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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/28/2017

Guests: Catherine Rampell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Ted Johnson, Lizz Winstead, Ashley Parker, Ken Vogel, Sahil Kapur

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  100 days and a North Korea missile test.


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

North Korea has test-fired what U.S. officials say was a medium-range ballistic missile.  It`s the latest in a series of provocations amid heightened tensions in the region.  According to officials who spoke to NBC News, the missile test failed, exploding just a few minutes after its launch.

In response, the White House released this brief statement late today.  "The administration is aware of the most recent North Korean missile test.  The president has been briefed."  That`s it.

This is the fourth -- actually, the ninth North Korean missile launch since President Trump took office.  Four of those missile tests have failed.  And it comes just after he warned of a potential major conflict with that country.

NBC`s Kelly Cobiella joins us now from Seoul, South Korea.  Kelly, what`s the story?

KELLY COBIELLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, U.S. Pacific Command said they first got wind of this missile launch at about 5:33 this morning local time.  They said that`s when the launch happened.  That would be 6:33 PM Eastern time.

They say the missile was fired from the southwest part of the country and that it failed just a couple of minutes after launch.  They believe it was a medium-range KN-17, the same type of missile which was test-launched back at the beginning of April and again on April 17th.  They say that it failed, exploding in mid-air, did not reach The sea of Japan and exploded about 20 miles from the launch site.

They also say that the USS Carl Vinson was not in the Sea of Japan at the time.  Its last known location, as far as we`re aware, was the Philippine Sea, where it was conducting drills with the Japanese allies.

The U.S. officials say that they were expecting something like this and they were watching it closely, but it does come a day after this very fiery propaganda video released by North Korea showing what appeared to be an aircraft carrier in the crosshairs, as well as buildings in Washington, D.C., exploding in this propaganda video, also within a couple of days of North Korea saying that they would not bow to international pressure, that they would continue on with missile tests and a sixth nuclear test despite any sort of sanctions or reaction from the international community.

As you said, Chris, the White House coming out with a very brief statement simply saying that the president was aware and has been briefed.  South Korean military officials say that they also are very aware of this latest what they call provocation and they`re keeping an eye on it, Chris.

Thank you so much, NBC`s Kelly Cobiella, who`s over in Seoul, South Korea.

Let`s get reaction now from the White House from NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell.  You know, every time I see those pictures of those people marching so regimentally, I am really scared.  Those people -- right out of 1984, those people, all laughing at one time, all marching in step, anything to appeal to the dear leader.

What do you think of the White House reaction, Kelly?  What do you make of it?

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, this evening, it`s just 17 words, Chris, and that gives you an idea that the White House is trying to deescalate this in terms of response, at least in the way it`s communicating with the American public, because we have seen over the course of the Trump administration, when other tests have taken place, they have not wanted to put President Trump and Kim Jong-un kind of on the same level by having the president make a statement about the actions of the North Korean leader.

So I call it strategic brevity.  They try to say as little as possible to not inflame Kim Jong-un just by the response of the United States in terms of political rhetoric, separate from what the Pentagon may be doing.

So the White House is trying to emphasize that the president takes this very seriously.  In an interview with Reuters, he said there is the risk of a major, major conflict.  At the same time, we`ve heard the president with effusive praise of Chinese president Xi after they`ve gotten to know each other with personal meetings and phone calls, the president urging his Chinese counterpart to use its considerable influence over North Korea to tamp down these provocations.

The great fear is that over the next few years, the capability of North Korea could expand to include a delivery system that could get a nuclear weapon to the West Coast of the United States.  That`s the fear.  And right now, of course, there is great concern about U.S. personnel, 30,000 troops in the region and our partners and allies in Asia in the target zone for North Korea.

So from the White House tonight, we have been told that they did expect that there would be additional tests and they would respond.  But you see that they chose to do so with as few words as possible, not to have any criticism directly from President Trump to President Kim Jong-un -- Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell at the White House.

Anyway, with President Trump on the verge of completing his first 100 days in office, he`s closing out a weeks-long push to rack up as many last- minute achievements as possible.  But in a candid Oval Office interview with Reuters, the president revealed that he may have underestimated the difficulty of the job of president, acknowledging that he thought the work of the presidency would be easier than it really is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I loved my previous life.  I had so many things going.  I actually -- this is more work than in my previous life.  I thought it would be easier.  I do miss my old life.  This -- I like to work, so that`s not a problem.  But this is actually more work.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump`s remarks seem out of character for the man who repeatedly said on the campaign trail that being presidential and accomplishing his many agenda items would be, quote, "easy."  Let`s watch.


TRUMP:  It`s so much easier to be presidential because I don`t have to use any energy.

You know, being presidential is easy, much easier than what I have to do!

You`re going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost, and it`s going to be so easy.

There`s never been a country that`s lost jobs like we do so stupidly, so easy to solve.

The wall is peanuts!  That`s going to be one of the easy negotiations, believe me.

A lot of politicians said, You can`t get Mexico to pay for the wall.  I said, Oh!  It`s going to be so easy.

And it`s so easy to stop the globalists, and it`s so easy to stop and we`re going to stop it.

I just love doing it.  I just -- it`s so easy.  It`s so easy.  It`s, like, four, five minutes of calls.

So many of these things are so easy to fix.

We`re going to make America great again.  It`s going to be easy.


MATTHEWS:  While the president`s comments suggested to many that Trump recognized he might not have been ready for the office to begin with, his words bear a striking resemblance to something he once told me on this show 16 years ago.  Here`s Trump in 2001 about whether he could ever see himself as a president.


TRUMP:  I`m not sure that I`d ever really enjoy the life of a politician, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is it that scares you or offends you or just turns you off about sitting in that Oval Office and dealing with the press, et cetera?

TRUMP:  Well, it`s not so much that.  I think that you`re just on all the time.  And by the way, no easy job.  This is really tough stuff.  It`s just something that I don`t think would suit me very well.  I don`t think I`d enjoy it very well.  And you know, to do something really well, you really have to enjoy it.  As Vince Lombardi said, you`ve got to love it, and you do have to love it.


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, the Reuters interview also revealed the president is still fixated on the results of the November election.  Quote -- this is in the Reuters interview the other day -- "Midway through a discussion about Chinese president Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies to the reporters of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.  Handing out a copy of the map to each of the three Reuters reporters in the room, the president went on to point out that the states in red were the states he had won."

On a more serious note, the president also -- I think he thought that was serious -- also told Reuters that his biggest global worry right now is North Korea -- that makes sense -- with tensions mounting in that region.  He said there`s a real possibility of war, especially if Kim Jong-un is willing to risk the survival of his own country.  Here he goes.


TRUMP:  There`s a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea.  Absolutely.  Is he willing to destroy his country, and is he willing to destroy millions and millions of lives and people?


MATTHEWS:  Well, joining me right now is Eugene Robinson, columnist with "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost, also an analyst for us, and Catherine Rampell is an opinion columnist, also with "The Washington Post."  Thank you all.  Let`s go in order now.

Gene, you know, I remember the greatest bragger of all time -- well, Babe Ruth was a bragger.  He pointed to center field and hit the ball over...


MATTHEWS:  ... the three-run homer, whatever it was.  Muhammad Ali was going to take down Liston, who was unbeatable.  He took him down.  This guy brags, but he doesn`t actually perform according to his bragging plan, does he.

ROBINSON:  Certainly not to this point.  I mean, it was going to be easy to do the wall and...


ROBINSON:  He can`t even get $1.4 billion for the wall, which is a measly sum.  You know, it was going to be easy to do health care for everybody.  We`re going to have health care for everybody.  It was going to be great.  It was going to be...

MATTHEWS:  Remember the Ken Berry (ph) song...

ROBINSON:  Wasn`t so easy.

MATTHEWS:  "One, two, three."


MATTHEWS:  (SINGING)  "It`s easy, like taking candy from a baby."


ROBINSON:  Yes.  Right.  Well...


ROBINSON:  ... the baby ain`t giving up the candy.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Howard, how come he knew when he talked to me this was a tough job, like any school kid knows how tough the presidency must be?


MATTHEWS:  And then he went back to, like, selling a car again.  It was just salesmanship.

FINEMAN:  Well, that`s because as a salesman, his whole pitch during the campaign was, I`m a great businessman.  I`m a great deal-maker.  I can see the simple essence of things that the bureaucrats and politicians can`t.


FINEMAN:  I know how to get in there and seize the thing by the throat.  And in four or five minutes of phone calls, I`m going to get it done.  That was his pitch.

And people who were upset with government, upset with Washington, upset with the nagging complexities of modern life in America and its unfairness thought, OK, this is the thunderbolt who can do it.  And that`s how he sold himself...


FINEMAN:  ... to those people on that map that he was showing the guys at Reuters.

MATTHEWS:  I wonder -- I wonder, Catherine, whether "no drama Obama" and his ability to do everything without any obvious sweat may have allowed the American people to fall into the absurd notion that being CEO of America is easy.  How do you explain why the voters thought it would be easy?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, "WASHINGTON POST":  Well, they didn`t, actually.  If you look at the polling, throughout the campaign, there was no point during the campaign, either during the primary or the general, when a majority of Americans thought that Trump would be qual -- or would be prepared, rather...


RAMPELL:  ... for the presidency.  So I think to a certain extent, what Trump was doing was, he was trying to knock away those concerns about his lack of experience.  And the question is, to what extent, when he was talking about how easy it would be and how simple it would be, was he lying to the American public, and to what extent was he just lying to himself?  And it appears that it may be a combination of the two.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think you`re right.

Anyway, while Trump pointed out the danger of North Korea, for example, he appeared to show a degree of empathy in this interview for dictator Kim Jong-un, saying, "He`s 27 years old.  His father dies, took over a regime.  So what you want (ph), but that is not easy, especially at that age.  I`m not giving him any credit or not giving him credit, whatever.  I`m just saying that the -- he`s a very hard thing to do, what he has to do.  As to whether or not he`s rational, I have no opinion on that.  I hope he`s rational."

Gene, I don`t know.  This is rambling.

ROBINSON:  Yes, this...

MATTHEWS:  It`s a rambling conversation for a president of the United States.

ROBINSON:  OK, if you really want to, you know, be a pop psychologist and put him on a couch, you know, another young man who sort of inherits the empire of a powerful father and has to try to live up to that.

MATTHEWS:  Like Sheephead`s (ph) Bay in Brooklyn and then on to New York City.

ROBINSON:  Yes, exactly, and on to New York City.  And so maybe that`s his thinking about Kim`s thinking.  That`s pure, you know, unsourced anything.  But...

FINEMAN:  Oh, go ahead, Gene.


FINEMAN:  ... occurred to me, by the way.

ROBINSON:  Yes, no, but -- or you can look at it as just rambling.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s what scares me right there, those people marching in regimental form right there.

FINEMAN:  But Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Americans wouldn`t do that.  We`re a little more independent.

FINEMAN:  I also -- I also think that Donald Trump has an almost comically, or scarily, depending on your point of view, belief in his own charm and his own ability to connect with anybody who`s also a great strongman around the world.  You know, it`s Putin at first.  Now he doesn`t like Putin.  It`s the tremendous bond he`s made with that great guy, Xi Jinping in China, after having spent a day with him.

MATTHEWS:  But you know, he`s not the first president to think that.

ROBINSON:  I was just going to say the same thing.

MATTHEWS:  FDR thought he could do that with Stalin.  Kennedy thought he could do it with Khrushchev.

FINEMAN:  Right.  OK.  And it`s not necessarily...

ROBINSON:  Bush thought he had done it with Putin.


RAMPELL:  Well, that`s what makes him a politician.

FINEMAN:  That`s my point.  That`s -- yes, that is what makes him a politician.  And he thinks he can do it with this guy somehow.  And you know, I doubt it, but it`s -- that`s how he thinks.

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, Catherine.  Take over here for a while because I think that so many people think if they think they`re doing it -- I watch people in these inaugural dances they have every year.  And recently, the last couple generations, they don`t know how to dance.  They go out and do a couple steps, the Freddy (ph) or some stupid one-step thing, and they didn`t even bother to take any lessons, but they act like they`re dancing.  Everybody applauds.

But the president`s not like that.  Thinking you`re doing it, thinking you can do it is not the same as doing it.


RAMPELL:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  You actually have to know how to play the instrument.  You actually have to know how to dance.  You actually have to learn it.  You can`t just think you`re doing it.  But these guys lately -- I think W. did it, too, and Obama did it.  They -- they...

RAMPELL:  Well, but again, that...

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, the lack of training...

RAMPELL:  That level of confidence is what helps people win elections, right...


RAMPELL:  ... that sort of faking it until you make it.


RAMPELL:  The question right now is, has Trump sort of been humbled to any extent now that he seems to be...

MATTHEWS:  Sounds like it.

RAMPELL:  ... acknowledging that things -- that things are more difficult?  And if he has been humbled, will he be willing to and capable of learning?

And it seems like he acknowledges that he needs to do some learning.  I just don`t know if he has the disposition, and the patience moreover, to do the kinds of heavy learning that he needs to be doing.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let`s go through this...

FINEMAN:  The comment -- the comment about Kim Jong-un and his effort to sort of play nice to...

MATTHEWS:  Well, he has to do that.

FINEMAN:  I know he has to do that, but that`s more exemplary of his thinking, which is this is still easy.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about something tricky.  Like, during the campaign, he did what a lot of politicians do.  They promise they`ll move the American embassy to Jerusalem...


MATTHEWS:  ... which sounds like right because we`re friends of Israel and that is their capital (INAUDIBLE) Well, the reason is because we saved (ph) a whole area of Jerusalem, including the Arab portions and the Christian portions, you say, Oh, that`s all Israel`s?  Well, then the game`s over, no more negotiations.  So you can`t do that.

He seems to have just learned that, something we all grew up with knowing how tricky that would be.  And then he says, Well, I`ll tell you in a month.  That`s what he said in the interview (INAUDIBLE) a question from the Reuters reporter, which is a British organization, was, Are you going to identify Israel having the whole capital area to themselves?  And that`s even a bigger stretch.


MATTHEWS:  And he -- he said, I`ll tell you in a month about that.  Does he even know what that means when you say something like that?

ROBINSON:  I`m not entirely sure.

MATTHEWS:  That`s a hot -- that`s a dangerous thing to say over there!

FINEMAN:  This isn`t clearly what he`s been following in detail all his adult life.  It isn`t, right?  So he learns this stuff.  So you know, he`s going to rip up NAFTA, except no, actually, he`s not going to rip up NAFTA because that -- you know who that would hurt?  That would hurt a whole lot of those...

MATTHEWS:  Farmers.

ROBINSON:  ... Trump voters in agricultural states, right?  So you know, he is learning.

MATTHEWS:  You mean with export, as well as import?


MATTHEWS:  You mean with export, as well as import?

ROBINSON:  Imagine that.  Imagine that.

MATTHEWS:  I know, but these are things kids learn in high school!

FINEMAN:  Well, Chris, on that point, I talked to a bunch of his good friends, the people who he kibitzes with out around the country, if not the world.  And I asked Chris Ruddy who...


FINEMAN:  ... from Florida, I said, Well, what`s the biggest thing that Trump learned that he didn`t know?  And Ruddy said, That there is a Congress.


FINEMAN:  I mean, and he was sort of joking, but he wasn`t really joking.

MATTHEWS:  It`s called Article I of the Constitution!

FINEMAN:  Yes, that there`s a Congress, OK, and that just because you`re president, you don`t get to run that.


FINEMAN:  And you know, it`s pretty basic...


MATTHEWS:  ... and it explains why he has no accomplishments because our way of judging the first 100 days scorecard has always been legislative.  I mean, fair or not, if a president gets a bill through, that`s a victory.  President Obama had to contend with the great recession when he came in.  He went moving on that pretty lickety-split.  Trump`s done nothing.

RAMPELL:  Yes, he has no major legislative accomplishments.  I mean, he does have a Supreme Court pick in place, but to be fair...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was a shotgun marriage!

RAMPELL:  ... that`s because it was robbed from Obama.  So normally, probably, a president wouldn`t have the option of filling a seat this quickly in the term in their first 100 days.

But yes, I mean, I do agree that I think Trump -- his rhetoric throughout the campaign indicated that he thought that he could just, you know, kind of, like, barrel through, implement his agenda, have no problems.  He`s used to running a business, right?  And he repeatedly said that his experience running a business was going to translate to running the country, but the dynamics are completely different.


RAMPELL:  And the kinds of, like, multi-party negotiations you have to do are also completely different.  You have to answer to, basically, shareholders, which is the public.  You have to deal with members of Congress.  If you`re running a family business, it`s completely different.  And yes, you kind of get why he didn`t understand the dynamic going in.

FINEMAN:  The other thing is in politics, you can`t sue -- you can`t intimidate people by threatening to sue them, which is a lot of what he did in business.

ROBINSON:  And you can`t make choices, too.  I mean, if you don`t like dealing with Bank of America, go deal with Citi.  Go deal with JP Morgan Chase.  You can`t deal.  There`s no other Congress.

MATTHEWS:  I like the fact, Catherine made that point, because I think (INAUDIBLE) too much bureaucracy when you have your daughter and your son- in-law to deal with.

Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson.  That`s why he brought them along.  It makes it less bureaucratic.  Thank you, Catherine Rampell, and thank you, Howard Fineman.

Coming up -- it`s safe to say we`ve never seen 100 days like this we`ve seen from President Trump.  We`re going to stack this president`s difficult first 100 days up against his predecessors, I mean all his predecessors, with two top presidential historians coming up.

Plus, one big accomplishment of Trump`s first 100 days is he`s turned the late night comedy shows into must-see TV.  Let`s watch.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN:  While it`s a controversial executive order, Trump really believes in it.

TRUMP:  Sometimes I look at some of the things I`m signing.

COLBERT:  Sometimes he looks at the things he`s signing?


COLBERT:  Sometimes?  Just randomly?  Not all the time?  Has anyone tried putting a resignation letter in front of him?  It`s worth a shot.


MATTHEWS:  We`ll look at some of the best comedic moments from Trump`s first 100 days.

And when will Trump`s reversals start hurting him with the people who put him in office?  So far, they`re sticking by him, but for how long?  And that`s ahead with the roundtable.

Finally, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch."

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS:  Get this. 

Despite the fact that President Trump named Michael Flynn to be his national security adviser, he`s now blaming President Obama. 

In an interview with Fox News, Trump says this about Flynn: "When they say we didn`t vet, well, Obama, I guess, didn`t vet because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration."

Well, the trouble with that argument by Trump is that President Obama fired Flynn as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.  He fired him. 

We will be back after this. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

President Trump is waving off claims that the first 100 days is of any real significance, telling the Associated Press the other day: "I think the 100 days is -- you know, it`s an artificial barrier.  It`s not very meaningful.  The press keeps talking about the 100 days, but we have done a lot."

Well, when asked why he shouldn`t be held accountable for the first-100- days plan he campaigned on, Trump said: "Somebody -- yes, somebody put out the concept of a 100-day plan."

Well, the somebody who put out that concept of his first-100-days plan was none other than Donald Trump.  Let`s watch. 


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What follows is my 100- day action plan to make America great again. 

Think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration. 

I propose a contract with the American voter.  It`s a set of promises for what I`ll do in my first 100 days. 

Today, I would like to provide the American people with an update on the White House transition and our policy plans for the first 100 days. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, with a pivotal marker coming up tomorrow -- that`s the 100-day mark -- how will history judge Trump`s first 100? 

Joining me right now is Michael Beschloss, an NBC News presidential historian.  And Doris Kearns Goodwin is an author and presidential historian.

Doris, I don`t know how you give historic record or score-keeping to someone who lives minute by minute in the most phenomenal way.  He forgets the minute before.  He`s on to the next minute.  But that doesn`t really count, because the only thing that matters is this minute. 

It`s like the guy keeps erasing the blackboard.  Well, how do you -- I`m just going to give you a wide-open question.  How has he done so far?  Where is he projecting toward, as you can see, if anywhere? 

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Well, I think no one promised more and delivered less, you could say, to quote, somehow paraphrasing Churchill. 

But I think that if you looked at pure legislative achievements, obviously, he didn`t get what he might have hoped.  Executive orders have dismantled, rather than built. 

Where does he go from here?  The only way you can predict that, because he`s so unpredictable -- I think anybody is a fool who tries to predict anything about him, since he`s changed his mind on so many things -- got to look to the views of the people around him, because he seems to be susceptible to what they`re telling him. 

So, I think if you`re looking for mystery, go find, detectively, as a media, what are these people thinking?  What are their views, the ones who are close to him?  Because, otherwise, there`s no way of knowing where he`s going. 

The only fair thing about the ridiculousness of this standard, all the presidents have hated it.  JFK said, I`m sick and tired of hearing about this 100 days, and yet tried to put out a list, so that nobody can match what FDR did. 


GOODWIN:  No cosmic dramatist, Robert Sherwood said, could ever devise a better entrance for a president than FDR, urgency, sense of need, so the country comes together. 

So, in some ways, I understand why they all get upset by this marker that we put on them. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, speaking of Robert Sherwood, this has been like "The Petrified Forest," the first 100 days of this administration. 


MATTHEWS:  There`s nothing there. 

But I just wonder, what do you make of him?  Because I think this -- I thought she -- you know, I think Doris raised a great point, because this guy sort of picked the brain trust around him.  And I love the idea of presidents who pick people who are smarter than them to help him. 


MATTHEWS:  And he`s clearly done that. 

BESCHLOSS:  And it`s so un-Trumpian, because his whole point was, I`m always successful, and I do it by adapting to situations.  And I do that by hiring people who know what they`re doing. 

Instead, he`s got a chief of staff, wonderful guy, Reince Priebus, but he had never been in the White House before. 


BESCHLOSS:  Chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who had never been in politics before.  These are the two guys guiding the inexperienced president.  So, he blows two opportunities.


MATTHEWS:  Well, what about the Cabinet?  They`re a little better, McMaster and...

BESCHLOSS:  A little bit. 

But, as you well know, if you have got a staff who is not guiding you, the Cabinet cannot clean up the mess. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s my question.

And, Doris, you pick up on this, because you`re president of the United States, and the thing that would scare me, you know, sometimes, I wonder who to do next when I`m on a project.  What`s next?  Should I put this?  Should I do more research?  Should I do more writing?  Should I do catch up with this?  Should I do some polishing?  What am I doing here? 

Presidents have to decide what to do with every minute of their day.  Then they also have to be able to relax sometime, do something to get it out of their head, so they`re fit to make the big decisions, so they can sleep properly. 

Who tells a president -- I mean, Harry Hopkins was a troubleshooter.  Jim Baker was a great organizer of a wild mind like Reagan`s, of a mind who was all over the place maybe, very focused.

What`s the job of a Reince Priebus?  I mean, how do they even tell him what to do every day, who to meet? 

GOODWIN:  I mean, I don`t think they can tell him that fully. 

A president has to set direction.  I mean, when you think about Lincoln`s team of rivals, in the end, he wasn`t waiting for consensus from them.  He decided once he learned from them what they knew that he didn`t one.  He`s the one who set the policy. 


GOODWIN:  I mean, Ronald Reagan had people around him, but he`s the one who decided he was going to go for economic recovery no matter what in those first 100 days. 

I mean, there`s a sense in which, unless he can figure out how to relax -- I mean, you say something really important.  All the presidents that I have studied knew how to take time off, so they could replenish their energy.  He said:  I will never take a vacation.  I`m working all the time. 

None of that`s going to prove true, and only he can decide that.  So, we have to just hope that he self-reflects, that he learns, that he grows, the thing we have been hoping for ever since the beginning of the campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  And I wonder about just his eating habits and stuff like that.  It`s none of my business, except he`s president. 

And, you know, Barney Frank once said to me, if you don`t -- you got to lose a lot of weight before a campaign, because you`re going to gain 40 pounds during the campaign. 


MATTHEWS:  When you`re nervous, you eat a lot of hamburgers.  It`s just what happens to get your adrenaline down.

BESCHLOSS:  No, that`s exactly right. 

And that`s why he needs -- he really needs a manager.  Jim Baker was able to tell Ronald Reagan, who had been a great governor in Sacramento for two terms, this is what you do to deal with Congress.  This is who you call.


BESCHLOSS:  This is how you sequence legislation. 

And because there hasn`t been someone like that, you know, Trump totally blew this opportunity, this first 100 days, not only to get key bills passed, which he has not done, but also to build relationships in Congress to carry him through the next -- rest of these four years.

MATTHEWS:  Let me try both of you, because I know Doris is a baseball nut.  OK?

I used a reference the other night, because I`m trying to be positive.  I mean, people around me aren`t so positive, my wife, nobody.  They`re not very -- I`m always hopeful because we only have one president. 

So, I used the Sandy Koufax example.  Koufax, as you know, first half-dozen years were terrible, wild pitching, crazy wild pitching, losing records every year.  And then the next six years were unbelievable.  He got 27 wins a couple years.  He was unbelievable.  He fixed a couple things in his pitch. 

Is it possible?  Can you imagine it?  I know you`re a liberal.  Can you imagine Trump straightening out his pitch and getting it right the latter part of his term? 

GOODWIN:  Well, look, we look at other presidents.  As Michael knows so well, the Bay of Pigs was a disaster for JFK, and yet he learned from that experience.  He said, somehow, it`s a hell of a way to learn from failure. 

We have just got to hope.  And I`m with you, Chris.  We have got to have some optimism about this thing right now.  I mean, he is the president.  Maybe there`s been some humility in these last couple days in saying what he didn`t know.  Maybe there`s some sense of learning that`s going on. 

And if that happens, then the next 100 days can be better than these last 100 days. 

MATTHEWS:  Doris, you`re the best. 

Thank you, Doris Kearns Goodwin, up there in Concord -- Concord, Massachusetts -- and Michael Beschloss down here in Washington, where we all have fun together. 

Up next: 100 days of comedy.  Trump`s been a gold mine for late-night comics.  We have got some of their greatest hits coming up next. 

This is HARDBALL, where the action is. 


MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I`m Milissa Rehberger with some breaking news. 

President Trump has just tweeted about North Korea`s missile launch earlier tonight.  The president tweeted: "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected president when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today.  Bad."

Earlier tonight, the White House said the administration was aware of the missile test and the president has been briefed -- back to HARDBALL. 


MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS:  Before we begin, I know that myself...


MCCARTHY:  ... and the press have gotten off to a rocky start. 


MCCARTHY:  All right, all right, all right, all right.


MCCARTHY:  In a sense -- when I say rocky start, I mean it in the sense of "Rocky" the movie, because I came out here to punch you. 


MCCARTHY:  Does anybody else have any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Yes, "Wall Street Journal."  Are you OK? 


MCCARTHY:  Take it.  Take it.  Take it.  Take that.




MATTHEWS:  Well, welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was just one of the many times this year where "Saturday Night Live" skewered this White House.  Late-night television has done some laughing out loud at President Trump, ranging from his flip-flops to his gaffes to his tweetstorms. 

Let`s watch. 


TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH":  Trump has ignored a lot of presidential traditions, you know, like releasing tax returns or working on the weekend or knowing about government. 


NOAH:  But even he has been all about the 100 days. 

TRUMP:  Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days. 

NOAH:  And none of it is actually going to get done. 




SAMANTHA BEE, HOST, "FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE":  As we come down from the dizzying high of Women`s History Month, let`s appreciate a woman who`s blazing trails right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There`s a new sheriff in town.  Her name is Ivanka Trump. 

BEE:  Wrong. 

Sheriffs are elected to their jobs.  Maybe you were confused by her statement necklace. 


BEE:  Ivanka`s new job is -- hmm, I don`t know.  Her father already gave the hand of the king job to her husband, Jared, right after he took president`s landing. 




STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT":  While it`s a controversial executive order, Trump really believes in it. 

TRUMP:  Sometimes, I look at some of the things I`m signing. 

COLBERT:  Sometimes, he looks at the things he`s signing? 


COLBERT:  Sometimes?  Just randomly?  Not all the time?  Has anyone tried putting a resignation letter in front of him?  It`s worth a shot. 




SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS":  It is at this point like a law of physics.  For every Trump action, there`s an equal and opposite Trump clip. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, joining me right now are "Variety"`s Ted Johnson, and "The Daily Show" co-creator Lizz Winstead, who is also one of the founders of Lady Parts Justice, a group of comedians and writers who advocate for reproductive rights. 

Thank you so much for this. 

I don`t know.  It would kill me to be imitated by Melissa McCarthy.  I mean, it is such a perfect putdown.  She`s manic.  She`s crazed.  And she`s moving around on this sort of automatic lectern of hers that travels into people. 

I mean, it`s over-the-top satire, and yet it`s a riot. 

Ted first. 

TED JOHNSON, EDITOR AT LARGE, "VARIETY":  Well, I have to say, it`s such an inspired choice. 

You know, making jokes about Trump or the Trump administration, you would think would be really easy.  But the challenge is actually not to do what everyone else is doing... 

MATTHEWS:  Because you were saying...

JOHNSON:  ... and staying unique.

MATTHEWS:  ... when you thought of something, then you would realize somebody else probably thought of it too.


MATTHEWS:  Because it`s all on the surface. 

JOHNSON:  In fact, and it may not even come from other comedians.  It comes from a host of Web sites. 

Trump said something, and within an hour, you have all these jokes spreading through the Internet.  So the challenge, especially in late night, is to come up with something that is really unique, that people are really surprised about. 

And that`s why I thought it was instantly -- when you had Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, you just saw people talking about it on Twitter.  And it`s exactly what the show wanted. 

LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR, "THE DAILY SHOW":  I sort of love the fact that it`s not only Sean Spicer.  It`s kind of if Sean Spicer starred in "The Wizard of Oz" and was in Munchkin Land, Sean Spicer, which is this added level. 


MATTHEWS:  That high-level voice too. 



WINSTEAD:  And I also really like the fact that, with the way that women have looked at how they have been treated by this administration, to have women taking on these roles and knowing...

MATTHEWS:  That`s a get-even. 

WINSTEAD:  Right? 

And knowing that Trump just -- oh, my gosh.  And just knowing that it`s like he can`t take it makes it everything. 

MATTHEWS:  Imagine accusing Trump -- having a woman play Trump.  That would drive him -- he would come over and arrest people. 

WINSTEAD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  He would hate it.

But I think that is the interesting thing about -- we try to figure him out every night, sometimes comedically, most of the times seriously.  Nothing he says has any reality to it.  It`s not planted in a pot anywhere.  It`s just flowing in the wind.  And the next minute, he will say something totally different. 

So, how do you hold him to what he said an hour ago?  I mean, these things about the -- we have just shown all the time here, all night here the 100- day thing he`s been bragging about.  I`m going to do this in 100 days.  I`m going to do this in 100 days, 100 days.  Next thing, it`s, 100 days doesn`t matter.  Who came up with that idea anyway? 

He knows the tape exists.  He knows we`re going to do this, the collages we show.  And yet he -- Trump`s forward.  He just keeps moving forward, ignoring anything that happened an hour ago. 

JOHNSON:  Well, I mean, NAFTA -- just this week with NAFTA...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.  He`s now going to keep NAFTA. 

JOHNSON:  Yes.  It looked like he was going to get rid of NAFTA, and now he`s going to keep NAFTA. 


MATTHEWS:  How about NATO?  He was going to get rid of NATO.

WINSTEAD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  He`s getting rid of everything. 

WINSTEAD:  I think he just found out there was two Koreas about 10 minutes ago. 


WINSTEAD:  Look, I don`t even think he understood that. 

MATTHEWS:  How about Jerusalem?  Politicians have been saying, I`m going to move the embassy, I`m going to move it, because it`s politics.  We know the politics of it.  And they all know they can`t do it, so when they get in office, they go, of course that`s off the table. 

He had to be told you can`t do it. 

WINSTEAD:  Right. 

Well, and I think, too, the thing that`s tricky for satire is, you can satirize politicians in the best way possible when they lay out a policy that you can satirize, right?


WINSTEAD:  So, when you -- like you said, when he`s like a piece of cottonwood blowing in the wind, it`s really hard to grab the "there" there. 

So, what you have to do is kind of watch a pattern, and then satirize the weirdness of the pattern. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he just sort of said something when he showed -- when he does that hair thing of his, this hairstyle?

If he cared what anybody thought, he wouldn`t have done it.  He doesn`t care. 


MATTHEWS:  And he`s just going to put on the show with the hair and everything.  He just says, this is going to be a new kind of performance art.  They`re going to have to pay attention to it. 

The only trouble -- the only -- people have one choice right now, dump him. 


MATTHEWS:  In the next three years, dump him, for somebody that maybe we don`t know yet. 

WINSTEAD:  I also think, too, like, there is something about his goofy hair, his -- his weird tan.  He`s got a lot of money and power. 

MATTHEWS:  That tie.  What about the tie?  It`s like a giant bib.  He wears it -- he has his coat open for his paunch, and then he has this tie that`s like three-feet-long. 

WINSTEAD:  It`s a drool-catcher. 

MATTHEWS:  What is it?  What is that? 


MATTHEWS:  No, everybody else is buttoned up.  They have thin ties.  It`s some kind of a statement of power. 

WINSTEAD:  That`s right.  It`s an -- it`s the F-you, right?

MATTHEWS:  I can -- yes, that`s it.  I can do that. 


MATTHEWS:  I can walk around like this. 

WINSTEAD:  Yes, look at my hot wife.  I have this kooky hair and this money. 

MATTHEWS:  I think that`s a statement.

JOHNSON:  There`s such a contrast to the first 100 days of Obama when comedians were struggling, how do you even portray him?  How do you mimic?

MATTHEWS:  I know.

JOHNSON:  With Trump, this week in L.A. at one of the comedy clubs, they had like a -- you know, Trump impersonators and where people -- a ton of people showed up.  He`s easy to mimic.  Part of me thinks that Trump kind of likes it.  He likes the fact that he`s an easy --

MATTHEWS:  I don`t think he likes -- Baldwin makes him vicious.  Baldwin makes him a bad guy.  He`s not funny when Baldwin plays him.  He makes him look menacing. 

By the way, you know the great clown, Ringling Bros.  Barnum and Bailey was Emmett Kelly. 


MATTHEWS:  There`s something about that big tie.  There`s something clownish about what he does. 

WINSTEAD:  Wait, Chris.  Are you saying they`re something clownish about Donald Trump?  Is this what I`m hearing?  I can`t -- breaking news.  Somebody break -- I hope that the next show --

MATTHEWS:  You funny women comedians. 

Anyway, thank you, Lizz Winsted.  Thank you, Ted Johnson. 

Up next, resolutions and reversals.  Trump might be learning on the job, you might say, but more and more, except an attitude, his decisions don`t sound much like a guy who ran for president.  Remember him?  You`re not supposed to remember him.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t think there`s ever been anything like this.  It`s a false standard, 100 days, but I have to tell you, I don`t think anybody has done what we`ve been able to do in 100 days. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

For Candidate Trump, the campaign trail was full of promises. 


TRUMP:  I am not and I have never been a fan of NAFTA. 

I said NATO obsolete, and everybody smiled, and they said it`s not obsolete.  Then they realized I was right. 

We are going to label China a currency manipulator, which is what they`re doing.  They`re taking our business.  They`re taking our jobs. 


MATTHEWS:  But for President Trump, some things are more challenging than he expected.  Yesterday, Trump told "The Washington Post", he was ready to end NAFTA, telling "The Post", quote, "I look forward to terminating it.  I was going to do it," but he backpedaled after some members of his team told him it would hurt his base. 

Anyway, the evolution comes weeks after he said NATO was no longer obsolete and that he would not label China anymore a currency manipulator.  The one thing that has been consistent during Trump`s first three months, he`s running the country the way he ran his campaign, unconventionally. 

For more, I`m joined by Ashley Parker, White House reporter for "The Washington Post," Ken Vogel, chief investigate everybody reporter for "Politico", and Sahil Kapur who`s political reporter -- national political reporter for "Bloomberg Politics". 

Let me go to Ashley.  I`m just going down the list.  NAFTA was a big issue with this guy.  NATO is one of the general anti-establishment things he said.  No good.  He was going to go to war with China.  Nothing was predictable. 

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I guess the only thing he`s been predictable on is when he also said he was incredibly flexible.  And on all of these, he`s shown sort of that willingness to be, you know, non- ideological, a pragmatist, and basically do a total flip-flop on some of these issues.  But it does fit in line with his flexibility, his desire to get a deal, and his sort of instinct to often listen to the last person he heard from. 

MATTHEWS:  That`s the key.  I want to get to that. 

But, you know his voters out there, do they care about issues, or do they care about attitude? 

As long as he`s anti-establishment, as long as he`s against us, if you will, as long as he`s the alternative to everything else, they like him.  According to the numbers, they do. 

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO:  And he just channels that anti-establishment feeling from NATO or from NAFTA to the press or to the opposition party in --

MATTHEWS:  Anything that`s made up of initials, he`s pretty much against. 

VOGEL:  Right.  I mean, anything that -- it is consistent that he is railing against what he sees as the Washington establishment.  That`s what the voters really liked about him.  That`s why they`re willing to forgive him according to these polls, some of these shifts that seem to be really anathema to his positioning, his America first positioning during the campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  What about effectiveness?  When is that going to hurt him, lack of it?  He can`t get anything done. 

SAHIL KAPUR, BLOOMBERG POLITICS:  That`s right.  The only legislative accomplishments he`s had so far are deregulatory measures, basically undoing what President Obama did in his final months.  That`s hardly the stuff of a signature achievement.  The -- his hopes of repealing and replacing Obamacare died a third death this week.  Tax reform is just at the very beginning stage of something that may or may not go anywhere.  It`s far from clear. 

Chris, I think the real problem is there are three distinct camps in the White House that don`t agree on a lot of things.  They`re the economic nationalists.  They`re the ideological conservatives and they`re pro- business New Yorkers.  Very little that they agree on. 

MATTHEWS:  The pro-business guys, I was impressed by Gary Cohn this week.  He`s a very persuasive, simple talker.  You knew what he mean.  You know what he meant. 

He would impress me if he was selling me a car or a business, I`d say, I like that guy, maybe because he`s a New York Democrat.  It has nothing to do with Trump.  I don`t know what it is.

KAPUR:  Trump is really listening to him on something like taxes, so we`ll see where that goes. 

VOGEL:  The flexibility can be helpful as long --

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about flexibility.  You don`t think -- you agree with me it doesn`t matter if he flips, but if he flips on something that bugs people, people who voted for him don`t like illegal immigration.  They don`t like him, they`ll be liberals, but they don`t like.

Is he -- he can`t flip on that.  He can`t say, "I like -- I can like illegal immigration."

VOGEL:  Yes, that will hurt him not just with his base of voters but also with Republicans in Congress whose support he needs to get any of these major --

MATTHEWS:  So, what are the principal pillars that are incorruptible on the part of Trump. 

PARKER:  I think there`s the things he`s actually sort of had some consistency on since the `80s.  One is certainly immigration.  One is probably trade.  I guess you could argue he sort of flipped on NAFTA, but not entirely.  He said we`re going to renegotiate, we`re going to get a better deal. 

MATTHEWS:  We`re going to screw South Korea and who else?  Canada and the Saudis.  Look around for our friends, anybody who`s been friendly to us for the last 400 years and nail them.  That`s what he did this week. 

KAPUR:  Eventually, Chris, he`s going to be judged on results.  I think for the Trump voter right now, being for him is such a hallmark of a cultural identity more so than previous presidents, that they`re sticking with him.  Only 2 percent regret it. 


MATTHEWS:  If he leaves carried interest, he`s in trouble. 

KAPUR:  That`s another flip-flop, an important one. 

MATTHEWS:  The roundtable is sticking with us.  And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

We`ll be right back. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, the campaign is long over, but Donald Trump it still calling people names.  Today, as he addressed the NRA Convention down in Atlanta, he said this about potential 2020 presidential rival Elizabeth Warren. 


TRUMP:  I have a feeling that in the next election, you`re going to be swamped with candidates.  But you`re not going to be wasting your time.  You`ll have plenty of those Democrats coming over, and you`re going to say, no, sir, no, thank you.  No, ma`am.  Perhaps ma`am.  It may be Pocahontas, remember that. 


MATTHEWS:  With that speech, Trump became the first sitting president to address the NRA since Reagan back in `83. 

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  We are back with the HARDBALL roundtable. 

Ashley, tell me something I don`t know. 

PARKER:  We know the president reversed himself on NAFTA, but one key relationship that made a big deal is Jared Kushner is incredibly close with the foreign minister of Mexico, Luis Videgaray. 


PARKER:  They talk all the time, and that was sort of a back channel of pressure that ultimately got to the president. 

MATTHEWS:  Jared rules. 

PARKER:  Always. 

VOGEL:  We broke a story today about Jim DeMint, the former senator from South Carolina, being forced out of the Heritage Foundation. 

MATTHEWS:  Was he too far right or --

VOGEL:  He aligned himself.  My sources tell me this is all about him aligning the Heritage Foundation too much with Donald Trump from the perspective of some of these Heritage Foundation board members. 

MATTHEWS:  The purists didn`t like it. 

VOGEL:  Exactly.  We hear there`s going to be a purge there of many of the top --

MATTHEWS:  So he gives up a Senate seat to go to Heritage.  And Heritage bumps him.  He can`t go back to the Senate. 

VOGEL:  You would think it would be very difficult much like it was for Russ Feingold to try to come back. 

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

KAPUR:  Chris, we have a story on Bloomberg this afternoon that Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who was the point man for Republicans, dozens of dozens of Obamacare repeal votes in the House for six years, is now not comfortable, he says, with the Obamacare replacement bill.  He says he`s worried about the costs going up for people with pre-existing illnesses.  If the Republicans can`t win him, who can they win? 

MATTHEWS:  I think that Gerry Ford`s old seat.

Anyway, thank you, Ashley Parker, Ken Vogel and Sahil Kapur.  I love that stuff. 

When we return, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch. 

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS:  Trump Watch, Friday, April 28th, 2017. 

Donald Trump turns 100 tomorrow -- that many days in office for the unexpected president about whom nothing can be expected.  I think the safest thing to say about the past 100 days or the November election itself is that this man was elected for what he was not, which explains why 96 percent of his voters are still with him.  He`s still not part of the country`s governing or media establishment.  He is not, to use the language of his people, one of the reviled and resented them. 

I think a lot of the reason people refuse to get Trump, in fact, even now at the end of this 100-day starter period, is they do not get why people hate the ruling class Trump ran against, refusing to fathom why people saw Hillary as the symbol of that ruling class makes it impossible to see why someone who vote for this guy, root for him now and perhaps into the future. 

Look, the fact is the political class Trump defeated is obnoxious to a lot of people.  They don`t like the coterie of contributors, pressure groups and perennial candidates that make up both parties.  They don`t like the look of a political system that rewards the ability to get people to pay for your campaigns, the TV ads that destroy your opponents, and leave the voters stuck with nothing to vote for but them.  They don`t like seeing politicians constantly, at some event or another, celebrating themselves.  They don`t like hearing or seeing celebrity-packed parties they`re not invited to. 

As long as Trump bashes this world of self-congratulations, the more his people will stay aboard his wobbly wagon train to who knows where.  If the political establishment is listening, please listen up to this.  When you begin to identify more with the regular people out there in the country and less with the paying customers of the pressure groups, and yes, less with this countries cultural winner circle, the better chance you`ll have of getting back into the country`s heart.  If you want to know how bad things are, think of this -- 100 days of Trump, and the old political establishment still doesn`t look all that desirable. 

And that, I believe, is the dreariest news as we reach this particular 100- day landmark. 

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.