Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 7/5/2017 Trump set for first in-person meeting with Putin

Guests: Jay Newton-Small, Mieke Eoyang, Jonathan Swan, Mark Jacobson, Shannon Pettypiece, Geoff Bennett, Molly Ball

Show: HARDBALL Date: July 5, 2017 Guest: Jay Newton-Small, Mieke Eoyang, Jonathan Swan, Mark Jacobson, Shannon Pettypiece, Geoff Bennett, Molly Ball

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: High noon in Hamburg.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Donald Trump is facing some of the biggest tests of his presidency this week, with North Korea test-firing a missile that could reach Alaska and a meeting with Vladimir Putin now set for Friday. This afternoon, Air Force One touched down in Warsaw. On Friday, the president heads to the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, and it`s there that he will face the most anticipated bilateral meeting of his term so far, his first face to face with Vladimir Putin.

Originally, the Trump meeting with Putin was only going to be a brief, informal chat in the hallway. Yesterday, the White House upgraded it to a formal bilateral meeting of the two presidents.

According to "The New York Times," quote, "President Trump has been briefed repeatedly. His advisers have alerted him to the web of potential risks, complex issues and diplomatic snags. But even his top aides do not know precisely what Mr. Trump will decide to say or do when he meets President Vladimir Putin." That`s a quote.

The meeting, of course, comes at a precarious time for Trump. Back home, his campaign`s links to Russia are under the scrutiny of a special counsel, Robert Mueller, as well as the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Republicans like Senator John McCain and Bob Corker say the president should confront Putin about Russian interference in last year`s election.

Can the president afford to play nice with Putin? For months, President Trump has expressed optimism that the relationship with Russia could improve. Here he goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability because we have a horrible relationship with Russia.

As far as, again, Putin and Russia, I don`t say good, bad or indifferent. I don`t know the gentleman. I hope we have a fantastic relationship. That`s possible. And it`s also possible that we won`t.

President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election. And probably Putin said, you know -- he`s sitting behind his desk, he`s saying, you know, I see what`s going on in the United States. I follow it closely. It`s going to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he`s got with this fake story.

Probably, Putin assumes that he`s not going to be able to make deal with me because it`s politically not popular for me to make a deal.

But right now, we`re not getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russia.

I`ll see about Putin over a period of time. Be a fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if we got along with Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, anything President Trump says or does is likely to be leaked, of course. In May, he met with Russia`s foreign minister and also Russia`s ambassador to the U.S. in their Oval Office meeting. It was shortly after (sic) that -- after that that he fired Comey, the FBI director. According to "The New York Times," the president told his Russian visitors, "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nutjob. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That`s taken off. I`m not under investigation."

Well, that`s the starting point for his upcoming meeting with Putin. Where does he go from that?

Howard Fineman`s global editorial director for the HuffingtonPost. Mieke Eoyang is the director of national security at the Third Way and a former staff director at the House Select Committee on Intelligence. And Jonathan Swan is national political reporter for Axios.

Howard, my friend, this is a big question. I think -- I think we have to say the last time they met was with Kislyak, the ambassador from Moscow, and the foreign minister, Lavrov. And all we know is they leaked every word of it, the meeting, the Russians. (INAUDIBLE) out of "Dr. Strangelove." Every word goes out immediately because they`re taping probably every word. And now Trump is setting the bar in a weird way. He`s saying, They say I can`t be friendly with this guy because then it`ll look like I was on the take in the last election, right?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Uh-huh.

MATTHEWS: Where`s the bar? Can he be a great representative of us now or has he boxed himself into being the guy who can`t beat (ph) things, but -- who can`t really succeed? (INAUDIBLE)

FINEMAN: Well, he can`t -- he can`t allow himself to be boxed in because Vladimir Putin`s whole aim here is not for Russia to win because Russia can`t win. I mean, I`ve traveled pretty extensively there over the years. They can`t win. The only way they can, quote, "win" is by having everybody else lose in democratic countries in Western Europe, the United States...

MATTHEWS: They`re a failed state.

FINEMAN: They are essentially playing a losing hand, and Vladimir Putin is the world`s best at playing what is essentially a losing hand. And he`s playing it by trying to monkey around with the mechanics of Western democracies, undercut their legitimacy any way he can.

And Donald Trump, as president of the United States, his one mission is to protect the idea of the legitimacy of the United States, its rule of law, its Constitution, its role in the world. And he`s -- he is, in a way, boxed in politically, but he can`t allow himself as president to behave that way.

He`s got to be tough with Putin. He`s got to say, Look, I know what you`re doing. You can`t do it anymore. Putin will come back and say, You guys -- meaning America -- you monkeyed around in elections all over the world during the cold war, and Trump has to have a comeback. They brief...

MATTHEWS: Well, I hope he`s...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: ... because he has to have a long game here with Putin.

MATTHEWS: Mieke, that`s a great -- if Howard`s got it right -- I think he does -- he`s got to punch Putin in the face on this. You messed with our elections. Don`t ever do it again. Putin must know that`s coming. What comes next?

MIEKE EOYANG, THIRD WAY DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY: So if...

MATTHEWS: If that doesn`t come, I think Trump will be laughed at in this country.

EOYANG: That`s right. There`s a bipartisan consensus about a bunch of things that you`d have to do to hold Russia accountable and deter them from doing it again. First of all, you want to go after the hackers that messed with the election. DOJ...

MATTHEWS: Personally.

EOYANG: Personally. You want DOJ announcing prosecutions of those people. You want to be going after organized crime that`s putting money in Putin`s coffers. And you want to stand firm with NATO and make clear to Putin that we stand with our allies against Russian aggression. And that`s the way it has been historically for America on a bipartisan basis. And that`s what he needs to do.

MATTHEWS: So punch him in the face on messing with our elections. What do you do to the counter-question? You guys have been running democracy lessons around the world trying to screw us in Ukraine, everywhere else. We know what you`re up to. We`re just fighting back with you with your own medicine. What does he say then?

EOYANG: So what we say is we want the people of the countries to decide. And we want those people only to decide, not with outside interference. And what you did is mess with our election. You were trying to suppress the Ukrainian people from having their own voice, and we don`t like that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... is teach people how to be politicians.

EOYANG: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: You`re going in to screw the political process itself.

EOYANG: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: I`d be stunned if Donald Trump punches Putin in the face rhetorically. That would require him to have a fundamental change in world view between now and Friday. He doesn`t believe Russia interfered in the election because he sees that as a rebuke of his victory. It`s too much cognitive dissonance. He just can`t...

MATTHEWS: Well, then he`ll get -- he`s going to get destroyed in the world press.

SWAN: He may well be...

MATTHEWS: If he walks back...

(CROSSTALK)

SWAN: He may well.

MATTHEWS: If he doesn`t bring up the issue of Russian monkeying with our election -- don`t you agree, Howard?

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: I agree with Jonathan, though...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: I don`t think he`s going to have the guts, or as Jonathan says, the cognitive discipline to do it.

SWAN: It`s too much cognitive dissonance. The other thing I would just say is, have you ever heard Donald Trump say a hawkish word about Crimea? I haven`t because I don`t believe that he believes that Russia needs to get out of Crimea.

FINEMAN: By the way...

SWAN: So the two key questions there, he doesn`t believe the fundamental premise.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the American people care about Crimea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

MATTHEWS: They care about our elections. Don`t mess with us. Don`t -- you know, we`re the snake. Don`t tread on me. I think that`s us.

EOYANG: Right, but they...

MATTHEWS: We`re looking at the snake (INAUDIBLE)

EOYANG: They do need to care about what`s happening in Ukraine because Ukraine is the testing ground for Russian aggression. The cyber-attacks that have been happening there, the takeover of eastern Ukraine -- that`s Russia practicing its techniques because they want to come back at us. And our intelligence agencies have been very clear the Russians are coming back again. So if Trump doesn`t stand firm, if he doesn`t make that first commitment as the U.S. president to defend American national security...

MATTHEWS: Here`s where I disagree with you, Mieke. Where`s national security in this country tied into who owns Crimea?

EOYANG: In terms...

MATTHEWS: I mean, I think we`re lining up all these NATO states around the Russian perimeter there. We`ve got the Baltic states, we got Hungary, the Czech Republic. That`s fine. (INAUDIBLE) the Warsaw pact had recruited Mexico, we would have gotten a little upset. (INAUDIBLE) worried about Cuba.

My question is -- I want to stick back to American interests. To me, if you want to score all these questions -- screwing with our elections, give it a 10. We`d like to get something done in Syria. I`d give it a two. Everything else is a one.

FINEMAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: Howard.

FINEMAN: Can I just say that if you`re going to...

MATTHEWS: I think we care about us.

FINEMAN: If you`re going to -- yes, we do care about us, but we also care about Western Europe. If you`re...

MATTHEWS: Western Europe.

FINEMAN: Western Europe. If you`re...

MATTHEWS: OK, that`s not Crimea.

FINEMAN: All right. I know. I know. If you`re going to defend Article 5 in terms of mutual defense...

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: ... it`s not just military defense. It`s cyber-warfare...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE)

FINEMAN: ... and it`s all that kind of stuff. So the Europeans -- not only the American public but the European public is going to be looking for and would, I think, appreciate Trump playing the tough guy, the tough cop with Putin in part because they don`t want to themselves.

MATTHEWS: OK, I think (INAUDIBLE) Western Europe and us. We`re playing defense. But if we get too offensive around the Russian perimeter, we`re going to push Putin into his nationalistic craziness because that`s his strong suit, isn`t it? Jon?

SWAN: Yes?

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that were -- that`s where Putin wants to fight. He fights for Crimea and his influence in eastern -- eastern Ukraine, he`s got the home court advantage! That`s where his people are.

SWAN: Putin doesn`t have the muscle to roll (ph) into -- all of his fantasies of rolling into Poland, et cetera -- it`s not going to happen. He`s got a depleted military, and Trump doesn`t want to confront him there. And we don`t want another ground war. So largely, everyone`s accepted that Crimea is Putin`s. Donald Trump`s not going to do anything particularly substantive on that count. The thing I`m watching is the elections. Is he going to confront him on that issue?

MATTHEWS: President Trump and President Putin both think of themselves as shrewd negotiators. According to Politico, quote, "Putin, a former KGB officer who specialized in what the Russians call political technology, is the arch manipulator, deft at psyching people out. As a former U.S. official (INAUDIBLE) and his meetings with foreign leaders are frequently notable occasions. Putin brought his labrador, Konni" -- that`s a dog -- "to his first meeting with Merkel, who has a lifelong fear of dogs."

(INAUDIBLE) get that, Mieke? I remember -- I mean, I remember the first President Bush making Gorbachev meet him on water because Gorbachev didn`t like going on the water.

SWAN: (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: And his worst water of the day, the crazy tides and flooding going on down there in the Mediterranean, and he says, Come meet me on my boat. Is Putin going to play "bring the dog," play the dog card here?

EOYANG: Well, that`s not Trump`s phobia. I mean, as he famously said...

SWAN: Germs. Germs.

EOYANG: ... it`s germs.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: He doesn`t have germs, but he can go to Warsaw first. I mean, part of what`s going on here, I think, is Trump going to Warsaw in part to -- to...

MATTHEWS: Oh, that`s to stick it a little?

FINEMAN: That`s to stick it a little.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, how does that square...

FINEMAN: That`s to stick it a little.

MATTHEWS: Mieke, how does that square with being pro-Russian, to go to Poland, the most well known anti-communist, anti-Russian country on the planet.

EOYANG: So Putin`s -- or Trump`s going to Poland first, but the Polish leader is actually less democratic than they used to be. And so it is a little bit of this tension there, where Poland is the linchpin, but Politically, they`re having some changes in the way that they view Russia.

MATTHEWS: What is -- what is Duda? That is this guy`s -- is he a new forum (ph) guy? Is one of the guys...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Was he one of the good guys during the change or not? Or is he one of the old guard?

EOYANG: I think he was one of the old guard.

FINEMAN: He`s a Polish nationalist but not as much of a democrat with a small D.

EOYANG: Right.

MATTHEWS: Urozowsk -- what was that guy`s name?

FINEMAN: Jaruzelski.

MATTHEWS: Yes, he could -- he could...

FINEMAN: I`ll take Polish leaders for 400.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: We remember this, Howard! Anyway, tomorrow, President Trump will meet with Poland`s president and deliver a speech. The Associated Press reports that according to Polish media reports, Poland`s government promised the White House a reception of cheering crowds as part of its invitation. To make good on that pledge, ruling party lawmakers and pro- government activists plan to bus in -- I love this! -- but in groups from the provinces to hear Trump`s -- you know, Trump, who worries about his hand size and his crowd size, must be saying, They got my number. Big crowds, busing them in.

EOYANG: Yes, I think that`s right. I mean, he loves flattery. It`s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... advertise it ahead of time. Doesn`t that take some of the joy out of it? Hey, Mr. President, we`re going to make you look good, but we`re going to let you know that we`re making you look good.

SWAN: I don`t think Trump would have enjoyed that AP report.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) the report?

SWAN: I don`t think he would have enjoyed...

MATTHEWS: No, I don`t think putting out the word there`s going to be a phony crowd size.

FINEMAN: Well, but He`ll take it as a compliment the government -- that the government made the effort to get the crowd there.

EOYANG: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: As Michael Kinsley once said, the best flattery is the phoniest flattery because that proves you had to do it.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Howard Fineman, Mieke Eoyang and Jonathan Swan.

Coming up -- it`s President Trump`s biggest test yet. North Korea`s first even ICBM (INAUDIBLE) about 3,500 miles. The test just succeeded, something Trump himself said would never happen on his watch. And the top American general in South Korea says the only thing keeping war from breaking out is self-restraint. Something this president is in short supply of. Also, I wonder about Mr. Kim.

Plus, is there a lesson for Trump in Chris Christie`s day at the beach? Chris Christie -- was he the early Trump? Well, Christie was Trump before Trump, some say, with no regard for political norms. And now he`s down at 15 percent in popularity on his way out the door. But for Christie, his political career is ending badly, of course. He`s got the lowest approval rating of any governor in the history of the world. Just kidding. These photos of him enjoying, by the way, a beach he closed to the public will just make them work. So he says, Nobody else can go to my bench, but I`m going.

And while Christie was at the beach on the 4th, President Trump continued his attack against the media via Twitter, of course. The HARDBALL roundtable`s going to take that up here later in the show.

Finally, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch." He won`t like this one.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: President Trump`s voter fraud commission, so-called, has gotten off to a rocky start. At least 44 states are refusing to full comply with the commissions`s request for voter data. The commission had sought a wide range of information, including voters` names, addresses, the last four digits of their Social Security number, as well as their voting history. Well, many of those 44 states have rejected the request altogether, with others only willing to turn over already public information.

And this weekend, President Trump responded on Twitter by saying, quote, "Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished voter fraud panel. What are they trying to hide?"

How about stuff you shouldn`t know?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: We`re going to do very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Of course, before leaving for the G- 20 meeting this morning, as you saw him there, President Trump told reporters that he would, quote, "do well" in dealing with the ever growing threat from North Korea, whatever "do well" means.

It comes as the nuclear-armed regime there led by Kim Jung-un marked the 4th of July. That`s how they marked it over there, with their first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. There it is being launched. While there`s no indication as of yet that they have the capability of delivering a nuclear warhead (INAUDIBLE) by ICBM, officials say that the range of the new missile likely extends over 3,500 miles.

Now, you can see it includes Alaska there, and that means Pyongyang now has the ability to strike parts of Alaska -- that`s part of the U.S. -- potentially putting the state`s largest city, Anchorage, within range. Look at this. This is pretty graphic and frightening. In other words, the missile they shot up in the air, if they shot it across longitudinally, it would have been reaching -- could have reached Alaska.

In his first public reaction to the missile test, President Trump chose to mock Kim Jung-un, saying on Twitter, "North Korea just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?" That was Trump`s reaction.

Well, this comes after Trump vowed in January that, quote, "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won`t happen." That was Trump`s word and dictum back in January.

Well, NBC News is reporting tonight that before Trump issued that tweet, President Obama specifically warned him that North Korea was working on an ICBM that could reach the U.S. mainland, one particularly or eventually armed with a nuclear weapon.

Well, joining me right now is Mark Jacobson, former acting assistant secretary for Asia at the Department of Defense, and Jay Newton-Small, a contributor at "Time" magazine. Thank you for telling us because a lot of Americans know there`s generally the scare. We don`t know much more.

If you can launch ICBM capable of going 3,500 miles right across the Pacific, I guess they can eventually get to 4,000 (INAUDIBLE) it 4,500. It doesn`t imagine (ph) how much more rocket thrust does that take? And for the throw weight and whatever, what do they have aboard this, how hard is it to put a nuclear weapon in a warhead?

MARK JACOBSON, FORMER ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR ASIA: Oh, it`s hard. I mean, this is the key thing. It`s hard enough to develop an ICBM...

MATTHEWS: Could we have done it back in `45 when we attacked Japan with a nuclear weapon?

JACOBSON: No. We...

MATTHEWS: We had to do it with a plane.

JACOBSON: We didn`t have the rocket technology.

MATTHEWS: So we just go -- flew over.

JACOBSON: Right. So again, that`s a limited range. North Koreans can deliver an air-delivered weapon by airplane. They can deliver...

MATTHEWS: So they can drop a nuclear weapon on Seoul right now.

JACOBSON: Not a problem for them.

MATTHEWS: It`s not hard to put it in a plane and drop it.

JACOBSON: You have air defense, but it`s not hard for them to do it.

MATTHEWS: So what does this tell us in terms of -- I`ve watched -- this, to me, although Trump is a problem on many fronts, I haven`t think (ph) -- I can`t think of an American president who`s been able to deal with this problem.

Clinton tried, traded into (ph) coal for nuclear power. W. called them "the axis of evil," like it was going to put a hex on them or something by giving them a bad name.

Obama`s probably one of the smarter presidents we`ve had, and he didn`t know how to deal with it. We`ve had four presidents in a row trying to deal with a nuclear-armed -- potentially nuclear-armed North Korea. And we`ve gone through, what, two or three generations of Korean -- North Korean leaders, and nobody`s solved the problem, including Trump -- Jay.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": And, well, the problem...

MATTHEWS: What are we going to do about this? It`s a we, this question. It is not just Trump. It`s us.

NEWTON-SMALL: No, the problem is getting much more complicated over time. And now...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think it`s getting simple. They`re going to have the weapon. There`s nothing we can do about it.

NEWTON-SMALL: But everything we have done up until to this point has obviously been ineffective.

But what is really striking about Trump is that he doesn`t seem to understand the difference between dealing with politicians in Washington and dealing with world leaders. And there`s an inside voice and an outside voice. And there`s a voice for diploma and then there`s a voice where you`re on the campaign trail and you`re bombastic.

MATTHEWS: What voice would work with Kim Jong-un, the guy the hair cut? I`m serious. The guy has got no critics around him. He has no sense of normal life. Nobody is going to tell him you`re a little weird today. You`re crazy to put a nuclear weapon out there, because this country will be incinerated if we ever use one.

People say today in the papers that the reasons the North Koreans want the bomb is rational. They believe they would never attack anybody, because that would be suicidal. But they have it as a weapon of response. We try to invade them and they have a nuclear weapon, they will use it.

JACOBSON: I think this is the hard piece here.

If Trump had spent the first couple months of his presidency engendering support of the global leaders, he could be walking into the G20 this week and working on a unified position that could help put more pressure on the Koreans.

But he hasn`t done that. And he`s wavering back and forth. We saw Nikki Haley tweet earlier today, if something is not done, the U.S. is going to do something alone. Of course we can`t do something alone. We need the South Koreans. We frankly need the Japanese as well.

MATTHEWS: Give me the potential for alone. What would be our options? A surgical strike in North Korea, is that feasible?

JACOBSON: It`s feasible. But let me just step back.

You have 1,000 different options; 999 lead of them to general war in the Korean Peninsula.

MATTHEWS: You mean they attack South Korea.

JACOBSON: Exactly.

Limited strike, what is the range of responses? Now, hopefully, our intelligence community has a good understanding of how the North Koreans are likely to respond in the event we need to strike. But, frankly, despite the inability to roll back the North Korean nuclear programs, I think the course has to be diplomacy.

Now, there may have to be sanctions. I think that you have to give the Trump administration credit for secondary sanctions. But I think we have to start looking at something beyond blaming China.

MATTHEWS: Let`s think if you`re Kim Jong-un, and you`re up against Trump. He knows all about Trump. He`s reading about him all the day. He knows he`s up a guy that can be as clownish as he is sometimes and as dramatic.

Suppose he says I can starve my people a couple more years, maybe a couple more decades, but at the end of that period of hell, I will have a nuclear weapon and nobody is going to mess with me?

If you`re Kim, wouldn`t that make sense to him in a demonic way? Isn`t that what he is thinking?

NEWTON-SMALL: Look, nobody knows what Kim Jong-un is thinking. He is the only leader who is even more unpredictable than Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why would he not want to be a nuclear power?

NEWTON-SMALL: But he already is a nuclear power. He just can`t deliver it on an ICBM, but he does have nuclear capability already.

MATTHEWS: So, what does that do him?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, he can take it on a plane and drop it over with a plane.

MATTHEWS: I think we might see them coming. I`m serious now.

Look at the guy. Everything is military. Everything is parades and big missiles. That`s his whole world and flags. It is not about feeding the people or good TVs or anything like that or good consumer products. Look at him. He just stands there. He wants to be treated like a god.

(CROSSTALK)

NEWTON-SMALL: He wants attention. He wants attention. He wants Dennis Rodman to come.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But they actually believe he is a deity almost.

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBSON: But this way, he can say, I have the ability to send a nuclear weapon across the ocean and hit the United States.

MATTHEWS: What is going to stop him? You say work together. What would a smart president do?

JACOBSON: Well, first, we have a little bit of time, because he hasn`t been able -- they haven`t been able to mat the nuclear warhead to the ICBM.

Secondly, I think we have to realize that there are limitations on what the Chinese can do. They can do a bit more. I think it is important for them to not be as friendly on the guest worker and economic programs.

But what Trump has to do is get pressure on the Chinese, not just from Washington. But he needs the South Koreans. Frankly, he needs the European Union, he needs the Japanese, so that Beijing is seeing, look, this is not just a problem from the United States and Washington, that the Europeans are concerned about this, and we need to start working on getting talks with the North Koreans, directly with the North Koreans, so we can find a path.

MATTHEWS: Why isn`t China concerned about this guy of limited rationality perhaps having a nuclear strike ability, first strike ability?

NEWTON-SMALL: They are concerned. I think China has made it very clear.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But they`re still trading with him.

NEWTON-SMALL: They are still trading with him. And that is the big problem, is that China doesn`t feel pressured the way that we should be pressuring them.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why aren`t they pressured by their own existence? Why don`t they say we don`t want a nuclear-powered, a nuclear-armed North Korea on our border?

NEWTON-SMALL: And that`s why I disagree a little bit with Mark here, is that China is the only major trading partner with North Korea.

They`re not worried about North Korea striking the hand that feeds them. They`re worried about North Korea striking outwards towards the United States and destabilizing the whole region.

MATTHEWS: I don`t whether this is crazy like a fox. We`re in a nitroglycerin world. But I`m worried about these two people.

JACOBSON: That`s what you used to have.

MATTHEWS: The president, our president`s ability to send a subtle message to a guy. Do you want to be -- you`re only 30-some-year olds. Do you want to live to be 37? Is that all your goal in life is? Because it is probably going to end that way if you ever think about using one of these.

JACOBSON: Right.

When you had crises in the `50s, `60s, `70s, even under Bush or Obama, you had the ability to know that there was a steady hand in Washington, D.C., and that was able to help resolve the tense situations. We don`t have that now. And that`s what keeps me up at night.

NEWTON-SMALL: And our response this afternoon, Nikki Haley`s speech before the United Nations, to say we`re just going to go it alone if we have to, that is not building the coalition you need.

MATTHEWS: I will never forget what they did to that young American man who went over there and the way they killed him, basically. And they didn`t have to do it. It wasn`t a major infraction, ripping down a war poster. It was not a major infraction. Maybe five lashes with a wet noodle, but this -- I`m serious.

JACOBSON: Wars have started for less.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know, but it wasn`t -- the way they treated that guy, horrendous treatment of a human being.

Thank you so much, Mark Jacobson and Jay Newton-Small.

Up next -- I shouldn`t have been laughing. It horrible, what they do to that guy.

Up next, two photos of Chris Christie sunning himself on a beach that he closed to the public, they only worsened the governor`s already tarnished, tarnished public image. He`s at 15 percent, going for single digits. The question here, are the lessons he`s learned himself going to be learned by Donald Trump? Is Trump going to go as far as Christie went? Will he cross that bridge, if you will, to becoming a joke?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

For most Americans, today is first the day back at work after enjoying a long Fourth of July weekend, at the beach in many cases.

Well, that wasn`t necessarily the case for a lot of New Jersey residents whose state parks and beaches were ordered -- imagine this on the Fourth of July -- ordered closed by himself, Governor Chris Christie, this Friday night after New Jersey went into a government shutdown.

Apparently, the governor didn`t think those rules applied to himself. Christie and his family were spotted -- look -- these are real pictures by "The Newark Star-Ledger" newspaper enjoying time on a state beach that he had ordered closed to the public.

So, he went out there on the beach with his family, rather regally, you might say, monarchically, and sat on the beach that nobody else was allowed to go on to. He was excoriated by the press, as he should have been.

But the governor remained, as you guessed it, unapologetic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: That`s just the way it goes. Run for governor. Then you can have the residence.

I think I have proven over the last eight years that I don`t really care about political optics. I care about right and wrong. I don`t apologize for it. I don`t back away from it. And I think my poll numbers show that I don`t care about political optics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: They sure do.

(LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: New Jersey residents told a reporter that they found the governor`s behavior disturbing, arrogant and even a disgrace.

And this happened after a recent Quinnipiac University poll already showed that Governor Christie has the worst approval rating of any governor in any state in more than 20 years. That`s an optic.

The images were so bad that Christie`s lieutenant governor, who is looking to replace him, distanced herself from her boss. Let`s watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. KIM GUADAGNO (R), NEW JERSEY: I can tell you what I would do if I was the governor. I certainly wouldn`t be on the beach at a park that was closed. As I have said before, it is beyond words. It`s insensitive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, for more, I`m joined by Robert Costa, national poll reporter for "The Washington Post," and "Mother Jones" Washington bureau chief David Corn. Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Robert Costa, you have got your game face on, as always. Let me ask you about Christie. Is he the leading indicator of Donald Trump? Is his over- the-top behavior, starting with his wise-ass response to a caller one day, which I sort of liked -- I liked the faux bullying. But then it became the real bullying and the not giving a damn about even putting a tunnel to New York, which everybody knows was needed, to this sort of, I`m going to the beach, you can`t.

What is he up to?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chairman, told me that he was Trump before Trump in terms of the New Jersey governor.

I think if you look at the Republican Party, Chris, you think back to the Obama era, 2010, 2011. The base was looking for a combative politician, someone who wasn`t a typical Republican. They liked Christie back then. He was clashing with the teachers union.

And Trump, in a way, the president, is also a consequence of that same impulse in the GOP base.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Do you remember when Corzine ran against him, and he beat Corzine? And Corzine ran this terrible ad. You knew he was in trouble when he ran it, of him with the big white shirt looking very overweight coming out of the car.

He said that`s a cheap shot, fat-shaming this guy. And after that, I began to think, you know what? I think he`s going to beat Corzine. And he did.

And then he came off like Ed Koch, this tough guy. Don`t ask me about it. None of your business. And I sort of liked that too. But a certain point was reached where I said, you know what? He is really a bully.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It played well for the first year or two.

Then like when he ran last time around, he was talking about kicking Hillary Clinton`s you know what and almost locking her up as well. And you`re right. He played a bully, and then he became a bully.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: It worked until 2013.

MATTHEWS: When he walked on the beach in 2012 with President Obama, hands together almost, buddy-buddy system at the beach. We`re talking out for the...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: That was the other side of being a bully.

MATTHEWS: That showed very smart optics.

COSTA: He got 60 percent in his reelection race in 2013.

But it all came down to the bridge, Chris. A few weeks after he wins reelection with 60 percent of the vote, the bridge closing scandal happens.

MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Christie`s in-your-face confrontational approach is nothing new. It`s been his staple as governor for 20 years.

Let`s watch him in action. Here`s Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and a hat, so I wasn`t -- but I actually was the guy working the cones out there.

You really are not serious with that question.

Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You`re done. It`s 4:30. You have maximized your tan. Get off the beach.

Let me tell you something. After you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like in a courtroom, your rear end is going to get thrown in jail, idiot.

Sit down and shut up.

Hey, Gayle, you know what? First off, it`s none of your business. I don`t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don`t bother me about where I send mine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, "The New York Times" columnist Frank Bruni had a warning for Governor Christie and President Trump.

He wrote -- quote -- great column here -- "Make no mistake. For all their flamboyant pugnaciousness, the Christies and the Trumps of the political world are chasing adulation every bit as much as their peers are, maybe more so. They`re just taking a deliberately muddier approach. And if they don`t get there, they`re more likely to wear their failure as a badge of honor and to dig in with destructive arrogance."

That`s what I think is going on here. What Christie did was say, I don`t need your liking. I can tell a woman who asks me about my kids going to private school and tell her to screw off, and that makes -- and it did work.

CORN: Well, he came to believe his own press.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: Everyone fell in love with him in the beginning. He said, God, I can keep doing this. I can keep doing it. It doesn`t matter. I can be a jerk.

And Donald Trump, when he ran for president, the people around him told me that part of the game plan was sort of Trump to be -- the word I can`t say on TV, but was to be a jerk, because they thought that was part of the appeal.

The big difference was, he was playing to be the head of the Republican Tea Party tribe. Christie had to survive in a Democratic state. This played well nationally, but not in New Jersey.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Robert.

COSTA: The specifics of this incident really matter, because he`s been a pugnacious person for perhaps his entire life.

It`s when he was part of this government shutdown. He blames the Democrats in the state, of course. But, as governor, you have the burden of having the shutdown on your watch. And he goes on Island Beach State Park, a beach that is closed to the public because of the shutdown, and acts like it is a private beach.

The specifics here I think really turned off a lot of people in New Jersey. He is already at 15 percent approval. Who knows where it goes?

MATTHEWS: Is he trying to make lemonade out of a lemon? Is he trying to say, all right, if they hate me, I`m going to glory in the fact they hate me?

Is that is what he is up to here, because he`s certainly pushing at..

CORN: He`s relishing it.

MATTHEWS: Robert, you know these guys.

COSTA: I watched the press conference with the governor on Monday night. And he was saying things, Chris, on the record that were interesting.

He said it would be a news story only -- these were his words -- it would be a news story only if there was a 25-year-old blonde sitting next to me on the beach. The rest of this is nonsense. He said he wasn`t really there getting sun, even though the pictures clearly show he was relaxing on the beach, at least for a few minutes.

The specifics matter here, because I think it is not just typical Christie pugnaciousness. It was a different level.

MATTHEWS: So interesting, guys, how close some of these people in politics come to succeeding and how fragile it was.

If he had been on the ticket a couple times ago, I thought he would have done well in Pennsylvania, a lot of parts of the country, in his early going. If he hadn`t run for reelection, if had gone out there when he was hot, in the beginning, might have changed things in history.

COSTA: Almost landed on Romney`s ticket. Almost landed on Trump`s ticket.

CORN: And Republican donors were begging, begging him to run in the last two elections. And he got caught in a really...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He did get elected in a blue state. He did well for a while, but I think he pushed it too hard and I think he became obnoxious.

COSTA: Politics is timing. In 2011 -- you think back to that moment in 2011, when they were all begging him to run.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Not going to happen again.

MATTHEWS: Well, in the end, the one thing great about democracy is you need the people. You can`t pee on them.

Thank you, Robert Costa and David Corn.

CORN: Not at the beach. You can`t do that at the beach.

MATTHEWS: You`re pushing my metaphor.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next, ahead of one of the most important overseas trips of his presidency, Donald Trump spent the weekend on Twitter attacking the media. What else? The Roundtable is here to weigh in on that.

Why does he do this stuff?

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake media is trying to silence us but we will not let them because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I`m president and they`re not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump on Saturday night in an event to honor veterans here in Washington. The president also spent a good part of this weekend attacking the media on Twitter. Even before tweeting a video of himself, appearing to punch a figure whose head was replaced by the CNN logo.

The president tweeted: The fake and fraudulent news media is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media. But remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat fake news and did. We will continue to win.

That was Trump.

He added: My use of social media is not presidential. It`s modern day presidential. Make America great again.

And the dishonest media will never keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of our great American people. America first.

Well, let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Shannon Pettypiece is White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News", Geoff Bennett is a reporter for NPR, and Molly Ball is politics writer for "The Atlantic".

Let me ask -- you`re laughing, Molly, because how can we not laugh? This is too weird. The president of the United States --

MOLLY BALL, POLITICS WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I was laughing at you mangling my title. But, this, too.

MATTHEWS: What is powlitics?

BALL: It`s politics.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you: what do you make of Trump`s use of the weekend? I mean, other people -- people get butterflies as we say in sports in the locker room. He`s got a very important week face him. The North Koreans have done what he said he would never let them do, and now, he is about to meet Putin in a kind of high noon situation. I`d have a little butterflies. But instead of dealing with homework --

BALL: Right. I think --

MATTHEWS: -- he is going after us.

BALL: That is the point. It`s not about whether or not he`s nervous but why is this the (AUDIO GAP) you know, his defenders say, well, people can do more than one thing at once, can walk and chew gum. But we don`t hear from my reporting and others, that he is issuing these tweets in his downtime between reading briefing books. This seems to be the thing that he is monomaniacally focused on, obsessed with on a personal level. Not even on the level of a strategy of trying to rally his base.

MATTHEWS: Geoff?

GEOFF BENNETT, REPORTER, NPR: I see those tweets and I see a president who is in self-preservation mode. This is something, if you go to Trump country and parts of, you know, Florida, Ohio, western North Carolina, his core of supporters say the very same thing, that he`s an outsider and that the establishment of which the fake news, so-called fake news is a part, has it out for this president.

And so, when he says these things, I think it`s part of a strategy. Not particularly effective one, but I think it`s his way of trying to build that core of support and trying to neutralize coverage of him that isn`t in any way critical.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes, I think it is a strategy. I mean, of course, some of it is impulsive. You know, he sees something he doesn`t like on TV in the morning and he can`t stop himself from tweeting about it.

But part of it is a strategy to -- if not delegitimize the news media whenever it criticizes him, but to plant a shadow of a doubt, a seed of doubt in people`s minds that, to say it so many times, repeat it so many times, that when you hear something on CNN or you read something in the "New York Times," you think a little bit to yourself, well, maybe it`s not true.

MATTHEWS: But let`s talk about the way the average person in this country gets their news. They get it by picking -- listening to the radio in their car. They may pick up local news. Like WTOP here. It`s enormously influential, as a regular AM, or maybe -- I think it is AM. They get a local newspaper, "The Rocky Mountain News" --

BALL: Local TV.

MATTHEWS: Their local news.

BALL: Well, "The Rocky Mountain News" ceased to exist a few years ago. That`s my home town.

MATTHEWS: But I`m talking about generically. I`m talking about their local ABC, NBC, CBS local affiliate for the news, the weather, whatever is going on in crime. If it bleeds, it leads. That`s what they consider the news.

They may have a newspaper that has more than wire service copy, but most papers don`t. That`s all they got as source. So, who are they angry with? If they don`t like CNN, they don`t watch it. If they don`t like MS, they don`t watch it.

So, they`re basically living off of local TV news, whenever the local newspaper in Paris in terms of national news. And the radio they turn on. You know, I don`t see the end me in front of them. Why are they mad at the media when they do like their local anchors, they do like their local paper, they listen to local radio stations that they like? Where is this enemy that Trump is battling? This dragon he is fighting every night?

BALL: I think that`s exactly the point, is that in the same way that people --

MATTHEWS: They don`t read the "New York Times."

BALL: People hate Congress but they like their local representative. It`s the same phenomenon.

MATTHEWS: So, what`s this bogeyman in the sense --

BALL: Fake news is always that imaginary thing out there.

MATTHEWS: Is the media out there, who`s the media out there --

BENNETT: It`s the so-called elite media. "The New York Times", "The Washington Post", "The Atlantic" --

MATTHEWS: Which they don`t read.

BENNETT: Which -- well, yes, I guess you could make that point.

MATTHEWS: Have they ever read? Have they ever read?

BALL: I mean, I don`t know who the they you`re talking about. Plenty of real Americans read "The Atlantic". I know that in some my emails.

MATTHEWS: I`m talking about all these --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s start with this Molly. The meeting coming up this week is serous business. Is he distracting himself? Is he caught up with something -- a fight with Mika and Joe or something this week instead of what he should be doing?

BALL: Well, there`s obviously a lot on this president`s plate, and we know, again, just on the factual basis, there is a lot he hasn`t done. There are a lot of unfilled appointments in the executive branch. There`s a lot of issue to be resolved when it comes to health care that Republicans in Congress haven`t -- don`t feel they have a clearer picture of what exactly the president wants to get out of this bill. He`s headed to the G20 summit, which he did tweet about, but he tweeted a lot more about the media.

So, there is the question, is he distracted?

PETTYPIECE: And going into this meeting, what does the rest of the developed world think when the president of the United States they`re about to meet with spent the weekend tweeting a goofy video of someone fighting CNN or getting into a spat with a TV morning talk show host? What does Angela Merkel, what does Macron, what does Vladimir Putin think when this is the behavior you see back home?

MATTHEWS: We`ll be back. The roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: And we`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

And Shannon is going to tell us all something we don`t know.

PETTYPIECE: There`s a lot of people are going around talking about fake news right now.

MATTHEWS: We were just talking.

PETTYPIECE: You know, Trump surrogates, Trump supporters. Well, some of those very people out there on Twitter are talking about fake news are the same people who are trying to spread fake news to reporters, to leak stories that are wrong and inaccurate.

MATTHEWS: And a lot of people they`re trying to sell you something from Sputnik or RT or one of those --

PETTYPIECE: No. But people out there right now complaining about the fake news media who are actually trying to feed reporters stories that they know are fake. Insider information that they say they have that gets disproven. So, the fake news is coming from somewhere in some cases.

MATTHEWS: Geoff?

BENNETT: On the health care front, Senate Republicans are back in their home states this week are hearing a lot from their constituents, mainly their key constituents, which are governors, a number of Republican governors who have a lot of issues with the Senate healthcare plan. Mainly because of the cuts to Medicaid. So, places like Ohio, Arkansas and particularly Nevada where Brian Sandoval is one of the main reasons why Dean Heller --

MATTHEWS: He`s worried about that running --

BENNETT: Yes, exactly.

MATTHEWS: How about Susan Collins? She apparently only heard from people who said, you know, good, keep up the fight.

BENNETT: Exactly, yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s interesting.

Molly?

BALL: Speaking of the Senate, you may have heard that Democratic candidates have been coming out of wood works lately. Republicans having the opposite problem, congresswoman from Missouri, Ann Wagner, who Republicans hope would take on Claire McCaskill next year, announced over the holiday that she won`t do it. She just loves being a member of Congress so much. A couple of other high profile Republican have also passed on high profile races against vulnerable Democrats, which tells you they may be thinking there is something in that water.

MATTHEWS: On the other side of the spectrum, I cannot believe, make a list of how many people, men and women, are running for the presidency next time in 2020, Democrats?

PETTYPIECE: And Republicans?

MATTHEWS: No, Democrats. It was 18 we came up with. This is going to be a full deck of --

BALL: Still smaller than the Republican field in 2016. Full employment for reporters.

MATTHEWS: I cannot believe the number of people who want to run. Adam Schiff is on the list. I heard --

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: I believe that.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Shannon Pettypiece, Geoff Bennett, and Molly Ball.

Coming up, the photo that some says solved the 80-year-old mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart. I am fascinated with this. Take a look at that, the next break.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Eighty years ago, Amelia Earhart vanished. And now, a never before seen photograph suggests that Earhart and her navigator survived the crash landing in the Pacific, only to picked up by the Japanese military.

NBC`s Tom Costello has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-five years ago, the world`s most famous aviatress was missing over the Pacific.

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The question tonight: does this photograph found by History Channel investigators in the National Archives prove Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan ended up in Japanese custody?

SHAWN HENRY, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: We discovered that Amelia Earhart survived her final flight and landed safely in the Marshall Islands.

COSTELLO (on camera): You`re confident?

HENRY: We are very confident.

COSTELLO (voice-over): The photograph was marked Marshall Islands, Jaluit Atoll in 1937 under Japanese military control. On the left, a man standing next to a sign, and there sitting on the dock what appears to be a woman with short hair wearing pants like Earhart.

Facial recognition expert Kent Gibson overlaid the photo of the man with file photos of navigator Noonan.

KENT GIBSON, FACIAL RECOGNITION: The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic. It`s a very sharp, receding hairline. The nose is very prominent.

COSTELLO: Gibson then compared body measurements of the seated woman with previous photos of Earhart, in both cases striking similarities.

GIBSON: I usually go from not likely to very likely to extremely likely. And I`d say this is very likely.

COSTELLO: And something else. The woman on the dock is staring at the Japanese ship Koshu, which is towing a barge with something measuring 38 feet long, the same length as Earhart`s plane.

For decades, locals have said the plane crashed in the Marshalls, and the Japanese ship Koshu took it away. Also in the National Archives, this catalogue of government files on Earhart referencing 170 pages, including information that Earhart was a prisoner in the Marshall Islands. But that document is missing.

(on camera): NBC News reached out to the Japanese foreign ministry, defense ministry and their national archives, all of which said they have no evidence of Amelia Earhart ever in their custody.

HENRY: We believe that the United States government knew Amelia Earhart was in the Marshalls and was in Japanese custody.

COSTELLO (voice-over): While not everyone is convinced, History investigators say they`ll reveal more in their Sunday documentary, including evidence that Earhart and Noonan died in a Japanese prison camp in Saipan.

Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with tonight Trump Watch. You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Wednesday, July 5th, 2017.

I just got back from Wyoming, the Cowboys State, where the spirit of the old West lives and the beauty of the land and the legends of the old frontier. And no greater drama of that period is the notion of the reckoning at high noon between two men carrying the highest stakes of all.

In two days, Donald Trump meets Vladimir Putin in a head to head that will display all the grit and wit and power of the moment either man can bring to this historic showdown. One man could come out looking good. The odds on both men standing stall afterwards however is highly unlikely.

As sure as the turning of the Earth, there`s going to be a winner and the worst word Trump ever heard, a loser.

Russia insulted this country last year. It threw mud in our face and laughed about it. What`s Donald Trump is going to do about it? Is he going to try and charm the old KGB-er, try to warm his heart with good talk, a kind smile, a couple hours of nice company? Is he going to show how tough he is to this man who has killed rivals? I doubt it.

What might work is a simple basic statement of what most Americans want our president to say, that we will put up a lot of crap from countries that leave us alone, but will not forgive or forget one that screws with our democracy, with the very form of government Americans have died to protect. Mr. Trump needs to say this whether he wants to or not. His silence on this job will be viewed as weakness over there, unpatriotic, as it should be seen, here at home.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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