Show: HARDBALL Date: May 13, 2016 Guest: Abby Livingston, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Travis Weber, Anne Gearan, Michael Tomasky, Margaret Carlson, Michael Tomasky, Anne Gearan, Mark Landler
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Digging into Donald`s baggage.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Donald Trump`s baggage is exploding like a trunk load of Jack-in-the-boxes. In a matter of hours, we`ve heard audiotapes of him pretending to be his own PR guy, heard a former butler spew forth on the villainy of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, heard Trump`s unsavory chatter with Howard Stern, and just today, that he won`t release his past or present tax returns.
Did he, Donald Trump, when he decided on running for president, think none of this would explode in his face, or did he not imagine he`d even get this far, this close to actually being president?
Well, this week, there were multiple reminders of how much baggage that nominee, Donald Trump, brings with him. There`s the 1991 audio obtained by "The Washington Post" of a man who sounds awfully like Donald Trump claiming to be Trump`s PR guy. There`s a renewed focus on his conversations with Howard Stern over the years. There`s his insistence that he won`t release his tax returns until after the election. As he said today, "It`s none of your business." And there`s the news yesterday that Trump`s long -- former long-time butler causally called for the killing of the president of the United States.
We begin with that newly uncovered audio from 1991. The man in it calls himself John Miller. "The Washington Post" reports he is Donald Trump. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s your name again?
"JOHN MILLER": John Miller.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You work with Donald?
MILLER: Yes. That`s correct.
He really decided that he wasn`t -- you know, he didn`t want to make any commitment. He didn`t want to make a commitment. He really thought it was too soon. He`s coming out of a -- you know, a marriage, and he`s -- he`s starting to do tremendously well financially. He`s somebody that has a lot of options. And frankly, you know, he gets called by everybody. He gets called by everybody in the book, in terms of women. He`s living with Marla, and he`s got three other girlfriends. I`m sort of new here and I`m- -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your position?
MILLER: Well, I`m sort of handling PR because he gets so much of it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this morning on the "TODAY" show, Trump denied the man in the audio was him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It was not me on the phone. And it doesn`t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that, and it was not me on the phone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Robert Costa is a national reporter for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst. David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst, as well as my colleague, Joy Reid. She`s here. She`s an MSNBC anchor.
Joy, you`re laughing already, so let`s talk about this. I guess we can all assume, although we haven`t -- I don`t think they`ve ever broken the case here at NBC yet, but the fact is, most people would say that sounds like Donald Trump pretending to be his flack.
And why would he -- well, is this the kind of thing you do when you`re preparing to run for president? No.
MATTHEWS: So what does this tell -- I wonder if any of this stuff -- we`re going to go through all of it now -- would have really stopped him from being where he is right now. Do the American people who like Trump, that minority that do, care about this one way or another?
JOY REID, MSNBC ANCHOR: You know, I don`t think they do. But it is bizarre to watch this whole presidential race boil down to essentially the MTV show "Catfish," right, where you have this sort of George Wallace meets reality show character who clearly did not live his life with any intent whatsoever of ever being president of the United States. Otherwise, he would have done a lot of things differently.
And you have somebody who seems to be so narcissistic that in order to deflect bad media coverage, he pretends to be his own publicist. It`s just weird. And I think that the thing that you`re going to start to see happen--
MATTHEWS: Well, it worked, didn`t it?
MATTHEWS: -- it was well known because he kept calling up and saying, This guy`s really cool, this guy Trump.
MATTHEWS: You know?
REID: Yes, he--
MATTHEWS: Let me go to -- let me go to Costa on this. Costa, Robert, you`ve covered this guy to the point that probably as well as anybody, if not better. And you`re trying to figure him out. Now, is there any qualitative difference between the Trump who would call up tabloids of whoever else he`s trying to get ink from, talking up this guy named Donald Trump, like he`s a ventriloquist or something -- Hey, this guy`s really great -- and the guy we`re watching tonight as a political figure? Is he any different than that guy?
ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Trump has changed the political campaign and the way politics really functions in this country because of the way he engages with the press. Early on, I was always struck when I went to his office. He really read bylines in different publications. He studied the press. He studied reporters.
And he really -- and I asked him why he came to pile all this stuff on his desk and look at the press that way. He said going back to the `80s and the `90s, when this audio was recorded, he was someone who really did serve as his own press officer, who realized the power of the press in shaping his public image.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s been free, hasn`t it, Robert.
COSTA: It`s been a lot of coverage for him. And this goes back to the way he really worked the New York tabloids--
COSTA: -- in the 1980s.
MATTHEWS: Why is he denying that`s him on the phone there, on the phone calling in on the greatness of Donald Trump? Why is he -- why would he -- why wouldn`t he just say, There`s nothing wrong with what I did. I was a little bit pushy, but you know, I was ambitious"? Why didn`t he just say it and get it over with?
COSTA: I can`t read the mind of Donald Trump, but "The Post" stands by the story. Sounds like Donald Trump. And this is something that has been reported in the past as something he has done.
MATTHEWS: Well, you might say the other unsavory story from the Trump world this week came from incendiary comments made by Trump`s long-time ex- butler, Anthony Senecal. David Corn first reported on Facebook posts that he made, Senecal made, about President Obama. NBC spoke with Senecal yesterday. Let`s listen to the conversation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANTHONY SENECAL, TRUMP`S FORMER BUTLER: There`s more than some issues with him. He`s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) traitor, T-R-A-I-T-O-R, traitor, period! That`s the way I feel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so you think that that`s, I guess, what should be done with traitors.
SENECAL: I think he ought to be hung. I think he should be hung. I think he should be hung next to Hillary Clinton, and I think it should be public. I think it should be televised. I think it ought to be done from the portico of the White mosque. It used to be the White House.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s spokesman said yesterday Senecal no longer works for Trump and they, quote, "totally and completely disavow" -- the Trump people do -- the horrible statements made by this fellow regarding the president of the United States.
David, good work. You scooped this thing. What do you think it means that he had a -- you imagine this butler must have been muttering along these lines in the seven years ago when he worked for him for all those--
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He`s his former butler, but he`s been the informal historian at Mar-a-Lago since 2009 when he wanted -- when he retired as Butler and Trump begged him--
MATTHEWS: Is he paid?
CORN: -- to stay on. He gets paid by the people he leads tours upon (ph). And he`s been working there recently. So he still had an association with Trump.
And to me, there`s a lot going on here. I think Trump, you know, tells us that he loves everybody, but he really is being sort of preaching a demagoguery that seems to be enabling hatred. And there`s no--
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s the connection between what you just asserted there -- some people agree with you, many do -- with what comes out about this long-time 17-year experience--
CORN: I think Trump is enabling and helping people to express these -- these ideas, these hateful ideas and feeling that they`re now part of the mainstream of political debate, just the way "Mother Jones," also, I`m proud of this week, were the first to report that he had a white nationalist as a candidate for delegate in California. And that fellow told us in an interview, See, I`m mainstream now. I want--
MATTHEWS: But did he ever -- did Trump ever meet that guy?
CORN: I don`t know, but the campaign officially picked him, then they said, We made a mistake--
MATTHEWS: Joy, your reaction to all this. Does this mix in with who Trump is personally?
REID: Absolutely, it does. Remember, Donald Trump, before he was a politician, was a guy who ran a real estate empire that was sued by the federal government for racial discrimination in housing. He ran apartments in New York that refused to rent to black people. And he was sued for it and had to settle with the federal government.
Donald Trump, when I experienced him as somebody who lived in New York in the late 1980s, early 1990s, was a guy who called for the Central Park five, who were falsely accused of gang rape, to be executed and that the death penalty should be reinstated in New York for them and took out full- page ads to that effect.
Donald Trump has been saying racially incendiary things since the late `80s. Just because he hung around Mike Tyson doesn`t mean that African- Americans haven`t know who this guy has been for a long, long time.
Even in his more petty role, as somebody who was the head of "The Apprentice," the host of that TV show, he hedged about giving the first African-American winner the sole victory. He wanted him to share it with a woman who happened to be white. And Randall Pinkett (ph) had to object to that. Randall Pinkett is now leading the group of former "Apprentice" cast members who are all African-American who are saying this guy`s unfit to be president.
He has had racially incendiary personal views that go back to the 1980s and 1990s. We know who this guy is. We need to just remind people. He`s a birther. He`s somebody who has expressed that the president couldn`t have possibly been smart enough to go to Harvard, that he couldn`t have written his law review articles. He said that Mexican migrants are rapists.
We know who Donald Trump is.
MATTHEWS: By the way, just to further go in the direction you were going there, the "wilding" -- people who were arrested for the wilding incident were all acquitted. Something--
MATTHEWS: -- by the way -- something else from his past that could haunt Trump, Donald Trump, his frequent guest appearances on the Howard Stern radio show.
Let`s listen to a bit of him on Stern.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I never get this thing with Lady Di. I know you`re very gracious of her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: No, no. I`ll tell you what. I think she`s magnificent. Lady Di was truly a woman with great beauty. (INAUDIBLE)
STERN: You would have slept with her.
TRUMP: -- a couple of times--
STERN: Would you have slept with her?
TRUMP: Without even hesitation. She had the height. She had the beauty. She had the skin, the whole thing. She was crazy, but you know, these are minor details.
TRUMP: You know who`s really changed? Nicollette Sheridan. I think she`s a solid 4.
STERN: OK, now--
TRUMP: She was an 8. She wasn`t a 10.
TRUMP: No, she went from being very flat-chested -- I view a person who`s flat-chested as very hard to be a 10, OK?
STERN: If Angelina Jolie is a 5, what is Jennifer Aniston?
TRUMP: I`d say she`s a 6 or a 7.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow! Who -- who`s a 9?
TRUMP: Howard, my standards are very high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh! OK, let me go to Robert Costa on this. Let`s get back to politics (INAUDIBLE) I never understood exactly the Stern appeal, except they may be young -- I don`t know who they are. I`m not going to say. They weren`t married guys. They weren`t mature people. Let`s put it that way -- now, my sense of immature guys listening to Stern. But he has a huge audience.
Is that part of Trump`s -- just trying to take out the language and even the topics. Is that part of his self-promotion? What would he get out of doing Stern, politically or commercially? What would he -- what was he up to there, doing that show?
COSTA: Politically, right now, you look at the Howard Stern audience, it reminds me a lot of the Rush Limbaugh audience just in terms of its reach. It`s a subculture all on its own, and it`s a widespread one, one that doesn`t often get mainstream attention. And that working class ethic that Stern audience has, that -- those are the kind of people, especially in certain Rust Belt states and the Northeast -- they`ve really connected with Trump.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about that. Tell me about Stern. I don`t know anything about it. What`s the audience like?
CORN: Well, you know, I think you can -- they`re people going for crude. I mean, he was the -- he was during the beginning of the crudification of the media. And he took pride in going past these, you know--
MATTHEWS: -- Don Imus crossed the line a few times and got in trouble for it, but--
MATTHEWS: -- Stern always crossed the line, right?
CORN: Yes, that was the point, crossing the line and talking about sex and really objectifying women over and over. I found some clips of Donald Trump on the show where they`re talking about J.Lo`s backside and whether it`s too big or not.
CORN: And then he asked a question, if Melania was in a car accident, would you still love her? And Stern asked -- and Trump asked, well, what about her breasts? Are her breasts injured?
I mean, again and again, he`s accepting and enabling and validating Stern. He says it was all in good fun because Stern was his buddy. But you got to look at this -- and this is why he`s unfavorable with -- you know, with women much more than men--
MATTHEWS: These tapes--
CORN: -- and a lot of women haven`t even heard this stuff.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re going to hear it now.
MATTHEWS: It sounded like Trump took a page from his supporter, Governor Chris Christie, when he was asked by George Stephanopoulos about his tax returns. George asked him, What rate do you pay? Watch his reaction here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Do you believe voters have a right to see your tax returns before they make a final decision?
TRUMP: I don`t think they do. But I do say this. I will really gladly give them. They`re not going to learn anything. But it`s under routine audit. When the audits ends, I`m going to present them. That should be before the election. I hope it`s before the election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your tax rate?
TRUMP: It`s none of your business. You`ll see it when I release. But I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Joy, that was a brutal counterpunch, that "none of your business." It did remind me of a -- of Governor Christie talking to that woman on the radio show. What do you make of that reaction? Maybe that is the sensible -- sensitive point. He doesn`t want to talk about his rate. Sounded like it.
REID: Yes. Well, I`ll bet Mitt Romney wishes he could have just said that and gotten away with it when he was running in 2012.
Look, even Richard Nixon released his tax returns. The Clintons -- the Clintons have released 35 years or something of their tax returns. But this is Donald Trump saying he doesn`t have to follow even the most basic norms of pursuing the presidency.
And I think we have to remind ourselves once again -- Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, hero of World War II -- these are the people who have occupied the office of president of the United States. We have a current president who is as urbane and intellectual as a person could possibly be, as degreed as a person could possibly be.
The idea that someone this crude, frankly, is viable as president of the United States really shouldn`t be an examination of Donald Trump. We need to examine ourselves. What is going on in this country that this person, who you just listened to those recordings of, is viable as president of the United States?
MATTHEWS: OK. Robert Costa, David Corn, Joy Reid.
Coming up, the Obama administration orders public schools across the country to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. It`s the latest flashpoint in the culture wars in this country, and already, it`s triggering a backlash from the right, the far right especially.
Plus, would Hillary Clinton be more willing to use military force around the world than President Obama? We`ve got the author of a new book who argues that Clinton would be much more of a hawk than President Obama. He`s coming here to make his case.
And the HARDBALL roundtable`s coming to us tonight to cap off what has been a wild week in politics as the Republican Party starts to line up behind their nominee and why the scandals seem to trail the Clintons but bounce off Trump. Seems like it.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a man who clearly didn`t spend his life preparing to run for president. You know who I`m talking about.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Former House speaker John Boehner was at his candid best Thursday when he sat down for a discussion with MSNBC contributor Steve Rattner (ph) at a conference out in Las Vegas. Boehner and Rattner hit on a wide range of topics, one of them, of course, being Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE RATTNER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Let me give you a few of Donald Trump`s policies and you tell me is you disagree or agree. Temporarily ban Muslims from the country.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO, FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No.
RATTNER: Build a wall across with Mexico.
RATTNER: Tear up a bunch of trade agreements and put 35 percent tariffs on imports.
RATTNER: This neo-isolationist "America first" foreign policy articulated in his speech in Washington a couple weeks ago.
BOEHNER: Not quite my style.
Then why are you for him?
BOEHNER: The point is, is that while I was for some other people, they didn`t win, and Donald Trump`s going to be the nominee. And we as a party are going to have to figure out, All right, how do we get our act together? How do we get on the same page, and how do we win?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The Obama administration issued a warning today to all public schools in the country that transgender students must be allowed to use the restroom and locker room of the student`s choice or risk the loss of federal money.
Well, critics like Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick say the order tramples on states` rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS: President Obama, in the dark of the night, without consulting Congress, without consulting educators, without consulting parents decides to issue an executive order forcing transgender policies on schools and on parents who clearly don`t want it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Patrick said -- that`s the lieutenant governor -- that Texas would forfeit the $10 billion it receives rather than comply, telling the Associated Press, quote, "We will not be blackmailed by the president`s 30 pieces of silver."
Well, joining me now is Abby Livingston, Washington bureau chief for "The Texas Tribune."
Abby, thank you for joining -- what is the mood in Texas about this? I`m trying to figure it out, how the country has gotten so hot on this issue, from the right especially?
ABBY LIVINGSTON, "TEXAS TRIBUNE": It`s restive. And you have to remember the context of this is the Texas Republican convention. So you have within a five-block radius the most conservative of conservative Texans all rallying behind this.
And so it is everywhere you turn around at this convention, even to the point that there were signs in the ladies room advocating for the state chairman`s race on this particular issue.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, what are the -- because my question about it is -- and I don`t want to be lighthearted because it`s a serious human rights issue to most people, the way they look at it.
My question is this, is, if someone who is identifying as female, for example, dressed as female, made up as female, whatever, the manner or whatever presentation, comes off as female, why would they want to go into a men`s room? That would cause chaos.
In other words, if you follow to the letter this North Carolina dictum, it would seem to be chaotic. What room were they telling them to go to, the one that they look like they belong or the one that they don`t look like they belong in? Dead serious here. What is their recommendation to the transgender person, except to go away?
LIVINGSTON: I haven`t heard much in the forms of recommendations.
What has commonly come up in the discussions on this is, we don`t want boys running into the girl`s restroom. We want to protect our female students.
MATTHEWS: I understand that. Yes. Yes, go ahead.
LIVINGSTON: That`s the focus of this. And so that`s what I have seen.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, thank you so much, Abby Livingston of "The Texas Tribune" down in Dallas.
Joining me right now is Travis Weber of the Family Research Council and Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan, who is featured in the E! Network series "I Am Cait" with Caitlyn Jenner.
Jenny, you and Caitlyn recently took on the issue of transgender bathroom choice on the show. Let`s watch a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "I AM CAIT")
CAITLYN JENNER, FORMER OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: But, certainly, when it comes to trans issues, I`m going to be on the same fight as them. We can walk into a bathroom. Yes, I`m certainly not going into the men`s room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want America to know that trans people are just looking to do the same thing in the bathroom. No one is taking any time to meet or greet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jenny, straighten this out from both sides. Tell me what you think about this. What are we supposed to think about the logic and the traffic management, if you will, of where people of different identities, gender identities, should go when they go to the bathroom in public places like schools. What are they supposed to do?
JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN, TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST: I don`t think this is about bathrooms at all. I think it`s about equal rights.
Transgender people don`t want special rights. We want equal protection under the law. And mostly what we want is to be left alone. And if we can`t be left alone, we`d like to be treated with love. You don`t want me in a men`s room.
And you know how to create that perfect situation? Just stop. Stop coming up with these laws. Stop causing trouble where there is no trouble. There`s been no reported signs of any incidents over the last several years.
And, by the way, a law very much like the one which President Obama put into action last night has been on the books in California for two-and-a- half years now with no incidents whatsoever. So, I say maybe these people are really not trying. Maybe the issue is really not bathrooms at all.
Maybe they`re -- because now gay men and lesbians can get married, and they`re no longer the whipping boys and whipping girls in this country, now maybe they`re trying to rile up people against transgender people. And it`s not right and it`s not fair.
MATTHEWS: Travis, tell Jenny what bathroom she should use. Which one should she should?
TRAVIS WEBER, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Yes. I mean, I`m not sure.
MATTHEWS: Well, just answer that question.
WEBER: I think people should use--
MATTHEWS: She should she would not be comfortable or not -- cause a problem if she walked into a men`s room. Should she walk into a men`s room?
WEBER: I think we can do things the way we have done them for decades and people could use bathrooms according to biological sex, with specific accommodation made for people who have a genuine issue. If we look at the North Carolina law, it made an accommodation. People are happy with that, however.
MATTHEWS: Let`s just talk about transgender people. What should a transgender person who identifies as a woman do? What bathroom should they go to? Just keep it simple.
MATTHEWS: You can`t answer the question, can you? What should they do?
WEBER: They can use the bathroom of their biological sex, except when there`s a genuine issue and an accommodation can be made.
MATTHEWS: What does that mean?
WEBER: Well, there`s someone who actually does have gender dysphoria and has been--
MATTHEWS: Has what?
WEBER: Gender dysphoria.
WEBER: It`s a medical condition related to this issue, because the issue contains a host of problems. The law allows for people to show up and say my gender expression is the opposite sex.
This allows for abuse. And all of a sudden you have a lot of problems.
MATTHEWS: What would be the abuse?
WEBER: A boy who says I`m expressing myself as a girl, locker room is open to them under the Obama administration`s decree today.
MATTHEWS: What would be the worst case?
WEBER: Well, the worst case is what we`re going to have under the Obama`s administration guidance which is purporting to be law today, which is that you`re going to have boys around the country saying I`m a girl today.
MATTHEWS: Where has this ever happened?
FINNEY BOYLAN: That is never going to happen.
MATTHEWS: When has it ever happened?
WEBER: It`s already happening in school districts out in the West.
FINNEY BOYLAN: No, it`s not.
MATTHEWS: Give me the example.
WEBER: You have girls who are uncomfortable.
MATTHEWS: What school district?
WEBER: This is Palatine High School in the Chicago area. You have girls who are uncomfortable there sufficient to band together and sue.
MATTHEWS: No, no, I`m asking, where has a boy used a guise of transgender rights and dignity to go into the wrong bathroom? Where has that ever happened?
WEBER: Well, OK, in University of Toronto. The gender-neutral bathroom policy, a guy was in there filming the girls. This does happen.
FINNEY BOYLAN: The gender-neutral policy in Canada, that`s the best you can do?
I mean, look, this is a solution in search of a problem. And what I would suggest that we do is what my mother, a Republican evangelical Christian suggested we do, which is open your hearts.
Travis, if you had a child who was transgender -- and I`m glad you recognize the existence of gender dysphoria as a real condition that many of us face. We don`t deserve to be humiliated. We don`t deserve to be treated with anything other than love.
And this is not going to open the door to boys in girls bathrooms. That`s a hallucination which the right has come up with in order to scare people. And it`s not necessary. Even better would be if we simply open our hearts and treat each other with kindness and with the respect and dignity that we all deserve as citizens of this country.
MATTHEWS: What should Jenny do if she was living or visiting North Carolina right now? Should she go to the men`s room? Should she? Answer the question. You`re dodging the toughest question here, which is, what do you want people to behave like?
WEBER: It`s not a matter of what I want.
MATTHEWS: What should she do?
WEBER: In North Carolina--
MATTHEWS: She should go to the men`s room?
WEBER: Actually, a private business can do whatever they want regarding bathrooms.
MATTHEWS: I`m at the airport.
WEBER: An accommodation can be made to protect the privacy of the student.
MATTHEWS: Can you answer the question? Should Jenny go to the men`s room or the ladies room?
WEBER: Well, she can use an accommodation bathroom that is a single-use bathroom that would protect the privacy interests of the students and the other side.
MATTHEWS: Let her respond to that.
Does that mean anything to you, Jenny? I`m sorry.
FINNEY BOYLAN: That is gobbledygook. That means nothing.
I`m a woman. I have an F on my driver`s license. I have the anatomy of a woman. But because my birth certificate says M, I would have to go to the men`s room. And that makes me unsafe.
And transgender people do not deserve to be made more unsafe. We`re talking about a small, but unfairly maligned group of people who want to be left alone. We wish to be treated like anybody else. And that`s what the Obama administration`s policy does.
It says that Title IX applies to transgender people as well. It`s not new ground. It`s just saying that we are covered by the law.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think we have to end it.
WEBER: Well, let me just say, I agree with her that everyone should be treated with love and respect. That`s a human basic.
It`s a human basic. And many people have different issues. They`re not arguing -- disrespectful. People love people and have different views on human sexuality that is motivating a lot of this discussion.
MATTHEWS: It just seems odds to me that you would want Jenny to show up in the men`s room you go to. You think that would be appropriate?
Would you say that is appropriate?
WEBER: It`s a matter of sorting out--
MATTHEWS: A simple question. Should Jenny go to your men`s room? Yes or no?
WEBER: We have to protect the privacy interests of people on both sides. MATTHEWS: See, you`re dodging this question. It`s a tricky question.
FINNEY BOYLAN: He is dodging the question. It is a simple question. I will be the lady`s room. Thanks very much.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, both. Thank you, both. I think you had very different persons. And we have heard them both.
Travis Weber, thank you.
Jenny, thank you. And I`m rooting for you, Jennifer Finney Boylan.
Anyway, up next, a preview of this coming general election matchup and the question, why does scandal seem to stick to the Clintons while it rolls off Donald`s back?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And what about his taxes? So, we will get around to that too, because when you run for president, especially when you become the nominee, that is kind of expected.
My husband and I have released 33 years of tax returns. We got eight years on our Web site right now. You got to ask yourself, why doesn`t he want to release them? Yes, well, we`re going to find out.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: What is your tax rate?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is none of your business. You will see it when I release. But I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Hillary Clinton says she wants to see Donald Trump`s tax returns. And Trump tells George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" that his tax rate is none of George`s business.
Well, it`s not the only controversy dogging Trump today. As we mentioned earlier, "The Washington Post" on audio recordings of Trump posing as his own publicist back in the early `90s. Trump denied that the voice was his. And he did so on "The Today Show."
Well, meanwhile, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that the Clinton Global Initiative set up a $2 million financial commitment that benefited a for- profit company part-owned by people with ties to the Clintons, including a current and a former Democratic official and a close friend of former President Bill Clinton.
Here is former President Clinton reacting on a rope line yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, Regarding the "Wall Street Journal" report, did the CGI break the law? BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I haven`t had a chance to read it carefully, but I think my foundation, whatever, is answering it.
QUESTION: Do you deny that the CGI broke the law in any way?
CLINTON: Oh, God yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable.
Margaret Carlson is a columnist with Bloomberg View. And Michael Tomasky is with The Daily Beast and Anne Gearan is a correspondent with "The Washington Post."
Anne, you wanted to talk about tax things first. This has been sort of a quadrennial thing. Politicians have to show the tax returns, but not Trump.
ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, sure.
It has become--
MATTHEWS: Or Bernie.
GEARAN: Or Bernie yet, although he says he will. And they`re just--
MATTHEWS: Jane is working on them.
GEARAN: Jane is working on them. She`s been busy, he says.
But, I mean, of all parties, right, going back to--
MATTHEWS: You`re a major -- you write the main bar pieces for a major paper, a metropolitan paper.
Why do we, meaning the great royal we of American political world, want to see tax returns? What do they tell us about the candidate?
GEARAN: A couple things.
It tells you the candidate is just like you. They have got to put on their pants legs one at a time. They have to do their taxes every year. They got to submit their taxes. It isn`t a particularly revealing look at someone`s true financial picture. It gives you an idea--
MATTHEWS: Tells you how much money they give away.
GEARAN: It tells you how much money they give away. What their gross income is. What their tax rate is. Whether they have been prudent to some degree with their investments. That sort of thing.
It gives a picture of someone`s sort of overall financial prudence.
MATTHEWS: And if you saw a bunch of them, like 10 of them in a row, you would probably be able to figure out the wealth of somebody, because wealth is a combination of all your income, I think, except you don`t take the capital gains, so maybe money growing all over the place.
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, they can hide their wealth pretty well. But one thing that you can learn is the effective tax rate.
The key word is the effective tax rate.
MATTHEWS: He didn`t like that question from George.
TOMASKY: No, he didn`t like that question at all.
In other words, there`s stated published tax rates. And then you take your deductions and you hire your fancy lawyers and you come out with an effective tax rate. The average American pays, I think, 20, 22 percent. Mitt Romney, if I recall correctly, we learned in 2012 paid about 14 percent effective tax rate.
MATTHEWS: Could the problem be that his wealth is in buildings and ownership? And if you go out there and tell everybody you`re worth $11 billion, they expect you to pay a lot of taxes. And he could be -- first of all, he could not be taking the money in earnings. He may be saying, oh, I`m just throwing it back in or keeping the money tied up all the time.
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, the things the tax returns tell you are the things he doesn`t want us to know that he hasn`t told us.
MATTHEWS: Charitable giving.
CARLSON: His charitable rate, whether he pays more than Howard -- the billionaire Howard Buffett`s secretary.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, Warren Buffett.
CARLSON: Because his rate may be way down there. Does he have money in the Cayman Islands, like Mitt Romney?
An Bloomberg View editor, Tim O`Brien, wrote a biography of Trump. He was sued by Trump. And one of the things that came out finally was Trump`s tax returns. But he said they were so redacted, it looked like a crossword puzzle. And so you really--
MATTHEWS: Redacted, with all the good stuff is crossed out.
CARLSON: All the black stuff.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you if all this stuff adds up.
If you add up, won`t turn out his tax returns, won`t turn them in, posing as this guy John Martin or whoever, John Barron, whatever the name is, as his own flack, his own P.R. guy.
If the thing -- sort of the potty talk on "Stern" and all that sort of stuff, if you knew all that stuff, would he still be any further back in line than he is now, Anne? I don`t think it would have affected his voters at all. But you tell me.
GEARAN: No, going back -- looking backwards, apparently not.
MATTHEWS: If they had known it all up front.
GEARAN: Because equivalent stuff hasn`t seemed to affect him.
What Democrats are certainly hoping is that going forward when he is going to try to appeal to a larger audience, that this stuff does start to matter. Particularly on the taxes, I think he is giving Hillary Clinton a freebie here.
MATTHEWS: Flipping it over, Mike, what about the Clinton CGI money going to somebody they like. I don`t know where you -- I don`t how much discrimination they`re allowed to show in these investments, these contributions to worthwhile causes.
TOMASKY: Yes, I don`t know. I don`t know what to make of that story. I don`t think we have enough context to really judge that story yet.
But I would say this. I think that -- I have always thought that the foundation is going to hang around. It`s going to hover around as a story for the Clintons. There`s probably going to be more things that are going to come out. They may not be big things individually.
But I have long thought that the Clintons should make some kind of statement about guidelines that the foundation will operate under in the event--
MATTHEWS: But they`re not giving it away. This is a big part of their legacy. They`re not giving it up. Right?
TOMASKY: No, no, no, not at all. And they don`t need to, they don`t need to.
CARLSON: Also, this is a little like Donald Trump`s tax returns. They don`t want to know too much about the foundation, where the money has gone. Remember, there were confluences between Bill Clinton`s speeches, who was getting money, Hillary Clinton`s secretary of state. And they don`t want that.
They brought in Donna Shalala to organize it, to organize it in a very -- more professional way.
MATTHEWS: Well, she`s clean as a whistle, so that was a good decision.
It`s hard to fix everything overnight, though, isn`t it?
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL round table.
The first to tell me something I don`t know is Margaret Carlson.
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG VIEW: Chris, in South Carolina Donald Trump blamed the Mitt Romney/Ryan loss specifically on Paul Ryan, and reviewed and brought up that wheelchair ad in which the dark suited man is pushing the old lady over the cliff because of entitlement reform. So, this difficulty with Paul Ryan goes back a while. He doesn`t want to lose on Paul Ryan`s platform.
MATTHEWS: Everybody talks entitlement reform but it`s always dangerous.
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Puerto Rico, the shining stars they used to say in TV ads will be an important primary this year. Nobody is focused on it. We never, ever talk about it. It`s going to happen two days before California and New Jersey and the rest of them vote on a Sunday, a lot of delegates, 60 delegates.
MATTHEWS: That`s good for Puerto Rico because they`re in this financial crunch.
TOMASKY: That`s right. And 60 delegates at stake. It`s a big, big number. And the way she has been winning --
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) get votes.
TOMASKY: I can`t answer that, metaphysically.
TOMASKY: Listen, she`s going to net 20.
MATTHEWS: I can never figure out Guam, for example. How`s Guam doing? It`s nice to know but what relevant is it?
TOMASKY: She`s going to net 20 delegates.
ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Clinton is now campaigning in more places and more heavily for his wife than she is campaigning for herself. If travel is your guide, he`s going to be in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands over the next two days. In the last two days he`s done six events in two states. She did one in one state. After he does Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, he`s going to spend five days on the road in California and new Mexico.
MATTHEWS: He`s still not allowed to make news. He`s gagged.
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t want to. Stay away from the rope line.
Anyway, Margaret Carlson, Michael Tomasky, and Anne Gearan.
Coming up, if Hillary Clinton becomes more president, will we see a more hawkish administration than what we`ve seen from President Obama?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: General David Petraeus is fed up with the anti-Muslim bigotry that some say has stained our political discourse. The former CIA director and U.S. army general wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post", voicing his concern over the danger of this rhetoric poses to our country. While never naming Donald Trump, it is clear where his words of condemnation are aimed.
Petraeus writes, "I have grown increasingly concerned about inflammatory political discourse that`s become far too common both at home and abroad against Muslims and Islam, including proposals from various quarters, from blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion. As policy, these concepts are totally counterproductive. Rather than making our country safer, they will compounds the grave terrorist danger to our citizens. As ideas, they are toxic and indeed non-biodegradable -- a kind of poison that once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged."
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Could we see a more hawkish administration and U.S. foreign policy if Hillary Clinton wins the White House in 2016? As "New York Times" reporter Mark Landler recently wrote, quote, "Clinton`s affinity for the armed forces rooted is a lifelong belief that the calculated use of military power is vital to the defending of our national interests."
That`s quite the contrasting from that of her boss, President Obama. Back in March during a town hall, I asked Hillary Clinton what she thought about enforcing regime change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think, quickly, of the whole history of the United States in your lifetime of knocking off leaders, whether it`s Mossadegh in Iran, Guatemala, or knocking off Allende in Chile, or knocking Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, knocking off Trujillo, who else have I missed? We`ve been doing this a long time, that`s why I`m skeptical.
What is your view of all those assassinations, all those attempts to change the history of other countries? Should we be doing that kind of thing, knocking off leaders? Diem, we knocked him off.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don`t think -- in the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. But, you know, there`s always historical games you could play. If somebody could have assassinated Hitler before he took over Germany, would that have been a good thing or not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Mark Landler is here with me. He`s just written a new book, "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power."
Now, everybody`s going to find this fascinating. What did you make of her response to my question? I thought she`d say something like, oh, that was a bad part of our Cold War history. We shouldn`t have knocked off those guys. No, she said, we could have gotten Hitler.
MARK LANDLER, AUTHOR, "ALTER EGOS": Yes. No, I zeroed in on that very last piece of it, because she was almost pushing back on what you were saying and saying, there is rationale for this kind of thing. I think that`s what you saw during the first term of the Obama administration where she sort of functions as a house hawk.
But more than even just being a hawk. She also was the person who was the most willing to see interventions ending with a good outcome. And that`s what made her very different than President Obama who I think generally viewed interventions as ending with a bad outcome.
MATTHEWS: How do you figure that with the fact she grew up sort of as a young woman with the Vietnam War all around her, watching all these guys getting drafted and the killing of -- the horrible killing that went on in Vietnam? Most people said that was overreach, we tried to stake over a country, we tried to run it, we should have limited our intervention. Yet you say she believes in positive intervention.
LANDLER: I think she does. And I think if you go back and look at that Vietnam experience, which I tried to again in this book is, you know, she actually had a sort of interesting history with Vietnam. She wasn`t fervently opposed and passionately opposed the way some anti-Vietnam protesters were.
And to some extent, her opposition was rooted in fears of things like, was the president abusing his executive authority when he did the secret bombing in Cambodia? That was something that really interested her back when she was an intern in Washington. I think though the difference is, she still defaults to a belief that American intervention is fundamentally can be a good thing. It doesn`t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
And the contrast I draw and I draw it through the entire book is that Obama having spent a childhood in a very different place, some of it in Indonesia, simply had a different view of America`s role and generally thought these interventions didn`t end well. And then, of course, the Iraq war, for him a formative foreign policy experience, probably the most important one he had and the one he brought into office with him, whereas she had seen some things work out well. The Balkan interventions.
MATTHEWS: Well, her key decision politically, which hurt her in the 2008 race was supporting the authorization for going to war in Iraq. How did she turn on that over the months and years since then and before that? How did she get to that decision, how has she reviewed it since?
LANDLER: Well, look, first of all, she`s acknowledged it was a mistake.
MATTHEWS: What`s that mean, though? What`s mistake mean?
LANDLER: OK, she acknowledged it was a mistake because she said she wasn`t given access --
MATTHEWS: That`s not a mistake.
LANDLER: -- to the full intelligence dossier, right? The point is she read the full NIE that talked about whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or not.
MATTHEWS: But did he have nuclear weapons? No evidence has suggested we knew or thought he did but they sold it.
LANDLER: That`s right. So, the bottom line is she sort of hung it around being deceived by the administration when the argument is she probably didn`t do adequate due diligence to figure out the truth for herself.
MATTHEWS: Why (INAUDIBLE)
LANDLER: I think it was a combination of what I said earlier, which is her own instincts. Plus, you have to also acknowledge, New York senator, post- 9/11, worried about her own --
LANDLER: Precisely. And worried about her own possible --
MATTHEWS: How about being a woman? It`s hard to do the psycho babble. Does she feel as a woman, she has to prove herself extra-tough? Like more of a hawk than a regular male candidate?
LANDLER: I think that was probably true in the Senate certainly. But I almost feel at this point it`s now more a matter of what she of her reflexes or instincts and it`s a less of pose. Maybe it was more of a pose early on. I think now, it`s much more --
MATTHEWS: I`m with you. Mark I think you got it. I think she`s tough. I think she`s going to be a strong president if she gets in there. Look out, bad guys.
Anyway, "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power."
When we return, let me finish with a man who clearly didn`t spend his life preparing to run for president, you know who I`m talking about.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. A number of politicians fit the stereotype we all remember from school. They decide from an early age, their middle teens, they want to go into politics. They have a role model in mind -- John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, you name it -- and set about a course.
They settle on a college that will give them the right brand, a major state university for the more democratic touch and Ivy League school to set them up and apart. They major in political science, run for student government, all with an eye for law school and with it, a slipstream for running for public office. Oh, yes, they try to keep their nose clean as we used to say so they could breeze into politics without anyone having anything good on them.
This I can say without any dispute is not the way Donald Trump built his life prior to running for president. He was married a couple of times, bragging about himself as an attractive partner, chatted away on "The Howard Stern Show", and, oh, yes, he paid the least amount of federal income taxes as he could legally get away with, because he said so. And just to prove he wasn`t conniving the run for office, he seems to have wildly masqueraded as his own publicity agent even to the point of using assumed names.
Well, none of this is the usual foreplay for seeking the approval of the majority of the American voters. The usually model of a budding pol is to be as straight and as boring as one can, avoiding any behavior that might be called interesting much less colorful. I`m not sure how to whale this flotsam and jetsam that`s washed ashore except to say, had it washed ashore a year ago, I doubt it would have stopped or slowed the Trump bandwagon now headed to Cleveland.
Now, I`m not at all sure what most Americans are looking for in the next president is boredom, and I think it might well be the opposite, which explains why we could well elect, for better or worse, despite hell or high water, a president with a past.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
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