Trump appoints Joseph McGuire Acting DNI. TRANSCRIPT: 8/9/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Evelyn Farkas, Chuck Rosenberg, Leon Fresco, Basil Smikle, Noah Rothman, Jonathan Lemire; Melissa Mark-Viverito; John Podhoretz

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Golf, Twitter and cable news.  Let`s play



Good evening.  I`m Steve Kornacki in for Chris Matthews.


President Trump left Washington this morning, but his problems will most

certainly follow him on his ten-day vacation at his New Jersey golf club. 

As Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press notes, his summer vacation comes

as he is confronting a storm of crises.  Quote, his poll numbers stalled

and his ability to rally a country questioned, he is being tested by an

escalating trade war with China that may slow the economy, rising tensions

with both Iran and North Korea, and in the aftermath of the latest mass

shootings, pressure to act on guns and face accusations of his own role in

fostering an environment of hate adding.  But aides say his attention will

be focused on golf, cable news and Twitter.


As the president was leaving the White House this morning, he was asked

about one of these crises, being called a white supremacist by eight

Democratic presidential candidates in the wake of the massacre in El Paso.




DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I don`t think it helps.  First of all, I

don`t like it when they do it, because I am not any of those things.  I

think it`s a disgrace.  And I think it shows how desperate the Democrats





KORNACKI:  The president`s own language characterizing Hispanic migrants as

an invasion was echoed in an online declaration of hate by the suspected

gunman.  Today, law enforcement officials confirmed the El Paso suspect

said he was specifically targeting Mexicans.


Meanwhile, President Trump insisted today that gun control legislation,

strengthening background checks is coming, despite reports the NRA warned

the president it would be unpopular with his base.




TRUMP:  I spoke to Mitch McConnell yesterday.  He`s totally on board.  He

said, I`ve been waiting for your call.  He is totally on board on

background checks.  We have tremendous support for really common sense,

sensible, important background checks.  But we`ll see where the NRA will

be.  But we have to have meaningful background checks.




KORNACKI:  But a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said

he actually hasn`t endorsed any specific gun legislation at this point.


For more, I`m joined by Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the

Associated Press, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Interim President of the Latino

Victory Fund, and a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York`s 15th

district, and John Podhoretz, Editor at Commentary Magazine.  Thanks to

everybody for being for being with us.


John Lemire, you wrote the story we`re quoting from there.  Let me ask you

what you`re hearing behind the scenes from folks in the White House, folks

around Trump at the end of this week?  Do they feel there was a missed

opportunity here this week?  Do they feel that this is something that`s

going to reverberate for weeks, for months, for the rest of his – at least

first term as presidency?  Do they think there is a lasting damage here?



going on at once.  I think there is a sense around the president that

Wednesday did not go as well as it should have.  Then Wednesday, of course,

he went to visit the mass shooting sites in Ohio and Texas.  He ended up

spending a day that was meant to be to console the grieving into a day of

airing his own grievances.  He made the day very much about himself while

he was there.


And I think as much as those around him were sort of forced to echo that

statement, members of his staff who sort of Tweeted again attacking Senator

Brown, that the mayor of Dayton suggesting they were being too political,

there is a sense there that that was a moment where he could have shown

some real leadership and it didn`t work out.


He left today for Bedminster.  He was at a fundraiser – a rather

controversial fundraiser in the Hamptons first and now on to Bedminster,

where he`ll remain for ten days.  We expect to see him a few times.  There

will be a couple of events in New Jersey.  He is going the travel to

Pennsylvania on Tuesday.  He has got a rally coming up as well in New

Hampshire later in the week.  But largely, he is going to be out of sight.


And there is a sense here as to what happens next with this issue of guns. 

He is under extreme pressure right now to make something happen.  You saw

him on the south lawn when he left the White House today, suggesting that

he was – he had talked to Senate Majority Leader McConnell, he had talked

to the NRA.  He portrayed it as if there is some momentum there.  We don`t

know how reliable a narrator he is.  McConnell has balked previously about

certain measures.  The NRA has not signed off on the background checks



The president certainly is wildly popular with Republicans.  He has the

ability, if he wants, to provide cover for Republicans.  This is a moment

to act on background checks, even in a limited way, to give them something,

to show some sort of victory on gun control, if you will.


But those around him aren`t sure what`s going to happen, particularly over

the next days or weeks.  Does the momentum sort of dissipate?  We have seen

the news cycle is so fast.  As tragic as this was last weekend, will this

still be what we`re talking about in a few days.  And if we`re not, the

president might ease off the gas pedal and not push forward.


KORNACKI:  And you mentioned too, I think, everybody can remember going

back to the campaign certainly since he`s been president, Trump going to

these conventions NRA conventions, an annual event, the hero`s welcome he

receives there, that`s also part of the backdrop.  We`ll talk more than in

a minute.


But Melissa and John, I want to ask you both the same question here.  In

some ways what we saw this week, it was, in some ways, something we`ve

never seen before with the president.  In other ways, it`s a continuation

of the story we`ve sort of seen with Trump.  There are ceremonial moments,

ceremonial aspects of the president, sort of national grieving taking

place.  And he takes it in a direction we have not seen modern Democratic

or Republican presidents do.


I ask you this, Melissa.  Is there anything new or different that you think

Americans take from this week and how the president handled it in terms of

as they take the measure of him or do they just end up viewing this as par

for the course?



Anyone that is waiting for some sort of dramatic shift in tone from this

president, I`ve got a bridge to sell you.  I mean, this individual has

shown his true colors.  The fact that he would take a moment like Wednesday

where he is visiting both Ohio and Texas to make it all about himself, to

basically push back on people that are saying, we need to grieve.  We don`t

need you here right now, and not taking that message.  Then go to the

hospital and take photos and utilize it for some sort of a campaign.  I

mean, this is all about who he is.


We as Latinos have just witnessed possibly the most incredible moment,

negative, obviously, of a domestic terrorist attack targeted to us as

Latinos for who we are.  And this was under this administration.  And so I

– we are very concerned, right, that we are not going to see any changes. 

We`ve heard before the bluster about, oh, we`re going to do something about

background checks.  I would hope that something gets done.  I don`t really

have a lot of faith that is going to get done.  And so we are at a

crossroads.  We continue to go down a path that`s very dark.


Reverend Dr. Barber was in El Paso the other day.  I was there.  And he

talked about white supremacy, it is about the words of racism it is about

the works of racism and it is about the war of racism.  And this is what

this administration is perpetuating,   The words, the rhetoric, when you

talk about the policies is the works of racism.  And then when you see the

war that now is being taken in terms of violence against communities that

are particularly of color in this country.  It`s a very dark moment, and I

have a – it`s very hard for us to find any sort of silver lining right



KORNACKI:  Same question to you, John.  Is there anything different, more

lasting, deeper that you sense in how people are reacting to and processing

this past week?



what we see here is every couple of months, something happens and the

president behaves in a certain way that then reminds people who might

conceivably start feeling more positively about him because of the state of

the economy and the fact that we haven`t had the military adventurism and

all of that.


And it`s like he strums the guitar, and they remember his discordant

performance.  So what we have here is a kind of moment of, oh, no, not

again.  Like once again, we have a president who can`t rise to this kind of

occasion.  This is not among the people who are solidly definitely going to

vote for him.


KORNACKI:  These are the reluctant Trump voters?


PODHORETZ:  Either the reluctant Trump voters or the people on the fence or

something like that.  The people in those 40 Republican districts in

November 2018 who went the other way, that he`s got to get back or got to

get some of them back in order to prevail in November 2020.


And I think this is the danger for him.  Like the thing that he should do

right now is go silent and play golf.  He should go on vacation, go have

meetings on national security and do all that.  He will not be able to

resist getting into fights on Twitter, you know, yelling at people, doing

all of that at a moment at which we just spent five days watching him be

extremely uncomfortable with the trappings and bearings of the classical

responsibilities of the presidency.


In no way, shape or form can this even be imagined that it could help him. 

It may be something that fades or evanesces.  But, as I said, I think it

just – it leaves kind of a residue.  All of these moments where he fails

leaves a residue.


KORNACKI:  And that`s what I`m wondering too, John, for the time of voter

that John is describing here.  Say they`re a reluctant Trump voter, however

you want to define it, folks who did not go into this with a strong opinion

of Trump, but either voted for him anyway in 2016.  Maybe they didn`t like

Clinton even more.  Maybe they`re still open to it, but they`re not wild

about him.


Is there a breaking point for them?  Is there a walk away point?  Does this

potentially rise to a higher level than some of these other moments that

John is describing?  Is there a sense in the White House that that`s a



LEMIRE:  There is some nervousness about it.  I mean, that is the question. 

He will have a second term or not depending on those voters, by a lot of

analysis.  There is concern around him that he has not, as John just said

very rightly, has not risen to the moment here.  And that he has not –

there have been a number of occasions like this.  Let`s remember Parkland,

the shooting a year-and-a-half ago at this point where he also vowed to be

tough on guns.  As soon as the NRA got in his ear, he walked away from it.


I think that will be a little harder for him now.  He certainly has the

ability.  The NRA is in a weakened position at the moment.  Wayne LaPierre

is at the center of more scandals than I can count.  So he would be in a

position where perhaps the president who is so popular among Republicans

can provide some cover and move forward.


But I think there are suburban voters, there are independents, you know. 

This is like he Democrats we might have caught last time around who even

now might still be pretty happy with where the economy is, but those in the

White House are worried that the president is letting them down.


And it`s not just this moment.  It`s the last couple of weeks.  Take those

at once, the idea of the undeniably racist rhetoric towards the four

Democratic congressmen of color, the attacks on Representative Elijah

Cummings in Baltimore.


And now as he goes on vacation, this sort of series of storms he is going

to have to confront, the idea of not just the aftermath of the shooting and

what responsibility he made there for his rhetoric, for his anti-

immigration rhetoric mirrored by the shooter in El Paso, but also the

chickens are coming home to roost perhaps with North Korea and Iran and

particularly China and that trade deal.


And if the economy slows down, that is the number one thing the people

around the president are panicked about, because that is his number one

argument for re-election, the good economy.


KORNACKI:  And, of course –


LEMIRE:  The economy tanks –


KORNACKI:  And the folks around him, of course, want him to be talking than

a lot more than he is.


MARK-VIVERITO:  And the other issue, obviously, I think a more generally,

we have to talk about the Republican Party.  Because you have both the

Senate that is out of session and refuses to even consider an emergency

like this where this is a crisis that the nation is going through.  It is a

crisis that certain communities are living.  Each and every day, us as

Latinos wake up every day wondering what is the new level of depravity that

this administration is going to inflict on us in terms of ripping our

families apart?  We just saw the raids also that occurred, over 680, and

how many children are being separated from their parents again.


This is a violent administration against communities of color.  And so it

is generally the lack of inaction, right, how alienated, right, that this

administration is to the reality that communities live, like the fact that

the Republicans won`t come back into session in the Senate, when you have a

president that is going to the Hamptons and in this gilded moment, right,

in this bubble that he is in with people that are wealthy and are giving

money and I`m really completely removed from the reality that is being

lived.  It`s a crisis.


I understand you probably –


PODHORETZ:  No, no.  What I was going to say is that I don`t know the

specifics of whether or not the Senate comes back in session or doesn`t or

that he has fundraisers are large enough to, you know, turn people against

him, or they`re too specific.  They`re too political and people don`t

follow them.


What he says, what he Tweets, how he acts, when he looks uncomfortable,

what he does when he has that rally next week in New Hampshire, those will

matter in this sense also, even dwelling on background checks.


So if he pushes the Republican Party to accept background checks and

somehow mysteriously makes it into law, that`s kind of small beer.  Like

people who really want gun control, you could say, well, this is really –

but it`s only a first step.


And everybody who believes that, you know, any step down that road is a

step toward confiscation and the seizure of their guns and the abrogation

of their second amendment rights is going to be unhappy.  No one`s going to

be that happy.  And so his back is against the wall.


Like if he does – if he does some kind of stopgap measure, yes, maybe

he`ll say, oh, I did it, I did it, I did it.  But the people who like him

won`t like it, and the people who don`t like him won`t be satisfied.


KORNACKI:  But at the same time, even if he does that, it seems an open

question if he can do that.  If the NRA says no, we`re still against this,

you know, we`ve been with you, Trump, but we`re still against this.  You`ve

had this background check bill has not made it through the U.S. Senate, has

not made it through the Republican, has not made it through mostly

Republican opposition.  And there are Democrats who have opposed it too. 

So there is an open question if it could even get through.


We`ve got to cut it short here unfortunately, but thank you to Jonathan

Lemire, Melissa Mark-Viverito, John Podhoretz, good discussion there.


Coming up, a shakeup at the top level of national intelligence as another

career official fails the loyalty test.  The country`s number two

intelligence official has handed in her resignation.  She says the

president should have his team, this just weeks after Dan Coats announced

his departure, leaving two top intelligence posts unfilled.


Plus, after the roundup of nearly 700 undocumented workers in Mississippi,

why aren`t more employers being punished for hiring undocumented

immigrants?  We`ll look at that.  And a new report that the president

himself continues to employ undocumented workers at his properties.


Much more ahead.  Stay with us.




KORNACKI:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


The two top positions in the U.S. intelligence community are now vacant

after the Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Sue Gordon, resigned

her post yesterday.


According to NBC News, Gordon tendered her resignation after she learned

she would be passed over for the top job that outgoing Director Dan Coats

is leaving next week.  By law, Gordon was supposed to be next in line.  And

Coats even recommended that she replace him.  But the White House objected.


In a handwritten note, Gordon told the president, quote, I offer this

letter as an act of respect and patriotism, not preference.  You should

have your team.


Hours after the news broke, the president revealed that he will instead

appoint Joseph Maguire, the Director of the National Counterterrorism

Center, to be the acting Director of National Intelligence.


This latest shake-up follows Trump`s botched attempt to install Congressman

John Ratcliffe into that job last week, but Ratcliffe`s name was dropped

amid concerns over his lack of experience.


Now the president is signaling that he is in no rush to find a permanent

replacement for Maguire once he takes over. 





have a great acting.


Admiral Maguire is a very talented man.  He`s a great leader, as an

admiral, was always a great leader.  He is a man who is respected by

everybody, and he`s going to be there for a period of time.  Who knows? 

Maybe he gets the job.  But he`ll be there for a period of time, maybe a

longer period of time than we think.  We`ll see.




KORNACKI:  Maguire will become one of numerous Trump administration

officials fulfilling their roles in acting capacities. 


I`m joined now by Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of

defense, and Chuck Rosenberg is a former senior FBI official and a former

U.S. attorney. 


Thanks to both of you for being with us. 


Well, Evelyn, let me start with you, because sort of an extraordinary

series of events here. 


When you look at Gordon, somebody who had such strong institutional

support, somebody who had the support of the outgoing DNI, being told,

you`re not even going to get this on an interim basis, and then attaching

this note: “This is an act of respect and patriotism, not preference.”


She says this to the president in her note. 


What do you make of what happened here?  What do you make of Trump and the

White House`s reluctance and refusal to appoint here?  What do you think

that stems from? 



was an act of frustration on her part, certainly, because she fully

expected that she should be at least acting, if not considered for the top

job, although usually those people are a little bit more high-profile and a

little bit more political. 


So it was a slap, a slap in her face.  And so she was essentially telling

the president, I don`t like this, but because you are passing me over as

acting, I can`t stay on any longer.  And, you know, effectively she would

be demoted eventually. 


And so, unfortunately, what that tells the rest of the intelligence

community is that the president doesn`t respect a serious professional like

her.  I have met her before.  I have heard her speak.  I know that she is

very well-respected deeply and also widely across the intelligence



And so here the president is telling someone like that, I don`t value who

you are and what you stand for. 


That`s disturbing to the community writ large, because they`re a lot like



KORNACKI:  So, Chuck, pick up that point because, obviously, yes, the

president is entitled to have whoever he wants in positions like this, but

the concern that`s being expressed is, hey, you had Dan Coats there, who

had this reputation, certainly the last couple of years on both sides of

the aisle, of being sort of, for lack of a better term, unafraid to give

truths to the president that maybe he didn`t want to hear.


That was the reputation, at least.  The concern is that the president maybe

isn`t interested in somebody who would continue that legacy. 


Joseph Maguire, who the president is going with instead here, instead of

Gordon, is that a valid concern about Joseph Maguire?  What do you know

about him? 


CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, Admiral Maguire has had a

long and storied career in the United States Navy.  He is well-regarded and

well-respected, but he doesn`t have the deep background in intelligence

that Sue Gordon does.


And to Evelyn`s point – and I think she is exactly right – all of this

sends a signal to the intelligence community.  Like law enforcement,

intelligence has to be two things.  It has to be apolitical and it has to

be perceived as apolitical. 


And so you want to be very careful in selecting top leaders in those lines

of work, because you need people who will be divorced entirely from

politics and will speak truth to power. 


Sue Gordon had that reputation.  I have no idea whether or not Admiral

Maguire will be good or bad or permanent or temporary.  He is well-

regarded.  He comes from an important and respected Naval background, but

he`s not an intelligence professional. 


KORNACKI:  Well, in a statement on Maguire`s appointment, Senator Mark

Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he said

that: “Maguire`s success or failure in this position will be judged by the

quality of work produced by the intelligence community, not by how those

intelligence products make the president feel.”


Evelyn, the fact that this is, at least for right now, going to be an

interim appointment, going to be an acting appointment, and there are so

many like this in this administration right now – and, as we showed in the

president`s comments, there is the prospect that this will be an interim

appointment that extends for some period of time, potentially.


Does that affect the quality of work that will be presented to the

president from the intelligence community? 


FARKAS:  Hopefully not. 


I mean, Steve, certainly, the quality of work that will be produced, I`m

sure, will be as excellent as it has been to date.  These people are

trained professionals. 


The question is what is put in front of the president.  Now, here I also

think that Admiral Maguire will be a professional.  I know him, actually. 

I have known him a long time, since he was a SEAL and since he was top

commander of the U.S. Navy SEALs.  He is professional.  He is apolitical. 


I don`t know how he will be in this role.  We have never seen him in a role

that is a little bit more political under this kind of pressure from the



So the question is, yes, what will he present, and what will the president

be willing to see?


I think what`s more troubling is that it`s an interim position, because it

adds uncertainty to the work force.  And, of course, he himself will be a

weaker leader. 


KORNACKI:  Meanwhile, other developments out of Washington this week.


After the House Judiciary Committee debated for months about whether to

open a formal impeachment inquiry, the chairman, Jerry Nadler, he now says

the committee`s investigation is an impeachment inquiry. 




REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY):  This is formal impeachment proceedings.  We

are investigating all the evidence.  We`re gathering the evidence.  And we

will, at the conclusion of this, hopefully by the end of the year, vote to

vote articles impeachment to the House floor, or we won`t. 


That`s a decision that we will have to make.  But that`s exactly the

process we`re in right now. 




KORNACKI:  So, Chuck, this has confused quite a few people, I think.  There

has been no formal vote by the House to convene an impeachment inquiry of

the Judiciary Committee.  There has been no formal vote of the committee to

do that. 


What it sounds like Nadler is saying is, hey, we are going to do the

legwork that would be done in a formal impeachment inquiry, and that can

lead to a vote on whether to proceed at some point in the future. 


Do you read this as a sincere move potentially towards impeachment on the

part of Democrats?  Or do you view this more as a sop to activists, to

members of the party who want to have some sort of impeachment inquiry,

maybe even Nadler himself, who apparently wanted to have some sort of

impeachment inquiry? 


ROSENBERG:  How about option C, Steve?  I see it as something else.  I see

it as a legal strategy. 


Let`s go back four-and-a-half decades.  In 1974, the United States Supreme

Court, in U.S. v. Nixon, said executive privilege is a real thing, but it`s

a qualified privilege.  And, sometimes, it has to give way to more

important incent – or more important things. 


That thing back then was a grand jury proceeding.  And so by calling it an

impeachment inquiry, what Nadler is doing is setting up the House in a

better litigating position to challenge assertions of executive privilege

or to get documents in ongoing court cases. 


So I don`t know that it`s a sop.  I don`t see it through a political lens. 

I see it as part of a legal strategy to strengthen their hand in ongoing

court cases. 




The calendar, of course, just the politics of it, the calendar is obviously

a factor.  You have Nadler out there saying by the end of this calendar

year reaching some kind of decision on what to do. 


You have had other Democrats out there already who support impeachment

saying, got to make that decision by September 1.  I heard one say, got to

make it by Thanksgiving.  Now you have got Nadler saying end of the year. 

And, of course, November 2020, you do have an election.  That`s going to

happen no matter what. 


Thank you to Evelyn Farkas, Chuck Rosenberg.  Appreciate the time. 


And up next:  The mass arrest of hundreds of undocumented immigrants at

food processing plants in Mississippi has torn families apart and sent a

chilling message to Latino communities.  But many are wondering why the

employers aren`t being punished. 


HARDBALL is back after this. 






TRUMP:  I want people to know that if they come into the United States

illegally, they`re getting out.  They`re going to be brought out.  And this

serves as a very good deterrent. 


If people come into our country illegally, they`re going out. 




KORNACKI:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


That was President Trump this morning defending what ICE officials are

calling the large largest statewide immigration sweep in the country`s



Nearly 700 workers suspected of being undocumented immigrants were rounded

up from seven different food processing plants in Mississippi.  Nearly have

been released, leaving hundreds more still in custody and separated from

their families. 


However, no charges have been filed against any of the employers of those



One of the companies releasing a statement today, saying they are fully

cooperating with the authorities in their investigation and that they –

quote – “adhere strongly to all local, state and federal laws, including

utilizing the government-based E-Verify program.”


Data shows that, for employers, the chances of criminal prosecution remains

low.  One analysis found that from April of 2018 through March of 2019, 11

employers were prosecuted for hiring undocumented immigrants.  That is

compared to over 120,000 undocumented immigrants prosecuted through ICE.


For more, I am joined by Leon Fresco, a former deputy assistant U.S.

attorney general from the Obama administration.  He oversaw all civil

immigration litigation for the federal government. 


Leon, thanks for taking a few minutes. 


OK.  You saw the stats.  Large number of undocumented immigrants, small

number of employers – by employers, we`re talking individuals here –

prosecuted over that one-year period. 


Why that vast gulf? 



That`s because the law in this area is a mess. 


It`s the easiest thing for ICE to do in this situation is to actually pick

up the undocumented worker, detain them, break up their family and remove



In order to deal with the company, the ICE has to determine that the

company either has a pattern or practice of immigration violations or

actually was complicit in making fake documents and engaging in visa fraud. 


If the employer simply accepted documents that looked reasonable enough,

the employer can`t be prosecuted in that situation, which is why we see so

few prosecutions of employers in that situation. 


KORNACKI:  Is that a reasonable standard, in your experience?  Do you think

that`s a reasonable standard to hold employers to, or should the law be

toughened?  Should it be – should it be there be more latitude to go after



FRESCO:  The problem is, the law was designed to 1986, when we didn`t have

any technology. 


In the 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration bill, it actually would have

given employers a very simply red light/green light system that would have

been based on biometric identification that would have said, if you`re the

person you claim to be, we will either take your picture or a fingerprint. 

And, at that point, we will determine with a green light/red light system

whether you can work or not.  And if anyone else is found at the employer

site, that is fine. 


But, right now, the employer is in a difficult situation, because they

cannot accept certain documents if they think they`re fake.  But if they

think a document is fake, and they`re wrong, but they can actually be sued

by the employ for discrimination.  So the laws are terrible, and they have

to be changed. 


KORNACKI:  Well, in his remarks this morning, President Trump made no

mention of the companies that hire undocumented immigrants.  It could be

because the Trump Organization has reportedly relied on undocumented



“The Washington Post” reports that a Trump-owned construction company has

continued to use undocumented workers for his projects at his properties

going back nearly two decades. 


One of those undocumented immigrants worked for the company for nine years,

told “The Post”: “If you`re a good worker, papers don`t matter.”


Leon, obviously, the – having the president overseeing these – his

administration overseeing these ICE raids and that story in “The Washington

Post” on the same day raises all sorts of questions. 


But take us through how the law works when it comes to a company like

Trump`s and news like that.  What is – is there any potential liability

for a company like Trump`s with that kind of reporting? 


FRESCO:  Well, sure. 


Any company who engages in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring

undocumented workers can have criminal violations for both the company and

for any employee of the company who helped to engage that. 


If someone were to say, well, does President Trump face a violation for

that, well, the government would have to prove that the president himself

helped to knowingly hire undocumented workers, meaning they`d have to prove

that the president knew that a specific worker was undocumented and said

hire them anyway, or that he helped people to get false documents. 


So none of the stories at the moment say anything like that.  But that kind

of pattern or practice could still lead organizations like the Trump

Organization, for instance, to face a violation if they were going to be

investigated, be the organization, and not anyone specifically in it. 


KORNACKI:  All right, thank you, Leon Fresco.  Appreciate you taking a few



FRESCO:  Thank you. 


KORNACKI:  And up next: an avalanche of new polling on the Democratic

presidential race. 


We know who the front-runner is, but guess who is moving up?  


I`m heading over to the Big Board.  You`re watching HARDBALL. 




KORNACKI:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


We have been talking for months about Joe Biden, the front-runner in the

Democratic race for president, but some new polling putting a spotlight on

Elizabeth Warren, who has been moving up in the Democratic race in some

very interesting ways. 


Let me show you, this is the average of all the national polls right now. 

You still see Bernie Sanders in second place nationally, barely, but

Elizabeth Warren back in third place, Biden, of course, as we say the



But we don`t have a national primary, you always hear.  We start in Iowa. 

And the race in Iowa looks different than this.  It looks significantly

different than this, if you believe the Monmouth poll out this week, Joe

Biden still in first place, Bernie Sanders not in second place in Iowa.  He

is all the way down in fourth place, back in single digits, and fading in

this new Monmouth poll. 


It`s Elizabeth Warren who has moved up dramatically in Iowa.  It`s

Elizabeth Warren who is in second place in Iowa.  It`s Elizabeth Warren who

is within single digits now of Joe Biden, the leader in Iowa. 


Of course, when we talk about Iowa, the Democratic Caucus electorate, we

tend to be talking about more liberal voters, more activist-oriented

voters.  And that is indeed where the energy is behind this Warren surge in



This is among self-described very liberal Democrats in Iowa, Warren

doubling up Bernie Sanders.  You see Biden, he is back in single digits. 

Warren has moved up significantly in Iowa. 


Also, this poll suggests those who are most likely who are to go out for

the caucuses – you have got to be there for hours – those who are most

likely to go out and put that time commitment in, a little bit more

supportive of Warren than sort of more general interests of voters. 


So, Warren moving up in Iowa, in striking distance. 


Here`s where things get interesting, because, if Warren – let`s imagine a

world where Warren actually catches Biden in Iowa, where she beats Biden in

Iowa.  What would come next?  New Hampshire.  That`s the next-door neighbor

state for Elizabeth Warren.


And there she is, right?  She is in third place right now.  Remember,

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, the shared media market, all of that.  She is

seven points behind Joe Biden.  A world where Elizabeth Warren wins Iowa,

where Bernie Sanders falls back far in Iowa, and where Joe Biden, the

front-runner, loses Iowa, is that a world where Elizabeth Warren can make

up that seven points and win New Hampshire? 


In a world where Elizabeth Warren wins Iowa and New Hampshire, well, guess

what, folks?  This is the history.  Candidates who put that one-two punch

together on the Democratic side in modern times, if you win Iowa and New

Hampshire, you win the nomination. 


Now, I`m not saying any of this is going to happen.  And, of course, that

would leave – if this does happen for Warren, that would leave the big

question mark.  Iowa and New Hampshire do not have a lot of nonwhite

voters.  That is the big question mark with her campaign nationally. 


Among white voters, she is neck and neck with Joe Biden.  Among black

voters, you see she is back in single digits, Biden up there near 50



That`s the question.  If Warren can put Iowa and New Hampshire together,

can she also build her black support, her nonwhite support?  That becomes

the million-dollar question for her. 


But the polling now suggesting there is at least for Elizabeth Warren a

real pathway potentially to the Democratic nomination, not something we

were saying six months ago. 


Up next:  The Trump campaign says labeling the president a white

supremacist will actually help him get reelected. 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




KORNACKI:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


Many 2020 presidential candidates have now escalated their criticism of

President Trump following last weekend`s mass shootings, with eight

candidates, eight candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth

Warren, now explicitly calling the president a white supremacist. 


Others haven`t gone quite as far.  Biden has said that Trump encourages

white supremacists.  Kamala Harris said that Trump empowers them. 


Axios reports that – quote – “Trump campaign officials believe Democrats`

extraordinary charge that the president is a white supremacist will

actually help him win in 2020, not only emboldening his base, but also

alienating some mainstream Republicans who think Democrats have gone too



Trump was asked this morning if he thought being called a white supremacist

helped him. 




TRUMP:  I don`t think it helps.  First of all, I don`t like it when they do

it, because I am not any of those things.  I think it`s a disgrace. 


And I think it shows how desperate the Democrats are.  For them to throw

out the race word again – racist, racist, racist.  That`s all they use to

anybody.  They called Nancy Pelosi a racist.  She`s not a racist.  They

call anybody a racist when they run out of cards.


I`m winning in the polls.  They`re desperate.  They`ve got lousy





KORNACKI:  I`m joined now by Beth Fouhy, NBC senior politics editor, Noah

Rothman, associate editor at “Commentary” magazine, and Basil Smikle, who

is a Democratic strategist. 


Beth, I`m trying to – look, a lot of our assumptions about politics are

kind of scrambled and up in the air after 2016. 


But if this is what the Trump folks are putting out there, that being

called a white supremacist will actually help him, can you conceive of a

voter who is on the fence who is pushed in his direction by that?  Does

that sound plausible to you? 


BETH FOUHY, SENIOR EDITOR, NBC.COM:  It doesn`t sound plausible to me. 


Look, it`s – we have a couple of camps that are very hard in their

position.  We have got Trump supporters who love the guy, are not going to

budge from him.  They might feel a little emboldened by this:  Yes, come at

me with these names and all of that, like sort of the deplorables of 2016. 


There`s a large group of people who can`t stand Trump and are going to –

are rushing to get rid of him. 


The folks who are left are those who basically perhaps don`t like his

character, don`t like his behavior.  They like his economy.  And Democrats

have to persuade those folks to come their way. 


I don`t see how any of this is going to push those voters one way or the

other.  And those are the voters it`s going to take for one side or the

other to win. 


KORNACKI:  And, Basil, look, we`re in this – I can`t remember.  I don`t

think there has been a time in modern history where eight candidates for

president have called the president a white supremacist. 


At the same time, we were up at that…


BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  No, but we have actually had a

president who was a white supremacist. 


KORNACKI:  Well, we had a poll last week.  I was at the board; 51 percent

in the Quinnipiac poll last week said the president is a racist. 


SMIKLE:  Right. 


So I do think it is important that, in the face of racism and white

supremacy, you have to call it out whenever you see it.  In the history of

this country, 10 of the first 12 presidents were slave owners, all the way

up to the birther movement started by Donald Trump going after the first

African-American president. 


You have to call it out.  Otherwise, you – if you`re silent, you`re

acquiescing to it. 


Having said that, I do think it`s appropriate for the candidates to speak

on it.  But I would say this no matter what.  Anger only gets you to 49

percent.  Democrats and voters generally have to embrace their candidate,

to fall in love with them, essentially, to get to that 51 percent. 


So we still need to be able to talk to voters about other things, how we`re

going to make their lives better going forward.  Just the anger towards and

pointing out the anger and frustration with Donald Trump really just isn`t



We still, again, as I said, need to embrace our candidate.  And I hope that

they can pivot to that. 


KORNACKI:  In terms of understanding the politics of this, Noah, is Beth`s

framework right?  We`re talk about never – excuse me – not never-Trump.


We`re talking about these reluctant Trump voters who kind of swung the

election in 2016, didn`t like him, but voted for him anyway.  He needs to

win them back.  Does it hurt that cause? 


NOAH ROTHMAN, “COMMENTARY”:  I think it does.  I`m actually of a different

opinion than Beth on this. 


If you`re theory of the race is that you don`t need Trump voters at all,

you can erect a new coalition out of low-propensity voters, this doesn`t



If, however, you`re trying to appeal to those Trump voters who voted for

the president and are hearing that they supported white nationalism and

maybe are culpable for white nationalism, in an effort to perform moral

suasion, you`re now turning them defensive.


You`re accusing them of violating precepts that are so foundational, so

antithetical to anything that we accept in society, that you`re going to

turn them off, because they`re simply not going to respond to this attempt

to impose a moral quandary on them. 


I think that the sounder strategy is Kamala Harris` tragedy, is Joe Biden`s

tragedy, which is to say that this president is far too comfortable with

white nationalists, is giving them a lot of succor.  And you don`t approve

of that.  I don`t approve of that.  So, what are we doing here? 


I mean, that`s the kind of moral question I think voters would respond to.


SMIKLE:  There is also the Stacey Abrams strategy, which is, here is a

constituency, an African-American community and others, who feel the way we

do.  The party may or may not be engaging them on a regular basis.  We can

actually dig down and bring those folks to the process, which is what

Stacey Abrams was saying. 


And she got flak for that, right?  She said, look, here`s a constituency.


FOUHY:  She also didn`t win.


SMIKLE:  No, I understand.  But she came close.  And we can also blame that

on voter suppression. 


Having said that, yes, there is that strategy of saying, look, we have a

constituency here that cares very deeply about this; 4.6 million Trump –

Obama voters from 2012 did not vote in 2016.  A third of them are African-



If we actually focus on those with some of this language and some of this

emotion tied behind the president, maybe we can actually turn the tide.


FOUHY:  And to Noah`s point – and I would agree with you on that – that

once voters are somehow feeling accused of being racist, white

supremacists, that is problematic. 


In fact, we asked Elizabeth Warren that question today, because she is one

of the candidates who has said, has called him a white supremacist.  We

said to her, what does that say to the people who support him?  And she

blew right by it.  She knew it was not a place where she wanted to go. 


I agree with you.  There is a caveat to that strategy that I laid out, that

if Trump is able to convince people that they are being demonized by simply

the fact they even responded to him four years ago, that could be something

that helps him a bit. 


KORNACKI:  I guess the question I`m asking too, Noah, in a way, is, is

there an audience – if you`re talking about these reluctant Trump voters,

I take your point. 


Maybe they view this as an indictment, that kind of attack as an indictment

on their own character.  Or is there a risk here that Trump`s own behavior,

especially what we have seen in the last couple of weeks, makes them

reconsider the charge, not about themselves, but about him?


ROTHMAN:  Well, it probably does.  It most certainly should.  I`m not sure

what argument Democrats are going to make for themselves in 2020, but that

the president is unfit for office dispositionally and in terms of

character, because they can`t, as we said, argue against the economy,

unless it takes a nosedive in the next year.


They`re really going to stay away from that.  They can`t argue foreign

instability, foreign wars.  Even corruption in the White House, there are a

lot of – there is a constellation of scandals, but that doesn`t

necessarily mean you have to have to one sentence where you can say, this

scandal will upend the White House. 


So, what can they say?  They can say the president is temperamentally

unfit.  And that argument centers around his language around race, his

incitement, his behavior patterns, which are really quite frustrating,

particularly when you see him in front of a child, an orphaned child,

thumbs-upping today, I mean, that sort of thing that you can really marshal

a moral argument.


But you can`t indict voters for voting for Donald Trump in 2016.  They will

turn off. 




Listen, one of the questions we have been asking here just about Trump and

all of these eruptions, all of these moments, all of these episodes, we

talk about how fast they fade. 


But I do wonder, are there some that do linger?  I feel Charlottesville

might have lingered a little bit. 


SMIKLE:  Yes. 


KORNACKI:  A question about this one.


We will see. 


Beth Fouhy, Noah Rothman, Basil Smikle, thank you all for being with us. 


And up next: a hero`s long journey home. 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




KORNACKI:  It has been a difficult week in the news, and we wanted to end

it with the story of a military hero finally coming home. 


On Thursday, Love Field in Dallas came to a near standstill as a plane

arrived carrying the remains of Air Force Colonel Roy Knight.  Colonel

Knight was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War.  His remains were

recovered earlier this year, decades later, and were identified just two

months ago. 


Travelers paid their respects, and workers on the runway stood silently in

honor of Colonel Knight. 


This was the same airport where, 52 years ago, Colonel Knight said farewell

to his family before heading off to war.  His son Bryan was just 5 years

old at the time. 


And 52 years later, Bryan Knight is now a captain with Southwest Airlines,

and he was the pilot who flew the plane that completed his father`s journey



That is HARDBALL for now.  Thank you for being with us. 


And “ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.






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