CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Church and state. This is HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Right now, you`re looking at live pictures from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The edifice that survived nine centuries, World War, the Nazi occupation has been saved from the brink of total destruction tonight after a massive fire that began before 7:00 P.M. Paris time and raged well into the night.
It`s a devastating blow to an icon of western civilization and a monument to religious faith for a millennium. It`s a tragedy without yet a victim, however, but one no one living today with forget. According to authorities, the fire may have been accidentally sparked by a renovation project in the spire of the landmark 12th century cathedral. Flames and smoke billowed into the sky from the upper reaches between its two iconic towers as the fire engulfed the roof. We`re watching it there. After more than an hour, the flames overtook the soaring spire, bringing it crashing down.
The French Defense Agency said dumping water on the building was not an option early on because it could cause the whole structure to collapse. French President Emmanuel Macron rushed to the scene and was treating the fires and national emergency. He addressed the situation on Twitter writing in English, Notre Dame is aflame. Great emotion for the whole nation. Our thoughts go out to all Catholics and to the French people. Like all my fellow citizens, I am sad to see this part of us burn tonight. As the fire raged into the night, only one firefighter was reported injured.
Macron praised the firefighters for saving the cathedra`s main towers and pledged the cathedral will be rebuilt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I have a message for all Parisians. Notre Dame of Paris is their Cathedral and much more. I also have a message for all citizens. Because Notre Dame of Paris is our history, our literature, our imagination, the place where our big historical moments, plagues, wars, liberation, It is at the very heart of our lives.
Over 800 years ago, we were able to erect this cathedral, and over the centuries, we have improved it. We have made it grow. So with pride, I tell you tonight that we will rebuild this cathedral all together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined now right now for more from Paris by NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel. Jean-Bernard Cadier, U.S. Correspondent for French Broadcaster BFM, and joining me on the phone is Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Richard, do we know anything about the causes yet and what will be saved?
RICHARD ENGLE, MSNBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Not much about the causes, although the widespread speculation here is that it was caused by some of the renovation. For about a year, renovation works had been under way to try to reinforce the spire. Officials believe that is where the fire started, among the scaffolding by the fire then it spread to the roof.
Ultimately, the spire collapsed. Also, the roof has been destroyed. There have been some pictures that have emerged from inside. It is not totally catastrophic. Some of the rose windows are still there, for example. Some of the artwork and the treasury has been saved. The organ, we are also told, has been saved.
This structure, French officials say, of Notre Dame is -- has been saved. It is still structurally sound, as far as they know. But they have not been inside, they have not done all of the inspections necessary. While we`ve been here for the last several hours, they`ve been cooling off the building. They`ve been hosing it down. So now, there is also some flooding inside.
Macron came out and he said that this was a national emergency. He said tomorrow there will be a national fundraising campaign starting tomorrow to raise money to rebuild this.
But I can tell you here in Paris tonight there are a lot of blank stares. We`ve been walking through the streets. People have been singing hymns as the firefighters have been going by. People have been applauding them for their sacrifice.
They had quite an emotional ride today. Not only did they see this cathedral, this icon of Paris, burning, spreading clouds of ash all across the city, then at one stage officials said it looked like Notre Dame could not be saved, that they had to be prepared for the fact that the entire cathedral might be destroyed. And then just a few hours ago, they said that as far as they know, the structure is sound. Many of the artworks were saved. The roof and the spire, however, were not.
MATTHEWS: Thank you much, Richard.
Let me go to Jean-Bernard. Thank you for -- you`ve been in this country a long time. You live next door to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Tell me about the significance to the Parisians and the French, the Notre Dame of Paris.
JEAN-BERNARD CADIER, BFM-TV U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Notre Dame is the church in the middle of the village, this village of ours that we call France. We are a catholic country. We are a country where history, culture, books, architecture is very, very important. And all of this is linked with Notre Dame, and not only history, geography.
In my country, in France, all the distances are measured to and from this point in the country that is Notre Dame. It`s like losing a dear member of our family. It is devastating.
MATTHEWS: So much of the history, I was thinking that Charles de Gaulle, when Paris was liberated by the free French and the allies, he went and had mass there.
CADIER: Yes, there was a mass for the liberation. There was a mass for the attacks in 2015. There was even a mass for President Mitterand, who was not catholic, but it`s the center of the country well, well beyond the catholic faith.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Bishop Barron, Archbishop Barron -- actually, Bishop Barron, your Excellency, thank you for joining us. You studied in France. So give us an American sense of Paris and this great cathedral, which has been spared, at least in its structural form.
BISHOP ROBERT BARRON, ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES: I was actually very happy to hear that report from Richard Engel that it`s a little bit more optimistic than I had thought. It meant the world to me, that place. I studied in Paris for three years for my doctorate and went to Notre Dame pretty much every day my first year in France. It had a kind of mesmerizing impact on me, especially the rose windows.
When I heard about this fire, my first thought was the roses, the roses that go back to the 13th century. The north rose, I think the finest rose window in the world. So that`s what I was most fearful. I think the south roses have been lost, from what I was able to gather. But if the north rose, at least in parts has been saved, that would be great.
It meant to me a connection to Europe. It meant a connection to the wider western civilization. And it meant a connection to the ancient Christian church. I mean, I think of that building, Thomas Aquinas knew and knew those rose windows as the place was being constructed. Bonaventure knew it, I mean, all these great figures from the catholic middle ages.
When I was there, I used to give tours at Notre Dame for English speaking tourists. And I used it as a chance to preach because I was there as a priest but I was studying full-time. So I wasn`t serving mass and preaching as often. So I would use the cathedral as kind of a visual aid to talk about the Christian faith. I`ve been using it that way for the past 30 years. So it meant the world to me. It was a connection to that great spiritual power of the catholic faith.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, your Excellency. Thank you.
I want to go back to Jean-Bernard. It seems to me that -- I grew up like watching the movies my dad saw when he was a kid, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo, Maureen O`Hara, the idea of this incredible place that was like permanent.
CADIER: Yes. We cannot believe that it could be destroyed, that it could be frail, that it had any fragility. It is at the center of our country, of our life. We cannot believe this could be destroyed.
MATTHEWS: Well, it looks like it`s going to make it. It looks you have the greatest fundraising in the history for this church to save it.
CADIER: It could have been much worse, but we`ll need a lot of help to rebuild. That`s for sure/
MATTHEWS: I think you`ll get it from this country as well. Thank you, Jean-Bernard Cadier. And Bishop Robert Barron, thank you, your Excellency.
Coming up, the big reveal, three days until the release of the Mueller report. Do you believe it? Three days from now, the White House is already implementing a strategy of total distraction and dishonesty to deal with it. They don`t want us to know it. They don`t want us to pay attention to it. They want to think about something else.
Also, the President says he is serious about a plan to send migrant detainees to sanctuary cities. I`m going to talk to the Mayor of one of those cities who say she`s not intimidated by the President`s apparent act of political retribution.
And as democrats increase the pressure on President Trump to release his tax returns, moments ago, Bernie Sanders, the enemy of millionaires and billionaires, released his. I think he`s one of them now. What the numbers tell us about the democratic presidential contender who doesn`t like millionaires but may have become at least technically one of them?
Much more ahead, stick with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The countdown is on. NBC News is today reporting that the Justice Department expects to release the redacted version of the Special Counsel`s report this Thursday morning. That`s three days from now. President Trump appears to know the trouble he`s in. And he`s taking steps to obfuscate, mislead and otherwise distract from the upcoming revelation.
For starters, the President and his allies continue to cite the Attorney General`s four-page letter to falsely claim total exoneration. That`s a deliberate strategy, of course. According to The New York Times, Mr. Trump`s plan -- this is The Times speaking, Mr. Trump`s plane of attack, aides say, is to act as if the report itself is extraneous to Mr. Barr`s brief -- in other words, Mr. Barr`s four-page letter is, in fact, the report that matters and all the rest is something in the back of the book, when in addition, Trump is purposefully escalating his language expressly to enliven his base of supporters and to enrage his political rivals and the news media. That`s The Times reading.
In doing so, the President is once again trying to flip the script on his political opponents and the FBI. Trump Tweeted today, these were crimes committed by crooked Hillary, the DNC, dirty cops and others. Investigate the investigators. He also said, they spied on my campaign. We will never forget.
But Trump`s barrage of distractions don`t end with that. He`s trying to define the Democratic Party by relentlessly attacking Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and he`s threatening to flood cities, like San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle with illegal immigrants stopped at the border.
I`m joined right now by Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, and Natasha Bertrand, who is here, National Security Political Correspondent from Politico.
Congressman, thank you for this. Give me -- I know where you stand on the good side of this fight, getting the truth. What`s Trump up to in all of his machinations right now?
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): He knows what he`s done. His whole life he`s done, it`s been illegal and shady deals, and he doesn`t want it to come out. And that`s been his M.O. forever. And he -- there would be so much of the Mueller report if we see the unexpurgated version that even his -- some of his supporters would turn against him.
The deals with Russia, the financing with Russia is probably in there, involvement with Russia, maybe not enough to indict him for conspiracy, but lots of evidence that he knew what the Russians were doing, his campaign knew what the Russians were doing and they didn`t object.
And obstruction, you know, he was not exonerated, says Mueller. Mueller knows more about that than Barr. Barr was a hit man. Barr was a hit man hired to do his job. He`s doing his job. It`s unfortunate. This is just disrespectful.
And then to put it out right before Passover and Easter, and during this big break, I mentioned on the last time I was on about the fact it was going to be put out while we were on recess. We`re on recess, and they use religion and holidays where people are thinking about being with loved ones and celebrating the holidays to put this out so it gets less attention. If Christopher Hitchens was around and didn`t believe in hell, he would say that anyone who used these holidays should go to hell, and he`d be right.
MATTHEWS: He was also doing it when the congress was out. The Congress is out. It`s all a perfect time for him to drop this bomb or not bomb.
According to The New York Times, White House aides are most focused on the outstanding questions of obstruction, including, quote, why the Special Counsel was not able to conclude whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice. A particular concern was possible new revelations about the actions the President took to obstruct the investigation. And as the Attorney General said, even in his four-page letter, most of those actions have been the subject of public reporting, which means at least some will be revealed for the first time on Thursday.
So, Natasha, even Bill Barr, the A.G., the very accommodating A.G., admits there is stuff in there that`s serious about obstruction of justice that we don`t know yet.
NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICO NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Right. And he implied in his memo that we have not seen it all yet. The episodes that have not reported on are probably going to be contained in this report. And, you know, I don`t necessarily think that the white house is more concerned about the obstruction of justice aspect than the conspiracy or collusion aspect, just because that is something that poses a greater liability to the President.
I think that they are more concerned about it because they know that a lot of the conspiracy and collusion aspects of this investigation are probably going to be redacted because it has to deal with classified information.
So there is probably very little that we`re going to be able to see about the campaign`s coordination with the Russians even though, you know, the campaign didn`t necessarily coordinate with the Russian government, but, of course, there were a lot of interactions there in 2016.
But the obstruction aspect of this, the fact that they`re worried about it also tells me that they don`t necessarily have full confidence in Bill Barr`s, quote, unquote, exoneration of the President. Because if they did, then they wouldn`t be kind of scrambling to get out ahead of what the report is going to say. So that kind of undermines the confidence that they might have in the Attorney General.
And they`re also, of course, very worried about what Don McGahn told the Special Counsel over the course of a year in cooperating with Mueller (ph).
MATTHEWS: Despite the President`s own lawyer.
Anyway, speaking about the Mueller report on Fox Sunday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the Special Counsel intentionally let the Attorney General make a decision on whether the President had obstructed justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: The question is, how are you going to deal with some evidence that`s going to come out in this report that clearly is going to be damaging to the President?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don`t think it is going to be damaging to the President because the entire purpose of the investigation was whether or not there was collusion. Mueller was crystal clear in the fact that there was no collusion. Not --
WALLACE: But he wasn`t crystal clear on obstruction.
SANDERS: But any American, they couldn`t find anything, they couldn`t make a determination, which is basically Mueller`s way legally of saying, we can`t find anything. We`re going to leave that up to the process, which is the Attorney General.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll see.
I think the process was to Congress as well. Congressman, I want to get back to you at that point. Wasn`t the process that the report was really being done for the purpose of the Congress to consider possible impeachment? That`s the way everyone I know has looked at the Mueller report, to decide if there is dirt in there enough to substantiate an impeachment action by the House.
COHEN: Definitely. And especially the Justice Department already said the President can`t be indicted to anything, he`s beyond the law. And then you get Barr in there whose unitary theory is that the President can do no wrong because he`s the President. The obstruction would definitely be actions he took as president firing Comey. He has a right to fire Comey, but not for the wrong reasons. And he did it for the reasons he told Kislyak -- told Lester Holt, we did it for the Russia thing. And then we got with Kislyak, he said it was about Russia. Then he closed the doors to America and he sat down with his Russian friends.
The whole thing stinks. It`s just terrible, what they`ve done. And the truth of the matter is, we need to have a change in 2020.
MATTHEWS: What`s that say before Trump, any Trump? What`s it say (INAUDIBLE)?
COHEN: It says, not Trump 2020.
MATTHEWS: Oh, not Trump, okay. Let me ask you about that very important point, and that is this. I did a commentary on this program months ago saying, Congress already had the argument for impeachment certainly to pass it through the House. You had a guy go up to Comey and say, protect my man, Flynn. Who goes to the Head of the FBI and say, protect his national security?
Then he asked for a vow of obedience from his Attorney General. He asked - - I mean, it`s the FBI Director, a vow of obedience. And then When he wouldn`t give him his vow of obedience, he fired him. It seems to me, step-by-step, then he fired his Attorney General for not -- for recusing himself under the law, by the law. Every step he took was to protect himself for what he had done as president. How can that not be impeachable?
And I wonder, why do you guys want to go to Mr. Mueller to tell you the facts you already have? That`s my thought on obstruction.
COHEN: Well, I -- Chris, I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: Didn`t you already have a case for obstruction?
COHEN: I think there`s a case for obstruction. There`s a case for a emoluments violation.
I filed articles last year. I haven`t brought them up this year. But we`re getting so far along in seeing what this president is done and what he`s done to the Constitution, what he`s done to the people`s respect for our government.
What he`s done to the Constitution and the rule of law is as bad as that fire did to Notre Dame. He`s torching the entire structure of government and the people`s respect for it. And the Congress needs to act. And we can`t act without the total facts.
The facts were supposed to be in the Mueller report. We will get them. We will find a court, and we will go to court, and I think we will be allowed to see them, because the redacted testimony, the grand jury testimony, can be seen. And there is precedent for it being given to Congress.
And as far as the classified data, the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate have a right to see that data. They cannot refuse them that testimony. We`re going to see it. And it`s going to come out. Trump knows it`s going to come out. Giuliani knows it`s going to come out. And those rats are going to do all they can to stop the American people from knowing what they have been up to and what they have done to our Constitution and to our venerable system of government that respects the rule of law.
MATTHEWS: Now, on the facts, we have got good indications even from Mr. Barr, the attorney general, that there is going to be more in here showing misconduct by this president on obstruction of justice.
If you add the new stuff onto the old stuff, is it your sense there is going to be a move for impeachment, or not?
BERTRAND: Well, what I have to go on is the fact that, when it was reported by BuzzFeed earlier this year that the president had effectively suborned perjury, reportedly suborned perjury from Michael Cohen, telling him to lie to Congress about timing of the negotiations of the Trump Tower Moscow deal, Democrats were ready.
They said, this is it. If this is true, if we can do a little more investigating, we don`t need to wait for Mueller. And I wrote a piece about how all the Democrats were saying, this is grounds for impeachment.
So, they -- and then after that, they emphasized that this was never about just waiting for Robert Mueller. They have conducted their own investigations.
BERTRAND: They are not necessarily going to hinge everything on what the Mueller report says.
Now, that was before we knew that the Mueller report would actually be released as early as April. There were some schools of thought that said it would be released later this year. So, maybe -- obviously, they will have the Mueller report to go on, even though it`s redacted.
But the fact that -- the idea that they haven`t been pursuing their own independent investigations is just bogus. And I think also there is an argument to be made that they may have to launch impeachment proceedings in order to get the grand jury material. That is another possibility.
MATTHEWS: I have heard that, too.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a "60 Minutes" interview last night that even Trump knows that he should not be president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: How would you describe President Trump?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): How would I describe him? I think that he describes himself on a daily basis. I think that there is nobody in the country who knows better that he should not be president of the United States than Donald Trump.
QUESTION: You think he knows it himself?
PELOSI: I think he does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, the president responded to Pelosi`s interview on Twitter, saying: "Such a puff piece on Nancy Pelosi by `60 Minutes.` Yet her leadership has passed no meaningful legislation. All they do is investigate, as it turns out, crimes that they instigated and committed."
Congressman, let me go back to you on this whole question. What do you think you`re going to have, with the hat on and everything? You got enough case against Trump to beat him in `19, or have to wait until 2020?
COHEN: I`m afraid we have to wait until 2020. I understand the politics. Nancy Pelosi is probably right on that.
But I think, as the facts come out, it might be imperative. And it be, as Natasha said, that we have got to do some kind of impeachment to get to some of the information of the grand jury hearings, because it has to be some type of a criminal or quasi-criminal type proceeding for them to release it.
We have got so much on him, and it`s just -- but when I saw what happened in Israel, sometimes, people will go for somebody who is not so good. I mean, Netanyahu is a lot like Trump in regard of his...
MATTHEWS: I agree.
COHEN: ... looking at indictments and stepping on things, and Trump will play the game well.
But it is -- John Quincy Adams said John Tyler almost approached mediocrity, and he didn`t have the ability to rise to the office that he was put in. John Tyler might have been the worst president before Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Last question to you, very quickly. Big debate. Gene Robinson on "Meet the Press" yesterday raised the possibility.
He said maybe the smart candidate who runs against Trump, who runs for the nomination of the Democratic Party, your party, the smart candidate, man or woman, whatever, of any age, is the one who really is anti-Trump, who says, I`m here to beat Donald Trump and get him out of the white -- no more nice. No more issues. My problem`s with him being in the White House.
Do you think someone with a real hardball mentality would be the smart candidate? Or do you need to be nuanced? Where are you?
COHEN: I think you have to be right in his face.
He`s in our face. He did, you know, lil` Marco and low-energy Jeb and lyin` Hillary or crooked Hillary. You got to be in his face and take him on. We need somebody. The American public doesn`t like this man, but they need to be -- have a candidate that is going to say, we need to reverse the course of our country and be right and be the great country that we were founded and we have been for so many years.
You need somebody strong and will tell the truth. That`s what the public wants, is a truth-teller, and I think that`s what we should have.
MATTHEWS: Sounds like you agree with Gene Robinson.
Thank you, sir, U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee, and, of course, Natasha Bertrand.
Up next -- with Politico.
Up next: President Trump says he`s serious about his sending immigrants, the people seeking sanctuary, to sanctuary cities. But mayors of those cities are saying, great, bring them on. One of those mayors joins us next to explain why.
Back with this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
With the pressure of the Mueller report building now and frustrated by his inability to deliver on his core campaign promise to stop illegal immigration on our southern border, President Trump is escalating his rhetoric on immigration.
The president tweeting today: "Those illegal immigrants who can no longer be legally held because Congress must fix the laws and loopholes will be subject to Homeland Security, given to sanctuary cities and states."
So, creating an iconic image of people flooding into Democratic cities, that`s what he wants.
According to "Washington Post," if he were to go through with a plan, it would be a major departure from the way federal agencies are handling detainees. It could also be prohibitively costly and make it more difficult to deport migrants once they reach those cities.
Well, a former Trump administration DHS official told NBC News that the idea was rejected because it was so illegal.
Well, the president`s tweet comes a week after administration officials denied reports that the president was even considering such a thing of sending the migrants, the asylum seekers, to cities like Seattle and Philadelphia.
People close to the president tell "The New York Times" that Mr. Trump is purposefully escalating his language, expressly to enliven his base of supporters and to enrage his political rivals and the news media, reviving the idea of bussing immigrant detainees in part to distract from the Mueller report. That`s another reason, a glistening object.
This weekend, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called the president a despot, writing in "The Washington Post": "If this president wants to send immigrants and refugees to Seattle and other welcoming cities, let me be clear. We will do what we can, what we have always done, and we will be stronger for it. It will only strengthen our commitment to fighting for the dignity of every person. We will not allow our administration or any administration to push to use the power of America to destroy the promise of America."
For more, I`m joined by herself, Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle, and also former U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Republican of Florida.
Mayor, thank you so much.
And I think the reason why people like mayors is, they`re so darn practical. You know what resources your city has. You know your people, at least the ones who vote for you, which is most of them. You know how things work,.
If you were -- how many asylum seekers -- let`s just take the category, not of poor people coming to United States to look for jobs, but people seriously fleeing fear and horror in their home countries in Central America.
How many could you handle, financially and socially, if they were to arrive by bus or whatever means of transportation in Seattle?
JENNY DURKAN (D), MAYOR OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: I think if we had -- first, Chris, thanks for having me here.
I want to say that I think, again, you`re exactly right. This is trying to be a shiny distraction. But the mayors are calling his bluff. It`s not just Seattle. I was joined by many mayors over the weekend speaking out to say, we`re proud of our diversity. We will accept people like we always have.
You know, Seattle is in one of the fastest-growing regions in the country right now. Since 2010 we, have added 250,000 people. Half of those people have come from other countries. So we know the diversity and vitality that gives to us and our economy.
It`s made us a better, stronger place. We have networks in place to help people resettle in Seattle. And we have done it from forever. You know, we did it with Cambodian refugees, with Vietnam, with Syria.
And we want to open -- for those people who are fleeing war-torn countries and have an absolute legal right to come to America, we have -- we have networks standing by, as does Los Angeles and San Francisco...
DURKAN: ... a number of cities across this country. So it`s not a threat to us. Upholding the Constitution and taking in people is the finest tradition of America. And the cities are ready to stand up and do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, at the current rate, just -- I wanted to get a direct answer from you, because this is HARDBALL, first of all, and I have to ask these questions. I know they`re not fun. They`re not meant to be.
We`re getting about a million people in this country seeking asylum. About 80 percent of them will be certified as true asylum seekers, have a legitimate fear of harm to their families. How many could you handle, a city of Seattle? We need to -- can you take 50,000 people if you had to?
DURKAN: We -- I don`t think we`d take 50,000 in one go, but we take in thousands of refugees here in Seattle.
And if we`re assessing how many, we have -- the number has dropped off. In fact, we just looked at this data to see, what is the network ready to absorb? And we have a very well-established, long history of this that has been waiting for more asylum seekers.
The problem is not that they`re being certified and denied. The problem is, the president is even refusing to give asylum seekers the hearing that they`re entitled to.
And when I worked as a federal prosecutor in the Obama administration, we knew we had to surge resources. We made sure that we followed the Constitution. The president can do this. Sticking them on busses is illegal. And he knows it. But it`s not a threat to cities. We will step up to do our part to help, but we`re also going to hold him accountable.
We -- this president has to follow the law. He knows what he`s doing -- he`s proposing is illegal. And we in America expect the president to follow the law. It`s a novel concept, but we do.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
Carlos, let`s go to a law of unintended consequence. Suppose the president of the United States actually starts bussing people to cities that look pretty attractive to a person who is in desperate shape down in Central America.
I can imagine, if you got word over radio or some ad, because somebody`s pushing it, you heard that you go to Seattle. That sounds pretty good. I can go to San Francisco. That`s pretty good. The weather is great. The people are liberal. They might be well accepting me.
Even Philadelphia, a little colder in the winter, but, you know -- I`m being serious here. Is the unintended consequence of what Trump`s doing creating a magnet for people that are desperate?
CARLOS CURBELO (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Chris, I definitely think that the president, by announcing that he`s going to send people to these major cities, that a lot of people living outside our country are familiar with, have seen images of, is an incentive for people to come to our country.
I will say, I think the mayor`s right. Everyone has a right to due process, not necessarily to come to our country, but certainly to have their cases heard.
The irony is that everything the president is doing, from making this announcement, to shutting off aid to Central American countries, is actually going to invite more illegal immigration into our country.
CURBELO: And I do believe that we need to have an orderly, legal immigration system, that we have to modernize our laws.
The problem is that the president is going back to the 2016 playbook. Rather than putting forward a serious proposal that actually might make Democrats think and might make them consider it, the president is just using this political tactic to get his base animated in advance of the 2020 election.
CURBELO: And if he wants to have an immigration legacy, he should proffer a serious plan that includes something like a path to citizenship for dreamers, perhaps considerations for other undocumented immigrants, sure, with stronger border security measures that most Americans support.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the Democratic plan. I know that one.
CURBELO: He could actually do that. He could actually do that.
MATTHEWS: That`s a good one.
CURBELO: But, instead, he wants to divide and conquer. And that`s a shame.
MATTHEWS: Mayor, one last question.
I think Trump is very big on optics. I think he`s hoping that a bus from - - a bus full -- a couple buses will arrive, maybe a convoy of buses of poor people, desperate people, not having anything but what they`re carrying, if anything.
They`re going to arrive in a nice city like Seattle, which is a great city. They will arrive there. He wants to see people with signs, "Go home."
What would actually be the kind of reception, the welcoming a bunch of poor people on buses would get in your city?
DURKAN: You know, it`s interesting.
In the last -- just over the weekend, I have received hundreds of e-mails from people in our area offering places of refuge and saying, I will take some in my own home, I will take some in our church. I think people will step up, but that`s the history of America.
Again, Chris, what is happening today, our country is founded upon taking the people who are fleeing the worst results. My grandfather fled Ireland when he was 16 years old. It was a war-torn country. There was starvation and famine.
And at the age of 16, he wandered the globe for a while and finally made it to America, where he built a home, and his son and now his granddaughter is the mayor of Seattle. That`s the story of America. And we will step up and we will help people who come to our city and try to make sure that they get the opportunities.
You know, we have programs right now. Our voters believe in opportunity. We passed a law that said every public high school kid gets free college, regardless of their status, of immigration status. We`re opening up preschools for the families across Seattle. We`re giving free transit to including people, students who are, you know -- regardless of their documented status, because we are the country of opportunity, and we have to remain that country of opportunity.
We cannot let this president, as I said, take the power of America to destroy the promise of America.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you.
And, by the way, I have one up on you. My grandmother came from Northern Ireland when she was 13.
Anyway, thank you so much.
DURKAN: There you go. See?
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
DURKAN: All right.
MATTHEWS: Mayor Jenny Durkan, a nice Irish name.
Thank you, Carlos Curbelo. Thank you, sir, as always.
Up next: Mayor Pete has come out of nowhere, campaign -- why is this guy rising so much in the polls? Everybody else is sort of staying where they are. This guy is going up. What`s going on? How his early momentum has shaken up the field of Democratic candidates.
And Bernie Sanders` tax returns are now out in the public for all to see. Will they help or hurt the guy, the self-proclaimed socialist candidate?
Back after this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We have breaking news on the 2020 presidential race right now. Just a short time ago, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders released his tax returns for the past ten years. They show that in 2016 and 2017, Sanders had earned more than $1 million each year, mainly from a book he published about his 2016 presidential run. Good for him.
Let`s look at how Sanders spoke about millionaires and billionaires on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A great nation is never judged by how many millionaires and billionaires it has.
Millionaires and billionaires.
A proliferation of millionaires and billionaires.
Millionaires and billionaires.
The needs of millionaires and billionaires.
That our very essence of our democracy is today being undermined by billionaires and multimillionaires.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He defended his status, his new status to "The New York times" saying, I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.
That`s how he did it. That`s how he answered it. Anyway, the 2020 hopeful has come under fire from a liberal think tank Center for American Progress, which is run by former Hillary Clinton people. In an article published on its website, Think Progress, they suggest his attacks on income inequality were hypocritical, given his new financial situation.
Sanders shot back at the think tank in a letter obtained by "The New York Times," accusing it of undermining Democrats` chances of beating Trump in 2020, quote, by using its resources to smear him and other nominees.
And just in the last hour, Bernie Sanders was asked about his taxes during a town hall on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: It came from a book that I wrote -- a pretty good book. You might want to read it. It was a bestseller, sold all over the world and we made money.
So if anyone thinks I should apologize for writing a best-selling book, I`m sorry, I`m not going to do it.
Hey, President Trump, my wife and I just released 10 years. Please do the same. Let the American people know how --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, he got some applause for that.
But meanwhile, there`s another candidate who may be upending the Democratic field these days. Mayor Pete Buttigieg made a dramatic debut in the race this weekend. That`s coming up next, both Bernie, Pete, and also, don`t forget, Joe Biden.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, is the youngest candidate running for 2020 Democratic nomination. He`s 37. And this weekend, he made it official speaking to a crowd of thousands in the home town he has led for the past eight years as mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s why I`m here today, to tell a different story than make America great again.
The forces changing our country today are tectonic. Forces that helped to explain what made this current presidency even possible. That`s why this time, it`s not just about winning an election, it`s about winning an era.
And a moment like that calls for hopeful and audacious voices from communities like ours. And, yes, it calls for a new generation of leadership in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Since launching his presidential exploratory committee in January, Mayor Pete, as he calls himself, as has gone from relative obscurity, let`s face it, to rising name in the polls. In New Hampshire right now, he`s leapfrogged past candidates like -- not past, they`re still there, but he`s going past them -- Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O`Rourke, coming in third know only behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders who everybody knows, the same in Iowa, the site of the first in the country caucuses, he`s third in the polls there as well. What`s going on?
For more, I`m joined by Jason Johnson, politics editor of theroot.com. And Evan Thomas, journalist, historian and author of the new book, it`s a great book, "First", an intimate portrait of the first woman Supreme Court, there she, Sandra Day O`Connor. He used to be -- well, a moderate Republican in the days where there were such things.
Let me go to you, Jason. It seems to me you`ve been predicting off the air, white guy`s going to be the nominee.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, white guy`s going to be the Democratic nominee.
MATTHEWS: After all the year of the women and ethnic opportunity and minority opportunity.
JOHNSON: It doesn`t matter. It doesn`t matter. It`s going to be a white guy. It`s because the Democratic voters are afraid. They`re not going to do something risky. They`re going to pick somebody who`s white, who fits the mold, who they think they can sell to their conservative brother-in-law in Minnesota, right? That`s why --
MATTHEWS: Where did you get the data for this to prove this? It`s a good thesis.
JOHNSON: Well, historically, if you look at it, when you have primary voters and they`re trying to get rid of an unpopular incumbent, they tend to go for the safer candidate. They don`t go for Howard Dean, they go for John Kerry.
MATTHEWS: I know times have changed, Evan, and you`re younger than me. But I must say, times have changed so much that a gay mayor, married guy from a small town in South Bend, known only for football, really, and Notre Dame, is somehow zooming to the top because he`s the safe bet, according to you. The safe bet.
EVAN THOMAS, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, HISTORIAN: He sounds mature. I mean, in an environment where everybody sounds juvenile, he actually sounds like a grown-up.
Maybe it`s good he`s good at speaking to grown-ups. He makes grown-ups like him. He has a lot of practice at this, Rhode Scholars do.
THOMAS: He`s a Rhodes scholar, that old big shot.
THOMAS: His moderation and sort of grown-up-ness is appealing.
MATTHEWS: I think he can think about his feet. A lot of these other candidates revert to their talking points. So often, people can hear them coming back at them.
Anyway, during his kickoff speech yesterday, the millennial mayor appeared to take a slight dig at President Trump`s age. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUTTIGIEG: Not just about the next four years, it`s about preparing our country for a better life in 2030, in 2040, and in the year 2054, when God willing, I get to be the same age as our current president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s kind of the MBA look, guys. Take the coat off but leave the shirt on. Keep the tie all the way up to the top but don`t roll up your sleeves. That`s the new look. The MBAs.
JOHNSON: He`s the nice neighbor. He`s the guy that the parents want to be brought into the room.
Here`s the thing. Look, I don`t think he can lead the modern Democratic Party. I think we`re a year out. This is not a party --
MATTHEWS: But he meets your profile.
JOHNSON: He meets the profile but I don`t think he can necessarily lead this party, not a party with women and African-Americans --
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s on Rachel tonight and he`s gangbusters in interviews, Evan. As you said --
THOMAS: The Democratic Party is still more moderate than you might think watching TV. I mean, there`s a lot of moderates and he appeals to them.
MATTHEWS: You`re talking to the apostle of that. I believe the voters are there are not very far left. Half the party is left right now, in a progressive mood, but the other half is like, I don`t know.
Let`s talk about Bernie. Bernie, everybody thought was a little bit yesterday.
MATTHEWS: And yet he`s holding on strong. Look at him. He`s out there. He`s got the juice.
JOHNSON: I am surprised. I thought Bernie Sanders was going to be in a lot more trouble than he is now. I think that his ability to maintain this lead, and his real lead against a very deep and strong field demonstrates, look, maybe people aren`t as bitter about 2016 as they used to be. I don`t know if he can keep this.
MATTHEWS: Who is in his bracket? Who is losing because he`s winning?
JOHNSON: Let`s see. Elizabeth Warren is losing because Bernie`s winning. I think Klobuchar is losing because he`s winning. I think that -- pretty much I think Gillibrand is losing. All of the women --
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about a woman who made history.
THOMAS: She made history because she was smart about a couple of things. She stood up for herself, yes, but she didn`t pick stupid fights.
On the Supreme Court, she outsmarted Nino Scalia. He`s flashier and more intellectual. She had way more power, preserving abortion rights and affirmative action, she out-foxed Scalia by --
MATTHEWS: Was she a politician as well as a justice? Was that her personal view?
THOMAS: No, she was a politician in a small "P" sense. She knew how to get five on the Supreme Court. Three hundred and thirty times in 25 years, she`s the decisive vote. That`s a lot of power.
MATTHEWS: Who`s got that job now? Is it Roberts now? Is it anybody who got the job?
THOMAS: Kagan maybe. I think she`s sort of in that mold. She could be. Or Roberts. We have to see. Roberts --
MATTHEWS: OK. Everybody I know likes Sandra Day O`Connor. I`m so glad you wrote that.
Here`s the question, would she get nominated by this Republican president in this Republican field today?
THOMAS: Not a chance. She had -- when she came on the court, Ronald Reagan loved her and was proud of her, but she had no judicial track record. He wasn`t even a federal judge. She was a state of court appeals judge.
No chance that Trump or really I think any modern Republican president would appoint somebody like here.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to Pete Buttigieg. Great book. First, great title.
THOMAS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this, Buttigieg, when he goes after people in their 70s, was he taking a little shot at Biden?
JOHNSON: Well, it`s Biden, it`s that whole generation. Look, he`s the millennial guy. He wants to --
MATTHEWS: He`s half as old.
JOHNSON: Yes, exactly. He`s half as old. He wants to capture that youth vote. Again, I don`t know if that`s going to be enough, but right now it makes him the most engaging person. And he`s the newest --
MATTHEWS: Are they picking a nominee to beat Trump or just somebody they like?
THOMAS: The great thing about Trump is that he changed all the rules. So, there are no rules anymore. So, anything can happen. A small town mayor basically with a nice smile and a nice manner actually has a chance. This would have been unthinkable ten years ago.
MATTHEWS: We`ve come a long way on orientation and gay rights and acceptance and even celebration in many ways.
MATTHEWS: I got to tell you, when I saw him dancing with his husband, this is like, what the change of 30 years. Do we all agree? This wouldn`t have happened 30 years ago.
JOHNSON: This wouldn`t have happened ten years ago. Somebody like him couldn`t have gotten this far. He couldn`t be elected mayor 15 years ago.
THOMAS: Social norms can change. And this is the most dramatic example.
MATTHEWS: It`s the fastest I`ve ever seen anything change, anything like it, it`s dramatic and it`s positive.
Thank you, Jason. I like -- I don`t like it when you`re right sometimes. I don`t know what you`re up to.
MATTHEWS: I think you ought to prove there is no hope sometimes for minorities.
Anyway, thank you, Evan Thomas. Great author.
Up next, tragedy of our greatest church. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: They gave us Lafayette and the French fleet at York Town. And with that, our independence. They gave us the Statute of Liberty, our icon of hope and refuge for all the world.
And today, we watched the near destruction of what stood for nine centuries, housing a millennium of Christian faith, Notre Dame of Paris, where Napoleon was crowned emperor of France. Notre Dame, the jewel of France, the home of the hunch bank, where General Charles de Gaulle who led the free French to the 20th century`s great war, came to pray after the liberation.
Those of us who are Catholics saw Notre Dame as our greatest church and those who studied history saw Notre Dame as the proof of civilization, evidence that man can build something that not only survives but never loses its power to inspire.
I was thinking as it burned today at that moment in New Jersey in 1937 when the great Hindenburg burst into flames and the announcer Herb Morrison seeing the victims in agony could only say the unforgettable, "oh, the humanity." And today, we could only say together, "oh, the civilization", of the tragedy that killed no one, only history.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
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