tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC May 1, 2018 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
and i'm just so thrilled with the progress. >> i've seen stuff in there that i've never ever could have imagined. >> it's american history. we all need to be involved and to learn and to own up to the shame of it all. >> the names of those people murdered are engraved on 800 columns suspended in the air. it's a dramatic illustration of a history that must be acknowledged. we wanted to show you that. that is the end of our broadcast. "hardball" with chris matthews is up next. the big leak. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. the "new york times" has revealed dozens of questions that special counsel robert mueller and his prosecutors want president trump to answer under
the penalty of perjury. and some they provide a road map of potential leads that the special counsel is exploring to ultimately determine whether the president colluded with russia or obstructed justice. according to "the new york times," mueller's questions emerged from the ongoing negotiations whether president trump will ultimately speak to prosecutes. they were read by the special counsel investigators to the president's lawyers who compiled them into a list. that document was provided to the times" by a person outside mr. trump's legal team. and while the questions themselves are fairly broad they could represent a legal minefield for a president known to stretch the truth. today, in an attempt to distort the news in his favor, president trump incorrectly claimed that none of the questions related to potential collusion with russia. "so disgraceful that the questions concerning the russia witch hunt were leaked to the media. no questions on collusion.
oh, i see, you have a made up phony crime collusion that never existed." well on that point, however, the president's mistaken a review of the 49 questions made public today shows at least 14 of them relate to the potential collusion with russia during the campaign. and while those questions don't reveal what kind of evidence the special counsel might already have, there's one in particular that's receiving a lot of attention. mueller wants to ask trump "what knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign including by paul manafort to russia about potential assistance to the campaign?" ? the reference to manafort's potential outreach to russia suggests the special counsel may have evidence that has not been publicly revealed so far. i'm joined by the reporteder who broke the story michael schmidt. he's also an msnbc national security contributor. kim whaley a former federal
prosecutor, and eric schwallwell sits on the house intelligence committee. michael it, what's this tell us that just look at the interpretation here. he's going after something manafort may have told him about manafort's ties to the russians. >> yes, but when you step back. >> it is about collusion. >> some of it is about collusion. when you step back from it, here you are two gleers an investigation that was about russia's pleding in the election, ties between his campaign and the president has an enormous atom of issues related to obstruction, related to things esdollars in office. one of the questions relates to something that happened as recently as january. so the obstruction issue being the central thing that he has to explain to mueller. what were his intentions? why did he do these thingsing? why did he fire comey? what was truly behind it? was he trying to interfere with the elections? it's all getting at his intent. >> kim, it seems to me he's
making a case through his tweets. this is the president of the united states. okay,ize allowing, maybe i did obstruct justice. you can argue that. but since there's no underlying crime of collusion with the russians, he will argue, it's like escaping from. the police when you've been innocently arrested. >> well -- >> that's what he seems to be arguing to the average guy, well he didn't do any including. therefore, he has a right to obstruct when they come after him. that seems to be his angle to the guy in the street corner. >> sure, i mean, i think he's taking the position which is erroneous that you need to actually have a completed crime to obstruct justice in pursuing that crime. that's not true. the question is, we don't want people interfering with our judicial system and our criminal justice system. if he had that intent, then that itself can be a crime. the other point and some of his lawyers made this is this broader constitutional question as to whether the president could ever obstruct yuts on the
theory he's in charge of the justice department. he's in charge confident article 2 branch. that's kind of a thorny constitutional issue. >> that's a frightening notion if our constitutional is that expansive about article 2 that the president can do anything he damn well wants to the do. >> that's an assumption underlying a lot of his positions. it is problematic. >> 14 of the questions deal with collusion with the russians. mueller wants to ask the president a key question that's gone unanswered to date. during the campaign, what did you know about russian hacking. use of social media or other acts aimed at the campaign. that question was no doubt fuelled in part by trump's public overture to russia, remember it, in 26th encouraging the russians to continue hacking and releasing democratic e-mails. we all heard him do it. let's watch. >> i will tell you this, russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000
e-mails that are missing. >> mueller also wants to know whether the president had any discussions during the campaign regarding any meeting with mr. putin. we know one such discussion in march of 2016 when george papadopoulos told the president had he russian contact who's could arrange such a thing. there's the infamous meeting the campaign held at trump tower in june of '16 to get dirt on hillary clinton meeting for that purpose. mueller wants to ask trump when did you become aware of the trump tower meeting, when did you know and what did you know and when did you know it. mueller's also interested in trump's involvement in the rnc platform change toward ukraine. remember that one? as well as his communications about russian real estate developments during the campaign. it's a question as i said, what did the president know and when. congressman, let me ask you about that. that ridiculous report that came out from your majority republican committees on the intelligence committee seemed to overlook a lot of these questions. there seems to be a lot of
fertile territory for examination by the special counsel, mr. mueller, that mr. nunes doesn't seem to be interested in getting the answers to. >> thankfully, chris, the special counsel is asking all of the questions that the republicans on the house intelligence committee were not willing to ask. and hopefully, using their subpoena power to get the documents, the bank records, phone logs, travel records to test the answers they received either in the future from the president or from other witnesses. but we saw so many witnesses who told us about approaches that russians were making to trump family members, trump business individuals, trump campaign officials, and the themes were like this. it was either to give them dirt that existed on hillary clinton or to set up a meeting between donald trump and vlad pleuroputin. so it is a fair question to can what was donald trump's knowledge of all of these efforts. it's very hard for me to believe that he had no idea at all, particularly that one of the outreaches occurred to his son on a floor just below where he was working on a day he was in
the office at a meeting set up from a very close donald trump family friend. i can't believe he had no idea about it it. he should sit down in the chair and tell us whether it's the case for not. >> a question whether he had a phone call with his son right before the meeting. > we have evidence that donald trump jr. calls russia, headaches a call to a blocked number and calls russia back. we know donald trump his father used a blocked number at the residence in trump tower. so the republicans on our complete weren'tology subpoena is the phone provider to get that answer. i don't think mueller will be so kind. >> let me ask you, michael, about this, about the whole methodology here. what happened was to retrace the steps of these questions, they were given to. dowd, the lawyer for trump sometime in mid-march as you can tell from your article. what's the take home exam as sect of this? everybody wants a take home exam? you can look up anything you want even under the rules of most colleges can, you can look
up any question in the textbooks. here he can get lawyer add up, get rehearsed. talking about mirandized, he would bs his way through any hearing once he gets all the questions ahead of time. are they really the questions they were going to ask mueller? >> i think it was the opposite. they were trying to get trump to agree to an interview. >> with easy questions or what. >> dowd was telling them the president is very busy. he has a lot of things to do. he's getting a lost information from a lot of different folks. mueller's trying to say okay, here, we'd really like to talk to him and give you a figure leaf here. here are some of the questions. here are the topics. what happens is, dowd goes into mueller's office to meet with the investigators. the investigators go through all the topics they want ask about. they take them down and come up with the 49 questions they know mueller wants to ask. mueller is trying to say look,
we're being up front with you, being transparent with you. >> why did dowd's people leak it six weeks later? i'm teasing. >> let me go to -- let me go to kim -- let me ask you about these questions. they're allstate of mind questions. what were you thinking. why do lawyers ask questions, you and your lawyer will sit there for hours coming up with answers. i was thinking about god and how to be a good civil servant. you can come up with any answer. trump could come up with nonsense and what's to stop him when he's been warned, >> we don't know what the mueller team knows. we have papadopoulos, flynn, we have gates giving them lots of information. we don't know what their narrative is of what the truth is. so trump is in a situation are he could say things that are inconsistent with contemporaneous things he said and also information. it could be perjury. the other question -- >> they're just asking him to ratify what they already know or
perjure himself. >> or the other piece is, if we make an obstruction case, what's his story? how do we frame our evidence in a way to prove that. that's assuming that's their objective. they could be trying to find out what his position is on this. i just don't think there's a safe harbor for him unless he goes in and says i don't recall, i don't recall. they know this record cold. >> most of the questions we learned about in the times" today relate to potential obstruction of justice. among them mueller wants to ask trump about the purpose of his meeting with comey just after trump fired michael flynn. according to comey, that's when the president asked him about letting flynn off, letting him go, something president trump subsequently denied saying. let's listen. >> he did say under oath that you told him to let the flynn -- you said you hoped the flynn investigation you could -- he could let go. >> i didn't say the that. >> so elied about that. >> well, i didn't say that. i will tell you i didn't say
that. >> there are also questions for the president about his firing of comey later. namely what, did you mean in your interview, lester holt about mr. comey and russia. here's this is interview with lester holt. >> but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey. knowing there was no good time to do it. and in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a madeup story. >> well, additionally mueller wants to know what the president meant when he told russian diplomats that firing comey had taken the pressure off the russian investigation. mueller is also interested in the president's discussions about terminating him, that's firing him as special counsel as well as whether trump asked his attorney general jeff sessions to protect him. kim, i talked to myself and i thought to myself i might have a problem with russia. it's amazingly incriminating statement. he got rid of the guy because he
was coming at him with the russian probe. isn't that sort of like obstruction? >> i think on its face it's really problematic for mr. trump. this is the president of the united states. there's a higher standard. the question is what can we prove before a jury. it is difficult to prove to climb into someone's brain. this happened independence whitewater, to climb into somebody's brain and prove what he believed at the time. his defense has to be it's all a bunch of baloney. i didn't mean to obstruct an investigation because it was illegitimate. that's a theory. and the question is whether a jury would buy it if we got to that point. >> some of this looks like robbing a bank in broad daylight. congressman, here's a president asked for the russians to help him beat hillary clinton. he talked to lester holt, the reason i fired the guy because he's prosecuting me on russian case. have you prime ma fash yar examples of clurks a, b, obstruction of justice. he's saying what he's doing. he's not hiding it. >> that's right. there's flow who could be so
dumb they would tell lester holt exceptionings to admitting to a crime. prosecutors also look the an actions that a suspect will take after a drim determine their intent when they committed the crime. so that's why this obstruction issue is so important because innocent people generally don't obstruct. innocent people don't ask that your friends' cases relating to what happened regarding what you're suspected of go away. innocent people don't fire at that time person investigating you. innocent people don't continue to undermine the investigation taking place. innocent people say hey, that wasn't me. let me do all i can to cooperate and get in that chair as soon as possible. wild horses couldn't keep and innocent person from going to bob mueller and saying let's get this over with as soon as we can. >> thank you so much. michael, i could be a sarcastic guy. i'm so impressed by the work you guys do at the "times." but also at "the washington post" pep thank you eric, kim
whaley. what's behind the leak of those questions and who benefits from those questions that are out there now? could it be an effort by trump's allies to convince him never to sit down for an interview with the special counsel? or is it an attempt to get republicans to shut the mueller investigation down because they don't like the questions. either way, if it came from trump's side, it could backfire dramatically. unintended consequences, the best of politics. plus, new reporting tonight how long-time fixer michael cohen reacted after trump said cohen only handled a tiny fraction of his legal issues. trump's throwing cohen under the bus when he should be worried what cohen could tell prosecutors tonight. watch cohen. the nbc news exclusive report, the chief of staff john kelly called trump an id yop is the latest in a long line of trump cabinet members who belittled the boss. what's worse, idiot or moron? moron is a little bit more lyrical. idiot is pretty bad.
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well, another one of president trump's doctors is in the news. dr. harold bore steerngs trump's former personal physician, gained notoriety during the '16 presidential campaign when he wrote a letter declaring unequivocally that trump would be the healthiest presidentness mist. now he's making headlines once again telling nbc news this office was raided by trump's associates just after the inauguration. he tells nbc newss in february of 20917, three men including a top white house aide who was trump's long-time personal bodyguard showed up in borstein's office without notice and took all the president's medical records. the incident allegedly took place two days after door steen told a newspaper had he prescribed a hair growth medicine for the president for years. big deal. he tells nbc news he felt
frightened by the incident. >> i didn't know what to make of the whole thing. i couldn't believe anybody was make a big deal about a drug that's to grow his hair which seemed to be so important. and it certainly is not a breach of medical trust to tell somebody they take pro peachia to grow their hair. what's the matter with that? >> and then it was about a month later that they raided your office. and what exactly were they looking for? >> well, it his medical records, his pictures, anything they could find. >> he doesn't look like the doctors in the advertisements, does? >> he white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders responded to that today. >> as a standard operating procedure for a new president, the white house medical unit took possession of the president's medical records. >> it was characterized as a raid. is that your understanding before what happened? the doctor seemed pretty upset about it. >> that is not my understanding. >> took possession of. we'll be right back. but not so much about what market volatility may do
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welcome back to "hardball" the real mystery about mueller's questions, 49 of them for president trump is who leaked them and why now six weeks after the lawyer got hold of them from the mueller prosecutors. "the new york times" reported the questions were read by the special counsel investigators to the president's lawyer who's compiled them into a list in march. that many document was provided to the times" by a person outside mr. trump's legal team. according to times". in other words, the questions clearly came from trump's orbit. for months now, the two sides have been negotiating a deal between trump and mueller to get the president to answer the questions. publicly at least, president trump has said he's willing to sit down with mueller. >> would you like to testify to special counsel robert mueller, sir? >> thank you. >> you would? >> i would like to. >> i would like to. according to the report in the new jersey times," back in march john dowd advised the president not to speak to mueller's prosecutors but mr. trump
signaled he was prepared to innothing the advice and wanted to sit down with investigate ares. dowd later resigned. the leak of the questions comes a week after rudy giuliani, the president's new peschell lawyer, sat down with mueller to discuss the possibility of an interrogation. for more what's motivating the leak, i'm sunshined by shannon pettypiece and seth waxman, a former federal prosecutor and partner with dickinson wright. seth, question, who wanted these papers out there? this is a lot of paperwork. i don't think he e-mail it. that's 49 questions verbatim from the mueller people to the president's lawyer, dowd. this is a hell of a scoop. who wanted it out? >> i think it's someone from the trump team. i think the reason is i don't think there's ever going to be a criminal trial in this case. the president sits uniquely. i think the audience trump team is looking at is the american people through an impeachment proceeding potentially if it gets there in congress.
we learn as defense lawyers front your bad facts to the audience. they've put a negative narrative in the form of the questions. >> why do the questions look bad for the prosecutioning? >> i don't think they do. they look bad for mr. trump. they speak of collusion or conspiracy on the one hand and obstruction on the other. it's a road map what mr. mueller is looking at. they're all taken from the headlines of various news publications or cable network. i don't think mr. mueller disclosed anything. >> do you think it's an alley oop play, in basketball when you throw the ball up above the net and somebody stuffs it. is this a case where they flew out the 49 questions so the president could say see, it's all about obstruction, nothing about collusion which is not true. did he attempt to put the ball for his people, the 40 some% who buy his act. that's who he's talking to. >> i don't know the motives. >> that's what you're here for. >> why don't i tell you the
consequences happening. and i don't think they're good for the president. it's creating distrust among the president's own legal team among his own advisers >> how so? >> because things cuss discussed in confidence are not kept independent confidence. it's creating distrust between the trump's lawyers and mueller's office. again this feeling they cannot talk candidly and honestly with each other because it could leak at any moment. and that inhibits the president's abilities to get a fair defense. like it or not in this country, people are entitled to a fair defense. when the questions the prosecutor is asking the defendant are the put out in the public, it's inhibiting his ability to get a defense. i don't think in the end this is good for the president. >> do you think shannon's right in saying this hurts the defense or it hurts the prosecution. >> one of the questions is whether this was an obstructive act itself to giveaway the questions. you said you think it might be hurting. > i think the distrust this creates can, the good will this
breaks, because remember in, clinton, one of the biggest things going on between starr and clinton they were at each other's throats and distrusted each other. that's what drove ken starr down this road of going after monica lewinsky. there was such distrust it was nuclear war. trump's lawyers have been fighting to prevent nuclear war from breaking out. >> do you think it's possible they could lessen the aggressiveness of the mueller team by being nice to them. >> into no. >> the mueller people took that case, mueller took it because he thought the snufths fbi was being abused by the president. >> i agree. i think mueller will continue down his path unabated. whether or not mr. trump's team leaks information. i agree to some degree to the extent they are leaking information, it does imbibe a little bit of mistrust, but i don't know that there's a lot of trust in the first place among the various parties. >> the president and lawyers trust in a president.
the president's lawyers, do they trust the president to be competent as a witnesses? everybody seems to say the reporting has been the major news organizations people around the president either think he's an idiot, a moron but all agree he's not going to be a good witness because he can't tell the truth. >> well, i guess the moist tactful way someone described it to me was some people are built for testimony and some people aren't. uh-huh bill clinton. was a lawyer, attorney general. his lawyer said he was an excellent person for testimony. >> except even he screwed up. >> exactly. and even in that situation when you have a lawyer who knows this game so well, they can step in it. the president not someone built for testimony. >> do you agree? >> i do. >> that seems to be the people around him, they don't think he can competently define or explain the truth if there is a truth that he knows and recognizes. >> that's possible. he can't seem to follow lawyers instructions. one of the key instructions any defense lawyer would give to a
client is don't take about these things publicly. he can't help himself minute by minute let alone month by month. >> his hands have to be huge. his crowds have to be huge. it's almost like huge is his word. the answer will be huge. you go, but i just think it's -- to me it's an open and sut case. in the sense that in a nonlegal case, he wanted the russians to help him beat hillary and he said so. >> i mean. >> he said it on national television. hack. >> well, and i think that's why mule irwants to talk to him directly because a big key of obstruction is intention. and trying to prove the intent, was there intention to obstruct. and on collusion, i mean, if there is a collusion case, was there a bigger motive conspiracy here or was this is throwing spaghetti in the bowl. >> you're not a lawyer. i'm not a lawyer either. we're both not lawyers. what do you mean when the guy
says to lester holt and he goes to him and says i didn't like this russia thing he was doing. that's why i got rid of the guy. >> i used to sit on wiretaps for months waiting for a statement like that. that is pro se evidence of obstruction. to have him put it out there the in public is advising to say the least. >> can you benefit legally by saying even though i committed a crime, i did it in such daylight conditions i couldn't possibly be guilty. >> if the i am too stupid defense does not work at the end of the day. >> what is this exercise all about because can a president be charged criminally and prosecuted while in office or is this all about impeachment. we'll go through the whole obstruction question for what. >> answer your question with another question. the fact mueller isn't sure he can subpoena him to testify apparently, that's why he's going through this can you interview me? i'll give you my questions if you come in suggests he's not sure how much constitutional power he has with this court.
it's this court, gorsuch court. we keep forgetting who is on that court and which side they'll take. thank you. we've learned in gore versus bush in 2000, the court is partisan. thank you shannon and seth. new reporting on michael cohen's reaction to trump's fox news interview where the president distanced himself, cut him loose from his long-time fixer. and trump's trying to throw cohen under the bus, use your metaphor. does he think he's already flipped and that's why trump has flipped on him? this is "hardball" where the action is. o the health of our communities. which is why we're helping to replenish the mighty rio grande as well as over 30 watersheds across the country. we're also leading water projects in more than 100 communities. and for every drop we use... we're working to give one back. because our products rely on the same thing as we all do... clean water. and we care about it like our business depends on it.
mr. president, how much of it your legal work was handled by michael cohen? >> well, a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny, tiny little fraction. but my goal would represent me and represent me on some things. he represents me like with this crazy stormy daniels deal. he represented me and you know, from what i see, he did absolutely nothing wrong from what i understand they're looking at his businesses. and i hope he's in great shape. but i'm not involved and i'm not involved. i've been told i'm not involved. >> i'm not involved, i hope he's okay. hmm. that was president trump last week distancing himself from his lawyer and fixer michael cohen after the fbi raided cope's office. "vanity fair" reports that cohen "was baffled why trump even made the remarks in the first place."
he did not see the benefit and was not sure what purpose it bed which frustrated him especially as he had been spending ten hour a day fighting these allegations. emily jane fox wrote the article on cohen. she's a "vanity fair" senior reporter and msnbc contributor. emily, thank you. it's the hardest question in the world. in the relationship between cohen the fixer and trump who doesn't want the secrets spilled out, what's their relationship back and forth? what does cohen want from the trump at this point? i don't know what he can get. what does he want? >> i think from my reporting, earlier in the week when the president had sent a stronger message on twitter and had made comments that michael was a great guy, that is the kind of message and the kind of support that are buoyed him especially as my reporting panned out, he's been spending upwards of ten hours a day with his lawyer going through the documents that the government seized and has since started to give back to him. the message that he received on
thursday morning or -- it was not certainly not the message that he thought that the president was going to give him publicly. and it didn't help his legal case. he was due in court at noon that day. this interview aired four hours earlier. and not only did it show that the president was perhaps publicly distancing himself but it changed his legal strategy that he had been working so hard on in the days prior and had planned to work on this week, as well. so this was not something he saw coming and certainly didn't do him any favors. right now i think everyone's consensus is shouldn't the president be going out of his way to do favorses for michael cohen when there's so much potentially at stake here. >> the "national enquirer" whose president david peck ser friends with the president went after michael cohen in a cover story this week entitled "trump fix ter secrets and lies." jonathan shea points out this is a charge it would be hard to imagine a trumpist organization
orchestrating against a close trump ally unless it had strong reason to suspect he was turning against his patron. according to cnn when asked whether he thought a message was being sent by the publication, cohen told cnn what do you think? what do you think, emily? it looks like trump's given up on this guy and assumes he's going to turn evidence against him and he's going to try to distance himself as much as possible from his own affairs. >> it is certainly an assumption that pretty much everyone else has made so that the president could potentially be making that assumption or parroting that assumption that has been made over and over again. it's not out of the question. i can say from my own reporting that from people around him, michael cohen is not there yet. but strangers things have happened. from my reporting, he hasn't even been charged with anything. so i think that is a bit premature. but stringer things have happened. >> suppose he gets charged with stuff that has nothing to do with trump that might mean that
trump can ignore the whole thing. if he is charged with something that has something 20 do with exposing trump, trump should definitely pardon him to get him to stop talking. is it too late? >> i do not know what the president could do with his pardon power or wants to do. i would say this is not an opportune time for the president to be saying something that surprises michael cohen and catches him off guard. i don't think anyone would say that's a wise strategy right now. >> it looks like he's saying give me your best shot. thank you emily jane fox. up next, according to that report by nbc news the other day, chief of staff john kelly is the latest white house staffer to refer to the preds here he goes, as an idiot. why are so many of the president's top aides questioning the president's intelligence? top aides? we'll show how many of them. these are cabinet level and top white house level saying moron, things like that. he's not saying more on that afterwards as they tried to say after that. he's saying moron. you're watching "hardball."
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welcome back to "hardball." president trump's on the defensive amid bombshell reports about the mueller investigation and new reporting that his white house chief of staff called him an idiot. trump lashed ow on twitter writing the white house is running smoothly despite phony witch hunts, et cetera. four administration officials reportedly say the chief of staff referred to trump as an idiot multiple times. kelly reported saying this story is bs. the report added another layer of trouble already roiled by personal problems. "the washington post" points out the failed nomination of ronny jackson as va secretary was just the latest unforced error when it comes to vetting staff. "the wall street journal" reports kelly could be under consideration catch this to take
over the va after the impression of jackson's nomination. but white house press secretary weighed in on that rupe more today. that's next. in the "hardball" roundtable. th. this is frank's dog. and this is frank's record shop. frank knowns northern soul, but how to set up a limited liability company... what's that mean? not so much. so he turned to his friends at legalzoom. yup! they hooked me up. we helped with his llc, contracts, and some other stuff that's part of running a business. so frank can focus on the beat. you hear that? this is frank's record shop. and this is where life meets legal. today's senior living communities have never been better, with amazing amenities like movie theaters, exercise rooms
and swimming pools, public cafes, bars and bistros even pet care services. and there's never been an easier way to get great advice. a place for mom is a free service that pairs you with a local advisor to help you sort through your options and find a perfect place. a place for mom. you know your family we know senior living. together we'll make the right choice. need a change of scenery? the kayak price forecast tool tells you whether to wait or book your flight now. so you can be confident you're getting the best price. giddyup! kayak. search one and done. welcome back to "hardball." press secretary sarah huckabee sanders responded today to reports that chief staff jaup kelly is being floated as a possible pick, this is a real downgrade for him as va
secretary. talk of that possible personnel shift comes in the wake of a report last night sa says kelly called the president an idiot. here's sanders earlier today. >> no, he is not being considered as the va secretary. both the president and the chief of staff are very happy with his position that he currently holds which is chief of staff to the president at the white house. and i would refer you back can to general kelly's statement that he put out yesterday. >> let's bring in the roundtable. the "hardball" roundtable. fy rucker white house bureau chief for the "washington post," yamiche alcindor for pbs "newshour," eli stokals. all of you, why is the situation around general kelly become so precarious? who doesn't like him? is there a general problem with his performance? >> for a few reasons. one reason is the president is getting tired of him, grew tired of hip several months ago according to our reporting. > is he leaking there stuff?
that's pretty sacrifice to say he calls me an idiot. >> kelly has been disparaging of the president in many different ways not just that one comment but his general body language and the way he interact with the president. he's lost trust of senior staff in the building. >> because? >> he's sort of casting himself as the savior as nbc reported yesterday but he's not always honest in dealing with his colleagues. >> there's a great michael moore movie where you see don regan chief of staff to ronald reagan telling him to hurry it up on a speech. better hurry it up. is this guy the boss? does he think he's the boss? is this the problem, hubris. >> i don't think kelly thinks he's the boss. the reporting i've gotten there are people that came with the president from new york that are loyal to the president that are frustrated not only with -- that
are frustrated with john kelly's access to the president and the fact he shifts the culture at the white house. the idea is that the person leaking this, it's two things. either one the person wants to be chief of staff so maybe there's someone who doesn't like kelly and wants to take his job and also the idea threw want him gone. it's the frustration that you people don't see him as an honest broker anymore. >> is it the neo-cons, is it the family, gae cohen. >> the globalists? what's there -- he's sort of a restraint on trump's foreign policy. people more expansive, more hawkish or people who want his job? maybe gae cohen wants his job. >> it's lord of the flies in terms of who is angling for the job. look at kelly's actual frustrationtrations epnate from the fact donald trump is not a person who can be managed pep likes the narrative that jaup kelly is bringing order to the administration. beyond the public narrative what he was brought in to do, trump
didn't like it very much. started staying in the residence longer, having executive time to get around john kelly's controls. >> watching television. >> they've argued about a lot of different policy matters. john kelly has privately to reporters and other people grumbled about the experience of being chief of staff. he has talked a little bit about you think this is crazy, you see the tweets that i've been able to prevent the president from saying. the relationship has grown part and it's almost inevitable anybody the president puts in these roles, over time the relationship is going to get icier. >> let's talk big politics. if he president thinks he's doing okay right now, he could see things that way. certain polls say he's not doing badly at all. he may figure this new hubris approach of his shoot hag the moon with north korea, says my instinct's pretty good right now or maybe i should run the show. i don't think he's acting scared. he may be willing to go without
a chief of staff. look, mom, no hands. >> he's quite confident especially when it comes to north korea. he thinks he's on the verge of a major try. >> he wants to have all the excitement in the moment in place on the 30th parallel. >> i was talking to someone, a foreign diplomat who is one of our allies and he said that the thing that worries people mainly our allies is preys usually do so much preparation they do -- not only preparation to know who you're talking to but they go through drill whereas it's like if the conversation goes this way there might happen, the conversation goes this way. most people including our allies don't think trump has the patience to do the homework to do that and it will go back to the idea of instincts and comeet somebody who also understands pomp and circumstance. the north korean leader is acting nice. most people think he is not going to just say i'm going to do away with my nuclear weapons. instead he's thinking about freezing them which is different than what trump said. >> nothing's worked before.
i'll say that for trump. remember under clinton, we're going to give them coal and that will calm them down. they want nuclear weapons for power and survival. >> the domestic politics are static. his poll numbers do not change. i think what we're talking about though goes beyond domestic politics when you hear the comments from kelly and tillerson calling him a moron after a meeting at the pentagon, what sets off people is the president's sort of short attention span and lack of understanding on national security matters. that's what frustrates people. >> the remember ronald reagan stayed up all night watching "the sound of music"? nobody could believe he did it. up next, john kelly isn't the only top official to have insulted a president. we'll play a game of who said it next. are these smart people at the roundtable able to figure out who called him an idiot. you're watching "hardball." so that if your customer needs shoes, & he's got wide feet.
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we're back with our roundtable. according to exclusive flbz news reporting chief of staff john kelly reportedly called president trump an idiot. he isn't the only trump cabinet member however who is said to have bashed the boss. look at some of the low lights. well, and play who said it. first, phil rucker, who also reportedly called trump an idiot. >> no idea. >> let's show it. . >> reince priebus. there you go. >> there he is. yamiche which official called the president dutch as. >> i have no idea. >> well, who is it. >> who was it? oh. >> my gosh. >> barry cohen. eli, there official called him a moron. >> gave me the easy one. we know that. it's rex. >> rex tillerson. for the group, there adviser reportedly called him a dope with the intelligence of a kindergartenerer in.
>> h.r. mcmaster. >> i there you made it up. you won the big round. double jeopardy. you wouldn't whole thing. isn't this outrageous. >> if you're trump watching there program or any other program where they delight in this because it's fun, the kids at school are grading the professor and found him stupid. >> if you're trump and watching this, you're feeling like how could i have these people around me, how can i run this place and by the fact i'm president and no one respects me. some people told me president trump what frustrates him a lot and why he brings up president obama a lot he doesn't feel like he's getting respect the office has in the past. he changes the office in some people's minds. >> course not. >> that's one of the main things that frustrates him. >> i can't imagine talking about like that anybody i know in politics. >> that's the whole reason they have all the personnel problems and so few people. they had the loyalty test at the beginning and said anybody who said anything negative during the campaign can't work here.
>> how did these guys get in? >> raj shah, scott pruitt, their statements they made during 2016 that were negative about the president. that was an where the republican party was then and now everybody who says those things. >> do you believe he's an idiot and dumb as whatever? >> they don't think he's not intelligent. he's a smart man. he has no capacity to sort of read and learn and absorb information and he's not curious and he doesn't read his intelligence briefings. so the knowledge that he has on the issues is very low floj. >> thank you. thank you phil, yamiche and eli. when we return, let me finish tonight with trump watch. you're watching "hardball." ♪
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trump watch tuesday, may 1st, 201. spring came to washington today and with it a new season of clarity in the investigation surrounding president trump. ignore for just a moment today's "new york times" report on what questions mueller might ask trump. as of now, it appears trump's fate rises or falls with the information special counsel has received or will receive from sources beyond than of president himself. we know them both by name and by the assumed roles they have played. if this case comes down to collusion with russia and it better for the prosecution's good, the question is who will offer testimony against trump. paul manafort who served as both convention and campaign manager for him or rick gates or george
papadopoulos or michael cohen. or roger stone. or mike flynn. it seems logical to assume that robert mueller has testimonies from all or most of these figures well in hand. and that the questions he's proffereded to trump's lawyers back in march were mainly to confirm their testimony or to catch trump lying under oath about it. and this raises the dramatic question whether these associates of trump will turn state's evidence that 24e8 swear he did something with the russians he's refused to confess. what would stop them from doing just that? take the case of michael cohen who many see as trump's most dangerous booby trap. if the prosecutors in new york have something on cohen, something really bad that incriminates trump, as well, trump will face the existential choice of either preempting the attack by pardon cohen or braving the assault against him by a combined alliance of michael cohen and the federal prosecutors and that's not a pretty prospect.
and this is the human drama that lies ahead in the trump investigation. it's not about what questions mueller puts to trump or what lawyered up answers trump gives back. it's most likely to be what his former associates will say about him. and that display already happened. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. all in with chris hayes starts right now. tonight on "all in." >> in the end it is not only what we do, but how we do it. >> the clearest window yet into the russia probe. and signs that mueller already has evidence of collusion. >> russian collusion. give me a break. >> what it means for the future of the investigation. and trump's curious new stands on obstruction of justice. >> i did you a great favor when i fired this guy. >> then. >> they can't even resist leaking their own drafts. >> house republicans draft articles after impeachment for the deputy attorney