Alabama targets Roe V. Wade. TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. But don`t go anywhere
because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Culture war. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York. Tonight, Roe v. Wade,
this country`s half century political anchor on abortion rights faces a
major challenge. The Alabama governor signed into law the farthest
reaching effort in the country to end abortion rights this year, just did
it this afternoon. The new law has deliberately intended to set up a
Supreme Court fight over Roe v. Wade.
The measure passed by the State Senate last night in a republican-
controlled Senate down in Alabama would effectively ban abortion in Alabama
at every stage of pregnancy. it makes it a felony punishable by up to 99
years in prison for a doctor to perform an abortion. The only exception on
the law in any stage of the pregnancy is for a case where the mother`s
health is in serious risk. It notably includes no exceptions in case of
rape or incest, and after hours of impassioned debate, the bill passed,
look at this, 25 to 6 in the State Senate down there in Alabama.
The bill`s sponsor in the House down the there was clear about its ultimate
goal with the measure, what they are up to with this bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TERRI COLLINS (D-AL): My goal with this bill, and I think our overall
goal, is to have Roe versus Wade turned over and that decisionability to be
able to be sent back to the states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, upon signing the bill, Governor Kay Ivey acknowledged the
bill`s intent. Writing this bill closely resembles an abortion ban that
has been part of Alabama law for over 100 years. As today`s bill itself
recognizes, that longstanding abortion law has been rendered unenforceable
as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. No matter
what one`s personal view on abortion, we can recognize that at least for
the short-term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable.
Emboldened by the current conservative five to four majority in the U.S.
Supreme Court, opponents of abortion rights pursued aggressive measures
nationwide. And while Alabama`s outright ban would be the most
restrictive, it`s far from the only legislation right now to decide to curb
abortion rights this year.
By the way, lawmakers in Georgia and Ohio past into law Heartbeat Bills
that would ban abortions as early as six weeks. Kentucky and Mississippi
passed similar measures earlier this year. And meanwhile, three other
states are considering measures to loosen restrictions on abortion.
I`m joined right now by Democratic Presidential Candidate, Senator Amy
Klobuchar. Senator, what strikes me about this measure being pushed by the
sponsor and the lower house down there in Alabama was not just to bring it
back to the states, which a lot of people on the republican side said they
just want it to be a state issue, they want to get rid of it. This is a
ban. This is the most restrictive I`ve seen. So your thoughts about what
this says about the dangers to Roe v. Wade nationally.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): What they have done in Georgia and Alabama is
dangerous, it is wrong and it is unconstitutional. 73 percent of Americans
do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. Think about that.
So why are they doing it? One, they want to put politics with women`s
health to impress their base, but, two, they want to set up a case to go to
the Supreme Court. And when you think about the facts here, abortions
actually were at an all-time low during the Obama administration. That`s
the last study I could find that the CDC had done.
MATTHEWS: Why is it low?
KLOBUCHAR: Because contraception was made available, because we reduced
the number of abortions, because of the fact that we funded Planned
Parenthood where in their lifetime, one out of five women will visit at
some point for cancer screenings, for birth control. Think about that.
So we have literally reduced the number of abortions during the span of the
Obama administration and this administration comes in, want to take away
the funding for Planned Parenthood, thus and takes away women`s access to
contraception and then at the same time, in a number of states across the
country, republicans are trying to get rid of their right to choose. It`s
an outrage and the women of America and the men of America, the majority of
them do not agree.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the politics in this. I know you are
running for president. Maybe this isn`t the most politic thing to say, but
seems stupid on their part, not just wrong, because if you have
prohibition, if you actually had a regime in this country of a woman could
not get a safe legal abortion and had to go overseas or whatever to get
one, what would that – wouldn`t that just destroy the Republican Party
politically based upon your numbers?
KLOBUCHAR: I believe that this is against their best interest politically,
but they don`t care about that. What they care about, it appears, is not
women`s health or they wouldn`t be trying to overturn the Affordable Care
Act and getting rid of the ban on kicking people off their insurance for
pre-existing conditions or getting rid of this idea that we used to have
that being a victim of domestic abuse was a pre-existing condition. All of
these things make no sense for the people of America.
But when you are trying to attract a certain base in their own party, you
don`t seem to care about that. And that`s what all of those men in the
legislature in the State Senate, none of the women voted for, all of those
men said today.
MATTHEWS: You know, there`s a contradiction we`re going to get to right
now with Donald Trump because he never understood this contradiction. The
pro-life movement, if you will call it that, anti-choice movement, if you
will, basically says that the doctor should go to jail who performs a
procedure and the woman is clean. There is no problem even though she
asked for the procedure, like any other mental (ph) procedures. So it`s a
weird way. 99 years in prison for the doctor, no mention of the woman.
This is just an inconsistency in their thinking.
Back in 2016, here`s the President trying to be president, then candidate
Donald Trump who, had supported abortion rights in his life after about
(INAUDIBLE) calls to ban abortion and how he would enforce it, how he would
make it work. Watch it. Here`s Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion? Yes or no, is it
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The answer is that there has to be some form
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yes. There has to be some form.
MATTHEWS: A fine or imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself
TRUMP: It will have to be determined, and it hasn`t been determined.
MATTHEWS: What about the young man or is he not responsible for an
TRUMP: It hasn`t – different feelings, different people. I would say no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, later, that same day, the Trump campaign walked back in
his comments in that statement saying, if Congress were to pass legislation
making abortion illegal and the federal courts have held this legislation
or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law,
the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman
would be held legally responsible, not the woman.
This afternoon, by the way, a White House spokesman put out a statement on
the Alabama Abortion Bill that didn`t even mention the legislation, instead
saying, unlike radical Democrats who have cheered a legislation allowing a
baby to be ripped from the mother`s womb moments from birth, President
Trump is protecting our most innocent and vulnerable, defending the dignity
of life, and called on Congress to prohibit late term abortions.
So there you saw the conflict because the President never gave it five
seconds thought. Although he knows he`s a little slow there on what the
responsibilities of the father would be. I mean, I just thought that was
fascinating. Your thoughts?
KLOBUCHAR: And I also think when you talk about innocence, they don`t have
exceptions in here for rape, incest victims. It`s unbelievable to me.
And the other thing I know –
MATTHEWS: In Alabama?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, in Alabama, in that piece of legislation. The other thing
I`d say is there are pro life people in this country where it is their
personal belief and they have that personal belief and that is their right,
but that doesn`t mean for a lot of them who have supported Democrats in the
past, by the way, they don`t think that that personal belief means that it
has to be applied to someone else.
So you have to remember, there are people who are pro-life that wouldn`t
agree with this kind of legislation that they are passing right now. And
that`s why I think you see 73 percent of Americans do not believe that Roe
v. Wade should be overturned. And that is what they are messing with here.
It`s dangerous, they`re trying to send doctors to jail and they`re taking
away a woman`s right to make a decision about her own healthcare.
MATTHEWS: So, Senator, you are happy with the way Roe v. Wade is now
thanks to the Casey decision, you know, a new burden, you are happy with
the law as practiced right now, Roe v. Wade?
KLOBUCHAR: I am concerned. I think some states have done a better job
than others in terms of how they made contraception and reproductive
choices available. So what I would like to see is to make sure that any
kind of right is cemented and that could be by court, that could be by
legislation. But right now, you have a situation where you are not even in
that territory, Chris, because you`ve got a Republican Party that is
basically trying to reverse Roe v. Wade for the sole purpose of banning
abortion. That is clear by these cases that they`re setting up and the
bills they are passing. So we have got to look at this as the reality.
They have been trying to talk about all kinds of nuances of this. But the
reality is what we saw today with that bill that was signed into law in
Alabama that takes away completely a woman`s right to choose. This is no
longer nuances about third term or what they are trying to say. No, no,
no. They are banning it, they did it in Georgia effectively with the six
weeks and they did it in Alabama.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota running for
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: In addition to Senator Klobuchar, many other 2020 democratic
candidates were quick to denounce the Alabama bill today on Twitter,
calling it unconstitutional and an attack on women. And some spoke about
forcefully about the need to fight challenges to abortion rights generally.
Here it goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Let us all agree that women`s healthcare is
under attack and we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): They are trying to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
That`s wrong and we will fight back. We will fight back.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): It`s nothing short of an attack on women`s
basic human rights and civil rights and something that women of America are
going to have to fight against with everything they`ve got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Right now, I`m going to bring in Alabama Democratic State Senate
Merika Coleman, Elise Jordan, of course, contributor Time Magazine, and
John Barrett is Professor of Constitutional Law at St. John School of Law.
Representative, thank you for this. What was the – what are they up to
down in Alabama, the republicans?
REP. MERIKA COLEMAN (D-AL): Well, they are up to destroying the State of
Alabama and destroying the country, actually trying to take women`s rights
away from us. And it`s so unfortunate when you live in a state where we
are at the bottom of the list for everything that`s good and at the top for
everything that`s bad. Here is a slap in the face to the women of Alabama
and women of the country that these legislators, these republican
legislators, these men want to take away our rights to be able to choose
what`s best for our own healthcare, for our bodies, for our own families
and with our own doctors.
MATTHEWS: What do you think they are thinking about? I mean, do they
really want to make this a culture war fight or really win it? I mean, do
they want prohibition, outlaw, so a girl or a woman gets pregnant and
decide they don`t want to carry the term, and that person has no rights,
they must leave Alabama and go to New York, go to Louisiana? What do they
actually think would happen?
COLEMAN: Well, if they leave Alabama, they could be subject to prosecution
also. So the goal of the sponsor of this bill is to actually take this all
the way to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. That is her goal.
She said it over and over again. But it`s really sad when you have a piece
of legislation where even said that this went too far. We have no
exception for incest and rape. That is unconscionable for not only in the
State of Alabama and for country, that`s what I want people to know thus
goes Alabama, thus goes the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think they did this, Elise?
ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think that the Republican
Party in Alabama has been batting that great of an average lately. You
look at how they managed to lose the republican-held senate seat to Doug
Jones. And this is more par for the course. I think that this issue,
while, temporarily, it might make them feel good, dealing with the actual
consequences of getting Roe v. Wade overturned, banning abortion in this
country would not be politically palatable.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the question. It`s like a guy in a bar, let me at
them, let me at them, as he puts his arms back to be pulled back. Do they
want prohibition or do they just want to take the fight?
JORDAN: The GOP, you could argue, has been pretty cynical over the years
and has navigated the line of exploiting pro-life voters who are fed up
now. Because for so many years, they have been promised that Roe v. Wade
is going to be overturned, and then, politically, the leadership would
never go quite that far in the Trumpian era. Do I think that the
Republican Party`s leadership doesn`t have enough sense to navigate the
MATTHEWS: Do they want to – excuse me. Do they want the win or do they
want the fight?
JORDAN: They want the fight.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. John, tell me about this. What`s going to
happen? It seems to me the Governor signed it today, basically
prohibition. Is that effective down there or is it still –
JOHN BARRETT, PROFESSSOR, ST. JOHN`S SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, I think the law
has a six-month phase in. So there is a start up period before it`s
actually live. And at that point, litigants will rush to court. And under
existing law, it is clear as a bell that this is unconstitutional, so they
should get an injunction. And then the state would appeal that to the
circuit court and the injunction should be affirmed and then the state
would petition the Supreme Court to review it. That could take more than a
year before it climbs the ladder.
MATTHEWS: Does Roberts, Chief Justice John Roberts, would he (ph) pass to
sort of avoid being hated? I mean, it is, to some extent, a popularity
(INAUDIBLE). He doesn`t want to be this, he want to be known as the guy
who brings down Roe?
BARRETT: I think he is concerned about the court as an institution, and
especially if something hits the court during an election year, as, of
course, Obamacare did.
MATTHEWS: He didn`t want to bring down Obamacare.
BARRETT: He pulled the court back from that brink. So I think he does
have a unique concern, but he has been a vote against Roe vs. Wade and the
whole women`s case decided in 2016. He was one of the –
MATTHEWS: Are Kavanaugh – I want to be rough to this one, John. Are
Kavanaugh and Gorsuch owned by this president? Do they have to vote
against Roe v. Wade if they get a vote?
BARRETT: I think they are independent jurists, but I think they have a
jurist credential view that lines them up quite against Roe versus. Wade.
MATTHEWS: So maybe Roberts. So let me go to the Representative, thank
you. What do you think is going to happen down there? I mean, you are
obviously concerned that this is going to actually take effect, not just be
bad politics or scary politics.
COLEMAN: Right. Well, I think that not only Alabama, but the southern
states, they`re emboldened right now. When we listen to the Kavanaugh
hearings, of course, he did not tell us that he was going to protect Roe,
so all of these things now are emboldened. What we`re ultimately afraid of
is that if this goes to the Supreme Court, if Roe v. Wade is overturned,
you will have women having abortions in back alleys, in unsanitary areas.
And that`s the fear. But at the end of the day, these men need to stay out
our wombs and allow women to make the best decisions for themselves. And
we`re mad about it. We`re going to continue to fight, even with the
governor signing this bill today. We`re going let people know across this
country that we`re not going to stand for it.
And you want me to stay focused on the State of Alabama. Don`t just come
here for this issue. We`ve got a lot of other issues that we need to talk
about and make sure that the public gets actively engaged.
MATTHEWS: You know what I think? I think we have to trust women to make
this decision. Thank you very much, Representative, for coming here.
COLEMAN: Amen. Amen.
MATTHEWS: Representative Merika Coleman, on the losing side in the short
run, but in the long run, you`ll be great. Thank you so much, Elise
Jordan, of course, and John Barrett of St. John`s University Law School
here up in New York.
Coming up, war hawks in the Trump administration, this is my country, like
John Bolton. They`re pounding the drums down to get us into a war with
Iran. But a new report indicates our closest allies, like real smart
allies in Europe, for example, and in the Arab world aren`t buying this
hype. In fact, some European officials think President Trump is being
tricked into a path towards war by the John Bolton and the hawks around him
all of a sudden.
Plus, has the grand old party become the party of Trump? You betcha. And
why is Mitt Romney the only republican willing to standing up, on occasion,
like a mosquito, actually, to the man in the White House? Much more
HARDBALL coming after the break.
REPORTER: have you seen any threats by Iranian-backed groups in either
Syria or Iraq against coalition forces? Have you seen any threat
MAJOR GENERAL CHRIS GHIKA, DEPUTY COMMANDER: No. There`s been no
increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria. We are
aware of their presence clearly. And if the threat level seems goes up,
then we will raise our force protection measures accordingly.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was British Major General Chris
Ghika, the number two officer in the U.S.-led coalition over there fighting
ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
There he was briefing Pentagon reporters yesterday, and directly disputing
what the Trump administration has been saying for the past 10 days about
As “The New York Times” reports now, the rare public dispute highlights a
central problem for the Trump administration, as it seeks to rally allies
in global opinion against Iran.
In other words, our allies are telling President Trump, we don`t believe
you on the Iran threat. And their concerns are not just with the
president, but with the war hawks the president relies on in his
“The New York Times” adds: “Privately, several European officials described
National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as
pushing an unsuspecting Mr. Trump through a series of steps that could put
the United States on a course to war before the president realizes it.”
This comes as the State Department overnight ordered the departure of non-
critical personnel from all posts in Iraq as a result of the – quote –
“increased threat stream” the State Department is seeing.
For more, I`m joined by Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for “The New
Helene, it`s an honor to have you on.
I look – I`m on the outside here.
HELENE COOPER, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Nice to see you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You`re the reporter.
But I tell you, I smell the same problem we had with Iraq. Back then, we
had an unsuspecting, probably not the most – smartest guy in the world,
W., running the country. But the real people running the country were the
war hawks in the Defense Department, the war hawks at the State Department,
and, most importantly, in the vice president`s office.
And now they`re back. Somehow to hell John Bolton got back in, national
security adviser. Isn`t he the one seen as pushing us into some kind of
war situation with Iran, Bolton?
COOPER: Well, John Bolton, as you know, Chris, has been very much a hawk
on Iran for all of his sort of professional career.
He`s called for regime change in Iran. He`s called for military strikes
against Iran. And he has very much been part of the – sort of the
conductor of this entire Trump administration strategy of churning up the
pressure on Iran.
He and Mike Pompeo were both in favor of pulling out of the Iran nuclear
deal, which they were both opposed to. But they were also both prodding
President Trump into declaring the Iran – Iranian – the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
They have also pushed this whole policy of the Americans saying to the
Europeans, it`s either Iranian oil or it`s our market. So – and that has
almost, in one – in the voice of one European diplomat who talked to me a
couple of days ago said, that`s almost sort of like declaring economic war
So, Bolton – Mr. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are both very
much viewed as hawks in the Trump administration.
MATTHEWS: What about – who voted for John Bolton? Sheldon Adelson? I
mean, who put him in that job? You`re laughing, but the fact is everybody
thinks it was an ask from the neocon, the right-wing hawkish community on
the Middle East, who wanted him in there.
And Trump buckled and put him in there. And now he seems to be calling the
shots. Is that what the Europeans think, that that guy, John Bolton, is
calling the shots, not Trump?
COOPER: I think – I don`t know if I would go as far as to say that
Bolton, Mr. Bolton is calling the shots.
I mean, at the end of the day, President Trump is president. Bolton has
prodded the president into this position.
MATTHEWS: So was W. But W. was president.
COOPER: But I`m not entirely sure that Trump then goes and does it.
I think we may be looking at President Trump to put the brakes on this.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but W. was president too, but we all know it was the vice
president and his neocon allies that pushed the war. W. didn`t even think
about that stuff.
I am being too harsh.
COOPER: But Trump is not necessarily a big interventionist.
So I`m not sure that he`s pulled – he wants – he`s the one who is pulling
American troops out of Syria. He wants to pull American troops out of
COOPER: He`s not one of those people who`s very ambitious when it comes to
putting American troops in harm`s way, particularly in the Middle East.
So I`m going to be curious to see how this plays out, because I don`t think
it`s in President Trump`s instincts, I don`t think it`s his natural
instinct to go ahead to push for something like this.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s like he`s got a foot on the brake and he`s got one on
the gas, and you wonder what`s going to win.
Thank you. You`re the best. Helene Cooper, thank you, of “The New York
Times.” Thanks for the reporting. It`s our total guidance right now.
COOPER: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We`re learning, by the way, tomorrow that, on Capitol Hill, some
congressional leaders will be briefed by the administration on what they
say are threats from Iran.
I want to bring in U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California.
He is a 2020 presidential candidate and a member of the House Intelligence
and Judiciary committees.
The danger here – and if you`re president of the United States,
Congressman, you will have to deal with this – is creating a situation
that leads us into a war.
If we get on a war footing, we pull our people, our personnel out of
Baghdad, we pressure them on the Iranian Guard, we do all kinds of things
economically to squeeze them, we bring in a carrier fleet, a strike force
of bombers into the region, all of which we`re doing right now, it might
give the people, even the moderates in Iran, the thought we want to go to
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening, Chris.
This president and his team are spoiling for war with Iran. We cannot let
that happen. And the way you treat Iran, who is an enemy and a bad actor,
is, you have a nuclear deal with them, which we had and which this
president tore up.
I`m really concerned, though, about your reporting about the British,
because the British are also in Iraq. And a threat to us in Iraq is a
threat to the British. So either the threat is being inflated by the
president`s advisers, or we`re not sharing it with the British. Both of
those would be a problem.
But when you look at the other threats we face, why are we singling out
Iran in a different way than, for example, North Korea? The president
tried to strike a nuclear deal with North Korea. The only difference
between Kim Jong-un and Rouhani in Iran is that Kim Jong-un sends the
president love letters.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this, because you were around there – you
weren`t in the Congress, but you were certainly reading the newspapers and
watched the run-up to the war in Iraq.
The whole idea was to make it sound like we`re facing this horrible menace
of a nuclear bomb over there, which Cheney said they got a nuclear bomb.
They got a bomb, not a program, a bomb. They`re going to be dangerous.
Then you heard all these idiots say how easy it was going to be, it was
going to be a cakewalk to go in there, we`re going to get all the oil for
free, the war is going to pay for itself.
So it`s the old deal, make it look like you have to do it, and it`s going
to be free and fun to do it.
The other day, one of your colleagues from Arkansas said, this is going to
be easy, one strike will be the last strike.
They`re doing the same game they played before in getting us into the Iraq
SWALWELL: That`s right.
And 120,000 people, Chris, that`s not going to be Don Jr. and Eric going
over to Iraq. That`s going to be our service members, who a million of
them served over in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 15 years. And it`s
taken its toll on our country.
But we`re not powerless. This is not 2003. We have a Congress that will
insist that the president tell us the time, the troops, the terrain, and
the reason we have to go.
And so, first things first, the whole Congress should be briefed on what
this threat is. And we should also under – he should also tell us why our
allies are not with us right now, because we can`t go over there by
ourselves. This will be an endless, bloody, costly war for the United
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump recently said he gets good advice from his
national security adviser, Bolton.
When it comes to Iran, Bolton has long called for regime change. Of
course, he made it clear in a 2012 interview on FOX it`s what he wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You said you`re prepared to take on the regime in Tehran. How?
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I have thought for 10 years
or more that we should have regime change in Tehran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s one of those cute neocon words, regime change. It means go
to war, overthrow a government, take over the country, and sit there until
they throw you out.
He has even gone so far as saying a preemptive strike would be warranted.
Here he is 2015. This is Bolton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: The negotiations, whether they lead to an agreement or not, are
not going to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Just as Israel twice
before has struck nuclear weapons programs in the hands of hostile states,
I`m afraid, given the circumstances, that`s the only real option open to us
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This character has been pushing for war and to take over Iran, a
real country, by the way, not something created by Winston Churchill. It`s
a real country. And they`re very modern and very smart.
And they have a really state-of-the-art military since 1998, since the
Iraqi Liberation Act, so-called.
Why is he in this administration? Helene Cooper says this president has
instincts against war. Why is he there?
SWALWELL: Well, it`s because John Bolton has never seen a diplomatic
solution that he didn`t want to bomb.
And I wouldn`t say the president is a noninterventionist. The president is
just somebody who acts on what is most convenient for him. Today, that
could be peace with North Korea. Tomorrow, that could be a nuclear war in
This guy has no core operating principles, and that should terrify
everybody. But, again, these are not John Bolton`s kids or the president`s
kids who are going to have to fight this war. And this is not Iraq. This
is a country of 80 million people. And we do not want to occupy or even
try to engage with a country like this if there`s a diplomatic solution in
We had that solution. We took them from three months of having a nuclear
weapon to over a year. And if you want to deal with their terrorism around
the world, the way they treat Israel, the way that they`re acting in Syria,
it`s better to have them far away from a nuclear weapon than allowing them
to get closer.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he would fight a nuclear war with Iran to win
SWALWELL: I wouldn`t take anything off the table with this corrupt,
MATTHEWS: OK, thanks so much, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell…
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
MATTHEWS: … running for president in 2020.
Up next: Does the Keystone State hold the key to 2020? History says yes.
Tomorrow night, by the way, I`m heading to a Pennsylvania county that voted
for Trump in 2016, despite a long history of favoring Democratic candidates
Stay with us for a sneak preview of our special live event tomorrow,
talking to voters up in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. That is coming up
next here on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
I`m hosting a special edition of HARDBALL tomorrow night live from Wilkes-
Barre, Pennsylvania. We`re going there because that area, in Northeastern
Pennsylvania, spoke with a very clear voice in the 2016 election. That`s
where it is up there on that map.
After voting for Obama in both 2008 and 2012, it switched dramatically in
2016, giving a big majority vote to Republican Donald Trump. What was that
Trump campaigned heavily in Pennsylvania, of course, promising to boost the
economy and bring back coal jobs in some cases.
NBC`s Cal Perry went to Wilkes-Barre ahead of us to talk to Trump voters
about whether the president has lived up to his promises.
CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The small mining community
of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is moving beyond coal, providing jobs to
those working and relying on what has largely become a dying industry.
ROBERT HUGHES, EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA COALITION FOR ABANDONED MINE
RECLAMATION: You have got operators here that you`re seeing go by with the
trucks and the guys with the loaders here that are pushing the material,
are very similar jobs to what`s happening in the coal industry.
And if there was a transition from coal into reclamation, this is it.
PERRY: More than 180,000 acres are left to be reclaimed statewide, 55
acres here at this site.
(on camera): Donald Trump promised coal jobs would come back to
Pennsylvania, but they`re not underground in mines. We found them here on
the surface, where the land is being reclaimed and converted for future
(voice-over): Projects like this one may help lessen the blow for former
HANK ZIELINSKI, NORTHAMPTON GENERATING COMPANY: Right now, we`re saying a
layoff situation going on in the coal fields. We need experience people to
do these remediation projects, rather than displacing somebody, keeping
them busy, cleaning up what our great grandfathers did.
PERRY: Because this area swung so wildly, from reliably Democrat to Trump,
it`s time to look at lessons learned for the local party leadership.
JOHN PEKAROVSKY, DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR, LUZERNE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: I
think it`s just having a presence. There are many theories as to why it
turned in the 2016 election. My theory is, is because Hillary Clinton
really didn`t have a strong presence here.
Donald Trump visited the area many times, built up a lot of enthusiasm.
And I think Hillary just took it for granted that this was her home ground
and didn`t spend a lot of time here. And I think you need to do that.
PERRY: Pennsylvania being union country, we call it a small quorum, three
Democrats, members of the local machinists union, and a Trump supporter,
who was grabbing a drink after work.
BRIAN FEAGLE, MACHINISTS UNION: Young kids coming up nowadays, they`re not
going to want to work in mines. I would never tell a kid, you want to go
out to work in a coal mine, OK? That was just something he threw at
people. It was a promise. OK?
And people bought it.
PERRY (on camera): Well, some people in the union voted for Trump. Does
that explain sort of what happened? I mean, how big of a part is that, and
will it factor in two years from now?
FEAGLE: Well, the biggest part of it was, a lot of people that were union
in our plant that voted for Trump told us the reason they voted for Trump
was because of the promises he made, OK?
And they thought, because he came off as a – not a politician, he was
going to be truthful and he would fulfill his promises.
I have watched his rallies. And you said you were at them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was at that, yes.
FEAGLE: And he stated he was bringing manufacturing back in the state of
FEAGLE: He hasn`t – in 2.5 years, he has brought zero manufacturing back
in this area. He`s only brought low-income warehousing into this area.
PERRY (voice-over): Interstate 81, which runs south from Scranton through
these hills, is now dotted, with warehouses built on former coal mining
Major companies use this area partly because non-union labor is so cheap.
FEAGLE: The problem with these warehouses is, they`re paying 8 to 12 bucks
an hour. They`re bringing in temporary workers.
PERRY (on camera): What`s minimum wage in Pennsylvania?
FEAGLE: Seven-seventy-five? That`s awful.
And these warehouses right now, there`s ads in the paper every day, because
they can`t keep employees. They can`t get enough, because people don`t
want to go and work for $8 an hour. They can`t sustain a family on that.
PERRY: I`m going to say, cheers. And I really, really appreciate you
FEAGLE: No problem, man. I`m just getting warmed up.
PERRY: Thank you very much, guys. I really appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: Cal Perry joins us right now from Luzerne County.
Cal, thanks. Great reporting.
We`re going to – you have talked to a lot of Republicans as well. What`s
the mix of sentiment up there? I`m looking at the polls. I it looks like
it`s going to be a close race again next year.
No, it`s fascinating to look at both sides. On the Republican side, you
have this urge to keep the promise of two years ago that Donald Trump is
not a politician. That plays huge here. We heard yesterday people saying,
look, I know a politician is lying because they`re talking.
And that matters to the Republican voters here, the Trump supporters here.
The other thing is the 401(k) factor. In that lunch that we had with
folks, the Republican supporter, the Donald Trump supporter, turned to
those Democrats, those union members, and said, how is your 401(k) doing?
And they said, it`s doing pretty well.
And people here, as you know, Chris, they work hard. And after 30 years in
the factory, your 401(k) matters. And for Trump supporters, it`s about
Trump staying on message, flogging the economy here in Pennsylvania, making
that the issue, and not letting Democrats distract.
For Democrats that we speak to, the choice of the candidate is going to be
paramount. We heard from the party chair, who talked about elderly voters.
Those are your go-to voters. Those are your reliable voters.
Well, elderly voters in Pennsylvania don`t like radical change. So a more
moderate Democrat, that`s what people are hoping for to unseat Trump, when
you talk to Democrats here.
MATTHEWS: How much did you pick up of attitude, of people feeling that the
Democrats in Washington, maybe Hillary Clinton included, the Democratic
establishment, looked down their noses at them, ignored them?
PERRY: Oh, that`s everything.
Hillary didn`t come here, is what you hear people say, even though she`s
from here. Pennsylvania is something that is discarded, is disregarded.
People here feel disrespected by Washington. They feel disrespected by the
way they`re spoken to.
The Mueller report did not come up yesterday in our conversation in that
pizza parlor, but, boy, those 401(k) and the economy did. And, again,
we`re talking about labor. We`re talking about these factories. We`re
talking about lost manufacturing jobs. We`re talking about transitioning
So when you`re talking about getting lectured from Washington, it does not
play here. And Republicans know, and especially those Trump supporters,
they know in those rallies, in these rallies in Pennsylvania, they know how
to play to that crowd. And they know that that message still plays, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, I will be trying to pick up on what you picked up on
wholesale. And, by the way, I hope I do as good a job as you did.
Thanks so much, Cal Perry of NBC News.
PERRY: You got it, Chris. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Again, please join us for “The Deciders.” That`s what it`s
about, tomorrow night live at 7:00 p.m. from Luzerne County.
This is the kind of place in the country, not the big cities, not the
usual, predictable places. You can`t predict this place. That`s what the
story is, whether it`s going to go for Trump or against him, and who
they`re going to feel comfortable with.
A big announcement here, by the way. Be sure to tune in on June 3. We`ve
got another HARDBALL special event, a live town hall with presidential Pete
Buttigieg from Fresno. I don`t know why it`s Fresno, but it`s a long trip.
It`s going to be worth it. We`re going to have him for the whole hour in
And up next, by the way, what do you do with a judge who called Barack
Obama an un-American imposter? If you are Donald Trump, you put him up for
promotion, of course. But what if you are a Trump critic like say, Mitt
Romney who gets to vote on that promotion? Romney is showing stuff here.
We never know when it`s going to come, but once in a while, you see a
little bit of life from this guy, a little bit of strength.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The GOP is the now GOTP, the grand old Trump party, leaving Republicans as
obsequious bystanders in a party fully defined now by President Trump`s
whims. In the wake of the release of the Mueller report, for example,
congressional Republicans circled the wagons around their leader.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ignoring the findings of the report
declared case closed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The special counsel`s finding is clear: case
closed. Case closed. This ought to be good news for everyone. But my
Democratic colleagues seemed to be publicly working through the five stages
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Last weekend, Senator Lindsey Graham sided with the president`s
family over the institution he serves in saying Donald Trump Jr. should not
even apply or comply with the subpoena from the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If I were Donald Trump, Jr.`s lawyer, I would
tell them you don`t need to go back to this environment anymore. You have
been there for hours and hours and hours, and nothing being alleged here
changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation. I would call it a day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: However, there remains a lone, dissenting voice of the night.
Tune in after the break to find out who that is. Somebody who`s willing to
stand up within the Republican ranks against the boss.
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney, the lone ranger among Republicans these
days, broke with his party and the president to oppose a federal judge`s
nomination. The judge was under fire for past comments about immigrants,
LGBT issues and President Obama. In June of 2011, in fact, during a
political event, this nominee for judge, called then-President Obama an un-
Shortly after that vote, Senator Romney told reporters he made particularly
disparaging comments about President Obama: And as the Republican nominee
for president, I just couldn`t subscribe to that in a federal judge. This
was not a matter of qualifications or politics. This was something
specifically to that issue as a former nominee of our party.
The judge in question was confirmed 49-46. It sounds like a party line
vote and enjoins more than 90 conservative federal judges that Republicans
pushed through at break neck speed.
For more, I`m joined by Eddie Glaude, professor at Princeton University,
and Noah Rothman is associate editor of “Commentary Magazine”.
Eddie, thank you. I want to go to you, Professor, and that`s this –
what`s more interesting? The fact that Romney, who has a history of having
some character occasionally and also some kowtowing to Trump, decides to
show character on an issue of character.
EDDIE GLAUDE, CHAIRMAN, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, CENTER FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN
STUDIES: Well, I think it`s a good thing. I think it`s important that
Romney in this instance exemplifies a kind of backbone, some backbone here.
But I was really interested in this is not about politics or
qualifications. So, it`s an instance of incivility on the part of the
judge, but the same guy who called immigrants maggots, this is the same guy
who at his judiciary hearing wouldn`t say that Brown v. Board of Education
was a correct decision. This is the same guy on politics and
qualifications seemed woefully unqualified to sit on the bench and who
didn`t – who doesn`t, rather.
MATTHEWS: This is that guy. That guy that wouldn`t say Roe (INAUDIBLE) –
GAUDE: Exactly. And so, to not say –
MATTHEWS: Brown versus Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, wasn`t a good
GAUDE: So, is that he called President Obama an un-American imposter.
MATTHEWS: What was that about? Birtherism?
GAUDE: Yes, you know, perhaps. Birtherism and all of the stuff that`s
underneath it. But that was the line in the sand?
MATTHEWS: But, see, the imposter line goes to the crazy part of Trump.
The really – not just evil, but the crazy part that believed that somehow
he didn`t go to those schools is one of those phantom cases.
Noah, this is really strange belief system here, to believe that Barack
Obama is not really Barack Obama. He didn`t go to Columbia. He didn`t go
to Yale or Harvard Law. He somehow was registered under some fictitious
That`s what Trump would say. Remember, nobody knew him in school?
NOAH ROTHMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, COMMENTARY MAGAZINE: Right.
MATTHEWS: What did that mean? Mystery –
ROTHMAN: I don`t know if we`ve ever solved that mystery. It`s truly
suspect. These – the statements on his part and –
MATTHEWS: He had 49 votes.
ROTHMAN: Yes, that`s unfortunate, but it`s – it`s not the first time that
Republicans have come out against Donald Trump`s nominees, judicial
nominees. Tom Scott scuttled Tom Farr who was similarly suspect in racial
Wendy Vitter for nomination, she has been suspect by the – NAACP opposed
to her nomination, and Susan Collins voted against her. The Republicans
have scuttled the nominations of Herman Cain and Steven Moore just last
week off the top of my head.
So, this president really is a little weaker –
MATTHEWS: You don`t see what I see. I see a party that had been known for
principles, fiscal responsibility, international alliances, certainly,
toughness in foreign policy, generally, all through the Cold War, and a
kind of consistency, boring consistency, and this president seems whatever
he says he wants, they go along with it.
ROTHMAN: To an extent.
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me, why are they, all of a sudden, fishing for
troubled waters in Iran?
ROTHMAN: Well, I do actually have to disagree with you because a lot of
the Iranian threat assessments. I mean, we talk about that –
MATTHEWS: Do you think we should be engaged in the regime change,
according to Bolton?
ROTHMAN: Well, the administration`s position is that this regime is
illegitimate, that threat to national security should be removed.
MATTHEWS: So, we should overthrow?
ROTHMAN: Not necessarily. Now, anybody who – quoting that “New York
Times” piece, there`s another quoting the administration officials saying
our objective here is to apply economic pressure to catalyze a revolution
from below, not to occupy the country because that would be a disaster.
Our strategy here is to avoid strikes –
MATTHEWS: Why are we talking about 120,000 troops?
ROTHMAN: That`s a contingency plan. Contingency plan in the event –
MATTHEWS: No, it sounds like a prepositioning plan.
ROTHMAN: It also sounds like an eventuality you would need to plan for if
the intelligence assessments are accurate.
MATTHEWS: Like Desert Shield. Desert Shield, we put the troops in Saudi
and then we launched the attack.
ROTHMAN: It`s an insufficient footprint.
MATTHEWS: Would you like to see us attack Iran?
ROTHMAN: No, I would not. I think it derails the administration`s
MATTHEWS: Eddie, I think there is a lockstep out of the administration`s -
- this frightens me.
GLAUDE: Oh, absolutely. Look, I want to make clear, I don`t make a hard
distinction, Chris, between Trumpism and the Republican Party. I think
what Trump has done is activated a dimension of the Republican Party that
was already there.
So, I think –
MATTHEWS: Describe that. What is that dimension?
GLAUDE: That dimension has everything to do with the Tea Party, has
everything to do with that wave of focal, in some ways resided in that
space within the Republican Party.
GLAUDE: Exactly. Not only Charlottesville, but it has something to do
with small government. It has something to do with social programs. It
has something do with kind of –
MATTHEWS: Which Charlottesville? The Nazis, the neo-Nazis or Robert E.
Lee fans or both?
GLAUDE: They kind of shade into one another. They`re distinguishable, but
they`re not necessarily the same. So, I want to suggest that what we`ve
seen is the metastasizing of this particular dimension of the Republican
Party and the leaders have been dancing with these folks for a long time.
It`s metastasized, it`s taking over the party, and then throw up Donald
MATTHEWS: So, you think he picked a judge like this because of those
GLAUDE: I think so.
ROTHMAN: I think it`s a poor vetting mistake, frankly. And the notion
that the Republican Party has capitulated entirely to Trump is betrayed by
the wall. They yessed the wall to death for two years.
MATTHEWS: What do about the word maggots if that was used?
ROTHMAN: It`s discrediting.
MATTHEWS: It has been confirmed.
ROTHMAN: It is a disgrace. Let`s get this clear –
MATTHEWS: Was he picked because of words like that?
ROTHMAN: I don`t believe so. I don`t know that his rhetoric is
commensurate with his record because I can`t speak to his record. But the
rhetoric alone should be disqualifying, the fact that you generated some
Republican votes against it suggests that the Republican Party has not been
entirely taken over –
GLAUDE: Some Republican votes?
ROTHMAN: Yes, some Republican votes. Well, unfortunately one. Mitt
Romney gets special annuities because of his particular position as, A,
somebody from Utah, and, B, the former Republican nominee. And there
should have been more.
But to suggest however that this is indicative of a Republican Party`s
values is I think is betrayed by the last two years.
MATTHEWS: Do you like Trump?
ROTHMAN: No, I do not.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
ROTHMAN: But I`m not willing to jettison Republican Party either as a –
MATTHEWS: Would you vote for him next time?
ROTHMAN: No, I haven`t voted for him before, and I don`t vote for him –
since I don`t advocate for candidates, I advocate for outcomes. And an
MATTHEWS: But if you have to vote.
ROTHMAN: – a healthy Republican Party is the best outcome.
MATTHEWS: OK, you don`t mind me asking how you`re going to vote?
ROTHMAN: I don`t know how I`m going to vote. Probably won`t.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
GLAUDE: Well, I definitely not for Trump.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. I like that clarity here.
Thank you, Eddie Glaude. And thank you, Noah Rothman.
Up next, tomorrow night, we`re taking the show on the road to northeastern
Pennsylvania and find out what made the blue state turn red and where it`s
heading in 2020.
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Tomorrow night on HARDBALL, we`ll find out why the blue state of
Pennsylvania elected Donald Trump in 2016. We`ll be up in Luzerne County,
in northeastern Pennsylvania, a county that spoke with a clear voice in the
2016 election, voting heavily for Trump after voting for Obama twice.
We`ll talk to voters about what makes the issues and attitudes, where it
worked in 2016, and what`s going on heading into 2020.
We`re calling the show “The Deciders” because if history serves, the people
you`ll be hearing from will be just that. You don`t want to miss it. And
if the presidential candidates, including Trump, really want to win, they
don`t want to miss it either.
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the