Matthews Mentions Trump Alongside Saddam; ‘Not All Bad Guys’ Have ‘An Escape Route’

While not a direct comparison, MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews invoked President Trump alongside murderous Iraqi dictator and executed war criminal Saddam Hussein, wondering to former Obama-era U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance if the President “has an escape route” concerning possible legal perils as a result of the Mueller probe.

And at the end of the show, Matthews used his “Trump Watch” commentary to invoke the Mueller probe coming after the President in the same breath as “an old saying that nothing concentrates the mind like that thought of an imminent hanging, when you face a tragic reckoning, drastic alternatives come quickly to mind.”

 

 

“Joyce, not everybody, as you know from your experience, has an escape route. I mean, Saddam Hussein ended up hiding in the ground. He didn’t have an escape route. Not all bad guys have this plan to get out of town,” Matthews wondered before shifting to what Trump has on his side.

Matthews cited the “pardon power which we don’t know how limited or unlimited that,” acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker’s ability to “possibly stifle any reports or indictments, I guess” and then “a bunch of good lawyers, I think.”

“How does Trump away with what looks to be coming at him in perhaps the next several days or weeks which is indictments of his family members, indictments of people who will rat him out like Roger Stone. He could rat him out as he’s got a lot of stuff on him going back decades and, of course, you know, impeachment,” Matthews added.

Vance didn’t bat an eye, responding that “Trump's strategy in the most difficult moments of his life has been to bluster, to hit hard and to keep on hitting and maybe that works in a business context, but this is the first time I think in Trump's life that he has come up against a criminal investigation” even though “[h]e’s had some luck in civil courts.”

Going to that show-ending commentary, Matthews began with that hanging reference before shifting to Trump (click “expand”):

There’s an old saying that nothing concentrates the mind like that thought of an imminent hanging, when you face a tragic reckoning, drastic alternatives come quickly to mind. Well, Donald Trump knows the situation he is in now. He knows that Robert Mueller could drop indictments on his family members at any moment, and he could accompany those indictments with an historic report accusing Trump himself of high crimes, justifying impeachment and removal from office. The President also knows that other horrors await down the road when Democrats control the House of Representatives in January and, with it, the power to subpoena testimony and documents, including his own tax returns. He knows that nothing stands in the way of this happening now that the midterm elections have been held and lost. 

With Mueller and the Democrats on one side and the President on the other, Matthews argued that “[n]o one watching Trump the past two years doubts his readiness to but all these weapons into battle and yet, he seems restless, and worried, imagining that even with all the weapons in his arsenal, events are moving against him and his family.” 

“We need not ask what the President's thinking tonight. It's clear that he's thinking about escape,” he concluded.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on November 15, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
November 15, 2018
7:07 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Peter, obviously, you don't get to choose what questions you answer. This is a take home exam. They're taking a lot of time with it. Three days in a row now. What is Trump afraid of in those questions? Can we tell? 

PETER BAKER: It's a great question. I mean, I hope someday if I get in trouble with a prosecutor I get to pick and choose which questions I think are relevant. You know, this is a President who managed to avoid an actual interview in which you have to respond in the moment without the ability to have a lawyer help you write the answers. This is — this is the best way a President could have to respond to questions from prosecutors because you do, as you say, you have a take home test with the books in front of you consult with your — your staff and lawyers about what you have said previously in order to make sure you don't trip over your own past words and have any contradictions. The traps are obvious, though. You know, anything that gets at the idea that he wanted to impede the investigation, that would go to obstruction. Anything that gets at acknowledging knowledge of that meeting in trump tower that his son and son-in-law, campaign chairman took with Russian visitors offering information on behalf of the Russian government, that would contradict something he said in the past. If they ask him about the statement that he helped draft, that he basically dictated in response to reports about that meeting that could open up a whole new can of worms. What he doesn't know is what special prosecutor Robert Mueller knows and so when you answer these questions, you don't want to say anything that will contradict in evidence the hands of the prosecutors because then you can get yourself in severe trouble. 

MATTHEWS: Joyce, not everybody, as you know from your experience, has an escape route. I mean, Saddam Hussein ended up hiding in the ground. He didn’t have an escape route. Not all bad guys have this plan to get out of town and I'm thinking about Trump. He’s got pardon power which we don't know how limited or unlimited that. He’s got Whitaker in there as attorney general. He could possibly stifle any reports or indictments I guess. What else? He's got a bunch of good lawyers, I think. How does Trump away with what looks to be coming at him in perhaps the next several days or weeks which is indictments of his family members, indictments of people who will rat him out like Roger Stone. He could rat him out as he’s got a lot of stuff on him going back decades and, of course, you know, impeachment. 

JOYCE VANCE: You know, Trump's strategy in the most difficult moments of his life has been to bluster, to hit hard and to keep on hitting and maybe that works in a business context, but this is the first time I think in Trump's life that he has come up against a criminal investigation. He's had some luck in civil courts. This is Robert Mueller, the former director of the FBI. This is not a group of angry Democrats, but rather a group of — of very well experienced, very straight-up-the-middle prosecutors who know how to get about their jobs. I don't believe that this group breaks and bends because the President blusters and sure he has the pardon power and he can pardon people who aren't himself, at least to a certain extent and maybe that gets some of his friends out of trouble but what he can’t do is use the pardon power to keep people, for instance, Roger Stone, from providing prosecutors with evidence against him, from cooperating with prosecutors because if he uses the pardon power in that way, it’s just an additional layer of obstruction. I don't think Mueller will go after him with kid gloves as regard to the President obstructing justice or doing anything that undermines the rule of law.

(....)

7:58:42 p.m.
1 minute and 25 seconds

MATTHEWS: Trump watch Thursday, November 15th, 2018. There’s an old saying that nothing concentrates the mind like that thought of an imminent hanging, when you face a tragic reckoning, drastic alternatives come quickly to mind. Well, Donald Trump knows the situation he is in now. He knows that Robert Mueller could drop indictments on his family members at any moment, and he could accompany those indictments with an historic report accusing Trump himself of high crimes, justifying impeachment and removal from office. The President also knows that other horrors await down the road when Democrats control the House of Representatives in January and, with it, the power to subpoena testimony and documents, including his own tax returns. He knows that nothing stands in the way of this happening now that the midterm elections have been held and lost. Nothing but him, Donald Trump and what defenses he can stand up between Robert Mueller, the Democrats and the White House, Trump has his own weapons, of course, his newly-appointed attorney general could act to stifle Mueller's actions. He has his own team of lawyers and lastly the power of the pardon. No one watching Trump the past two years doubts his readiness to but all these weapons into battle and yet, he seems restless, and worried. Imagining that even with all the weapons in his arsenal, events are moving against him and his family. We need not ask what the President's thinking tonight. It's clear that he's thinking about escape.

NB Daily Trump Impeachment Trump-Russia probe MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press Chris Matthews Donald Trump Saddam Hussein Roger Stone
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