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MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Trump family, Jared Kushner: 'At least Mussolini executed his son-in-law

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During the Thursday airing of MSNBC's "Hardball," host Chris Matthews compared President Donald Trump and his family to both Saddam Hussein and his family, as well as Saddam Hussein and his sons, and Benito Mussolini and his familial tribe.

"According to The American Conservative magazine, Secretary Tillerson believes he's been contradicted and undermined by the White House," Matthews began. "A close associate of Secretary Tillerson explained: 'Rex is just exhausted. He can't get any of his appointments approved and is running around the world cleaning up after a president whose primary foreign policy adviser is a 36-year-old amateur.'"

The 36-year-old "amateur" to which Matthews was referring was Trump's son-in-law — and husband of daughter Ivanka Trump — Jared Kushner.

Unabashed, Matthews continued and added, "I’m allowed to have opinions and one of my opinions is that nepotism is a bad thing in government. It just is. You put Uday and Qusay [Hussein] in your government and you’re going to have a problem with everybody else in the government because nobody can fight with them."

"Nobody can challenge them and, in the end, the son-in-law is always right because he can always to go his father-in-law or his wife and say they were mean to me," he continued.

Calling government nepotism "a disastrous decision," Matthews added, "We find Kushner in the Middle East, brokering the Middle East peace process, whatever it is, among the Arabs and Israelis and Likud and everybody else and meanwhile, Tillerson is sitting around doing what? He can’t even appoint his own deputies. The power seems to have gone to the son-in-law."

Continuing to muse aloud on the Trump family, Matthews, to fellow panelists Ashley Parker and Frank Bruni, said, "This is the Romanovs. Just a thought. The Romanovs. Is it?"

He then asked the two if the Trumps were a "royal family" instead of a "Democratic or ... Republican form of government."

"Is it a family running the government?" Matthews asked. "Is it Ivanka and Jared and the President sitting around in the White House upstairs ruling the world?"

MSNBC senior analyst Parker responded, "I don't think it’s quite that but I think it is run like a family business. The president and his aides see it publicly and privately and the President’s family, his children, especially his daughter Ivanka and, you know, Jared Kushner, they operate with a degree of impunity that does not exist for these other aides. So, if you look at just Jared and Tillerson, Jared basically emerged as a shadow Secretary of State."

"You mentioned peace in the Middle East," she continued. "His portfolio includes not only that, it includes China, it includes Mexico, it includes Canada and that's just on the foreign policy front. So, if you're the secretary of state, ambassadors and leaders of foreign nations know that they can directly go to the President’s son-in-law and have his ear that deeply undermines you and makes it really difficult for you to do your job."

Bringing the conversation back to infamous families once more, Matthews added, “And then you find out in all these investigations that Jared was opening up a tunnel to Moscow so he wouldn't have to deal with the State Department. So the son-in-law — you know, one good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-law. I mean, I’m talking about Ciano,” he said, referring to Mussolini's son-in-law.

Journalist Bruni then interrupted Matthews and said, "Let’s be careful here, yeah."

"That was an extreme measure," Matthews said as he walked back his earlier statement. "But this was — this is a strange situation."

See the exchange in the video below.

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