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GOP senator "Do not recall" Trump's remarks Transcript 1/12/18 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Patrick Gaspard, Ginger Gibson, Karine Jean-Pierre

Show: HARDBALL Date: January 12, 2018 Guest: Patrick Gaspard, Ginger Gibson, Karine Jean-Pierre

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: In a hole. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. One day after yesterday`s now infamous oval office meeting, President Trump`s expletive of choice used to describe an entire continent is today reverberating around the world.

As "the Washington Post" was the first to report, the President said in an oval office on immigration yesterday, why are we having all these people from s-hole countries come here? And speaking of immigrants from Haiti, Trump reportedly said, why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.

Despite facing widespread international outrage, the President is now un- repent trying for now at least to weather the storm with that owning up to his words. This morning, he issued the denial on twitter saying the language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough but this not the language used.

One is remark about immigrants from Haiti. President disputed part if not all or but not all of what he reportedly said. Quote "never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is obviously a very poor and troubled country. Never said take them out. Made up by Democrats. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians, probably should record future meetings. Unfortunately, no trust.

Well, among the lawmakers in yesterday`s meeting, Democratic senator Dick Durbin of Illinois was the first to dispute the President saying he did use that language, not once but repeatedly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: He said, Haitians, do we need more Haitians? And then he went on and he started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That`s what he used these vile and vulgar comments calling the nations they come from shitholes, the exact word used by the President not just once but repeatedly. I think back to Presidents throughout history and I cannot imagine a moment where a President sunk to that depth. That`s what breaks my heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Think he is a good man.

Anyway, responding Durbin`s account of the meeting, Republicans senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue said in a joint statement quote "we do not recall the President saying these comments specifically." I love the "we do not recall." How does the two different brains work exact the same way?

Anyway. However, South Carolina`s post current reports that Senator Lindsey Grandma confirmed Durbin`s account to colleagues. Senator Tim Scott quote graham, Scott said, told him the reported were basically accurate."

Well, Graham who reportedly stood up to the President in the meeting yesterday said all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.

It was against this backdrop today that we witness a study in contrast at the White House where the President this morning delivered remarks honoring civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King. When given the opportunity to clarify or apologize for making his racially charge comments the other day, Trump remained silent. Let`s watch his silence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, will you give an apology for the statement yesterday? President, are you a racist? Mr. President, will you respond to the serious questions about this statement, sir? We are talking to the President. Mr. President, are you a racist?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was April Ryan, our friend, making that request. Today, to answer that charge, joining me right now is Joy Reid, host of MSNBC`s "AM Joy" which is on every weekend. Everybody watches it. Jennifer Rubin is a conservative columnist, you know, we should just say columnist. We never say liberal columnist. And the conservative columnist in "the Washington Post," and an MSNBC political analyst, but you like conservative right? \

JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And Eli Stokols is White House reporter for the "Wall Street Journal" and he has no politics. He is just an analyst here.

Let`s start with Joy. Because I love have you on Friday because then everybody knows you are on the weekend. And you know, the word, I don`t know why we don`t say it because we say other nasty words. But we are not going to say this one because it`s sort of our deal here at MSNBC and NBC. But everybody in America know the word now. It is how he sees countries where people come from who are black.

JOY ANN REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Where my parents came from, you know. And it is interesting because I was on text, email and phone with several Haitian American friends even while I was on the air who are still texting me and just infuriated. I mean, when you think about the contributions of the Haitians have made to this country from fighting in the revolutionary war, to overthrowing the Napoleonic army and making the Louisiana possible, to really create in the culture of New Orleans. Haiti has been inextricably bound to American history from the very beginning of this country. Haitians fought in World War II where members of the tusky airman.

And then if you go to Africans, well, my God. This country was built by the back breaking free labor of Africans. The house Trump lives in was built by African hands. He is sleeping inside of a home that was built by African hands who got nothing in return. And African-Americans have merely asked this President for basic respect. He hasn`t given it.

So you, as an immigrant and a child of immigrants myself, I was disgusted by his comments. But I think, Chris, I`m even more repulsed by people like Lindsey Graham who don`t have the guts to come out and condemn Trump publicly. How shameful for those men to sit around that table, listening to this racist commentary and don`t have the courage to walk out to a camera and do what Dick Durbin did. Shame on them. Shame on Lindsey Graham just telling Tim Scott. Come out what you told them. Shame on him.

MATTHEWS: Well, in this history lesson which we are all reminded of because it is something we should know. I mean, most of us come from grandparents from other parts of Europe, parts of Europe. The African- Americans that you meet on the street have all been here before we ever got here by hundreds of years in most cases. That`s just a fact, you know. People like Michelle Obama`s family go way back. And also by the way add to one more stark iconic reality, I think it was the lady of freedom on the top of the capital building was also put there by slaves.

Anyway. Your thoughts?

JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I do agree with Joy. That the most shameful thing, because unfortunately, we have got used to and we have accepted and we know this President is a racist. And to quote his own staff, a dope, is the behavior of the Republicans.

To have Mr. Cotton and to have Mr. Perdue jointly say we have no memory of this. How sniveling of that? How cowardly they has been? You either remember something like that or you are just going to cover for him. They know it`s wrong. They won`t say it and they don`t even have the guts to keep their mouth shut. They have some kind of weigh in --.

MATTHEWS: Durbin said he used that term a lot.

RUBIN: Yes. How do you forget that?

MATTHEWS: Well, I would hear it.

Anyway. Eli, you have to be the anchor person on this conversation. I don`t know what you can add at this point.

ELI ESTOKOLS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I don`t really know if there is left to say. I was in that room today when the President was reading from a piece of paper the remarks about MLK, and ignoring the shouted questions at the end. And it was really - I mean, it is a another surreal moment in this presidency to sit there and to know the context, to know that this is a comment that he made yesterday, an incendiary racist comment and to see him there today extolling the virtues of Martin Luther King. I mean, just staggering. You don`t really know what to make of this.

MATTHEWS: How would you like to be Ben Carson, instead? Ben Carson, whatever you think of his politics, I think he is a good guy. But he has to play this part as an African-American cabinet member.

RUBIN: Actually, he doesn`t. He can leave. And that`s what bothers me as well.

MATTHEWS: You mean quit.

RUBIN: Yes. Not a single person in the White House staff, not a single person works for in those senators who doesn`t remember walks out the door and says no, this is a bridge too far. What is the matter with these people?

MATTHEWS: Well, one reason is the alarming behavior by Republicans that we have all noted there that goes beyond any of these moral questions. They seem to be marching in line like North Korean infantry men. They just do.

You know, let`s get back to that, Joy. Why do Republicans say yes, sir every time Trump says do this? Every time.

REID: I don`t know. Yes. You know, it is interesting because, you know, there are different ways to look at it. And I agree with Jennifer. Ben Carson absolutely does not have to be there. He has a career and a reputation that was separate and distinct from Donald Trump. Donald Trump disparaged him during the campaign and now he is as sniveling and supine as the rest of them. And all of those African-Americans, Trump`s sort of black friends that were (INAUDIBLE), Darryl Scott answering on his behalf. Katrina Pierson, all these people. They obviously are just grubbing for position and looking for something for themselves. None of them have any credit with the black community except Tin Scott (ph).

MATTHEWS: You don`t know their motive.

REID: They are there. They are decorative.

MATTHEWS: They call them the worst kind of good soldiers.

REID: Yes, exactly. But I mean, but when it comes to people, as I am compounded by the senators, people in a co-equal branch of government, people with their own separate dignity and constituencies who represent states. Why do they feel they have to bow down to this President? I truly don`t understand it.

MATTHEWS: Well, the Democratic party not that these are two options, the only options at the table are not like that. They don`t behave.

Anyway, as I mentioned, some of - in that way. Anyway, as I mentioned, some of Trump`s allies found ways to defend the President`s remarks. Congressman Jim Renacci who is running for the senate in Ohio said the President shouldn`t be judge for what he says because many often share his beliefs. Let`s go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He lamented about the immigration program, those in front of him, and say why would take so many people from these s-hole countries. What`s your reaction to that?

REP. JIM RENACCI (R), OHIO: Well, look. I said all along, the President many times said says what people are thinking. I learned as a business guy you have to be careful what you say because people pick everything up. I always say judge the President after four years. Let`s judge the President after what he ever done. Let`s not judge the president on what he says.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you think of that in Ohio, Eli? Is that going to sell with Republican suburbanites?

ESTOKOLS: No, with suburbanites. No. I mean, this is the same (INAUDIBLE) we have seen from Republicans basically since the inception of the Trump presidency. And it is - I mean, none of this is really new. I mean, the language was shocking yesterday but none of this is surprising. This is who Donald Trump has been. And who has shown himself to be over decades in this country. And he was elected largely by a movement that was fuelled by his unsubtle brand --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He seems to accept Norwegians are OK.

RUBIN: Yes. And white southern evangelicals who are continuing to applaud him. And by that way, talk about shameful. These are people who are religious leaders saying that it is appropriate language? I mean, it is disgusting.

ESTOKOLS: But the Norwegian thing is important because that takes away any fig leaf the White House could have use to say, he didn`t mean - it wasn`t to be racist. When you are basically saying we don`t want people from those countries, where black and brown people are, but we all take it from this Norway country that is full of white people. It is explicit. It is clear what Trump is saying. And the White House really didn`t push back very hard on this.

MATTHEWS: It reminds me of the "Saturday Night Live" skit about this. Secretary of state Florida wanted to be a side to healthy country. Anyway, that is ridiculous.

Anyway, this is real, though. Meanwhile, House speaker Paul Ryan called the President`s remarks unfortunate. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Yes, I read those comments later last night. So first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful. And whether you are coming from Haiti, we have got great friends from Africa in Jamesville who are doctors, who are just incredible citizens. And I just think it`s important that we celebrate that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Senator John McCain issued a stronger rebuke in his statement today. Quote "respect for the God given dignity of every human being no matter their race, ethnicity or other circumstances of their birth is the essence of American patriotism. Our immigration policy should reflect that truth and our elected officials, including our President, should respect it." Jennifer?

RUBIN: You know, how pathetic this Paul Ryan? How far he has fallen? He says it`s unfortunate. You know, it`s unfortunate when I get a hang mail. It is unfortunate when I get run in my stockings. This is not unfortunate. This is outrageous. And look at this is a man who has fairly more respected who by the way has been pro-immigration his whole life. Now, trying to play it down.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, what I think he says.

Let me go to Joy on this. I think everything Paul Ryan hears or thinks about has to do with his agenda. It`s not very personal. It`s all about this sort of iron run objectivist goals he has. Less taxes, less government, you know, less entitlement programs, you know. That`s his goal in life. And anything that advances it is fortunate. Anything that doesn`t advance is unfortunate. He doesn`t care about these moral questions of these issues of what -- how we should talk as Americans.

REID: I agree with you. There has never been a more single minded politician than Paul Ryan. He cares only about eviscerating the social safety net, repealing the 20th century, all of the new deal, the great society wants all that gone. And it is true. He is pathetic. I think it`s one of the darkest sort of chapters in the Trump era is Paul Ryan revealing himself.

But I do have to day this. With that other person that you played on FOX News said is true in a sense because Donald Trump was elected -- if you go back and you look at the data on the election of Donald Trump racial grievance was really a driver of getting him across the finish line. He played to people who have what they want to call economic anxiety but he supplied them a cause for their pain. He said if you are losing your jobs in Jamesville or in the plants in Pittsburg, it`s not because your employer is greedy and wants to export your labor to overseas workers, it`s because of brown people. It is really -- you should go ahead feel good about blaming Mexicans for your wows. That is actually a big comfortable space. And anybody, any Republican looking to get elected or reelected in 2018 understands that racial grievance is a big part of the driving Republican sort of force behind Republican voters, at least that voted for Trump. And they know that they are afraid -- anger to those people.

MATTHEWS: It`s like the LBJ quote, I read today, that said if you want to get the white working class just tell them we are so white people that they are better than the best of the black people. And they are going to feel better about there a lot. And also feel better about voting for rich people as they basically take their money.

Anyway, the President has a history of making these kinds of charges and his remarks. I have been saying this for about ever since we heard of Trump for President candidate. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

They are bringing drugs, they are bringing crimes, they are rapist.

He is Mexican. We are building a wall between here and Mexico.

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

His wife, if you look at his wife she was standing there, she had nothing to say, she probably, maybe she wasn`t allowed to have anything to say.

We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.

Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?

I don`t know anything about David Duke, OK. I don`t know what you are even talking about with white supremacists or white supremacy. You wouldn`t want me to condemn a group I know nothing about.

But you also have people that were very fine people on both sides.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Videotape.

Anyway, this latest wasn`t the first time the President showed such callous disdain to the country of Haiti. The "New York Times" reported in December, they are doing Jun oval office meeting, he said Haitian immigrants quote "all have AIDS." That is according to one person who tended to be. However, the White House denied it.

Anyway, here we go again. I want to go back to Joy this weekend. I think the story has legs. I would expect you will be getting to it tomorrow with "A.M. Joy."

REID: Yes, absolutely. And I think the big question on the table now is really in a sense for Democrats. Because how do they continue to sit across the table from this man? The question was asked when hoe hired Steve Bannon, given the white nationalist leanings of Breitbart and his own personal reviews, why Democrats would sit across the table from him them or after Charlottesville after of (INAUDIBLE) of other incident.

So the question is whether or not there can be good faith negotiations with such a person. With Stephen Miller still will bring in his ear and still, you know, with the attorney general`s views still whispered in his ear. And I think Democrats need to make a decision, make a gut check here, whether or not it is worth sitting around that table with this kind of man given that he --

MATTHEWS: I`m betting Republicans to be Republicans, Joy.

REID: Yes, they know. The Republicans will fall in line like you said, there are the North Korean army marching behind their leader (ph).

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) those pictures in that uniformity and representation. I think of what Republican caucus of the senate.

Anyway, thank you Joy Reid. Thank you Jennifer Rubin, columnist. We got to be equal around here. Eli Estokols, great objectives journalism.

Coming up, what is the rest of the world hearing in Trump`s vulgar language about countries he doesn`t like? Well, we are going to get a lot of reactions around the world because it is coming. What we are hearing in Africa (INAUDIBLE). We are going to talk Patrick Gaspard, the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa who is of Haitian ancestry and was born in Congo. He has got all three bases covered to talk about this issue.

Plus the other obsession Trump can`t quit, blaming President Obama. Is it because he is black? He blames him for everything. This time Trump said Obama was the reason Trump isn`t going to London now. Figure that out. But once again Trump didn`t have the facts straight.

And if this is the week Trump aimed to dispel all the charges from Michael Wolff`s book about his fitness for office, didn`t it backfire spectacularly? We are going to get to that with the "hardball" round table tonight.

Finally, let me finish that with Trump watch. I think it is a good one.

And this is "Hardball" where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump is keeping the Iran nuclear deal alive at least for now. Today, the President said he would once again waive sanctions against the Iranian regime in order to give his administration and its European allies a chance to overall the 2015 nuclear deal.

In a statement Trump said, this is a last chance in the absence of such an agreement. The United States will not again waive sanction in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. Wow.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, the president`s vulgar comments made headlines across the globe, from newspapers in El Salvador and Haiti to this Kenyan cartoon. Well, the world did not take the president`s comments lightly.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSIE DUARTE, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS: Ours is not a shithole country. Neither is Haiti or any other country in distress.

PAUL ALTIDOR, HAITIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Haitian Americans fought along side by side with U.S. soldiers for the independence of this country. We have been a good neighbor. We have been a good friend. We have been a good partner of the United States over the years.

RUPERT COLVILLE, SPOKESMAN, UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: These are shocking and shameful comments from the president of the United States. I`m sorry, but there`s no other word one can use but racist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, the government of Botswana over in Africa said in a statement that it had summoned the U.S. ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the president of the U.S.

The Botswana government has also inquired from the U.S. government through the ambassador to clarify if Botswana is regard as an S-hole, that phrase, country.

A spokeswoman for the African Union said in the statement: "Considering the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the U.S. during the Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice."

I`m joined right now by Patrick Gaspard, the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and the president of the Open Society Foundation.

Ambassador, thank you for joining us.

And because of your background, I have to have -- I wanted so much to have you on. And I have known you a little bit.

Tell us about your background and what that -- how that sort of educates you to the damage this does.

PATRICK GASPARD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: Well, Chris, thank you for having me on.

You had me on eight years ago this week after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. And at that time we saw an outpouring of the heart and passion of just who Americans really are.

And this moment, I think, does not reflect that. But it is about astounding. Chris, as you know, I am Haitian American. My parents are from Haiti. And I was actually born in the Congo. And I had a long career of service to and partnership with people in the continent in the diaspora.

So this is personal. It strikes right at home. And when one considers that, on this day, 200,000 Haitians lost their lives and were fortunate and blessed to have the partnership of the United States, where they could come, seek opportunity and restore themselves to mark that anniversary, and then Dr. King`s holiday, with these reprehensible remarks from Donald Trump is beyond the pale.

Not surprising from him, but I`m astounded to see the lack of fierce rebuttal from national Republicans like Paul Ryan.

MATTHEWS: I was lucky to be out of the country for a couple weeks, the last several weeks in South America.

And I have to tell you, it`s very interesting with people how -- and you have been our ambassador to South Africa and you have traveled the world. And do you get a sense that when people hear Trump talk along this vulgar line that they hear our country?

How do they disaggregate, if you will, separate Trump from the country he`s been elected to be president of? I just worry about they think he`s our spokesperson.

GASPARD: Chris, all Americans should be as concerned about that as you are.

You were a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland. You understand the kind of deep reservoir of goodwill that we built through those kinds of partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Caribbean, in Asia, and elsewhere.

I have friends who are in the diplomatic corps, career Foreign Service officers who have given the best of themselves to represent America overseas, and they are absolutely disoriented in this moment. They`re constantly being asked to explain one outrage after another from the occupant of the Oval Office.

They struggle to do so, as we saw with the resignation today of our ambassador to Panama. Of course, they lean on our founding documents. They lean on a history of openness and inclusion. They lean on the history of Irish Americans, like you, Chris, who when they first came to the United States were subject to ugly vitriol, but who organized themselves, voted and became full participants at the table of democracy and have made remarkable contributions.

So, they lean on that history and they help those overseas understand that our better angels will continue to govern immigration policy, trade policy and security partnership.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s become a tougher argument for all of us.

Anyway, in his comments, President Trump appeared to assume that African immigrants won`t help the United States economically. But, according to the Migration Policy Institute, sub-Saharan African immigrants were more highly educated than the U.S.-born population, us, in other words.

They note that, in 2015, 39 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants to this country had a bachelor`s degree or higher, a graduate degree, compared to just 29 percent of the total foreign-born population.

People who come from Africa are more educated than people coming from Europe and other parts of the world at 31 percent. Anyway, Nigerians and South Africans especially are well-educated, the most highly educated, with 57 percent of people coming from those two countries having at least a bachelor`s degree.

Let`s talk up Africa for a minute, Ambassador. Let`s stop this.

The ANC in South Africa, which has had a couple bad leaders, it looks like they have a great one now, Cyril Ramaphosa. I have been rooting for that guy ever since black rule, basically, majority rule.

Tell me. Give us some good news about South Africa, if you can.

GASPARD: Well, I will give you good news about the region. It has some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

We know that there are young people there who are more innovative than anyone else on the planet. In South Africa alone, Chris, there are over 600 U.S. companies that are building industry that are responsible for over 10 percent of the economy in the region.

And they tell me -- this is IBM. This is Google. This is the Ford Motor Company. They tell me that their employees in South Africa are the exemplar of the kind of employees that they need all around the world.

And that`s true all throughout the region. A few years ago, Chris, you had me on your show with a young woman who was part of President Obama`s Young African Leaders Initiative. And I remember how blown away you were by how dynamic she was, by how ambitious she was, and how clear she was that she was not coming to the United States to learn and seeking a handout, but she was coming here as a partner and coming back and bringing those skills to her community in South Africa as a way of transforming her country and helping to lead to a more broadly shared economy.

These are rich, deep partnerships. These are vital cultures. And these are people who, when they come to the United States, make a contribution that`s over and above what we could possibly hope to obtain.

So, leaders in the U.S. right now, Republicans who are hearing these comments and not speaking from a place of outrage, need to understand that our economic progress in the future, our security in the future are dependent on these relationships and the incredible people in South Africa, in Kenya, in Nigeria, in Mozambique, and, of course, in my heart of hearts, Haiti.

MATTHEWS: For everybody listening, everyone listening right now, I want you to say that that`s my voice of America. You just heard Ambassador Patrick Gaspard. He speaks for our country, the country we love.

And thank you very much, Ambassador, for coming on.

GASPARD: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump cancels his upcoming visit to London, and he blames President Obama. You figure. Once again, Trump has got his facts all screwed up and, once again, he`s shown a reflexive need to make everything about Barack Obama.

What is this obsession with blaming Obama? If he`s not blaming him, he`s blaming Hillary Clinton.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

When the going gets tough for Donald Trump, he lashes out against his favorite target, Barack Obama. And amid the fierce fallout over his vulgar comments of this week, the president sought to divert his followers` attention by criticizing Barack Obama.

And late last night, after British newspapers reported that fears of mass protests had scuttled the president`s visit to the United Kingdom, Trump tweeted: "Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for peanuts, only to build a new one in an off location for $1.2 billion. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon. NO!"

According to the State Department and the U.S. Embassy itself, it was George W. Bush`s administration, not Barack Obama`s, that decided to relocate and build the new U.S. Embassy in London.

It`s yet another incident of President Trump attacking his predecessor.

Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the last eight years, the past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all of the other presidents combined.

And we have gotten rid of a lot of really bad pieces that were signed by President Obama, believe me.

They voted because they believed the lies of President Obama.

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.

They ask me, what about race relations in the United States? Now, I have to say they were pretty bad under Barack Obama. That, I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Ashley Parker, White House correspondent for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor, and David Cornell, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones.

Ashley, for the reporting, can you give us a sense, from people just hearing about this now, Trump saying, well, I decided not to go to London not because of the bad press, not because they don`t want me, not because there`s going to be a certain percentage of the entire British population out to protest me, but because I don`t like the relocation of the U.S. Embassy, how`s that square with the chronology?

ASHLEY PARKER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, it squares with a pattern that President Trump has demonstrated previously, which is, he does not like to be publicly humiliated or insulted or wounded.

And so he will often sort of preempt something bad or embarrassing by making an announcement like this on Twitter. As you know, of course, it was not President Obama who actually moved the location of the embassy. It was President George W. Bush who made that decision in 2008. And it was moved for security reasons. So, he`s incorrect to attribute that to President Obama.

But it does seem like him sort of preempting what could have been a quite uncomfortable visit for him to London.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

You know, David, it seems to me -- you and I have been watching this -- that the Europeans don`t like this guy. Most of the world doesn`t like Donald Trump.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Wherever you go, they -- I have only been -- I was, as I said, in South America recently, the last couple weeks.

They don`t like him because they think he has a race problem. They think he does look down on people of color, and most of the world that I have been around is people of color. And the fact, they don`t like it. And British people don`t like him because of his manner, I think, and his language.

CORN: Well, he`s vulgar -- well, vulgar. But also most Americans aren`t liking him as well these days.

So, he`s in a minority position around the world.

MATTHEWS: What about his excuse?

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Well, he doesn`t have an excuse.

This is a guy who has a long history of racial controversies, if you want to be polite about it. And you and I spent many years -- and you were very confrontational on a good way on this -- when he was a birther, and which was -- I don`t think there`s any way to the see it without having some racial aspect to it.

Here was the first African-American president, and he kept claiming, when there was absolutely no evidence, that he was a pretender to the throne, he didn`t belong there, he didn`t deserve to be there.

And yet Mitt Romney accepted his endorsement. CPAC had him show up, though he was pushing a nutty conspiracy theory. So I think he`s been enabled by Republicans. And the election only taught him that he can get away with saying the worst things.

And even Paul Ryan during the campaign when he was talking about Mexicans being rapists and when he went after an American judge for a Mexican heritage, Ryan said, these are racial issues.

And yet he succeeds, and he`s only learned up to now, up to this week, that he can get away with it.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me it`s an old excuse, as a tackling dummy for him, Barack Obama.

Let me ask you about the embassy. Of course, the American Embassy, those of us who have been lucky to see it in Grosvenor Square, is in a beautiful part of London. It`s a wonderful leafy neighborhood. You want to wander around there. Who wouldn`t want to wander around that neighborhood?

But in cases kill there or in Nairobi, because of security concerns, they have moved the embassy out into somewhere outside the city, where they can put the bunkers up and put all the cement up. You know what is going on?

But isn`t that exactly what Trump demanded in the aftermath of Benghazi, that we should be tougher in putting up our defenses around embassies and diplomatic facilities? Isn`t this what he wanted?

PARKER: It was not a decision -- again, I think part of the problem is, this was a decision that President Trump made about the embassy.

It was, again, a George W. Bush decision. But the president has a lot of frustration about inheriting problems from his predecessors. That`s something he`s voice repeatedly. He`s complained about it on North Korea.

And so while it fits in line with him wanting to secure Americans abroad, again, it wasn`t his decision. And, frankly, it seems like a little bit of a flimsy excuse to just get out of a visit to London that was not going to be particularly enjoyable for him.

CORN: And it`s not even a problem. You can -- moving the embassy was judged by security experts that it was necessary.

And the embassy is being built. It`s not plagued with issues. So he`s creating a problem that doesn`t exist, so he can blame Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: It is for the peanut gallery. It`s for his most far-right people who will buy anything he gives him, so, tonight, Friday night, when they`re sitting around talking about Trump, they will take his side and say, well, you know they had a problem with the embassy.

No, we didn`t. Trump`s problem is with Trump.

Thank you, Ashley Parker of "The Washington Post" and David Corn of Mother Jones.

Up next: This was the week President Trump was supposed to push back on charges he was not fit for the office of president. Well, clearly, that plan went out the window a couple days ago.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday, we had a bipartisan meeting with House members and senators on immigration reform. It was a tremendous meeting. Actually, it was reported as incredibly good and my performance -- you know, some of it called it a performance. I consider it work. But it got great reviews.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Wow, welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump basking in the blow of his immigration meeting this past Tuesday. For a short time, it seemed to dispel some charges from Michael Wolff`s "Fire and Fury" book about his very fitness for office. But it didn`t last long, did it? Trump started the week with that show of deal-making on immigration only to reverse course the next day. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital because this should be a bipartisan bill. It should be a bill of love. Truly, it should be a bill of love, and we can do that. But it also has to be a bill where we`re able to secure our border.

We don`t need a 2,000 mile wall. We don`t need a wall where you have rivers and mountains and everything else protecting.

REPORTER: Would you be willing to sign an immigration deal that ultimately does not include funding for the wall or would that be a red line for you?

TRUMP: No, no.

REPORTER: No?

TRUMP: It`s got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, on Thursday the president complicated matters by ranting to senators about immigrants from s-hole countries being allowed to enter the United States. He also tweeted criticism of a surveillance reauthorization bill his own administration was lobbying Congress to approve, then reversed course two hours later.

In a lengthy interview with "The Wall Street Journal", Trump said, I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un of North Korea. But when asked about his combative tweets, Trump told "The Journal", you see that a lot with me. And then somebody is my best friend. I`m a very flexible person.

What a week.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Ginger Gibson, political correspondent for "Reuters", Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser for MoveOn.org, and Beth Fouhy, of course, our own senior politics editor at MSNBC and NBC.

Beth, I want to start with you. He seemed like he was on a -- sort of parole this week, prove he`s not as nutty as Michael Wolff portrayed him as being. He stuck to that for a day and then off the rails.

BETH FOUHY, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, MSNBC & NBC NEWS: Yes, but see -- and I think if you`re referring to the bipartisan meeting he did in the Oval Office where he invited cameras in, yes, he was trying to show that he could function, that he could run a good meeting, that he could seek input, he could sound plausible and defensible as a president.

I actually found the whole conversation a little bit off, because Michael Wolff`s thesis is not the president is mentally unstable. It`s his staff does not believe he`s up to the job. And that very much was borne out in that meeting. He didn`t know anything about the substance of what he was discussing on DACA. He simply was saying he wants a deal, any deal, he was ready to take Dianne Feinstein`s offer of a clean DACA, if necessary, just to get a deal, and it took Republicans to step in and say, no, no, no, that`s not what you want, Mr. President.

He also sort of dealt with this as a TV producer. And this is content. And as the cameras were leaving, he said, I hope I gave you guys enough material. So, it`s as though he was producing a show about a presidency rather than actually executing the job.

MATTHEWS: That`s how he fixes a problem. He also referred to it, Karine, as a studio. He called the cabinet room his studio.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: Yes, the presidency is a reality TV show for him. I mean, that`s the way he`s kind of taking this all on. He did that as a candidate. He`s doing it as president.

The other thing, too, I totally agree with Beth`s analysis. That other part that I would add to it is that every time they say, that`s not me, they say that Donald Trump is going to turn a corner, right? He`s going to -- he really is going to be presidential.

Days later, we see the real Donald Trump. He can`t help himself because he is truly who he is. Which is there is no mystery to him.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think if he think -- do you think he`s politically smart?

JEAN-PIERRE: No, I don`t --

MATTHEWS: Why would he say in front of Durbin and a bunch of Democrats, a lot of them progressives like Durbin, I guess, why would he use that term s-hole -- I can`t say it on television. But he said it, he gave them what they wanted, which is something they had used against him to be political about, right, Ginger?

GINGER GIBSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: I think --

MATTHEWS: They`re going to -- by the way, how is he going to get a Democrat to cut a deal with him on immigration if he made those comments about the people that are involved.

GIBSON: That`s actually the hardest part. We`re in an even numbered year which means these people have to stand up to voters this year, and the Democrats are going to say, the last person they want to be seen making deal with, even on something that they want, is going to be Donald Trump.

I think when we see him say things like this in a private setting, there is a bit of a thought that he`s the president, that he can do these things, that he can muck it out behind closed doors because he`s in charge. It`s a little bit of a fairytale version of a presidency that Donald Trump had coming to it, that we still see coming back that he thinks that it`s OK.

MATTHEWS: You got have to cover the straight news for us. But tell me, where does he stand on DACA? Do we even know?

FOUHY: He wants a deal.

MATTHEWS: Any deal.

FOUHY: Any deal. He said, just send me something I can sign. You guys work out the details.

He did tweet quite a bit this morning that he will not accept a DACA that doesn`t address chain migration, the family migration. Also, he wants a wall.

MATTHEWS: He wants a wall.

FOUHY: But other than that, he`s pretty flexible.

MATTHEWS: I notice "The Washington Post" is starting to give him the wall. Very interesting in their lead the other day.

Anyway, last night -- we have to lighten this up a little bit. Last night, I asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe how he would respond to physical provocations by President Trump should he run in 2020? You remember this memorable moment by the way during the second presidential debate where, look at this weird movement by Trump. He wants to loom behind Hillary Clinton and then he notched it up by getting closer to it when she was trying to answer questions. This is spooky.

OK. So, I asked Terry what he -- the governor what he would do if Trump tried that on him?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What would you do in a debate with him if he tried that? If he come over and lean over back of you, what would you do?

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: You`d have to pick him up off the floor.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. You mean you`d deck him?

MCAULIFFE: Listen, this guy got in my space, you want to get in my space. I`ve always said, Chris, you punch me, I`m going to punch you back twice as hard. And it wouldn`t be hard to do it.

But, you know, this guy thinks he can intimidate everybody. It`s disgraceful. It`s embarrassing. But I`ll tell you, when we take him on back in his face with the facts, don`t take anything from him and hit him back as hard as you possibly can. But if he ever leaned in my space, that would be the last time Donald Trump ever did that. I promise you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What did you make of that, Beth?

FOUHY: I thought he was a little disrespectful to his good friend Hillary Clinton, suggesting she should have punched Trump in the middle of a televised debate. I don`t think that would have been a great idea.

But, look, Democrats want somebody who is going to take the fight to Trump. That`s what terry was doing. So the extent that he`s talking about like getting up in his face, whether it`s physically or literally or metaphorically, that`s what Democrats want.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, Ginger, everybody is trying their stuff out, aren`t they?

GIBSON: Democrats are going to be in the process of testing their foils, one against Trump, or it`s the tough guy, the Terry McAuliffe model. We`re going to see --

MATTHEWS: Or the nice Oprah.

GIBSON: The nice celebrity Oprah version, the other celebrity, the biggest celebrity. And then we`re going to see the bookish, wonkish foil. We`re going to see folks like Cory Booker, like Amy Klobuchar --

MATTHEWS: Rhodes scholar Booker, yes, right.

GIBSON: And make the argument that they can be the best foil.

MATTHEWS: OK.

JEAN-PIERRE: Really quickly, I just want to say, I think the focus has to be 2018. If you want to stop Donald Trump, if Democrats want to stop Donald Trump, they have to win back Congress. I think 2020 is, we have a lot of time.

MATTHEWS: You know what? I disagree. I want to see some greatness and I want to seem some leadership. They`re going to win in `18.

JEAN-PIERRE: I do, but 2018 --

MATTHEWS: I know you`re going to sell -- I understand why you`re selling it with Move On. You`re going to win the House this year anyway.

The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will give me some headlines to talk about tomorrow and over the weekend.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, this is the type of week don`t you think that the Sunday morning political talk shows are designed to cover. And I`ll be part of the conversation this weekend with an appearance on NBC`s great "Meet the Press" this Sunday. You won`t want to miss it.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.

Ginger, tell me something I don`t know for the weekend.

GIBSON: For the weekend, my colleagues at "Reuters" have found not one but two loopholes in the tax code, the brand-new tax code, already that might need mending. Millions of dollars in taxes that companies like Apple are going to be able to avoid paying. A problem with the code that could make selling grain for farmers a real problem, favoring co-ops over big companies. And that`s probably going to have to be fixed real quick.

So, we`re going to see Congress acting quickly to try to plug some holes in the tax code already.

MATTHEWS: Karine?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, I know we`ve been focusing on all the crazy things that Donald Trump has said, racist things that he`s said. And we have to chase these headlines and cover it, which is very important.

But there is one thing we have to keep our eye on the ball is, which is protecting Bob Mueller and the Russia investigation. We have 700 events across the country already. We have over 182,000 people who have committed to take to the streets if Donald Trump decides to go that route and fire Bob Mueller.

MATTHEWS: So, MoveOn.org does not want to move on from this?

JEAN-PIERRE: We just want to protect democracy.

MATTHEWS: All right. Thank you. Yes, I get it.

Beth?

FOUHY: So, President Trump had his physical today. There is no legal requirement for a president to have an annual physical, nor to disclose its result. It is simply a convention that was adopted in the middle of the 20th century, also releasing taxes. He`s not releasing his taxes. We`ll see if he releases the results of his physical.

MATTHEWS: I want him to release his grades in school because he keeps bragging about going to a good school. Tell us your grades. There`s no audit going on over your grades, brother.

Anyway, thank you, Ginger Gibson, Karine Jean-Pierre and Beth Fouhy.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch" Friday, January 12th, 2018. When the president of the United States speaks, the world listens. They take his word and many don`t want to hear this, as that of his country. You might say it comes with the job description. More than that, it comes with history, that of the American presidency.

Woodrow Wilson spoke of making the world safe for democracy. Franklin Roosevelt of the four freedoms. Ronald Reagan of our country being a city on a Hill. And now, Donald Trump speaks, speaks for our country, speaks for America.

Do the peoples of the Caribbean and Africa think we Americans see their countries as no more than holes of human waste? Do they ignore the Peace Corps volunteer living and working with them? Do they ignore the U.S. program begun by President George W. Bush to fight HIV/AIDS? Do they ignore everything good about our country when they hear the U.S. president say what they just did?

Donald Trump wants to be liked, I get that, but so do most of us, we want our country be liked, even perhaps especially by people who will never have the wealth to visit here, or even to come in actual contact with one of us. It would be great if this president were to make some effort now and the next few days to try and change the condescending message he has sent to an entire continent.

I spent two years working in Africa with the Peace Corps, teaching business to people who could not have treated me better, more warmly. It would be good if our country, if our president, began to act and speak as nice to them.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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