‘This Looks Like an Inside Job’; Matthews, Friends Go BALLISTIC Ahead of Mueller Report

Was Hardball host Chris Matthews speaking to viewers Wednesday night from the past? Because it sure felt like Matthews had rewound back to March 22 because, just as things were on the day the Mueller report officially concluded, the mood of the MSNBC pundit was DEFCON-1 screeching all hour about how the Mueller report rollout “looks like an inside job.”

Along with his assembled guests, Matthews suggested, without evidence, that Attorney General Bill Barr has “not” been providing “the truth” about what Mueller found, Americans are “accepting this crapola” from Barr, and that congressional Democrats and their media allies have suffered a “weakening of the spine” in trying to destroy Trump.

 

 

Matthews led off the show by expressing dismay about Barr’s alleged rollout, going as far as to state that “[t]he hope is it will not only shed light on Trump’s strange relationship with Russia, of course, but explain why Robert Mueller decided he could not exonerate the President on obstruction of justice.”

Things only got worse as Matthews screeched that he “[doesn’t] like the whole looks of it” and that Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report was “his version of truth, not the truth.”

American Constitution Society president Caroline Frederickson observed that the rollout suggested the Trump administration has “been paying a lot of attention to the college admissions scandal and they realize, just like those parents, that your kids will do better when they get the test results in advance” and thus carry out “an incredible violation of our checks and balances system” that’s “another act of obstruction.”

Going next to former Obama official Rajesh De, Matthews didn’t demand that the truth come out, but instead “what the President did wrong.”

Matthews added heading into a commercial break (click “expand”):

This looks like an inside job, which Trump, by the way, we’re going to see tomorrow. We are going to see the black smoke or the white smoke coming out of his house. Will he say I love Mueller? I get the feeling we’re going to see some black smoke from this guy. He is not going to like what they are going to do because they are doing so much to massage it before we even get see it. Attacking Mueller. What’s coming up is just what we learned from the Mueller report and equally important is what Democrats in Congress decide to do. I’m going to make a strong case at the end of all this. Tomorrow is either the beginning of a process of impeachment or it’s an end of that process. A lot of that is going to ride on what the guts of the Congress and they see and what the courage they have in response to what they see tomorrow. If they see impeachable offenses, they should impeach. Anyway, it's a busy night. 

After the break, Matthews alleged to Baker that congressional Democrats and the liberal media have gone soft on Trump (click “expand”):

You know, something has been bugging me the last couple weeks and it's the news coverage generally and it’s the Democrats behavior. There’s a sort of weakening of the spine of the people covering him and the way — the toughness with which they cover this President. You talk about — I'm talking about the constitutional power of the legislative branch. For example, about subpoenas, like there’s a sort of an elasticity to — to subpoenas now where they will have a tough time in court or there’s a question whether they will be enforced or not or what happens? Is there some sort of a fatigue right now, mental fatigue going on in the world about criticizing the President? I sense it. I sense it among Democrats. It’s Pelosi doesn't want to go after impeachment, the coverage with the best newspapers including yours seem to be, well, like maybe he won't have to turn over his taxes. Maybe he won't have to turn over this information. What's going on, Peter?

The lefty pundit continued, equating it to “the frog in the boiling pot” with people being “gradually worn down” by the outrage and Barr being Trump’s “Roy Cohen-type guy who’s working for him, not the country.” When De agreed that “we are hard-boiled,” Matthews snapped back: “Why are people accepting this crapola that gets worse everyday, Raj?”

Growing even more hyperbolic, Frederickson asserted that even though “there is a certain amount of outrage fatigue....the Constitution is on fire right now” and “[w]e used to have checks and balances and, all of a sudden, Congress is, you know, no longer there.”

After Matthews had a light-hearted comparison between the wait for the Mueller report to the verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial, former Hillary Clinton aide Adrienne Elrod offered a conspiracy theory that she can envision “a war room in the West Wing somewhere in a not so secret location with Barr conspiring with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

And then to wrap up the show, here was a portion of Matthews lobbying for impeachment (click “expand”):

If Mueller makes the case for impeachment, the next all important question is whether Democrats of this country have the guts to act on it. If the report shows the President had pitiful judgment in accepting the aid of Russian allies and if he obstructed justice in defending such judgment, will the Democrats have the political and moral courage to begin the procedure the United States Constitution lays out? I don't think they have the leisure to do otherwise because if a President cannot be indicted for crimes, then the only recourse for justice, in this society of laws, lies with the Congress. If Congress fails to act on that recourse, it’s meek performance is like to merit neither the honor of history neither the reward of the voter. Again, if the verdict of the Mueller report comes in guilty, the Democrats need to rise up and do their duty. To do less is to show Trump and the country their bluff has been called. Two years of promising to act cannot end with only a resentful cringe.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on April 17, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
April 17, 2019
7:00 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Hours from now, the American public will get its first look at the 400 page report from Robert Mueller's investigation. But just tonight on the very eve of the revelation, we’ve got the disturbing new that is the trump white house had the guts in its hands for days. The New York Times issued a report tonight revealing that the “Justice Department officials had numerous conversations with white house lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller....in recent days according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the legal team as they prepare a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.” The fact that those conversations occurred raises serious questions of course about the propriety of the Attorney General's decision making especially after he issued that four-page letter last month and this all comes after the President himself broke the news that Attorney General Barr will hold a press conference to address the special counsel's report. The president announced the attorney general's press conference. Think about that one. Trump also suggested he might hold one of his own.

(....)

7:02 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: The hope is it will not only shed light on Trump’s strange relationship with Russia, of course, but explain why Robert Mueller decided he could not exonerate the President on obstruction of justice. How strong is the evidence that Trump obstructed justice and what is the new evidence that the attorney general alluded in that letter of last month? [INTRODUCES PANELISTS] I’ve to go to Peter on this. You guys are breaking a hell of a story, but the fact that the President has been getting the main thing to worry about — I’m sure they briefed him on what they are worried about. He said strong findings are coming tomorrow. Do we know what that this that they delivered to him, what the scary stuff was? 

PETER BAKER: Well, that's the interesting question, right? We can watch the tweets and the comments that he’s made in public in the weeks since the Barr letter went to the hill and then the question is what to interpret from those, what do those mean? The fact that he initially said I want it the whole report released, I’ve got no problem with it going out and then, for days, they said why do they need to see it and the Democrats are trying to make hay, to indicate there was something more that was causing him concern. Obviously, these bottom line that Bill Barr has, you know, delivered to the Congress are not the whole report and the question is whether the details that are in there telling us something we didn’t know about and whether or not Mr. Mueller explains more fully the conclusions that — that Bill Barr has represented. 

MATTHEWS: Well, what about — what about Barr’s, I think, slippery. I’m not going to say slimey, but slippery statement to Congress last week. I haven't briefed the White House on this and then going ahead briefing the White House the minute he’s out of the door of the Congress. I mean, you don't say I haven't, but I will — well, you would that if you were telling the truth. But you telling him you’re not doing it is making the presumption out there you’re not going to brief them and they did. 

(....)

7:05 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: I don't like the whole looks of it. If you’re absolutely supposed to get a four-page memo from the President's appointee as attorney general, his pal who got the job by saying I believe in a very strong executive authority and all the right things for Trump to hear and then he, you know, he could have released the summaries at least from the Mueller report. He chose not to release the summaries. Why not? And now we find out he has been briefing the White House for days and he's not even going to giving a copy to the congresspeople until he — he — Mr. Barr, the President's guy, has put out a statement tomorrow explaining what he thinks. Again, his version of truth. Not the truth.

(....)

7:08 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Caroline, what do you make of this? This — this special gift to the White House of a couple days of briefing to help them put together their trashing of the report, basically. 

CAROLINE FREDERICKSON: You know, it's pretty outrageous. It brings to mind two things. One, that they’ve been paying a lot of attention to the college admissions scandal and they realize, just like those parents, that your kids will do better when they get the test results in advance. But the second thing, I think much more importantly, is this is an incredible violation of our checks and balances system and an incredible insult to Congress. You know, we should all be offended that this White House is coordinating with the Justice Department and what seems like another act of obstruction to impede whether and how the Russians affected our 2016 election and what they are planning for the next election. 

MATTHEWS: You know, it’s like, instead of reading the newspaper in the morning, you have somebody tell you what you ought to know from the newspaper. Their way. You know, like, their point of view. Like, it’s Rashaman. I mean, to hear, for Barr to say, “well, here's what's in the report now.” You know, if you go out and speed 90 miles an hour one day, but the next day, you ride the speed limit. That’s not a question of, well, one day you didn’t break the law and one day you did. No, you get a ticket. So why do we hear from him, “well, there was some exculpatory and there’s some probative stuff here.” I don't care about all of that. Tell me what the President did wrong. Why don’t they just tell us that in the summaries. 

RAJESH DE: And American people deserve to know. These summaries will be interesting if they are released, largely unredacted tomorrow, it raises the question: Why couldn't they have been as soon as the attorney general got the report. On the other hand, if they are severely redacted, the question is: Why is the attorney general's judgment so different from Bob Mueller's? 

(....)

7:13 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: The amazing news, not only has the White House been briefed on the guts of this reports way ahead of anybody else, days ahead of it against everything Barr was coming up, but it turns out they’re not even going to release the report itself to members of the House Judiciary Committee, including its chair, until a couple of hours after they have a press — two or three hours after they have a press conference which the President announced for the Justice Department. This looks like an inside job, which Trump, by the way, we’re going to see tomorrow. We are going to see the black smoke or the white smoke coming out of his house. Will he say I love Mueller? I get the feeling we’re going to see some black smoke from this guy. He is not going to like what they are going to do because they are doing so much to massage it before we even get see it. Attacking Mueller. What’s coming up is just what we learned from the Mueller report and equally important is what Democrats in Congress decide to do. I’m going to make a strong case at the end of all this. Tomorrow is either the beginning of a process of impeachment or it’s an end of that process. A lot of that is going to ride on what the guts of the Congress and they see and what the courage they have in response to what they see tomorrow. If they see impeachable offenses, they should impeach. Anyway, it's a busy night. 

(....)

7:20 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: You know, something has been bugging me the last couple weeks and it's the news coverage generally and it’s the Democrats behavior. There’s a sort of weakening of the spine of the people covering him and the way — the toughness with which they cover this President. You talk about — I'm talking about the constitutional power of the legislative branch. For example, about subpoenas, like there’s a sort of an elasticity to — to subpoenas now where they will have a tough time in court or there’s a question whether they will be enforced or not or what happens? Is there some sort of a fatigue right now, mental fatigue going on in the world about criticizing the President? I sense it. I sense it among Democrats. It’s Pelosi doesn't want to go after impeachment, the coverage with the best newspapers including yours seem to be, well, like maybe he won't have to turn over his taxes. Maybe he won't have to turn over this information. What's going on, Peter? You write the main bar question. You are the bigfoot. So give me a big thing right here. What's going on?

(....)

7:23 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Raj and Caroline, I know it's not a legal term, but the frog in the boiling pot comes to mind. For two years, starting with his firing of Comey after asking for a loyalty test for him, after asking to get his National Security off the hook, and then the firing of his attorney general for recusing himself, honoring the law, all the stuff he does in plain sight, obstructing justice in plain sight, everything else you can think of because you mentioned some. And this behavior by his hand picked attorney general, this Roy Cohn-type guy, who’s working for him, not the country. All this goes on and people says, “well, I don't know whether we should impeach him or not.” Is the boiling — are people just gradually worn down? 

DE: We are hard boiled, to use your analogy

MATTHEWS: Why are people accepting this crapola that gets worse everyday, Raj? 

DE: There is so much coming at us every day. It's almost hard to internalize. The attorney general alone in the past several weeks has exhibited a pattern of political conduct from making a snap judgment on obstruction to releasing his summary to using terms like spying and now to this inverted roll out where he tells the public the report, after the White House and before the Congress. This is the world upside down. 

FREDERICKSON: Well, to add to that, this Justice Department has just decided not to defend the Affordable Care Act. This Justice Department and Attorney General Barr decided to change the policy on how we treat people applying for the asylum. All of this in the space of a couple days following shortly on the President apparently telling the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security he should go ahead violate the law and Trump will pardon him in the aftermath. I think there is a certain amount of outrage fatigue. But look, folks, I mean, I feel like the Constitution is on fire right now. 

MATTHEWS; Yeah, well —

FREDERICKSON: We used to have checks and balances and, all of a sudden, Congress is, you know, no longer there. 

MATTHEWS: Well, you read about the 30s and how things gradually got worse and this act after this act after this act and you had this until people said yeah. Yeah. And said yeah so many times, they were finished. They can’t say no anymore and I worry about this even tomorrow.

(....)

7:40 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: This is — this is like, you know, when we all waited for the O.J. report. Everybody — I covered it for year on television and we all waited for it and then we had a different reaction to it, it was as if two hours before the jury came in — two hours before, someone came out and said, “well, actually this is about the LA police, it's not really what you think.” And you know, we don't need that. We don't need to be talked to. The American people want to know what's in the report. Cold. Let me read it. Let me read the summaries. 

(....)

7:42 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton took a lot of heat for — and he shouldn't have done it. It was dopey behavior, but, you know, Big Bill. It’s another cheeseburger. Here’s a chance, go meet with Loretta Lynch, the AG when he’s got all this case coming about him, right? Here we find out the attorney general has been meeting with the white house people for days now, warming up the public to a PR campaign. 

ADRIENNE ELROD: Thank you for making that comparison, Chris, because there is no comparison, right? The fact that the newly appointed AG — 

MATTHEWS: Well, there is a comparison. 

ELROD: — okay.

MATTHEWS: It’s talking to people. Ex parte conversations.

ELROD: But tiny apples and big oranges comparison. Here, but the fact that, yes, the AG has been meeting with the White House about this to basically conspire. I mean, I'm imagining a war room in the West Wing somewhere in a not so secret location with Barr conspiring with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

MATTHEWS; Yeah. Ex parte — we all know the term.

(....)

7:58 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: 24 hours from now, we will see either the beginning of an impeachment drive against President Trump or the end of it. In all of its 400 pages, the Mueller report will either make the case for the President's removal from office or fail to make such a case. If Mueller makes the case for impeachment, the next all important question is whether Democrats of this country have the guts to act on it. If the report shows the President had pitiful judgment in accepting the aid of Russian allies and if he obstructed justice in defending such judgment, will the Democrats have the political and moral courage to begin the procedure the United States Constitution lays out? I don't think they have the leisure to do otherwise because if a President cannot be indicted for crimes, then the only recourse for justice, in this society of laws, lies with the Congress. If Congress fails to act on that recourse, it’s meek performance is like to merit neither the honor of history neither the reward of the voter. Again, if the verdict of the Mueller report comes in guilty, the Democrats need to rise up and do their duty. To do less is to show Trump and the country their bluff has been called. Two years of promising to act cannot end with only a resentful cringe.

NBDaily Mueller Report Push to Impeach Trump Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Trump-Russia probe MSNBC Hardball New York Times Video Government & Press Robert Mueller Chris Matthews Peter Baker Donald Trump Bill Barr
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