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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 9/9/2016

Guests: Jack Kingston, April Ryan, McKay Coppins, Margaret Carlson, Michael Steel

Show: HARDBALL Date: September 9, 2016 Guest: Jack Kingston, April Ryan, McKay Coppins, Margaret Carlson, Michael Steel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Why does Trump stay mum?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.

Five years ago, Donald Trump marched into national politics trumpeting the charge that the president of the United States might well be a usurper, that Barack Obama wasn`t who he said he was, a natural-born American. Trump has never given up his insistence on this critical point, demanding that the president produce his birth certificate, raising in all manner of ways his public doubts that the man in the White House is truly one of us.

Well, now we`re being told by his surrogates that Trump has surrendered this argument, that he now believes the president was born in the United States.

Here was former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani last night on HARDBALL.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I confirm that, and Donald Trump now confirms that. You know, Hillary Clinton...

MATTHEWS: When did he do that? When did he do that?

GIULIANI: He did that...

MATTHEWS: When did he do that?

GIULIANI: Two years ago, three years ago.

MATTHEWS: When did he -- he has now accepted that birtherism was nonsense.

GIULIANI: Look, Hillary Clinton...

MATTHEWS: When did he do that?

GIULIANI: Chris, Hillary Clinton`s campaign...

MATTHEWS: He did not do that yet. I am waiting for him to do it.


MATTHEWS: I want to know whether you believe your candidate for president believes he would succeed a legitimate president or not.

GIULIANI: He believes...

MATTHEWS: Does he believe he would succeed a legitimate president?

GIULIANI: Donald Trump believes now that he was born in the United States. But that issue was raised...

MATTHEWS: When`s he going to say it?

GIULIANI: That issue was raised originally...

MATTHEWS: When is he going to say...

GIULIANI: ... by Hillary Clinton...

MATTHEWS: ... that this president is legitimate? This is a fundamental question, Mr. Mayor. Is the president of the United States legitimate or not?

GIULIANI: He believes...

MATTHEWS: Do you believe it? If you believe it, why doesn`t your candidate state it?

GIULIANI: I believe it, he believes it, we all believe it.


MATTHEWS: Well, this morning, Trump`s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said her candidate now believes President Obama was born here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The birther comment that we were just talking about here -- Rudy Giuliani goes on and he says Donald Trump now will say that he believes that President Obama was born in Hawaii. He doesn`t say it himself. Why not?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why won`t he come out and just own that position, that yes, President Obama was born here, I was wrong to go with the birthers?

CONWAY: So he believes President Obama was born here. I was born in Camden, by the way, New Jersey. He was born in Hawaii. But the point is, what kind of president has he been?


MATTHEWS: Well, she couldn`t answer that one. I understand why because Trump hasn`t.

Anyway, starting in 2011, Trump led the birther charge, of course. Let`s watch Trump`s long history of questioning Barack Obama`s legitimacy to be an American president.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate? And you know what? I wish he would because I think it`s a terrible pall that`s hanging over him.

Nobody ever comes forward. Nobody knows who he is until later in his life. It`s very strange.

He may have one, but there`s something on that birth certificate, maybe religion, maybe it says he`s a Muslim. I don`t know.

I have people that actually have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they`re finding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people now down there searching in Hawaii?

TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they`re finding.

I still would like to see his college records. I mean, I`d like to see a couple things.

Trump comes along and said birth certificate. He gave a birth certificate. Whether or not that was a real certificate -- because a lot of people question it. I certainly question it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A few years ago, you led the birther movement. It turned out not to be true.

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know. According to you, it`s not true. I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He released his birth certificate.

TRUMP: You know, if you believe that, that`s fine. I don`t care. It`s an old subject. Whether he did or not, who knows. A lot of people don`t agree with you on that, by the way.


MATTHEWS: Well, despite Giuliani`s claim that Donald Trump has turned his back on birtherism two or three years ago, the Republican nominee has never publicly repudiated his past comments. I asked Trump about it back in December, and he refused to answer. Here goes.


MATTHEWS: Is Donald Trump honest when he says that Barack Obama isn`t a legitimate president?

TRUMP: So...


MATTHEWS: It`s a good question because...


TRUMP: I didn`t say you couldn`t. I didn`t say you couldn`t. I knew you were going to...

MATTHEWS: You can`t stop me.

TRUMP: ... because, you know, I should -- I should -- no, I can`t. I should not tell you this, but I do watch you a lot, so I knew you were going to ask that question.

MATTHEWS: Well, because...


TRUMP: I don`t talk about that anymore. I don`t answer because you know what? If I do answer, that`s all people want to talk about.

MATTHEWS: We Catholics believe in confession. You say you were wrong and move on. You really believe this guy`s not a legitimate president?



MATTHEWS: This Monday -- on Monday this week, Trump told NBC News, when asked about the president`s birthplace, again, I don`t talk about it. And he refused again on Tuesday to change his tune when asked by Bill O`Reilly. Let`s watch.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: So you think your birther position has hurt you among African-Americans.

TRUMP: I don`t know. I have no idea. I don`t even talk about it anymore, Bill, because, you know...

O`REILLY: No, I know, but it`s there.


O`REILLY: It`s on the record.

TRUMP: I don`t know. I guess -- I guess with maybe some. I don`t know why. I really don`t know why. But I don`t think -- very few people -- you`re the first one that`s brought that up in a while. I don`t think so.


MATTHEWS: So what evidence is there that Trump truly has given up on the birther conspiracy theory? I`m joined by NBC`s Katy Tur outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, MSNBC`s Joy Reid, host of "AM JOY," and former Georgia congressman Jack Kingston, now a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

Congressman, what do you make of this? Where is -- where is your guy? Can you speak, as Rudy Giuliani did last night, the mayor of New York, saying that Trump no longer believes in this nonsense that this president snuck in the country, that he`s an illegitimate leader?

JACK KINGSTON (R), FMR. GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: Well, Chris, I hate to repeat a lot of what you already had in those links (ph) and the clippings (ph), but the reality is, this was started by Hillary Clinton. And the...

MATTHEWS: First of all, we`re not going any further...


MATTHEWS: Give me the evidence.

KINGSTON: In 2008...

MATTHEWS: Where did she say this?

KINGSTON: I actually have seen the memo which is an intraparty memo that raises questions...

MATTHEWS: Where is it? Do you have it?

KINGSTON: I will absolutely get it to you.

MATTHEWS: What is the memo?

KINGSTON: It said, We need to question his...

MATTHEWS: And who`s this from?

KINGSTON: It`s something from the Clinton campaign.

MATTHEWS: From the Clinton campaign itself.


MATTHEWS: And you`ve seen this.

KINGSTON: I have seen a copy of it. But let me say this...

MATTHEWS: No, no, no. (INAUDIBLE) You can`t say Hillary Clinton is the mother of the birther movement without evidence.

KINGSTON: Hillary...

MATTHEWS: And you knew you were coming on this show. Why didn`t you bring it with you?

KINGSTON: I may even have it in my briefcase, Chris. I don`t know, but...

MATTHEWS: Well, come on. This is a live show.

KINGSTON: I will find it.

MATTHEWS: We`ve got an hour. (INAUDIBLE) Congressman, I`m dead serious. If you can find in your briefcase something from the Clinton campaign, not some blogger out there, but somebody who actually worked for Hillary Clinton under her direction who said the president wasn`t born in this country, that would be news, if you can produce it.

KINGSTON: If I can see that -- now, maybe the heading like the "C" has been removed from it, as Hillary has said, but let me say...


MATTHEWS: What is this?


MATTHEWS: What are we talking about? Let`s talk about facts and evidence.

KINGSTON: It was an allusion to classified material that she said...


MATTHEWS: Give me some evidence.

KINGSTON: But let me say this, Chris...

MATTHEWS: OK, let me get back to your candidate. Is your candidate, Donald Trump -- and you are a senior adviser to him. Does he believe the president of the United States is a legitimately elected leader of our country, yes or no?

KINGSTON: I`m going to quote Rudy Giuliani last night with an answer of yes, and that he is legitimate. And let me say this...

MATTHEWS: How do you know he believes that? How do you know Trump believes that?

KINGSTON: Because he`s not -- he`s not focusing on this. He`s focusing on jobs. He`s focusing on education and safety. He`s moved on. And you know, it might be a hot topic in Martha`s Vineyard, where Hillary Clinton has been, but on the streets of Baton Rouge...

MATTHEWS: OK, that was a nice try.

KINGSTON: ... and in Milwaukee...

MATTHEWS: That was a nice try. I know why you`re here. You got to defend Rudy.


MATTHEWS: You`ve taken the oath.

KINGSTON: ... out on the streets.

MATTHEWS: Joy Reid, I was in Philly yesterday with a nice audience of people trying to build the city`s image up. And it`s something I really believe in. It was a mixed audience racially, ethnically, if you will. There`s a lot of people, I can tell from their expressions, that care about this issue.

You know -- and I -- when you say the president of the United States is a fraud, the first African-American president is a fraud, that he somehow snuck in this country from Indonesia or Kenya or somewhere else and assumed an identity and somehow got himself elected under false pretenses, that`s a hell of a slam job, by the way, because I think I know why people do it, so that when they look at the faces of the presidents 20, 30 years from now, they won`t really see Obama there. He`ll have an asterisk next to his name because he snuck in. That`s what Rudy has been pushing.

Go ahead. Your thoughts.

JOY REID, HOST, "AM JOY": Absolutely. And I think, you know, your guest, Jack Kingston, as well as Rudy Giuliani, has just done -- they said -- first of all, Giuliani put out two completely false statements, one of which you disproved with the montage, claiming that Donald Trump renounced birtherism two, three years ago. You showed him talking to you in December. So he has not renounced it.

And what Jack Kingston just said, inventing a memo in which the Clinton campaign created the birther movement -- I just looked up on my phone the Politifact article in which they went through this new conspiracy theory, and then did that as of last. So you can look this up. It`s easy to Google. It takes about two minutes. I just did it -- in which they debunk that particular theory that is just simply not true.

And when you talk about the belief in the birther movement and what it has done for Donald Trump, Chris, it`s quite clear that there is a substantial percentage of both Republicans and specifically Trump supporters who believe that Barack Obama is a fraud, that he was born in Kenya, that he has this, as Newt Gingrich used to called it, this anti-colonial tendin (ph) mindset, that he has an anti-American mindset that comes from some sort of Mau-Mau leaning that he took over from his father. Dinesh D`Souze made a movie about it.

So it is an article of faith among enough Republican base voters and enough Trump supporters that I think Donald Trump doesn`t want to walk away from it. It`s the reason he`s popular with them. It rocketed him to the top of the pile among 17 Republican candidates for president, and it has created and built his cult of personality because not only does he say it, not only does he allude to it, but he tried to humiliate the president of the United States, the first black president, which is something that deep down, a lot of far-right Republicans wanted viscerally, not just to see the president made illegitimate but to see him humiliated.

We had George Romney, who was born in Mexico. No one ever asked him to prove he was an American. We had John McCain, a war hero that -- also, Mr. Trump has never -- Donald Trump has never apologized for putting down his service -- born in the Canal -- the Panama Canal Zone. No one`s ever asked him to prove his Americanism.

This is an attempt to humiliate the first black president of the United States.

KINGSTON: Joy, let me say this.

MATTHEWS: Let the congressman respond to that.

KINGSTON: You know, I`ve been involved in this campaign, and I have never heard this as an issue. Jobs, the economy, safety, national security -- that`s why Donald Trump has the following that he does. And I have to just say respectfully, to broad brush millions of Americans as being a racist because something that you`d interpret...

REID: I didn`t say that.

KINGSTON: ... as racist -- well, I think you have. I think you have implied that. And I`ll say that respectfully that the reality is, people are not supporting Donald Trump for the reasons that you mentioned. They like what he is saying about the economy, of creating jobs. They know that their household income...

REID: How did Donald Trump...

KINGSTON: ... has fallen from $57,000...

REID: ... become a popular figure...

KINGSTON: ... to $53,000...

REID: ... in the Republican Party?

KINGSTON: Because he`s talking about jobs.

REID: And why do 7 in 10 Republicans...

KINGSTON: He`s talking...

REID: ... believe in the birther theory. You can`t discount this.

KINGSTON: Joy -- Joy, let me...

REID: There`s plenty of data in social science to back up what I just said.

KINGSTON: I was in the House -- I was in the House and there were a lot of letters going around. I never signed that. Most of us...

REID: That`s you.

KINGSTON: ... never participated in that kind of discussion.

REID: That`s you.

KINGSTON: Let me tell you, what attracts me to Donald Trump, and I think millions and millions of Americans, is his position on jobs and the economy.


MATTHEWS: We`ll talk about jobs some other night. Let me ask you about this. Let me ask you this because you were a loyal member of the House as a Republican and you had a leader there, a speaker named John Boehner. And he was asked a very direct question. When are you going to disabuse the American people of this nonsense about the president being illegitimate? And he said, I`m not here to tell my caucus members how to think.

Was that an abdication of leadership? Are you abdicating leadership?

KINGSTON: Well, I think -- I think...

MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s right, personally right, for Trump to accuse this president of being illegitimate? Is that morally right, to do that to a president when you know it`s not true?

KINGSTON: He is not doing that.

MATTHEWS: He is accusing...


KINGSTON: There was a discussion, but he`s moved on. And it`s really not about...

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to Katy Tur.


MATTHEWS: I want to go to Katy Tur. Katy Tur, you`re a great reporter covering this guy. Why is he hiding? Why is he, to open my question, staying mum? Because in this case, silence is not consent to this president`s legitimacy. He has raised the issue. He is Mr. Birther. And now he`s gotten to be Mr. Quiet.

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Let me address something that Mr. Kingston was saying, that it was not an issue of this campaign. Donald Trump may not be making it an issue on the campaign trail, on the stump, but I have to tell you, his supporters believe it`s an issue.

When you ask them about President Obama -- not just a handful, not just a few, many of them say...

KINGSTON: That does not show up in the polls!

TUR: ... that they believe he was born in Kenya. Hold on. I`m telling you I`m there every day on the campaign trail. I talk to supporters every single day.

KINGSTON: But that doesn`t show up on any poll!


KINGSTON: ... that say that to people.

TUR: Please don`t interrupt me, sir. Please don`t interrupt me, sir.

KINGSTON: I mean, he can...


TUR: Let me tell you what Donald Trump supporters tell me on the campaign trail...


MATTHEWS: Let Katy report here. Let Katy report here.

TUR: Let me tell you what Donald Trump supporters tell me on the campaign trail often. They often say that they believe that Donald Trump (sic) was born in Kenya. They often say that they believe he`s a Muslim. Some of them even go on to say that they believe he`s an undercover operative, a Manchurian candidate, if you will, that has the interests of a foreign power...



TUR: ... the American public. That being said, Donald Trump has not backed away from this. And let me finish this, Mr. Kingston. Donald Trump has not backed away from this because he`s never backed away from any statement on this campaign trail so far.

The only thing we`ve heard him back away from was to say that he regrets some of the things he said during this campaign season, but he never specifically said what he regretted. We`ve asked him repeatedly, as Chris just showed -- I asked him last year -- where he stands on the birther movement right now. He was asked as late as last week on his own press plane by the press pool. He said he doesn`t want to get into it because he believes it`s going to become an issue.

The reality is, it`s become an issue regardless of it. I spoke to a senior aide...


TUR: ... who said that if he was asked about it again...

KINGSTON: Just a minute. Just a minute.

MATTHEWS: Let her finish.

TUR: ... that if he would -- if he would asked about it again, then he come out and say that he does not believe that Donald Trump (sic) was born overseas, that he believes he was born in Hawaii. The issue is, whenever anybody has asked him this, he has refused to back down from it.

I understand that you may say, Mr. Kingston, that the polling doesn`t agree with me, but I`m going to tell you, as somebody who`s been doing this now for 14 straight months -- I think we`re going on 15 months now -- and that is the same conversation I`ve had with supporter after supporter in city after city in this country. Doesn`t matter if we`re in the south, in the west, in the east, the north. Every city I`ve been to, there have been people who`ve said exactly those words.

KINGSTON: And you want me to believe people come up to you unsolicited, unprodded, and say the reason why I support...

TUR: Yes!

KINGSTON: Katy, come on. Let`s...

TUR: You don`t have to believe me. I`m telling you the facts of what happens in the field.


KINGSTON: Then let me ask you this. Did Seddique (ph) Mateen, who`s Omar Mateen, the terrorist`s, dad, who was -- is pro-Taliban -- did he come rushing up to you also and say, I`m for Hillary because I`m pro-Taliban?


TUR: I wasn`t in Orlando when he was there. I`m sorry, sir, he did not.


MATTHEWS: I want an answer from you. You`re a surrogate, right, for Trump?


MATTHEWS: OK, be a surrogate. Do you believe the president`s legitimate?


MATTHEWS: Do you think that a president -- somebody running for president should admit that? Anybody? Forget the name Trump, anybody. Should they begin the campaign by accepting the legitimacy of our political process and that we do have a legitimate president...

KINGSTON: I think...

MATTHEWS: ... unless they have hard evidence to the contrary? Trump`s never said he has hard evidence. He never claims he needs any. He just says, Well, I have suspicions. Did you watch those tapes we just showed here...

KINGSTON: But let me say this...

MATTHEWS: ... where he said he had people working on this down there in Hawaii? He didn`t have anybody working on this!

KINGSTON: If it`s such a big issue, why wasn`t it asked the other night? Now, it will be asked, no doubt, if it`s the issue that Katy and others believe that it is. It will be asked and...

MATTHEWS: There`s no way in hell we`re going through three hour-and-a-half debates without this coming up again and again until your guy -- and you convince your guy to put it behind him.

KINGSTON: But let me say this. The people who are supporting Donald Trump have seen their household income fall from $57,000 to $53,000. They`ve seen jobs go away...


MATTHEWS: Let me go back to why I think this matters. Joy, I want you to pick up here because you were very strong before, and I believe every word you say because we`re friends and I know what you think. And I know what you`ve been through in life, and everybody else knows this story.

When you go into the inner city, in the African-American community and you talk to people -- you don`t have to go polling this baby. You talk to people of either party, the minority Republicans of the black community, and you talk to them about this president, there`s pride in their eyes.

And the idea of saying he`s -- that he`s some kind of thief in the night, he snuck in, his resumes are phony, he really didn`t go to these schools, he really didn`t get these grades, he really didn`t get blind selection as editor of the Harvard Law Review -- none of that ever happened. And that`s what Trump does. He does it over and over again. None of this man`s accomplishments are true. That`s the point. Go ahead.

REID: And absolutely. And Chris, I can tell you, you can count right now on one hand the number of prominent African-American Republicans who are coming forward and supporting Donald Trump. And when I talk to black Republicans who I know, who I`ve known for a long time, none of the black Republicans that I know are in support of Donald Trump.

And the thing you`ll hear them say the most is that Donald Trump showed such utter blatant disrespect for the president of the United States, tried to humiliate him by demanding he show his papers, as if we were in apartheid South Africa, questioned whether he was right to get into Harvard law school, whether he was put on the Harvard Law Review legitimately, saying no one knows him from the past, as if he sort of emerged out of the vapor as this Manchurian candidate.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.

REID: What Donald Trump attempted to do in 2011 was delegitimize, de- Americanize and dehumanize the first black president of the United States. Donald Trump had a choice at that time. He was nothing more than a gadfly. He wasn`t a candidate for anything. He made the choice to be a birther. He hasn`t walked away from it.


REID: And I promise you, Congressman Kingston, while you don`t believe in it, it is the main reason why he cannot attract significant support among African-Americans...

KINGSTON: But -- but you know...

REID: ... among his other past racist acts, including housing discrimination.


REID: It keeps people from listening...

KINGSTON: Let me say, I...

REID: ... to anything else he says.

MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead.

REID: The most recent poll shows that he`s at 8 percent of African- Americans.

REID: Oh, Congressman! Oh, Congressman!

KINGSTON: Now, let me say this...

REID: Congressman, Congressman...

KINGSTON: Mitt Romney got less than 4 percent.

REID: No...

KINGSTON: John McCain got 4 percent. Mitt Romney got less than 6 percent...

REID: You can look at one head-to-head poll that shows without the other two candidates in, at 8 percent. The Monmouth poll taken exactly the same time...

MATTHEWS: We`re going to have to stop this...

REID: ... puts him at 4 percent with four-way...


REID: I promise you he won`t do even that well...

KINGSTON: ... the political system is for all demographics...

REID: ... with African-Americans.


MATTHEWS: ... finish this off. Congressman, (INAUDIBLE) one point there. And I want Katy to have one last shot here. I`ve seen polls that are staggering in showing the percentage of Trump supporters who believe this birther stuff, staggering numbers that believe he`s a secret Muslim. They do believe it. You don`t. They do.

Well, anyway, Katy, last word?

TUR: You know, they chant "He`s a Muslim" when Donald Trump mentions his name at his rallies quite often. They also chant "Lock her up" whenever he mentions Hillary Clinton`s name.

The reality is, Donald Trump is not dissuading them from this. And when he`s been asked directly by people in the crowd at his own town halls -- remember this moment last year when a questioner called him a Muslim, Donald Trump did not shoot him down in the way that John McCain did. He took a lot of heat for that.

This may not be the number one issue for many of his supporters. The economy may certainly be. But a lot of his supporters do put this in their top three, top four issues. They don`t like the direction this country is going in -- and I`m sorry for this siren -- and they say the reason for that is that they believe that President Obama doesn`t hold what they call "Western values."

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Katy Tur. You know best. You`re there. And Joy, you were great tonight. Thank you so much. And Jack Kingston, you got a tough job tonight.

Coming up -- I know you don`t believe any of this, by the way. I know you don`t.

Anyway, coming up -- birtherism may be Donald Trump`s original sin, but Trump`s continuing embrace of Vladimir Putin is simply baffling, especially to his Republican supporters. They don`t like this guy.

And for whatever reason, Trump went on the U.S. arm of Russian TV the other night and praised Putin on the Russian television, bashed President Obama, bashed Hillary Clinton, and bashed the free American media on a Russian- owned TV network. Think about that one, if a Democrat had done that. That`s ahead.

Plus: Here comes the cavalry. Elizabeth Warren campaigned for Hillary Clinton today. And, next week, President Obama and first lady Michelle will hit the trail as well. We got cowboy references here. They are Clinton closers, perhaps. Can they get that -- get her over the finish line? This is still a close election.

And the HARDBALL roundtable is going to be here to tell me three things about this wild week in presidential politics that I don`t know.

Finally, my election diary tonight for Friday, September 9.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, late today, actually, Mike Pence, the running mate of Donald Trump, released 10 years of federal tax returns. Good for him.

According to a summary provided by the Trump campaign, the Republican nominee for vice president earned $113,000 last year and was paid an effective tax -- he paid it -- of 12.4 percent.

Pence`s release adds to the pressure on Donald Trump, of course, who has so far refused to release his tax returns, saying he will do so upon completion of a routine audit. I will bet you it`s after the election.

We will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, Donald Trump`s appearance on the English-language broadcast of state- owned Russian television last night was met with some disbelief, and I would say, today, especially in light of Donald Trump`s very public support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

So he goes on his TV network. R.T., which formerly stood for Russia Today, was launched as part of a public relations effort on the part of the Kremlin.

As "The Wall Street Journal" reports -- quote -- "The R.T. network has emerged as an important propaganda tool since it was launched in 2005 by the Kremlin, which insisted the world`s airwaves have been based -- or biased for pro-Western programming so long. Moscow has poured millions into its budget of R.T. and attracted some professionals like Larry King, as well as some offbeat commentators and conspiracy theorists."

That`s "The Wall Street Journal" talking there.

In King`s interview, Trump went as far as to attack the free press here in this country on a state-owned Russian TV network, amazing, going after freedom of the press, free press, on a network that doesn`t even believe in that.

Anyway, take a look. It`s outrageous.


LARRY KING, HOST: One quick thing. What surprised you the most about running for office?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think the dishonesty of the media. The media has been unbelievably dishonest. They will take a statement that you make which is perfect and they will cut it up and chop it up and shorten it or lengthen it or do something with it, and, all of a sudden, it doesn`t look as good as it did when you actually said it.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump also took the opportunity on the air there to defend Russia from accusations of meddling in U.S. elections with cyber-attacks. Here he goes.


KING: U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies reportedly are investigating whether Russia launched a covert operation to disrupt the 2016 election. What do you make of that?

TRUMP: I don`t know. I have been hearing about it. I have been reading about it. I think it`s probably unlikely. I think maybe -- maybe the Democrats are putting that out. Who knows?


MATTHEWS: Who knows?

In an attempt to damage control -- or control the damage, the Trump campaign said it did not think the interview would be used on the network that Larry King works for.



KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He actually did an interview with Larry King, a personal friend of his, a friend of I`m sure everyone around the table, and he said he did -- he was doing it for his podcast, didn`t know it would be on Russian TV.

But what he said there was...

QUESTION: How does something like that happen, that the campaign doesn`t know that his words are going to be played on Kremlin state TV? Larry King was doing the interview for Kremlin state TV.

CONWAY: For his podcast. I wasn`t involved in that interview.



MATTHEWS: Kellyanne, good for you.

Anyway, the problem is, a simple Google search quickly reveals that King works for the Kremlin-funded network R.T., Russia Today.

I`m joined right now by MSNBC political analyst David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones," of course, as well as Republican strategist, Michael Steel, who is on, a former spokesman for Speaker Boehner.

What do you make of this, Michael, this going on Larry King? Everybody knows he works for R.T. I know it now. I didn`t know it a couple years ago. It`s not so much going on with Larry King, who I`m a friend of, and I like the guy, and he`s had a hell of a history in radio and even television.

But he doesn`t ask tough questions. And, by the way, he didn`t say anything to Trump about the American media. Trump used a softball question, what have you learned in the campaign, to bash the media. It wasn`t King`s fault. It was Trump.

MICHAEL STEEL, FORMER JEB BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think in Vladimir Putin`s KGB days, Donald Trump would have been known as a useful idiot.


STEEL: If we got a situation -- I come from the wing of the Republican Party that considers Russia a geopolitical threat, a geopolitical foe.

And if we are in a situation where the FBI says that they trying to interfere in our elections, and a former KGB agent says they`re not, I personally trust the FBI agent.



MATTHEWS: You make this -- as Churchill would say, you took the side of the fire brigade against the fire.

STEEL: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: It wasn`t a tough call.

CORN: Yes. And Trump doesn`t.


MATTHEWS: Why did he do it?

CORN: Well, my overarching view of Trump is that he`s at core a narcissist.

And why does he like Putin? Because what he says. Putin says nice things about him. Putin is...


MATTHEWS: That is -- by the way, explain what -- a narcissist isn`t somebody who thinks they`re good-looking or anything. A narcissist is someone who believes psychologically that the world revolves around them.

CORN: The most important thing to a narcissist is how the rest of the world engages or interacts with him.

MATTHEWS: Right. You`re the sun of the universe.

CORN: So, he judges everyone by whether they say nice things about him.

So, Putin, who former KGB agent -- and this is probably KGB agenting 101 -- has figured this out with Trump, and is going to flatter him. And Trump just falls for it. And so, when he says -- when you say to Trump, what about the journalists that have been killed in Russia, he goes, I don`t know. I don`t know if it`s happened. What about the hacking? I don`t know. And there won`t be any invasion of Crimea.

He doesn`t know.


MATTHEWS: If this is a Trump administration -- you know the government like I do.

If he`s going to lobby the next administration, all you have to do is say nice things about Trump, and he will do anything you want, anyway, by this theory.

Let`s watch right now what Clinton, Secretary Clinton, had to say earlier this evening when asked about Trump`s appearance on Russian television.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, can I say I was surprised? I`m not sure anything surprises us anymore. But I was certainly disappointed that someone running for president of the United States would continue this unseemly identification with and praise of the Russian president, including on Russian television.


MATTHEWS: I have a feeling -- and I don`t want to be too comical about that, but it is a ridiculous situation, Michael and David.

Sometimes, I think Trump thinks he`s judging a contest, and the contest is, who`s the toughest-ass dictator in the world? Oh, Putin.

It`s not a question if he`s a danger to us. Yes, he`s kick-ass tough. OK.

That`s not what we ask about a foreign leader. We want to know whether a foreign leader is like Anwar Sadat, a friend to the United States, right?

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Or someone like Yitzhak Rabin or somebody. Are you somebody who agrees with our general foreign policy or are you not?

That`s the way we talk about foreign leaders. We don`t judge them like we`re in some contest. He judges Putin like as if he wasn`t a problem for the United States.


CORN: Their values, too. We care about their values.

STEEL: And if it were -- it would be comical, except that we are selecting the commander in chief of the United States military, the next leader of the free world.

We are down to essentially two candidates. And one of them is this guy who we can`t trust to defend the Baltics, to stand up to Putin.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s flip around. Flip it around.

You`re on the left. I`m going to talk to you like that.

CORN: OK. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Suppose somebody on the left or moderate left had gone on Russian television and trashed...

CORN: Oh. Oh, come on.

MATTHEWS: State-owned television, and trashed the United States media or trashed the United States

CORN: You know who would be -- Trump and Pence would be attracting that.

Let`s not leave Pence out of this equation.

MATTHEWS: You would be deported.

CORN: He`s out there saying, Putin`s a strong leader. Well, you know who else was a strong leader?

That`s not how you judge people.


MATTHEWS: Well, let`s just go back to Stalin, is what we have to do.

CORN: Listen, Trump has become Putin`s poodle or lapdog for Putin, and the Republican Party is tied up in knots because not everybody has the integrity of Michael Steel to call him out.


MATTHEWS: The latest polling in this country, we had it on last night. You know what Putin`s polling in this country? Eight.

Anyway, this comes after Trump Wednesday night said Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama. Let`s watch. See, he`s judging this contest.

Anyway, Senator Lindsey Graham slammed Trump for that yesterday, saying: "I think this is the biggest miscalculation since people thought Hitler was a good guy."

Good for Lindsey.

Other Republicans were careful to denounce Putin without criticizing Trump directly. Take a listen.

CORN: Yes.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Let me say this about Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interests.

QUESTION: Are you concerned, though, of Donald Trump praising Vladimir Putin, someone who you have said...

P. RYAN: I made my clear -- my points about Putin clear right there. I will just leave it at that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One has to be careful to let flattery influence how you feel about someone.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I have tremendous disagreements with President Obama on policy, huge differences. Vladimir Putin is not a president. He`s a dictator.

Once people learn the true nature of Vladimir Putin, my hope is that some - - he will change his opinion and his views with regards to it.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk turkey.

You said a moment ago, a few moments ago, that you represent or are part of the party that believes Russia is a foe. That seems to be -- not that it`s an old Cold War, but it`s a new kind of challenge. I don`t think it`s the same as the Cold War, but that....


MATTHEWS: ... that there is a sense that, geopolitically, this guy wants land, he wants to rebuild some of the empire, and that is going to be a problem for us and NATO.

STEEL: Sure.

Reclaim the near abroad, exert influence on the former Soviet states, particularly in the Baltics, where we have a huge interest in maintaining democracy, maintaining them as part of Europe.

But I think what Speaker Ryan was saying is exactly right. We have an obligation to speak out against these ridiculous comments, to speak out against this dictator in Putin. At the same time, Donald Trump is the nominee of the party. And a lot of people are having a lot of trouble balancing those competing...

CORN: But this is not about Putin. This is about Trump.

We agree -- though we may have policy disagreements, we agree that Putin is an authoritarian thug, and that he`s not a strong -- to call him a strong leader and compare him favorably to the president of the United States is wrong.

And if Ryan, Speaker Ryan, can`t call out his nominee, if Lindsey Graham can`t back away from his previous endorsement of Trump, then all these criticisms don`t matter.

MATTHEWS: You think Lindsey Graham is really endorsing Trump?

CORN: Well, he has.

MATTHEWS: OK, technically.

Anyway, I don`t think he loves the guy.

CORN: Well, where is John McCain? And where is John McCain on this stuff?

MATTHEWS: I think Trump has got this weird kind of bromance going with this guy with his shirt off riding the horse over there. There`s something strange in the neighborhood.

Anyway, thank you, David Corn.

He will probably respond to that. That`s the kind of thing he doesn`t like.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Michael Steel, thank you.

Up next: Hillary Clinton`s biggest supporters are hitting the campaign trail. Elizabeth Warren, she is out there campaigning for Clinton today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She`s at Penn among the elite.

And next week, the president and the first lady take their turn. Clinton`s got her A-listers out there. Does Donald Trump have anyone like that for his cavalry?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I couldn`t have picked a better place than coming here to Philadelphia to say I`m with Hillary and I`m with Katie.


WARREN: Yes, we believe that racism, injustice and bigotry have no place in our country. We believe that black lives matter.


WARREN: We will never build Donald Trump`s stupid wall. And we will fight for it.

OK, I could do this all day.


WARREN: And I may.


MATTHEWS: Hey. Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a hero of progressives out there, campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton today at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Anyway, the cavalry is arriving for Hillary Clinton, you might say, in crucial battleground states. Vice President Joe Biden has already stumped for Clinton up in Pennsylvania in both Scranton and Pittsburgh, as well as in Cleveland. You get the cut of that, what he`s up to, blue-collar workers, people that might go for Trump.

Clinton`s former Democratic rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders rallied voters in New Hampshire today -- actually on Monday this week. Next week, President Obama comes back to the city of Philadelphia, where he will also be stumping for his former secretary of state. And first lady Michelle Obama, not usually that political, also hit the trail for Clinton in the voter-rich Northern Virginia suburbs, where there are a lot of single women voters.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable, our experts, April Ryan, to my left here, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, McKay Coppins, who is senior political writer for BuzzFeed. And Margaret Carlson, my -- I think my oldest friend -- is columnist at Bloomberg View.

And I want to start right across the table here.

When you see that cavalry, they are not all the same. They all over different things that can help Secretary Clinton get to 50 percent.


Hillary Clinton needs magic. And she is not magic, unfortunately, by herself. With this race being this tight, she needs to have President Obama next week stand by her side to bring that magic.

As we said before, he`s now, his poll numbers are in the 50 percentile range. She needs that. Also, Joe Biden, who appeals to the average person that Donald Trump is pulling, people who are uneducated, people who are working-class, people who don`t have those college degrees.

MATTHEWS: OK, don`t say uneducated.

A. RYAN: That`s why I changed it. OK.



A. RYAN: No, but that is what -- no, but let me say.


MATTHEWS: Didn`t Trump say, "I like the less educated"?

MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: The poorly educated, I think.



A. RYAN: That is one of the factors here. Women versus men, educated versus uneducated. Those type of categories are playing into this. And then you have Michelle Obama who is going to Virginia. She was the one --

MATTHEWS: How many people do you know that didn`t go to college who are smarter than people that did?

A. RYAN: A lot. A lot of people. Millionaires, too.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. I know that, too.

Go ahead, McKay.

MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED SENIOR WRITER: I`m struck by the contrast with the Republican Party. I mean, you have not seen the high-powered big stars of the Republican Party rally around Trump the way the Democrats are for Hillary. Now, that`s not to say it won`t happen. I do think --

MATTHEWS: Who are the stars that are missing? Elizabeth Warren is a superstar. Can you tell --

COPPINS: Let`s talk about Marco Rubio, for example, who is a star for a certain -- he stuck in there for a long time. There`s about 20 percent of the party that adores him. He`s not out there. He didn`t even show up at the RNC, right?

MATTHEWS: There are people -- and Paul Ryan is doing his best but every time he`s asked about Trump, it`s the latest gaffe or outrage Trump has done and Paul Ryan is always backing off or equivocating. He`s not out there campaigning for Trump. I think if the race stays close in the final weeks you will see some of the Republicans out there rallying around him.

If it doesn`t look like he has a real shot at winning, I don`t know what`s happening.

MATTHEWS: Margaret, I just think -- let me cue you where I want you to go. Michelle Obama is not a politician but she sure is a prestigious leader of the country. And the fact that she`s going out there, I don`t know what group she don`t work with except the hard right.


MATTHEWS: Yes. Northern Virginia, why northern Virginia? Explain that.

CARLSON: Northern Virginia is actually Michelle Obama country and Obama country. It`s Washington suburbs, it`s --

MATTHEWS: Single women.

CARLSON: It`s very much single working women. So, you know, it`s a great place for her to go.

Joe Biden is magic in my hometown, central Pennsylvania on up. Nobody better than him.

I think Donald Trump -- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to most people, the only state capital to go bankrupt. That Donald Trump is like a child who says I don`t have the establishment and I don`t care.

But he may have a point. He`s now made his brand not being the establishment. So, he doesn`t want the usual people that would be out at a time like this for a Republican. He don`t want George Bush He doesn`t Mitt Romney. He`s having Aeroflot bring over Putin.

By the way, can I just say one more thing, when you have the 82 percent for Vladimir Putin, what Donald Trump doesn`t acknowledge is that the 18 percent who aren`t for him are in prison.

MATTHEWS: I want to bring up one point that came up with Jack Kingston. I`m glad to have him on the show but he was saying the polls don`t show that the people behind Trump believe in all this birther crap. We just got the number, 59 percent of people who like Trump believe him on this. Agree with him that this president wasn`t born in this country, that he`s some sort of usurper who somehow snuck here from Kenya, whatever that means to them, they want to believe it.

A. RYAN: Those numbers prove that`s why he`s attracting the David Dukes and Klanners and the hate and the spewing of hate. He started it years ago.


A. RYAN: Yes, and I said it then. It should have stopped it then. It`s gone too far for too long.

MATTHEWS: We pushed it hard here. I have had people like Boehner try to respond and they come back with -- I make a different point. Their accountability on this has never been good. Boehner would say when you asked why don`t you tell your people in your caucus this president of the United States, is an American-born guy who is president of the United States legally and constitutionally? He said I don`t tell people how to think. Come on.

A. RYAN: You know what, it damped down, when Ted Cruz ran for president, that wasn`t right. It was hypocritical.

MATTHEWS: Ted Cruz, a name that hasn`t been spoken for months.

Thank you. The roundtable is sticking with us.

For more Ted Cruz, try another channel.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

I`m back with the roundtable right now, April Ryan, McKay Coppins and Margaret Carlson.

Margaret, this week begins with Trump with a little bit of movement toward better off. How did the week get started?

CARLSON: Clinton lost her convention bounce according to the CNN poll.

MATTHEWS: Over the last weekend?

CARLSON: That poll came out at the beginning of this week showing him two points nationally ahead. That was a surprise.

MATTHEWS: What`s he done with that?

CARLSON: What he`s done with that? Well, you know, as usual, he sort of squandered it in some intemperate remarks. He did two things at the forum that were inexplicably bad, doubling down on Vladimir Putin, and then using his classified intelligence briefing --

MATTHEWS: Body language.

CARLSON: Which no one, no one has ever violated the trust of that since it began with Truman. He cannot be trusted even as a candidate to keep the one delicate matters --

MATTHEWS: That`s a great question, Margaret.

McKay, how are they going to do it again? How can they brief him again knowing they will be outed basically by the guy they`re briefing?

COPPINS: That`s a great question. You already saw them pushing back against the idea that body language -- first of all, these guys are trained not to display anything with their body language. But, look, the maturity of the prospective commander-in-chief is always supposed to be displayed in how they handle those briefings. And up until now, every candidate both parties shows that maturity. They show that look, we are not going to politicize that one part of it. Trump didn`t do it. It was bizarre.

MATTHEWS: He accuses spies of giving away their feeling. Spies are historically able to keep their feelings to themselves. Here he is saying I know exactly what they were thinking.

A. RYAN: Yes, yes, because he`s offering to the spies.

You know, bottom line, Donald Trump -- I mean, what we saw that night was someone who is not presidential, someone who had no grasp of foreign policy. This was his time to shine as his numbers were going up. His numbers if anything fell or stayed stagnant and now, you have people like Omarosa on the road going to swing states trying to get married women who are his core supporters, 54 percent, to stay with him and build on that.

MATTHEWS: OK, the roundtable is going to stick with us. And up next, these three folks are going to tell me something I don`t know. Be right back.


MATTHEWS: This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in this country. And today, we learned that Hillary Clinton will attend the 9/11 memorial service up in New York on Sunday. Well, today Clinton convened a meeting of top national security advisers, leaders actually down in New York, to develop strategies for fighting terrorism. The meeting included military leaders and experts from both sides of the aisle.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.

I want to start with April. Tell me something I don`t know.

A. RYAN: Well, we talk about magic. Michelle Obama has that magic.

MATTHEWS: When were you talking about magic?

A. RYAN: I was talking about it a couple segments ago.


A. RYAN: Michelle Obama is going to northern Virginia this week, and I asked sources close to the campaign, in the campaign, if she will be chatting with Hillary Clinton. They said not right now. One of the reasons why, is because alone, Michelle Obama can attract millennials and women not standing with --

MATTHEWS: And she`s taller.

A. RYAN: Maybe so. Yes.

COPPINS: I`m going to flag a great piece of journalism by my colleagues at "BuzzFeed" who revealed the Baltimore Police Department several times over the course of the past several years have declared that rape allegations were unfounded without investigating them. The Baltimore Police Department responded to that today and said they`re going to go over the past three years and research it.

MATTHEWS: Extraordinary.


CARLSON: As we remember 9/11, it is not immune from Donald Trump`s tall tales. Remember the thousands and thousands of Muslims that cheered. He said at the time that he could see it from his window, a little like Sarah Palin. And that he had thousands of friends, or hundreds of friends, excuse me, not thousands of them, that were never named, and he never went to one funeral. And he promised a big donation.

It took him 15 years to make that donation after he became a candidate.

MATTHEWS: More sad tales.

April Ryan, thank you. Have a nice weekend, all of you. McKay Coppins and Margaret Carlson. It`s, of course, the marking of 9/11, 15 years.

When we return, let me finish with my election year diary for today.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Election diary, Friday, September 9.

This is the week when the fight went to close engagement. Hillary walked into a forum well-prepared. Trump strolled in, his confident casual self. She came in like she`d been through one of those a law school murder boards. Trump acted like he was about to face "Fox & Friends".

Now, think about how this takes us to the first debate, just two and a half weeks off now. Trump must know that he`s going to be bird dogged now on the question of President Obama`s legitimacy. People have a right to know whether a candidate for president accepts the current president as a legitimate one. If he refuses to say, he faced a requirement to say why. And after making a huge deal out of his birtherism, Trump`s silence can no longer be taken as consent, his accusation that Barack Obama snuck into this country still sits out there. Only he can Donald Trump can withdraw it.

The fact that Mike Pence accepts Obama as a legitimate president, that Ben Carson does, that Mayor Rudy Giuliani does doesn`t free the candidate himself from saying what his advocates are saying. This isn`t a job for surrogates. So, as I said, the weekends with some pressure on Trump to get this behind him. He may be able to do it by making a simple declaration. I will no longer raise questions about the legitimacy of President Obama`s two elections as president. But to do so, he`ll have to say those words himself.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.