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Trump takes victory lap. TRANSCRIPT: 6/26/2018, Hardball with Chris Matthews.

Guests: Cynthia Alksne, Annie Linskey, Jamal Simmons

Show: HARDBALL Date: June 26, 2018 Guest: Cynthia Alksne, Annie Linskey, Jamal Simmons

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The usual suspects. Let`s play HARDBALL.

They have done it again, the usual suspects the five-man Republican majority on the Supreme Court today gave President Trump what he wanted most, the good housekeeping seal on his campaign to divide the country. And approving his travel ban crudely aimed at Muslims, the Republican- controlled highest court has shined up the entire Trump offensive on Muslim, Latinos and let`s not kid ourselves, Democrats.

First the Supreme Court gave us "w" by ending the Florida recount in 2000. And then they gave us guns for everyone in the Howard (ph) case. Then with Citizens United, new power for the wealthy to drive our elections. And today, it`s Trump to do what he wants in targeting Muslims.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.

As I said, Donald Trump`s dark brand of politics received the Supreme Court`s seal of approval today, five justices ruled reviewed in favor of President Trump`s travel ban, the cleaned up version of his Muslim ban. The court chose to focus on the text of the policy rather than Trump`s prior inflammatory tweets and public comments.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, however, backed the President`s ban along with the court`s four conservative judge but he added a note of caution, an anxious world must know that our government remains committed always to the liberties the constitution seeks to preserve and protect. That`s what Kennedy said. The President said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Supreme Court ruling was a tremendous victory for this country and for the constitution. The Supreme Court -- the Supreme Court ruling was a tremendous victory for our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you go ahead with it, sir?

TRUMP: Of course. What do you think? I wouldn`t go ahead with it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also to the idea of deporting people without due process, as well. Do you think (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: We have to find a system where you don`t need thousands of judges sitting at a boarder.


MATTHEWS: Well, instead of campaigning on the Republican tax bill which according to a recent poll is growing less popular, Trump has decided to focus on the politics, well, you know of division. According to "Axios," President Trump is frustrated with Congress and has chosen a strategy of hot partisan warfare. That was clearly on display last night at a campaign rally down in South Carolina.


TRUMP: We are winning with our military. We are winning on trade. We are winning on trade. We are defending our borders because if you don`t have borders, you don`t have a country.

The Democrats want open borders, they want anybody they want including MS- 13 pouring into the country. And the Democrats don`t like ICE. They want to protect illegals coming into the country. Much more so than they want to protect you. And that`s not where we are coming from. I don`t want judges. I want ICE and border patrol agents.


MATTHEWS: Well, a new Gallup polls shows that President Trump`s approval rating has dropped to 41 percent down from the personal best he had of 45 percent a week ago. The drop comes after an intense public outcry, of course, over his administration`s zero tolerance immigration policy that led to more than 2,000 immigrant children being separated from their parents. But if the campaign showed us anything, it`s when the President is backed into a corner, he fights.

For more, Jonathan Swan, national political reporter for "Axios," Susan Del Percio, Republican strategist and an MSNBC political analyst and Maria Teresa Kumar president and CEO, I should say, of Voto Latino.

Let me start with the politics of this thing. Once the court ruling, 5-4, no surprise, all Republicans against four Democrats, basically the same we have had for years now giving Trump the seal of approval on his travel ban which was basically intended as a Muslim ban.

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, if the word that he is aides want people to know is vindication. That is what they are saying. But --.

MATTHEWS: Trumps needs vindication?

SWAN: Yes. Trump feels vindication.

But Trump theoretically I think understood the value of having conservative staffed court. And obviously, released the list of his justices during the campaign and felt that contributed to his victory. But this is the first time he has seen a really tangible result of that conservative.

MATTHEWS: Maria Teresa, this is aimed at Muslims or was aimed at Muslims, but now he has got a free fire zone for everybody. Does this smell like he has got what he wants which is a seal of approval, do what you`re doing, Mr. President, the court said.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s exactly right. And I think that under this President what we are seeing is a massive revamping of our immigration policy. He basically not only remove DACA but he has also removed temporary protective status. This basically allows that part of that immigration narrative.

If Trump continues down had this course, we are going to have roughly about a million people that were documented today, Chris, undocumented by 2020. So what we need is Congress to act to ensure that they are rescind that. But I think the biggest challenge here --.

MATTHEWS: How do you take away documentation? I didn`t know you can do that.

KUMAR: Yes. So basically still temporary -- but there`s a whole slew.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk politics for a second. I`m sorry. I know, you are the expert on the numbers. I appreciate that. But it seems to me Trump has made a calculated white only campaign that is basically said, OK, I`m going to speak dismissively of all kinds of ethnic groups. But I`m going in front of a wide audience. I`m going to sell myself. I`m going to get 100 percent of the white what he is aiming at. Some absurd percentage. And he doesn`t care if he gets the Spanish votes. He doesn`t care if he get the smaller number of Muslim or Asian votes. He acts like he doesn`t care they exist except to call them rapists and everything else.

KUMAR: But I don`t think that is wrong. But I think what his miscalculation is that the majority of Americans are not siding with him including people that are white. We have to keep in mind.

MATTHEWS: But wait a minute, 90 percent of the Republican Party are backing him down the road. I mean, nine out of ten.

KUMAR: Right. But you have to remember three million Americans vote differently. They didn`t vote for this candidate. You have 93 million Americans who voted out. Who is marching right now since the women`s march? These are likely people that not only voted but people that sat it out and saying wait a second, this is not the direction.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think he is calculating, Susan, on Latino voters not voting very strongly in 2018.

SUSAN DE PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, that`s absolutely right. He is counting on them. We have seen in off year elections like a lot of different Democratic blocks, Latino voters --.

MATTHEWS: You ng people.

DEL PERCIO: Young people, they don`t show up in midterm elections. I agree with you. He is using racism, motivator for his people to turn out. What I think the miscalculation that he is making for 2018 is that he is -- they are not coming out for him. And he doesn`t translate to the down ballot counties as much as he thinks he does. So you are looking at suburbs, you are looking at white suburban women. They have a problem and they have learned whether it`s this decision or waking up every day and seeing this man in the White House, elections have consequences. That`s why they are showing up.

MATTHEWS: By the way, what you just said about white women or whatever, the suburb, we better somewhat better off than average women in the burbs. I thought they would come out and I thought they would bring their husbands out in 2016 all to vote against Trump. Now they have gotten a good look the guy, you are say they won`t?

DEL PERCIO: No. I`m saying they will show up to vote against Trump.

MATTHEWS: Against Trump, OK.

A week after being on the defensive for separating is small children from parents, the Trump administration seems to be back on offense attacking Democrats. Let`s watch that.


TRUMP: And what we are looking for as Republicans I can tell you is strong borders, no crime. What the Democrats are looking at is open borders, which will bring tremendous crime.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: He is doing exactly what the American people asked him to do. And the left doesn`t like it.

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 would rather have open borders and rampant crime than work with the President to create solutions.


MATTHEWS: I have never seen a more blatant campaign message (INAUDIBLE), because obviously the tax cut which I have looked that we had it on last night, gave very little help to the working people out there, men and women. And go ahead. So they have said let`s try this hate thing.

KUMAR: Right. But it`s working. Conor Lamb when he did his special election, that`s where the Republicans first tested this whole idea of taxes. Is it going to work? It didn`t stick.

MATTHEWS: You know the why it didn`t stick? Because nobody got any money.

KUMAR: Exactly true. Exactly right. I mean, if you were able to -- they recognized that it was a ruse. So instead, during the primaries right after that, the primary they ran 14,000 anti-immigrant ads to move their base into the primaries. And in some cases it worked. And I think we have to do a concerted effort of making sure not only are we telling people what`s actually happening but this idea this is a Democratic issue, the Democrats don`t control any part of the house. His legislative arm of his party does. So they have to actually step-up and actually pass some sort of immigration.

DEL PERCIO: Which is exactly why he needs that smoke and mirror kind of thing going on because not only did the tax cuts not help people that thought they would get it, they are going to see a financial hit on their pocketbook come October when they get rates for hair health insurance bills which premiums are going up.

MATTHEWS: You are talking bread, good old bread and butter politics. Trump is selling a new kind of politics which is simple, on message and my question is, will all the Republican candidates or most of them running for reelection or elections of governors, Senate, and House, are they going to go out and say Democrats are all for open boarders and crime? Will they all sing that song?

SWAN: Some of them would. Some of them don`t want Trump anywhere near their district. (INAUDIBLE), some of these vulnerable in swing districts, no way they are going to just listen to Trump`s message.

But just back to your original point, Steve Bannon used to say to me, he said it to me so many times, fear is the best emotion. It is the most powerful emotion. Fear wins elections. And Corey Lewandowski, Trump`s former campaign manager, said recently.

MATTHEWS: He just lost his job today.

SWAN: Sure. But he has the same attitude. He said the other day the voters are going to come up to vote if you just say thank you -- to say thank you for the tax cut. You need to rev them up with something. I don`t think Trump articulates the stuff. I don`t think he thinks about it in the sort of like what are white suburban women going to do. But he understands the gut level that this fear works.

KUMAR: I think for a group of Republican base of his base does, but I also think that the majority of Americans, they are getting a little tired. They are getting drained and exhausted.

MATTHEWS: The numbers don`t show --. He is still getting that same level, 40 to 45 back and forth. It modulates but it never really changes.

SWAN: The most stable element in the universe.

MATTHEWS: The thing doesn`t move, does it? I haven`t seen him going down in the 30s. He is up around 40.

SWAN: We are four months away, right. So four months is beyond in any election.

MATTHEWS: But you are predicting something is going to happen or saying it is happening? Are people turning off to Trump? I don`t see it. I think this hate thing is working for him.

DEL PERCIO: Well, it is again, what are we looking? We are looking at 24 House seats. That`s what it takes. So that`s the game.


DEL PERCIO: So that is the game and those are all --.


MATTHEWS: Last night, President Trump who likes to it out his own accomplishments while dinging past Presidents, also took aim at former first lady Laura Bush? The library? She is a nice lady. Are you crazy? But with Trump, here we go. Let`s watch.


TRUMP: I don`t believe and I don`t even think that`s close that is any President has done and what we have done 500 days.

Hey look, I got a bad hand, Ronald Reagan, couldn`t get it. Nobody could. I didn`t even want it until I heard everybody else wanted. And I said, it looks like freebee. They were saying Hillary Clinton could have done that. I don`t think so. It was a disaster for Bush. Although we very much appreciated Laura Bush`s lovely letter. It was a disaster for Obama.


MATTHEWS: Well, it has to do with Anwar up there in the developing the arctic circle for exploitation for fossil fuels I suppose. But why did he take a shot on Laura Bush who everybody likes?

DEL PERCIO: Because he is a petty person. He can`t help himself. And he likes to take those shots because it makes him feel strong and he has, especially when he has a crowd behind him. And he gets revved up and he likes to stick it to everybody who he feels --.

MATTHEWS: OK. The master of trolling, if it`s not Trump, it is Mitch McConnell. Yesterday, his majority leader Mitch McConnell`s political team took a victory lap after today`s Supreme Court ruling tweeting this picture of the Senate with Justice Neil Gorsuch. Of course, Conor (ph) who frequently called the Democrats obstructionist, famously blocked the nomination of former president Barack Obama`s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland back in 62, just two years ago. How do Republicans manage to pretend to forget that the Democrats, you know, wanted a bill on immigration? In 2013, they wouldn`t bring it up in the House. They wanted a vote on their Supreme Court nominee. They wouldn`t bring it up. They wanted to finish the recount in Florida. They wouldn`t let them do it. And yet the Republicans call the Democrats obstructionists. Memory, zero. Zero memory.

SWAN: I`m shocked at the hypocrisy. I`m shock. It is the thing he is most proud of. Mitch McConnell by --.

MATTHEWS: Obstructing, refusing a hearing or a meeting.

SWAN: Absolutely. Merrick Garland delay is absolutely what he is most proud of.

MATTHEWS: And he wasn`t a lefty.


MATTHEWS: Merrick Garland is a straight middle, the highly -- was a praised attorney.

KUMAR: This idea that they led Mitch McConnell actually roll over the Democrats, I would put on the feet of the Democrats and the President --.

MATTHEWS: What were they going to do? He was running the thing.

KUMAR: You have to play tough though. You do. And I think that you have to be able to -- I mean, I worked on the hill. You work on the hill.

MATTHEWS: Mitch, I`m with you. I think sometimes you got to the say you break the rules, we push.

KUMAR: There are consequences.

MATTHEWS: All right. Jonathan Swan, the Jonathan Swan, Susan Del Percio, thank you. Maria Teresa Kumar.

Coming up, special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on collusion, not just obstruction. Collusion with the Russians is going to get acted on by the end of the year. According to the new report, Mueller is preparing to accelerate his probe and settle once and for all whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to win the election. Mueller`s team is reporting they are looking to produce indictment on that front. Look out Roger Stone this fall.

Plus conservative columnist George F. Will has called on people to vote out Trump`s poodles, he calls them. That would be Republicans in this year`s midterm election. So come November, think George F. Will. Vote I guess Democrat. Do Republicans agree with Will`s plan? He said that these days it seems like the Republican Party belongs to Trump, but not critics.

And the White House loves to attack the lack of civility on the left, but what about the President? Last night Trump went after everyone from Jimmy Fallon to John McCain. The HARDBALL round will tacking that one tonight.

Also, there is primaries coming out tonight. A new reporting on Sarah Huckabee Sanders. It looks like she is also on the outs as she couldn`t stay in the restaurants. They weren`t liking her in the restaurant. Now they don`t like her in the White House?

Finally let me finish with the usual suspects tonight, that would be the court. Those five wonderful fellows up there that do what the Republicans put them there to do.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Of seven states are holding primaries tonight or runoffs, the polls have just closed in South Carolina where Republican governor Henry McMaster is facing a runoff challenge from marine combat veteran businessman John Warren. Governor McMaster was one of President Trump`s earliest supporters. He is hoping Trump`s appearance at a campaign rally this morning, that would be last night, will help put him over the top.

In Utah, Mitt Romney is heavily favored to defeat Republican state representative, that`s a pretty low level guy, Mike Kennedy. That is only state rep and his U.S. senate primary fight there.

And in New York, incumbent congressman Dan Donovan is facing a challenge from former congressman Michael Grimm. Remember Grimm, of course, recently served seven months in prison for tax fraud. And once famously threatened to break a reporter, catch this, in half like a boy. Wow.

We will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There has been multiple reports now, reports indicating that special counsel Robert Mueller could soon release a report on whether the President obstructed justice. Well, we knew that. But today, Bloomberg News reported that Mueller is also preparing to accelerate, that`s the word, his probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, which is really the heart of the matter here.

According to a person familiar are the investigation, Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators have an eye toward producing conclusions and possible indictments related to collusion by fall. Well, that`s of course this September. NBC News has not independently verified that report.

However, it comes after we learned last week of a third Trump campaign contact with a Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, the same old pattern. All three (INAUDIBLE) by the way, occurring between late April and early June of 2016. That would be spring of 2016 before the public learned that the DNC had been hacked by Russian intelligence.

Well furthermore, there are at now at least 13 Trump associates known to have had suspicious contacts with Russians. In his latest book "the plot to destroy democracy," MSNBC`s analyst Malcolm Nance writes any final assessment by a trained intelligence professional would conclude that Trump was a spy`s dream. That`s his words in his book.

However, the only person who knows whether there`s hard evidence to prove Trump engaged in a conspiracy with Russia, as of now, is Robert Mueller, the man I call the iceberg.

Joining me right now is the author of that book, Malcolm Nance. And Cynthia Alksne is a former federal prosecutor.

First off, I want to go to you, Malcolm. You`re the expert on this. But I won`t -- Cynthia knows prosecution very excellently.

What`s it mean when the word comes out, thanks to Bloomberg, that this prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has plans to move this thing, to skate it along and perhaps come up with a report, not just on obstruction sometime in the next several months, but by the end of the year, in the fall, a report on collusion with the Russians involving the Trump people?

MALCOLM NANCE, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you know, it`s been said by friends of Robert Mueller that his favorite hobby is putting people in prison.


NANCE: And I don`t think he`s going to have a problem at all, if he has the evidence, to bring at least part of the conspiracy charges involving people having contacts with known intelligence officers together, and to be able to at least in the first phase go after people who were the initial dirty tricks teams who may have worked with Russia to support the Trump election.

That will involve, of course, more indictments. We know Manafort`s trial is coming up. And maybe he will turn. We don`t know about that.

But Robert Mueller is on an -- if he`s going to accelerate his schedule, that means we`re going to have a wild summer and a lot -- and someone is going to go to jail. He`s not going to allow that to lapse.

MATTHEWS: Well, Cynthia, one thing we know in the knowing world, maybe not counting Trump, in the knowing world, is that the Russians had an elaborate conspiracy to screw with our election in 2016.


MATTHEWS: And it had so many points, so many pieces to it, like an octopus, all these arms coming into everything, social media, election machinery, everything, people around Trump, people that were with Trump, people who have American-Russian sort of connections, all these efforts.

And they have matched up in many cases, as we said, with a lot of people who were reaching their arms out, too, these squid-like arms coming out, and they were reaching and grabbing them and connecting with them.

ALKSNE: Right. There`s a Russian under every rock.

I would agree with Malcolm that if something is going to happen before September, it`s going to be sort of on the outside segments,because on the inside, the heart of it, we read this and we think, oh, boy, maybe there`s something up with Don Jr. or Roger Stone or Kushner.

And my experience would tell me that isn`t coming before September, that it would be something more on the outside.

MATTHEWS: Roger Stone?

ALKSNE: I don`t know about Roger Stone. He hasn`t been interviewed yet.

MATTHEWS: Rick Gates, Manafort?

ALKSNE: Manafort, I`m surprised hasn`t flipped yet. He`s sitting in the Central Jail in Virginia.

MATTHEWS: Michael Flynn, he`s flipped.

ALKSNE: He`s flipped.

And remember that Mueller has a lot of information from Flynn. And he has a lot of information already from Cohen. And it`s only a matter of time before Cohen flips. And...

MATTHEWS: Because of the weight of 20 or 30 years he`s looking at?

ALKSNE: No. Yes, because of the weigh and because he had enough information to indict him at the time he did the search warrants, because the search warrant was so broad and he was such an important person. That would have moved up the chain through Justice.

And that definitely -- I would definitely say there`s...


MATTHEWS: Have you been around long enough to look what the look in the eye is of a person about to flip?

Hemingway. I have just been reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls." And I take Hemingway very seriously.

ALKSNE: One of the all-time greats.

MATTHEWS: Whether you do or not, Cynthia, I take him seriously.


MATTHEWS: He talked -- in the Spanish Civil War, he said you could see in Pablo, one of his colleagues in arms, he saw the sadness in his eyes, and he said, this guy is going to flip. He`s going to betray us. And he did.

I think he did. I haven`t gotten to the end of the book yet. But I think he was going to flip.


ALKSNE: What I see is a guy who had a very good congressional fixer lawyer, and has now switched to a lawyer who specializes in the United States attorney`s office in the Southern District.

And I also see a guy who has all the incentive. And I see a guy who has been dissed and disrespected by the president. That to me is a recipe for flipping.

And to me, it`s only a matter of time. But that`s why I think we will not see the indictments before September, because there`s too many little pieces to fall. And people who haven`t been interviewed, that`s what really interesting for court watchers.

If you look at the investigation, some people haven`t been interviewed, and those people have a problem.

MATTHEWS: Well, this comes amid new reports on the continued threat that Russia poses to our elections, the continued threat.

Politico reports Republican and Democratic lawmakers say the Trump administration is keeping them in the dark about whether the U.S. is ready to deal with Russian interference in the coming midterms this November. By the way, the campaigns are under way. We`re getting toward the election.

Quote: "A half-dozen senior House and Senate lawmakers say they`re hearing only an alarming silence from the administration about what Moscow`s trolls and hackers are up to."

Malcolm, that`s a question for you. Do you think -- what`s your hearing on this? Are we trying to prevent this all from happening again in `18, which is now?

NANCE: No, we`re not trying to prevent it, because we have one-half of this nation has been told not to believe anything related to the hacking of the DNC to have anything to do with Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

They control the government. And they have convinced the people inside the government to do just the minimal things they have been doing before. There was no moon shot here to defend American democracy. There was no effort whatsoever to defend this nation from another hacking.

Now, maybe it`s not a hacking in the sense of the DNC. Maybe it`s individual e-mails, like the Podesta campaign had occur to them. But we might see a wave of kompromat, of compromising information, intended to blackmail or coerce people during the run-up to this campaign.

That -- the U.S. news media is the dagger at the throat for that. And I expect -- fully expect to see that happen in the run-up to the campaign.

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s some cats on a hot tin roof here.

You notice Roger Stone got a little skittish last week. And I`m wondering whether that -- when he comes out and said, oh, yes, I did have contact with a Russian. Does that in any way indemnify him or protect him from prosecution to come out in public and say, OK, I will admit it, before I get indicted, I did have something to do with the Russians?

Malcolm, does that protect him to say, I did it?

NANCE: No, I don`t think that protects him at all.

The funny thing about Roger Stone -- I met Roger Stone last year -- is that everything that he said during the campaign was designed to puff him up to make him look like the ultimate insider.

I think there`s a reason he hasn`t been interviewed yet by the Mueller team. And he`s already denying a lot of the stuff that he said, his contacts with WikiLeaks. He just doesn`t want to be caught out as a con man. He just doesn`t want to be caught out as a fraud.

MATTHEWS: I think he likes the tease and the notoriety.

NANCE: He does.

MATTHEWS: Because it makes him into a very important figure in this Trump world.

Nobody wants to be indicted.

ALKSNE: He basically went into the Congress and lied and said he hadn`t had Russian contacts. And then when Mueller had the notes proving that he had that Russian meeting with a guy where they offered him dirt on Hillary Clinton, and he was basically just too cheap to pay for it, they wanted two million bucks, then he went in, now he wants to change his testimony.

Well, that`s not going to fool Bob Mueller.

MATTHEWS: Well, just remember, Saddam Hussein pretended had he WMD, and he didn`t. Look what happened to him.


MATTHEWS: Thank you, Malcolm Nance. Thank you, Cynthia Alksne.

Up next: Trump`s approval with Republican voters is through the roof right now of about nine out of 10. But will his popularity carry over to the midterms? Well, it`s not too far away.

At least one prominent conservative is coming here. The columnist George F. Will is urging voters to throw out Trump`s -- he calls them Republican poodles. Get rid of them, he says. He joins me next.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Henry was there at the beginning. He`s a fighter. He`s tough. He`s strong. And he`s a gentleman. So, please, get your asses out tomorrow and vote.



MATTHEWS: That`s the president of the United States using that word.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Trump last night on the stump in South Carolina campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidate, the incumbent, Henry McMaster, who is facing a primary run-off down there. I think he`s going to win.

The president said more Republicans needed to be elected this November.

Longtime conservative columnist George F. Will argued the opposite this weekend.

He wrote, many Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have -- quote -- "become the president`s poodles." Poodles. "The congressional Republican Caucuses must be substantially reduced."

He continued: "So substantially that they`re remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution`s Article 1 powers that they have been to invertebrate to use against the current welder of Article 2 powers." That`s the president. "They will then have leisure time to wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them."

What an indictment.

Nevertheless, the latest Gallup poll shows that nine of 10 Republicans approve of Donald Trump`s job as president.

Joining me right now is the author of that tough column, George F. Will.

You know, Steve Schmidt, the man who ran the campaign for John McCain, has made -- offered a similar, if not so literate, endorsement of voting Democrat this year by a Republican.

Are you saying now here on television that people who vote this November should vote for Democrats?

GEORGE WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I`m saying that the Republican Party is now so homogeneous, so thoroughly the Trump party, particularly after the episode such as his intervention in the South Carolina primary against an incumbent congressman of his own party, Mark Sanford, in which he successfully got him thrown out because of insufficient abeyance to Trump, that, for that reason, if you now vote for Republican candidates, you are voting essentially to -- you can`t pretend there`s pluralism.

You`re voting to affirm this man and his leadership of the party. And I believe it`s important for the future, such as it might be, of the Republican Party that they pay a terrible price for what they`re doing.

MATTHEWS: Are people that you know like Senator McConnell, are they waiting him out?

WILL: Sure.

Senator McConnell says, look, I have a job to do, and I can exercise my Article 1 powers in collaboration with his exercise of the Article 2 powers to change the nature of the Article 3 institutions in the country, the federal courts.

Senator McConnell rightly says often, we in the Senate are in the personnel business. It is our job, within the powers of advice and consent, to shape the federal government. And he proceeds to do that, knowing that the president is not his choice.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, it`s not like a new pharaoh came to Egypt -- a new pharaoh -- because the fact of the matter is, they have Article 1 powers over the president.

Why doesn`t McConnell challenge the president? Why don`t the Republican Party challenge him? If he`s this Bonapartist part or this Cromwellian figure that`s just come in for four or eight years, or maybe just four, why don`t they take him on?

WILL: An excellent question.

MATTHEWS: Democrats took on Jimmy Carter. I can tell you. I was there. They were quite willing under Kennedy and others to just challenge the president if they didn`t agree with him.

WILL: What finally precipitated the column we`re talking about was the Senate`s unwillingness to even vote on an amendment by Senator Corker of Tennessee, who, of course, is leaving, an amendment with which 100 percent of Republicans, I`m sure in private, agree.

That is, he said we should say that -- stipulate that any tariffs imposed in the name of national security have to be voted on by the Senate.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I think Toomey agrees with that.

Anyway, today`s Utah primary is tonight. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is trying to win the Republican nomination for senator. Romney was one of President Trump`s strongest Republicans -- Republican antagonists during the 2016 campaign.

Let`s watch all that.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. He`s playing the members of the American public for suckers.

He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.

TRUMP: Mitt is a failed candidate. He failed. He failed horribly.


TRUMP: That was a race that absolutely should have been won. And I don`t know what happened to him.

ROMNEY: He creates scapegoats in Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.

TRUMP: And he walks like a penguin onto the stage. Have you ever seen -- like a penguin.


MATTHEWS: Of course, Romney pulled back on his rhetoric when he was considered by Trump for secretary of state.

Here`s what he said recently when asked whether he would continue to call out the president if he wins that Senate seat in Utah. Let`s watch.


ROMNEY: I believe I have made it pretty clear that I will stand with President Trump if the policies he`s proposing are good for state of Utah, fur other states, for the nation.

On the other hand, if he were to say something that is divisive and significant, something which were racist or anti-woman or anti-immigrant, then I feel a moral responsibility to speak out.


MATTHEWS: Should we count on that man, Mitt Romney, to stand up against Trump on moral issues?

WILL: Depends on which Romney shows up, whether it`s the Romney of that blistering speech, of which you just showed an excerpt, or the Romney who I think was being toyed with by the president when he thought he was being considered for secretary of state.

MATTHEWS: Took him out for frog legs. And he did. He made a fool out of him, and he bowed down to get the frog legs to get to be secretary of state. And then Trump did -- as you did suggested, on purpose, humiliated him.

WILL: Mitt Romney is a gentleman, a man of exquisitely good manners.

And exquisitely good manners will avail you nothing in a knife fight. If he says, whenever Mr. Trump says something divisive, racist or offensive, he`s going to speak out, he`s going to be speaking out a lot. But I wouldn`t count on that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think we have got to be careful with him.

Anyway, thank you, George F. Will.

Up next: Trump`s White House is lecturing America on the perils of incivility. But the president doesn`t seem to have gotten the message. He went after a laundry list of critics last night, and not in a nice way, but the Trump way.

You`re watching it, HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called for civility after she was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia this weekend. Well, just a few hours later in South Carolina, her boss, the president, seemed to throw that notion of civility out the window. Trump sounded off on everyone, from his political opponents to Canada`s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who he calls Justin, the late night comedians he`s going to after all of them, including Fallon, even former first lady, nice lady, Laura Bush.

Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has become the party of Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi. We have some incredible things happening with health care. And then one gentleman early in the morning like 2:00 in the morning, he went no.

Prime Minister Justin, I said Justin, what`s your problem, Justin?

Jimmy Fallon calls me up. And he`s like a nice guy. He`s lost. He looks like a lost soul.

The guy on CBS is -- what a low life. What a low life. There`s no talent. He`s not -- they`re not like talented people.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, big movie star, took my place. It bombed in about two shows.

It was a disaster for Bush, although we very much appreciated Laura Bush`s lovely letter.


MATTHEWS: It`s like why I hate everybody by Donald Trump.

I`m joined now by the HARDBALL roundtable. Annie Linskey, national political reporter for `The Boston Globe", Michael Steele, former chair of the RNC and MSNBC political analyst, and Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist and host of the Hill TV.

Well, what do we make of that?

ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I mean, it`s such a long list of everybody.

MATTHEWS: A hate list.

LINSKEY: Everybody who has said anything bad about him forever. And it just -- it goes on and on and on and on and on. I mean, I`m surprised we didn`t go back to like middle school, somebody who was mean to him.

MATTHEWS: Well, the civility argument doesn`t sell well from him.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It doesn`t. And that`s the problem. But it doesn`t matter. It doesn`t matter in the end because no one can do Trump other than Trump. And I think we need to be clear about that.

That was Maxine`s problem. She tried to do the sort of Trumpian them and go into that space, and it backfired. The president then gets up and goes after her.

MATTHEWS: So, throw the SOB out, he can do. Beat them up.

STEELE: Right. And he`s been doing it since --

MATTHEWS: But she says build a crowd against something you don`t like in a restaurant.

STEELE: That`s right. And the same thing, you know, the story line with Sarah Sanders at the restaurant is the same thing where they go back and go I`m the victim here. And yet, the president`s standing at the pulpit, in the bully pulpit, using that pulpit to sort of go after --

MATTHEWS: But they believe baker`s have a right to say they don`t have to bake the cake for gay wedding and yet they don`t think this little restaurant in Virginia can say, you don`t really want you in here.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, that`s also the challenge for the Democrats, right? The challenge here for the Democrat is that the Democrats have to be intellectually consistent. If we believe people ought to get accommodation when they walk into a public restaurant, and then --

MATTHEWS: But political identification is not a protected status.

SIMMONS: OK, that`s fine.


SIMMONS: I used to do political work in Georgia. And I remember walking into places with Confederate flags everywhere and people turn around and look at you like --

MATTHEWS: Good for you. You walked in good.

SIMMONS: Oh, yes, I wanted barbecue. They were the nicest people ever to me.

MATTHEWS: How was the barbecue?

SIMMONS: The barbecue was fantastic. But the funniest thing about the Trump`s speech which you didn`t play is the line when we talk about the late night host, the host he likes the most, Johnny Carson.


SIMMONS: This guy is stuck in the era.

MATTHEWS: Everybody likes Carson, yes, I know.

SIMMONS: There are lots of people around who weren`t alive when Johnny Carson was on TV.


President Trump lashed out at that restaurant person and asked Sanders to leave. But it took him 48 hours to offer public support for his press secretary. This is interesting. According to "The New York Times", the president`s uncharacteristically tepid, delayed response pointed up a double-ended dynamic that seems to plague nearly everyone in Donald Trump`s inner circle and has recently begun to take its toll on Ms. Sanders. Even as her vigorous defenses of the president`s misstatements and her own obfuscations during White House briefings have eroded her credibility, her stock with Mr. Trump has begun to sink.

What does it take, Annie, to please this guy?

LINSKEY: I think -- I mean, Sarah Sanders has been in that role for a very, very long time.

MATTHEWS: Compared to Spicer.

LINSKEY: Compared to Spicer -- compared to anybody. So I think at any given moment, people are up and down with this president. But I think the bigger question is kind of how does Sarah, what does she think of the president and how long is she going to stay, because I can tell you, Chris, it`s really hard to find somebody to take that spot.

MATTHEWS: She was ringing all his bells yesterday saying open borders, criminals -- she was doing exactly the anthem he wants to sing.

LINSKEY: She`s doing her job. She`s been there for a long time. She`s a mom. I would not be surprised if she wasn`t looking at the exits.

MATTHEWSD: OK. Finally, it`s election day in seven states headed to the polls today -- Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and New York.

And the polls close there in about an hour where a Republican primary pits Trump incumbent Dan Donovan against Michael Grimm who represented the Staten Island district for two terms before he stepped down to serve seven months in prison for taxes. That was a little relaxer.

The latest poll shows Grimm with a ten-point lead over Donovan. Grimm is best known for threatening to push a reporter off a balcony on the Capitol on camera. Let`s watch that little act of mischief.



MICHAEL SCOTTO, NY1 REPORTERS: And finally before we let you go since we have you here, we haven`t had a chance to kind of talk about --

FORMER REP. MICHAEL GRIMM, (R) NEW YORK: I`m not speaking about anything that`s off topic, this is only about the president`s speech.

SCOTTO: Well, what about -- all right, so, Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances. We wanted to get him on camera on that but he refused to talk about that. Back to you.

GRIMM: Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I`ll throw you off this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) balcony.

SCOTTO: Why? I just wanted to ask you.

GRIMM: If you ever do that to me again...

SCOTTO: Why? Why? It`s a valid question.

GRIMM: No, no, you`re not man enough, you`re not man enough. I`ll break you in half like a boy.


MATTHEWS: Michael, what do you think of that? I think that`s moxie in action there. You don`t like the guy, bring it on.

STEELE: Look, I mean, but voters now say that they like that. They want to see more of that.

Even though Trump is supporting his opponent, whether or not that sort of mean, that thrust of energy that he`s with us going to fight for us guy, if that plays out, if he gets elected and gets this nomination, that could open up a whole Pandora`s box.

MATTHEWS: Jamal, what do you think? This is a training time for a Republican Trump likes?

SIMMONS: Yes, it`s Trumpiness even before Trump. The question on the ballot today is, if you behave like this, if you are someone who is otherwise despicable, do you still get to help lead the country. There`s a part of the country, mostly Republican, who say we don`t care how despicable you are. We want you to lead the country.

MATTHEWS: Let`s have an analysis. Does Trumpism affect this democracy if the long-term or is it just a bad spell?

LINSKEY: He`s going to affect it in the long-term. I mean, there`s no question. He`s been so -- he`s affected and chipped away at every single institution.

MATTHEWS: So, bad manners, incivility, bullying, name-calling, nickname giving.

STEELE: It`s long-term because it`s been bubbling beneath the surface for a long time.

MATTHEWS: How about the ethnic divisiveness on purpose? He`s launching apparently a 2018 campaign based entirely on anti-immigration attitudes. He`s saying it.

SIMMONS: Yes, and what he is doing with MS-13 is like the -- at the perverse version of what the Democrats and other people have done it in the past. Democrats did it with Bain Capital, right, where you take an organization, everybody on the left is arguing about why this isn`t right to talk about MS-13. On the right, people argued why it wasn`t right to say bad things about Bain Capital.

But the public identified with the message of that presidential campaign. Donald Trump is turning MS-13 into the lens that everybody will look at immigration through and Democrats defending immigration have to be very careful if not -- to not look like we`re defending gang violence.

MATTHEWS: It`s also permission for people to vote against Hispanics without saying they`re anti- --


SIMMONS: It`s a dangerous time.

MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: President Trump today ramped up his attacks against Harley- Davidson just a day after the company or motorcycle company announced it would shift some of its production abroad in order to avoid retaliatory tariffs from the E.U.

And one of the tweets Trump warned that Harley Davidson should never be built in another country, never. Their employees and customers are already angry at them. If they move, it will be the beginning of the end. They surrendered. They quit. The aura will be gone and there will be attacks like never before.

That`s Trump talking about Harley-Davidson.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.

Annie, tell me something I don`t know.

LINSKEY: So, while the world has been watching immigration recently, I`ve been looking at some of the rules that Trump is trying to pass regulation. One thing he`s trying to do is take Congress out of the equation when foreign arms sales are proposed. So, that would mean Congress would not know if, you know, the country of Turkey wanted to buy fire arms or --


LINSKEY: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Michael?

STEELE: The Democrats have been looking for a beachhead for -- particularly Bernie Sanders Democrats have been looking for a beachhead. They may have one tonight in the state of Maryland, in that gubernatorial primary. It`s something a lot of us are watching with Ben Jealous. Yes, working very closely.

SIMMONS: Democratic mayors went down to Texas on the immigration issue. Eric Garcetti from L.A. who thinks about running for president was a prominent voice down there. Garcetti and Mitch Landrieu are two mayors to watch because governors, Chris, are done. We used to have four out five governors were president prior to George Bush.

Eight governors have run for president since George Bush was president. All of them have lost in the primary.

MATTHEWS: How many mayors have won?

SIMMONS: No mayor.


MATTHEWS: Just kidding.

Anyway, thank you, Annie Linskey, Michael Steele and Jamal Simmons.

When we return, let me finish tonight with the usual suspects.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the usual suspects, by that I mean the five-man Republican-picked majority on Supreme Court.

It was a five-person Republican majority that intervened in the electoral process to give us the presidency of George W. Bush. They stopped the Florida recount with a vote of their own, 5-4, for the Republican presidential candidate. Oh, how they`re full of surprises.

Then, the 5-4 Republican Supreme Court trashed the wording of the Constitution about arms being needed for militias to say that the Second Amendment meant any individual had a right to a gun of any size, bullets firing at any speed mounted with a lifetime supply of ammo -- another bull`s eye gift, this time to the Republican-allied National Rifle Association.

And then ten years after making W. president and repowering the country`s war machine into Iraq, the Supreme Court put the cherry on the top, giving total political power to the one force the highest court favors even more Republicans, money. The Citizens United case gave those with big money the unlimited license to change the course of elections, embraced and beloved by Republicans, the Citizens United ruling brought down the last barrier between those with money and the power to direct the country`s affairs.

No wonder so many people are telling pollsters now how little they cave about a democracy so increasingly run by the Republican dollar. And then news broke today that the usual five suspects on the Supreme Court this time with Neil Gorsuch as the newest member, awarded Donald Trump what he most wanted, a slap on the back, a loud cheer from the high bench.

Good work, Mr. President. That travel ban of yours is a dandy. Keep up the good work.

So, the republic rolls on with Trump in the White House controlling the puppet strings on the House and the Senate with the ringing endorsement of a Republican-controlled Supreme Court that he and Mitch McConnell kept that way by making sure the Democratic nominee for an open seat on that bench Merrick Garland never came up for a vote, just such as the Republican controlled House never allowed a vote on that bipartisan comprehensive bill on immigration, just as the Supreme Court prevented Florida from carrying the ballots back in that Florida electus interruptus that gave us W. and with it the war on which he had set his heart.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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