Trump: Mueller appointment unconstitutional. TRANSCRIPT: 06/07/2018. Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: June 7, 2018
Guest: Kate Brower
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: From America`s mayor to Trump`s attack dog.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
If you`ve got a dog, a famous mobster once said, you don`t have to bark.
As we meet tonight, Donald Trump the President of the United States, we
have to remind ourselves, has got himself one nasty Rottweiler, his name
Having gotten New York and the country through 9/11, he`s no wings to get
his fellow Manhattanite through a ground zero scandal. The Trump`s gang
into bed with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Here`s Rudy. I
have got a better question. Was Donald Trump ever in bed with a porn star
by the screen name of Stormy Daniels? Answer from Rudy, no. I know, Rudy
says, because first lady Melania Trump says he wasn`t.
Well, when you are Donald Trump and you are facing the hangman this is how
you fight and this is exactly how his lawyer fixer Rudy Giuliani is
fighting. The former New York City mayor is legal council of the president
is now attacking adult film star Stormy Daniels personally telling an
audience over in Israel that she is not someone he respects because of her
profession. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: I respect all human beings. I
even have to respect, you know, criminals. But I`m sorry, I don`t respect
a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a
woman who has respect for herself as a woman and as a person and isn`t
going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.
So Stormy, you want to bring a case, let me cross examine you. I don`t
think there`s a slight suspicion that it`s true when you look at Stormy
Daniels. I know Donald Trump. And look at his three wives, right?
Beautiful women, classy women, women of great substance. Stormy Daniels?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, since he was hired in April, Rudy Giuliani has staged a
bombastic PR campaign on behalf of his client, the President, trashing
anyone who challenges him. Daniels, however, has proven to be a formidable
and enduring adversary. Don`t you think? And given the opportunity to
withdraw his comments, however, Giuliani declined.
Asked by NBC News if he was trying to undermine Daniels` credibility,
Giuliani said I am not undermining her credibility. I`m pointing out that
she has no credibility.
Well, the personal attack comes a day after Miss Daniels and her lawyer,
Michael Avenatti, filed another lawsuit against Michael Cohen. And this
morning Avenatti, a frequent Trump antagonist, hit black at Giuliani.
Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` LAWYER: Is this the message that we want
to send to the world? Is this the message that we want to send to our
mothers, our daughters, our sisters, that this is the way that we look at
women, this is the way that we disrespect women? This is an absolute
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Giuliani also attacked special counsel Robert Mueller, of
course, and former FBI director James Comey, of course. Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: They are a group of 13 highly partisan Democrats that make up
the Mueller team excluding him are trying very, very hard to frame him. To
get him in trouble when he hasn`t done anything wrong.
I`m very, very disappointed in Comey. Comey I think is the real villain of
this whole thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, “the New York Times” recently reported that the President
asked where his Roy Cohn was given Rudy Giuliani`s recent attacks like
this. It seems like he has found him.
For more I`m joined by Zerlina Maxwell, director of Progressive Programming
from Sirius XM radio and an MSNBC political analyst, Kim Wehle is a former
assistant U.S. attorney, and Eli Stokols, White House reporter for “the
L.A. Times” and an MSNBC political analyst.
I want to go to Zerlina on this. You know, I don`t know. I have been –
it was Mickey Cone (ph), the mobster, who said you if you have a dog, you
don`t have to bark. Was that Rudy`s job to bark?
ZERLINA MAXWELL, PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR, SIRIUS XM: I think so.
I think that he is going on television and saying what President Trump
really wants to say because as you know he has very infrequently commented
about Stormy Daniels at all. You know, first, he said he didn`t pay her,
then admitted that he did pay her.
And I think that this is textbook misogyny coming from Rudy Giuliani. He
is attacking Stormy Daniels` credibility based on what she does and chooses
to do as a profession. And that has nothing to do with whether she is
telling the truth. And so, I think that it`s an ugly form of misogyny that
we are seeing. It is completely dated and inappropriate in this context.
And I think that, you know, Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti are a thorn
in the President`s side and they will continue to be a thorn in the
President`s side because clearly based on the facts as we know them, she is
credible. Many of the things she has alleged and said have borne out to be
true. And so, I think that the President, has been frustrated and Rudy
Giuliani is expressing those frustrations on every television show he can
possibly go on.
MATTHEWS: Kim Wehle, what do you make of the trust by profession if you`re
a porn star, you`re not to be trusted. I have known a lot of politicians
that lie frequently.
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, my understanding is she
has her own production company. So – and, you know, this is not a woman
to be taken lightly.
But the question here from a legal perspective, most lawyers will talk
about the law and the facts. And if they don`t have that, they are going
on the attack. We don`t know the extent to which the President and his
team is worried now about what Stormy Daniels might say relating to bigger
issues if put under oath. Listen. You know, she filed a lawsuit about
alleged contacts between Mr. Cohen who was a key to the Trump kingdom and
her former lawyer, number one. Number two is –.
MATTHEWS: Is Rudy smart to deny the substance of the President having had
this one-night stand or whatever you want to call it with Stormy? Why are
they denying what we all believe happened and say that Melania told me so?
WEHLE: Well, again, it`s undermining her credibility. And also I think
sending a message to other would be witnesses, women who might have
complaints against Mr. Trump that listen, if you come out publicly, I`m
going to bully you into silence. And we have seen this in other places.
We have seen this with members of Congress. I mean, people are really
cowed by being outed on twitter. And that is really a problem.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m not sure what happened to this case because she looks
pretty tough to me, Avenatti. As I mentioned during that appearance in
Israel, Rudy Giuliani told that crowd that first lady Melania Trump
believes President Trump`s denials in connection with Stormy Daniels.
However – apparent rebuke, I would say a strong one, the spokesperson for
the first lady tells NBC News quote, you are going to love this.
Quote “I don`t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on
anything with Mr. Giuliani.”
Eli, let`s talk politics here. He made a mistake, Giuliani, quoting the
first lady on a question of marital infidelity which you should not talk to
a first lady about, and it turns out the first lady is not backing him up.
ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, his Roy Cohn impression, he
is purporting to speak for all sorts of people, not just the first lady but
also for the Mueller investigation saying that Mueller has said, oh, this
will be over before the midterms by the end of the summer. That`s not
true. He is just making it up.
And you know, he said that Kim Jong-un came back begging for summit.
Today, secretary of state Mike Pompeo also rebuked Giuliani in the briefing
room when he said I`m sorry, but Rudy, he may have been making a joke, I
don`t know what he was saying.
MATTHEWS: Has Rudy lost it? Because – I don`t mean lost, I mean lost in
his political sense? Sometimes I think Bill Clinton loses occasionally in
terms of political, you know, tonality.
Why would you on the eve of a probably a very important summit to put it
lightly, trash the other side and say they came begging for this job for
this chance to be with the President? It is only going to make it harder
for the President to get a deal from the guy, Kim. Just common deal
WEHLE: Well, yes. I mean, maybe he wants to blow it up so he can say it
was Kim Jong-un who actually did not come to the table because of –.
MATTHEWS: Who gave him license to kill?
WEHLE: It hasn`t been set up in a thoughtful diplomatic way.
MATTHEWS: Well, Rudy Giuliani took credit along with the President –
well, I had a great idea there. Can I see that again? I thought I was
seeing something there. It took along with the President for bringing Kim
Jong-un back to the negotiating table. Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: We said we are not going to have a summit under those
circumstances. Well Kim Jong-un got on his hands and knees and begged for
it which is exactly the position you want to put him in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Zerlina, I`m just going to get back to you because this is
such a free-for-all. Rudy Giuliani, I don`t know why he picked that spot
for all this. He is obviously trying to take advantage of the fact we
moved the embassy under Trump`s tutelage or whatever. But the thing he got
to ask about is he is lie, as Eli says, this guy is an expert on
everything. He can do foreign policy. HE can do everything. He is
speaking for Trump on everything now including his wife. He is speaking
for his wife. He never talked to his wife according to the wife`s
spokesperson. He never talked to the President how he wants to apparently
blow up this summit next week. I don`t get it.
MAXWELL: I don`t get it either. I don`t know why Rudy Giuliani, the
President`s lawyer on Russia is in Israel talking about North Korea. I`m
completely confused about the entire thing. I don`t understand why he is
answering questions like that and speaking as if he is in these briefings
with the secretary of state and the President talking through and preparing
for the meeting with Kim Jong-un. And I don`t understand why we are
reporting out the things that Rudy Giuliani is saying as if they aren`t –
they actually happened, right. I think that Eli pointed out that he has
been rebuked twice now first by Melania and also by Pompeo because he is
getting facts wrong.
So I think that, you know, it`s important to quote him and to say like this
is the President`s Russia lawyer talking on all these other issues. But I
don`t think we should take what he is saying about North Korea seriously
because he is not in those meetings.
MATTHEWS: Well, Zerlina, I can`t engage in prairie review here. I can`t
decide whether I`m going to believe somebody before they talk, anyway. But
somebody else will, here.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, to make your point, was asked about Rudy`s
comments after the fact. And here is what the secretary of state said
about the President`s lawyer who seems to be acting like secretary of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Rudy doesn`t speak for the
administration when it comes to this negotiation and this set of issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Eli, it seems like he is going all over the place. He is
breaking out of the rails. He is leaving his lane saying anything he wants
to appeal with the audience but he is basically I think going back to one
strategy of Trump`s. Divide the country between those who are for Trump
and those hose are against him. And that can be minorities, the press, it
can be anybody. But circle the wagons. And it seems to work.
STOKOLS: Right. He is coming outside the lines to use yet another, you
know, trite idiom here. But I think talking about some of these other
things, it does maybe undermine the points he is trying to make related to
the legal case a little bit.
But I think what they are trying and what we are seeing on the whole is a
political response to a criminal investigation. And why do you do that?
Maybe because they don`t have a great fact set, so.
But it`s also something that in a country that is this divided when we are
in an age of almost absolute tribalism right now, it is a response that
might make sense. I think that does make the most sense for them because
there are so many people who are just – their minds are made up on what
they think of the Russia probe. They either think the President colluded
or anything. No amount of evidence will convince them that he did. And I
think Rudy is just trying to borrow a page from Roy Cohn to go – to
ratchet it up, escalate, to street fight, to bully everybody into
submission and to just make a muddle of the facts.
MATTHEWS: That`s what he wants. He wants the attorney general to be
(INAUDIBLE). He wants Giuliani to be the role model for his attorney
general. And Sessions won`t play that.
Anyway, Giuliani`s comments about Stormy Daniels echo familiar or similar
attacks the President made during the campaign when more than a dozen women
accused the then candidate of unwelcomed sexual advances. Let`s watch had.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These events never ever
happened and the people that said them fully understand you take a look at
these people. You study these people. And you will understand also.
These people are horrible people. They are horrible, horrible liars.
I have no idea who these women are, I have no idea.
When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said I don`t think
All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, if you are a Trump person, you are a Trump all the
way. You are willing to go along with him trashing the looks of these
women which are somehow being used as a way of denying he had an affair or
night with them or whatever. He trashes them, denies their existence,
denies any credibility on their part and he is President of the United
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEHLE: Yes. And I think the bigger picture these people don`t understand
is this is how democracies actually start to crumble. You blow up the rule
of law, ignore the rules of the game, and attack your opponents here
including the justice department, Mueller, career prosecutors, the FBI.
You incite violence with, you know, the kinds of language that he is using
with respect to these people and then, you put in your own referees to
decide how the game is played. And then at the end of the day, we don`t
have a democracy by the people anymore. And I think the Trump camp that
that Trump team, the people that think he is speaking some kind of truth
need to step back and ask themselves what kind of future do we want for our
children and grandchildren because it`s really on the line right now.
MATTHEWS: Zerlina Maxwell, Kim Wehle, thank you. Eli Stokols.
Coming up, Trump`s high stake gamble with North Korea is coming up this
week. He says he doesn`t have a prayer. He doesn`t have to prepare he
said. (INAUDIBLE) this nuclear summit. He says it`s all about attitude.
Is that a recipe for success over in Singapore? It`s all about attitude or
Plus, another day and more bad headlines for the EPA administrator Mr.
Scott Pruitt. Pruitt had to be told to stop eating his lunch at the White
House mess. He is there too often. The heat just keep coming for this
guy. He is the kind of guy as we knew in school that gets caught. And he
gets caught pre couple days.
By the way, if you are not convinced how many vice President Mike Pence
wants to be like his boss, you need to see this video. Watch how Trump
puts his water bottle – there he goes and pence does exactly the same
thing within seconds. Robotically. There he goes again. Watch this.
Finally let me finish, that`s like a dog trick. We are going to finish
tonight with Trump watch. He is not going to like tonight, I can tell you.
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: President Trump took another shot today at retiring Republican
Senator Jeff Flake. Trump tweeted “how could Jeff Flake who is setting
record low polling numbers in Arizona and was therefore humiliatingly
forced out of his own Senate seat without even a fight think about running
for office? Even a lower one again? Let`s face it, he`s a Flake.”
Well, Senator Flake who is a frequent critic of this President has not
ruled out a primary challenge to Trump for the presidency in 2020. Earlier
today he responded to the President`s attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the reaction to the President going after you on
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: No reaction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going for a lower office, are you?
FLAKE: No, I hadn`t heard that. So, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you forced out of the seat because of how
unpopular you are? That`s what he`s saying?
FLAKE: I have said many times, this is a tough party right now for a
Republican like me. So it is tough to get through a primary if you agree
with the President`s positions or condone his behavior. So I just can`t do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think, John, that we are going to – we are going to have a great
success. I don`t think it will be in one meeting. I think it will take
longer than that. This has been going on many, many decades. And I really
believe that Kim Jong-un wants to do something. I think he wants to see
something incredible happen for the people of North Korea.
Normalizing relations is something I would hope to do when everything`s
complete. We would certainly hope to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Facing one of the most challenging international negotiations in recent
history, the commander-in-chief there is largely winging he says on his
own. Today, he told reporters, as you seeing there, he doesn`t think he
needs to prepare much because it`s all about attitude.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing to prepare for the summit with
TRUMP: I think I`m very well prepared. I don`t think I have to prepare
very much. It`s about attitude. It`s about willingness to get things
done. But I think I have been preparing for the summit for a long time as
has the other side. I think they have been preparing for a long time also.
So this isn`t a question of preparation. It`s a question of whether or not
people want it to happen. And we will know that very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s not all.
According to Politico, National Security Adviser John Bolton has yet to
convene even a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss the upcoming summit, which
is coming next week.
The White House`s summit planning has been unstructured, according to a
half-dozen administration officials. Trump himself has driven the
preparation almost exclusively on his own, consulting little with his
security team at all, outside of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Joining me right now is Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security
adviser to President Barack Obama. He is an MSNBC contributor now and
author of big book – there it is – “The World As It Is.” And Phil
Rucker`s White House bureau chief for “The Washington Post” and an MSNBC –
there you are – and MSNBC political analyst.
Look, both of you, go at this. I`m trying to figure this out, what even to
think about. But Trump is sort of looking at this like a night of karaoke,
like, I will do my best out there, whatever, and not that you`re ought to
deal with the high stakes on a nuclear question about which probably he`s
right, Kim Jong-un, and his people have been thinking about for years
exactly what they`re willing to give and not give.
BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
And I think what they have been thinking is that they want to consolidate
their nuclear deterrent and they want to get sanctions relief. And I got
to tell you, Chris, I did the prep work for the opening to Cuba. And I
must have met 20 times with the Cubans before we brought President Obama
The whole first meeting, I think we barely got through the Bay of Pigs
invasion. And the fact is, you have got to prepare for these things,
especially with a country who you have had no contact with, because you`re
coming in cold.
And my concern here is, they haven`t articulated what they`re trying to
achieve, on what the timeline. And he doesn`t seem to want to do the
preparation that needs Treasury people in the room for sanctions. They
need technical people in to talk about the nuclear program.
It`s not clear to me he has an understanding of even what he`s trying to
get out of the summit.
MATTHEWS: Well, as an American, I worry about the quicksand of these
Once you sit down at the chair, you got to get up and somebody`s got to
say, nice try, buddy, but I`m out of here.
MATTHEWS: And last time about we went to Panmunjom, in 1951, we sat there
for two years, two full years of blah, blah, blah.
RHODES: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: How does the president – do you think he even has figured out
what the time schedule is? We are going to try to get something on the
table before we get in there and know what we`re even aiming after? Don`t
you have to do that?
RHODES: Well, if I`m Kim Jong-un, here`s what I`m thinking, which is that
Trump wants this to be a success. Right? He`s already trying to award
himself the Nobel Prize. Right?
RHODES: And he could make some kind of empty commitment, and I will give
up my nuclear weapons someday. And there`s no clear timeline. There`s no
clear inspections regime.
And Trump will want to declare some type of victory here. And you could
have a situation where really the status quo is codified by the fact that
North Korea keeps its nuclear weapons, makes some empty gestures.
MATTHEWS: The media, the print media specially, Phil, is not going to go
easy on this guy. I don`t think Trump is going to get away with any fast
thing out there.
What do you think? The reporters covering him are going to be looking for,
will there be inspections or won`t there be? And if not, nobody`s going to
PHILIP RUCKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that`s exactly right.
We`re going to be looking for, what are the details of this deal?
It`s going to be – need to be more than a handshake and a big envelope,
but some sort of plan here to denuclearize the peninsula. And Trump is
going in having tremendous faith in sort of his charisma and ability to
persuade Kim Jong-un under his powers in kind of a face-to-face
conversation, the way you would in a real estate deal.
But, as Ben was explaining, these things are so much more complicated than
that. There`s a lot of history here. There`s a lot of details regarding
their nuclear arsenal. I think Secretary of State Pompeo has been trying
to tutor the president on that over the last few weeks.
And it`s our understanding there have been some sessions to prepare him,
but clearly he doesn`t think he needs the same level of preparation that
other presidents have done.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the scorecard.
If – I want to go with you, Phil. First, if he sits down and he realizes
in a matter of an hour or two this isn`t going anywhere, that this is just
P.R., photo-op nonsense, he`s been lured into a trap, if he gets up and
says, no, nice try, Mr. Kim Jong-un, I`m walking out of here, goodbye, I
will see you the next time you get serious, does that necessarily hate –
Trump, if he walks out?
Could he come out ahead by just saying, I tried, you cheated me into this
situation, I`m walking? Can he do that? Can he still win if he sees
nothing`s going to happen, Phil?
RUCKER: I think he…
RUCKER: Yes, yes. Sorry, I thought you were talking to Ben.
Yes, he could do that. He could certainly walk. In fact, he writes in
“Art of the Deal” that, you have to sit down for a deal in real estate, you
have got to be willing to get up and walk away. And he`s made it clear
with this summit in Singapore that he will be willing to walk away if he
feels like the deal is going badly.
And, frankly, I wouldn`t be surprised if he did because he`s such a
showman. He loves the drama.
RUCKER: And if he got up and the whole summit in Singapore and it blew up,
all it would do is create more drama and more negotiations over the next
few months to have the second summit. And where will that be and what will
And it just builds suspense for an ultimate agreement.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump leaves now for the G7 summit up in Quebec
City tomorrow. And he`s apparently not happy about that.
Phil, according your reporting, Trump has complained to aides about
spending two days up in Canada for a summit of world leaders believing the
rip is a distraction from his coming Singapore summit with un.
Anyway, the president has vented privately about Canadian Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau, as their trade tensions have spilled into public view. Of
course, Trump has griped periodically both about German Chancellor Angela
Merkel largely because they disagree on some issues and many issues and
have had an uneasy rapport, to put it lightly, as well as Prime Minister
Theresa May, whom he sees as too politically correct.
And French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted today that the non-American
members of G7 don`t mind signing a six-country agreement if need be.
Well, late this afternoon, Trump tweeted: “Please tell Prime Minister
Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the United States
massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The E.U. trade surplus
with the United States is $151 billion and Canada keeps our farmers and
others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”
So, he`s going to this.
What do you make of this? I`m going to go to you on this.
RHODES: Look, the first time I remember going to a G7 – it was a G8 back
then, before we kicked Russia out – but you feel a tremendous amount of
pride at the fact that we are the leader of the free world. And these are
our closest allies, our closest friends.
And these are the people that we would sit down and make a strategy for a
summit with a North Korea. We would do that with them on Iran or on
terrorism. And what concerns me, Chris, is they`re moving on without us.
And the role of the leader of the free world is essentially being vacated
here, because essentially you have Europe, Japan, Canada. We`re taking
actions against them with tariffs. That`s going to cause not just trade
disruptions. Years from now, when we need their help in a national
security crisis in a pinch, they`re going to remember that President Trump
called them a national security threat when he imposed those tariffs.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we have used them when we have gone after – in the first
Gulf War in a worldwide alliance, thanks to…
RHODES: In the Afghan war, they fought with us in the mountains.
And the beaches of D-Day, the Canadians were there. And to call them a
national security threat is really upending…
MATTHEWS: The Canadians were on…
MATTHEWS: … beach.
And it`s upending kind of the liberal order that we have built since World
MATTHEWS: That`s for sure.
In your new book – I, of course, want to talk about the book – you write
about the last meeting between President Obama and German Chancellor
“Obama told us that Merkel had talked to him about her looming decision on
whether to seek another term, something that she now felt more obliged to
do because of Brexit and Trump. At the end of our time in Germany, when
Obama bade her farewell, a single tear appeared in her eye, something that
none of us had ever seen before.”
You quote Obama telling you, “Angela, she is all alone.”
Does the world feel alone when Trump is here?
RHODES: Well, I think she is someone who stands for the same values that
we have stood for, for so many years.
And the feeling that she had after Brexit and the Trump election was, she
would no longer have…
MATTHEWS: Why does Trump hate her, or seem to not like her so much? She`s
RHODES: Well, she`s a tough woman. She is a pragmatist. She stands up
for what she believes.
She`s not going to play games. She`s not going to flatter Trump. Angela
Merkel is all business. And she doesn`t put up with a lot of B.S.
RHODES: And, frankly, I think that`s why you haven`t seen her kind of
chase him in any way in the same way…
MATTHEWS: I think Americans would love to get a leader like her.
RHODES: Yes, she`s as tough as they come.
MATTHEWS: A strong leader that looks out for the country, German first,
perhaps, in a sense, but very pro-European and very much world order.
RHODES: Yes. No, and took steps with us to save the global economy after
MATTHEWS: You know what she is? She`s competent.
Anyway, thank you, Ben Rhodes. Good luck with the book, “The World As It
Is,” a beautiful looking – well, I have been reading it. It`s a beautiful
And thank you, Phil Rucker. More time for you next time, but we had the
Up next: He`s been one of President Trump`s most vocal critics. Former
CIA Director John Brennan is going to walk into this room about his ongoing
war against the Mueller – well, Trump`s war with the Mueller
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: As we have seen on a near daily basis, the president issued
another round of attacks on the special counsel`s investigators today,
saying, among other things, that: “There has never been a group of people
in a case so biased or conflicted. It`s all Democrat, not democratic,
attempt to – problem about losing an election, an excuse.”
He also tweeted: “When will people start saying thank you, Mr. President,
for firing James Comey?”
Well, unfortunately, this is the kind of behavior we have come to expect
from this president. And more troubling is that by claiming the right to
pardon himself, which he`s done this week, and by declaring the Mueller
probe unconstitutional, which he said this week, the president is
attempting to put himself clearly above the law.
Considering Trump`s pretense to absolute power, it`s no surprise – there
it is – this week`s issue of “TIME” magazine shows Donald Trump preening
himself in front of a mirror that shows him as a king.
In a recent op-ed in “The Washington Post,” former CIA Director John
Brennan described how this president`s behavior is similar to that of an
authoritarian ruler who will do anything to retain power.
He writes – quote – “Mr. Trump charts his every move according to a
calculus of how it will personally help or hurt him. His strategy is to
undercut real, potential and perceived opponents. His focus is to win at
all costs, irrespective of truth, ethics, decency and many would argue the
I`m joined by himself, John Brennan, former director of the CIA and senior
national analyst here for MSNBC.
You know so much, I don`t know where to begin, except you have studied
dictatorships all around the world. What does this president have in
common with them?
JOHN BRENNAN, MSNBC SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, a lot in terms
of wanting to make sure that he alone makes all the decisions, that he
suppresses any type of opposition, that he pursues policies that are going
to ensure his continuation in power.
There are so many similarities between what I saw in authoritarian,
autocratic leaders overseas and Mr. Trump that I never thought I would see
it here in the United States. And that`s why I decided to write the op-ed.
And I`m going to continue to speak out.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about truth, because that is how he doesn`t want this
He wants – are you with me or against me is his question. He doesn`t want
to be, do you believe me or not? It`s, are you with me?
I have never seen a leader in this country who tells untruths all the time
like him. Most of them do it to protect themselves when they`re in a
pinch. But this seems to be the language of this president, saying things
that aren`t true, like none of these women had anything to do with me, none
of them. It`s all lies. Everything is lies.
And his people go, oh, OK, all right, OK. Everything`s a lie but me.
Well, unfortunately, I think our politicians have been used to hyperbole a
bit too much. But he just totally deceives the American public in terms of
his falsehoods and lies.
So, it`s not a question of embellishment. It`s a question of saying
something that clearly had happened did not. And that`s his mantra.
That`s always been his way of doing things, which is trying to say things
over and over again to convince people of the perception is really the
reality, while it`s not.
MATTHEWS: Why does he kiss Putin`s butt all the time?
Come on. You must have a theory, why he trashes everybody, everybody, both
sides of the aisle, men and women, people of color, other people. He
trashes everyone with impunity. He puts down everyone in the world, except
Vladimir Putin. What`s he up to?
MATTHEWS: Has he got something on him?
BRENNAN: Well, this is a big question.
MATTHEWS: What`s your answer? What`s your answer? Has he got something
BRENNAN: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: You don`t?
BRENNAN: But I just know that Mr. Trump throughout the course of his
business career has done some things that, as we all know, include
intimidation, threatening others, and also putting people out of business.
So, I don`t know what he might have done…
MATTHEWS: Would Putin`s intel people, would his – what do you call them -
- would his guy have the stuff on Trump?
BRENNAN: You mean their intelligence folks?
MATTHEWS: Do they have the capability to track American political figures
as they head towards the White House? Do they have the stuff on our guys?
BRENNAN: Well, unfortunately, I have very much grudging respect for
Russian intelligence security services, looking what they did at the 2016
So, they have great capability, including here in the United States. We
know that they make ample use of their cyber-capabilities to be able to
gain access and insight into what somebody might be doing as way to maybe
use it against them in a coercive matter.
So, who knows what the Russians might have? But I think the point is that
Donald Trump has continued to carry out his responsibilities of president
without the type of integrity, without the type of honesty and without the
– basically, the commitment of intellectual rigor that we really should
expect of our presidents.
We`re dealing with a lot of challenges on the international stage, as well
as the domestic stage. And as I said in the op-ed, I worked directly for
four presidents. I didn`t agree with all their policies. But I think that
they were always trying to do what was in the best interests of the
Even George W. Bush, when he invaded Iraq, I think a lot of the critics
both domestically and internationally thought he was overreaching. But he
was trying to remove a dictator. But I think Mr. Trump calculates every
move by how this is going to help or hurt Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk big picture.
And this is – before Putin came long along and for a long time, the United
States had one tremendous advantage in the world, beyond their military
power. We were the good guys. We were the country – we were the most
generous country in the world. We generally wanted peace. We wanted
allies. We had a lot of wonderful allies around the world, Europe and all
kinds of allies, Australia and Canada.
We have all kinds of – and Latin America. Good – we are part of a really
good guys alliance. And we`re a country and alliance of countries of
democracies. And we believed, all of us, in limited government. All the
countries I mentioned believed in the limited government and the rights of
man and women against the power of government.
Since Trump`s come in, I think he`s begun somehow in some awful way to grow
toward being like Putin, to being the kind of person Putin wants on his
sleazy low level of world view, where they no longer have a moral advantage
as the good guys.
It seems like that`s what he wanted, was this guy we`re looking at.
Yes, he relates to strongmen. He relates to authoritarian leaders, whether
it be the Dutertes in Philippines.
MATTHEWS: Is this what they wanted when they messed with our elections, to
get a guy like Trump in and then make Trump more like Putin?
BRENNAN: Well, I think they see that he is somebody who is going to be
very transactional, they will be able to deal with him, that he`s not going
to be driven by principles and the moral compass that the United States has
basically led the free world for the last…
MATTHEWS: Just be another bully, a world of bullies.
BRENNAN: Yes. And that he`s not going to pay attention to the things like
human rights and other things in terms of spreading democracy around the
And there`s a good piece in “The Financial Times” today.
MATTHEWS: Well, they got a sheep, didn`t they? They got a sheep.
BRENNAN: Well, exactly.
And this piece in “The Financial Times” says that the United States for
many years has been the shepherd of the flock, of the G7 flock and others.
Now the shepherd is no longer there.
MATTHEWS: And we`re the wolf.
And so they`re looking for, where is the United States? This America
first, America first mantra…
MATTHEWS: Well, we will see this weekend like this.
What`s going to happen in Singapore? Anything good?
BRENNAN: I think I`m very much where Ben Rhodes was, that I think Kim
Jong-un has played this masterfully.
He escalated in order to de-escalate, and so be able to have a plateau of
military capability. But I don`t think he has any intention of giving up
his nuclear stockpile.
I think he`s going to play this. Trump mentioned about possibly a second
day in terms of a summit. Maybe he`s going to storm out the first day and
then go back the second day and say that he got the North Koreans to make
MATTHEWS: Sounds great.
BRENNAN: And I think he`s going to say that there is this process.
But I don`t think that we`re going to see a denuclearized North Korea.
MATTHEWS: You know what you have just described? The old way of
Pennsylvania politics. Spend the first day of the campaign completely
trashing your opponent, saying he`s no damn good, and the second half
talking about the future of Pennsylvania.
BRENNAN: You`re right.
MATTHEWS: That`s what he`s doing, thanks to Kim Jong-un as part of the old
Thank you, former CIA Director John Brennan. It`s great to have you on.
BRENNAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: There`s plenty to get to with the HARDBALL Roundtable
tonight, from another embarrassing headline – you won`t believe it –
about Scott Pruitt. He keeps stepping in it. And ,by the way, he`s
supposed to be against pollution.
And now the latest NBC polling ahead of the midterm elections looks very
good for the Democrats to grab the House. It looks all good for them.
Plus, we know Vice President Pence likes to follow Trump`s lead, but this
is ridiculous, a video showing Pence mimicking – look – like a robot,
during a meeting yesterday has gone viral.
That`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL.
It`s so great.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
There are new signs that the Democrats, yes, the Democratic Party, are
well-positioned now heading into the fall midterm elections. Here`s the
new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, it shows Democrats with a ten-
point – that`s enough to win the House – ten-point advantage over
Republicans in what`s calls the generic congressional ballot which is who
are you going to vote for.
Of those preferring a Democratically-controlled Congress, this even better,
54 percent say because they`re opposed to President Trump. They`re not
voting for the Democratic program, they`re voting against Trump. And by a
staggering 25-point margin, voters said they`re more likely to back a
candidate who promises to be as a check on President Trump.
Well, the irony is that the same poll shows nearly two-thirds of voters are
satisfied with the U.S. economy, which has continued to boom under Trump.
For more, I`m joined by HARDBALL roundtable. Michael Steele, of course,
former RNC chairman and MSNBC political analyst, and Kate Brower, author of
the great new book, it`s so beautifully written, “First in Line:
Presidents, Vice Presidents and Pursuit of Power,” and Sam Stein, politics
editor of “The Daily Beast” and an MSNBC contributor.
OK. Let`s talk about there. I saw all good news there for the Dems. Your
thoughts? Today`s numbers.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think that`s right. I
think the generic has moved back towards them. It had been trending more
towards Republicans the last couple weeks or so. But I think as we get
into the summer months, it will be a little bit of fluctuation.
The hard line here, Chris, is, somewhere in that 10 to 12-point range for
Democrats going into September October which is a problem for.
MATTHEWS: What do they need to win the House, six or seven or eight?
Somewhere in there?
STEELE: Somewhere around eight, yes.
MATTHEWS: Yes, somewhere around eight.
Kate, the Democrats don`t have to do much just watch Trump in disgust.
KATE BROWER, AUTHOR, “FIRST IN LINE”: I mean, every midterm, I mean, 2010,
President Obama talked about getting a shellacking. In 2006, Bush said he
got a thumping.
I mean, they – even in totally normal White Houses, they usually have
this. So, now it`s –
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
Sam, follow up on that. The normal tendency of voters not to go back to
the return window at the department store in the old days but to say let`s
keep this guy under rein.
SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it`s also amplified in this
case by the shock that many of the voters felt in 2016 to wake up to the
election results, including some voters who maybe didn`t vote or cast
ballots for the Republican ticket even though they were holding their nose
about Trump and then under the idea that he wouldn`t win.
What I think is the most troubling though in these numbers for Republicans
is precisely the economic number at the end. People actually think the
country`s in a decent spot, they think it`s going well. They`re excited
about the possibility of a nuclear deal in North Korea.
And even with all that context, for the Republican Party to have those type
of generic congressional ballot numbers is very problematic because there`s
not much room for growth.
STEIN: Things can get worse. I don`t know where you improve it from here
if you`re Trump.
STEELE: Not only not enough room for growth but not enough to lay down the
argument that you got a tax cut, right? You love that tax cut.
STEIN: Well, that tax cut is old news at this juncture.
MATTHEWS: We have more. We got to move on.
The negative – the headlines continue, believe it or not, for EPA
Administrator Scott Pruitt. On Tuesday, “The Washington Post” reported
that Pruitt used his cabinet position to try to get his wife a click filet.
MATTHEWS: Chick-fil-A, I`m sorry, it`s not my favorite place.
MATTHEWS: Here`s what Pruitt had to say about that, about his Chick-fil-A
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself.
I love, she loves, we love, Chick-fil-A is a franchise of faith, and it`s
one of the best in the country. We need more of them in Tulsa. We need
more of them across the country. So, anyway, it`s an exciting time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s not going to deal with conflict of interest. Anyway, he
certainly needs a new place to eat. “Politico” reports today that Pruitt
has been rebuked by the White House staff after having spent too many days
over there for the cheap lunches at the mess, a restaurant open only to
officials and cabinet members.
Quote: The message was clear. According to one person close to Pruitt, we
love having Mr. Pruitt but it`s not meant for every day use.
In other words, stop coming every day.
“The Washington Post” also reported that Pruitt enlisted his full time
security detail for things like picking up dry cleaning and taking him to
buy his favorite moisturizing lotion. Isn`t that sweet? I don`t know what
to say. I`ll say it 100 times, some people get caught. Some people never
get caught. This guy gets caught every hour.
STEELE: But, you know, as long as Donald Trump doesn`t care, he`s good as
gold. That`s the problem.
STEIN: Hold on, the best part about that video when he explained the
Chick-fil-A is the very end where he goes, it`s exciting times.
It is definitely not exciting times for Scott Pruitt.
STEIN: These are miserable times.
MATTHEWS: Finally, one person who knows how to stay on President Trump`s
good side is Vice President Mike Pence. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump has been
making history since the first day of this administration.
I know I speak on behalf of the entire cabinet and of millions of Americans
when I say congratulations and thank you. I`m deeply humbled as your vice
president, to be able to be here.
It`s the greatest privilege of my life to be as vice president to President
Trump. He`s a man of his word. He`s a man of action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Kate, you got this. Tell us – it seems Pence may be taking his
appreciation for Trump`s action in a new direction.
At yesterday`s FEMA event, Donald Trump remove a water bottle from the
table, then pence did the exact same thing. Look at there. Oh, my god.
It`s not the only time Pence mirrored his boss. Video from a 2016 episode
shows Trump waving to a crowd with Pence mimicking every wave.
It`s – Kate, you`ve been writing about the vice president in your
beautiful book “First in Line.” Why does he have to be such a sycophant?
BROWER: Well, I interviewed Pence`s brother Greg, and he said –
MATTHEWS: You couldn`t get to Pence, could you?
BROWER: No, and I interviewed every living former vice president. I had
two interviews, one was cancelled at the last minute because there`s no
point in them talking honestly to a reporter, right, because if he looks
good, Trump will be mad and if he looks bad, it`s bad for them.
But he said his father reminds him of – Donald Trump reminds him of his
father, his father was a big bully who occasionally whipped his kids with a
belt, really tough guy.
MATTHEWS: Oh my god.
BROWER: And that was really surprising to me. And you know, they had
these chaperoned lunches, too, that are really interesting, because, you
know, normally, these are unstaffed lunches between presidents and vice
presidents and his chief of staff and John Kelly`s sit in on their lunches
to kind of keep the conversation on track.
MATTHEWS: Is this like the beer summit where they had to enlarge the group
so the two can get along better?
BROWER: Yes, it`s really strange. I don`t know if it`s a to make sure if
something comes up about the Russia investigation, there`s someone else
STEIN: It might it be because there are no more two oddly matched
MATTHEWS: – people having are marital difficulties always want to go on
vacations with another couple to soften it up a little bit. I`ve been
through these things, anyway, from the other end.
The roundtable is sticking with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Well, the HARDBALL roundtable is sticking with us. And up next,
they`re going to tell me something I don`t know. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.
Kate, tell me something I don`t know. I know you got something.
BROWER: So, at the final decisive meeting at Bedminster Golf Club, the
Trump elder children were all gathered around and Melania Trump was there,
and they were deciding who Trump`s VP was going to be. He was considering,
you know, Newt Gingrich, at one point, Chris Christie. And she insisted
that he pick someone clean. And those were her words, clean, someone who
doesn`t have any messy financial entanglements, rumors of affairs.
And so, in a way, I think that`s really surprising that he went with her
advice and she had any political savvy at all to want to make sure that she
knows her husband.
MATTHEWS: It was a smart move.
MATTHEWS: Good for her. She may be a little better person sometimes than
the other end of that one.
Michael Steele, thank you. Kate Brower and Sam Stein.
When we return, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch. You`re watching
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Thursday, June 7th, 2018.
There`s a memorable scene in the great film “A Man For All Seasons” when
King Henry VIII of England steps off his boat into a long slog of mud and
seeing his embarrassing situation, his courtiers, all of them jump into the
mud with him.
Welcome to the court of Donald Trump. What is it about those courtiers of
his that makes them behave like those of King Henry`s, so ready to jump
into the slop that Donald Trump seems to actually enjoy?
Look at the vice president. He used to be a somebody, got elected to the
Congress of the United States all by himself, got elected governor of his
home state of Indiana all by himself and now, he foppishly acts like a lap
dog. I said acts like because he`s been a bigger boy than that.
Speaking of canines, why is Rudy Giuliani running around Israel saying
stuff about Stormy Daniels? OK, she`s a porn actor. We know that. So,
why is he rubbing it in, saying that she`s not to be believed because she
is a porn star?
Sorry, I don`t get connection. We have known presidents, Democratic and
Republican, that lied to us. Since when does office or education or job
description separate the truth tellers from the liars? Tell us that, Rudy
And better question, I know why Trump wants you to do what you`re doing,
but why are you, Rudy Giuliani, doing it? Trump`s going to move onto the
next scandal, the next set of fixers and flacks to defend himself, and
you`re going to get stuck with the stuff you`ve been saying and you`re
going to have to explain it when this fiasco is long forgotten.
I liked you as mayor of New York. We thought you were a Jet from your last
cigarette to your last dying day. What are you doing hanging with the
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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