Show: HARDBALL Date: September 15, 2017 Guest: Jonathan Swan, Nan Hayworth, Basil Smikle, Natasha Bertrand, Will Oremus, Gordon Chang, Andrew Cuomo, Linette Lopez, Philip Bump
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: The art of the deal.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
And good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.
Did President Trump strike a deal with the Democrats on DACA? That`s the question everyone keeps asking. And the answer you get, well, it depends on who you ask. Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi said yes. Here she is a day after dining with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We had an agreement to move forward, in our view, with the Dream Act as the basis for how we protect the Dreamers and for further discussions on what provisions relating to the border might be in an accompanying bill or whatever as we go forward. So I trust the president in that regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The president also seemed to signal he was, in fact, open to something, but it`s unclear exactly what he plans on doing. Here`s what he said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re working on a deal for DACA, but a lot has to do with the amount of security. We want very heavy security at the border. We`re not talking about that. We`re not talking about amnesty at all. We have not talked about amnesty. There`ll be no amnesty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: President Trump`s supporters and some of his allies were not pleased with the news. According to Politico, Stephen Miller, an architect of Trump`s hard-line immigration policies, expressed displeasure about the development to other White House and legislative aides and strategized about what to do next.
And Chris Buskirk (ph), a vocal Trump supporter and editor of a conservative Web site, had a warning for the president. He writes, quote, "If President Trump reverses his campaign promises and supports a DACA amnesty, then within the span of a few days, he would do to himself what the combined efforts of the Democratic National Committee, the Republican establishment, the Clinton campaign and an openly hostile media couldn`t do, kneecap his presidency and separate himself from his base. Amnesty is where Republican careers go to die."
In Congress meanwhile, Republican leadership is now trying to hash out a legislative solution. Many, though, are wondering how do they even get here. Axios reports the president`s course correction could be due in part to the influence of his new chief of staff, to General John Kelly and his ability to manage information that the president gets.
According to Axios, Kelly now has real control other the most important input, the flow of human and paper advice into the Oval Office. For a man as obsessed about his self-image as Trump, a new flow of inputs can make the world of difference.
For the latest, I`m joined by Jonathan Swan. He wrote that piece for Axios. And Jonathan, and this is -- let`s pick up on what you wrote there because this is fascinating, of the theories out there about what strategically might be behind what Trump is doing. You seem to be suggesting here that every morning in the White House, he`s presented with a stack of clippings, a stack of news, and basically, the nature of those clippings has changed because of Kelly and maybe it`s changed the president.
JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: Well, that`s a fact. The nature of the clippings has changed because of Kelly. What`s interesting is not so much why he did what he did with Chuck and Nancy. I think there`s a number of reasons for that. Trump has done impulsive things in the moment many times.
What`s interesting is that he`s stuck at it for a few days and hasn`t pivoted wildly in the other direction. And what would have happened under Reince Priebus as chief of staff is, if Trump had done the dinner that he did with Chuck and Nancy and started talking like, frankly, an establishment Republican or even a moderate Democrat about immigration overnight, you would have had Stephen Miller, his most hardline nationalist aide, would have printed out the front page of Breitbart, which called him "Amnesty Don."
He would have printed out some polling which would have shown that Republican -- you know, whatever polling supports his argument that primary voters, this is the most important issue to them. He probably would have printed out some tweets by Ann Coulter. And he could have under the old regime strode straight into the Oval Office and slipped in front of Trump. And that happened on a number of occasions, not specifically with Stephen Miller, but with other people putting material in front of the president, which would rile him up and flip him on a dime.
That no longer happens. If someone like Stephen Miller wants to put an argument like that to President Trump, he has to -- under the Kelly regime, submit a formal request in writing to go and see the president. He has to provide source material, Here`s what I want to talk to him about.
And look, under this regime, there is no more slipping paper onto the president`s desk. The inputs are controlled by General Kelly, who is a very moderate man, and frankly, there is no Bannon anywhere whispering in Trump`s ear.
KORNACKI: Yes, that`s my other question. So look, if there`s -- the inflammatory stuff`s being kept out of the clippings...
KORNACKI: ... and there`s more discipline with appointments -- when Bannon left, what everybody said, or what a lot of people said that I picked up on, was, Hey, he`s still got Trump`s cell phone number. He`s still going to working back channels to Trump. Do we know, is that not happening?
SWAN: Well, Steve Bannon apparently told a Chinese or the Hong Kong audience that he talks to Trump every two or three days. I don`t know whether that`s true or not.
And look, I know they`ve spoken at least twice since he left. But the fact is, the daytime matters and it matters what media Trump is seeing. It matters what`s in his binder in the morning which he receives and looks through clips. And Kelly can control what`s in them, and no longer can people slip in, you know, other stories that might rile him up. No longer can people go through Keith Schiller (ph) and sort of, you know, send him signals that way.
So look, he still has time in the residence at night. You can still reach him. It`s not like he`s completely, you know, hermetically sealed from the outside world. But it`s a big deal.
And frankly, if you look at his top advisers, General Kelly -- he`s a very moderate man -- Gary Cohn, Jared and Ivanka -- Trump is surrounded on a day-to-day basis by people who are very sympathetic towards the plight of the Dreamers. So I think this -- this is not an unsubstantial factor in all of this.
KORNACKI: All right, it`s a fascinating piece you wrote there. Jonathan Swan from Axios, thanks for joining us.
For more, I`m joined by our panel, former New York Republican congresswoman Nan Hayworth -- she sits on the board of directors at the Independent Women`s Forum -- and Basil Smikle. He`s the executive director of the New York state Democratic Party.
Well, Nan, let me start with you. We had some of those clips there from conservative media figures, the sort of voices, by the way, if you hear what Jonathan Swan was just saying, maybe aren`t getting to the president these days.
But those voices are out there right now saying, Look, if Donald Trump goes forward with this deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on DACA, that`s amnesty to the Republican base, that`s poison to the Republican base. He`s going to lose the base that elected him. Is there truth to that?
NAN HAYWORTH(R-NY), FMR. CONGRESSWOMAN, INDEPENDENT WOMEN`S FORUM BOARD MEMBER: I think he does run a risk with the folks who elected him. And Steve, it`s not just Republicans, as we know. The president won the "blue wall" and mining country and the Rust Belt because he appealed to a lot of Democrats who also worry about those issues. So I think...
KORNACKI: Is this amnesty to them? When he says -- because you saw the clip of Trump yesterday.
KORNACKI: He says, Look, they were forced to...
HAYWORTH: Right. Not amnesty, right.
KORNACKI: ... forced by their parents to come.
KORNACKI: You know, but it looks like the Democrats are going to be saying, We want permanent status and citizenship maybe. Where does that fall to these voters?
HAYWORTH: I think the president is going to think very, very carefully about these things. He is not, as you know, isolated from the voices of his base.
But the other factor that is so salient, Steve, is that -- and Sean Hannity pointed this out. When health care failed in the Senate, when Senator McConnell couldn`t lead to a health care win, the president redoubled his insistence -- and I frankly agree with him -- that if the Republicans are really going to dominate in the legislative process, the agenda that the president brought forth to the American people and won the Electoral College on -- they need to break the filibuster.
So long as they don`t, Senator Schumer has a lock on legislation. He can really block a heck of a lot of stuff. And that`s why I think the president has turned to Schumer and Pelosi.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you, Basil, from a Democrat standpoint here. When Trump initially, or really Sessions for the Trump administration initially made the announcement that, Hey, this DACA thing is going away, Democrats said, No, we want a clean renewal. We want a permanent status here for DACA.
It looks like there`s going to be some strings attached here. It looks like there`s going to be more money for the border, more border security. Exactly what form that takes, we`re not sure yet. Is that acceptable, having even any kind of compromise on this, to you as a Democrat?
BASIL SMIKLE, EXECUTIVE DIR., NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: It`s a tough and fine line that they`re going to have to walk because if they`re seen -- you know, and I trust than Nancy Pelosi`s reporting of what happened in the meeting. But the challenge for us, for Democrats, is we want to be able to move the needle on policy, but we also don`t want -- especially after we`re coming out of resistance summer, we don`t want to seem as though we`re capitulating to a president who`s obviously very unpopular with the Democrats and independents.
KORNACKI: Well, so -- so wait -- here`s an example. If Trump comes to the Democrats and says, Look, permanent legal status for the DACA folks -- I`m OK with that, I will sign that, but it can`t be citizenship, do Democrats say, Deal?
SMIKLE: I don`t know if they say deal. Actually, I don`t know if they say deal because, again, the question becomes have we failed our base? We`ve been pushing back on this for so long, and I don`t know if it really helps us to say we want to -- we`re going to get everything or a lot of what we ask for, but we`re going to still leave the rest to the Republicans and the president to fine-tune down the road.
I don`t know if that works. I trust Chuck Schumer and I trust Nancy Pelosi. But we`ll see.
KORNACKI: Speaking of -- and speaking of Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, yesterday, and what seemed to be a candid moment on the Senate floor, he had a pretty straightforward explanation for why Trump may be working with him. Take a listen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: He likes us. He likes me anyway. Look, what we said is exactly that. Here`s what I told him. I said, Mr. President, you`re much better off if you can sometimes step right and sometimes step left. If you have to step just in one direction, you`re boxed. He gets that. (INAUDIBLE) and it`ll make us more productive, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Nan Hayworth, what do you make of that? I mean, there`s -- there`s all this talk that there`s some sort of, you know, I don`t know, New York bond with Trump and Schumer.
HAYWORTH: Oh, yes.
KORNACKI: You know, Schumer is...
KORNACKI: He likes to make deals. He likes to -- you know, he likes to cut deals there.
KORNACKI: Do you see, as a Republican...
KORNACKI: ... the basis here -- because what Schumer is describing there is a model not just for this. He`s describing a model potentially for a longer-term partnership there between Trump, Schumer, Democrat leaders. As a Republican, what do you think of that?
HAYWORTH: You know, Steve, it`s to be expected. The president has actually a very long-standing relationship with Senator Schumer, not all of which was hostile for a long time, as we know. And Chuck Schumer is an operator in the New York sense of the word, and so is the president in a lot of ways.
And to the extent, again, that Senate Republicans cannot lock on the legislation -- and that doesn`t mean that I as a Republican want to see the Democrats locked out. I don`t. What I don`t want to see is Chuck Schumer being able to block any major bill, and I think that`s exactly what...
KORNACKI: But there`s a -- there`s a message...
HAYWORTH: ... he intends to do.
KORNACKI: You know, it feels to me Trump is sending a message here to McConnell and to Ryan specifically. It almost amounts go, You guys failed me. Now I`m looking in the other direction.
SMIKLE: Well, I think that`s -- that`s exactly right. He`s looking at Chuck Schumer and saying, with all of the conversation about a fractured Democratic Party, the Democrats have been holding the line, and that you certainly saw that with the health care bill. And he`s looking -- he`s saying to himself -- and I always use the sports parlance. He wants a W. He doesn`t think he can get that from his own party. If he looks at Senator Schumer and says, We can get it through the Democrats, I think he wants to be able to do that.
The downside is what happens with his base. But I think, to be honest with you, as long as he can go out there and sell something, I think he`s OK with that. And for Democrats, that`s we want to see. We want to see Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi holding the line and winning in these ideological battles. And I think for DACA and for other policies, this is going to be a -- this is -- this is winning for us.
KORNACKI: How many -- how many times...
KORNACKI: How many times can Republicans in the House, Republicans in the Senate get a piece of legislation that, Hey, this was Trump, this was Pelosi, this was Schumer? That`s where the deal was cut. Now, you Republican, you have to vote for it. It looks like DACA, that might happen maybe?
KORNACKI: How many times can they do that?
HAYWORTH: I don`t -- I think it will be very, very difficult because, I mean, let`s face it, we do have a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate.
But what the president is doing -- the president isn`t an ideologue. You know, he is not dogmatic about Republican policy. So I think it`s a message to Republicans that, look, they have to have their operation finely tuned because, you`re right, Bail, from the Democrats` point of view, you know, they`re -- they`re sitting in pretty good position right now.
SMIKLE: But we`ve got to be careful because the political cleavages between the president and Republicans and the Democrats is still pretty wide. So we still have to be vigilant. No question about it.
HAYWORTH: There`s a lot of opportunity.
SMIKLE: All right. Well, we will -- we will see a twist in the story of the Trump soap opera, a twist at the start of the fall. Nan Hayworth, former congresswoman, Basil Smikle from the New York Democratic Party, thanks for joining us.
Coming up -- new reporting on Russia`s effort to influence the 2016 election. We already knew that a Kremlin-linked group targeted voters with Facebook ads. Now we`re learning Russian groups also used social media to gin up support for anti-Clinton rallies.
Plus, President Trump`s response to this morning`s terror attack in London is raising some eyebrows. He used it as an opportunity to defend his travel ban, also earned a strong rebuke from the British prime minister.
And we`re going to talk to New York state`s governor, Andrew Cuomo. He is just back from a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. He was surveying damage there from Hurricane Irma. This is a high-profile trip for him. Is it a sign Cuomo maybe has his sights on a presidential run? We`ll ask him about that.
And finally, stick around for three things you might not know tonight.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
KORNACKI: The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing a new subpoena to Donald Trump`s campaign chairman, former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
This would be the second time that committee has subpoenaed Manafort. It rescinded a previous subpoena after Manafort agreed to turn over documents and continue negotiations about being interviewed by the committee. The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa -- he`s indicated that those discussions have since stalled.
Up next, a look at Russian efforts to influence the election last year through social media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I think that we`re still at the tip of the iceberg. But the fact is, I don`t think Facebook has put the resources, the time, and I think there`s a lot more.
Clearly, there`s a lot more questions that need to be asked and answered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, saying on Wednesday we don`t yet know the full extent of Russia`s influence campaign on Facebook during the 2016 campaign.
And new reporting this week has shed some light on the methods behind that effort, also revealed how easily Facebook can be exploited. According to "The New York Times," Russian operatives stole images from real users on Facebook to impersonate them in fake accounts. The DailyBeast revealed that Russian operatives also used Facebook events to, quote, "remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an anti- immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho."
Natasha Bertrand reports in "Business Insider" that a Russia-linked front group on Facebook, quote, "attempted to organize a series of anti-immigrant anti-Hillary Clinton rallies across Texas last November, three days before the election." That particular group, quote, "had almost a quarter million followers as of last summer before it was shut down just last week."
I`m joined now by Natasha Bertrand, political correspondent at "Business Insider." And Will Oremas is a senior writer for Slate.
Natasha, let me start with you. A quarter million members -- so take us through what this looks like for people who are maybe lay people with Facebook. What does this look like on Facebook? And what does this look like on the ground when you`ve got a group that`s got a quarter million members, an anti-Hillary group? They`re organizing events in Texas. Take us through what this actually was.
NATASHA BERTRAND, "BUSINESS INSIDER": Well, it was a hugely influential Facebook Group. It had 225,000 followers at the time that it was shut down by Facebook, when it was purging all of these inauthentic accounts that Facebook said were likely operating out of Russia. This was about two weeks ago now.
This was a group that was also reaching out to the Texas nationalist movement, which is a secessionist movement based in Texas. And they were asking for their help to organize these protests, which, you know, they -- I spoke to the president last night of the Texas nationalist movement, and he said that they actually reached out just before they organized these protests to see if they would collaborate with them. And it all just adds a whole new layer to the Russian interference (INAUDIBLE)
KORNACKI: And there were protests and these things did go off?
So, the Facebook group actually created events that people attended. And they posted photos of themselves at these rallies. There were probably several dozen of them that showed up. It was nothing too successful, but people were, you know, rallied to go out there and protest because of this fake Russian group.
KORNACKI: And "The Wall Street Journal," we should note, reports -- this is just late today -- that Facebook gave the special counsel Robert Mueller more detailed records than they have shared with Congress.
Quoting from the "Journal" story here: "The information Facebook shared with Mr. Mueller included copies of the ads and details about the accounts that brought them online and the targeting criteria they used, the people familiar with the matter said."
Natasha, I`m just curious what you make of that new reporting.
I mean, this is something that Facebook is really going to have to begin to answer to. We saw earlier this week, CNN reported that, you know, they really didn`t know the extent of who was buying the ads, how many of these ads were disseminated, who they targeted.
And now people are getting upset with Facebook because they want to know, was I a victim of this?
KORNACKI: So, Will, the other question all this raises is, look, Texas wasn`t a particularly close state in the election last year, where this rally turned out.
We even saw Idaho. Idaho obviously was sort of in the bag for Trump all along. But do we have a sense here on a connection between how the stuff that was going on, on Facebook and on the ground too, any potential connection between what actually happened on Election Day?
WILL OREMUS, SLATE: Well, that`s a question that I think will probably never be fully answered.
We don`t even know how ads that are purchased through normal means in U.S. media influenced the election exactly. And so to know how these ads that were purchased on Facebook and these groups organized on Facebook, how that played out on Election Day is impossible.
What we do need is a lot more information from Facebook about the nature of the problem, the extent of the problem. They came out last week, under pressure from this congressional investigation, and after "The Washington Post" had already reported on some of this stuff, and they disclosed the results of one investigation that found about $100,000 in ad spending and about 470 sock puppet accounts linked to this shadowy criminally-linked Russian group.
But those are the kind of figures that you disclose if you want to minimize the extent of the problem; $100,000 in ads on Facebook can go a long, long way if it`s done well, if it`s targeted well. And there has been some reporting from The Daily Beast and others that suggests this may have translated to 20 million, 50 million, 100 million people in the United States seeing these posts on Facebook in their feeds.
And, Natasha, is this -- is there information here, I should say, that this is from the Russian government? Is that the suspicion? Do we just know it`s coming from Russia? What do we know about the origin of this?
BERTRAND: All we know at this point is what Facebook told us.
They released a public statement about two weeks ago now saying that they shut down roughly 470 accounts that they determined were inauthentic and likely linked to a company that was operating out of Russia that was this kind of troll factory.
So, we don`t actually know anything more than that, but I imagine that`s what Mueller and Congress will want to get to the bottom of.
And, Will, from a user`s standpoint on this, there`s the question here of how Facebook itself is responding to this. But you said there`s potentially tens of millions of people who were exposed to this or maybe even stuff like this. Who knows what else might have been out there.
From a user`s standpoint, any way to identify this stuff? Any way to protect yourself from your own image being used in something like this?
OREMUS: Not that we know of so far.
I mean, some of this stuff is just coming out. I don`t think that getting your profile photo and personal information stolen by Kremlin-linked operatives was a known threat or something. It`s not one of the pitfalls that you first think to look out for when you set up a Facebook account.
And so I don`t know that there are any specific hacks that I can recommend to avoid that happening to you.
KORNACKI: All right, on that note, Natasha Bertrand, Will Oremus, thank you both for joining us.
And up next: Hillary Clinton speaks out on North Korea. We`re going the tell you what she says is complicating our efforts in dealing with the North Koreans.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui from the MSNBC newsroom.
Protests in Saint Louis today after Jason Stockley, a white former police officer, was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24- year-old black man. Smith was shot five times following a police chase in 2011. Officer Stockley claims Smith reached for a gun. Prosecutors argued the officer planted a gun in Smith`s car.
Thirteen people have been arrested. The case has prompted racial tension not seen since clashes in nearby Ferguson in 2014 -- now back to HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Friday that passed over Japanese airspace and flew about 2,300 miles. That is, "The New York Times" notes -- quote -- "a slightly greater distance than between the North Korean capital and the American air base in Guam."
"The Times" reports that American officials said it was clearly intended to make the point the North could reach the base with ease. This comes days after the U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions against North Korea.
Today, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, told reporters that she doesn`t see many diplomatic options left.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: They continue to be provocative, they continue to be reckless. And at that point, there`s not a whole lot the Security Council is going to be able to do from here, when you have cut 90 percent of the trade and 30 percent of the oil.
So, having said that, I have no problem kicking it to General Mattis because I think he has plenty of options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I`m joined now by Gordon Chang, columnist for The Daily Beast and author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."
Let`s start on what Nikki Haley just said there. She says, look, we have tried the diplomatic route. Not much more we can do with sanctions. That -- that comment sounded like an escalation to me. Kick it over to the Pentagon.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, certainly.
And that`s consistent with what H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, said when he was on the podium with Haley. He said, look, the time has run out for diplomacy. That`s consistent with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, said in July, that there`s only going to be a few more months for diplomacy.
So, we`re seeing a point in the administration where they`re starting to think now is a time to pivot to something more coercive.
KORNACKI: And so what could that entail?
CHANG: Well, it could certainly entail the use of force.
But I think Ambassador Haley is wrong. Yes, the Security Council looks like it won`t go any further on sanctions, but that`s only because the United States has not put a lot of pressure on China. And until we do that, we`re not going to give the Chinese an incentive to help us at the Security Council.
So, she`s talking about the way the world as it is. But that`s not the way the world should be, because we don`t want to use force. That would be horrific. And we ought to try everything we possibly can before we start talking as she`s talking about. War talk is really premature.
KORNACKI: Well, so what the North Koreans are doing here -- because this is not the first time we have seen some sort of provocation like this.
They are well aware of the basic military capability of the United States. They`re well aware of the United States` relationship with South Korea. Is this a statement, every time they do something like this right now, that they just don`t believe we mean it when we say we take this stuff seriously?
CHANG: Oh, absolutely.
And, also, you know, the North Koreans don`t really respect us, because, yes, we have the world`s most capable military by far, but you have got to remember the North Korean mind-set as they have dealt with us.
So, for instance, they seized the Pueblo out of international water. We didn`t do anything. And then, in the year following that, 1969 they, shot down the Navy EC-121, 31 dead. The U.S. didn`t do anything then.
So, the North Koreans look at us and say, these guys, we can push around.
And the problem is, when they get nukes and they try to push us around, that`s when you have the period for miscalculation will be the greatest. And, of course, the consequences also will be the greatest.
KORNACKI: So, when you say U.S. should put pressure on China, use that as leverage, and China then can get the attention of North Korea, what does that look like?
What is China doing that`s going to get the attention of North Korea, and what effect would that then have?
CHANG: Well, of course, the Chinese support the North Koreans with their economy, with diplomacy, all the rest of it.
But the most important thing that China gives the North Korean regime is confidence, confidence that they`re safe from the international community.
I don`t think Beijing could ever change Kim Jong-un`s mind, but it doesn`t matter, because what China can do is influence the 300 or so senior officials around Kim, make them realize that it`s no longer in their interest to maintain these weapons programs, and that maybe even China could say to these guys, it`s no longer in your interest to support Kim.
China can do that if it wants to. It doesn`t want to. And, clearly, we have not given the incentives to China to make them go down that path. But we do have the power, Steve.
KORNACKI: And we mentioned this a minute ago, before this segment, though, but former Secretary of State, defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told Rachel Maddow that the State Department under the Trump administration is not equipped to deal with North Korea.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Diplomacy with North Korea is complicated. It requires people who know the language, the customs, the history.
We have decimated our State Department. Foreign Service officers with decades of experience have either been ignored or in some cases pushed so hard that they have resigned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, we know there`s validity to the idea that the State Department is understaffed right now. There have been all sorts of reports about Rex Tillerson not being particularly interested in the sorts of people that Hillary Clinton is talking about there.
KORNACKI: My question is, practically speaking, can you see, in the current situation with North Korea, that having an effect?
CHANG: Well, certainly, it has an effect.
And, you know, we don`t have an ambassador in South Korea. No one has replaced Mark Lippert.
Now, the one thing that`s actually sort of good is that the Trump administration has been effective in dealing with Moon Jae-in, the South Korea president. But, clearly, we would do better with an ambassador.
The one other place where we`re lacking people is the Treasury Department, the people who enforce sanctions, because if we`re going actually solve this peacefully, it`s because that we cut off the flows of funds to the North Korean regime that they use for their nuke and their ballistic missile programs.
But, clearly, at Treasury right now, you don`t have some spots filled. And until those spots are indeed filled, we`re going to have a hard time tracking down all that money. And it`s not just China.
Chinese is, of course, a big piece of it. But it`s all of these countries around the world that we need to go after. We need people in Treasury to do this.
So, Secretary Clinton is right about the State Department. But, also, let`s look at some of the other -- other parts of the federal government.
KORNACKI: OK, Gordon Chang, thank you for the time tonight. Appreciate that.
Still ahead, we`re going to have the very latest out of London. That is where a massive manhunt is under way for those responsible for this morning`s attack.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Law enforcement officials tell NBC News that U.K. authorities have identified a suspect in this morning`s subway bombing in London. The massive manhunt is now under way for that person.
For the very latest, let`s go to NBC`s Kelly Cobiella. She`s in London.
Kelly, they have a suspect. Do we... KELLY COBIELLA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Steve, police here in London say this investigation is moving on now quite quickly, at a very brisk pace.
They are looking for at least one suspect. No names put out there yet and, so far, as far as we understand, no arrests.
But multiple senior law enforcement officers in the U.S. briefed by U.K. authorities say that U.K. authorities have identified a suspect behind this bombing. They also say that this improvised explosive device, this homemade bomb, had a timer, but that the bomb didn`t detonate properly.
It still spread a flash fire through the subway car at 8:20 in the morning, the height of rush hour, the commuters, as well as parents and children, in that subway car on their way to school, on their way to work.
Some 29 people were injured. Most of those injuries are described as minor. But there were some people who were burned and many people who were hospitalized, more than a dozen, today. We understand that none of those injuries are serious or life-threatening.
Tonight, ISIS is claiming responsibility for this attack, but law enforcement here in the U.K. like to emphasize that the terror group often does this after an attack like this, showing absolutely no evidence of a direct link. And, so far, they have found no evidence that ISIS was somehow directing this particular attempt.
Also tonight, on a final note, Steve, the threat level here has been raised to critical. That`s the highest level in the U.K. It means an attack may be imminent, but authorities here like to stress as well that it also means more officers will be freed up to work on this investigation, to work on the manhunt -- Steve.
KORNACKI: All right, NBC`s Kelly Cobiella, thank you for that.
And up next, we`re going to talk to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He`s just toured the devastation in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
We will be right back.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: And welcome back to HARDBALL.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo travelled to the U.S. Virgin Islands today too see the damage caused by Hurricane Irma and to get a better idea of how New York state can help in the recovery effort. After surveying that damage, Governor Cuomo announced that 100 members of the New York Army National Guard and 30 members of the New York state police will be deployed to St. Thomas to provide security and support on the island.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just returned. He joins me now from the Westchester Airport.
Governor, thanks for taking a few minutes.
Tell me if you would about what you saw on the ground down there. We`ve seen some obviously some awful pictures coming out of there. Tell me what was that like on the ground and also, how it came to be that the governor of New York ended up down in the Virgin Islands being called on in a moment like this.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Well, actually, Steve, I think it was much worse than you would think from the coverage that we`ve seen here. I was surprised at how bad it was. We had so much going on in this country between Florida, Texas, et cetera. I don`t know that people really focused on the Virgin Islands.
But it was devastating. The power system all across the island was down. The poles were snapped like twigs. Cables down, but I don`t mean here and there. All of the cables, power cables down in the street, poles blocking the roads. Homes, Steve, that had two walls blown out literally. And people still living in the homes.
So, it`s going to be a really long, long time before they come up to speed.
Governor Mapp called me, I know the governor, and there are a lot of connections between New York and the Virgin Islands. The governor himself actually was a New Yorker. He was a member of the NYPD at one time, actually.
So, there are a lot of connections. I had worked in the federal government, as you know, as secretary of HUD. I had done a lot of emergency work we`ve gone through here in New York. So he asked us to come down, help with an assessment to see how we could pitch in.
The Virgin Islands doesn`t have the depth of government that we have here in New York or most states. So that was the purpose of the visit. But it is devastated.
KORNACKI: I want to ask you as well, you made some other news today in the midst of this trip on immigration. You signed in New York state as the governor, an executive order that tells the state police they can`t be inquiring about immigration status. I know you`ve got some conservative critics saying this amounts to a form of amnesty.
Tell us about what the order is and why you`re making this order.
CUOMO: Yes. It has nothing to do with amnesty. You know, when we talk about DACA, we talk about the wall, these are real people, right? New York, we have close to 50,000 people who are under the DACA regulation law, whatever you want to call it.
And they`re living their lives in total uncertainty. Even under DACA, they would have to recertify every two years. So, this is really pressing upon them.
My executive order says state agencies are not going to inquire about immigration status. First of all, it`s not a state responsibility, it`s a federal responsibility. Second of all, we know when people are afraid about the inquiry they tend not to contact authorities. The executive order also says if there`s a criminal investigation then the police can inquire about immigration status.
But if they`re just seeking services, they`re looking to lodge a complaint, they`re a witness, to intimidate them by asking them about their immigration service is unnecessary and chilling. They won`t come forward to testify in a case. They don`t come for medical assistance.
I had a personal situation, Steve. I was standing on the street corner in Manhattan. I saw a car go through a red light and hit a person on a bicycle.
And the person on the bicycle got hit very hard, flew literally through the air 10, 15 feet, was all cut up, was all scraped up. A group ran over. I said, let me call an ambulance.
And the last thing this person wanted to do was to be in an ambulance or go to a hospital or talk to a police officer. He got up. He pushed his mangled bicycle away.
You know, and this is a person that is seriously hurt and should have been helped and frankly was probably entitled to compensation. So, if a person is a witness, a person needs health care, a person is a victim of domestic violence, you want to tell a woman, you can`t complain about domestic violence only because you`re afraid they`re going to ask about your immigration status. It makes no sense.
If it`s a criminal investigation, then I agree. But not just to intimidate people, especially with Washington going through all of this turmoil.
KORNACKI: Well, yes, let me ask you about this, because the context of your appearance right here is that you have the high profile trip to the Virgin Islands. The contrast here, I think people have already noted in the press between your executive order and Donald Trump and his rhetoric on immigration. I think a lot of Democrats certainly appreciate that and a lot of people are looking right now at the Democratic Party, excuse me, and 2020 and an opponent for President Trump. You`ve seen a number of Democrats make moves already towards that.
Is that something that you are taking a look at?
CUOMO: No, forget about the presidential politics. It`s simpler than that, Steve. You have hundreds of thousands of people across this country who are affected by DACA. And it`s now a political football in Washington, right? And we`re going back and forth, if you listen to the news, about there`s going to be this deal, that deal.
These are people we`re talking about. And these are people who are wondering where their lives are going to fit in the midst of all of this political back and forth. So, to the extent we can give them some certainty and some comfort here in New York, that`s exactly what we want to do.
And I`ve made my position clear from the get-go. I am pro-immigration. We`re a nation of immigrants. This is lunacy to me where we now turn out anti-immigrant.
Who is not an immigrant? Unless you`re a Native American, you`re an immigrant, right? The president`s family were immigrants.
So, I never understood this anti-immigrant fervor except it was politically expedient and it was a way to create a boogie man for middle class people who had economic anxiety.
KORNACKI: All right.
CUOMO: And it was a nice simple answer in a campaign. But now, it`s -- you have to remember you`re talking about real people, you`re creating more anxiety with this possibility of political deal making using hundreds of thousands of lives like they`re a chessboard, you know?
CUOMO: And also, DACA and the wall, Steve, are not about two individual issues. There`s a deep philosophy in policy that is under those issues.
CUOMO: It`s the tip of the iceberg and that iceberg goes very deep.
KORNACKI: OK. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, joining us there from Westchester Airport, we appreciate the time.
We`ll be right back with the HARDBALL round table.
KORNACKI: And welcome back to HARDBALL.
Just hours after that terrorist incident on a London subway, President Trump took to Twitter, writing, quote, another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who are in the sights of Scotland Yard, must be proactive.
The president also used the London incident to promote one of his agenda items, writing, the travel ban into the United States should be far longer, tougher and more specific, but stupidly, that would fought be politically correct.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. We have Linette Lopez, senior correspondent for "Business Insider", Philip Bump is a political reporter for "The Washington Post", and Nick Confessore is a political reporter for "The New York Times" and an MSNBC contributor.
Lynette, not with the first time with this presidency and probably not for the last time, we are left trying to decode Donald Trump`s tweets, what was the audience he`s intending this for? What was the motivation here? What`s the exact message he`s trying to convey? What --
LINETTE LOPEZ, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: What I found was unfortunate about this tweet that he said politically incorrect, instead of potentially, constitutionally, like OK in the United States of America. But that`s one thing.
Now, he`s doing deals with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, he needs to be more colloquial, even more tough talking and talk to his base, the way that he has. I know there are people out there, they`re disappointed in the negotiations that he`s making.
So now, it`s an even more important time for him to be as hard line as possible on social issues. He`s been praying in public. He`s been trying to connect to the base that way. While he`s also been talking to, you know, people --
KORNACKI: That`s the question, Philip, it does make some strategic sense. If you have the risk here of your base getting upset with immigration and, you know, you take some hard line public position. On the other hand, my sense with Trump is he`s a lot more reactive than strategic.
PHILIP BUMP, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think you said is probably correct. I mean, this is at least fourth time by my count he has either inappropriately related something to terrorism which wasn`t before the fact or before authorities said it was terrorism. The reason he does this I think you are right is reactive. He is trying to -- any time he sees terrorism, he thinks he can play to his own political advantage.
So, he tweets about how this is terrorism and then he tweets immediately after how we need the travel ban, which is only tangentially related to it all anyway, and yet, of course, when there are other acts of violence and terrorism not perpetrated potentially by Muslims, a total different reaction, days to respond. This is a core thing, it`s core philosophy of his is I need to jump on top of this terrorism news and I think that`s what he did.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting, too, Nick, because at the start of the show, we had Jonathan Swan, and he has this interesting thing up at Axios where he`s saying, look, Kelly, the chief of staff, has really done a good job of tightening and controlling the information that comes into Trump every morning. He`s not looking at "Breitbart" headlines every morning, saying if he does X, he will be a sellout. He is looking at different sources of information.
Although here`s one where it looks like, look, a major national story, an international story is playing out, he takes out his phone, Donald Trump is communicating with everybody.
NICK CONFESSORE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Look, the president is just like you and me. In the morning, he wakes up, he checks Twitter. He tweets something. But he`s the president. And that`s the problem.
He behaves like a normal person on Twitter as if his words don`t carry immense gravity and they do. Look, he has the best security apparatus in the entire world. Use it. Wait an hour. It`s not live TV.
KORNACKI: Although what you are saying, it`s interesting, too, Linette, because to the idea this might be strategic or if it isn`t strategic.
LOPEZ: I think you misunderstood what I`m saying. I don`t think this is strategy. This is something that comes from his gut. And if you talk to anybody who knows him, he has visceral reactions to things.
He has a few goals and a few statements and a few things about his campaign that are sticking with him, the wall the travel ban, being hard on terror, these are the things that are kind of sticking in the way tax reform or health care.
KORNACKI: These types of reactions would have the effect, whatever the motivation for it, would have the effect of helping to shore up that connection that he has with that base.
LOPEZ: And he needs it right now.
KORNACKI: OK. We`re going to see if we get more details, too. That`s the other question on this DACA. We`re going to get some details of what`s going to be in that legislation if it does emerge.
Quick break, we`ll be back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
KORNACKI: All right. Linette, tell me something I don`t know.
LOPEZ: "The Journal of American Medicine" this week declared that a drug the government has spent a billion dollars on for five years probably doesn`t work any better than it`s all alternatives that are 50th of the cost.
KORNACKI: There you go.
BUMP: I went to Staten Island this weekend to see how Sandy survivors affected by Harvey and Irma, I found eight houses not repaired five years later, still a lot of --
KORNACKI: Not a good sign.
CONFESSORE: We think we`re living in a uniquely deadly age for terrorist attacks. But it has been worse in the `70s. In an 18-month period, there were five bombings a day on American soil.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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