Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 7/3/17 20 years of Trump

Donald Trump

Date: July 3, 2017
Guest: Donald Trump

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Twenty years of Donald Trump.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington with a special edition of

Long before he took up the most powerful office in the world, Donald Trump
had established himself as a public figure always willing to share his
thinking about the issues and events of our time.

And through two decades, I`ve interviewed this complex and controversial
president more than a dozen times. And tonight, we`re going to look at the
Donald Trump I got to know in those conversations.

Let`s begin with Mr. Trump`s first appearance on this show back in August
of 1998. The topic is President Bill Clinton just days after he confessed
to his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Let`s


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about that other 52-year-old, Bill Clinton. What`s
he need to do?

embarrassing. And you really have to say, Where does it stop? I really
like this guy, but you really have to say, You know, where does it stop?
Why do they keep revealing the details? He had sex, but now they talk
about the kind of sex, where it took place, where it was, on the desk, off
the desk. I mean, it`s – it`s so out of control and…


MATTHEWS: But do you think he should have just…

TRUMP: … you can imagine.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he could have gotten away with a complete mea culpa
in January? When he decided to cover it up, do you think at that moment,
he could have said, I`m going to throw all my money on the table? The
American people like me. They`re going to buy this.

TRUMP: Well, I think he probably couldn`t do any worse. I would have done
something certainly different than what they did. I mean, that all started
at – Paula Jones is a loser, but the fact is that she may be responsible
for bringing down a president indirectly. And you know, that statement was
a bad statement to have been made. And it`s proven to be false. So…

MATTHEWS: Which statement was that? I`m sorry.

TRUMP: Paula Jones in the deposition…


TRUMP: … which really started this whole…

MATTHEWS: But he denied it, which is if you`re in a hole, stop digging.


MATTHEWS: … you sort of walk away from the deal and say, I`m not dealing
here anymore. I`m going to drop this line.

TRUMP: Well, I think his little speech after it was a disaster. It wasn`t
the right tone. And I`m not sure he should have done it. And I`m not even
sure that he shouldn`t have just gone in and taken the 5th Amendment and
said, Look, I don`t get along with this man, Starr. He`s after me. He`s a
Republican. He`s this, he`s that, and you know, just taken the 5th

It`s a terrible thing for a president to take the 5th Amendment, but he
probably should have done it. I don`t think he could have done any worse.
Than what`s happen. It is such an embarrassment to him. I mean, I see him
walking around. It, like, a terrible embarrassment.

MATTHEWS: Where is he going, up or down?

TRUMP: Well, I think he – think the best he can do is tread water for two
years. I really believe that. I think he can tread. I think he can maybe
keep the office and just tread and get out, as opposed to Nixon, who got
out in a rather harsh manner. But it may be worse than that. But I really
believe the best he can do is tread water.

MATTHEWS: Did you ever have a flicker when you were taking a shower or
walking to work or waking up in the morning where you said, Donald Trump,
you`ve won every battle you`ve ever fought. Why don`t you run for
governor? Why don`t you run for president? Did you ever think about that?

TRUMP: People want me to all the time.

MATTHEWS: What about you?

TRUMP: I don`t like it.


TRUMP: Can you imagine how controversial I`d be? You`re thinking about
him with the women. How about me with the women?


MATTHEWS: My next interview with Mr. Trump was our 1999 HARDBALL college
tour at his alma mater, the Wharton School of Business at the University of
Pennsylvania. And even back then, Trump was considering a run for
president in the 2000 election. Trump was between marriages at the time of
our interview. And while he was dating the future first lady, Melania,
there were questions about how he`d handle the office without a first lady.
Let`s watch.


MATTHEWS: You have another special guest here I`d like to introduce at
this time.

TRUMP: I do indeed.

MATTHEWS: I see her.

TRUMP: My supermodel. Where`s my supermodel? Melania – this is Melania
Knauss. Stand up.


MATTHEWS: One thing it`s safe to say about you, Donald, is you know the
difference between Slovakia and Slovenia.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask a tough question. This is a technical thing, but
it`s kind of fun. The president of the United States gets an allowance to
live on. That`s why you never have to cash a check when you`re president.
They live off us, basically. You won`t have that problem. But they have
an allowance for parties and whatever and whenever they pass out the wine
glasses and the hors d`oeuvres. The first lady gets to control all that
under the – she has the thing called the East Wing. How are you going to
handle that?

TRUMP: Well, you know, I got myself into a lot of trouble when I said I
could be married within 24 hours, if need be.


TRUMP: See, that`s what happens when you go to Wharton, folks. I mean,
you know, it`s one of those…


TRUMP: But I could handle it. I could handle it very easily. I`m not
sure that today, being married – and I really could be married, and you
know, it`s one of those things. But I just got out of a marriage.

MATTHEWS: So you`ll handle the social arrangements if you get elected
president yourself.

TRUMP: I`ll really handle, I guess, probably myself, or we`ll see what
happens. Lots of things can happen, lots of changes made. And I believe -
- you know, I have to tell you in all seriousness, I believe strongly in
the institution of marriage. To me, marriage is just an incredible
institution when you get it right.

My parents – my father just died, as you probably now, a few months ago.
They were married 63 years, and they just had the most incredible marriage.
So I think the one thing that my father couldn`t believe and really didn`t
understand is, how could you get divorced? “Divorce” wasn`t even a word in
his vocabulary. But it happens.

I believe in the institution of marriage. There`s nothing better. It
beats being the world`s greatest playboy by a million, but sometimes you
don`t have a choice.


MATTHEWS: So if you`re president of the United States – I got a question
about that later. But if you`re president of the United States, you expect
it will be inevitably a first lady joining you at some point.

TRUMP: I do.

MATTHEWS: Melania, would you like to stand up and answer one big question?
The only person I can imagine putting Jackie Kennedy to shame. Melania,
would you like to be a first lady?

MELANIA KNAUSS, FASHION MODEL: Yes. It would be an honor to be the first


MATTHEWS: Thank you.


MATTHEWS: In that same 1999 interview, Trump said his top concern as
commander-in-chief would be nuclear proliferation, and in particular,
preventing a conflict in North Korea. Now, 18 years later, Trump finds
himself grappling with these very issues as president. Let`s watch.


MATTHEWS: If you get to be president, define the nirvana, the great age of
Trump. What would it be like?

TRUMP: Well, I think the nirvana would be cleaning up the world from
nuclear missiles because, ultimately, we have got ourselves a big problem.
And these young folks in this room – and they`re incredible. These people
are going to have themselves a bigger problem than me or you or anybody

I mean, frankly, you have North Korea just loading up with nuclear


TRUMP: You have other countries – China. You have – Russia has them,
and they don`t even know who`s controlling them. I mean, I think it`s
singly the biggest issue out there, and somebody has to talk about it.
Now, I brought it up. People don`t like mentioning it. It`s not – but
that really has to be done.

MATTHEWS: Yes, let me ask you about some things that loom ahead. You`re
president of the United States. You get a call from the CIA chief. He
says, I got to come over. The CIA chief comes on. He shows you all this
paper that shows that the North Koreans are ready to move. They`re going
to use the tunnels they`ve got there. They`re going to use perhaps the
threat of military – nuclear. They got their armies massed at the border.
Everything`s mobilized. They`re ready to move.

How would you go about dealing with a situation like that?

TRUMP: Well, I`d have to think about it at the time. I`d have to see
where they are. I have to see how the South is reacting because,
obviously, the South is going to have something to say about it. I will
tell you, though, that – and I alluded to it at the beginning. North
Korea, in my opinion, is probably our single biggest problem right now.

MATTHEWS: Well, would you send them a threat of saying, If you move, we
move, you`re gone?

TRUMP: I don`t think I want to signal anything right now. I think it`s
unfair. I don`t want to have it held against me at a later date. But to
be honest, something is going to have to be done with North Korea. They`re
out of control. They`ve very unstable. They`ve very militant. And
something`s going to have to be done.


MATTHEWS: Trump joined me next in April of 2001 to discuss President
George W. Bush`s first 100 days in office. He gave the new president high
marks and contrasted Bush`s style in office with that of his predecessor,
Bill Clinton.


MATTHEWS: You know, Mr. Trump, it seems to me that we have a president
here who`s different than some of the guys we`ve had running for office
recently. He`s not exactly a political junkie. He doesn`t talk about
politics like a senator. He`s more or less inarticulate. He`s kind of an
MBA kind of guy.

Do you sense, watching him as a fellow – you`re a Wharton guy, he`s a
Harvard Business guy – do you have a sense that he`s running this more
like a business, the White House now?

TRUMP: Well, I think he`s running it very well. I think he`s really
stepped up and he`s doing an awfully good job. I mean, he`s had some
little – little turmoil with China and other things that weren`t expected.
They weren`t anticipated. But he really has stepped up to the plate, and I
think he`s becoming very presidential and doing a very good job.

MATTHEWS: If you had to do a scouting report on a chief executive, how
would you compare him? Put these two men side to side, the new president
we`ve watched for 100 days now and the president we had for eight years.

TRUMP: Well, you`re talking about opposites. I mean, Bill Clinton was
very comfortable, very everything. But you know, look, a lot of people
were extremely upset with him, and especially the way he got out. I like
him very much, but I know of Marc Rich. I`ve been studying Marc Rich for
years. And you know, to give him a pardon was just – it was just
something that was inexcusable.

I think that we`re dealing with very opposites, and I think that`s exactly
what the electorate wanted. They really wanted opposites, and that`s what
they got.

MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense that Hillary Clinton has really moved out
onto her own politically? I`m not talking about her marriage or anything,
but as a person, that she`s really now dropped the booster rocket
completely. She`s Hillary Rodham Clinton now. Bill`s not part of the

TRUMP: Well, I think she is very much. I think she very much loves him.
She`s had to go just on a personal basis, which is probably most
interesting to most of the people, I`m sure to all of your viewers. The
fact is she really does. She is totally in love with this man. But boy,
she has had a tough time of it. There`s no question about it.

MATTHEWS: Do you think that pardon for Marc Rich, which you think wasn`t a
good idea – think that hurt her in New York?

TRUMP: I think it hurt her. I think it really hurt him. People that were
really backing him and willing to give him benefit of the doubt just said
at the end – they just said, Look, we`ve just had it. And it was sad.

And I like him so much. I mean, I think he`s terrific in so many ways, but
it was just a culmination of so many different things. And I mean, I have
friends that no matter what he did, it was OK. When he did that, they just
gave up. And it was a very sad thing.


MATTHEWS: That same year, 2001, Trump joined me again by phone just six
days after the attacks of 9/11. And here`s what he said about rebuilding
downtown New York and how New Yorkers pulled together amid the devastation.


MATTHEWS: OK, we have on the phone right now New York real estate
developer Donald Trump, an old friend of this show`s.

Mr. Trump, let me ask you the question – Rudy Giuliani said the best thing
America can do for New York, which has been hit so hard historically, is to
go to New York and spend some money. What do you think?

TRUMP: Well, I think that`s true. And I – judging from the streets
today, Chris, a lot of people are out there. A lot of people are very
proud to be New Yorkers and very proud to be in this country, generally
speaking. I mean, it`s been amazing. There`s been an amazing show of
confidence and faith despite what happened with the almost 700-point down

MATTHEWS: You know what shocked me about New York very positively – I`m
usually shocked negatively – is the way everybody seemed to pull together
in the last week. I mean, it wasn`t like, Who`s the cop, who`s the
fireman, who`s the rich real estate developer, who`s the stock broker.
Everybody seemed to be on the same level. Tell me what you`re thinking
(INAUDIBLE) thinking about that.

TRUMP: Well, Chris, it`s a truly great city. And I`ve known it for a long
time and people that are here know it. And it really is. It`s a truly
great city. And I think they`ve really proved it this week. Our firemen,
our policemen – I mean, these people are so brave, it`s unbelievable what
they`ve done and what they`re doing. I watch the dig-out now, the
construction workers, I`ve never seen anything like it. It`s a tragic
event, but it somehow pulled the country and New York even closer together.

MATTHEWS: Do you think New York needs to replace, Donald – do you think
they need to replace, you need to replace, the World Trade towers?

TRUMP: Well, you know, the big question is the tenants. I mean, how many
tenants? How many feet are you going to build? It certainly would be
beautiful. Symbolically, it would be important. I`m not sure it has to
take shape in the same form. You know, the World Trade Center was never
considered a great architectural masterpiece until about six days ago, as
you know, and now, all of a sudden, everyone`s talking as thought it was
the greatest. I really think we can do better, but I do think it`s
important to rebuild in some form, and maybe a much better form, a much
stronger form than even the World Trade Center.


MATTHEWS: Coming up – throughout my years of interviewing Donald Trump, I
questioned him about running for president. He teased the notion many
times, but his answers to me on this subject could also be surprising. And
that`s ahead.

And this is a special edition of HARDBALL, “Twenty Years of Trump.”


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL, “Twenty Years
of Trump.” Well, we continue our look back on the many interviews I`ve
done with Donald Trump to see what we can glean watching the evolution of
the man who became our 45th president.

Well, the attacks of September 11 figured prominently in candidate Trump`s
2016 presidential campaign, which brought him criticism for his attacks on
Muslims. But back then, the real estate billionaire took a more measured
tone and heaped praise on then mayor Michael Bloomberg, someone who would
later become his critic.

Let`s listen to this exchange I had with him six months after the attack.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about New York. You`re not just a great builder
in New York and developer, you`re a figure of almost comic book status.
You`re a major personality in New York, in the celebrity culture of New
York. You`re part of the pizzazz of Manhattan and the Big Apple.

How has that mood of the city changed? Is it less frivolous? Is it more
sober? What`s changed? You know this as well as anybody. What`s the –
what`s the answer? What`s different about New York?

TRUMP: Well, there`s a sadness, but at the same time, I`ve never seen the
spirit that we have in New York today. I think Michael Bloomberg is doing
an amazing job as mayor. I think he`s doing a really great job. He`s
going to go down – I`ve known Michael for a long time. He`s going to go
down as a great mayor.

It is really – there`s a sadness but there`s a spirit. And I say New York
will come back stronger and bigger and better than it ever was before.


MATTHEWS: 2016 wasn`t the first time Donald Trump dived into politics. In
fact, he had spoke of running as far back as 1988. In 2000, he launched an
exploratory committee as a Reform Party candidate. In 2003, I asked if he
was still interested in politics. Let`s watch.


MATTHEWS: Donald Trump, you talked about possibly running in 2004 after
pulling out last time. Are you still possibly interested or are you – I
think you`re a Republican. That`s my guess. Would you – you wouldn`t
challenge the president this time, would you?

TRUMP: Well, no, I wouldn`t. Number one, I never wanted to run. I looked
at it because we had some polls that you did and other people did that show
I would have done well. But I just love real estate. I love building
buildings. And you said you heard I`m going to run in 2004. I hadn`t
heard that…

MATTHEWS: No, you were quoted…


MATTHEWS: We dug up an old quote of yours that said – let`s play the –
let`s go over that tape. Anyway, there`s an old quote we have that said
you`d take a look at it in 2004. Here`s what you said. “I continue to be
interested in the political process and cannot rule out a possible
candidacy in 2004.” That was you February 2000.

TRUMP: Oh, well, that was a long time ago. No because I hadn`t heard that
one in a long time. No. I…

MATTHEWS: Well, you heard it here, Donald!

TRUMP: I never did – I never did run, and I probably never will run.


MATTHEWS: Take a listen to his answer from the same interview on who he
would vote for in hypothetical match-ups between the Clintons and potential


MATTHEWS: What about Bill Clinton against Mike Bloomberg next time? Can
he win the mayor`s race if he goes for it, the former president?

TRUMP: Well, Mike is really working hard, and I think he`s doing a very
good job. And Bill Clinton`s not going to run. And Bill just joined my
golf club, so I like him very much. And I like him anyway, beyond golf
clubs. But he`s not going to be running.

MATTHEWS: Rudy versus Hillary in 2008. Who wins?

TRUMP: Oh, that`s an interesting…

MATTHEWS: Both New Yorkers now.

TRUMP: No, no. That isn`t – that`s going to be a very interesting one.
You`re talking about the presidential, that will certainly be an
interesting one, and that could happen. I don`t predict a winner, but that
could certainly happen.

MATTHEWS: You don`t have a favorite in that race? Let me ask you who you
would vote for, Hillary or Rudy.

TRUMP: Don`t ask me that question.

MATTHEWS: President of the United States. Can`t answer that question.

TRUMP: Don`t ask me that question.


MATTHEWS: A major point of contention throughout the 2016 campaign was
Donald Trump`s position on the Iraq war. Candidate Trump repeatedly said
he had been opposed to the war before the March 2003 invasion and often
took credit for his judgment and vision, claiming he knew it would
destabilize the region. But back in November of 2003, his position wasn`t
quite what he said it was. Let`s watch this exchange.


MATTHEWS: This was an elective war. The president thought we had to do
it. He made a judgment call. He took us into Iraq. Do you think he will
reconsider that judgment as the costs rise?

TRUMP: I don`t think he`s going to. He`s a very committed guy. He`s
committed to that whole situation. And I don`t think he will really
reconsider. I don`t think he probably can at this point. Other people
will. And you`re going to find out at the polls whether or not those other
people are right.

You see more and more doves, if you call them doves. The question is
whether or not we should have been in Iraq in the first place. I don`t
think that this president can do anything about that. He is really – he
is on a course that has to stay.


MATTHEWS: Much more to come from my interviews over the years with Donald
Trump, including what Trump thinks makes a good leader and why we elect the
presidents we do, and the newsmaking interview we had at the height of last
year`s primary campaign.

This is a special edition of HARDBALL, “20 Years of Trump.”


what`s happening.

Republican leaders in the Senate are putting through two new versions of
their health care proposal to the Congressional Budget Office over the
holiday week.

Meanwhile, opponents of the Republican plan are gathering around the
country holding anti-Trumpcare rallies, as representatives are back in
their districts.

And New Jersey lawmakers have reached a budget deal that would end a
partial government shutdown. Officials are expected to vote on the
compromise later tonight – back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Our special edition of HARDBALL, “20 Years of Trump,” will
continue in a minute, including the interview I did with him last March
when he knocked himself off his game.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL, “20 Years of

Well, the year 2004 was a big turning point in Donald Trump`s career as
celebrity businessman with the debut of his reality show “The Apprentice.”

I spoke with him the day the show premiered.


MATTHEWS: When you fire these people, it is not the same as firing
somebody, or is it, in real life?

TRUMP: It is not much different, Chris, to be honest.

It`s – over the years, I have fired, unfortunately, a lot of people. And
you can do it nice, you can do it easy, you can take your time. I have
taken months and months to fire people.

And in the end – or you can do it viciously and quickly and you`re fired.
In the end, it doesn`t matter. When you fire somebody, they hate you.


MATTHEWS: When Trump came back in September to promote the second season
of the then-hit show, I asked him about the upcoming presidential campaign,
his thoughts on George Bush vs. John Kerry, campaign politics and the war
in Iraq.

Let`s watch.


MATTHEWS: Economically, what is the impact of a government that decides to
borrow a war, basically, to pay for it later, fight now, pay later?

TRUMP: Look, I don`t think it is positive. I think it has been a big

There are other places. If you look at North Korea, if you at – frankly,
I think if the United States used that as a launching base to go into Iran
and clean out some of their nuclear problems, maybe, all of a sudden, I
would start to say that was a great move, because we ought to look at Iran
and we ought to look at North Korea and what they`re doing with nuclear

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this choice people make. What kind of a
choice is it? I mean, historically, a reelection campaign has been
distinctive from a regular presidential campaign because you basically have
a track record of a guy for four years.

Is this really what it is about? If the guy has done a good job, keep him.
If he hasn`t, dump him. Or is it a choice question like we always face in
other races?

TRUMP: Well, I think, in this case, it is both. Some people love Bush.

He is a very – it is very fragmented. But it is really both. People love
him and the job he`s done, and other people just can`t stand him and the
job he`s done. And people are very mixed on Kerry. And I will tell you

I sat through the convention in New York. And they did a great job, the
Republicans. But maybe the greatest spin I`ve ever seen on anything is,
it`s almost coming out that Bush is a war hero and Kerry is not. I think
that could be the greatest spin I`ve ever seen.

MATTHEWS: Because?

TRUMP: Well, the whole thing with the Swift Boat group, which obviously is
being done by Bush and Bush`s people, happened to be brilliant.

They`ve taken all of that war hero thing away from Kerry and they`ve almost
given to it Bush. And Bush, frankly, was not serving. That, we know.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about perhaps what you might call unnecessary
roughness in politics.

This week, Dick Cheney, the vice president, a very tough guy, said that if
we elect, the American people elect Kerry, that we`re basically going to
face ourselves with the threat of a devastating attack. He is saying, vote
Democrat, you`re going to get attacked.

TRUMP: Well, it`s a terrible statement unless he gets away with it.

But the other side doesn`t seem to be hitting very hard. The Republicans
are hitting much harder than the Democrats. It`s a terrible statement,
unless – you know, let`s see how the other side handles it.

But, already, after two days, I haven`t seen much handling.

MATTHEWS: It`s a terrible attack because you`re saying, because it means
that you believe the other side, just by its election, would endanger the

TRUMP: Well, I mean, just take a look at that whole premise; 9/11 happened
during the Bush administration. Why doesn`t somebody attack him? I`m not
taking sides. I`m just saying, it`s amazing.

He made that statement two or three days ago, and I haven`t heard anything
to knock him. It`s really amazing when you think of it.

MATTHEWS: If you were the corner man – I know “The Contender” is coming,
the program you`re going to be producing.

If you were a corner man for Kerry right now, what would you tell him to
do? Quit? Change? Get tough? Be visceral? Be spontaneous? Be
something you`re not? How can you change this guy to a winner?


TRUMP: Look, I know him. And he`s a very capable guy. And, frankly,
every election, he`s losing until the end.

That`s the one thing you have to remember about him. He was losing the
primary, and he ended up winning easily. And if you go back four weeks
before the primary, he was out of it. People weren`t even talking about
him. And he ended up winning.

He was also losing for the Senate to Governor Weld, and it was not even
going to be a contest. He had 30 percent of the vote to 70 percent. And
he ended up killing him.

So, you know, the guy has a way of coming back. So don`t just think that
he`s going to go away. He`s a very capable guy. But the Republicans so
far have just been decimating the Democrats. And I think Kerry has to go
out and do his thing. And he`s fine at it. He`s won lots of elections.

But it`s very interesting. He has come from behind on many elections.

MATTHEWS: Why is he putting out even now a confusing position on Iraq?

TRUMP: Well, I think the whole campaign, so far as far as I`m concerned,
has been confusing.

He ought to say something. And, frankly, I think what people really want
to hear is, we`re going to get out of there was as quickly as possible. I
think that`s what people want to hear.

MATTHEWS: You mean you don`t think they care whether he is for the war or
not? Because that seems unclear as hell right now.

TRUMP: Well, you know, so many things can happen. I was saying somebody
today, why can`t they find a 6`6“ Arab named Osama bin Laden? He is

He is on a dialysis machine, supposedly, and we can`t find him?


TRUMP: And then you see him on television all the time. They can`t track

If I`m on television, they track me. If you`re on television, they track.
We can`t track this guy?

Now, if Bush found him prior to the election, the election is won. Then I
would tell Kerry, you have to – might as well give it up, because the
election is won. So a lot of things can happen that can inure both
positive and negative to both parties.


MATTHEWS: After the 2004 election, I asked Trump for his take on the
economy, domestic and international, and got a look at how he would handle
one government program if he were president.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the economy. I want to ask you – only got a
couple minutes left here, Donald.

I want to ask you about the three big concerns I have as one of the many
Americans worried about the economy. The dollar, are you worried about
them letting it go, dip too low in the world market?

TRUMP: Well, the dollar is keeping the economy good, in a sense, because
people are coming to New York. As an example, they`re buying apartments in
New York. They`re using the hotels.

The dollar – it`s a horrible word when they say the low dollar, the cheap
dollar. It`s a terrible word to use. But the fact is, it happens to bring
a lot of business into this country.

MATTHEWS: But it`s great to travel in this country. It`s a terrible –
it`s a terrible situation to travel overseas with, right?

TRUMP: Well, that`s right, but it keeps people here. So I`m not sure that
is so bad.

MATTHEWS: You are not worried that there will come a time when the people
who are lending us money from the Far East, China and Japan will simply
say, I don`t like the value of the dollar anymore, I`m getting out, and
then we`re in big trouble with a bank run basically on U.S. paper?

TRUMP: I don`t see it happening. This is one country that it`s just not
going to happen to.

Having the dollar where it`s a reduced value a little bit, it sounds
terrible, and you hate to say it, but the fact is, it brings business and
it is actually good in terms of what we all do.

MATTHEWS: So you expect they will keep this policy?

TRUMP: I think they`re going to keep the policy. I think the dollar is
probably going to inch up a little bit. And that is not so bad.

But the worst times we`ve had is when you had a very strong dollar.
Nothing came in at all.


TRUMP: And having a strong dollar, it turned out to be – it sounds good.
That one sounds great, but nothing happens good for the country.

MATTHEWS: Well, what about when you compound the situation by a long – a
big long-term borrowing situation, in addition to the couple billion we`re
– we`re borrowing about $600,000 – $600 billion a year now.

What happens when you add to that the big money we`re going to have to
borrow to carry Social Security into this new form of individual accounts?
That means big, long – big short-term deficits for the federal budget.
Does that take us over the tipping point with regard to the value of the
dollar, all that borrowing?

TRUMP: Well, we`ve had the deficits before, and we`re going to have them
again, and we`re going to have them for a while.

And the war is certainly costing a tremendous amount of money, far more
than anyone ever thought. The key is as long as interest rates stay low,
Chris. If interest rates are low, we`re going to be fine. If interest
rates go up and the dollar goes up, that is a really devastating

MATTHEWS: Well, how do you avoid rising interest rates if you double the
borrowing with the new Social Security plan?

TRUMP: Well, it is really amazing, because I have been asking that for the
last year or so. And the fact is that rates are still very low. They
continue to be low.

And I`m very happy about it, because I can tell you, the real estate
industry, the entire – so many different industries, if rates go up,
they`re going to collapse, and it`s not going to be good. So, if we can
keep the dollar pretty much where it is, even a little bit higher is fine,
and interest rates keep low, we`re going to be in good shape.

MATTHEWS: You`re not afraid this isn`t just another bubble situation,
where it doesn`t go wrong until it does go wrong, and then it`s really bad?

TRUMP: Well, Chris, don`t forget, at some point, it always goes wrong. No
matter where, no matter when, it always goes wrong.

We`ve been riding something very good and very strong for a long period of
time. At some point, things will happen, and they won`t be pleasant. And
you know what? We`ll get out of them, and it will be all right.

MATTHEWS: If you were the president of the United States, would you push
individual retirement accounts for Social Security?

TRUMP: I sort of think I would. Something has to be done. Social
Security is a huge problem right now, funding it. And something`s going to
have to be done. And it`s going to have to be done very quickly, actually.

I think they`re moving on different methods. But something is going to
have to be done rather quickly.


MATTHEWS: In 2005, Donald Trump was back, this time to promote his plan
for the World Trade Center site, to rebuild the Twin Towers.

He had some harsh words for the planned Freedom Tower, now called One World
Trade Center.


MATTHEWS: What role? Will you lead a coalition to stop Governor Pataki
from his strong support for the Freedom Tower?

TRUMP: Well, there`s not much of a role I can take.

It all started when “The New York Post” called me and asked my opinion.
And I`m the biggest developer in New York, by far. I have done just about,
I guess, everything you can do in the world of real estate.

And I see what is happening down there, and it`s a mess. And it is a
shame. It is really a shame. We have a great opportunity.

And, you know, the terrorists win. If we build this job the way it is, the
terrorists win. If we rebuild the World Trade Center, but a story taller
and stronger, then we win.

I mean, I don`t want to have the terrorists win, Chris. And that`s what is
going to happen if we build this pile of junk.


MATTHEWS: Up next, I grill Trump on the issue that fueled his political
rise, his wholehearted embrace of birtherism.

Plus, one of the rare times Trump was cornered in an interview, when I
pushed him last spring on the red-hot issue of abortion rights.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to this special edition of
HARDBALL, “20 Years of Trump”.

Donald Trump`s political rise coincided with the birther movement, the
bogus claim that President Obama wasn`t born in the United States. As he
campaigned for president in 2015 and 2016, President Trump refused to
disavow his past comments.

Well, after the Republican primary debate, I interviewed the candidate and
I pressed him on the topic of birtherism. Let`s watch.


MATTHEWS: Is Donald Trump honest when he says that Barack Obama isn`t a
legitimate president?



MATTHEWS: It`s a good question because –


TRUMP: I didn`t say you couldn`t. I didn`t say you couldn`t. I knew you
were going to –

MATTHEWS: You can`t stop me.

TRUMP: – because, you know, I should – I should – no, I can`t. I
should not tell you this, but I do watch you a lot, so I knew you were
going to ask that question.

MATTHEWS: Well, because, it`s the president of the United States.


TRUMP: I don`t talk about that anymore. You know, the problem with
talking about the question –

MATTHEWS: You get to answer the questions you like.

TRUMP: By the way, this guy – this guy is a total professional. I have
to tell you.


TRUMP: I don`t answer because you know what? If I do answer it, that`s
all people want to talk about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to have to answer it in the general
election. You`re going to have to answer in the general election.

MATTHEWS: Are you going to take the Oval Office, the president leading the
office is legitimate?

TRUMP: But I don`t answer that question because once I answer, they don`t
want to talk about the economy. They don`t want to talk about –

MATTHEWS: No, it`s over. You know, we Catholics believe in confession.
You say you were wrong and you move. Do you really believe this guy is an
illegitimate president?

TRUMP: I don`t want to answer the question. Did you have a good time?
Was it a good interview?

MATTHEWS: This? I want you for a longer time but thank you, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: We`ll do it. I would love to.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Trump, I do think that`s a blemish. I think it`s your
original sin.

TRUMP: Now, I know how you feel. I know how you feel.

MATTHEWS: I think I`m an American, I think our presidents should be


TRUMP: I understand. I understand. I know –


MATTHEWS: I think there`s a little ethnic aspect to it. I don`t like it.
He`s African-American and we`re saying he is not a real president. I don`t
like that. It`s not a good thing about you. But you`re a mixed bag. I`m
allowed to say you`re a mixed bag.


TRUMP: I understand. Have a good time.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for coming over here.


MATTHEWS: In March of 2016, candidate Trump joined me for a HARDBALL
college tour. He made news on a wide range of topics. Early on, I asked
him about his plan to fight terrorism and his very controversial call to
ban Muslims from coming to the United States.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about ISIS. It`s the number one concern of a lot of
people since last week.

TRUMP: Right.

MATTHEWS: How do you beat people – now, when we fought the Germans or the
Italians and, you know, the army puts their hands up at the end because
they know it`s hopeless.

TRUMP: Right.

MATTHEWS: How do you fight –

TRUMP: It`s called uniforms.

MATTHEWS: And how do you fight people who wrap themselves in dynamite?
They get up, brush their teeth in the morning, shave I suppose in some
cases, they go off to the airport with the idea of blowing themselves up,
killing themselves that day, that morning. How do you beat an army like
that, because this gets down to something that we haven`t dealt with before
in our history? How do we beat that kind of mentality?

TRUMP: We have to be so tough and so vigilant, and we have to do things,
frankly, that we`ve never done before.

MATTHEWS: But they want to die for their cause.

TRUMP: Maybe they do, and some of them do. And I – you know, a lot of
people are trying to figure out why they do this, how they do this.

MATTHEWS: They`re recruited.

TRUMP: Are they drugged out? Tell me.

MATTHEWS: They`re recruited.

TRUMP: Are they drugged out when they do it? What`s going on when they
walk in and they blow themselves up? Are they all drugged out? Is
somebody drugging them? There`s a lot of things going on.

And you know, when I talked about we have to be very careful because we
have people coming into this country, it`s a very bad situation. We have
thousands and thousands of people coming into our country. We have no idea
where they come from, who they are.

MATTHEWS: But oftentimes, it`s the second or first generation. It`s not
the first wave of immigrants. These people in Belgium had been living
there. They were born there. They`re Belgians.

And so, how do you deal with that situation?

TRUMP: Well, look at the guys in Boston, the Boston bomber. They came
here as young kids –

MATTHEWS: They were here – they were – so what do you with – OK. OK.

TRUMP: – and they became radicalized.

MATTHEWS: Does banning their entry into the country, even temporarily,
encourage them to be on our side against the terrorists or encourages them
to be on the other side?

TRUMP: I think banning – I think banning until we figure out what`s going
on is an important thing. And I take a lot of heat for it and a lot of
people like me for it, to be honest with you.

But, Chris, there`s something going on.


MATTHEWS: But there`s 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. And they`re all
getting the message from Donald Trump, who`s leading the fight for the
Republican nomination for president, saying, “Stay out of my country.”

How does that encourage them to fight ISIS?

TRUMP: Chris –

MATTHEWS: How does that encourage them to fight the bad guys?

TRUMP: OK, let me – they have a problem too. They have a big problem.

MATTHEWS: But if we say go away –

TRUMP: I have been told by more Muslims who are saying, what are you doing
is a great thing, not a bad thing.

The two people in San Bernardino –

MATTHEWS: Are any Muslims telling you that?

TRUMP: I have actually – believe it or not, I have a lot of friends that
are Muslim and they call me.


TRUMP: In most cases, they`re very rich Muslims, OK?

MATTHEWS: But do they get in the country?

TRUMP: But they do call me.

They`ll come in.

MATTHEWS: How do you let them in?

TRUMP: They`ll come in. And you`ll have exceptions.

MATTHEWS: But you –

TRUMP: Wait, wait, wait.

Look, Chris, Chris, with the San Bernardino situation –


TRUMP: – many people saw that apartment with bombs all over the

MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree with that.

TRUMP: Bombs on table.

MATTHEWS: You see something, say something.

TRUMP: Not one person –


TRUMP: – with all the people that said – they said it`s racial
profiling. That`s why they didn`t call.

You know why they said that? Because some lawyer said, “You know, you saw
this, you better come up with a good excuse.” They said it`s racial

A lot of people saw what was going on in that apartment. Not one Muslim,

MATTHEWS: I`m with you on this. Of course I`m with you.

But that`s not the question.

TRUMP: OK. Why didn`t they report `em?

MATTHEWS: Look, look, you`re saying ban –

TRUMP: In other words, why – but Chris, why don`t they report `em?

MATTHEWS: OK. You say ban them from entering the country. They get the
message. Everyone in the world – over 1.6 – in Indonesia, Pakistan,
everywhere, in Albania. Anywhere there`s Muslims, you know, they know you
don`t want them. So they get the message.

They`re a little more ill-disposed to fight ISIS, a little bit more after
that once they say, “The Americans don`t even like us,” don`t you think?

TRUMP: I don`t know, maybe they`ll be more disposed to fight ISIS. Maybe
they`ll say, we want to come back into America, we`ve got to solve this


TRUMP: I`m serious about that. Maybe they`ll be –

MATTHEWS: OK. Cruz, your guy.

Do you know what Cruz is pushing more? He wants patrol cars driving up
neighborhoods that he thinks are Islam – Muslim people living there,
looking into windows for plotting.

I mean, it`s an insane idea. These aren`t street criminals. They`re
plotting bombings, if they are, and they`re getting – Oh, we`re going to
go up and down the street. That`ll make them more militant against us.

TRUMP: Well, he`s toughening up his stance because my stance has been very
tough and –

MATTHEWS: What do you think of his stance? Patrol cars?

TRUMP: I think we have to look at the mosques. I think we have to be
extremely careful. We have to look at mosques.

MATTHEWS: We`re making enemies here.

TRUMP: A lot of things – we`re making enemies by doing nothing. I mean,
we`re knocking down World Trade Centers. We`re shooting planes into the


TRUMP: Probably the other plane was going towards the White House. You
have some very brave people.

MATTHEWS: All right.

TRUMP: But, you know, what are we going to do, just sit back and say we
want to be nice to everybody? We can`t be so nice.


MATTHEWS: I also asked him about his past talk on nuclear weapons. He had
said he wouldn`t rule using nuclear weapon against ISIS. Let`s watch.


Your most controversial suggestion was don`t take nuclear weapons – I
mean, you may have been hooked into this by pressing question –

TRUMP: Don`t take what?

MATTHEWS: Nuclear weapons off the table.

I have been trying to think of how we could conceivably use a nuclear
weapon in the Middle East or in Europe in fighting ISIS. Where can you –
and why put it on the table or leave it on the table if you can`t imagine
where to use it?

TRUMP: Well, I didn`t say don`t take it. I said I would be very, very
slow and hesitant to pull that trigger.

MATTHEWS: Well, why would you – why wouldn`t you just say, I don`t want
to talk about it. I don`t want to talk about nuclear weapons. Presidents
don`t talk about use of nuclear weapons.

TRUMP: The question was asked – we were talking about NATO – which, by
the way, I say is obsolete and we pay a –

MATTHEWS: But you got hooked into something you shouldn`t have talked

TRUMP: I don`t think I – well, someday, maybe.

MATTHEWS: When? Maybe?

TRUMP: Of course. If somebody hits us –

MATTHEWS: Where would we drop – where would we drop a nuclear weapon in
the Middle East?

TRUMP: Let me explain. Let me explain.

Somebody hits us –


TRUMP: – you wouldn`t fight back with a nuke?

MATTHEWS: No. To drop a nuclear weapon on a community of people that are

TRUMP: No, no, but you can`t say – first of all, you don`t want to say
take everything off the table –

MATTHEWS: No, just nuclear.

TRUMP: – because you`d be a bad negotiator if you do that.

MATTHEWS: Just nuclear.

TRUMP: Look, nuclear should be off the table. But would there be a time
when it could be used, possibly, possibly?

MATTHEWS: OK. The trouble is, when you said that, the whole world heard
it. David Cameron in Britain heard it. The Japanese, where we bombed them
in `45, heard it. They`re hearing a guy running for president of the
United States talking of maybe using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear
that about an American president.

TRUMP: Then why are we making them? Why do we make them? We had –


MATTHEWS: Because of the old mutual assured destruction which Reagan hated
and tried to get rid of.

TRUMP: I was against Iraq. I`d be the last one to use the nuclear weapon.

MATTHEWS: So can you take it off the table now?

TRUMP: Because that`s sort of like the end of the ball game.

MATTHEWS: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon on

TRUMP: I would never say that. I would never take any of my cards off the

MATTHEWS: How about Europe? We won`t use it in Europe?

TRUMP: I – I`m not going to take it off the table.

MATTHEWS: You might use it in Europe?


TRUMP: No, I don`t think so. But I`m not taking –

MATTHEWS: Well, just say it. I will never use a nuclear weapon in Europe.

TRUMP: I am not – I am not taking cards off the table.


MATTHEWS: The newsiest part of interview involved his are answer on
abortion. The future president said women who have abortions should
receive, quote, some form of punishment. It began with a question from a
young woman in the audience.


QUESTION: What is your stance on women`s rights and their right to choose
in their own reproductive health?

TRUMP: OK, well look, I mean, as you know, I`m pro-life. Right, I think
you know that, and I – with exceptions, with the three exceptions. But
pretty much, that`s my stance. Is that OK? You understand?

MATTHEWS: What should the law be on abortion?

TRUMP: Well, I have been pro-life.

MATTHEWS: I know, what should the law – I know your principle, that`s a
good value. But what should be the law?

TRUMP: Well, you know, they`ve set the law and frankly the judges – I
mean, you`re going to have a very big election coming up for that reason,
because you have judges where it`s a real tipping point.


TRUMP: And with the loss of Scalia, who was a very strong conservative –

MATTHEWS: I understand.

TRUMP: – this presidential election is going to be very important,
because when you say, what`s the law, nobody knows what the law`s going to
be. It depends on who gets elected, because somebody is going to appoint
conservative judges and somebody is going to appoint liberal judges,
depending on who wins.

MATTHEWS: I know. I never understood the pro-life position.

TRUMP: Well, a lot of people do understand.

MATTHEWS: I never understood it. Because I understand the principle, it`s
human life as people see it.

TRUMP: Which it is.

MATTHEWS: But what crime is it?

TRUMP: Well, it`s human life.

MATTHEWS: No, should the woman be punished for having an abortion?

TRUMP: Look –

MATTHEWS: This is not something you can dodge.

TRUMP: It`s a – no, no –

MATTHEWS: If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have
to deal with it under law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and
conservative Republicans would say, yes, they should be punished.

MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it`s a very serious problem. And it`s a problem
that we have to decide on. It`s very hard.

MATTHEWS: But you`re for banning it?

TRUMP: I`m going to say – well, wait. Are you going to say, put them in
jail? Are you – is that the (INAUDIBLE) you`re talking about?

MATTHEWS: Well, no, I`m asking you because you say you want to ban it.
What`s that mean?

TRUMP: I would – I am against – I am pro-life, yes.

MATTHEWS: What is ban – how do you ban abortion? How do you actually do

TRUMP: Well, you know, you go back to a position like they had where
people will perhaps go to illegal places –


TRUMP: But you have to ban it.

MATTHEWS: You banning, they go to somebody who flunked out of medical

TRUMP: Are you Catholic?

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think –

TRUMP: And how do you feel about the Catholic Church`s position?

MATTHEWS: Well, I accept the teaching authority of my church on moral

TRUMP: I know, but do you know their position on abortion?

MATTHEWS: Yes, I do.

TRUMP: And do you concur with that position?

MATTHEWS: I concur with their moral position but legally, I get to the
question – here`s my problem with it –


TRUMP: No, no, but let me ask you, but what do you say about your Church?

MATTHEWS: It`s not funny.

TRUMP: Yes, it`s really not funny. What do you say about your church?
They`re very, very strong.

MATTHEWS: They`re allowed to – but the churches make their moral
judgments. But you running for president of the United States will be
chief executive of the United States. Do you believe –

TRUMP: No, but –

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman.

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?

TRUMP: I don`t know. That I don`t know. That I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: Because I don`t want to – I frankly, I do take positions on
everything else. It`s a very complicated position.

MATTHEWS: But you say, one, that you`re pro-life, meaning you want to ban

TRUMP: But wait a minute, wait a minute. But the Catholic Church is pro-

MATTHEWS: No, let`s not talk about my religion.

TRUMP: No, no, I am talking about your religion. Your religion – I mean,
you say you`re a very good Catholic. Your religion is your life. Let me
ask you this.

MATTHEWS: I didn`t say very good. I said I`m Catholic. And secondly, I`m
asking – you`re running for president.

TRUMP: No, no –

MATTHEWS: I`m not.

TRUMP: Chris – Chris.

MATTHEWS: I`m asking you, what should a woman face if she chooses to have
an abortion?

TRUMP: I`m not going to do that.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I`m not going to play that game.


TRUMP: You have –

MATTHEWS: You said you`re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: That means banning abortion.

TRUMP: And so is the Catholic Church pro-life.

MATTHEWS: But they don`t control the – this isn`t Spain, the church
doesn`t control the government.

TRUMP: What is the punishment under the Catholic Church? What is the –

MATTHEWS: Let me give something from the New Testament: Render unto Caesar
the things that are Caesar`s, and to God the things that are God`s. Don`t
ask me about my religion.

TRUMP: No, no –

MATTHEWS: I`m asking you. You want to be president of the United States.

TRUMP: You told me that –

MATTHEWS: You tell me what the law should be.

TRUMP: I have – I have not determined –

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what the law should be. You say you`re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: What`s that mean?

TRUMP: With exceptions. I am pro-life. I have not determined what the
punishment would be.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: Because I haven`t determined it.

MATTHEWS: When you decide to be pro-life, you should have thought of it.
Because –

TRUMP: No, you could ask anybody who is pro-life –

MATTHEWS: OK, here`s the problem – here`s my problem with this. If you
don`t have a punishment for abortion – I don`t believe in it, of course –
people are going to find a way to have an abortion.

TRUMP: You don`t believe in what?

MATTHEWS: I don`t believe in punishing anybody for having an abortion.

TRUMP: OK, fine. OK.

MATTHEWS: Of course not. I think it`s a woman`s choice.

TRUMP: So you`re against the teachings of your church?

MATTHEWS: I believe, I have a view – and a moral view. But I believe we
live in a free country, and I don`t want to live in a country so fascistic
that it could stop a person from making that decision.

TRUMP: But then you are –

MATTHEWS: That would be so invasive –

TRUMP: I know, but I`ve heard you speaking –

MATTHEWS: – so determined of a society that I wouldn`t be able – one we
are familiar with. And Donald Trump, you wouldn`t be familiar with.

TRUMP: But I`ve heard you speaking so highly about your religion and your


TRUMP: Your church is very, very strongly, as you know, pro-life.


TRUMP: What do you say to your church?

MATTHEWS: I say, I accept your moral authority. In the United States, the
people make the decisions, the courts rule on what`s in the Constitution,
and we live by that. That`s why I say.

TRUMP: Yes, but you don`t live by it because you don`t accept it. You
can`t accept it. You can`t accept it. You can`t accept it.

MATTHEWS: Can we go back to matters of the law and running for president
because matters of the law, what I`m talking about, and this is the
difficult situation you`ve placed yourself in.

By saying you`re pro-life, you mean you want to ban abortion. How do you
ban abortion without some kind of sanction? Then you get in that very
tricky question of a sanction, a fine on human life, which you call murder?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: A fine, imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: What about the guy that gets her pregnant? Is he responsible
under the law for these abortions? Or is he not responsible for an

TRUMP: Well, it hasn`t – it hasn`t – different feelings, different
people. I would say no.

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re usually involved.


MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with Trump Watch. You`re watching
HARDBALL, a special edition, “20 Years of Trump”.


MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Monday, July 3rd, 2017.

As you can see watching Donald Trump over the years, he`s much today as he
was before, peripatetic, jumping lightly from one topic to another, engaged
in national topics, but only to a degree. When it comes to issues of
national life, he spread himself widely, if not deeply. What you don`t get
from him is a sense he has shown the patience or had the interest to dig
into the consequences of his positions or to absorb the trade-offs that
come with them.

That said, you can spot the ambition, that unique human ingredient that
separates those who achieve the American presidency as well as those who
try for it.

As we Americans take this young, unseasoned presidency to heart and look to
its endurance, look to the prospects for the secession, this factor of
ambition is dangerous to overlook, because as it was in the electoral
success of Donald Trump, so will it be to the success of who comes to
challenge him. The man or woman who stands on the stage with Trump in 2020
will have one undeniable human attribute, an ego as huge as Mr. Trump`s,
someone able to challenge him not just in intellect or national interest,
but in the moment. He or she will have to look him in the eye and take him
down face-to-face, matching him point for point, hopefully with the added
weapon of the truth.

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

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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