tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC September 1, 2017 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
>> why? >> what's there to investigate? >> i'm hoping he'll have a chance before he gets fired. >> we'll learn a lot more about that person who we call the most powerful man in washington. on monday, yes, this labor day. we have a special new else of "the beat" about mueller. "hardball" starts now. trump's letter to comey. let's play "hardball." good evening. this has turned out to be a very busy friday night. the white house announced that president trump is going to reveal his decision on tuesday about whether he'll end the obama era policy that allows young people brought here illegally as children to remain in the united states. and there's also new reporting
on the russia investigation. robert mueller obtaining a letter that was drafted by the president and his senior aide steven miller in may explaining the rationale for firing jm, the fbi director. the letter was never sent because they believed the content was, quote, problematic. according to the "new york times" which broke the story, a different letter, written by the deputy attorney general and focused on mr. comey's handling of the investigation into hillary clinton's private e-mail server was ultimately sent to the fbi director the day before he was fired. the "washington post" reports, the multipage letter enumerated trump's long simmering complaints with comey. that comey was unwilling to say public reply trump was not personally under investigation in the fbi's inquiry into russian meddling in the 2016 election. the letter did not dwell on russia.
also today, president trump respond to that "washington post" report that he may be on a collision course with his new chief of staff. trump chafs at some of john kelly's moves to restrict access to him. they run counter to trump's love have responsibility night and brashness. the president tweeting today in response, general john kelly is doing a great job as chief of staff. i could not be hamer or more impressed. we've got a lot to get to. joining me at the top of the show. the "washington post," ashley parker, ashley, let me start with you. you have this story in the "washington post." the post and the times both reporting today on this letter. the letter that was not sent detailing the president's rationale for firing the fbi director. the question everybody wants to
know about the contents, how much was this original letter aimed at comey and his investigation of trump and trump's world? was it a passing reference? was it more detailed than that? how much does this letter suggest that was on the president's mind? >> sure, so again we haven't seen the letter. we've just spoken about it. our understanding was this letter laid out the president's frustrations and grievances with director comey. as we said, the story, it was very little explicitly focused on russia other than the language we actually saw in the final statement the president put out where he expressed frustration that chm told him privately conservative times that he was not the focus of the investigation but he wouldn't say the publicly. our understanding is that little portion was in the original draft. made it into the final version. the draft itself was outlining the president's wide ranging
grievances with the fbi director at the time. >> we have the white house lawyer basically vetoing apparent reply original letter you're describing saying it was problematic, do we know, do you know, was it specifyingly the references to not publicly stating trump himself wasn't under investigation? specifically the references to russia? baltimore what he -- was that what he looked sat and said that's a problem? >> i think that he was worried partialbly the tone of the letter. and he was the person in the meeting in the oval office that. tried to slow down the process. he know you know what? attorney general sessions and his deputy rod rosen strin coming by the white house today for lunch. let's talk to them. let's solicit theirs pinl. so there was sort of an effort to get broader buy-in on this than just the president being frustrated with his fbi director
and having soured on him long ago. >> let me bring in hallie jackson the other big piece of news. you're standing in front of the white house. let me ask you what's going on. you had the report, the "washington post" report suggesting the president, a lot of people not surprised to read this. the president chafg under the new white house leadership of john kelly, his new chief of staff. what is going on inside the building behind you? >> when you look at the palace intrigue part of it, there's a lot of moving pieces. some of it relates to john kelly and how the president is interacting with him. will you met me add someone else in. a guy named gary cohn. focused on tax reform. he's been out trying to push the administration's line this and push out the position and how he wants to get it done. he continues to be dogged whether the white house has confidence in gary cohn. whether the president has
confidence in him. and while publicly, the line is yes, that is also something we've heard in the past about people who ultimately are no longer inside the building behind me. you mentioned one other thing at the top of the show about what is happening inside the white house. that's this decision over dhaka. while we know this is not going to be announced formally until tuesday, that does not preclude some kind of tweet from the president. there has been a subject of internal consternation. we talk about what is happening behind the scenes. hurricane harvey changed some of the calculation. now there are those white house insiders who say how some of the west wing worry about redescribrescinding it at this moment. states that have 126,000 dreamers or recipients in them.
>> i want to tell you about senator john mccain has been a bit in the thorn of this administration. now out with some very short criticism. mccain saying we have to respect each other or at least respect the fact we need each other. we are not insubordinates. we answer to the american people. we must serve as a check on his power. he was just talking about trump and 'tis have the new chief of staff. one of the things he was supposed to do, the environment where donald trump was not going to be quite as impulsive. a little more sound counsel before he went and made
decisions. olympic seems to be seeing the letter. i'm not seeing it yet. >> and the president picked fights even more with jeff flake, the junior arizona senator. there's a thing, it is easy to do and watch john mccain and donald trump. there's a couple lines that are worth dwelling on. one is the senate and the congress needs to do its basic minimal work. they're not passing budgets. the outsider president. waging war against his own. congress plays in by not doing anything. he can talk against congress because congress isn't doing the minimal work in addition to the
president not doing a whole lot. and to take a shot at james comey. you've written that this. what the president was trying to say on twitter today, he was going after comey's credibility. it looks like jm exonerated hillary clinton long before the investigation was over. and so much more, a rigged system. this tweet is a reference to something you've reported. on take us through what bunk jim comey, the hillary clinton e-mail and the president trying to say, hey, look, he made the decision long before he announced it. >> sure. this tweet seems to be in response to news which broke yesterday which came from two jars on the judiciary committee who found and wrote a letter to the fbi saying chm begun drafting a letter to basically clear hillary clinton before the
fbi had even finished the investigation and interviewed her, i believe. so he was saying what he's maintained for a long time, what he put in this tweet. this is a rigged system. and now it certainly behooves him to do anything he can to undermine comey's credibility because comey will be one of the key, one of the many key people in this expanding russia probe. >> this was something we saw yesterday. yesterday the news was that trump's legal team had met, trying to impeach the credibility of jm. you're sort of seeing a legal strategy. now a public strategy. >> it's not a totally surprising one. nor is it a totally new one. look what the white house is saying, hey, we want to cooperate. we want to do what we can to work the special counsel, to
work with bob mueller. other than that we will refer you to our special counsel. you have seen, as you pointed out publicly, a direction this legal team appears to be moving in. and i would point out this is something that since before ty cobb came on board, when you saw, for example, john dowd and the other lawyers came on, that that's the direction this team would be moving in when it came to the president. >> we were talking about a situation where you have a special counsel mueller in place. i'm not sure how much public opinion really matters. but i am curious about this. obviously, trump's critics are saying, he went after the fbi director because of what the fbi director was doing about russia. this could be obstruction of justice. he seems to be looking temperature. on the other hand you look jim comey's credibility. i'm curious, from a p.r. standpoint how this works.
>> it's clear that a lot of the part of case that the trump team is most worried about is the potential obstruction of justice charge related to his dealing with comey. what do you in those situations, you try to impeachment the credibility of both witnesses. the fact we are talking on a cable news brams two different set of draft memos shows me we've gotten to a stage where it is getting somewhere fast. these are legal strategies being aired in the court of public opinion now in advance of something. and it feels the me by the tone of discussion, that something is faster handle the we thought. >> we keep getting these glimpses. it makes you wonder how much more is going on maybe behind the speens we don't know. thanks to all of you.
again we say it's a busy day. it has been a busy and rough summer politically for president trump. he is now beginning what promises to be a very challenging september. congress, they're coming back on tuesday. they have some big issues to deal with. they've been loyal, the republicans have been loyal to trump so far. the question, is that about to change? plus, the clean-up from hurricane harvey begins. are there enough construction workers to rebuild that part of texas? many workers fear being deported. and more evidence of the number one mission to try undo a lot of the actions of his predecessor. and finally, stick around for three things you might not know. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. ♪ everybody two seconds! ♪
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we've been watching a massive fire in texas. you're looking at the chemical plant. this is the second fire there in two days. within the last hour, huge plumes of black smoke shot into the sky. the plant lost hour after hurricane harvey and they said there are up to eight containers of the chemicals at the site that could burn and explode. i founded lendingtree 20 years ago, and i've never seen a better time to refinance your home, than this summer. why? because right now we're seeing our average customer save $20,000. but with the fed already talking about raising rates, this window will not last for long. lendingtree is the only place to compare up to 5 real refinance offers against your current mortgage - for free.
okay, watch this. do the thing we talked about. what do we say? it's going to be great. watch. remember what we were just saying? go irish! see that? yes! i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. i'm still going to hold off judgment. it is short into his term. and i'm hoping things can turn around. but it's unique right now. >> regardless of what he truly wants to get done, whatever that may be. he has got to be his own worst enemy. he couldn't be any worse at
achieving goals in politics. >> welcome back to "hardball." those were trump voters. and they were describing their disappointment with president trump in his first few months in office. as the summer ends, the political wins in washington may bring a stormy fall for the president. there is, of course, the ever present russia investigation. the reports that special counsel bob mueller is looking at that early draft, the draft not sent of a letter in which trump wrote his rationale for firing director comey. 2500 agents focused exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. as congress returns if its break on tuesday, it will continue. the senate judiciary committee is expected to interview donald trump jr. a date for that has not yet been disclosed.
for more on what the fall will bring for the president. national affairs correspondent, author of horsemen and the trumpocalypse. thank you for joining us. let me start with you. it's been about a month since republicans and democrats for that matter have been together in washington. they're coming back after charlottesville, after this storm. after further revelations. my question to you is specifically the republicans. the question has been the republicans. does the past month, being away from washington, do the vents we've seen, does it change anything in terms of their posture? >> i think it does some of them. i'm going to cheat on you and give one sentence on the democrats. the democrats will come back super charged. >> many of them, they were
against trump. they were resisting. now they've been back constituents. it is just -- >> the second and third topic is impeachment. >> they don't want to hear about common ground. then you bring back the republicans. there will be some who are sympathetic but a tremendous number have had town meetings, anecdotal gatherings with folks on main street where they've had a lot of people saying, what the hell is going on? i can promise you, they've heard that. and they will come back. and i think they'll be much tougher. >> what does that mean? what does that look like? >> i think if we go back to the meeting that mcconnell had with trump. it ended up with some yelling.
i think there will be more yelling. an awful the lot of people saying, this can't keep going this way. and also, do understand that the speaker of the house, paul ryan, who i've always said has been too much of a facilitator of trumplt he backs him up. he now faces his most serious election challenge. many republicans feel that as well. when they get together, suddenly this august break shifts them towarder the 2018 discussions. those make him say to president trump, you have to have a coherent agenda. and it can't be shifting from day to day. >> all right. republicans will come back with a very different posture toward president trump. do you agree with that? >> yes. >> i agree for different reasons. we control this down.
you have is the looming of a government shutdown, harvey back there. so i think what president trump is going to hear from a lot of republicans will be, please stop talking about building a wall. let's talk about the reality in front of us. we have to fund government or we will go into the red. these are real things have to happen between now and september. we are in september. between now and the end of the month. or the government will shut down. i think what you will have is two postures. one, some real policy coming out of congress. and the other side. talking about tax reform. about immigration. i think you'll have a lot of republicans saying, mr. president, what is our strategy on north korea?
specifically. what are we going to do? they have a weapon. they are clearly testing this over japan. what is our foreign policy here? let's be crystal clear here. 2018 is looming but the government will shut down west could go to war with north korea. we did not have a plan b. >> they're politicians. elections always on their mind. let me ask you on, some level, it is always the next election. i keep thinking back to next year in the election with paul ryan, a few weeks before election day had all of the republicans on the phone saying you can give this guy up. you can save yourself. those republican members of congress, not only did he win the election, he won 90% of the votes of republicans. they didn't think he could get anywhere near that.
does that haunt them? maybe this guy knows my party's base better than i do. >> what i'm hearing from a lot of my friends on commeapitol hi. it depends what you represent. if you represent a strong trump county, you are scared to death the president will primary you. that's real. he won those counties by a significant margin. if you are a flake or a susan collins or maybe a pat toomey, maybe not. so maybe you don't fear the president as much. based on the focus groups we heard from, i'm from pennsylvania, those are my people. and perhaps maybe a pat toomey and some of the others are listening to those type of trump voters saying, he had us at hello here.
they are fiscally conservative, socially conservative, fiscally liberal. they could easily go back to the camp and i think a lot of members knew that. >> let's talk about john mccain other wrote, americans recoiled from the repugnant spectacle of whemts marching in charlottesville. there is nothing that hate driven racism that can match the strength of a nation. >> he just won a re-election. i'm curious. do you think charlottesville? do you think that changes anything? >> i think it changes an immense amount. i don't think people understand the full political impact.
it was two-fold. for people who are embarrassed, that embarrassment level went through the roof. >> they're going to be much more comfortable. >> the context of it. a guy who began his presidential campaign talking about muslims, who called on a ban on all muslims coming into the united states, the confidence that charlottesville will mark a breaking point when that's the track record. >> i was going to tell you. i had the luck of being on a little book tour. around the country sometimes. outside of washington. and what i want to emphasize to you, people really get the word nazi. they really get the word fascist. they really get confederate,
slavery. they should have been shocked and terrified back in 2015 when he was talking about banning muslims. when he was saying the things he has about latinos. but now you've gone into the hard wiring of the american history. i mean, you got nazis marching. you got people marching under confederate flags. >> we're up against a break. what do you want to say? >> just very quickly, i don't think most americans are embarrassed by this. i think most americans are emoffend. that a president of the united states is saying both sides are to blame here? this is not embarrassment. this is offensive and most americans know that. >> okay. thank you both for joining us. a quick break. up next, as the hurricane clean-up gets underway, there is a growing concern that the
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container of peroxides burst into flames there. the fire shut down the refrigeration that was needed to prevent them from degrading and then catching fire. authorities have evacuated the area around the plant. dozens of other refineries and plants have reported spills. now some live pictures at that chemical fire. the smoke and flames still continue to smolder at the site. back to "hardball." we love you. we're going to get you back up and operating immediately. >> that was president trump promising texants they would be able to rebuild immediately
after hurricane harvey. the immigration policies could hinder the rebuilding efforts since his pledge to start mass deportations and build a wall along the border appear to have resulted in immigrants staying close to home. undocumented workers make up 28% of the state's construction work force and the need for workers will only increase as houston works the recover. it will be off the charts. you're almost at one-third of the construction work force is undocumented. connect that to president trump's policies. is there a direct connection to trump's policies and the ability
for a rebuilding job? >> very much so. houston is consistently one of the fastest growing cities so there's a lot of building going on. but following the trump administration coming into power, we saw undocumented persons were getting nervous about staying in texas, so close to the border, because of trump's strong stance on immigration. then you lay on top of that, the anti-sanctuary cities bill that texas passed. so folks are leaving. they're leaving texas. so there's already a shortage in houston, in the larger state of construction workers. now we get hit with harvey. we're going to need massive reconstruction efforts and we'll need the construction workers. this isn't just theory. we know from practice, new orleans was built on the backs of latinos, more specifically undocumented labor.
that was what was able to get the city up and running again. the same thing will be needed for houston. but given the climate, will we have that manpower? >> do you have a sense? are you able to put any numbers on? if there is a potential for shortfall of workers, is there a rough estimate you can put on it? >> what we have been seeing, in houston, we know that about 10% of the population is undocumented. which is close to double of the national average. and in houston, of those undocumented persons, a quarter are construction workers. so i haven't seen exact numbers yet since president trump took office. but just hearing from folks on the ground, from folks working with construction workers, they're leaving and going to other friendlier states that don't have this climate that texas does. >> i imagine someone on the hard
line side of the immigration debate might say, well, those jobs should be for american citizens. if there are fewer undocumented immigrants who are taking those jobs, it means more jobs for american citizens. ultimately that's a good thing. >> that's a valid argument. but then the question is, how much are we willing to spend on the rebuilding effort? how much is congress willing to give in terms of dollars to rebuild? how much will fema give? if you want to do this purely with american workers, you have to be prepared to faye wages that american work letters need and then pay into that. that's the question that congress is going to have to grapple with. >> okay. down there in texas. thank you for joining us. another quick break. up next, president trump continues his whole out attack on the legacy, the governing legacy of president obama.
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welcome back to "hardball" of the on the campaign trail, president trump promised to go after obama's legacy. it is reported that president trump is expected to tend obama program shields young people from deportation. it would allow him to fulfill one of his many campaign promises. let's look at it. >> should dreamers be worried? >> we love the dreamers. we love everybody. >> late friday, he announce ad decision that would be announced on tuesday. is this another campaign promise that would yet be full ild? he is killing it by attrition. it is reported that he is cutting fundinger advertising by 90%. a princeton university professor. she is an opinion columnist for the "washington post." and a republican strategist and
author of gop gps. it sounds like we're getting mixed signals here. you had that report. he was going to end it. he said we love the dreamers. whatever that means. we have reporting from hallie jackson saying maybe harvey has complicated this. >> based upon the decision which allowed the folks from the young kids coming from el salvador, honduras, he has end that had. if that's any indication, daca is done. >> it might be the case. it might be the case that he is failing with regard to the wall and he needs to throw some red meat to his base. i think harvey is gumming up some matters but i think in the end he will appeal to the base by doing this.
>> immigration polling to me is a very hard one to figure out. i think a lot of times, the number on the surface could be misleading or can tell part of the story. i think more than a lot of issues are subject to how you ask the question. how you phrase the question. that being said, when you look specifically at this issue of daca, kids who came to this country, their parents brought them and they had nothing 22nd the decision. having protections for them. that does poll well among republicans. >> which is why during campaign he was loathe to say that he would repeal dakoca. he ran a pain on how tough he would be on those darn illegals but he would not commit to undoing daca. >> when he said we love the dreamers, there is some recognition of the politics of it. >> i think republicans on the hill realize this as well. part of reason i'm more
optimistic, hopefully i won't be eating my words. paul ryan came out and said, he does not think that trump should take this action, orrin hax and other right wing republicans have said the same thing. and i think it would be very embarrassing to be overruled by congress. what happened most of saul showing that he is powerful. >> you mentioned paul ryan, the speaker of the house. he is under some pressure now for republicans on the hill not to end the daca program. >> there's a lot in the news right now that the president might be looking at pulling back daca. the dreamer's act. >> i don't think he should do that. and i believe this is something that congress who is the fix. >> and arizona senator jeff flake has been a trump critic of latest tweeted, congress needs to take immediate took protect dakota will kids.
orrin hatch had a state saying, i've urged the president not to rescind dlak. an packs would further come reply indicate a system in serious need of a permanent legislative solution. barack obama did this by fiat. no president should do that. undo what obama did but should you immediately pass this legislation in congress. we have seen this issue of immigration. this has been a major fault line within the republican party. if something like this, seeming as daca, comes before congress. democrats are for it. maybe orrin hatch is for it. is there a chance of a major revolt? we have seen immigration issues in the past. >> only 22% of republicans support ending daca. there will be massive fall out for republican that's the they do ends it. you will see hispanics completely move away from the party. and 44% of voting hispanics are
millennials. if you do that within ten days of joe arpaio? >> when i say i wonder if the polling doesn't always capture it. right now you poll the idea of dlak as popular. do they start calling it am necessary i? and then they see something very different? >> i really don't -- if all that we're saying is true. >> it seems to be the case that what he's doing, he is speaking to that cultural anxiety at the heart of his base. that it isn't about undocumented workers. it is about the cultural anxiety of the trump supporters who believe america is changing.
that manager doesn't look like it is supposed to look. so daca is part of this. the wall won't be built of he is telling them, we'll send them back. so this is at the heart of how we understand the political actions of the base. >> there is another reason why this timing is coming now. there are these republican attorneys who are threatening to sue the administration coming september 5 next week. so they have forced this deadline on him. i think he doesn't want to make a decision. >> it looks before today, there was an opportunity legislatively for him to pair this with the wall somehow. it looks like some indication. the wall, maybe we can put that on hold before december. we'll see if that decision comes out. the white house suggesting tuesday. roundtable is staying with us. this is "hardball." horseheadswivellychair.com
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ladies and gentlemen, i would like to make something very clear. blue lives matter in america! >> welcome back to "hardball." that was controversial sheriff bill clark. late thursday he was a vocal advocate and ally of president trump and announced his surprise retirement. after nearly 40 years serving my community, i'm retiring. what a ride. politico is announcing that he is likely to take a job in president trump's administration. according to the milwaukee journal sentinel, he is looking for opportunities outside of government that support the trump agenda and keep him in the public eye. recently, the sheriff has been under public scrutiny after four people and a newborn baby died
at the milwaukee county jail. back now with the roundtable. this is one of those political characte characters. sheriff arpaio falls into this category as well. he probably wouldn't, if any other republican had won the nomination, this is a guy, sheriff clark, who speaks to and for a part of donald trump's base. you're a republican. i'm curious. what is the message sheriff clark is delivering? and how many people is he speaking for? >> he is playing to the worst and base instincts of the republican party shouldn't be there. if he goes in with his 32 pieces of flair, that's embarrassment. he's been an embarrassment as sheriff. he's disgraced anyone who wears a uniform. and look what he views law enforcement as. he celebrates arpaio and clark as somehow heroes of law enforcement. they are the exact opposite of
what we want law enforcement officers to be. they don't follow the rules they will have no problem ignoring federal court orders. they have no problem mistreating people in circumstances that end up getting them killed but they're great for keeping us safe. >> politically, what evan is just describing roughly, it reads to a certain part of electorate as a guy who is willing to do tough things you need to do to maintain. the old law and order message. it feels like trump has brought that back. >> so deeply racialized. i've said has the presidency of hate. having to do with daca, the transgender ban. it has embold his call for law and order. donald trump imagines himself as a strong man who stands above the law, who executes it cruelly and sheriff sclark a great example of that. he thinks he stands above the
law as he represents rid. what do we see? we see people dying in jails. just flouting the law at every turn. and this seems the me to reflect donald trump's orientation. >> i grapple with it. i'm trying to figure out. i don't have the answer in terms of how many people somebody like sheriff clark speaks for arpaio. but arpaio last week, when it went out, the media coverage was almost unit versally negative. highlighting these issues, the legal issues, the problems. he managed for a generation of politics in arizona in a county that's more than half the statest won five elections. that style does reach maybe a bigger part of electorate than we acknowledge. for better or worse, i think maybe it does. >> for worse. not for better.
these are people who represent our basest instincts. who make people feel good about the fact they can wish the worst upon people that don't look like them and don't speak like they will. that's law and order. it is finding a way of justifying this vile hatred and acting upon in it violent ways that put people's lives at risk. this is a way of excusing that behavior and justifying it saying it is in the best interests of the country. >> up next, these three people will tell me something i don't know. for your heart...
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and we're back with the "hardball" roundtable. >> there was a tweet out there about the incoming class at harvard university. that 41.2% are legacies. 41.2% are legacies. nine out of ten of those legacies are white. and the doj is worrying about affirmative action. >> donald trump jr. will be giving a speech at the university of texas to the tune of $100,000. the questions will be provided in advance. >> foreign policy krirs are getting very worried about the expansion. it threatens us. they've been using the one belt policy to go into africa,
greece, the bahamas, jamaica and panama. >> that will do it for tonight. thank you all for being with us. that's "hardball" for now. thank you for being with us. chris matthews returns next week. join us tuesday. "all in" starts right now. tonight, i said if it is possible, would you let me know? am i under investigation? he said you are not under investigation. >> a potentially huge piece of new evidence. the original letter that trump wanted to send to fire his fbi director now in the hands of the special counsel. >> i think he is worried that i was fired because of the russia investigation. >> the growing case for obstruction of justice. then the deadline for dakota la. >> sometime -- for daca. >> the latest will be monday. >> we'll