‘Hardball’: Collusion Case Happening ‘Piece by Piece’ Against ‘Enemy of the State’ Trump

On Monday’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews and his assembled guests were still reveling in the Mueller investigation’s indictment of Michael Flynn, swooning over how it showed a collusion case being cemented “piece by piece” against an “enemy of the state” in President Trump.

USA Today reporter Heidi Przybyla was one such character, ominously stating that “we’re seeing that the collusion piece of this, piece by piece, starting to be built out and every week, it seems there’s a new member of the team who knew something about the discussions that were going on with the Russians.”

 

 

Matthews interjected to argue that the President has gone to “war with the people that are the national policemen in a sense, the investigators, to get the facts to Robert Mueller” before going to MSNBC law enforcement analyst Clint Watts. 

Watts first lamented that Trump’s tweets condemning the FBI were an example of “Trump first, America second,” which he saw coming “a year ago about Russia tearing down democratic institutions.” Similarly, Watts emphasized that he’s “worried about our President tearing down democratic institutions.”

Even though the President and his team were being investigated by the FBI’s Mueller probe, Watts argued that Trump “should be the one setting the tone for the FBI, he should be supporting them, pushing them in the right direction, if he does believe they’re in tatters, which I think is absolute nonsense, the best way to go about that would be be a leader, set an agenda.”

Watts then uncorked the line about Trump being an “enemy of the state”:

It may solidify his base, but it’s also undermining our country. He is actually weakening the credibility of the federal law enforcement agency for the entire United States. He’s going to sow doubt in their ability, and he is going to hurt the ability of our law enforcement and judicial systems with his claims. So he is an enemy of the state whenever he is pushing against the FBI in that way, and if he finds that the FBI is in tatters, well I would sure like to know how he would like to improve that because he’s never offered anything as to why it’s both in tatters or what he would do about it. So, it’s a sad state of affairs.

Later in the show, Matthews had just introduced pro-impeachment Vox founder Ezra Klein and Republican strategist John Feehery when he suggested Trump was acting like “an emperor”: “Can we all agree that obstruction of justice has to be impeachable? Because if a president can do anything he wants with the justice system, he is basically -- he is an emperor, if he can just ignore the law.”

Feehery pointed out that “impeachment is a political matter” that “politicians” decide on, but that wasn’t enough for Matthews as he hit back that obstruction of justice should be translated into impeachment by default.

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Here’s the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on December 4:

MSNBC’s Hardball
December 4, 2017
7:05 p.m. Eastern

HEIDI PRZYBYLA: Well he’s — he’s — what he’s doing is he’s creating his own news here with the obstruction case and the question is, you know, we’ve — having these discussions all day long on cable news about obstruction and how he’s building the obstruction case, point valid, but why? The why is still the much more important question, why was it worth it to tell all of these lies? And now we’re seeing that the collusion piece of this, piece by piece, starting to be built out and every week, it seems there’s a new member of the team who knew something about the discussions that were going on with the Russians.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Clint, let’s go — let’s go to the law enforcement part of this, Clint, and here’s the question. It seems to me he’s going at war with the people that are the national policemen in a sense, the investigators, to get the facts to Robert Mueller. Why would he go to people who have an incentive already to go after him, because he may have broken the law, but now may have an incentive institutionally, enforced for everyday by his attacks on the FBI?

CLINT WATTS: This is more Trump first, America second. I mean, I was worried a year ago about Russia tearing down democratic institutions, I’m more now worried about our President tearing down democratic institutions. He is the leader of the executive branch, he should be the one setting the tone for the FBI, he should be supporting them, pushing them in the right direction, if he does believe they’re in tatters, which I think is absolute nonsense, the best way to go about that would be be a leader, set an agenda and instead, he’s going on the attack, and that’s going to backfire on him. It may solidify his base, but it’s also undermining our country. He is actually weakening the credibility of the federal law enforcement agency for the entire United States. He’s going to sow doubt in their ability, and he is going to hurt the ability of our law enforcement and judicial systems with his claims. So he is an enemy of the state whenever he is pushing against the FBI in that way, and if he finds that the FBI is in tatters, well I would sure like to know how he would like to improve that because he’s never offered anything as to why it’s both in tatters or what he would do about it. So, it’s a sad state of affairs.

(....)

MATTHEWS: Can we all agree that obstruction of justice has to be impeachable? Because if a president can do anything he wants with the justice system, he is basically -- he is an emperor, if he can just ignore the law. Is that — can we agree on that?

EZRA KLEIN: I think so, yes.

MATTHEWS: John?

JOHN FEEHERY: Well — 

MATTHEWS: Obstruction of justice should be enough.

FEEHERY: Well, impeachment — impeachment is a political matter.

MATTHEWS: But obstruction of justice —

FEEHERY: Well, that's for the politicians to decide. Well, I mean, it's a political matter in our Constitution.

MATTHEWS: Suppose it's proven that there's obstruction of justice?

FEEHERY: Well, then that's a good case to make. You to make to it the politicians and it’s a political case.

MATTHEWS: They have the right to ignore it?

FEEHERY: They have the right to ignore it.

[MATTHEWS LAUGHS]

FEEHERY: They do, and especially in the Senate.

MATTHEWS: Well, I thought we were getting somewhere.

FEEHERY: I'm just saying, from a practical perspective.


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