CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The Russians are here. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
We could not have a more important guest than we have tonight. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is coming here in a few minutes. And tonight, we`re going to ask Jerry Nadler of New York to tell us what the Democratic House will do now in light of the historic revelations highlighted yesterday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of the Trump administration`s cooperation with a foreign power in the corruption of an American presidential election. Will there be impeachment or not? That`s coming up. You don`t want to miss it.
But, first, and this is really important, Robert Mueller yesterday issued a dire warning to Congress and the American people that the Russians are already working to undermine the 2020 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government`s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious.
It wasn`t a single attempt. They`re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Even as we sit here. Well, his testimony highlighted several areas of concern, including Russian hacking, Russian propaganda on social media and Russian intrusions into our actual voting systems.
And now, the Senate is taking up steps to address at least one of those concerns. In a bipartisan report issued just today, the Senate Intelligence Committee detailed the Russian threat to America`s election infrastructure, assessing the vulnerabilities of our voting system, our voting machines that we rely on for to conduct free and fair elections.
The report states in 2016, cybersecurity for electoral infrastructure at the state and local level was sorely lacking, aging voting equipment, particularly voting machines that had no paper record of votes were vulnerable to exploitation by a committed adversary.
According to this report, the committee`s investigation scrutinized the 21 states that authorities originally believed were targeted by Russia in 2016. Reports suggest, however, that all 50 states, look at them there, were all likely targeted by the Russians. And while no evidence suggests that any votes were changed this time, the report ominously says that Russia may have been probing vulnerabilities in voting systems to exploit later. In other words, they`ve been casing, like people walking up the street looking for windows open or the car door is open.
And this comes after Senate Republicans blocked two election security bills last night following Mueller`s testimony, including legislation intended to provide cyber assistance to Senators themselves that prevent them from being hacked.
It was The Hill newspaper was first to report the bill was blocked by a single Republican Senator, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. She stopped all that effort to secure our electoral process. In fact, in a Tweet, she said, Senate Democrats try to push partisan election bills without going through regular order right after the House hearings with Mueller. Coincidence? No. Just more political theater. That`s what she said.
I`m joined right now by Mieke Eoyang, Vice President for National Program at Third Way, Evan McMullin, formerly with the CIA, and Michael Beschloss, NBC News Presidential Historian. Thank you all. It`s a great panel. We`re getting ready, I must say, for Jerry Nadler to come here. But I want to start with -- this is big stuff.
It has nothing to do with partisan politics, it seems to me, but yet it seems to do that. Why don`t we check out all our systems like the Russians but make sure we can`t get hacked in this so we will get honest counts from all 50 states next time, next year.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, you`re right to point out that this shouldn`t be a partisan issue. It should be anything but that. But the republicans in the Senate, you have a senator today and yesterday saying look, these bills to secure our elections, these bills, one of which would require political candidates to report offers of assistance from foreign entities are partisan, essentially saying that that`s, in some way, anti-republican simply I think because the President received such help and has said publicly recently that he won`t report it in the future.
MATTHEWS: So he`s sensitive.
MCMULLIN: So he`s sensitive.
MATTHEWS: He`s sensitive to it if we try to clean up our act so that we don`t get destroyed politically. But I wonder. Michael, I`m thinking about history here. Imagine -- we`ve had a bad situation in 2000 where Florida screwed the whole thing up because everybody has got a different counting system and you couldn`t get a sort of a straight count.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, MSNBC PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Of course.
MATTHEWS: Suppose the Russians make sure that one of the states doesn`t have an honest count and then Trump says, oh, it wasn`t 270? I`m still here.
MATTHEWS: What happens then?
BESCHLOSS: Or he says it was a rigged election, and I`m not leaving, or he thinks at this point or people on his behalf that this election will be carried for him by the Russians or some other friendly government, which is not terribly sharp because there are a lot of governments that do not wish him well and who could get involved in this system.
And it goes something right back to the beginning of American history. You and have I talked about this. When this system began, the founders thought one of our biggest vulnerabilities was that foreign powers would try to manipulate elections to do their bidding. George Washington fired his Secretary of State, Edmond Randolph, because he thought he was an agent of the French trying to help the French take over our country. This is something we`ve been dealing with for years.
MATTHEWS: The French backing the Jeffersonian democrats, and we had the Hamiltonians in league with the Brits.
MATTHEWS: And the Russians were on the side (ph) of the north join the civil war and the Brits were on the side of the south. Look, we`ve been through this mess.
And, Mieke, this question is right in front of us right now. We`ve got 50 states, 50 different ways of counting votes. They`ve got the chads, we`ve been through all that, the crazy stuff. A very of these -- we don`t have a lot of states with paper trails. And if something gets screwed up and what the Special Counsel told the whole world yesterday, they`re doing it right now, the Russian, right now.
MIEKE EOYANG, VICE PRESIDENT, THIRD WAY NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM: That`s right. Well, you have a bunch of state election systems very diverse. One of the advantages actually of the diversity of the system is that it`s very hard to hack in a single spot because there are different kinds of election machines out there. And so it`s possible that you couldn`t get through to all of them at one time.
But the challenge is our election is so close that only a few pivotal counties are going to make the difference and would be enough to throw it into chaos.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I`m a political guy. I think it`s going to be one hell of a close election next time.
EOYANG: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: I think Trump will make a comeback. These incumbents always make comebacks at the end, no matter how bad they are.
BESCHLOSS: And recalls for recounts and --
EOYANG: But to Michael`s point about it being shortsighted, the President will never be seen as the legitimate President of the United States in his re-election if he doesn`t do something to secure the election system.
MATTHEWS: Who dares tell him that? Who dares tells Trump honest elections are good for people who want to win because then you really do win.
MCMULLIN: Well, look, if you`re Trump and you`re deeply unpopular at the same time the economy is thriving by traditional measures, you may not care whether you`re perceived by everyone as legitimate. You`re trying to stay in power so that you don`t face the consequences of losing office, which for someone like the President who does face legal challenge, he has real legal vulnerabilities if he`s no longer in office.
MATTHEWS: He`d ask Barry Bonds about asterisk. Who wants to have an asterisk next to their name?
MCMULLIN: Well, he doesn`t want to. But he`s facing a larger challenge, which is if he`s out of office, he can`t protect himself from the legal vulnerabilities.
MATTHEWS: Okay. As Evan mentioned earlier, another election security bill, which was blocked last night, would have required campaigns to report foreign contacts, pretty reasonable. Specifically, it would prevent or discourage any candidate for federal office from withholding foreign offers of dirt from the FBI. And that is exactly what President Trump has said he`d do again in 2020. If given a dirt opportunity, he`d grab for the dirt. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: You want that kind of interference in our elections?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It`s not an interference. They have information. I think I`d take it. This is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn`t work that way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI Director says that`s what should happen.
TRUMP: The FBI Director is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do you like the way he resorts so that sort of street accent even when he starts saying, hey, no, things are tough all over, we do what we can? Anyway, the legislation was blocked after Robert Mueller specifically said that accepting foreign assistance was not only unethical, possibly criminal, but also unpatriotic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): From your testimony today, I gather that you believe that knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do.
MUELLER: And a crime.
SCHIFF: And a crime.
MUELLER: Circumstances, yes, and a crime given certain circumstances.
SCHIFF: And to the degree that it undermines our democracy and our institutions, we can agree that it`s also unpatriotic?
SCHIFF: And wrong?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do we agree on this, Michael? Is the country in agreement on this, or is the country, when you get back in the dark rooms and everybody is doing what they can to get ahead, do they secretly say, if we get some dirt on Hillary Clinton, we`re grabbing for it? We don`t care if it comes from Moscow, wherever it comes from. I just wonder if we agree to be citizens again.
BESCHLOSS: I sure hope that we do not agree on this.
MATTHEWS: You mean do not agree?
BESCHLOSS: Do not agree that this is not -- that we don`t agree that this is not a bad thing.
BESCHLOSS: Every democratic candidate from Adlai Stevenson to Hubert Humphrey and probably beyond was secretly offered help by Russian agents. The Soviet Ambassador even called up Lyndon Johnson with a tape recorder running in September of 1964 and said, Mr. Khrushchev would like to see you win. What can he do to help you? That offer was made to all of them and they all said, no help, get out of here. We do it our way (ph).
MATTHEWS: Can he also say, don`t let him know you`re rooting for me?
Let me go to Mieke on this. What do you say about a president? How do we clean up a system where half the political force in the country which is coming out of the White House likes the system it is now, grab what you can for the Russians?
EOYANG: Look, I think this is a real challenge to our democracy. The President won with less than the majority of American support. His support is below 50 percent now and it`s never been above 50 percent. It`s very hard in a democracy to reach consensus when you don`t have the support of the majority of the people. I think that we have to take a real serious look at some of the campaign reforms to be able to fix our electoral system.
Well, I think we should fix the machinery at least.
I worry about the count. I can live with the social media and the kompromat and all that stuff, but I just -- you know, when it comes down to actual voting, I like to believe the numbers are the truth.
BESCHLOSS: They have to be sacred.
MCMULLIN: Well, this is the thing about that. I think many of us are focused on whether the Russians are indeed changing votes or not. And I think, obviously, that`s important. And the Senate Intelligence Committee report today raises that issue.
But I think there are much --
MATTHEWS: In other words, the case they have this year --
MATTHEWS: -- they could rob it next year.
MCMULLIN: Yes. But there is another issue that is, I think, you know, far more possible, another threat, and we should worry about too, at least as much, and that is that if the Russians simply did what they did before, which is to hack into voting rules and maybe a little bit more, 10 or 20 percent more, maybe they hacked deeper, maybe they switched a few things around, if they just do enough so that state governments aren`t able to certify elections, or so that news media then responsibly reports that this hacking has occurred, it`s a form of voter suppression.
MCMULLIN: People start to lose faith.
MATTHEWS: The mere fact they talk about it possibly being compromised, the Russians win.
MCMULLIN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Mueller also reprimanded the President, President Trump, for encouraging a hostile intelligence service, WikiLeaks, to release democratic emails in 2016, calling Trump`s statements -- well, he was understating here -- problematic. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: Problematic is an understatement in terms of displays, in terms of giving some, I don`t know, hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here is what the President said in response to that just minutes later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And do you regret talking so much about WikiLeaks given Robert Mueller called that problematic?
TRUMP: So WikiLeaks is a hoax, just like everything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s not a hoax.
EOYANG: It`s not a hoax. Look, WikiLeaks is a very serious problem. It has been for the intelligence community in republican and democratic administrations alike. They`ve put a lot of information out there without regard to the national security issues.
But it`s very clear that on a bipartisan basis, the Senators and the House members view WikiLeaks as an intelligence threat.
MATTHEWS: And just a minute, I`d like to remind people just in the interest of some kind of fairness in this country, just imagine all these facts in the report was highlighted yesterday by the Special Counsel embed with the Russians, to hold the -- if it had been Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, just imagine what the republicans would be doing. They`d be talking about, I don`t know what, capital punishment?
Mieke Eoyang, thank you so much, Evan McMullin, thank you, sir, and thank you Michael Beschloss.
Up next, we know that Russia interfered in our election and we know that the Trump campaign not only welcomed that help but encouraged it and used it. So what are the democrats going to do about that? Historically, can they let this be as it is? Are we going to talk about impeachment or not?
Coming up, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York joins us next.
And Joe Biden says no more Mr. Nice Guy. The former Vice President warns that he is going to stop being so polite to his democratic rivals. Maybe he`ll be ready for them this time. And now, he`s aggressively going after senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker in a preview that is likely to be a knockdown, drag-out fight next week in that Detroit debate.
Much more ahead. Stick with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The President has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said, is it?
MUELLER: Correct. It is not what the report said.
NADLER: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the President?
NADLER: Now, in fact, your report expressly states it does not exonerate the President?
MUELLER: It does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York questioning Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Trump`s repeated claim that he was exonerated by the Special Counsel`s report. Mueller also confirmed that Russia interfered in our election and the Trump campaign welcomed it, encouraged it, made use of it and covered up that help.
So what are the democrats going to do in light of those revelations highlighted by the Special Counsel? Will there be impeachment or not?
Joining me is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler.
Congressman, I had spent a good part of my life working for politicians. I respect you guys a lot. I understand the pressures that come from leadership, the pressures that come from home. And I guess my question is at what point do you have to resolve the question, to impeach or not?
NADLER: Well, we have to start by looking at where we are. And where we are is, as you said, that the special prosecutor found that the President welcomed the Russian interference in our election on his behalf, that he welcomed it and he benefitted from it, and that he then lied to the American people and covered it up, that he committed a number of acts of -- between five on ten acts of criminal obstruction of justice, and at least five of them, all three elements of the crimes are met, and he instructed other people to lie to the American people on his behalf.
Our next step, and those are the findings of the special prosecutor, we now have to lay out the evidence for the American people of all these crimes by the President and of the failure of the President to protect us against the ongoing Russian attack on our elections. That`s our next step, and that`s what we`re going to do as our next step.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at the -- I know you must think about this all the time. It`s now almost August. When Richard Nixon, the House Judiciary Committee got authorization to move on impeachment against him was in February of `74, he resigned in August. That`s about six months. How many months would you need to move a case to the Senate? In other words, to move an impeachment if you succeed, how many months would it take? You`ve got from August now to maybe next august, right?
NADLER: Well, I don`t know how many months that would take. But I do know what we have to do next. And we face the challenge that was not faced 20 - - or 40 years ago, and that is that the President and the administration have systematically blocked information from Congress, have systematically opposed all subpoenas, and not only on the malfeasance of the administration and of the Trump campaign, but also on things like family separation at the border, the rigging of the census, and everything else.
Now, this, we have to break that logjam, so that we can get the evidence before the American people, and we`re going to court to do that, in, fact tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: I thought you got the right -- a lot of information in the first couple of questions.
And you got him to admit the president lied about being exonerated. There is information pretty much up front there about the Russian role. It seems to me that the lion`s share of what you have to prove, you guys and women up there on the Hill have done that.
NADLER: Well, the lion -- no.
MATTHEWS: It`s done, thanks to the work done by the special -- what more...
NADLER: A lot of it...
MATTHEWS: My question is -- go ahead. I`m sorry.
NADLER: A lot of it is done, but a lot of it is still undone.
We -- the American people have to hear directly, for example, from Don McGahn, as to -- and he has to testify in front of that -- in front of Congress, so that he can say what the president said to him, what illegal instructions the president said to him.
We have to hear from other witnesses who testified to Mueller. But we need to hear and the American people need to hear their testimony directly. This has been blocked. And we`re going court to unblock it.
MATTHEWS: But you`re talking about what you would like to get done.
You would like to hear from McGahn. You might like to get the president`s tax returns. But, if you don`t, the clock is moving. It`s this fall.
NADLER: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: You have got six weeks less this year, and then you have next year, in a presidential election year.
I`m just wondering whether Nancy Pelosi, as good-hearted as she is about this, is basically playing for time, that, eventually, you`re going to say, it`s too late.
NADLER: I don`t think she is playing for time.
We have to do our work. And I don`t think there are only six weeks left. There is nothing that says we can`t go to court and do -- and hold hearings during the August recess. We`re not going to just go on vacation for the next six weeks.
But we have to lay out this information for the American people, so that they can join us in agreeing on whatever -- on what we have to do.
MATTHEWS: You have got about 80-some -- sometimes, it rises to 90-some -- members of your caucus, Democratic Caucus, who want to see impeachment proceedings again.
You have got people, I`m sure in your district -- any big city district, I think it`s fair to say , there are people pushing for something to happen.
When is the day of reckoning between those forces, which you represent, actually, personally, the forces that want to see impeachment, and the leadership? When does the unstoppable push for this reach the hard place of -- there has got to be a reckoning date, doesn`t there have to be, or this is going to slip away into 2021?
NADLER: No, this cannot -- deciding what we`re going to do about this administration and about the crimes that have been committed and making sure that they can`t happen again, and that the attack on Congress` power to oversee this or any other administration is not successful, cannot wait until 2021.
And I can`t give you a hard date, but I know the work that has to be done, and we`re going to be doing it.
MATTHEWS: Do you know how long it would take you to move proceedings once they begin to the Senate? How long would it take you to get a vote?
NADLER: No, I don`t.
What I`m worried about now is how long -- is how fast we can get these cases through the court. And the key is the grand jury information which we`re asking for tomorrow, and the enforcement of the subpoena to McGahn, which will set the stage for everyone else, because the same nonsense legal arguments that they`re using on McGahn are the same arguments they`re using on all the others.
And we will win in court. And we will win fairly quickly, I think, because they are nonsense legal arguments. And then the floodgates will open.
MATTHEWS: You have some -- you have authority here, Mr. Chairman. You said the other day you have the power, as a chair -- and the other chairs do too who are investigating -- to initiate impeachment proceedings.
When will you decide it`s time for you to do that, no matter what the speaker believes, that you have to make a decision, as a political figure yourself, you have to move? Because if this goes by , and Trump stays in office and gets reelected, and history says he got away with this whole thing, the whole engagement, this whole in bed with the Russian, all this awful stuff, and he never even gets voted on for impeachment, he will have won, and your side will have lost.
NADLER: Well, I certainly agree that we cannot permit the president to get away with these crimes and to set the precedents for other presidents.
And we`re going to move as expeditiously as we can on the fronts that I said we`re going to move on.
MATTHEWS: What`s more important to the people of your district on the West Side of New York, impeaching this president for what he has clearly done, and you know he has done -- and you have said it so loud -- or holding the House in the next election?
MATTHEWS: What`s more important?
Can you pick up -- we have got a problem, a technical problem, Mr. Chairman.
We`re waiting to get Jerry Nadler back, the chair.
We`re going to take a break right now. We will be right back, hopefully, with the congressman from New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Up next: charting a path forward on impeachment. Do the political risks outweigh the rewards politically?
HARDBALL back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We`re back with the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler of New York.
Mr. Chairman, I worked for Tip O`Neill when he was fighting the fight for impeachment back in the `70s against Dick Nixon. He was pushing for action.
And it was the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Peter Rodino of New Jersey, who was holding it up, who was resisting it. He was a bit conservative.
Everybody in the country believes it`s the opposite right now, that you believe it`s time to impeach this guy, that the record is there already, and that the leadership is holding you back.
Is that accurate?
NADLER: I`m not going to comment on that.
I think there is very -- I have said there is very substantial evidence that the president has committed multiple crimes and impeachable offenses. But I have said there is a three-part test for impeachment.
One, has the president committed impeachable offenses? Two, are those serious offenses? And, three, you have to have enough evidence so that an impeachment would not tear the country apart.
NADLER: And that`s one of the reasons why we are -- we have to get more evidence before the American people, and that`s what we`re working at, and that`s why we`re going into court tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: So I`m wrong in reading you, sir? I read you every day as really wanting to move.
If it was just up to your gut, your feeling about the country, your feeling about what this president has done this the country...
NADLER: My feeling -- my...
MATTHEWS: What does your feeling say about this guy? Does he deserve to go?
NADLER: Oh, does he deserve to go? Of course he deserves to go.
But the question is what I said a minute ago. And we have to finish the job of getting, of amassing enough evidence before the American people, so that we can meet that three-part test.
MATTHEWS: If it comes to New Year`s 2020, can we still do it?
NADLER: If it comes -- yes, we -- yes. I -- I...
MATTHEWS: Can you start it next year?
NADLER: Well, I think the -- I`m not sure where we`re going to end up, but we`re already moving.
NADLER: I mean, the -- it`s not a question of starting anything.
The hearing we held yesterday with Mr. Mueller is part of it. Our continuing hearings that we`re going to be holding are part of it. Getting the evidence in front of the American people is part of it. Going to court in order to enable us to do that is part of it. It`s all part of the process, of a process.
MATTHEWS: I just want to congratulate you, sir, because I thought you, especially as chairman, and all the members of your committee, I thought, did a really -- the Democratic members did a really good job.
Whatever slowness there was on the part of the witness is just life.
NADLER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I think you really did a good job in those questions you put to him.
NADLER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And I think he did -- if you listened to the highlights yesterday, you got your -- you got the payload. It happened. You got the proof. This president should go.
Thank you, U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York City.
In the wake of Robert Mueller`s testimony, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is grappling with the diverging forces within her caucus pulling her in opposite directions, to impeach or not to impeach, to be or not to be, actually.
According to "The Washington Post": "The immediate upshot for Democratic leaders who have faced turmoil within their caucus for refusal to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump was that the hearings appeared to do little to galvanize congressional sentiment."
Shortly after the Mueller hearings ended yesterday, Speaker Pelosi called a closed-door meeting with her caucus to discuss Mueller`s testimony and the path forward. Multiple sources inside the meeting tell NBC News that, during the meeting, House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler -- we just had him -- fielded technical questions about the impeachment process.
Chairman Nadler, in answering a question, said that the six committee chairs leading the House investigation could actually draft impeachment -- articles of impeachment themselves, that a full House vote to begin impeachment proceedings was not necessary.
Well, privately, Speaker Pelosi told her members that it was up to them to make up their minds on impeachment.
Publicly, Pelosi has urged Democrats to build the strongest possible case, but warned the Trump administration that her patience was not unlimited.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We want to have the strongest possible case to make a decision as to what path we will go down.
And that is not endless in terms of time or endless in terms of the information that we want.
But if it comes to a point where the cone of silence and the obstruction of justice and the cover-up in the White House prevents us from getting that information, that will not prevent us from going forward. In fact, it`s even more grounds to go forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, who is often on the program, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also of the Oversight Committee, and Robert Costa, "Washington Post" national political reporter.
Congresswoman, I guess it comes down to a reckoning. When is the reckoning? When do the forces who want to see impeachment in your caucus come up against those who resist acting because they don`t think you have the votes or whatever or they think it`s bad politics or whatever? When that`s going to happen?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): So, Chris, I`m at a point in this process -- I have already come out in favor of starting an inquiry.
I`m at the point where we should be able to decide September, when we come back, either we`re doing it or we`re not doing it.
MATTHEWS: Good thought.
SPEIER: This dance that we`re playing is -- is ridiculous. And we`re not looking very decisive.
MATTHEWS: Talk about the timing, because I went through the numbers.
You all know. Members of Congress are so politically astute. You know what the people at home think. You know about the chance of jeopardizing the leadership of the House and keeping the control of the House. You know all these things in your souls.
And my question is, do you have enough time if you start in September to impeach this guy?
SPEIER: Well, I think that`s the last time that we can really move forward swiftly to have a process that works.
I mean, it may require us to take some vacation time away at Christmastime. It might reduce the length of time that we can spend with our families at Thanksgiving. But I do think that, if we -- if we don`t do it then, then we`re not doing it, and to stop talking as if we might do it.
And it`s very frustrating to many of our constituents, I think, because it doesn`t look like we are making a decision. I mean, the report is very clear.
Interestingly enough, I had a huge uptick in phone calls today in my office as a result of the Mueller presentation. So I`m sure that`s happening in other offices as well. And I think now the American people are starting to kind of focus on what really went on.
For the longest time, all we were hearing from the president and others is, it`s a Russian hoax. No, the hoax was on us.
You know, thank you, Congresswoman.
Robert, that`s the best thing I have heard. It`s a seasoned assessment of the situation the Democrats face, because, like most things in life, there is a time limit. You can`t just think and think and think.
At some point, you got to get on that galloping horse of history, which I mention all the time on this show. The horse is going by. You going to get on it or not? She said it`s September, the congresswoman.
ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I spent all day Wednesday by the trains down by the Senate talking to Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans.
And when I huddled with Senate Democrats, they said their party has to make a choice. Do they want to impeach President Trump in the House or do they actually want to win a trial in the Senate? If they want to do the latter and actually remove him from office in 2020 or try to remove him from office, they need to mount the evidence against him in a compelling way.
That`s why so many...
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s big if. The question is, if you can`t do that, if you have what you have now, as Rumsfeld would say, you have got to fight the war with the army you have got now.
They have got a hell of an evidence out there that...
COSTA: But there`s a real tension.
MATTHEWS: ... that this guy obstructed justice, that he played ball with the Russians. It`s been public record for months now. What do they want now?
They keep -- oh, if we only get the tax records. Do you think the tax records are going to incriminate him? Who thinks that?
COSTA: Part of it is a political calculus, they tell me. Look at their success in 2018. They won on the economy, won on jobs, won in suburban districts.
MATTHEWS: Yes. In other words, they don`t want to impeach. They don`t want to impeach. You`re just telling me in so many words they don`t want to do it.
COSTA: Will impeachment help in suburban districts? That`s the part of the question they`re asking.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, that`s a calculation.
COSTA: It is a calculation. It`s party -- it`s politics.
MATTHEWS: I know it is.
Going back to the Congresswoman, I think most people in most districts, if you put to them, your people in your district in California, what`s more important to you, impeaching this guy because he ought to deserve to be impeached just because he deserves to be impeached, whatever happens in the Senate, which is Republican?
They`re not going to get two-thirds over there, 67 votes. But he deserves to be impeached. Or is it more important to make sure you have got secure holding of the 218 votes you have got in the House to hold control of the House? What`s more important, controlling the House or impeaching this guy? What would the voters say?
SPEIER: I want both. I want both.
MATTHEWS: Well, life ain`t about both.
SPEIER: And I think we can get both. And I think we can get both.
We might if we lose a couple of seats in the House as a result of pursuing impeachment. I want that in the history books. I want to be able to say that I was part of an effort to bring down a corrupt president, probably the most corrupt president in the history of this country.
We have him cold. We have him obstructing justice. We have him working with the Russians, giving polling data over and over again to the Russians to help undermine our election. It doesn`t get much more egregious than this in my book.
MATTHEWS: You know, Robert, I know you don`t have to take sides, but I will tell you this one.
COSTA: Never take sides.
MATTHEWS: It`s on the record. It`s on the record.
Not only has he done this. He says he will do it again. Not only has he said he will do it again. He`s making sure the United States Senate isn`t going to do anything to stop this from happening again.
This is bold. It`s outrageous. And he`s saying, I`m with the other side. I would rather play ball with the Russians than play ball the American Constitution.
COSTA: It`s a reflection of this Republican Party.
Even with Mr. Mueller saying what he said about interference in 2020 and FBI Director Chris Wray, you have Senate Republicans refusing to take up legislation to address election security in 2020, because they do not feel any political pressure.
When I was up there Wednesday, they`re saying, we don`t have to move on anything because the president day in day out on his tweets is framing this in his way.
MATTHEWS: There`s our country.
Thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier. I`m so impressed by what you said, as I often am.
SPEIER: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Robert Costa, for delineating this reality, which is, we`re stuck with the worst sort of message to the American people. We`re willing to have our elections trolled with, destroyed, played with, as long as we keep calm in the Republican ranks.
Up next: The battle for the 2020 heats up. The gloves are coming off, as candidates prepare for the second debate. Looks like Biden`s going to be in another bout again. We are going to bring you all the latest developments.
Looks like he`s the target of the boxing gloves. Oh, I forgot. They`re not wearing boxing gloves this time.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Robert Mueller`s testimony yesterday has certainly given a new urgency to the Democratic battle to take down President Trump next year.
"The Washington Post`s" Dan Balz notes in the wake of yesterday`s hearings, Democrats are now left with one option, to end Trump`s presidency. He writes what Democrats were told Wednesday, again, is that Trump is a president willing to use whatever means necessary to blunt his opposition. Robert Mueller did not deliver what Democrats had hoped he would. If they hoped to win in 2020, it`s now up to them to convince the voters.
With that in mind, the gloves are off as the Democratic presidential candidates jockey ahead of next week`s second debate. While all eyes were on Mueller yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden traded barbs with Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey over Biden`s new criminal justice reform plan. Booker took aim at Biden`s role in championing the 1994 crime bill, while the former Vice President brought into question improper police stops and searchers by Newark, New Jersey police when Booker was mayor there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For a guy who helped to be an architect of mass incarceration, this is an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cory knows that`s not true. If he wants to go back and talk about records, I`m happy to do that, but I`d rather talk about the future. I introduced a crime bill that I challenge him or anyone else to tell me how he has a better plan than I have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Biden is promising no more nice guy ahead of next week`s debate, which is going to be in Detroit. He`ll be in between. Look where he is going to be, between Cory Booker who is going after him and Kamala Harris who already went after him.
She saw her stock rise after her confrontation with the former VP last month`s debate. So, you gain prizes in this business for going after the leader. That`s Mr. Biden.
At a fundraiser in Detroit last night, Biden said: I`m not going to be as polite this time. If they want to argue about the past, I can do that. I got a past I`m proud of. They got a past that`s not quite so good.
Well, there is fighting words.
But when it comes to who can actually beat president Trump, a new poll out today shows voters in one key state may already be convinced who that is. It won`t surprise you.
That`s coming up next. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The infighting among the Democratic presidential candidates is heating up ahead of next week`s second debate, which is in Detroit. But a series of new polls out today shows voters in key states are still betting on the front-runner, Vice President Joe Biden.
A new Quinnipiac poll out of Ohio found only Biden beats President Trump outright. The poll shows Biden leading by eight points over Trump. Meanwhile, a new Monmouth poll out of South Carolina found the former "Veep" leading among likely Democratic voter there`s by a huge margin with 39 percent.
Biden`s lead is buoyed by support from African-American voters, of course, who make up the majority of Democratic voters in South Carolina, more than half, in fact, 51 percent of black voters support Biden. I think they make up 62 percent of the vote with Harris at 12, Bernie Sanders at 10. They`re way down.
For more, I`m joined by Sam Stein, politics editor for "The Daily Beast", and Jamal Simmons, who is a Democratic strategist and host of Hill TV.
Here is a weirdo. They have one guy who can clearly beat Trump and they`re beating the hell out of him. So, explain to me. Do they want to win the general, or just win the primaries?
SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, the process of winning the nomination means going after the front-runner, right? So, even though his numbers are great against Trump comparative to other candidates, what are they supposed to do? Just let him coast?
MATTHEWS: I`m asking. It means new Democratic coalition or November doesn`t count. We`re just here to beat the moderates. We only want to beat moderates, and then we`re going to have a celebration.
Your thoughts, Jamal?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I say a couple of things, one, the electorate is very different than it was in the old days.
MATTHEWS: Oh, tell me how. More minority.
SIMMONS: Well, it`s more minority, it`s younger, it`s more female.
And so, I think this idea that Democrats are going to go and run in -- I`m from Michigan. I`m from Detroit. We`re going run in Warren or Oakland County with some UAW guy with a lunch pail, you know, we might not get that guy anymore.
You know what we might get, we might get his wife. We might get his daughter. We might get the woman who`s --
MATTHEWS: Is that good news in general?
SIMMONS: It`s absolutely good news in general. Look what happened in 2018 when Democrats put 100 women into the House, four governors who are women. Those executive officers, I think the Democrats --
MATTHEWS: So you`re the smiling cheerleader for change?
SIMMONS: Listen, Jimmy Carter was change. Bill Clinton was change. Barack Obama was change.
MATTHEWS: Who`s got the best bet to carry Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan in the general?
SIMMONS: We`ll see.
MATTHEWS: You`re pulling back. You`re so happy you pull back.
SIMMONS: I think the last thing is that Joe Biden, if he is going to be the nominee, he has to figure out how to tough it out and prove to people he is tough enough to take on Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: I agreed about everything. Change is in the air. I think Elizabeth Warren still looks like the one who`s shooting up. But what they stand for, the candidate who wants to win? Who they are and how they`re going to do it are three different questions.
Biden answers the what. I`m not sure he answers the who.
STEIN: OK. Who answers the who?
MATTHEWS: I don`t know who the ideal person is to run. I don`t know. The white guy with the lunch pail. I don`t know. Maybe it was Sherrod Brown. He is not running.
But we don`t have -- you don`t choose the person you. Choose among those who are running.
STEIN: This is an incredible overgeneralization, but there is not really one candidate who like Obama in `08 can kind of check all the boxes of newness but also a moderately progressive.
MATTHEWS: We didn`t know those were good boxes until Obama prove they`d were.
STEIN: No, and, of course --
MATTHEWS: Barack Hussein Obama?
MATTHEWS: Who was competing in that lane?
STEIN: Duplicating that coalition is going to be incredibly hard, right? So you look for something maybe historic in that case. You look for Kamala Harris, first black candidate. You look for Pete Buttigieg, generational.
MATTHEWS: I`m a skeptic. I want to go to the heart of this because I just ran --
MATTHEWS: I just read something by the guy from "The Washington Examiner." I don`t know how good he is, but he raised the point that Kamala Harris is the new Obama.
STEIN: It`s simplistic.
SIMMONS: That`s bad for Kamala Harris. I think that comparison only rose because she is a mixed race black senator.
SIMMONS: Well-educated, in the Senate.
In the same way people like tri-to look at warren versus Hillary Clinton. The only similar about them is they`re older white women. There is nothing similar about Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton.
And I think people who are worried about a woman winning next year are only thinking about Hillary Clinton and not think about the other women.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of Senator Harris, which I was, her performance at last month`s debate has reportedly stoked fears among Republicans. According to "Vanity Fair", Republican insiders fear she could be the next Obama, writing with her surgical vivisection of Biden in the first debate, it seemed their fears had been realized. Imagine what Harris might be able to do against a real villain like Trump, with one operative saying, Kamala is a nightmare for republicans. Your thoughts?
STEIN: Well, first of all, there`s no guarantee Trump actually participates in the debate. No one actually said he would. He hasn`t said it. He could not.
Secondly, Obama was actually pretty bad --
MATTHEWS: You think he could run scared? Just run away.
STEIN: Remember, he didn`t participate in very critical FOX debate in the primary.
But secondarily, this ultimately comes down to a vision of how to get what electorate. One, do you turn out the new base as Jamal was talking about, or two, do you bring out all Democrats? And which candidate can do what is still to be determined. I think Harris --
MATTHEWS: Who can do both?
STEIN: I think Harris is the closest to being able to do both. And that`s why people look at her and say okay, maybe this is the candidate.
MATTHEWS: How about Biden/Harris?
STEIN: How about Harris/Biden?
SIMMONS: Here is the thing I just want to say this again. Those older Democrats who might have been Obama/ Trump switchers, a lot of them were women, and the questions that Democrats going to chasing a lot of those older guys who are against immigration, who are pro-law enforcement, who feel funny about choice, those might be issues that Democrats can`t run without talking about. And the minute we start talking about them, those guys flip.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about yesterday`s performance by Bob Mueller. Did that hurt Biden?
STEIN: It`s an interesting question.
MATTHEWS: He is much younger than Biden.
STEIN: Yes, you know, obviously, the criticism Mueller, if you want to talk about it was that he wasn`t there as fully as he could have been. Obviously, there has been some smatter about Biden and whether he has lost his fastball. I don`t think that`s overstating things.
MATTHEWS: That`s fair.
STEIN: But I don`t think it hurts Biden necessarily, because I don`t think -- I think we`re having two different conversations. One is the conversation we`re having and the other is what people are having. I don`t think people looked outside are having. I don`t think people looked at the Mueller testimony and said oh my God, he has lost a step. I think they looked and said just said that the president was not exonerated, could be charged after office.
MATTHEWS: I`m with you on the highlight reel. You`re going to the highlight reel, which I agree with you. Watching it for six or seven hours, what do you think people saw? What did it say about age?
SIMMONS: We watched it for a long time, I don`t think you had a lot of confidence that this was leading toward impeachment. And I got to tell you --
MATTHEWS: Does it lead towards Biden?
SIMMONS: I don`t know what the effect it has on Biden, I really don`t. I think people are looking at this in two separate buckets.
STEIN: I would say Biden has fed this narrative a little bit to his own detriment. He does not do interviews. He does not campaign that much out there.
SIMMONS: I heard that.
STEIN: People are kind of pushing back from getting (INAUDIBLE) publicly, and that feeds the idea that he is not up to the task.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. You`ve said what I want somebody to say. Thank you, Sam Stein. Thank you, Jamal Simmons.
Up next, will our government heed Mueller`s warning about Russia? Boy, that was a big warning yesterday. They`re already here.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Robert Mueller warned yesterday that the country`s enemies are working even now to sabotage next year`s elections. That should be an air raid alarm to the entire political world -- Congress, candidates, media, voters. We need to act now and with swift determination to prevent any penetration of our country`s vote count in 2020.
What happened in 2000 and what the Russians did in 2016 should be reason enough. 2000 taught us that a disputed count in a single state, in that case Florida, can throw the whole election into dispute. We got a president basically selected by a 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court.
2016 taught us the willfulness of a foreign adversary to influence an election campaign against the candidate it didn`t want and toward the candidate it did.
Well, thanks to today`s report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, we know that the Russians worked a number of efforts in 2016, hacking into the Democratic National Committee, a social media campaign of lies, distortions and provocations. Finally, and most alarmingly, a systematic cases of state voting machinery. They were probing for where they can really hurt us in 2020.
Given all this, we would have to be a country of idiots not to throw all our knowledge and technology and grit that we have into a fight to protect ourselves.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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