Trump takes victory lap. TRANSCRIPT: 6/26/2018, Hardball with Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Cynthia Alksne, Annie Linskey, Jamal Simmons
Transcript:

Show: HARDBALL
Date: June 26, 2018
Guest: Cynthia Alksne, Annie Linskey, Jamal Simmons

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The usual suspects. Let`s play HARDBALL.

They have done it again, the usual suspects the five-man Republican
majority on the Supreme Court today gave President Trump what he wanted
most, the good housekeeping seal on his campaign to divide the country.
And approving his travel ban crudely aimed at Muslims, the Republican-
controlled highest court has shined up the entire Trump offensive on
Muslim, Latinos and let`s not kid ourselves, Democrats.

First the Supreme Court gave us “w” by ending the Florida recount in 2000.
And then they gave us guns for everyone in the Howard (ph) case. Then with
Citizens United, new power for the wealthy to drive our elections. And
today, it`s Trump to do what he wants in targeting Muslims.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.

As I said, Donald Trump`s dark brand of politics received the Supreme
Court`s seal of approval today, five justices ruled reviewed in favor of
President Trump`s travel ban, the cleaned up version of his Muslim ban.
The court chose to focus on the text of the policy rather than Trump`s
prior inflammatory tweets and public comments.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, however, backed the President`s ban along with the
court`s four conservative judge but he added a note of caution, an anxious
world must know that our government remains committed always to the
liberties the constitution seeks to preserve and protect. That`s what
Kennedy said. The President said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Supreme Court ruling was
a tremendous victory for this country and for the constitution. The
Supreme Court – the Supreme Court ruling was a tremendous victory for our
country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you go ahead with it, sir?

TRUMP: Of course. What do you think? I wouldn`t go ahead with it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also to the idea of deporting people without due
process, as well. Do you think (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: We have to find a system where you don`t need thousands of judges
sitting at a boarder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, instead of campaigning on the Republican tax bill which
according to a recent poll is growing less popular, Trump has decided to
focus on the politics, well, you know of division. According to “Axios,”
President Trump is frustrated with Congress and has chosen a strategy of
hot partisan warfare. That was clearly on display last night at a campaign
rally down in South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are winning with our military. We are winning on trade. We are
winning on trade. We are defending our borders because if you don`t have
borders, you don`t have a country.

The Democrats want open borders, they want anybody they want including MS-
13 pouring into the country. And the Democrats don`t like ICE. They want
to protect illegals coming into the country. Much more so than they want
to protect you. And that`s not where we are coming from. I don`t want
judges. I want ICE and border patrol agents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, a new Gallup polls shows that President Trump`s approval
rating has dropped to 41 percent down from the personal best he had of 45
percent a week ago. The drop comes after an intense public outcry, of
course, over his administration`s zero tolerance immigration policy that
led to more than 2,000 immigrant children being separated from their
parents. But if the campaign showed us anything, it`s when the President
is backed into a corner, he fights.

For more, Jonathan Swan, national political reporter for “Axios,” Susan Del
Percio, Republican strategist and an MSNBC political analyst and Maria
Teresa Kumar president and CEO, I should say, of Voto Latino.

Let me start with the politics of this thing. Once the court ruling, 5-4,
no surprise, all Republicans against four Democrats, basically the same we
have had for years now giving Trump the seal of approval on his travel ban
which was basically intended as a Muslim ban.

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, if the word that
he is aides want people to know is vindication. That is what they are
saying. But –.

MATTHEWS: Trumps needs vindication?

SWAN: Yes. Trump feels vindication.

But Trump theoretically I think understood the value of having conservative
staffed court. And obviously, released the list of his justices during the
campaign and felt that contributed to his victory. But this is the first
time he has seen a really tangible result of that conservative.

MATTHEWS: Maria Teresa, this is aimed at Muslims or was aimed at Muslims,
but now he has got a free fire zone for everybody. Does this smell like he
has got what he wants which is a seal of approval, do what you`re doing,
Mr. President, the court said.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s exactly right. And I think
that under this President what we are seeing is a massive revamping of our
immigration policy. He basically not only remove DACA but he has also
removed temporary protective status. This basically allows that part of
that immigration narrative.

If Trump continues down had this course, we are going to have roughly about
a million people that were documented today, Chris, undocumented by 2020.
So what we need is Congress to act to ensure that they are rescind that.
But I think the biggest challenge here –.

MATTHEWS: How do you take away documentation? I didn`t know you can do
that.

KUMAR: Yes. So basically still temporary – but there`s a whole slew.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk politics for a second. I`m sorry. I know, you are
the expert on the numbers. I appreciate that. But it seems to me Trump
has made a calculated white only campaign that is basically said, OK, I`m
going to speak dismissively of all kinds of ethnic groups. But I`m going
in front of a wide audience. I`m going to sell myself. I`m going to get
100 percent of the white what he is aiming at. Some absurd percentage.
And he doesn`t care if he gets the Spanish votes. He doesn`t care if he
get the smaller number of Muslim or Asian votes. He acts like he doesn`t
care they exist except to call them rapists and everything else.

KUMAR: But I don`t think that is wrong. But I think what his
miscalculation is that the majority of Americans are not siding with him
including people that are white. We have to keep in mind.

MATTHEWS: But wait a minute, 90 percent of the Republican Party are
backing him down the road. I mean, nine out of ten.

KUMAR: Right. But you have to remember three million Americans vote
differently. They didn`t vote for this candidate. You have 93 million
Americans who voted out. Who is marching right now since the women`s
march? These are likely people that not only voted but people that sat it
out and saying wait a second, this is not the direction.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think he is calculating, Susan, on Latino voters not
voting very strongly in 2018.

SUSAN DE PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, that`s absolutely right. He
is counting on them. We have seen in off year elections like a lot of
different Democratic blocks, Latino voters –.

MATTHEWS: You ng people.

DEL PERCIO: Young people, they don`t show up in midterm elections. I
agree with you. He is using racism, motivator for his people to turn out.
What I think the miscalculation that he is making for 2018 is that he is –
they are not coming out for him. And he doesn`t translate to the down
ballot counties as much as he thinks he does. So you are looking at
suburbs, you are looking at white suburban women. They have a problem and
they have learned whether it`s this decision or waking up every day and
seeing this man in the White House, elections have consequences. That`s
why they are showing up.

MATTHEWS: By the way, what you just said about white women or whatever,
the suburb, we better somewhat better off than average women in the burbs.
I thought they would come out and I thought they would bring their husbands
out in 2016 all to vote against Trump. Now they have gotten a good look
the guy, you are say they won`t?

DEL PERCIO: No. I`m saying they will show up to vote against Trump.

MATTHEWS: Against Trump, OK.

A week after being on the defensive for separating is small children from
parents, the Trump administration seems to be back on offense attacking
Democrats. Let`s watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And what we are looking for as Republicans I can tell you is strong
borders, no crime. What the Democrats are looking at is open borders,
which will bring tremendous crime.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: He is doing exactly what the
American people asked him to do. And the left doesn`t like it.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They have made it
very clear that they don`t want to work with the President, that they don`t
want to fix our immigration system, that they would rather have open
borders and rampant crime than work with the President to create solutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I have never seen a more blatant campaign message (INAUDIBLE),
because obviously the tax cut which I have looked that we had it on last
night, gave very little help to the working people out there, men and
women. And go ahead. So they have said let`s try this hate thing.

KUMAR: Right. But it`s working. Conor Lamb when he did his special
election, that`s where the Republicans first tested this whole idea of
taxes. Is it going to work? It didn`t stick.

MATTHEWS: You know the why it didn`t stick? Because nobody got any money.

KUMAR: Exactly true. Exactly right. I mean, if you were able to – they
recognized that it was a ruse. So instead, during the primaries right
after that, the primary they ran 14,000 anti-immigrant ads to move their
base into the primaries. And in some cases it worked. And I think we have
to do a concerted effort of making sure not only are we telling people
what`s actually happening but this idea this is a Democratic issue, the
Democrats don`t control any part of the house. His legislative arm of his
party does. So they have to actually step-up and actually pass some sort
of immigration.

DEL PERCIO: Which is exactly why he needs that smoke and mirror kind of
thing going on because not only did the tax cuts not help people that
thought they would get it, they are going to see a financial hit on their
pocketbook come October when they get rates for hair health insurance bills
which premiums are going up.

MATTHEWS: You are talking bread, good old bread and butter politics.
Trump is selling a new kind of politics which is simple, on message and my
question is, will all the Republican candidates or most of them running for
reelection or elections of governors, Senate, and House, are they going to
go out and say Democrats are all for open boarders and crime? Will they
all sing that song?

SWAN: Some of them would. Some of them don`t want Trump anywhere near
their district. (INAUDIBLE), some of these vulnerable in swing districts,
no way they are going to just listen to Trump`s message.

But just back to your original point, Steve Bannon used to say to me, he
said it to me so many times, fear is the best emotion. It is the most
powerful emotion. Fear wins elections. And Corey Lewandowski, Trump`s
former campaign manager, said recently.

MATTHEWS: He just lost his job today.

SWAN: Sure. But he has the same attitude. He said the other day the
voters are going to come up to vote if you just say thank you – to say
thank you for the tax cut. You need to rev them up with something. I
don`t think Trump articulates the stuff. I don`t think he thinks about it
in the sort of like what are white suburban women going to do. But he
understands the gut level that this fear works.

KUMAR: I think for a group of Republican base of his base does, but I also
think that the majority of Americans, they are getting a little tired.
They are getting drained and exhausted.

MATTHEWS: The numbers don`t show –. He is still getting that same level,
40 to 45 back and forth. It modulates but it never really changes.

SWAN: The most stable element in the universe.

MATTHEWS: The thing doesn`t move, does it? I haven`t seen him going down
in the 30s. He is up around 40.

SWAN: We are four months away, right. So four months is beyond in any
election.

MATTHEWS: But you are predicting something is going to happen or saying it
is happening? Are people turning off to Trump? I don`t see it. I think
this hate thing is working for him.

DEL PERCIO: Well, it is again, what are we looking? We are looking at 24
House seats. That`s what it takes. So that`s the game.

MATTHEWS: I know.

DEL PERCIO: So that is the game and those are all –.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Last night, President Trump who likes to it out his own
accomplishments while dinging past Presidents, also took aim at former
first lady Laura Bush? The library? She is a nice lady. Are you crazy?
But with Trump, here we go. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don`t believe and I don`t even think that`s close that is any
President has done and what we have done 500 days.

Hey look, I got a bad hand, Ronald Reagan, couldn`t get it. Nobody could.
I didn`t even want it until I heard everybody else wanted. And I said, it
looks like freebee. They were saying Hillary Clinton could have done that.
I don`t think so. It was a disaster for Bush. Although we very much
appreciated Laura Bush`s lovely letter. It was a disaster for Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it has to do with Anwar up there in the developing the
arctic circle for exploitation for fossil fuels I suppose. But why did he
take a shot on Laura Bush who everybody likes?

DEL PERCIO: Because he is a petty person. He can`t help himself. And he
likes to take those shots because it makes him feel strong and he has,
especially when he has a crowd behind him. And he gets revved up and he
likes to stick it to everybody who he feels –.

MATTHEWS: OK. The master of trolling, if it`s not Trump, it is Mitch
McConnell. Yesterday, his majority leader Mitch McConnell`s political team
took a victory lap after today`s Supreme Court ruling tweeting this picture
of the Senate with Justice Neil Gorsuch. Of course, Conor (ph) who
frequently called the Democrats obstructionist, famously blocked the
nomination of former president Barack Obama`s Supreme Court pick Merrick
Garland back in 62, just two years ago. How do Republicans manage to
pretend to forget that the Democrats, you know, wanted a bill on
immigration? In 2013, they wouldn`t bring it up in the House. They wanted
a vote on their Supreme Court nominee. They wouldn`t bring it up. They
wanted to finish the recount in Florida. They wouldn`t let them do it.
And yet the Republicans call the Democrats obstructionists. Memory, zero.
Zero memory.

SWAN: I`m shocked at the hypocrisy. I`m shock. It is the thing he is
most proud of. Mitch McConnell by –.

MATTHEWS: Obstructing, refusing a hearing or a meeting.

SWAN: Absolutely. Merrick Garland delay is absolutely what he is most
proud of.

MATTHEWS: And he wasn`t a lefty.

KUMAR: No.

MATTHEWS: Merrick Garland is a straight middle, the highly – was a
praised attorney.

KUMAR: This idea that they led Mitch McConnell actually roll over the
Democrats, I would put on the feet of the Democrats and the President –.

MATTHEWS: What were they going to do? He was running the thing.

KUMAR: You have to play tough though. You do. And I think that you have
to be able to – I mean, I worked on the hill. You work on the hill.

MATTHEWS: Mitch, I`m with you. I think sometimes you got to the say you
break the rules, we push.

KUMAR: There are consequences.

MATTHEWS: All right. Jonathan Swan, the Jonathan Swan, Susan Del Percio,
thank you. Maria Teresa Kumar.

Coming up, special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on collusion, not
just obstruction. Collusion with the Russians is going to get acted on by
the end of the year. According to the new report, Mueller is preparing to
accelerate his probe and settle once and for all whether the Trump campaign
colluded with the Russians to win the election. Mueller`s team is
reporting they are looking to produce indictment on that front. Look out
Roger Stone this fall.

Plus conservative columnist George F. Will has called on people to vote out
Trump`s poodles, he calls them. That would be Republicans in this year`s
midterm election. So come November, think George F. Will. Vote I guess
Democrat. Do Republicans agree with Will`s plan? He said that these days
it seems like the Republican Party belongs to Trump, but not critics.

And the White House loves to attack the lack of civility on the left, but
what about the President? Last night Trump went after everyone from Jimmy
Fallon to John McCain. The HARDBALL round will tacking that one tonight.

Also, there is primaries coming out tonight. A new reporting on Sarah
Huckabee Sanders. It looks like she is also on the outs as she couldn`t
stay in the restaurants. They weren`t liking her in the restaurant. Now
they don`t like her in the White House?

Finally let me finish with the usual suspects tonight, that would be the
court. Those five wonderful fellows up there that do what the Republicans
put them there to do.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Of seven states are holding primaries tonight or runoffs, the
polls have just closed in South Carolina where Republican governor Henry
McMaster is facing a runoff challenge from marine combat veteran
businessman John Warren. Governor McMaster was one of President Trump`s
earliest supporters. He is hoping Trump`s appearance at a campaign rally
this morning, that would be last night, will help put him over the top.

In Utah, Mitt Romney is heavily favored to defeat Republican state
representative, that`s a pretty low level guy, Mike Kennedy. That is only
state rep and his U.S. senate primary fight there.

And in New York, incumbent congressman Dan Donovan is facing a challenge
from former congressman Michael Grimm. Remember Grimm, of course, recently
served seven months in prison for tax fraud. And once famously threatened
to break a reporter, catch this, in half like a boy. Wow.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There has been multiple reports now, reports indicating that special
counsel Robert Mueller could soon release a report on whether the President
obstructed justice. Well, we knew that. But today, Bloomberg News
reported that Mueller is also preparing to accelerate, that`s the word, his
probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin,
which is really the heart of the matter here.

According to a person familiar are the investigation, Mueller and his team
of prosecutors and investigators have an eye toward producing conclusions
and possible indictments related to collusion by fall. Well, that`s of
course this September. NBC News has not independently verified that
report.

However, it comes after we learned last week of a third Trump campaign
contact with a Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, the same old
pattern. All three (INAUDIBLE) by the way, occurring between late April
and early June of 2016. That would be spring of 2016 before the public
learned that the DNC had been hacked by Russian intelligence.

Well furthermore, there are at now at least 13 Trump associates known to
have had suspicious contacts with Russians. In his latest book “the plot
to destroy democracy,” MSNBC`s analyst Malcolm Nance writes any final
assessment by a trained intelligence professional would conclude that Trump
was a spy`s dream. That`s his words in his book.

However, the only person who knows whether there`s hard evidence to prove
Trump engaged in a conspiracy with Russia, as of now, is Robert Mueller,
the man I call the iceberg.

Joining me right now is the author of that book, Malcolm Nance. And
Cynthia Alksne is a former federal prosecutor.

First off, I want to go to you, Malcolm. You`re the expert on this. But I
won`t – Cynthia knows prosecution very excellently.

What`s it mean when the word comes out, thanks to Bloomberg, that this
prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has plans to move this thing, to skate it along
and perhaps come up with a report, not just on obstruction sometime in the
next several months, but by the end of the year, in the fall, a report on
collusion with the Russians involving the Trump people?

MALCOLM NANCE, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you know, it`s been said by
friends of Robert Mueller that his favorite hobby is putting people in
prison.

(LAUGHTER)

NANCE: And I don`t think he`s going to have a problem at all, if he has
the evidence, to bring at least part of the conspiracy charges involving
people having contacts with known intelligence officers together, and to be
able to at least in the first phase go after people who were the initial
dirty tricks teams who may have worked with Russia to support the Trump
election.

That will involve, of course, more indictments. We know Manafort`s trial
is coming up. And maybe he will turn. We don`t know about that.

But Robert Mueller is on an – if he`s going to accelerate his schedule,
that means we`re going to have a wild summer and a lot – and someone is
going to go to jail. He`s not going to allow that to lapse.

MATTHEWS: Well, Cynthia, one thing we know in the knowing world, maybe not
counting Trump, in the knowing world, is that the Russians had an elaborate
conspiracy to screw with our election in 2016.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right.

MATTHEWS: And it had so many points, so many pieces to it, like an
octopus, all these arms coming into everything, social media, election
machinery, everything, people around Trump, people that were with Trump,
people who have American-Russian sort of connections, all these efforts.

And they have matched up in many cases, as we said, with a lot of people
who were reaching their arms out, too, these squid-like arms coming out,
and they were reaching and grabbing them and connecting with them.

ALKSNE: Right. There`s a Russian under every rock.

I would agree with Malcolm that if something is going to happen before
September, it`s going to be sort of on the outside segments,because on the
inside, the heart of it, we read this and we think, oh, boy, maybe there`s
something up with Don Jr. or Roger Stone or Kushner.

And my experience would tell me that isn`t coming before September, that it
would be something more on the outside.

MATTHEWS: Roger Stone?

ALKSNE: I don`t know about Roger Stone. He hasn`t been interviewed yet.

MATTHEWS: Rick Gates, Manafort?

ALKSNE: Manafort, I`m surprised hasn`t flipped yet. He`s sitting in the
Central Jail in Virginia.

MATTHEWS: Michael Flynn, he`s flipped.

ALKSNE: He`s flipped.

And remember that Mueller has a lot of information from Flynn. And he has
a lot of information already from Cohen. And it`s only a matter of time
before Cohen flips. And…

MATTHEWS: Because of the weight of 20 or 30 years he`s looking at?

ALKSNE: No. Yes, because of the weigh and because he had enough
information to indict him at the time he did the search warrants, because
the search warrant was so broad and he was such an important person. That
would have moved up the chain through Justice.

And that definitely – I would definitely say there`s…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Have you been around long enough to look what the look in the
eye is of a person about to flip?

Hemingway. I have just been reading “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” And I take
Hemingway very seriously.

ALKSNE: One of the all-time greats.

MATTHEWS: Whether you do or not, Cynthia, I take him seriously.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He talked – in the Spanish Civil War, he said you could see in
Pablo, one of his colleagues in arms, he saw the sadness in his eyes, and
he said, this guy is going to flip. He`s going to betray us. And he did.

I think he did. I haven`t gotten to the end of the book yet. But I think
he was going to flip.

(CROSSTALK)

ALKSNE: What I see is a guy who had a very good congressional fixer
lawyer, and has now switched to a lawyer who specializes in the United
States attorney`s office in the Southern District.

And I also see a guy who has all the incentive. And I see a guy who has
been dissed and disrespected by the president. That to me is a recipe for
flipping.

And to me, it`s only a matter of time. But that`s why I think we will not
see the indictments before September, because there`s too many little
pieces to fall. And people who haven`t been interviewed, that`s what
really interesting for court watchers.

If you look at the investigation, some people haven`t been interviewed, and
those people have a problem.

MATTHEWS: Well, this comes amid new reports on the continued threat that
Russia poses to our elections, the continued threat.

Politico reports Republican and Democratic lawmakers say the Trump
administration is keeping them in the dark about whether the U.S. is ready
to deal with Russian interference in the coming midterms this November. By
the way, the campaigns are under way. We`re getting toward the election.

Quote: “A half-dozen senior House and Senate lawmakers say they`re hearing
only an alarming silence from the administration about what Moscow`s trolls
and hackers are up to.”

Malcolm, that`s a question for you. Do you think – what`s your hearing on
this? Are we trying to prevent this all from happening again in `18, which
is now?

NANCE: No, we`re not trying to prevent it, because we have one-half of
this nation has been told not to believe anything related to the hacking of
the DNC to have anything to do with Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

They control the government. And they have convinced the people inside the
government to do just the minimal things they have been doing before.
There was no moon shot here to defend American democracy. There was no
effort whatsoever to defend this nation from another hacking.

Now, maybe it`s not a hacking in the sense of the DNC. Maybe it`s
individual e-mails, like the Podesta campaign had occur to them. But we
might see a wave of kompromat, of compromising information, intended to
blackmail or coerce people during the run-up to this campaign.

That – the U.S. news media is the dagger at the throat for that. And I
expect – fully expect to see that happen in the run-up to the campaign.

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s some cats on a hot tin roof here.

You notice Roger Stone got a little skittish last week. And I`m wondering
whether that – when he comes out and said, oh, yes, I did have contact
with a Russian. Does that in any way indemnify him or protect him from
prosecution to come out in public and say, OK, I will admit it, before I
get indicted, I did have something to do with the Russians?

Malcolm, does that protect him to say, I did it?

NANCE: No, I don`t think that protects him at all.

The funny thing about Roger Stone – I met Roger Stone last year – is that
everything that he said during the campaign was designed to puff him up to
make him look like the ultimate insider.

I think there`s a reason he hasn`t been interviewed yet by the Mueller
team. And he`s already denying a lot of the stuff that he said, his
contacts with WikiLeaks. He just doesn`t want to be caught out as a con
man. He just doesn`t want to be caught out as a fraud.

MATTHEWS: I think he likes the tease and the notoriety.

NANCE: He does.

MATTHEWS: Because it makes him into a very important figure in this Trump
world.

Nobody wants to be indicted.

ALKSNE: He basically went into the Congress and lied and said he hadn`t
had Russian contacts. And then when Mueller had the notes proving that he
had that Russian meeting with a guy where they offered him dirt on Hillary
Clinton, and he was basically just too cheap to pay for it, they wanted two
million bucks, then he went in, now he wants to change his testimony.

Well, that`s not going to fool Bob Mueller.

MATTHEWS: Well, just remember, Saddam Hussein pretended had he WMD, and he
didn`t. Look what happened to him.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Malcolm Nance. Thank you, Cynthia Alksne.

Up next: Trump`s approval with Republican voters is through the roof right
now of about nine out of 10. But will his popularity carry over to the
midterms? Well, it`s not too far away.

At least one prominent conservative is coming here. The columnist George
F. Will is urging voters to throw out Trump`s – he calls them Republican
poodles. Get rid of them, he says. He joins me next.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Henry was there at the
beginning. He`s a fighter. He`s tough. He`s strong. And he`s a
gentleman. So, please, get your asses out tomorrow and vote.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s the president of the United States using that word.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Trump last night on the stump in South Carolina campaigning for
Republican gubernatorial candidate, the incumbent, Henry McMaster, who is
facing a primary run-off down there. I think he`s going to win.

The president said more Republicans needed to be elected this November.

Longtime conservative columnist George F. Will argued the opposite this
weekend.

He wrote, many Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have –
quote – “become the president`s poodles.” Poodles. “The congressional
Republican Caucuses must be substantially reduced.”

He continued: “So substantially that they`re remnants, reduced to
minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution`s Article 1 powers that
they have been to invertebrate to use against the current welder of Article
2 powers.” That`s the president. “They will then have leisure time to
wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose
unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them.”

What an indictment.

Nevertheless, the latest Gallup poll shows that nine of 10 Republicans
approve of Donald Trump`s job as president.

Joining me right now is the author of that tough column, George F. Will.

You know, Steve Schmidt, the man who ran the campaign for John McCain, has
made – offered a similar, if not so literate, endorsement of voting
Democrat this year by a Republican.

Are you saying now here on television that people who vote this November
should vote for Democrats?

GEORGE WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I`m saying that the Republican Party is
now so homogeneous, so thoroughly the Trump party, particularly after the
episode such as his intervention in the South Carolina primary against an
incumbent congressman of his own party, Mark Sanford, in which he
successfully got him thrown out because of insufficient abeyance to Trump,
that, for that reason, if you now vote for Republican candidates, you are
voting essentially to – you can`t pretend there`s pluralism.

You`re voting to affirm this man and his leadership of the party. And I
believe it`s important for the future, such as it might be, of the
Republican Party that they pay a terrible price for what they`re doing.

MATTHEWS: Are people that you know like Senator McConnell, are they
waiting him out?

WILL: Sure.

Senator McConnell says, look, I have a job to do, and I can exercise my
Article 1 powers in collaboration with his exercise of the Article 2 powers
to change the nature of the Article 3 institutions in the country, the
federal courts.

Senator McConnell rightly says often, we in the Senate are in the personnel
business. It is our job, within the powers of advice and consent, to shape
the federal government. And he proceeds to do that, knowing that the
president is not his choice.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, it`s not like a new pharaoh came to Egypt – a
new pharaoh – because the fact of the matter is, they have Article 1
powers over the president.

Why doesn`t McConnell challenge the president? Why don`t the Republican
Party challenge him? If he`s this Bonapartist part or this Cromwellian
figure that`s just come in for four or eight years, or maybe just four, why
don`t they take him on?

WILL: An excellent question.

MATTHEWS: Democrats took on Jimmy Carter. I can tell you. I was there.
They were quite willing under Kennedy and others to just challenge the
president if they didn`t agree with him.

WILL: What finally precipitated the column we`re talking about was the
Senate`s unwillingness to even vote on an amendment by Senator Corker of
Tennessee, who, of course, is leaving, an amendment with which 100 percent
of Republicans, I`m sure in private, agree.

That is, he said we should say that – stipulate that any tariffs imposed
in the name of national security have to be voted on by the Senate.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I think Toomey agrees with that.

Anyway, today`s Utah primary is tonight. Former presidential candidate
Mitt Romney is trying to win the Republican nomination for senator. Romney
was one of President Trump`s strongest Republicans – Republican
antagonists during the 2016 campaign.

Let`s watch all that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s plenty of evidence
that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. He`s playing the members of the
American public for suckers.

He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.

TRUMP: Mitt is a failed candidate. He failed. He failed horribly.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: That was a race that absolutely should have been won. And I don`t
know what happened to him.

ROMNEY: He creates scapegoats in Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls
for the use of torture. This is the very brand of anger that has led other
nations into the abyss.

TRUMP: And he walks like a penguin onto the stage. Have you ever seen –
like a penguin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Of course, Romney pulled back on his rhetoric when he was
considered by Trump for secretary of state.

Here`s what he said recently when asked whether he would continue to call
out the president if he wins that Senate seat in Utah. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I believe I have made it pretty clear that I will stand with
President Trump if the policies he`s proposing are good for state of Utah,
fur other states, for the nation.

On the other hand, if he were to say something that is divisive and
significant, something which were racist or anti-woman or anti-immigrant,
then I feel a moral responsibility to speak out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Should we count on that man, Mitt Romney, to stand up against
Trump on moral issues?

WILL: Depends on which Romney shows up, whether it`s the Romney of that
blistering speech, of which you just showed an excerpt, or the Romney who I
think was being toyed with by the president when he thought he was being
considered for secretary of state.

MATTHEWS: Took him out for frog legs. And he did. He made a fool out of
him, and he bowed down to get the frog legs to get to be secretary of
state. And then Trump did – as you did suggested, on purpose, humiliated
him.

WILL: Mitt Romney is a gentleman, a man of exquisitely good manners.

And exquisitely good manners will avail you nothing in a knife fight. If
he says, whenever Mr. Trump says something divisive, racist or offensive,
he`s going to speak out, he`s going to be speaking out a lot. But I
wouldn`t count on that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think we have got to be careful with him.

Anyway, thank you, George F. Will.

Up next: Trump`s White House is lecturing America on the perils of
incivility. But the president doesn`t seem to have gotten the message. He
went after a laundry list of critics last night, and not in a nice way, but
the Trump way.

You`re watching it, HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called for civility
after she was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia this weekend. Well,
just a few hours later in South Carolina, her boss, the president, seemed
to throw that notion of civility out the window. Trump sounded off on
everyone, from his political opponents to Canada`s Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau who he calls Justin, the late night comedians he`s going to after
all of them, including Fallon, even former first lady, nice lady, Laura
Bush.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has become the party of
Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi. We have some incredible things happening
with health care. And then one gentleman early in the morning like 2:00 in
the morning, he went no.

Prime Minister Justin, I said Justin, what`s your problem, Justin?

Jimmy Fallon calls me up. And he`s like a nice guy. He`s lost. He looks
like a lost soul.

The guy on CBS is – what a low life. What a low life. There`s no talent.
He`s not – they`re not like talented people.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, big movie star, took my place. It bombed in about
two shows.

It was a disaster for Bush, although we very much appreciated Laura Bush`s
lovely letter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It`s like why I hate everybody by Donald Trump.

I`m joined now by the HARDBALL roundtable. Annie Linskey, national
political reporter for `The Boston Globe”, Michael Steele, former chair of
the RNC and MSNBC political analyst, and Jamal Simmons is a Democratic
strategist and host of the Hill TV.

Well, what do we make of that?

ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I mean, it`s
such a long list of everybody.

MATTHEWS: A hate list.

LINSKEY: Everybody who has said anything bad about him forever. And it
just – it goes on and on and on and on and on. I mean, I`m surprised we
didn`t go back to like middle school, somebody who was mean to him.

MATTHEWS: Well, the civility argument doesn`t sell well from him.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It doesn`t. And that`s the
problem. But it doesn`t matter. It doesn`t matter in the end because no
one can do Trump other than Trump. And I think we need to be clear about
that.

That was Maxine`s problem. She tried to do the sort of Trumpian them and
go into that space, and it backfired. The president then gets up and goes
after her.

MATTHEWS: So, throw the SOB out, he can do. Beat them up.

STEELE: Right. And he`s been doing it since –

MATTHEWS: But she says build a crowd against something you don`t like in a
restaurant.

STEELE: That`s right. And the same thing, you know, the story line with
Sarah Sanders at the restaurant is the same thing where they go back and go
I`m the victim here. And yet, the president`s standing at the pulpit, in
the bully pulpit, using that pulpit to sort of go after –

MATTHEWS: But they believe baker`s have a right to say they don`t have to
bake the cake for gay wedding and yet they don`t think this little
restaurant in Virginia can say, you don`t really want you in here.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, that`s also the challenge for
the Democrats, right? The challenge here for the Democrat is that the
Democrats have to be intellectually consistent. If we believe people ought
to get accommodation when they walk into a public restaurant, and then –

MATTHEWS: But political identification is not a protected status.

SIMMONS: OK, that`s fine.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS: I used to do political work in Georgia. And I remember walking
into places with Confederate flags everywhere and people turn around and
look at you like –

MATTHEWS: Good for you. You walked in good.

SIMMONS: Oh, yes, I wanted barbecue. They were the nicest people ever to
me.

MATTHEWS: How was the barbecue?

SIMMONS: The barbecue was fantastic. But the funniest thing about the
Trump`s speech which you didn`t play is the line when we talk about the
late night host, the host he likes the most, Johnny Carson.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SIMMONS: This guy is stuck in the era.

MATTHEWS: Everybody likes Carson, yes, I know.

SIMMONS: There are lots of people around who weren`t alive when Johnny
Carson was on TV.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

President Trump lashed out at that restaurant person and asked Sanders to
leave. But it took him 48 hours to offer public support for his press
secretary. This is interesting. According to “The New York Times”, the
president`s uncharacteristically tepid, delayed response pointed up a
double-ended dynamic that seems to plague nearly everyone in Donald Trump`s
inner circle and has recently begun to take its toll on Ms. Sanders. Even
as her vigorous defenses of the president`s misstatements and her own
obfuscations during White House briefings have eroded her credibility, her
stock with Mr. Trump has begun to sink.

What does it take, Annie, to please this guy?

LINSKEY: I think – I mean, Sarah Sanders has been in that role for a
very, very long time.

MATTHEWS: Compared to Spicer.

LINSKEY: Compared to Spicer – compared to anybody. So I think at any
given moment, people are up and down with this president. But I think the
bigger question is kind of how does Sarah, what does she think of the
president and how long is she going to stay, because I can tell you, Chris,
it`s really hard to find somebody to take that spot.

MATTHEWS: She was ringing all his bells yesterday saying open borders,
criminals – she was doing exactly the anthem he wants to sing.

LINSKEY: She`s doing her job. She`s been there for a long time. She`s a
mom. I would not be surprised if she wasn`t looking at the exits.

MATTHEWSD: OK. Finally, it`s election day in seven states headed to the
polls today – Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina,
Utah and New York.

And the polls close there in about an hour where a Republican primary pits
Trump incumbent Dan Donovan against Michael Grimm who represented the
Staten Island district for two terms before he stepped down to serve seven
months in prison for taxes. That was a little relaxer.

The latest poll shows Grimm with a ten-point lead over Donovan. Grimm is
best known for threatening to push a reporter off a balcony on the Capitol
on camera. Let`s watch that little act of mischief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SCOTTO, NY1 REPORTERS: And finally before we let you go since we
have you here, we haven`t had a chance to kind of talk about –

FORMER REP. MICHAEL GRIMM, (R) NEW YORK: I`m not speaking about anything
that`s off topic, this is only about the president`s speech.

SCOTTO: Well, what about – all right, so, Congressman Michael Grimm does
not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign
finances. We wanted to get him on camera on that but he refused to talk
about that. Back to you.

GRIMM: Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I`ll throw you
off this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) balcony.

SCOTTO: Why? I just wanted to ask you.

GRIMM: If you ever do that to me again…

SCOTTO: Why? Why? It`s a valid question.

GRIMM: No, no, you`re not man enough, you`re not man enough. I`ll break
you in half like a boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Michael, what do you think of that? I think that`s moxie in
action there. You don`t like the guy, bring it on.

STEELE: Look, I mean, but voters now say that they like that. They want
to see more of that.

Even though Trump is supporting his opponent, whether or not that sort of
mean, that thrust of energy that he`s with us going to fight for us guy, if
that plays out, if he gets elected and gets this nomination, that could
open up a whole Pandora`s box.

MATTHEWS: Jamal, what do you think? This is a training time for a
Republican Trump likes?

SIMMONS: Yes, it`s Trumpiness even before Trump. The question on the
ballot today is, if you behave like this, if you are someone who is
otherwise despicable, do you still get to help lead the country. There`s a
part of the country, mostly Republican, who say we don`t care how
despicable you are. We want you to lead the country.

MATTHEWS: Let`s have an analysis. Does Trumpism affect this democracy if
the long-term or is it just a bad spell?

LINSKEY: He`s going to affect it in the long-term. I mean, there`s no
question. He`s been so – he`s affected and chipped away at every single
institution.

MATTHEWS: So, bad manners, incivility, bullying, name-calling, nickname
giving.

STEELE: It`s long-term because it`s been bubbling beneath the surface for
a long time.

MATTHEWS: How about the ethnic divisiveness on purpose? He`s launching
apparently a 2018 campaign based entirely on anti-immigration attitudes.
He`s saying it.

SIMMONS: Yes, and what he is doing with MS-13 is like the – at the
perverse version of what the Democrats and other people have done it in the
past. Democrats did it with Bain Capital, right, where you take an
organization, everybody on the left is arguing about why this isn`t right
to talk about MS-13. On the right, people argued why it wasn`t right to
say bad things about Bain Capital.

But the public identified with the message of that presidential campaign.
Donald Trump is turning MS-13 into the lens that everybody will look at
immigration through and Democrats defending immigration have to be very
careful if not – to not look like we`re defending gang violence.

MATTHEWS: It`s also permission for people to vote against Hispanics
without saying they`re anti- –

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS: It`s a dangerous time.

MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three
will tell me something I don`t know. You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: President Trump today ramped up his attacks against Harley-
Davidson just a day after the company or motorcycle company announced it
would shift some of its production abroad in order to avoid retaliatory
tariffs from the E.U.

And one of the tweets Trump warned that Harley Davidson should never be
built in another country, never. Their employees and customers are already
angry at them. If they move, it will be the beginning of the end. They
surrendered. They quit. The aura will be gone and there will be attacks
like never before.

That`s Trump talking about Harley-Davidson.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.

Annie, tell me something I don`t know.

LINSKEY: So, while the world has been watching immigration recently, I`ve
been looking at some of the rules that Trump is trying to pass regulation.
One thing he`s trying to do is take Congress out of the equation when
foreign arms sales are proposed. So, that would mean Congress would not
know if, you know, the country of Turkey wanted to buy fire arms or –

(CROSSTALK)

LINSKEY: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Michael?

STEELE: The Democrats have been looking for a beachhead for –
particularly Bernie Sanders Democrats have been looking for a beachhead.
They may have one tonight in the state of Maryland, in that gubernatorial
primary. It`s something a lot of us are watching with Ben Jealous. Yes,
working very closely.

SIMMONS: Democratic mayors went down to Texas on the immigration issue.
Eric Garcetti from L.A. who thinks about running for president was a
prominent voice down there. Garcetti and Mitch Landrieu are two mayors to
watch because governors, Chris, are done. We used to have four out five
governors were president prior to George Bush.

Eight governors have run for president since George Bush was president.
All of them have lost in the primary.

MATTHEWS: How many mayors have won?

SIMMONS: No mayor.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Just kidding.

Anyway, thank you, Annie Linskey, Michael Steele and Jamal Simmons.

When we return, let me finish tonight with the usual suspects.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the usual suspects, by that I mean
the five-man Republican-picked majority on Supreme Court.

It was a five-person Republican majority that intervened in the electoral
process to give us the presidency of George W. Bush. They stopped the
Florida recount with a vote of their own, 5-4, for the Republican
presidential candidate. Oh, how they`re full of surprises.

Then, the 5-4 Republican Supreme Court trashed the wording of the
Constitution about arms being needed for militias to say that the Second
Amendment meant any individual had a right to a gun of any size, bullets
firing at any speed mounted with a lifetime supply of ammo – another
bull`s eye gift, this time to the Republican-allied National Rifle
Association.

And then ten years after making W. president and repowering the country`s
war machine into Iraq, the Supreme Court put the cherry on the top, giving
total political power to the one force the highest court favors even more
Republicans, money. The Citizens United case gave those with big money the
unlimited license to change the course of elections, embraced and beloved
by Republicans, the Citizens United ruling brought down the last barrier
between those with money and the power to direct the country`s affairs.

No wonder so many people are telling pollsters now how little they cave
about a democracy so increasingly run by the Republican dollar. And then
news broke today that the usual five suspects on the Supreme Court this
time with Neil Gorsuch as the newest member, awarded Donald Trump what he
most wanted, a slap on the back, a loud cheer from the high bench.

Good work, Mr. President. That travel ban of yours is a dandy. Keep up
the good work.

So, the republic rolls on with Trump in the White House controlling the
puppet strings on the House and the Senate with the ringing endorsement of
a Republican-controlled Supreme Court that he and Mitch McConnell kept that
way by making sure the Democratic nominee for an open seat on that bench
Merrick Garland never came up for a vote, just such as the Republican
controlled House never allowed a vote on that bipartisan comprehensive bill
on immigration, just as the Supreme Court prevented Florida from carrying
the ballots back in that Florida electus interruptus that gave us W. and
with it the war on which he had set his heart.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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