ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And that does it for me. I will see you back here tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
But don`t go anywhere. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: My way or no highways. Let`s play HARDBALL
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington. Love me or leave me. That`s what President Trump Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi, and other democratic top leaders today. You are right, he is angry. And what was supposed to be a White House morning meeting with -- about infrastructure, the President threatened to end all discussions on all legislation as long as there are investigations going on into him.
He stormed out at their meeting and went out to the Rose Garden to blame everything wrong in the country on the democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into look at people that has just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don`t do cover-ups.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What got under the President`s skin were comments made by Pelosi today about the ongoing congressional investigations of him, Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We believe that no one is above the law, including the President of the United States, and we believe that the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.
MATTHEWS: Well, Pelosi made those comments to reporters just after a closed door meeting with members of her caucus to discuss the investigations, amid mounting calls to pursue an impeachment inquiry. In fact, those putting pressure on her.
In fact, two democratic sources tell NBC News that after arriving late for the meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, the President, quote, told the democrats that while he was for infrastructure, he had heard about Pelosi`s comments early in the morning and expressing frustration with the early democratic meeting on impeachment, he said those would need to be completed before the White House would discuss anything else with them.
Minutes later, he walked out. Well, the President argued Pelosi`s comments were a takedown attempt of him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. But you know what, you can`t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with. They want to make this a big deal. Whether or not they carry the big I word out, I can`t imagine that. But they probably would, because they do whatever they have to do. Because this meeting was set up a number of days ago at 11:00, all of a sudden I hear last night they`re going to have a meeting right before this meeting to talk about the I word. The I word. Can you imagine?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Speaker Pelosi expressed disappointment that the President wouldn`t work with democrats on infrastructure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: For some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part that he really couldn`t come match the greatness of the challenge that we have, didn`t -- wasn`t really respectful of the Congress and the White House working together. He just took a pass.
In any event, I pray for the President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When a separate event, the Speaker called the White House meeting very strange and once again talked about a cover-up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: This is why I think the President was so steamed off this morning because the fact is, in plain sight in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and he`s engaged in a cover-up. And that could be an impeachable offense.
Ignoring the subpoenas of Congress both Article III of the Nixon impeachment.
MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California. She chairs the House Financial Services Committee.
Congresswoman, what`s going on? I`m trying to figure out here. This is a real log jam. We`re not going to have anything done on infrastructure, which means the American people are being held hostage here by a president who is petulant about the democrats, I think, doing their constitutional duty to investigate him.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Absolutely. You know, I was concerned about the fact that he even pretend that he was going to negotiate with the Speaker and with Schumer about infrastructure. I never trusted him. And, of course, it turns out, today he`s made up an excuse about why he`s not going to proceed with them on infrastructure and basically blackmailing them and talking about if you want to get infrastructure, you`ve got to stop all investigations. I think that`s outrageous. But that`s typical of the President of the United States. And I never trusted that he was going to get infrastructure done.
Now, as I think about this threat that he made today and I`m thinking about who really benefits from infrastructure. Not only will the citizens of this country benefit if we`re able to fix the roads and the bridges and the waterways and all of that, but he`s got a lot of friends that I believe in construction and development and who would also benefit, so he may have to back off of that.
Well, that`s the question, I guess this hostage situation. That`s what it is. If -- you know, I have been riding around lately. You ride around a lot. You get on mass transit. You get in the (INAUDIBLE) line in Washington, New York, the number of rides you take. Get thrown out of the aisle halfway to New York. These things have to be fixed. They`re not getting fixed. Every time you go over a pothole and lose your tire or your rim, is that because Trump won`t do it? Is it really just he won`t do it?
WATERS: Well, you know, I don`t know if he made this up, if he thought this through. And he had Nancy and Schumer meeting with him to talk about infrastructure and making a commitment for $2 trillion and all of that, because he knew he was going to try and use it to back them off of further investigations. He may have thought this through. I don`t know.
But you are absolutely right. We need infrastructure repair in this country. We need but look at Flint and think about the lead in the water and the water pipes being old. We need but understand that many of our bridges have been determined already to be dangerous and in need of repair. And so it goes on and on and on. And, of course, it would create a lot of jobs. If he`s simply going to leverage it and use it to threaten Nancy Pelosi and Schumer in exchange for quitting all of the investigations, well, we got a problem. We have a real problem because we`re not going to allow him to intimidate or threaten us.
MATTHEWS: Well, Madam Chairwoman, NBC News is reporting tonight that your committee, Financial Services, has gained access to President Trump`s dealing two major financial institutions. And two sources are telling our news division, Wells Fargo and T.D. Bank are the two of nine institutions that have so far complied with subpoenas. Wells Fargo provided the committee with a few thousand documents and T.D. Bank handed the committee a handful of document, according to a source who have seen them.
So what have you learned from the documents you`ve been able to get regarding Trump`s financial dealings?
WATERS: No, we don`t have any information to share with you at this time about what we have learned from the documents. As you know, Judge Rojas in the Southern District of New York today made a decision about, yes, we should be able to get those documents that they ruled on our side and in our favor. And, of course, we`re looking forward to what happens beyond this. Will they try to appeal the judge`s decision? Will this drag it out some more? We don`t know the answers to everything yet. But as of now, we had a win today with the judge deciding that we should be able to get the documents.
MATTHEWS: Well, we hope to know what you know as soon as we can. Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters in California.
WATERS: You are certainly welcome.
MATTHEWS: I want to bring in Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent for Politico, Nadeam Elshami, who is the former Chief of Staff to Nancy Pelosi as well, and Tim O`Brien, Executive Editor at Bloomberg Opinion.
Now, this is quite a show today. Nadeam, you worked for the Speaker. She went in this morning and they were going to talk like they did a couple weeks ago, infrastructure. I think it`s one thing that everybody believes you`ve got to get it done, some public investment in this country, and the President blew up.
NADEAM ELSHAMI, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO NANCY PELOSI: Absolutely. And to no one`s surprise, he did, right? If you look at what happened --
MATTHEWS: Why do you think he blew up?
ELSHAMI: Yes. I think he blew up he was looking for a way out. And the word cover-up really hit a nerve. I think it did. But he was looking for a way out of the meeting anyway, right, because, you know, I`ve heard that for the past three weeks, there has been no focus at all --
MATTHEWS: Who in America doesn`t know at this moment he`s paid off a pair of porn stars?
ELSHAMI: Yes, that`s right.
MATTHEWS: So the cover-up is who he is.
ELSHAMI: Yes, it`s exactly what he is. For him to get up to there to actually get covered by the media that there is no cover-up, I don`t cover- up.
MATTHEWS: I don`t do cover-ups. Well, he does do cover-ups. What did Michael Cohen do for a living? Arrange cover-ups.
ELSHAMI: Yes, that`s right. So I think now what democrats are doing is really two-track, right? They`re going to keep doing what they have to do on legislation. They`re going to pass an infrastructure bill. If they have to do it alone, they will do it alone, but they also have to build the case.
MATTHEWS: I want to go back there. We`ll get to -- in the next site, we`re going to talk about the Speaker of the House and her plan is on impeachment. I can`t quite figure that yet. But how do you see this tantrum by the President, running into the Rose Garden, a little bit of deliberate speed here. He apparently, you know, gave him enough time to get all the press out there. So when he got there, they were there.
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, there was also enough time to print up posters that said no collusion, which we hadn`t seen before. You know, he -- I think he said this. Remember the day after the November elections? He said if democrats go down the path of investigations, he`s not going to work with them.
Now, he has tried to or he said he would three weeks ago. But this isn`t a surprise because he told them he was not able to separate these two things. He can`t compartmentalize. And so it was eventually going to come to this place. He told them he couldn`t separate these things.
MATTHEWS: Well, to get back this Sunday we were trying to figure out this week. Maybe nobody knows. But let me go to Tim O`Brien in this because you might know this. Trump wanting to play this game of teasing, baiting, get them right to the edge of impeaching him and that somehow make fools out of Pelosi and the rest of the democrats on a wild goose chase. They`re not going to convict him and throw him out of office. Does he want to be impeached? Does he want to tease impeachment? Does he want to beat the wrap? Does he want the hearings to stop? What`s his game?
TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION: Chris, we talked about this before. But I always think it`s a mistake to try look for a method in the madness. Trump is not a strategic thinker. I don`t think he`s got a long game plan here about how to play impeachment as an electoral strategy.
I think what went on today is Trump is realizing he hasn`t built a coalition within the GOP that would allow him to getting a meaningful and expensive infrastructure bill through. And so he really doesn`t have any cards to play on bringing money to the table when he`s talking to Pelosi and Schumer about an infrastructure bill.
And then I think what always happens when Trump is in the corner, and he`s focused on the shiny thing right in front of him, because that`s what he does. He focuses on the problem at hand or the issue at hand, he doesn`t think long-term.
He was worried about being embarrassed and lashed out. All of the reporting from inside the Oval Office suggested his staff was telling him not to rush out to the Rose Garden and make a speech. He did so anyway and he made an absurd speech, as you gestured towards earlier, this notion that he doesn`t engage if cover-ups. You know, read the second half of the Mueller report about obstruction of justice.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Anita. Here is my theory. He had nothing to do with Pelosi. He could put up with Pelosi. They`re both professionals. They know how the game is played. You attack the other side and you still don`t have coffee together. That`s how it works.
Three things are going wrong for him right now. As we speak, the New York State Legislation, both houses are moving to release basically his state taxes. That`s going to tell us 90 percent of what we have to know about the guy. You got the judge in the case with Mazar, his financial house. They`re being -- his accountants. They`re being pushed to put the papers out. Same thing with Deutsche Bank, and we`ll get to it later in the show, Deutsche Bank and T.D. Bank, whatever it is. The fact is -- and I`m sorry, Wells Fargo. So all these judges are beginning to rule against him.
Finally, the thinking most wanted to keep secret about his life, his financial dealings, perhaps some cut roads, whatever, cutting corners, all kinds of stuff, it`s all coming out. It may take a few months but it`s coming out now. And he finally knows he is losing that battle.
KUMAR: I`d agree with you on those. And there is one other thing that`s happening too, which is people very close to him are getting called by the House and, actually, the Senate, so his son. You know, that really hits hard when his son, Don Jr., gets called by the Senate. Hope Hicks, you saw the other day.
MATTHEWS: That`s another thing that people (INAUDIBLE). The producers think that Hope Hicks, he`s close to her. They`re still in touch all the time on the phone, he doesn`t like her being targeted.
KUMAR: Right, people very close to him are being targeted and he doesn`t like that. And it`s ratcheting up, right? He`s seen this stuff about impeachment and investigations and how he is losing on the legal front.
MATTHEWS: He`s a cornered rat.
ELSHAMI: That`s right. That`s -- well --
MATTHEWS: That`s -- I think it isn`t Pelosi, your old boss. I think that was maybe the match that lit the gasoline. But what`s building up now is he`s starting to lose.
ELSHAMI: That`s right. And building a case, there is a prosecution here that`s going on, right? You have to build a case in order to get what you want at the end of the day. And that`s what the house is doing, right, with the subpoenas, with the inquiries, by going to court. And I think the President is realizing, what am I going to do if -- look, you`ve got to follow the money, like you always say. And that`s what the --
MATTHEWS: What are the chances Nancy Pelosi, your old boss, will finally approve an impeachment proceeding ever, ever? No. What are the chances it will ever happen?
ELSHAMI: You know, look, I don`t know. You have to have --
MATTHEWS: Will she call you up if you say that it will never happen?
ELSHAMI: No. You have to have the evidence. That`s what I learned from her.
MATTHEWS: But I`m asking, will it ever happen?
ELSHAMI: It depends on what the evidence says, Chris.
MATTHEWS: So she might do it?
ELSHAMI: Well, I`m not saying she will. I`m not saying that.
MATTHEWS: I`m saying, is there a possibility that she`ll call for impeachment?
ELSHAMI: Well, it depends on the evidence.
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you, is it possible?
ELSHAMI: It depends at the end of the day --
MATTHEWS: Just one simple question, is it possible?
ELSHAMI: Anything is possible.
MATTHEWS: See, you are not -- come on this show, you can`t even say it. Is it possible that, at some point, the left and the Democratic Party, they really want some action, we`ll get somewhere with her?
ELSHAMI: There has to be -- the issue is, has to have --
MATTHEWS: Is it possible? Last question. You`re not answering it.
ELSHAMI: If you have the evidence --
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. You`re a gentleman.
ELSHAMI: If you have the evidence, then yes.
MATTHEWS: Okay. I think she will never go for impeachment. Am I wrong?
ELSHAMI: If have you the evidence and there`s a reason --
MATTHEWS: Okay, thank you. Okay. We`re not here with the subjunctive mood here, sir. We`re here with declarative statements and interrogatives to begin with and then declarative answers, but you don`t have an answer.
ELSHAMI: Is it possible? Yes.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Anita Kumar and Nadeam Elshami. It is possible that Nancy Pelosi will finally come out for impeachment. You heard it here. Thank you, Tim O`Brien, thank you, sir, for coming in.
Coming up, the I word, as I said, as President Trump calls it, is impeachment. Is it getting to him or is it that he`s losing control over his tax records? That`s what I think.
Plus, Rex Tillerson`s secret meeting on Capitol Hill. What the former Secretary of State reportedly told lawmakers yesterday about working for President Trump, wouldn`t you love to be in that room, a fly on the wall?
And a big announcement here, be sure to tune in on Monday, June 3rd, it`s coming up on Monday after next, for a HARDBALL special event, a live Town Hall with presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg from Fresno, California. You`ll see why the Midwest Mayor is getting all this buzz. For ticket information, go to hardball.msnbc.com.
Much more ahead tonight, stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
The temperature on impeachment talk actually keeps rising and it`s unclear whether if the fever is every going to break. In an attempt to circle the wagons and stem the seemingly growing tide of democrats going for President Trump`s impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held an emergency closed door meeting today with her caucus. There she goes.
According to Politico, the meeting was called to try to calm the mood inside the caucus. Her message, well, multiple sources in the room told NBC News was to stay in the course and have a little faith. Giving her backup with the chairs of the various committees investigating the President and his administration, they gave updates on their various investigations. And while Speaker Pelosi was comfortably accusing the President of engaging in a cover-up, as we said, she was more cautious on how to punish him. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: In order to have an investigation of any kind if you want to call it an impeachment or whatever, you have to have the subpoena. You have to go to court. You have to develop your case. And it`s not personal. It`s about patriotism, and that the facts will take us where we need to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I guess everybody is into gestures these days, the most animated political life I have ever seen.
According to an NBC News count, by the way, of the 235 House Democrats, 31 have either called for -- one way or another to get the impeachment ball rolling, 31 out of the 200-plus. Only one Republican, of course, has called for President Trump`s behavior to become acted on. That`s Justin Amash of Michigan.
For more, I`m joined by Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of progressive programming for SiriusXM, and George F. Will, the syndicated columnist.
Zerlina, who is -- is it possible that nothing is really happening going towards impeachment, that the speaker`s exercising steam control, she`s trying to keep the steam down, under control, but all this is a staying, a holding action? She wants to get through the summer, because, by the fall, we will be focused on who is going to win the Iowa caucuses...
ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUSXM RADIO: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... and there will be other focuses for the Democrats to get excited about.
I get the feeling she is never, ever -- I was pushing her former A.A. -- she is never, because she thinks it`s bad news. What do you think?
MAXWELL: I think that there is a little bit of the delay tactics on both sides here, Chris.
I think that you see Donald Trump obviously delaying and saying no to every subpoena, every document request. And, on the other side, you have Nancy Pelosi trying to keep the Democratic Caucus together in a moment where the question about impeachment is an uncertain one.
And I think that, as the leader of the Democratic majority that she just got, she`s playing it cautious. And there is some criticism about her approach.
MAXWELL: Well, I think she`s playing it cautious because she doesn`t want to lose the majority she just got.
And I think that certainly...
MATTHEWS: So, it`s politics.
MAXWELL: Yes, it`s politics.
But, to that same point, Republicans are also playing politics, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MAXWELL: They`re elected to the government as well by American voters. And they are making a political calculation, in the same way I think Democrats are being accused of.
Now, on the question of impeachment, I think an inquiry should be opened. Ask me six months ago, I would have said it`s not worth it. Just have -- vote him out in 2020. But I think that he has done a lot since the report itself has been released to obstruct the investigation.
And I think that the question is a serious one that the House needs to consider to start an inquiry, which means they`re asking the question whether or not there is enough evidence in the conduct and behavior of this president that would warrant an impeachment.
That`s all step one is. It is a process. And so I believe that they should start that process. And perhaps Nancy Pelosi is going to be the last person to agree to that process, when there`s more people in her caucus supporting that.
MATTHEWS: George, we know what a real impeachment exercise looks like. It`s prime-time hearings, a prime-time vote on the articles, with everybody watching in the country. It`s very somber.
Do you think the Democrats will ever engage in it?
GEORGE F. WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I don`t.
I think Nancy Pelosi, who`s been around here for a while and remembers 1998 -- to a lot of Democrats who weren`t here then -- most Democrats weren`t here then. And it`s as distant as the Peloponnesian War.
She remembers that, in 1998, the country looked at the Republicans trying to impeach Bill Clinton, said, this is disproportionate. And, in 1998 elections, in the middle of a second term, an incumbent president increased his representation in the House. Never happens. Republicans made it happen.
MATTHEWS: But didn`t the mark on him bring down Gore? I think Gore paid for the sins of Bill Clinton in 2000.
WILL: I think that`s right.
I think that one of the themes that George W. Bush used effectively was restore honor to the White House.
MATTHEWS: This way. Every -- he said, when I take the oath, I will promise to restore...
MATTHEWS: Do you think that -- you really think, Zerlina, that no matter what else is said, nobody wants to be impeached?
MAXWELL: No, I don`t think that Trump wants to be impeached.
I think that he wants to be able to say the Democrats are sore losers, and that`s why they`re going down this path of impeachment. But I think, as serious American voters, if you`re watching tonight, and you think that the president has engaged in misconduct that warrants the Democrats and the Republicans, frankly, because they`re also elected, like I said, to seriously investigate whether or not the president has committed acts that are impeachable, then you should call your representative and tell them that, because I think that the way this shifts is the public needs to make their feelings on this question heard loudly and clearly.
And it can`t just be, we wait for a poll that -- where a majority of Americans support impeachment.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
MAXWELL: We have to get them on the record now.
So, call your congresspeople and let them know what you think about this.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the politics, because Nancy Pelosi, as Zerlina has laid out -- and I agree completely -- has made a political call it may cost her, her majority in the House.
But I would wonder if that`s true, George. Do you think that`s true? Do you think people are going to vote against somebody because they were for impeachment?
WILL: No, I think the country is not particularly interested in this.
MATTHEWS: You don`t think -- it wouldn`t affect the vote at all?
This is basically -- as the country hears it, it`s a process question. I know that the refusal to comply with House subpoenas was an item in the Nixon impeachment, but it wasn`t what the country thought Watergate was about. It was about a burglary. It was a crime. It was a cover-up of that.
I think what amazes me, Chris, is how much time Democrats are spending talking about things they know are not going to happen. We`re not going to abolish the Electoral College, because 13 small states at least will stop it. We`re not going to abolish private health insurance, because 180 million Americans will stop that. And we`re not going to remove this president from office, because the Senate will stop that.
Why are they wasting this time? And I think that will dawn on people that there`s a large element of theater and gesture in this.
MATTHEWS: OK, I want to go back -- I don`t argue with those points.
Zerlina, I`m going back to what I think is upsetting Trump today and why he lost it a bit today, that sort of precocious, whatever you want to call it, behavior, where he just said, I don`t like you because you were talking about stuff I don`t like, so I`m not going to talk about stuff you like, even if I like it, infrastructure.
And my question is this.
Could it be that these approaching judicial decisions on his financial papers in two courts now and in the New York legislature are really getting to him, because he knows what he`s always feared would hurt him will hurt him, that his financial behavior doesn`t pass muster with the American people once it`s out, and he thinks it`s getting out?
That`s what I think is driving him a bit nuts right now, Zerlina.
MAXWELL: I think so too.
I mean, he told Michael Schmidt in "The New York Times" that the red line was to look at his finances.
And now we have not just Deutsche Bank, but also Bank of America, because, as you know, the check that Michael Cohen brought to the Congress -- we forget that -- the president is implicated in crimes that are not related to Russia.
So that is actually enough to warrant an impeachment inquiry beginning. And I think that the president is feeling that real pressure, because there is something there in terms of the finances that we have yet to learn, because that was not Robert Mueller`s remit.
And I think that...
MATTHEWS: You mean that payoff for the cover-up that he doesn`t do.
MATTHEWS: That check for the cover-up he doesn`t do.
George, last thought. I`m sorry.
WILL: My surprise is this man who`s preternaturally insecure is not worried about the country learning his financial behavior. They`re learning about his financial bottom line.
His whole charisma has been, I am a phenomenally successful billionaire. And when people see what a house of cards his financial condition is, a lot of the charisma will melt.
Thank you so much, Zerlina Maxwell, as always.
Sir, thank you so much, George F. Will. Thank you, sir.
Up next: Lawmakers in New York state have won the battle -- this is the big one, I think -- to see Trump`s tax returns. They`re coming at you. You can bet Governor Cuomo is going to sign that baby pretty quick, and we`re going to see those tax returns coming out of Albany.
By the way, the latest on that fight and the one taking place at the federal level over his tax returns and his entire financial picture. It`s all coming out. That`s the story, not what Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, did this morning.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In another stinging blow to the president, as I mentioned, a federal judge in New York late today ruled that he will not stop Deutsche Bank and Capital One from turning over Trump`s financial documents to the Congress.
Last month, the president sued those banks to prevent them from complying with a congressional subpoena. But, after listening to the arguments on both sides, the judge in this case said in a ruling delivered from the bench that Trump and his company were unlikely to succeed in a lawsuit, arguing that the subpoenas were unlawful and unconstitutional.
He also concluded that the subpoenas have a legitimate legislative purpose. Well, this comes after we learned this week, earlier this week, that multiple transactions made by the president`s companies were flagged inside Deutsche Bank for review for potential money laundering.
And today`s decision is a second legal setback for Trump, after another federal judge earlier in the week ruled that the president`s accounting firm must release Trump financial materials to the Congress.
I have said it`s not looking good for the president.
I`m joined right now by Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks in New York, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, and Victoria Nourse, director of the Center for Congressional Studies at Georgetown Law.
Congressman, I`m thinking this is a bad time. This is like three strikes, I mean, in the legal system. And here is. Up in Albany, your Democratic colleagues up there are basically saying, we`re going to release the state returns, which are pretty much going to reflect the national -- the federal returns. And then you got two judges now saying his accounting firm and now Deutsche Bank and Capital One have all got to release the financial records of this president.
He`s losing this fight.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Yes, look, the chickens are coming home to roost.
And all we have to do is to keep looking and keep doing what we`re doing, and they will roost. It is clear. I think anybody in New York who has seen and watched this guy over the years knows that he is a con man, and that he has done certain things. I mean, he knows it.
If you just listen to what he said when the Mueller investigation started, he said, I am expletive, and then he said, this is the end of my presidency. He knows, once all of this information comes out, it`s not just about impeachment, because it won`t just -- because, if he`s impeached, he will still be there tomorrow.
It`s about conviction, and his presidency would be done. And that`s what we need in the United States of America. We need a new president.
MATTHEWS: When did he say that I am, what, F`ed? When he did...
MATTHEWS: When was that?
MEEKS: He used some cuss words.
Well, when it came out about who was testifying or who was talking to and cooperating with the Mueller investigation. It`s in the report. It`s in the report that is redacted, where he said, "I am expletive."
MEEKS: This is the end of my administration -- my presidency, I think the words were.
So, he knows it. He knows that if the evidence continues to come up, that he is done. And that`s why Speaker Pelosi is absolutely right when she says he is trying to cover up.
MATTHEWS: You know, a lot of judges out there seem to be getting a spine all of a sudden, Victoria.
Somebody said, there`s a contagion now, that once one judge rules against the president on his -- his accounting records, and the other one does on his bank records, and New York state is moving, that he`s really surrounded by people who want to know what happened with his financial dealings. They want the answers.
VICTORIA NOURSE, FORMER SENIOR COUNSEL TO JOE BIDEN: It`s a bad legal week for the president and his attorneys, because they have been making this same argument, an argument that most legal experts think is very, very weak.
Congress has very broad powers. They have legitimate purposes for all of this information. And the president is just stonewalling with his lawyers. They have somehow convinced him of a kind of argument that is very easy to dispose of.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to the congressman on that, because it seems like they use two arguments.
One is executive privilege, although I have failed to see what executive privilege in the White House has anything to do with financial records of the president predating his inauguration. No connection.
And, by the way, the other one they -- they had this other one that they say, there has to be a legitimate legislative purpose. Who says the executive branch gets to decide whether the legislative branch, to decide on what its legislative business is? It seems to me oversight is key to a congressional role.
Your thoughts, Congressman?
We are an equal branch of government. We are not under the executive branch of government. We`re equal. And the Constitution vests in our branch the authority to investigate the executive branch. And that`s exactly what we`re doing.
We`re following the Constitution step by step. In fact, that`s why I believe that Nancy Pelosi, when she made the statement about being a patriot, we are doing our patriotic responsibilities, our patriotic duties. That`s exactly what we`re doing.
And I think that what she`s also doing and what we`re doing with our work of oversight, we are getting all of the evidence, so that if -- when I was a DA, it`s easy to indict. You can indict a ham sandwich, they could say. But you have got to convict.
And what`s happening is, they are individuals who are in Peter King`s district, for example, or Andy Barr`s district. There are some that we can convince to come along and put pressure on them. There`s individuals in some of these Republican senators` districts that, once all of the evidence comes out, they will be compelled to then say, we have got to go against this president, just as they did with Richard Nixon.
MATTHEWS: Are you hearing from any of your colleagues in the New York delegation or elsewhere, like Peter King, that they are open to the idea of impeaching a Republican president?
MEEKS: No, I`m not hearing that, other than what you heard from Amash -- Amash, rather, earlier.
But what I`m saying is, once they start hearing from their constituents -- this is not about them right now.
MEEKS: It`s about showing the American people, their constituents, that we have a president that has broken the law, a president that has covered up, and a president that has used obstruction in his mannerisms, that they then will go to their congressman, who wants to get reelected, and says, it is time for this president to go, as well as members of the Senate who are Republicans.
They then will have to say, it is time for this president to go. I don`t want to just impeach, because, if we just impeach him, he will still be here. I want him gone.
MEEKS: And I think that`s what Nancy Pelosi is doing.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Victoria, about this thing. How do you see the outlook right now?
Here we are, late May. I have been waiting for something to happen. Mueller`s report has been out for a while. People keep waiting for the big -- the big blow -- the big bang that is going to somehow change everything.
Do you think the tax records will do it?
NOURSE: The dominoes are beginning to fall. Follow the money.
These tax records made him very upset today, I believe, as you said. And it`s now a triangular -- a triangle. So you have got the state seeking the taxes. You have got Deutsche Bank now being able to go, maybe 10 days from now, give their documents to Congress, depending upon the appeals.
It is beginning to fall. It might take longer in the courts. It could -- he will probably try to take it to the Supreme Court. But look at how fast they decided. It was about a month that the first judge decided.
NOURSE: They are not going to wait. They know how important this is.
So -- and they did this to Nixon as well. They know, when you have a clash between Congress and the president, they have to act expeditiously.
I think Nancy Pelosi is waiting for all of this to come through, waiting for the evidence.
MATTHEWS: Well, we were all taught this in grade school, checks and balances. I hope they work.
MEEKS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York.
Victoria Nourse, thank you so much.
Up next -- of Georgetown Law.
Up next: Former Secretary of State -- this is a great story -- Rex Tillerson spent seven hours yesterday talking with House Foreign Affairs Committee people about his work with Donald Trump. Be a fly on that wall, wouldn`t we love that? What was he saying about the man he called a moron?
More of that, of what he had to say about Trump`s response to Russian election interference, or said nothing, and Jared Kushner`s attempts at international diplomacy. That got in his way too.
This guy Tillerson knows a lot. We have got to find out what it is -- straight ahead.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
While Congress battles with the Trump administration over testimony from former officials, President Trump`s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, quietly met with the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.
And according to "The Daily Beast", Tillerson requested the meeting where he said that the Trump administration actively avoided confronting Russia about allegations of interference in the election in an effort to develop a solid relationship with the Kremlin. He also told the committee the president`s son-in-law Jared Kushner at times impeded his ability to communicate effectively and introduce President Trump`s policy proposals developed by State Department experts.
Well, this isn`t the first tension between the president and the former Exxon CEO who Trump originally praised for looking like he was out of central casting. Well, after NBC reports that Tillerson called Trump a moron after a summer 2017 meeting, Tillerson refused to deny it publicly multiple times. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)]
REPORTER: Can you address the main headline of this story that you called the president a moron?
REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I`m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.
INTERVIEWER: Is it true?
TILLERSON: This is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo, they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way. I don`t work that way. I don`t deal that way. I`m not dignifying the question with an answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He said it. Anyway, the Trump administration eventually hit back at Tillerson however with "The Daily Beast" reporting that the then chief of staff John Kelly told Tillerson he was fired and he did so while he was in his bathroom.
It`s also not the first time Tillerson has spoken out since he left office. This past December, Trump called him dumb as a rock after Tillerson said he had to stop Trump from breaking the law. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: It was challenging for me coming from the disciplined, highly processed oriented Exxon Mobil Corporation to go to work for a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn`t like to read, doesn`t read briefing reports, doesn`t like to get into the details of a lot of things.
I`d have to say to him, well, Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can`t do it that way. It violates the law. It violates a treaty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a striking perspective on the president`s foreign policy, don`t you think? Especially now as the Trump administration ratchet up talk against Iran.
It`s all coming up next on HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We shared with both the House and the Senate our strategic campaign, an effort to push back against Iran`s malign activity, 40 years of terrorist activity. We walked through our efforts and our ultimate objective over the past days, which has been to deter Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday after briefing Congress on the threat he says Iran may pose U.S. assets in the Middle East. But as "The New York Times" puts it, Democrats emerged with sharp questions about whose actions, ultimately led to recent escalation: Tehran`s -- who caused their trouble, Tehran or Trump?
And late today, "The Associated Press" reported that the Pentagon will present plans to the White House to send up to, here it goes, 10,000 more American troops to the Middle East to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats.
I`m joined right now by Democratic, well, senator from Delaware, Chris Coons. He`s a Democrat. He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Thank you so much, Senator Coons.
You`ve got the wealth information and wisdom about this. What is Trump up to with regard to Iran?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Chris, frankly, I was no clearer about that after the classified briefing yesterday than I was before it. There was wide bipartisan agreement in the room that all of us need a more regular, more detailed briefing from senior administration leaders about their strategy with regards to Iran.
And frankly, one of the very concerning things about the clips that you just showed of Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, and his comments about the president, is the undisciplined and unpredictable policy-making process, decision-making process at the highest levels of this administration. Chris, many of us are concerned about the possibility that we might slide into a military confrontation with Iran without having clearly thought through the consequences and the costs.
MATTHEWS: You know, most of us -- you I`m sure grew up understanding how we got into World War I. It was a series of mobilizations on both sides, one triggering the other side until we had a terrible war with everybody involved.
Do you think this president knows that he is starting trouble over there?
COONS: I`m gravely concerned that because we have a president who -- the first president in American history with no prior military experience or elected experience, someone who is widely known to be not well-versed in history and not someone who reads a great deal of his briefings or background material, may really not fully appreciate the significant risks that are being taken here by deploying a battle carrier group, a wing (AUDIO GAP), at least according to press reports, considering deploying up to 10,000 more troops into the region.
Now, this is a tinderbox. As you know, Iran is a deeply dangerous and destabilizing force, one of the leading state sponsors of terrorism in the world, and their Saudi opponents, and our vital ally in the region, Israel, have a lot of reasons why they might want to see us move into a more confrontational stance with Iran.
I`m concerned that into this very tight space, this dangerous and conflicted space where there is ongoing conflict in Yemen and in Syria, that President Trump may inadvertently lead to an escalating conflict with Iran.
MATTHEWS: Well, hawks are not always right, as we`ve learned to our dismay. I mean, hawks could have said going to war with Iraq would help Israel but end up removing a great buffer between Israel and Iran that was a good, healthy thing to have. Somebody else fighting with Iran.
And now I wonder whether -- you know this. How many Hezbollah rockets are there aimed at Israel. How many people could strike at our businessmen, missionaries around the world? If we go to all-out strife, all-out conflict with Iran, they have a lot of -- a hell to lay on us.
COONS: Right. They have a lot of what are called asymmetric opportunities to strike.
COONS: There are tens of thousands of missiles that Hezbollah has secured throughout southern Lebanon that could strike Israel. There are lots of American troops and American civilian families who are in the region, whether in Iraq and Syria and Bahrain or elsewhere that could potentially be at risk, obviously in Afghanistan as well.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about -- I`m sorry.
COONS: The Iranians demonstrated during the Iraq war the -- both inclination and ability to take lethal action against American troops through the Shia militia that they largely control in Iraq. We have to be very serious about protecting our troops and our families in the region.
MATTHEWS: I have to ask you a political question. I saw you at the Joe Biden rally in Philly Saturday. It was great to see you up there. It was a great rally.
How do you think his standup against Trump in terms of being a leader in the world?
COONS: What I think is most striking is the way in which at that rally in Saturday in Philly, Joe Biden made it clear that he is rested, that he is eager, that he is escapable of stepping into being president on day one. He has more experience interacting with global leaders, being both in the Senate and then later in the White House as vice-president.
He is someone who`s been in the Situation Room when very complex operations were carried out. He`s been the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He could step into a leadership role on day one and fix what has been broken about our vital alliances around the world and strengthen our foreign policy. He is ready to serve as president on the first day of a new Biden administration if he is elected in 2020.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. Chris Coons of Delaware, it`s great to have you on, Senator.
MATTHEWS: Up next, which Democrat is best equipped to go face to face with President Trump in a debate? Think about that -- the actual debate coming up late next year.
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Earlier today, I was down at the University of Virginia talking about 2020. And one thing that came up was how the 20-plus Democrats running right now could stand up to President Trump. How will they handle Trump once they are face to face on stage with him?
I say face to face because that is roughly how it ends up. There are some cases where a candidate can be too in your face with the other candidate.
And here is Vice President Al Gore attempting to show that he is not afraid to confront Governor George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I specifically would like to know whether Governor Bush will support the Dingle Norwood bill which is the main one pending.
MODERATOR: Governor Bush, you may answer that if you`d like. But also, I`d like to know how you see the differences between the two of you, and we need to move on.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, the difference is that I can get it done, that I can get something positive done on behalf of the people. That`s what the question in this campaign is about. It`s not only what your philosophy and what your position on issues, but can you get things done. And I believe I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think we can all agree that Bush won that little encounter.
Well, this is not to deny that Al Gore hasn`t gone on to do great things. Not just for the U.S. but for the world on the issue of climate change. And one of the questions we need to place before the Democrats running now is how they would deal with Trump is how if he tries to do one of those Godzilla numbers he did on Hillary Clinton, look at him looming over. You can say all this doesn`t matter but it does. And, by the way, Keep telling yourself it doesn`t matter.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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