Early ‘Hardball’ Fun: Matthews Goes Apocalyptic, Legal Analyst Cries ‘Bad News’ for America

Thursday’s Hardball didn’t disappoint as host Chris Matthews and his motley crew provided screaming Notable Quotables that will take multiple posts. But the first half provided plenty to start with, including an apocalyptic opening from Matthews, a first of many pleas for impeachment, and similarly doomsday-level talk from two guests.

Matthews began his MSNBC show by proclaiming that, concerning the President’s now-infamous f-bomb about Mueller’s appointment (as outlined in the report), “tonight, we know President Trump’s very first reaction to the appointment of a special counsel in 2017 was as dramatic as it was revealing” that signaled a “moment of political terror” for Trump.

 

 

“That reaction certainly rings true in light of the evidence today that Special Counsel Robert Mueller believed he had a case of obstruction of justice against President Trump. Despite abundant evidence, Mueller declined to prosecute, however, because of the view that a sitting president should not be indicted nor even officially accused while in office,” Matthews continued before laying into Attorney General Bill Barr.

It was before introducing his lead-off set of guests that Matthews made the first of many pleas that would be heard on the show for the President’s impeachment (click “expand”):

Well, the reports finds that Trump was clearly trying to shield himself from further inquiry at that point: “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel's oversight of investigations that involved the President's conduct.” Mueller cites numerous other examples of the meddling in the investigation including his attempts to limited scope and his encouragement to witnesses not to cooperate and while there’s much more in the report — the Mueller report, which stands at almost 450 pages in total, the evidence of obstruction is substantial and could serve as a road map for U.S. Congress moving forward. In fact, in declining to accuse the President of a crime, he pointed to the role of congress to impeach the president, saying: “A criminal accusation against a sitting President would....potentially preempt processes for addressing presidential misconduct.” Wow.

Later, Matthews told legal analyst Cynthai Alksne that it’s great news “for the republic” that various Trump officials “didn't follow what he told them to do because it would have been worse in consequence” for the country.

But Alksne was so deranged she wouldn’t even acknowledge that, instead ruling that “[t]here is nothing but bad news for the republic today.” She then briefly expanded on that:

First of all, we have an attorney general who is deceiving us. We have a President who is completely out of control. We have a press secretary who lies to the press with impunity. There’s just — there is no good news for the republic in this except that it has come — now it’s come out and it's being thrown to Congress. 

Seconds later, Matthews doubled down on his joke from earlier about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s written questions to the President being akin to the mental competence test that Trump failed:

And here's the President of the United States and I was reading Robert Kaiser’s piece in The Washington Post a couple of days ago about how old is too old to be president. Catch this. A review of the President’s responses to Mueller’s question shows that — the President claimed on 36 occasions that he did not recall, did not remember, did — had no recollection that the special counsel was seeking. Cynthia, how many times can you get away with saying I don't remember and still be able to pass a competence test? 36 times he said I don't know. 

Alksne’s fellow legal analyst Paul Butler put a bow on the A-block’s car on the Hardball crazy train by asserting that the Mueller probe will go down as “[t]he most important investigation of a president in American history” even though it “was way shorter than most other investigations of presidents” and had a “tragic flaw” of no in-person Trump interview.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on April 18, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
April 18, 2019
7:00 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Tonight, we know President Trump's very first reaction to the appointment of a special counsel in 2017 was as dramatic as it was revealing. That moment of political terror captured in Mueller's report today showed a president realizing how much his life of cutting corners could now be coming back to haunt him. Trump said: “Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f***ed.” That reaction certainly rings true in light of the evidence today that Special Counsel Robert Mueller believed he had a case of obstruction of justice against President Trump. Despite abundant evidence, Mueller declined to prosecute, however, because of the view that a sitting president should not be indicted nor even officially accused while in office. The reason we’re only hearing this today is because of the four-week effort by Attorney General William Barr to keep Mueller's findings about obstruction of justice from us. It was not until earlier today that Barr even admitted that he disagreed with a special counsel on the obstruction matter. 

ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, although the deputy attorney general and I disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision. 

MATTHEWS: Despite the attorney general’s attempts to blunt the impact of today’s revelations, the Mueller report speaks volumes about the President's misconduct, detailing numerous efforts to control, curtail and otherwise kill the Mueller investigation. One significant episode occurred in June of 2017 when the President twice directed White House counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel, telling McGahn in one stance that “Mueller has to go....call me back when you do it.” Well, instead, McGahn decided to resign, telling Reince Priebus “that the president asked him to ‘do crazy [stuff].’” Well, the reports finds that trump was clearly trying to shield himself from further inquiry at that point: “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel's oversight of investigations that involved the President's conduct.” Mueller cites numerous other examples of the meddling in the investigation including his attempts to limited scope and his encouragement to witnesses not to cooperate and while there’s much more in the report — the Mueller report, which stands at almost 450 pages in total, the evidence of obstruction is substantial and could serve as a road map for U.S. Congress moving forward. In fact, in declining to accuse the President of a crime, he pointed to the role of congress to impeach the president, saying: “A criminal accusation against a sitting President would....potentially preempt processes for addressing presidential misconduct.” Wow.

(....)

7:09 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: For the republic, I meant, it's better off that they didn't follow what he told them to do because it would have been worse in consequence. 

CYNTHIA ALKSNE: There is nothing but bad news for the republic today. First of all, we have an attorney general who is deceiving us. We have a President who is completely out of control. We have a press secretary who lies to the press with impunity. There’s just — there is no good news for the republic in this except that it has come — now it’s come out and it's being thrown to Congress. 

(....)

7:10 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: And here's the President of the United States and I was reading Robert Kaiser’s piece in The Washington Post a couple of days ago about how old is too old to be president. Catch this. A review of the President’s responses to Mueller’s question shows that — the President claimed on 36 occasions that he did not recall, did not remember, did — had no recollection that the special counsel was seeking. Cynthia, how many times can you get away with saying I don't remember and still be able to pass a competence test? 36 times he said I don't know. 

(....)

7:12 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: 37 times in this report he said I can't remember and he's knocking Hillary for 39. He's in competition at least. 

PAUL BUTLER: Yeah, but he probably does remember, which is why he had to lie. 

ALKSNE: He does remember.

BUTLER: So this was a very thorough investigation. 3,000 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 500 witnesses interviewed with one tragic flaw. Mueller did not interview the President of the United States. If Mueller had sat him down for a one-on-one interview, he would have conclusive evidence of the President's criminal intent and what Mueller says — the reason why he didn't do that is it would have prolonged the investigation. That's like Mueller buying into Rudy Giuliani’s line that the Trump defense lets in the investigation that is taking too long. This investigation was way shorter than most other investigations of presidents, but it was the most consequential. The most important investigation of a president in American history.

ALKSNE: Well said.

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