Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 8/19/2016

Stephanie Schriock, Michael McFaul, Margaret Talev, Joe Cirincione, Ken Vogel, Francesca Chambers, Ed Goeas

Date: August 19, 2016
Guest: Stephanie Schriock, Michael McFaul, Margaret Talev, Joe Cirincione,
Ken Vogel, Francesca Chambers, Ed Goeas

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Has my way hit the highway?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, just days after Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon took the helm of
the Trump campaign, the Republican nominee has modulated his tone, cleaned
house and rolled out his first TV ad of the general election.

It`s the clearest sign yet that Trump, who`s been hoping for a game change,
is actively trying to win back the voters he needs to have for a path to
victory in November.

In a staff shakeup this week – amid that – Paul Manafort today resigned.
He`s gone, his post as campaign chairman. Sources tell NBC News that
Manafort`s relationship with Trump had turned adversarial, and he didn`t
want to be a distraction for the campaign. Well, the move follows numerous
investigative reports questioning Manafort`s connections with Russian
oligarchs and the former pro-Russian government of Ukraine.

Anyway, sticking to the teleprompter at his rally last night, Trump showed
a rare moment of contrition, expressing regrets for some of the things he`s
said that may have caused – and he used the word – “pain.” Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Sometimes, in the heat of debate
and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don`t choose the right words or
you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I
regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused
personal pain.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s also out today with his new TV ad of the general
election, the first one of the TV ad of the election, an attack on Hillary
Clinton on the issue – no surprise here – of immigration.

It comes after Trump the last couple of months, two months, in fact,
effectively ceded the airwaves to Secretary Clinton, who`s spent $60
million already on general election advertising. So she`s owned the

All of a sudden now, these Trump campaign changes aren`t coming soon enough
for a campaign that for weeks now has appeared to be headed downward. And
we all agree on that. This is the transparent fact. We`ve all watched
Trump`s campaign crumble quite a bit for the last three or four weeks.

Anyway, late today, Trump also made a hard pitch to African-American voters
– at least seeming to be doing it. Let`s watch what he said.


TRUMP: Look how much African-American communities have suffered under
Democratic control. To those, I say the following. What do you have to
lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose?


TRUMP: What do you have to lose? You`re living in poverty. Your schools
are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is
unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?

And at the end of four years. I guarantee you that I will get over 95
percent of the African-American vote! I promise you.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by MSNBC political analyst Robert Costa of
“The Washington Post,” national political reporter for that newspaper.
Michael Steele is former chairman of the RNC and an MSNBC political
analyst, and Stephanie Schriock is the president of Emily`s List.

Stephanie, I`m going to let you up to the plate first. You`re lead-off
batter tonight. First of all, what do you make of Trump`s changes? What
do you make of the regrets? It was almost like, I did it my way, regrets,
I`ve made a few, but yet again, too few to mention. He won`t mention them,
clearly. But he is trying to be – I think, trying to be nicer so he`ll
get women Republicans to vote for him.

I think that`s what he`s up to, especially on the racial stuff. I don`t
think that`s aimed at black people, African-Americans. I think it`s aimed
at white women in the burbs who don`t want to be – see themselves as
racists, so he`s talking to them. Your thoughts.

STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, EMILY`S LIST: Well, it seems to me that, really, the
only thing he regrets is that he`s losing.


SCHRIOCK: And that`s precisely what we`re seeing…


MATTHEWS: That`s politics.

SCHRIOCK: Yes, this isn`t so much fun anymore. I liked this better when
other things were happening. I mean, here`s the thing. He has spent his
entire campaign and arguably most of his adult life offending particularly
women in this country.

Seven out of ten women voters do not like him. They did not like him
yesterday, they do not like him today, and I`m quite confident they`re not
going to like him on election day. His offensive comments have gone too


SCHRIOCK: … and he`s clearly proven he`s unfit for the presidency.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Robert Costa for another (INAUDIBLE). Robert,
what do you think? It`s – he obviously saw the abyss this week. I mean,
we all have our own takes on what`s going on. I think he looked into the
abyss and said, I`m going to humiliate myself, I`m going to become a loser,
a giant loser, and I better make some changes. On comes – in comes
Kellyanne, in comes Bannon, out goes Manafort. Your thoughts

started over the weekend. Trump was in the Hamptons meeting with donors,
friends. He was furious about leaks he saw from within the campaign. He
saw Manafort as becoming a distraction.

Trump`s family, which had grown close to Manafort, supportive of him in the
last couple of months, they started to see Manafort`s issues with those
pro-Russian forces in Ukraine as another political distraction.

And this whole time, he`s talking to Kellyanne Conway behind the scenes,
he`s talking to Steve Bannon, an informal adviser, and he`s meeting with
Roger Ailes. And he`s saying, We got to kick-start this thing in the next
80 days.

MATTHEWS: And is he – and do you think that he`s committed to this new
approach of kinder gentler to women, kinder gentler to African-Americans,
kinder gentler to flood victims by flying down there? It does seem to be
of a piece, I`m not the SOB some people think I am, I`m changing or I`m
going to look different now.

He seems to be trying. Is this real, or is it PR? I mean…


MATTHEWS: That`s a terrible question. I take that back. Just answer
whatever you think. We can never do that on television, figure out what`s
true and just selling. But go ahead.

COSTA: So it`s not apples and oranges, Chris. Based on my reporting, what
we`re going to see is a hybrid approach, a little bit of this Kellyanne
Conway influence, reaching out to suburban women, the trip down to
Louisiana, the regret expression last night in Charlotte.

Then you got the Bannon approach at the same time, which is this pugilistic
populism going hard after Secretary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at this. This morning, Trump campaign
manager Kellyanne Conway was asked about whom Trump was addressing last
night when he said he regretted some of the things he`s been saying. Let`s
watch this moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was he talking about?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He was talking about anyone who
feels offended by anything he said. And that`s all him. I hope that
everybody who`s criticized him at some point, David, for being insensitive
or for mocking someone, at least shows some recognition and some

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will he reach out to the Khan family personally?

CONWAY: He may. But I certainly hope that they heard him last night.


MATTHEWS: Well, I think she`s saying, Accept it if you feel it.


the important thing, you`re talking about a man who`s made it very clear he
doesn`t apologize. He doesn`t see a need to express what he did, express
regret. So that for him – again, I give that credit to Kellyanne. I
think she`s had an immediate impact on the campaign.

I think Trump is probably now, for the first time in a while, in a more
comfortable space. He, along with they, are beginning to figure out how to
do what Robert just touched on, be the pugilist and can go into a battle
head to head against Hillary but also have in place the message, the


STEELE: … and the conversation beyond just going on attack.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s interesting.

Anyway, Donald Trump today released his first TV ad of the general election
in a $4 million ad buy. It comes two months after the Clintons, Secretary
Clinton, launched her first ad back in June. Let`s watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Hillary Clinton`s America, the system stays rigged
against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted
of committing crimes get to stay. Donald Trump`s America is secure,
terrorists and dangerous criminals kept out, the border secure, our
families safe.


MATTHEWS: Well, Stephanie, you dance with the one that brung you. He`s
back to where he started with the battle against illegal immigration added
to the battle against what he considers dangerous refugees coming to this

SCHRIOCK: Right, and it`s one shade away from his statement of Mexicans
being rapists. I mean, I don`t see this as a change. I see it as a
continuation of the campaign, the entire campaign he`s run. And as…

MATTHEWS: What do you think, illegal immigration is popular in this
country? You think illegal immigration is popular? You think there are

SCHRIOCK: No, I think he`s…

MATTHEWS: … coming to this country…


SCHRIOCK: No, that`s why we need immigration reform.


SCHRIOCK: And we don`t have a debate about immigration reform. But I
think it`s important to note, with these changes, you know, bringing on
Steve Bannon is not exactly a warming feeling for particularly women in
this country because…

MATTHEWS: How about Kellyanne? What do you think of her? What do you
think of Kellyanne?

SCHRIOCK: You know, I think it`s going to be really interesting to see
what she does here. I just want to remind folks, interestingly, on the
anniversary of Akin`s statement about – remember, she was the one who
defended Todd Akin, so…

MATTHEWS: Well, she was working for him.

SCHRIOCK: … I think be prepared – yes…


SCHRIOCK: … and she`s working for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this…


SCHRIOCK: I`m pretty sure she`s going to defend him.

MATTHEWS: I`m going to get to you in a minute. I`m working on you. I
want you to say something you think might be a smart political move,
whether you like it or not. Going out and saying, I`ve made mistakes,
things I regret saying – what do you make of that? I think that`s got the
Kellyanne fingerprints on it. What do you think of that last night, Trump
doing it?

SCHRIOCK: It may. It may have her fingerprints. I just don`t – you
know, he also said, Believe me or not. I don`t believe him! And I think I
am with the vast majority…

MATTHEWS: Fair enough. Fair enough. Let me…

SCHRIOCK: … of women in this country who just don`t believe it now.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s true.

SCHRIOCK: It`s too late.

MATTHEWS: Let me get back to Robert on the cultivation of the vote he
needs. My hunch is that before you win a general election, you first have
to win back the Mitt Romney vote from last time. He is in trouble in
states like Arizona. He`s in trouble in North Carolina. He has to fight
for Florida at this point. He has to get back to avoid humiliation.

Winning women Republicans back seems to be the goal. Kellyanne seems to be
the perfect professional to help him. Am I right?

COSTA: Well, that`s a fair argument to make, but based on the reporting I
had today, they`re severing the arm they had to the Republican
establishment in Paul Manafort. He`s gone. He`s the one with the links.

Bringing in Steve Bannon – Breitbart has been very much opposed to Ryan,
the House speaker, and McConnell, the Senate majority leader, in their
primary contests in recent years. And you have Bannon advocating this
populism nationalism that`s detached from the Republican Party. This is an
attempt to make wholesale change of what the GOP is.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the area you came from, Bucks County,
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, suburban Republican women who vote
Republican, basically – I don`t want to cut them short, but basically
because of their tax brackets. They`re a little better off. They think
the Republican Party`s better for them.

Are they in trouble? Is Trump in trouble with them still, those women?

COSTA: When we look…

MATTHEWS: They read the papers, they know the issues, but they tend to be
Republicans, if soft Republicans. Can he win them enough to win the
general – to win Pennsylvania? Can he win them back, in fact?

COSTA: The way I`ve had it described to me, Chris, is the Trump people
have to get economic unrest for suburban voters to outweigh these
temperamental concerns that have been lingering there for many months.

MATTHEWS: OK. Trump today also took on Hillary Clinton when it comes to
the African-American vote. So he`s going to a vote he`s not going to get,
but I think he has to look like he`s trying in order to get the white
moderate vote. That`s my thinking. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton would rather provide a job to a refugee from
overseas than to give that job to unemployed African-American youth in
cities like Detroit, who have become refugees in their own country!


MATTHEWS: How does that ring, Michael? Is that for somebody else or…


STEELE: I don`t think that resonates effectively in the black community at
this point. I think that…

MATTHEWS: You mean the guys in Detroit don`t think he`s on their side?

STEELE: They`re largely detached. There are those who want – who like
the idea, and I`ve heard that expressed to me by a number of, you know,
entrepreneurs, and you know, folks like that who say, Look – yes, I liked
that message originally, but everything else has now clouded that in such a
way that they`re not buying it. He may be able to open up a little bit of
a conversation there, but not much.

This was for a broader audience. This was for greater Michigan. This was
for Arizona.


STEELE: Absolutely. This was for the rest of the Rust Belt. This was for
parts of Pennsylvania, for example, where you know, he`s trying to say,
Look, I do care about the people you care about, and I am concerned about,
you know, their station in life, and so that should be enough to…

MATTHEWS: OK. Caring – “I care” seems to be the theme of the last 24
hours. We`ll see if it lasts.

But certainly to highlight that and visualize it, he took a surprise trip,
Trump did, last night. Trump today toured the flood zone in Louisiana,
where thousands have been forced out of their homes, horrible stories down
there. It comes after a Louisiana newspaper called on President Obama to
cut short his vacation up on Martha`s Vineyard to visit the state.

Well, in an exchange today with a local resident, Trump today took a jab at
the president for, as he put it, deciding to play golf. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re not playing golf in Martha`s Vineyard! That`s
all we can say. We`re glad you`re not playing golf!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) for showing up here, buddy.

TRUMP: Somebody is. Somebody is that shouldn`t be.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make America great again.


TRUMP: Build it back, right? Build it back.


MATTHEWS: Robert Costa, you got to like somebody like that who just yells
out what they`re thinking. That woman has got it! I tell you, she was
saying – she was saying, You got – why are you – what`s he playing golf
for up there? Talk about a nice partisan shot while the cameras are
running. What did you make of that?

COSTA: Well, Trump loves golf. He spends most of his weekends at
Bedminster (ph), Trump National, having these policy meetings. But I think
you see Trump – this meeting, this trip to Louisiana, I hear, Chris, was
recommended by Bannon. And Bannon has these ideas, same with Conway, of
going to Democratic towns, places where President Obama may not be, to try
to change the perception of Trump not just in these interviews…


COSTA: … and these speeches, but in his trips and his itinerary.

MATTHEWS: It`s like George Bush, Sr., going up to Boston Harbor and
showing how dirty it was, remember?

STEELE: Yes. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Right under the eyes of Michael Dukakis.

STEELE: Exactly. The conversation is about Trump being in a space where
the president is not.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, you never look good when you`re not in a spot. The
president, by the way, is going to catch up. He`s going to tag base
Tuesday, going down to Baton Rouge, you know, on his schedule. It`s not so
good as going now, but – you can argue this is all showmanship, it`s all
PR. We can argue that, but that`s what we cover. It`s called a campaign.

Thank you, Robert Costa…


MATTHEWS: Go ahead. What did you say? Go ahead.

COSTA: Well, I was saying this whole campaign now for Trump is
showmanship. This is not a campaign that`s going to be as competitive as
Clinton on grass roots, on fund-raising. So it`s all about public

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think – and his pictures – you get your – Ronald
Reagan did quite well, and Sig Rogich and Michael Deaver and those guys,
they knew how to put him in the right place at the right time, whether it
was Normandy on the 40th anniversary or it was in front of the – out on
the Liberty Park in New Jersey, rediscovering the Statue of Liberty. It
all worked. I don`t know if it`ll work as much for Trump. There`s some
scar tissue right there on that guy`s – by the way, notice he…


SCHRIOCK: … Ronald Reagan.

MATTHEWS: Did you like Ronald Reagan, Stephanie?

SCHRIOCK: I disagreed with him, but I`ll tell you, Donald Trump…

MATTHEWS: Did you like him? Did you like him?

SCHRIOCK: Well, I`m going to be honest with you. I was in elementary


MATTHEWS: But did you like him? Did you like him? I need to know.


MATTHEWS: You can`t get away with this. You can`t say he`s no Ronald
Reagan without saying whether you like him or not.

SCHRIOCK: Well, he was – he was a – he really, truly was a great
communicator, and…


SCHRIOCK: … wouldn`t make it through a Republican primary today.

MATTHEWS: OK. Great. Thank you. You are discernible in your politics.
Thank you for coming on for that reason, Stephanie Schriock, thank you.
And Robert Costa, thank you, and thank you, Michael Steele. Have a nice
weekend, everybody, with all your divergent and diversive (ph) opinion.

Coming up – and divisive, too, by the way.

Coming up – this is (INAUDIBLE) quid pro quo. The State Department says
that $400 million payment to Iran was, quote, “leverage,” close quote, to
get those American prisoners back, those people being held over there.
Critics are calling the payment ransom because money for people sounds like
ransom. The White House is on defense. Let`s watch that one next.

Plus, is Vladimir Putin – first of all, you hear a guy named Vladimir, you
don`t really like the guy right off the bat, do you – all in for Trump in
2016? Vlad the impaler? I`ve got the former ambassador of Russia here to
tell us why that country and its president, Putin, appear to be meddling –
actually, I think I wrote getting into our presidential election.

And game change. Trump`s attempted reset this week – pivoting to foreign
policy, shaking up his campaign people and heading to Louisiana to tour
flood damage. Will that work? Can he win back wary Republicans who went
for Mitt Romney? Can he just win back the Republican base? That`s his
game now. Get a single before you hit a home run. The roundtable is
weighing in.

Finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight with the Trump-de-dump. He likes to fire
people, doesn`t he.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got new numbers tonight on how Hillary Clinton and Donald
Trump fare in two toss-up states. Let`s check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”

Hillary Clinton holds a 2-point – these are nothing, these edges – out in
Nevada. It`s Clinton 44, Trump 42. That could be close, certainly.
That`s within the poll`s margin of error, obviously.

And in Georgia – there`s a state – Clinton and Trump are tied at 43, and
that`s great news for Hillary Clinton. That`s a state that hasn`t gone for
a Democrat since when? Since 1992.

And we`ll be right back.



Iran`s money, OK? It was money that they were going to get back anyway.

And so we negotiated with The Hague this interest payment that was much
more advantageous to American taxpayers. So, to the degree it was a quid
pro quo, it was they got their principal back and we got a much more
advantageous interest payment schedule.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was State Department spokesman John Kirby today, earlier today,
defending the administration`s decision to reimburse – there`s a word for
you – Iran $400 million at the same time that country released four
American prisoners.

Well, the deal is under new scrutiny now because Kirby acknowledged just
yesterday that the administration, the Barack Obama administration,
withheld the release of cash until they knew the prisoners had left Iran.
Listen to that.


QUESTION: In basic English, you`re saying that you wouldn`t give them the
$400 million in cash until the prisoners were released. Correct?

KIRBY: That`s correct. Because we already had concerns about the endgame
in terms of getting our people out, we didn`t want to take any chances.
And so we believe that, as much leverage as could be had, we wanted to


MATTHEWS: Well, the administration has had to defend that deal since “The
Wall Street Journal” reported on August 3, that`s this month – quote –
“The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million
worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four
Americans detained in Tehran.”

Well, Republicans, of course – and they should have – that`s what we do
in politics – jumped on that report, describing the deal as a ransom for
hostages. President Obama pushed back the next day. Here he is.


fact dictated by the fact that, as a consequence of us negotiating around
the nuclear deal, we actually had diplomatic negotiations and conversations
with Iran for the first time in several decades.


MATTHEWS: Well, for more on this, I`m joined by Margaret Talev, who – she
is senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. And Joe
Cirincione, he`s the president of Ploughshares Fund.

My question, I might as well start with the tough one, the cutting
question. Who told Zarif, who told Iran that if they gave us our people
back, they would get the money? Because that statement, they knew that
they would get the money if they released our people, who told them that?
And once telling them that, isn`t that a trade? Isn`t that a linkage?

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG NEWS: You think we will find out in the
congressional hearings that are going to happen in a few weeks?


MATTHEWS: Who told them, you will get the money if you release our people?


MATTHEWS: That sounds like quid pro quo. It just sounds like a deal.

TALEV: The U.S. has…

MATTHEWS: Part of a bigger deal, but part of a deal.

TALEV: The U.S. has apparently owed this money to what used to be Iran
since 1979.

MATTHEWS: Since `97. So, 37 years later, we are repaying a bill exactly
on the day that prisoners are agreed to get out.

TALEV: Right. And we are repaying a deal because the U.S. agreed to it
several months after Jason Rezaian was already taken captive by the


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, why do you think the administration denied there
was a linkage of any kind? It was all part of a deal.

last week, these were clearly connected. Because we had made the deal with
Iran, new diplomatic channels opened up. We were able to solve this debt
that we owed them for 37 years, and we were able to make a prisoner
exchange, and it all happened together.

Was there a connection? Yes. But was there a quid pro quo, was this
ransom, was it secret? No.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you this. This is common sense.

We are saying that they wouldn`t get the money if they didn`t release the
prisoners. But that`s not the same as saying you will get the money if you
release the prisoners. These are interesting questions of how things work.
If I say to somebody, if you do that, I will give you the money. Who said

CIRINCIONE: But he didn`t say that. That`s not what Kirby said. In what
fantasy world does the criminal gang release the hostages, and then wait
for the money to be paid? This is ridiculous.

MATTHEWS: Well, they made – we made the commitment.


CIRINCIONE: We got nervous at the end that this was all supposed to be
synchronized. The plane with the passengers – with the prisoners was
supposed to be taking off. The plane with the money was supposed to be
there, two separate negotiated deals happening at the same time.

MATTHEWS: That sounds like a ransom.

CIRINCIONE: But they were delaying the prisoners. They were delaying the

MATTHEWS: But listen to me. You got a child kidnapping case, and they say
give me $50 million. You show with the $50 million and the baby`s there,
right? If the baby`s not there, you say you`re not getting the money.
That sounds like a ransoming.

CIRINCIONE: This was smart diplomacy.

If Oliver North has made this deal, he would be taking a victory lap.


MATTHEWS: Why did this administration deny linkage?

CIRINCIONE: Deny linkage? Because there was no direct linkage. There
wasn`t a quid pro quo.

MATTHEWS: It`s all part of a deal. Look, if you don`t agree to part of
the deal, you don`t get the whole deal.

CIRINCIONE: This is smart diplomacy.

MATTHEWS: All right. So you are arguing there`s no relationship between
getting the money and the prisoners being released?

CIRINCIONE: There is a relationship, but it`s not that ransom relationship
the opponents are trying to make it.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s watch the president on this.

Earlier this month, President Obama defended the deal and pooh-poohed
accusations this was some sort of a ransom payment. Let`s watch.


OBAMA: We do not pay ransom. We did not here and we won`t in the future,
precisely because, if we did, then we would start encouraging Americans to
be targeted much in the same way that some countries that do pay ransom end
up having a lot more of their citizens being taken by various groups.


MATTHEWS: I don`t understand why he didn`t say not ransom, but they were
not connected. Obviously, it`s all part of a deal. Don`t have to get into
magic loaded words like ransom. Just say, you know what, there wasn`t
going to be anything decided unless everything was decided. We all did it
at the same time.

There was the opening up – or there`s the deal about – everything was on
the table, the arms deal, the end of sanctions, the money coming back after
all this 37 years of us freezing the assets and getting our people back.
It was all in this package and it was all contingent on all the other
pieces of it. It happens all the time in negotiations. Nothing gets
agreed upon unless everything`s agreed upon. Why didn`t he just say that?

TALEV: They probably should have. I think they were too clever by half.

They disclosed the $1.7 billion as part of the agreement, but really not
the nature of exactly how it happened. They must have known. But
President Obama was already under so much heat, so much fire because of the
nature of the negotiations. One would guess…


MATTHEWS: Here`s the problem. Here`s the problem.

Joe, there already were sneaky aspects to this that he had to explain. He
might as well explain it ahead of time. When you send over cash, and some
of it is in euro, some of it is sterling, whatever, we`re sending it over
in some airplane, unmarked airplane, the whole thing had the aspect of

So, it was very important that, ahead of time, I know this is going to look
weird, but the only way we get paid, given all the sanctions and all the
requirements, the limits of what we`re allowed to do, I have to send over
an unmarked plane, I`m going to have to send it in European currencies. It
is going to look bad, but this is what we are doing. This is all part of a

By not doing it that way up front, he`s allowed Trump now. Trump is going
to pound this baby for weeks. This is a gimme for him.

CIRINCIONE: Yes. The worst that you can say about the administration is
they were clumsy in the way they handled it. But there was nothing secret
about it.


MATTHEWS: No, it was secretly done.

CIRINCIONE: It was reported by “The Wall Street Journal” at the time that
it happened.

MATTHEWS: No, we got it last night at 6:37 on the AP wire, when I got it
popped at me. It wasn`t exactly broad daylight.


CIRINCIONE: A year ago today, “The Wall Street Journal” was crucifying
Obama because he negotiated an Iran deal that didn`t include the prisoners.
Then he gets the prisoners out, and they cry ransom. There`s no pleasing
some people.

TALEV: I`m not sure how successful Trump will be at pummelling Clinton
about this, because the people who already hate the Iran deal already hate
the Iran deal.

But it does allow him to take some of the focus off of Russia, the Ukraine.

MATTHEWS: Credibility.

TALEV: All of the above.

MATTHEWS: Credibility. It`s everything. And I`m pro-Obama on
everything practically.

TALEV: But Hillary Clinton was gone.

MATTHEWS: This kind of thing has got to be carefully handled. Ronald
Reagan lost 20 points in the polling – because I studied it back then –
when he went over and sent the TOW missiles over to Iran after, having
gotten elected on standing up against hostage-taking.

He stood up and he beat Jimmy Carter on the 50 hostages. What`s he do? He
pays ransom to get the hostages out. They`re called TOW missiles. He was
guilty as hell on that. And it took him months to admit it. Why not learn
from the mistakes of earlier presidents? All I`m saying. I study this

Thank you, Margaret Talev and Joe Cirincione. And I don`t mean to brag. I
don`t like this stuff.


MATTHEWS: Up next: What does Putin gain from helping Trump? Now, this is
a great one coming up. What does Putin like about Trump possibly winning?
It`s a long shot now, but why would he want him to him? Let`s talk to the
former ambassador of Russia, Mr. McFaul, himself, when we return.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


what`s happening.

U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte is apologizing for giving a misleading account of
a confrontation with security guards at a gas station in Rio. Lochte
initially claimed that he and three others were robbed at gunpoint. The
International Olympic Committee says it has set a disciplinary commission
to look into it.

And Zika infections are now occurring in the tourist mecca of Miami Beach,
where five people have become sick. The CDC is warning pregnant women to
avoid the area – now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Ever since embarrassing e-mails were stolen from the DNC, the Democratic
National Committee, and leaked during the Democratic Convention last month,
Russia`s apparent meddling or involvement in the presidential campaign has
been one of the stranger stories of 2016.

Security experts say that with, near certitude, it was the hacking – the
hacking was done, it was perpetrated by the Russian intelligence agencies
under President Vladimir Putin, directly controlled by him.

In an op-ed in “The Washington Post,” former U.S. Ambassador to Russia
Michael McFaul explained that: “Putin had rational motives for wanting
Trump to win. Trump`s most shocking pro-Kremlin proposal is to look into
recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia.”

Well, McFaul notes that – quote – “Trump also has made clear his disdain
for the United States` alliances around the world. A U.S. retreat from
global affairs fits precisely with Putin`s international interests.”

Well, after the DNC was hacked, Trump went so far as to call upon Russia to
help find Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. Trump really did that and has
repeatedly praised Putin on the campaign trail. Here he Trump earlier this


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They say Putin likes Trump, and
he said nice things about me. He called me a genius. He said we`re going
to win. That`s good. That`s not bad. That`s good.



We are joined right now by Michael McFaul, former United States ambassador
to Russia.

I guess we ought to start with the facts that we know. Do we know that the
Russians and their security agencies, their intelligence forces hacked into
the DNC e-mails and dumped them on us?


Government officials have said as much on background. A public – a
private firm has investigated it. I have talked to very senior people at
the White House about it. I don`t think there`s any doubt that they have
done that.

And, Chris, let`s remember, that is their job. It`s called spying. It`s
called intelligence. We do it, too, by the way. That`s their job. It`s
not their job to get caught.


MATTHEWS: Well, why did they dump it? Why did they dump it?

MCFAUL: Well, let`s be very precise what we know and we don`t, right?

WikiLeaks dumped the data, not the Russians. WikiLeaks, they made very
clear that they don`t like Secretary Clinton and they want to do damage to
her. The part we don`t know precisely is, did the Russians give it to
WikiLeaks? And I don`t think we are ever going to know that, because
WikiLeaks isn`t going to tell us and the Russians aren`t going to tell us

MATTHEWS: What do we know about Russian intentions? The old Churchill
line is, you got to figure out Russian interests to figure out what they`re
up to. Just figure out, what`s in their interests?

What`s in their interests regarding our election that you can discern?

MCFAUL: You know, I just think it`s simple as day. It`s crystal-clear.

There`s one candidate that says we should look into recognizing Crimea as
part of Russia. There`s another candidate, Secretary Clinton, that says
absolutely not. There`s one candidate, Mr. Trump, that says we should
renegotiate our relationship with our NATO allies. There`s another
candidate that says absolutely we shouldn`t do that.

So, I don`t think you need to have a Ph.D. in political science, like I do,
to think that Mr. Trump is the preferable candidate for the Kremlin.

MATTHEWS: So, Trump comes off as soft in terms of the – what would you
say, the restoration of the old sphere of influence by Moscow?

MCFAUL: He just supports their views. He says what they have been trying
to say, trying to get other people to say.

And just on Crimea, I want to point out I don`t know of any – maybe you
do, because you talk to more of them than I do – senators or member of
Congress that supports that. There`s only six countries in the world that
have supported the recognition. So that`s a…

MATTHEWS: And they are not our friends.

MCFAUL: … policy position.

MATTHEWS: And they are not our friends.


MCFAUL: Syria, North Korea, countries like that.

MATTHEWS: Venezuela. Yes.

MCFAUL: Venezuela.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Russia`s ambitions, because I`m fascinated
with the manner in which, the way in which history just seems to be

Russia has always wanted warm water ports. They want access to oil, like
everybody else does. They want access to the south. They don`t like being
stuck up in the north. They wanted – they always seem to like – like
Hitler always wanted to move east, Russia wants to move south, and it also
wants to recreate, what do they call it, the near frontier, or the near
empire. What is it called? The near abroad.

MCFAUL: The near abroad.

MATTHEWS: They want to bring back into their sphere of influence – the
near abroad – they want to bring back into their sphere of influence
enough of the countries around them, former members of the USSR, that would
make them feel strong again. Isn`t that it?

MCFAUL: Yes. That`s right.

I mean, I don`t think Putin wants to recreate the Soviet Union anymore. I
think he`s too rational for that. But to have a sphere of influence, to
have the countries on his border subservient to him, countries like Ukraine
and Georgia, of course, that`s in his national interest today.

MATTHEWS: Why can`t rebuild…


MCFAUL: Defined by him, by the way.

MATTHEWS: We spent most of my growing up in the Cold War, of course, and I
remember it was always East-West, us against the East, whether we thought
there was a Sino-Soviet bloc, which there wasn`t. But it was always West
against East. And the hope was, when the Cold War ended, there would be a
North-South thing, where we and the Russians would agree to fight – not
ISIS – we didn`t know it was going to called ISIS, but we thought it would
be some aspect of the Third World.

Why hasn`t that happened? Why isn`t there a mutual interest between us and
the Russians in taking on the trouble coming from the world of the Middle

MCFAUL: Well, you know, Chris, we are meeting today…

MATTHEWS: We are both vulnerable. Are they are more vulnerable than us?

MCFAUL: Right.

Well, it`s actually 25 years ago to the date that there was that coup
attempt in August 1991.


MCFAUL: And when it failed, that was the moment of euphoria where we
thought we were going to work together.

And, by the way, episodically, through those 25 years, we have worked
together. I was at the White House in 2009 with President Obama. We did
cooperative things with them, including working against terrorists.

But Putin came back in 2011 and 2012, when he was elected president, and he
decided that we were meddling in his election – remember that – and he
blamed Secretary Clinton for that.

MATTHEWS: Were we?

MCFAUL: No, not in my opinion, but, in his opinion, the statements she
made about that parliamentary election sent a signal – that`s his word –
to Russian protesters to come out on the street.

And when that happened and…


MATTHEWS: Yes. Are you a little worried that Hillary is a hawkish, in the
Cold War sense, that she seemed to be – I have talked to her, and I get a
sense that she`s not really shaken by the Vietnam experience or the Iraq
experience, that she is still basically hawkish in terms of the East-West

MCFAUL: I never know what to do with that word hawkish. I didn`t – I`m
not a child of the Cold War. That was before my time.


MCFAUL: I would say she`s tough. She`s going to be tough in defending our
national interests.

You have invoked Ronald Reagan three or four times on this show. Peace
through strength, that was smart.


MCFAUL: Ronald Reagan did a lot of business with the Soviets.

MATTHEWS: He sure did.

MCFAUL: But he did it not by being weak, but by being strong.


I think he was averse to going to war on the line between East and West
Germany. He didn`t go to war over little things. I thought Reagan was
very discerning on that kind of thing.

Anyway, thank you, Ambassador McFaul, for coming on.

MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.

MATTHEWS: Up next, time for a turn-around. Is Trump really gearing up for
the fall? Has he got it figured out yet? Step one is winning back those
states that Mitt Romney carried four months ago. Can he do that? Can he
win back wary Republicans?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Look how much African-American
communities have suffered under Democratic control. To those I say the
following, what do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?
What do you have to lose?

What do you have to lose? You`re living in poverty. Your schools are no
good. You have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the
hell do you have to lose?

At the end of four years, I guarantee you, that I will get over 95 percent
of the African-American vote, I promise you.


MATTHEWS: That`s Donald Trump today. I don`t think he was credible but he
was trying to make an appeal to African-American voters. At least he was
doing that on the surface. I think he was working moderate whites to be
blunt about it.

With a change in tone and overall of his campaign management, Trump is
trying to get back in the game, obviously, between now and November. Step
number one, of course, is getting nervous Republicans back aboard and those
who went for Mitt Romney four years ago. Got to get back the Republican
vote from 2012 before you get the Republican vote to win in 2016.

Anyway, he`s also got ground to make up in key states. The latest NBC News
battleground match shows Democrats with 288 electoral votes this week,
Republicans at 174. That`s about 100 shy. So, can and will Trump pull off
the turn-around?

Joining me tonight are some experts, Ken Vogel, chief investigative
reporter for “Politico”, Francesca Chambers, White House correspondent for
“The Daily Mail”, and Ed Goeas, an old expert, he`s a really smart guy, a
Republican pollster.

So, what – am I right that when you go – when you are a Republican,
addressing an audience which looks pretty much white, I hate talking like
this but it is pretty much white, he`s really selling the suburban person,
look, who doesn`t want to think of themselves as racists, that Trump isn`t


ED GOEAS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: It`s more his tone and tenor in terms of
him being open and trying to campaign to a wide audience of people.
Democrats do the same thing. So I think it has been interesting –

MATTHEWS: Who is he trying to recruit the next couple weeks? Who`s he
going for?

GOEAS: Well, you have to go to his original numbers. I keep going back to
both Hillary and he had a 55 percent unfavorable rating when this race
started. Hers was driven by the politics of her past. His was driven by
his personality.

This is an effort to show a different part of him, much like his children
exposed a different part of him during the convention. And it`s tone and
tenor and style that we keep hearing from the campaign he needs to stay on
message. That`s only half of it. The other half of it is the tone and
tenor that he shows the voters out there.

MATTHEWS: It seems hard for him, Francesca. I keep thinking of him as
Sinatra all the time. The guy will fight as big as he is, will fight
anybody in a bar. And the great line from “My Way” was regrets, I had a
few, but too few to mention. He wasn`t going to say what regret he had,
just generally, if I hurt anybody out there was the old cover-up. If
anybody`s offended, OK.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, THE DAILY MAIL: It does seem difficult for him to stay
on message and stay disciplined, even today as he went to Louisiana which
was supposed to be this visit to make him look very presidential. He took
this swing at President Obama.

MATTHEWS: That woman gave the swing. He just punched it. She said he`s
up there playing golf.

CHAMBERS: You know, but he didn`t have to do that. He could have just
moved on from it but he had to make fun of President Obama`s golf game.

Everybody knew Obama wasn`t in Louisiana. That was very clear. He didn`t
have to do that. He has got to stay on message.

You asked who he needs to be winning? He needs to be winning white working
class voters. There are states like Iowa which he could be, should be
winning and he`s not doing particularly well there. I`m not quite sure why
he`s not going up with ads in that state.

MATTHEWS: Sure he`s not close in Iowa?

CHAMBERS: He is closer there than he is in some other states but he`s not
winning there, either.

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: To your point, Chris, about it being hard for him,
that`s exactly right. We have seen these shifts before. We have seen him
pivot and be a little more diplomatic, even read off a teleprompter before.
How long does it typically last, a day. Two days. Then he swings right

MATTHEWS: He throws in these asides.

VOGEL: He can`t help himself. Yes, some credit to Kellyanne Conway.

MATTHEWS: It`s hard to write for him.

VOGEL: Absolutely. It`s impossible to write for him.

GOEAS: That`s my point. Only half of it is staying on message. The other
half is the personality. The persona you are showing.

That`s the thing that the voters who are not supporting him that should be
supporting him, the Republicans and some of the independent voters, they
just had a negative reaction to his personality in the beginning and they
are still reacting that way because he does keep going back to that.

MATTHEWS: Is he too brash?

GOEAS: Too brash, he has an image of too much of being a bully. He is too
much off the cuff. Doesn`t mean you can`t be strong.


GOEAS: But you don`t have to be –

MATTHEWS: My Irish American grandmother never liked Jackie Gleason because
she knew too many Jackie Gleasons. There are too many guys in the
neighborhood. Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. We`ll be
right back.



MATTHEWS: Well, got a big night lined up for you Monday night. We`ve got
two editions of HARDBALL. Coming on two editions, tune in for our regular
show at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, and then we`ll be back at 11:00 for special late
night HARDBALL. All that on Monday. We start fast on Monday around here.

Speaking of big nights, I caught the Barbara Streisand show here last
night. There we are together. It was astounding. Pure perfection, one
classic after another. I don`t know how this lady does it.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Ed Goeas, tell me something I don`t know, because you know so much.

GOEAS: Well, I`m going to key off the last thing you said, talking about
Kellyanne and how she`s doing with Trump. I think she`s doing a very good
job. I think she`s having some impact in terms of message.

The hidden secret there is she`s been Pence`s pollster for years. So, she
has an air of someone that can`t be fired by Trump. I think that`s going
to help in driving her message and Pence has a lot of qualities a lot of
voters are waiting to see.

MATTHEWS: Yes, she`s here for the duration.

GOEAS: She`s here for the duration.

MATTHEWS: Francesca Chambers?

CHAMBERS: Well, we know that President Obama is in Martha`s Vineyard this
weekend. That`s been (INAUDIBLE). Well, Hillary Clinton is also going to
Martha`s Vineyard this weekend as well. She`ll be going to Cape Cod.
She`ll be doing Nantucket.

MATTHEWS: I know where she`s going.

CHAMBERS: And she`s also, though, on Sunday doing a fund-raiser with the
one and only Cher.

MATTHEWS: Wow. She`s doing Nantucket on Saturday for lunch, I think.
Yes, go ahead.

VOGEL: So, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump`s former campaign manager who
resigned today, our understanding is that about ten days ago, he went to
Trump and he told him, hey, a bunch of reporters, a bunch of big media
outlets are poking around in my business in Ukraine, could be some damaging
stories coming out. We need to bring in additional fire power at the top
level of the campaign. That was Kellyanne and this Steve Bannon guy.

MATTHEWS: Did he know he was going to be replaced by them?

VOGEL: He didn`t. He thought they could weather the storm, but we need to
have people in place. Obviously, he was wrong. He couldn`t survive.

MATTHEWS: We`ll talk about that at the end of show. There`s a lot about
when you cast off people. But there is a sort of thing where he fires his
engine by firing people.

Anyway, Ken Vogel, Francesca Chambers, Ed Goeas, great group.

When we return, let me finish with a Trump-de-dump.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the Trump-de-dump. Have you noticed
he thrives on getting rid of people? There was Lewandowski, then Manafort.
He jettisons people like a train conductor blowing his whistle. Hey, look,
the train`s coming. I can hear the whistle.

Well, firing, firing, firing. Corey you`re fired. Paul, you too. This is

But I guess he`s doing what other presidential candidates have done trying
to get to the right leader, the right general to lead the army. You know,
Like Lincoln relieving all those men including General McCloud (ph) who
refused to commit the troops, who just couldn`t bring themselves to take to
the offensive. We saw this with Ronald Reagan who letting John Sears going
after winning New Hampshire and put his faith in Bill Casey. We saw it
with Dukakis pushing the bright gung-ho John Sasso aside for being too
aggressive, then bringing him back when it was too late to get aggressive.

I know that Kellyanne Conway knows her stuff. The fact that Donald Trump
has recruited her to run his fall campaign says something about Trump`s
learning curve. The big question is where she can steer in sharp in the
campaign where it needs to go. Can Trump win back the wavering Republicans
and independents who were with him before? Can we convince Republican
women he has the heart to be president, that he possesses a minimum level
of compassion that makes all presidents worthy of our confidence?

We`re seeing signs that he does. His comment last night about hg regrets
for things he`s said that have hurt people, for talking positively today
about race relations and showing up in Louisiana to show concern for the
flood victims in Louisiana. The question that will linger, no matter how
successful this turn in the campaign is whether newly expressed sentiments
are genuine or not? Why? Because the minimal standard of getting elected
president of the United States is not sounding and looking like an SOB.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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