Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 8/4/2016
Date: August 4, 2016
Guest: Paul Singer, J.D. Hayworth, Stephanie Schriock, Carol Lee, Joseph
Cirincione; Ruth Marcus, Michael Tomasky, Sarah Isgur Flores
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Mayday! Every man for himself.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews from Washington.
And this evening, President Obama hit Donald Trump when he was down, and
boy, did he love piling on in this late-in-the-day press conference. He
did so as Trump`s campaign reached a scary new low point today with a pair
of alarming poll numbers.
According to the latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, Hillary
Clinton leads Trump now by 9 points, 47 to 38 – 9 points in our poll. But
catch this one. The latest McClatchy poll, Marist poll, is even more dire
for Trump. The Republican nominee is down 15 points – not just double
digits but closing into 20 points – against Clinton. Trump gets just 33
percent – that`s the lowest I`ve seen in a poll nationally – to Clinton`s
48 percent, 15-point spread there. That`s a huge fall from last month.
Catch this. Last month, Clinton had a slim 3-point lead. Now it`s 15
Well, the dropping poll numbers are the latest evidence and most stark yet
that Donald Trump has been hurt badly by the events of the last couple of
weeks. New polls in several key states also show Trump bleeding bad.
Remember the phrase “battleground states”? You don`t hear that anymore.
In Florida, Clinton leads by 6 points. In Michigan, she`s up by 9.
Pennsylvania, where I come from, Trump (sic) up by 11. He has to win that
state. In New Hampshire, she has a 15-point advantage, and that`s a state
he`s been counting on.
Meanwhile, a string of Republicans have recently said they won`t vote for
their party`s nominee. They include Congressmen Charlie Dent of
Pennsylvania, Adam Kinzinger and Richard Hanna of New York, who went so far
as to say they would cross party lines and vote for Hillary Clinton.
In recent days, Trump has pushed the concern that the election`s going to
be rigged. That`s his word he`s using now. Late today, President Obama
was asked about that suggestion by Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve never heard of somebody
complaining about being cheated before the game was over or before the
score is even tallied. So my suggestion would be, you know, go out there
and try to win the election. If Mr. Trump is up 10 or 15 points on
election day and ends up losing, then, you know, maybe he can raise some
questions. That doesn`t seem to be the case at the moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Boy, did he love putting that knife in – “That doesn`t seem to
be the case” now.
Katy – we`re going right now to Katy Tur. She`s up in Portland, Maine,
where Donald Trump just spoke today. Michael Steele is with us, as well.
He`s the former chair of the Republican National Committee an and MSNBC
political analyst, of course. And Paul Singer is the Washington
correspondent for “USA Today.”
Katy Tur, tell me about – does Trump hear it when Trump – when the
president puts the knife in, when he hits him hard like saying, Oh, if he`s
up by 10 or 15, he can claim he was rigged if he loses the election, but
that doesn`t seem to be the case now? Zing!
KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think he does hear it, and that`s
why you hear him respond. He`s never been one to take a slight, perceived
or otherwise. And that`s why we always say that you see him counter-punch.
I think what`s going on right now behind the – I know what`s going on
behind the scenes of the Trump campaign and outside of the Trump campaign
is literally everybody is trying to tell him that he needs to get it
together, he`s got to get back on message, he`s got to reset this campaign.
I think we`ve said he needs to reset it I think 9 or 10 times at this point
during this election season.
But right now, if Donald Trump does not, the issue that he`s facing is that
he`s going to go farther down in the polls. That`s what the GOP is
fearing. And frankly, Chris, if you`re going to look at poll numbers, that
is one of the only things that I think Donald Trump pays such close
attention to that could potentially change his mind.
He could have Newt Gingrich, he could have Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie,
Reince Priebus, Don, Jr., Eric Trump all coming in and saying, You got to
get it together, you got to, you know, get away from these controversial
headlines. When he sees his poll numbers dropping, that`s when I think
you`re going to see Donald Trump start to change.
And today, we saw something of that. He did try to pivot. He focused on
President Obama. He focused on Hillary Clinton. The issue was he still
got tripped up. He still strayed from his message. He still brought up
things that were baseless, like the video that he said he saw of the
Iranians offloading cash and that the Iranians took this video and sent it
to the U.S.
We`re still not sure what he`s talking about. The campaign said they were
referring to a video on the morning shows yesterday that seemed to be the
video of the American detainees coming off the plane in Switzerland.
He also was talking again about the San Bernardino terrorists, saying that
people saw bombs all over their apartment and didn`t report that. That`s a
baseless claim. And those are the things that drive headlines that the
Trump campaign does not want to see.
The best advice that he is getting, from what I am hearing from folks, is
for him to be quiet, don`t make the news, and let the press focus on
MATTHEWS: Wow! He`s a long way from that, Michael.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this – we`ll get back with Katy, we`ll be
back with you on this point, this word “intervention.” Now, the word
intervention, in my experience, is when somebody`s got a dope problem or a
booze problem, to be blunt about it, they`ve got an addiction problem.
They`re using something they shouldn`t be using, and it`s changed their
life, their marriage, their job, and so somebody has what`s called
MATTHEWS: Their friends.
MATTHEWS: Newt Gingrich has been using that word.
STEELE: Yes, I think…
MATTHEWS: It`s a killer word.
STEELE: Well, I think because Newt sees this as that serious, where he
MATTHEWS: Why is he telling the press he`s doing an intervention?
STEELE: Well, that`s what`s irritated – that`s what`s irritated the Trump
campaign, and quite frankly, some other folks around town, was getting that
out in front because now that`s just one more layer that they`ve got to
STEELE: … in trying to right this ship. And of course, you know Donald
Trump well enough to know that when you start talking about him that way,
he gets defensive.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, who wouldn`t?
STEELE: And – right. And it`s, like, intervention? (INAUDIBLE)
intervention. You know, we don`t do no…
MATTHEWS: … Paul, remember when Reagan was so kind to go after, well,
Mike Dukakis saying, I understand he had some counseling…
PAUL SINGER, “USA TODAY”: Right.
MATTHEWS: … and that 20, 30 years ago, you couldn`t even talk about
SINGER: Right. No.
MATTHEWS: You still can`t in many circles. Most people are sophisticated
about it, understanding. But they say if you had counseling, there`s
something wrong with you.
And there`s this old theory that the Kennedys had this on Nixon. You know,
he had gotten some counseling back in the `50s, which is – what Nixon went
through, I can understand it. But this idea that he needs counseling, he
needs best friends to come in and put him down, get his head straightened
SINGER: The problem for Trump at the moment really is – and this has been
through the campaign – is that conflict is his brand…
SINGER: … and his success.
MATTHEWS: It`s almost like Triumph, the comic insult dog, you know? I
mean, he makes his brand off of being in your face.
And Katy is right, people are telling him, You need to step back from
conflict, be a little quiet and sit still for a while. That`s not his
brand. It`s not his strength. How do you tell a guy who`s made his whole
career, even his business career, out of conflict, that the way you`re
going to succeed now is to take conflict out of this for a while and sit
still? I don`t see how you get him to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of conflict, Rudy Giuliani today – he`s no calm
customer, either – downplayed reports that he and Gingrich were going to
hold this intervention. Here`s the former mayor. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: First of all, I find the word
“intervention” completely out of line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I – I agree with you on that.
GIULIANI: I – that word I think honestly – and I love him dearly, but I
think that word was used by Newt in a memo that got around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what was this meeting about?
GIULIANI: There wasn`t a meeting. I meet with Donald Trump all the time.
I was with him two days ago, spent two-and-a-half hours with him. We talk.
We talk about issues. Sometimes, we make changes. Sometimes, he makes
It`s an evolving campaign. He`s a new candidate. That adds a little bit
of more of a learning curve than would normally be the case. But you get
bad weeks and good weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s for sure.
Let me get back to Katy. You`re on this guy like nobody. What do you
think he thinks of the word “intervention” when he catches that on –
catches Rudy talking about it? By the way, dearly in love with Newt
Gingrich? Nobody`s dearly in love with Newt Gingrich, my thinking. Maybe
his wife is (INAUDIBLE) But dearly in love with him is an amazing
statement from Rudy Giuliani!
Anyway, what do you think Trump thinks when he hears his friends talk
about, like he`s got an addiction problem or whatever it is, the fighting
TUR: I don`t think he likes the word “intervention.” I don`t think he
likes the word “addiction.” I mean, that does imply some sort of substance
abuse. But you may not be able to say that.
But ultimately, Donald Trump does have something of an addiction to
headlines. He`s got an addiction to creating controversy, to drama. He
likes dominating the newscasts. He likes dominating the newspapers. And
that`s why you`ve seen him jump from one controversy to the next.
Chris, we`ve just seen him extinguish a controversy by creating a new
controversy. In the past two weeks, I think there`s five or six, maybe
seven now, and taking the past two days into account. There was the
Melania plagiarism, Donald Trump again trying to link Cruz`s father to JFK,
then there was the – not the Benghazi, the Russian hacking stuff, Trump
calling for that…
TUR: … and then we`re getting into the latest headlines with Trump
fighting with the Khan family and now not endorsing Paul Ryan. This is a
MATTHEWS: How about going after Melania`s immigration – how about
Melania`s immigration papers? I don`t know if there`s any truth at all to
this reporting, but it seems like that`s the very thing to drive him off
the handle. This drives Trump crazy when you go after an immigration issue
TUR: Potentially. And the reason – normally, spouses are off limits, but
the reason that she`s getting a little bit more focus on her is because
Donald Trump has been so fervent about his immigration stances, about
building a wall, about being strong about the borders.
So naturally, reporters were going to start looking into Melania`s status
and her past, and now there are questions surrounding when exactly she came
to the United States.
Those photos that came out over the weekend in “The New York Post” were
dated 1995 in the U.S., and that`s a year before she and Donald Trump say
that she came here. We asked the campaign if they dispute that date, and
they said – they basically did not dispute that date. They just referred
me to Melania`s statement that she never did anything wrong, that she came
here legally and she followed all of the rules.
MATTHEWS: This is the kind of thing that happens in the press when you`re
down, by the way. Not knocking the press, but when you`re down, they start
to eat on your bones.
Anyway, House Speaker Paul Ryan also commented on Trump`s stumbles since
the convention. Here`s what he had to say to a local Wisconsin radio
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would there ever be a bridge too far, where you…
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I have always said, of
course, there are moments in that – I`m not going to get into the
speculation or hypotheticals. None of these things are ever blank checks.
That goes with any situation, in any kind of race. But right now, I think
it`s important that the voters – you know, he won the delegates. He won
the thing fair and square. It`s just that simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, but they`re all going around the place. What do you make
of this, Michael?
STEELE: Well, I…
MATTHEWS: Because it seems like people are talking about him to the media.
They`re not talking to him.
MATTHEWS: They`re talking about, like he`s a case.
STEELE: Yes. And that`s rubbing a lot of people raw at this point. And I
think for Paul Ryan and a lot of other folks, you know, asking them, “Is
there a bridge too far” is just actually getting to the point of ridiculous
because here`s the rub. He made it. Donald Trump won 13-plus million
voters in the primary. He went through the process. He`s the nominee.
To sit there and think that Paul Ryan, who is the titular head of the party
in many respects, is now just going to go, Oh, I`m sorry, we can`t do that
– it`s just not – it`s just not real. It`s not realistic. It`s not…
MATTHEWS: … he wants to get the nomination under rule 9?
STEELE: No! No.
MATTHEWS: Because people tell me the only person that could replace Trump,
if there was ever some dramatic overstep by him and they said, This is
enough, a bridge too far, to use that interviewer`s question…
MATTHEWS: … the only guy that could unite the party would be Ryan.
STEELE: Yes, but that`s just not going to happen because that will not
unite the party because all those Trump voters are going to not sit back
and go, Oh, OK, we accept that. This is not realistic.
So here`s the thing. Everybody now – and this is where Trump needs to
help the rest of the party. They`re trying to help make him a better
candidate, to try to inform him and get him up to speed on national
security so he doesn`t – so he understands the nuclear triad…
MATTHEWS: Did you see what the president said to him?
MATTHEWS: If I give him classified briefings, he`s got to keep them
MATTHEWS: … as if he`s not capable of it!
STEELE: And that`s the concern.
SINGER: But Michael has that…
MATTHEWS: They treat him like he`s, like, a kid, like he`s a juvenile
delinquent or something, like, this guy can`t control himself!
SINGER: Michael would understand this better than any of us, I think, that
part of what an election involves is organizing the party at the grass
roots and through the states. And the Hillary Clinton campaign, if you
watched that convention, the Democratic convention, was stacked with
political leadership within the party, all willing – you know, governors,
senators, all willing to go out in the field and mobilize…
MATTHEWS: Do boring stuff.
SINGER: … mobilize their fund-raising networks and move the ground for
her. Donald Trump needs to grab that party`s infrastructure…
STEELE: That`s right. That`s right.
SINGER: … and have it enthusiastically embrace him. At the moment…
MATTHEWS: So the Democrats are the organized political party this year.
What a weird turn-around that is…
STEELE: The smart politics for Donald Trump – and this is what he has to
understand. Paul Ryan is his biggest ally right now.
STEELE: Paul Ryan is not your enemy here. Paul Ryan is the guy…
MATTHEWS: Nor is…
STEELE: … who will muster all those forces to go work through the RNC
and the states to help you win this race.
MATTHEWS: So why is Trump haywire?
STEELE: Because Trump – Trump is still in a defensive crouch, in my view.
He`s still listening to people say this stuff about him, infer stuff about
him, and he`s defensive about it. He needs to thicken the skin…
STEELE: … and recognize you`re running for president. You`re now in the
thick of this. This isn`t a business deal anymore.
MATTHEWS: The interesting thing, it`s all about temperament, guys,
MATTHEWS: … in the IQ testing, I think he`s ahead of most of these guys.
It`s temperament. He just gets really ticked off.
SINGER: Yes. He`s an outsider, and he has to become an insider now.
MATTHEWS: This is the hardest thing about politics, by the way, is putting
up with the stuff thrown at you.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think I could do it.
Anyway, Katy Tur, thank you very much for being out there with the latest
on the – you are – you got to write a book after this. You have to write
one, Katy. Anyway, Michael Steele and Paul Singer…
TUR: You tell me every time. I`m going to have to do it now.
MATTHEWS: I just think you have all this stuff, all those notebooks.
Anyway, coming up – we keep hearing it from Donald Trump about how the
presidential election might be rigged. President Obama recently actually
certainly popped a hole in that balloon late today, made a lot of fun of
Anyway, plus, Trump is hoping to turn things against both President Obama
and Hillary Clinton over that $400 million payment to Iran this January.
This January, by the way – this is August, and we`re talking about it.
The story might sound like a political winner for Trump, but when you dig
into it, it`s not exactly what Trump makes it out to be. It`s not ransom.
It was part of an overall arrangement or a deal. It wasn`t fresh money
coming from somewhere to pay off kidnappers. We`ll get the facts on that
And President Obama`s making good on his promise to do whatever he can to
help Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump. And with Trump`s allies
pushing the birther line again – that`s Corey Lewandowski pushing that
again – it`s a reminder that for this president, this thing`s personal.
Never forget what Trump did to Obama, made him show his papers, like he`d
stopped him in his car, Let me see your stuff.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with the matter of nuclear weapons. Boy, that is
not a Trump strong suit.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this new advertisement, TV ad, from a House
Republican running for reelection out in Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: People ask me, What do you think about
Trump? Honestly, I don`t care for him much. And I certainly don`t trust
Hillary. I`m a Marine. For me, country comes first. My duty is always to
you. So if Donald Trump is the president, I`ll stand up to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I guess he wants people to vote for Gary Johnson. We`re going
to have Gary Johnson on tomorrow night, the Libertarian candidate. That`s
Colorado Republican Mike Coffman promising to stand up to Donald Trump, but
not clear where he`s actually going to end up as a voter. Who`s he going
to vote for?
Anyway, it`s the latest example of a Republican office holder running away
from his party`s nominee. Not clear who he`s running to. Yesterday, by
the way, GOP congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said he wouldn`t be
voting for Trump this November, either.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our country needs change, and she
will never give us change! Never, ever, ever! The fact is, she helped
create our rigged system.
And I`m afraid the election`s going to be rigged. I have to be honest.
It`s a crooked system. It`s a rigged system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Actually, welcome back to HARDBALL.
Donald Trump likes to make the claim – he is right now – that the
election is rigged, the whole system is rigged. He`s pointed to several
court cases nationwide in which restrictive laws requiring voters to show
photo identification have been thrown out of court. He said those
decisions open the door to fraud come November.
But, tonight, President Obama said he isn`t buying Trump`s claims of a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Mr. Trump is suggesting
that there is a conspiracy theory that is being propagated across the
country, including in places like Texas, where, typically, it`s not
Democrats who are in charge of voting booths, that`s ridiculous. That
doesn`t make any sense.
And I don`t think anybody would take that seriously. I have never heard of
somebody complaining about being cheated before the game was over or before
the score`s even tallied.
So, my suggestion would be, you know, go out there and try to win the
election. If Mr. Trump is up 10 or 15 points on Election Day and ends up
losing, then, you know, maybe he can raise some questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined by Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY`S List, and
J.D. Hayworth, former Republican congressman from Arizona and host of
J.D., it`s good to see you.
J.D. HAYWORTH (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It`s good to be with you,
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about how this charge and how it`s hit you, J.D.?
Do you have any – is there any evidence out there that – rigged is the
kind of term they use in Third World countries. Every – if I lost, it`s
rigged. If I win, I arrest my opponents.
MATTHEWS: Are we at that level?
HAYWORTH: Chris, Chris, are you suggesting there`s not hyperbole in
politics? Perish the thought.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, tell me about this one.
HAYWORTH: It might surprise you a little bit.
Let me begin here in Florida, where I`m now a voter. I have absolute faith
in what happens here in Florida. I have been a voter. I have been
impressed with photo I.D., checking signatures. They do it right here.
Now, here`s what`s surprising, and it`s not the traditional
Republican/Democrat breakdown. I was alarmed to hear today that out in
Arizona – has the same date for the primary that Florida does – August 30
– Secretary of State Michele Reagan, a Republican, and Maricopa County
Recorder Helen Pursell, also a Republican, are not going to enforce the
ballot harvesting laws on the books passed by the legislature, signed by
Governor Ducey. They say they are not going to enforce them.
But to the presidential election, yes, there are real concerns, court
cases. And Terry McAuliffe, the guy who could raise all that money from
the Chinese in the Clinton/Gore `96 campaign, first, he tried to issue that
blanket pardon or the change in status for felons. The Virginia Supreme
Court said no. So he`s going to sit down individually and sign 200,000
changes in status?
That is one guy intent on putting Virginia in the Democrat column.
MATTHEWS: Well, what about the Republican open statements in places like
Pennsylvania, where two top Republicans who run the state said that they
believe that photo voter I.D. laws would help them win elections?
Let`s try – let`s let them speak here. Here they are. We have heard, as
I said, from several Republican officials up in Pennsylvania in recent
history who have revealed the intentions, the motivation of the voter I.D.
laws. Let`s listen to these guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voter I.D., which is going to allow Governor Romney to
win the state of Pennsylvania, done.
QUESTION: Do you think all the intention drawn to photo I.D. affected last
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think a little bit. I think we probably had a
better election. Think about this. We cut Obama by 5 percent, which was
big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won. He beat McCain by 10
percent and he beat Romney by 5 percent. I think that probably photo I.D.
had a – helped a bit in that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butts.
If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks, that wants the government to give them
everything, so be it.
QUESTION: And it just so happens a lot of those people vote Democrat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, J.D., I`m not going to vouch for that third guy, but I
will vouch for the two top Republicans, because they are serious leaders up
there. And they are saying…
HAYWORTH: Hey, why don`t we vouch for your old boss, Jimmy Carter?
MATTHEWS: What about this?
HAYWORTH: President Carter, on the bipartisan commission with Secretary of
State Jim Baker, 2005, ballot reform, they both came out saying photo I.D.
is a valid way to get that done.
MATTHEWS: Fine. That`s their opinion.
HAYWORTH: That`s bipartisan.
MATTHEWS: That`s fine. That`s their opinion, not mine.
HAYWORTH: So, you`re just going to discount, well, there`s bipartisanship,
and somehow it doesn`t count?
MATTHEWS: Because I wanted to let the Republicans speak for themselves in
Pennsylvania. They offered up honestly their candid fact. It was
political motivation that led them to be for photo I.D., not cleaning up
elections, but winning elections.
Go ahead, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, PRESIDENT, EMILY`S LIST: That`s exactly right.
And what we have seen, Chris, in the last many election – or last
legislative cycles, is that the Republicans know that, if the voters
actually have access to voting, they are in trouble. So the best way to do
that is to change all of these laws through the legislature, add all these
barriers, tear apart the Voting Rights Act to prevent people from voting.
And it should be as free as possible.
HAYWORTH: We could say the same thing – we could say the same thing about
California, where Jerry Brown and the Democrat-dominated legislature has
changed things to make it easier to sign people up without I.D.
We can recall the words of Selwyn Duke in “The American Thinker,” where the
Democrat strategy is not get out the vote, but bring in the vote, give
pardons to illegals.
SCHRIOCK: Well, J.D., let`s keep in mind that voting is a right in this
country, though. You are talking about a constitutional right.
HAYWORTH: Same-day registration. Let`s not have any type of
documentation, and, ta-da, that makes for a very curious situation.
MATTHEWS: Let`s find something we can agree on here. Why would a
candidate four months before an election claim that an election was rigged,
unless he thought he was going to lose?
HAYWORTH: No, I will tell you the real reason why.
MATTHEWS: Why is he talking about a rigged election now? Go ahead.
HAYWORTH: Well, you had a rigged nomination on the Democrat side, and you
had three senior officials take a powder.
MATTHEWS: … Donald Trump. Stay on this point.
HAYWORTH: And you don`t want to hear it, but that`s the case, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, I want to stay – I just try to – I try to ask these
HAYWORTH: Oh, so, now you are going to redefine the terms. You asked a
question about rigging. There`s a legitimate concern.
I know it`s not in the interest of the Democrats. You wanted to collapse
that news cycle. But let me tell you why those three people left. Not for
the e-mails that have already come out, but the e-mails that are coming out
ahead. They are looking to try to inoculate the situation.
MATTHEWS: Why is Donald Trump raising the issue that this election is
going to be rigged now?
SCHRIOCK: Well, Chris, it`s clear. He feels like he`s losing. That
sounds like somebody who is already losing.
And President Obama is exactly right. Maybe you should play out the
election first. This is the United States of America.
HAYWORTH: Sure. When I hear President Obama today, spoken like a true
denizen of Cook County, Chicago, where we know the elections always go
right down the line.
Just a question. Why is Trump talking rigged elections at this point?
HAYWORTH: Because there are legitimate concerns.
You can define rig I guess the way Mr. Clinton asked for the definition of
what is, is. But I will tell you this. There are legitimate concerns that
efforts are made, for example, in North Carolina last month, where three
federal appeals court judges said they could determine the intent of the
I don`t know how they can move into clairvoyancy, but they have done so.
And that stinks to high heaven. It`s partisan and it`s wrong. People need
to be who they are when they come into vote.
MATTHEWS: I guess that`s why we heard – I like the political leaders to
admit their motives, like the guys in Pennsylvania.
Anyway, thank you, Stephanie Schriock.
Thank you, J.D. Hayworth.
HAYWORTH: Excuse me. Democrats don`t want to win elections? Now, wait a
minute. We are all in this and everybody wants to win elections.
SCHRIOCK: No. We just want voters to be able to vote.
MATTHEWS: Up next…
HAYWORTH: Well, that`s what I`m saying. Voters who are documented can
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
HAYWORTH: What`s wrong with being who you are and who you say you are?
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
We have been over this so many times.
HAYWORTH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: But we will go over it again. Thank you.
Up next: Donald Trump keeps slamming President Obama and Hillary Clinton
over that $400 million payment to Iran. When we come back, the facts about
that payment by the person who wrote the story for “The Wall Street
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
The woman killed in a stabbing spree last night in London is identified as
Darlene Horton, an American from Florida. Five other people were wounded
in that violence.
Charleston Church shooting suspect Dylann Roof was assaulted by an inmate
at the South Carolina jail where he is being held. Roof is accused of
killing nine people at an historically black church last year.
And President Obama says Zika is a serious threat to Americans. He is
urging Congress to approve funding to fight its spread – back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What we have is the manufacturing of outrage in a story that we
disclosed in January. And the only bit of news that is relevant on this is
the fact that we paid cash.
The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so
strict in maintaining sanctions, and we do not have a banking relationship
with Iran, that we couldn`t send them a check.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, President Obama late today defending the
administration`s decision to send $400 million in cash to the Iranian
government around the same time that four Iranian American prisoners were
released to American officials. Coincidence or not?
While the news of the deal was reported back in January of this year, the
form of payment was reported in “Wall Street Journal” today. They reported
that – quote – “wooden pallets” – those are boxes, wooden boxes,
basically – “stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were
flown into Iran in an unmarked cargo plane.”
Anyway, the story has become a political gift for Donald Trump, who has
been desperate to change the subject after a week of stumbles.
Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That probably was hostage money
to get hostages out for $400 million because it was exact timing. Our
leaders are incompetent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the shipment of cash is part of the settlement of a
dispute over a failed arms deal dating way back to the days of the shah.
Iran paid us money for weapons, but after the Islamic Revolution of `79, we
never delivered the weapons.
Anyway, still, the administration is trying to defend the optics of
something that for many Americans is reminiscent of the Reagan era Iran-
Contra deal, when the American government traded arms for hostages with
For more now, I`m joined by one of the authors of that “Wall Street
Journal” article, White House reporter Carol Lee.
The president rarely does media attacks. He did one today, saying that
your piece was manufactured, that it was a six-month or seven-month-old
story. He was saying, why did it run today?
CAROL LEE, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, I think, as you outlined,
what`s new here is we – is the fact that this payment, which we all knew
was going to go to Iran, happened to land in Iran at around at the same
time that the U.S. was getting back four Americans that were detained in
Iran and that it came in the form of cash, obviously not American dollars,
because that would be illegal, but euros, Swiss francs and other
And that has created a political firestorm and is raising questions once
again. And these questions were raised in January from critics of the Iran
deal about whether this settlement with Iran that coincided with the
release of these Americans was, in fact, ransom.
And when you talk to administration officials, they vehemently, as the
president did today, say that it was not, the U.S. did not pay ransom, but
there were some in the Justice Department, as our Justice Department
reporter reported today, that raised concerns about the optics of this,
that it would be seen by Iran as a ransom payment. And Iran is describing
it as a ransom payment.
MATTHEWS: Iran has been saying it was a deal.
LEE: Exactly. Right.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask the old cutter question, which I try to come up with.
And you try to come up with it all the time too.
Would our people have gotten home if the money hadn`t been paid?
LEE: That`s the question that has been asked of the White House and to
other administration officials. And they say yes.
But what`s clear is that Iran wanted some sort of deliverable up front.
There were three things that were happening that weekend.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no, no, you`re – I`m not clear. Would we have gotten
our people back if we hadn`t made the payment of $400 million? Would we
have gotten them back, yes or no?
LEE: Well, that`s – the White House says that, yes, they would have, that
these were things that all happened on separate tracks.
MATTHEWS: Why were they so coincidental? Why did they happen within days
– within one day of each other?
LEE: These are all the questions that members of Congress are asking and
reporters are asking.
And, you know, in terms of what – the method of payment and the timing of
the payment, those are also questions that members of Congress have been
asking since January and have not gotten the answers to.
Well, listen to the rest of this, because I think you will want to learn
some things from Mr. Cirincione.
Joe Cirincione is joining us right now.
But thank you, Carol Lee from “The Wall Street Journal.”
Here`s president of the Ploughshares Fund.
Here`s the question. Assuming reasonability that the Iran hostages deal,
getting the hostages back, the Iranian nuclear deal, and this deal over
this debt that we had to settle after all these years, were all related,
there`s the old thing they say in negotiations, there`s nothing that is
decided until everything is decided. It happens all the time.
Until everything is agreed upon, nothing`s agreed upon. That still doesn`t
make it ransom, because ransom is when you go into the bank and you grab
some money from somewhere and pay it to get somebody home. This is what
was part of a deal.
Now, I don`t know why somebody at that press conference today didn`t say,
wasn`t this all part of a deal, an arrangement before Zarif and John Kerry
or whatever, and, therefore, it seems reasonable, and it doesn`t break our
precedent? What do you think of not paying ransom?
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: I`m not surprised that
Donald Trump thinks we paying a debt we owe is ransom.
MATTHEWS: Because whenever he paid a bill, it was a surprise.
CIRINCIONE: Right. He doesn`t want to do it. He doesn`t want to pay it.
MATTHEWS: Remember, that is part of his pattern. Don`t pay bills.
CIRINCIONE: Right. And there are a lot of people who didn`t want to make
any deal with Iran, so they object to any deal. They objected to the
Iranian nuclear deal. But that was a success. We stopped their program.
We stopped a war.
MATTHEWS: So it`s not ransom? Or is it?
CIRINCIONE: Of course it`s not ransom. And it`s idiotic to think that
this would be ransom.
We do not pay ransom for a very good reason. If we start paying, you can`t
stop. That`s what happens.
MATTHEWS: Or was it part of the deal, though? Was it part of the deal?
CIRINCIONE: What we had is an opportunity that was opened up by the
successful Iran negotiations, where we had new channels and we had a moment
where we could…
MATTHEWS: OK. Same question the average guy or woman out there watching
now wants to know. Would we have gotten our people back if we hadn`t paid
CIRINCIONE: Yes, because what the Iranians were interested in most of
MATTHEWS: Why did it happen within a day if it wasn`t connected? If it
wasn`t connected, why did it happen the next day?
CIRINCIONE: Because we had a moment where we could take care of all this
business at once, and you don`t know if it`s going to happen again.
We got a very good deal in this repayment. We owed them $400 million.
Adjusted for inflation, that`s $1.4 billion. We paid them $300 million
interest on top of that. They were asked for $10 billion at the court
where this was being adjudicated. So, Obama really knows the art of the
deal. He struck a great agreement here. We got our prisoners out.
MATTHEWS: Suppose we had said, we want the nuclear deal, we want our
people back, but no deal on this? Would that have worked?
CIRINCIONE: Yes, because…
MATTHEWS: Would that have worked? If we said we`re not paying the money,
but we want our people back and we will make the deal with you on nuclear
arms, would that have worked?
CIRINCIONE: Yes, and here`s why. Because we got the nuclear deal back in
July. Remember, it was already a done deal.
CIRINCIONE: January 17 is when the whole thing is implemented, when they
had ripped out their centrifuges, destroyed their plutonium reactor,
fulfilled all the obligations.
MATTHEWS: But they could still be difficult.
CIRINCIONE: They give us five guys, we give them…
MATTHEWS: I know, but they could still be difficult.
CIRINCIONE: But we got – we gave them 14 prisoners. That`s what they
wanted back out of this.
MATTHEWS: OK. That was the deal. The other thing was unrelated? The
other thing was unrelated?
CIRINCIONE: They are connected. And so there`s something going on there,
but it`s not a quid pro quo. It`s certainly not…
MATTHEWS: OK. I think they`re related. And I think we`re going to find
out over time that everything is related with the Iranians, because they
know how to say no. They can be sticky and they can say no.
Anyway, thank you, Joe Cirincione.
And up next: President Obama`s once again going on the attack against
Donald Trump. For the president, this fight is clearly personal. Just
remember, he stopped this president, as president of the United States, and
asked him for his papers. Never forget that. He had to show his birth
certificate because of this guy Trump. Don`t think people forget that kind
of stuff, that kind of crap, actually.
The roundtable is going to join us next. You`re watching HARDBALL, the
place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would ask all of you to
just make your own judgment. I`ve made this point already multiple times.
Just listen to what (AUDIO GAP) judgment with respect to how confident you
feel about his ability to manage things like our nuclear triad. I
obviously have a very strong opinion about the two candidates who are
running. One is very positive and one is not so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He is unbelievable. When Obama`s got the high hand, when you
know he`s winning, you see how he threw in the word “triad” because he knew
Trump didn`t know what a triad was?
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama at his peak
there in a press conference a short time ago, late today. He`s taking an
active role, of course, in the 2016 presidential campaign and hasn`t shied
away from criticizing Donald Trump. Not at all. In fact, he likes doing
Let`s bring in the roundtable. Ruth Marcus, who I agree with every time
she writes a column for “The Washington Post,” Michael Tomasky is a
contributor with “The Daily Beast”, and Sarah Isgur Flores is a Republican
Thank you all.
Look, first of all, he loves this because Trump doesn`t know anything about
nuclear weapons. Doesn`t know anything about – doesn`t even seem to
remember us kids hiding under the desks. He doesn`t understand the Cuban
missile crisis. He doesn`t understand they are for deterrence, not use.
He doesn`t understand you can`t use them in Europe, it`s a crowded little
country where they are all allies of ours, you don`t use nuclear weapons.
Trump doesn`t know what he`s talking about.
RUTH MARCUS, THE WASHINGTON POST: And you don`t think it was a coincidence
the president used the word triad? Hugh Hewitt asked Donald Trump about
the nuclear triad at one of the debates.
MATTHEWS: And he didn`t know what it was.
MARCUS: In fact, actually Hugh Hewitt was pretty kind to Donald Trump at
that debate because he had spelled out what the components of the triad
were, and Donald Trump still showed no familiarity with it. In fact,
actually it was really interesting, he was at “The Washington Post” awhile
after that in March and we also asked him about the nuclear triad and he
didn`t actually seem even then to know what it was.
MATTHEWS: The whole approach, I`m going back and I`m studying the `64
campaign and watching it being replayed. The candidate didn`t know what –
you had to wait Democratic (INAUDIBLE) said we shouldn`t have to wait until
Saturday to know what the Republican meant on Monday. Everybody in the
Republican Party voted for civil rights except Goldwater, except
So, they are trying to do the same thing. You can`t read the guy
correctly, he`s not articulate, not clear, he makes stupid comments and
he`s not a typical Republican. They are doing the same thing against Trump
now, the Democrats.
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, and it`s working according to the
polls right now.
Here`s the thing about Trump, Chris. It`s not only that he didn`t know
what the triad was and then didn`t know again later with you. He doesn`t
care that he doesn`t know. He`s never read a book about this. He`s
probably never read a “New York Times” article about nuclear deterrence.
He doesn`t care at all to know anything –
MATTHEWS: Isn`t he worried about winning?
TOMASKY: Yes, he has a different idea about winning. He thinks he can
just win by going up there and winning the way he won in the primary. It`s
a different scene in the general election. There`s going to be five times
as many voters and they`re not all Republicans and they`re not all base
Republicans and he can`t do it this way.
MATTHEWS: Michael, you remind me of the way I look at presidents when they
dance at inaugural balls and they can`t dance. Obama can`t dance, W.
couldn`t dance at all. They think you do the Freddy or some sort of one-
step stupid thing. Back in the old days, presidents like Gerry Ford
actually take dancing lessons. They actually took it seriously just for
that. These guys don`t think they have to do nuclear lessons.
SARAH ISGUR FLORES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Here`s the big difference,
MATTHEWS: They don`t seem to need to prepare. Does Trump prepare himself
on the policy issues? Does he?
FLORES: It`s pretty clear he doesn`t. But –
FLORES: – it hasn`t shown that it`s mattered that much. Set aside –
MATTHEWS: Does it matter to you?
FLORES: Of course, it matters to me. It matters to some people.
MATTHEWS: That`s why you`re here. Tell me why it matters to you.
FLORES: But Donald Trump is most effective when making the case that this
president knew a lot about foreign policy, he read a lot of books, he went
to Harvard. And yet look at ISIS, look at the failures in foreign policy.
So, just because you`re smart, just because you went to Harvard and know
what the nuclear triad is doesn`t mean the world isn`t in shambles. He
can`t stick to that message.
MATTHEWS: How would Trump have prevented ISIS?
FLORES: He doesn`t have a message on that. But he is effective when he
sticks to that message. This week, that message is even in the –
MATTHEWS: This is the part of politics I love the most, the personal part.
I do believe that this president who I obviously like has pride, maybe it`s
not all worthy of the pride but he`s got it. He doesn`t like as the first
African-American president to be told by some character like Trump show
your I.D. card. You know, you are stopped in traffic, basically he said he
stopped him as president, said let me see your birth certificate to prove
you`re not here illegitimately.
I have a sense, most people I work with think that, too, the president will
never let him go on that. He wants thump this guy.
MARCUS: If you were the president, would you let him go on that?
MATTHEWS: I`m just – I`m not the president.
MARCUS: He jabbed the president for months and months and months over the
birth certificate and actually, Sarah raised an interesting thing because
it wasn`t just the birth certificate. It was the question of whether he
really was smart. How did he get into Harvard, how did he get into
Columbia, where was, where are the transcripts, right?
MATTHEWS: Oh, nobody knew him as Harvard, are we sure he was there?
Whacko stuff. I will let you defend that later.
MATTHEWS: Next they tell me something I don`t know. It`s wacky time. And
this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Tomorrow on HARDBALL, I`ll be talking about the libertarian
ticket for president, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and former
Massachusetts governor and the man I know well, Bill Weld. This is the
option play for people that are worried about Trump. As Donald Trump
continues to feud with the Republican Party, some of the right are taking a
closer look at the libertarian ticket. And tomorrow, they`ll play
HARDBALL. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld tomorrow at 7:00 Eastern right here
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
And, Ruth, tell me something I don`t know.
MARCUS: We all talk about how much – how well Donald Trump is doing with
the non-college educated white guys. A source in Michigan tells me that
actually the union polling shows that Trump is doing less well than McCain
and less well than Mitt Romney with their members.
MATTHEWS: Union members, yes, but they`re Democrats.
MARCUS: Not necessarily.
MATTHEWS: I think he`s got that group. We`ll see.
TOMASKY: Arizona is the state to watch. Clinton might win it. John
McCain could lose in the general election and more interestingly than
either of those in some ways, the sheriff, Joseph Arpaio, running for re-
election against a Democrat who`s a former police sergeant, the Democrat is
ahead in the last couple of polls.
MATTHEWS: You think McCain`s going do lose?
TOMASKY: I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: Do you want him to lose?
TOMASKY: It`s margin of error.
MATTHEWS: Do you want him to lose?
Let`s go to the next, Sara. I`m pushy.
FLORES: So, this is a presidential politics, but check out the letter that
the public defender in Missouri wrote to Democrat Governor Jay Nixon.
They`re 49th out of 50th in per capita spending for public defenders. I`m
an attorney. Everyone deserves fair and legal representation.
So, the head public defender appointed the governor to represent the next
indigent defendant because he`s out of attorneys.
MARCUS: That is great. Bravo.
MATTHEWS: Anybody to a traffic situation in this town, or a car theft
situation, it`s sad, the people that bring them to court, the defenders.
Anyway, thank you, Ruth Marcus, thank you, Michael Tomasky, and Sarah
Flores, thank you.
When we return, let me finish with the matter of nuclear weapons, which
does decide elections often. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a matter of nuclear weapons. They
can, we know, blow up the world. We saw, of course, what they did in
Japan. We know, of course, the power of such nuclear weapons today is far
greater than what were at the heart of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
And we know also that the reason we had a build-up of nuclear weapons
during the cold war was for the purpose of deterrence. No side could use
it without knowing the other side would retaliate, perhaps with every
nuclear missile in their arsenal.
This is the world people my age grew up in, from the time we went through
those air raid drills in our grades in school, to our nervous living
through the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. It`s why we were overwhelmed,
all of us, by the end of the Cold War, after the coming to office of
Mikhail Gorbachev and the historic sit-downs with our President Reagan.
Well, today, President Obama was asked at his late in the day press
conference what he thought about Donald Trump having power over the nuclear
arsenal. He demurred, he said, we, all of us should rather listen to
ourselves to Mr. Trump and make our own judgment. Listen about what Trump
has said about when he would use such weapons of global devastation.
Trump stunned me by saying that he wouldn`t take the nuclear option off the
table in the Middle East and he wouldn`t take it off the table, use of
nuclear weapons even in Europe. Quote, “I would never take any of my cards
off the table,” he said. When I said that nobody in the world wants to
hear an American presidential candidate talk about using nuclear weapons,
Mr. Trump said that something you just have to – well, you just got to
call this troubling. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Would there be a time when it
could be used? Possibly.
MATTHEWS: OK. The trouble is, when you said that, whole world heard it,
David Cameron and Britain heard it. The Japanese, where we bombed them in
`45 heard it. They`re hearing a guy running for United States talking
about using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear that.
TRUMP: Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Why do we make them? Trump asked.
Well, we make them so we keep other people from using them. It`s called
nuclear deterrence. Doesn`t everyone know that? Didn`t people our age
growing up knowing that?
They don`t like building materials like bricks or cinder blocks or bags of
cement or sand or steel beams. Nuclear weapons are built not to fire, but
to deter. You don`t have to like the idea of mutually assured destruction
to know what it is. Ronald Reagan hated it.
But at minimum, can`t we agree on one basic thing that you sure as hell
have to get it about nuclear weapons. They`re not to be used. They`re to
deter. And based to what he has said so far, can any of us be entirely
sure that Donald Trump gets it? That`s a serious question for all of us.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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