ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We have a special fallback tomorrow at NBC News, Kate Snow and comedian, Sussie Essman, from, Yes, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I hope you join us again tomorrow.
Right now, it`s "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Will Don Jr. take the fifth? Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. President Trump is out there today defending his oldest son`s attempt to get rush and dirt on Hillary Clinton. Also a new report that Donald Trump Jr. could plead his Fifth Amendment right not testify against himself on the grounds that would incriminate him. Last time we`ve learn that the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Republican Senator, Richard Burr, had served the President`s son with a subpoena. They want to question Trump Jr. among other things about his meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in June of 2016, a meeting he took with the promise of negative Kremlin Oppo on Hillary Clinton.
But according to The New York Times, Trump Jr. was highly unlikely to appear before the panel in person. Three people close to him said, and one person that he could invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in a written response. What`s an issue here are unexplained differences between what Donald Trump told the Senate and what`s contained in the Mueller report itself. Specifically, the committee wants to ask Donald Trump Jr. About his account of what he told his father about that Trump Tower meeting.
In his 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Trump Jr. said he did not inform his father about the meeting beforehand. The Mueller report shows that Michael Cohen said otherwise, recalling that Trump Jr. told his father that the meetings have obtained adverse information about Clinton was moving forward. While Cohen testified he didn`t remember if Russia was mentioned, he said, it appeared that Trump Jr. had previously discussed a meeting with his father. And now, the President is defending his son and his meeting with the Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, the Mueller report came out and they said he did nothing wrong. The only thing is it`s Oppo research. My son is a good person. My son testified for hours and hours. My son was totally exonerated by Mueller, who frankly does not like Donald Trump, me, this Donald Trump.
And, frankly, for my son, after being exonerated to now get a subpoena to go again and speak again after close to 20 hours of telling everybody that would listen about a nothing meeting, yes, I`m pretty surprised.
REPORTER: So should he fight that? Should he fight that subpoena?
TRUMP: We`ll what happens. I`m just very surprised. I really am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Really now? Well, joining ne right now is U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, who serves in the House Intelligence Committee. Jill Colvin is White House Reporter for the Associated Press, David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones, and Malcolm Nance is author of The Plot To Destroy Democracy.
I have to go to the Congressman first about this because this is an amazing development. I mean, I shouldn`t be saying this. A republican, Chairman of a committee, the Intelligence Committee of the Senate, is actually standing up to Trump, saying we`ve got a problem, we`ve got to talk to your son.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): This is not a partisan exercise. This is a republican committee chair in the Senate asking or issuing a subpoena to Don Trump Jr. to come in and explain himself. There is clear contradiction in testimony about of this very important meeting in the summer of 2016 at Trump Tower in New York City. And he`s doing his duty. He`s doing his job. He`s doing the job of trying to pursue more evidence, more information and his counterintelligence mission as well.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is amazing. Malcolm, I want to get to you and everybody on this one. He is asking his son to come in to testify against the old man. Because he says if he says that the old man knew about that meeting and meet with Veselnitskaya, the Russian Representative of the Kremlin, up in the tower in June of 2016 and the old man said, I didn`t know about it, well, he said my father is a liar and he`s part of this conspiracy.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And that`s right. And that`s the question that I think Burr wants to discuss is, in the counterintelligence component of the Mueller report, we haven`t seen any of that. We don`t know about the methodologies the Russians were using. And that might be what he is trying to assess out. Did the Russians use these techniques to get to Donald Trump and did Donald Trump actually finally add that missing part of the game.
MATTHEW: This is your line of the country, the counterintelligence part of this, the fact that Russians were up to something. Our side, Americans, through the hands of the Trump, played ball with them.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: That`s exactly right. And we`ve got to keep sight of what the big picture is here, because the Trump keep saying over and over again, we got nothing out of this meeting. That`s not the issue. The issue is they were told that the Russians wanted to help the Trump campaign. And what did they say? Donald Trump Jr., famously, I love it. This meeting was a signal, intentional or not, from the Trump campaign to the Russians, if you intervene in this election, we don`t mind. So if Donald Trump, Sr. knows about this, it implicates him in basically giving a green light to the Russians to do what you are going to do.
This meeting happened a week before the Russians started leaking information they had stolen from the democrats, a week before. They must have felt pretty good that they could get away with that.
MATTHEW: How important is this, Jill, to get to the truth about what the testimony from Donald Jr. about that meeting and his father`s knowledge beforehand?
JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It`s crucially important. But I think we also have to keep in mind here is that it`s also illegal to lie to Congress. And this isn`t the only example where they`re inconsistencies between Don Jr.`s testimony and what was said in the Mueller report and testimony given in front of Senate committees, not just this Trump Tower meeting but also the extent to which Don Jr. discussed the Moscow Trump Tower project in Moscow. Michael Cohen telling committees that, in fact, they talked about it much more frequently than Don Jr. admitted when he was speaking to the House committee.
MATTHEWS: Well, by standing firmly behind it, he`s subpoenaed the President`s son, Senator Burr of North Carolina. He`s defending Congress`s right to fulfill its oversight responsibilities. The Washington Post reports that as negotiations over Trump Jr.`s testimony dragged on, Burr became increasingly frustrated and believed that Trump Jr. was defying the committee`s authority.
Trump allies are now directing their attacks at Bur, of course, saying that a republican shouldn`t cross the President`s family. What is this, The Romanoffs again? A person close to Trump Jr. tells NBC News, catch this talk for -- well, for gangster talk, no lawyer would ever agree to allow their client to participate in what is obviously a P.R. stunt from a so- called republican senator, too cowardly to stand up to his boss. Mark Warner and the -- his boss is Mark Warner, and the rest of the resistance, democrats, these guys sound like thugs, like characters out of a mobster movie. Several republican lawmakers have also filed suit and questioning Burr`s subpoena, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Congressman, this gets to the thing I`ve wondered about. Well, I`m skeptical. Republican senators, republican members of your House are, in fact, elected officials of the first branch of government, the Congress. Why don`t they stand up for the prerogatives and responsibilities of Congress to get to the truth with their oversight role? Why don`t they have the integrity? Forget whose side they are on politically. They are on the side of the Congress when it comes to the constitution. And they don`t say that. And, finally, Burr does this. And they treat him like he is to be shunned in some religious community. He should be shunned because he did this.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: That`s exactly right, Chris. I have to say that there is one other instance where actually another republican has actually called for more information and that is actually Devin Nunes. Nunes and Schiff, Chairman Schiff on my committee, together, have asked for the counterintelligence findings from the Department of Justice because we are statutorily obligated to receive that information.
So, hopefully, there are more republicans like Mr. Nunes and Senator Burr who actually want us to perform our constitutional duty to oversight. At the end of the day, this is not partisan. This is about whether the President is accountable to anybody. And in this situation, I think Senator Burr is absolutely right. He needs to get to the bottom of what exactly happened with regard to the conversation between Trump Jr. and his father.
One issue with regard to counterintelligence, I just want to point out, which is if it is a lie, what Don Jr. has been saying with regard to the conversation with his father and the Russians know that, that in itself is called kompromat. That is information that could be used against Don Jr., who, by the way, is the head of the Trump organization to get to his father. So this is something that is very serious.
MATTHEWS: Welcome, your line.
NANCE: Yes. Well, the Russians know all about that meeting, right? Natalia Veselnitskaya, she was an agent of the -- essentially the Attorney General of Russia and was sent there on a mission to see if the Trump team would bite at what they gave them. We still don`t know whether they really bit in this, took and used it. But you know what? Maybe Senator Burr is finally standing up for the constitution. Maybe it`s just one step too much to allow Donald Trump Jr. to get away with what he said before and he wants to put him on the record and ensure that his committee is not being used as a tool by extension of Moscow.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the political gain and legal gain on the White House side. Although Donald Trump Jr. doesn`t work for his father technically in the White House, Trump`s Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, told CBS news that they should have gotten a heads-up about the subpoena.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The fact that the President`s son got a subpoena from a republican-led committee, I have no difficulty in bipartisanship, but to subpoena the President of the United States` son and not at least get a heads-up, I thought, was, let`s say, bad form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jill, I`ve been thinking about this for weeks. I watched Pelosi. I don`t think she is indifferent to this thing. I think she is calculating the politics. At some point, I think she might be moved less by the concerns about the number of seats she might endanger in 2020 in the House to the really paramount question, will she let this president get away with obstruction of justice, when that means obstructing Congress?
COLVIN: Well, her language has certainly been shifting over the last couple of days or describing the situation here as a constitutional crisis where you have a White House that is refusing to comply with these congressional requests. The president has issued a blanket directive that he doesn`t want anybody, obviously, his son included here, participating in any of this. And you`ve got folks on the Hill who are desperate for this information, who are considering every tool at their disposal, talking about finding people, talking about whether there are jails somewhere in the Senate that you could hold people. You don`t have to go that far just trying to figure out what they can do. So we`ll see.
But she still is really stuck with the idea, it seems, from her public comments that impeachment will be bad for democrats and could compromise the election for democrats.
MATTHEWS: But the failure to act -- I want to go back to what you and I have studied for years, which is this history of scandal. Nixon went down on Article Three, of course, because he obstructed the investigation of Watergate, right? Joe McCarthy went down because he obstructed the investigation of Joe McCarthy. That`s what actually -- he couldn`t say he didn`t abuse witnesses, they all do that. But they could get him on obstructing the committee investigating him.
And it seems to me if you let that picket (ph) broken, if you let them just break your lands right in your face and say, nice try, buddy, you`re finished, I think that gets even to the most partisan of politicians, I think.
CORN: I think you`re right. But I believe there is a story here that has to be told. 3 percent of Americans said they read the Mueller report. That`s probably an overestimation, right?
MATTHEWS: What`s the cardinal number there? How many people?
CORN: I don`t know. Maybe one --
MATTHEWS: I think you are way over.
CORN: Yes. 1 percent read the whole report. And if that`s --
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) 1 percent, some of these candidates have much to say.
CORN: So what was so compelling about Watergate? Some of us are old enough to remember. It was a story that developed through congressional hearings. Now, Don Jr. probably won`t testify, and we`ll see how much Burr will fight that, but there are other people to bring up there talk about what happened with the campaign and how the Trump campaign aided and abetted the Russian attack by denying it (ph). And there are people who they can fight to bring up on the obstruction issues, taxes, emoluments. You`ve got to tell the public the story and then maybe that will lead to impeachment. But oversight, truth first, and they need to fight to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go around that because that`s, to me, the big question. The fact that Mueller didn`t find a crime in taking help from a foreign government because he wasn`t sure about the law or the knowledge of the law by Donald Trump Jr. and the President right now, President-elect, Congressman, the big defense of Trump is he didn`t know anything. The bigger defense of his son is he knows nothing. The fact that he would know was illegal to take money from a foreign government in a presidential campaign. And so that`s the thin defense he has.
But counterintelligence piece of this, the prime reason we had this investigation, apart from all the partisanship on both sides, find out what Russians did to us, what they could do again and what role did Americans play with them. And I think that`s a bigger question, the counterintelligence question, anything we`ve looked to. And the question is, are we being held back from the truth right now?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: A 100 percent. There were 140 contacts at least between Trump officials and Russian officials. Even if those contacts did not rise to the level of criminal conspiracy, what happened during those conversations? Was there information that would be embarrassing that would be somehow used against these officials and endanger our national security? That is something that hopefully people from both sides can start to see is very important for our long-term national interests.
And it also helps to explain like why the heck does the President keep cozying up to Vladimir Putin. We still don`t understand the answer to that question. Why does he have one hour conversation with Vladimir Putin and he then recites to the rest of the world that Vladimir Putin doesn`t want to have anything to do with Venezuela when the Intelligence Community says with one voice that, yes, the Russians are involved in Venezuela.
So this is really something that we still are trying to figure out and getting to the counterintelligence aspects of the information that has been gathered that we should receive that we haven`t received yet starts to answer those questions.
MATTHEWS: Well, again, the power and the drama of a testimony for maybe over several days from Robert Mueller on national television, where he`s asked about the counterintelligence sub. I want to go to Malcolm on that, Congressman. That would be, to me, great theater and great history. It will be recording history in real-time.
NANCE: Not just recording history, we have an obligation to history. I mean, I`m a strict constructionist when it comes down to exercising the ability to assess out (ph) what could be crimes or could be malfeasance on the part of the government. Robert Mueller started this investigation, or, actually, Jim Comey started it, as a counterintelligence investigation to see if Russia was influencing and impact our elections. Well, maybe we don`t need to see it as a theater. Maybe we need to see it as the great education of the American public as to what a foreign power has done to us. And if we don`t do it, they will do it again.
MATTHEWS: I think we have to read Russian Roulette from your book, because I think this kind of history is already there. And I think people who want to find out what the Russians did to us and what we did with them is paramountly important to us going into 2020 and going into the future.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, than k you so much, our democrat from Illinois. Jill Colvin, you`re great. I sound like Trump, but you really are. Thank you, David Corn. I love Associated Press Reporters because of the last absolute real straight reporting that you get from the people who don`t make any money. Thank you, Malcolm Nance. I`m just kidding. Thank you, David Corn.
Up next, the secrets of Trump`s taxes. Report says he lost more than a billion dollars, I sound like Austin Powers, a billion dollars in the late 80s and early 90s. What else is he hiding? A New York State lawmaker is trying to uncover the truth here. He joins us next here.
Plus, the republicans` solution to deadly gun violence in schools, arm the teachers? In the aftermath of the Parkland massacre in Florida, they want to put more guns into schools. Much more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Yesterday, the state Senate of New York passed a bill that would make it easier for U.S. congressional committees to obtain the state tax returns of any New Yorker. Get it? Is this about Donald Trump?
Well, the bill was passed along party lines and would amend an existing law to allow the commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance up in Albany to release any state tax returns that are requested by leaders of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, or the U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation, all in Washington.
The committees would have to show that the request would serve a specified and legitimate legislative purpose and that the requesting committee has made a written request to the U.S. secretary of the treasury for related federal returns or return information.
The bill only applies to state returns, and not to the federal tax returns, which are currently at the center of the standoff now between the secretary of the treasury, Steve Mnuchin, and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal.
On Monday, Secretary Mnuchin refused that committee`s request for six years of the president`s tax returns, that despite the law stated the secretary - - quote -- "shall furnish" the requested information to the committee.
Well, the New York legislation still needs the approval of the Democratic- controlled state Assembly. Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat also, has said he would sign it as long as the law applies to everyone and not just Trump.
For more, I`m joined by one of the bill`s sponsors, Democratic state Senator Brad Hoylman.
Thank you so much, Senator.
A couple things the average person out there wants to know. If you do succeed and get this through the other house, you get this through the governor -- and that`s probable -- will that give us a good sense of the answers to the questions we all have about Donald Trump`s -- A, his federal tax payments over the years? Does he pay any?
Two, what are his overseas dealings to Deutsche Bank and those other concerns? How much will we find out through the state returns?
BRAD HOYLMAN (D), NEW YORK STATE SENATOR: Well, we really don`t know, Chris.
But I think there`s a lot of information in the state returns. We know that state returns generally do have a lot of the federal information. So I expect it will be very useful to the House Ways and Means Committee should we pass this bill.
MATTHEWS: Let me talk about the politics of this. It`s a party-line vote in the New York -- up in Albany. How did that go? Did they say -- I mean, we all -- you`re an attorney, of course.
And I have wondered, the term bill of attainder. Is this simply aimed at one person? That`s unconstitutional. Tell me how you got it through your House -- the Assembly.
HOYLMAN: Well, actually...
MATTHEWS: The state Senate.
HOYLMAN: In the Senate, Chris, they actually said the bill was too broad.
So they laid the case for us that it`s not a bill of attainder, because it applies to everyone. And there`s no punishment involved. So I feel very confident that this is very, very firm on constitutional grounds.
New York has every right to pass any law it wants, if it`s constitutional, around tax privacy and sharing tax information with other states and with the federal government. In fact, we share tax files all the time of state residents with the federal government and with other states.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s do what Trump doesn`t do. Let`s look down the road, step by step, consequences.
You pass it through the Senate. You have already done that. You pass it into House -- the Assembly up there, the lower house. You will probably be able to do that. You pass it through Andrew Cuomo. He says he will do it.
Then you have the operational challenge. Somebody takes these returns, puts it physically in a manila envelope of some size. They`re complicated returns. Walks them down to Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Is that physically how it happens? From Albany to Washington, his state tax returns are delivered by hand or whatever?
HOYLMAN: Yes, I`m assuming it`ll be done that way.
I mean, again, the state of New York shares tax returns with the federal government all the time, and it shares it with other states. So there`s definitely a process in place.
MATTHEWS: Would it be Xeroxed? I`m serious about these questions.
MATTHEWS: Because I want to see how Trump will stop you in your tracks.
MATTHEWS: He`s got lawyers. He is lawyered up the kazoo. He`s got lawyers everywhere. Where do you see him throwing a roadblock against you? Where do you see it happening?
He sues you? He enjoins you? He says the state commissioner up in Albany cannot deliver the taxes to the Congress, right? Don`t you expect that from him?
HOYLMAN: I think we have seen, as a private citizen and as a political figure, he`s very litigious.
But, again, I think New York has every right to pass laws around tax privacy and the sharing of tax documents. That`s what we do all the time as a state. And that`s what other states do with the federal government as well.
MATTHEWS: What do you expect to happen if he sues?
MATTHEWS: Because he`s not going to let this -- he doesn`t get anything -- we just spent the first part of the show talking about his son won`t testify on something he says never happened. OK, fine, but why don`t you let him testify?
He says no to -- it`s his deal. As you just allowed, he`s a litigious guy. And he will -- he will litigate.
HOYLMAN: He will, but I think we`re prepared for that in New York. We have a very fine attorney general in Tish James. And we also have the firm grounding of the fact that we do this all the time.
The federal government shares tax information with these congressional committees. It`s Donald Trump`s administration, as you have noted, that is currently breaking the law by not sharing the tax information of Trump with the three committees that have the legal authority to request that information.
And let me just...
MATTHEWS: The 1924 statute.
I want to ask you about this -- about this state.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe he`s under audit?
HOYLMAN: I have no idea, Chris. I mean, who knows what to believe these days when it comes to his tax returns? One day, he says he`s under audit and that`s why he`s not releasing them. The other day, he`s just stonewalling.
So I really do believe we need some clarity, which is why I think this bill is so important. It`s important for New Yorkers not to just stand on the sidelines as we face this constitutional showdown. We can actually make a difference here in the state of New York, as the home of Donald Trump, as the home for many of his companies, and as a legislature that really believes that no one is above the rule of law.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think your constituents agree with that, since they voted 87 percent against him. I don`t think they`re going to change their minds because of this.
Good luck with your effort. It sounds like it`s going to happen, based upon your optimism.
Anyway, thank you so much, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman of New York City.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The Republican governor of Florida makes it legal for more teachers -- well, here it comes, guns for more guns. Solve the gun problem with more guns. Is this the best way to keep our children safe? I`m not sure it`s going to keep the teachers safe.
We`re going to talk to a teacher from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Remember that one? What a horrible scene that has been.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As communities in Colorado and North Carolina continue to mourn following the latest deadly shootings of just a few days ago, lawmakers in Florida say the solution is more guns in schools.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill yesterday expanding a program put in place shortly after last year`s Parkland massacre down there that allows some school employees with roles outside the classroom, like coaches and librarians, to carry guns. Want your tennis coach armed?
This new measure now makes all teachers eligible to carry guns in the classroom. So it`s now everybody in -- the classroom teacher in front of you has a gun. School districts will still need to approve which teachers would be allowed to participate. And those teachers would need to undergo firearms training, a psychiatric evaluation, and a background check.
For more, I`m joined by Greg Pittman, a history teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
It`s an honor to have you on, sir.
GREG PITTMAN, TEACHER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: And good evening, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida as well.
Well, let`s have you do the talking. We all have our -- everybody watching has an attitude about this conversation, everybody. There`s nobody who isn`t thinking and feeling about this.
You`re a teacher. You`re in a classroom. Talk about the feelings between teacher and student and what having a gun in somebody`s pocket or holster would do to that feeling.
PITTMAN: Chris, thank you.
Since we have had the shooting that took place on February 14 last year, we have actually had this discussion quite a bit with our students. We have actually had debates with students in the classroom.
And the overwhelming majority of my students, of our teachers completely disagree with this decision by the state legislature and by the governor to increase guns in the classroom. It is a bad idea.
And a minuscule minority, just a handful of teachers and a handful of students, are remotely interested in doing this. Just a bad idea all across the board.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to the congressman.
How does that -- how does that echo or not with your people in your district, because you`re that same district?
REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): Yes.
People think this is a horrible idea. There`s a reason that 70 percent of teenagers and their parents think it`s a terrible idea nationwide, 80 percent of teachers.
MATTHEWS: What do they say to you about anecdotally why they think it`s a bad idea?
What do they imagine?
DEUTCH: They`re already concerned about school violence.
And the idea that we`re going to address school violence by putting more guns into the school, by creating more possibilities that something can go wrong and their kids could be exposed to gun violence, they understand it`s just an awful idea.
It`s a ridiculous way to approach a really terrible problem.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to you on this one, Greg, because you know what you`re talking about.
I have imagined -- I have never taught in a very tough neighborhood where the kids really give lip to the teacher. They`re not afraid of the teachers. They`re not afraid of their parents. What happens if you say to the kid, go down to the hallway and go to the vice principal`s office and check in, I`m suspending you for three days, something that really bothers the kid?
You got a gun in your holster. What is that situation like? You`re armed and you`re telling a kid, I have authority over you. Take it.
PITTMAN: Again, I have been in some tougher schools. I`m in Douglas now, so that`s not quite the situation, but exactly.
The kid may challenge you. And depending on the experience level of the teacher, their blood pressure may rise, and they may make a mistake, and/or the children or a number of students could rush the teacher. Say it`s in a holster on the teacher. They could overpower the teacher and get the gun.
As the congressman said, there are many, many, many bad outcomes that can come of this and very few positive outcomes.
One other thing that -- the reason we`re in schools is for our students to learn. And the number one thing that the students have told me that they would be worried about was, where would the gun be?
And I can see the level of the -- my students from what they were prior to the shooting and after the shooting. They are not performing at the level that they should be. They are having enough trouble as it is. And I know, if there was a gun in the classroom, as I`m sure other students, they`re all going to wonder, where is the gun, who`s got the gun?
And that would be the number one thing on their mind, as opposed to being there for education. And as far as, if this is truly for safety, this is not the way to go. This is only to sell more guns. It has absolutely nothing to do with safety, because would you want to a person with only 144 hours of training to be the one carrying a gun, when we had a deputy officer with the sheriff`s department, 33 years of experience, and he was unable to use his gun, being properly trained?
How can those of us with minimal training be expected to use a gun properly, shoot the proper kid if a kid has it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera?
PITTMAN: And I`m a gun owner. Just -- it`s a terrible idea.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s NPR -- or actually not NPR -- NRA spokesperson -- big difference -- Dana Loesch on what`s to blame for the recent school shootings. And, no surprise, she says it`s not guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA LOESCH, SPOKESWOMAN, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: There`s something wrong with our youth, everybody. There`s something that is happening in our culture, because we have always had firearms, but we have never had this many incidents.
We have a number of things that are taking place. But what we are lacking is a respect for life. What we are lacking are clear boundaries for our youth. We`re lacking that solid family home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s an argument to have more guns? That`s an argument to have less guns. If we have a troubled generation, that`s no excuse to say, oh, let them have more guns.
DEUTCH: Yes, we have got -- we have got -- we`re raising this generation lockdown
Chris, kids are learning run, hide, fight. From the time they`re learning their ABCs, they`re already worried. They`re afraid -- their parents are afraid. And now we`re going to inject more guns and create more reason for worry.
They look for -- they look for every reason, except the gun, to address the gun violence problem.
MATTHEWS: Why did she bring in abortion rights? I`m sorry. It`s not -- everything isn`t related. Respect for life, I know what she was pushing.
DEUTCH: Everything -- because everything -- everything other than guns we, should be taking a look at, unless it means more guns.
That`s always the response. That was the response of Governor DeSantis here. There`s a reason that he didn`t publicize the fact that he signed this bill, that they just sent out a notice in the middle of a day.
They understand how unpopular this is. And they understand what the threats are to our kids.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Greg.
It`s just an honor to have you on, because a friend of mine teaches high school down in Tampa. I think you guys are the front lines in life. You`re greeting the new generation. You`re there all day.
What is -- what`s your reaction to that NRA spokesperson about the younger generation being troubled? And you said it your own way. What is going on with the kids you teach that you notice is different from the past? I`m curious.
PITTMAN: I think one of the things it is, is definitely a lack of responsibility that they`re learning from our president, they`re learning from our elected leaders, perhaps their parents and others.
They`re learning that you don`t have to live up to your responsibilities, that you can say or do anything and get away with it. And I think that we need to teach them that they need to be responsible for themselves, they need to be responsible for each other.
There is a decision that you make when you choose to use a gun and to shoot it. And I think this whole question of our elected leaders -- fortunately, Congressman Deutch has been a -- in my opinion, certainly a positive leader, and certainly positive in this area as far as gun safety.
But I think that the representative -- I wasn`t going to mention her name, because I have been attacked by her so many times on so many things, because I express my opinion.
She`s only about to sell more guns. That`s all this whole thing is about is selling guns. If they were truly interested in what teachers thought, there would have actually been some teachers on this -- the commission that studied this safety thing.
There were only police officials, sheriff`s types, or a few other elected officials. There were no teachers at all. The teachers overwhelmingly are opposed to this. The students are overwhelmingly opposed to this. And yet they pass it anyway.
Who are they supposed to listen to? So it`s going to be interesting when more of our students continue to get elected, because one of the things that I do teach in the classroom and I can guarantee my students will be doing in 2020 is voting.
And they will be voting along this issue. They`re going to be looking and going to be educated about our leaders and what they have done or not done, what they have and haven`t voted for. And I can only say that you need to be aware or beware of your vote or your lack of votes, because these kids are going to be voting, as they did in 2018 in greater numbers.
We saw changes, and I think we will see even greater changes in 2020.
MATTHEWS: Greg Pittman, thank you so much for your service to your students and the country.
PITTMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
And, Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you again, sir, for coming up here.
DEUTCH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: What`s more important in 2020, policies that resonate with voters or getting Trump out of office? It looks like it`s not so much flavor of the month right now. It`s who can take Trump down.
More after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As he launched his presidential campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden cast President Trump as a threat to this country and its character. And while Biden was routinely taking the fight directly to the president, several of Biden`s Democratic rivals had taken the former VP`s queue now, and elevating their own attacks on the president in the wake of the Mueller report and the president`s ensuing standoff with Congress.
Here they go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution. If any other human being in this country had done what`s documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail.
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you wondered whether there was obstruction of justice, when the president fired the principal investigator into what happened in 2016, James Comey, the director of the FBI, when he tweets in broad daylight to Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, to end the Russia investigation, there can be no doubt that that is obstruction of justice. Clear as day.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the real crisis is he`s breaking down all the barriers across the board. In the time he`s come in office, he`s attempted to diminish every branch of government. It`s all about, you know, taking down the guardrails of the abuse of power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHES: Well, one candidate in particular has made some especially pointed attacks on Trump in recent days. We`ll tell you who it is. That`s coming up, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president of the United States of America has a profound amount of power that comes with that microphone and the bully pulpit, and we can no longer afford to have a president of the United States who uses that position with the intent to divide, with the intent to sow hate and division, with the intent to belittle and to beat down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Pretty impressive, don`t you think?
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, 2020 presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, speaking in Michigan early this week. Senator Harris has dramatically stepped up her attacks on Trump just in the last week.
"The New York Times" reports on her new strategy, writing: Two recent events Ms. Harris`s insistent questioning of Mr. Barr at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week and Joe Biden`s multiday spat with Mr. Trump have been clarifying moments for Ms. Harris and her aides, demonstrating the value of elevating her voice of opposition to the president and seeking direct confrontation with the White House. Her campaign is also drawing an internal polling of early nominating states showing the primary voters are consumed with beating Trump.
For more, I`m joined by Jason Johnson, politics editor at theroot.com, and Susan Del Percio, Republican strategist.
Susan, I want to start with you.
It seems to me, a couple of rules are at play here. One, always shoot up in politics. I don`t like the ballistic reference, but you never shoot down.
But if you got a target like the president, you go after him. You don`t go after somebody ranked in 1 percent in the polls now. Why not do what she`s doing, take on Trump? Biden is doing it and it`s working?
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And that clip that you showed leading into the segment, Chris, was perfect. She`s spot on. She`s got the right temperament right now. And it does follow her questioning of Barr last week, Attorney General Barr.
And I think this is -- she may have found her lane for now. But we are -- it`s still very early. I think she has put herself in a front-runner standing so she just has to keep up her method of introducing proposals and attacking the president when you see it, when it`s necessary, which unfortunately for us it`s practically every day.
But she has a good strategy. I don`t think she needs a reset. And I think what we`re really going to see her shine is during the debates on this network later next month.
MATTHEWS: When I started in politics, I learned a trick, which is if you want to run for Congress, start talking to the press like you are congressperson.
JASON JOHNSTON, THEROOT.COM: Right.
MATTHEWS: Talk about local issues like a pipeline disaster, talk as if you are in office now. Talk like you are running against Trump. Don`t act like a little kid at the little kids table and there is 30 of you.
JOHNSON: Yes. Well, she`s doing the thing as Joe Biden. Like, this is look, the rest of these people, they are trying to be my VP. I`m going head to head with the guy --
MATTHEWS: Well, she knows she`s got VP in her pocket.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think.
JOHNSON: What she`s aiming properly. And here`s what -- look, we know that there is sexism in voters and different things, but Kamala Harris has also tapped into something that we haven`t seen. She is a woman who can actively attack men in the public sphere, and people root for her.
MATTHEWS: Why isn`t Trump shooting back?
JOHNSON: Because she`s a black woman. He is terrified.
MATTHEWS: How so? Give me -- OK, I`ll pass (ph) that.
JOHNSON: Because when he`s talking -- he will go after Oprah Winfrey, right, because she`s a celebrity. He`ll go after Maxine Waters --
MATTHEWS: Someone her size.
JOHNSON: Exactly. She`s got some scandals.
But if you look at Michelle Obama and Susan Rice, the one kryptonite that Donald Trump has faced is black women. He would never go after Stacey Abrams because he knows that that is a constituency that will be his doom in 2020.
MATTHEWS: Do you think?
JOHNSON: Yes, oh, definitely.
MATTHEWS: Susan, what`s your response to that? Just the identity part of this, African-American women -- I am being told all the time, the Democratic fight will be dominant in their importance, because they will look for somebody perhaps like themselves in the same group who are African-American women or they`ll pick somebody they are damn sure they want to beat Trump with. I mean, they will be strategic like everybody else, maybe more so.
Why is it that there a fear that clearly he went after all the B`s the other day, Trump, he hit all the B`s. He went Biden, Bernie, Beto, Buttigieg, and he skipped her, he skipped this time, Elizabeth. What`s he up to?
DEL PERCIO: Well, this time. That`s a great time. I mean, he skipped her this time.
But if you remember, he was taken back with her announcement. He mentioned what a great -- how big the crowds were for her and how well she did.
DEL PERCIO: So, that was an indication that he respects her. As we know with women, he respects like Nancy Pelosi even if he disagrees, he is not apt to go after the same way. But -- and plus, I think he is -- it would be a disaster because he has -- all he does is know how to demean, and I think it would come off just horribly if he went after any woman at this point.
MATTHEWS: Someday, we got to figure out him and Tiger Woods. That speech giving him the Medal of Freedom was the most astounding memory I`ve ever seen. He knows every aspect, every hole of that guy`s career, and it was true majestic devotion to the guy. He looks up to that guy because he`s trying to play golf and he`s the best guy in the world.
DEL PERCIO: Too bad he doesn`t feel that way about our country, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, you make an interesting point. I`m just trying to say something particularly you`re so grand.
As I just mentioned, President Trump mocked several potential 2020 rivals at a rally in Panama City. It`s -- well, it`s the Redneck Rivera -- anyway. Let`s watch, last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a man Buttigieg. Buttigieg. They say edge edge. He`s got a great chance, doesn`t he?
He`ll be great, he`ll be great. Representing us against President Xi of China. That will be great. That will be great. I want to be in that room and watch that one.
And Beto. Beto. Boy, is he falling like a rock? What the hell happened to Beto?
We`ve got some real beauties. Crazy Bernie. He had -- a choice between Sleepy Joe and Crazy Bernie. And I`ll take any of them. Let`s just pick somebody, please, and let`s start this thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Panama City, Florida. There he was, big crowd last night. What do you think? What`s he planning the B`s for?
JOHNSON: It`s weak sauce. Well, again, it`s the white guys because he thinks he is going to face a white guy next year and like I said, I think he`s afraid of facing someone like Harris, not that he doesn`t think he can beat her, but I think he would take a lot of damage in attacking her the way he would some of these other people.
And let`s be honest -- this is a president who has no discipline. This is a president who has no attention span. So, the top four or five people are going to be the people he pays attention. He`s going to say something offensive about Bernie. He`s going to say something offensive -- he will probably make a homophobic slur at some point about Buttigieg, I would not doubt it, coming out of this president.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s already doing that?
JOHNSON: I`m sure, he is dancing right next to it and he will be there at the first debate. This president has no discipline and no couth.
MATTHEWS: Susan, what do you think about his strategy? I think Trump is thinking ahead. He wants the election now because he thinks he can win right now. The economy is good pretty now.
He did say let`s do it now. Bring them on. I think he wants to vote now. He`s not going to get it. He gets the vote in a year and a half, but what --
DEL PERCIO: You`re absolutely right, Chris. And the thing about going after Beto, let`s not forget, earlier this week, we saw a lot of polls come out that had Beto beating Trump by double-digits. So, that irks the president. That`s the way the president works. He just -- he gets -- someone gets under his skin and he will keep going and going and going.
And I do -- I agree. I think that he will continue to demean his opponents as long as he can get away with it. And that will basically be what we`ll see for the next 18 months.
MATTHEWS: I think part of it loving this list. He thinks he can beat everyone of them. Maybe, he probably he can have an easy time with Joe Biden and the states he won last time. He may not get them again.
Thank you, Jason Johnson. You are smiling. I like when you agree with me.
Susan Del Percio, if you were here, I`d like to know if you agree with me.
Up next, a sign from the Vatican that the relentless moral distress of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church could be facing finally a reckoning.
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We have waited, we have waited and we have waited. How long members of the Catholic Church have waited for our church to strike back against the sexual exploitation of our children? For years, the lofty words of common, the excuses, and, oh, yes, the endless cover ups and always the questions of why? Why is the church, which embodies our faith, embraced their secrets? What is it that leads men who preach to us from the left, from the light of the altar, to hide dark secrets from the sacristy? Is it fear of discovery?
Well, hours ago came a sign from the Vatican that this relentless moral distress could end. Pope Francis has just issued today, a new church law that all 415,000 Catholic priests and all 660,000 nuns around the world are required to report any case of clergy sexual abuse or cover up to church authorities. They are required to report old case of sexual wrongdoing as well and any old cover-ups.
Quote: In order that these phenomena and all their forms never happen again, the pope declared today, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the church.
Well, let`s hope this all leads to change.
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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