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Remembering Rep. Elijah Cummings. TRANSCRIPT: 10/25/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Ro Khanna, Mieke Eoyang, Charlie Sykes, Joshua Geltzer, LarryPfeiffer, Sam Stein, Ron Reagan, Donna Edwards, Ron Reagan, Donna Edwards

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Obviously it brings me joy to say all those together.  And I appreciate everyone who came and joined us on this Friday evening.  That does it for us.  I hope you join me again Monday night 6:00 P.M. Eastern.

Don`t anywhere.  HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Quid pro, here we go.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Tonight, the evidence continues to mount on President Trump.  NBC News reporting new evidence tonight of President Trump`s quid pro quo with Ukraine, quote, at least three current and former U.S. officials have all made the same startling admission.

A coveted White House visit for the new Ukrainian leader had been explicitly conditioned on his agreeing to investigations that could have helped President Trump`s re-election.  That includes U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.  He was asked pointblank under oath whether that constituted a quid pro quo.  He did not dispute it, according to people familiar with his testimony.

This comes after U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor drew a direct line on Tuesday between the U.S. military support and Trump`s demand for an investigation.  And today, President Trump denounced that diplomat, Mr. Taylor, he had appointed himself.


REPORTER:  Your top diplomat in Ukraine said that you held up military funds because you wanted Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and Burisma, the company on which Hunter Biden sat.  Are you saying that he`s making that up?  Are you calling him a liar?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Here`s the problem, he`s a never-Trumper and his lawyer is a never-Trumper and the problem is --

REPORTER:  Why did Mike Pompeo hire him?

TRUMP:  Hey, everybody makes mistakes.  Mike Pompeo, everybody makes mistakes.  He`s a never-Trumper.  His lawyer is the head of the never- Trumpers.  They`re dying breed but they`re still there.


MATTHEWS:  Well, the president is stepping up his attacks now as the weeks could bring more terror for him, peril.

Today, a federal judge in Washington ordered the Justice Department to give House Democrats secret grand jury testimony from Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation, ordering the Department of Justice to hand over the material by October 30th.  Judge Beryl Howell also noted, quote, even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeach inquiry.  There you go.  There`s an issue of process the Republicans have been raising.  They need some sort of resolution, according to the judge, no.

Meanwhile, congressional testimony in the inquiry picks up again tomorrow as investigators here from Philip Reeker, acting Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs.

And NBC News has learned lawyers for former National Security Adviser John Bolton have been in talks with House investigators for a possible interview.  Bolton left the administration back in September.  He says he resigned.  The president says he fired him.

Well, last week the president`s former top Adviser on Russia and Europe, Fiona Hill, testified that Bolton was so disturbed by the Trump administration`s Ukrainian efforts, he called it a drug deal.

And next Thursday, the investigators are scheduled to depose Tim Morrison, a National Security Council officer and the first current White House official who will testify.  Morrison would have been on the July 25th call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, so he`ll have firsthand knowledge of the whole conversation.

But as evidence continues to pile up, evidence that the president dismissed the need for a coordinated response.


TRUMP:  Here`s the thing, I don`t have teams.  Everyone`s talking about teams.  I`m the team.  I did nothing wrong.


MATTHEWS:  I`m the team.

For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, Mieke Eoyang, Vice President of National Security Program at Third Way, Charlie Sykes, Editor at Large at The Bulwark.  Thank you, Charlie.

Let me to Congressman here.  It seems to me that this is all focused on one question, the quid pro quo.  The president was conditioning U.S. military aid, he is conditioning a meeting at the White House, all the things he had at his disposal on that government, on that president at least saying he was investigating Joe Biden, just saying it.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA):  Of course, you are absolutely right.  This is really simple.  I mean, the president withheld aid and he was asking Zelensky to do a public press confidential saying that he was going to investigate Joe Biden.  It`s clearly what he wanted.  Biden was winning in the polls at the time.  He wanted to tarnish Biden.

MATTHEWS:  He`s winning again in one of the polls.  That`s why your guys --

KHANNA:  Well, I mean that he views Biden as a threat, and that`s what this is about.  It`s not complicated.  And that`s why the majority of the country now supports impeachment.

MATTHEWS:  Mieke, let me talk about some of this other stuff.  With John Bolton -- one of the great ironies in (INAUDIBLE), the old phrase was politics makes strange bedfellows.  Think about John Bolton, the ultimate hawk, coming to the argument that this president doesn`t deserve to stay in office.

MIEKE EOYANG, VICE PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM, THIRD WAY:  Yes.  Look, John Bolton has always had his own point of view on these things and he`s somebody who`s not really going to bend to a particular team in terms of loyalty.  He`s pursuing his own ends.  And the president should have known that when he hired him.

But what`s interesting about Bolton is that he has, throughout this process, been encouraging people inside when they have objections of what`s going on, to make a record.  He`s telling people go talk to the lawyers, make sure you get it down on paper.  Record all the stuff.  And now all that evidence is coming forward and be brought forward to the House investigators.

MATTHEWS:  So while he was working for Trump and seeming to be his loyalist, he was building a case.

EOYAN:  That`s right.  And we`ve seen Trump over and over again face note- takers as part of his problem, Jim Comey to Bolton.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Charlie, these president hates people who have regular lives.  They know how to keep notes, keep regular hours, do the job, keep notes, in other words, document what they do.  The sort of formal federal employee, actually, the civil servant who wants to make sure he`s dotted all the I`s and crossed the T`s.

But here`s John Bolton, a well known hawk, a neo con, if you will, I guess, although maybe Bolton has been a con, and now he is probably the most respected person in this whole loop in terms of ensuring national security and being the one who would really blow the whistle on a president who wasn`t putting national security first.

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK:  Yes, and you would have credibility with Senate Republicans who, of course, are going to determine what happens with the president.

And you think about this last week, it`s kind of a microcosm of the entire Trump presidency.  I mean, whether you`re talking about Ukraine, you`re talking about Syria, you`re talking about the testimony of Bill Taylor, lashing out at people as human scum, seeking the Department of Justice on political opponents, and then at the end of it basically saying, I don`t need a team, I am the team.

So if you are a Republican senator and you`re looking at this, are you thinking that anything is going to get better?  Are you thinking, really, that you want to stake your political future on this guy?  Because what he`s signaled is you`re seeing all of it, you`re seeing the corruption, the recklessness, the narcissism, and you`re also seeing a determination that yet he doesn`t think that he actually needs to get his act together and you`re going into an impeachment trial, which (INAUDIBLE).

MATTHEWS:  Who will grieve -- Charlie, you`re onto something.  Who`s going to grieve the departure of Donald Trump in the White House?  Who`s going to grieve it?

SYKES:  Well, see, this is the problem.  Republicans are being told that it would be a disaster if you voted to remove him, but the reality is, can you imagine the national relief for -- of -- I mean, the national relief of his departure, but also for Republicans who have to start calculating how much more political capital are they going to have to spend?  How many more talking points are they going to have to spew?  How many more convoluted positions are they going to have to take?

I mean, right now, they can hide behind process but you know that it`s going to get worse.  There`s going to be more evidence.  There`re may be more smoking guns.  It`s going to take place on television.  And then you have a president who seems to be escalating everyone one of his tactics and doubling down on every one of the things that got him to where we are right now.

MATTHEWS:  Mieke, I think all the time about the suburban woman and mother in many cases who kids listen to this guy on television, they pick it up.  Mommy, can I call somebody human scum, is that okay?  Human scum?

EOYANG:  I mean, the president is really lowering the level of national discourse.  It was really driven home to me today when you saw the coverage of Elijah Cummings funeral, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and how human he was.  But when Barack Obama got up there and talked about what it means to be strong and to be kind.  And it was such a contrast from a president who used to hold us to up to our better angels to a man that just drags us down into a ditch.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we`re going to talk about it more later, but I will tell you, I was taken.  I`m a romantic about politics.  And I`ve always had mixed views about Bill Clinton, but he was unbelievable today and so was the president.  And I kept thinking these are presidents raised in Christian traditions with the Old Testament a big part of their culture, right?  And they`re talking about it and they actually have some religion in their lives unlike this president who uses it politically, right?  It was nice to hear it.

KHANNA:  They`re unbelievable because they were talking about an unbelievable man.  I mean, I had the honor of serving Elijah Cummings.  And when I was a freshman member of Congress, I remember he was sitting next to me and he said, someone came over and requested a picture, and he said, let me tell you something, I get asked for pictures all the time and I say it`s my honor, it`s my privilege, I`m serving you, thanks for asking.  He was a decent, decent human being.

And the fact that Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan were at his funeral says everything you need to know about the man.

MATTHEWS:  And they were real friends.

KHANNA:  They were real friends.

MATTHEWS:  I saw the way he put that deal to get -- those two guys fighting and the way he solved it that day, it was out of mind (ph).  Well, anyway, we`re going to tell a lot more about him later in this show.

Anyway, a House Democrats barrel towards impeachment, a new NBC poll shows American people still divided, no surprise.  Asked if President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, the response is 49, 49, for and against.  Broken down by party, it`s nine out of ten.  Democrats say, yes, we impeach the guy and get him out of here, nine out of ten Republicans say, don`t impeach him, keep him here.

Here`s an interesting one, maybe the tiebreaker, 53 percent, a majority of independents say the president should be impeached and removed, 53 percent.  That`s significant.

Charlie, what do you make of that number?  It used to be that independents were former Republicans when I was growing up.  That was just another word for former Republicans.  What are they now?  Who are they?

SYKES:  Yes, I don`t know, people who are probably disgusted with both political parties.  But I think the numbers to look at there are, number one, how solid is the Republican support, and it`s still holding.  But also what are the state-by-state polls looking like for those senators who might be on the bubble, who might be saying privately that if there was a secret ballot, they would vote to remove him but don`t want to break with him.

So right now, again, the politics would suggest that it`s going to be very unlikely for Republicans to break.  The thing to watch though is the direction.  As I mentioned before, what else are we going to see, and particularly when these hearings go onto television, when you have an actual impeachment trial, when even the viewers of Fox News have to look at the evidence, when Republicans can`t hide behind process and people begin to see this pattern of corruption, will that move those numbers?  And it`s hard to imagine they`re going to move them in Donald Trump`s direction.

MATTHEWS:  Would you move it to primetime, those hearings, if you could?  Charlie?

SYKES:  Yes, if that`s an option.  Look, if you go to put it on T.V., you might as well go all the way.

MATTHEWS:  We play baseball at night for a reason, not because it`s nicer to play baseball in the dark, it`s because people are watching television at night.

Anyway, let me ask you, Mieke, what do you think about that, moving the trial of the century, in this new century, for primetime, let the senators vote in primetime?

EOYANG:  So I think that the coverage will happen and it will get covered in primetime regardless whether or not they do it in the middle of the day or not.  They think the question for Nancy Pelosi is who`s really your audience here?  Are you trying to convince the members in the chamber, are you trying to convince the nation?  I think the replay will happen regardless.  I don`t know that it matters that much if it`s in primetime or not just as long as you have the video.

MATTHEWS:  Just remember, Anita Hill testified in the daytime.  Clarence Thomas testified at night.  Who won?

Meanwhile, another central figure in the impeachment probe is speaking with reporters right now unintentionally.

I don`t know this term but I`m learning it.  Giuliani, here it is, butt- dialed NBC News Reporter Rich Shapero last week.  The two had already spoken earlier that day.  But around 11:00 P.M., get the time of day, Giuliani accidently followed up with a, quote, message exactly three minutes long.  The words tumbling out of Giuliani`s mouth were not directed at the report, Shapero, he was speaking to someone else, someone in the same room.

Well, this isn`t the first time that Giuliani accidentally or butt-called, butt-dialed someone, a reporter a few weeks earlier, he did the same thing, this time railing against the Bidens.  Let`s listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP`S PERSONAL ATTORNEY:  I expected it to happen.  The minute you touch on one of the protected people, they go crazy.  They`re coming after you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You got the truth on your side, which --

GIULIAN:  It`s very powerful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The most powerful weapon, yes?

GIULIANI:  There`s plenty more to come out.


MATTHEWS:  Congressman, what do you make of this?  These things, they follow a pattern when people`s lives are somewhat disorganized.

KHANNA:  Well, I tell you what bothers people about this entire episode the most, it`s that why do you have people like Rudy Giuliani conducting American foreign policy.  In the call that`s leaked, he`s talking about our policy towards Turkey.  He`s talking about our policy towards Bahrain.  And the front liners the Democrats who carried Trump districts and served our country, the reason they`ve come out is they`re so offended that the president`s personal lawyer is conducting American foreign policy.

MATTHEWS:  To what effect, to getting the president`s dirt.

KHANNA:  To getting the president`s dirt and to making money.  I mean --

MATTHEWS:  Charlie, your thoughts about this.  Anything too indecent for the Republicans when they just say, you know what, imagine Obama doing it, it doesn`t work.  And I know it doesn`t work for Republicans.  Imagine Obama having three wives.  Imagine him do with porn stars, blah, blah, blah.  Imagine every Access Hollywood.  Imagine everything has Trump`s done.  The people never do a body-check and say, imagine if the guy on the other side of the aisle did this?  They don`t do it, do they?  Charlie?

SYKES:  Well, Chris, it is starting to occur to me that maybe Rudy Giuliani is not that good a lawyer, and maybe he`s not the person that the president ought to be trusting to do all of these things.

But, yes, I mean, at this point, he really is a liability to the president and I don`t know if it was interesting that the president doubled down in his support, full-throated support for Rudy Giuliani.

So all those Republicans were saying, maybe we be distance the president from Rudy Giuliani, throw Rudy Giuliani under the bus.  No, they`re joined at the hip.

And, again, if you`re a Republican United States senator and you`re going into this impeachment trial, you know that that`s just another one of those wildcards.

MATTHEWS:  I would never blame Rudy more than being Trump`s henchman.  That`s who he is.  He`s Trump`s henchman.

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna of California, Mieke Eoyang, thank you so much, and Charlie Sykes.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, the United States government is at war with itself now as the impeachment investigation ratchets up, news Bill Barr`s Justice Department is launching a criminal inquiry into the origin of the Department of Justice`s Russian investigation.  President Trump is getting his wish to investigate the investigators.

Plus, the president shields himself from negative coverage, ordering all federal agencies in the U.S. government to cancel subscriptions, catch this, big thinking here, The Washington Post and The New York Times.  That`s how he`s erasing out opposition.

And we take a moment to reflect on the life, as I said, of Congressman Elijah Cummings.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  There`s nothing weak about kindness and compassion.  There`s nothing weak about looking out for others.  There`s nothing -- there`s nothing weak about being honorable.


MATTHEWS:  We have much more of that to get to tonight.  What a moment it was at that church in Baltimore.  Stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr, what an attorney general, President Trump has finally gotten his wish to investigate the investigators.  NBC News is reporting that John Durham the federal prosecutor tapped by Barr, to conduct an administrative review into the origins of the Russia probe is now pursuing a criminal inquiry of that probe.

According to The New York Times, which first broke this story, quote, the move gives the prosecutor running room, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.  The move also creates an unusual situation in which the Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into itself.

"The New York Times" adds: "The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies."

You think?

It`s unclear what crimes have been committed, in fact.  What crimes are we talking about here?  William Barr launched the review in May, even though the DOJ inspector general has already been pursuing a similar inquiry. 

In fact, Bill Barr, who has become one of the president`s most trusted allies, has personally overseen the investigation of the investigation right now, traveling the globe in an effort to dig up proof of a conspiracy theory. 

Critics say the attorney general has also played an active role in the president`s personal defense.  Just a few months ago, Barr`s Justice Department tried to keep the Ukraine plot buried by advising against the sharing of a whistle-blower complaint and declining to investigate the complaint. 

Attorney General Bill Barr also is directly implicated in the claim, remember, by that whistle-blower, but declined to recuse himself from the case.

For more, I`m join by Julia Ainsley, our great NBC News correspondent on this matter, Joshua Geltzer, former counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice, Laurence Pfeiffer, a former chief of staff to the CIA Director Michael Hayden. 

We got some expertise on.

But I want to start with Julia. 

What is this, a Skype hunt?  What kind of a joke it is?  A wild goose chase?  Is this like him going down to Hawaii to look for the real -- the real origins of President Obama?  Is this O.J. looking for the real killer? 

I mean, what kind of -- how serious is this investigation? 


But it is hard to separate the politics from this, especially because William Barr, right at the time he was opening this investigation, tasking John Durham to run it, said, well, I think there may have been spying into the president`s campaign, which goes far below...

MATTHEWS:  That`s the use of a term, spying.  There was an investigation of the president`s campaign`s connection with Russia.

AINSLEY:  Spying would imply that it`s unauthorized.  This was authorized.  This was signed off by multiple people both in his Justice Department and the Obama Justice Department. 

Judges have to continuously sign and renew FISA warrants, which allow them to continue an investigation like this.  They have also been going down roads, we know, that have been propagated in conspiracy theories, that perhaps George Papadopoulos was set up in some way. 

None of that has teeth yet.  But I think the real damage here, the potential for damage here, from people at spoken to, is that we`re getting into this place where the Justice Department can be used as a retaliatory tool. 

So, say you are someone in the FBI or CIA now being asked to do a campaign investigation?  Well, are you now going to have a fear that, especially if that`s for a federal office, that person wins and then starts an investigation into you?  That`s not the way our justice system is supposed to be set up. 

It`s not supposed to be a retaliatory tool.  But now this investigation just got more tools -- or it may have even had more tools months ago, but we know it has the tools now to impanel a grand jury, subpoena testimony, which means that those career folks inside FBI and CIA are starting to lawyer up. 

MATTHEWS:  They`re afraid they`re going to be the target. 

Let me ask.  Back during the Watergate days, at least John Mitchell, whatever you thought of him -- and he went to prison -- had the decency to leave the Justice Department to become Nixon`s reelection chairman. 

This guy feels he can use his position as attorney general for total political purposes, like going around the world digging up dirt on what?  On his own department. 

JOSHUA GELTZER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  This whole thing just reeks of bad faith. 

And part of it is that personal role, a sense that the attorney general, the same one who tried to distort the Mueller report before it came out by previewing it...

MATTHEWS:  He did a good job of distorting it.

GELTZER:  He succeeded in distorting in a lot of people`s minds.

Now he`s traveling around the world personally eliciting foreign government cooperation with a probe that seems politically motivated, that seems partisan, that seems driven by the White House.  And it seems to have no real basis.  Instead, there is already, as you noted, a Justice Department inspector general investigation into these same events. 

Why rush this one now? 

MATTHEWS:  Isn`t there a job to be done at the Department of Justice if you`re attorney general?  Doesn`t have a day job?

But he`s traveling to where?  All these countries, Italy, the U.K., Australia, all around the world, digging up dirt basically on his own department, because his president has sicced him on it. 


I think, to me, one of the greater concerns is the fact that he`s going around and meeting independently with these different foreign intelligence agencies. 

Our foreign partnerships are critical to the success of U.S. intelligence. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  Yes.  And when...

MATTHEWS:  That`s how we catch the bad guys.

PFEIFFER:  Absolutely. 

And these are very carefully managed relationships.  I think of it as a gardener tilling a garden of exquisite flowers, and they require just the right amount of water and just the right amount of pruning and a little bit of vitamin.

And now we have got somebody just tromping through the garden, knocking all the flowers all over the place.  You know, what happens?  These foreign governments begin to -- begin to wonder, hey, our intel relationship is not going to stay below that political water line where it historically has stayed.  Maybe we need to step back a little bit. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think they think of us?

What`s the world think of us, on having this guy, this character that has turned American government into sort of a criminal enterprise? 

PFEIFFER:  I think...

MATTHEWS:  A seedy enterprise. 

PFEIFFER:  I think most of our partners around the world think that this too shall pass.  I think they`re hoping that there will be some reason and then this individual will no longer be president within a year or two. 

But I also think they are calculating what will happen if he remains for another four years.

MATTHEWS:  The name of the Department of Justice now, the building is the Robert Kennedy Building.


MATTHEWS:  Because Robert Kennedy really led the fight on civil rights when he was attorney general.

There was the notion that you could get justice from the Justice Department. 


MATTHEWS:  How is that for an idea? 

AINSLEY:  Well, and let`s not -- let`s not forget too that those cooperation agreements that are so central in order to know what this Justice Department needs.

Think about the next time, let`s say, as ISIS becomes a bigger threat, how much we`re going to need those relationships to work.  And it`s interesting to call William Barr a character, because there are a number of pieces of evidence that we have seen over the past six months that shows his affiliation, his strong favoritism toward the political leanings of this president. 

But, recently, he really tried to draw a line that he is not like Rudy Giuliani, when he got lumped together with him in that Ukraine call, when the president used their names interchangeably, as someone who could just call up a foreign government and get information. 

We know that he was upset by that.  So it`s interesting.  That`s his line. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what this reminds me of?  The McCarthy period, when Roy Cohn went around the European -- USIA bookstores and libraries ripping out what he saw as communist literature.  A joke. 

This guy is traveling the world like a joke, this attorney general.


GELTZER:  And I worry foreign partners increasingly do see it that way, at least for now.  They hope it will pass. 

But think about what happened in 2016.  A foreign partner tipped us off to something that was a major counterintelligence threat.  We know that now.  That`s the hundreds of pages that are volume one of the Mueller report, an effort to distort our democracy by the Russians that Mueller told Congress is going on again right now.

What sort of foreign partner would want to tip us off now? 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  I think you`re one of the good public servants, I can tell.  And you too.  Thank you. 

GELTZER:  Thank you, sir. 

MATTHEWS:  You, of course, are a great journalist. 

AINSLEY:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  But the more and more I get impressed by, like during -- when we put somebody into space or we do something with NIH or something like that, I go, public servants, thank God we got them, not just politicians, although there are some good politicians. 

We just saw Bill Clinton today and Barack Obama, good politicians.  And they were politicians today, but, boy, were they wonderful. 

Julia Ainsley, thank you, Joshua Geltzer and Larry Pfeiffer.

Up next:  In his latest salvo against the media, President Trump is ordering all federal agencies, this huge federal bureaucracy, to cancel its subscriptions to "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times."

I guess he doesn`t want the deep state reading these awful newspapers anymore.  He only -- he only wants coverage that makes him feel -- this is great.  In the words of a senior White House official today, he only wants to read newspapers that make him feel beautiful and powerful. 

He is the wicked queen.  He`s the wicked queen.  He only wants to say, mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?  He wants to hear, you`re the fairest of them all. 

Its literal now.  No more naughty newspapers in federal agencies, just him. 

I am the team.  Here he is.  He`s the team. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  All these people from "The New York Times," which is a fake newspaper, we don`t even want it in the White House anymore.  We`re going to probably terminate that, and "The Washington Post."  They`re fake.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was President Trump earlier this week going after two of his favorite media targets.  The White House is now telling all federal agencies in this country that -- I don`t care if you`re in Nome, Alaska -- cancel your subscriptions to "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." 

It`s not clear how the White House plans, by the way, to enforce that edict.  White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: "Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost-saving.  Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved."

Boy, she`s one of them, isn`t she?

But according The Daily Beast, this type of move is a comfort mechanism from the president -- quote -- "This is all part of Trump`s ideal scenario, as one senior White House official sardonically put it, erecting a defensive barrier between himself and news coverage that doesn`t" -- I love this -- "make him feel beautiful and powerful."


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Sam Stein, politics editor for The Daily Beast, and Ron Reagan, author and political commentator.

Ron, I have been waiting all day for this.  What do you make about a guy who won`t read anything that doesn`t make him beautiful and powerful? 


RON REAGAN, AUTHOR:  His own tweets, I think, make him feel beautiful and powerful.


REAGAN:  Listen, the Donald Trumps of the world, the Donald Trumps of the world are terrified by people like you and Sam and all the fine reporters at "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times." 

This is a page right out of the tyrant`s playbook.  You need to control information.  You can`t have the truth just widely dispensed out there for anybody to have access to. 

You have to put people in your own personal little bubble, where you make the reality and you decide what truth is.  And that`s what he`s doing. 

MATTHEWS:  I once read that the official government newspaper of Ethiopia, when Haile Selassie was still the emperor there, it began every single main bar story on the right-hand side of the top of the fold, "The Lion of Judah said today."

It seems like that was what Trump wants, the lion of Judah.



SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST:  Who is going to write that for him?

No, this is a disturbing development, I would say.  It`s comical in one sense, because it`s so silly and petty.  But, on another hand, it`s also what Ron talked about.  It`s like an authoritarian impulse to control the press around you and also only be comforted by the good press, which I don`t think serves him well particularly, but I don`t think he cares about that. 

But this is -- in addition to canceling subscriptions, he has staffers print out tweets of his rallies, but only the good ones, the ones that praise the rally.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he is watching "FOX & Friends" while he`s in his bubble bath. 

STEIN:  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, I mean, he starts his day the happiest he can.

Anyway, if you want to know what coverage makes Trump feel beautiful and powerful, just look at his Twitter page. 

This morning, he tweeted a quote from FOX Business anchor and informal adviser Lou Dobbs, who defended the president from the impeachment inquiry and called him "an absolutely historic president."

REAGAN:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Dobbs has been a vocal defender of the president, with comments that sound much more like you would expect to hear on North Korean state TV. 

Here`s some of it. 


LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS:  This president is a historic achieve -- achiever, a historic president.  This president has already assured his place prominently in presidential history. 

We have a president who is a true leader, in my opinion, one I happen to believe will be regarded as one of this country`s greatest presidents, indeed, our greatest.

At every level, on every floor, this White House is energized.  There`s sunshine beaming throughout the place and on almost every face.  It`s winner and winning central.  And our White House, our president is at the top of his game.

Have a great weekend.  The president makes such a thing possible for us all. 



MATTHEWS:  It`s a fairy tale, with the wicked -- the queen saying, mirror, mirror on the wall, who`s the fairest of them all? 

He says, well, if "The Post" won`t say I`m the fairest of them all, and "The New York Times" -- but how does he start his day without some reality check?  Doesn`t he need to get something to -- like in swimming -- you`re a great swimmer - you have to push off from the wall.

Doesn`t he have to push off against reality at 6:30 in the morning? 

REAGAN:  No,  No.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Go ahead.

REAGAN:  No.  No, no, no.


MATTHEWS:  What does he use for fodder when he gets up in the morning?


REAGAN:  Did you see those pictures of Kim Jong-un on the white horse kind of terrified hanging on?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, galloping.

REAGAN:  But there he was on the white horse. 

That`s got to be next with Trump.  They`re going to get some white horse.  They`re going to put him on top there.  And that`s what we`re going to see.

Lou Dobbs -- for God`s sake, Lou Dobbs is what he cites as the -- the most ridiculous figure on FOX has got to be his favorite, of course. 

MATTHEWS:  My God.  I mean, Nixon, all he had was Rabbi Korff.  He had like the one guy in America still defending him. 

What do you make of this?  What`s it going to do to the media?  I mean, you notice I`m watching how he plays the media?  I watch him on the South Lawn.

And like your dad, he uses the South Lawn, because then you can pick out which questions you want, you like, because the helicopter makes enough noise, and you pick out the ones you like. 

And you answer -- he does use the media, Ron.  Have you noticed?

I will go with Sam on this. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  And he points out to the questions he likes.  Are they really asking those questions?  Or does he make that stuff up? 

STEIN:  No, they`re asking the questions. 


STEIN:  And he does go out and take questions all the time, which is nice, I suppose.  But there`s no White House briefing. 

He says whatever he wants.  He lies repeatedly and doesn`t really suffer the consequences a lot much for it.  But I think the scariest part is that it`s not just that he uses the media.  It`s that the media can use him too.

So, for instance, you called Lou Dobbs an informal adviser.  It`s not that informal.  Lou Dobbs calls into meetings in the White House.  We know that Tucker Carlson, another one who`s been very favorable in his coverage to the president, was advising President Trump on foreign policy matters. 

We know that Sean Hannity has his ears.  And we know that "FOX & Friends," literally, the Chyrons on "FOX & Friends" in the morning can basically determine U.S. policy that day. 

So it`s one thing to manipulate the media.  It`s another thing to have the media manipulate you.  And so it`s a weird, kind of bizarre and also a little bit frightening relationship that`s happening. 

It`s not symbiotic.  It`s a little parasitic. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it`s OK for the media to advise politicians, as long as you do it publicly. 

STEIN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  It`s like a newspaper editorial. 

STEIN:  OK, I suppose, yes.

But being dialed into the White House...


MATTHEWS:  No, that`s not -- that`s going to meetings.  You shouldn`t go to meetings. 

STEIN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, while the president may choose not to read the newspaper about himself, we know that he is being updated with tweets about his performance. 

And that was confirmed when FOX Nation host Tomi Lahren posted this picture of a handwritten note, thank you note from President Trump on a page of positive tweets about the president`s rally in Dallas last week. 

The list includes tweets from right-wing media figures, the RNC official account and, for some reason, Chuck Woolery, who is best known as the host of the 1980s game show "Love Connection."


MATTHEWS:  This is what he wants, Ron.  This is what he wants. 

REAGAN:  It`s the game show connection there.  He was a game show host and Chuck Woolery was a game show host. 

Sam makes a very good point there, though, that this is not just a guy who kind of bullies that media on the one hand and is influenced on the other.  He`s a guy who`s easily played.  Everybody knows that, if you hit him with a couple of compliments, that you can -- he will do anything then.

STEIN:  Yes. 

REAGAN:  You can suggest anything.  And if he thinks you think he`s great and beautiful, then he will be -- he will go along with it, because he doesn`t have any real ideas of his own. 

He`s just looking for affirmation. 

MATTHEWS:  So, a bunch of white guys decide to raid the SCIF.

And they all go racing down to the basement of the Capitol, under the president`s tutelage.  And then the next day they get a nice perfumed note saying how great they are for doing that. 

They looked like fools. 

Thank you, Mr. President.  You made us look like fools.  We did what you wanted us to do.  And now everybody is laughing at us. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Great advice.

REAGAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Ron, you`re a treasure.  Thank you so much, sir.  Thank you for coming. 


MATTHEWS:  And, Sam, without you, nothing...


REAGAN:  Sam is a treasure too.



MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

Up next: a decent and righteous man, a North Star, a guiding light in Congress.  Former President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all eulogize Elijah Cummings at the New Psalmist Baptist Church up in Baltimore. 

We`re back after this. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Capitol Hill was in Baltimore today, as Congressman Elijah Cummings was honored at the church that he attended for decades. 

Public figures, including Nancy Pelosi and former President Bill Clinton, spoke at the funeral. 


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Elijah was master of the House.

He held himself to a high standard.  And that is why I have called him the North Star of Congress, our guiding light. 

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  He pushed back against the abuse of power.  He was unwavering in his defense of our democracy. 

He had little tolerance for those who put party ahead of country or partisanship above truth.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  His legacy is how ardently he honored his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. 


B. CLINTON:  Everybody could see he was the real deal.  He was doing what he believed.  His heart was in it.

No matter how hard he fought and how passionately he argued, he tried to treat everybody the way he wanted to be treated.  And his lasting legacy to us, we should think again about the Prophet Elijah.

When we get discourage and we don`t know if we can believe anymore, we should hear him. 



MATTHEWS:  But it was former President Obama who spoke for history today. 

And that`s coming up next.  You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Former President Barack Obama delivered a moving speech today for Congressman Elijah Cummings`s funeral.

Here he is.



There`s nothing weak about kindness and compassion.  There`s nothing weak about looking out for others.  There`s nothing weak about being honorable.  You`re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.


OBAMA:  The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings.

But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was in elected office.  There`s a difference. 


OBAMA:  There`s a difference if you were honorable and treated others honorably, outside the limelight.

He would remind all of us that our time is too short not to fight for what`s good and what is true and what is best in America. 

Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart. 

May God bless the memory of the very honorable Elijah Cummings.


MATTHEWS:  I`m joined right now by former Maryland Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards, who served in the Maryland delegation with Mr. Cummings.  She`s also a contributing columnist now at "Washington Post."

You know, it made me feel great today to watch that, all the -- both Clintons and the speaker and President Obama.  It reminded me of something. 

DONNA EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN:  Well, I mean, I think there`s a reason for that. 

I think it`s because the nation is really yearning for voices that speak with clarity and integrity and for a man who, as President Obama described, was an honorable man, and was fighting for truth and justice right up until the last minute of his life.

And I think the nation yearns for that, and things that kind of bring us together, that remind us of who we are really, and not just the headlines of the day.

And I thought it was a perfect day yesterday at the Capitol, today in the New Psalmist Church, and speaking about a man who spanned the spectrum.  He could talk to the guy on the corner and presidents of the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Congressman Cummings was known for having close friendships across the aisle, of course. 

That was on display earlier this year, when he defended Republican Congressman Mark Meadows after freshman Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib criticized Meadows for using a black woman in the Trump administration, Lynne Patton, as what she called a prop to defend Trump. 

She called that action racist. 


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC):  If anyone knows my record as it relates -- it should be you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD):  Mr. Meadows, you know -- and of all the people on this committee, I have said it and gotten in trouble for it, that you`re one of my best friends. 

I know that shocks a lot of people. 

MEADOWS:  And likewise, Mr. Chairman.

CUMMINGS:  Yes.  But you are. 

And I would do -- and I could see and feel your pain.  I feel it. 




MATTHEWS:  What is that like to have a chairman like that?  I mean, it`s like -- it`s biblical. 

EDWARDS:  It is.

And I think that, on Capitol Hill, I think, right now, people are feeling that those are really, really big shoes to fill at a really important moment. 

And there are few members of Congress and actually few chairmen who would have done for Representative Tlaib what Elijah Cummings did for her and for Mark Meadows.

And so I think it`s a real loss today that we feel. 

But when I listened to some of the tributes, most of the tributes to Elijah Cummings today, what they said to me is that we can all strive to be our better selves. 


EDWARDS:  And he called us to do that, and I think will continue to call, if we do as was said, and listen to him whisper in our ears. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I thought it was great that the Democratic Party, with all its weaknesses, which are often on display, had two presidents up there that we`re very proud of what they had to say today. 

Meanwhile, President Trump again used President Lincoln as a marketing tool for the Republican Party, telling the African-American community at an historic black college in South Carolina today that he`s been talking about Lincoln more because Democratic policies have left the African-American community down. 


TRUMP:  Abe Lincoln was a Republican.  A lot of people forget that. 

Fellows, I think we have to start bringing that up a little bit, OK?


TRUMP:  People forget that.  They don`t know that.

I`m talking about Lincoln more and more, because the Democratic policies have let African-Americans down and taking them for granted.  And they have.  They have taken African-American communities for granted. 

And I promise you that Republicans will never, ever do that. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, your thoughts. 

I mean, everybody knows Lincoln was the first Republican president.  And he acts like he just discovered it. 

EDWARDS:  Well, it`s -- I mean, I think this is so much of the president.  He doesn`t know our history. 

He doesn`t know...

MATTHEWS:  Where Colorado is?


EDWARDS:  He doesn`t share our values, in the sense of wanting to preserve and protect the Constitution, and understanding even the -- the differences in responsibilities of our branches of government.  He has no appreciation for that. 

And so his remarks today, frankly, were no great surprise.  And, thankfully, 95 percent of African-Americans understand where their bread is buttered.  And it`s not with the president of the United States.

MATTHEWS:  I wonder, Donna, if he would even pass a citizenship test right now, the one that`s administered to people who are becoming naturalized Americans. 

Thank you, Donna Edwards. 


MATTHEWS:  I`m serious. 

Up next: celebrating a friend and colleague here at NBC News. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  I want to take a moment at this week`s end to congratulate my friend and colleague Kelly O`Donnell, who last night became the first woman ever to receive the Career Achievement Award for Distinguished Reporting from the Radio and Television Correspondents Association. 

Kelly`s been at NBC News for 25 years.  She`s covered Capitol Hill, the White House, and six presidential elections.

And here she is accepting this great honor. 


KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  As journalists and broadcasters, our stories get to transmit experiences, information and emotion. 

Ours is also a business that, at its very heart, is about questions.  Most, we ask about others, the newsmakers we cover, but some are questions best directed at ourselves:  Will I be fair?  Will I be thorough?  Will I remember, in the more exhausting moments, how lucky I am to do this? 

Ours is a business of questions.  And I have one more:  Could I ask this of the board?  Could we call this the mid-career achievement award? 


O`DONNELL:  Because I feel like I`m just getting going. 


O`DONNELL:  Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, she`s right, of course, about everything, and also about asking questions.  It`s what we do. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.