Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 6/30/17 Trump to meet on sidelines of G20 Summit
Date: June 30, 2017
Guest: Sean Sullivan, Ben White, Judith Browne-Dianis, Noelle Nikpour,
Shane Harris, Azi Paybarah
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Trump`s back for round two.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.
Well, Donald Trump is not done. Yesterday, he derailed Washington`s focus
on health care by firing off crude tweets about the IQ and the looks of
MORNING JOE” co-host Mika Brzezinski. Today, the president tweeted again
about that show, calling it low-rated and bad.
And it wasn`t his only newsworthy tweet this morning. Trump also signalled
a new direction on the health care fight, siding with a number of
conservatives who want to focus first on just repealing “Obama care,” then
dealing with the question of how to go about replacing it. Notably, that
approach contradicts what the president has said in the past. He`s urged
previously Congress to simultaneously repeal and replace the health care
plan. We`ll have more on that reversal coming up.
We begin, though, with the president`s big Twitter fight. Today,
Brzezinski and Scarborough returned to their show and offered their own
rebuttals to what he`d said on Twitter yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, “MORNING JOE” CO-HOST: I`m fine. My family brought me up
really tough. This is absolutely nothing. But I think – for me
personally. But I am very concerned as to what this once again reveals
about the president of the United States.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, “MORNING JOE CO-HOST”: We had calls and texts and e-
mails. We`re OK. The country is not.
This is one of the most dangerous times in recent American history, and we
have a president who is attacking a cable news host because she dared make
a joke about a Time magazine cover.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And it`s not just Joe and Mika who are hitting back. More and
more Republicans have come out with a simple message for the president –
Put the phone down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It`s a tweet that was reckless. It
was juvenile. And it was, again, a distraction from the standpoint of
legislative activity. He needs to put the Twitter account away.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: That`s a tweet that`s not even becoming
of a city councilman.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I know it feels better to do that, but he
needs to rise above this. I think – quite frankly, I think that tweet was
below the office of the presidency.
REP. LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: I just thought it was disappointing. As a
female who`s been in elected office for many years, I`ve been subjected to
this for many years, and it`s not OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, despite the growing criticism from those in his own party,
the president still refusing to back down on this. NBC`s Kristen Welker
joins me now live from the White House.
So Kristen, we know the official White House position on this has been,
Hey, if the president`s hit, he`s going to hit back. He`s going to hit
back 10 times as hard.
Let me ask you, though, about the conversations you have with people inside
the White House behind the scenes. Are they saying something different?
What are they saying about this when it`s not on the record?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think there`s an acknowledgment there
is a frustration with the fact that this is stepping on the president`s own
message, but more importantly, his own agenda, Steve.
If you look at the briefing yesterday, it was on camera. As you know,
those are becoming less and less frequent. But the briefing was largely
dominated by questions about this topic, about why he felt the need to
engage with Mika and Joe, cable news hosts, why he felt as though it was OK
to make this very personal attack. And of course, a lot of folks within
the administration want to be working on things like health care, like tax
Yesterday, we started out the day really focused on North Korea. They
announced a new round of sanctions that were aimed at North Korea
yesterday, Steve. That was initially going to be the focus of my day.
Instead, it turned into reporting on the reaction to that tweet, what you
just played, all of the reaction on Capitol Hill.
But I think the concern comes when you start to ask the question, What does
it mean, practically speaking, for his agenda? Does it mean that fewer
Republican lawmakers are going to be willing to try to work with him on
health care, to try to get over some of the challenges and concerns that
they have when it comes to passing the Senate bill, for example?
And I think that`s when this goes from being a controversy to being
something that really gets in the way of what he promised his own base he
would accomplish and what the people here within the White House want to
So the White House publicly digging in, but you`re right, behind the
scenes, there is some concern that yet again, he sort of stepped on his own
message, all due to Twitter.
KORNACKI: All right, Kristen Welker over there at the White House –
Kristen, thank you for that.
KORNACKI: A number of the president`s associates have struggled to respond
to his crude Twitter attack. At the Aspen Ideas Festival yesterday,
Trump`s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao – also, she`s the wife of
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell – she was asked about that tweet.
Her response, the president is new to politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you respond to something like that when the
president is making comments like that?
ELAINE CHAO, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, the president is a
citizen, as well, and he says what he wants to say. Now, he`s not in
politics, and so he`s not used to the usual restraints that people in
public service have. And so you know, he`s new. He will adapt and he`ll
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So – and I assume you do not agree with a comment
like that, though. You can tell us if you do agree.
CHAO: No, I don`t agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Meanwhile, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway walked a delicate line
defending the president`s right to respond, though not necessarily
defending his message itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president normally does
not draw first blood. He is a counterpuncher, as he said on the campaign
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you endorse what the president sent out in those
CONWAY: I endorse the president`s right to fight back when he is being
mercilessly attacked and when the airwaves are filled with raw sewage about
him and his fitness for office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I was asking you about is whether you endorse the
president`s comments, the president`s attacks, and apparently, you do.
CONWAY: The – no, I didn`t say I endorsed his attacks. I never said
that, George. What I said was I endorse his ability to fight back when he
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, for more now, I`m joined by Joy Reid, host of “AM
JOY” right here on MSNBC, and Noelle Nikpour. She`s a Republican
strategist. Thanks to both of you for being with us.
Joy, let me start with you. I – I – looking – Elaine Chao, a member of
his cabinet, trying to come up with a justification there, Kellyanne
Conway, an adviser, trying to defend him but not defend the – it raises a
simple question to me.
This is a president who, especially with this tweet – and we`ve seen it a
million other times, a million different ways. He breaks the rules of
politics that have existed for every other politician of his party and the
Democratic Party. And it makes it impossible – if you`re an ally of his,
it makes it impossible to speak for him because his allies are still trying
to play by those rules.
How can you justify conduct that breaks those rules?
JOY REID, HOST, MSNBC`S “AM JOY”: Yes, I mean, it`s interesting to watch
all of these Republicans treating a 71-year-old man like a 12-year-old who
got into a fight at school and a parent that`s refusing to admit their kid
is in the wrong. They`re dancing around the core issue of whether what he
said is beneath the dignity of the office, and even those who admitted that
it was, the Republicans who are coming out with all the furrowed brows.
And I can`t believe that a president of the United States would speak this
Well, Donald Trump has been speaking this way for, like, 30-something
years. He`s always been this guy. These same people endorsed and voted
for the “Access Hollywood” tape guy. They endorsed and voted for the guy
who said these incredibly vulgar things, including about his daughter to
Howard Stern on the radio, when he knew he was being recorded and that
everybody could hear him. Donald Trump has been publicly vulgar and venal
his whole adult life!
So all of these people sort of furrowing their brows and looking shocked
that this person would behave this way – it is completely ungenuine. They
just want him to be quiet so they can get back to taking people`s health
KORNACKI: Yes, well, Noelle, let me ask you about that because you know,
we heard Elaine Chao there say, New to politics, he`ll learn, he`ll mature.
I heard versions of that, I heard variations of that at every twist and
turn of the 2016 campaign. I remember at one point, Donald Trump said,
Hey, you don`t think I`m presidential right now? I promise you, I`ll be
very presidential. I`ll be the most presidential you`ve ever seen, if I
It isn`t going to change, is it.
NOELLE NIKPOUR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know what? I don`t think it`s
going to. And what`s really sad is not only does it put, you know, the
White House staff on alert because he sends out these tweets and the whole
news day is spent on that, but he puts (ph) Republican pundits. You know,
people like me, we have to come on and we have to make a decision, are we
going to defend it? Are we going to let it get by?
But you`ve got to realize something. You know, it puts Republicans in a
very strange position because although we agree with Donald Trump
politically, as a Republican on the Republican platform, the problem of it
is, how do we say that when he sends out a tweet? Because personally, we
want to leave him in the dust, but politically, we agree with him.
KORNACKI: Well, let me – let me ask you…
NIKPOUR: So it`s a real mixed bag.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you from this perspective, then, because I`ve heard
the argument and I completely understand it that, Hey, you got a Republican
president, Republican Senate, Republican House. There`s a chance here for
the Republican Party to get things done. Donald Trump, if he would just
tweet about policy, if he`d stop picking these fights, it would get things
Can you conclude after six months – can you look at Donald Trump and say
he actually cares about that agenda?
NIKPOUR: You know what? We hope he cares about it. But here`s what I`d
love to say. So many Republicans, from the pundits to the media to people
– you know, congressional – people in Congress, people in the Senate have
said this, Mr. President, put down your Twitter, or if you are going to use
Twitter, at least say things that are productive.
And what I don`t understand is he won. He`s there. Mika and Joe – he`s
in the industry. I`ve got to tell you guys, he was in the TV industry. He
knows what happens. He knows that – you know, political shows. They
analyze and they talk about presidents. Fox News did it about Obama. So
this is no big surprise.
Why he`s letting this get under his skin is bizarre. And I`d love to evoke
something that Michelle Obama said. Michelle Obama said, When they go low,
we go high. So I`m asking him – he needs to go high, really high. This
REID: But isn`t the Occam`s razor answer because Michelle Obama is a
mature adult? Barack Obama`s a mature adults. And Donald Trump is Donald
Trump. You want a go-cart and want a Maserati. You want it to be one way,
it`s another way. This is Donald Trump.
You all were willing to endorse and elected a man who was this guy. He`s
always been this guy. The agenda you`re talking about is Paul Ryan and
Mitch McConnell and you guys. It`s not his. Donald Trump doesn`t even
necessarily know what`s in the health care bill. He just wants something
popular he can go and do rallies at so that more people can fill the dark
void inside of him that needs praise. He needs praise every day.
There`s stories about him going to his staff today and saying, Well, I know
that wasn`t presidential, but wasn`t that tweet amazing? Well, what are
they going to say? He – they have to say it was great.
This is a person who everybody told y`all was fundamentally unfit to be
president, and surprise, he is!
NIKPOUR: I think they need to focus on the issues. They need to ignore…
REID: What issues?
NIKPOUR: … ignore the Twitter war…
REID: What else is there?
NIKPOUR: … on working together. That`s all we have.
KORNACKI: But what does Trump believe about health care? What do you
think Trump believes about health care? What do you think his beliefs are
NIKPOUR: You know, it`s hard to tell. I`ll be honest with you, it`s hard
to tell about what his beliefs are because every time there`s a message out
of the White House, sometimes he sends a tweet that contradicts it. And I
think that`s what Republican pundits and a lot of Republican people that
are on television have to deal with. We have to cipher (ph) through that
and find the real meaning.
So you know, but in the bottom line, the American people – we`re the ones
that are getting hurt by this. So I would encourage everybody needs to
cross that aisle and put politics aside, put Twitter aside, and cross that
aisle and work together! I mean, we`re not going to get anything done!
KORNACKI: But let me – let me – let me ask the question this way, Joy.
You`re saying all of the things that happened during the campaign, and he
won anyway. And I think he looks at it right now – and I`m curious what
you think the lever here is…
KORNACKI: … for people who don`t like this kind of conduct from…
KORNACKI: … the president of the United States – he looks at this –
I`m imagining his psychology is something like this. I went through an
entire presidential campaign where I crossed about a thousand red lines…
KORNACKI: … that people said you can`t cross and win. I was at a 35
percent personal favorable rating in the polls on election day. I was told
I was going to get blown out. I got elected president.
KORNACKI: So how can you look at me now and say your approval rating`s
low, your agenda`s off the rails, you don`t know what you`re doing, you`ve
crossed another red line – why am I supposed to listen to you now…
REID: That`s right.
KORNACKI: … when you were wrong for a year-and-a-half?
REID: And I think he`d be right if he said that. Look, Donald Trump
understands the base of the Republican Party, which it turns out, when you
add in Republican leaners, is about 36 to 38 percent of the country. He
understands those people very well. He understands them much better than
Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Those people don`t want to lose their
health care, either. Donald Trump promised them they wouldn`t. He
And I think we have to stop sort of rocking the voter in a cradle. These
people approve of it. There are people in this country who are fine with
Donald Trump being this way. They voted for it. They affirmatively like
it. They want him to keep doing what he`s doing.
REID: … so the idea that Republicans will change him into Paul Ryan?
KORNACKI: Strategically, from a Democratic standpoint…
KORNACKI: … and that`s what I`m curious about because he`s broken so
many norms, for lack of a better term here, in our political system, and it
causes such alarm on the left and such alarm among Democrats. But I
wonder, is that an effective message to use against him, that he`s broken
the norms, or is that not going to change what we saw happen on election
REID: We may be in almost sort of a post-presidential period. He may have
reset the expectations that Americans have of what a president is. He`s
much more of a showman than he is somebody who`s interested in legislating
or policy, like Barack Obama was, or who sort of carries the bearing of the
country and the image around the world. He`s more embarrassing than he is
sort of bearing himself like a president.
So if that is what the presidency is, and that 38 percent is hard and fixed
– and I think they kind of are – then what Democrats need to do is do
math and figure out, How do I get the rest of those voters, how do I get
the other, you know, 62 percent of American voters to get up off the couch
and vote for something better, and let me present them something better
because trying to beg the 38 percent to change their minds about a guy
they`ve known as long as they`ve been watching “The Apprentice” seems like
the most incredible waste of time ever.
Go find enough people among the 62 percent. There are more of them. More
of them voted for Hillary Clinton. Do better at politics. Learn how to
run an election. Learn how to win in Wisconsin. Learn how to win in
Michigan, like you used to be able to. Find people who don`t like this and
who don`t approve of this and who are embarrassed by this and get them to
KORNACKI: All right, Joy Reid, Noelle Nikpour, thanks to both of you for
joining us. Lively discussion. Appreciate that.
Coming up – today is the day Mitch McConnell had planned to have that
Republican health care plan pass through the Senate, but President Trump
threw a wrench into the whole thing, calling for an outright repeal of
“Obama care” and to figure out the replacement later. This is a
contradiction of Trump`s previous position of repeal and replace at the
same time. For many Republicans, it may be a non-starter.
Plus, Trump`s voter fraud commission wants the voting history of every
American, including names, addresses, birth dates and party registration.
Tonight, state officials from both parties are refusing to comply.
And next week, Trump will meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the
G-20 summit already. Moscow thinks Putin can win major concessions from
Trump when those two leaders meet.
And finally, as we head into the holiday weekend, the HARDBALL roundtable
tells me three things I don`t know.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
KORNACKI: Well, “The Wall Street Journal” has an exclusive new report that
adds a new dimension to the unfolding story of potential collusion during
the 2016 presidential election. They report that Peter Smith – Peter
Smith, he`s a long-time Republican consultant – he did not have a formal
position with the Trump campaign but they report that Peter Smith attempted
to independently acquire hacked e-mails that he believed might have been
stolen from Hillary Clinton`s private server.
Now, in doing so, according to the article, Mr. Smith said he and his
colleagues found five groups of hackers who claimed to possess Mrs.
Clinton`s deleted e-mails, including two groups he determined were
Russians. While he did not work for Trump`s campaign, “The Journal”
reports that e-mails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates show
that his small group considered Mr. Flynn, Michael Flynn, and his
consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest.
For more, we`re joined by the reporter who wrote that story, Shane Harris
of “The Wall Street Journal.” Shane, thanks for taking a few minutes.
OK, walk us through this because you`ve got a couple things here I think I
want to try to pin down here. The name Michael Flynn comes up. The idea
of a Republican political consultant not formally part of the Trump
campaign but certainly with an interest in electing Trump, and then the
idea of stolen e-mails and contact with the Russians. What exactly do you
SHANE HARRIS, “WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, what we know is that smith
launched this effort over Labor Day weekend officially last year before –
as the campaign was entering the home stretch. And he theorized that
hackers had obtained access to Secretary Clinton`s private e-mail server
and likely pulled e-mails off of that that she had actually claimed that
she deleted. And he believed that they would reveal information about
malfeasance at the Clinton Foundation and her role in the Benghazi attack.
We should emphasize he had no evidence of why that would be the case, but
he suspected that Mrs. Clinton was deleting those e-mails to cover up
That gets linked together with the Trump campaign because Mr. Smith was
telling people that he was talking to Mike Flynn about what he was doing,
this quest to find these supposedly hacked e-mails. In e-mails to his
associates, Mr. Smith wrote that he wanted to make introductions to people
he was trying to recruit to Mike Flynn`s son, who was then running the
Flynn Intel group, Mike Flynn`s consulting company.
And that consulting company was actually called out in one e-mail we looked
at to a recruitment e-mail as being among a small group of people that were
working with Peter Smith in this endeavor. So he`s really painting a
portrait of Mike Flynn as somebody who knows what Peter Smith is up to, and
as Peter Smith tells the story, and others we talked to said, Flynn was
supportive of it especially.
KORNACKI: And so he talked to a group of – several groups of hackers here
that had potentially gotten some of these e-mails. Two of those groups are
Russians. Do we know, do you know, are those the same Russian hackers we
talk about when we talk about meddling in the U.S. election?
HARRIS: It`s a great question. We don`t know that. When Smith set out to
do this work, he told me they believed that they would eventually make
contact with hackers, as he put it, around the Russian government. Now,
it`s important to note, too, that he actually didn`t believe that Russia
had hacked the DNC to interfere with the election – he had a fairly
complex view of these things – but believed it was plausible that Russians
had hacked Hillary Clinton.
What he was really interested in getting at, though, were those e-mails.
And he was prepared to negotiate with whoever claimed to have them. And he
actually set up a process to try and vet those e-mails to determine whether
or not they were authentically hers or they had possibly been manipulated
and made to look like they were her e-mails.
KORNACKI: All right, Shane Harris of “The Wall Street” – it`s a
fascinating report. If you haven`t read it yet, encourage you to go check
that story out.
But, Shane Harris, thanks for taking a few minutes tonight. Appreciate it.
HARRIS: You bet. Thanks.
KORNACKI: All right, still ahead: President Trump upends the health care
negotiations by offering Republicans a brand-new idea. He says maybe they
should just repeal Obamacare now, worry about the replacement later. Is
that idea going to get any Republicans on board?
We will be right back.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is working to cobble together a
health care deal, Donald Trump has tossed a curve ball into this, tweeting
today – quote – “If Republican senators are unable to pass what they are
working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later
The president isn`t actually alone in this idea. He has two allies,
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. Both of them
also support that idea.
Here`s what Sasse, who seemed to inspire the president`s tweet, told
reporters in Nebraska.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: I want repeal and I want replace. If we can
do those two together in one legislative package, I`m good with that.
If we`re going to fail at that, we should separate the two. We made a
promise to repeal Obamacare, and we should keep our promises.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And according to Axios, that idea got less than a popular
reception from Republican aides on Capitol Hill, one telling Axios that the
repeal and replace was – quote – “not going to happen.”
And another said the chances of it working were zero.
For the latest on where things stand, I`m joined by Ben White, reporter
with Politico, and Sean Sullivan, political reporter with “The Washington
Sean, let me start with you.
And tell me if your sources are telling you anything different than what we
just quoted there, but if this is an idea that`s probably a nonstarter with
Republicans, the idea of let`s just repeal it now, then we will get – next
few months, next year, we will deal with a replacement.
If that`s a nonstarter, do we know why Donald Trump is introducing this
idea right now?
SEAN SULLIVAN, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, it is really is a nonstarter.
Beyond Rand Paul, beyond Ben Sasse, there really is no appetite among
Republican senators to do this. And if you listen to what Mitch McConnell
said earlier this week, what President Trump is saying might happen next is
actually the opposite of what McConnell is saying.
McConnell is saying, look, if this thing falls apart, we`re going to go
work with Democrats. We`re going to try to find some compromise. And what
Trump and Rand Paul and Sasse are saying is really the opposite. They`re
saying, if this doesn`t work, we should just repeal this thing and then
worry about replacement afterwards.
But, no, my reporting today suggests that there`s no appetite, beyond Paul
and Sasse, really to get this thing done. And you`re right. It raises a
question of why President Trump would do this at this time.
So, Ben, and you know the financial world, the business world. Look, I
think the political logic here from somebody like Sasse, the way he laid it
out is, if you repeal it now and you delay it by a year, I think what he is
thinking is, that gives you leverage with the Democrats, because then a
year from now, Democrats are going to say, oh, we can`t let it go
altogether, we have come to the table. And it`s an advantage for them.
I`m not sure it would work that way at all. But from the standpoint of the
business world, the health insurance industry, the markets, all of those
things, if that were to happen to health care, one-sixth of the economy
that, basically, for a year, it`s kind of put in limbo like that, how would
the business world respond to that?
BEN WHITE, POLITICO: It would respond negatives to that.
Obviously, insurance companies, health insurance companies, don`t want that
kind of massive uncertainty around what happens in a giant piece of the
economy. But I think talking about it in these kind of terms is a little
bit ridiculous, because it`s just not going to happen.
The votes are not there among Senate Republicans to do a full repeal and
then maybe get replace. They`re not there. McConnell doesn`t want to do
it. Ryan doesn`t want to have the House vote again.
And the big problem for the business community is, what does this mean for
tax reform? Because if they`re going to do a repeal vote and then a
replace vote, those take up the two budget resolutions that were supposed
to pass a repeal and replace and then a big tax reform bill.
If both of those are used, one for repeal, one for replace, there`s no room
for tax reform through reconciliation. That would be massively negative
for the business community and Wall Street. I think there are plenty of
White House advisers who are keen to move on to tax reform who don`t want
to do it this way.
So, I think it`s not going to happen. And it would be terrible both for
the health insurance industry and uncertainty and for Wall Street and
markets more broadly if there`s not going to be tax reform.
KORNACKI: So, Sean, If this is a nonstarter, you raised the possibility
there of moving, of Republicans trying to move in a bipartisan direction,
trying to get Democrats involved.
Maybe you can explain this one for me, because the Republican position, as
far as I can understand, is that Obamacare is on the brink of collapse and
that it`s threatened freedom in this country. And the Democratic position
is that the Republican plan will literally result in people being killed.
How can you reconcile those, possibly?
SULLIVAN: It may actually be impossible.
And I think part of what Mitch McConnell is doing by bringing this up is,
he`s trying to pressure his own Republican senators. He`s trying to go to
them and say, look, if we can`t get the votes that we need to pass our
bill, well, you know what? I`m going to go work across the aisle.
And I think, for a lot of Republicans, that kind of scares them. They
don`t like the idea of working with Democrats. And you`re right.
Democrats have said, look, we will work with you, but under one condition.
You need to stop your demands that you`re going to repeal this law. Once
you do that, then we will work with you.
I don`t think we`re anywhere near that point yet. I think there are still
a lot of Republicans who want to repeal at least key parts of this law and
find some replacements to that.
So, it`s hard to imagine Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell sitting across
the table from one Andrea negotiating some sort of bipartisan deal, even a
narrow one. And so I think, right now, it really is about pressuring
Republicans. That`s what McConnell is trying to do. He`s trying to make
these guys picture what that would look like.
KORNACKI: And after seven years of Republicans saying repeal this, repeal
this, it`s very hard for me to see them going back to their base and
saying, hey, you know what, let`s leave it alone after all this.
But who knows? We have come farther down this road than I think a lot of
people ever thought we would.
Ben White, Sean Sullivan, thank you both for joining us. Enjoy the holiday
Quick break here.
On the other side: President Trump`s election integrity commission is
seeking the voting history and personal data of nearly every registered
voter in the country. And some states, Republican and Democrat, are
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC
Police say a doctor opened fire at a hospital in the Bronx, killing one
person and wounding six others, before taking his own life. That gunman
was a former employee of the hospital, police saying he hid an AR-15-style
rifle under his white lab coat.
And a small plane crashed and burst into flames on the busy 405 Freeway in
Southern California, injuring the two people aboard and clipping a passing
vehicle. The pilot reported losing an engine shortly after takeoff before
that crash – now back to HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Nearly half of the states have now rejected a request from President
Trump`s voter fraud commission asking them to provide information on their
registered voters. The vice chairman of that commission – that`s Kansas
secretary of State Kris Kobach – he wrote a letter to election officials
in all 50 states. He asked for the names of voters, their addresses, dates
of birth, political party registration, as well as the last four digits of
their Social Security numbers. The commission also requested their voting
In an interview with MSNBC, Kobach defended the request.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: This is publicly available
information. The commission is only requesting what any person on the
street in California can walk into a county election office and get.
Why not look at the data? It`s publicly available. And put the cards on
the table and show the American public how significant the issue is. It`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But state officials from both parties are already voicing their
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D), RHODE ISLAND: There`s no reason to provide this
data. Again, we don`t know why they want this. There`s information that`s
We operate an excellent system here in Rhode Island. It`s fair, it`s
efficient, it`s accurate. And there`s no evidence of widespread fraud.
So, you know, we`re not going to comply with this. And I – as I say, I`m
alarmed that they`re even asking for it.
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: By and large, I would be very hesitant
to send out voter data that`s available here in Arkansas into a national
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And here`s how Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
responded in an off-camera briefing today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that
that`s mostly a political stunt. We`re asking – this is a commission
that`s asking for publicly available data.
And the fact that these governors wouldn`t be willing to turn that over,
this is something that`s been part of the commission`s discussion, which
has bipartisan support. And none of the members raised any concern
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That said, even Kobach`s own state of Kansas is not handing over
all of its voter data. Kansas will not be sharing the Social Security
information that the commission is requesting. It`s not publicly available
information, they say.
I`m joined now by Advancement Project co-director Judith Browne-Dianis.
Thanks for joining us.
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you what you – so Kansas says they have got an issue
with the Social Security numbers, the last four digits of the Social
Security. They`re not going to hand that over.
But you heard Kobach there saying, basically, what I`m looking for here is
publicly available information. You can walk in to any election office.
You can find out who`s registered, what party, when the last election was
they voted in. So, is that true? And if that`s true, what`s the objection
BROWNE-DIANIS: Well, I mean, not so fast, right, because even in his own
state – he`s the person who put out the letter requesting this
information. And even in his own state, he figured out that he was asking
for too much, because the last four digits of a Social Security number is
So, here`s the problem, is that we have to look at this in a larger
context. We are talking about people who are in place to – this is a
setup for voter suppression.
Who are the characters in this movie that we`re watching? Kris Kobach is
the architect of the playbook for Republicans on voter suppression. Then
you have got Jeff Sessions, who said that the Voting Rights Act was an
intrusion on states` rights. And he separately has sent out a request to
Then you have a former DOJ person who wants to make it harder to vote for
everyone across the country, part of this, you know, effort to suppress the
vote that is really about making it harder for people.
KORNACKI: OK, so let`s talk specifically here then. So, you do not trust
the principals that are involved here. They`re requesting this
If they get this information – and, again, a lot of these states are
saying no right now – but if they get this information, specifically,
then, what are you fearing they do with it?
BROWNE-DIANIS: Well, I think what it`s going to be used as, it`s going to
be used as a platform for them to try and go after not only the Voting
Rights Act, but the National Voter Registration Act, which is the law that
actually governs who gets on the rolls and who doesn`t get on the rolls,
and that really what they`re after is trying to figure out a way to put in
place a law to make it harder to get on the rolls and easier to get kicked
off the rolls, that they`re going to also use it to really harass people.
We know that these are folks who are trying to go after the mythical voter
fraud. But, time and again, the Republican Party has tried to prove voter
fraud, and they have come up short in every instance.
But what they have done is, in other instances – if they want to talk
about voter integrity and making sure our elections run well, then what
they should be doing is investing in our systems and making sure that more
people can participate easily.
KORNACKI: All right.
And we should point out that, on this specific issue, though, right now, it
is bipartisan, the objection to this. You have got Republicans and
Democrats out there saying…
BROWNE-DIANIS: That`s right.
KORNACKI: … they don`t plan to share this information with Trump and his
Judith Browne-Dianis from the Advancement Project, thanks for joining us.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right, up next: the HARDBALL Roundtable. We got a new round
of polling that shows Americans don`t want that Republican health care
plan. So, what`s in store for lawmakers as they head home to greet their
Plus, the Roundtable is going to tell me three things that I don`t know.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: All right. Welcome back to HARDBALL.
While you`re starting to make plans for your holiday weekend, maybe you`re
going to hit the road, well, guess what? Congress has already hit the
road. They`re going to be off for the next 10 days. It`s their Fourth of
July recess and they have reached this recess at a place that Mitch
McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, did not want to be.
Remember, the goal of this week for Republicans is that by the time today
arrived, by the time that recess began, they would have passed through the
Senate that health care that Obamacare replacement plan. Obviously, it
didn`t happen. The future is uncertain.
Here`s what`s on the Republican minds as they go home. The polling on this
thing has been absolutely atrocious. We have four polls out just in the
last few days.
Some version of the question, what do you think of the Senate health care
bill? What do you think of the Republican health care plan?
You can see here, all these polls have one thing in common, at least twice
as much opposition, sometimes more than three times, close to four times as
much opposition, as support. So, Republicans senators right now, those on
the fence, this has got to weigh on them. Am I stirring up some kind of
trouble here politically that I cannot afford?
But why still on the table? Why wouldn`t Republicans just walk away in the
face of numbers like this? Well, you got to keep in mind, they think this
issue is ultimately a more complicated one when it comes to public opinion.
Keep in this mind from the most recent NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll,
a more basic question here, what should Republicans do right now? Should
they still be trying, even if you don`t like the plan they have, should
they be trying to repeal and replace Obamacare or should they give that up?
You ask voters overall, the divide is really right down the middle on that
question. So, what Republicans think is they still think there`s a lot of
dissatisfaction with Obamacare. They still think there`s a lot of room for
a different plan to emerge. Maybe it`s not the one quite that they have
right now, but they don`t necessarily think those poll numbers I showed you
a minute ago are indicative of where this would end up.
That at least seems to be the political calculation that they have right
now, but they`re going home to their constituents and what they hear may
have a lot to do with it. We say on that subject, amid those poll numbers,
lawmakers going back. They`re going to hold town halls. Some of those
town halls have already started, including one down there in the bayou.
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy in Baton Rouge today. Take a look at what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll tell you what`s rude. Kicking 22 million people
off their health care in this country who you know you cannot afford it.
You worked at the Earl K. Long Hospital for a long time. You know what
people are like at their lowest.
So, to step on their necks by kicking them off their health care at this
point, that`s cruel, sir.
I think what you need to do as a Louisianan is going back to Washington,
D.C., and stand up for the people here saying we need our health care.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I am doing my best to make sure that we
continue coverage, care for those with preexisting conditions, eliminate
mandates, and lower premiums. And that is my commitment and that is what
I`m working for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. Let`s bring in the HARDBALL round table. Azi
Paybarah, senior political reporter for “Politico” in New York, Beth Fouhy,
senior editor for politics at NBC and MSNBC, and Nick Confessore, political
reporter with “The New York Times”.
Beth, let me start with you. That scene, we just showed down there in
Louisiana, there`s Cassidy, he`s on the fence on this thing. Republicans
have to have his vote if he`s going to have this.
This was Mitch McConnell`s fear, right? This is why he wanted it done this
week, because if he didn`t get it done today, they go home and they hear,
have an earful on this. It can`t help the odds of passage.
BETH FOUHY, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, and I`ve been to a number
of town halls this year already, with House. The message is the same over
and over. It`s don`t do this, you can`t possibly do this, don`t take away
my health care.
You know, there`s that period of time where Republicans were accusing those
who came to the town halls of being paid protesters and what you find when
you interview them is, you know, sure, there`s some might be involved in
some of the groups like Indivisible or some such thing, but they`re local
constituents and then you get a whole other bunch of people who show up at
these things who say they`ve never been to a political meeting before ever,
they might vote, but they`ve never been activists. And suddenly, this
issue is motivating them.
So, these guys are getting just a world of hurt out there back at home.
And, right now, I mean, you just showed those polls, Steve. Politicians
are not in the business of passing major bills that`s 12 percent
popularity. This thing is really on death`s door at this point.
KORNACKI: So, Nick, if you`re Mitch McConnell, master legislator, right,
no one knows the Senate like Mitch McConnell, that`s what we always hear.
But do you get your way out of this jam? I mean, the ideas out there of do
you try to cut some kind of deal with Democrats? Is that even possible
given the rhetoric on this thing? Do you try to appease the moderates in
your party? Do you lose conservatives? Do you go after the conservatives
and lose moderates?
I mean, is there a way to thread the needle when you can only afford two
NICK CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, yes, of
course, there`s a way, the same way that Obama got it passed in the first
place. You cut some side deals, you buy some votes off, you do some
kickback provisions. You do something for one state, you do for all the
states, and that`s how you get it done. But that`s how these bills always
kind of pass in the end.
The problem they`re having right now, the reason it`s at 12 percent is the
flip side of negotiating the whole thing in secret. If you don`t pass
major legislation out in the open, if you don`t build a case for it, if you
don`t have good answers to these hard questions, if you can`t get out this
and defend it and be happy about your own bill, then that`s going to be
And we`re seeing here is a totally one sided debate, where one side is
being quiet and everyone else is piling on top of them.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s the thing, Azi. I keep thinking back to seven,
eight years ago, the health care debate, the Obamacare debate. And
Democrats, it was very tough for them to argue the specifics and to really
sort of litigate the specifics of that and a lot of ways, that`s why they
got beat so badly in 2010.
But if you ask any Democrat who was part of that process what they were
trying to do, the goal was very clear. They were trying to get close to,
trying to get as close to universal coverage as ever been in this country.
They were trying to protect people. You could easily articulate that.
This is not a clean repeal of Obamacare. This really is just sort of a
replacement. I think it`s hard for Republicans right now to look at this
and just narrow it down. Here is what we`re trying to do.
AZI PAYBARAH, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Right. And when they
get specific, that`s when they get into a lot of trouble.
Nick`s point is very good. They`re being secretive about it and they`re
not explaining what it is that they are going to do and when they do come
out and say, well, we`re going to tweak some of the regulations. We`re
going to roll this back.
When you ask them what they`re talking about, you realize they`re not
going to cover the same health procedures that they were doing before.
They`re taking away some health care. They`re going to roll back some of
the regulations which is really a tax cut.
When people started seeing and understanding what is in this legislation,
it is not good. It is not popular. That`s why you`re seeing what Beth was
describing in these town hall meetings.
KORNACKI: Well, and, Beth, if it`s at death`s doorstep, politically, what
would the next move be for Republicans? I mean, could they go back to
their constituents and say, guys, you gave us the House, you gave us the
Senate, you gave us the White House, we couldn`t get it done? Would their
base accept that? Could they do some kind of compromise with Democrats?
Where would they go?
FOUHY: Well, right. There`s been that discussion that perhaps they`ll do
a deal with Democrats, which, to me, makes a whole lot of sense. I mean,
we can get the parties together. They can maybe negotiate something where
they both have to give a little. They`ll get something back and then Trump
who all he wants is to be able to clear a win, can say, hey, this all
worked out and it was all because of me.
That seems like a very, very possible way for them to go. Of course, it
may not work in the House is the problem. The Senate is a much more
generally bipartisan environment than the House is and the House may not
want to deal with anything with all the Democrats input.
KORNACKI: It`s like a game of whack-a-mole at the arcade, when you`re a
kid. You have this one here and it comes up over here.
KORNACKI: Anyway, the round table is staying with us.
Up next, Trump will finally come face-to-face with Vladimir Putin at the G-
20 Summit, according to a new report. The Russian president already thinks
he`s going to be able to outmaneuver Trump.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
KORNACKI: All right. A quick programming note. This is when you circle
on the calendar. This coming Monday, July 3rd, Chris Matthews is going to
host a special edition of HARDBALL, calling it “Twenty Years of Trump”.
How about this? Over the last two decades, Chris has interviewed Donald
Trump more than a dozen times. Monday`s show is going to take a look back
at some of those conversations, some lively conversations ranging on
subjects from Trump`s thoughts on Monica Lewinsky and that scandal, to his
early flirtations with running for president.
“Twenty Years of Trump”, this Monday, 7:00 Eastern. Don`t miss it.
KORNACKI: All right. We are back with a HARDBALL roundtable.
The White House confirmed yesterday that President Trump and Russian
President Vladimir Putin will meet for the first time at next week`s G-20
Summit in Germany.
Meanwhile, European intelligence officials have expressed concerns about
this meeting, telling “The Daily Beast” Moscow believes its leader, ex-spy
master Vladimir Putin can extract major concessions from President Donald
Nick, let me start with you, we got to get the details here. Is this going
to be a public meeting? Is this going to be one of those things on the
side that we just hear a little bit about later? Bottom line, though, do
you think Donald Trump – Donald Trump is the president of a country that
imposed sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russia for what it did in our
presidential election last year – do you think this will come up at all?
CONFESSORE: Well, look, half the country his president of thinks he`s in
cahoots with the guy he`s going to meet with. And that`s the problem here.
You know, I can`t think of a more important stage and a more important
meeting for this president than this one.
You know, essentially, his whole administration, his White House is under
investigation for potentially collusion with the Russian intelligence. And
Vladimir Putin has spent a huge amount of time and money trying to disrupt
The question is, how will the president handle this meeting? Is he going
to push back on some of this stuff? Will he stand firm on the sanctions?
Or is he going to follow his own foreign policy here? Which is try to get
Putin on his side to find ISIS, to arrange things in the Middle East?
KORNACKI: Yes. And, Azi, that`s quickly, that is the big question here.
Who does Trump think his audience here is? Is his audience the skeptics?
Does he think his audience is the skeptics here who say he`s in cahoots
with Putin? Or he is going for a different audience here? That`s going to
be the question.
PAYBARAH: Right. And also, if he acts presidential, and actually doesn`t
address some of the issues that have been raised about the interference and
actually tries to get some of the policy issues, you know, regarding ISIS,
if he actually treats this as a normal meeting, and doesn`t become very
careful about the stagecraft of it, he will just add fuel to the fire for
Democrats and independents.
KORNACKI: OK. That`s another thing to mark your calendars for next week,
the G-20 Summit.
Meanwhile, got a quick break here. On the other side, the roundtable is
staying with us. These three are going to tell me something I don`t know.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: All right. We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Beth, tell me something I don`t know.
FOUHY: Today is the last day of June, June 30th, and Donald Trump has not
acknowledged Pride Month. He has broken with tradition that President
Obama set up, acknowledged it every single year of his presidency, as did
Bill Clinton. He ran, Trump ran as a Republican who`s going to be more
sympathetic to gay rights perhaps than others in his party, but he has
acknowledged Pride Month.
KORNACKI: I knew it was June 30th, I didn`t know the second part.
CONFESSORE: All right. So, in honor of July 4th, my thing is that
Independence Day is actually July 2nd which is the day the Continental
Congress had a vote to declare independence. July 4th is the day they
approved the draft language of the Declaration of Independence.
KORNACKI: Can we still barbecue on July 4th?
CONFESSORE: How about both days?
KORNACKI: Yes, both is good. Maybe the third in between.
PAYBARAH: After Donald Trump attacked “MORNING JOE” on Twitter, he did 12
tweets about policy, number 13 was about “MORNING JOE” again. So, he had
discipline for a little while.
KORANCKI: Did you ever wonder if somebody else do the other 12, or has
something to do with it, and then the real guy came back?
Azi Paybarah, Beth Fouhy, Nick Confessore, thanks to all of you. Enjoy the
That is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
And “ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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