Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 6/29/17 Trump tweets draw widespread condemnation
Date: June 29, 2017
Guest: Frank Bruni, Ashley Parker, Sahil Kapur, Annie Linskey, Charlie
Dent, Brian Grazer
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Oh, boy.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Aspen, Colorado, again.
Anyway, once again, we begin with a presidential tweet. The leader of the
free world lost his temper on morning television hosts. Catch this. He
called MSNBC`s Joe Scarborough a “psycho” and derided Mika Brzezinski`s,
quote, “IQ.” He also made a crack about, again, quote, a “facelift.”
Anyway, again, fellow Americans, these were tweets from the country`s head
of state himself.
They come on a day, it turns out, when his revised travel ban goes into
effect and during a week his biggest legislative proposal, a
repeal/overhaul of health care, failed to even get to a vote in the
Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
And President Trump`s comments were condemned by a number of Republicans
today. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We`re not going to get along, but we have
to treat each other with respect and civility. And the president`s tweet
was completely inappropriate.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is
inappropriate. I think it is wrong. And my tweet speaks for itself.
QUESTION: Should the president apologize?
GRAHAM: If it were me, one, I wouldn`t have done it, if it were me. But
that`s up to him. But if – if it were me, I would. Tweets like this are
inconsistent with the greatness of the country and the office.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m just – I` just embarrassed. I mean,
“embarrassed” isn`t the right word. I just – I just regret it. It
doesn`t astonish me because it isn`t the first time that he`s attacked
various people that he has disagreement with. So I`m not surprised, but
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas tweeted, “This is not
OK.” Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said, “Please just stop. This isn`t
normal, and it is beneath your office.” They`re all talking to the
president. They`re all Republicans. Jeb bush tweeted, “Inappropriate.
Undignified. Unpresidential. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, wrote,
“Stop it. The presidential platform should be used for more than bringing
And this afternoon, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders
defending the president, saying he`s a fighter. Here she goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that
the president has been attacked mercilessly on personal accounts by members
(ph) on that program. And I think he`s been very clear that when he gets
attacked, he`s going to hit back.
I think the American people elected somebody who`s tough, who`s smart and
who`s a fighter. And that`s Donald Trump. And I don`t think that it`s a
surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire. And he`s not going to
sit back and be attacked by the liberal media, Hollywood elites. And when
they hit him, he`s going to hit back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “Hollywood elites.”
Anyway, I`m joined by Andrea Mitchell, the host of “ANDREA MITCHELL
REPORTS” here on MSNBC, and of course, MSNBC anchor Katy Tur, “Washington
Post” columnist Eugene Robinson – everybody`s joining us tonight – and
U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.
I want to go to Katy Tur because you`ve had to deal with this president –
I shouldn`t say this president, our president – for a long time now.
You`ve dealt with him in a kind of a – on the same – in the same ring
atmosphere where he`s very close to you in terms of his swing, his reach,
How do you – did this surprise you today at all?
KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: No, it didn`t surprise me. Donald Trump said
he`d be more presidential when he was elected, but he has not been more
presidential. That`s just not the way he operates. It`s not who he is.
He`s exactly the same person now as he was on the campaign trail.
And Chris, in speaking to members, or people that are close to him and
close to this White House today, they were saying that the White House
feels like it is under siege. The president himself feels like he is being
attacked all the time.
So when it comes to taking to Twitter and lobbing a personal attack against
a morning anchor, well, most people in this country and most members of
Congress we were able to ask today, find that distasteful and find that
unpresidential and beneath the office that he now holds.
The White House feels like it is appropriate, that they need to do this in
order to equalize things, to combat what they feel are the attacks that are
coming from the press.
But Chris, let me break it down for you. The attacks that are coming from
the press are us reporting on stories that are out there, us reporting on a
federal investigation into this administration and the campaign, and
whether it had – excuse me, the campaign, and whether it had any ties to
Russia leading up to the election, any ties to Russia and the hacking and
an investigation now into this president about whether he obstructed
Those are just facts, and those are facts that are being reported on.
We`re also holding the White House accountable and calling them out on
their inconsistencies, their falsehoods, their lies, if you want to call
them. And if the White House and the president have a problem with that,
that`s unfortunate, but that`s just the status quo. That`s the way things
are in this country. It`s the way they`ve always been.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Charlie Dent, there`s an old rule of politics I`m
going to quote at the end of the show tonight. Dick Nixon, Richard Nixon
was pretty smart about this kind of stuff. He said, Never shoot down.
Always shoot up. In other words, people will think you`re a heavyweight if
you`re fighting with a heavyweight. If you go after a middleweight or a
lightweight, you`re not going to look like a heavyweight.
Why would the president get into the ring with two morning anchors? I
mean, I`m not knocking them, but they`re not president of the United
States. Together, they`re not president of the United States. Why would
he get into a fight like – it`s bad politics. That`s what it is.
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I agree with that assessment.
First let me say this, Chris. I learned a long time ago in politics, it`s
not good to engage in personal ad hominem attacks. If you have a
disagreement with somebody, you know, disagree with them on the policy.
Make your policy argument or your political argument. Don`t resort to an
ad hominem attack. It`s never going to be helpful because all this – this
is – obviously, it`s offensive and it`s indefensible.
And I don`t – I can`t explain why anybody would do that. But yes, you`re
president of the United States. This is beneath your office. You can –
you can ignore this stuff. I don`t understand why he has to engage.
MATTHEWS: Andrea, you cover the presidency worldwide. You see him from
the perspective of the world. How does world think of this? He`s getting
into a peeing match, to be blunt about it, with some (INAUDIBLE) impressive
anchors, but they`re not president of the United States. They`re not heads
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s…
MATTHEWS: They`re not head of the Senate!
MITCHELL: It diminishes him. I mean, John, McCain, Paul Ryan, pick your
Republican who are criticizing this. And he`s going to the G-20 next week.
MITCHELL: And Angela Merkel is hosting that. And only today, she was
criticizing him again. She is not one to lob criticism at other heads of
state. The fact that she, who carefully guards her words…
MITCHELL: … is taking shots at this president is a real reflection of
the way he`s being held around the world. And that is in low regard.
MATTHEWS: Gene, I thought the president was – always seemed rational to
me, in a way, that he would attack government officials doing their job or
journalists running for the “A” section, the front section, people like
Andrea, straight news reporters. He`s – they`re the people he`s been
afraid of because they deliver the facts, and the facts really offend him.
They bother him. He resents them.
I thought he let people with opinions, like Joe and Mika, who do have
opinions and express them – he didn`t want to get into fights with them
because you never win because everybody has their own opinions.
I thought that was – this is stupid! It`s like arguing with anybody who
writes a column. What`s the point of fighting with somebody`s opinion?
They`re still going to have their opinion, and you`re going to look like
just one of them, just another guy with an opinion! Your thoughts.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well…
MATTHEWS: It doesn`t make sense.
MATTHEWS: Why he`s doing it.
ROBINSON: You know, sometimes these statements on Twitter – and that`s
what they are. You know, we call them tweets, and that minimizes them.
These are statements by the president of the United States that, to my
mind, carry more the weight than the process statements that some out of
press office. Sometimes, these statements have a – are strategic or
tactical. There`s some reason for them, perhaps. You know, maybe you`re
right (ph) about going after the hard news reporters.
I think this, frankly, is a reflection of poor impulse control. You know,
I think he saw something on “MORNING JOE” this morning that he didn`t – he
didn`t like it. It set him off, and he lashed back in this – You know,
“inappropriate” is not the word, this disgusting way.
And you know, I mean, I`m worried. This worries me that the president of
the United States, the most powerful man in the world, can`t control his
MATTHEWS: Well, what is it? Is this Sinatra, who will get into a fight
with any guy in a men`s room or any guy who gives him trouble (INAUDIBLE)
punch him back, or is it a pitcher who`s smart to brush back the batter
who`s too much in the bucket, too close to the bat – to the home plate?
Is this rational or irrational? Gene, your thoughts.
MATTHEWS: Rational, irrational behavior.
ROBINSON: This looks irrational to me. This morning looks irrational to
me. I don`t see any reason for it. Among the Republican senators who were
clearly offended and took to Twitter to criticize the president were Susan
Collins and Lisa Murkowski, as you pointed out in the intro, two of the
senators he needs if he`s going to get this health care bill passed.
MATTHEWS: And they`re grown-ups.
ROBINSON: … do something like this?
MATTHEWS: They are two grown-ups. I`m impressed – by the way, they have
joined my pantheon of grown-ups lately over this health care – especially
Look at this, Andrea. We have all – we all know everything – we`ve
watched this guy. We all know the same Trump. Here he is tweeting today,
and it fits a pattern that he`s been repeatedly mocking the appearance of
women. This is a pattern. This is not gambling I can`t believe is going
on here in this casino. This casino`s had gambling for years. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She gets out, and she starts
asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And you know, you could see
there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.
She was the winner. And you know, she gained a massive amount of weight,
and it was a real problem.
I`m going to use some Tic-Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know,
I`m automatically attracted beautiful – I just start kissing them. It`s
like a magnet. I just kiss (INAUDIBLE) And when you`re a star, they let
you do it. You can do anything,
BILLY BUSH, “INSIDE EDITION”: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab `em by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
Last night, we hear a new claim that I made inappropriate advances during
the interview to this writer! Take a look. You take a look! Look at her.
Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don`t think so! I don`t
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump said the following about you. Quote,
“Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the
face of our next president?”
CARLY FIORINA (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think women all over this
country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.
TRUMP: I think she`s got a beautiful face and I think she`s a beautiful
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Katy, an objective track record on this guy. You covered him
every day all through the campaign. His – is it all looks-ism? Is that
it with him? You know, is it just about appearance and it`s not about
worth or who you are as a person or who he is as an equal person? It seems
to be always the same – and blood. What`s his thing with blood and
bleeding? I`m sorry. It`s unusual behavior. Your thoughts.
TUR: I don`t know what his thing with blood or bleeding is. But again,
yes, it is the second time he`s brought this up. You can show that video,
and I think it`s very clear that there is a pattern of Donald Trump talking
about looks and talking about women a certain way.
But I do want to be clear. He goes after a lot of people and he calls a
lot of people names. It`s not just women. Certainly, the women that he
does attack, he tends to attack them in a more physical way. You can say
that. And certainly, when he was going after Carly Fiorina, a lot of
people out there felt like his response that she`s a beautiful women – a
beautiful woman was inappropriate, as well, not just going after her for
her looks that didn`t like, but then trying to talk about her looks, rather
than her qualifications for being on stage as a presidential candidate.
Listen, Donald Trump had a problem with women during the campaign. He had
a problem making sure that women wanted to vote for him, and it didn`t help
that he was going after Hillary Clinton in sometimes a crude and crass way,
saying that she didn`t have the strength or stamina to be president.
And then again, it didn`t help that many of his supporters would wear
shirts with language that I can`t repeat on television. But Chris, he won
a good portion of white female supporters. They turned out for him.
We`re going to have to see if this changes anything when it comes to his
support. But so far, those that voted for Donald Trump, what we`ve seen
from them is that they do feel like this is fair, that this is something
that he does need to do. He needs to fight for himself…
MATTHEWS: I`ve heard…
TUR: … even when it comes to comments like that. They even defend
those. So I`m not sure what`s going to break.
MITCHELL: I think he`s choosing his targets because he`s choosing the
media. And the media are unpopular. He believes that it really, really
pleases his base to beat up on the media and do it in this crude way.
He clearly is losing support among Republicans in the Senate and the House.
They are disgusted by this. They find it just not presidential in the
least. These are presidential documents. These are not – these cannot be
dismissed as tweets. As – as Eugene was saying, they`re presidential
documents because they are utterances of the president.
And sometimes they are strategic, they are tactical. When he tweeted a
couple weeks ago that China had disappointed him by at least trying but not
succeeding in getting North Korea to respond, well, today they launched
sanctions, secondary sanctions, tough sanctions against a Chinese bank.
That is long awaited, overdue, many said, the right policy, many critics
have said, not done by the Obama team. So he was indicating the run-up to
this warning to China, and that was a tweet that a lot of us read correctly
as a warning that secondary sanctions were coming with a visit now by the
South Korean president.
But this kind of tweet, responding to morning television – we`ve seen a
little bit restraint since John Dowd has been hired on the defense team,
where he`s not beating up on Comey and Mueller because of the legal
jeopardy that that puts him in, but he is just going after the media hammer
MATTHEWS: Let`s to go Lehigh, Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent. You represent
probably the major swing area of Pennsylvania, which is the key state, I
think, looking to the future politically. What do people – how do they
put this together with the health care? I mean, women – I know this from
my family, my and my wife, growing up, that the woman in the family, the
wife, my wife, Lucky (ph), the mother often, who has concern – she knows
what`s in the health package. She knows what`s covered by the insurance.
She knows what kind of health the kids are in. She knows what shots the
kids have had. They`re very focused. It`s just the way it is. I`m not
saying it should be.
So women voters out there who have to think about health care every day of
their lives – how long their husband`s going to make it, what they`re
worried about and what`s covered and what`s not – on top of that, we have
a president who seems to degrade women.
How`s that clicking in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, those two things coming
DENT: Well, I have to say, Chris, I don`t think a lot of my constituents
are real happy about the mocking and insulting comments. Obviously,
they`re offensive. But I think just as important, they`re very
distracting. Remember, this is energy week. Is anybody talking about
The president – he also tweeted out other things today, too, something on
sugar policy. That was substantive, about the deal. For my district, it`s
a very bad deal. I represent probably the largest confectionary district
in the country. I`d like to have a public discussion about that, but we
can`t because we`re talking about these offensive tweets against Joe and
Mika Brzezinski. It`s just out of bounds.
So again, most people in my district I think want to us get on with the
business of the day, whatever it is, and get out from under all these –
all this – these out-of-bounds comments and these sideshows that are
really not – not helpful. And this speaks to a complete lack of
MATTHEWS: I love it. Sweet home Allentown. Thank you so much, Andrea
Mitchell, Katy Tur, Eugene Robinson and U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent from
the Lehigh Valley.
Coming up, a meltdown in the Trump camp. Catch this. This is wilder.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explodes at a White House meeting for
undermining him. They say the people around the president, the personnel
people, are screwing him. It`s a far cry from that love feast we watched a
few weeks ago, which is (INAUDIBLE) Mogistu`s (sic) government in Ethiopia,
with all those people bowing to the president. Apparently, all is not well
Plus, Republicans were quick to criticize the president for his tweets this
morning. Who wouldn`t? Why are they speaking out against him now? And
how much of a distraction is this going to be for the party struggling to
move forward on health care, as Charlie Dent just asked?
And Trump`s travel ban goes into effect tonight 45 minutes from now. It`s
going to get real, the travel ban against Muslims. That`s what it is.
We`ll have the latest on that.
Finally, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch.” He won`t like it.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: The leader of the House Intelligence Committee or the people are
now threatening to subpoena the White House over the so-called Comey tapes.
I have to say, what tapes? Last month, President Trump suggested that he
had recordings of his conversations with former FBI director James Comey.
It prompted House investigators to demand that the Trump administration
turn over any such tapes.
Well, trump later acknowledged in a tweet that he had never taped any of
his conversations with Comey. Well, members of the House Intelligence
Committee now want a formal response from the White House as to whether or
not anyone else could have made recordings of the president`s
What a rabbit hole and what rabbits are heading down it!
And they`re threatening to issue a subpoena if they don`t get an
appropriate response. Again, what a rabbit hole the House Intelligence
Committee is running down.
We`ll be back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you satisfied with the pace of staffing (OFF-
MIKE) the State Department?
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: No, I would like to go faster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s putting it lightly.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Reported tensions now between Trump Cabinet members and Trump White House
staff have been simmering since day one of this presidency. And now it
seems at least one Cabinet member – you just saw him there – has reached
a breaking point.
Politico reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lost his composure
on our Friday in a scene that earned him a reprimand from the president`s
son-in-law, Jared Kushner. You can`t get moire serious than that.
The report says – quote – “The normally laconic Texan unloaded on Johnny
DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing
proposed nominees to senior State Department posts.”
Well, according to Politico`s sources – quote –“The episode stunned other
White House officials gathered in Chief of Staff Reince Priebus` office,
leaving them silent as Tillerson raised his voice. The encounter was so
explosive that Kushner approached Tillerson`s chief of staff and told her
that Tillerson`s outburst was completely unprofessional.”
It is the latest in a series of reports about the internal rivalries, turf
wars and shakeups that have plagued the Trump administration.
Anyway, it is also a far cry from the image Tillerson and the other
officials projected out this month, remember, when they lavished praise on
Watch this scene of embarrassment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: Mr. President, thank you for the honor to serve the country.
It`s a great privilege you have given me.
TOM PRICE, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I can`t thank you
enough for the privilege that you have given me and the leadership that you
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to thank you for getting this country moving
again and also working again.
REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: And we thank you for
the opportunity and the blessing that you have given us to serve your
agenda and the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is Frank Bruni. He`s a columnist of
course with “The New York Times.” And Ashley Parker is a White House
reporter for “The Washington Post.”
Thank you both for joining us.
Ashley, just a fact-check here. Do we know who is in charge at the State
Department? Is the secretary of state allowed to pick the top deputies and
assistants for those posts or does the White House staff get to do it?
ASHLEY PARKER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, it is sort of a combination.
He certainly went in with an understanding that he would be able to operate
autonomously and that he would be able to pick his own staff. But there
have been sort of stovepipe and a block of both ways.
He`s incredibly frustrated that the White House has vetoed some of his
choices, either because they were Democrats or some people had been
critical of the president during the campaign. And by the same token, the
White House is incredibly frustrated that some of these political positions
they have sent over, some of these ambassadorships they think are sitting
on Tillerson`s desk and not getting signed.
MATTHEWS: But the Hillary situation over there, the deal she cut with
President Obama was, she got to pick all the top people at the State, with
the exception of perhaps Sid Blumenthal, a person that caused trouble with
And yet Obama got to pick all the top juicy ambassadorships, the prestige
ones. They had a very clear division of power. Is there such a thing
today? This is really amateur and I think it`s an example across the board
of this government`s problem. What do you think? What do you know?
PARKER: Well, I think this is what Tillerson also expected going in, that
he would have, again, the autonomy to pick who he wanted and to run the
Of course, he is a top diplomat. He is representing President Trump`s and
the president`s wishes, but that for that department, he would be able to
operate freely. And that`s not what happened. And that`s what led to this
blowup. And I think that is an example of things being a little unclear in
this White House and that, at the end of the day, everyone gets drawn into
this chaos and everything comes back to the whims of the man at the top,
who is President Trump
MATTHEWS: This is the government of the United States.
FRANK BRUNI, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: It doesn`t behave like it at times.
MATTHEWS: They can`t pick anybody to run. How can you put anybody, give
accountability to someone if they don`t get the jobs? We have a State
Department which is vacant. Offices are vacant.
And we were talking before.
BRUNI: Treasury is understaffed as well.
MATTHEWS: There`s nobody there, because the president doesn`t like the
people that may have said something nasty about him once, doesn`t want any
Democrats in there. I don`t mind him not wanting any neocons in there.
Good with him on that one.
But Tillerson the boss of foreign policy or is Jared Kushner, the son-in-
BRUNI: Well, all signs to date – largely Jared Kushner, all signs to
It is very odd, Chris, because you would think if you pick someone like
Tillerson, who has been the CEO of one of the biggest, most powerful,
richest companies in the world, you would not expect him to then just kind
of roll over and be micromanaged.
The other weird thing is you have a White House that occasionally wants to
micromanage things, yet it`s led by a guy who isn`t detail-oriented at all.
MATTHEWS: The president.
BRUNI: Yes. Over the last couple of days, we have some great reporting on
senators saying they have gone in to speak to him and he doesn`t even seem
to know the details of the health care bill.
You can`t step forward to micromanage people unless you`re a detail person.
And this president is the opposite of a detail person.
MATTHEWS: According to the “American Conservative” magazine, Secretary
Tillerson believes he`s been contradicted and undermined by the White
A close associate of Secretary Tillerson explained: “Rex is just exhausted.
He can`t get any of his appointments approved and is running around the
world cleaning up after a president whose primary foreign policy adviser is
a 36-year-old amateur.”
Now, Ashley, I`m allowed to have opinions on this show. And one of my
opinions was that nepotism is a bad thing in government. It just is. You
put Uday and Qusay in your government and you`re going to have a problem
with everybody else in the government, because nobody can fight with them.
Nobody can challenge them.
In the end, the son-in-law is always right, because he always can go to his
father-in-law or his wife and say, they were mean to me. Do something
It is a disastrous decision from day one. And now we find Kushner in the
Middle East brokering the Middle East peace process, whatever it is, among
the Arabs and the Israelis and Likud and everybody else. And, meanwhile,
Tillerson is sitting around doing what? He can`t even appoint his own
The power seems to have gone to the son-in-law. This is the Romanovs, just
a thought. The Romanovs, is it?
PARKER: Well, that`s certainly somebody that…
MATTHEWS: Is it a royal family, instead of a democratic or republican form
of government? Or is it a family running the government? Is it Ivanka and
Jared and the president sitting around in the White House upstairs ruling
PARKER: I don`t think it is quite that, but I do think this is run like a
The president and his aides say that publicly and privately. And the
president`s family, his children, his adult children, especially his
daughter Ivanka and Jared Kushner, they operate with a degree of impunity
that does not exist for these other aides.
If you look at just Jared and Tillerson, Jared basically emerged as a
shadow secretary of state. You mentioned peace in the Middle East. His
portfolio includes not only that. It includes China. It includes Mexico.
It includes Canada.
And that`s just on the foreign policy front. If you`re the secretary of
state, and ambassadors and leaders of foreign nations know that they can go
directly to the president`s son-in-law and have his ear, that deeply
undermines you and makes it really difficult for you to do your job.
MATTHEWS: Then you find out in all these investigations that Jared was
opening up a tunnel to Moscow, so that he wouldn`t have to deal with the
So, the son-in-law – one good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-
MATTHEWS: I know that was an extreme measure. But this is a strange
BRUNI: No, but this story is a lot bigger than Tillerson.
We have had Sessions have to volunteer to resign. We know there have been
extraordinary tensions between him and President Trump. We know that other
Cabinet members, Mattis, have been questioned, countermanded, demoralized.
BRUNI: I don`t think you have a Cabinet of people who can work to their
full absolutely because they`re constantly being questioned by the boss.
They don`t feel like their jobs are secure.
There`s this culture of people leaking to protect themselves, to safeguard
their reputations. I shudder to think, when there is some turnover in this
Cabinet, which I think there will be sooner than in most, who are we going
to get to replace these people? Who would want to go work in the Trump
Usually, a president has an infinite pool of talent to choose from because
everybody wants to step forward and serve. I don`t think this president is
going to be left with a puddle.
MATTHEWS: What`s worse, this or the tweeting?
BRUNI: Do we have to make a choice?
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, the country is watching.
Thank you so much, Frank Bruni. Thank you, Ashley Parker, again.
Up next: President Trump`s tweets today exploded on the Internet, of
course. But what have they done to the Republican Party? How much does
this distraction hurt the GOP?
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Republicans right now are trying to stay focused on their agenda ahead of
the July 4 recess, but the president`s recent tweets aren`t making things
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What we`re trying to do
around here is improve the tone and the civility of the debate, and this
obviously doesn`t help do that.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have got all these issues and challenges
in front of us. Instead, we`re talking about morning talk show hosts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe the intent is to distract from the health care
debate. But I want to be part of the debate that`s impacting the American
people. When it comes to health care, tax reform, that`s where our
conversation should be and that`s where I try to lend my voice each and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: As conservative columnist George F. Will once observed, in New
York, the measure of success is getting money. In Washington, the measure
of success is getting attention, hence the constant Washington incentive to
be theatrical, histrionic and hyperbolic.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable tonight.
Yamiche Alcindor is an MSNBC analyst and of course national reporter “The
New York Times.” Annie Linskey is a reporter for “The Boston Globe.” And
Sahil Kapur is national political reporter for Bloomberg Politics.
Thank you all.
What do you think about this thing that happened with the president, his
tweets this morning about Mika Brzezinski and “Morning Joe”, and the way
that the wording was used when he referenced in terms of the whole thing
did he, in terms of the graphic nature and what many would consider awful
way of talking about anybody?
Your thoughts, Yamiche? Politically, what is the impact?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC ANALYST: Politically, the impact is that it makes
the life of the Republicans who are trying to actually pass legislation so
There are so many people who already didn`t want to be on this Senate, on
this health bill from the senators. And now you have Susan Collins and the
senator from Alaska now, as women, also thinking, look, first of all,
speaking out saying this is not appropriate for the president to say that,
it is not normal.
But, second, is this someone that I really want to get behind and do I
really want to get on legislation that he`s probably not going to support
if it goes badly? So I think there`s two things. It is, one, a
distraction from that what they`re trying to do. But, two, I think it
makes it harder for him to really get the support of female Republicans who
are wondering what is going on in the White House.
ANNIE LINSKEY, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”: Yes, no, I think that`s right.
I think another issue that here you have to think about too is, it feels a
little bit like we`re at one of these breaking points with Donald Trump.
He has had these moments, but during the campaign, that were just showing
his very worst self.
And for the most part, that kind of has been contained. But now, yet
again, we`re seeing what people feared the most about a Trump presidency.
And this is this kind of completely unhinged and very cruel commentary.
And what I thought is quite stunning is the extent to which Republicans who
haven`t really spoken out about Trump in the past, you suddenly saw that
today. And I think that`s a pretty significant shift.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.
SAHIL KAPUR, BLOOMBERG: Chris, Capitol Hill has a way of tuning this sort
of thing out, tuning most of the president`s tweets out, because they want
to do their thing and they view this as a distraction.
This was one of the moments where a number of Republicans did come out and
condemn him. But I don`t think it is going to have a meaningful impact on
him politically. I think this is priced into who he is. Everybody knows
that he has done this sort of thing in the past. Everyone who pays even
cursory attention to politics knows this about him.
And the people who support him do it anyway. Republican lawmakers have
decided that even though they don`t like this aspect of his conduct, they
are willing to support him because they share his agenda. They want to cut
taxes, they want to deregulate, and they want to repeal the Affordable Care
Two sets of supporters, Chris, who I met on the campaign trail while
covering Donald Trump, one were the sorts of people who like the fact that
he says these sorts of things because it signals to them that he can`t be
bought by anybody and that he plays by his own rules.
The other set are willing to tolerate this. This is mostly women who are
willing to tolerate this. They don`t like this, but they think at the end
of the day he is looking out for them.
One woman memorably told me, “I want to smack him sometimes, but I will
still vote for him because I think he`s still for my interests.”
ALCINDOR: But I think that this is also what people voted for.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the more serious thing we talked about in the
second part of the show, in the B block, when we talked about the fact that
it is complete chaos in terms of who is calling the shots.
Is Rex Tillerson the secretary of state or is Jared Kushner? Now, I made a
reference there to the fact that Churchill, my hero, once talked about
Count Ciano, who was Mussolini`s foreign secretary, also his son-in-law.
Well, it turns out he was making secret deals with the Allies.
So, of course, Churchill thought it was interesting that his son-in-law was
executed by Mussolini for doing that.
We have chaos. Of course I don`t advocate that, of course. But we have
chaos right now.
I want to start with the same, Yamiche.
Who is calling the shots on U.S. foreign policy? Is it Jared Kushner, the
son-in-law? And I have always had a problem with this nepotism thing. Or
is it Tillerson, who is supposed to have the job? Or is it the president,
who should be overseeing this and dividing authority every day between who
should be making the calls and who shouldn`t be?
Do we have any sense of who is calling our shots in the world right now?
ALCINDOR: I think it is really hard to say, because the president I think
is ultimately calling the shots.
He had somebody. He is obviously the person who is driving all of the
policy, all the decision-making, and frankly the tone of this
administration. And I think if you had to put Rex Tillerson or Jared
Kushner in a room, who actually has more sway with the president, I think
it is Jared Kushner, mainly because he is the son-in-law. Right?
ALCINDOR: He is the one that has the White House office.
MATTHEWS: Is that weird?
ALCINDOR: So, I think that at the end of the day, Rex Tillerson has to
take a back seat to Jared.
And I think the interesting thing of course is that Jared has this huge
portfolio that is growing by the day. So, yes, he is secretary of state,
but he is also chief economics – he is also like so many other roles in
the White House. I don`t think he is just possibly the shadow secretary of
LINSKEY: And, you know, actually, Yamiche, I think…
MATTHEWS: Annie Linskey, I remember when Valerie – Valerie – Valerie…
ALCINDOR: Valerie Jarrett?
MATTHEWS: Valerie Jarrett, when she basically came down on Billy Daley,
the chief of staff. And it was pretty clear she was calling the shots in
the White House back then with the last president.
Who is calling the shots? When Jared can criticize the secretary of state
for his behavior in a meeting, it sounds like he really is, in the eyes –
in his own eyes, the boss.
LINSKEY: Yes. And I think also what Yamiche was saying about the broad
portfolio that Jared has actually, I think, makes it very difficult for him
to play all of these roles.
And whether – who is up and who is down at this particular moment, that
may come and go, but you have to remember that Rex Tillerson has at his
disposal the enormous power of the State Department. And they are people
who have relationships with him and are used to going through some sort of
LINSKEY: So he commands a much larger ship.
I mean, Jared might be able to kind of move in and out in his little
speedboat, but Tillerson is in charge of the ship of state. And he has the
staffing the Jared, even if he has the ambition and the power and the ties,
he`s just not going to have the bandwidth, because he doesn`t have that
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Sahil, quickly, yes or no. Just give me the
name, who is the boss? Jared Kushner or the secretary of state? Who is
the boss of foreign policy right now?
SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Well, Chris, I think
people with the most proximity to the president tend to have the most
influence. He is a mercurial figure. And we know he is not someone with a
tremendous amount of almost or regard for institutional structures. He ran
as someone who would smash the status quo.
And, you know, there are certain channels, there are certain ways of doing
this that previous presidents have abided by. President Trump does his own
thing. You know, he does what he is convinced to do, he`s convinced as the
right to do in a moment.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Annie, maybe the ship of state, but I think it is the good
ship, chaos right now.
The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these people will all
tell me something I don`t know. Be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Anyway, Yamiche, I was trying to pronouncing your name before I got to you.
Anyway, tell me something I don`t know.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, the president
has been renewing, the president`s organization has been renewing URLs that
might signal where his business is going next. He renewed TrumpRussia.com
and TrumpUkraine.com and he`s also registered new domains,
TrumpbettingUkraine.com and Trump betting Venezuela.
So, essentially, he wants to stay in Russia and Ukraine, and also start
businesses in Venezuela.
MATTHEWS: So, this shows he`s still got a hand in business or what?
What`s it mean?
ALCINDOR: It means that the Trump Organization is thinking about these
countries and thinking that they can make money on there. Now, the
president himself is not the one making these decisions, essentially, or at
least supposedly. But his company is still looking at Russia and Ukraine
as places they want to do business and keep those URLs.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s always tricky when it`s Russia. Anyway.
LINSKEY: Well, Chris, your viewers are very familiar with – you know,
turning to Democratic politics for a minute. Your viewers are very
familiar, I believe, with Seth Moulton, the Massachusetts congressman –
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.
LINSKEY: – who has been quite harsh towards Nancy Pelosi recently, kind
of leading the charge, suggesting that it`s time for her to go. But what I
think people probably didn`t know is a few short months before he started
his public criticism of her, he was quite laudatory to the speaker, writing
her a handwritten three-page thank-you note, thanking her for everything,
from his plum committee assignment to his intern.
So, he had a quite different tone with Nancy Pelosi back in September when
she was looking quite good and Democrats were looking powerful. And that
has shifted quite a bit.
MATTHEWS: Well, I worked for Tip O`Neill for six years. I think she is
better disciplined and keeping their votes and bringing votes than anybody
in modern history. She is something else.
Anyway, Sahil, thank you. Your thoughts. Tell me something.
KAPUR: Chris, the Senate Republican health care bill that party leaders
are scrambling to get the votes to pass includes $50 billion for an
insurance stabilization fund, basically for insurance companies who signed
up a sicker group of people so they don`t have to raise premiums to cover
A very similar provision was in Obamacare and Republicans widely decried
that as a bailout. A bailout when it was in Obamacare, now, it`s a
temporary stabilization fund that they support. It just shows you how the
political pendulum swings when a party is out of power versus in power.
MATTHEWS: Well, they like Obamacare when it was a Heritage Foundation
product, and then they didn`t like when it had his name on it.
Thank you, Yamiche Alcindor, Annie Lindsey and Sahil Kapur. Thank you all
for great ideas.
Coming up next, Hollywood producer Brian Grazer joins me here at the Aspen
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: We`re here in Aspen Ideas Festival. And here joining me right
now, all about great ideas, Brian Grazer. He produced the Academy Award-
winning, “A Beautiful Mind”. Of course, “Apollo 13”, “Friday Night
Lights”, TV series “24” and “Parenthood”.
And, by the way, he also created the “Genius” series for National
Geographic with director Ron Howard. The first was on Einstein. The next
will be on Pablo Picasso.
OK. Let`s talk the Democratic Party and the future of this country. Your
movies are always upbeat. I mean, I loved “The Paper”. It`s one of my
BRIAN GRAZER, ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING PRODUCER: Wow –
MATTHEWS: Because it`s about what newspapers can be and how they believe
in truth and how they fight for to it get it in the paper every day. So I
GRAZER: And fact checking.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re romantic – yes, I think you`re romantic about
our country. And what`s missing right now are values that can unite us.
We have a lot of values. Abortion – let`s go fight about abortion for a
million times. Let`s go fight about immigration for a million times.
But it seems there ought to be values that somebody like you could imagine
which could unite us on a couple fronts.
MATTHEWS: This is your moment. The Ideas Festival. What can unite?
GRAZER: Well, here`s the thing – the movies and television that I`ve
made, whether it`s “Empire”, whether it`s the movie “Eight Mile” with
Eminem, whether it`s “A Beautiful Mind”, any of those things that have
worked have a universal – they have a universal access point within their
values system. They`re usually underdog stories that help that underdog
succeed at seeing the light of day.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s American.
GRAZER: It`s American. And “Apollo 13” was patriotic in many ways, but it
was also about a bigger thing. It was about the giant scale of the space
program and how we as human beings want to discover.
You said something very provocative, because “Friday Night Lights” is all
about a value system. And, you know, I have kids. So, you know, I care
about that a lot. I care about character. A lot of the movies that we`ve
done also deal with character itself.
GRAZER: Parenthood. Again, I say “Eight Mile”, “Apollo 13” –
MATTHEWS: What I like is, if you`re a parent, you`re always a parent. No
matter what trouble it gets in, if you`re 70 years old, you`re still a
parent. And there`s a great line there by Jason Robart. I`m still the
MATTHEWS: These are great things, in all the mishmash of the fighting over
politics. There are at least a number of issues that the most conservative
person, from Erie, Pennsylvania, and somebody living on the west side of
New York can actually agree on. The underdog, for example.
GRAZER: Yes. And so, here`s the thing – the movies that we do, or
television we do, they are not left or right. They access it.
MATTHEWS: Where do you mark it best? The South, the West, where? Where
your movies do well? “Hidden Figures” did great in the South.
GRAZER: Yes, “Apollo 13” did well in the center of the country. “Eight
Mile” or “Empire” did well on the exterior part of the country, whether, in
the big cities, Chicago, New York, California, Los Angeles.
But, look – I mean, to the extent that I`ve never done anything exempt for
“Frost/Nixon” that dealt with politics, the extent that I care about
politics, we just care about role models value system that is something we
respect and care about, and that my kids will care about.
MATTHEWS: Actually, Nixon, that movie that you did with Langella –
MATTHEWS: – and Kevin Bacon, a lot of good people in that movie.
I thought it was one of the few times people tried to understand Nixon in a
way he saw himself. Because, you know, people see themselves differently
than the world does. And you tried to figure out how he saw himself, which
is important. It`s one of the only two interesting presidents in a hundred
MATTHEWS: Roosevelt, at least.
MATTHEWS: They`re actually interesting people. You want to know more
Nobody wants to know more about Reagan or Jerry Ford or Jimmy Carter. But
there is something that Nixon that attracts – what is that guy about?
GRAZER: Well, yes, because what happened is, in fact, in our movie you see
this. It goes full circle. He becomes sort of self-actualized, where he
actually realized he was kind of a mess.
GRAZER: You know? And that –
MATTHEWS: And he apologized.
GRAZER: And apologized. And the same thing in “The Fog of War”, you
realized that Robert McNamara ultimately, when you create some dimension,
had an issue.
MATTHEWS: He had an issue. He thought numbers were metrics for
everything. Metrics do not explain nationalism or fighting for your
country. They don`t explain it.
MATTHEWS: Brian Grazer who understands many things.
In just a matter of minutes, by the way, Trump`s travel ban – this is
real-time – goes into effect around the world, especially our borders.
And you`re watching HARDBALL, going to watch it right in a minute. The
beginning of the travel ban in real-time.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
At the top of this hour, 8:00 Eastern, President Trump`s travel ban goes
into full effect.
For more on what we can expect, I`m joined right now by MSNBC legal
contributor, Katie Phang.
Katie, what`s going to happen at 8:00 tonight?
KATIE PHANG, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, at 8:00 Eastern tonight, you
basically have the executive order version two. Chris, it`s like an app
that has been updated but no new operating system.
Effectively, if you cannot prove that you have a bona fide relationship
with a person or entity in the United States, then you are banned for
getting a visa for 90 days. If you`re a refugee, that`s got 120 days.
Really, the post Supreme Court of the United States decision on Monday,
effect is negligible. You will not see a huge difference in terms of an
effect at large, and frankly, it`s generated – the Trump administration
has generated its own problems by making the definition of a close family
member. It can be a parent. But Chris, if it is your grandparent, it
So, if you`re going to see some subsequent litigation in the courts, it`s
going to be because of that definition by the Trump administration.
MATTHEWS: A lot of paper work at the airport. Thank you, Katie Phang, for
When we return, let me finish tonight with my thoughts on Trump and what he
said this morning in his tweet. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Thursday, June 29, 2017.
Dick Nixon had a rule: Always shoot up. Never shoot down.
The rule makes solid sense. If you want to look good, take on somebody in
the heavyweight division. That makes you appear like a heavyweight, even
if you come up short. The public sees you duking it out with someone you
know to be your superior.
So, why is the president of the United States going to war with a TV anchor
team? Apart from all the other wrong things about this, it is bad
politics. How do you trust the judgment of a commander-in-chief who makes
judgments like this? How do you rely on the dignity of a head of state
when they don`t appreciate the rank of their own office?
There`s not much more to say. Is there?
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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