Buttigieg (D-IN) leaves campaign trail. TRANSCRIPT: 6/24/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Jeffrey Prescott, Elise Labott, Erika Andiola, Jaime Harrison; Michael Steele, Vivian Salama

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Now, stay tuned for “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews

up next.




Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  It`s a big week for the

2020 democratic candidates with just now two days to go until the first

debate.  And while some candidates are calculating how to stand out on a

crowded stage, two frontrunners are wishing they were getting less



Mayor Pete Buttigieg spent part of the weekend back home in South Bend

where he faced criticism and anger in an emotional town hall following the

shooting two weekends ago of a black man by a white police officer.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Get the people that are racist off the streets.  Re-

organize your department.  You can do that by Friday.




MATTHEWS:  Well, after the town hall, Buttigieg discussed his decision to

return home from the campaign trail in South Carolina.




MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN):  I just think it`s my job.  I don`t know if

it`s smart or not.  I don`t know if it`s strategic or not.  But it`s my





MATTHEWS:  In a statement today, Buttigieg said it was a tough

conversation.  Hearts were broken.  My heart is broken.  It was a painful

but needed conversation.


Meanwhile, frontrunner Joe Biden is trying to shift his focus to

immigration with an op-ed he wrote for the Miami Herald slamming President

Trump`s policies as morally bankrupt.  But Biden faces lingering criticism

over his remarks last week about the civility he knew in working with

southern segregationist senators back in the `70s.  The former V.P.

defended his comments on Saturday in an interview with the reverend, Al






boy.  It means something different.  It hurts when you call a racist like

you normalize.  You know, that`s not the Biden I got to know.  Don`t you

understand that?


JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT:  I do fully understand that.  That`s

not what I said though.  They didn`t print the whole deal.  Do you know

what I mean?  The context of this was totally different.




MATTHEWS:  Well, several other candidates capitalized on the days before

the debate to make last-minute pitches to voters.  Senator Bernie Sanders

rolled out his plan to cancel more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. 

And while former Congressman Beto O`Rourke is outlining his plan for a war

tax to care for veterans of any future U.S. military conflict.


For his part in his interview with Meet the Press, President Trump

criticized Joe Biden by once again invoking his 2016 rival, Hillary





DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  They always say she was a lousy candidate. 

I actually think that Hillary Clinton was a great candidate.  She was very

smart.  She was very tough.  She was ruthless and vicious.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  You`d rather run against her again, wouldn`t you? 

You`ve only talked about her in your announcement speech.  You spent a lot

of time talking about her.


TRUMP:  No.  I would actually rather run against Biden.  I think that would

be my preference.


TODD:  Why?


TRUMP:  Sleepy Joe.  He is sleepy.  She was not sleepy.




MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Jaime Harrison, the former Chairman of

the House of the South Carolina Democratic Party, there`s an important

post, and 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate in South Carolina, Michael Steele,

former RNC Chairman, and NBC News Correspondent Heidi Przybyla.


Let`s talk about these two guys taking a beating right now.  Buttigieg,

Jaime, tell me about that.  I call you Jaime.  I haven`t met you before,

but it`s a nice name, so I`ll call you Jaime.  Tell me about this Buttigieg

thing.  Is there some wall against him that was there before not just –

well just before, before this incident of last – or two weeks ago?


JAIME HARRISON, DNC ASSOCIATE CHAIR:  Well, Chris, I think what Pete is

experiencing right now almost isn`t personal.  This is what we`re seeing is

the frustration within the African-American community about a number of

issues that have been plaguing the community for years.  And people are

just getting to the point where they`re frustrated and they`re saying

enough is enough.


And I think what we`re seeing is Pete just happens to be the person where

they`re getting a lot of that frustration out at this particular moment. 

But this is something that all of the candidates have to be very, very

sensitive to, that folks are just very, very frustrated in the African-

American community about the shootings, about the fact that their

unemployment is always higher than everybody else`s unemployment, that the

systematic disadvantages that we see in the African-American community, and

folks are just saying enough is enough.


MATTHEWS:  Let me – let me bottom line you.  Let`s go to the – all the

way to the finish line here.  Do you think it`s possible, plausible, good

that the Democratic Party runs an all-white ticket next summer,

president/V.P., both white people?


HARRISON:  Listen, I believe, and I`ve said this from the very start, that

the ticket – the next ticket has to be reflective of the diversity of the

Democratic Party.




HARRISON:  Ergo, I see that either there is someone of color on the top of

the ticket or on the bottom of the ticket, but I believe that there will be

at least one ethnic minority, either as president or vice president.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to my friend, Michael.  No, I`m going to go to – I`m

going over here, Heidi.  You`re a republican.


MATTHEW STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN:  I have a few thoughts on this.


MATTHEWS:  Let`s get to some straight reporting here.  This thing about

Biden and this thing about Buttigieg, both is about race.  I do think, you

know, I`ve always said race in this country is the San Andreas fault.  It`s

right below.  It is earthquake potential at any time and people trample on

it at their very peril.  You talk about race, you better be careful.


HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I think there`s a difference though

between Biden and between Buttigieg.  And what Jaime said can be true, but

it can also be true that there is a bigger kind of structural problem here

with Buttigieg`s campaign.  Because, Chris, I spoke with some of the

African-American elders in the Democratic Party a month or two ago, and

they told me, and we kind of ticked on the list of candidates, and on him,

they were very skeptical that because of his profile and because he hadn`t

really had a really strong base of support in the African-American

community within South Bend that he would ever ascend to actually, you

know, get the nomination.  And this has been there.  It`s been there to

your question.


MATTHEWS:  Yes, I keep thinking about it.  Isn`t it our turn is the

mentality, I keep thinking, women.  Isn`t it our turn?  All right, Hillary

may have had some problems, but isn`t it our turn still?  We`re almost half

the party – more than half the party, I guess, numerically.  African-

Americans are waiting their turn since 1865, you know, in terms of getting

the Democratic Party, which is the party now of African-Americans by choice

of not putting somebody on the ticket again like Obama.


STEELE:  But you`ve elected a black president who was a democrat.  So

that`s a big box that`s been checked in some respect.


MATTHEWS:  What, I gave you the office?


STEELE:  Not – but it`s not a question that I gave you office, but I think

the mindset for some whites out there is like, okay, we`ve been there, done

that, not that we won`t do that again, but I don`t think they`re looking at

it the same way.


And this is what you`re going to see play out.  I think on two areas, race

and sex, is why when you look at who is leading the charge for democrats

right now, it`s not Kamala Harris or, you know, some other individual,

right?  It is a series of white men who are there.  So there is this

breakdown, I think, that`s occurring within the democratic ranks and how

rank and file democrats are looking at this race as not the same way the

vice chairman said.


MATTHEWS:  I want to get back to Jaime for a second because I think you

were gutsy to say what you did.  I`m asking because I keep doing this

simple arithmetic thing.  I go, can you have an all-white ticket?  No.  Can

you have an all-male ticket?  No, I don`t think.  So that means Kamala

Harris is Joe Biden`s running mate.  Why do we go through all of this

rigmarole?  It`s all done.  I mean, I`m kidding.  But isn`t that sort of

the way it works out mathematically and arithmetically if you say those are

the rules?  I mean, only one was your rule.  But does there have to be a

woman in the ticket, Jaime?


HARRISON:  Well, you know, a number of the candidates, Chris, have said

that, you know, if they are elected the nominee – a number of the male

candidates rather, put that caveat, have said that if they`re the nominee,

then they are going to select a woman to be a part of the ticket as well. 

And so, you know, that`s part of all the – all of the things that are

factored in.


But at the end of the day, hopefully, what we have is a ticket that is well

prepared to send Donald Trump home and I`m happy to help send Lindsey

Graham home with him.


MATTHEWS:  Tell me about – anyway, meanwhile, for many of the candidates,

this debate is a chance to introduce themselves out of nowhere.  Let`s face

it, you get on network broadcast television and you get on this network and

you get to Telemundo, millions of people, maybe 80 percent of the people

watching all together have never looked you in the face before.  Well, The

New York Times reports the debate is, for some, the only opportunity to

stand out from an enormous throng of competitors and build national (ph)

momentum in the democratic primary, it has in The Times.


Many of the 20 democrats who will debate have spent long hours holding

their own debate simulations and rapid fire policy drills.  In each debate,

the candidates could have as little as six or seven minutes of speaking

time over two hours to put all that practice into work.


Heidi, this is a challenge, but I like the – I`m going to say it at the

end of the show.  I like the fish fry rule that Jim Clyburn did last Friday

night, which is you`ve got a couple – you got a minute or two here.  Get

it done, because then it forces you to crystallize why you`re there.


PRZYBYLA:  Well, it`s going to be a divide between Biden and pretty much

everybody else.  On the second night, it`s going to be very interesting to

see how Bernie and Biden interact.  But if there is any kind of stumble

there for Sanders, there are going to be other people like Kamala Harris

who can step in and have that moment.


You cannot predict who that person is going to be.  I mean, I –


MATTHEWS:  Would somebody take him on the way they`ve been taking on Biden? 

It hasn`t happened yet.  I mean, take him on by name.  Sanders is wrong.


PRZYBYLA:  I don`t know.  I don`t have an inside track on what Sanders`

campaign strategy is, but I can`t imagine that there isn`t, you know, some

strategy there to try and draw a clear distinction there between the two of



MATTHEWS:  Nobody on the left has done it.  Hickenlooper has done it for

the moderate side.


STEELE:  Right.


MATTHEWS:  But I have not seen anybody making – whereas he is taking a

direct shot at Warren, Elizabeth Warren, saying she`s the corporate

candidate.  What?  I don`t think so.


STEELE:  Yes.  I think Heidi is right on in terms of how this thing could

personal play itself out.  That Biden/Sanders tension is – really, it`s

going to be the driver over both nights.


MATTHEWS:  And they`re next to each other.


STEELE:  And they`re next to each other.  So it really almost, in one

sense, it doesn`t matter so much what happens the first night because

everyone is going to be focused on the second night in terms of that.  And

you`re right, there could be some bleed-in to that where someone could sort

of put themselves against Biden or against Sanders from the first night.


But that`s the tension because if Sanders falters or Biden falters, then

that opens up the entire race.  So that`s not going to come from –


MATTHEWS:  Well, the way Reagan faltered in one of these debates where he

looked too old to be president, remember, in the first debate against

Walter Mondale.  He looked like – even The Wall Street Journal in their

news pages said this guy may be losing it.


STEELE:  Right.  So that fight could open up the door and because you`ve

got so much, so little space.  So I`ve got to introduce myself.  I`ve got

to lay out my policy.  And then I`ve got to decide if I`m going after Biden

or Sanders.


MATTHEWS:  Also you have to do another thing.  You have to answer the

freaking questions.


STEELE:  Right.


MATTHEWS:  Now, that would be nice.


PRZYBYLA:  The philosophical divides in terms of Biden`s strain of

moderation and his general philosophy that, by the way, got him in trouble

by invoking the wrong names, but he was trying to make the point that

you`ve got to work together.  We still need 60 votes in the Senate.  And

you`re going to see that challenged from a lot of the stage which is full

of progressives that don`t agree with that.


MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk to Jaime about South Carolina.  You know, we`re used

to this sort of white people`s primary system that`s really going on for

really long.  And I think you would be – I can see your smile.  I mean, we

go to Iowa.  Okay, I get it.  Let me go to New Hampshire with about 500

minority, maybe, of minority people up there.  I don`t know if that many. 

And then you go to Nevada, which is pretty diverse.  And you got Nevada

thinking about its first, right?


STEELE:  South Carolina and Nevada.


MATTHEWS:  South Carolina first.  Well, South Carolina, we get to the first

one of people of color, 60 something percent of the voting – primary

voters are African-American, because history and geography and all that. 

What does it mean?  Do you think these candidates will be anticipating

South Carolina long before they get there or what, Jaime?


HARRISON:  They will, Chris.  And this is why South Carolina is important

and why I`m so proud of this state because it has now made its way into the

upper echelon of the early states.  It is because not only is there a

significant African-American population in our primary, but we`re the

gateway for Super Tuesday.


So, you know, if you win the South Carolina primary, where there is

significant African-American population, you then go in a few days, you

take that momentum and you go into Super Tuesday where there are six or

seven other southern states that are in that primary with similar



So this is an opportunity to fine-tune your message to see what works with

younger African-Americans and older African-Americans to make sure that you

have a staff that is diverse that can go across the country.  And that is

how Hillary Clinton won the nomination in `16.  That is how Barack Obama

won the nomination in 2008.  South Carolina is the linchpin as it relates

to the nomination for this party.


MATTHEWS:  I`ve got to ask you about one big question.  How are you going

to beat Lindsey Graham?


HARRISON:  I`m going to beat Lindsey Graham and I`m going to send him home

because he no longer represents South Carolina.  This is a guy who cares

more about golfing with the President than addressing the issues here in

the state.


I mean, we had rural hospitals that closed and then he comes up with a

healthcare bill that he came up with in a barber shop with Rick Santorum. 

This guy is no longer the serious maverick that he was when John McCain was

alive.  And it`s really shameful.


MATTHEWS:  Why does he wag his tail for the President?  I`m serious.  Why

does he seem to giggle in his delight with this guy?


HARRISON:  He wants to be relevant, Chris.  You know, George Will said it

perfectly.  Lindsey Graham is a political wind sock.  He wants to be

relevant.  And we`re going to let him be as relevant as he wants to be.  He

can continue to be Donald Trump`s golf caddie down at Mar-a-Lago all the

time that he wants.  I`m going to give him a permanent retirement.  That`s

why it`s important for you folks to go to jaimeharrison.com.  We`re going

to send him home.


MATTHEWS:  You got a (INAUDIBLE) challenge.  It`s hard to turn a windsock

into a punching bag.  It doesn`t work.  It`s hard to hit nothing.  How do

you hit nothing, sir?


Anyway, thank you so much, Jaime.  Please come back and good luck with the

race.  Jaime Harrison running for the U.S. Senate down in South Carolina. 

Michael Steele, sir, as always, Heidi, as always.


Coming up, President Trump announces hard-hitting sanctions on Iran after

calling off a retaliatory strike last week.  I am so glad he called off the

strike.  Let me just say that upfront.  We`ll talk about the rest.  Is

there a strategy here?  Is there a plan behind the President`s maximum

pressure campaign or is he just winging it day-to-day, hour-to-hour?


Plus, there were red flags about a lot of presidential appointments.  We`re

looking at them right now, but Trump hired them any.  Leaked vetting

documents outlined what the transition team and president-elect Trump knew

about candidates for big jobs for candidates in the administration but

hired them anyway.  Why were more swamp creatures allowed to enter the



Much more ahead tonight, stay with us.






TRUMP:  Sanctions imposed through the executive order that I`m about to

sign will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader`s office and those

closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial

resources and support.


We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons

its dangerous activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of

nuclear weapons.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


That was President Trump today announcing – actually reading what he

called hard-hitting sanctions against several of Iran`s top leaders,

including the supreme leader ayatollah Khomeini.  This comes after

President Trump called off a retaliatory strike against Iran last week for

the downing of that U.S. drone worth about $100 million, by the way, that



The President says the new sanctions are proportionate and a proportionate

response to Iran`s recent actions, but warned U.S. restraint is limited. 

Here he goes.




TRUMP:  I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us, a lot of

restraint.  And that doesn`t mean we`re going to show it in the future.




MATTHEWS:  Well, this afternoon, the U.N. Security Council met to discuss

the escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the Iranian

Ambassador to the U.N. said his country would not give in to U.S. threats.





is – in a clear mind can accept to have a dialogue with somebody who is

threatening you with more sanctions.


So that – as long as this threat is there, there is no way that Iran and

the U.S. can start a dialogue. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, in addition to sanctions, there are reports that the U.S.

launched cyberattacks against Iran the same day President Trump canceled

the military strike.  Interesting.


Today, the president said – had this message for the supreme leader of






has the potential to have a great country and quickly, very quickly.  And I

think they should do that, rather than going along this very destructive

path, destructive for everybody. 




MATTHEWS:  For more I`m joined by Elise Labott, foreign affairs analyst,

and Jeffrey Prescott, former senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the

Gulf states on President Trump`s National Security Council.


It`s interesting. 


Let me start with you, Jeffrey.


It`s interesting that the president sort of left them off the hook by

saying it was some regional commander, some general that knocked down our

drone.  And now today he said any action taken by that government is taken

by the supreme leader.  I`m blaming the top guy. 


Why did he do that? 



I think – I think that`s a real challenge of the administration`s



They have been looking to de-escalate, but at the same time taking steps

that seem to re-escalate the situation.  I think there are mixed messages

coming out of this administration, whether you look at what the secretary

of state has been saying, what the national security adviser, Bolton, has

been saying, what the president has said just over the last couple of days. 


They have sent different messages about what we`re seeking out of this

negotiation.  And that leaves us really at…




MATTHEWS:  Elise, if you were on the other side – do a little reporting

from the other side.  Think about, what are sending?  What signal are we

sending to the people in Tehran? 


I mean, we crushed the deal.  We said no deal more. 




MATTHEWS:  So you were going to lay off nuclear development for five years. 

You say, America won`t take that?  OK.  We will do something else. 


But what do they think we`re up to?  Do they think Trump is sane? 


LABOTT:  I`m not sure, really. 


I think, in one way, the Iranians are trying to wait President Trump out. 

They don`t know if he`s going to get reelected. 




LABOTT:  And, meanwhile, they`re trying…


MATTHEWS:  Well, we don`t know either. 


LABOTT:  We don`t know. 


But they`re trying to show with all of these actions, with the drone, with

those tankers, with, you know, hitting Saudi assets, that there is a cost

for what the U.S. is doing with the – with all these economic sanctions.


And it`s kind of their two timelines are hitting up against each other. 

The U.S. is hoping that Iran will capitulate and surrender.  And Iran is

saying, we`re not going to surrender, we`re going to show you that there is

a cost. 


But I don`t think that the Iranians aren`t willing to negotiate at all. 

You heard one of the – President Rouhani`s advisers.  It didn`t get a lot

of play, but was saying if you want something a little bit more than this

Iran deal, then you have to show us something. 


They`re looking for something a little bit like Kim Jong-un is getting. 

And what really surprises me is, they haven`t started to play President

Trump like Kim Jong-un has. 




LABOTT:  Because President Trump is showing a lot of leg for Kim Jong-un. 

And he seems to be willing to show it for the Iranians if they`re willing

to, you know, play the game. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, he`s got a whole bunch of neocons and all floating around

his administration who hate Iran.  Let`s face it.


And Netanyahu hates Iran and all.  I understand this stuff.  We all

understand it.  It`s a pretty transparent situation. 


Anyway, President Trump is calling for maximum pressure right now, economic

pressure, on Iran.  But the president has pursued that strategy with other

countries, and so far it hasn`t proven very successful.  Let`s be honest. 


As “New York Times” columnist Nicholas Kristof points out, Trump tried

maximum pressure on North Korea, and it is continuing to produce nuclear

weapons.  With China, we may be facing a trade war.  With Venezuela,

exacerbating – exacerbating hunger in the streets, but leaving the

dictatorship in place.  And with the Palestinians, who responded by

refusing to even meet with administration officials. 


So, now, with Iran, we may now be on the brink of war. 


So, here`s the question.  Does it ever work, tightening the screws?  That`s

what he`s doing. 


PRESCOTT:  In the Obama administration, we learned if you had a point to

your sanctions, if you got your friends together with you, if you had

allies together, if you worked in concert toward an objective, the

objective was getting Iran to the table to get an agreement. 


And that was the Iran nuclear deal that we got in 2015.  So the problem is,

the Trump administration has said, we want to use maximum pressure and Iran

will buckle.  That`s not going to happen.  They have said, we want to get a

better deal.  No attempt to reach out and start diplomacy. 




PRESCOTT:  They have said that Iran is going to take this pressure and they

will stop messing around in the region.  We have only seen escalations



So the approach that they have tried is just not working. 


LABOTT:  I don`t think Iran won`t buckle.  I mean, they buckled for the

Obama administration because those sanctions really hit. 


But you also – while they offered the stick, they also had a carrot.  And

so I think the Iranians are looking for that carrot.  And I think you`re

going to see the G20.  Leaders are going to be meeting and they`re going to

be discussing some way to have a way to de-escalate. 


I think, ultimately, President Trump is pretty clear by saying, let`s make

America – Iran great again, I think they`re going to be a great country, I

will be their best friend. 


He`s practically begging for the Iranians to sit down with him. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, it makes sense if they were secular in their thinking over

there, and they weren`t so, you know, crazy, the ayatollah, because Iran`s

got the people, it`s got the work force, it`s got the technology.


It`s a modern country with a – they could become the great economic power

of that whole region, if they`d just stop screwing around.  And we`d leave

them alone.  I think we would.  Netanyahu would still be mad at them, but I

think we`d leave them alone. 


I don`t get it.  I think there is a real opportunity there. 


Anyway, in a new op-ed, former ambassador – former Obama National Security

Adviser, rather, Susan Rice writes that following the – quote – “mess” of

the canceled military strike on Iran, she sees an opening for President

Trump to restart the talks. 


She says the first step is for the president, he needs to sideline his out-

of-control national security adviser plus his hawkish sidekick, the

secretary of state.  That means John Bolton and Pompeo. 


Why does he have these people in his administration?  This is a rhetoric –

rhetorical question.  He said no more stupid wars.  Then he brings Bolton

in.  And Pompeo seems to be getting as worse as Bolton.  They want war. 


PRESCOTT:  And what they have done is box him into a corner, where he

really doesn`t have a good way out. 


I totally agree with Ambassador Rice.  There is an opportunity here.  There

are two reasons I`m skeptical that the Trump administration is going to

take it.  First, the people around Trump.


MATTHEWS:  What, Sheldon Adelson? 


PRESCOTT:  The people around Trump.  That`s exactly right. 


The second is, to your earlier point, they have tried this approach over

and over again.  It`s not actually delivering results on North Korea, on

Venezuela and now on Iran. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, he just put out the word as we speak that the president is

saying he doesn`t need congressional authorization to go – to take

military action against Iran.  Isn`t that nice?  Again, erratic, erratic. 


LABOTT:  I mean, listen, there are some advisers and some – obviously, you

have Pompeo and Bolton. 


And I think Pompeo is really doing it more because he wants to side – he`s

thinking about his own political ambition. 


MATTHEWS:  Another Lindsey Graham. 


LABOTT:  Another Lindsey Graham.  But John Bolton, I don`t necessarily

think wants a deal.  I think Pompeo…


MATTHEWS:  No, he doesn`t care who the president is. 




MATTHEWS:  He`s John Bolton. 


LABOTT:  No.  But I think…


MATTHEWS:  I want to say one thing. 


I don`t – I`m going to make a little editorial, because if Trump had taken

military action, I would have come down hard on him.  I think it`s good

that he hesitated. 


I think hesitation before using military action, and asking how many

casualties there are going to be on the other side is a good question, the

fact he found out it was 150 or so people.


We went into Iraq, everybody said it was going to be quick and easy, it was

going to be a slam dunk.  We may have killed somewhere between 150,000

people and a million people, Iraqis, who were just there.  They are just

Iraqis.  They weren`t the bad guys. 


And we only make that calculation now.  It`s time that – I like the fact

that the president asked up front to his NSC people, how many people will

die if we take this step?  I think it`s good. 


And I`m glad he did it.




LABOTT:  I think it`s pretty clear that he doesn`t want a military

escalation.  There is some, you know, debate over when he asked or



Clearly, he didn`t want a military escalation.  I think the question,

though, is Iran going to keep testing them?  The Iranians are saying they

will put down another drone.  Are the Iranians going to keep testing them? 

Are – is an American serviceman or someone, you know, going to get killed? 


And then President Trump is going to find himself in the exact same space

that he did last week, backing down or imposing military action.  So I

don`t think we have seen the end of it. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, they`re not completely crazy, because after they held our

hostages for a year, 50 of them…


LABOTT:  They let them go, but John Kerry had that channel to Foreign

Minister Zarif.  And now the administration is it talking about sanctioning

Foreign Minister Zarif. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, we have had success in dealing with them.  They`re not

completely crazy.  They`re not crazy.  They didn`t kill any of our

hostages.  And I was working as a speechwriter to President Carter. 


And I remember, it was horrible, it was humiliating.  I hated it as a

patriot.  I hated it.  But they did show restraint, which is interesting. 


We ought to think about that once a while.  And I do think we got to go to

Rouhani people, the secular people, and work with them and try to move them



Thank you, Elise.  Thank you, Elise Labott.  And thank you, Jeffrey



Up next:  President Trump says his administration is doing a fantastic job

dealing with migrants down at the border.  So, why are authorities now

removing hundreds of migrant children from a detention facility down in

Texas following reports of inhuman, inhuman conditions? 


Wait until you hear what they`re doing to these kids down here. 


That`s coming up next. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


Nearly 300 children were moved from a border facility in Clint, Texas,

today after a public outcry over what lawyers described to “The New York

Times” as a chaotic scene of sickness and filth. 


According to multiple reports, lawyers who interviewed children at this

site say they lacked access to showers, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste,

everything.  They described children sleeping on the floor, of flu and lice

outbreaks, and young children caring for infants. 


Some of the children had been there for up to 27 days.  And though many of

the children crossed the border with family members, they are considered to

be unaccompanied if they cross with someone other than their biological

parents or legal guardians. 


Legally, immigration officials are required to hold minors in facilities

that are safe and sanitary.  But, last week, a government lawyer argued

that basic toiletries and items like a blanket weren`t necessarily required

by law. 


Let`s watch.





within everybody`s common understanding that, if you don`t have a

toothbrush, if you don`t have soap, if you don`t have a blanket, it is not

safe and sanitary. 


Wouldn`t everybody agree to that?  Do you agree with that? 



think those are – there`s fair reason to find that those things may be

part of safe and sanitary…


TASHIMA:  Not may be, are a part.  Why do you say maybe? 


You mean there are circumstances when a person doesn`t need to have a

toothbrush, toothpaste and soap for days? 


FABIAN:  Well, I think in CBP custody, there`s frequently – it`s

frequently intended to be much shorter term, so it may be for a shorter-

term stay in CBP custody, that some of those things may not be required. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m joined right now by Erika Andiola, chief advocacy

officer at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal



Thank you so much, Erika. 


And I guess what people need to do is get a picture of what it is like –

what it was like over the last several weeks in that situation these kids

were in, very young kids.  What grabbed me was kids 7 years old taking care

of even younger kids. 



SERVICES:  Yes, absolutely. 


Well, let me just start by saying that this is not a new situation.  This

is a situation that has been happening for many, many years.  And I can

tell you that, you know, these new facilities are popping up now where

there are actual tents. 


People are really starting to see what`s going on in there.  But I can tell

you that migrants have been treated this way for a really long time under

the custody of Border Patrol agents. 


And we talk about – we see on social media a lot of people outraged about

the toothpaste and the toothbrushes, et cetera, but it goes even beyond

that.  We have seen a lot of people who are represent – who we have been

representing at RAICES that people sometimes don`t have the ability to go

to see a doctor. 


A lot of people – there`s children who have died because they have said,

I`m sick, I don`t feel good.  They get ignored. 


It`s really a huge problem that has happened for awhile.  And, to me, the

most unbelievable part of this is that this is not a new crisis.  Every

year, there is a wave of migrant children who come either unaccompanied or

with family members who get either separated, you know, as you said before. 


And so it`s not new.  The problem is that DHS and Border Patrol have never

actually tried to make, you know, the problem go away by actually providing

the right, you know, places for children to be at without being in the

hands of Border Patrol in these places that are really cold and terrible,

or, you know, being in facilities where they can actually be treated as



MATTHEWS:  Well, what grabbed me was the portrait of a kid standing on a

toilet to try to get fresh air, because the room was so crowded he had to

get above the crowd of people around him, jammed into this situation to



ANDIOLA:  That`s right. 


Yes.  And if people want to actually look up, I mean, there`s actually

photos on social media and on the Web of something called an ice box,

right, hielera, which is a Border Patrol processing center, where there`s

literally tiny jail cells where they crowd tons and tons of people, put

them in there with some foil blankets on them. 


They`re super cold.  That`s the reason why they call them hieleras or ice

boxes.  The migrants, when they come out, they call them that.  There`s the

perreras, the dog kennels, the migrants also call them.  In many instances,

they get placed in other pens that literally looked like dog kennels that

are also super cold.


And they don`t have the ability to, again, access some of the most basic

human needs, whether there`s children in adults.  In many ways, children

and adults get placed in a lot of these processing centers for many, many



And we have seen people who have actually died. 




ANDIOLA:  And so it is a crisis.  And it`s not going to be solved with just

saying that we need to either build a wall, or, you know, it`s not going to

be solved with any more politics in D.C.  It has to – we have to have

something change now. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, NBC News reports now that a different team of attorneys

said they had also encountered children in similar conditions when they

visited the central processing center in McAllen, Texas, this month. 


Let me – what happened in the last 24 hours?  Apparently, the heat is on,

so to speak.  The government did recognize this is very bad publicity, the

kids not having any basic health products.  You need a toothbrush to brush

your teeth.  And these kids didn`t bring one with them, obviously. 


And they get stuck there.  They don`t stay clean.  They have lice.  They

got flu.  They got terrible, obviously, digestive problems that come with

being in a place like this. 


And now, all of a sudden, overnight, 300 of these kids were moved.  What`s

their new situation like?  Do you know?


ANDIOLA:  We don`t know.  We don`t have access to a lot of these places

where, you know, they`re probably going to be moved. 


What I can tell you is that I wouldn`t be surprised if it`s the same or

worse conditions.  And, again, to me, this is the moment where Congress

needs to make sure that there has to be a solution right here, right now,

where these folks can actually have some of the most humane treatment that

you can ask for. 


I mean, any American, any human being who needs something to sleep on, you

know, can tell you, like, it just needs a mat and a toothbrush, yes, and

medical attention.  We can do that right now. 


And in the long term, we still have to be looking at, you know, why are

people leaving Central America?  Why are people leaving other countries? 

And what are we doing to change the system in the long run? 


But, for now, let`s try to figure out how to best, you know, make sure that

these children and their families are being taken care of in a humane way,

and making sure that they`re not under Border Patrol for more than 72



They shouldn`t be there for longer than that.  And they have been. 


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you so much, Erika Andiola. 


By the way, I do want to know what the Congress is doing.  I think this is

pressure on the Congress, as well as the president. 


Up next:  Remember when candidate Trump promised to hire only the best

people and to drain the swamp, you know, all that lobbying going on and

deal-cutting between the Congress and the lobbyists and the regulators? 


Well, now we have got leaked documents detailing his administration`s

shockingly dysfunctional approach to vetting prospective hires.  Wait until

you figure out these people that got through the wall here, so many swamp

creatures brought in by Trump.  He said he`d keep them out. 


More after this.  Stay with us.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


In the 2 1/2 years since his election, President Trump has struggled to

keep two of his core promises, to hire the best people, which he hasn`t,

and drain the swamp, which he hasn`t.  Yesterday, “Axios” obtained 100

Trump transition vetting documents which identified red flags for various

candidates for big jobs in the administration.  And some of whom were later

selected for his cabinet. 


According to the documents, a number of individuals were flagged for a

range of issues.  Scott Pruitt, who resigned as EPA administrator amid a

swirl of questionable practice and expenses was flagged for his cozy

contacts with big energy companies. 


Tom Price, who was forced out as HHS secretary after spending $400,000 in

taxpayer money for travel, was flagged for criticism of his management



Mick Mulvaney, the president`s current acting chief of staff, was flagged

for his, I like this one, his criticism of Trump for saying, quote, “stupid

things”.  Well, he`s smarter than that. 


And, finally, Rudy Giuliani, the president`s personal lawyer throughout the

Mueller investigation was so concerning to the transition team that they

created a 25-page dossier, that`s the word, dossier, exploring problems he

had with his international business ties. 


But it wasn`t these individuals who gave the president any pause.  It is

someone else who Trump is calling his biggest appointment regret. 


Stay tuned after the break to find out who that – well, that figure is. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


In an interview on “Meet the Press” yesterday, Chuck Todd asked President

Trump about his biggest regret as president.  Let`s listen. 





do-over as president, what would it be? 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, it would be personnel. 


TODD:  Who is it? 


TRUMP:  I would say if I had one do-over, I would not have appointed Jeff

Sessions to be attorney general.  That would be my one –


TODD:  That`s – in your mind that`s your do-over? 


TRUMP:  Yes.




MATTHEWS:  He does it with such cerebral consciousness.  We all knew that

was coming. 


Anyway, I`m joined right now by Vivian Salama, a White House reporter for

“The Wall Street Journal.”  Timothy O`Brien, Bloomberg Opinion, the

executive editor. 


You`re laughing, so you go first, Tim.  This is like, you know, tell us the

obvious.  I mean he has been blaming him for all of this troubles and

travails ever since he made that appointment because he recused himself. 


TIMOTHY O`BRIEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  And Jeff Sessions was trying to do the

right thing, Chris. 




O`BRIEN:  He was trying to comport with the rule of law and honor some of

the specifics of his office.  Meanwhile, you had Ryan Zinke, Tom Price and

Scott Pruitt running roughshod over the perks of their office, using

taxpayer dollars to take private flights, get police escorts to

restaurants, have staff pick up dry cleaning for them and Trump isn`t

bothered by any of that. 


The person on his staff who sticks out to him as the worst decision is the

person who actually tried to do his job ethically and with honor for public



MATTHEWS:  Well, I agree with you completely.  I`ll go to Vivian, though. 

Why did he pick so many people with sleaze problems if he said he was going

to get rid of sleaze? 


VIVIAN SALAMA, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:  Well, it`s a vetting problem

ultimately.  This is something not just from the first year in office. 

He`s talking about Jeff Sessions.  We just saw this play out last week with

Pat Shanahan, the acting defense secretary, where all of a sudden all of

these issues started to bubble –


MATTHEWS:  He had personal family issues that go way back.  Yes, well-



SALAMA:  He had personal family issues. 


And the president last Tuesday told us – the reporters at the White House

that he had only found out about those issues the night before Pat Shanahan

withdrew himself.  We asked him, is this a vetting problem?  Why are you

just finding out now? 


And he defended his administration`s vetting.  So, it was very interesting

to see him come out on “Meet the Press” and acknowledge that personnel was

an issue and continues to be. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who was in

charge of the transition before he was replaced by Mike Pence was asked to

read his own file and respond to the leak.  Let`s watch. 




REPORTER:  And just to be clear, these are the suggested questions that the

vetters wanted you to be asked by the president or Reince Priebus?



previous position as U.S. attorney who prosecuted Charles Kushner has

damaged your relationship with the Kushners to the point where you and

Jared Kushner could not co-exist in the Trump administration?  Do you

believe that your removal as head of the Trump transition team was

orchestrated by Jared Kushner? 


Yes, I do, and the reason I do is because that`s what Steve Bannon told me. 

And by the way, the interesting part of this, which shows you how

disorganized they were, was they had an entire vice presidential vetting

file on me, had all of tax returns, had all of the stuff from U.S. attorney

years, and my years as governor.  That`s what makes this even funnier that

they would go through this. 




MATTHEWS:  Tim, what struck me not just the swamp creatures that he brought

back in, but Mulvaney who expressed personal disdain for this president`s

behavior.  Is this some kind of weird psychological, he wanted people

around him willing to bow down to him even if they didn`t like him?  The

best slaves in the world. 


You know, as Michael Kinsley (ph) said years ago, phony flattery was the

best in Washington because it showed you really were debasing yourself to

get what you wanted from somebody. 


O`BRIEN:  Well, you know, Trump has had this myth going for a long time,

Chris, that the Trump Organization was populated by A-listers, and that,

you know, within Manhattan real estate circles, he was regarded as a

premier real estate developer.  He was not.  He was considered a carnival

act by major real estate developers in New York and the Trump organization

was never seen as a magnet for top-tier talent. 


So Trump actually had no experience in his past in terms of actually

vetting a staff of size and making sure he was getting the kind of people

he needed.  And I don`t think he had his hands on the wheel at all with

this process.  We know that, in fact, he didn`t.  He turned most of it over

to Jared Kushner. 


MATTHEWS:  Wonderful. 


O`BRIEN:  And, of course, Kushner wasn`t going to keep Chris Christie

around.  The larger issue is that Jared Kushner hasn`t really earned his

junior g-man badge yet either.  You have a very naive, inexperienced young

man running a process that requires a lot of experience. 


MATTHEWS:  And now he`s running our Middle East policy. 


Anyway, the leak of these documents come just a week after internal polling

data was leaked showing President Trump trailing Joe Biden by double digits

in key states.  The president`s administration is suffering a string of

damaging leaks from reports that the president called Haiti and African

nations S-hole countries, to leaks of private schedules showing the

president spending 60 percent of his working day doing executive time, in

other words, doing nothing. 


According to “Politico”, his 2020 re-election campaign has grown so tired

of the leaks they`ve implemented a no cell phone policy to keep from

releasing possibly damaging information. 


Vivian, I`ve never seen a more disloyal administration.  There is somebody

right inside there that keeps pouring – they put out hundreds of vetting



SALAMA:  This is very troubling for President Trump and for those closest

to him.  And something – we`re talking about a man who in his previous

life as a businessman dictated all of his relationship through

nondisclosure agreements.  He was very, very much a believer in

confidentiality.  And suddenly, all of this internal workings are leaking

out to the press, and it`s been something that has been very frustrating

for him since day one. 


And despite the fact that we had a number of chiefs of staff come in, John

Kelly was supposed to implement some sort of order at the White House and

prevent these things from happening, it still continues even in now we`re

in the third wave of chief of staff, a number of staffers have come and

gone.  It`s still going on. 


MATTHEW:  You know, I guess I`m so traditional that Tim and Vivian that I

thought if you work for somebody, you wanted to work for them.  I guess

these people should be running podcasts somewhere.  They`d rather be on the

inside killing this guy. 


SALAMA:  They keep asking people to leave if they don`t believe in him. 

Ultimately some people feel they need to reach out to the press sometimes. 


MATTHEWS:  You can argue that –


SALAMA:  I never try to explain the reason. 


MATTHEWS:  I know that argument.  It may well be true in some cases.  This

is a regular flow of dirt on the person you`re supposedly working for.  I

don`t know.  It doesn`t work for me. 


SALAMA:  Sure.


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Vivian Salama, thank you, and Tim.


Of course, we feed off this.  I shouldn`t be completely hypocritical.  We

love this stuff.  Keep it coming. 


Anyway, the Democratic presidential candidates make an impression this

week, can they? 


Here`s a hint: keep it short, punch it out, headlines, do it quick, bite it

off and walk off.  People will be impressed. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  It`s an old rule of politics that it`s harder to give a short

speech than a long one.  But tell a speaker that they only have a moment to

speak and he or she has to hit the heart of the message and get off the



South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn did just that on Friday night at his

annual fish try.  With 21 Democratic candidates dying to speak, he told

candidates to watch the clock. 


Here`s how some of them used their time. 




JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Whomever the Democratic nominee is,

we have to stay together and elect a Democrat president of the United

States of America. 



And 99 percent is a hell of a bigger number than 1 percent. 



woman having a seat at the table, but imagine a woman at the head of the




because I believe that the time for small ideas is over.  We need big,

structural change in this country! 



future and a vision of our future and a vision of our future of our




about one person and one office, it is about who we are as a nation and who

we must be to each other.




MATTHEWS:  Again, keep it short and you make it clear who you really are. 


That`s HARDBALL for now. 


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 







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