Show: HARDBALL Date: May 29, 2018 Guest: Emanuel Cleaver, Nancy Giles; Rob Reiner, Teddy Kunhardt, Mark Salter, Jonathan Swan, Sabrina Siddiqui, Margaret Carlson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
The biggest star on network television lost her show today after posting a racist tweet about a former advisor to Barack Obama. Even by Hollywood standards, today`s dramatic turn of events was shocking. It happened early today. ABC quickly canceled the top rated show "Roseanne." And the star Roseann Barr was then dropped by her talent agency. It all came in a matter of hours after she posted and then deleted a racist tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Barr wrote Jarrett is what happens if a Muslim brotherhood and the planet of the apes had a baby. She later apologized writing, I`m truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me. My joke was a bad taste. It wasn`t enough.
In a statement ABC`s entertainment president wrote Roseann`s twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values and we have decided to cancel her show.
It was as astonishing fall from grace considering what a staggering success Roseann`s return to primetime was. According to the Washington reporter the reboot of the popular `90s sit-com was the highest rated and most watched series of the broadcast season. That counts all the networks. Barr is rarely (ph) in Hollywood, an outspoken Trump supporter, of course. And politics became a major theme of the show. President Trump even called Roseann into the first episode to congratulate her on the premiere, those where is his words.
Late today in an exclusive interview with MSNBC, Valerie Jarrett herself responded to the news. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER OBAMA ADVISOR: I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I`m fine. I`m worried about all the people out there who don`t have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense. The person walking down a street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse or want to cross the street or every black parent I know who as a boy, who has to sit down and have a conversation, the talk as we call it. And as you say, those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day. And I think that`s why I`m so glad to be here this evening talking with all of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Jarrett is one of the guests on the MSNBC town hall meeting tonight "everyday racism in America." It comes on at 9:00 eastern. It`s very well timed to say the least.
For more on today`s news, I`m joined by sit-com legend and filmmaker Rob Reiner, social commentator Nancy Giles and U.S. congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri who is in Missouri right now.
Rob, you are part of history in terms of awakening America to its ethnic prejudices and interesting ways on television. Tell us about your thinking. I know we talked earlier today about what this means to America and our values today in 2018.
ROB REINER, FILMMAKER: Well, I think, first of all, I think ABC, you got to applaud ABC for acting quickly the way they did. There is not acceptable in 2018 America. You know, it`s interesting. You know, slavery is one of our original sins in this country. And you know, I think all of us and many of us felt we were moving in the right direction. Once so, Barack Obama had been elected President, we said OK, an African-American can be President and we are pushing past this original sin.
But, I like many of us didn`t realize there was this virulent strain of racism underneath all that who resented the fact that an African-American was President and Donald Trump tapped into that. And so we -- what we see now is maybe the last battle of the civil war but what we are also seeing is that classic two steps forward, one step back. And I think -- I`m glad we are having this conversation. But just like the Me Too movement, things are moving in the right direction. And the fact that ABC moved as quickly as they did is going to speak volumes.
Now, the question is, does the commander-in-chief, does the President of the United States come out and say that ABC in no uncertain terms ABC did the right thing. And that`s what we are going to have to see. No more there`s good people on both sides. No more you know, dog whistles and here`s my African-American over here. We have to see a President come out and say that. And if he doesn`t, then it`s going to tell us that who he is appealing to is a racist base.
MATTHEWS: Nancy, tell us your thinking on this when you heard the news today and right now.
NANCY GILES, CBS SUNDAY MORNING COMMENTATOR: Well, first off, I have to applaud reverend Rob Reiner because he took us all to church just then and I agree with everything that he said.
I was shocked and then gratified how fast, how quickly ABC canceled the show. I find it interesting that Roseann made such a bigoted nasty statement. And the woman who is most responsible for her show being on the air, Channing Dungey, who is the head of ABC entertainment is a black woman. I mean, did she forget that her boss was black or is she so empowered with the bigotry that like the President she thought, you know, it wouldn`t matter?
And the other thing I just want to throw in that hurt me the most, not her show getting canned but the people that work for the show, the crew, the other cast members, these are the people whose names, you know, are really little and they go by really quickly in the crawl, all of them lost their jobs. These are Working class people with families and mortgages and her bigotry, her racism went so deep she didn`t even care about the other people she was hurting. But yes, I`m gratified at ABC. I think they did the right thing and it -- just horrible, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m so glad you are on the show, Nancy. Thank you. I love the way you talk about this. We are going to talk a few more minutes.
Congressman Cleaver, tell us about this. You know, I just think back, the guys I have known in the caucus, the black caucus and, you know, such wonderful people like Mickey Leyland. I love the guy. I loved him. I was watching the NBA game last night, all those African-American guys. I just -- I get sort of inspired by this development in this country how good it looks like we are getting and then this. And I wonder, this wasn`t a dog whistle. This was -- goes back to the prime ordeal hell that we started within this country at the very beginning, this basis of whites are superior to blacks and some sort of genetic way. This goes back to the raw cede of hell, the original sin.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: No, this was not a dog whistle. This was a burning cross in the yard. There was no confusion about this statement. And the thing that I think is really, really horrible about this whole episode with Miss Barr is that she apparently has such little regard for people of color, maybe xenophobia, I`m not sure what it is, that she probably thought and believed that she would be applauded about what she said. She may have even wanted some applause to come to her from Washington. And I think in the absence of that, she may have realized not that she was wrong but that she got caught. And that she may have to pay for it.
And I think that`s what her regret for me as an African-American. And I look at her supposedly apologetic tweet and it means nothing to me. It means -- what people don`t know, they hurt people. They actually hurt human beings and they can dismiss it and walk away.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Nancy because this is a -- I`ll say like Rob, a surprise. It`s so horrible. But the joke as she called it was the same joke she told, it`s not a joke of course, the same racial ethnic what she looked like kind of slur she did against Susan Rice.
GILES: Susan Rice, that`s right.
MATTHEWS: It is the same reference, the same -- I`m not going to use the language but it`s the same exact joke. This slur, this absolutely generic slur about a race.
GILES: Well, those were the kind of slurs that were made back when we first arrived in this country as property to dehumanize black people. And you know, she has a black character on the show, and it makes me wonder -- she talks a lot about political correctness. It makes me wonder why she had that character with this kind of feeling about black people being a combination of Muslims, by the way, not denigrating Muslims. I love Muslims. I have friends that are Muslims, but to put that the together with an ape it is just -- it is totally unacceptable. And those kind of images were used against President Obama, against Michelle Obama in cartoons and twitter. You know, she is connected enough to Trump for this to me to be just an extension of what goes on with his ilk.
MATTHEWS: Rob, you respond to this? Here`s Valerie Jarrett today talking about President Trump. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARRETT: Tone does start at the top. And we like to look up to her President and feel he reflects the values of our country. But I also think every individual citizen has a responsibility, too. And it`s up to all of us to push back. Our government is only as good as we make it be and as Reverend Al has taught me, you have to people on the inside have to push hard and people on the outside have to listen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of this? Because you really -- you know, you are part of history Rob with "all in the family," of course, that went a number of different directions and it was fun and yet it was changing the country. And a lot of the country changed with it. And with the humor, those real humor there and your stuff that we wouldn`t do today. We wouldn`t even say today what was on that show. Times have changed so well.
REINER: We were making fun of that. We were criticizing it. We had a character pushing back against that saying this is ignorance, this is stupidity. This is racism. Have you in "Roseanne," you have a character who embodied that.
And I said it from the get-go. ABC was going to have a lot of problems with her because she was -- I knew she was thinking these things and was going to say this. Listen, Trump started this whole political campaign by denigrating Barack Obama and saying he wasn`t born in America and that was a race -- not a dog whistle, a dog bullhorn, you know. And so he stirred up that racist base inside and it cannot stand in America today. Just can`t stand.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go back to the Congressman about this, because you deal -- you know, you have a diverse constituency. Let me ask you about the history of these kinds of, not dog whistle but blatant racist comments.
You know, I don`t know how to read it but Howard Cosell was everybody liked in the old days. You know, his relationship with Muhammad Ali, that relationship was wonderful. We loved the fun of that. Then he made his comment about the guy running like a monkey, then running back and then they got comment and Jimmy the Greek and they don`t have the necessaries. We have been through that. We had a few drinks one day at lunch. I think duke here in D.C.
What do you think of the prime ordeal voices, not the tricky political stuff but when it comes out what people really think or sound like they think?
CLEAVER: Well, there are two issues here. One, most people who say racist things will never even at gunpoint admit that they are racist. I mean, there`s nothing that you can do to convince them that they are racist. No matter what -- there`s a woman who said that it`s about time we get someone in the White House who looks like a real first lady.
GILES: And later in an interview, she said, well, I`m not racist. I mean, that`s the problem. And in her own heart because she has decide with no evidence that she can present to herself that she`s not racist. And that`s the problem that we have to face in this country. The people who are unaware of their own bigotry. And in this country, people are going to do everything they can possibly do to avoid any kind of discussion on race anyway.
MATTHEWS: You think Trump doesn`t know what he`s doing?
GILES: Of course he knows.
MATTHEWS: Any one of you. Because I think Trump is probably not guilty of racism. He just knows how to use it politically.
GILES: I think he`s racist.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
REINER: Something you can`t make of the separation. You can`t say that he is not racist but he knows the game and he is using it politically. That makes you a racist.
MATTHEWS: Barack Obama`s white mother from Kansas went over -- I`m sorry, it`s ludicrous, went over to -- it used to Africa, to Kenya, to have the baby there so that -- and name him Barack Hussein Obama and did that with the idea that 35 years later he would be constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States, I don`t think anybody believes that.
GILES: I`ll say something else, Chris, about Trump and his history of racism. He took out full page ads in "The New York Times" when those young men were unfairly arrested.
GILES: The wilding controversy. And even after they were released and you know, found not guilty, they were totally innocent, he still maintains and stands by the fact that he thought they should go to the electric chair.
MATTHEWS: Why is he doing that?
MATTHEWS: Rob`s got a point. He was trying to punish people just to punish them because he didn`t like them.
GILES: Yes. But I think -- I do think it has to do with race. Look. Remember at the bottom of the escalator, the first things he said about Mexican-Americans? This isn`t dog whistling. This is loud. There are no good you know, fine Nazis and white supremacists, you know. No, it doesn`t exist.
MATTHEWS: Nancy, what percentage of the United States buys this hook, line and sinker, 20 percent? I would say 20 percent. In other words, likes what they heard from Rosanne Barr this morning.
GILES: I hope it`s 20.
MATTHEWS: Ron, you think it is lower?
GILES: I would like to believe it`s lower. I don`t know. I don`t know.
REINER: But here`s the thing. You know, everybody says you know, you can`t just tar all Trump supporters with the broad brush of being racist.
MATTHEWS: No, I`m not. I`m asking how many is it?
REINER: But, wait a minute. But there are a chunk of racists and it may be 20 percent, it may be 15, 30, who knows. But the point is, whoever makes up the rest of that 40 percent is OK with that. You see what I`m saying? They are fine with that.
GILES: They are racist adjacent, is what they are. Racist adjacent.
MATTHEWS: I`m only glad about this incident having for one reason. I got your fine voices on. Rob, I love having you on the show. Nancy, thank you so much. Congressman, you have the last thought on, congressman.
CLEAVER: Look. I just wanted to say, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House after the President made some comments about Mexican judge, he said, and I quote, this is textbook racism. And the problem is that if that`s what it is, why in the world are my colleagues in Congress on the Republican side hugging him?
GILES: Oh, my.
MATTHEWS: Well, history is going to ask that question and they haven`t answered it properly yet. History wants to know, Rob and I were talking about this on the show, why can`t the Republican Party have the spine of the Disney Corporation?
MATTHEWS: That was Rob`s line this morning.
Anyway. Thank you Congress Emanuel, my favorite.
Thank you, Rob Reiner. Fancy Nancy Giles.
GILES: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And a reminder, the MSNBC town hall tonight "Everyday Racism" in America airs tonight at 9:00 eastern. By the way Valerie Jarrett would be on the program tonight.
Coming up, without giving any evidence, President Trump says the Mueller investigation is quote "meddling in the midterm elections," like the Russians. Trump`s latest bogus attack comes as Rudy Giuliani his chief (INAUDIBLE) has revealed their game plan for the Trump team. It`s all about winning the battle of public opinion on his side of the aisle. And that`s ahead.
Plus, John McCain and Mitt Romney are among the few leaders in the GOP who are willing to stand up to this President. Republicans used to vow (INAUDIBLE), remember that, in the polls during the Clinton administration in the age of Trump, fewer of them do, obviously.
And Trump`s problem with the truth, his partly (ph) conspiracy theories out there blaming Democrats for his policy of separating children from their parents at the border, his policy, even accused "The New York Times" of making up a source even though he was the source. Actually, his source was a senior White House official who briefed 200 other reporters. It`s coming from the horse`s mouth.
Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch about a Republican party that`s had its soul snatched.
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: NBC News has exclusive new reporting now on North Korea. It comes out tonight. U.S. officials tell NBC News that a new U.S. intelligence assessment has concluded that North Korea does not, not intend to give up its nuclear weapons anytime soon, a finding that conflicts with recent statements by President Trump that Pyongyang intends to do so in the future.
According to NBC News, the CIA report which circulated early this month, days before Trump canceled the originally scheduled summit. Despite this, President Trump continues to pursue a meeting with Kim Jong-un possibly on the original date of June 12th.
By the way, tonight it is reporting as a list of potential concessions, if you will, by North Korea included the possibility that Kim Jong-un may considering offering to open up a western hamburger franchise in Pyongyang as a show of good will according to three national security officials. What a joke.
The CIA analysis suggested that instead of denuclearizing all the -- a more realistic immediate objective would be convincing Kim to walk back recent progress on the country`s nuclear perhaps program.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Armed with conspiracy theories, an itchy Twitter finger and an outspoken lead attorney -- that would be Rudy Giuliani -- President Trump continues to lash out at the special counsel`s probe on Russia.
During the holiday weekend and through today, the president posted a dozen tweets, calling it, among other things, a rigged investigation led by -- quote -- "the crooked highest levels of the FBI," and this morning he attempted to politicize the probe even further.
Without any explanation, he accused Robert Mueller`s prosecutors of -- catch this -- meddling in the midterm elections to hurt Republican candidates -- quote -- "The 13 angry Democrats, plus people who worked 18 years -- or eight years for Obama, working on the rigged Russia witch-hunt, will be meddling with the midterm elections, especially now that the Republicans -- stay tough -- are taking the lead in polls."
He also -- no, they`re not.
He also spent a portion of his time on Memorial Day quoting FOX News commentators to attack the credibility of the Russia probe.
However, as Trump`s own lawyer admitted, this is not a legal strategy at all. It`s a political one. Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday that the intent is to turn public opinion against the investigation itself.
Their ultimate goal is not to exonerate the president, but to taint the jury pool, so vote others won`t support impeachment proceedings. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: They are giving us the material to do it. Of course, we have to do it in defending the president. We are defending -- to a large extent, remember, Dana, we are defending here, it is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach.
Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So, our jury is the American -- as it should be -- is the American people.
And the American people, yes, are Republicans largely, independents pretty substantially, and even Democrats now question the legitimacy of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by three MSNBC contributors, Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post." Natasha Bertrand is a staff writer for "The Atlantic." That`s two anyway.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go.
Robert and then Natasha, this open admission that this is not about facts or evidence or defense, in fact, it`s not about the work of a -- what we most think -- often think of as a lawyer, you know, fighting the law, making the case for law, they`re basically accepting this is just going to beat the drum, rally the base, say anything you can to trash the prosecution and don`t care where the fact -- where the chips fall.
Chips don`t matter. Facts don`t matter. It`s a hell of a statement.
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You bring up the lawyer. So -- right. The context is revealing. Mayor Giuliani is not negotiating with Mueller face-to-face. He`s not trying to actually hammer out the details of an interview.
He`s negotiating through the press. He`s trying to make the public case against the investigation.
MATTHEWS: But, Natasha, we have been through so much history with this president. Remember for months through today, in fact, today, as of this moment, he won`t put out his tax returns because he`s being -- quote -- "edited" (sic).
He sent investigators to Hawaii and he said they`re getting a lot of interesting stuff. We know Trump does not tell the truth. We know he makes up stuff. Now he`s saying, before I allow myself to be interviewed by the Mueller people, before I let that happen, I must have an additional briefing on what they have on me.
What kind of a defendant gets do that?
NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is kind of where it all comes full circle, where the Republicans in the House, like Devin Nunes, who have been manufacturing scandals for the last year...
MATTHEWS: No news.
BERTRAND: -- over the unmasking scandal, over the FISA warrant, and now over...
MATTHEWS: He made all that up.
BERTRAND: -- the FBI warrant, it`s all coming full circle, where Trump is now saying, well, if all of this is true, then I want to see proof of this before I actually...
MATTHEWS: Well, here it is, because Rudy told "The Washington Post" today -- quote -- "We need all the documents before we can decide whether we`re going to do" -- he`s setting the standard.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t he going to be hit with a subpoena eventually, Robert? Isn`t that just going to be the end of this game?
COSTA: The question -- the challenge Mueller faces, the question is, does he actually issue a subpoena to the president of the United States or does he just pull back and publish the report, to send the report to Rosenstein at DOJ about the president`s conduct?
MATTHEWS: Well, why don`t you go for possible perjury? If Trump keeps talking under oath like he does in public, you will get him on perjury.
BERTRAND: And that`s exactly why they don`t really want him to sit down with Mueller.
And that`s why they`re making excuses now, saying that, no, he has to have a briefing of these highly confidential documents that are implicated in the investigation into him, into his campaign, which obviously they -- the prosecutors wouldn`t want him to see, as a prerequisite for him to sit down with the special counsel, which clearly is not something that is going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Robert, no one knows this better than you, because you are truly objective. And you truly don`t have any attitude about Trump that is not worthy of you.
Do you believe that Trump and Giuliani have ever talked the facts of this case? Do you think that Trump has ever come clean with Giuliani about what he did with his in-laws, what he did with his son, what he did with his people like Rick Gates and Manafort, and what conversations he might have had that led them to colluding with the Russians?
Do you think they ever had that conversation?
COSTA: I don`t think they have had an extensive conversation about the details of the case.
MATTHEWS: Of his innocence or guilt.
COSTA: Mayor Giuliani has told me they have had these long conversations at the golf club in Virginia for hours on end. But what they`re talking about there is the TV case against Mueller, how to go after Mueller`s credibility.
MATTHEWS: But never about the facts. This is an important question.
COSTA: Remember, why was Giuliani brought in? Because he thought -- the president thought the other lawyers were too cooperative. And so Giuliani is the opposite of cooperative.
So, the actual guilt or innocence of this president has never been a topic of conversation by Giuliani or the president? They don`t talk about that.
BERTRAND: Well, they`re already shifting the goalposts. They`re already shifting the goalposts.
It used to be, when Ty Cobb and John Dowd were Trump`s lawyers, it was, OK, well, he has nothing to hide, so why not sit down with Mueller? Now it`s...
MATTHEWS: Because he never told them what he did.
BERTRAND: -- not sit down with Mueller because Giuliani essentially now seems to be acknowledging that the president may be guilty.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is sick. And he`s turned it into a public relations game. And it`s not that. It should be about facts. That`s what Watergate was about. I would like to think this will end up being about facts.
Robert Costa, thank you. Natasha Bertrand.
Up next: Mitt Romney says the president is not a role model for his grandchildren. But in the age of Trump, is moral leadership still a sticking point for Republican voters? Do they even care anymore?
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think that I would point to the president as a role model for my grandkids on the basis of his personal style.
He has departed in some cases from the truth and has attacked in a way that I think is not entirely appropriate. I believe his policies have been by and large a good deal better than I might have expected, but some of the things he has said are not ones that I would aspire for my grandkids to adopt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was Mitt Romney in an exclusive interview with NBC News saying that he doesn`t see our current president as a role model for his grandkids.
Well, a recent Gallup poll shows that Republicans are now much less likely to say that it`s very important for a president to provide moral leadership. Just 63 percent of Republicans today say presidential moral leadership is very important. That is down from 86 percent, of course, during the Clinton administration.
Democrats particularly also flipped on the issue; 77 percent now say moral leadership is very important vs. 64 percent who felt that way during the Clinton administration. Well, it depends who is in office.
A new HBO documentary, "John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls," depicts a politician who takes moral leadership seriously for all seasons. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: McCain was always willing to break the mold he was in if it was clearly the right thing to do. And that`s an invaluable commodity.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought I was going to whip him. Of course, he thought he was going to whip me.
DAVID BROOKS, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": McCain has an authentic inner voice. Even when he compromises for political reasons, he knows he`s compromising some piece of himself.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For John to say, we`re all Americans, we`re all on the same team, I thought was an indication of who John fundamentally was.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to give the American people what they deserve, and, right now, they`re not getting it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: John McCain showed his leadership when he defended President Obama during the 2008 campaign less than a month before that election. Let`s watch him here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not believe in -- I can`t trust Obama. I have read about him. And he`s not -- he`s not -- he`s an Arab. He is not...
MCCAIN: No, ma`am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No?
MCCAIN: No, ma`am. No, ma`am. He`s a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that`s what this campaign is all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Mark Salter, a former senior adviser to John McCain, and Teddy Kunhardt, one of the filmmakers of "John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls," which premiered on HBO last night and you can watch right now.
Mark, thank you for coming on.
And you must be so proud of John for that, for that moment.
MARK SALTER, CO-AUTHOR, "THE RESTLESS WAVE: GOOD TIMES, JUST CAUSES, GREAT FIGHTS, AND OTHER APPRECIATIONS": Oh, yes, I was there. It was quite a moment, but very...
MATTHEWS: Because he was trying to win the presidency. And that was not going to help him, what he said.
SALTER: He was. We were having a rough go after that. I think that was after Lehman Brothers.
But, yes, of course we were fighting very hard to win. But he`s a guy that lives by an honor code, and that was an example of it.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let me -- it`s a profile in courage, of course.
Teddy, tell us about the movie. I watched it. And I liked it. I watched it today. It`s on HBO. Anybody who`s got HBO can watch it.
I was just wondering how you were able to get him to sit for all that time. I loved the pacing of it. This show is boom, boom, boom, boom, because it`s a news show and analysis show and it`s on every night.
But the beauty of yours is, it`s quiet. It`s Sedona. It felt quiet and a chance to actually hear from a guy about his soul, I thought.
TEDDY KUNHARDT, PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR, "JOHN MCCAIN: FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS": Thanks for having me, Chris.
Well, when we pitched the show to John, it was an immediate yes, and let`s get you down to Sedona quickly while I`m still doing well.
And he and Mark were in the middle of writing their book. And he was already in a reflective spot. So, for us, it was a dream come true sitting on his front porch. If you could hear the cicadas, we had some issues with that, but we were able to capture what we thought was the true man.
MATTHEWS: What do you think it was about him that gave him this serenity?
I mean, he`s going to die. We`re all going to die, but he has this thing chasing him right now, brain cancer, which we know what happened to Ted Kennedy, people like that. It`s there. The prognoses are pretty accurate. And he -- how he`s -- how do you think he`s handled this so serenely?
KUNHARDT: I mean, John`s been fearless his whole life, whether it was in Vietnam as a POW. The guy is not scared. And this is just another chapter and he`s facing it front foot forward.
And, you know, I saw him a few weeks ago, and his spirits were good, and he`s just -- it`s just the mark of the man.
MATTHEWS: Well, McCain also reflects on his cancer diagnosis in this film, which you have got to watch. Let`s watch it now together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I know that this is a very vicious disease.
I greet every day with gratitude. And I will continue to do everything that I can. But I`m also very aware that none of us live forever.
I`m confident, and I`m happy, and I`m very grateful for the life I have been able to lead. And I greet the future with joy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I will never forget the small part we had in covering John back in the 2000 election down in South Carolina, when there was a moment we thought he could win the whole thing.
MATTHEWS: It was at Clemson when he came in for our town hall that night, and we were just watching. We had nothing to do with his success. We were just watching it.
It was so exciting. The students went wild. And then they did that dirty campaign against him down there. And it was robbed from him.
MATTHEWS: How did he get over that?
SALTER: Every bad experience, he puts in the rear-view mirror, from Vietnam on, and takes -- learns the lessons he wants to from it and moves forward.
MATTHEWS: You have been co-writing a lot of his books. And here he is, "John McCain."
It`s a beautiful book. Comes out just at the right time, I guess, unfortunately.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
SALTER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Mark Salter. Thank you, Mark Salter.
And, Ted Kunhardt, a wonderful piece of film. The documentary is called "John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls."
Up next: President Trump`s trouble with the truth was on full display this weekend. he called out "The New York Times" for using a fake source, even though that source briefed more than 200 reporters with the same information.
And next weeks marks 50 years since the assassination of New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy. This coming Sunday, I`m anchoring a historic documentary on RFK that looks at who he was and how he tried to unify a divided country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Fifty years after his assassination, what can we learn from Robert Kennedy?
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, U.S. SENATOR: That we replace the hatred and the distrust that now exists in the United States with compassion and with understanding.
"HEADLINERS," Sunday at 9:00, on MSNBC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You got to watch that Sunday night at 9:00.
We will be right back. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
President Trump`s trouble with the truth was on full display over this weekend, of course. Trump started out by falsely accusing "The New York Times" of making up a source in its reporting on North Korea. The president tweeted: The failing "New York Times" quotes a senior White House official who doesn`t exist, as saying even if the meeting were reinstated holding it June 12th would be impossible given the lack of time and amount of planning needed. Wrong again. Use real people, not phony sources.
Well, "The Times" responded saying: The source of that sentence was a White House official who held a briefing on Thursday afternoon in the White House briefing room that was attended by about 50 reporters with about 200 or so more on a conference call.
Mr. President has made it up. Just made it up.
That wasn`t the only time this weekend the president distorted facts. Early this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a Trump administration policy to prosecute anyone who crosses the border illegally, even if it involves separating children from their parents.
Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have put in place a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry on our southwest border. If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It`s that simple.
If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you as required by law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Everybody hear that?
Despite that, President Trump over the weekend pinned the blame on Democrats, tweeting: Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from their parents once they cross the border into the United -- how does he do this?
We`re getting more reporting on why Trump continues to push false narratives. That`s coming up next with the HARDBALL roundtable. Lots of conspiracies in this guy`s brain.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump spent much of this Memorial Day weekend peddling his latest unfounded allegation. That is somehow he`s a victim of the FBI spying during his presidential campaign.
"The New York Times" reports that the president uses these sort of conspiracy theories to erode trust in institutions like the FBI. It notes that students of Mr. Trump`s life and communications style argue that the idea of conspiracies is a vital part of his strategy to the avoid accountability and punch back at detractors real or perceived including the news media.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Jonathan Swan is national political reporter of "Axios", Sabrina Siddiqui is a political reporter with "The Guardian", and Margaret Carlson is a columnist with -- a lot of definitely articles here. The, the, the.
Anyway, Jonathan, I know we all try to figure him out. But why I don`t understand is why he gets away with it? This is beyond rascal. He lies and he makes up conspiracy theories like Obama is from Africa, every Mexican is a rapist. He just makes it up, use with an ethnic slur attached to it. And people like him, 40-some percent of the country say, I like Trump, I`m for Trump, I approve of him.
JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: He has --
MATTHEWS: And he makes up stuff like Ted Cruz`s father helped kill Kennedy. Just makes it up.
SWAN: During the campaign, he used this tactic, I don`t know if you would call it a tactic. It`s his modus operandi which is say whatever you need to say to get through every given moment. His whole objective is not to come to symptom objective truth or to put something out that`s going to be accurate. It`s to win -- it`s to win the moment, say whatever is required to, quote/unquote, win. And so, he does.
SWAN: And he sees the winning as the justification, and really, there is no -- the people around him are not necessarily pushing back on him as hard as you would maybe hope in some of these circumstances.
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: And getting caught -- and getting caught is no downside for him. Getting caught means nothing.
MATTHEWS: How about something would leak from his briefing when 50 reporters were there and 200 were listening, and it was done in a White House briefing and everybody says you look like a dunce. How can you do this? You sound like a crazy person.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: We know this president is incredibly thin skinned. And anytime he reads a news report that he deems unflattering, he`s going to deride it as fake news. That`s been a tactic, as Jonathan, if you want to call it. That`s been employed since the campaign.
It`s also worth noting on immigration, he used the same strategy with Dreamers. He was widely criticized for rescinding the DACA program many view was inhuman. But he doesn`t want to accept the blame for leaving these kids in limbo. So, he turned around and blamed on Democrats, the same way he`s dealing with family separation. And that one, he could also keep this immigration issue alive which really, of course, rallies his base in the midterm.
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine he was giving one of these commencement address this year? Here`s the theory, start up racial antipathy in the country, if you want to get ahead in American life, make up stories about people that are completely horrible and hostile. Just make it up. And also engage in hallucinations that you can sell.
Imagine giving this advice to other human beings to be Trump-like. If you think about it. That`s what he`s selling really.
CARLSON: Well, you know, he -- the conspiracy at the FBI was such a serious lie.
MATTHEWS: The spy?
CARLSON: Undermining the FBI. But there`s no pushback from Congress on that.
CARLSON: And that is -- that is going to do lasting harm. You know, remember the secretary of labor who said, where do I get my reputation back? I mean, FBI agents must be asking, where do we get our reputation back? Because he`s harming it in the interests of getting out of the Robert Mueller investigation.
SIDDIQUI: And I think that`s a critical piece of it, is Republicans in Congress have been muted in their criticism at best when it comes to his attacks on the FBI. The RNC embraced him as a candidate.
MATTHEWS: Why? Why are they muted in their criticism?
SIDDIQUI: Because they know the Republican electorate is overwhelmingly behind Trump. There`s pulling that suggests that as many as 70 to 80 percent of Republicans now believe that the entire Russia probe is a witch hunt. And I think Republicans are thinking much more about the politics than they are the substance.
MATTHEWS: Is that a cultural problem with the Republican Party as opposed to most Americans?
SIDDIQUI: I think it`s going to have a transformative effect on the party.
MATTHEWS: Like Republicans are told, read the "Wall Street Journal", play golf and talk about pro sports. I mean, the men especially are all programmed a certain way. They don`t have the too many outliers, Republicans. They all behave basically the same, right?
Margaret, you`re laughing. You must play golf. You don`t play tennis.
MATTHEWS: You must watch sports and talk about the NFL. You must -- and what else? Read "The Wall Street Journal" and believe the op-ed page.
SWAN: I would say I think there is, though, a legitimate question to ask, and in some circles, it`s not politically correct to ask the question about why this informant was trying to get a job on the Trump -- in the Trump administration after being an FBI informant and trying to --
MATTHEWS: Why was he trying to get a job?
SWAN: I`m just saying, is that appropriate? He was. He was trying through Peter Navarro, as I reported, to get a job in the Trump administration, a senior job.
I think there`s a question about that.
SWAN: During the transition, during the presidential --
MATTHEWS: Was the probe still going on?
SWAN: After he was -- yes, of course it was.
MATTHEWS: Is that wrong?
SWAN: I don`t know. It`s worth asking questions about. It seemed pretty shady to me.
MATTHEWS: OK. Do you all agree that`s shady to try to find out whether Russians interrupted our election and changed -- attacked our democracy?
SWAN: No, I don`t think it`s shady of the whole investigation. But I think that if this guy was an FBI informant trying to get a job in the Trump administration is worth asking questions.
SIDDIQUI: I think we have to learn about the tactics that the informant used. But, you know, certainly, our understanding is that the FBI was trying to investigate the established contacts between Trump officials and Moscow. Those, of course, continued during the course of the transition. So, perhaps that was why the FBI was still interested.
MATTHEWS: Was he following information he was picking up or he is just --
CARLSON: I mean, it`s never going to change the FBI asking about Carter Page and Papadopoulos, so-called coffee boy, was wrong.
CARLSON: Anyone should do that.
MATTHEWS: The FBI dropped a case like that? We`re looking at possible Russian collusion but then we dropped it.
CARLSON: Yes, no, you must ask those questions. I mean, you must --
MATTHEWS: What about Trump`s general inclination for conspiracies? I know that we joke about it, but it`s mental derangement which is not funny. But when you bump into people at the New York Port Authority and they have something to sell you or they keep running to you in street corners like me and saying, what about building seven, and you find out that person is president of the United States, isn`t that scary that one of the those people, Jonathan Swan?
Is it a little scary that the president of the United States is like one of the people that grabs you at the New York Port Authority with a conspiracy theory? Is that a little scary when he said, my opponent`s father helped kill Kennedy? Is that a little scary? Or the president of the United States is some secret emigrant from, oh, from Kenya? He came over.
CARLSON: But, Chris, he pulled enough sleeves on birtherism to test the market for his presidency.
MATTHEWS: You can handle this.
Anyway, do you have any response? You`re laughing at me. I know there`s one thing about conspiracy theories, if you buy one, they have them all.
A guy comes up to your woman and says I`ve got a conspiracy theory. I bet you believe all of them. It`s always around the clock conspiracy theory if you have one.
The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three -- that`s my conspiracy theory. Tell me something I don`t know.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.
Jonathan, we`ve got get something from you. Tell me something I don`t know.
You`ve already told me something.
SWAN: I did. You didn`t notice.
My awesome colleague Alexei McCammond has a story coming tomorrow morning. Get this. So, there are 43 black Democratic women running for House seats. Guess how many the national party organization endorsed in primaries?
MATTHEWS: OK, it shows you. You don`t need --
SWAN: One after she won.
MATTHEWS: OK, good for her. Good for them.
SIDDIQUI: There are 429 cases over the last few years of immigrant parents -- or last two years of parents being separated from their children. That`s according to ACLU`s lawsuit. Most of these children have been from toddlers to young teenagers.
And it`s important to note, it`s not just parents who are crossing the border illegally who are being separated from their children.
SIDDIQUI: Even those who are turning themselves over at legal points of --
MATTHEWS: I keep thinking of Sophie`s choice here.
Go ahead, Margaret.
CARLSON: So, Chris, you know, Trump justified praising Houston with their hurricane over Puerto Rico, that he -- whom he threw paper towels at. But today, a new study says not 64 people died in Puerto Rico but 4,695 people. And in Houston, there was 106.
So, Puerto Rico much more serious and much more neglected.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan Swan, thank you. Sabrina Siddiqui and Margaret Carlson.
When we return, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Tuesday, May 29th, 2018.
The firing of Roseanne Barr today over her racist tweet raises a serious question, perhaps even an existential one. Why does the Disney Corporation possess higher principles than the Republican Party? Why is an institution that runs on profit able to display an integrity that`s been nastily foreign to the institution that calls itself the Party of Abraham Lincoln?
I said it was a serious question. So far, and we`re almost a year and a half into it, the only Republican elected officials challenging the Trump presidency are those heading out the door. Senator John Corker and Jeff Flake and Congressman Charlie Dent and Ryan Costello. One could argue the real lame ducks however are those still facing the Republican electorate.
For a party that once stood in opposition to deficit, this is a real deficit, the deficit of courage to stand up to a president who mocks the best of those Republican principles that once mattered to so many Americans. Remember the party that stand and joined a national unity and fight in the World War II and joined in the same national unity in backing the Marshall Plan to save Europe afterwards. Remember the party that joined Lyndon Johnson in passing the Civil Rights Act.
OK, and I will give them this -- remember the party appalled by the misbehavior of a Democratic president. Where is that party today when Donald Trump engages in sort of conspiracy theories you expect to hear from a deranged person who grabs at you at a bus terminal, with the president mocks and derides every minority ethic group in order to scavenge some votes, who destroys America`s most prized institutions already saved themself.
Well, yesterday, we heard the first word of resistance from the Grand Old Party who came from Salt Lake City and from the front running candidate out there for the U.S. Senate, from Mitt Romney. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think that I would point to the president as a role model for my grandkids on the basis of his personal style. He has departed in some cases from the truth and attack in a way that I think is not entirely appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, at least it`s a start perhaps of something big. Let`s hope.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts right now.
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