let me start with you, David, this idea of a president who goes, basically bullies his around, knocks over everybody, if he gets in his way, he picks a crony or sycophant.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: You know, you just listen to that clip of space.com IPO had only gone better, things might be completely different in America today. That was Lou Dobbs`s failed Internet venture.
President Trump is remarkably uninterested in 9/10 of the federal government. You know, there is a Department of Agriculture, he doesn`t care what happens there. There is the Department of the Interior, almost completely indifference.
What he focuses on is law enforcement and that he has to break, because he understands and this is a point that has to be stressed again and again, that he can survive his presidency or the rule of law can persevere, but you can`t have both, because the operations of the law expose him to so much risk.
MATTHEWS: You know, when he fires someone like Nielsen, he is firing someone who says, but the law says. That`s the infraction from his point of view
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT & CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: He is looking at these people as people who is obstructing him. What is dangerous is he is essentially evading the Constitution by putting in acting people, because he is not actually having people go in front of the Congress.
MATTHEWS: How long can we get away with actings as he talked about last night?
TANDEN: I mean, I think the challenge for him or the challenge for all of us, not really him, is that it`s an issue that gets litigated. This is an issue that should go before the court, because he`s going to do -- there is one thing we know about Donald Trump. He will do the maximally illegal thing --
MATTHEWS: He was asked if he would nominate Stephen Miller as secretary of homeland security. Let`s watch what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, Stephen is an excellent guy. He`s a wonderful person. People don`t know him. He has been with me from the beginning. He`s a brilliant man. And frankly, there is only one person that is running it. You know who that is? It`s me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s me. He talks like this. I`m the boss.
FRUM: Because he`s suddenly envious of Stephen Miller.
MATTHEWS: Yes, because he`s getting press on the right.
FRUM: And in the way, President Trump should nominate Stephen Miller because here`s what he`s doing, these acting people, al though they skirt the law, they also can`t make policy. An acting head of department will always be cautious. At the same time as President Trump is flailing about immigration, he has not changed American immigration law or policy very much. The level of illegal immigration is the same as it was under President Obama. Illegal immigration is at high new levels with the border crossings and he has not done anything about that, and the wall is not an answer to any question --
MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t he go to legislation? Why did he say the standard now for asylum are too lenient, make a stronger statement of credible fear, we have to fix this thing because people are, in some cases, exploiting it? But he doesn`t ask for fixing the law. He just fires people.
TANDEN: Yes, I think as a reminder, he could have done deals, some reasonable deals, a year ago, 18 months ago. I think the real problem, the actual problem for the president is that his base cares about immigration and the actual flows on immigration are increasing. His strategy is failing.
MATTHEWS: I know. The wall can change that perhaps.
TANDEN: His whole argument is if you are tough on immigrants, they won`t come here. That has failed. His family separation policy which I find abhorrent was designed to stop immigration into the border because people would --
MATTHEWS: And it`s not a deterrent.
TANDEN: It`s not been a deterrent at all.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about something he always cared about, is independent monetary policy. If you let a president set monetary policy, control the Fed, he or she will juice it up every time there`s an election. Inflation comes later. The stimulus comes immediately. You always would have incredible money growth.
FRUM: The last president to get away with it was Richard Nixon.
MATTHEWS: Phase two.
FRUM: Richard Nixon believed that the recession of 1958 cost him the presidency.
MATTHEWS: I think he did. George Humphrey screwed him.
FRUM: And so, he was determined --
MATTHEWS: Ike decided he was a conservative the last year. I know what happened.
FRUM: So, he decided to put in a super political Fed chairman Arthur Burns who cranked up money just in time to deliver a boom in 1972, but set the country up for a decade of stagflation between `72 and `82. Nixon`s economic policies came at a -- reelected him. He didn`t even keep the job very long and they laid the country waste for a decade.
MATTHEWS: You know, this kind of Idi Amin government, you know, just to blaspheme about one guy we`ve all watched, the last king of Scotland, whoever he was, I mean, this idea that I`m the boss, like he just said me. We do have executive authority --
TANDEN: I mean, the idea that Herman Cain would be on the Federal Reserve --
MATTHEWS: Nine, nine, nine.
TANDEN: -- is absurd. I mean, it`s just the notion of that --
MATTHEWS: Is Cain an enemy of the Fed, too? I think there`s more than just he`s useful in Trump. I get the feeling he`s picking like more people like that who will basically Trump`s guys.
TANDEN: I think he`s people who will do what Trump wants for his election, but he`s also -- at the end of the day, he`s going to destroy the credibility of the Fed. Like a series of institutions, everything Trump touches does end up dying, a series institutions which will people lose faith in it, will think it`s political and it will be problematic to keep the actual economic norms --
MATTHEWS: You are a conservative, I want to try a principle.
MATTHEWS: I think there is one principle that all conservatives believe in -- limited government.
FRUM: I hope so.
MATTHEWS: What`s Trump on limited government?
FRUM: Trump wants no limits on himself. He doesn`t think that way. He doesn`t operate by principles. He`s entirely driven by appetite.
And on the Fed, all he wants is someone to deliver him the monetary policy he wants right now. And what he has cleverly done by nominating Herman Cain, Herman Cain is the one person who makes Steve Moore seemed like a half way reasonable choice.
FRUM: And I think the upshot of this is, that Republicans -- he has given Republican senators a way to vote for Steve Moore by voting against Herman Cain.
MATTHEWS: You know what Idi Amin had his final downfall. You know what they found in his private residence? Toys. He was a kid who played with toys, literally.
Your thoughts on limited government?
TANDEN: I mean, I think the truth is his organizing principle is winning, is beating his opponents and winning. And I think he is focusing on having a Fed that is not good for the economy over the long haul. It`s good for the economy for 18 months.
MATTHEWS: Who is the best to beat him, Neera? Best bet to beat him?
TANDEN: I don`t know. I`m not answering that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. We`ll bring you back for that question.
Thank you, Neera Tanden, and thank you, David Frum.
Up next, Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron toured Mount Vernon, remember that? That`s George Washington`s place and one of them knew a lot about the history of Mount Vernon. Which one do you think it was, which leader of a country knew about it and which didn`t know nothing?
You are watching HARDBALL.
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TRUMP: Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I notice.
I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, we wouldn`t have had the civil war. People don`t ask that question. But why was there the civil war? Why could that not have been worked out?
Our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln.
Great president. Most people didn`t know he was a Republican, right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don`t know that. We have to build that up a little bit more. Let`s take an ad. Let`s use one of those PACs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Winston Churchill whose bronze Donald Trump proudly displays in the Oval Office has a message for this current occupant of the White House. Study history. Study history. In history lies all the secrets of state craft.
But has there ever been an American president so uninterested in American history, so ill-prepared on what has worked and failed in the past, so ill- served by history`s lessons. This ignorance of the country`s past, even not of his White House predecessors is no one`s fault, but Donald Trump. It`s well-known that not only has he never read a biography of his 43 predecessors, but has no intention of doing so.
He believes in himself, not in history. He believes the best guy to a successful presidency is what comes to him.
This time a year ago, the president was across the river at Mount Vernon showing the president of France around the place. A couple things about that trip that depending on your way of looking at things may or may not trouble you. One, Trump said George Washington should have named it after himself, should have put up a big sign, I suppose, with his name on it.
If he was smart, he would have put his name on it. You have to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.
Doesn`t Trump know that one of the great -- truly great achievements of our first president is the way he walked away after being a Trump-like big shot, like when he headed back to his plantation after defeating the British and winning America`s independence, when the other George, King George, the king of England, heard that, he was overwhelmed. Well, then, he will be the greatest man in the world.
Donald Trump wouldn`t get that, the idea of winning worldwide respect, even from your enemy by not being interested in personal power and adoration, but being more interested in your country like General Washington than you are in yourself. That`s why Washington who didn`t name his plantation after himself has the city, the country`s capital named after him.
I forgot to mention that second thing to remember about Trump`s visit to Mount Vernon. It was clear to those joining us that President Macron knew a lot more about the place`s history and the countries than the guy hosting him.
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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