Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 6/19/17 Controversial Ad in GA Special Election

Shannon Pettypiece, Phil Rucker, Susan Page, Glenn Thrush, Cornell Belcher, John Brabender, Greg Bluestein

Date: June 19, 2017
Guest: Shannon Pettypiece, Phil Rucker, Susan Page, Glenn Thrush, Cornell
Belcher, John Brabender, Greg Bluestein

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump`s mouthpiece.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Donald Trump`s lawyer spent the last – or the past 48 hours trying to
convince the country the president didn`t say something he actually said.
President Trump tweeted Friday, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI
director.” According to the president`s lawyer, however, Jay Sekulow, the
president is not under investigation. And today, he continued to push back
against the reports from “The Washington Post,” NBC News and others that
special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether President Trump
obstructed justice.

According to Sekulow, that`s just a narrative being pushed by the media and
James Comey.


JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: The only reason we`re talking about this is
because of what? A leak from “The Washington Post.” There was no

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s absolutely not true. That is not why I`m asking
you about it.

SEKULOW: You didn`t let me finish my sentence!


SEKULOW: You didn`t let me finish!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sorry. Go ahead.

SEKULOW: And because James Comey raised it up in his testimony. He said,
I`m sure the special counsel is going to do it. I wouldn`t exactly call
James Comey a credible witness on this matter, period!


MATTHEWS: Well, Sekulow appeared on multiple Sunday shows trying to push a
simple narrative. Let`s watch.


SEKULOW: The president is not under investigation by the special counsel.
The president, as James Comey said in his testimony and as we know as of
today – the president has not been and is not under investigation.

I want to be very clear here and very direct. The president has not been
and is not under investigation.

I want to be very clear about this. The president is not and has not been
under investigation.

The president`s not under investigation, has not been.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president said, “I am being investigated” in a
tweet. You`re saying that the president, when he said that, was not

SEKULOW: No, the president wasn`t – it was 141 characters. There`s a
limitation on Twitter, as we all know.


MATTHEWS: Wow, that`s a high-priced lawyer. Sekulow argued the tweet from
President Trump was actually a response to “The Washington Post” report
which quoted five sources saying the president was under investigation.

Unfortunately for Sekulow, that narrative seemed to come apart, it really
did at one point, during an interview on FOX News on Sunday, when he
acknowledged, in fact – this is unbelievable television – the president
is, in fact, being investigated.

So on the same shows, a bunch of them (INAUDIBLE) on to say he`s not being
investigated, listen to him.


SEKULOW: The president takes action based on numerous events, including
recommendations from his attorney general and the deputy attorney general`s
office. He takes the action that they also, by the way, recommended.

And now he`s being investigated by the Department of Justice because the
special counsel under the special counsel regulations reports still to the
Department of Justice, not an independent counsel. So he`s being
investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and deputy
attorney general recommended him to take by the agency who recommended the

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: You stated some facts. First of
all, you`ve now said that he is being investigated, after saying that


WALLACE: You just said, sir…

SEKULOW: No, he`s not being investigated.

WALLACE: You just said that he`s being investigated.

SEKULOW: No, Chris, I said that the – any – let me be crystal clear so
you completely understand. We have not received nor are we aware of any
investigation of the president of the United States, period!

WALLACE: Sir, you just said two times that he`s being investigated.

SEKULOW: No. The context of the tweet – I just gave you the legal
theory, Chris, of how the Constitution works. If, in fact, it was correct
that the president was being investigated, he would be investigating for
taking action that an agency told him to take.


MATTHEWS: If you believe that lawyer, you`re crazy. Sekulow later
conceded he cannot read the mind of Mueller to know for sure whether Donald
Trump is under investigation. But then this happened.


WALLACE: As a matter of law, does the president think that he can be
indicted under the Constitution?

SEKULOW: The president – I haven`t had that conversation with the
president, but the president can`t be indicted under the Constitution for
the activities alleged in something like this. Of course not.

WALLACE: Why is that?

SEKULOW: Because there`s not an investigation. And there`s…

WALLACE: Well, you don`t know whether there`s – oh, boy, this is weird.
You don`t know whether there`s an investigation. You just told us that.



MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by “USA Today`s” Susan Page, “The New York
Times`s” Glenn Thrush and “The Washington Post`s” Philip Rucker.

So the – I mean, (INAUDIBLE) I have never seen a guy – I`ve heard of the
“full Ginsburg,” do five shows in one show. I`ve never heard a guy tell
two absolutely 180-degree contradictory statements in a matter of a couple
minutes with Chris Wallace there.

SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: But with only one of the series of interviews he
did that morning. That`s another…

MATTHEWS: Well, why did he break out and say, yes, he`s being
investigated, and said so twice?

PAGE: You got me.

MATTHEWS: Glenn, does it got you?


GLENN THRUSH, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Let me make this perfectly clear…

MATTHEWS: Crystal clear!

THRUSH: Crystal clear.

MATTHEWS: He`s playing Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men.” All I know is

THRUSH: Sean Spicer must have sat and watched that and been, like, I do
much better than this!

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) better than that guy!

THRUSH: Spicer at least has his stock line, which is, you know, “The tweet
speaks for itself.”


THRUSH: No, yes, well, that – no he never – doesn`t say that, but he`s -
- the tweet speaks for itself, right.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of it, Phil?

PHIL RUCKER, “WASHINGTON POST”: The fact of the matter is, Chris, is he is
being investigated. The president is being investigated. That`s what my
colleagues at “The Washington Post” have been reporting since last week.
The special counsel is looking into this. Just because Sekulow and the
legal team have not been given an official notice that he`s under
investigation doesn`t mean that the special counsel…

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go back to a few theories. I counted four reasons to
try to figure out why this guy, Sekulow, was sicced out there as a
mouthpiece for Trump and why he was told to say, even though he couldn`t
stick to it, he`s not under investigation.

One, it`s possibly true, he`s not – possibly. Everything`s possible.
Look at the jury in the – up there in Pennsylvania. Anything is possible.

Number two, he wants to just push back from it because it`s a better
position to be in that you`re not being investigated, at least publicly,
because it makes you look a little bit guilty.

Three, he`s trying to trigger some crazy reaction by the prosecutor`s
office, something leaked to one of you guys or something, that will look
(ph) them look overwrought or whatever – I think the last one was Trump
likes to hear a guy on television say he`s innocent. He just likes to hear
that, and he paid a guy to say it.

PAGE: And you know, I think that…

MATTHEWS: You think he`s doing it just to fluff Trump.

PAGE: I think it was an audience of one. I think he was speaking to an
audience of one.

MATTHEWS: That`s a lot of money to pay.

PAGE: Well, you know, I mean, if he`s not being investigated, why are all
these lawyers are getting hired?

MATTHEWS: He`s lawyered up.


MATTHEWS: I want to get to that question. Why is he going to lawyering,
rather than defending himself politically? Why is he going and turning –
is it because the bar`s so high for impeachment that if he can just stick
to the law and ignore all the misbehavior, failure to be a president of the
United States, as we expect him to be, if he can change the topic to
terrible behavior as president, to, Can we put him in jail for this, he can
win that argument.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris, I mean, let`s not forget. Sekulow is the guy
who came out last weekend, I think, and suggested that the president was
thinking about firing Mueller as the special counsel, right? The problem
is, and we saw this when Kasowitz gave his performance at the Press Club,
which I was fortunate enough to attend, the line between lawyer and flack
in this case is really thin, sometimes as to be nonexistent. And I think
you saw something…

MATTHEWS: He sounded like a flack yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: … saw something really interesting today that my
paper reported that Kushner – and Kushner and – Kushner has essentially
been the most canny in terms of getting out ahead of this. He is
considering hiring Abbe Lowell, who you know quite well, as a potential
criminal defense lawyer. Not saying there`ll be a criminal case brought,
but I think…

MATTHEWS: Who wants to hire Abbe Lowell?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jared Kushner is considering…

MATTHEWS: He`s already got Jamie Gorelick!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he`s considering – he`s considering adding
Lowell to the team or having him replace Gorelick. The bottom line here…

MATTHEWS: I think the guy should never have been approved. I think they
should have stuck to the nepotism law in the beginning. The wouldn`t –
because a reason for nepotism laws, whether they`re still effective or not,
is you avoid problems like this.

THRUSH: The other thing is I just don`t think – and Phil can back me up
on this. I don`t think there`s a sufficient enough appreciation,
particularly at the mid level, mid and lower levels in the White House,
what this investigation really means. I don`t think the president is
necessarily taking it all that serious, in terms of his legal team.

RUCKER: And the president`s treating it like a political campaign. The
approach from the lawyers is not a legal response, it`s a political
response. It`s to discredit the special counsel and the integrity of the
investigation, but it`s also to discredit the news media that are reporting
details and news and scoops about the investigation by talking about
anonymous sources.

MATTHEWS: What about – what about Newt Gingrich, who always seems to come
back like the Joker, back saying the president can`t be indicted for abuse
of authority, abuse of office, or even obstruction of justice because for
him to do it – it`s like Nixon talking. If I do it, it`s legal.

PAGE: Well, the – I think there is a legal debate, and the view of the
Department of Justice before this administration was that you can`t indict
the president because if there`s something the president`s done that is so
terrible, the remedy is impeachment.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at it. Here`s Trump ally Newt Gingrich
defending the president Friday, saying the mere fact that he is president
means he cannot obstruct justice. Different – this is different than
saying he can`t be indicted.

PAGE: (INAUDIBLE) exactly.

MATTHEWS: Let`s see what he says, how he says it.


president of the United States cannot obstruct justice. The president of
the United States is the chief executive officer of the United States. If
he wants to fire the FBI director, all he`s got to do is fire him.


MATTHEWS: Well, back in 1998, Newt, when Newt Gingrich voted to impeach
President Bill Clinton partly on charges of obstruction of justice, he had
a very different take on the issue. Let`s watch.


GINGRICH: What you have lived through for two-and-a-half long years is the
most systematic, deliberate obstruction of justice cover-up and effort to
avoid the truth we have ever seen in American history. And the time has
come to say to the Democrats and to say to the president, Quit undermining
the law in the United States.


MATTHEWS: You know, Tim Russert, the great man himself – and he was great
– he would always keep a manila folder here and wait well into the
interview and just open it up and say, You said – let`s take a look it,
and it was going to the tapes.

And (INAUDIBLE) it doesn`t seem to matter anymore, guys. You can say that
Newt is speaking, as they used to say in the cowboy movies, with a forked
tongue. It doesn`t seem to matter. You can say a president can`t obstruct
justice. He just said he could. But doesn`t anything hold true for more
than a couple of minutes anymore?

PAGE: Well, it may be true that Newt Gingrich isn`t held to account for
these conflicting statements, but the fact is we have a legal system that
is to some degree impervious to this political debate. And I think that`s
what a lot of people are counting on, that there`s going to be – the
special counsel is going to investigate. It`s going to find what it`s
going to find, and we`ll see what it is. And some of this political debate
is either irrelevant or even harmful to the president`s case. You know,
there are cases where the president…

MATTHEWS: Will it matter in a court of justice and this House of
Representatives if an impeachment proceeding begins in the House Judiciary
Committee and they`re presented with this kind of evidence of dishonesty?

PAGE: Well…

MATTHEWS: Does it matter that Trump has been saying five different things
on one subject?

PAGE: Well, something like the Lester Holt interview could rebound against
the president`s interests because there he says that he was…

MATTHEWS: It was about Russia.

PAGE: He said the decision to fire Comey was about Russia.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) because that sounds like obstruction of justice.

THRUSH: Look who`s defending the president on air, people who are paid to
do it. At the moment, we don`t have that many surrogates. Newt Gingrich,
who appears to have just floated from the ether down in front of a camera
to defend the president – he`s hawking a Trump book. Newt Gingrich has,
you could argue, a financial interest in allying himself with the president
right now.

MATTHEWS: His wife has been appointed ambassador to the Vatican.

RUCKER: And the people who are paid…

MATTHEWS: This – these are interesting sociometric overlays!

RUCKER: And the people paid to defend the president at the White House
won`t even answer any questions about the Russia matter because they`re
worried about their own legal exposure. They`re worried about saying
something that`s not true and having it come back to bite them in the end.

MATTHEWS: Let`s watch this. There`s some news out tonight. It keeps
coming. Michael Flynn – this comes from McClatchy News Service, and other
news organizations. According to McClatchy, however, quote, “Former
national security adviser Michael Flynn appears to have failed to report a
2015 trip to Saudi Arabia on behalf of a U.S./Russian business plan to
build nuclear reactors there, according to a congressional letter issued
today, Monday, requesting documents from the companies he allegedly

This guy is a busy little bee, isn`t he, Flynn? And he`s so busy, he can`t
even remember how many clients he`s got overseas, when the one thing you
have to sign in any kind of national security document or check is how many
foreign bosses do you have because it`s nice to know that when you put
somebody in charge of our country`s security. Your thoughts?

PAGE: Well, my thought is…

MATTHEWS: I mean, he`s Turkey. He`s got the Saudis. He`s got the

PAGE: So if you don`t report all this, do you assume it will just never
come out? Because a lot of other people know it, right? The companies
know it. Your enemies know it. Your competitors know it…

MATTHEWS: Double-entry bookkeeping.

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It shows up. Glenn?

THRUSH: I don`t know when his birthday is, but I`m going to get him a day


MATTHEWS: No, you know, it`s a problem for Trump because the more this guy
gets in deep with dishonesty and failure to file – these are all felony


MATTHEWS: … the deeper evidence he has to produce to save his butt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the biggest…

MATTHEWS: He`s got to come up with something that will really tell the
prosecutors and the Congress, If I give you this, I can go home tonight and
have dinner with my family. If not, I go to some horrible place like, you
know, San Quentin for about two decades.

THRUSH: I would say it`s probably closer to Connecticut. But I mean…

MATTHEWS: No, maybe closer to somewhere in Pennsylvania, Lewisberg.

THRUSH: Look, I think the thing with Flynn – and you hear this from the
lawyers when they speak more candidly – is people are worried that he`s
already flipped for the congressional committees. And I think anyone who
had interactions with Flynn – and we should just point out my paper has
reported Flynn was essentially hired by Jared and Ivanka, who asked him
what job he wanted, and he said national security.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go through what`s left. I`ve been trying to – people
jump on me because they say I`m exonerating Trump. I`m just trying to get
to the heart of this thing. Comey in his testimony the other day said,
Well, the thing about dealing with – with Flynn is separate from the
Russia investigation. So I thought, Oh, my – he`s not involved with the
Russia investigation with possible collusion? And then he – and then
Trump said that Manafort was sort of a satellite out there, somebody you
can throw from the bus or under the bus.

And I said, Well, who`s left? And I couldn`t think of anybody. It
couldn`t be Carter what`s-his-name…

PAGE: Page.


MATTHEWS: … because I didn`t think he was serious enough to do anything
bad or good in life. That`s just my view of the guy. And I didn`t think
it was going to be Roger Stone because he`s always sort of vaguely flying
around any trouble area. But then I didn`t think of Kushner. And I think
if there`s one guy the president would go down for, or defend to the last,
it`s his son-in-law because of his daughter. And he gave him such a wide
berth in terms of who he could talk to – he`s now given him the Middle
East maybe to cover himself.

Is there any – where is the fertile area where there could have been
collusion, through what person? To What person? Susan?

PAGE: Well, he may…

MATTHEWS: What`s left? I`m just – people think I`m clearing the –
clearing – what do you call it, clearing. I`m not clearing. I`m trying
to find out where is the area that should be investigated now?

PAGE: But – you mean in terms of Trump`s…

MATTHEWS: Yes, who was his surrogate to deal with the Russians?

THRUSH: I think the issue is – you have a lot of disconnected threads
here. The one thing we know is that the Russians really wanted to have an
influence and they tried to exert influence. It`s clear that they had some
interaction, certainly with Flynn, certainly with Manafort, perhaps with
Stone. The question is…

MATTHEWS: Influence with…

THRUSH: Influence in terms of having relationships, meeting people,
getting hookups. The question here…

MATTHEWS: Because they were paying their way.

THRUSH: Right. The one thing is we have two sides – I view it as two
sides of a bridge that are moving towards each other. You have the
Russians attempting to reach, and then you have the questions about
Kushner`s business dealings, and for instance, his financing of 666 Fifth
Avenue, the Kushner Properties…

MATTHEWS: Where did that money come from?

THRUSH: The belief is through a number of banks, including a lot of
Chinese investors. A lot of these are opaque questions. They could turn
out to be innocuous questions.

MATTHEWS: But it was a critical need for him…

THRUSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: … to get that financing.

THRUSH: But we have the Russian end, the Russian push end of this very
well established. The question, I think – the huge unanswered questions
are in terms of the business relationships and in terms of the political
motivations of people higher up the food chain than Roger Stone.

MATTHEWS: But doesn`t there have to be an overlay between the money and
the politics and affecting U.S. policy – in other words, abusing your
office and your position politically to make money?

THRUSH: I think the facts that needs to establish that – this is why what
these congressional – we had better make sure, and I`m sure everyone
agrees, that these congressional investigations are – really in a lot of
ways are as fundamentally important as the FBI.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s hope they get to the pay dirt. Thank you, Susan
Page. Thank you, Glenn Thrush. And thank you, Philip Rucker.

Coming up – amid the swirl of the Russian investigation, why is rural
America so far sticking with President Trump? It`s an interesting
political question, don`t you think? And that`s ahead.

Plus, dirty tricks down in Georgia. Take a look at a new ad a Republican
group is running ahead of tomorrow`s special congressional election down
there. It exploits last week`s shooting that injured Congressman Steve
Scalise. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the unhinged left is endorsing and applauding
shooting Republicans. When will it stop? It won`t if Jon Ossoff wins on


MATTHEWS: Well, there you got it. That`s pretty dirty. We`ll have the
latest on that race being watched nationally.

And Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a vote on
health care, believe it or not, before the 4th of July break. That`s
within in the next week. So – so far, there`s no legislation, no
committee hearings, no score from the Congressional Budget Office, but they
want to do this fast. And Democrats have taken over the floor of the
Senate in protest right now against the quickieness (ph) of this thing.

Finally, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch.” He won`t like it.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Well, as the investigation into Trump and Russia gets deeper and
deeper into the White House, the president`s son-in-law and senior adviser
– there he is, Jared Kushner – is heading to the Middle East to try to
broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “The Wall Street
Journal” reports that Kushner will arrive in Israel Wednesday. He`ll meet
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then travel to Ramallah to
meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. A White House official told “The
Journal” that no major breakthroughs are expected during the trip.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Despite his embattled presidency so far, President Trump has maintained
residual strength from a core base of supporters who put him over the top
of course last November in the Electoral College.

A report by Dan Balz in “The Washington Post” today reveals the depth of
support for Trump among rural Americans, noting that – quote – “More
sparsely populated areas of the country form the heart of Trump nation, and
continue to provide majority support for a president who has faced near
constant controversy and discord.”

According to a new “Washington Post”/Kaiser Foundation poll, the widening
political divide in this country falls largely along geographic lines.
While the president is facing a net negative overall approval rating, a
majority of Americans living in rural areas say they approve of the job
he`s doing.

It`s the same people who Trump often referred to as the forgotten Americans
on the campaign trail. Let`s watch.


forgotten man, woman, and child of this nation. I`m asking you to dream
big. We used to dream big.

I see you, I hear you, and I will never, ever let you down. I promise. We
will never let you down.

I will be a voice for all of the forgotten Americans in this country. I
will be your voice. I`m going to be your voice.



MATTHEWS: Well, among those who turned out for him last November, concern
over Trump`s signature issue of immigration remains high. Six in 10 rural
Trump voters say the immigrants are a burden on this country because they
take jobs away from deserving Americans.

I`m joined right now by Republican strategist, John Brabender and
Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher.

It does seem to me, and much as I work with so many progressives I like
them and I listen to their thoughts and I think about the same things, and
yet I know from my own family there are people who like Trump, and we keep
losing sight of them, especially on the East Coast, and the so-called Left
Coast. We forget they`re there, but they`re there, and that the issues
that drove them into Trump`s camp, illegal immigration, loss of
manufacturing jobs and stupid-ass wars, are still there in their minds,
plus some other issues like they – the part I wasn`t ready for is the
hatred of Hillary.

That seemed to be kept in their heads and in their mouths longer than I
thought. So, only after, right near the election, I said, what`s wrong
with that? And I would be hearing this, I hate Hillary, I hate Hillary.
No exact reason. Just part of it, just that answer.

Is that all still there?


MATTHEWS: … saying I hate – every couple weeks, Trump takes a cheap
shot at Hillary, a late hit, if you will.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: First of all, it doesn`t hurt.

MATTHEWS: And he does it regularly enough for me to say, it doesn`t have
anything to do with the conversation. So he says just to remind them, his
voters, what side they`re on.

BRABENDER: Well, first of all, you say on the show a lot it was a binary
choice, not just Donald Trump. And among…


MATTHEWS: There was only two choices.

BRABENDER: And among this group, it could not have been a bigger divide in
the choices. Second of all…

MATTHEWS: You mean they might have voted for Joe Biden?

BRABENDER: They didn`t vote for Mitt Romney in the numbers they voted for
Donald Trump, which I thought, in places like Ohio, if you look at the
difference, they`re amazing. Where you have got to be careful, though,
it`s not…


MATTHEWS: … percent spread for Trump in those areas over Hillary.


But it`s not geography, as much as it is culture. What they believe, what
they care about is different. The second big difference, too, is how they
get their news is different. They are much more reliant on local news,
local newspapers.

MATTHEWS: But local news don`t cover national events.

BRABENDER: They do, but they don`t editorialize as much as…

MATTHEWS: Where do they do it? What pages do you have to look through?
Most local pages are a combination of wire service copy. You know that.
They can`t afford a national reporter in Washington. So, where do they get
the news locally? Out of a newspaper?

BRABENDER: But they come up with the analysis themselves. They will get
the news, but they`re not listening to talking heads all the time telling
them what they should believe.

The problem this town…


MATTHEWS: You`re talking off your head right now, by the way. The talking
head phrase always bothers me. Is there another part of your body you
would like to talk out of?

Go ahead, Cornell.

BELCHER: This Kaiser poll, I think, is an important poll. And I think…

MATTHEWS: Do you believe what he just said about people locally in rural
areas rely on their local newspaper, their local TV affiliate?

BELCHER: I do believe – and I want to double down on his point about sort
of culture and I want to go after sort of the Democrats` blind spot here.

Look, what this poll shows is that there`s not actually a lot of connection
between the jobs and economic concerns and their support for Trump. This
poll has found it and other polls have found it. It is a lot about culture
when you look at how concerned they actually are about immigration, the
changing face of America, and this assault on – they feel, on
Christianity. That`s what`s driving these conversations.

MATTHEWS: They want the America they grew up in.

BELCHER: And there`s a huge disconnect here with Democrats when Donald
Trump says, I`m going to give you your country back, and Democrats say, I`m
going to raise your wage, right? Democrats are disconnected from the
cultural and aspirational element here.

And until we start having that conversation about what America has to look
like coming into the future, Democrats will continue to struggle with rural

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me try something with you, both of you, because I think
you will agree with this.

Hollywood, the news business is very careful about gender identity, about
sexuality. We are very careful in the language we use, very careful of
LGBT concerns generally.

Do you ever see that same sensitivity about white working-class people? I
grew up in a country that made fun of those people. Archie Bunker was that
guy. Hollywood greatly enjoyed making fun of this guy. He was probably
Irish, but they didn`t say so. He lived in Queens.

BRABENDER: Yes, I was going to say that.


MATTHEWS: So, I think Hollywood made a point of enjoying that difference
in a way that got to them. And they said, OK, do you want me to be Archie
Bunker? I`m voting Republican this time. I will stick with you guys. Am
I right or not?

BRABENDER: Yes, I think you ought to be careful to sort of equate them
with Archie Bunker. I think…


MATTHEWS: Archie Bunker is a fictitious character.

BRABENDER: I understand that.

MATTHEWS: Who created him?

BRABENDER: But we lose the context within the Beltway what these real
people are like.


MATTHEWS: They live in the country, as well as in…


BRABENDER: OK. I will give you one really good stat from the poll that
they released today; 64 percent of the rural voters said that the
government programs that are there to help people either hurt them or do
nothing; 64 percent said they`re more likely…


MATTHEWS: So, a lot of people believe that welfare stunts your growth
economically, because you begin to rely it on too much. Everybody – a lot
of people believe that, I think.

BELCHER: I think it`s an oversimplification, the Archie Bunker thing.

Look, I come from a generation of people who lived minstrels, right? So,
my ears sort of perk up the idea that we`re making fun of rural Americans.

But we have to take their concerns about their fears about changing


MATTHEWS: Both can be true. Making fun of black people, having people
with big white mouth, that kind of stuff, having black people play black
people as minstrels, and white people playing – that was awful.

BELCHER: I think Stepin Fetchit vs. Archie Bunker, I think there`s a world
of difference between the two.


BELCHER: One is…

MATTHEWS: In terms of the person…


BELCHER: One is completely degrading of their intellect.

You can watch Archie Bunker and actually see some intellect there and some
understanding there, as opposed to the degradation of black images that


MATTHEWS: You beat me on that, because I have been watching these all my
life. And let me tell you something. You watch a Hitchcock movie, the
only black face are the Pullman cart guys.

And, sometimes, the movies, the only black face is the guy scared to death
of the ghost. Right?



MATTHEWS: … don`t fail me, and all that stuff.

BELCHER: And that`s my point. It`s dehumanizing, right? The black


MATTHEWS: It is worse. You`re right. You`re right.


MATTHEWS: But it still offends the person being targeted.

BRABENDER: Don`t forget, this is the same group that President Obama said,
these are the group that`s clinging to their guns and their religion.

MATTHEWS: And Hillary said deplorables.



MATTHEWS: And your guy said 47 percent.

BRABENDER: But they celebrate that. They celebrate their religion. They

MATTHEWS: Of course. I go to church. I don`t like that stuff, putting
down people who go to church, as if it`s some sort of…


BRABENDER: And we shouldn`t.


BELCHER: But, also, we spend – we spend a lot of time talking about the
concerns of rural voters. And we should be concerned about rural voters.

But also let`s understand that Hillary did not lose this election because
of a growth in the rural vote.

MATTHEWS: Yes, there`s 26 percent increase.

BELCHER: Because she lost it – if she performs with millennials the same
percentages that Barack Obama performed, she wins all four of those states.


MATTHEWS: That`s an argument. That`s a good political argument, Cornell.
I know your politics.

BELCHER: It`s math.

MATTHEWS: No, the other way is also true.

BELCHER: It`s the math. He has less of a percentage than Mitt Romney


MATTHEWS: Why did he get such a better Republican vote than anyone else
has got in the Republican column?

BELCHER: He is giving them exactly what they want. And that is their
country back.

MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s right.


BRABENDER: His message was better. But Hillary is the quintessential of
what they don`t like about Washington.

BELCHER: But he also did worse among better-educated white voters. So,
it`s a wash. Yes. He did worse among better-educated – especially
better-educated younger white voters.


MATTHEWS: Look, Hillary is supposed to carry the suburbs of Philly.


MATTHEWS: And she lost she only lost by 180 – won by 180. I`m telling
you, the numbers were off in the suburbs and in the rural areas. They were

BELCHER: It was off with – yes, but she still wins if she holds the Obama
coalition. If she performed – take Michigan, for example.

MATTHEWS: You`re just making an argument here. You want that to be the


BELCHER: If she gets what Barack Obama gets…


MATTHEWS: You`re trying to get more young people to vote. It`s a good
cause. It`s not the reason why she lost.

BELCHER: Yes, it is.

BRABENDER: But Trump won Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS: Real states.


BELCHER: Yes, yes. And you know what he got in Florida? He got 49
percent. You know what Mitt Romney got in Florida? He got 49 percent and
lost. It wasn`t about what he did. It was what Democrats did not do.


BRABENDER: Those are some pretty big states to win.


BELCHER: Forty-nine percent is – math is math.

MATTHEWS: The smart Democratic move is to get more votes next time.

Thank you, John Brabender. And thank you, Cornell Belcher. I think we can
agree on that.

Up next – get them where you can get them.

Up next: dirty tricks in Georgia, not this way, of course. Republicans
must be getting desperate over tomorrow`s special election down there. Why
else are we seeing an accusing – an ad accusing Democrats of cheering last
week`s shooting at that baseball practice?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


what`s happening.

Otto Warmbier, the American student released from a North Korean prison
camp in a coma, has died. In a statement, President Trump condemned the
brutality of the North Korean regime and offered his condolences to the

The United States is also condemning the deadly van attack near a London
mosque targeting Muslim worshipers.

And sources say Paris police were the intended targets in a car attack
today. The motorist was killed after plowing his vehicle into a police
convoy heading down the Champs Elysees – back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t it great, the communist North Koreans let the kid come
home to die? What a terrible, terrible tragedy for that family, all the
way through, a bad, bad government.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.

Democrats are looking to put a big win on the board in tomorrow`s run-off
for Georgia 6th Congressional District. The race pits political neophyte
and Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff against Republican Karen Handel and is
already the most expensive congressional race in history.

A RealClearPolitics average, by the way, of most recent polls has Ossoff up
at 49, Handel at 47, well within the margin of error. Republicans have
held the 6th Congressional District for nearly 40 years, until Tom Price
vacated the seat to become secretary of health and human services.

Anyway, the unprecedented nature of the race has become a proxy for the
country`s political divide. An organization called Principle PAC,
unlikely, which is supporting Karen Handel, released an ad linking Jon
Ossoff to last week`s shooting in Virginia which left four wounded,
including Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Let`s watch this terrible ad.


NARRATOR: Now the unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting
Republicans. When will it stop? It won`t if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday.


MATTHEWS: Well, both Handel and Ossoff have condemned the ad, but over the
weekend, “The Washington Post” quoted the chairman of the Republican Party
in Georgia`s 11th District as saying – quote – “I think the shooting is
going to win the election for us, because moderates and independents in
this district are tired of left-wing extremism.”

Well, he later apologized for making those remarks.

For the latest on what`s happening in Georgia, I`m joined by Greg
Bluestein, who is a political reporter for “The Atlanta Journal-
Constitution,” a great newspaper.

You know, in NBA basketball or in college basketball, it seems like you can
tell the team that`s losing because they start to foul, anything to get the
ball back. And I think that metaphor is rich here. Why would any ally of
Handel put out an ad that`s so obviously unfair?

attention and to get some fund-raising for that super PAC.

Both candidates and campaigns have disavowed that ad and said they have
nothing to do with it, and both of them have called for it to be taken
down, but it remains the talk of the town really in the 6th District.

The beginning of it with those jarring gunshots really gets your attention.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me, from an outsider, and just check me on this,
that the only way that Handel can win, coming up from the pack of having
gotten the plurality of the Republican side in the primary, the only way
she can win is to have a tremendous upsurge of total voters, because you
have to have voters who didn`t vote the first time around, because they
almost gave it 50 percent to Ossoff.

So, is that what`s happening now? Are there a lot more voters to show up
that could help Handel win?

BLUESTEIN: Yes, I mean, the big turnout, that`s the big question, is how
much turnout will help Karen Handel?

Because we`re already looking at probably well above 200,000 voters, well
above the April 18 round.


BLUESTEIN: Yes, 140,000 voters have already cast ballots, which is by far
the biggest in a special election.

MATTHEWS: Unbelievable.

BLUESTEIN: And Handel is really trying to just keep her base. If she can
keep the GOP base, if she can get 90, 95 percent of that GOP base, she will
win it.

Jon Ossoff is talking to two audiences. He`s talking to liberal Democrats
and he`s talking to disaffected moderates and independents, who might
otherwise vote for Republicans. But maybe they`re turned on by his message
about both parties being corrupt and complicit.

MATTHEWS: How is his message of I`m not really an ideologue selling?

BLUESTEIN: Yes, it depends, because, as I said, it`s kind of a two-tone

To liberal Democrats, he`s still saying, I`m the guy who can stand up to
Donald Trump. To more moderates, he`s saying, I`m the guy who can cut
wasteful spending. So, that could be a path for other Democrats who are
running in these fast-changing suburban districts now held by Republicans
to win next year, or we could find out tomorrow that that is just not it.

MATTHEWS: I think I just saw you in the picture. You just showed up in
our picture, by the way.

Anyway, I want to ask you a question. Are we going to get a simple count
tomorrow night? Is it paper ballots? Is it some kind of machine that
makes sense, that we will actually get a result tomorrow evening?

BLUESTEIN: I hope. But I have a feeling I will be working until 3:00 a.m.
Wednesday, and my wife will kill me.


MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Greg Bluestein of the great newspaper
“The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”

Up next: Republicans are pushing for a quick vote on health care this week
or next, but, so far, everything they`re doing has been behind closed doors
and now Democrats are on the floor of the Senate fighting back. They want
to know what`s in this package.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.



actually think it will get even better. And this is, make no mistake, this
is a repeal and a replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it. Make no



That was President Trump, of course, in his victory celebration for House
Republicans after passing their health care bill last month. But fast
forward this to last week, when the president called the bill, the bill he
was bragging on there, mean in a closed-door meeting with Senate
Republicans. Anyway, a group of those Republicans are now working on their
own version behind closed doors of a Senate health care overhaul. And
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it`s time to act.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Our goal here is to move
forward quickly. The status quo is unsustainable. We all know something
has to be done. Something has to be done soon. And everybody is
participating who wants to and the idea is to get enough votes to pass it.
Unfortunately, it will have to be a Republicans-only exercise. But we`re
working hard to get there.


MATTHEWS: Reports say McConnell hopes to have a vote on the bill before
the July 4th recess, which starts next week, but there`s no written text
and no guarantee Republicans will have the 50 votes needed to pass

Senate Democrats are preparing to go to war, starting tonight with an all-
night talkathon. There you see Bernie Sanders making his case with the
quote marks there on the Senate floor.

And here`s Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the floor today.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The Republicans are writing
their health care bill under the cover of darkness because they`re ashamed
of it, plain and simple. But if Republicans won`t relent and debate their
health care in the bill open for the American people to see, they shouldn`t
expect business as usual in the Senate.


MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Yamiche Alcindor is a
national reporter for “The New York Times”, Shannon Pettypiece is White
House correspondent for “Bloomberg News”, and David Corn is Washington
bureau chief for “Mother Jones”.

In order, it takes 50 votes with the president to get something to the
conference, with the House, to make this thing keep moving forward. They
can only afford to lose two votes, right?


MATTHEWS: We understand there`s two women, especially, Murkowski of Alaska
and Collins of Maine. I`m sure different points of the map there who are
having a problem with this. We also hear there`s two conservatives, Mike
Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, ready to vote against it too, too.
How do they get 50?

What`s McConnell up to except getting this behind him, even if it means
losing? Getting it over with?

ALCINDOR: He wants to go on with something else. He wants to go up to a
vote, because he wants to be able to put people on the record. And also, I
think it`s hard to get to 50 votes because of the two people, you have
these two outliers while the Republican Party is one party by name.

MATTHEWS: On either end.

ALCINDOR: Yes, on either end. So, you have this party that they`re the
same party in name, but in reality, they have very different interests.
And you have a lot of Republicans, I would say, who are also very scared
about the Medicaid expansion part. You have a lot of people who are
dealing with opioid crisis –

MATTHEWS: Because working poor people who are better than the poverty
level, the ones that most people sort of identify, and really care about
people, because they`re doing their best, but they`re not quite able to
make it. They`re getting knocked off of health care?

ALCINDOR: Yes, and let`s not add to the fact that, of course, as you said,
called it mean. So, we know – they know that if this somehow turns
against people and people start turning against this, the president will
say, well, that was really Congress` bill and they didn`t do exactly what I
said. So, the political capital is also something –

MATTHEWS: Shannon, make a call here. How many Republicans –

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: This is coming like they`re Vietnam.
And even if you somehow thread the needle to get this through the Senate,
then you`ve got to get it to the House. It`s such a quagmire they`re in
and they want to get out of it so bad.

And I think to your point, McConnell, I mean, normally, you never take a
bill to the House if you don`t have to votes, or to the floor. Maybe
you`re going to take it to the floor, let it die, blame Obama for the rest
of it and move on to tax reform which is what the Republicans want.

MATTHEWS: OK, David, you start. How many votes would a repeal vote get?
Simple, straight repeal? We`re getting rid of this, what they consider
socialism. It`s over with. But again, 30 votes in the Senate? How many
would it get?.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Maybe the 30 to 40 range. It wouldn`t be

MATTHEWS: Yes, but in other words, the bulk of the Republican Party is
against health care. Is that fair?

CORN: Yes, your point is that this is not about policy, this is about
politics. Can anyone here name what this bill will do? How this bill will
make health care better for people? It`s all about getting rid of
Obamacare, which means politically, it`s about serving the base. Because
Mitch McConnell, he`s one of the leaders of the Republican Party, they
control both houses. Trump`s in the White House.

MATTHEWS: OK, you made the point. What they really want is a vote on the
record that says, then what I go back to Utah, or they go back to Wyoming
and says, I voted to get rid of Obamacare.

CORN: But they don`t want to lose this vote, too.

MATTHEWS: They`re probably going to lose it.

ALCINDOR: But their problem – but the part of this politics is people are
going to remember who took away their health care. There`s not just this
idea that you can just go out there and vote and say, OK, well –

MATTHEWS: But aren`t a good number of conservative states, is that still
the smart move?

ALCINDOR: It`s still a smart move for some people who make –

MATTHEWS: Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota.

ALCINDOR: They actually realize that they have now lost their health care
because of their senator. They`re going to turn against the Republicans –

CORN: Yes, there are real-world ramifications of this.

MATTHEWS: Why is it so hard to get a bill together if they do want to save
something like Obamacare?


MATTHEWS: You guys are making two points. Do you want to get rid of
health care or fix it? What is it? Fix it or get rid of it?

ALCINDOR: I think they want to fix it.

MATTHEWS: Well, then, that`s explained. They don`t want to get rid of it.

PETTYPIECE: I think they want to repeal Obamacare.

MATTHEWS: They don`t want to fix it. Can you help me here? Fix it or
repeal, what do they most want to do? She says –


CORN: Repeal.


CORN: They want to get rid of it, that`s number one priority.


MATTHEWS: I`m with you. I think – I think this is very complicated for a
party that`s normally – some normal Republicans in it, and some abnormal
Republicans. It`s very complicated.

Tonight`s talkathon, by the way, tensions flared between the two party
leaders. No surprise there between Mitch and Chuck. Let`s take a look at
the heated exchange on the Senate floor.


SCHUMER: Just renew my request for one other leader said, no, I get it.
One more. Will we have time, more than ten hours, since this is a
complicated bill, to review the bill? Will it be available to us and the
public more than ten hours before we have to vote for it?

MCCONNELL: I think –

SCHUMER: Since our leader has said, our Republican leader, that there`ll
be plenty of time for a process, where people can make amendments. You
need time to prepare those amendments.

MCCONNELL: I think we`ll have ample opportunity to read and amend the

SCHUMER: Will it be more than ten hours?

MCCONNELL: I think we`ll have ample opportunity to read and amend the

SCHUMER: I rest my case.


MATTHEWS: That`s not much time to review a sixth of the American economy
to get it right.

PETTYPIECE: It`s got about – and to meet this timeline that McConnell set
out, they have until the end of the week in order to get a CBO score to
vote on it by July 4th. If you`re so proud of your bill and what it`s
going to do, bring it out, let`s debate it, let`s discuss it, defend it –

MATTHEWS: You`re making the talking point. They`re not proud of it. They
want to get the thing passed or defeated, but over with.

CORN: And let`s have hearings –

MATTHEWS: They want it over with now, because this is holding them up and
it will hold them up through the summer. It`s a mistrial, so far, to use a
recent reference.

CORN: Well, you also have to have hearings to explain the bill and have a
policy discussion about it. John McCain last week was asked by a reporter,
what does this bill do? What problems will it solve? What are some of the
substances in it?

And he said, well, this is about getting the freedom caucuses and moderates
together. No, those are two different issues. They still can`t –

MATTHEWS: By the way, have the Democrats ever rushed something through?
Just laughing, because it`s been done before. I remember stimulus packages
who have stuff in there from D.C. and some of these notes them.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three
people will tell me something I don`t know. News coming up here.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Well, just a reminder, polls in that highly anticipated special
election down in Georgia tomorrow night. That election closes at 7:00 p.m.
Eastern. So, be sure to turn in tomorrow night to HARDBALL as the early
returns start to come in. We might have something for you at 7:00 p.m. and
we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL roundtable.

And Yamiche is the first to tell us and me something I don`t know.

ALCINDOR: So, six members of the presidential advisory council on HIV AIDS
resigned recently. They basically said that they do not believe that
President Trump is really focused on HIV policy and they`re not listening
to them.

MATTHEWS: Did he pick them in the first place?

ALCINDOR: No, he did not pick them in the first place. This was something
that was started in 1995 and it`s filled with like legal experts, doctors
and stuff like that. So they`re not super partisan people, but they`re
people that very frustrated with the health care.

MATTHEWS: Yes, Reagan wasn`t too good on HIV either.

PETTYPIECE: Big tech meeting at the White House today. There was a lot of
big name CEOs, Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos. But it`s getting harder and harder
for the White House to bring in the CEOs as he gets increasingly testy and
tense between the administration and –

MATTHEWS: Was Schwarzman there?

PETTYPIECE: No, he was not at this one.

MATTHEW: Just trying to keep up with these guys.

Yes, David?

CORN: Georgia sixth, we`re talking about it.

MATTHEWS: You want to make a prediction?

CORN: I`m not making a prediction.

MATTHEWS: Come on!

CORN: No, no, no, I have a relative down there who`s door knocking and she
tells me that there`s still people who don`t know the election is tomorrow.


CORN: They know there`s an election and there`s been $50 million in ads.


MATTHEWS: OK, you know the Germans – OK, when the Germans left Paris in
1944 – `45, there were people sunbathing along the sand. Not everybody`s
into politics.

CORN: Yes. Yes.


MATTHEWS: What`s that about? Something to do with politics? Not
everybody pays attention.

Thank you, Yamiche Alcindor, Shannon Pettypiece and David Corn.

When we return, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch. You`re watching

It`s so true.


MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Monday, June 19th, 2017.

Donald Trump`s lawyer has drowned in his own talking points. He came on
television yesterday to say that his client is not under investigation by
special counsel Bob Mueller. He said it a number of times.

He also said on the same Sunday interview program that his client is, in
fact, being investigated by special counsel Bob Mueller. He did. He said
both things, 100 percent contradictory on the same program.

You know, this is a moment, a moment in history, nutty history. Remember
the lawyer for Monica Lewinsky coming on all five Sunday interview programs
the same weekend. We call that the full Ginsberg. What are we going to
call this Sunday that Jay Sekulow came on TV to say two opposite things on
the same Sunday, in fact, the same program?

This is a joke. The president of the United States has lawyered up to
defend himself against the charge of collusion with the Russians which he
could have quite easily dealt with in a single serious press interview, or
a single serious interview. He could have put all of his cards on the
table, everything he knew, that Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort
had said to the Russians at his direction.

He could have sat down and done that. He chose not to. He`s chosen
instead to build a wall between the country and the truth. He`s guarded
that truth as if it were the golden Fort Knox which suggests that with all
of his disclaimers and everything his mouth pieces have thrown at us, there
is indeed gold behind that wall.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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