tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 18, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
capitol hill. i'll see you on sunday and monday. of course you can reach out to me on social media anytime. "hardball" starts right now. article one. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. article one was that the president counselled witnesses to provide false or misleading statements. there's new reports that donald trump did just that. it's kraubative evidence that he did in fact commit a crime. he directed his lawyer, michael cohen, to knowingly lie to congress on the 2016 campaign to
build a trump tower unmoscow. just as important that mueller has proof. according to two law enforcement officials quote the special counsel's office learned about trump's directive from cohen to lie to congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the trump organization and internal company emails, text messages and a cash of other documents. nbc news has yet to confirm "buzz feed"'s reporting. and quote any suggestion from any source that president counselled michael con to lie is categorically false. today's claims are just more made-up lies born of michael cohen's malice and desperation in an effort to reduce his sentence. directing someone to lie under oath is -- and if proven is impeachable.
shannon, oo "bloomberg news" white house reporter, former fbi official and chairman of deutsche incorporated. you're friends with cohen. tle me about michael's fee feel about the pressure he's under now that his story's out, his story that president told him to lie to congress. >> i spoke to him in the recovery room and his response was -- i asked as anybody else would and he said out of respect to mr. mueller's investigation i can't talk about this. he did point out this came from two law enforcement officials. so they don't get disappointed fb ware 7th, he's not going to be able to get into anything having to do with the mueller russia investigation in front of congress. i don't think michael's going to be able to corroborate this in front of congress either. at the same time he's continuing
to go after his faulther in law. that is a second obstruction of justice. i was on the phone with mikethal first time it happened and he's like he's going after my father in law. are my children next? i saw the reaction to the obstruction of justice in real time where he said i don't think i'm going to testify and i think he needed elijah comens to come out the next day and calm him down a but. and we're seeing history. >> i'm thinking of the scene in "godfather ii" where they're called over from sicily to kill the guy. is that what it's about? being a family member and threat thing family member, in this case the father in law? >> he used the same exact analogy to me. and any "godfather" knows it well. he brings in the brother from sicily and he changes his
testimony. we get so numb with all the h e heinous things this president does. the president is publicly, publicly threatening sending warnings to a man's family member. i don't care. republican, democrat. if you are a u.s. citizen, with all the atrocities we've watched him waddle through, this is top of the list as far as i'm concerned. >> he's your friend. dud he give you a sense of commitment? will he testify? >> i believe strongly he will. but he was thrown and that was with obstruction of justice in real time. i got a front-row seat to it. >> the president has unique tactic like the yard bully. a president tells somebody to tl lie to congress. >> matter of law pretty simple.
that is perjury and whether it's under ogt or not. whether oral or written, in front of congress or the fbi, that's a crime. and prosecutors know how to try that. it's not hard. >> there's documents, cash, a couple of other people involved. it's not just word of michael cohen. >> as matter of law perjury requires a witnesses and something else. the congressman knows this well. you want to corroborate your witnesses however you ask can in as many ways as you can as long as it's truthful and accurate. documents, emails, tapes. all that stuff corroborates, in there e theory, michael cohen. you need other stuff and sounds like if the reporting is accurate that you have other stuff. >> let's talk about his
materiality here. to cover up a business deal, is that relevant to head of state? >> this is watergate plus. watergate was more of a domestic issue. articles involved, contempt of congress, obstruction of justice and abuse of power. here if you step back and ask why did the presidents direct michael con to lie, if he did, it's to cover up a relationship he had with russia that is still ongoing today where what we value, democracy, rule of law, that's at stake. that is an outside threat as well as a rule of law inside threat and that is what's most concerning to me. >> it's always been a question of collusion with the russians. all kinds of weird entanglements. 101 and counting between trump people and the russians. i wonder if this is one of those places where it's an over law.
so if he was cover up his business dealings to cover up the fact he was keeping nice with vladimir putin to keep a business deal warm, that's a big deal >> that's an entanglement with a country that is not our friend. if you're looking at quit pro quo. the quo really started to heat up after the helsinki conference. the interpreter's notes taken away, he's pulled us out of syria, tried to take us out of nato and easing sanctions on someone involved in the russia investigation, deripaska. >> do you think the president has been an agent of the russians? >> yes, i haven't seen a single piece of evidence he's not. >> like in the 1940s? like that? in other words working for a foreign power? >> he's working on behalf of the
russians, yes. >> donald trump denied having any business interss in russia. however, according to two law enforcement sources, trump was actively engaged in talks of building a trump tower unmoscow. trump had quote at least 10 face-to-face meetings with cohen and told him to make a meeting happen. the president wanted to meet with putin. it's mesmerizing. during the presidential campaign this guy wants to be seen sitting down to do business with most people see as an adversary. >> it can speak to the facts that he never thought he was going to win. he was a businessman. he was a businessman running a business. russians buy up his apartments in the united states. they have been talking for years about doing a trump tower moscow. this is not something they cooked up all of a sudden.
would they still want to do a trump tower in moscow? probably. would russians still be buying trump apartments? so if he's on the campaign trail attacking russia, what does that do when he's not president ands to the do business with russia as businessman? it shows the mindset he had at the same. >> a lot of my friends on the left and i deal with a lot of people on the left, more than a sense of the pettiness of donald trump. they think he does everything for money. that everything in the campaign was basically a pr campaign to build up his business potential and it was all about that trump tower. everything about being pro russian wasn't about a grand dial, maybe i'm romantic, that would be east, west, against the south, the terrorists in the middle east. is he always interested in mun ea day to day? and can michael confirm that? >> donald trump is always about the money.
michael once said at the beginning of the campaign, this is going to be the biggest infomrlgs we've ever done and i've always said follow the money. donald trump went bust. he could not borrow money from banks. it was coming from russia. and wun once he's out of office, you're going to see money laundering. you're going to see a criminal enterprise. people in new york knew. real estate guys are slippery to begin with but he is the bottom of the bottom of the barrel. take a look at what a criminal businessman can do, as low as it can go and that's donald j. trump. >> what's his motive for the campaign? >> first all of the attention but at the same time, you run for president for 24/7 for 18 months you're out there and even if you go back to this rurussia
loses this trump tower moscow, he's a hundred times more of an international figure. before "the apprentice" he was a guy doing pizza hut. your on the national stage for 18 months and saying nice things about russia, where does that open up for your business? follow the money. >> wow. william barr, president trump's nominee was asked if it would be a driem for the president to direct somebody to lie and this is what he told senators in his conformation hearing this week. >> you wrote on page one that a president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. is that right? >> that -- yes. well, any person who persuades another -- yeah. >> you also said a president or any person convincing a witness
to change testimony would be obstruction. is that right? >> yes. >> and on page two you said that president deliberately imparaing the integrity or availability of evidence would be an obstruction. is that correct? >> yes. >> so if there was some reason to believe the president tried to coach somebody not to testify or testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice? >> yeah, under obstruction statute, yes. >> there's his guy saying if he does this, if "buzz feed"'s right, he's a criminal? >> this is straight-forward criminal law. there are complicated questions about his authority to maybe pardon somebody or fire someone. suborning perjury, that's easy. that's a crime. only answer he could give. >> and also the evidence that he did this, chuck was talking about corroboration, it is
independently confirmed by evidence that we had in our intelligence committee investigation that he told hope hicks at times to lie and what he did with james comey, can you make this go away e? is he an agent for russia? we should not assume he's faithful only to russia. i think there are other countries he has business dealings with >> the saudis. >> if there's money that moves this guy and he's going to a -- what do you call that? the top of the room? penthouse to putin, talk about entanglement. >> right. and he raises an interesting point. in new york his reputation was like a quote-on-quote sleezy real estate man. prosecutors in new york knew that. for years and years and years,
donald trump was big fish. he was someone they knew had questionable history with business. they never got to him. now they have an un. they never really had an in before. you could argue through michael cohen the payments through stormy daniels has given them an in. >> i'm going to take advantage of you being here. tell me about donald trump, if he gets impeached but not convicted? what's he going to do? run for reelection? run into exile? >> this is the scary part. who's going to tell people to take to the streets. he owns howevermany voters. he's going to say they're trying to take your president away. don't let them do it. year go eing to create a civil war and take it one step further and say and i'm starting the trump revolutionary network. you can join for $6 a month subscription.
i think he'll say i have more power outside the government now. your government is -- this is a deep state. i'm starting the trump revolutionary party. we're not going to run for office again and i'm going to have my mega phone. my first rally is in arkansas. year heading to a civil war. whatever we think this man is copable of, who's capable of more. >> that's what i think he's going to find a perverse way to take pelosi's not state of the union to say the democrats are the enemy. i'm a good guy. boy, it's a scary prognosis you've given us but thanks for coming on. thank you. chuck rosenberg. coming up this bomb shell report we got tonight as democrats on capitol talking impeachment. why not? it's obstruction of justice if proven.
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we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. welcome back to "hardball." bomb shell that president trump told michael con to lie to congress. adam schiff vowed to investigate the allegations. in a statement he wrote our kmuty is already working to secure additional witness testimony and documents related to the trump tower moscow deal and other investigative matters. and in a tweet nadler wrote we kbloe that the president has engaged in long pattern of obstruction, directing a subordinate to tlie congress is a federal crime. the house judiciary's job is to get to the bottom of it.
upgter democrats took it a step further. here's joaquin castro. >> if this report is true, if the president directed michael cohen to lie to congress, then that's a clear case of participating in perjury and ubstrubz of justice and he should resign but if he doesn't resign, he should be impeached. by the way in 1974, that committee passing the first article on july 27th, siting obstruction of justice. i'm joined by democrat from california, member of the house judiciary committee. i'm sure you've looked back. and a crime and apparently impeachable. your thoughts.
>> thank you for your question and i'm a prosecutor. he's entitled to the presumption of innocence. i hope these allegations are not true because if they are, it means the sitting president of the united states committed a felony. that's why the house judiciary committee will start their own investigation and get to the bottom of this serious matter. >> you can hold hearings anytime you want. i just checked it historically. in 1974 it was the house by reseslution asked the judiciary committee to take up impeachment. do you need the full resolution of the house? >> no, we don't. and we have to first lay a record as to whether these allegations are true or false. right now we've got news article.
>> congressional rerepublicans remain mostly silenced. they report several republicans sought to deflect questions. mueller's investigation is a place to sift all this out. instead it's important for the investigation to continue unimpeded. do you have to wait for mueller, sir? >> we do not and kblb troubled by william barr's testimony where he suggested he could hide all or parts of special counsel mueller's report and that's why congress, a co equal branch of government has an independent duty to subpoena witnesses and documents and then threat american people know what we find. >> you know the game they're playing. they're saying you can't impeach a president and you can't talk about him in a report because all the report does is talk about what's indictable. by definition, the way that the former or future attorneygeneral is talking?
>> in fact one way to read william barr's testimony is that none of the report we made public because his view is that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, even though that's nowhere in the constitution and then you can't have anybody see the negative information rob mueller has found, including if the president committed a variety of crimes. >> one of the things i didn't like about jerry ford back then. i was much younger when he pardoned nixon. even the senator at harvard thought was a profile incurage. people like me wanted to know what nixon had done. we wanted to know exactly what happened and we knelt pardon eliminated our chance of finding out what nixon did under oaths. that there the people around him would have to testify and we'd finally find out the end of this horrible scandal. will we know in a year or so what trump did unall these
regards? will we? >> i believe one reason democrats won last november wasn't just health care and infrasfrukture but that we were going to act as co equal and separate branch of government and get to the truth. so democrats will supoona the report if barr tries to hide 2, assuming he'ss confirmed and make thur sh american people know the truth whether it kbaunerates him or finds him guilty. >> one way he may try to hide the truth, the president of the united states, is witness tampering. he put out in a tweet that he wants to be on the lookout for possible damage he can do to michael cohen's father in law who had problems a while back and in the "godfather" he's threat thing relative. it's weirdly funny and awful too. here's a guy who knows that's a felony in of itself. you can't say i'm going to knock off your brother in law, your sister, anybody.
i'm going to prosecute your father in law. can he keep the witness from appearing before the oversight committee? >> one thing prosecutors look for is we look for something called consciousness of guilt. what would a guilty person do that an innocent would not? he's had a lot of time to respond and has he denied them personally? no, he has not. instead he tries to intumdate the key witness and that is a possible felony. michael cohen's attorney clearly believes donald trump is trying to intimidate michael cohen and just because the president does it so brazenly doesn't mean it also is not a crime. >> thank you, congressman of california. we're going to talk about the very question coming up right now. does the "buzz feed" report, if true, one of the implications of the pds and his family.
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putin and promising a better relationship with russia. >> i'll get along with russia and putin. he will respect us. >> i believe we will have a very good relationship with russia. i believe that i will have a very good relationship with putin. i don't like the way obama treats putin. >> a person who kills journalists, and invades countries. obviously that would be a concern, would it not? >> he's running his country and at least he's a leader, which is more than our country. he's been stronger than our leader, that i can tell you. >> wouldn't it be nice if we could get along with russia? >> always in cahoots to build that hotel. it appears the president directed his long-time fixer to lie to congress about those negotiations for the potential trump tower in russia. what are the potential legal
ramifications? i'm joined by a assistant attorney. so in that order, what does this mean legally? it's not one that requireses climbing into someone's head like obstruction of justice to determine what he was thinking. it's something that can be easily proven. i think at this point the answer has to be no in that regard. i think you probably could. bar wrr made dereally clear. he's a rule of law guy. >> ted liuo. member of the judiciary. what if he believes you can't indict as? and there's this other orthodoxy, if you can't indict somebody, shut up about it, therefore he doesn't say
anything regards to all of this mess. >> i worked on white water and under the statute, he had to produce a very long report. that's not the case under these regulations. >> it's possible members of congress who have impeachment on their mind will not have any information from mueller by that theory? >> the good flnews for the president a sitting president cannot be indicted, the bad news is unlike any other target of an investigation who if not indicted, congress doesn't care about? congress will care a lot about finding out what mueller found, even if he couldn't indict the president. they're likely going to simply edemand the report, the cong fdential report he gives to the attorney general and william barr up to testify. >> can he stop all this and dhil whole thing? sounds like he's keeping that option.
>> he was noncommittal in the hearing for sure. and i wouldn't expect him to make a commitment at this point. >> he said he would let him finish the investigation. these are internal doj regulations. this is not a statute. >> suborning perjury. >> that's part of its legislative power and so here we've got the presidents of the united states potentially telling someone to lie to a cordinate branch of government. even despite the memorandum, despite all of this, if this were ever to get before the supreme court of the united states, i think it would be difficult for them to say we're all boxed in, there's no way congress can get this information, there's no way the executive branch can prosecute. the old line, they know how much
the public wants to know what happened. >> they're institutionalests. the framers wanted checks and balances. if there's no place to make this public, that's a problem. >> why did the president tell, if he did, tell michael cohen, his lawyer fixer to lie about his business dealings in russia. they're not illegal. they looked unsavory. >> unsavory as you point out. is there foreign corrupt practices yet. >> it might begin to look like a reason he's doing a business deal. >> there are signatures the day
there was a republican debate anden the we had all of the clips you're showing, pro putin, pro putin and it stopped around the time of the trump tower deal t moscow. >> according to "buzz feed" don jr. received regular updates about the trump tower moscow plan from cohen. but the young don jr. said he knew very little about the deal and was only preliferally aware. is he in trouble? >> the key is whether or not the reporting is correct in that there's evidence. documentary evidence that corroborate with michael cohen will say to congress >> what about the kid? >> it depends on what that evidences suggests or indicates about him and others. >> it's so lawyered.
proliferally involved. that's a carefully crafted answer you could easily dodge. i think congress could put him back in the box and say we want to know what you mean by that. >> would the judge say he was lie s lying? >> it would be a jury and it's hard to know without know knoing bha what the evidence is. >> senators came hard on president clinton in, will they be as hard on president trump? finding people like lindsey graham and have them be consistent with the same charge. consteisnt with the same charge. you might take something for your heart... or joints. but do you take something for your brain. with an ingredient originally discovered in jellyfish, prevagen has been shown in clinical trials to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life.
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others. don't send public officials and friends to tell your lie business nor federal grand jury to avoid your legal responsibilitieses. impeachment is about restoring honor integrity to the office. if you believe he's a purger, that obstructed justice in a civil rights lawsuit, the question is not should he stay, what if he stays? >> that was senator lindsey graham arguinging for the impeachment of president bill clinton. siting the president's direction of monica lewinsky to lie about their relationship. and noting that quote he obstructed justice by encouraging ms. lewinsky to give false testimony. he was interested in saving his hide, no truth and justice. if we have no truth, justice, then we have no nation of laws.
14 of today 's current u.s. senators voted to hold bill clinton accountable for obstruction of justice. if this new report is true, will republicans hold president trump to the same standards that they held bill clinton? and a white house reporter for the "new york times"s. both opinion writers for the "washington post." you first, i think the question is consistency that we expected. >> first of all if this story turns aught to be true it carries serious implications for the president. it's a much more partisan time and i think republicans and democrats alike have a way of being able to make a well, that was then and this is now argument. so consistency, these clips will be played a lot if they change their positions. >> they're hypocritical by
nature. >> i see it differently now. >> you're being nice. and a spokesman for the special counsel just put out a statement in response to the "buzzfeed" report saying the description of specific elements to social counsel's office, are not accurate. jonathan, i'm not sure how you read that? do you read it as complete denial that michael cohen was told to lie to congress by this story? >> i've read the statement now about five or six times and two wor jump out at me. description and accurate. they're not saying it's false. they're saying -- >> all this flackery lunes in history -- >> and the description of what was said -- maybe i'm being
overly lawyer like but those were two things that jumped out at me and the intersing thing will be how do the two "buzzfeed kwa "buzzfeed" reporters respond? >> why are they responding? no one responds to noddau. hasn't responded to anything in a year >> that is the biggest question and i cant figure out a goodancer to that. what i see is denial that these things were told to the special prosecutor's office, to this office. so perhaps they occurred, perhaps they were told to a different set of prosecutors but not this offices. but why he would go to this lengths to deny a story when, as you say, there have been somany other misinformation and the special counsel has never done that is very hard to pierce and figure out what is going through his mind and why he would go to that extreme.
>> it just popped. but the statement certainly raises more questions than it answers, especially the strangeness of the spokesman that never speaks, which is the mueller spokesman issuing a statement. >> we have another party, his nomis donald trump. and "godfather ii" like, saying i'll go after your father in law. it reminds me of pantangelo's father coming back from sicily. >> it's public, so bizarre and so atrocious. that and that's the pattern of donald trump. if he did this in private, it would be a horror scandal. he does it in public so they kind of talk it for granted. >> i don't want the truth. >> and he does it consistently.
this isn't the first time he's gone after cohen's father in law. he did it with janene pero and once before that. he's trying to put cohen's father -- >> let me go to any on this. because trump has the school-yard bully's technique. s senses anything about you, he gets after it. little or anything, you do whatever. in this case he thinks mr. cohen is worried about his father in law because that means he's worried about his whole family. but i thought the father's legal business was behind him many years? it's over >> cohen is someone trump knows really well, so he would know eif the family is a vulnerability here. the tweets today at cohen are kind of in line with him pushing the limit of witness tampering and we've seen this gray area in the past.
demanding sessions and goes after that lune a lot in term ozes of is this witness tampering or spouted off on twitter. >> the big story of the week but as this week goes, as somany weeks lately, every day the story gets topped the next day by a bugger story. i get the feeling is the one that's going to dliev house impeachment committee. >> going to have hearings and i think this points to i think a very important point which is if they can find something concrete, discrete, easily explae explained to the american people, that will have much more power than a complicated tale that takes lots of russian names to explain it. so perhaps this is too good to bechucked on this story. but they're going to look for these discrete packs that republicans in the past have been on record about. >> wouldn't it be great?
let's bring in ken delaney on that one. >> well, crhris, the special counsel's office has issued an unprecedented statement. "buzzfeed"'s description is specific statements to the special counsel's office and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office regarding michael cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate. i cannot remember a statement like that coming from mueller's office about any news report, pro or con, in the history of the special counsel's office. let's be clear they're not disputing the idea that michael cohen is testifying that trump asked him to lie. what they're disputing is all this corroborating evidence they seiz seized from the trump organization and one of the things that lent it credibility. >> they had custody of those
documents and they don't want the word to get out somebody got to them because that meant somebody put them out. by the way not accurate's an old term for flacks. it means -- in certain iotas, it wasn't quite true but doesn't deny the thrust of the article. >> no, but they are disputing -- i read this as the special counsel is disputing they have obtained evidence from the trump organization, emails, documents and testimony saying that donald trump asked michael cohen to lie. i've been saying this on the air. that is hard to believe people would put that in writing intects messages and emails. trump wants con to lie to congress. that was the hardest part to believe and the thing that suggested it was corroborated. it's not just the word of michael cohen, an admitted liar and soon-to-be convicted felon. >> thank you, sir.
you know i have to say i -- this doesn't change the story for me yet. not accurate's an old term of art. >> it opens more questions than it answers. one story, one huge story happened today. no one elsz confirmed it and within hours democrats were calling if this is true the president should be impeached. it's a reminder of how hard it's going to be for nancy pelosi to hold off impeachment when the mueller report comes out. they're ready to go and it's going to be very difficult for her. >> she has to because they have to have the report first. i thunk that's fair. up next these two will tell me something i don't know. t the me something i don't know.
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the only thing is declaration of a national emergency. i don't necessarily think that's what he's saying tomorrow. he said humanitarian crisis. >> fantastic variable, something from outside the box. something that has nothing to do with either of these personalities. >> we hope it's something serious. people are talk about disaster or -- >> how about the air traffic controllers walking off? >> i think that's the most realistic scenario. they're already not appearing unvery great numbers. the sick out rate is going up. so the point where the super bowl airport is threatened with a shutdown. >> maybe mitch mcconnell will come up with something the democrats can agree with. >> but that would require the presidents to go along. year in this mess because the president put out a deal and
snatched it back. >> maybe rush limbaugh will retire. coming up next my thoughts on the shortest road and the shortest road to impeachment. e shortest road to impeachment ♪ -morning. -morning. -what do we got? -keep an eye on that branch. might get windy. have a good shift. fire pit. last use -- 0600. i'd stay close. morning. ♪ get ready to switch.
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to congress, it was right in article one. the question from the beginning of the current scandal where the truth is what happened. the guilt of the president for a particular deed will be enough to move the congress politically. would he get 2/3 of the u.s. sen toot remove him from office? if the house impeaches and the house fails to convict, the verdict of history is that he would be acquitted. that's the word, acquitted, which might be enough to belitthal whole exercise. richard nixon knew he was going to be impeached and convicted because enough democrats and republicans were behaving as if they weren't happy to do it. it looked grave and that included the democrats looked like they were doing what needed to be done, not something they relished doing. there was no cheering and that's the way the democrats and any republicans would need to do it this time and that's "hardball"
for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. the special counsel in a rare public statement disputing "buzzfeed"'s blockbuster report that the president of the united states elected michael con to lie to congress about negotiations to bailed trump tower moscow, siting two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation. they report trump also planned to visit with russia during the campaign and visit with putin drktly and that the president and two of his children all received regular detailed updates from cohen on the status of the project which the president defended after cohen's sentencing. >> there would be nothing wrong if i did do it. i was running my business while i was campaigning. there was a good chance i