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Trump and Biden trade jabs. TRANSCRIPT: 4/20/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Jackie Speier, Charlie Sykes, Elizabeth Holtzman, Jamal Simmons,Ryan Williams

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Really?  It`s not Jerry Seinfeld but it is Tom Steyer, and he`s on The Beat tomorrow to layout why he is spending so furiously, trying to what he says, is calcify the democratic backbone in Congress.  Tune in tomorrow.

That does it for me.  "HARDBALL" starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump`s Moscow problem.  Let`s play HARDBALL

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.  A trio of breaking stories tonight all concerning the President.  One, Michael Cohen, we`re learning tonight, told Congress behind closed doors this year that he was told to make false claims to Congress in his 2017 testimony.  According to transcripts out tonight, Cohen says he was urged to save Trump`s negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow had ended before Trump`s presidential campaign began.  And Trump`s team dangled the possibility of a pardon if Cohen continued to cooperate with them.

Two, a federal judge ruled late today that Trump`s financial records must be turned over to Congress.  Well, that`s a big one.  Finally, President Trump told his former White House lawyer, Don McGahn, to defy a congressional subpoena and not show up to tomorrow`s scheduled hearing.

We begin with Michael Cohen and the explosive revelations from his closed door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee early this year.  The committee voted tonight to release transcripts of that testimony which have now been made public.

As The Washington Post reports, Cohen told the committee he had been instructed by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow to falsely claim the negotiations build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016.  Cohen later pled guilty to making those false statements about the timeline of the negotiations, which extended well into Trump`s 2016 campaign.

According to the report, Cohen said Sekulow told him it would be important to use January 31, 2016, as the date when discussions about the Moscow project ended.  Sekulow told Cohen that the date was significant because it came before the February 1st Iowa caucuses, the opening contest of the White House race.

Well, the transcript also shows that when Cohen was asked whether Mr. Trump reviewed your testimony and approved it, Cohen said, that was my understanding, that he`d also seen the statement.  In other words, the President might have known that Cohen was about to lie to Congress.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow denies the allegations that he shaped Cohen`s false statements and released a statement through his lawyers, quote, that this or any committee would rely on the word of Michael Cohen for any purpose defies logic, well established law and common sense.

For more, I`m joined by Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, Mimi Rocah, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and Ken Dilanian, NBC Intelligence and National Security Reporter.

Ken, the news tonight, let`s talk about the fact that we now know on the record what was said behind the scenes.

KEN DILANIAN, NBC INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER:  Right.  It`s important to pointed out though, Chris, that these documents do not say that Sekulow knew he was telling Cohen to lie.  What they`re saying in many cases is that people gave him false information, information that he knew to be false and he repeated that before Congress.

And in some cases, like in the case of Ivanka Trump and her lawyer, they should have known.  Because, for example, they told Cohen to say that Ivanka Trump had no involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow deal when he knew he had briefed, Michael Cohen had briefed her many times.  But it`s pretty slick.  They were all very careful.  That`s why nobody was charged suborning perjury.

MATTHEWS:  But the President all through the campaign was asked about it.  He would say, I have no business going on in Russia right now.

DILANIAN:  Well, that`s the fundamental thing.  This was a fraud.

MATTHEWS:  And that`s what the guy put out.  In other words, his lawyer, to our knowledge, he was his lawyer, Michael Cohen, said the President had ended all that business, negotiations with Moscow and Putin`s friends before he got into the campaign.

DILANIAN:  And when Cohen said that to Congress, Trump knew that was not true.  And he knew this was a fraud on the voter.  He was running saying, I had no business with Russia.  Well, he had a deal that needed Putin`s approval.

MATTHEWS:  Let`s bring in now someone who voted to release this information, Congresswomen Jackie Speier of California.  She sits on the Intelligence and Oversight Committee.

Congresswoman, your thoughts about what you learned today even before any of us learned it?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  So what is most telling and what was released today are the exhibits that you probably haven`t had time to wade through.  But it shows very clearly that Abbe Lowell, in particular, and Jay Sekulow, secondarily, knew what they were doing and wanted to make it very clear that they were going to distance Kushner and Ivanka and Junior from any engagement in the Trump Tower Moscow deal.

And it was, I think, in questioning of Mr. Cohen, how many times did you talk to Mr. Sekulow?  He said, 15 times.  So there was no question that Sekulow was, in fact, aware of and framing the testimony.

MATTHEWS:  What about Sekulow, the President`s lawyer, teasing, apparently through implication, the possibility that Cohen could stay on the -- if he stayed on the Trump team, he didn`t give up anything big, he would get pardoned?

SPEIER:  So there is a lot of code in the way they talk.  And they would say things like, the President really loves you.  Stay on message.  Stay on message.  He really loves what you`re doing.  So this was all code for keep lying and you will be pardoned.  That`s how you would interpret all of that.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Peter Baker on this.  The news -- given your news of and your news of phalanx here rather, how does this fit into the ongoing story?  The President says the case is closed.  That`s the language of Mitch McConnell.  The President says this is all over.  He`s not going to let anybody testify.  It`s over with.  What does this do?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Yes, it`s a great question, because you do presume Robert Mueller knew this, when, in his report, he did not, in fact, pursue any kind of criminal charges against any of President Trump`s lawyers for trying to influence or shape Michael Cohen`s testimony.

We have to remember, Michael Cohen now has pleaded guilty and is currently serving time in part for lying to Congress.  So he is, as Sekulow`s lawyers point out, a problematic witness by himself.  The question is whether there will be anything else that would further illuminate this account or whether or not, in fact, Jay Sekulow, and he gave this information and Michael Cohen knew about I, as Ken has just said, whether he knew is true or not, whether he was being fed misinformation.

I remember last year, I think it was, when we reported about that Trump Tower meeting in 2016 involving the Russians, and we reported the President had shaped the misleading statement that was put out to the press about it, Jay Sekulow went on television and said, that`s not true.  Well, of course, it was true, as Mueller`s report shows.  So the question is whether or not he was fed misinformation or whether he is passing along things from other people that aren`t true.

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, what`s going on here?  We`re learning through a glass darkly here.  Three things going on, Trump has got three things on his mind.  He wants to make millions of dollars for himself and his family in a Moscow building, which is going to be some huge project, maybe his bombshell of hHis career, at the same time, he`s running for president.  And at the same time, he`s trying to build some new relationship with Putin, the guy who is cutting the deal with him basically for the Moscow tower.

SPEIER:  That`s correct.  And in terms of whether or not you want to trust Michael Cohen, look at the exhibits.  Look at the emails that were exchanged by Abbe Lowell and Jay Sekulow, and it becomes very clear what they were doing.  They have been manipulating the information to try to create a narrative, support that the President was not engaged in the Moscow Trump Tower project throughout the campaign cycle.

And, you know, he didn`t expect to win.  That was the other part of this.  He was already framing his next venture.  And so all of this makes sense in the scheme of things.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Mimi Rocah.  It seems to me that the reason I keep talking about over the past months about RICO charges, everything here is done by indirection and through people, through cutouts.  I mean, the President says, allows some information to reach Sekulow.  I don`t know if he ever actually sat down and talked, honestly.  Sekulow puts the word out to Cohen on what to say.  Therefore, the President is protected from lying.  But he gets his lawyer.

Everybody thought Michael Cohen was the President`s lawyer.  When he was speaking, we thought he was speaking for the President.  Now, it turns out he was hearing from Sekulow, all these hedged language and promises of pardon and everything, and somehow, the President is always insulated like a mob boss.

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY:  That`s right, Chris.  And, you know, look, the question about why this hasn`t been charged yet, I mean, it is true, Mueller refers to this in his report.  But he also very clearly says that, basically, he`s not going down the road of interviewing attorneys.  He did the same thing with Michael Flynn.  He did not try to pierce that veil of attorney-client privilege.

Many prosecutors would take a different tact and certainly Congress could, because it certainly does seem here like there is a good case to be made for the crime fraud exception, which is a very strong, well-established exception.  And if you do that, you know, we might get more to the bottom of really what the different communications were.

And you`re right.  Someone shouldn`t be able to insulate them just themselves, just by using cutouts, especially by using attorneys.  That`s an old mob tactic.  They try to use attorneys, thinking they will insulate.  And so we have to really scrutinize that and make sure we don`t let people get away with things just because they`re using their lawyers.

MATTHEWS:  And we know, Ken, that Trump makes people lie.  He took Sean Spicer, had a pretty good reputation, made him to a liar about stupid stuff, like crowd sizes, lying right on the face people.  And what their eyes told them wasn`t true.  He`s clearly able to tell Sekulow, tell Cohen to keep quiet, we`ll give him something and make it look sweet.

DILANIAN:  And Mimi put her finger on something very important.  Attorney- client privilege loomed large here.  But guess what?  This is something I didn`t know.  Congress does not recognize attorney-client privilege in their investigations.  They may well haul these lawyers before the committee and make them testify under oath about what happened here and get the documents.

Now, will that mean they go to jail?  No.  But if, in fact, they encourage people to lie, they knowingly cause people to lie, that will be exposed to the public, and that`s the idea here.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, so all the presidents may go prison (ph).  Anyway, the President`s blanket strategy to defy subpoena has got a big major legal blow today as a it`s a federal judge ruled to uphold a House Oversight Committee subpoena for President Trump`s financial records from accounting firm, Mazars USA.  The President`s lawyers sought to block that subpoena, arguing it had no legislative function.

In a 41-page ruling, however, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Amit Mehta argued the opposite, writing, Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a president before and after taking office.  This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history.  Wow, what a judge.  President Trump responded late today.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  We disagree with that ruling.  It`s crazy.  Because when you look at it, this never happened to any other president.  They`re trying to get a redo.  As far as the financials are concerned, we think it`s the wrong -- it`s totally the wrong decision by obviously an Obama-appointed judge.  He was a recent Obama-appointed judge.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s the President discrediting the judiciary again.  Congresswoman, how -- what`s going to be in these financials?  Will it include tax returns?

SPEIER:  I would think that it would include tax returns.  But the financial statements that you might recall that Michael Cohen was showing in which he would inflate them when he wanted to appear that he had a lot of equities so that he could the Buffalo Bills and then deflate them for insurance purposes, all of that turns out to be fraud.  And, again, in his testimony that you`ll soon be reading, he talks about insurance fraud that the President was engaged in as well.

So all of this is subject to our review.  And, again, no one in this country is above the law.  And I think we need to start talking about what is becoming a lawless presidency.

MATTHEWS:  Peter Baker, that`s a strong charge from the Congresswoman.  A lot of people will believe that`s the appropriate thing to say right now.  The President and his republican phalanx around him, which protects him at every moment says case closed.  Where is this story going if the President has got his party behind him at every turn?

BAKER:  Well, that`s the real question here, right?  It`s are there any revelations that could come forward?  Is there more information that would be revealed that would change the minds of republicans, republican voters and republican lawmakers, because if not, then Nancy Pelosi`s conclusion about impeachment probably ends up standing?  She says there`s no point in going forward, he`s not worth it, unless you have such overwhelming evidence and evidence to support potentially at least among republicans because you need republican support in the senate to convict.

So far, we haven`t seen anything like that.  Justin Amash, obviously, the congressman from Michigan, became the first republican to call for impeachment.  That`s a change, obviously, but he is just one member of the House.  And we haven`t seen anybody in the Senate say that.

So the real question is, can these revelations, anything that would come out on these subpoenas change people`s minds?  People are pretty locked in in this country right now.  So it would have to probably be something pretty extraordinary.

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you because I`m looking at those numbers this weekend.  Trump gets the same number against every democrat except for Biden, I guess, at 41, holding strong no matter what comes out.

Congresswoman, I have to ask you that question.  Do you think you`re getting there with this president?  Are you getting towards a prosecution?

SPEIER:  You know, we`ve got to stop talking about this whole issue of impeachment like it`s a political question.  It is a constitutional question now.  And it`s incumbent on all of us to recognize that anyone who violates the law is subject to the law.  And I think the Michael Cohen transcript will help us in that regard.  I think the fact that once we get access to the financial documents, that will help us.  The emoluments issue is an outstanding issue that has yet to be addressed.

So let`s be clear, this is not a decision that is made based on the polls.  The American people expect us to read the Mueller report, expect us to do the fine reading of all of the documents and the accounting, but not for the American people to do that.  So I`m tired of looking at polls.  I want to do what`s right by the American people by making sure everyone has to comply with the laws.

MATTHEWS:  When should the people, especially democratic progressive wing, give up on the House moving on impeachment?  When should they give up on it, because it`s not happening now and you haven`t even resolved to begin hearings on it?

SPEIER:  I think what`s going to probably happen, from my perspective, is that the articles of impeachment will begin the process, that the inquiry will begin.  We will lay that out.  That`s the only way I think we`re going to actually get the documents that we`re seeking.  And then we will give to the American people the opportunity to try the President and determine whether he should be convicted or not at the election come next November.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, Peter Baker, Mimi Rocah and Ken Dilanian.

Coming up, another major story tonight, the White House directing former Counsel Don McGahn to ignore a Congressional subpoena, why President Trump says he won`t allow it to happen and what Congress can do, if anything, to get this White House to comply with any kind of oversight.

And the road to the White House goes through Pennsylvania.  We were in Wilkes-Barre last week.  And right now, President Trump is a little further west getting ready to disembark from his Air Force One in Montoursville.  His campaign is seeing troubling signs that the state that was so critical to his victory in 2016 could be slipping away, at least to some democrats.  Much more ahead, stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump escalated his stonewalling of Congress today, directing former White House Counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and skip a House Judiciary hearing scheduled for tomorrow.  The Justice Department backed up the unprecedented move in a memo arguing, Congress may not constitutionally compel the President`s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.

In a letter to Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone declared, Mr. McGahn is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.  In a separate letter, McGahn`s own lawyer confirmed he would not show up for tomorrow`s hearing.  President Trump weighed in on the decision late today.


TRUMP:  As I understand it, they`re doing that for the Office of the Presidency for future presidents. I think it`s a very important precedent.  And the attorneys say that they`re not doing that for me.  They`re doing that for the office of the president. 


MATTHEWS:  You notice how he`s laughing?

Anyway, the decision to block House Democrats from hearing a star witness in their investigation into whether the president obstructed justice comes as the first Republican congressman calls President Trump`s conduct impeachable.

Today, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash is holding firm in the face of a blowback from the president itself.  Amash broke ranks in a series of tweets this Saturday, arguing: "Contrary to Barr`s portrayal, Mueller`s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that met and meets the threshold for impeachment."

President Trump fired back at Amash, tweeting he was -- quote -- "never a fan of Justin Amash, a total lightweight," adding, "Justin`s a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents` hands."

For more, I`m joined by former Congressman of New York Elizabeth Holtzman, author of "The Case For Impeaching Trump," and Charlie Sykes, editor in chief of The Bulwark. 

This is the primary, to me, figure in the case.  If Don McGahn was told by the president, Elizabeth, he was told to fire Mueller, that`s an obstruction of justice, clearly.  He would be a great star witness.  Trump has just put his finger right in the eye of Congress and says, you`re not going to hear from your star witness.  Live with it. 

It is nervy, to put it lightly.

Your thoughts? 

ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN:  Well, the president is a champion of reality TV.

And the one thing he`s mostly afraid of is the reality TV that comes back and bites him.  And that`s what would happen.  If the American people saw Don McGahn testifying that the president ordered him to engage in obstruction of justice, basically to try to cover up the investigation, stop the investigation, fire Mueller, all of that stuff, the American people will be shocked and horrified. 

And so what we`re seeing here is cover-up in capital letters.  It`s the kind of thing that is shocking and horrifying, because, in the end, Congress and the American people have to see the truth. 

I mean, we go back to Watergate, we didn`t have this kind of nonsense going on.  John Dean, White House counsel, testified before the Senate Watergate committee and gave critical testimony that the president had paid hush money.  He told the president about his conversations, paid hush money, dangled pardons.

Haldeman and Erlichman, his top aides, came and testified.  You can`t have a situation we`re going to monarchical system, where -- where the president can stop people from testifying, particularly when we`re talking about potential criminal activity, potential violations of the Constitution, and abuse of power. 

All those things are implicated in Donald Trump`s behavior.  And it`s outrageous for him to try to cover this up from the American people. 

MATTHEWS:  Charlie, I would find it -- I watched Elizabeth Holtzman, among the others in the House Judiciary Committee, way back when.  But I got to tell you something. 

I`m struck by the other possibilities.  This would be like Nixon, when he`s ordered to turn over the June 23 tape that has him incriminated in obstructing justice, saying, burn the tape now.

Here`s Trump, when everybody knows the role that Don McGahn played, if you believe all his testimony, that he was, in fact, obstructing justice at the president`s direction, to fire Mueller.

And then, when all that`s out in the public light -- it`s in the Mueller report right up front -- after we all know about it, like we knew about the Nixon tape, then he says, I`m not going to let you hear from this guy.  I`m going to order him gagged. 



And I do think we have reached now the point of no return on whether or not the House has to open the impeachment proceedings.  I have actually been very sympathetic to the go-slow folks and what Nancy Pelosi has been talking about, but I don`t think they have any choice at this point. 

If you`re going to get the documents you want, if you`re going to be able to compel this testimony, the House Democrats are going to have to begin those impeachment proceedings. 

And I have to say, they also have to acknowledge that they are losing the messaging war.  I am somewhat flabbergasted at their failure to follow up on the Mueller report.  And, as a result, you have seen the president acting like he is emboldened, going on the offense, unleashing the attorney general to threaten to investigate the investigators and go after the president`s political opponents. 

But, at this particular point, this is -- this is the cover-up.  They are a complete stonewalling strategy.  And it is a fundamental act of contempt for Congress. 

And I will go back to what Congresswoman Speier said in the last segment.  At some point, Democrats have to stop looking at the polls and thinking about this in political terms, and need to understand the constitutional obligation and the stakes here if they do not open these proceedings, because the president has basically taken a position that he`s  above the law.

MATTHEWS:  When is that point, Charlie? 

I`m going to ask the congresswoman that.  When is the point of no return, when you can`t say, the public`s -- all they want to do is get the House to say Democrat.  That`s all they care about. 

SYKES:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  If there`s any danger to the suburban new House members, we can`t do it.

Not everybody thinks like a politician, thank God.  They think like voters and citizens. 

HOLTZMAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  When is that -- I will go back to the Congresswoman Holtzman.

When do the voters of the Democratic Party stand up and say, excuse me, stop being so tactical, Madam Speaker, we want a prosecution of this president?  You expected Mueller to do it for you.  He was the investigator.  It`s the job of the House of Representatives to prosecute the case under the Constitution, not Mueller, the House. 

HOLTZMAN:  Well, if you go back to Watergate in the House Judiciary Committee, we didn`t take a poll before we started our impeachment inquiry. 

The president fired the special prosecutor, and the American people said, enough is enough.  We`re not a banana republic.  And, Congress, you have to do something about it, because a president can`t decide who is going to investigate him and who is going to prosecute him.  That`s it. 

And so we started.  We didn`t take polls.  We didn`t know how many members of the committee were going to support impeachment.  We didn`t know how many members of that House were going to support impeachment.  We definitely didn`t even know what the numbers were going to be in the Senate.  We did it because the American people wanted it and because it was the right thing to do. 

And you don`t know how it`s going to turn out.  What we knew is that, if you do it in the right way, you do it in a fair way, you do it in an honorable way, you get solid evidence, you try to bring Republicans along, you explain it to the American people, they will support the effort, if it`s bipartisan and if it`s fair and if it`s based on solid evidence. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we`re working on that.  We`re working on that.

One of the president`s frequent Republican antagonists, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, called Justin Amash`s comments courageous this weekend, but disagreed with his position the president`s conduct.

He`s playing it very cute Mitt Romney.  watch him. 


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have.  I respect him.  I think it`s a courageous statement. 

But I believe that to make a case for obstruction of justice, you just don`t have the elements that are evidenced in this document.  And I also believe that an impeachment call is not only something that relates to the law, but also considers practicality and politics.

And the American people just aren`t there.  And I think those that are considering impeachment have to look also at the jury, which would be the Senate.  The Senate is certainly not there either. 


MATTHEWS:  Charlie, when Mitt Romney talks like that, I think I`m watching the Hall of the Presidents down in -- down in Disney World.  He looks like the leader of the country, even though he didn`t make it. 

And yet, when it comes to the final statement, he says, I don`t really agree with Amash.  I respect him.  I don`t agree with him about obstruction. 

When is the party going to change?


SYKES:  Yes.  Justin Amash is courageous.  I`m not.  I`m not going to do anything about this. 

So, his capacity to disappoint, we`re reminded of all of that.

Look, one of the things that Democrats do need to keep in mind, though, is, remember -- we have used Watergate as a model.  But remember what Republicans did with the Benghazi hearings, and the way that changed the public`s perception of Hillary Clinton, the kind of evidence that they were able to pull out.

The whole e-mails came out of that.  And so when you think about what they could do, look, the polls are not there.  Romney`s right.  The votes are not there.  The poll numbers are not there. 

But if you start to have this televised reality TV show, you may not move 20 or 30 percent, but you could move 2, 3, 4, 5 percentage points. 

But I also think the failure to do it is to accept this conduct and to normalize this conduct.  So I don`t think the politics are quite as toxic as I think some Democrats fear they might be. 

MATTHEWS:  I think they`re afraid of what happened to Bill Clinton, and how the Republicans blew it.

By the way, somebody has to tell me someday what the Republicans established that Hillary Clinton did wrong as secretary of state regarding Benghazi.  I have never heard a declarative statement of what she did wrong. 

Anyway, thank you, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman.  You are amazing.  You are amazing.  Thank you so much for coming on. 


MATTHEWS:  And, Charlie Sykes, thank you, as always, sir. 

Up next: explosive new reporting on concerns raised by anti-money laundering watchdogs at Deutsche Bank about accounts controlled by Mr. Donald Trump and Mr. Jared Kushner.  Interesting stuff going on at Deutsche Bank vis-a-vis the Russians. 

Could that be why the president`s suing to stop his bank records from being turned over to the Congress?  More cover-up, more stonewalling, more gagging. 

More HARDBALL coming up after this.


MATTHEWS:  We got some more muck for you.

Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Deutsche Bank has emerged as a key focal point of multiple investigations into President Trump`s finances, as well as his business ties to Russia. 

Now, in an explosive new report, "The New York Times" has revealed that anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to federal financial crimes watchdogs.

According to the report, at least some of those transactions involve money flying back and forth with overseas entities or individuals.  But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees` advice.  The reports were never filed with the government. 

Deutsche Bank already has a reputation for laundering Russian money, and it`s one of the few financial institutions that has been willing to lend to Trump since the late 1990s.

Well, this news comes after Deutsche Bank was served last month with a broad subpoena from the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees.  They`re demanding, among other things, all records relating to Trump`s ties with any foreign individual entity, or government. 

In reaction, the president actually sued his biggest lender -- that is Deutsche Bank -- in an attempt to stop it from complying with a subpoena. 

I`m joined right now by David Corn, Washington bureau chief.

You wrote "Russian Roulette."  You know this story.

What is the connection between a bank that`s loosey-goosey, giving billions of bucks to Trump, when nobody else will lend him money, and all this dirty laundering of money all of a sudden with the Russians?  What`s -- who does it connect? 


Well, let`s start with the big fact here, that Donald Trump has borrowed billions and owes now at least $300 million to a foreign-owned bank. 

And that money comes from what`s called the private side of the bank, which could be a fund that they set up.  We don`t know where those funds come in.  We don`t know if those loans are guaranteed or backstopped. 

I have talked to bankers who have said, it`s -- these are very unusual loans.  There are probably some guarantees there.  But we don`t know if there are and, if so, who`s guaranteeing.

So, we don`t know a fundamental fact.

MATTHEWS:  What do you mean by guarantee?

CORN:  Like, if you take money out from some -- from a bank, sometimes, you have to put up collateral.  Sometimes, you have to put up a guarantee if the money doesn`t get paid back. 

MATTHEWS:  You don`t think he gave any guarantees, do you? 

CORN:  Well, I have bankers who say that there would have to be some guarantees for them to...


MATTHEWS:  Why did Deutsche give him money, when nobody else would give him any money, and they`re giving him billions?

CORN:  Well, that`s a really good question.

They take the obvious line.

MATTHEWS:  What is the quid pro quo here?

CORN:  Well, they take the obvious line that, no one else did, so we thought he had a good -- we had had a good opportunity there.  And he`s paid back. 

And his relationship with Deutsche Bank has gone up and down over the years.  But, at the same time, we don`t know all the details in who made -- whether there are guarantees.  He has 552 LLCs on his financial disclosure form.  We don`t know any of the details of that. 

And so you look at this -- and we argue about his tax returns.  I mean, the tax returns are 5 percent of his financial picture.  And now it turns out, with a story by David Enrich at "The New York Times," that inside Deutsche Bank, at the ground level, people who keep an eye out for shifty deals filed reports saying, hey, we see some transactions here that look like they need more of a look from the U.S. regulators.  It`s our job to report.

But they go up inside the bank, and senior people there say, nah, we don`t think so.

MATTHEWS:  OK, give me motive here.  Why would the bank`s top people not want to act on what they see as shady business?

CORN:  Well, because he`s one of their best clients and because they`re protecting someone.

Now, they have the discretion.  And these transactions are not evidence of wrongdoing.  But the whole system to prevent money laundering is based on banks first reporting what they think smells a little funny.  This is what got Eliot Spitzer.  Remember, he was making these contributions in cash?

That triggered an investigation that led to him using prostitutes. 


CORN:  So I`m not saying that this is what Trump was doing.  And some of the -- and this all could be on the up-and-up. 

But what`s important is, you got Trump, you got all this money from Deutsche Bank going to Trump, and Deutsche Bank -- and Jared Kushner -- and then the bank says, you know what, we`re not going to share this information with the U.S...


MATTHEWS:  So let me try something by you.  The money that he borrowed from Deutsche Bank, was it a pass-through from the Russians? 

CORN:  We don`t know.  We don`t know if this money is coming from somebody else, or, as I said earlier, guaranteed by somebody else. 

This is what maybe some of the financial information that members of Congress are trying -- trying to get.

MATTHEWS:  They will never get it.


CORN:  Well, they may not get it, but this is what it would indicate, if there are any attachments to these loans. 

And you think the American public -- if the president is on the hook...

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you.

CORN:  ... for $300 million to a foreign institution, should get all the information they can on that.

MATTHEWS:  You`re a progressive.  I want to ask you this.

When will Pelosi give up on this stance she`s taken against impeachment?

CORN:  I don`t know.

But what I want to see is, even if Don McGahn won`t testify, there are so many other people they should call up.  They should call up Felix Sater, who did the Russia deal with Trump.  They should call in Michael Flynn.  They should call in Corey Lewandowski, people who were in the report on the obstruction side.  They have so many people they...


MATTHEWS:  Why aren`t they doing that now? 

CORN:  I don`t know why they`re not holding hearings every single day to get to the middle and the bottom of this story. 

MATTHEWS:  I think they got to move on impeachment, whether they do it in form of impeachment or just really hard-nosed investigations.  It has to move forward, or it`s going to die. 

CORN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  It`s going to die. 

Anyway, David Corn, you`re the best. Thanks. 

CORN:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  Up next: the battle for the Rust Belt.  Now new polling shows Democratic front-runner Joe Biden increasing his lead over Trump in those key states.  No surprise then that President Trump is in Pennsylvania.

By the way, strike that.  It`s not the Rust Belt.  It`s the good part of the country hoping to reverse its Rust Belt slide.

Back in a minute. 

Who put that in the script?  I mean...


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump is in northeastern Pennsylvania tonight, trying to maintain a hold on one of those three states that helped propel him to victory.  It is his 48th rally in Pennsylvania since he first announced his candidacy in 2015. 

I can`t hear. 

Well, sources tell "Reuters" that President Trump will fully launch his re- election next month in Florida and will follow it up with stops in other battleground states.  With increased focus on those states comes amidst reports that the Trump campaign is seeing some troubling signs about the president`s popularity and critical Midwestern states. 

According to "Politico", President Trump`s campaign is trying to shore up his standing in those states where there is growing anxiety.  Two sources tell "Politico" that the Trump campaign recently completed a 17-state polling project that concluded that the president trails Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. 

Looking to take advantage of significant ties, Joe Biden officially launched his campaign in the heart of Philadelphia on Saturday, pitching an old school patriotic centrist message. 


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The American people want the government to work.  I don`t think that`s too much for them to ask.  You know, I know some people in D.C. say it can`t be done.  Well, let me tell them something -- and make sure they understand this -- the country is sick of the division. 


They`re sick of the fighting.  They`re sick of the childish behavior.  There isn`t a single person among you or anywhere in this country that could get away with that in their jobs.  All they want is for their president, their senators, their representatives, to do their jobs.  Just do your job. 


MATTHEWS:  The recent nationwide Fox News poll shows Biden with an 11-point lead over Trump in a hypothetical match-up. 

And President Trump has noticed.  Stay tuned after the break to see how he`s dealing with the bad political news. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Former Vice President Joe Biden`s steady dominance of recent Democratic polls have not gone unnoticed by Trump.  This weekend, Trump tweeted multiple times about his potential challenger, seemingly auditioning various lines of attack. 

According to "The New York Times", senior Trump campaign aides have recently told other Republican officials that they would rather not face Mr. Biden.  His initial strength in the Democratic primary has surprised them. 

Well, in Philadelphia, Biden made the case against four more years of President Trump.  Let`s watch. 


BIDEN:  If American people want a president to add to our division, lead with a clenched fist, a closed hand, a hard heart, to demonize your opponents, to spew hatred.  They don`t need me.  They`ve got President Donald Trump. 


MATTHEWS:  For more now, I`m joined right now by Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist, and Ryan Williams, Republican strategist. 

Well, everybody saw what happened on Saturday.  Very patriotic day right in front of city hall there. 


MATTHEWS:  And a big crowd.  Very positive.  I`ll talk my own thoughts at the end of the day but this is your time now. 

I think Jill Biden was the star, Dr. Biden. 

SIMMONS:  Yes, she always is.  People love Jill Biden.  I thought here -- I thought that Joe Biden did a really great job of laying out sort of the optimistic vision.  There were lines that were throwback from the old like Clinton days.  He said something like, there is nothing that can break America other than Americans which is like the Clinton line, which is like the Clinton line, like everything good America, there is nothing wrong about America that cannot be fixed with other Americans. 

MATTHEWS:  With what`s right about America. 

SIMMONS:  Right about America, yes.

So there is a lot of that stuff in there.  I thought it was great.  I did think it was light on policy chops.  It was light on things that address specific communities that are part of the Democratic coalition.  People of color, African-Americans, young people, millennials, there was not a lot in there.  It was big and broad and uniting.  It felt like general election messaging, not like primary messaging.

And I`m telling, I don`t think he could make it all the way through the primary without hitting some of those other notes. 

MATTHEWS:  President Trump is rallying supporters in Northeastern Pennsylvania as we speak.  He acknowledged the significance of this stake politically.  Let`s watch him. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`ll be here a lot.  Got to win this state.  Got to win this state.  We did great last time. 

Remember the polls?  The fake polls that they put out?  Suppression.  They call them suppression polls. 

Pennsylvania will go to Hillary Clinton.  Unfortunately for them, it didn`t work that way. 


MATTHEWS:  Were you putting out those polls?

What did you think of Biden this weekend? 

RYAN WILLIAMS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I thought it was a solid speech.  Look, there were no gaffes.  It was not the most electric speech, but it was solid.  It was kind of a throwback to the old day of politics. 

MATTHEWS:  What about his angle which is there`s no more important thing on the policy list than getting rid of this president, and I can do that because I`m going to run on American values against a guy who doesn`t know American values. 

WILLIAMS:  He talked about consensus.  He made the critique about the president, not about the Republican Party in general.  We talk about working with Republicans which I think is a general election message as Jamal says.

Whether that will get him to the primary, I don`t know.  I think he`s going to have a real problem appeasing some of the liberal constituencies of the base of the Democratic Party. 


MATTHEWS:  Look, I live them.  That`s the world I come from.  Let me -- I don`t know what`s going to -- let`s talk about the general. 

Trump is running the general election right now.  He`s worried about Pennsylvania.  Should he be? 

WILLIAMS:  Of course he should.  He won it by a small margin last time.

Anybody who`s concerned about it should be --

MATTHEWS:  Without Hillary as a factor, without Jim Comey coming at Hillary as a factor.  There`s a lot of factors that helped Trump in the last week or two.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, it`s a tough state for any Republican to win.  We didn`t win it before Trump until the 1980s.  So it`s something he has to focus on and put work in and that`s what he`s doing.  He`s building a campaign apparatus there.  He`s visiting the state.  He`s focusing on that and the other states which we won by a small margin which any politician would do at this point. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think any Democratic candidates if they win the nomination will be as attentive to the industrial Rust Belt states?  I don`t like the term but everybody knows what it means.  They always --


SIMMONS:  I`m from Michigan, so I`m with you on the Midwest thing.  I think that their -- I think everybody will pay attention to it because it`s important.  The question is who you`re paying attention to in those states. 

MATTHEWS:  Who can win in Pennsylvania of the Democrats right now? 

SIMMONS:  Oh, I think probably all -- no, I think Elizabeth Warren -- 

MATTHEWS:  Give me the best bet.

SIMMONS:  I think Elizabeth Warren could win that state.  I think Kamala Harris probably win in that state.  I think there are a few people who could win. 

Bernie might even be able to win that state but I`m not always convinced that Bernie --

MATTHEWS:  You smile when you say that, anyway -- because I don`t know either.  I don`t know what`s going to happen.  It depends on the economy.  If the economy goes south, any Democrat would win. 

SIMMONS:  Before though, just really quickly, I think there`s a very clear -- people think of these Midwestern Rust Belt people, some guy at a diner drinking a cup of coffee.  A friend of mine said to me, that`s a wrong image.  Think about the person who`s serving him the coffee. 


SIMMONS:  That`s the person those Rust Belt states are going to go after, someone who`s a pink collar women who are not college-educated.  Those are the ones that we got to go after.  It`s not necessarily the west --

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think you`re so right. 

President Trump attacked his preferred news network, Fox, for even hosting Democratic voices.  Yesterday, President Trump tweeted: Hard to believe that Fox News is wasting air time on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace loves to call him.  Fox is moving more and more to the losing wrong side in covering the Dems.  They got dumped from the Democrats boring debates and they just want in.  They forgot the people who got them there. 

Chris Wallace said: I actually think whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance.  Fascinating biography. 

Gee, he never speaks well of me.  I like Mike Wallace better.  Alfred E. Newman will never be president.  He`s talking about Buttigieg. 

Anyway, a few hours later, Mayor Pete had a chance to respond.  Here he goes. 


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  How would you handle the insults and the attacks and the tweets and all of that? 

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The tweets are -- I don`t care.  We need to make sure that we`re changing the channel from this show that he`s created, because what matters, and I get it -- look, it`s mesmerizing, it`s hard for anybody to look away, me too.  It is the nature of grotesque things that you can`t look away. 


MATTHEWS:  Look, Ryan, all politics is television now.  There he is Pete with his white shirt.  Everybody has to make a certain statement.  I`m with you.  I took my coat off. 

Joe Biden took his coat off. 

There`s so much show business here.  Trump is better at it. 

WILLIAMS:  He`s got the stage craft down and I think the attacks on Fox are an example --

MATTHES:  Is Alfred E. Newman working with the younger voters who don`t know Alfred E. Newman --

WILLIAMS:  I know who Alfred E. Newman is.  I don`t know if everyone does.  But he might still -- 


MATTHEWS:  Let me worry -- 

WILLIAMS:  Look, his attacks on Fox News, he`s trying to work the refs here.  He thinks Fox News should be in his corner.  He doesn`t like any dissent on the channel.  I think Mayor Pete was very, very smart to go on to that town hall.  You got to give him a lot of credit --

MATTHEWS:  That`s smart.  People were talking about him. 

WILLIAMS:  It was a great forum for him, and he did a great job. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you think Fox likes being hit like a member of the Republican caucus? 

SIMMONS:  Oh, I`m sure they don`t like it in public.  But I mean, the problem is they keep taking care of Republicans.  They`re so nice to Donald Trump. 

MATTHEWS:  They are.  He gets up in the morning and wallows in "Fox & Friends."

Anyway, thank you, Jamal Simmons.  Thank you, Ryan Williams. 

Up next, why the next election is about patriotism.  I believe not just policy.  You`re listening to mom.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  This Saturday, I witnessed a powerful turn in the Democratic campaign to unseat Donald Trump.  Dr. Jill Biden set the tone. 

In a taped address to the crowd on the Benjamin Franklin parkway in Philadelphia, she spoke patriotically about our country and she continued on stage to speak of the country`s ideals and how her husband would save them from the man now in the White House. 


JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN:  It`s a moment when we need leaders with vision and character.  It`s a moment for someone who can bring us together.  It`s a moment for Joe Biden. 


MATTHEWS:  I don`t mind confessing my sentimentalism about this country.  The country needs a good fight because a great country deserves a strong fight for who gets to lead it.  What I liked about the message in Philly on Saturday from both Bidens is that those who love this country need to restore it`s historic values of unity and leadership. 


JOE BIDEN:  We choose hope over fear, truth over lies, and, yes, unity over division. 


MATTHEWS:  We need a president who makes us proud as Americans.  That`s why this 2020 election is all about patriotism, not just about policy, but about what candidates feel about the country.  They need to show that their love of country is better than their hatred of Trump because that love of country and its values is the chief reason, while not the only one, to want a new president. 

I congratulate the Bidens for making that abundantly and emotionally clear this weekend in my hometown, which is also, as we all know, the place of our country`s founding. 

That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.