CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: If he won, why is he so angry? Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. We`re following breaking news tonight. For the second time the Trump administration has defied the Congress on the President`s tax returns. This as Nancy Pelosi speaks out about impeachment.
And earlier today, Jared Kushner made a really ridiculous statement about the Mueller investigation -- all of that is coming up.
Donald Trump tonight is in a troubled state spraying tweets in all directions. He behaves like a man under siege. Ever since the Attorney General released the redacted version of Robert Mueller`s report, President Trump has been weirdly enraged, and also emboldened, attacking any perceived slight while barreling his way through anyone who opposes him.
Time and time again, the President barks at the predictable order of the day. I answer to nobody. I`m the boss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.
I mean, nobody is going to be able to do the kinds of things I can do.
Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I`m the only one that matters because when it comes to it, that`s what the policy is going to be.
I`m smarter than they are, I`m richer than they are. I became President and they didn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, yesterday he issued this warning to anyone who questioned his authority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you worried that your staff are ignoring your orders ...
TRUMP: Nobody disobeys my orders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump is thumbing his nose at Democrats and Congress as well. In a flurry of investigations that is going on, "The Washington Post" is reporting that President Trump has told aids he is quote, " ... unlikely to allow all of his current and former aides to testify publicly," so it`s up to him.
In the days since the Mueller report was released, the Trump administration has asked the courts to stop the House Oversight Committee from seeking documents about the President`s financial ties.
The White House has directed a former official who supervised security clearances for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump not to comply with a House subpoena that he appear for a deposition today.
And just a short time ago, a 5:00 p.m. deadline passed with the Secretary of Treasury refusing to hand over the President`s tax returns despite that law clearly stated that the Secretary of the Treasury, quote, "Shall furnish the information to the Ways and Means Committee Chairman."
In a statement Committee Chair Richard Neal, however, Secretary Mnuchin simply wrote, "We expect to provide the committee with a final decision by May 6, after we deceiving the Justice Department`s legal conclusion."
Also breaking tonight, reports that the White House plans to fight a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee to bring Don McGahn, the President`s former White House counsel before the Congress.
According to "The Washington Post," the events of the past week, like the ones I`ve just described " ... are threatening to redefine the legal and ethical standards that have long served as constraints on the American presidency. Few, if any, of the traditional guardrails that have kept Trump`s predecessors in check remain for this President, and possibly those who will follow him."
For more, I am joined by U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters from California who is the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee. It`s an honor to have you on, Congresswoman and I just want to ask you, what is going on?
I mean, this President, he sits around and when somebody issues a subpoena, like Rich Neil of Ways and Means, or Elijah Cummings, and he says, "Well, that`s political, so I`m not going to do it." And then he says things like, that`s premature. Like he`s the judge almighty, like he doesn`t have to do anything that Congress says what the law provides. He just has to say, "Well, how about on May 6, we`ll think about it." The arrogance of this crowd, your thoughts? Congresswoman? We`ve got a problem. Can you hear me now?
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Yes, I can hear you. Let me just say that this President is more than arrogant. This President has defied everybody and everything. As a matter of fact, he has no respect for Congress and he is going to fight tooth and nail to keep us from going forward with any further investigations. And one thing that the Democrats have to understand, he`s not going to give an inch. As a matter of fact, he has defied us on his tax returns. He is defying us as we seek documents from various levels of government. He has even gone to a lawsuit against Mr. Cummings and his Committee.
And so one of the things that the Democrats have got to understand is we`re in a fight. We`re in a fight with a President that has no respect for the Congress of the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: Well, what are you going to do about it? I mean, I`m being sarcastic because Speaker Pelosi says, I know that impeachment is the one weapon that the Legislative Branch, the U.S. Congress has to use against the President. I think it`s the one weapon; otherwise, you`ve got to rely on him going along with you or the courts, the five to four Republican Supreme Court to back you up and not him?
WATERS: Well, we`re going to keep going and we`re going to issue the subpoenas. And in issuing those subpoenas, we`re going to have to fight in the court. And so we`re up against him. It is a fight. But don`t forget, you know, better than anybody else that the Constitution of the United States of America places a responsibility on Congress to determine when a President is unfit for office.
And in the final analysis, that`s where the responsibility lies. It lies with us and impeachment is the tool by which the Constitution has given us to make that decision and to protect the American people.
MATTHEWS: Where are you today? You tweeted, "Mueller kicked the impeachment ball to the Congress. The Constitution gives the responsibility to Congress to impeach an unfit President. High crimes and misdemeanors, what more do we need?" I guess I`m asking you the dynamic question, because as this goes on, and this President and his Treasury Secretary and the rest of this bunch, simply thumb their nose at Congress and say, "Forget your subpoenas." Go to hell basically, is what they`re saying all the time. At what point does it change? And people like Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, the Majority Leader of the Democrats, when do they say, this guy is really acting like he is King? And we`ve got to impeach him.
WATERS: Well, you know, I don`t know when the will come to that conclusion. This is what I know. I know that as leaders, they have the responsibility to try and hold our caucus together, and to try and do and lead in the best way that they think will help us to be successful. And so they`re going to try and do everything that they can.
If they believe that now is not the time for impeachment, they`ll keep trying, and they`ll go down that road. The American people in the final analysis is going to push on the Congress to do the impeachment. My calls are overwhelming in my office about impeachment.
I have so many calls. Ninety percent of all the calls that I`m getting, people see me on the street, and they are talking about impeachment. When are you going to impeach? And so I think as the level of interest and the level of not putting up with this President any longer comes to the forefront and lays on and leans on and pressures the Congress of the United States, we`re going to have to do it. We`re going to have to impeach. I just wish it was sooner than later.
MATTHEWS: You know what I think about when I was listening to you, Congresswoman, I`m so impressed because I have such a political memory like you do. Back in 1972 when Willie Brown saw that the delegation from California, which was supposed to be a unit rule and all go together, Humphrey goes in there and tries to take it away, and he yells out, "Give me back my delegation."
WATERS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: That`s just like -- you`re like. You`re like that.
WATERS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Because things -- people change these rules. They get in there and they get some power and all of a sudden, rules you`re playing by, they`re not obeying anymore, and they think they can change them, so they get away with anything. Anyway, thank you so much, Congresswoman.
WATERS: Absolutely. You`re so welcome. And thank you. Let`s keep going. And don`t forget, I`d love to see a Town Hall on impeachment.
MATTHEWS: Okay. Thank you very much. Maxine Waters from California. Thank you.
WATERS: You`re welcome. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Chairman of the Finance Committee. Coming up, we`re going to bring in Jonathan Lemire right now White House reporter for the Associated Press and Jill Wine-Banks, former Assistant Watergate Special Counsel.
Jill, I have to ask this question when is it enough because the Congresswoman -- because it looks to me like these guys are so -- I don`t know a better word for it, "snooty." They say well, "We`ll think about it on May 6," or "You`re premature." Like their daddy asking for an ice cream cone. "Well, that`s too early in the day to get an ice cream." They act like they are the boss. They say things like, "Oh, that`s political. You can`t subpoena our tax returns," and they act like they`re above the Democrats and it seems to be working.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL COUNSEL: It`s working from a public relations standpoint. It is legally incorrect. Let me just say that there is enough evidence in the Mueller report to draw a conclusion that there are indictable offenses. That means there are impeachable offenses. That means that we could proceed right now with impeachment in terms of the moral imperative of Congress to protect America and in terms of their constitutional responsibility.
Now, they also have a political responsibility to make sure that they can win the election in 2020 and defeat him at the polls, because they are being realistic that the Senate will not remove him from office. And if the goal is to remove him from office that`s going to have to be through the election. But I think if there are political fact-finding hearings, if there are facts that are presented to the public, that even the Republicans who are now defending the President will see the truth. And that just like in Watergate, where the facts came out, and the Republicans turned on the president, who in that case, had won a landslide, he won 49 out of 50 states, he won the popular vote, not just the electoral vote. And I think the same could happen here if we have live witnesses.
McGahn is crucial as are the other witnesses, much more so than Mueller and Barr because I want to see the witnesses we have substantive knowledge, I don`t want to hear just a summary of what they told them and I don`t want to read the transcript. I want to judge their credibility and I want the American people to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me just bring in this, the Chairman of the House Judiciary -- actually the Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland moved today to hold former White House Personnel Security Director Karl Kline in contempt of Congress after the White House directed him -- Mr. Kline -- to ignore a subpoena to appear before the committee staff to answer questions.
In a scathing letter, Chairman Cummings wrote, "The White House and Mr. Kline now stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump. Based on these actions, it appears that the President believes that the Constitution does not apply to this White House. I hope that Mr. Kline in close consultation with his personal attorney will carefully review his legal obligations."
You know, Jonathan, I just think there`s a lack of respect for institutions generally, it`s white people, like, you know, Buttigieg, as the Mayor who is coming out of nowhere because people don`t think it`s such a big deal to be a senator. People are kidding the other day saying, "Cory Booker made a mistake becoming a senator because there`s more prestige in not being in Washington." I get the feeling the President, this one, is taking advantage of the lack of respect for Washington institutions and he is flouting them, just ignoring them and telling them to go to hell, basically. And he seems to, as Jill just said, winning the PR battle.
JONATHAN LEMIRE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, certainly the President has played a large role in these Washington institutions losing that respect from the public. He attacks them all the time from the Department of Justice on and there`s no question the White House is displaying a lack of respect for the Congress` constitutional responsibility to play oversight over the Executive Branch.
They`re basically saying no. Their strategy is "just say no," at this moment. They`re saying no to having the head of the White House security appear before Congress. They`re saying no to cooperate with that investigation about security clearances. They`re saying no about turning over the President`s tax returns.
You read from the letter of Secretary Mnuchin put out earlier today, kicking that can down the road a few weeks.
We know yesterday, the Trump Organization -- the White House filed a lawsuit stopping a congressional effort to get their hands on the Trump financial records from the President`s business. And of course, we now see this news here with Don McGahn and them trying to stop the subpoena to force him to testify.
They are -- this is a coherent strategy. They believe they can tie this to, according to my reporting, to how they handled the Mueller investigation.
Let`s remember, the first half of it, they wanted to cooperate. John Dawd and Ty Cobb were the President`s lawyers, they wanted to be transparent. They thought that would help this get over quickly. There was a marked shift when Rudy Giuliani and others came on board, and they wanted to stall. They wanted to obstruct and they wanted to fight both in public relations and they decided on a real lack of cooperation for most of the Special Counsel`s requests.
They`re trying to execute a similar game plan here. And I respectfully disagree with Jill`s assessment. I`m not convinced that Republicans will have a breaking point that they will finally stand up to him. Even this last couple of days, Senator Romney, you know, condemned the President`s behavior in the Mueller report. He only condemned, though. He didn`t call for action, and none of his colleagues backed him up.
MATTHEWS: Jill, the Republicans play a different game. I think it comes to the fact that Democrats were the majority party for most of the lives of most people that make the big decisions like Pelosi. They were used to being the majority party and Republicans were used to being the little kid, the shrimp on the block who had to fight harder, kick the other guy in the you know where. They have to play much tougher. And so the Republicans still play it that way. Look, what they did to Hillary over the e-mail -- nothing. What they did over the Benghazi -- absolute nothing. What they did ever Whitewater -- nothing.
And the Democrats, you tell me what they would do to Hillary Clinton if they had the same evidence against Hillary that they have against Trump? I don`t think there is a -- they should be tarred and feathered, burned at the stake. She wouldn`t just be kicked out of office. You know what they would be doing to her and yet, you and people like you counsel moderation by the Democrats. I don`t think it serves them well to listen to caution flags when the other side is playing by a different set of rules and winning. They have the presidency. They have it and they may keep it.
WINE-BANKS: I`m not cautioning too much. I am saying that there`s a process that I think will get us to where we need to go. The hypocrisy of the Republicans is appalling, and that`s what it is. And the lawsuit that was filed yesterday for the President saying that they should not be able to get his records and that there has to be a legislative purpose is based on a case called Eastland, which I read completely different than they are citing it for. That case said, no, Congress had a right to get the records.
And I think that all of the stonewalling really does hark back to the Watergate case, when the President was the chief stonewaller, and they have taken stonewalling to a whole new level. I`m just saying, let`s get some facts out there. Let`s try to educate the public so that we have public support and Republican support. And I sort of agree with Jonathan, I am a little bit of a Pollyanna when I say that I hope that Republicans will pay attention to facts, even though to this moment, they have totally ignored reality and have accepted an alternative version of reality, which to me, is lies.
But I think at some point, there are reasonable Republicans who are going to go, "Whoa, these are lies. I see what the report says. I can see the evidence." I think we need to synthesize what the report should have been summarized as instead of how Barr summarized it, which was completely false. We need to have people see a short version that they can absorb. But I do think seeing witnesses is the best way to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`ll just say that from the beginning, we could see that they were playing footsie with the Russians. They were taking advantage of all the Russian effort to destroy our democracy, and they took full advantage of it. And then when they were caught, he fired his FBI Director, then he tried to fire the man who assigned Robert Mueller to investigate this. He did everything he could to obstruct this thing.
And by the way, all the time he was guilty because they were working with the Russians, and I`m telling you, I thought all that was obvious up front and it still is; waiting for more information and more witnesses I think it`d be nice, but I think the Democrats know what they`re facing here right now, a President who broke his oath. Anyway, thank you. Jonathan Lemire. Thank you, Jill Wine-Banks.
Coming up, enough is enough, the dramatic call for impeachment from a member of the President`s transition team -- this President`s transition team. He joins me next.
Also Robert Mueller called Russian election interference sweeping and systematic. Well, Jared Kushner has a different view, dismissing it as quote, "A couple of Facebook ads." Kushner acclaims with a straight face that the investigation itself was worse than the crime.
Plus information tonight about Jill Biden`s presidential campaign, it is coming. We`re going to know when it`s going to happen and what his candidacy will mean for Sanders, Buttigieg and the rest. Much more ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Impeachment is one of the most divisive forces - - paths that we could go down to in our country.
But if the facts -- the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we`re not there yet. I don`t think there`s big division in our caucus about this. There are some people who are more eager for impeachment, many more eager to just follow the investigation where it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Speaker Nancy Pelosi today, just moments ago, expressing caution about pursuing an impeachment inquiry in the House.
Well, despite her warnings, the list of Democratic presidential candidates embracing impeachment is growing.
Here`s Senator Kamala Harris last night:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we have very good reason to believe that there is an investigation that has been conducted which has produced evidence that tells us that this president and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice.
I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this comes as Mueller`s revelations continue to reverberate around the country. In fact, a paperback edition of the Mueller report is currently the number one top-selling book on Amazon.
Well, Mueller`s finding are not only resonating with Democrats. In an op- ed in "The Atlantic" today, a former member of Trump`s transition team said the report has convinced him that`s -- enough is enough.
Republican lawyer and law professor J.W. Verret writes that: "If you actively work within a political party, there is some expectation that you will follow orders and rally behind the leader, even when you disagree. There is a point, though, in which that expectation turns from a mix of loyalty and pragmatism into something more sinister, a blind devotion that serves to enable criminal conduct."
He writes -- quote -- "The Mueller report was that tipping point for me, and it should be for Republican and independent voters and for Republicans in Congress."
Well, I`m joined right now by the author of that op-ed, J.W. Verret. Also, Natasha Bertrand is here. She`s national security correspondent now with Politico.
So, what is the tipping point for you?
J.W. VERRET, FORMER TRUMP TRANSITION STAFFER: Well, the tipping point is the Mueller report.
It`s the outline of potentially 12 instances of obstruction of justice. And, frankly, I -- you know, I think it`s time.
And let`s remember, impeachment is only the beginning of a process. It`s not the end. You have been around. You have seen...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I have been around.
Let me ask you, what changed it? Because, for months now, we knew that he fired Comey because he wouldn`t play ball with him. He wouldn`t give him a loyalty oath. He wouldn`t let Michael Flynn off the hook. We know that he pushed -- he pushed Sessions over and over again, the A.G., because he wouldn`t play ball with him, he recused himself.
We could see everything he was doing to try to shut down this investigation. You didn`t see all that in broad daylight? You waited until the paper -- come out in paper?
VERRET: Well, nobody was interested in publishing it, frankly, until this time.
MATTHEWS: But you saw it all happening.
VERRET: Yes, I saw it all happen.
Don`t forget, Chris, I quit...
MATTHEWS: And all these meetings with the Russians, don`t you think that`s a little weird? All of a sudden, every time they go meet, there`s a Russian in the room somewhere, Veselnitskaya, all these people, Kislyak. They`re all meeting all the time. Manafort is a Russian representative.
VERRET: It`s all troubling.
And I had faith in Robert Mueller to figure it out. And, remember, I quit the transition team before he was elected, long before he was elected.
MATTHEWS: When did you stop believing in Trump as a leader?
VERRET: I never believed in him as a leader. I hoped to guide his policy decisions in a good direction, like a lot of other Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Did you vote for him?
VERRET: No, I voted for Evan McMullin.
MATTHEWS: Oh, wow. That`s interesting.
Natasha, let me talk about this thing here with -- where we`re going now with this investigation.
Jared Kushner today said that the investigation of Russian interference in the election was worse than the interference itself. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: And, quite frankly, the whole thing`s just a big distraction for the country.
And you look at what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent and do it -- and it`s a terrible thing -- but I think the investigations and all of the speculation that`s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A couple of Facebook ads.
Kushner downplayed Russia`s influence in Facebook as a couple of ads. However, the Mueller report specifically cites Facebook`s estimate that Russia accounts on the social media site reached as many as 126 million persons. That`s about a third of the people in this country.
Natasha, why, at this point, is he trying to say there really was nothing there?
NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICO: Well, the irony, of course, is that Jared Kushner was a specific target of these Russian influence operations after the election.
He was targeted by Putin`s oligarchs, by Putin`s cronies, who thought that he was naive and susceptible to influence.
MATTHEWS: He was the soft underbelly.
And so that vulnerability allowed the Russians to see an entry point into the Trump transition team, into the Trump White House. He was the person...
MATTHEWS: Is he still an asset? He acts like an asset.
MATTHEWS: It`s no big deal.
You know, he certainly...
MATTHEWS: Sweeping and systematic interference in our electoral process is what Mueller concluded. And he`s saying a couple of ads in Facebook.
BERTRAND: Well, the FBI clearly found some issues in his background and currently that made them hesitate in giving him a security clearance, right?
So the susceptibility to potentially being blackmailed by foreigners due to his business interests, due to whatever it may be, has made it so that he was rejected for a full security clearance, for a top-secret security clearance, and was operating on an interim clearance.
And that, of course, is one of the big fights now that Congress is waging against the White House, and that the White House is being reluctant to actually produce any documents and witnesses about.
MATTHEWS: Well, one of Trump`s most outspoken ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, is still pretending the Mueller report vindicates the president, even though it provides compelling -- a compelling case that Trump obstructed justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): There`s going to be a stampede to impeach President Trump. They`re going to use the Mueller report, anything they can find to try to do destroy his presidency.
And the Mueller report, to me, is vindication of President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s a far cry from the Graham of 1999, who insisted that then President Clinton should be impeached for obstructing justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: This is about a person out of control, who took the law, turned it upside down. Every time there was a crossroads, he put his personal and legal interest ahead of the nation. He`s the chief law enforcement officer of the land. He encouraged people to lie for him. He lied.
I think he obstructed justice. I think there`s a compelling case that he has in fact engaged in conduct that would be better for him to leave office than stay in office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Explain the Republican soul to me, J.W.
You were close to it. You were in the transition. How do they work these things out morally, to trash Clinton for his, well, bad behavior, but Trump gets a ride, a free ride?
VERRET: I see a huge difference between the principled conservative and libertarian soul, where I identify with in the Republican Party.
Republican Party and Republican politicians are tools for me to implement principled policy. That`s it. When that tool is useless, it`s time to set it aside.
But, more importantly, we`re not even talking about that.
MATTHEWS: What happened, though? Nine out of 10 Republican voters have been going along with Trump, despite the "Access Hollywood" grossness, despite the women he paid off, all this evidence. If they had got that on Bill Clinton, they would have thrown him out, and the same with Hillary.
They had nothing in her. If they had any of this, they would have thrown her out.
VERRET: Well, I think we have...
MATTHEWS: How do they have this double standard that they just seem to want -- what`s the word -- wallow in? I can`t think of a word for they wallow in the double standard.
VERRET: I think you`re far too quick to just sort of jump over the problems with Clinton.
I think the primary system...
MATTHEWS: I`m not jumping over it. I was tough on him.
But I also noticed that the Republicans...
VERRET: Well, both of them.
I think that we nominated two very flawed people that didn`t represent the best of us. I think we can least agree on that.
I wish more Democrats had spoken up back then. But now`s the time for people like me to stand up. And I think -- I think, frankly, as the hearings proceed forward, as the American people read the Mueller report from Amazon -- it`s very popular right now -- I think the tide is going to turn. I really do.
MATTHEWS: Which way?
VERRET: It`s going to turn in favor of impeachment.
I don`t think there`s any...
MATTHEWS: When are the Republicans going to join that?
I mean, Maxine Waters, I think, has a realistic view. I think Jill Wine- Banks is somewhat unrealistic, thinking that, a little more evidence, another set of hearings, another testimony by somebody, and, all of a sudden, Mitch McConnell is going to say, the sky has cleared for me, I see Jesus, I see -- what -- do they really think is going to happen?
BERTRAND: Well, this is the thing, Chris.
And the repeated talking point that we`re hearing is that they want to see the full unredacted version of the Mueller report. But that is not going to tell them any brand-new information about Trump`s conduct.
MATTHEWS: Well, why do they think that Republicans are going to switch?
BERTRAND: That`s a great question.
I think we have been asking that question for the last two years, as more and more has come out about the White House`s misconduct on various issues. But the Republicans have seemed to really stay firm on the president.
MATTHEWS: It`s like Third World people. The British used to just yell a little louder, so they will understand them, when they speak a different language.
MATTHEWS: That`s the problem. They speak a different language, the Republicans, than Democrats.
They don`t -- well, your last thought.
VERRET: We have seen the top lines debated. We haven`t seen the nitty- gritty.
This is nitty-gritty, soap opera-style details. Give the people time to process. I trust they will do the right thing.
MATTHEWS: OK. You can make a lot of money on the betting table with that one, a lot of money, betting on the Republicans to switch.
J.W. Verret, thank you, sir, for coming on. You`re nice to come on, and good writing.
Natasha, as always, thank you, Natasha Bertrand of Politico.
Up next: After months of speculation, we now know the whens, wheres, and hows of Joe Biden`s entry. This is arrival in Jerusalem. This has been -- this has been planned, this one, but it`s really big time. He is entering the race this week, looks like Thursday, on a video. Not as exciting as a Rocky on the steps thing, but a video.
And that info and the latest on the rest of the field -- after this break.
This is HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The months-long speculation surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden`s 2020 presidential aspirations is expected come to an end this week. Sources close to Biden tell NBC News that he will announce his run for the White House Thursday -- that`s two days from now -- in the morning with an online video.
He will hold his first campaign event on Monday, next Monday, in Pittsburgh, before heading out to the four early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada.
Biden will join an already crowded field, of course. Look, there they are. But he starts at the top of national polls, including a new one today from Monmouth University. It shows Biden leading the pack at 27 points, followed by Vermont`s Bernie Sanders at 20.
But they`re way ahead of everybody else. Then Buttigieg there comes in at eight. And he`s tied with Harris and only a bit above Warner. So there seems to be two tiers there.
Anyway, joined right now by Mike Memoli, national political reporter for NBC News, Howard Fineman, MSNBC`s analyst.
Howard, give the big picture. Biden coming in, is he all name I.D.,, or is he really the leader because they want somebody that can beat Trump?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, he`s more than name I.D.
Chris, Democrats throughout the country are fond of Joe Biden. They not only know him. It`s not name I.D. They like the guy. I was talking to my friends back in my hometown of Pittsburgh, top political leaders there. They love Joe Biden.
Do they -- do they think he`s necessarily the best person to defeat Donald Trump, which is what this whole ball game is about for all Democrats?
FINEMAN: It`s less about ideology than it is about that. They`re not sure.
But they`re going to embrace him with open arms when he comes to Pittsburgh. They`re not going to endorse. Interestingly, both the mayor and the county judge -- the county executive, the two big shots, they`re going to welcome him.
FINEMAN: They love him. But that doesn`t mean they`re endorsing. The mayor has ties to Pete Buttigieg because -- through the mayors association.
FINEMAN: And the county executive said, look, I love them all. We love Joe, but we don`t know.
The thing about Joe Biden is, he represents -- going to Pittsburgh has a history. FDR always began his campaigns there and in Detroit. That`s where people in the Democratic Party did their thing.
But he`s a party guy. He`s about politics, and in an age when people don`t like politics, per se.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the Democrats and what they need.
They lost the industrial states last time around. Some of that was anti- Hillary. We find out that underground. We didn`t think at the time, but some was just nastiness to someone who`d been in office and politics for too many years maybe.
But here`s Biden coming in with more years than Hillary Clinton.
MIKE MEMOLI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And Biden has a tremendous -- back in the Philly area, he`s got all the political guys there, all the political people.
And the question is, is he going to get the national security experts, the Susan Rices, people like that? The president -- the former President Obama, are they going to say nice things about him in the next two, three days?
MEMOLI: So, we`re not going to hear from President Obama. He`s not going to endorse. We may hear from Obama`s office, and we may hear from Obama land.
I mean, this is clearly somebody who they have great deep affection for. But there`s no endorsement coming. I think...
MATTHEWS: Dianne Feinstein`s endorsed, right?
MEMOLI: She already endorsed.
MATTHEWS: I think Ed Rendell will, but I`m just thinking that.
MEMOLI: But there`s also the question of, how much does establishment Democratic support help him?
He needs to demonstrate that he can appeal to a new generation of Democrats, activists. That`s going to be really hard for him. I mean, he`s talked about the new left with a little bit of scorn in his voice. He`s talked about, I`m as progressive as every -- anybody, if you follow my definition of what a progressive is, not socialism.
And so there`s going to be Joe Biden planting a flag for his version of what a Democrat is. And there`s going to be a little bit of conflict along the way.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope so.
MATTHEWS: Don`t you? I mean, there should be some. First of all, what`s he going to say about late-term abortion? He can`t be for that.
MEMOLI: Catholic guy.
MATTHEWS: What`s going to say about open borders?
It`s not just Catholic. Don`t do that.
MATTHEWS: It`s what you believe about life.
MEMOLI: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Don`t -- don`t put us in boxes.
MEMOLI: I`m one too.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, but let`s not get in the box.
Anyway, Howard, this question is -- I look at this, Bernie and he.
MATTHEWS: Now, Bernie has more staying power, more resurrection power than anybody thought he would have. People thought Bernie was a one-year guy.
FINEMAN: Yes, I know.
MATTHEWS: He`s back, and he`s strong.
FINEMAN: Well, and he`s got an organization. And he maintained that organization after 2016 and enhanced it.
This is what I was saying about party policies. Joe Biden is in, by, of, and for the party and for politics, per se. Bernie has the movement model. You notice the candidates today like to say -- even Donald Trump says -- I`m a movement. I`m not -- I`m not politics. I`m a movement.
But Bernie`s translated that into on-the-ground power with lots of fund- raising ability through small donors. And even in Western Pennsylvania, even in...
MATTHEWS: Excuse me, Howard.
MATTHEWS: Because you have said this so well.
They want to see that. They want to see that guy with the white hair. the hairline and everything, pointing at -- they like -- they like that picture of an older guy, for whatever it is. That`s what they come out to see.
FINEMAN: I actually don`t think it`s about his -- I don`t think it`s...
MATTHEWS: But they want to see him. Look at the crowds.
FINEMAN: It`s not about his age at all. It`s about what he represents to them, as somebody outside of traditional politics.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
FINEMAN: And, by the way, they`re winning races -- the social -- the Democratic socialists in the Pittsburgh area are winning races.
FINEMAN: And even the traditional Democratic pols that the Joe Biden`s going to have on the stage with him on Monday include some -- some Democratic socialist types.
MATTHEWS: In Pittsburgh.
FINEMAN: In Pittsburgh.
And those are -- but those are Bernie people. They`re never going to be -- they`re never going to be Joe people.
MEMOLI: He`s going to be talking about Conor Lamb. That`s the kind of Democrat in a tough swing district that I helped elect...
MEMOLI: ... that I campaigned with. I was one of the few national Democrats to campaign with those types of Democrats. They won. They helped flip the House. I`m going to help flip the Electoral College back for you.
MATTHEWS: I think Pennsylvania is made for him. And, by the way, I think he knows it.
And Democrats cannot win the presidency without Pennsylvania that I can calculate. How do you do it? I have always thought -- I made a mistake last time. I said, the blue wall will hold in Pennsylvania. I told it to everybody. I was over in Ireland saying that. And I was wrong.
There was a lot of antipathy to Hillary, and they were damned and determined to try something new. And they did. And now not everybody likes him anymore.
FINEMAN: Can I say, during the commercial breaks, you and I were expressing our doubts.
MATTHEWS: About what?
FINEMAN: About the blue wall.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe we were, but I was not having the nerve to say it. Anyway, I have been wrong.
Thank you, Mike Memoli. And thank you. You are doing the job. This guy is bird dogging Biden.
Up next, President Trump goes on another Twitter tear, I guess you call that lashing out, yet again at perceived enemies. By the way, they are his enemies.
Unsupported allegations and outright lies again, has the Mueller report got under his skin? I think so. He keeps acting like he won -- but he is talking like he won but he`s acting likely he lost with Mueller. He still lost with Mueller.
Be back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The best day since he got elected. Honestly, it`s time to move on, total exoneration. The president is in a great mood.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think he has every right to feel good about what we heard today.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Under Donald Trump, our country is doing amazing.
HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is nothing to worry about when you`ve done nothing wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Ever since the Mueller report was publicly released last week, the White House and its allies have been putting on an optimistic face of total exoneration. It reminds me of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDNTIFIED MALE: What`s with that stupid grin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life`s been good to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a message the president is also trying to hard to sell, tweeting on Sunday that I have never been so happy or more content. But as "Politico" points out, Trump has fumed over the public response to Mueller`s report and how his advisers are portrayed in it.
And Trump has been taking frustration to his Twitter feed where he tweeted or retweeted more than 100 times in a five-day span since the report has been out. And those tweets reached another level of frenzy today.
That`s up next on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
This morning, starting just before 6:00 in the morning East Coast Time, President Trump tweeted 12 times in a two-hour period, airing a variety of grievances starting with the, quote, fake news, "New York Times." He just got his copy of "The Times", I guess.
He again described the paper as the enemy of the people and called for them to get down on their knees and beg for forgiveness, I guess from him. He said he should be -- he should be immune from criticism because of the economy and attacked the cable news shows that aren`t "Fox and Friends".
He also went after the radical left Democrats, he called them, tariffs, and even Twitter itself, saying that, quote, they don`t treat me well.
Well, later today, however, Trump said he had a great meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey this afternoon. But "The Washington Post" reports that a significant portion of the meeting focused on Trump`s concerns that Twitter quietly and deliberately has limited or removed some of his followers.
"The Post" notes that Twitter long has explained that follower figures fluctuate as the company takes action to remove fraudulent spam accounts. And in a meeting, Dorsey stressed that point.
Right now, I`m joined by Aisha Moodie-Mills, a Democratic strategist, there she is, and a fellow at Harvard Institute of Politics. And Michael Steele, former RNC chair.
Aisha, let me ask you about this Trump -- why does Trump act like he lost?
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, HARVARD INSTITUTE OF POLITICS FELLOW: Why does he act like he lost? Well, because he knows he`s guilty. I mean, you can clearly tell that he is acting out because he`s just frantically fretting that we will see him for the derelict that he truly is and he is throwing a temper tantrum.
I don`t know why we are surprised about this. He is being himself. He`s always acted out this way and he is trying to distract him from what`s actually in the report, and the report is damning in that it shows his true character. And he doesn`t want people to actually focus on that. So, Trump is being himself yet again.
MATTHEWS: I`m trying to figure out, Michael, what part of the Mueller report has gotten through to his peeps, the people around him that go to the rallies. It concerns them about Don McGahn and trying to fire the A.G. and all that obstruction. Does that bother those people?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think a lot of it bothers them, but -- you know, because to Aisha`s point, the report itself is damning on a number of fronts, particularly the second section of it. But they`re in the bubble, they are inside the bubble with the president who fills that rarified air with his own breath.
In other words, the words that leave his lips, the tweets that leave his fingertips, that`s what drives the energy inside that space.
STEELE: So they are concerned about it. They know it`s problematic, which is why there has been so much on the front end, Chris, to sort of reframe the narrative, to create a discussion point and to look at this report as what the president has said it has been. No collusion, no -- nothing there. It`s just a nothingburger.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m going back to Aisha, because I`m not going to go on this rant more than maybe today, but I`m not forget being it. It seems to me that we`ve got enough in our face right now. We`ve -- the headlines are enough for me.
The Russians in a sweeping effort to destroy our electoral process gave it to Trump. They wanted to screw Hillary first and they gave it to Trump. That`s all fact. It`s all there, 17 agencies of intelligence all gave that to us a long time ago.
That`s all been confirmed by this report. That they did. They did that to help Trump win.
Had that been the case, they tried to find -- help Hillary win and she won, this would have been a national frickin` unbelievable explosion in the Republican Party. You mean the reds in Moscow, those people, the KGB, got that other person elected? That`s why she won? That`s how it happened?
I`m sorry, I`m just mimicking what they would be doing. It`s unbeli -- then she tried to fire the FBI, the Republican of the FBI, she tried to fire the good old southern boy who was an honest guy in terms of going after the investigation because he recused himself? Any sign of honesty was not there.
If that was Hillary Clinton, Aisha, I`m sorry. I don`t know what punishment they would have thought of, but it wouldn`t be just kicking her out of office. And yet --
MOODIE-MILLS: Thank you, yes.
MATTHEWS: -- the Democrats are schmoozed about this. Oh, well, I don`t know.
MOODIE-MILLS: I mean, thank you so much, Chris for making that plain. These folks are hypocrites. First of all, the Republicans are absolute hypocrites, because if we were under attack and under assault with a Democrat that got elected president by the Russians, by outside agitators whoever it would be, certainly they would be saying that that president is not legitimate.
MOODIE-MILLS: And here we are with all the evidence in front of us and yet the Democrats have not pulled their pants up to acknowledge the fact that this guy is not legitimate. Even still, the last couple of days, the report comes out and there is a whole bot universe on Twitter that has been unleashed, that is pushing this like, you know, Russia-gate, Russia-gate, Russia-gate, all in support of Donald Trump. Oh, it`s just fake news, et cetera.
There`s a concerted effort by international folks who are frankly our enemies to lift up and to boost this administration and nobody is really concerned about why. That is problematic and I really challenge the Democrats to pull it together and acknowledge the fact that the United States is absolutely under attack and assault.
MOODIE-MILLS: And we need to be having like a real conversation about that.
MATTHEWS: Well, Nikita Khrushchev didn`t endorse Jack Kennedy in the `60s because he knew it would kill him.
MATTHEWS: So, I mean, how would times change like this.
STEELE: Yes, well --
MATTHEWS: And now, you can thank uncle -- what`s his name over there -- Putin and that`s it.
STEELE: Yes. Well, Khrushchev --
MATTHEWS: He`s president. Remember Barry Bonds with the asterisk because of the drugs. I mean, Trump doesn`t even get the asterisk.
STEELE: Well, Khrushchev looked at Kennedy and, yes, he was a neophyte, but he knew he wasn`t a push over. And Putin looked at Trump and came to a different conclusion. And that -- and for what he figured out was, for Trump and his team, the desperation of winning that election meant more than anything else. And that has been the narrative that`s played out in this administration.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Aisha. Great, good luck up there, as you get more and more degrees, whatever you`re getting up there at Harvard. That`s very impressive. Thank you. We can all use that.
Moodie-Mills, thank you, Aisha.
And, Michael Steele, my friend, thank you.
Up next, the Supreme Court could now ban, it could happen, all ban -- all job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This is a big one. There`s 20-something states that still allow that kind of prejudice.
But how is Brett Kavanaugh going to vote? Is he going to be like Anthony Kennedy or not?
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Yesterday, the Supreme Court said it will take up the question whether someone can be fired for being gay or transgender. Yes, believe it or not, you can still be fired for that in 28 states.
At issue is whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act which bans discrimination on the basis of sex covers sexual orientation and sexual identity as well. Well, adding to the suspense is how the high court will rule now that Justice Anthony Kennedy is no longer there. Kennedy led that 5-4 majority in the 2015 ruling that the Constitution guarantees the right to same sex marriage.
The question now is how Kennedy`s replacement will vote. His replacement is Brett Kavanaugh.
Kennedy took a broad, high-minded position on marriage equality. Quote: No union is more profound than marriage for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. Well, marriage is the keystone of the social order of our country. Kennedy has signaled his support for marriage equality years before, leading into that with that 6-3 majority opinion in the 2003 Lawrence case that struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law. And Kennedy, by the way, just remember, was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan.
And now, with Kennedy gone from the court, the key vote is expected to fall to, as I said, Brett Kavanaugh. Will he continue Justice Kennedy`s legacy and will he carry on the embrace of the LGBTQ community by the Constitution Bill of Rights?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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