Hardball with Chris Mathews, Transcript 7/6/17 McConnell downplays passing Health Care Bill.

Guests: Katty Kay, David Nakamura, Jon Finer, Sam Stein, John Feehery

Show: HARDBALL Date: July 6, 2017 Guest: Katty Kay, David Nakamura, Jon Finer, Sam Stein, John Feehery

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Vlad the impaler.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

The big story tonight, high-stakes diplomacy, of course. Amid investigations in Washington and crises around the world, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will go face to face for the first time tomorrow morning. President Trump touched down in Germany today after delivering a speech in Poland, where he questioned whether Western civilization, quote, "has the will to survive against forces that want to destroy it."

Well, the big question for tomorrow -- will the U.S. president press the Russian leader on his country`s interference in our election last year? If President Trump`s performance at a press conference in Poland this morning is any indication, the answer is -- not likely. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. And I the won`t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere. I think it`s been happening for a long time. It`s been happening for many years.

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You again say you think it was Russia. Your intelligence agencies have been far more definitive. They say it was Russia. Why won`t you agree with them and say it was?

TRUMP: Well, I`ll tell you -- let me just start off by saying I heard it was 17 agencies. I said, Boy, that`s a lot. Do we even have that many intelligence agencies, right?. Let`s check it. And we did some very heavy research. It turned out to be three or four. It wasn`t 17. And many of your compatriots had to change their reporting, and they had to apologize and they had to correct.

Now, with that being said, mistakes have been made. I agree. I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong that statement. Nobody really knows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think it was Russia but I think it was someone else than Russia. That makes no sense. Anyway, did you catch that? The president again refused to stand behind his own intelligence community`s findings, instead saying nobody really knows.

Well, speaking of President Trump`s bilateral meeting with Putin, NBC confirmed that there will only be six people, a half dozen, in the room, the two leaders themselves, the two foreign ministers, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, along with two translators, just six people in the room.

For more, I`m joined by NBC`s Hallie Jackson, who just asked that question over in Hamburg, BBC World News America anchor Katty Kay, MSNBC national security analyst Malcolm Nance and former chair of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele. We got a great group. Let`s go across the room here.

Hallie, I think you got a great question to him. You got to ask it. What did you make of his answer? It was the Russians, but it wasn`t the Russians. They were contradictory -- the very sentence was contradictory in itself.

JACKSON: There are a couple of other pieces, too, that I think were notable in that response, Chris, that we`ve been sort of looking at and following the fallout from throughout the day. And that is number one. Something that he did that was a little bit unusual for a sitting president on foreign soil, and that was to go after President Obama for, in the words of President Trump, "doing nothing" to stop Putin over the summer when the Obama administration learned about the sort of intensity of the Russian interference.

Now, some Democrats even will argue that President Obama hadn`t done enough to try to stop Putin, but to say he did nothing would not be accurate when you look at, for example, the sanctions that the Obama administration put on Putin and when you look at, for example, President Obama describing how he personally confronted Vladimir Putin.

The other piece of that -- and you touched on this a little bit -- was the idea that President Trump was kind of casting shade on his own intelligence community here, bringing up WMD, talking about how nobody really knows for sure. He said the phrase at one point in response, "mistakes were made." Mistakes have been made.

And that`s a significant point because there as you know, has been bad blood between the intelligence community and President Trump, particularly early on in the administration. And this is a very important time for the president to have a good relationship with those intel officers heading into, obviously, heightened tensions with North Korea.

MATTHEWS: Well, Katty -- let`s go to Katty Kay. I`ll keep moving around here. Katty, it seems to me that the president made contradictory statement after contradictory statement. First of all, he said it was the Russians, then he said it wasn`t the Russians, it was someone else. And then he said it was President Obama`s mistake not dealing with the Russian problem. He dumped (ph) three different ways in three different -- part of it`s the same statement, three different thought.

What`s the world community make of this president of ours when he speaks with a split tongue, three-way tongue, three-way arguments, three different facts all in contradiction? What is he -- how does anybody even record that as a stenographer, what this guy`s saying?

(CROSSTALK)

KATTY KAY, BBC WORLD NEWS AMERICA: The one consistency in that press conference was that he backed away from clearly and outright saying it was definitely Russia. They should never do it again. I will make sure that President Putin understands that Russia just never, ever meddle in America`s elections again. We didn`t hear that from the president in that press conference.

MATTHEWS: No.

KAY: But we did hear in the speech -- and this is another thing that was contradictory and what`s confusing, I think, to America`s allies right now is that he then gave this speech in which he was actually pretty pro- European, pro-NATO, actually was pretty tough and said Russia should stop meddling in the Ukraine and elsewhere.

MATTHEWS: But who wrote that speech...

(CROSSTALK)

KAY: Which one is it?

MATTHEWS: But Katty, he read that as if he was a POW. I`m sorry. That statement -- I read it. It was our responsibility, responsible nation, destabilizing, our fight against common enemies, hostile regimes. That`s written by a member of the United Nations, not by Trump. It didn`t sound like him.

KAY: Yes, but come on, Chris. He still read it, right?

MATTHEWS: He did read it.

KAY: He still said on European soil that he was committed to Article 5 of NATO.

MATTHEWS: Right.

KAY: So Europe`s allies -- America`s allies are thinking, which is the one that`s going to turn up in that half-hour meeting with President Putin, the one that`s going to say that again, or is it going to be the one...

MATTHEWS: OK...

KAY: ... that prevaricates (ph), in fact, away from blaming Russia?

MATTHEWS: Well, as Hallie pointed out at the press conference in Poland today, President Trump took a dig at the United States intelligence community itself, repeating a line he`s used in the past about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I remember when I was sitting back, listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? That led to one big mess. They were wrong, and it led to a mess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get this straight because I try to get a couple things straight, a few of them, on this show regularly. And one is that Mike Morell, who briefed President W. Bush, told us the White House wasn`t being honest, that they didn`t talk about nuclear weapons. They were never briefed that there were nuclear weapons in Iraq, period.

I want to go to Malcolm on this. You react to this, Malcolm. This is something people need to hear a million times. The CIA never told the president of the United States, who was then George W. Bush, that they had nuclear weapons in Iraq. There was no reason for that war. Here it goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) in fact reconstituted nuclear weapons. Was that true or not?

MICHAEL MORELL, FORMER ACTING CIA DIRECTOR: So we were saying...

MATTHEWS: Was that true?

MORELL: We were saying...

MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question?

MORELL: No, that...

MATTHEWS: Was that true?

MORELL: That`s not true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK. That`s not true. Malcolm, you made a good point. I saw this in the earlier interview today. And it looks to me a couple things. First of all, why does Trump keep coming out with this nonsense that the CIA said they had nuclear weapons, or WMD, the way they framed it, when -- I guess they`ve gotten away with it. That`s why they keep doing it. That way, he can trash the intelligence agencies. Your thoughts.

MALCOLM, NANCE, MSNBC INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, it`s just a myth. And anybody who knows anything about the true history knows it`s a myth. But if he wants to sit there and use these memes, which, you know, play very well to his base and play very well certainly to the former director of the KGB, who he`s going to be meeting tomorrow, he`s just cut away his entire base of support for anything that he says to Moscow tomorrow.

Listen, the intelligence professionals at the CIA, NSA, the other agencies -- they will go on. They walk past the statue of Nathan Hale in the morning, and they go and commit their lives to keeping this nation safe. But Donald Trump has just undermined the strategic standing of the United States by essentially saying his own intelligence agencies are unreliable. Putin will love that.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about what Putin will love. Michael, you and I are friends and we know how politics works. Forget everything else except this president of the United States, our president, is walking into a room tomorrow morning in Hamburg, Germany, with a guy looking across at him like you`re looking at me, who knows everything, who knows every meeting that his people, whether it was Mike Flynn or it was Jared Kushner or anybody else who met with a Russian in the last year -- he knows it all.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He knows it all.

MATTHEWS: If he had a little excitement in some hotel room in Moscow X many years ago, according to that dossier, he`s got those pictures. He`s looked at them a million times. He knows every damn thing about Donald Trump, and Trump`s got to walk into the room and confront him. Now, that...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: ... who has the advantage in that conversation?

MATTHEWS: ... is cleaner than we think he is, safer than we think he is. But we know one thing. Vlad knows it all.

STEELE: Vlad knows it all, and Vlad will use that very carefully in the conversation. I think for the president, he goes into that at a decided disadvantage largely because he`s given Vlad -- (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Well, call him Putin.

STEELE: He`s given Putin the...

MATTHEWS: I don`t know the guy, either, but I know what he`s like!

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: He`s given Putin -- he`s given Putin the cards he needs to play. I mean, even today in the press conference, throwing our intelligence under the bus, but then more importantly, Chris, not acknowledging what everybody knows to be (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk to Hallie about the body language of our president. Does he seem confident of what he has to face tomorrow with a guy who obviously has all -- talk about intel, this guy lives in the world of intel. He`s a KGB operative who has spent his life knowing everything that he can use against any possible rival, including us.

JACKSON: I will say this, Chris, that the administration -- the advisers to the president have really downplayed expectations for what they would want to see tomorrow. That is obviously intentional. We obviously, you know, see the expectations hitting (ph) all the time. And so I had one person say to me early in the week, Hey, listen, you know, the two of them talking about the current status of the relationship -- that is kind of a metric for success, acknowledging where the status of the relationship is, agreeing to more talks in the future.

We know that there`s actually more going on under the lid, if you will. We know that, for example, the president is likely going to press Putin or talk with Putin about the threat from North Korea, given that it is such an urgent situation right now, likely to talk about Syria. We know that from Secretary of State Tillerson was saying, as well.

As for the body language, I`m actually really curious to see tomorrow that group photo at the G-20. Remember the G-7, the first international trip the president went on that we were at last month or a month-and-a-half ago? There were some very awkward and uncomfortable moments there optically. And I`m talking just from an optics perspective, since you asked about the body language.

I`m curious to see, now that the president has had these first meetings with a lot of these leaders -- with Macron, for example, he`s already met with Angela Merkel a couple of times now -- how that`s going to play out in this big group setting when we see these leaders together for the first time tomorrow. And that, by the way, is going to be before the one-on-one Putin meeting, so another busy day in Hamburg, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Katty, you study this and think about it as much as anybody. I`m just thinking that here`s a -- almost gunfight at the OK corral, if you will, a high noon moment between these two guys. But again, it`s an asymmetric power play. Putin is an expert at intel. Trump is an expert at denying facts just to his people because his supporters don`t seem to care about facts. They don`t seem to care because he said it was the Russians, it wasn`t the Russians, and by the way, it was Barack Obama who wouldn`t do anything about the Russians, in one sentence three different thoughts, again contradictory.

So what -- what do you expect? You`re an expert at this thing. You cover the world. What is the -- what do you see in these -- I think if I were Trump, I`d see catastrophe. This guy knows all my deeds, all my sins, everything.

KAY: I mean, I don`t think that Vladimir Putin is famous for his adherence to facts, though, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Right.

KAY: I mean, you know, he`s quite happy to manipulate facts and figures himself, too.

I think, you know, the problem for America on this is that this is all a win for Vladimir Putin. He is the one who has sown chaos in the West. He`s the one that`s sowing chaos right now in Europe. He`s the one that is sowing chaos in the American democratic systems. He`s the on that is -- you know, Americans are pitted against each other in this big debate over how Russia interfered in the U.S. election and what to do about that.

This is all great news for Vladimir Putin. There`s really not very much down side for him in this meeting. There`s not much he wants from the United States. He just wants to carry on causing a sense that the West is crumbling and that he is having some influence on that.

MATTHEWS: OK...

KAY: This is a great meeting for him.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take it to Malcolm. Malcolm, if you grew up like I did watching the big strong guy on the beach kicking sand in the face of the skinny guy, the humiliation, physically, humiliation of the little guy, it seems like Putin`s going to be able to do that to Trump because he knows, in the battle of knowledge, your world, intelligence, he`s got the guy caught and he can play with him! Your thoughts -- tomorrow. How do you see -- how do you see Vladimir playing him tomorrow?

NANCE: Well, you were absolutely right in your analysis just a little bit earlier. Knowledge is power when it comes to world leaders. You have one person who lives in the world of intelligence. He is a master of intelligence. He may have been a mid-level officer very early on in East Germany, but he`s spent his entire career as president of Russia mastering Russian intelligence and bringing out, essentially, that old saying, Once KGB, always KGB. He uses every aspect of Russian power.

This president, as you said, is in total denial. He uses Breitbart. He does not use the CIA. We are now -- Putin is a judo master, and he doesn`t have to do much to get the United States to flip on itself.

And I think tomorrow, you will see a level of obsequiousness from Trump because Trump -- he seems to bend to power, and I think every gesture is going to be analyzed and we`ll have to determine whether Putin really comes out as the second largest superpower in the world tomorrow.

MATTHEWS: I can see Putin showing up, metaphorically, without his shirt on, you know? I am a muscle beach (ph). I mean, that`s the way...

STEELE: (INAUDIBLE) white horse.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He rides around horses without his shirt on. I mean, the guy has got an ego bigger than Trump`s! I mean...

STEELE: But I want to give -- I want to give a little bit of a play to the president, too.

MATTHEWS: OK, go for it.

STEELE: The president does still have some advantages that he can press, particularly on North Korea, particularly on staying away from the elections, on how the U.S. and Russia move together going forward. If the president wants to save face, to Malcolm`s point, he can come out with stronger statements about needing Russia, as he said about China, with respect to North Korea having Russia play a role in helping to push back against some of the baddies (ph) in the world.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, thank you so much.

Last word, I have to go to Hallie real quickly. What about the crowds over there? What do you make of -- is this the usual...

JACKSON: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: ... anti G-20 sort of crowd, or is there some particular message they have this year?

JACKSON: You know, it`s the sort of anti-capitalist group. The protests, obviously, are intense. You`ve seen some of the video I think of our colleague, Kier Simmons, who was out in the middle of that earlier today, thousands of people coming. We know that more than a dozen officers have been injured in some of these confrontations with the protesters.

It is significant, right? We`re at our sort of home base here in Hamburg. The security is really intense. As you drive through the city, it is very noticeable. But again, I don`t know that you could call it, for example, an anti-Trump protest. That`s not what it`s about. It`s sort of more broadly. You talk to these protesters, and they say, We don`t believe it`s right for so much of the world`s wealth to be concentrated in so few -- relatively so few countries. That seems to be more the mood (INAUDIBLE) folks here.

MATTHEWS: I think they have a perfect right, and I think I like their message, as well, and I hope we can have more of that coming out than this fight between these two big shots.

Anyway, Hallie Jackson, Katty Kay, Malcolm Nance, as ever, and Michael Steele.

Coming up, the other big story tonight, Donald Trump`s meeting with Russian president Putin tomorrow, but Putin is known to play head games on world leaders he meets with. What`s he got up his sleeve for Trump tomorrow? Is he going to bring his dog? Is he going to be three hours late? What little trick is he going to pull? We`re going to talk about Trump`s pet tricks coming up in a moment here.

Plus, Obama envy. Today, Trump blamed his predecessor on foreign soil over Syria and Russia`s election meddling. It`s part of a larger pattern for Trump. He`s always blaming Obama since he took office because he`s so damn jealous of the guy. The world looks up to Obama. They do not look up to Trump.

The HARDBALL roundtable on Trump`s difficult relationship with America`s allies. He had a strained meeting today with Germany`s Angela Merkel. Look at this weird handshake. And he remains extremely unpopular, as I said, around the world except, of course, in Russia and maybe in Israel, though that`s pretty 50/50.

Finally, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch" again, not one of his favorites coming up tonight.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: In addition to saying that nobody really knows who meddled in our election, President Trump also weighed in today on the threat posed by North Korea. Here`s what he said about a possible response to North Korea`s intercontinental ballistic missile test the other day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As far as North Korea is concerned, I don`t know. We`ll see what happens. I don`t like to talk about what I have planned, but I have some pretty severe things that we`re thinking about. That doesn`t mean we`re going to do them. I don`t draw red lines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, trump did not say what "severe things" he`s considering or whether possible military action is even on the table. It`s a tricky damn situation.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In advance of President Trump`s much-anticipated first meeting with Vladimir Putin tomorrow, "The Washington Post" today reported on what`s it like to negotiate with the Russian strongman, detailing some of the subtle tactics that Putin has used on world leaders to intimidate, undermine or otherwise throw them off their games.

For instance, Putin brought this black a Lab, Labrador, to a 2007 meeting with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel because she`s afraid of dogs apparently. I don`t know if he showed it or not. And in an affront to former President Obama, Putin showed up 40 minutes late to a bilateral meeting in 2012. A year later, he made former Secretary of State John Kerry wait for three hours in Moscow and later mocked him for carrying his own bags from the plane, saying, he probably has money in there to bribe somebody.

This is all Putin`s number. He`s a gross guy.

Anyway, according to "The Post", Putin has also indicated that he uses phone tabs to get an edge on negotiating table. In 2011 meeting in Moscow, for example, the then Vice President Joe Biden said that he knew exactly what Biden had told the leader of Georgia on an earlier phone call, so he brags about tapping phones.

After the incident the American delegation took Putin at his word that Russian intelligence agents were listing on their calls.

Well, joining me now is the author of that story, David Nakamura, of the great "Washington Post", at Jon Finer, former chief of staff to the former Secretary of State John Kerry. We have two experts here.

Just lay it on us, if you`re with Bush -- I`m sure I keep getting my presence out-of-date -- if you`re with President Trump and you`re advising him sotto voce in the back room and say, here`s what you got to be ready for, this guy`s got a lot of moves, they`re pretty nasty. What would you tell him?

DAVID NAKAMURA, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s all about preparation. I mean, this is a former KGB officer we`re talking about in Vladimir Putin. He is super well-prepared. He`s been through three presidents before and it`s been on a number of these meetings and number of phone calls.

Donald Trump has spoken with Putin on the phone. This is the first meeting though, and we don`t know that Donald spent this much time --

MATTHEWS: How will he try to screw with Trump`s head?

NAKAMURA: Well, I think all these tactics we talked about --

MATTHEWS: Being late - just late --

NAKAMURA: Being late, jokes -

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Bringing a dog in the room.

NAKAMURA: I don`t know that he`s going to bring a dog in the room.

MATTHEWS: How about a snake? I mean, you never know what`s going to work with somebody.

NAKAMURA: Or something that will surprise Trump, you know, throw him off guard. But Trump tries this too. We all know that Trump has written a book "Art of the Deal", right, and how he is going to take advantage at the bargaining table. Trump thinks of himself as a master negotiator. He may try to do something. We know about the handshakes.

Putin is going to be well-prepared for that. But we`re going to -- it`ll be very interesting to see just what kind of body language and you know sort of vibe that they have between one another.

MATTHEWS: You`re with the former secretary of state when he was humiliated by this. Was just something that you could tell which was Putin`s purpose which to humiliate his opponent?

JON FINER, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Yes, to be honest I think President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, they used the atmospherics around the meeting to try to put their counterpart on the defensive from the beginning. The other technique they use, and David wrote about this in his piece, is they will start the meeting with a long laundry list of grievances against the United States or mistakes we`ve made in our foreign policy going back decades in their view.

And I think the real key is to try to spend as little time as possible on those historical arguments which you`ll never win and neither will they, and as much time --

MATTHEWS: Yes, Khrushchev did that to Kennedy back in `61, in April, he just leave the whole ideological diatribe from their Soviet communist point of view and Kennedy just had to sit and listen to it.

FINER: That`s right. But I think sitting and listening to it and then pivoting pretty quickly is something you actually want to talk about --

MATTHEWS: Well, former President George W. Bush was famously criticized for showing poor judgment about Vladimir Putin. Here`s how Bush famously vouched for him, that`s the right phrase, in a 2001 press coverage, just after Putin refused to answer a question about whether Russia could be trusted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Can we trust Russia? I`m not going to answer to that. I could answer -- I could ask the very same question.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I`ll answer the question. I looked a man in the eye, I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`ve had a real peanut gallery of presidents, haven`t we?

Anyway years later, in a 2014 interview, President Bush offered a different assessment of his relationship with the Russian leader. Here he goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: It became more tense as time went on. Vladimir is a person who in many ways views the U.S. as an enemy, and although he wouldn`t say that, I felt that he viewed the world as either the U.S. benefits and Russia losses or vice versa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: How would a president get it wrong like that? How would Vladimir send a signal I`m a guy you can love and all the time work in a sort of a nefarious way us?

NAKAMURA: I mean, Putin is going to try to convince a U.S. leader that he wants to work in their best interests when he really had his own best interest at heart. But I talked to Thomas Graham who was --

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, just to knock W. a little bit, an American president had some history before he walked here, or she walks in that room.

NAKAMURA: You have to be well-prepared, but this is in 2001. That was before 9/11, before the Iraq war. You know, I talked to Bush aides who said, look, yes, it was mistaken sort of assessment at the time, but this was a different time we were trying to get off to a better relationship though.

A lot of the things that went wrong in the U.S.-Putin relationship happened you know in part because of the invasion of Iraq, the global war on terror by the Bush administration, and a lot of friction that was caused then I talked to Obama aides, too, to the first meeting they had with Putin when he was prime minister in 2009, they were shocked at how much negative things he said about Bush and said talk about the deep state in the intelligence agencies undermining relations.

MATTHEWS: So, Vladimir is pushing the deep state argument just like Trump is.

NAKAMURA: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Same way the bad guys in a bureaucracy.

Let me go to Jon on this question. Suppose we have a president only looking out for U.S. interests right now, what seems to be the number-one U.S. interest is a void as we have since 1947, a shooting war with Russia. That is a horrible predicament, given that a nuclear weapon arsenal both sides. Number two, to try to do something about getting him to admit that they did something interfering with our elections and resolve to stop doing it, somehow getting to do. And third, maybe figure out something along the Euphrates River, something in Syria that actually begins to stabilize that situations so that we get rid of ISIS, and we don`t have to get involved.

Do you think that is workable? How would you put together an agenda? You`ve been an expert at this. If you were chief of staff to Trump, what agenda would you set for this meeting tomorrow morning?

FINER: Yes, I think you`ve got a pretty good list of course I think starting with not getting Putin to admit that he interfered in our election. That`s probably a bridge too far, but putting down a marker that we know what you did, we`re not going to tolerate it and we`re sealing our system to protect against any of this going forward, would be an important thing to send both privately and publicly.

And then after that, the two big-ticket items on the agenda with Russia are Ukraine, you know, controversies now raged, a conflict that`s now raged for three-plus years and Syria. Both of these problems, as much we may not waiting --

MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t push Ukraine. That`s their area. But I would try to push Syria. But I think he has -- we have a common interest in Syria I think to avoid terrorism. We have a common enemy there.

NAKAMURA: Part of to not put Ukraine on the table, we have the sanctions, Russia wants those sanctions lifted.

MATTHEWS: OK.

NAKAMURA: And Russia`s -- I mean, Putin`s goal is to have this sphere of influence and that`s that --

MATTHEWS: Are we still going to fight to get Crimea back into Ukraine? Are we going that ambitious --

NAKAMURA: I don`t know that President Trump`s going to fight that hard, but we`ll see.

MATTHEWS: Would any American president?

NAKAMURA: You know, I don`t know. The question is if -- I mean, the Obama certainly supported the sanctions that were enacted and he, you know, had a much tougher relationship with Putin after that. You know, another thing that Trump might talk about is North Korea.

MATTHEWS: Well, one thing you don`t want ever do in these relations is put the other guy in a corner. Kennedy did everybody. You don`t put Khrushchev in the corner to give a way out with its Turkish missiles or something, right, Jon? You got to give a backdoor.

FINER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Or you`re getting nothing in these meetings.

FINER: No, and it`s in Russia`s interest frankly to at least resolve the Syria crisis before this turns into something even much more dangerous between the United States and Russia and Syria and Iran, all which are now occupying that same space.

MATTHEWS: If they -- you know, I`ll go back to Margaret, if they are great powers, and they are, they should be able to make great power arrangements, like we did in the Middle East years ago. They don`t always work in long term, but in the short term, they do solve certain relations.

NAKAMURA: This is the first meeting and I think what I talked about, what are the best outcomes. The diplomats I talked to said, look, this is to try to set up channels of communication, the agenda going forward and the next steps to try to work these out. The problem for the Trump administration they don`t have some of these mid-level diplomats that you need in the State Department or the Pentagon to sort of work out --

MATTHEWS: How about having a State Department? You know, I just hope for a little bit more tomorrow, he`s our president. I maybe -- I`m just hopeful romantic that for a five minutes tomorrow at least, Trump will be our president, stop being Trump.

Thank you, David Nakamura. Thank you -- a great piece in "The Post" today.

NAKAMURA: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I almost said "The Times", but "The Washington Post" today.

Jon Finer, thank you. I`d love to hear your inside stories about John Kerry, what he might be up to in 2020, just raising that issue.

Up next, does President Trump have Obama envy? He can`t seem to help himself when it comes to attacking his predecessor. Why is he so jealous of Obama? Because the world loves Obama. How about that?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump accused former President Obama of doing, quote, nothing about Russia meddling in the 2016 election. But that wasn`t the only shot he took at his predecessor today. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t draw red lines. President Obama drew a red line and I was the one that made it look a little bit better than it was, but that could have been done a lot sooner and you wouldn`t have had the same situation that you have right now in Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s just the latest iteration of Trumps blame Obama strategy. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he set the red line in the sand, and when he didn`t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat. I inherited a mess, whether it`s the Middle East, whether it`s North Korea, whether it`s so many other things, whether it`s in our country, horrible trade deals, I inherited a mess.

To be honest, I inherited a mess -- it`s a mess -- at home and abroad. A mess. The Middle East, a disaster. North Korea, we`ll take care of it, folks, we`re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know I inherited a mess.

ISIS has spread like cancer, another mess I inherited. And we`ve imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran who`s totally taken advantage of our previous administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, even if President Trump thinks Obama left a mess, his phrase there, a lot of other countries may disagree. In fact, they do.

A Pew Research poll of 37 countries shows Obama got much higher ratings in the world stage than Trump does today. Only 11 percent of Germans express confidence in term, that`s one in nine, down from 86 percent who liked Obama. Even in Poland where Obama saw a smaller degree of support, he`s still outpolled Trump, 58 percent, so they had confidence Obama compared to 23 percent for Trump.

The only two countries were Trump fared a little better than Obama was Israel and Russia. By the way, Israel which is anybody`s been over there knows how contentious that country is, it`s roughly very close to 50-50. So, it`s not like a slam dunk.

Joining me, Sam Stein, politics editor for "The Daily Beast" and John Feehery, Republican strategist.

By the way, we went through the all the list of all these countries that we sort of respect, you know, like Germany, France, United Kingdom, South Korea, Poland, all of them Obama`s up there in the 80s most the time in Trump`s down and basically in the teens.

So -- oh, look at you, aren`t you being the --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, John Feehery, why doesn`t it matter? I mean, I think Trump has Obama envy. I think he keeps bringing up Obama because he knows everybody likes the guy.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He brings up Obama because --

MATTHEWS: All the time.

FEEHERY: -- that consolidates the Republican base because the Republican base still dislikes President Obama very much. So, you keep that energized base --

MATTHEWS: As much as they hate Hillary? Not as much.

FEEHERY: I think it`s tied.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They got a hate for Hillary that doesn`t go away.

FEEHERY: And the president`s in the pulpit (ph), but it`s a long tradition to blame your predecessor for whatever troubles you have. Think of what Barack Obama did with President Bush.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but he was right.

FEEHERY: There`s lots of reasons --

MATTHEWS: Bush took us into Iraq. A hundred thousand people dead because of his stupidity and believing in Cheney.

FEEHERY: Listen, this is a fine tradition of every president blaming his predecessor for whatever problems there was, and the fact is that for President Trump, it`s a easy message point and he sticks on message and it consolidates his base.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know. Let me get this straight, do you think Kennedy blame Ike? Do you think Jerry Ford blamed Nixon? Do you think Carter blame Ford?

I don`t think it`s a long pattern of blaming your predecessor. I don`t think there is a long pattern.

FEEHERY: I think -- I think that Carter blamed Ford and Nixon, yes, I do. I do believe --

MATTHEWS: Ford? No, I don`t think so. I`m trying to think --

FEEHERY: I think that Kennedy did blame, there was a lot of --

MATTHEWS: Did you think W. blamed Clinton for anything? I think it`s a particular problem.

Sam, get in here.

SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, to a degree --

MATTHEWS: I think Trump has got this inferiority complex. It`s not just over little hands, he really thinks Obama`s had something magical he didn`t got.

STEIN: I mean, I suppose. I think to a degree, John`s right. I remember in 2010, Obama`s big rig --

MATTHEWS: We`ll get somebody else --

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: -- the congressional was that George W. Bush had taken the car into the ditch and he was pulling it out of the ditch, and that was just a more eloquent way --

MATTHEWS: Well, economy was it a ditch.

STEIN: What`s ironic, of course --

MATTHEWS: That`s an objective fact.

STEIN: Yes, and that`s where Trump fails, is that in fact if someone did inherit a mess objectively, it was Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s get objective here. Trump said today in Poland that the Russians probably did it, I think, and then he said, the other somebody else did it, I think.

STEIN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Not the Russians. And then he said, Obama`s response for not punishing the Russians for they did. Three different thoughts.

I mean, what is it? Is Trump saying that the Russians did it, therefore Obama blew it, or the Russians didn`t do it and you can`t blame Obama?

FEEHERY: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: John Feehery, tell me what he means.

FEEHERY: I don`t -- I don`t know what it means.

MATTHEWS: It is a key question. How do you trash the guy for not doing something that he didn`t have to do because the Russians didn`t do it?

FEEHERY: That`s actually really hard for me to follow, and I`m not, I`m not sure if it matters that much to me. I mean, the fact the matter is that you know the Russians did have something to do with this election. They were meddling, which is not a surprise anyone. There was all during the campaign, people knew that.

But let`s get -- let`s get over this, let`s move on --

STEIN: Get over it.

FEEHERY: Let`s get over it and move on for the betterment of the country, let`s get some stuff done.

MATTHEWS: Let`s straighten the mess problem. I know there`s always a there are people in this country who are having a hard time, not just with health care but all kinds of economic living conditions, and it`s a reality. People watch this show right.

But the economy has come back strongly since 08, what we were left with. And Trump has benefited from that too. It continues to get better for the people better off. So the economy is not in the -- in the mess the way he describes it. So, this idea of inheriting a mess I don`t think it`s fair. I think it hurt --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- come back from Republicans left us --

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: In fact, if you look at the employment statistics, especially the job numbers, Trump`s first months have been basically right around where Obama was on average, if not a little bit less. You look at the stock market trends, they`re just a continuation of the years of Obama. You look at a whole host of things, either wind down to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

STEIN: You know, the Syria red line is that one sort of nuance --

FEEHERY: And the ISIS resurgence.

STEIN: But, no, the exit policy in fact is a continuation of Obama, the ISIS policy.

MATTHEWS: Do you think ISIS is coming back?

FEEHERY: No, I said during the Obama --

MATTHEWS: I think we`re winning that battle.

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: The fact is that --

MATTHEWS: I think the soldiers are winning that battle, by the way.

FEEHERY: I think they are thankfully. If you look at the middle of the country, the middle country has not recovered that well from the 2008 recession. That`s why Trump was able to win in these states. People are still really, really hurting, and Trump really captured that and Hillary Clinton had no economic message, I`ll address it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re right. I`ll give you the touche.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Hilary Clinton problem was there no reason to elect her.

FEEHERY: Trump`s talking about trade policies. He`s talking about other issues like immigration, that really cut for these communities and he`s talking to these people.

MATTHEWS: I think the headline for Saturday, we`ll have it tomorrow afternoon on our show here, but for our evening, but what`s the headline going to be coming out this meeting? Because I think Trump cannot blame the world on Obama. He`s got a deal head-to-head with Putin.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that Trump Obama meet and nothing really major happens.

SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST: Trump and Putin meet.

FEEHERY: That`s right. Trump and Obama meet and nothing major happen.

STEIN: Yes, and that`s the headline which is he`s not going to --

MATTHEWS: That`s a loss for us.

STEIN: Correct, and I think to go to --

MATTHEWS: To screw with our election and he gets off clean?

STEIN: John wants to go to the next chapter of this, but if you don`t confront what happened with the Russian meddling, then it will happen again. So, I don`t think it can just jump ahead.

MATTHEWS: We`ll be back. Sam Stein and John Feehery, Sam Stein of "The Daily Beast". I like that title.

Up next, speaking of Obama and meet, President Trump gets like a -- well, a cold welcome from, look at this, weird handshake. They don`t even actually look at each other like they`re like those cardboard stand-ups almost the way they talk to you -- look at this.

What`s this? They`re finger pointing up and down. I want to see you up to here. This is cold stuff. I like Merkel.

Anyway, the relationships she once shared with President Obama, we`re going to talk about that. That was a good relation. Look at them together there.

The roundtable is coming to weigh in on that strange situation, straight ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, and tonight`s action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It was a tale of two cities President Trump was greeted today by adoring crowds in Poland`s capital. And earlier today, supporters have been bussed in to attend his speech in Warsaw. Look at that.

But he was met by an entirely different scene when he came to Hamburg, Germany, today. Thousands of G20 protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against globalization and corporate greed. Those protesters included some, of course, anti-Trump groups. You can expect that certainly. That`s the world view right now him.

While in Hamburg, President Trump held a one-on-one meeting with summit Chancellor Angela Merkel, who`s been openly critical of Trump and his administration, of course. And just yesterday, she told the German magazine the, quote, globalization is seen by the American administration is more of a process that it`s not about a win-win situation, but about winners and losers. That`s for sure.

The reception stands in stark contrast to the one Barack Obama received in Germany, believe it or not, nearly a decade ago or even just a few months ago.

I`m joined by the HARDBALL roundtable. Ruth Marcus, the columnist for "The Washington Post", Yamiche Alcindor, national reporter for "The New York Times" and an MSNBC contributor, and Tamara Keith, who`s White House correspondent for NPR.

Tamara, you`re new, so let`s start with you. You know, I don`t know, I`m not sure it helps you here at home, but we do know that Obama -- President Obama was very popular in Europe. He`s popular in a lot of places but Europe especially among those leading nations. They saw him as a fellow progressive. They saw him as educated, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, all the things that they respect, people that have to speak several languages into the business every day.

And now, they got Trump. They treat him what, they think he`s a bumpkin, a chauvinist? What do they think he is?

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: I think they`re still trying to figure him out. Certainly, there was the G7 meeting earlier this year where they tried to convince him not to pull out of the Paris climate accord, all of these leaders got together. They were very -- they were effusive. They were they were trying to convince him without pushing too hard and then he came home and he`s pulled out of the Paris climate accord, which is sort of anathema to the way a lot of them are thinking about the world.

There`s also the issue of immigration and refugees and the position that President Trump has taken, which is very different from, you know, the view of Macron or of Merkel. It`s a very different -- he`s a different president.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, weirdest question I ever get in this show. I look at the protesters and I do sympathize with a lot of them. They worry about the fact that globalization puts -- creates a world labor market basically. You can always go to the cheapest labor in the world and build whatever you want to make, whatever you want cars or dresses or whatever. It is a way that basically corners the working guy and woman and to working for the lowest possible wages. It screws people through trade.

In a weird way, those people being a you know chased away there by the elite have more in common with what Trump said in the campaign, right? And he ran against this kind of the globalization stuff, this sophisticated trade policy. I know it`s an irony.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, there`s that. There`s the idea that, yes, he ran on this idea that globalization was hurting people`s jobs, but he also ran almost anti-immigration piece and this piece that keep to look outward to look at people and blame some other country for your problems. I think that`s where these protesters have that issue.

Also --

MATTHEWS: Where are they on the immigration issue? Those people --

ALCINDOR: I think a lot of those people are for the idea that if you`re a refugee that needs a home --

MATTHEWS: You think?

ALCINDOR: Yes, I think so. I think that some of those people are not saying that Syrian refugees who are really -- who are running from terrorists should just means that just be said, no, you shouldn`t come here because Europe because of the fate that you practice. So, I think that`s where the issue is.

I think that those people also believe climate change is real and that you actually have to do something to stop it. So, I think that that`s where the problem comes. But there`s also this idea that he`s a billionaire in yet and he is billionaire friends and they`re the ones profiting from keeping wages low, and I think that`s also the -- while he might have said on the campaign trail that he`s for, you know, not having creating jobs and globalization --

MATTHEWS: There`s a great irony, this whole election, and what`s coming after it, the aftermath is that Trump talks populism but represents pigs. I mean,that`s the way people on the streets look at it.

RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Plutocrats.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we used to call pigs in the `60s. They look upon us, those are the guys with all the money hoarding it. They wanted all. They want to make an extra million every year, even it means that 30 or 40 or 50 people don`t make anything. That`s what they think.

Isn`t that the attitude of the people in the street? Yes, greed. It`s killing them. Go ahead.

MARCUS: What I think that you asked about what the leaders think of Trump and I think that the people in the streets are just, you know, what a remarkable change from that scene in Berlin with Obama where actually John McCain gave him a hard time, right, for celebrity and tried to use it against him at home. I think the leaders look at Trump and it`s a little bit like what Republicans and Democrats in Congress think, they just behind closed doors when he`s not there, they roll their eyes but they realize this is the guy their stop dealing with and they`re just trying to figure out the best way --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Like we have to say, anyway, "The New York Times" reported today --

(CROSSTALK)

MARCUS: Yes, you go to war with the president you got.

MATTHEWS: The president was more annoyed by the prospect of being scolded by Angela Merkel than by his upcoming meeting with Putin. It`s no secret that Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, had a closer working relationship as Ruth said with President Barack Obama seen here at the G20. Look at them, they`re cuddling. Yes, well, that was then.

This picture of President Trump and Angela Merkel today tells a different story, that`s a cold picture. What do you make that, Tamara?

KEITH: Well, at least they`re shaking hands and they made some --

MATTHEWS: Without looking at each other.

KEITH: No, they also, according to the pool report, did make eye contact sometimes pictures capture that --

MATTHEWS: Why does Trump person not like Merkel?

KEITH: Well, probably because she was close to Barack Obama among other things.

MATTHEWS: She`s competent, too.

ALCINDOR: And people also see her as in some ways a new leader of the free world. There have been all these stories and columnist saying that she`s kind of taking and she`s stepping into the place with and when the United States is now being weakened.

MATTHEWS: Yes, leaders.

ALCINDOR: I think there`s also that. There`s this idea that she`s he sees her as competition.

MARCUS: And she took on all those refugees and he opposes that.

MATTHEWS: She`s solid, I`ll tell you that.

MARCUS: There also might be a little gender thing, just saying.

MATTHEWS: There is a pattern.

The round table is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. By the way, everybody`s a woman here except me. Sometimes --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the congressional recess isn`t helping Mitch McConnell gin up votes for that Senate health bill. At an event in his home state of Kentucky today, McConnell acknowledged that Republicans might not get the 50 votes they need. Even though the Senate returns to the Capitol next week, a vote on health care legislation has been pushed back until later this month again.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

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

MARCUS: So, since 1989, in the fall of communism, there`s been one place that presidents and vice presidents must visit. All of them have visited when they go to Warsaw. It`s the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial.

Guess who didn`t go?

MATTHEWS: Trump.

MARCUS: This president. He sent Ivanka.

MATTHEWS: I thought he was going near there.

MARCUS: He was a mile away. And the Jews of Poland, official Jews are not happy. They put a statement.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche?

ALCINDOR: Democrats in the efforts to rebrand, they`re poll testing a new slogan. It`s called a better deal.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of that?

ALCINDOR: I don`t know. It is not anti-Trump which is what they need to get past. They need to go to something farther than just resist. So --

MATTHEWS: It`s not enough. Go ahead.

KEITH: They put out the staff salaries and the list of staff in the Trump administration. They have one hundred fewer staff than Obama had. But the median salary is higher, about $16,000 a year.

MATTHEWS: How Trumpian, how Trumpian.

Ruth Marcus, Yamiche Alcindor, and Tamara Keith.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Thursday, July 6, 2017.

How would you like to walk into a room where someone knows everything bad about you, everything that could be used against you? Well, this is Donald Trump walking to the room tomorrow morning with Vladimir Putin.

I`ll start with the ifs. If Trump did anything he might be embarrassed by in Moscow Vlad not only knows about it, he`s got videotapes of it. He`s probably watched those tapes more than once.

If Trump`s people had any conversations with Putin`s people about, say, sanctions or about the Russian interference of last year`s American elections, Vladimir knows all of it. He no doubt has tapes of those meetings, every blessed word of those conversations archived, digested, analyzed for possible exploitation against the man who will be sitting across from him tomorrow morning in Hamburg, Germany.

So, again, how would you like to be Donald Trump going nighty-night tonight with the thought of going eyeball to eyeball in the A.M. with Mr. I-know- everything, because Vladimir knows what Donald Trump has done Russian-wise, every syllable, every moment, every note from the -- from the Jim Comey`s a nutjob, to whatever happened or didn`t happen in Moscow. He knows and has proven his readiness to share it worldwide.

How do you think we all know about that Jim Comey is a nutjob remark? Stay tuned, I`m sure Trump is, Vladimir sure is.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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