Trump holds campaign rally in NC. TRANSCRIPT: 7/17/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Megan Twohey, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Laurence Leamer, Michael Steele; Ben Rhodes; Donna Edwards; Jeremy Peters

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


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  President Trump is

hitting the campaign trail tonight with his attacks on four democratic

congresswomen.  At any moment, he`ll speak at a re-election rally, there we

are, in North Carolina, this just a day after he was condemned by the U.S.

House of Representatives for his racist Tweets about – which were aimed at

those very four women.


Well, leaving the White House a short time ago, he said he plans to keep

the fight hot.




DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I do think I`m winning the political fight. 

I think I`m winning it by a lot.




TRUMP:  I think that they are not espousing the views of our country, the

four congresswomen.




MATTHEWS:  Well, The New York Times reports that Trump`s relentless assault

on those four congresswomen who style themselves the squad is part of a

calculated strategy.  Quote, President Trump and the republicans have sent

the clearest signal yet that their approach to 2020 will be a racially

divisive reprise of the strategy that helped Mr. Trump narrowly captured

the White House in late 2016.


Well, late last night, he Tweeted, so great to see how unified the

Republican Party was on today`s vote concerning statements I made about

four democrat, that`s the way republicans say it, congresswomen.  He added,

they are now the top most visible members of the House Democrats who are

now wedded to this bitterness and hate.


Well, earlier today, Trump Tweeted, thank you to the vicious young

socialist congresswomen, America will never buy your act.


In an interview this afternoon with The Daily Mail, Trump said he was not

unhappy with the uproar over his racist attacks.  And later today, he was

asked if he is relishing the fight.




TRUMP:  I`m not relishing the fight.  I`m enjoying it because I have to get

the word out to the American people.  It`s not a question of relishing. 

They`re wrong.  They`re absolutely wrong.  That`s not where our country

wants to be.  We`re not going to go and we`re not going to be a socialist

country.  It`s not going happen.




MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Donna Edwards, former Maryland

Democratic Congresswoman and Washington Post Contributing Columnist,

Michael Steele, former RNC Chairman, Jeremy Peters, Politics Editor for The

New York Times, and Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Adviser for

President Obama.  Thank you, all.  It`s a great quartet to try to figure

this thing out.


Michael, is this strategy to say he is going to go to North Carolina and

repeat all these attacks on these four women congresswomen, or did he just

make a stupid mistake and he is trying to find some advantage in it?


MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN:  No, it`s not stupid.  It may be

stupid but it`s not a stupid mistake in that sense that was like, oops, I

didn`t mean to say that, but know this (ph), it`s so much a strategy that

what Trump does in moments like this is it gives him an outlet to vent

exactly what he feels and what he thinks about these women when he sees

them.  They cause in him something that`s visceral, and he responds to



And he is using 1950s language, you know, communism and social – no one is

talking about this.  They all failed.  Communism doesn`t exist.


MATTHEWS:  Is this about ideology or ethnicity?


STEELE:  Oh, this is both.  That`s the beauty of it.  He intertwines them

both.  It is about ideology because, to his base, it plays on an old

narrative of how they look at people and how they think about

philosophically and politically individuals who disagree with them or they

disagree with.


But it`s also about race, because, now, he`s got these faces, these black

faces that he can talk about in terms that he knows is going to spark a

reaction.  He knows it.  This is a man of a certain age from a certain

time.  He`s 70 plus years old from the 1950s.  So when he says, go back

where you came from, he knows exactly what that triggers, he knows exactly

what it means when he says it, and he knows how people are going to react

to it.


MATTHEWS:  Ben, when you`re sitting around the White House wherever they

meet to talk about this thing, do they think they see goldenness or just

they`ve got to do some damage control?  What`s going on here with the




like when you watch Trump, he does something.  He lashes out.  And then

they tell everybody it was a strategy.  That`s generally been the pattern

throughout, that essentially he pops off on Twitter, he makes racist

comments like this, he picks fight, and then they all explain to us why

it`s such a smart strategy and why he is playing three-dimensional chess. 

And, look, that is what he has done throughout.


But the fact of the matter is I was sitting in the White House back in 2011

when he launched the birther movement.  And when people failed to

adequately call this out and people gave this a platform and people said it

was racially tinged or it was divisive or it was a conspiracy theory

without calling what it was, and he got away with it.  And he`s gotten away

with it throughout.  And I do think people need to take a principled stand

whatever the political prognosticators might say.


MATTHEWS:  You know, Donna, I`m older than you, and I`m older than

everybody.  And I`ve got to tell you this.  I`ve been watching the

Republican Party since the `40s.  It was Vito Marcantonio, the socialist up

in the Bronx.  It was Bella Abzug, the woman with a hat in the west side of

New York.  It was Tip O`Neill.  It was Teddy Kennedy.  There is always

somebody vaguely ethnic from one of the coasts that they make into the

worst – Adam Clayton Powell, right?  They always find somebody to turn and

say that`s the Democratic Party, and they seem to know how they do this. 

It doesn`t work all the time, obviously.


FMR. REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D-MD):  And I would argue that I think that it`s

the only thing that Trump knows that can help him win.  It`s his playbook

from 2016 that he is using in 2020.  I mean, this wasn`t new.  He knows

that for those suburban – not even suburban but white world voters that

are his base that this is how they respond to that.  It`s what was

described I think in a Washington Post piece yesterday as white identity





EDWARDS:  And he doubles down on that.


MATTHEWS:  I think you`re right.  I think that`s what it is, by the way.


EDWARDS:  I do.  And I think that he thinks that that works for him.  And,

frankly, if he doesn`t have that, he ain`t got nothing when it comes to the

2020 election.


MATTHEWS:  I want to suggest something to Trump.  Not only is he wrong

ethnic, I think he has bad instincts on ethnicity.  I think he does.  And

sometimes big city tribal neighborhood versus neighborhood, but some, it`s

just as nasty.


But he had an opportunity he blew last week.  Ayanna Pressley had come out

and say black members of Congress should vote black, basically speak black,

they couldn`t have an independent view of anything.  That was a perfect

example to jump on it and say, identity politics, this is what`s wrong. 

Instead he jumped on it and gave her a pass.  She was one of the victims

then.  That`s a stupid mistake.


JEREMY PETERS, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, that shows you there is

no strategy here.  This is all impulse.


MATTHEWS:  But you guys said it was strategy.


PETERS:  No, no, we didn`t say it was a strategy.  We said, his aides

conceded that this was something that caught them off guard, and then they

kind of, I guess, you know, retroactively explain why –


MATTHEWS:  So you fall into the mud and you roll around it say this feels

good?  I mean, what kind of a stupid – it`s a mistake and you`re calling

it a victory.


PETERS:  What they`ve done is they`ve said, okay, now, we can kind of see a

way this is good for him.  But republicans are also telling us this is a

bad thing for him because what it`s done is unite a fractured Democratic

Party that a week ago it was squabbling, where you had the squad versus

Nancy Pelosi.  And now, you have them all united around the squad.


But also, I think you can`t overlook the fact that this is Trump picking

his enemies.  So regardless of whether or not he intended to do this, what

he has done is he is picking his opponents before the democrats can do that



MATTHEWS:  Three you have been in politics.  I want to ask you this.  Back

in 2016, a million years ago, I think, – I was thinking – I knew – we

all messed up (ph) about the white anger, the white – what it`s called –

white grievance, we know all the words now, white identity, as you

mentioned, it`s a more frequent word, a current one.


And we all kept saying, you know, but there is not enough of them because

there are a lot of minorities and a lot of sophisticated suburbanites that

just are going to trounce these people.  Well, they didn`t trounce them,

and the numbers were off.  So my question is, is Trump now off of the

numbers?  Because it comes down to short numbers, 50,000 votes here, 20,000

votes here.  There are enough – are there`re many angry people now as it

were four years ago?  Are there enough white people to cover the bases for

this guy?


STEELE:  I`m telling you, Chris, I still don`t trust the narrative out

there that suddenly the system, the voting system is going to be

overwhelmed by all of these minority female votes that are going to swamp

what we saw in 2016.  I don`t trust it because I have an instinct about

people, and people are not necessarily being truth and faithful to the

cause, if you will.


Trump has a bedrock of support, no doubt.  But that support is there for

him.  And so that white vote that Trump grabbed in 2016 was off the radar

for 30 years, all right.  He tapped into that vote and pulled it out.  Yes,

there were a lot of Dems who stayed home, and they could come back.  But

don`t underestimate the possibility that more of that white vote is out



PETERS:  Well, that`s exactly what they`re doing at their campaign.


STEELE:  Exactly.


PETERS:  They are spending tens of millions of dollars trying to find new

voters because Trump has not shrunk added to his coalition to Trump (ph).


MATTHEWS:  So he needs Mike Pence?


PETERS:  He needs Mike Pence.  But he also needs the white identity

politics and white resentment.  So it`s both.  He needs the evangelicals. 

They need more evangelicals to come out.  But they also need in rural areas

across Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, conservatives to come out who

would have voted for Trump last time but stayed home.


MATTHEWS:  You know, it`s numbers, Donna.  It`s all numbers.


EDWARDS:  It is.  But I would say, but 2018.  Because what happened in

2018, and they were midterm elections, but you had a huge surge in voter

turnout, those white suburban college educated women turned – and non-

college women turned against Donald Trump.  And I think democrats –


STEELE:  They took 49 percent of the vote for republican-backed candidate

or Trump-backed candidate in 2018.  The white educated female vote in `16

was 53 percent for Trump, 49 percent for Trump candidate in 2018.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to bed on this question.  I wonder if Trump is afraid

that his candidate against him, the one that gets picked by the democrats

next spring, isn`t going to be easily categorized.  First, it`s Elizabeth

Warren who is from Oklahoma.  She doesn`t seem coastal, although she is

working at Harvard or has worked at Harvard.  There is something about her

that is a little rural to me.  She might be tough.  Biden might be hard to

nail or peg as a leftist or whatever.  Are they afraid of that or is he

just not sure who he`s going to face?  He doesn`t know if he can knock

their block off.  Ben?


RHODES:  Yes.  I mean, Chris, you know, part of what you have to remember

about 2016 is, yes, he ginned up a certain white identity vote that had

been somewhat dormant.  But the fact there is a backlash to the Obama

presidency that was manifested in the Tea Party in 2010.  And Obama still

won a resounding re-election in 2012 because he did two things.  He

motivated those young voters, minority voters, those women voters to

turnout, and he ran a populist message against Mitt Romney.


And if you look at the democrats running, if you look at someone like

Elizabeth Warren, you have to do two things.  You have to stand up to

Trump.  You have to give that part of the democratic coalition a belief

that you`re fighting for them, that you`re principled, that you`re giving

them reason to turn out like they turned out in 2012 and 2018, and you have

to go right at Trump and say, this guy said he was going stand up for you

and only he did is stand up for his friends and a bunch of corporations. 

The only thing he has to his name is $1 trillion tax bill that`s giveaway

that`s in your expense.


And I think the reason Trump is picking these fights, let`s be clear, he

has a Democratic House, he has no legislative agenda.  He has nothing to

talk about when it comes to healthcare or the issues that Americans

actually care about, right?  So the democrat has to do both.  And Elizabeth

Warren has done a great job doing both.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Mitt Romney gave you guys a break when he got caught by

that bartender saying 47 percent.  That didn`t hurt either, because he

wanted to be identified as an elitist, he just did it.


Anyway, meanwhile, the House voted tonight to kill a resolution on

impeachment introduced by Democratic Congressman Al Green of Texas citing

the President`s racist comments about the four congresswomen, this very

topic.  And this morning, Senator – actually, Speaker Pelosi waited on

that impending vote.




REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  We have six committees that are working on

following the facts in terms of any abuse of power, obstruction of justice

and the rest that the President may have engaged in.  That is the serious

path that we are on, not that Mr. Green is not serious, but we`ll deal with

that on the floor.




MATTHEWS:  Well, the move to start impeachment proceedings was defeated by

a vote of 332 to 95 with 137 democrats joining republicans to block the

effort to consider articles of impeachment this week.  Notably, the 95

democrats voting not to table the resolution is greater than the 86

democrats who publicly support impeachment.  Judiciary Committee Chair

Jerry Nadler was among those voting against tabling the impeachment, which

his spokesman said was because Nadler believed the House should have first

sent it to his committee for consideration.


Well, President Trump reacting to the news after landing in North Carolina





TRUMP:  We have just received an overwhelming vote against impeachment, and

that`s the end of it.  Let the democrats now go back to work.




MATTHEWS:  I`m afraid Friday the 13th is coming back on this guy.  Freddie

Krueger is not dead.  I`m telling you, whatever you think of impeachment,

it`s not going away.


But 95, Jeremy, is the high watermark.


PETERS:  Yes, it is.


MATTHEWS:  Of those who want to impeach.


PETERS:  I think the best description I`ve heard of this is that Nancy

Pelosi and the democratic leadership for the most part know that they want

a wounded Trump, not a martyred Trump.  An impeachment would give them a

martyred Trump.


MATTHEWS:  And an acquitted Trump.


PETERS:  And an acquitted Trump, exactly, a Trump who`s still president. 

And it just doesn`t make a whole lot of sense.


MATTHEWS:  How high will Nancy Pelosi let that number go, Donna?  You know

she counts.  Will she corral a number of, say, 150 as long as it`s not 218?


EDWARDS:  Well, let me just say, if you look at the vote when Al Green put

forward his last impeachment vote, it got 66 votes to move forward, this

time, 95.  And there are, I think, 86, 87 democrats who are already on

record of starting an impeachment proceeding.  And I think after the

Mueller testimony next week, that number is bound to go higher.


MATTHEWS:  But is this a pre-defense by Nancy?  She`s saying, I`ll let you

have all the joy of saying you want to impeach, but it ain`t going to



EDWARDS:  Could she send any more signals that she doesn`t want to it

happen?  But my fear I think is that, I think, for the base of the party

and for all those activists out there, people that you want knocking on

doors and being enthusiastic, you will dampen their enthusiasm by not going

head-on at this president.  And besides that, it`s about the constitution.


MATTHEWS:  It`s your point, there should be impeachment?


EDWARDS:  I believe there should be impeachment.  How do you let this kind

of lawlessness go?  And if Michael is right and say, heaven forbid, he does

win re-election, democrats won`t be able to do a single thing with him

because then he really will be able to say, you know what, the voters knew

what they got, and I`m okay.


STEELE:  I think that –


EDWARDS:  Bad news.


STEELE:  I appreciate the will and the sentiment among democrats to

impeach, but that is not the will nor the sentiment of the American people. 

Nancy Pelosi knows that.  It is not a card she needs to play because the

votes aren`t there for it outside of Capitol Hill, number one.


Number two, what`s the greater cause here?  Impeachment, as you noted,

Jeremy, with no resolution in the Senate because he will not be –


MATTHEWS:  Not with two-thirds.


STEELE:  Not with two-thirds.  He will not be removed from office by the

Senate, or leave it to the American people, make your case.  To your point

about the turnout, if that base is really juiced and want Donald Trump out,

their best way and the only way effectively to do it is at the ballot box,

not through a process, a political process in the House where there is no

resolution in the United States.


EDWARDS:  There has never been a resolution on impeachment in the United

States Senate, not a single time that it`s been done.


STEELE:  In this environment –


MATTHEWS:  Andrew Johnson skated and so did Nixon.


Anyway, let me go to Ben Rhodes and his political calculation.  Sir, this

is a tough one.  You`re a democratic campaign manager for whoever wins. 

What`s the strategy to beat Trump?  Is it to try to get the base of

minority voters out, try to get the cities just really up there in terms of

hype, the big vote out, trying to work the women in the suburbs and hope

your numbers will win, or to try to move to the center and get some of

those blue collar democrats back home?


RHODES:  No.  I think you need to run with a clear message that can both

motivate your base, but also, you know, peel off some of those people.  And

the way to do it, Chris, I think, is by not taking the bait, not letting

Trump dictate every single day.  Have your message.  Be disciplined to it. 

It can be a strong progressive message.  It can talk about things that

people care about, including racism, including issues like climate change

that motivate young people.  But also, like Elizabeth Warren has been

doing, talking about the way in which way Donald Trump has sold out the

very same people he said he`d help.  I think as long as you`re disciplined

and you run your campaign, not his, you have that chance to do both.


MATTHEWS:  Well, I think we should go back to the history books and look at

Harry Truman in `48 and how he pulled the upset of the century.  He did

just what you said.  You play your strengths on jobs and special – the

issues that people – matter to people, especially working people, and you

get those issues out front, and you basically tear the other guy apart. 

You got to do both.  Thank you.


You don`t play it just soft.  It ain`t going to be defense.  I think you`re

dead right.  Don`t play defense.  You got play offense and you got to sell

what you got.  It`s what you do with what you got that counts.


Thank you, Donna Edwards.  Thank you, Michael Steele, Jeremy Peters and Ben



Coming up, the tail of the tape, a newly discovered video.  How did they

find this stuff from Mar-a-Lago in 1992?  Look at these pictures, a sleazy

here, shedding light on the relationship.  It looks pretty intimate there. 

Look, look, look, pretty close between him and Epstein, and the accused

sexual predator, Jeffrey Epstein.  What was really going on in Trump`s

Great Gatsby days when he`s having those parties?


Plus, the House votes to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce

Secretary Wilbur in criminal contempt.  Is this another symbolic gesture by

democrats or will they ever find a way to hold the Trump administration

truly accountable?


And Trump`s schoolyard comebacks when he`s accused of something like

racism, he tries to turn the tables, like on a schoolyard.  We`ll show you

just some of the times Trump used that baby defense.


Much more ahead.  Stick with us.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


Last week, President Trump told reporters he was – quote – “not a fan of

Jeffrey Epstein.”





probably 15 years or more.  I wasn`t a big fan of Jeffrey Epstein.  That, I

can tell you. 




MATTHEWS: “I was not a big fan of Jeffrey Epstein.  That, I can tell you.”


Well, newly unearthed NBC footage from 1992 shows you just how comfortable

the two men were with each other.  The video comes from years before

Epstein pled guilty to a state charge of soliciting a minor for



In the video, which you see here, Trump greets Epstein and two others at

his Mar-a-Lago estate, escorting them into a party. 


And during that party, which was being filmed for a show about his life,

Donald Trump appears to be talking to Epstein about the female guests. 


At one point, he appears to tell Epstein about one of the guests: “Look at

her.  She is hot.”


The video also shows Trump surrounded by women, of course.  And at one

point, he grabs and touches one of them. 


Epstein`s arrest has renewed attention on the relationship of the two men. 

According to press reports, the two had been friends for years, until a

falling out roughly 15 years ago. 


Tomorrow, a New York judge will decide whether to grant Epstein`s bail



For more, I`m joined by Megan Twohey, “New York Times” investigative

reporter, and Laurence Leamer, author of “Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of

Power at Donald Trump`s Presidential Palace.” 


Laurence, I want to start with you. 


What is the culture of Mar-a-Lago that would have this character in such

celebrated position?  Why would this guy, before and after his arrest and

that sort of wrist slap he got for 15 months, where he could go to work six

days a week – is he still part of the social circuitry down there? 


LAURENCE LEAMER, AUTHOR, “MAR-A-LAGO”:  Well, in Trump`s Palm Beach, all

that matters is how much money you have. 


And Epstein said he was a billionaire.  He probably wasn`t.  So, he – and

he was a player.  He loved young women.  And Trump admired that in him. 


So, that footage shows precisely why these two guys were close friends. 


MATTHEWS:  So he could go to a party and have a husband say to his wife, “I

would like you to meet Jeffrey Epstein, you probably heard about him”? 

It`s OK?


LEAMER:  Yes. 


I mean, Epstein flew down on Trump`s plane.  He showed up late one time,

and Trump was upset with him.  Of course, he was close to him.  But you

know better than I…


MATTHEWS:  How long ago was that? 


LEAMER:  About 1990. 




LEAMER:  But you know as well as I do that Trump – whatever Trump says is

the truth, that`s the truth. 


So, now he is not a friend.  But of course he was a close friend of his. 


MATTHEWS:  What was the nature of their relationship?  We`re seeing all

this showing off of these cheerleaders.  Admittedly, they`re cheerleaders

for the Buffalo Bills and I think the Miami Dolphins. 


But that`s all part for the camera, I think.  But what do we make of their

real – their actual relationship, Megan? 




So, there is evidence.  I mean, this isn`t the only party that Jeffrey

Epstein attended at Mar-a-Lago.  There was a second party in 1992 that

Epstein attended with Trump and a couple of business partners he had and a

beauty – like a beauty pageant competition and the beauty pageant



That was actually a gathering in which one of the women has since alleged

that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her there.  So there is allegations

that both men have faced coming out of some of the socializing that they

did in Palm Beach at the time. 


What we also know is that – so, while they partied together and were seen

together in the 1990s, in the early – I think it was in the early 2000s,

there was a young woman who was working at Mar-a-Lago who was recruited

into Epstein`s home, with promises of becoming a masseuse and earning a lot

of money.


And she is now one of his accusers, a woman who says that she was then

sexually abused and sexually…




MATTHEWS:  How old was she then, at the time?  Do you know?


TWOHEY:  So, she says that she – she says that she was 16 at the time. 


And her allegation didn`t come out until 2009.  And when that allegation

came out I think was the moment that Trump said, I need to remove my

association with Epstein, and by many accounts was actually visibly very

angry that there was an accusation that he had – that Epstein had actually

recruited a woman, a young girl out of Mar-a-Lago into his alleged sexual



MATTHEWS:  Well, all the steamy atmosphere of that party that was going on

there, I think some of it for the camera, with the cheerleaders, what is

wrong – I`m trying to figure out, what do we say here on a political show

about Trump`s relationship with this guy, who`s clearly got, not legal

jeopardy – he deserves his legal jeopardy, all these cases where he was a

predator with young women in some sex trafficking thing that was going on.


And what was Trump`s connection to it, besides he likes to hang out with

sleaze balls with Roy Cohn?  He seems to like their company.  What do we



TWOHEY:  Right. 


Well, what we know is that the – as we understand it, there were rumors

that had circulated about Epstein`s sexual predation for years, but it

wasn`t until 2008 that he actually faced criminal charges. 


And so, for years and years, Epstein was able to draw cover for his alleged

sort of misconduct and bad behavior through powerful connections, his

wealth, his money, his powerful connections. 


But, you know, he had powerful connections that in the political realm from

the Clintons.  He had powerful connection with Harvard in the academic

setting.  He had powerful connections within sort of the British royalty

with Prince Andrew.  So there were a lot of ways he was able to kind of

create cover for his alleged misbehavior. 


And when these charges did come out, when the allegations did start to

surface in the mid-2000s, he brought in these expensive high-powered

attorneys like Alan Dershowitz, who kind of came in and minimized the

charges, so that he was able to walk away…


MATTHEWS:  That`s for sure.


TWOHEY:  … and tell people who knew him that he was guilty of nothing

more than soliciting a prostitute. 


So I think that that all helped give him cover and his associates cover,

those who did like to party with him, and those who – Donald Trump himself

has been quoted saying – in 2002, saying, I – that he liked Jeffrey

Epstein and that they both liked the company of beautiful women. 


MATTHEWS:  Younger. 


TWOHEY:  In Epstein`s case, even recognizing that they were much younger. 


MATTHEWS:  It just seems wonderful that everyone has a right to a legal

defense, Megan and Laurence. 


In the case of the very wealthy, you have a right to the dream team

defending you, Ken Starr, Dershowitz, the works. 


Anyway, the 1992 the footage was shot by NBC for a Faith Daniels talk show

called “A Closer Look,” which profiled the then newly divorced Trump. 


During that episode, Faith Daniels and Trump described the circumstances of

how he ended up on the show. 


Let`s watch. 





the show, except we want to give you good ratings.  I said to Faith…




TRUMP:  I said to Faith…


FAITH DANIELS, HOST, “A CLOSER LOOK”:  How generous, huh?


TRUMP:  … we`re going to get you some major, major ratings.  And you are. 

You`re going to get big ratings. 


DANIELS:  Tell the rest of the story, though. 




TRUMP:  I know.




DANIELS:  I saw you at the celebrity chef dinner here in New York. 


TRUMP:  I did.  And what a kiss. 


DANIELS:  You kissed me on the lips in front of the paparazzi.  And I said,

that will cost you.  I`m booking you on the show. 




TRUMP:  This was so good.  And it was so open and nice.  She is a fabulous





DANIELS:  So open and nice


TRUMP:  And her husband – her husband is a handsome devil. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, earlier this evening, we reached out to the White House to

respond to this exchange.  And we`re waiting for a response. 


However, the unprompted kissing that Trump describes there to Faith Daniels

in that clip resembles the behavior he later described in that infamous

“Access Hollywood” tape. 


Let`s listen for a refresher here.




TRUMP:  You know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start

kissing them.  It`s like a magnet.  Just kiss.  I don`t even wait.  And

when you`re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.


BILLY BUSH, “ACCESS HOLLYWOOD”:  Whatever you want.


TRUMP:  Grab `em by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You can do anything.




MATTHEWS:  Laurence, you cover this stuff. 


LEAMER:  Not any longer.  I mean, it`s so disgusting on so many levels,

isn`t it? 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I wonder this. 


Why is he still socially – I have heard – Miami Beach, from what I know

about it – or Palm Beach, rather, is a lot of people with money.  They get

really dressed up at night.  They`re somewhat older. 


LEAMER:  Right. 


MATTHEWS:  They`re sort of a WASP crowd and a Jewish crowd, whatever.  But

they`re all in common is money and showing up and looking well at nighttime

and being somewhat classy in your demeanor. 


How does Trump fit into that? 


LEAMER:  Well, he – it`s his world, meaning he can create the illusion of

classiness as well. 


If you have got $200,000, you can join Mar-a-Lago too.  You can be one of



MATTHEWS:  You can buy your way into class? 


LEAMER:  Yes, exactly. 


MATTHEWS:  Wonderful. 


Thank you, Megan Twohey.  It`s great reporting, Megan.  Thank you so much

for coming on HARDBALL tonight.


Laurence Leamer, as always, I have great respect for you, Laurence Leamer.


 Up next: the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Congress and

Trump, the House holding Attorney General William Barr and Commerce

Secretary Wilbur – Wilbur – in criminal contempt for stonewalling

Congress on the census controversy.


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


In a dramatic move late today, the House of Representatives voted to hold

Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in

criminal contempt of Congress for withholding subpoenaed documents from the

Oversight Committee. 


As NBC News points out, the vote marks – quote – “just the second time in

American history that an American attorney general had been found in

criminal contempt,” the first being Eric Holder seven years ago. 


The subpoenaed documents that Barr and Ross withheld are about the

administration`s failed effort to add a citizenship question to the census,

and they could reveal the president`s ulterior motive perhaps in waging

that census fight. 


According to “The New York Times,” Democrats believe – quote – “that the

administration`s long-stated rationale for collecting the data, to better

enforce the Voting Rights Act, was merely a cover for a politically

motivated attempt to eliminate noncitizens from population statistics used

to allocate political representation, diminishing Democratic power.”


Well, it comes after the Supreme Court rejected the administration`s

argument that the citizenship question was necessary and that their

justification seems to have been contrived.”


I`m joined right now by Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida,

who serves on the House Oversight Committee. 


Congresswoman, it`s great to have you on. 


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL):  Thank you. Great to be with you.


MATTHEWS:  Can you figure out what the Trump people were up to in including

that citizenship question?  What was their political dream here? 


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Well, it certainly wasn`t what Secretary Ross testified

under oath, which was that the sole reason, he said, that they wanted the

citizenship question on the census was to enforce the Voting Rights Act. 


And President Trump himself basically outed Secretary Ross as a liar last

week, when he said publicly that the purpose was for partisan



And, you know, we had two Cabinet officials defy congressional –

bipartisan congressional subpoenas.  And they are – the administration is

not above the law. 


And so we have to use every tool at our disposal to be able to use the

oversight authority that we have to get answers to the questions, because

if this was really about partisan gerrymandering, if the documents that had

been revealed, which we know have said that what the administration was

really trying to do was to suppress Hispanic representation and make sure

that brown people weren`t represented, the way they should be based on

their numbers, then we had to do this. 




So the purpose was to scare people who have some people in the family or in

the household who are undocumented not to participate, and thereby reduce

the number of people being counted in that area?




There is a reason, Chris, that it`s been 70 years since a citizenship

question has been on a census.  And it`s – I was at the hearing when we

had Secretary Ross there.  And, very clearly, we pointed out that you don`t

need a citizenship question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. 


You don`t need – we have smaller surveys that they do where they include

it now.  But the president himself said last week that it was partisan

gerrymandering that was their real motive.  He outed his own Cabinet



And you can`t – we have been trying to get documents.  The Oversight

Committee`s role is to make sure that we can get to the bottom of the

motivations of the administration.  That`s why our founding fathers set up

three branches of government. 


It`s our job in Congress to get answers to questions.  It`s the

administration`s job to answer that. 


MATTHEWS:  I know.  It`s legitimate, but Trump, the president, is telling

Wilbur Ross, don`t participate.  Don`t answer their subpoena.  Don`t –

ignore them, basically. 


That`s an amazing statement.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Look, this contempt vote allows us to – it`s a

criminal contempt resolution.  And now it allows us to go to court and

enforce our subpoena authority. 


MATTHEWS:  It`s great to have you on. 


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  I mean, that`s – we have to get answers to this



MATTHEWS:  It`s great to have you on, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Thank you so much, Chris. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Thank you so much for coming on. 




MATTHEWS:  Up next:  President Trump is in North Carolina tonight, as we

said, hoping to rally his base.  He has got a crowd there, possibly with

fresh criticism aimed at those four women, the self-styled Squad, he seems

to be going after.


Will making these women the face of the Democratic Party become a part of -

- a staple of his campaign?  You betcha. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.






You`re looking at live pictures right now at President Trump himself on

stage in his campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina.  North Carolina,

of course, he won narrowly in 2016. 


Well, President Trump just responded to tonight`s vote by the House to kill

a resolution on impeachment. 





States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most

ridiculous project I`ve ever been involved in, the resolution, how stupid

is that, on impeachment. 


I want to thank those Democrats because many of them voted for us.  The

vote was a totally lopsided 332-95 to one. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, the president is looking to rally his base obviously the

day after the house passed another resolution, condemning him for having

legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.  Well, it

appears President Trump is going to ignore that condemnation and continue

to adjust what he is doing and got condemned for it. 


Two senior Trump campaign officials told NBC News that the president is

expected to continue his attacks on the four congresswomen tonight in what

they say is a preview of a 2020 strategy that is resonating with his base,

they think.  Well, Trump tweeted this morning: Big rally tonight in

Greenville, North Carolina.  I`ll talk also about people who love and hate

our country, mostly love. 


As “The New York Times” reports, a major component of the president`s

reelection strategy is to portray his opponents as not merely disliking him

and his policies, but also disliking America itself.  And “The Washington

Post” points out tonight`s rally, like all the others the president has

held this year, have been in states he won in 2016, and he has no interest

in toning down the incendiary rhetoric that has made him unpopular among

black, Hispanic and female voters. 


In fact, Trump has reverted to his old go-to defense right out of a

schoolyard playbook, and that`s next. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


Tonight, the president is holding his first rally since he launched his

reelection campaign.  It comes just a day after, of course, the House

condemned him for some of the same language he is putting on wild display

tonight again. 


For more, I`m joined by Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster, and Rick

Tyler, a Republican strategist. 


So, let`s talk turkey.  I know we have to talk morality because we have

moral standards in our country, including here.  But why does Trump get the

ride?  Why does he get people that probably go to church on Sunday, they

teach their kids to use good manner, not to use racial slurs, or ethnic

slurs, and yet they go – they put the MAGA hat on and they applaud like

crazy people for this guy? 



wrote about this in my book from two years.  It was catastrophe of the

election of Barack Obama for a certain group of people was a catastrophe. 

It was a changing of the guard.  I was the first time in our history where

the vast, vast majority of white voters could vote one way and the country

could go in a different way. 


MATTHEWS:  Did the whites vote against Obama? 


BELCHER:  Obama lost white voters in `08 and even larger in `12. 


MATTHEWS:  The crowd, by the way, we`re going get the tape in a minute is

showing “send her back”, in the spirit of Trump. 


BELCHER:  Well, this thing, so when you have a catastrophe, all rules and

sort of norms go out.  So once upon a time, Donald Trump –


MATTHEWS:  You make it sound like the Palestinian attitude towards the

founding of Israel, the catastrophe I think they called it.


BELCHER:  Well, for somebody, it`s a catastrophe.  Look, Donald Trump you

know very well. Pat Buchanan ran for years.  Pat Buchanan couldn`t win a

Republican nomination.  All of the sudden, now, my friends in the

Republican Party is no longer Ronald Reagan`s Republican Party.  It`s

Donald Trump`s party. 


MATTHEWS:  Who did it?  He did it?  He is a genius? 


BELCHER:  No, it`s a driving of the resentment.  And he has captured this

resentment and this fear about the changing of America. 


MATTHEWS:  You know, when the Republicans run in `48, they didn`t run anti-

communists.  By `52, they learned to be smart about it.  They ran against

communists, the whole ring. 


Who switched the Republican Party to being a tribalist party?  An ethnic

tribalist party? 


RICK TYLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, the Republicans ultimately

because the math is against them, right?  You can only build – you can –

you have a base, and you try to build out from the base.  Trump has done

nothing to build out from the base.  And –


MATTHEWS:  W. tried to.  W. tried to bring it.  He got about 35, 40 percent

of Hispanic voters. 


TYLER:  He was pretty successful at it.  I think – look, on both sides,

politics parties have devolved into – I liken it to team sports.  So,

let`s say there is a bad call in a Super Bowl game, and everybody can look

at the jumbotron, and we`ll call that truth.


Everybody can see that he stepped out of the bounds, it was a good call. 

That`s the truth.  But to have half the stadium, that`s a bad call, because

that means my team loses.  And the other half saying that`s a good call. 

The truth, we`re in a post-truth politics world. 


MATTHEWS:  We don`t have a camera in politics that tells us what was the



BELCHER:  You`re the camera.


TYLER:  Yes, that`s true.  The media is the camera.  But he is saying the

media is corrupt and the referees are corrupt.  They`re not telling –


MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, for the first time, all the major newspapers, they`re

mostly owned I guess by Republicans.  Editorially, they`re probably more

liberal.  But all these newspapers for the past two, three days have called

him racist.  That`s the first time that`s happened. 


BELCHER:  And that`s I think a term for the best, because, look, we can`t

go down this racial hole Trump is trying to take us down for his own

personal benefit, because guess what?  America is not getting whiter.  You

and I have going to have to get along and our children are really going to

have to get along or we`re going lose the future to the rising Pacific

countries, because we`re going to go down a rat`s hole. 


This is ultimately –


MATTHEWS:  How does this square with kids in their 20s and 30s today?  My

kids are in their 30s now.  When they were at school, and they had an

African-American teacher, they never told us.  It didn`t click with them as

a significant fact. 


BELCHER:  Right, right. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s different than when I went to school, because we were all

basically effectively segregated.  So now a kid who is now 25, 32, are they

going to listen to Trump? 


BELCHER:  Well, they`re growing up in a more diverse world.  The

millennials are the generation where America will become a majority

minority country.  So they kind of have to get along. 


MATTHEWS:  Let`s take a look at this.  The Trump rally just now, you would

hear, they used to yell “lock her up”, meaning Hillary Clinton.  Tonight,

there is a new one.  Let`s take a listen to the latest chant. 




TRUMP:  These left wing ideologues see our nation as a force of evil.  The

way they speak so badly of our country, they want to demolish our

Constitution, weaken our military, eliminate the values that built this

magnificent country. 


You have to look at some of their recent comments, which are never talked

about.  When you see the four congresswomen, oh isn`t that lovely? 




I`ll give you just a couple.  I`ve had pages and pages.  But we don`t want

to bore you.  We don`t want to go too long. 


Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds. 


AUDIENCE:  Send her back!  Send her back!  Send her back!  Send her back! 

Send her back! 




MATTHEWS:  You know, the anti-Semitic thing, that is an aspect, but it`s

not the main point of what these women have been saying at all.  That`s one



BELCHER:  But it sort of paints them as evil, crazy doers. 


Look, I think it`s stark.  When you look at how that Reagan launched his

reelection, it`s morning in America.  How W. – you know, W. has talked

about a more hopeful mark.  You know, Bill Clinton was a bridge to the 21st



You had these Americans, whether they`re Democrat or Republican, launching

their campaigns as sort of a hopeful bringing America together. 


This guy is launching his campaign by talking about how these people hate

America.  It`s dramatically different. 


TYLER:  Warren Harding`s campaign – 


MATTHEWS:  It showed in the cabinet, by the way.  Whatever you think of

these guys, they did try to diversify their cabinets, W. and more recent

Republicans, until this guy came along. 


Your thoughts?


TYLER:  After World War I, Warren Harding`s slogan was return to normalcy. 

Maybe adopted by the Democrats. 


Look, he does – this is the thing that he actually does best, right?  This

roving – I don`t know what you want to call –


MATTHEWS:  Troubadour. 


TYLER:  Yes, some show, right? 




TYLER:  And he says these ridiculous things, because the one-offs aren`t

working, right? 


So, Mr. Kim, tear down this curb, that didn`t work, right?  Build a wall,

Mexico is going to pay for that, didn`t work.


We`re going to take China trade.  We don`t have any deal with China, that

didn`t work. 


We`re going to redo NAFTA.  We don`t have a redone NAFTA.  Nothing has been

passed or ratified.  That didn`t work.  So, this is all he has. 


BELCHER:  All he has is racism. 


MATTHEWS:  You know, he gets accused within the last week of being a

rapist.  He says terrible things about ethnic groups.  The guy says

anything he wants. 


He`s almost up to the level of I should shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue. 

It`s almost.


TYLER:  But it`s going to get worse.


MATTHEWS:  Why are they with him that strongly? 


BELCHER:  Because he is their tribal strongman.  And, listen, I don`t let

Democrats off this either.  When Donald Trump stands up and says I`m going

to give you back your country, we knew what he was doing.  And Democrats`

response to that is, I`m going to raise the minimum wage. 


We have to speak to this tribalism, this growing tribalism in this country. 

We`ve got to get an alternative to it. 


MATTHEWS:  Well said.  Thank you, Cornell Belcher.  Thank you, Rick Tyler.


Up next, liberal justice John Paul Stevens died yesterday.  That man served

35 years in the U.S. Supreme Court, and Donald Trump has his eyes on two

future conservative justices serving at least that long. 


You bet.  He gets back in there, two more justices.  You`re watching –

that will make it 7-2 conservative. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Our thoughts tonight about the death of Supreme Court Justice

John Paul Stevens.  Justice Stevens was 99 years old when he died

yesterday.  Most justices, most people are not so fortunate, of course. 


Stevens was the third longest serving justice ever, retiring from the

Supreme Court in 2010 after 35 years.  During his time on the bench, he was

part of the more liberal branch of the court saying the two biggest

mistakes made by the Supreme Court when he was there were Bush v. Gore and

Citizens United.  We can agree on that. 


We should therefore consider the prospect of the court`s likely future. 

That tells us the historic nature, by the way, of this 2020 presidential

election coming.  If Donald Trump gets a second turn, he will get the

chance to move the Supreme Court from its present 5-4 conservative to 7-2

conservative.  And just think how easily he and his partner Mitch McConnell

could pull that off.  They could do that very swiftly, moving the court

right ward, right ward enough to put a generations long lock on the Supreme

Court, a move made easier by the current GOP habit of picking youngsters

for the high court, getting them young enough to spend the shank of their

career there.


Which brings us to the 2020 election and the need to pick a winner,

especially for those who care about people`s rights and about fair

elections.  We need justices that will reflect the will of the entire

American population, not just those able to jump through the hops the

Republicans have held out there, hoops especially challenging for the old

and less educated. 


My point is basic, irreducible and undeniable.  The Republicans play for

keeps.  You want to beat them, do the same.  And when it gets down to

picking the person you want picking the next members of the Supreme Court,

find yourself a winner. 


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


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 






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