Show: HARDBALL Date: June 25, 2018 Guest: Leon Fresco, Pramila Jayapal, M.J. Hegar
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump went offense. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Well, Donald Trump has started this week driving his political bayonet in hard. No more the divider of children from their parents, he now poses as Horatio at the gate, the lone American ready to defend our border. No more he said, well, those crossing the border get a hearing. Those seeking asylum will be thrown back like others. The constitution be damned, its Trump law or no law. And now it`s a human wall he is throwing up along the border. Anyone who gets through it will be thrown back across into Mexico, no matter where they came from.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Having spent most of last week on defense, President Trump is now back on offense, pushing an even nastier line on immigration. Over the weekend, President Trump said with no clear evidence that the country`s immigration policy is quote "laughed at all over the world," saying quote "we cannot allow these people to invade our country. Invade."
Trump demand that those believed to have entered the country without documents be deported immediately and without a hearing. And today refused to back down, placing responsibility, of course, on the Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want a system where when people come in illegally, they have to go out. And a nice simple system that works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sarah Huckabee Sanders drove that message home today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They have made it very clear that they don`t want to work with the President, that they don`t want to fix our immigration system, that they`d rather have open borders and rampant crime than work with the President to create solutions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Open borders and rampant crime. That`s the message. While offering no legislative solution, the President is pushing the new harder line seeing illegal immigration as a wing political issue for him.
In response to the President`s comments, Michigan congressman Justin Amash, a tea party libertarian tweeted this portion of the 14th amendment of the constitution.
Quote "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The 14th amendment goes on the say that no person in the United States shall be denied within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Well, the White House wasn`t able to say how or when the new policy would be put in force. It`s unclear how this squares, by the way, with the announcement late today by the head of U.S. customs and border protection of a temporary halt to the criminal prosecution of adults who cross the border illegally with children.
Over the weekend, the department of homeland security announce that they would had a process in place to help, by the way, to reunify families that had been separated by the Trump policy. According to the department`s numbers, by the way, roughly 500 children have been reunited with their parents. But those were children that had not been actually shipped to shelters. Nearly 2,000 children remain scattered across the country.
For more I`m joined by Democratic congressman from Pramila Jayapal from Washington State, Robert Costa, national political reporter for "the Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst and Leon Fresco, former deputy assistant attorney general for the office of immigration litigation, and also Dave Jolly down in a Windstorm somewhere in Florida, former Republican congressman from that state. Thank you.
I want to go to Robert costa, just because you are a good Trump reader. Why did he go from being the guy who apologized basically for dividing children from their parents in an about-face last week to a new about-face where he is getting even nastier?
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: look at the calendar. Look at the states. We are a few months out before the midterm elections. Republicans in Congress, some of them want to focus on the tax law, but over at Pennsylvania avenue, immigration, immigration, immigration. This is the issue that stokes the base. This is the issue people inside of the White House think can stop a democratic wave.
MATTHEWS: Do they believe it`s enough?
COSTA: It could be enough. You look at his support among Republicans, it`s 90 percent in some polls. So this is what the President says his base has to come out. They are not going to come out just because of Paul Ryan`s tax law.
MATTHEWS: A little quibble I have, I understand the political thrust of it. I call it a bayonet thrust. But the question is how do you do this when the constitution so clearly gives rights to people in this country, whether citizen, documented or not, you have rights under the constitution to due process, to a hearing?
COSTA: And we saw this with this administration during the travel ban, an administration that knows it will likely face court challenges for the President`s statements, but nevertheless moves forward.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, how do you read the fact that Trump is going on offense as I said this week after being on defense last week?
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: I think that this has always been his plan. Use immigration, use immigrants to talk about invasion, infestation, get people scared. They are a great dividing line for his base.
But I think he`s misplaying this. I think there are many people across this country, and I`ve had a lot of Republicans calling my office because we have been out front on the issue of children being separated, put in cages, parents who are escaping terrible situations, I think he is misreading it.
Republicans are calling me and saying I don`t agree with you on some other things, but I do agree with you on this. And I don`t think that once he starts talking about eliminating due process, I think every American is going to have to start thinking about who is next. You know, first they came for the trade unionists and I didn`t stand up.
MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t hear Republicans saying that. I don`t hear them. Ninety percent of the Republican Party is behind this President down the line. I don`t hear Republican office holders facing reelection saying it`s wrong to deny a hearing to people facing deportation at the border.
JAYAPAL: That`s right, Chris. I don`t think that the Republicans in Congress are saying this. I wish they were. But I do think Republicans across the country are saying this. And will continue to say this if he takes these extreme positions. I`m not sure that you see it all reflected in the polls. But I do think that this is a terrifying moment where he is talking about things like denaturalization.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
JAYAPAL: He is talking about things like, you know, eliminating due process. These are the hallmarks of a dictator. And I think the American people are going to start to really look at this and say this is insanity. This is really dangerous for our country.
MATTHEWS: Dave, do you agree with that? Congressman Jolly, you accept the fact that this is a losing issue in the Republican Party for President within the party?
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Within the party, no, actually, I think it`s a winning issue. I think it is -- we are looking at the electoral reality that there are no crossover votes going into this election. If they are, they are trending more Democrat.
So what Trump and the Republicans have to do is they have to energize their base. And fear energizes far greater than contentment does. Robert is exactly right. This is about exciting the base with fear and division. But we also have to be very, very knowledgeable today that we are looking at moments of fear and division, rhetoric, if you will, trending towards hatred. And that is a difficult conversation to grapple with.
But make no mistake, Donald Trump is energizing his base because the tax bill has not worked and there are no legislative accomplishments between now and November.
MATTHEWS: I agree. You know, I heard Sarah Huckabee Sanders make the point that President wanted -- he obviously tells her what he wants her to say. I mean, she gets the message. And the message for her is Democrats are for open borders and they don`t care about crime. I think we are going to hear those two messages juxtaposed, put right next to each other. Think crime when you think immigration.
MATTHEWS: Open borders when you think Democrats. And it seems to me that he is defining the Democrats` position his way. It`s either my sort of crude way we admit, and maybe even unconstitutional way, as opposed to open borders and crime.
MATTHEWS: And they think is the message that the congressman just said we are going the hear from now to November.
LEON FRESCO, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION LITIGATION: Absolutely, Chris. That`s why it`s incumbent on Democrats to not just about why this policy is immoral, but why it`s unnecessary. We have to as Democrats provide alternatives of how we would be able to secure the border.
And I think one of the messages that is being lost here is look, President Trump, a lot of the stuff that you`re asking for was in the 2013 Senate immigration bill but it comes as an entire package. You can`t have only Trump`s version of comprehensive immigration reform. You also have to solve the problem of the people here who aren`t leaving anyway, and then you can get border security. You can get --
MATTHEWS: What do you say to that congresswoman Jayapal? What do you say about the fact, the Democrats need to be defining themselves or Trump can`t do it? If he says you are the party of open borders, I think you lose. If he says you are the party of crime, you obviously lose. How do you redefine the party position to something more refined than that?
JAYAPAL: Look, I think we have to go back to core values. We have to talk about what America has always been in the world. We have to talk about refugees, asylees. And yes, as Leon said, and I was on the outside, not in Congress but working on that bill from the outside. The 2013 bill, 68 bipartisan votes. John Boehner wouldn`t bring it up for a vote in the floor of the House.
I think we have a lot of, you know, evidence to show that we have done -- actually, we have put more into the border since 2013 than was in the 2013 bill, so --. But the problem is that Trump will win with his minority base. I think he also incites our base to get out because people see how dangerous this is.
MATTHEWS: How did he with win in 2016? He won with this in 2016. He won the election.
JAYAPAL: He did.
MATTHEWS: He is President. And Hillary Clinton is not because of this issue, I believe.
JAYAPAL: No, you are right, Chris. But what we didn`t have in 2016 is people believing that he would win. People stayed away.
JAYAPAL: And this time I think that is not the case. I think you are seeing this in state legislative races across the country. You look at Missouri, the state of Missouri. The state of Wisconsin, Democrats winning in state legislative districts. And I get that they are not congressional districts, I get that. But these are incredible wins by 20, 25 points over the challenger, Republican challenger in districts that Trump won by 10, 15, 20.
So I think he has some dangerous -- this is dangerous, just in terms who have we are. And I think it`s also dangerous in terms of politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Leon, I want to tell you something. And David, you know, the congresswoman can answer this as well when you get -- her turn. It seems to me that Al Gore once said, and he lost an election, but he got the most popular votes like Hillary Clinton. But he lost the Electoral College vote. A very tricky decision by the Supreme Court, I must day. But he once said if you don`t define yourself in politics, the other side will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: And I think Trump is defining the Democrats now because they haven`t mentioned that very fine bipartisan bill since 2013. They haven`t talked about their approach to border enforcement. They have let the other guy talk about it. It`s hurting them.
FRESCO: Correct. The Democrats need to say you can have everything you want immediately and when those things are implemented, then we can have our part of comprehensive reform. But it has to be in the same bill. He is the man who makes the art of the deal. Bring people together and get that deal done.
MATTHEWS: Robert, Trump is very good at defining Democrats. And Maxine Waters is helping, the person who try out of her restaurant the other day. I love Robert de Niro. He did it too. They are all playing the Trump game. They are making him look like the victim, which he loves.
COSTA: And look what the President tweeted about Congresswoman Waters today. He said she is the face of the party. Yet you had minority leader Pelosi and leader Schumer in the senate, both come out and say this kind of heated rhetoric has to stop.
MATTHEWS: And they basically said to stop to Congresswoman Maxine Waters - -
COSTA: The Democratic leaders, they want talk about the GOP tax law. They want to talk about the President`s position on trade. They want to talk about things that aren`t just back and forth on twitter.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to David -- Congressman Jolly on this. You are a Republican at least still in name. I think you are rhino at this point, but let me ask you, and nothing wrong with that. But let me ask you about this politics, how Trump has (INAUDIBLE).
Well, get this. Trump has an amazing ability. He get this, get the other side, get the mainstream press to jump all over them, establish that as the so-called liberal line and then he runs as the only line that takes crime seriously, the only side that takes illegal immigration seriously and leaves the Democrats looking like weirdoes (ph), like don`t they care at all? And that`s the way he plays them.
JOLLY: So, look, if I would give way leeway to Democrats here, it would be this. Donald Trump is defining Donald Trump for Republican voters. He doesn`t care about Democratic voters. This is the defining moment for each party.
MATTHEWS: How about the middle?
JOLLY: Right. Well, listen. Well, listen. But much like when we saw the Syrian refugee crisis, right? And that was an area where there was no rationality for Republicans coming out against Syrian refugees, but it was effective politically. And they used to it mobilize their base.
Democrats are right on this issue about family separation. They are right on the issue of everything that`s happened at the border, but they need to use to it energize their base. They are not going win Trump voters on this. As you energize your base, you can win the suburban mom, those suburban communities we are seeing in special elections. That is the gray area where Democrats (AUDIO CUT).
Not oppose Trump, but speak to the values as the congresswoman was saying, speak to the party`s values to unite families, speak to your base to unite them and energize them to create nor democratic voters than Republicans in November.
MATTHEWS: No, I think the values issue works. I go back to the congresswoman Jayapal.
Congresswoman, tell me how you -- I like the way you went back to the really good bipartisan bill the Democrats did support, and a dozen Republican senators did and that chicken Mr. Boehner refused to bring up the house. They don`t want comprehensive reform. They are afraid of it. I like the way you are shaking your head. Just say a few more about where Democrats should be positioning themselves on immigration.
JAYAPAL: Well, I think it`s got to be about the values. I think it`s got to be about the danger that we have to the future of our country. And I think we can say we have lots of bipartisan bills. We have the 2013 bill. We have the Hurd Aguilar bill around dreamers. We have numerous bipartisan bills that Republicans refuse to bring to the floor. Why? Because it serve theirs political interests to continue to target immigrants.
If they solved the immigration problem, who would they blame? And I`ll tell you, I don`t think we win by saying look, we can be tougher on border security than you. Obama tried that he actually tried that, and it didn`t work so well. Well did put a bunch of border security in there. And I remember John McCain sat the time saying this is ridiculous how much border security we have in here. But if we are going get comprehensive reform then, OK, we will do it. That was a Republican.
So I think we have to go back to our values. I think we win on children. I think we win on family separation. And I actually think we win on due process and fairness as well and the constitution. But we have got to do it from a place of deep grounding in who we are as a country.
MATTHEWS: Well, throw in the one more issue throw in on top of yours, congressman. Well said by the way. It is like throw in stop the exploitation of illegal labor. Because that is exactly what Republicans are all for. They love the cheapest labor, the most scared labor, because the most desperate people in this country who are operating below when nobody is watching, off the books, that is where their money comes from.
Thank you congresswoman Jayapal of Washington State, Robert Costa as always, Leon Fresco and former congressman Dave Jolly.
Coming up, President Trump attacks what he calls the filthy restaurant that turned away White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this weekend. And once again, Trump has shown he is more than willing to villainize his opponents. His mode (ph) seems to be, if you want to a crowd, start a fight.
Plus, she is the Democrat behind the political ad that everyone is talking about. We will introduce you to the air force combat veteran and mom who is betting she can win in ruby red, Texas.
And exclusive new reporting from NBC News, President Trump appears to have turned on defense secretary Mattis. Mad dog Mattis is bother making Trump mad. The HARDBALL round table weighs in on that.
Plus Trump`s latest cultural fight. This time he is going after nonpolitical Jimmy Fallon, nonpolitical Jimmy Fallon.
Finally, let me finish with Trump watch. You won`t like it.
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Remember when candidate Trump said he`d be bringing jobs back to the U.S.? Well, Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, a great brand name, one of the first companies President Trump pledged to help now says it`s shifting some of its production overseas in response to Trump`s trade war. The EU has increased tariffs on Harleys by 25 percent in response to Trump`s tariffs on EU exports. That`s expected to cause Harley-Davidson between $30 million and $45 million this year.
Harley says shifting some production out of the U.S. is the only sustainable option open to them now.
Well, Trump responded late today saying he is surprised that Harley- Davidson, of all companies would be the first to wave what he called the white flag.
Quote "I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the EU. He added "taxes are just a Harley excuse. Be patient."
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Despite provoking a new outrage at every turn now, President Trump continues to receive steadfast support from Republican voters.
As Jeremy Peters reports in "The New York Times" this weekend, the more vocal Trump`s critics become, the more his party is inclined to support him.
He writes that: "Republican voters repeatedly described an instinctive protective response to the president. Bad headlines about Mr. Trump only galvanizes them further. Asked about the president`s critics, one Trump supporter said, `It makes me angry at them, which causes me to want to defend him to them more.`"
According to the latest polling from Gallup, the president`s overall approval rating stands at just 41 percent overall. However, virtually nine out of 10 Republicans say they approve the job he is doing. Nine out of ten.
That polarization is no doubt fueled by the president, who has been quick to villainize the people he disagrees with. His leadership style also serves a strategic purpose, forcing voters to choose whether they`re with him or with his critics, who they don`t like. That may explain why he goes out of his way to bait his opponents with such divisive rhetoric.
Let`s watch a few examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You wouldn`t believe how bad these people are. These aren`t people. These are animals.
He`s a tool of Chuck Schumer and, of course, the MS-13 lover Nancy Pelosi.
TRUMP: Wouldn`t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to just, get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he is fired?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn`t be playing. You shouldn`t be there. Maybe you shouldn`t be in the country.
So, we have a single protester. He`s going home to his mom. Say hello to mommy.
I call the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are. They are the enemy of the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by two MSNBC contributors, Ruth Marcus, deputy page editorial of "The Washington Post," and Jeremy Peters, who covers politics for "The Times."
Your piece is great this weekend.
JEREMY PETERS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Because I think it`s Trump`s way of forcing everybody to their tribal base. You know, I think -- I`m just generalizing here, just guessing -- but I guess there are a lot of different African-Americans who had a different view on people taking a knee every game.
They may said, oh, you made your point. And there are a lot of white people who said, they have a point to make. Let them make it. But he says no, divide by race. Enough of this they nebulously, they might be right, I may be wrong on this one. Forget all that. Go back to your tribal stations and fight.
That`s what Trump does on every issue.
PETERS: Yes. That`s exactly right. He has tribalized our politics more than any other leader has in a generation.
MATTHEWS: ... were tribalized.
RUTH MARCUS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: They were tribalized before.
MATTHEWS: I agree. I agree.
MATTHEWS: I made that point.
PETERS: Well, he`s -- I mean, what Trump has done and also what he has used to great effect is this notion that there is an unhinged, radical, violent left that is almost reminiscent of the Vietnam era war -- war protesters that Nixon went after.
MATTHEWS: Long hairs.
PETERS: Love it or leave it. Right?
MATTHEWS: Yes, the long hairs.
PETERS: And Trump understands by making those people the focus of his criticism, he can portray them as people that they will stop at nothing to silence me, to silence your voice and to take away your vote and impeach me.
MATTHEWS: I think he makes all moderate and regular people who aren`t conservatives, makes them real lefties. Like, I don`t think everybody is for open borders. Half of Latin America would probably like to live in the United States. Most people would like to live here.
MATTHEWS: You have to have some kind of regulation of the border. But he portrays the Democrats as loosey-goosey. Flower children. Come on in.
And then also the Democrats don`t care about crime. They do. A lot of Democrats live in urban neighborhoods, where they`d like to have less crime.
MARCUS: Well, Nancy Pelosi is not an MS-13 lover.
MATTHEWS: Where did he get that from?
MARCUS: I guess he got it from Mike Huckabee. Did you see that tweet over the weekend?
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: What Jeremy`s idea? He turns every Democrat into a hard lefty. Everybody is Maxine Waters from South Central.
I don`t know if she is a hard lefty or not, but she is certainly a liberal, a progressive. But he makes everybody into the enemy.
PETERS: Well, Maxine Waters played right into Trump`s hands. The White House loves it.
Every time there is an episode, like Maxine Waters, who came about close to inciting violence as any member of Congress I have ever seen, and every time Sarah Huckabee Sanders gets kicked out of a restaurant, guess what? The White House loves it. It plays into their message of this crazed, lunatic left fringe, and then they use that to discredit the whole Republican Party.
And a lot of Republican voters who aren`t necessarily pro-Trump buy that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s show what the congresswoman said there.
There are also signs that some on the left are embracing the very kind of incivility that they criticize in the president. They`re doing what he is doing.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said over the weekend that she was asked to leave a restaurant because she worked for Donald Trump.
She tweeted: "Last night, I was told by the owner of the Red Hen" -- it`s a rescue -- "in Lexington, Virginia" -- that`s not far from here -- "to leave because I work for the president, and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me."
In reaction, the president lashed out today, saying that: "The Red Hen restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors, and windows. Badly needs a paint job, rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule. If a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it`s dirty on the inside."
This is pure Trump.
MATTHEWS: On Saturday, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, I mentioned, from L.A. sided with that restaurant owner and called on Democrats to confront members of the Trump administration in a public place. Here is the congresswoman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they`re not welcome anymore, anywhere.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, those comments earned her a sharp rebuke from the president, who said today: "Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low I.Q. person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters of which there are many of the make America great movement. Be careful what you wish for, Max."
Congresswoman Waters has since clarified her statement, saying she never called for violence, only peaceful protest.
What do you make of all of this? I think Trump is winning this little fight.
MARCUS: Yes, with some help from...
MATTHEWS: Because he has brought people down to his level effectively.
MARCUS: Yes, indeed.
Now, I understand Trump and the way he talks about everything -- that we talked about it earlier -- can make you crazy. But Michelle Obama was -- could make everybody crazy. Michelle Obama was right when she said, when they go low, we go high.
MATTHEWS: That didn`t work for Hillary.
MARCUS: Now it`s, when they go low, we`re going crazy.
MATTHEWS: Did it work for Hillary?
MARCUS: And for exactly the reasons that Jeremy...
MATTHEWS: Did it work for Hillary? She said the same thing.
PETERS: No, no. So there is a real debate going on in the Democratic Party right now about whether or not to attack Trump using Trump`s rules.
It`s a real discussion, because they make that exact same point, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Are the leaders like Pelosi, who knows her politics, is she saying hold back?
MARCUS: They`re distancing themselves from the Maxine Waters of the world, because it`s not -- it is not helpful.
Look, there is nobody who -- people who are definitely attached to Trump, the true believers, are not going to get disattached from him.
But if you`re telling other people who may have been Trump voters or might be flirting with Trump that they`re bigots and racists and terrible people and shouldn`t be served in restaurants, it`s like when you criticize a friend, when you criticize somebody in your family, you have this instinctive reaction to want to sort of rally with them.
It`s just not smart politics. It`s not smart human relations.
MATTHEWS: But he does troll. He does incite.
PETERS: Of course he does.
MATTHEWS: He tries to bring them out.
PETERS: He wants this to happen. He wants Maxine Waters to go out there and say crazy things.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a tough challenge. I think we`re going to be debating which way to go.
Do you go with hard, nasty resistance, or you go will, I will go higher when you go lower, which didn`t work last time?
Anyway, Ruth Marcus, good, insightful thinking here. Jeremy, great reporting on that. We love the front page of "The New York Times" and "The Post."
MATTHEWS: Up next: A Democratic congressional candidate in Texas dropped a political ad that some are calling the most effective campaign ad in the history of the Lone Star State.
It`s a Democratic woman, a combat veteran. That candidate joins us next.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A Texas Democrat trying to unseat an eight-term Tea Party Republican in Texas has released one of the best political ads of this year.
M.J. Hegar served three tours in Afghanistan as an Air Force pilot and was wounded during a rescue mission in 2009. She later sued the Pentagon over its ban on women in combat. Well, the three-and-a-half Web video has already been viewed two million times on YouTube.
Let`s watch a bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M.J. HEGAR (D), TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Two Army helicopters rescued us from the wreckage. I strapped myself to the skids and returned fire on the Taliban while we flew to safety.
That got me a Purple Heart, and I became the second woman ever awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor. But, after that, the door closed.
Injured and unable to fly, I was barred from my next career choice because I was a woman. So, I came home. I worked in health care and business. I got married and started my family.
Wait. Barred because I was a woman? That`s ridiculous.
So I sued the Pentagon, but not just than job, about the ban on women serving in all ground combat jobs. And I went to D.C. to lobby Congress. But door after door was slammed in my face.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We are eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule for women.
HEGAR: ... we won. And that opened the door for hundreds of thousands of women to compete for elite ground combat jobs, a major victory for our military.
Hold on. Back up a minute. Not one of his donors? That`s not how this is supposed to work.
One of those closed doors was my congressman, Tea Party Republican John Carter. Apparently, being his constituent and a veteran wasn`t enough to get a meeting. I guess I also needed to be a donor.
So now I`m running against him, taking on a system that cares more about campaign donors and political parties than protecting our country.
Congressman Carter hasn`t had a tough race his entire career. So we will show him tough. Then we will show him the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A spokesperson for John Carter`s campaign told HARDBALL: "Hegar`s assertion is absolutely untrue. John Carter is a -- is respected because of his responsiveness to his constituents."
I`m joined by her, the Democratic candidate, M.J. Hegar.
Thank you. I was going to call you congresswoman, but I will wait for that.
Let me -- tell me about this thing with Carter. Did you actually go his congressional office and were refused help with your efforts to open the door to women in combat?
HEGAR: I did. We called. We e-mailed. We knocked on doors.
It was actually a joint effort of dozens of women who had served in ground combat, without the acknowledgment that it was ground combat. And some representatives from both sides of the aisle and staffers were very receptive. Mine was not.
And I thought at first it was because he disagreed with me. But it comes to find out -- I did some research -- and he is just not very responsive to constituents, period. He hasn`t had a town hall in five years, for example.
MATTHEWS: Well, how -- why do you think this thing has gone viral?
Most political ads are like most political ads. This one, I`m little bit wary, but it was dynamite. I loved the fact the way the camera moved. It all seemed to be like one of those continued shots. It looked like it was all done together, like "Raging Bull," if you will, the De Niro movie, where everything seemed to happen at the same time.
It wasn`t cut and edited. But it really seemed to make a point about women and their rights and patriotism, and really what a job a congressperson is, which is to answer that damn door.
HEGAR: Yes, I think it`s been very well received for a couple reasons. First, because it was really well done.
But, also, I think it strikes a chord within our country, with people on both sides of the aisle, honestly. A lot of people feel like their representatives are absent and that their voices aren`t being heard. A lot of people feel like there`s not enough regular people who live down the street from them representing us in D.C.
We need our elected officials to look more representative of our population, and I`m working on that.
MATTHEWS: Where can you work with Trump? Is there a place where you can find something he might be working on in the right direction or could be moved in that right direction by you and your colleagues?
HEGAR: I have great respect for the Constitution and our democracy, and I respect the fact that he was elected our president.
I respect the fact that not everybody in the country agrees with me and my values. I think that one of the reasons I`m so excited to see a wave of veterans running for office on both sides is because we`re used to working with people we disagree with, strategically, tactically.
We`re used to putting the mission first and understanding that the important thing is to put people and the security of our country over politics and partisan.
So, you know, I think that one of the things I`m doing this for is to go there and try to put an end to some of the toxic hyperpartisanship.
HEGAR: So, while I might be...
MATTHEWS: So where are you politically? How would you describe your -- I`m sort of center-left, a little bit left-of-center. I think everybody knows. I have been on the air for 25 years. People know what I am.
Where are you?
HEGAR: I`m definitely a Democrat, but I am a pragmatist.
I think that I have been very effective fighting in D.C. for my values and our values, but doing it in a way that`s not so conflict-ridden and so divisive.
For example, when I went to D.C., I would talk to people on the left about women`s rights and the Constitution, but I would talk to the right about military effectiveness and retention and security and the fact that the Joint Chiefs all unanimously agreed that this policy was bad for the military.
We need more people in D.C. who can do that, who can put their ego aside and not try to convince people of their reasons why you should agree with them, but find the reasons inside them why they should agree with you.
MATTHEWS: You`re great. You`re great. I mean it. You`re great.
Thank you for coming on. Thank you.
HEGAR: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: M.J. Hegar, who has run a great ad. And it was great here, right here, to meet her for the first time.
I hope she does well in a very difficult race. It`s Texas. It`s red. She is running against a long-term incumbent. I think she is going to get this guy off his butt, at least.
Democratic congressional candidate in Texas, thank you.
Up next: With conflicts simmering around the world and a nuclear standoff with North Korea just barely on hold, insiders say Defense Secretary James Mattis has fallen out of favor President Trump. He is not popular with the president anymore. What`s that about? We will ask our Roundtable to weigh in on that one.
Plus: Trump`s cultural crusade. Do you believe he is going after Jimmy Fallon? Talk about the least political of all the late-night guys, the least political.
Oh, you shouldn`t have done that. You shouldn`t have done that.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
NBC News is reporting now that Defense Secretary James Mattis was, quote, out of the loop on major White House decisions, including President Trump`s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, his promise to North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un that the U.S. would halt military exercises with South Korea, and last week`s announcement creating something called a space force as a sixth branch of the military.
NBC News reports the president, quote, has cooled on Mattis, in part because he has come to believe that his defense secretary looks down on him and slow walks his policy directives.
According to NBC News again, the dynamic was exacerbated by Trump`s announcement in March that he had chosen John Bolton as national security adviser, a move Mattis opposed. Let`s in bring in tonight`s roundtable.
Shermichael Singleton sitting next to me is Republican political consultant, Carol Lee is a reporter for NBC News, and author of that reporting on James Mattis, and Chris Lu served as White House cabinet secretary during the Obama administration and is a senior fellow at UVA`s Miller`s -- well, good for you.
CHRIS LU, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE CABINET SECRETARY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Both are very -- I`m envious of both jobs.
Let me go to Carol.
I`ve sensed a silence from Mattis, Mad Dog Mattis. He has not been much of a mad dog lately. And he did, I think, his positions make more sense than Trump`s.
CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they don`t really agree on anything. If you look at, even going back to -- during the campaign, they disagreed on certain issues like torture, but it was sort of papered over. And what you see in the last six to eight months is that with Trump`s kind of feeling emboldened himself to make his own decision and listen to his own instincts, on top of hiring someone like John Bolton who Mattis opposed and moving Pompeo into the State Department, he is listening to those folks.
And the other piece here, Chris, is that he doesn`t -- Mattis doesn`t have the buffer, the triumvirate, John Kelly has been -- his power has been diminished at chief of staff. That was in alliance and Rex Tillerson is out. And so, he doesn`t have a the secretary of state that he is aligned with either in the same way.
MATTHEWS: You know, I get the feeling, Shermichael, that when he hired John Bolton, he forgot the rest of the guys. He brought in Mr. Neocon. Why would he stick around with realists like Mad Dog Mattis anymore? It makes no sense.
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think when you think about John Bolton, to your point, he is more in sync with what Trump`s view of the world.
MATTHEWS: Trump is against stupid wars and Mr. Bolton is for all the stupid wars.
SINGLETON: So, a lot of things that now he is for, and now he`s against. I think Mattis represents something that is antithetical to what Mr. Trump is as far as that nationalist tone, as far as America`s role in the world. And John Bolton in my view sort of gives the president the necessary credence, if you will, to say it is OK to act like --
MATTHEWS: Are you part of the 93 percent of Republicans that agree with everything that Trump says --
SINGLETON: I`m just explaining the way the president has thought about this, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Oh my God. You don`t think -- are you telling me Trump is a neocon?
SINGLETON: I don`t know even if the president understands what neo- conservatism is.
MATTHEWS: There`s the support guy.
MATTHEWS: Chris, your view on in this while we get on this, because I think Mad Dog Mattis is seen by a lot of people who watch programs like this and read the paper as sort of a stabilizing force. Apparently, he has no role at all.
LU: Absolutely. What we have learned is that everyone in Trump`s universe is disposable except for his family members, except now we`re talking about the secretary of defense who is widely respected on both sides of the aisle. And the fact that the president is freelancing policy, domestic policy is troubling. It`s frightening on national security issues.
And maybe the reason why Secretary Mattis is slow-walking these policies is because they`re really bad policy ideas that the president --
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what a cabinet member is supposed to do. They`re not supposed to salute everything. They`re supposed to administer as a government.
Anyway, in an interview last night, this is really wild. "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon expresses regret about his lighthearted interview with President Trump during the 2016 campaign. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, TONIGHT SHOW: I did not do it to normalize him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff. I don`t do that with any guest.
Sorry. I don`t want to make anyone angry. I never do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
FALLON: And I never will. This was all in the fun of the show. And I made a mistake. I`m sorry if I made anyone mad. And looking back, I would do it differently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think Jimmy, maybe because he is at the same network as me, but I do believe what he is trying to do is channel Johnny Carson who never took political positions on anything.
Anyway, well, last night, President Trump tweeted, Jimmy Fallon is now whimpering to all that he did the famous hair show with me where he seriously messed up my hair, do you believe he talks like this? And that he would have done it differently because it is said to have humanized me.
He is taking heat. He called and said monster ratings. Be a man, Jimmy.
Anyway, Fallon responded last night, tweeting, in honor of the president`s tweet, I`ll be making a donation to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in his name. A little shot back there.
LU: It`s ironic that the president used the term "be a man." Be a man sometimes is turning the other cheek, letting go of some of the slights, being presidential, which is a word we don`t use very often with Donald Trump.
Maybe listening to his wife`s advice who gave a wonderful speech yesterday to a group of Virginia teens about compassion and kindness and positivity.
LEE: We have seen this president and he likes to take people`s principles and test them and test them and push and then to get them to either give in on some of those principles or for the president to be able to win. What you`ve seen here is Jimmy Fallon now saying, you know, he is not going get involved in politics. He`s not going to go there and he went there, because the president pushed him there.
MATTHEWS: Who does this -- you know, the things that kills mosquitoes, Trump`s got one of them. Whenever he hears anybody who says it wasn`t totally pro-Trumpian, he hears about it and immediately tweets on it. He is like one of the mosquito catchers.
SINGLETON: I think that this plays great for the base. It sort of revs up that cultural war that Republicans or at least conservatives has thought a long time --
MATTHEWS: Jimmy Fallon is not his cultural enemy. Steve Colbert may be.
SINGLETON: Look, from the perspective of Republicans, 90 percent, this is no longer Trump base.
MATTHEWS: They don`t like Jimmy Fallon.
SINGLETON: This is the party now, and they see this as the president battling this culture war against Hollywood elitists. That`s the way they perceive it.
MATTHEWS: Jimmy Fallon an elitist? Give me a break.
SINGLETON: I`m not saying I see this, Trump. I`m saying the perspective of Trump voters and an overwhelming majority of Republicans.
LEE: It`s all part of the same line we`re seeing. It`s exactly that. It`s this victimization, these big elites who are out to get us.
MATTHEW: Well, the round table is sticking with us. Up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. I didn`t know Jimmy Fallon was a political partisan first of all.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Well, the "New York Times" reported this weekend on a newfound infatuation of Donald Trump. It`s called the presidential challenge coin. The coin is usually made to commemorate cultural trips or major events and have been around since bill Clinton`s presidency.
But President Trump seems to be particularly enamored of them. There was one created, for example, for the North Korean nuclear summit. On it were the head shots of both President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Another features Mar-a-Lago on the front there it is, with the presidential seal and Air Force One on the back.
Ethics officials have taken issue with that coin, noting that government resources should not be used to promote private businesses. The White House argues back, the White House does, that those rules don`t apply in this case, saying private funds were used to pay for these challenge coins.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back the HARDBALL round table.
Shermichael, tell me something I don`t know. It`s Monday. Hit me big.
SINGLETON: So, Dr. Ben Carson just launched his envision centers. I know he has gotten a lot of criticism lately. But I wanted to mention this because it`s a centralized hub that allows individuals who rely on HUD services to go if they need help in search for jobs, health benefits, et cetera. So, it`s like a one shop stop all if you will, one shop all if you will.
And I think it`s a beautiful --
MATTHEWS: So, if you`re having trouble getting a check or you`re having trouble getting health care or you have to know which specialist to go to, he is going to help?
SINGLETON: OK, Chris, come on now.
MATTHEWS: I`m just wondering what he`s helping with.
SINGLETON: I didn`t say all of that. I said it`s a centralized hub where you can go to get information on a plethora of different things from jobs, health care, et cetera. That`s a good thing. It`s going benefit a lot of people.
Hey, it`s a start, okay?
MATTHES: Thank you. You`re Republican. You`re part of that nine out of ten. You`ve got to go along with everything. Thank you.
LEE: OK. Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Latin America tomorrow. He is going to go to -- you know, they`re saying he is going to talk about issues like Venezuela and other things. But obviously happening as the controversy at the border is going on.
So, he`s going to Brazil, Ecuador and Guatemala where there is a Guatemalan mother who had sued the government because she was separated from her 7- year-old son and they were reunited on Friday.
So, something to watch is, you know, what`s he say? Does he say anything? How is he received? Are there protests?
MATTHEWS: You know, Latin America is known for its passionate leaders. They`re very dramatic and charismatic. How are they going to --
LEE: And they don`t really hold back.
MATTHEWS: Ha! What are they going to make of this guy?
LEE: We`ll see.
MATTHEWS: OK. Go ahead. Chris?
LU: This past weekend marked the sixth anniversary of the passage of the Republican tax bill. And there is a reason why Donald Trump is talk about MS --
LU: Six-month anniversary. It`s the reason why Donald Trump is talking about immigration because a new analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness found that only 4 percent of workers got a pay raise as a result of the tax bill. Most of that was the one-time bonuses instead of permanent increases.
Only 10 percent of the overall tax savings went to pay higher wages for workers, and overall share buyback, stock buybacks exceeded pay raises by 71 --
MATTHEWS: Which is what equity does at the top. They buy back stock.
LU: Absolutely. The wealthy shareholders, not to workers.
MATTHEWS: That explains why it`s not selling politically. It`s not helping.
LU: And that`s why he is tweeting about Maxine Waters and Jimmy Fallon.
MATTHEWS: People are smart. People are smart. Yes, change the suggest, Mr. President.
Thank you, Shermichael Singleton, holding in there, Carol Lee and Chris Lu, who speaks truth.
When we return, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch". You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Monday, June 25th, 2018.
Do you see what he is doing? Do you see how Donald Trump rallies his troops? In this latest one, he`s calling for all people suspected of crossing our southwest border to be taken immediately back across the border.
On the surface, it`s unconstitutional. While the courts will never let it stands, Trump`s more mere proposing of it, the sheer simplicity of it will sell with tens of millions of people would say that Donald Trump opposes illegal immigration and he is ready to do something about it, while his critics won`t. It has added firepower.
By proposing to send them back over the border, Trump is drawing the fire of the mainstream press. The headline speaking shock and exclamation points as the incoming comes from everywhere, the media, the Democrats, the Latino advocacy groups.
And what does that all that do? It makes Donald Trump the last man standing against illegal immigration, the last man standing against open borders, not just the one politically opposing illegal immigration, but the last one not for doing absolutely doing to regulate immigration.
What`s the Democrats` response? Exactly what many of us want it to be, attack, attack, attack. But with his line of that attack, the message he gets across that Trump`s critics are opposed to doing anything about illegal immigration. That they`re so upset about stopping illegal immigration Trump`s way they`re against it stopping any other way. In other words, they`re for open borders.
So, every time Trump or Sarah Sanders accuses of being for open borders, I hear the same strategy at work. Get the Democrats to scream bloody murder when Trump does something to stop illegal immigration, and it will sound to many people like the Democrats are defending illegal immigration, that they are for open borders.
It`s how Trump got elected. It`s how he has clearly set his course to get reelected, using Democrats to help him.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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