Kooky Matthews, Bulwark Editor Lobby Hardcore for Dems to Impeach Trump Like in Law and Order

MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews took on an apocalyptic tone in the first half of Thursday’s show hours after the release of the redacted Mueller report and at least one panelist embraced it. In the second half, Matthews and his guests lobbied for Democrats to impeach President Trump with Matthews comparing America to being in a commercial break of a Law & Order episode awaiting a possible trial.

Responding to Matthews stating without any irony that Attorney General William Barr was “a flack” offering “spin” on the report, liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson replied that “the ball is in the Congress’s court” meaning “they have a job to do here and they should do it.”

 

 

“It’s almost May. They’re going to hear in May from Barr. They’ll hopefully hear from Mueller in May. That means June is the month to decide. Do you think they will move ahead with impeachment,” Matthews replied.

Robinson countered that he’s not sure given the rhetoric from official House Democratic leadership, but nonetheless the report “is devastating” so “Congress has a responsibility here” to make sure impeachment happens.

Matthews went to Bulwark co-founder, Never Trumper, and cable news pleaser Charlie Sykes wondering if Congress will “step up to the plate here” and Sykes agreed that they should even if they don’t want to (click “expand”):

SYKES: You know, there is two separate issues. Number one is the political calculation that the Democrats have to make. The public doesn’t want — does not want impeachment and I don’t think that the Democratic leadership wants impeachment. But if you read this report, Yamiche is absolutely right, this is an open invitation. It is very close to an explicit invitation to Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibilities and there’s something fundamental here. As — a Robert Mueller lays out, if you cannot indict the President of the United States, then unless Congress takes the responsibility of oversight seriously, then the President is literally above the law.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

SYKES: So, there’s something fundamental here. I understand the Democrats don’t want to do it politically, but this is their job and Robert Mueller lays this road map out and this is the way the system is supposed to work. Look, if this was about anyone else, if this was about you, Chris, or this was about me or this was about Eugene Robinson, we would be indicted for obstruction of justice. This is an overwhelming case and what Robert Mueller is basically saying is do not expect the criminal justice system to deal with this because he’s the sitting president. But now, it is up to the public and it is up to Congress to do something, whether or not it’s impeachment, whether or not it’s some sort of oversight or a censure, they have to follow-up on this and they have to take their constitutional obligation seriously.

Robinson fretted that “if Congress doesn’t move forward,” the President will do so and bulldoze them with “this counter narrative that....was all — that there was something wrong about how the investigation started, even though that’s completely debunked” (except it wasn’t, but sure, Gene). 

Matthews mostly concurred, making the ever tiresome Trump-Nixon comparison except with the addendum that he “didn’t hate Nixon” because “I can see something in this guy that was just sad.”

Later, Matthews yelped to Robinson that “the Constitution is swaying right now” to which Robinson agreed “it is really” because if the House doesn’t act, it’ll send a signal that “the President is above the law.”

And then there was the closing commentary and that Law & Order analogy. Matthews asserted that he believe that it became “one of the most popular shows in the history of television” because of “its clarity and crackle” with the first part dedicated to “how the police catch the bad guy” while “the second is the courtroom drama.”

He unspooled a bit more thread before making the link to Trump:

You get the investigation of a crime and then you get a verdict. Well, right now, the American people are in what we used to call the commercial in Law & Order. We’re between the investigation of Donald Trump by the special counsel, and the judgment of Donald Trump by the only court that can render it, the United States Congress. 

Matthews opined that “it would be a mistake” for the Democratically-controlled House if they “fail[ed] to render this historic judgment....they will have abdicated a Constitution role that is their exclusive domain and therefore their unique responsibility.”

“To do otherwise might be good politics. I doubt history will see it as anything better,” he concluded.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on April 19, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
April 18, 2019
7:44 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I don’t know who is smiling the most. Let’s start with Eugene. What a flack. What spin.

EUGENE ROBINSON: Yeah, what a flack. Read the Russia part of the report. I mean, the Russians interfere, those were not efforts. They were accomplishments. They were — they were from the Russian point of view triumphs. They reached millions and millions of people.

MATTHEWS: But he just wants to reach one guy, Trump.

ROBINSON: Yeah. Right, well, Barr just wanted to reach one person. So, that’s, I mean, that’s one factor. You know, this report is a 400-page referral to Congress. That’s what it is, really.

MATTHEWS: That’s what he says.

ROBINSON: And now, it’s in the court of — the ball is in the Congress’s court. I mean, it is -- you know, they have a job to do here and they should do it.

MATTHEWS: Okay, let me do a follow-up. It’s almost May. They’re going to hear in May from Barr. They’ll hopefully hear from Mueller in May. That means June is the month to decide. Do you think they will move ahead with impeachment?

ROBINSON: I don’t know if they will or not. You know, Steny Hoyer has already come out and said, you know, no.

MATTHEWS: Wow.

ROBINSON: Basically, he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t think Congress should move —

MATTHEWS: He and Pelosi.

ROBINSON: — Pelosi is going to be pushed in various directions. She hasn’t wanted to talk about it until now. Read this report. I mean, this is devastating. And Congress has a responsibility here. Now, they are either going to do their job or not. But it’s clear what their job is.

(....)

7:47 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Charlie, I don’t know where to begin. The flackery begins with her and it ends with Barr and I can say — what do you think? Will Congress step up to the plate here?

CHARLIE SYKES: Well, you know, there’s — there’s two things. You know, there is two separate issues. Number one is the political calculation that the Democrats have to make. The public doesn’t want — does not want impeachment and I don’t think that the Democratic leadership wants impeachment. But if you read this report, Yamiche is absolutely right, this is an open invitation. It is very close to an explicit invitation to Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibilities and there’s something fundamental here. As — a Robert Mueller lays out, if you cannot indict the President of the United States, then unless Congress takes the responsibility of oversight seriously, then the President is literally above the law.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

SYKES: So, there’s something fundamental here. I understand the Democrats don’t want to do it politically, but this is their job and Robert Mueller lays this road map out and this is the way the system is supposed to work. Look, if this was about anyone else, if this was about you, Chris, or this was about me or this was about Eugene Robinson, we would be indicted for obstruction of justice. This is an overwhelming case and what Robert Mueller is basically saying is do not expect the criminal justice system to deal with this because he’s the sitting president. But now, it is up to the public and it is up to Congress to do something, whether or not it’s impeachment, whether or not it’s some sort of oversight or a censure, they have to follow-up on this and they have to take their constitutional obligation seriously.

ROBINSON: That’s right and — 

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

ROBINSON: One other thing. The political calculation — if Congress doesn’t move forward, Donald Trump is going to move forward. He’s going to be pushing this counter narrative that that was all — that there was something wrong about how the investigation started, even though that’s completely debunked.

MATTHEWS: It was Christopher Steele that did it.

ROBINSON: You know, facts obviously don’t matter and he’s going to push and push for new special counsel to investigate the investigation. He’s not going to stand still.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a bigger question. Nixon — I didn’t hate Nixon. Most people did. I can see something in this guy that was just sad. But if Nixon had gotten away with Watergate, God help — I’m with Woodward on that, Bob Woodward. If he had gotten away with that, who knows, what would have come next, because he got a lot away with — away with a lot of stuff. If Trump gets away with this, if he walks because they can’t indict, they can’t even accuse because that would be unfair, according to Mueller, and they can’t act in Congress because of political calculations, he walks and he’s dangerous because he knows nothing can stop him.

SYKES: Imagine a second term.

ALCINDOR: We’ve been saying for a long time the President was someone who almost felt like he was Teflon. Nothing could stop him. I think what essentially we’re going to learn is whether or not the 2020 election stops him. Nancy Pelosi does have a tough decision to make. Voters out there are talking about health care — the Democrats are trying to put forth a platform, but then you have people who — a lot of people saying, can the President really get away with all of this stuff? She is going to have to figure out how hard to fight. But I think it’s really going to come down to, now that the American people know what Russia did, exactly what the President did, will he be reelected for another term?

MATTHEWS: He’s headed to Mar-a-Lago tonight, Charlie. Just think about the optics of it. He’s heading down there. The applause of that peanut gallery down there will be unbelievable. All the paid entrance, all the paid members cheering him at dinner today. He will be walking around table to table, taking bows because he walks. Charlie?

SYKES: Well, you know, Chris, there is a rule in politics, though, that simple beats complex. And he and Bob Barr — you know — are — Bill Barr are basically saying, no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. And then you have — and then you have the Robert Mueller 450-page report. What percentage of Americans are going read that whole report, go through all of that? He is counting on the slogan and in his peanut gallery to basically, you know, push the narrative and Eugene is right about this. One other reason why I think Democrats need to continue to push forward on this is otherwise the initiative does shift to Donald Trump. He’s not going let this go.

MATTHEWS: I think you’re right.

SYKES: Facts matter, truth matters, accountability needs to matter as well.

MATTHEWS: Well enroute to Florida today, the President claimed on Twitter that: “I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted. I could have fired everyone, including Mueller if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege and I didn’t.” However, Mueller’s team took a very different view when it comes to the President’s executive authority, writing: “We were not persuaded by the argument that the President’s blanket constitutional immunity to engage in acts that would corruptly obstruct justice.” Gene, I mean, the Constitution is swaying right now.

ROBINSON: No, it is really, because is the President above the law? He cannot be. That’s not the way the system is designed. The President is not supposed to be above the law. Nobody is supposed to be above the law. The Mueller report says that he can’t be charged in the criminal courts. It’s up to Congress. They have to hold him accountable.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, is this a mistake for the legislative branch to count on the executive branch to make them their case for them? If that’s what they’ve done, they’ve counted on somebody appointed in the executive branch, in the Justice Department, to give them their case.

ALCINDOR: I think it’s hard to know, because I think that now the Democrats have this report and they are going to drag Robert Mueller down to Congress and we are going hear from him. They understand now that the ball is in their court. I think that they had to wait for the Mueller report to figure out what Mueller after all these hundreds of interviews and what he was going find. But I think, now, the question is whether or not they let Bill Barr and Donald Trump have this narrative and keep that narrative with them looking at 2020 as where they can have their results or whether or not they will fight the President on this.

MATTHEWS: Well, the chain of custody in this case was terrible, because it went through the White House. 

(....)

7:59 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Well, Law & Order is one of the most popular shows in the history of television. Its popularity, I believe, lies in its clarity and crackle. The first act shows how the police catch the bad guy, the second is the courtroom drama. You get the investigation of a crime and then you get a verdict. Well, right now, the American people are in what we used to call the commercial in Law & Order. We’re between the investigation of Donald Trump by the special counsel, and the judgment of Donald Trump by the only court that can render it, the United States Congress. I believe it would be a mistake by the Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives who fought so hard last year to win it and with it the subpoena power to fail to render this historic judgment, because if they decide to kill this necessary and expected second part of our justice system, the weighing of the truth, they will have abdicated a Constitution role that is their exclusive domain and therefore their unique responsibility. To do otherwise might be good politics. I doubt history will see it as anything better.

NB Daily Congress Mueller Report Push to Impeach Trump Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Trump-Russia probe MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press Chris Matthews Eugene Robinson Donald Trump Bill Barr Charlie Sykes
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