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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  April 21, 2018 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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my thanks to renato, bill, reverend al. don't miss the rev on his politics nation show on sunday at 8:00 a.m. that does it for this hour. i'm john heilemann in for nicolle wallace. have a great weekend, everybody. i wrote it down. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. james comey's memos from about his conversations with president trump are out there now for all to see. they document in realtime the accounts the former fbi director gave in his public testimony, under oath, and his recently published book. the justice department turned over the comey memos last night.
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ironically under the threat of subpoena by house republicans. well, those memos, which represent key evidence in the ongoing criminal investigation of the president, were promptly leaked to the press. among other things, the memos back up comey's assertion that the president never once asked him about protecting the country from russian interference. what any do show is that the president was obsessed with the most salacious allegation in the dossier compiled by former british intelligence officer christopher steele. in one exchange in the oval office, the president denied any impropriety but appeared to suggest that he had talked about, catch this -- he had talked about prosecutes with russian president vladimir putin. they had chatted about the topic on one or more occasions. comey documented that. the president said the hookers thing is nonsense but that putin had told him, we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world. they actually had that conversation according to the president. comey notes that the president
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did not say when putin had told him this, and i don't recall -- well, the rest is redacted. in last night's interview with rachel maddow, comey said he took that claim seriously. >> he told you that he'd had a personal conversation with president putin about hookers? >> yes. >> did you believe him, or did you think he was speaking hyperbolically? >> he didn't seem to be speaking hyperbolical hyperbolically. >> do we otherwise know that the president had had conversations with vladimir putin at this point? >> i can't recall. i think there was public reporting that he had spoken to vladimir putin as sort of a welcome, congratulations on taking office thing at that point. i'm not suggesting they talked about how beautiful the hookers are in russia, but i do know there was one publicly reported conversation. >> well, president trump reportedly told comey on a phone call that he, quote, was bringing a personal lawsuit
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against christopher steele. while the most salacious allegations of that dossier have not been verified publicly, comey's memos appear to lend some credibility to steele's reporting. an apparent reference to the dossier, comey says he told former chief of staff reince priebus that, quote, portions of the material were corroborated by other intelligence. that's the phrase verbatim. meanwhile, president trump is attempting to say that the comey memos somehow vindicate him. quote, james comey memos just out and show clearly there was no collusion and no obstruction. that's trump's word. of course nothing in the document remotely supports any such claim. also breaking late today, "the washington post" is tonight reporting that attorney general jeff sessions recently told the white house he might have to leave his job as attorney general if president trump fired his deputy -- his deputy, rod rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into russian
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interference. "the washington post" is on the phone with me. tell us about this interesting claim. if he goes, i go. >> yeah. it's a little bit like that. maybe just short of that. so after the raid of michael cohen's home and hotel room, donald trump was upset, and he directed most of his anger at rod rosenstein. of course firing rod rosenstein could have big implications for the mueller probe. rod rosenstein super vicvises mueller because jeff sessions is recused. it was kind of an open question. it's like what would sessions do if his top deputy got fired? now we have a hint at an answer. he would at least have to consider leaving, almost like a protest resignation although it was not an out and out resignation threat. i want to make that clear. but he would have to consider that if president trump fired rod rosenstein. >> well, he was putting it on
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the scale, wasn't he? >> yes. >> he said one of the things you've got to consider is i may walk. >> yeah. he was sort of putting the idea out into in the ether, like putting that on the mind of don mcgahn. now, i don't have reporting to indicate what president trump knew about that and if he knew about that, what he thought. but jeff sessions clearly did want to put this, you know, in don mcgahn's mind. >> well, the weird thing is, matt, is that the president seems to be for months now sort of urging or pushing sessions to quit. he doesn't like the guy. he doesn't think he's being a team player. and now this guy, jeff sessions, has the nerve to say, you don't like me? okay. i'm walking perhaps if you fire rosenstein because he's doing his job, and you're protecting yourself but not the country. something like that. >> yeah. i've seen that, and i've seen some people suggesting, well, hey, this would be great. this would be a two for one for president trump. but you have to keep in mind that president trump didn't ultimately accept jeff sessions' resignation when he offered it a while back. and in some ways, he was backed
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down by this conservative groundswell of support for jeff sessions. and also, look f they all go, if there's a massacre at the justice department, that would really put president trump's presidency in jeopardy. so i don't know that he would necessarily view this as, well, great, i'll fire rosenstein, and i'll get sessions as a bonus. >> yeah. well, president nixon, to cite an earlier example of presidential trouble, wanted to get rid of archibald cox who was really a kennedy guy, and i understand why he was against him because he was coming at him. but then elliott richardson, who was a republican, quit. that made nixon look like the bad guy, and it was all downhill from that saturday night massacre onward. we appreciate that. that's the breaking story right now in "the washington post" tonight. i'm joined by michael schmidt, an msnbc contributor. paul butler is a former federal prosecutor. shannon pettypiece, a white house reporter for bloomberg.
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jennifer ruben. we've got a great first line here. let me talk starting with michael across the room there, across this panorama that seems like one room. it's a couple of rooms. first of all, your comment from what you just heard from matt at the post? >> well, this is this interesting thing that has hung over the administration for over a year now. what does the president really want to do with sessions and rosenstein? wanted to get rid of sessions when mueller was appointed. has talked about getting rid of rosenstein. has talked about mueller. the president has put an enormous amount of time and effort into these questions, and ultimately he hasn't done anything, which is interesting. he's gone ahead and done things with rex tillerson. he's cleaned out his veterans affairs secretary. but on the justice department, he understands how big of an issue it would be if he were to do something there, and clearly sessions here sending a sign back to the white house that this is not a good idea for the
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president. >> you know, one thought i have is that the republican party of today as opposed to the republican party of abraham lincoln's time is centered in the south, the deep south even you could argue. and trump is a guy from new york. no matter how much he's dominating affairs right now, he's not part of that southern base of the party where sessions is. let me ask you about this other question. in so many of these cases, the person who keeps notes owns the day into the future. if you write contemporary notes and you do something on the record in realtime, that carries tremendous credibility "x" many years or months later when it comes to a national trial or actual courtroom trial. the fact that james comey has kept almost john dean-like records of what happened between him in all those conversations with the president, how can the president walk away from that
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now and deny the truth and credibility of these records? >> well, we've seen what the president did. he's able to sort of dismiss things and move through them in ways that other politicians haven't. look, i think most people have already made up their mind where they are on donald trump and how they feel about him. so i'm not sure how much these memos change that or whatever. i mean at the end of the day, these are memos that bob mueller has. these are the basis for his obstruction investigation. he has already interviewed comey. he has gone through with them, and it will be mueller's findings, whatever mueller sees in it that is really the true outcome. we give so much time to the public view of this, and obviously that's important. but at the end of the day, it sits on bob mueller's desk. >> is there an attorney or investigator or a team of attorneys that mueller has tasked to look at the golden shower story, the two prostitutes involved in the
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ritz-carlton over there, that somebody certainly in the dossier says engaged in that behavior with trump present. it looks like that keeps popping up in these memo notes from comey tonight. they're there. does that mean mueller is taking that seriously enough to try to figure out is that something that vladimir putin has had on trump? >> well, we know that this is something that the fbi was looking at as far back as january of 2017. they had the dossier. they were looking at the allegations. they were trying to find out whether they had merit or not. the interesting thing about comey's memos that came out the other day is that in there is information that shows that other parts of the dossier, believed to be the less salacious parts of the dossier, had been corroborated by other intelligence agencies. >> therefore? >> so this means the dossier had gone out to other parts of the government that had looked at it and compared it to intelligence that they had. now, no one in the government has ever said that, yes, we know
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there's a video like this. but they're saying on the other issues, on russian meddling in the election, in what was going on inside of russia, the united states had intelligence that backed it up. that is one of the reasons why the fbi under comey gave the dossier so much, you know, potential credibility and we're looking into it. >> you know, this is a strange presidency, shannon. let's just say that. the fact that this kind of allegation sits against a guy. but here's a president with three aliases. david dennison in the nondisclosure thing. john barron where he's bragging he wants to get on the forbes list. and this other guy, john miller. he's got another name. it's like dragnet in the old days. presidents aren't supposed to have -- george washington didn't have aliases. that's who he was. now they have this question about this behavior of these two sex workers. nobody, i think, assumes he called somebody into the room to do something like that, but if he's engaging and allowing them to come into the room, who knows what's going to happen?
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i have no idea how to speculate on this except that the president keeps going back to it, denying it. he keeps going back and telling comey. is this an attempt to convince comey he's a good guy and wouldn't do something like that because that seems to be what he's trying to do. i wouldn't do anything like that. >> i know most people think if you keep denying it, you must have some guilt you're trying to get around. but trump does have a pattern of latching on to things and repeating them over and over again. the inauguration crowd size for one of them. the clinton e-mails. things he latches on to that he can't seem to get past. and maybe this could just be one of these things he has latched on to and brings up over and over and obsesses about. but i mean to speak to the weirdness of this remark in here, that he discussed this with putin. >> how do you put that together? let me go to paul on this. you're in a courtroom and somebody refers to the fact, well, they had a previous conversation about sex workers,
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to be a little more antiseptic here. they were calling them hookers, blah, blah, blah. is that tough guy talk with vladimir, or is it a reference to the fact that they did at one point talk about what was accounted for or alleged in the dossier? does that suggest that? >> i mean to be having a conversation about sex workers, it sure sounds like putin and trump were boys. they were dudes, which of course trump has denied. but that doesn't seem to be the kind of thing you talk about with someone who you just met, especially one world leader to another. so when we look at the comey memos, what we have is corroboration, contemporary corroboration, which is what prosecutors love because it's very compelling evidence. we heard that trump asked for the loyalty pledge. check, that's in the memo. we heard that trump asked comey if he could see his way clear to helping out his boy, mike flynn. check, that's in the memo. and, again, this obsession with
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sex workers. everything that's been investigated in the dossier seems to be coming true. you reported, chris, that reince priebus asked comey, why are you telling trump about the stuff in the dossier, and comey replied, because it's been corroborated. not everything, but a lot has been. >> according to the comey memos just out last night, the president defended himself from allegations of what took place in that moscow hotel room. trump reportedly told comey that he hadn't stayed overnight in russia during the miss universe trip. the memo also shows the president appeared to down play the amount of time he spent at the hotel, reportedly telling comey he returned only to get his things because they departed for new york by plane that same night. however, here's a big word -- however, it appears that trump's story is completely at odds with the account of his former bodyguard, keith schiller, who accompanied him on that trip. as nbc news reported last november, schiller told the house intelligence committee that trump went to bed alone. that's an interesting phrase.
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additionally schiller testified that he stood outside trump's hotel room for a time and then went to bed. there's also documentary evidence that says that trump spent a night in moscow. and here's a photograph taken by an nbc producer showing trump at the venue of the miss universe pageant on friday. catch this. the day before the event. so he had to stay overnight to be there the next day. the next day, on saturday afternoon, trump sat down for an interview with an nbc news reporter. so he was there friday. he was there saturday. one could argue -- i think this is called -- what is it called? >> deductive reasoning. >> something like that. he was there through the night. >> yeah. and why would he lie about that if there was nothing -- >> circumstantial evidence. >> to go back to paul's comment, one of the things that makes this interesting is not only is this contemporaneous
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corroboration, but it is so detailed. and the parts that aren't directly relating to the dossier are so believable. he talks about a jigsaw puzzle conversation where he talks about, guess what, the electoral college, winning the vote. so all of it rings with such clarity and such truth, and the minute detail is really rather remarkable. what's also interesting is trump didn't deny it today. he just came up with this c ooc and bull story. >> michael, i want you to do something for me. tell me if you had to explain to an editor what it all -- why this matters. why does the two women sex work skperz what allegedly happened according to the dossier in the room with him, which is obviously a focus of people's human interest, what's the relevance of that to the larger question of whether the president colluded with the russians? >> well, it's a larger question
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of whether russia has some type of leverage over trump. can they come to him and say, look, you know, we have this thing. we would like you to do "x" unless, whatever. essentially it's a blackmail issue. >> but he wasn't running for president in 2013. >> correct, but he was president in january of 2017. >> yeah. >> to michael's point, when you see in these memos how this bothered him and to the point you were making earlier. so if this is something that really bothered him that he wanted cleared up, maybe that could say it's something the russians could have used for leverage if this existed. >> anybody would be embarrassed by such a thing. even imagining it is brand-new territory for most people on the planet. anyway, meanwhile the democratic national committee today filed a lawsuit against the trump campaign, wikileaks and the russian government, alleging they engaged in a conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign, causing damage to the democratic party. as nbc news points out, the
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lawsuit could force the trump campaign and wikileaks to reveal internal communications about the hack through the legal discovery process. "the washington post" reports the maneuver follows the same playbook the dnc used during the watergate era, in that case, the 1974 lawsuit was ultimately successful, yielding a $750,000 settlement from the nixon campaign. paul, two years later, i didn't realize they were that late in the game either. even two years later, you can na nail the other side. >> you can. for serious crimes, the statute of limitations is longer. long is the operative word here. so this civil process is going to take a long time whereas we keep emphasizing, chris, by prosecutorial standards, mueller is going really quickly. this investigation is speeding ahead way quicker than most important federal criminal investigations occur. so whatever import it is for the american people to know about
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trump and his alleged collusion, possible collusion or obstruction of justice, we'll learn about that from mueller much quicker than we will from the civil lawsuit. >> and we'll learn what rudy giuliani later in the show tonight will be able to do to shorten this investigation, if he can do anything. our guests are staying with us. coming up, now that rudy giuliani is joining trump's legal team, he's already telling the boss what he wants to hear. rudy says the mueller investigation should be wrapped up within a week or two. what is going on here? let's watch. >> oh, you dirty boy, you. oh, oh donald, i thought you were a gentleman. >> you can't say i didn't try. >> so rudy and trump have worked together before. we'll get to rudy to the rescue, next. isn't that unbelievable? plus, a former reporter for "forbes" magazine says donald trump created a fake persona,
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called himself john barron, one of his aliases, to lie about his wealth in an attempt to con his way on to a list of richest americans. it's all incredible. back to trump versus comey with the "hardball" roundtable. who won the week? who do you think? comey may be a self-promoter, but he doesn't look like a liar. finally let me finish tonight with something new and unexpected in american politics. this is "hardball." it's all unexpected. where the action is. it's a supe. with this grade of protection... it's a fortress. and with this standard of luxury... it's an oasis. the 2018 e-class. it's everything you need it to be... and more. lease the e300 for $569 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. mercedes-benz. the best or nothing. [ drum roll ]
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...emily lapier from ames, iowa. this is emily's third nomination and first win.,! um, first of all, to my fellow nominees, it is an honor sharing the road with you. and of course, to the progressive snapshot app for giving good drivers the discounts -- no, i have to say it -- for giving good drivers the discounts they deserve. safe driving! well, catch this. north korea announced late today that it has suspended nuclear and long range missile tests. has suspended them. the country also says it plans to shut down a nuclear test site. the announcement comes just days before north korean leader kim jong-un is set to hold talks with his south korean counterpart. the south korean president said earlier this week that the north koreans are willing to discuss the denuclearization and that country, north korea, will not insist on american troops being withdrawn from south korea at
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the 30th parallel as part of any peace deal. these are impressive concessions. president trump responding to the news a short time ago, tweeting, this is very good news for north korea and the world. big progress. look forward to our summit. we'll be right back. just listen. (vo) there's so much we want to show her. we needed a car that would last long enough to see it all. (avo) subaru outback. ninety eight percent are still on the road after 10 years. come on mom, let's go! (burke) seen it. covered it. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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you know, you're really beautiful. a woman that looks like that has to have her own special scent. >> oh, thank you. maybe -- maybe you could tell me what you think of this scent. >> mmm, i like that. >> this may be the best of all. oh, you dirty boy, you. oh, oh. donald, i thought you were a gentleman. >> wow, welcome back to "hardball." that was himself, donald trump, and his new lawyer, rudy giuliani during happier times
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back in 2000. giuliani, a former u.s. attorney in manhattan has frequently boasted of his ties to the fbi. and yesterday he made clear what his mandate will be. telling "the new york post," i don't know yet what's outstanding, but i don't think it's going to take more than a week or two to get a resolution. a week or two to end this thing. they're almost there. i'm going to ask mueller, what do you need to wrap it up? according to michael schmidt's reporting in "the new york times," some close to the president believe president trump could try to replace attorney general jeff sessions with mr. giuliani in the coming months although mr. giuliani would face an extremely difficult confirmation hearing in the senate. we're back with michael schmidt himself along with paul butler, shannon pettypiece, and jennifer ruben. michael, tell me how does this fit with the latest stuff tonight, that jeff sessions was thinking of walking if trump fired rod rosenstein? >> i'm not sure how much it relates to that, to the sessions
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at the justice department, who's going to be at the justice department. but what is going on here behind the scenes is that the trump folks think they are okay with mueller and that they just sort of need to wrap up the end here. trump does not want to sit for an interview but realizes that he certainly has to do that to bring an end to this. so they're going to bring in giuliani to negotiate the end, to go to mueller and say, look, let's get this thing wrapped up. the problem is that if there's a big difference of opinion or idea of what's going on here. if the trump folks think there's no problem here but mueller thinks there's significant issues, i don't think this thing is going to be wrapped up so quickly in such a fashion like that. but if the trump folks think that the mueller stuff is far less of a threat than what's going on in new york and that rudy can bring an end to it. >> paul, how do you negotiate the end of a criminal investigation? i mean it seems to me unbelievable. like lawrence walsh's think went on with the iran-contra for like
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nine years. i think that may be extreme, but how can a lawyer come in from outside and say, get together here, mr. mueller, mr. president. let's shorten this thing up here. how do you shorten it because obviously trump doesn't want any more investigation, and it looks to me like mr. mueller would like to have as much investigation as he can get away with, keep it going until he finds something really interesting perhaps. how could giuliani come in and say, i'm blowing the whistle on you guys. we're going to stop this thing. >> because he is not a good criminal defense lawyer, chris. there are a hundred white collar criminal defense attorneys in d.c. who are experienced in high-profile, complex, criminal investigations. rudy giuliani is not one of those people. he's a has-been who was never all that great in the first place, which is why he can make this outrageous statement that he can bring the investigation to an end. trust me, he cannot do that.
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there are trials scheduled for september and october of this year. >> what do you make of it, shannon? that's a hell of an offer. i'm going to shorten this thing up. >> i think the key to that statement is, i don't know what's outstanding, as in i don't know anything about this case at this point but i think i can wrap it up in a couple weeks. >> what about this character, ty cobb, he said this was going to be over thanksgiving. and trump's been absorbing and swallowing this stuff for months. >> the argument that the trump lawyers make is, listen, we've given you all these documents. you've interviewed every witness. what more do you need, especially on the obstruction? >> more on the business end first of all. >> what more do you need from us? what are you asking? what's the outstanding request because right now they're saying there aren't any outstanding requests for documents or witnesses. >> but this is all nonsense. this is either rudy and the other lawyers trying to settle trump down. because rudy is coming in, you don't have to fire rosenstein. you don't have to do anything
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rash. like you said, trying to assure him of something they can't be assured. also, rudy is going through his third divorce. maybe he needs more exposure on tv. maybe this is a favor for rudy. >> let's not get into that. go ahead, paul. >> from a purely strategic sense for the president, it might not actually be a bad idea to fire rod rosenstein. as you say, the president would get two for one if sessions would actually resign. i think the breaking news there is actually that sessions might have some integrity. who knew? but if rosenstein goes, then trump gets to -- it's better than firing mueller because trump then gets to install mueller's boss, who could say, you can't expand the investigation. you can't look at taxes. you can't look at any kind of personal financial transactions. the only people who would hold him in check is the congressional republicans, and would they call his bluff? i kind of don't think so. >> well, once again, if you get rid of sessions, you don't have to worry about rosenstein.
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you don't have to worry about mueller because you get an attorney general in there who is not recused, who can clip mueller's wings if he wants to. you don't have to have a deputy attorney general in there. you just need to get an attorney general in there who is not recused. >> let's get back to rudy giuliani. tell me about rudy giuliani and his strength. apparently he does know the u.s. attorney in new york. he's worked there. he apparently would have claim to sort of connections. people have accused him of having something to do with comey's decision 11 days out from the 2016 election because he said on my show, here on this show, we talked about what was his heads-up. how did he know that something was coming up in terms of hillary getting more exposure with the e-mails from huma abedin and her husband, anthony weiner. somehow rudy seemed to know about that. how did he find out about it? michael it. >> that's been a question. that was something that the fbi was actually looking at even before comey left.
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what did rudy giuliani know before the election? why was it that he sort of foreshadowed this move by comey? was he simply throwing things out there, or was there actually leaks coming out of the new york office? if you go back and look at comey's decision-making around the e-mail decision, one of the concerns comey had was going to get a warrant in new york, which they thought they needed from a judge to look at the huma abedin/anthony weiner e-mails, and they were afraid if they did that, that it would leak, and that comey thought he had to own that decision. i do not have any evidence that rudy giuliani was by any means in comey's head on anything like that or that was something that comey was worried about. but the new york office is notoriously a leaky one. in terms of giuliani, i think there's an important point. a few weeks ago after john dowd quit the team because he concluded the president wasn't listening to him, we quoted a longtime legal expert who said trump was looking for someone that had the silver bullet, that was not going to necessarily
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tell him what he should hear but what he wanted to hear. if you sort of line that up with giuliani, who says, look, i know how to bring an end to it, it sort of looks like perhaps a silver bullet. >> i thank you all for coming on this friday night because it's begun to look like one of those rep tory companies where everybody changes parts during the run of the show. and here's giuliani back not as consigliere but some kind of inside guy, and judge kimba wood who had the babysitter problem back in the clinton era. there's only 20 people running the country? and they just shift roles every once in a while. >> it's the cast. >> it's the cast. i'm sorry. it's a rep tory company. it shouldn't be that way. it should be a democracy. anyway, thank you to our panel. up next, a reporter says that trump posed as a man named john barron in order to con his way on to a list of america's
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richest people. just one of the trump aliases. isn't that amazing? also known as. david dennison, remember that from the nondisclosure? also this guy john miller. they're all him. we'll get to that incredible audio coming up straight ahead. you're watching "hardball," where the action is. mom? dad? hi!
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welcome back to "hardball." during the 2016 presidential campaign, then candidate donald trump often touted his business
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success as proof he'd be able to run the country well. but as investigative journalist jonathan greenberg revealed in "the washington post" today, trump repeatedly conned his way on to the trump's 400 list of the richest people in the country in the early '80s, even posing as an employee from the trump organization named john barron. here is john barron telling greenberg that trump's net worth was higher than what forbes had previously reported. >> okay. what's your first name by the way? >> john. >> john barron. let me tell you what the deal is just so you understand. first of all, most of the assets have been consolidated to mr. trump, you know, because you have down fred trump. somebody had mentioned you had asked about that and it's been pretty well consolidated, okay? >> greenberg noted that at the time he pushed back on trump's claims about his net worth but
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didn't realize how much he inflated his own numbers. greenberg points out this was a model trump would use for the rest of his career. telling a lie so cosmic that people believed that some kernel of it had to be true. the tactic landed him a place he hadn't hearnearned on the forbet and led to future accolades, press cover and deals. i'm joined by columnist tim o'brien, the author of trump nation. trump sued him for libel after he reported a relatively low estimate of trump's net worth. i don't know if that's libellous, tim, but thank you for coming on. >> it's good to be here, chris. >> i was joshing earlier. we have a president of the united states with at least three aliases. as i pointed out, george washington, abraham lincoln, i don't think they had aliases. they don't have accusations
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about whatever happened in moscow hotel rooms either. there's a -- what do you call it? not a dark side. it's sort of a different side to trump where he operates almost like a con artist. >> well, it's not almost like a con artist. donald trump is a con artist, and he's been, i think, pulling a long con on the american public for decades. a lot of what he's doing now in the white house is very similar to what he did during his business career, which is to create this or try to create this aura around himself of being incredibly smart, incredibly wealthy, incredibly strategic, and a great performer. and it's all an artifice for the most part. and i think the things that he's most insecure about tend to be the things he brags the most about. he repeatedly brags about his intellect. i'm a very smart guy. i went to wharton, okay? he brags about his
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attractiveness to women. women call me all the time. okay? and of course his wealth. i'm a very rich guy. i'm worth $10 billion, okay? >> what difference does it make whether he has hundreds of millions of dollars or "x" many billions? what does that calibration do for him? >> well, i think it's twofold. i think first and foremost he's always seen the forbes 400 list as a kind of pecking order, and it's very important to his own sense of himself that he be considered a billionaire. and i think that that's just part of the strange amalgamation of him being both ego ma nye cal and wildly insecure all at the same time. secondly, he got good business traction off of that. you know, the more needmedia attention when he got when he bragged about his wealth and the more the media played along with that game, the more it kept him in the news and it also became a calling card for him to use at banks. but i think the thing to remember here as well is to a certain extent, the media was
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complicit in that because you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to do some digging into trump's numbers. when i was at "the new york times," i spent about a month taking a hard look at some of these forbes numbers over the years for my book and for reporting for the "times." and you could see on the face of it that a lot of it seemed, at best, specious. >> well, if he's a mont bank, and he makes stuff up, why do people do business with him in new york? you hear these horrendous stories of him holding people up, giving them nothing, stiffing them. >> his contractors, his business partners, his attorneys. none of the top tier families in the new york real estate business and frankly top tier real estate developers around the country ever considered donald trump to be a top tier real estate developer. >> yeah. >> and that's just -- >> it sounds like mort zuckerman didn't do business with him, right? the big guys. >> that's correct.
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>> what a story. the trouble is it didn't make any difference with the american people. thanks for coming on, tim. coming up, who won the week? trump or comey. we'll have a little contest. the president and his former fbi director once again doing battle, this time thanked to the newly released comey memos just out last night. who's come out on top? i would say the guy with the memos is doing okay. we're going to bring that up with the roundtable. you're watching "hardball." right into the harbor. i'm gonna regret that. with new car replacement, if your brand new car gets totaled, liberty mutual will pay the entire value plus depreciation. liberty stands with you. liberty mutual insurance. essential for the cactus, but maybe not for people with rheumatoid arthritis. because there are options. like an "unjection™". xeljanz xr. a once-daily pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well enough. xeljanz xr can reduce pain, swelling and further joint
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i also was worried that i was meeting alone with the president to talk about things that were relating to him and to the fbi's core responsibilities. and given the nature of the person as i understood the president-elect, he might not tell the truth about those if it ever became an issue, and so i needed a written record. >> with rachel last night. that was former fbi director james comey on why he kept memos
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of his interactions with president trump. we know now house republicans repeatedly pushed for the release of those memos ironically. president trump last night claimed victory saying they showed no collusion and no obstruction. but "the washington post's" greg sargent said that sharing comey's version of events may have backfired on the president. he writes, simply put, the memos confirm that trump did in fact try to exert a level of control over his fbi director. and over an ongoing investigation into his and his cronies' conduct. there's no way to argue that this outcome is vindicating for trump. the opposite is true. let's bring in the "hardball" roundtable. ginger gibson, adolfo franco, and margaret carlson. i love "the daily beast." let's talk about you, sir, adolfo. explain. who won this week? >> oh, the president, there's no question. the president is vindicated. i'm quite serious. this is just a big yawn.
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beyond that, there's a couple of things that have come through in these memos. it doesn't say anything other than what we've said all along. >> everything comey said is verified. >> there's no collusion. there's no collusion. you're not under investigation. the president simply says, why can't you tell the american people what you're telling me? and then lastly you just saw comey himself. before he even met with the president, he already had suspicions and prejudices against the president. so whatever he was going to write was going to be receive serving. at the end of the day, i don't think anybody in america except here in washington is paying attention to this. >> where do you think comey's book will be on the best-seller list next week? >> best-seller? who's talking about fire and fury now? no one is even talking about that now? >> i'm asking you where you think -- >> i think it will be on the best-seller for a very short period of time. >> the book will be number one on the best-seller list. it turns out that james comey is actually a very good writer.
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he's lost -- what he lost this week a little bit was his not moral authority, but he is now more like us. first of all, he's a writer selling books, and he's also not unbiased anymore. >> talking about the president's hands. >> here's what happens -- >> wait. >> can i just -- >> i want to ask you about truth. not everybody is perfect. i don't think comey is perfect. i think he was stupid to talk about the hands and all that stuff and the face and the tie. but you know what? nobody has ever accused him of lying whereas trump engages in a world where he makes up an alternative reality. >> and the book is an homage to the truth. even when you don't want to tell the truth, it really is a book about telling the truth. i read it from the perspective of a reporter who feels that's what i'm called to do is tell the truth all the time. so for that reason, i found a lot of that really interesting, and it struck me at points in time, especially when he talks about his early cases. i think maybe we can measure this not on our perspective but on trump's perspective.
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trump thinks anytime anyone is talking about you, you're winning. so comey on that front is winning. people are talking about it. they're not talking about taxes, the economy, the jobless rate. they're not talking about what trump has done to create jobs, and they're not going to talk about north korea in the same way because we're talking about comey. and i think -- >> can i finish one thing, chris, which is that, you know, somebody said you get into a cage match with a dancing bear, and you're going to lose a little bit. and that's the luster i'm talking about that came off comey this week. just the way it did when marco rubio went on that tear for a week and talked about trump's hands and his orange hair. it didn't hurt trump. it hurt rubio because you get pulled down. >> we're talking about the two women, the alleged women in the ritz-carlton in moscow back in '13. you think that's good for trump that we're talking about that again? >> look, if that's all they have -- and everybody knows donald trump. we've had the "access hollywood"
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tape and -- >> what does that tell you? >> it tells me this is a story for two or three days. the fact of the matter is most people are concerned about the economy, about their taxes, and about north korea. >> do you believe his memos? >> i don't believe him. >> you don't believe his memos? >> i believe this. i believe the memos vindicate the president in this regard. >> you're missing my point. do you believe his account of his meetings with the president? >> i think they were carefully written thinking ahead that he would have a problem. >> were they accurate? >> no, they're not accurate? >> they're not accurate? so he walked out a room and five minutes later wrote something that didn't happen? >> you talked about truth telling. there's going to be an inspector general investigation. let's see if this guy is one of the leakers. he says in it, i hate leaking. >> i'm talking about the conversation with the president. >> he says i'm against it. >> you're doing -- >> i'm not doing that. [ overlapping voices ] >> you're saying comey is a leaker. [ overlapping voices ]
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>> it's no big thing that we spent the week talking about stormy daniels and what might have happened at the ritz-carlton in russia. you say that's no big deal because comey might be a leaker? >> the roundtable is sticking with us. you're watching "hardball." for the sales team, it and the warehouse crew. give us the data we need. in one place, anywhere we need it. help us do our jobs better. with domo we can run this place together. well that's that's your job i guess. ♪ sarge, i just got a tip. that'll crack this case wide open! turns out the prints at the crime scene- awwwww...did mcgruffy wuffy get a tippy wippy? i'm serious! we gotta move fast before- who's a good boy? is him a good boy? erg...i'm just gonna go. oh, you wanna go outside? you gotta go tinky poo-poo?
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we're back with the roundtable. adolfo, tell me something that i don't know. >> i'll tell you that only 25% of the american people know there are three branches of government. and only a third know there are nine supreme court justices. last night when you were sort of taking jabs at the president, i think the president is doing a great job by telling the american people we actually are not at peace with korea and we have an armistice. so i think the president is doing a good job in helping the american people with basic facts. >> thank you. you'll get a call five minutes later from the president. ginger gibson. margaret, next time. you're giving me the look. i don't have time. >> adolfo, really. do better next time. if you're the only one, you've got to be really good.
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let me finish tonight with something unexpected, something new in other words in american politics. it's the young people out there carrying the cause against gun violence who now offer hope. today students from over 2,000 schools across the country left their classrooms to make themselves heard. there they are. the protest was intentionally planned for today, the 19th anniversary of the columbine high school mass shooting. it was on april 20th, 1999, that 12 students and a teacher were killed. up until then, the deadliest
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school shooting in history. that record, of course, has been broken with a vengeance. according to "the washington post," more than 208,000 children at 12 schools have been exposed to gun violence since columbine. the freedom to speak out and to pursue our lives free of oppression and gun violence are critical rights in any free society. americans need to make noise to make sure our rights don't get taken from us. don't you think? that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. tonight we begin with a twist in the russia probe. democrats have just filed a new lawsuit and they allege that the russians conspired with the trump campaign for the hacking that so defined the 2016 election. it's a civil suit that names the intelligence services run of course by putin. it also explicitly names wikileaks founder julian assange and the trump campaign itself