Matthews Hypes Trump and Mueller Locked in ‘Battle to the Death’

MSNBC host Chris Matthews has a well-known reputation for being rather eccentric and Monday night’s “Trump Watch” on Hardball was no exception. After complaining about Special Counsel Robert Mueller going “soft” on President Trump for most of the program, Matthews capped it off by oddly championing Mueller as a “starfish” caught in a “battle to the death” with Trump the “clam.

Mueller reminds me of the starfish which gets itself tightly around the clam and uses all its stuff to weaken and pry open the clam. Now, this is a battle to the death as far as the clam is concerned,” Matthews opined. He had a big smile on his face as he described the starfish’s persistence in prying open the shell of the mollusk, saying, “He is the starfish's lunch!

Matthews boasted about observing a number of starfish (special counsels) over the years: “Their purpose in life is to open the clam.” “Robert Mueller is a perfect example of a starfish. He will not stop until he has gotten Trump to open up,” he continued before wrapping up the show by asking: “Does anyone think this is going to end well for the clam?

This bloviating about Mueller trying to eat Trump for lunch oddly came about after Matthews spent much of the show whining about how the special counsel was going easy on the President. From near the start of the program, Matthews was confused about why the special counsel would treat the President with respect and negotiate when and what an interview would be about.

The President of the United States is a witness in this case, probably a defendant. Why can't they say question the guy and say, “show up at this date or you're under subpoena. And if you break the subpoena, we'll hold you in contempt.” Why do they have to negotiate with the President,” he complained.

 

 

Matthews couldn’t understand why people were even using the word “interview” to describe a Trump meeting with Mueller. “Interview. Where does that word come from? Help me with that word. Questioning, interrogation. Why is it an interview? I'm curious. Everybody is using that word, everybody. What does it mean,” he asked his guests.

What, are you kidding me? Take-home exams,” Matthews said, mocking the idea of Trump receiving written questions. “It just seems so soft.” “I'm going to do a written test, take it home with me,” he bemoaned to The Washington Post’s Robert Costa. “Why don't they just tell him to do what he has to do?”

Matthews couldn’t wrap his head around it as he repeatedly brought it up again and again: “I'm going back to my fighting word. Why do we call it conversations? Why do we call them interviews? Why isn't the President required under law to answer to the law? Why does he get to negotiate?

One of Trump’s arguments against the Mueller investigation have been that it was filled with conflicts of interest because of who the investigators were and their politics. And, at one point, Matthews appeared to make the President’s case for him in explaining why Mueller took on the role:

He took this job as special counsel because he is furious at the attack on the institution he loves, which is the FBI by the firing of Comey. And he sees that as an obstruction of what Comey was doing, which was to help investigate the President. Right?

Get him in the booth. Get him under oath and start grilling him. That seems to be the appropriate method,” Matthews demanded of his treasured starfish.

The relevant portions of the transcript are below, click expand to read:

 

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MSNBC
Hardball
March 19, 2018
7:03:43 PM Eastern

(…)

NATASHA BERTRAND: It really makes no sense. I mean, the White House kind of had a victory when it managed to get Mueller's team to submit, kind of, written questions or at least topics to the White House about a possible sit-down interview with the President.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Interview. Where does that word come from? Help me with that word. Questioning, interrogation. Why is it an interview? I'm curious. Everybody is using that word, everybody. What does it mean?

BERTRAND: It’s technically an interview.

MATTHEWS: The president of the United States is a witness in this case, probably a defendant. Why can't they say question the guy and say, “show up at this date or you're under subpoena. And if you break the subpoena, we'll hold you in contempt.” Why do they have to negotiate with the President? I don’t get this. Send me your quest-- They're talking about written questions. What, are you kidding me? Take-home exams?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE: And you mentioned the subpoena. Listen, they only have -- this is typical lawyering. Clinton's lawyers did it too. You do this back and forth dance.

MATTHEWS: But they're leaking all that stuff to the press. Why do you guys buy the fact that they have a choice? Don't they have to answer to a subpoena?

(…)

MATTHEWS: I'm not knocking you, but it just seems so soft.

(…)

MATTHEWS: Let me go -- let me go to Frank Montoya. The same question. The President could be questioned on anything. In other words, if he shows up, I don't know whether Bill Clinton-- that President Clinton was warned they were going to talk about Monica when he was asked about the Paula Jones case. But they sure as hell asked the questions. None of this preview of coming attractions crap where oh, we're going to ask you all these tricky questions. Get him in the booth. Get him under oath and start grilling him. That seems to be the appropriate method. Your thinking.

(…)

7:07:33 PM Eastern

MATTHEWS: They want him to lie about obstruction. Because that's where I've always thought Mueller is coming from. He took this job as special counsel because he is furious at the attack on the institution he loves, which is the FBI by the firing of Comey. And he sees that as an obstruction of what Comey was doing, which was to help investigate the President. Right?

(…)

7:29:39 PM Eastern

MATTHEWS: I'm going back to my fighting word. Why do we call it conversations? Why do we call them interviews? Why isn't the President required under law to answer to the law? Why does he get to negotiate?

ROBERT COSTA: He should be.

MATTHEWS: I'm going to do a written test, take it home with me.

COSTA: They’re negotiating the parameters.

MATTHEWS: Why don't they just tell him to do what he has to do?

COSTA: They could have with an indictment.

MATTHEWS: They have to indictment him first?

COSTA: That's the process.

(…)

7:59:09 PM Eastern

MATTHEWS: Mueller reminds me of the starfish which gets itself tightly around the clam and uses all its stuff to weaken and pry open the clam. Now this is a battle to the death as far as the clam is concerned. If the starfish is able to open him even a little bit, he can open him all the way, and that's it of course for the clam. He is the starfish's lunch.

I've watched a number of these starfishes along the way, the special counsels or independent prosecutors, which is what we used to call them. Like starfishes they don't give up. Their purpose in life is to open the clam. Get what's in them and devour it whole. Whatever you can say about him, Robert Mueller is a perfect example of a starfish. He will not stop until he has gotten Trump to open up.

(…)

If you haven't noticed, Mueller is in no hurry. He just keeps prying, and that clam in the White House is now snugly in his grip. Does anyone think this is going to end well for the clam?

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