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Robert Mueller testifies tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 7/23/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Natasha Bertrand, Ted Lieu, Jonathan Swan, Jemele Hill, JohnBrabender, Bobby Ghosh

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Join us starting with "MORNING JOE" at 6:00 a.m.  I`ll be there in the 8:00 a.m. hour and all through the day.

"HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The American connection.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

13 hours from now, the House Judiciary and the Intelligence Committees will gather on Capitol Hill to question former Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the first time.

My favorite question came just hours ago from James Comey, the former FBI Director to my colleague, Nicolle Wallace.  It`s the question he said that started the whole investigation in the first place, was there an American connection to Russia`s interference in the 2016 election?

Democrats promised to bring the Mueller report to life tomorrow.  NBC News reports that their intention is to help make more swing voters aware that the Mueller report, far from exonerating Trump, contains significant evidence of wrongdoing.

To prepare, committee democrats have held mock session, running through practice questions and fine-tuning them to be as pointed and unduckable as possible.

Axios has also obtained a six-page memo that Nancy Pelosi`s office distributed to her caucus detailing the most powerful findings of Mueller`s report.  And today, NBC News is reporting that, in an unexpected twist, the former Special Counsel requested that he`d be joined at the hearing side- by-side with his long-time aide, a move that`s already eliciting protests from republicans.

Well, this comes after the Justice Department advised the former Special Counsel to, quote, remain within the boundaries of your public report.  And while the department says the letter was sent at Mueller`s request, it still prompted House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to accuse the administration of cover-up.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D_NY):  I don`t think it`s much of an impediment simply because Bob Mueller had indicated repeatedly that he was going to do exactly that.  I think it`s incredibly arrogant of the department to try to instruct him in what to say.  It`s part of the ongoing cover-up by the administration to keep information away from the American people.  But I think that it`s not going to have a real impact.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST:  Must he comply with that letter?

NADLER:  No, he does not have to comply with that letter.


MATTHEWS:  Well, good, many have said that Mueller doesn`t need to go beyond his report because the report itself is damning enough.  It shows that Trump welcomed and even encouraged Russian interference in the U.S. election, and he took repeated steps to impede the investigation into his own actions.

Robert Mueller has implied the President committed obstruction of justice.  Here he goes.


ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL:  If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.


MATTHEWS:  I`m joined now by Natasha Bertrand, National Security Correspondent for Politico, and Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney.

Natasha, that`s the big question, the American connection.  I want to start with that.  Does the Mueller report show that Trump and his people were the American connection to the Russian interference in the 2016 election?

NATASHA BERTRAND, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO:  Oh, absolutely.  There were numerous instances outlined in the report in volume one that didn`t necessarily rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy in the legal sense, but that if you wanted to use the term, collusion, in which, of course, Mueller did not actually use in his report, you could feasibly use that.

So, for example, we have the President, then candidate Trump at the time being receptive to a campaign aide`s pitch to make overtures with the Russians.  That was George Papadopoulos.  You have the Russians previewing for the campaign the emails that they were going release about HillaryClinton.  You have Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, sharing internal campaign polling data with a suspected Russian spy, Konstantin Kilimnik.  And, of course, you have the Trump Tower meeting, in which they were receptive to Russian dirt about Hillary Clinton, whichthey say was not useful, but which, again, they were ultimately willing to engage with the Russians on.

And then, of course, you have Donald Trump calling on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton in July of 2016, and the Russians then following his orders, essentially.  And that`s what Mueller said in his report, that just hours after he gave that speech, the Russians tried for the first time to hack Hillary Clinton directly.

So there are just so many instances of this, and that`s just during the campaign.  I mean, during the transition, there was Michael Flynn talking to Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian Ambassador, about lifting sanctions that have just been imposed on the Russians for interfering in the election.  I mean, there is so much here, I think, that the American people really need to absorb so that we can`t let it happen again in 2020.

MATTHEWS:  You know, not to overflatter that, but that presentation was excellent from Natasha.  I just wonder, do you know -- knowing Bob Mueller, does he have the stamina intellectually and articulate to do what we just heard?  Can he run through it as a set of episodes that adds up to playing ball with the Russians and screwing with our presidential election?  Can he do it?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  He makes a legal judgment, not a political one.  But I think if he`s asked direct questions, leading questions, perhaps asked to read from pages in the report, that this narrative comes through.  And even more importantly, Mueller, when he issues his summary, says, you know, this is the evidence that I had available, that people lied to us.  People withheld evidence.  People destroyed evidence.  And if we had been able to obtain that evidence, we might have seen this in a different light.  That will be an interesting conclusion for the members to elicit from Mueller tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  My assessment is this is a bifocal kind of situation.  The political thing that would drive a voter who cared about this country, drive that person`s thinking in this regard, this whole question to the Russian, were the Americans working with foreigners to change the results of an election?  Were they working with our rivals in the world?  They`re not our friends.  And if they did, that`s a political question the guy in Erie or the guy in Allentown, the regular person, man or woman, say, you know, that`s historically wrong.  We don`t want our candidates playing with foreigners when it comes to winning an election.

Now, let`s get to the legal question of obstruction of justice, which I think is the legal question.  Lawmakers will ask Mueller to delve into the 11 obstructive acts that he found in his report that the President carried out, many of which were intended to prevent further scrutiny of Trump`s own actions, in other words, he`s covered up.  It includes Trump`s attempt to halt the FBI`s investigation of Michael Flynn, whose conduct he attempted to cover up, trump`s effort to influence FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired for not clearing him of blaming the Russia probe, that`s pretty obstructive, Trump`s order to have the Special Counsel removed for scrutinizing his conduct for possible obstruction, Trump`s attempt to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal and stop the investigation of his campaign, finally, there`re Trump`s efforts to prevent Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen from cooperating with the government.

Joyce, anybody should be able to recognize, because going back to Nixon, obstruction of justice is killing the case.  In Nixon`s case, getting the FBI off the case by saying it was a CIA matter, in this case, trying to fire the prosecutor.

VANCE:  And there clearly is obstruction here, at least several of the events Mueller detailed, all of the elements a prosecutor would need to prosecute are established.

And why obstruction matters so much here is that there is obviously a lot of angst in the campaign and on behalf of this president.  They didn`t know for sure whether they had committed crimes or not, so they were doing everything that they could to cover up.  We still see some evidence of cover-up.  And that`s why obstruction is an important crime to prosecute.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s go to this.  These are the big questions we`ve worked on today we think should be asked tomorrow in a logic progression.  The questions democrats are expected to put to Mueller tomorrow are yes or no.  These are yes or no questions.  And by the way, if you want a yes or no answers, you always say, did you, do you.  You can actually formulate a yes or no -- well, you guys know this stuff.  Did you find no collusion and no obstruction and did you clear him?  That`s what Trump said the report did.  It`s a double negative, and he`s loving it.

BERTRAND:  Yes.  And I think that that`s the narrative that Mueller really needs to counteract here, which the President, because he had that head start given to him by Bill Barr before the report actually came out, has been able to exploit.  He has repeated this mantra over and over again, no obstruction, no collusion to the point where, you know, smart people who have followed this for a long time have actually repeated that as well.

So I think that Mueller is going to have to say, look, I didn`t define any of this in those terms.  We did not find enough evidence to charge a conspiracy.  We found numerous, over 100 contacts between the campaign and Russia, numerous instances of obstruction of justice.  So the narrative that Bill Barr and Donald Trump have put out there has just been incorrect.

MATTHEWS:  This double negative, I do not find that he did not do it.  I did not find that he did not do it.  It`s crazy talk.  It`s not how we operate.  We deal in declarative sentences, yes or no.  Mueller has left himself up, so tomorrow is the chance to clear it up.

Here are some other questions.  Would Trump have been charged, Mr. Director, if he was a private citizen?  What is Mueller going to say?

VANCE:  It will be hard to pry that answer out of him.  But if people stay at him on that, the answer has to be yes.  If this conduct was committed by someone who wasn`t protected by the OLC memo and perhaps by the constitution, they would have been charged.

MATTHEWS:  Well -- so let`s play -- you`re the journalist here.  How will he get out of that?  Will he say, I can`t answer that because that would be -- serve to indict him now, what I didn`t do in the report?  And I don`t want to accuse if I don`t indict him because that wouldn`t be fair because he can`t defend himself.  This is a Catch 22.

BERTRAND:  I think one of the things that he`s going to have to do is he`s going to have to -- the democrats are going to have to say, is X a crime?  Yes or no.  Did the President do X?  And then the American people watching are going to have to connect the dots for themselves.  I mean --

MATTHEWS:  Like set up a syllogism.

BERTRAND:  Right, exactly.

VANCE:  But I think that`s right.  It will be, you know, what are the elements of conspiracy?  Did the President do X?  Did the President do Y?

MATTHEWS:  Well, how has that worked its way into an Associated Press or an NBC nightly news or a HARDBALL headline?

VANCE:  The problem is that these aren`t easy concepts, right?  They`re not bumper stickers.  It`s so easy to say no obstruction, no collusion.  To talk about what`s in the Mueller report is more difficult.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, both, Natasha and Joyce, great help legal and journalist.

Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu of California who is on the Judiciary Committee.  Thank you, Congressman Lieu.

Here is a question for tomorrow, a romantic question, okay.  I`m in the business of looking for heroes.  Will there be one tomorrow?  Will the American people walk away from watching seven hours of television tomorrow and say, you know what, I`m happy about the republic because I found a hero.  Will they?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA):  Thank you, Chris, for that question.  If you have read the Mueller report or followed these issues, you won`t be very surprised tomorrow.  But if you have not read the report, your mind may be blown because Special Counsel Mueller is going to describe facts that many people have not heard of because they`re getting lies from Donald Trump and from Bill Barr.  So I think it depends on what knowledge you have coming into this hearing.

MATTHEWS:  Well, while a president can`t be accused of a crime while in office, a legion of prosecutors have said that if these offenses committed by the President had been committed by any other human in this country geographically, he`d be facing multiple felony counts.  And to that point, Trump bragged today, I can`t believe he said this, he can do anything he wants.  Listen to this, Congressman.


DONALD TRUMP. U.S. PRESIDENT:  I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president, but I don`t even talk about that.  Because they did a report and there was no obstruction.


MATTHEWS:  I can do anything I want, according to Article 2 of the Constitution.  Trump`s assertion he can do whatever he wants is eerily similar to the words of another American President.  Here is Richard Nixon.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  By definition?

NIXON:  Exactly.


MATTHEWS:  What do we make of that, Congressman?  You`re on the Judiciary Committee.  The President says anything he does is not obstruction of justice because he`s head of the executive branch, entitled by that branch, by the Constitutional Article, 2, to do whatever he wants.  That`s his reading.

LIEU:  History repeats itself.  Donald Trump is simply wrong.  The whole lesson on Watergate is that no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States.  And tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee is going to go very methodically over the incidents of obstruction of justice.  There`re at least five of them.  And after the hearing, the American people are going to know that we have a felon sitting in the White House.

MATTHEWS:  Are you confident of Mr. Mueller`s performance qualities?  I mean, he`s got the script.  Its report.  The Mueller report is his script.  How does he bring that script alive in a way that the script has in itself?  It hasn`t worked.  We`re at 20 percent of the country who want impeachment.  That report is a lot stronger than that.

LIEU:  We`re going to help Special Counsel Mueller get his narrative out, I want to help him get the facts out.  I think a lot of people in America may not even know that the President directed former White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Special Counsel Mueller, that he then directed McGahn to cover it up and create a fake document.  And when that didn`t work, he then directed Corey Lewandowski to tell Jeff Sessions to limit the investigation so it`s no longer into Donald Trump.

There are multiple instances of obstruction of justice that many Americans will be hearing for the first time tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that Donald Trump and his people were the American connection to the Russian effort to screw with our elections in 2016, the American connection?

LIEU:  So what`s going to come tomorrow out of this hearing and the hearing with Intel are three main goals.  First, that the Russians attacked American elections 2016, second, that the Trump campaign embraced that interference, gave them internal polling data, knew interference was going to help Donald Trump, and the third, the President committed multiple acts of the crime of obstruction of justice to interfere with that investigation into the interference.

MATTHEWS:  Well, break a leg tomorrow, you and the other members.  I hope you get to the truth.  I heard the American -- I hope as hell the American people hear all that`s in that report tomorrow night because it will be good for the history of our country going forward, not just looking backward.

Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu of California, member of the House Judiciary Committee, which will be the first to hear the questioning or do the questioning of Mr. Mueller.

Right now, Trump`s allies are plotting how to hijack tomorrow`s Mueller hearings.  We know that`s coming so, coming up, the stunts they`re likely to pull.  And how the President will respond to all of it, because he is going to be watching every minute of this, you better believe it.

Plus, Trump keeps up his attack on the four freshmen congresswomen today, calling Rashida Tlaib vicious and a crazed lunatic.  He is stoking his base with these divisive attacks.  And there is evidence it`s working.  Journalist Jemele Hill joins us to talk about that.

Much more ahead tonight with us on HARDBALL.  Stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

While democrats will use tomorrow`s hearings with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller to illuminate the findings of his Russia report, to televise it, they only control half the discussion, five minutes on, five minutes off.  You can expect this to be an adversarial hearing there with republicans on the House and Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, Judiciary first, trying to hijack the conversation every chance they get.  This is going to be like a basketball game.  Each side gets the ball back and forth.

NBC`s reporting that republicans plan to spend their half of the two hearings attacking the very premise of the investigation and highlighting what they and their base have come to believe without evidence is FBI misconduct at the heart of the probe.

Here is how the ranking republican on the Judiciary Committee is framing it.


REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA):  Remember, the Mueller report is a one-sided report that has not been questioned from the other side.  This is our chance to do that.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Mueller`s report, of course, was not one-sided but the process of a veteran prosecutor committed to the rule of law.  And while republicans provide cover for the President, NBC News has learned the White House and the President`s campaign are without a coordinated attack to counter the appearance ahead of time, according to multiple officials of those involved in the discussion.

But that said, President Trump who says he might watch some of the hearings, you betcha, has already launched a rebuttal, Tweeting out his usual criticism of Mueller and the democrats.  Today, he accused democrats of suffering from Trump derangement syndrome.

For more, I`m joined by Jonathan Swan, National Political Reporter for Axios, and Michael Steele, former Chair of the Republican National Committee.

I want to start with Michael on this.  What`s the whisper out there?  Do the republicans have a coordinated campaign to bring down Mueller and bring down Hillary, then dump on her again and dump on Bill Clinton and dump Obama?  What`s the plan tomorrow?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR:  It`s all of the above.  This is a rehashing of all the things that they were trying to get in, going back to Nunez going to the White House at 12:00 midnight --

MATTHEWS:  The midnight raid?

STEELE:  the midnight raid.  So this is the culmination of all that, because this is the last of the front lines that can be built to stop any encroachment into the narrative that was affirmed and really established by Barr when he got out in front.

So, now this wraps around the Barr conversation with the American people when the report came out.  It reiterates what the president has been saying from the beginning:  There is no collusion, no corruption, no et cetera.

And look for them to go at Mueller as if he is the worst Democrat on the planet. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, to get like from 8:30 in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon with the two committees, this is an early game, an early game tomorrow. 

It`s going to be catching all the newspapers through their first editions the next day.  It`s going to catch all the nightly news here, the evening news, the world news, all -- all the people that pay any attention to television. 


MATTHEWS:  Either in real time or later in day or the next day or online or streaming, anybody that wants to pay attention.

Will it work for the Democrats?  What is your sense?  Do they got a spectacular message they can get across with Mueller or not? 

SWAN:  I think that it could easily backfire on Democrats. 

They have said to us on the record -- we have done a lot of reporting on what`s going to happen with this committee.  One of the members, Jackie Speier, said that she wants to get Robert Mueller to read aloud sections of his report, so that the public can see it. 

I mean, this could easily backfire.  If he stays within the four corners of the report and doesn`t give them that sound bite that they want to stoke impeachment, I think it could easily backfire. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the dirt, the dirt they want to throw into the machine? 

SWAN:  You`re talking about the Republicans? 


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Let`s talk about the Republicans, because I get the feeling they`re going go after Peter Strzok and his love letters to Lisa Page, because that shows misbehavior, H.R. misbehavior.  But that`s easy.

Then they say to Robert Mueller, why did you treat this like an H.R. matter, when they are so many lovebirds here?

SWAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Do you try to find if there`s a Republican -- or a Democratic conspiracy here, or did you not? 

SWAN:  Right.


MATTHEWS:  And then they ask him to say, I didn`t.  I didn`t try to find out if there was a conspiracy.  Then they nail him. 

SWAN:  Right.

Well, I can tell you, we have been talking to them.  And as for whether it`s...


MATTHEWS:  You have been talking to the...

SWAN:  Republicans.  Oh, heck, yes, for the last week. 

So you talk about whether it`s coordinated.  I just called Matt Gaetz, who is on the Judiciary Committee.  He is one of the people you should watch for -- particularly aggressive.  I called him a couple...

MATTHEWS:  Isn`t he the guy that said the goal of this tomorrow will be to get the president reelected? 

SWAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  That was clear.

SWAN:  I called him a couple of hours ago, and he said: "I can`t talk.  I`m in Jim Jordan`s question preparing questions."


MATTHEWS:  And Jim Jordan is another red hot. 

SWAN:  So, he is another one to watch. 

But they`re going ask -- one of the questions that we have been told people are going ask is, when did you figure out that he wasn`t a Manchurian Candidate?

MATTHEWS:  He wasn`t part of a conspiracy. 

SWAN:  Right. 

And then the other ones, they`re going ask absolutely about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.  I suspect they`re also going to try and press Mueller, based on what we have been told, on how much of the report he personally wrote.  And they`re going to try to pin a lot of the report on Andrew Weissmann. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about him. 

SWAN:  So, Andrew Weissmann, the reason they like talking about him is because he was at Hillary Clinton`s victory party in 2016.  So he is someone that they like to paint as a Democrat on the... 

MATTHEWS:  But she didn`t win in 2016. 

SWAN:  Well, they still had a party. 

STEELE:  That`s irrelevant. 

MATTHEWS:  But he was the -- she was the -- so he`s one of the -- quote -- "18 Democrats" they keep -- they love to...

SWAN:  Seventeen angry Democrats. 



STEELE:  And I think Mueller is also going to be looking to avoid the Comey-ification of his testimony. 

He doesn`t want to be in that Comey position, where he says -- and to your point about staying within the four corners of what he has already reported out -- he doesn`t want this to be politicized, which is kind of laughable at this point.

But he is an honorable man in that regard.  He will not, I think, take lightly to them coming after the institution of the FBI, which will be a part of this as well, when they go at Strzok and others. 

But I think he is trying to avoid this situation where he can come off like -- be perceived to come off like Comey, putting the fickle finger of fate, if you will, one way or the other...


MATTHEWS:  Well, I don`t think -- I think the Republicans will be like one of those people waving the stuff during an NBA game...

STEELE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... so you don`t make the foul shot, just to screw it up. 

STEELE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, as we mentioned, all eyes will be on some of the president`s most ardent supporters tomorrow, like Congressman Jim Jordan, Louie Gohmert, of course, the birther, Matt Gaetz, the guy who says the whole idea here is to get the president reelected, and Devin Nunes, who led that midnight ride down and back from the White House to do their bidding. 

Let`s watch. 


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  The whole report is a joke. 

And look, I know there was no collusion.  And I know there was no obstruction.  And so, in that sense, it was fine. 

However, there shouldn`t -- this whole investigation was an obstruction of justice trap.  It was a trap.  And I hope people understand why.  Mueller when he walked in the door, knew there was no evidence of collusion and conspiracy. 

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL):  So we want to know when Robert Mueller found out there wasn`t collusion, and we`re going expose the bias as well. 

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX):  He hired people that he knew hated the president.  So, from day one, it was clear this was not a guy that was on a mission for justice.  It was a guy on a mission for revenge. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s Louie Gohmert, who says the president -- the recent president was a Kenyan.

Let`s take -- how -- are they going to swing for the fences, or go for singles?  Are the Republicans going to try to take this all the way back to Hillary and say, she was the one who hired Christopher Steele, that she put this whole thing together?  They`re going to go that far and say it`s all a witch-hunt created by the Democrats? 

Or are they simply going to try to deflect and mess up the coherence of the day? 

SWAN:  Well, they`re not all the same. 

So I think that you will see the most aggressive questioning from Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and John Ratcliffe. 

MATTHEWS:  And their goal will be? 

SWAN:  Absolutely to question...

MATTHEWS:  Destroy Mueller?

SWAN:  ... the origins of the investigation and to question the people who worked on the investigation and all the things that we have just been talking about. 

I do not expect, though, that there has been complete coordination across both committees.  I mean, Sean Hannity tonight on his show later tonight is going to suggest questions. 

So I will be curious to see how many of those questions...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m going to give you the box office question here.

What will be scripted tomorrow during the hearings by the Republican member of these committees?  They`re both minority members. 

STEELE:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  They don`t have the control of the gavel, but they get half the time. 

What will -- what show will they be putting on for FOX, the show that they can -- that FOX can then put on for four or five hours tomorrow night?  What are they going to sell? 

STEELE:  Oh.  Oh, they`re going to sell the president`s narrative. 

There is no doubt about that, Chris.  This is all about -- and I think, as you already mentioned, the goal is to make this conversation tomorrow a part of the reelection effort.  That`s going to play into what you will see on FOX. 

MATTHEWS:  Against the deep state? 

STEELE:  Against the deep state. 


STEELE:  And a president who has stood strong and has been fighting against all of this from the beginning. 

MATTHEWS:  Will the president be Jack Nicholson in "Batman"?  Will he be the Joker that jumps in during the hearings tomorrow and puts out stuff during the show? 

Will he start putting out tweets during it to compete with it in real time, or will he wait until the end? 

SWAN:  I would be shocked if he waited, Chris. 

The morning hearing is almost designed for executive time.  I mean, it`s 8:30 p.m. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  In the schedule, it`s there. 

SWAN:  He doesn`t leave the residence until 11:00 usually. 


MATTHEWS:  He is only having lunch with Mike Pence.  He can delay that, I think. 

SWAN:  All I`m saying is, Chris, I would be surprised. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you make of his attempt to intimidate Mueller by saying -- it was almost like Pentangeli in the "Godfather 2," bringing the brother in, like we`re going to kill you.

He says, you better not go beyond your brief, I mean, pretty strong words. 

SWAN:  Yes, again, like in complete keeping with literally everything he has said since the beginning of this investigation. 


SWAN:  So, am I shocked he is doing it?  No. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Tomorrow night, tomorrow night, when this is all over, and all the nightly news programs and all our shows are over, Rachel`s finished, and all the way through to Brian midnight tomorrow on MSNBC, will it look more likely there`s an impeachment or not?

SWAN:  Again, it depends what happens.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, come on.  I`m asking for a prediction.


SWAN:  But, Chris, that depends on me knowing whether he`s going to -- I think only if he screws up, frankly, only if Mueller screws up. 

If he stays completely disciplined, I don`t think it really changes the calculus. 

STEELE:  No.  This is total win for Trump.  He`s already won. 


MATTHEWS:  So, in the beginning was the words.  All we`re going get is the word, all we`re going to get.

STEELE:  That`s right.  You`re going to get the word.  And that`s going to be the play.  I just don`t see...

SWAN:  But to Chris` question...


MATTHEWS:  I don`t know.

I`m hopeful that a good question will get a good answer tomorrow and that we will get we will somebody to say -- we will have a Perry Mason moment.  We have got seven hours to get one. 

SWAN:  But, Chris, you don`t need much.  You don`t need much.  They`re desperate to impeach him.  And there`s 90 -- roughly 90 of them who want to. 

You need one little sound bite.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask an easier question. 

SWAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You guys are stymying me here.


MATTHEWS:  I want an answer.

Will Nancy Pelosi look right at midnight tomorrow night about her resistance to impeachment? 

SWAN:  You do that one.  Come on. 

STEELE:  Will she look right in her resistance? 

MATTHEWS:  Will she look smarter than the rest of the -- the average bear? 

STEELE:  Yes, I think she will, because she -- because it will be borne out that that -- impeachment was a trap. 

MATTHEWS:  You go along with that? 

SWAN:  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  I don`t -- thank you.  I don`t know. 


MATTHEWS:  I think this thing is stirring up.  I think the Democratic progressive left wants action, and they`re going to want more action tomorrow night, because all day this will stir the juices. 

Thank you, Jonathan Swan.

Both sides will be riling up after this one.

Michael Steele, thank you, sir.

STEELE:  All right. 

MATTHEWS:  Later in the show, more on than Democrats` big challenge tomorrow with Robert Mueller, from me, actually.

Up next:  Trump`s not letting up on trying to make four congresswomen of color the new face of the Democratic Party.  Find out what he had to say about them in today`s attacks, today`s.  Are those attacks working?  In some quarters -- hold your nose -- yes.

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

President Trump continues to escalate his attacks on four progressive congresswomen now for the 10th straight day. 

Today, he tweeted: "Gee, let`s impeach the president.  The Squad and other Dems suffer from Trump derangement syndrome.  Crazy."

He later wrote of the state Ilhan Omar represents -- quote -- "In 2016, I almost won Minnesota.  In 2020, because of America-hating anti-semite Representative Omar and the fact that Minnesota is having its best economic year ever, I will win the state.  AOC plus three are a nightmare for America."

Well, the president renewed his attacks this afternoon, addressing a gathering of young conservatives. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This is what we`re up against.  You have some of that now. 

The Democrats I guess, are forced to embrace her.  And I call it AOC plus three.  OK?


TRUMP:  AOC, AOC plus three.

What`s going on with that party having to embrace them and your other friend from an incredible state, right, a state that I`m going to win, Minnesota.  You know that one, right?

This is not what we want representing us, I don`t think.  And I think it`s why we`re going to have a tremendous victory in 2020. 


TRUMP:  These people are crazy.

Just call her Cortez, because I don`t have time to call her by the whole name.  It`s too long.  It`s true.



TRUMP:  But she called our country and our people garbage.  She said garbage.  That`s worse than deplorable.  Remember deplorable?  Yes, you do, huh?


MATTHEWS:  Well, in fact, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not use the term garbage to refer to either the country or to the American people.

Here is what she said in March.  Listen close. 


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY):  We have strayed so far away from what has really made us powerful and just and good and equitable and productive. 

And so I think all of these things sound radical, compared to where we are, but where we are is not a good thing.  And this idea of like 10 percent better from garbage is -- shouldn`t be what we settle for. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, meanwhile, "The New York Times" reported on voters in Port Huron, Michigan, where Trump`s continued attacks may be actually helping him. 

According to "the Times" -- quote -- "Many voters in this city on Lake Huron are embracing his America love it or leave it message, saying they do not see it as racist.  And though they dismiss Mr. Trump`s Twitter broadsides as excessive or juvenile, they voice strong support for his reelection, and they express their own misgivings about those four women."

What effect will the president`s divisive words have on the rest of the country?

Jemele Hill joins us next. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

President Trump is pressing on with his attacks on those four freshman congresswomen of color, suggesting they are unpatriotic and should leave the country if they don`t like it. 

"The New York Times" reported on one area in Michigan where his love it or leave it message, however, is boosting his support among his core supporters. 

Today, he gave a clear indication he`s hoping that message will stick in this state he won by fewer than 11,000 votes in 2016 by renewing his attack on Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

Here he goes.


TRUMP:  I watched just this morning.  This Tlaib, Tlaib...


TRUMP:  .. from Michigan, right?  It`s a great state.  We -- we won Michigan. 


TRUMP:  There is no way she stands for the values of the people of Michigan. 


TRUMP:  But I watched her this morning.  She`s vicious.  She`s like a crazed lunatic. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, the Democratic presidential candidates will get their chance to speak to Michigan voters during the second Democratic debate in Congresswoman Tlaib`s hometown of Detroit next Tuesday and Wednesday.  It`s coming on strong. 

I`m joined right now by Jemele Hill, staff writer for "The Atlantic" and host of the podcast "Jemele Hill is Unbothered," and John Brabender, Republican strategist.

Jemele, you`re the first time on.  I`m really glad to have you on.  Everybody thinks you`re great.  So, be great.


MATTHEWS:  OK, I want to ask you.

JEMELE HILL, "THE ATLANTIC":  I will try.  I will try. 

MATTHEWS:  Big picture. 

I`m old.  I have been around listening to political debates. I`ve heard -- I`ve heard the dog whistles, the wedge language.  You`ve grown up hearing it, you know, the welfare queen, the young buck.  We`ve heard all the tricks. 

This is blatant, however.  What do you think is role of this moment in history, this president`s attacks on these four women? 

HILL:  I think it`s really embarrassing.  And I think it probably doesn`t even justify by saying it`s beneath the dignity of any president, anybody in a leadership position. 

Personally, I fear for their physical safety.  And I speak unfortunately from experiencing having been singled out and attacked by the president myself is that he knows what he`s doing when he does things like that and he uses certain trigger words to create a level of fear and a level of animosity by calling Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, calling her a lunatic, which is a very easy stereotype that a lot of women who are passionate about what they do, that`s the kind of way that they get branded. 

Whenever we`re passionate, we`re assertive, we get called crazy or a lunatic.  So, he has created this image of them.  He`s made them almost like a villainous version of Paul Bunyan, all four of these women, and he is putting their personal safety at risk, because I`m telling you, and I certainly -- I obviously don`t wish this.  But it`s not going take much for somebody to hear this corrosive, repulsive language that he`s directed at them and take it too far. 

I`m still receiving death threats from what I said about the president a couple of years ago.  So I can only imagine the level of vitriol that is being directed as these four women. 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s get into anthropology here.  I was looking at a political cartoon today.  It was a picture of the president attacking the four women.  And then there is Bernie Sanders over here, a renowned confessed, if you will, self-celebrated socialist.  Why doesn`t he attack Bernie, the white guy who is a real lefty and says so?  Why did he pick out these four to go after? 

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, first of all, he attacks everybody.  He is an equal opportunity of attacker. 

MATTHEWS:  No, but he`s going after the women of color.

BRABENDER:  That`s number one.

Number two is let`s not play this ridiculous game that they don`t go after Donald Trump.  All you got to do is watch the last debate and they could make it a drinking game how often do they mention Donald Trump versus each other.  So, let`s not make it sound like --

MATTHEWS:  What`s fair game?  What is fair game? 

BRABENDER:  Honestly, thing is enough room and blame for everybody here to ratchet down. 


MATTHEWS:  Go home?  Go home?  He never told Bernie or any of the other guys to go home. 

BRABENDER:  But, look, but Bernie is part of this too.  What`s confusing the Democrats in all this, why are the president`s numbers improving?  Why are states like Michigan and Pennsylvania --

MATTHEWS:  That`s an answer. 

BRABENDER:  I think a big part of that reason is you see these far left social Democrats are an insult to a lot of Americans who say this isn`t the American dream.  This isn`t the America I was promised.  And they`re frankly insulted to some degree -- 


BRABENDER:  -- hat the Democrats aren`t fighting for them. 

MATTHEWS:  Jemele, your thoughts?  Why are they the target of this president politically?  Because what Trump cares about, whatever his prejudices are, his number one goal I would say is him, his goal.  He wants to win and be a bigger shot next year than he was this year.  A still bigger shot two years from now, a still bigger shot three years from now.  That`s all Trump wants to be -- bigger, bigger, bigger. 

Why is he doing it this way? 

HILL:  Because women of color and, frankly, people of color have always been low-hanging fruit in this country.  And look, with all due respect, talking about this doesn`t represent America, who these women are very much does represent America.  And there is a lot of people in our country don`t want to acknowledge or don`t want to accept that fact. 

And so, therefore, it`s so easy to paint outspoken women as being what is wrong with this country.  It`s so funny to me that they aren`t allowed to say what they see as inequity, what they see as problematic in this country.  But Donald Trump, the white billionaire, he is allowed to run an entire campaign about why this country isn`t great. 

And people who follow him, they`re allowed to complain about why this country can`t be better, but women of color, people of color are not allowed to issue the same complaints when they have been under the boot of oppression for far longer and can identify with that much more than Donald Trump ever could. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the fact that AOC said that these policies on environment and health care are garbage, and he turned around and said no, America is garbage.  He did that that`s not what she said. 

BRABENDER:  Well, but here`s the problem.  First of all, everybody makes up everything that everybody says.  So, half the time they`re wrong. 

But here what`s I don`t understand.  People keep saying Donald Trump is playing to his base.  Donald Trump`s base is not just Republicans.  It`s mostly different than Romneys. 

MATTHEWS:  It`s Macomb County, Michigan. 

BRABENDER:  And Erie County, Pennsylvania, and so forth, where there are blue collar Democrats who by the way voted for Barack Obama. 

So, you know, to say that he is playing to a base using race-baiting is calling them racist --


MATTHEWS:  Do you think            these women do terrify or scare the base you`re talking about, that they are clearly highly educated people.  They are not poor people that can hardly make their voices heard.  They are in positions of power.  They were elected, and they`re clearly well educated people who -- none are saying they`re elite, but certainly to be dealt with. 

Are they afraid of them?  Are the people you talk about afraid of these four women? 

BRABENDER:  I think they`re afraid of their ideas.  Because it is not what this country was founded on.  It`s getting rid of the American dream and saying we`re going promise mediocrity for all of you.  That`s what really we`re doing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about it.  You`ll be coming back, I can tell you, because I want you back if you will come back.  Last thought, sir?  I mean, madam? 

HILL:  No, I mean, I don`t know what is so far left about equality, health care.  The whole they think is that the Republicans and conservatives have always pitched progress as something that has taken something from them, and it`s not.  A lot of the things that AOC and all these congresswomen have talked about are things blue collar people should easily be able to identify with.  There is nothing strange about climate change.  It`s a real thing, OK? 

So to talk than and discuss that is a very real issue.  It`s not far left.  It is what reality is. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  And I saw black jeopardy on "SNL," and I know there is a lot of common nature to both sides. 

Thank you, Jemele Hill.  Thank you, John Brabender.  You come in and fight. 

BRABENDER:  I tried.

MATTHEWS:  Even when you`re wrong. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

BRABENDER:  When did that happen? 


MATTHEWS:  Up next, arrogant, outspoken, uninterested in details.  The U.K. now has their own Donald Trump.  Different hairdo, but look at this guy.  Interesting similarities. 

More on the U.K.`s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after this. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Tomorrow, the United Kingdom will have a new prime minister and his name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.  You know him commonly as Boris Johnson, the disheveled former journalist and two-term mayor of London who famously got stuck on a zip line -- there he is, while he was promoting the 2012 Olympics.  Watch him get caught there. 

Anyway, much has been said about his shared personality with President Trump, from their notable hair to their robust leadership of a populist uprising in their own countries. 

President Trump sent him a congratulatory tweet this morning adding this compliment. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We have a really good man who is going to be the prime minister of the U.K. now, Boris Johnson.  Good man.  He is tough and he is smart.  They`re saying Britain Trump.  They call him Britain Trump and people saying that`s a good thing. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, despite his untidy facade, Johnson will be tasked with delivering a tidy exit for the U.K. from European Union, do or die, which was his campaign pledge. 

Joining me right now from London, Bobby Ghosh, "Bloomberg Opinion" editor. 

Bobby, thank you so much. 

I`ve been watching this guy Boris.  I had him on the show a while ago.  I like the guy.  I thought he was a character.  I also thought he was a prime minister.  He seemed to be in a weird gross way of imitating the Churchill behavior of maverick behavior, going in and out of parties, breaking with relationships, starting new ones, always being with the news. 

Can he get Britain out of European -- out of Europe with the Irish border situation?  How do they do that?  I`ve been watching that.  How does that work? 

BOBBY GHOSH, BLOOMBERG OPINION EDITOR & COLUMNIST:  Well, that`s the question this country has been asking for nearly two years.  That`s the question that people have been asking Boris Johnson for the last two years.  He has never fully answered the question, except to say in the most general terms we`re going to do this.  It`s a do-or-die thing.  We have a can do spirit. 

It`s very much like President Trump saying "Make America Great Again" without any specifics.  This is Boris Johnson, perfectly summarized, that he talks in the most sort of banal generalities without putting any flesh on the bone, without having any clear policy positions on the most important question that Britain has faced in decades. 

MATTHEWS:  Because the United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland.  Without Northern Ireland, there is no United Kingdom.  There is just Great Britain.  That`s it.  Goodbye. 

Anyway, let me ask about the people behind him.  Are the people behind him the kind of people you see at a Trump rally? 

GHOSH:  Yes and no.  You don`t have the exact same kind of people. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, middle England then.  Middle people. 

GHOSH:  Yes.  There is certainly a lot of that.  There are some similar fears that he`s stoking, a fear that Britain has lost its glory days.  There is a fear of immigrants. 

There is a fear of the new economy, new kinds of jobs are being created and people are not trained for those jobs.  A lot of the old jobs people are used to are going away.  So those are parallels.  People have the similar sort of fear of the future in Britain as we`ve seen in the U.S. and those kinds of people certainly voted for Brexit. 

And we don`t yet know that they`re going vote for Boris Johnson.  It`s important to remember he hasn`t been elected prime minister by the country.  He`s been elected to lead the party by the party membership.  That`s 150,000 people.  That`s all. 

We`ll see when the opportunity arises, if it arises for him to take his idea to the public to see if Britain is willing to vote for this guy as prime minister.  That test has not yet been met. 

MATTHEWS:  Don`t be so skeptical.  He can beat Corbyn, can`t he?  He can beat Corbyn.  Come on.

GHOSH:  Well, here`s the interesting thing -- yes, but Corbyn, that`s a very low hanging fruit.  But here`s the interesting thing.  There was poll out earlier today that asks people would they vote for Corbyn or Johnson or do not know.  Do not know got more than Boris Johnson. 

That`s not a good sign for somebody who is supposed to lead this country through such a huge deal.  It`s one thing to be running a country when everything is moving smoothly.  You can have a maverick.  You can have an eccentric leading the country for a little bit. 

But this is an existential moment for Britain.  This is when Britain has not faced a challenge like this arguably since the Second World War.  This is not a moment for a person with such unclear views to be running this country. 

MATTHEWS:  I love your skepticism, sir.  Bobby Ghosh out there.  Thank you for joining us from London. 

Up next, tomorrow`s place in history.  The big day tomorrow, it`s going down in history books tomorrow.  Will it be a big one?  We`ll see. 

Stick around.  You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  The Democrats want Mueller to say tomorrow that Donald Trump committed an impeachable act.  They want a Perry Mason moment when the special counsel says he did it. 

The prime legal target will be obstruction of justice.  Was it a high crime for the president to order the firing of the special counsel charged with investigating him?  The prime political target will be collusion with Russia.  Did President Trump encourage and reward Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

These twin missions, legal and political, come with a hazard.  It`s the Democrats` big chance to ignite an impeachment drive, also their final one.  In cowboy movie terms, this is the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but also the last saloon. 

Most important, tomorrow will be a chance to televise the Mueller report for the watching and listening American people, and for history.  We don`t want this playing footsie with a foreign power to happen again. 

But I have to leave you on the eve of a big hearing with a thought as to the Republican mission tomorrow.  A GOP member of the Judiciary Committee laid that out quite well.  Quote: We are going to reelect the president. 

That`s HARDBALL for now. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.