YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST: We`re going to have it all covered here tomorrow night.
That does it for me. I`m going to see you back here tomorrow morning on First Look at 5:00 A.M. Eastern.
HARDBALL with Chris Matthews starts right now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Biden riding high? Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in Washington. Big political news tonight on two fronts, the man who man who built his declaration for president last week on the moral imperative to defeat Donald Trump has shot up in three major polls. The man he targeted for defeat is meanwhile escalating his battle against the constitution, suing his own banks to block the subpoena to turn over financial records. We`ll get to that soon.
But for his part, Joe Biden is off to a blockbuster start today. As I said, a triad of new polls today in the last 24 hours, all show the former Vice President with a jacked up lead over his democratic rivals, making him the clear front-runner for now. The Quinnipiac poll has Biden at 38, up nine points since last month. A CNN poll has Biden at 39, more than double his nearest competitor, an 11 point increase from a month ago. And a morning consult poll has Biden at 36.
Biden is already focusing, by the way, on the man he hopes to replace. When Biden launch his campaign last week, he didn`t even talk about his youthful leaders in Scranton, which he apparently wanted to do. But some and no more reminiscence about growing up with Grandpa Finnegan, none of that, he was looking forward to the future, the need to replace President Trump and the battle, he said, for the soul of America. He sounded more like a general election candidate skipping over the primaries.
Apparently, it worked. Today, he stayed on message during his first visit to Iowa as a 2020 candidate. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Our very democracy, everything has made America America is at stake, and we know why. Limited to after four years, this administration will go down in history as an abhorrent moment in time. But give eight years in this administration in the White House, we`re going to forever and fundamentally change the character of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sticking to the script there, (INAUDIBLE), Heidi Przybyla, NBC News National and Political Correspondent, Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster, Ed Goeas is a Republican pollster. Thank you. And what I`m thinking on it, and I`ll try this proposition, Ed, basically, you`ve got a bump in the polls and all these three polls absolutely. It sort of went up significantly (INAUDIBLE) to start with.
For the last couple of weeks, ever since the Mueller report did not knockout Donald Trump, as many hoped it would on the democratic side, there`s a sense, almost a fear that this guy can get re-elected. And along comes Biden saying, forget everything else. The thing that matters is we`ve got to defeat this guy. We`ve got to knock this guy out of the presidency for moral reasons. No more arguing about nuances of ideology, we`ve got to beat this guy. I think that worked, Ed.
ED GOEAS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Well, it did from several different angles. One is it brought to light his high name I.D. that he already had, a favorable image that he has. And that makes him as a major competitor to Donald Trump. If you look at all the other polls that look at a general election match up, he is leading from 8 to 11 points over Donald Trump.
And if you look at particularly the CNN poll, it really did show that that is a key thing for the democratic voters. They want the person that can beat Donald Trump. It`s as high as Medicare for all, it`s a high as global warming, it`s high as other ratios and much higher, quite frankly, than progressive issues.
MATTHEWS: Let`s check that with the expert. Here`s my thinking. I`ll go over it again one more time. I am bordering my argument here because it`s my argument. I can tell from people that are watching this program and other programs like it, there has been a sort of a deflation over the couple last weeks. They thought that that train was going to come at him, that the Mueller report was going to blow him out of the saddle, it didn`t have the inclusivity to it that we all thought it would have and some will argue about it forever. But now, they want somebody else to knock him out. Mueller won`t do it. Somebody else is going to do it. Biden says, I`m your man.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, if the campaign is fundamentally about who is best prepared or best positioned to beat Trump, I think that`s a field and a lane that I think Biden would like for the conversation to be about. If it`s a conversation about who in fact is going to be the progressive leader, the new sort of meta leadership for the progressives in this country and a vision, forward-thinking vision, so as broader than just about taking about Trump, I think a lot of the other candidates and the field would certainly like to make it about that.
MATTHEWS: When do the voters make -- in your experience, when do voters make up their mind they are picking a president and when will they say, which ideological flavor I like, because everyone has got their own tastes.
BELCHER: In the primaries -- well, primaries are different than the general. And we know the primary voters are very different. One thing I will caution, and I know we`re big on the poll, one thing that I will caution is the frontrunners right now is not historically the frontrunners six or seven months --
MATTHEWS: I know that. But why did he go up. Because Jeb was always dying. He was up, way up, but then they (INAUDIBLE) years ago, way at the top and name I.D. starts to go. But Biden`s name I.D. has always been. Why did he go up this way?
BELCHER: Well, I don`t know why. Well, he announced when he got a lot of attention. But -- and Ed knows this better than I do. Look, we spent tens of millions of dollars to change that number. So it`s going to change. And as more candidates start spending money and get better to five (ph) and start putting their cases for the future out there, that number is going change.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- Heidi, your thoughts as a stray reporter. No pollster advantage here.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I`d go to the numbers. And Ed kind of touched on this. But it is more important -- electability is more important than any issue. It`s more important than all of the issues. 46 percent of the democratic primary voters now say electability is the top issue. And I think that is reflected in this kind of safe harbor at least at this moment in time of Joe Biden. He`s seen as the guy --
MATTHEWS: But do you think it`s up hill to beat Trump now?
PRZYBYLA: I think democratic voters have a lot of anxiety about a split, okay, whether it`d be a split within their party or whether it`d a Howard Schultz-like figure who comes in, there`s a Bernie who gets the democratic nomination that emboldens an independent bid from somebody like a Howard Schultz, and that is the path to a Trump victory. And I do think that is what they`re most concerned about.
MATTHEWS: That`s pretty smart.
PRZYBYLA: But, you know what, long-term --
MATTHEWS: That is a logical thing.
BELCHER: And the Russians helped along with that last time around. Look, the third party, the protest vote last time around absolutely killed Hillary Clinton. If you look at Trump`s numbers in Wisconsin, if you look at his numbers in Michigan, he`s numbers aren`t that radically different than what Mitt Romney did earlier. But the other third party is split off already.
MATTHEWS: Jill Stein vote.
BELCHER: Jill Stein but the other third party --
MATTHEWS: Gary Johnson (ph).
BELCHER: -- really hurt Hillary.
PRZYBYLA: Another warning though for Joe Biden in terms of the long-term, okay? Democratic voters are going to continue to feel this way throughout over the next nine months. Is that going to be the number one issue that they prioritize? And I just -- as a reporter who was there and who covered Hillary Clinton, she took so much abuse after the election was over about making Trump the issue and making Trump`s temperament the issue. And the autopsy of that election was that that was a huge mistake.
Now, Joe Biden is coming -- well, they said she should have talked more about -- we had an uplifting message and talked more about her agenda, and that was a mistake.
GOEAS: (INAUDIBLE) ignore the fact that we have never had in the history of modern day politics, a candidate nominated for either party on election day with over 50 percent unfavorable. We had both candidates there this time. Trump`s numbers are flat on that. He knows that he has to drive his opponent, whoever the democrat ends up being, over at 50 percent unfavorable rating for him to have a chance of winning. But 19 percent of the people who voted on election day disliked both candidates. And Trump, they broke in Trump`s direction last week.
BELCHER: Can I say one quick thing about the primary before we go there? It`s also -- look, there`s always an anti-establishment push and the democratic primary, and Hillary was the establishment -- I think Biden establishment now and Sanders took advantage of that. Obama wrote the anti-establishment push in 2008 all the way to the nomination. There will be a challenge of anti-establishment candidate. And the candidate who garner that vote and consolidate that vote is going to give Biden (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: Okay. Well, I do think that Trump has got his cannons aimed in three directions, socialism, late term abortion and open borders. He wants a candidate who fits that mold, and he may get one. We`ll see. The new polls also showed Joe Biden has strong support among minority voters. These are, I think, impressive, but I`ll be checked on this. The CNN poll showed that he has the support of half of all non-white voters given all the other opponents. In a morning consult poll, for example, 47 percent of African-American women say they support Biden.
I talked to him months ago, three or four months ago. He had this great confidence, maybe because of Jim Clyburn or people in the --
BELCHER: Barack Obama?
MATTHEWS: Tell me about it. He didn`t mention that today. So that`s obviously powerful.
BELCHER: Well, to me, that`s the ace in the hole. And I think, well, he started rolling some of that out today. Look, one of the things that we heard in 2010, going into the 2010, was -- from democrats was, especially African-Americans, where not enough democrats had the President`s back. You cannot make the argument that Joe Biden has not had Barack Obama`s back. And Barack Obama is the most popular democratic figure -- well, Michelle is actually more popular for a democratic figure right now.
MATTHEWS: Well, that will be an issue on the primary fight. Will some democrats go to the left? Well, they will. I think they`d go to the left of Obama, politically. You do have to say he didn`t do enough in terms of cleaning out the Wall Street situation.
BELCHER: I think you see that with Elizabeth Warren right now. But I also think you see it with the Cory Bookers. Look, and here`s the thing, I think, for the African-American --
MATTHEWS: Cory Booker is going to Wall Street?
BELCHER: No. I`m saying going -- I`m not saying going to the left especially with social justice issues where I think a lot of the African- American voters are, especially the young African-American voters are right now. The social justice issues, which they can hit Biden on, especially talking about the criminal --
MATTHEWS: Like Kamala and that too.
BELCHER: Yes, you can. And I think you will see a more negative primary than I think you`ve seen in the past.
MATTHEWS: I`m fearful of that. Anyway, this morning the Biden campaign released a new ad, a website ad, I guess, that plays heavily on Biden`s relationship that you just said.
MATTHEWS: So a relationship with the most popular democrat next to his wife. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service, somebody who has devoted his entire professional life to service to this country. The best part is he is nowhere close to the finish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Guys, you know, I forget how great of a voice Obama had. That`s a wonderful voice. Biden also spoke about their relationship today while in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama is an extraordinary man. You measure a man or a woman`s worth and their courage based upon how they react to overwhelming crisis. I watched this guy. There wasn`t a day, not a single solitary day that I served with him that I wasn`t proud to be with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This is almost like a George Herbert Walker Bush about Reagan, Nixon trying talking about Eisenhower, certainly not Al Gore talking about Bill Clinton, which I think is a dumb thing on his part. He didn`t talk about him this way. But will this embrace work for like a third term of Obama, basically?
PRZYBYLA: Well, it`s a question of how it is he distinguishes himself from a third term of Obama, but putting the Obama coalition back together is another issue. And if he does that, it would be --
MATTHEWS: What is that? What is that coalition?
PRZYBYLA: Well, look, we get into loaded issues here about the participation rate, and you can talk about this of African-Americans. Because what we saw was whether it was due to Russian trolls targeting them, voter suppression. We knew there was a new voter I.D. law, for example in Wisconsin. The numbers in urban areas or if it was just they didn`t like Hillary Clinton were way down from what they were in previous elections.
BELCHER: Minus 4 million votes.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that thing? The New York Times point the German town in Philadelphia is being -- it`s a middle class black community. It`s not poor people. And -- but they went down on Hillary. They were low on Hillary. What was that about?
BELCHER: Well, that`s about a disconnect. Not only did she miss the mark with African-American, she also missed the mark with younger voters, millennial vote. Look, about 8 percent of our electorate was new vote in 2008. A lot of that was younger voters. They did not turn out and support Hillary at the same rate.
GOEAS: If Hillary hadn`t been doing polling in the state for the last couple of weeks of the campaign, well, we were seeing the polling was that they would go in. And what the democrats often do, and they`re very good at, they have a big event, the two best surrogates on either side of the aisle was probably the President and Mrs. Obama. And they would get the crowd excited and march them across the street and do early voting.
But what we saw in those media markets is that the African-American vote came down on the intensity when they saw that. They saw they loved Barack Obama, they loved Michelle Obama, and they say, and you want us to vote for her? And they probably lost Pennsylvania because of what they did the night before with the election with the big event there in Philadelphia. Because the turnout in Philadelphia alone --
MATTHEWS: With Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi.
GOEAS: They had both the Clintons, both the Obamas there. And I guarantee you, there was no early voting. And I guarantee you that the next day that the African-American vote in the City of Philadelphia was suppressed not because of what republicans were doing but because Barack Obama set her up of we don`t want her, we love him.
MATTHEWS: We`ll go through that.
The Washington Post is breaking a major story as we speak. Special Counsel Robert Mueller told Attorney General William Barr that the depiction of his findings failed to capture context, nature and substance of his probe, expressed his concerns in a letter to William Barr after the Attorney General publicized Mueller`s principal conclusions. Wow, that`s what many of us thought that the guy did not translate well. He made no effort to translate. He suppressed the Mueller report.
BELCHER: Well, yes, of course, he did. He works for Donald Trump. But what I find interesting in the polling that showed that the Mueller report didn`t change the vast majority of voters` mind didn`t move one way --
MATTHEWS: That was the idea of Mueller. That was Barr`s idea.
BELCHER: That was Barr`s idea. However, to Ed`s point, you are talking about a president who is stuck consistently at 46 percent. I don`t know how you get re-elected consistently at 46 percent.
MATTHEWS: Because people lie to pollsters.
Let`s go to -- no, they do. They don`t want to Robert Costa with that. Bob Costa, let me go to this story. It seems to me an amazing story because a lot of people thought you are just reporting that Barr failed to translate the reality of the Mueller report.
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s correct, Chris. My colleagues at The Washington Post, our team that covers the Department of Justice, Matt Zapotosky and others are reporting tonight that in that period between when the Attorney General released his summary of Mr. Mueller`s findings and the release of the full report by the Attorney General, the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, sent a letter to the Attorney General expressing his dissatisfaction with the way the Justice Department and in particular the A.G. handled his own report.
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s no evidence that I`ve seen that the A.G. responded appropriately to that. He had -- they did not correct the course that he set 48 hours after the Mueller report was in his hands.
COSTA: This is a developing story. The Post is only at this moment reporting that a letter was sent right after the Attorney General came out and made his statement summarizing the report. The Post has been reporting for weeks that Mr. Mueller`s team has been unhappy with the way Attorney General Barr has handled this all.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to -- thank you, Robert. Let me to congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. This is -- I`m sure you expected this because everybody who thought like you, I think it`s fair to say, thought this was what`s going on, that this Barr guy comes in there working for the President covered up the real intent, which was to point to the real misconduct, perhaps illegal conduct of the President, especially on the obstruction of justice front and said he was exonerated, which was he was not. And now, it`s coming about. He didn`t like being lied about.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): No surprise here. If you remember, there was a lot of rumors that people within the Department of Justice who had worked on the Mueller report were disappointed in the four-page summary that then Attorney General Barr delivered before he delivered the entire document.
I do think that it`s going to be very important for the house committees to call on Mr. Mueller to come forward and testify before the committees. That`s where we`re going to get the truth about what has gone on over the last two years in these negotiations to first be interviewed and not be interviewed.
What they did uncover and highlight the areas where he clearly is calling on Congress to take action on the obstruction of justice component of his review.
MATTHEWS: One of the things that Mueller has said that really distorted the reality of the situation was to say that the issue of whether a president can be indicted while serving as president, he said that did not guide Mueller. It turns out it did guide Mueller. Mueller did not indict because that was Justice Department guidelines from the Office of Legal Counsel. He followed those guidelines, that`s why he didn`t indict the President on the obstruction of justice. At least that was a central reason why he did not do it.
Mueller purposely came out and said that wasn`t guiding him. He let the President off the hook because the president was exonerated. I mean, that is a hell of a distortion, Congresswoman.
SPEIER: Well, not only is it a distortion, it is an outright manipulation of the report and the statements by Special Counsel Mueller. And I think it underscores the fact that we now have an Attorney General who is not the Attorney General of the American people, but the President`s personal attorney in conjunction with his many other attorneys that he has representing him.
This is a true disgrace. And that`s why it`s incumbent on the House in particular to hold these hearings and hold them in public so the American people can hear from Robert Mueller and others about what was really going on.
MATTHEWS: Well, I want to thank you so much. Let me go -- Congresswoman, thank you, Jackie Speier from California.
Let me bring in Pete Williams, NBC News Justice Correspondent. It turns out, Pete, not only did he contact the Attorney General and said he wasn`t happy with the way his words and the judgments were translated to the public, but also he called him up said, why don`t you release executive summaries, that he did so right away and it took almost, what four weeks for him to do so.
PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you what I know about this after talking to senior Justice Department officials. This was after the Attorney General released his initial letter summarizing what he called the top line conclusions of the Mueller report. After that, Robert Mueller did say to Barr that he thought that that was not -- that it did not accurately convey all the sense of the report and suggested later in a follow-up call that Mueller should release the executive summaries of the report.
Now, what justice officials tell me is what is similar to what the Attorney General said publicly about this, that, number one, he could not release the executive summaries because at the top of every page, and you can see this now if you look in the Mueller report, is a notice that says, this may contain grand jury information, which, of course, can`t be disclosed legally. So he basically said to the Special Counsel staff, I can`t tell what the grand jury material in this is, and secondly, his concern was that he didn`t want to release the report piece meal. So that was his response.
WILLIAMS: And, of course, we know now -- we have all seen the report, so we can -- we can judge for ourselves whether the attorney general accurately characterized it in his initial letter or not.
But it is correct that Mueller did suggest to him that he didn`t think his letter was accurate.
MATTHEWS: What about the argument that he wanted -- that he thought the context was delivered wrong?
And what about the protocol of why the special counsel, even though he wrote a letter and made a phone call to the attorney general right after that report, the four-page report by the A.G., why he wouldn`t go public, if he wasn`t satisfied with the reaction by the A.G., which was...
WILLIAMS: Well, I`m going to speculate here and suggest that that`s not his style, that, at that point, Robert Mueller was the special counsel. He was like a U.S. attorney. He was, in essence, working for the Justice Department.
And Barr in every sense of the word was his boss. So I think it was an internal conversation, and he didn`t intend to go -- didn`t intend to make it public.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, Pete. It`s always great to rely on a straight newsman on things like this, because there`s so many opinions out there.
I want to talk to U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell right now from California.
Congressman, you know, you`re running for president now. And here`s a question before the American people.
Why didn`t we get the Mueller report clear? Why didn`t we just get it? Why was it held up for four weeks while it was marinating in the hands of a political appointee of the president? Why were we given it in a way that was spun, not only 48 hours afterwards, but a few hours before it was actually released, spun like a movie preview, spun so you would see it a certain way?
That`s not great American democracy in action? Your thoughts?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, Chris.
And it`s clear that Mr. Barr always wanted to be Donald Trump`s personal lawyer. That`s how he`s conducted himself. He`s sought to protect the president, in the way that he applied for the job, the way that he has gone after the intelligence community and accused them of spying on the Trump administration, and the way that he`s characterized the report.
That`s all the reason that he needs to get before Congress this Thursday. We have asked him to come. And I think the fact that he`s trying to wiggle out of that, and he`s only willing to do a home game with the Senate, and not face the majority in the House of Representatives, shows that he has a consciousness -- consciousness of guilt in the way that he`s handled himself and protected the president.
MATTHEWS: Hold on, Congressman.
Let me go to Robert Costa of "The Post" for more information.
I`m looking at the report here that says in "The Post" that Mueller believes that Barr`s report, that the one he delivered with a four-page note after he had his hands on the Mueller report, said that Mueller`s report was -- did not get captured in Barr`s report, either in context, nature or substance.
What else is there? It sounds like he`s saying, you did not deliver the truth.
COSTA: And that summary by the attorney general defined early headlines on the Mueller report.
And in recent minutes, just in the last few minutes, Chris, talking to top Democrats on Capitol Hill, they say it`s time for the attorney general to not only go before the House Judiciary Committee, but to keep talking about the process and his interactions with Robert Mueller.
They`re going to have tough questions for the A.G. when he comes to Capitol Hill. And this is on top of questions for others in the Justice Department, like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote an effusive resignation letter this week to President Trump and also for "The Washington Post," promised the president he`d -- quote -- "land the plane" when it came to the Mueller investigation.
So, you have several fingers inside of the top ranks of the Justice Department under scrutiny for how they handled the conclusion of this report and its release to the American people.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Robert Costa.
Let me bring in Jimmy Gomez, congressman from California.
Thank you, sir, for joining us.
REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA): Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: Well, clearly, the Mueller report, if you had gotten it cold, without through the distillation process and marination process of Mr. Barr and Rosenstein, you would have got a report that said the president`s guilty of obstruction of justice, all kinds of -- 10 instances listed.
You would have said, my God, the guy`s in big trouble. But because it was slowed down and worked down, and we were prepared for it step by step in a way that had a soft landing, nobody knew what the hell it said.
No, first, this reporting is appalling. We -- Congress needs to get ahold of that letter, see what it actually says. What did Mueller write to Attorney General Barr? And Barr has to come before the American people through Congress, the House of Representatives, so we can ask him some very pointed questions.
And you`re right. They actually -- this attorney general is acting, as everybody said, as his personal attorney, but also as his spin doctor, spinning the narrative of the Mueller report before it was ever released.
MATTHEWS: Is this obstruction of justice?
GOMEZ: I think that there there`s a great case to be made.
I think that that`s why we have to have these hearings. We have to make sure that we bring the American people along. And I have actually...
MATTHEWS: But what it`s look like to you, Barr`s performance, from day one, when he got ahold of that incredible document, a two-year project, by Robert Mueller, a straight arrow public servant?
He hands it to him. Forty-eight hours later, he delivers a four-page thing that says the president`s been exonerated on all fronts. Four weeks later, we get his version of it, his redacted version, with all the spinning, and calls a press conference before he releases the document that is redacted to make sure everybody got the right spin.
It was all public relations.
GOMEZ: Yes, of course.
And I never trusted this attorney general, Bob Barr, from the very beginning. I actually in December, in a closed-door hearing, asked Comey, do you trust him to be forthright with the American people? Comey said he trusted him. I never did.
And that`s why we had questions from the very beginning. And you`re right. He`s been spinning for the American people. And if it smells like obstruction of justice, it probably is.
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s not going to get the Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Center.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I want to bring in David Corn right now, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones."
David, your thoughts about this breaking story that we just got our hands on from "The Washington Post"?
And the story is that just what we all thought, that Mueller must have been totally frustrated by the way his words were misinterpreted by Barr, to the point where his message was, there`s 10 instances which he laid out in great illustrated form of obstruction of justice that were erased, basically, in the four-page report by Barr, and then four weeks later was set up in a way that looked like they didn`t even exist and in spinning operation that day.
Your thoughts, your reporting?
Let me go to Congressman...
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello?
MATTHEWS: Congressman Swalwell, thank you for hanging in there.
What are we going to do? What`s the members of your committee going to do about this now? I mean, give me a look forward. This information is coming out, unfortunately, like all rolling disclosure.
Rolling disclosure, my favorite phrase, because politicians never tell you the bad stuff. You have to find it out. And then they say, oh, yes. Oh, yes, that`s true, too.
What do you think is going to happen as a result of this "Washington Post" the point that this whole thing was covered up?
SWALWELL: We`re going to hear from Barr.
We`re going to hear from Rosenstein. We`re going to ultimately hear from Mueller. And if Barr backs out this Thursday, he`s going to get subpoenaed. If he doesn`t answer the subpoena, he`s going to face contempt. And I actually think he should face impeachment.
If he`s going to just say, I`m not going to follow the law, I`m not going to follow Congress, there has to be consequences. I hope it doesn`t come to that, Chris. But what do you do when you have an enabler like this who just enables the president`s worst instincts?
They have to be held accountable. And you have to speak their language as well. That`s the only thing they understand.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the Supreme Court of Kavanaugh and Roberts and the rest of them, a 5-4 Republican-appointed Supreme Court, they`re going to give cert, they`re even going to bring up this matter and take the side of the Congress against the president? You believe that?
SWALWELL: Yes. Yes, I think precedent is on our side.
They would have to wildly deviate from precedent to say that we don`t have the right to get ongoing -- to get an investigation into the president. There`s no executive privilege for that. You would have to be quite inventive.
MATTHEWS: You mean the way they widely deviated from precedent when they gave the presidency to George W. Bush.
SWALWELL: You still have to have faith in our system.
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. That was something. That was a deviation, if there ever was one.
SWALWELL: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell, running for president.
SWALWELL: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: According -- and, by the way, congratulations. He got it into our first NBC/MSNBC debate. He`s made the cut.
According to "The Washington Post," days after Barr`s announcement, Mueller wrote a previously unknown private letter to the Justice Department, which revealed a degree of dissatisfaction with the public discussion of Mueller`s work that shocked senior Justice Department officials, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Mueller`s letter to Barr said, among other things, that: "There is now public confused about critical aspects of the results of our investigation."
The story reveals that -- quote -- "Justice Department officials said Tuesday they were taken aback by the tone of Mueller`s letter, and it came as a surprise to them that he had such concerns."
And this comes one day before Barr`s Senate testimony.
Let`s bring in David Corn now. He`s available, Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones."
David, I have been waiting for you.
MATTHEWS: Give us a sense of how much this confirms your suspicions.
CORN: We saw Barr do that four-page letter.
And then we saw Barr do this kind of phony press conference, when he was just trying to contextualize the report and really say things that were not true, total exoneration, no collusion.
And it seemed to me, if you read the report, Mueller really is drawing within the lines. He is not leaning too far into conclusions. He`s being very straightforward.
It reminded me of like a report you might see in the 1980s, someone who`s not trying to get a lot of social media buzz, and you have to read the report to fully understand what Trump did on the obstruction charge and what might have happened on the interactions with the Russians.
And I can see how Mueller could take great offense, when he`s so careful and deliberative, to then see Barr come in and say, this is what the report says, when it`s not what it says.
And while -- and that this is in some ways -- it`s not an obstruction of justice, a perversion of justice. Barr was -- excuse me -- Mueller was really playing by the rules. In fact he`s gotten some criticism for being too confined and restrained in how he described what he found.
And to have Barr come in and just totally pull the rug out from under him and say, this proves the president was right when he said no collusion, this proves the president didn`t obstruct justice, so -- at least my reading of it proves that -- I can see why Mueller would have been taken aback.
And this is one reason, I expect, that members of the House Judiciary Committee want to call him up and ask him about these things, which are not confidential matters, not about grand jury testimony, and see what he says about Barr`s characterization.
CORN: And I can only imagine what the hearing is going to be like tomorrow and the day after, if Barr still goes up to Capitol Hill.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, David.
Let`s bring in Greg Brower, former -- Brower -- former U.S. attorney and senior FBI official.
Greg, a couple points.
First of all, just the charge here that`s just come from -- from the special counsel in a letter to the attorney general: "You failed the capture the context, the nature and the substance of my two-year report."
That`s pretty profound.
GREG BROWER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It really is, Chris.
I have been saying since the beginning that the worst thing that the attorney general could possibly do is say something that mischaracterizes or is flat-out contradicted -- contradicts the eventual Mueller report.
And so there`s been, as you know, in the last couple of weeks, since the report has been out, a lot of argument that he in fact did just that, that he kind of sugarcoated it, he soft-pedaled it and he -- frankly, according to some, he mischaracterized the report.
Now it appears that you have the special counsel himself saying that that`s exactly what happened. So it`s clear that Bob Mueller will have to testify, probably side by side, or at least with in -- some following or before the attorney general, and their stories are going to both have to be heard by Congress and the American people.
MATTHEWS: I have got Heidi Przybyla here.
Heidi, it seems to me that one of the big -- and I hate to call it a lie, but it seems like one. When we first got that four-page letter from A.G. Barr, from the attorney general, it said that Mueller did not use the Justice Department guidelines in deciding not to indict. In other words, he didn`t indict him on the merits because he wasn`t guilty.
It turns out that Mueller did follow those guidelines. He did not indict the president because, under the guidelines, you`re not supposed to indict him. That is the essential distortion of what Mueller went through.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: When we finally got the report, Chris, everyone in -- or all of the Democrats in Congress said, this reads like an impeachment referral, like this was supposed to be a determination that would be made by Congress.
That was language that was actually in the report. But, Chris, there was a poignant moment that kind of foretold all of this, when Barr gave his press conference spinning the reprise, spinning the report.
And we asked him, the media, why is the author of the report not standing up there beside you? And that was when the press conference abruptly ended, if you remember.
Now, based on this reporting, because I have been reading through it while you have been on the air here, he -- Mueller is saying that not only was the report misrepresenting his work, but he may have actually been suppressed, because here it says that he was pressing in his letter to have Barr also release those executive summaries.
PRZYBYLA: That is obviously something that was denied, as the public sat and stewed for three weeks and public perceptions were formed. And now Mueller is saying that that is what created public confusion around this report, and that it undermined potentially even the very central purpose of creating a special counsel in the first place.
MATTHEWS: Cornell, you`re an expert on public opinion. How much do you think the P.R. way they handled this, with a four-page report covering up the fact that they -- saying that they didn`t indict because they didn`t it think was worth indicting, when, in fact, they didn`t indict because you`re not supposed to, they were deferring to Congress, as Heidi put it?
And the fact that they covered up all the elements, the 10 elements of examples, illustrations of obstruction of justice, all that covered up for four weeks, what was the impact on the landing of this report?
CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: Bamboozled.
We -- they won, because now -- because he put it out there, and they got week after week of press that the president needed and they wanted. And guess what? Republicans rallied around him.
It`s gone, right? It`s corrupt. But, Chris, they won the Mueller report battle. They have thus far. Now, what Congress does is another question. But public opinion right now, we have seen poll after poll. It means nothing.
MATTHEWS: Right. Right.
What do you think, Congressman?
MATTHEWS: Did you miss the chance because they were too clever at their disgusting, but successful political manipulation?
GOMEZ: They haven`t won yet.
And that`s why we have a process, right? We have always had concerns. When we saw the four-page memo and then we read the Mueller report, it was very clear. And that`s why we`re pushing to have this investigation through the appropriate committees, because that`s when we dig out every single fact and have it in front of the American people.
You know what? There`s still a lot of time on the clock, and we`re going to play it all the way to the end. And I know it`s painful.
MATTHEWS: I know, but, Congressman...
GOMEZ: I know it`s painful. I know it`s painful.
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re elected. I`m not. But I will tell you, I have watched this game. We watched the way they did it. Justice delayed is justice denied.
They spent four weeks covering up this baby. Isn`t it possible that the president`s lawyers will fight these...
GOMEZ: That`s one ugly baby, by the way.
GOMEZ: That`s one ugly baby, though.
MATTHEWS: And he will fight these subpoenas for records. He will fight these subpoenas for documents. He will fight them all the way until Christmas. He will then have -- you guys have to have deliberation.
No, you get the witnesses finally. You finally get the witnesses. Then you`re going to deliberate about whether to begin impeachment. Then you have -- he could run out the clock.
GOMEZ: He can.
But you know what? We`re going to -- we have to do it the right way. And you know what? I voted for starting debate on articles of impeachment twice, twice. And I will do it again.
But I don`t...
MATTHEWS: Were you right?
GOMEZ: What is that?
MATTHEWS: Were you right?
GOMEZ: I think I was right.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think you were too.
Let`s go -- hold on for a second. I like clarity here.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.
Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, joins me now my phone.
Cynthia, I -- Cynthia, I just have to ask you. You`re learning this the way we`re learning it, flash news.
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right.
MATTHEWS: The whole thing was covered up.
ALKSNE: Well, if you`re wondering why Barr is looking for an excuse not to come to Congress to justify, I think now we know why. Because he`s afraid this is going to come out.
I mean, this is why he`s looking for every imaginable excuse. No, I can`t be questioned. This is why he is afraid to be questioned by counsel, because this was sitting in his file. And he knew the big bomb waiting to go off.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to the point I`m going to hit on for the next few minutes, because I`m stunned by it, because I was misled by it.
When I first heard Mueller`s four-page report, when he came on and said, this is what was in the Mueller report, he said, basically they -- they didn`t indict the president because he wasn`t guilty. They were exonerating, basically, when, in fact, it came out that Mueller was simply following Justice Department guidelines you don`t indict a sitting president.
That`s a fundamental difference in reality from what we got as -- as a lie -- from Mueller.
ALKSNE: That`s exactly right.
The attorney general of the United States..
MATTHEWS: We need the truth from Mueller and a lie from Barr.
MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead.
ALKSNE: That`s right.
The attorney general of the United States, the most important law enforcement officer in the history of the world, has lied to the American people. And we just have to face that. That is exactly what happened. He has to be called into account for it. And we need to get Mueller up there to explain exactly what he did and why he did it.
And you are correct. When you read them the Mueller report, the reason why he did not press any charges is because the Justice Department guidelines forbid him to do it. And he is not a guy who breaks the rules.
He is fundamentally a Marine, and he follows the rules. And that`s what he did here. And Barr took advantage of that. Now, I hope -- I hope it isn`t too late for the American people to actually learn and absorb what actually happened.
But it may very well be. We just don`t know. But we do need to get Mueller up there very quickly to Congress to explain what he did.
MATTHEWS: It seemed to me, Mueller, until he says otherwise, was preparing a report for use by the Congress for an -- impeachment hearings, for impeachment proceedings. Here it is.
ALKSNE: It`s clear in reading that`s exactly what he was doing.
And, if any -- if his name was not President Trump, he would be indicted today.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Let me...
ALKSNE: When any normal prosecutor reads that memo, that is an indictment memo. That`s what it is.
And the only reason why it`s not it`s because the Justice Department guideline, and Bob Mueller follows the rules.
MATTHEWS: Robert, we`re having a Perry Mason moment, to use an old reference, which is something`s happening in the world, the courtroom of public opinion now that we didn`t know.
We now know, thanks to your paper`s reporting, that Robert Mueller was not happy, he was dissatisfied with the report made by the attorney general 48 hours after getting his report, wherein the attorney general made very erroneous statements about that report in terms of, as your paper reports, context, nature and substance, which is the whole ball game, and, most importantly, lied about the fact that the -- the special counsel didn`t indict the president because you`re not supposed to, not because he was innocent.
Where is this reporting going now, because -- I guess I have to a question. How did we get the letter at this point, all these weeks later?
COSTA: It`s sometimes hard to be a reporter.
It takes time to build the sourcing to understand what`s actually going on inside of that black box that is the Department of Justice, which is very tight-lipped. But reporters at "The Post" and other outlets have been working hard to try to get the real story here on what happened in the interactions between the special counsel and the attorney general.
Talking to Adam Schiff this morning, the congressman from California who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, he told me he`s already in discussion with the Department of Justice about getting Mueller to testify to tell his own story. And that clamor is only going to build in the next few hours and the coming days.
Will the special counsel be allowed in front of television cameras to sit down and say what he wrote in that letter to the attorney general, to finally tell his version of events of how this investigation concluded?
MATTHEWS: Does Mr. Barr, the attorney general, know that he has been outed here, that he has been exposed as having received that letter from Mueller? Does he know that? He knows it now.
COSTA: He can turn on the television. Now it`s a question of what is the special counsel willing to say publicly and this is a question for Capitol Hill.
I would like to ask the congressman here as well. I`m already hearing from some Capitol Hill sources. There can be talk of impeachment among Democrats for the attorney general, that they`re very unhappy with this development. Obviously, they want to investigate more and have hearings.
But early, early discussions among my Democratic sources in the House is that this is appalling behavior based on the things they are reading and they would like to pursue action and pay close attention tomorrow and tonight. What does Speaker Pelosi say? She has a tight grip over her party.
MATTHEWS: Well, already respond to that. Do you want to respond to that again because I asked you that a while ago?
GOMEZ: No, no, listen, I think that, you know, it is pretty appalling. I never trusted William Barr from the beginning. I think a lot of Democrats had that same position.
We have to call him in and if he refuses, keep going, right? If it means impeachment, so be it. But everything is on the table.
MATTHEWS: "The New York Times" is also reporting on this story. According to "The Times", a rift between Mueller and Barr appeared to develop as the special counsel wrapped up his inquiry.
Quote: Mr. Barr and senior Justice Department officials were frustrated with how Mr. Mueller ended his investigation and crafted his report, according to two people with knowledge of those discussions and another person briefed on the matter. They expressed irritation that Mr. Mueller fell short of his assignment by declining to make a decision about whether Mr. Trump broke the law. That left Mr. Barr to clear Mr. Trump without the special counsel`s backing.
The senior department officials also found Mr. Mueller`s rationale for stopping short of deciding whether Mr. Trump committed a crime to be confusing and contradictory, and they concluded that Mr. Mueller`s report showed that there was no case against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Brower, what do you make of that one? I don`t know if I believe that. But your thoughts?
BROWER: Yes, I don`t know about that either, Chris. But I`ll tell you, I think, in my view, three things have to happen. The first is that this is a bit of a contrarian view, but the House Judiciary Committee needs to forget about the staff asking questions and get the attorney general up there.
I had a lot of experience with the minority and the majority members of the committee. There were plenty of members in the majority who can ask questions, who can effectively cross examine. I think they just need to get him up there, take his objection off the table and ask those questions.
MATTHEWS: How about giving a half hour to one of the members? Because the five-empty rule is something you can play if you`re a witness.
BROWER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that`s within the chairman`s purview, and that`s exactly what should happen.
Secondly, Mr. Mueller is going to have to testify. There`s no doubt about that.
And third, I would say, and, Chris, the cynics in the room might laugh at this, but somebody on the Republican side in light of this news will have to say enough is enough. What`s going on here? We need a full accounting of everything that happened.
This has to be bipartisan even if it`s just one member at the outset.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope Mitt Romney is watching MSNBC right now.
I want to bring in Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, a member of the Judiciary Committee where Attorney General Barr is scheduled to testify tomorrow.
Well, you`re going to get your first shot at him tomorrow, Senator Blumenthal. What do you think about the questioning you would go to?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT) (via telephone): This disclosure adds a breathtaking new dimension to the questioning tomorrow. It`s an absolutely stunning rebuke of the attorney general of the United States by a career prosecutor who has consummate respect. And what he is saying essentially is that the attorney general mischaracterized in contents, nature and substance his report.
And he memorialized this criticism. That`s extraordinarily important that he put to paper and wanted it to be in the file. And there is going to be a lot of tough questioning about this letter tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: Thank God for a free press once again. Thank you so much, Senator Blumenthal, of Connecticut.
I`m going to go to Heidi on this.
Where are we going?
PRZYBYLA: Well, Chris, just a little bit of information from a Democratic leadership source. That they say that not only will you hear from leadership, that it is very important that Barr come this week, but in terms of timing, they expect Mueller to be in that chair next week, no later.
MATTHEWS: This is from the House?
PRZYBYLA: This is from the House Democratic leadership.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Congressman?
GOMEZ: Great. You know, the sooner the better. I don`t have my cell phone on me --
MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in Elise Jordan, "Time Magazine" contributor, Michelle Goldberg.
This whole show, we have torn down the front page. We didn`t have any idea.
Michelle, this is big stuff. I mean, this is across the front page of "The Times" and "The Post" tomorrow and all the other quality papers. This is the fact that Mueller was basically betrayed by Barr in a way a lot of us thought he might have been.
But to come out and find out that the context, the nature, the substance of the two-year Mueller report and was disfigured in the presentation and the fact that they lie -- and that`s a good word for it -- about the fact that they didn`t indict the president because of the Justice Department rules, not because he was innocent. It`s astounding how that was misinterpreted.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think in some ways it`s always been obvious that Bob Barr`s four-page memo, the summary that he later said wasn`t a summary completely mischaracterized the Mueller report. If you sat down and read the 400-plus pages of the Mueller report, but obviously, most people don`t have time to do that.
And so, what I think that what`s important about Mueller`s rebuke of Bob Barr, is both that sort of he understood how the gap between what he produce and what Barr was telling the public and he really pointed out that the point, one of the main points of this investigation was to give some sort of public narrative that everybody could trust about what happened, right?
To give some sort of resolution to all the confusion and doubts about the 2016 election at Trump`s behavior in it and after it. And Bob Barr, you know, that closure was so necessary for the country and Bob Barr basically blew it up by going out there and misrepresenting the contents of the report in a way that allowed Republicans to pretend it said something that was completely contrary to what it actually said. You know, it still allows them to say no collusion.
You know, in his quest to protect the president, he basically -- he made it almost impossible for the report do, which was to give the country some clarity and some closure.
MATTHEWS: Here`s what -- just get -- so you don`t have to wait for the newspaper tomorrow everybody watching, this is what -- this is what Robert Mueller said in his criticism of the four-page summary document by the attorney general.
The summary letter the department sent to Congress and released to the public on March 24th, that was a Sunday, did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office`s work and conclusions. There is now public confusion about critical aspects about the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel to assure full public confidence in the outcome of this investigation.
So, what he is saying as special counsel is you, Mr. Attorney General, have ruined the public impact of this report by distortions. Elise?
GOLDBERG: Right, that was the point.
MATTHEWS: Elise, your thoughts?
ELISE JORDAN, TIME MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, I`m staggered that the original summary came out March 24th and by April 18th, the actual full report comes out. So much time passed in interim of Barr setting the narrative and Robert Mueller clearly being very upset that his two-year report findings had been in his view, distorted. And so, it took so long for this relief to happen.
MATTHEWS: What`s your point? What do you think? What do you think that means?
JORDAN: Well, and you have an institutionalist playing by the rules when no one else that he is up against is following those rules.
JORDAN: So, what is the service to the American public if your job is to tell the truth and get at the truth and then through the institution, the truth is distorted? This is a very disturbing episode for American democracy.
MATTHEWS: Elise, you understand public relations and timing. Remember how Bill Clinton was in huge trouble in February of `98, and by August, he was in a little trouble, some trouble. Time works to the defense of a lot of people, because people`s shock wears off and especially with this marination process, which was so purposeful.
Four weeks? Are we really believing it took four weeks to redact the grand jury testimony and some names? They could have done that over a weekend. Come on. They held that and marinate it, to wear down the public`s interest.
Michelle, what do you think? I think they knew it. These guys -- whoever did the PR on this thing knew what they were doing. I mean --
GOLDBERG: Right. I mean, I think that if the report had just came out and we had access to it at the same time, the headlines would have been 10 episodes of obstruction of justice, right? And it would have been obvious that this was sort of a road map for impeachment, that Mueller was abiding by the Department of Justice rule that a sitting president can`t be indicted. And so -- but there is serious evidence that he committed crimes or indictable offenses and he laid it out for us and, you know, it would have looked -- it would have, I think, forced both the serious conversation about impeachment and maybe the start of an impeachment process.
Instead, he was able to muddy the water so the question of whether or not Trump had, whether or not the report showed evidence of obstruction of justice became kind of confused and subject to partisan misinformation.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, let me ask you as a member of the committee and a member of Congress as a Democrat, suppose Mueller had released his report to the public well before the 48-hour period and the memo that came out and well before all this marination, as I call it, went on for four weeks and just drop it out there. There were 10 instances of presidential obstruction of justice and we went to Congress to now have this report. We`re handing it to you.
Wouldn`t that be a different world we`d be living in right now?
GOMEZ: No, it definitely would be a different world. I`m not on judiciary, but I actually read the report. I look at different segments. I read the judiciary review of it. It`s pretty stunning.
But we knew what they were doing. Everybody knew. But the reason why we couldn`t move it forward is because people just think it`s Democrats being, you know, sore losers, right. That`s not what it`s ever been about. We have to kind of dig it out.
What Mueller has done by finding -- sending this letter and having it on file, it gives the concerns we had credibility. Now we have something to push forward with.
MATTHEWS: The news of Mueller`s letter, of complaint, actually, to the attorney general comes after Barr waited four weeks to even acknowledge that he had any disagreement with the special counsel. Here`s how he did reveal his disagreement in that press conference just before releasing the redacted Mueller report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: Although the deputy attorney general and I disagreed with some of the special counsel`s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, that`s an astounding acknowledgment as part of this rolling disclosure, which is to acknowledge that they were pointing to obstruction of justice in the Mueller report, many instances of it. He said he didn`t agree with all those instances. But he`s acknowledged finally for the first time after four weeks of sitting on this that that`s what the Mueller report called for, action on obstruction of justice.
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Right, but not as much -- he still down played it dramatically. It was not clear, the differences between Mueller and Barr, as highlighted by this letter we`ve gotten today.
And his excuse about, oh, I needed these four weeks in order to get the grand jury material because it said grand jury material at the top of the paper, that`s ridiculous. Obviously, Mueller wrote this thing with executive summary that could be released immediately. And you`re absolutely right, it could have been done in a weekend. And it certainly could have been done before he submitted that four-page memo, which was not, frankly, did not reflect what Mueller was saying.
MATTHEWS: David, you spent years working on this. You wrote a great book about this. All this stuff about playing footsie with the Russians, which is illustrated rather well in the report, even if there wasn`t actual criminality proven, there were all kinds of examples of them playing ball with the Russians, taking advantage of Russian help in the `16 election to defeat Hillary Clinton.
All kinds of meetings, all kinds of stuff that would normally defeat any Democratic candidate for president, I can tell you, just from having experienced life in this country. Democrats would get blamed much more worse.
And my question is, historically, this Mueller thing has been deflated, and its political impact because of skullduggery by an attorney general. This is worse than John Mitchell stuff.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONMES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF (via telephone): Well, I heard all the guests earlier tonight. I think we`re not done on that. The Mueller report came out before Barr tried to do his little math trick and say there was no collusion so that all the issues you just raised about attractions between Trump people and Russians and more importantly, Trump trying to benefit from the Russian attacks and equally important denying the attack while it was happening so as to exploit it basically being in with Putin in terms of the disinformation campaign.
CORN: But that stuff didn`t get into the headlines because of Barr. But I think we`re in the third inning --
MATTHEWS: David, we got a problem. You sound like you`re on a tug boat somewhere. We`re going to have to come back to our onshore witnesses. Thank you so much. We`ll have you on tomorrow night.
Heidi, report on the significance of this and how this is going to roll the next few days.
PRZYBYLA: Chris, one of the main arguments here and the concerns of Democrats goes right to the two volumes of the report that the obstruction could have actually stopped us finding the true extent of this administration`s ties and potential coordination. And so, this is going to reopen this argument here on the hill to not only have public hearings but if this administration continues to stonewall, to talk -- and congressman, you can speak to this -- but to talk about how possibly opening an impeachment inquiry would help Congress have greater tools to compel witnesses to testify, to get documents because this is only going to increase the hunger for more information.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that charge? I believe in it. Once you open impeachment procedure, you have a tremendous advantage in the courts because they understand that it`s the only -- the only procedure there is to judge branch, by Congress is impeachment. The only guarantee we`re going to have truly equality among the branches of government.
GOMEZ: No, I agree with you. At the same time, we still have to start this investigation and really dig deep.
MATTHEWS: Can you get the subpoenas honored if you don`t have an impeachment process?
GOMEZ: You know t I`m not a constitutional attorney, but you know what? We`re going to follow up on every step. We`re going to ask for those subpoenas.
I understand they can stonewall. But I have a feeling if they stonewall and continue to stonewall, it`s just going to create an avalanche effect, a snowball effect on calling for impeachment. So, it actually will achieve the opposite result they want.
MATTHEWS: You might be right. I hope you are because we need the truth. I do remember when Nixon was on the skillet, the Supreme Court came in big time, and the Congress got all the tapes. They got it all.
Anyway, let me go to Michelle Goldberg and Elise Jordan for one last thought about -- Michelle, you on the big story. You write the big magazine articles, the big stuff. It seems to me this is part of a saga which began way back with the Russian connections. And then as -- you know, as Heidi pointed out brilliantly, I hadn`t thought of this, a lot of the obstruction led to us not getting the facts about the coordination and the collusion, if you will, and the continuing of the Russian conspiracy by American agents, i.e., Trump people.
So, all along it`s a dynamic. They have been covering their trail so successfully that they`re still potentially going to get re-elected, this crowd.
GOLDBERG: Well, and I think that, you know, another thing that would have been the headline had the report just dropped on its own was there was, I believe, over a hundred pages -- I could be wrong, but there was a substantial amount of the report that was just about the various connections that the Trump administration or that members of the Trump campaign had with Russians.
Not even about Trump`s financial entanglements but just about all of these kind of strange meetings, including the meeting in the Seychelles that Erik Prince lied to Congress about and has now been referred to the -- there`s a criminal referral to the Justice Department. That in itself, it documents a huge amount of not apparently criminal conspiracy but a huge amount of cooperation, collusion.
I also think it`s significant that, you know, the report itself says we did not look at this through the lens of collusion. Collusion isn`t, you know, a term in criminal law. We looked at it through the lens of criminal conspiracy, because if you just read the plain language of the report, you can only describe what they`re -- you can only describe all these meetings as collusion.
But because they buried it and allowed Bill Barr to go up there and say over and over again no collusion, no collusion, no collusion, again, when the report shows the opposite.
MATTHEWS: Elise? Let me ask you a question, a really nasty question, but I don`t mind asking a colleague like you. Who do you think of as a likely Republican who might come along? Is it Mitt Romney, and the senator from Utah? Someone to come up and say, you know what, this cover-up has got to stop?
JORDAN: I think Mitt Romney, I would certainly put him as, you know, at the top of my list in terms of hoping to see justice served and hoping to see our institutions protected and not abused for political purposes.
I think I still am just astonished that this letter leaked. After two years of Robert Mueller`s investigation being so tightly sealed, it just gives you a sense of how great the anger at what Mueller feels is a misrepresentation, that this finally leaked.
And also, reading the story and the defensiveness of the Department of Justice sources quoted, this is not going to go away. And they had a PR coup at the onset by seizing the four-page summary, and they really -- I think they really have messed themselves up here.
MATTHEWS: Good thinking. Somebody leaked this and it wasn`t Barr`s people. You can bet that.
Anyway, Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler of New York just tweeted: Mueller has written a letter objecting to Barr`s summary of his reported because it did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of his investigation. I have demanded the letter, and Barr must answer for this. Mueller must be allowed to testify.
So, that`s the story going into tomorrow in the Senate. Then coming in later.
Final thoughts, Congressman, just a couple of seconds, couple of minutes.
GOMEZ: You know, I take this job very seriously. I always go back to that oath. We swear to defend and uphold the Constitution, not a president, not an elected official, the Constitution. So I hope the Republicans start living up to that oath.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much.
I want to thank all our guests tonight.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
Breaking story tonight, the biggest we`ve had. Thank you so much for joining us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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