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Five killed & others injured in shooting. TRANSCRIPT: 6/28/2018, Hardball with Chris Matthews.

Guests: Shannon Pettypiece, Adriano Espaillat, Karine Jean-Pierre; Dahlia Lithwick; Rob Reiner

Show: HARDBALL Date: June 28, 2018 Guest: Shannon Pettypiece, Adriano Espaillat, Karine Jean-Pierre; Dahlia Lithwick; Rob Reiner

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What kind of a country do you want to live in? This is HARDBALL.

The good evening. I'm Chris Matthews in Washington where tragically, we are once again monitoring a mass shooting in this country. This time in Annapolis, Maryland at the capital of Gazette, a newspaper owned by "the Baltimore Sun."

According to police, five were killed and several others gravely injured after a suspect entered is the office of the newspaper and opened fire. During the incident, one of the Gazette's journalists tweeted there is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you are under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.

For the very latest, I'm joined by NBC News investigative reporter Tom Winter.

Tom, what have we learned about the suspect so far?

TOM WINTER, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Chris, a little bit of late breaking detail here that the suspect has been positively identified through the use of facial recognition software and facial recognition abilities of law enforcement to be able to match this person's picture with the government databases.

This reporting from myself, Pete Williams and Jonathan Deets (ph), the suspect have then identified as a white male age 39. And right now, police are conducting a court authorized search of this person's home. He is from Maryland. We don't have the specific town or city. We also don't have his specific name. But again, Chris, the suspect's been identified as a 39- year-old white male described to my colleague Jonathan Deets (ph) as having a minor criminal history. The person was recognized through facial recognition software. They were able to get a picture of him and then match it into a database.

The reason why police were having to do that is because the suspect has been described to us as not being cooperative. In addition of that, Chris, it's been described he was somehow able to obscure his fingerprints. So normally, if a person is not being cooperative and normally, if a person doesn't have an I.D. on them, they are able to use fingerprints to be able to try to identify them through some sort of a government database if somebody will a prior criminal history.

We are told that somehow, he was able to obscure his fingerprints so they could not get a match that way and that's why they had to go to the very modern day facial recognition software to identify him.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Tom Winter.

Now to the epic battle over President Trump's Supreme Court pick to replace Anthony Kennedy. It's impossible to see another decision that will have greater or greater shape the kind of country we do live in. The Supreme Court has proven his willingness to decide Presidential elections, the number of guns in the country, the power of money in our politics and on and on.

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell clearly plan to jam what will be a 30-year choice through Congress which is four months to go before the people will speak in issues midterm's elections.

Last night in North Dakota, Trump called Kennedy a very special guy and praises the timing of his decision to step down. Let's hear it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very honor that he chose to do it during my term in office because he felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy. That's why he did it.

We have to pick a great one. We have to pick one that's going to be there for 40, 45 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Forty or 45 years. Well, that's even longer than I thought.

Well, some Democrats are prepared to play HARDBALL on this point arguing that Mitch McConnell set a precedent in 2016 with his strategy of blocking former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland.

While on Tuesday of this week, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said refusing to allow the American people to weigh in as McConnell argued in 2016 would be the height of hypocrisy. Some of his colleagues echoed that call today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: We realize the fact that Obama's final year was taken away from him to make an appointment. So that was a new standard. It was a low standard if you will. But it was a standard. And I for one and I think others haven't forgotten that. And you know, as you sow, so you reap.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Remember what senator McConnell told us when there was a vacancy under President Obama? Too close to the election. Let's let the people decide. We are four months away from election. Is senator McConnell prepared to keep this office vacant until after the election? I hope so.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I think we will do everything we can to make the case it should be after the election because that's exactly what they did with the Merrick Garland nominee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The number two Senate Republican John Cornyn was asked if his party would follow this example, its own example.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats are calling now to delay the consideration of a nominee until after the midterms.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (D), TEXAS: It isn't going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not?

CORNYN: We are going -- we have the same President. We will have the same President after the midterms as we have right now. So this lame argument that's being made somehow analogizing this to the transitioning from President Obama to President Trump doesn't work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Today senator McConnell once again proved he is without shame renewing his call for a vote on Kennedy's successor by the fall and defending his decision to refuse a hearing for Merrick Garland because he was nominated by a Democratic President. Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: This is not 2016. There aren't the final months of a second term constitutionally lame duck presidency with a Presidential election fast approaching. We are right in the middle of this President's very first term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more I'm joined by Rob Reiner, actor and director of "Shock and Awe," Dahlia Lithwick is a senior editor and legal correspondent for Slate and Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser from Moveon.org.

Rob, thank you for joining us. I have this another lay of concern here. This Supreme Court when it's full up with nine justices will decide the fate very well of this President. We have got a special counsel loaded for bear. All kinds of issues obstruction of justice and possible collusion with the Russians and how -- what materials and what testimonies have to be accepted, whether he has to testify or not. And they are going to let him pick one of the people to decide his own fate.

ROB REINER, DIRECTOR, SHOCK AND AWE: That's the biggest problem. I don't think we should get hung up on the egregious effects of what Mitch McConnell did to Barack Obama and a tit-for-tat kind of thing. We have a President of the United States that right now is under investigation for possibly conspiring with a foreign enemy power to disrupt our democracy and steal an election.

I don't think we want as Americans to allow somebody who is possibly colluding with a foreign enemy to making choices that are going to affect our lives for the next 30, 40 years. That's the issue. And make no mistake about it. We cannot allow this. We have to see what happens with the Mueller investigation, whether or not Donald Trump is guilty or not guilty of major, major crimes. And if he is, he should not be allowed to pick the next Supreme Court justice.

MATTHEWS: Dalia, the question there it seems to be a matter of timing. Do they have the vote after the election or after Mueller made his call and the court decisions have been made? You know, it seems to me you could also think about getting Kennedy to stick around for a while and serve a few more months. It wouldn't kill him. Serve a few more months while we do have a full-court without having to put Trump's pick in being there to decide Trump's future.

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR/LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: I don't think there's any chance of Kennedy sticking around. I think he quite deliberately chose that July date. That's when he is out. I do think it leaves the rest of us confounded by this problem of are we going to really let Donald Trump vet somebody cross-examine somebody, set out litmus tests. He has already told us he has a litmus test around Roe. Litmus test and do the kind of thing we know he has done to Jeff Sessions and Jim Comey and ask for pledges from loyalty. And while I would like to believe that no nominee is going to pledge that loyalty, it just seems to me unbelievably problematic that the President is going to pick a judge who will, as you just heard very likely fit in judgment over some piece of what Mueller produces whether it's can a President pardon himself, can a President, can a sitting President be indicted.

All of that could very, very likely come before the court. So it's a very odd thing that Trump is in the business of vetting that person right now.

MATTHEWS: Karine, the people have to fight this nomination. I mean, the Democratic leaders. They have got to get out to make this case. They don't have parliamentary tricks or whatever (INAUDIBLE). They have got to slow this thing down so the voters get to talk first, I think. Your thoughts?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR, MOVEON.ORG: No, that's exactly right. I think that they can't play nice. There is no playing nice here. Everything is at stake. Our fundamental rights are at stake here when you talk about affirmative action, abortion, when you talk about environmental issues, LGBTQ issues, everything is at stake.

And it is true, the one thing that is also very scary, this is like the worst case scenario here, Chris. Because the other thing too is with Russia, with the Russia investigation, he could be buying himself a get out of jail free card with this pick.

This is someone who doesn't believe in the rule of law. He thinks he is above the law. And even during the Nixon times, the Supreme Court had to jump in in Watergate. So there's a lot here at risk. And we have to make sure that the senators, Democratic senators on the inside match the intensity on the outside that they're going to see from activists from voters from Americans.

MATTHEWS: Rob, I know you care about these social issues and individual rights issues like choice. But I think this Supreme Court by 5-4 has shown its amazing brazenness. It picked a President, W, took us to war your movie "shock and awe." That's very relevant. And took us to war with a President who is the only President I can imagine in this planet who would have taken into that war. They picked them, the Supreme Court. Then they decided they are going to let unlimited money play a role in the United States political elections with the Citizens United and no check on the power of people to buy guns. No limited. It used to be something to do with founding a militia. They dropped all that language. This court is unbounded in its power. And it's not just the social issues we fight about like abortion and marriage equality. It's everything. It's all political.

REINER: And wherever you come down on any of these issues, I would hope as an American you don't want a potential criminal choosing one of our Supreme Court justices. That's what it comes down to. I mean, I don't care whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, I happen to be, you know, pro- choice. And I happen to be in favor of gay rights and civil rights and workers rights and all those things. And those things are in jeopardy. But wherever you come down ideologically, we can all agree that we shouldn't have a potential criminal choosing our next Supreme Court justice.

MATTHEWS: So let's talk numbers. We often do it at election time. But now we have to look at it again. There's 50 Republicans in the Senate, 51 if John McCain could get back and vote. Although his vote would be up in the air even on this one, I think even on this one and we have 49 Democrats. It couldn't be closer.

Democrats are also looking, of course, to try to get two moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski, both women of Alaska as allies in stopping a Trump Supreme Court pick.

Well, today Senator Collins was asked what she would expect from any possible nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the nominee have to commit to you he or she would uphold the precedent of Roe versus Wade in order to get your support?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I always have a thorough interview with judicial nominees for the Supreme Court, for circuit courts and one of the questions that I always ask is do they respect precedent. From my perspective, Roe v. Wade is an important precedent and it is settled law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Senator Murkowski of Alaska didn't explicitly address the issue but said in a statement my standards for Supreme Court nominees are extremely high. It is my longstanding practice to carefully scrutinize the qualifications of the judicial nominees and to cast an independent vote.

Let me go to Dahlia and then back to everybody else. You know, I have had experience with Trump on this. I asked him whether a woman should be punished. He said there needs to be some form of punishment. Now, that's a weird answer. I have no idea what he is talking about. Was he was talking about prison? Was he talking about finding on some new form of -- I don't know what he is talking about.

But that's what he talks like. He also talked in the wilding incident where those kids were accused of murder in Central Park, he said we have got execute kids who are in their sub teens basically. So we know his views are harsh. And they are not about individual rights or the rights of defendants or young people.

So if he picks somebody like himself, man or woman, it's pretty scary. Suppose he picks a Trump in that person's thinking. So how can you count on him picking a Justice Kennedy in a million years? Just a thought.

LITHWICK: Well I think, Chris, on the issue of Roe v. Wade he has promised us, he ran on the overt promise for the first time in history, I will have a litmus test. Here are 25 people. Each of them will pledge to overturn Roe. So this is not in dispute. He has pledged it.

But I would go further and [say be really careful about fetishizing the language of what you heard Susan Collins say was as long as it's good precedent and that person props it is good precedent, I'm going to be OK.

You can do away with Roe v. Wade. You can hollow it out from the center. It's been happening in the states for years now without explicitly overturning it to. So to fetishize the language of will this person or will they not overturn Roe is to really miss the big game. Are they going to hollow out will the core of Roe?

MATTHEWS: will they going to get rid of undue burden? Are they going to say there can be a burden? You have to go to a hospital. All these things they come up within taxes to make it more difficult for a person living in a rural setting to have that choice, Karine.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. I mean, look. The list that he has been talking about, the 25 list, that's the federalist list of outside conservative group, everybody on that list is to the far right of Kennedy. He is not going to replace Kennedy. So we have to understand, we can't be fooled here, whoever he picks is going to try and get rid of Roe versus Wade.

MATTHEWS: He wants that.

JEAN-PIERRE: And he wants that. That's who he wants. So that's what's going to happen. The person that gets picked is going to cement all of Donald Trump's horrible policies.

MATTHEWS: I want to go back to Rob on that.

Rob, I don't know if I talked to you about this. But were you taken with the fact he said to me it's interesting language, almost creepy language, there needs to be some form of punishment for the woman. I asked about it, for woman. He said yes, the woman. He thought about it, yes. And there is some form of punishment. That's biblical answer.

REINER: And you were the only one to be able to nail him down on that and get his true answer to that. And I put it to people. The pro-life people think of abortion as murder. They say it, they've said it over and over. Well, what is the punishment for murder? It's either life in imprisonment or the death penalty.

So what are we talking about here? Are we saying that the woman and the doctor both have to be put in jail for the rest of their lives or executed? I mean, what are we talking about? This is crazy. This is absolutely crazy and there's so much more going to be at stake than just the abortion rights. That's going to be front and center. But how do you ooh adjudicate that?

MATTHEWS: Anyway. I saw your movie "Shock and Awe." I got an advance view of the movie. I think it's very important historically, not just dramatically for the American people to know how we got into the God damn war in Iraq. You told it how it happened and the courageous reporters from knight rider who out there all alone said there was no WMD. It was all a joke.

Anyway. Thank you Rob Reiner. Thank you, Dahlia Lithwick and Karine Jean- Pierre.

Coming up, I President Trump flacks for Moscow again ahead of his meeting with President Vladimir Putin coming up. Once again, Trump is pouring cold water on the idea that the Kremlin even hacked any of the 2016 election. What are you talking about? Every one of our intelligence agencies says they did. So why is he so hell bent on making nice with the Russian strong man?

Plus a federal judge orders the Trump administration to reunite the roughly 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents at the border. But with the children now scattered all across the country, how are they possibly going to get those families back together that quick?

And with Obama's legacy being torn part, what would it take to motivate the Democrats in 2018 and 2020? The HARDBALL roundtable tackles that and the way forward Nancy Pelosi her path back to the speakership is getting narrower.

Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. You're watching HARDBALL where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: In addition to gloating about the new vacancy on the Supreme Court, President Trump last night launched a series of blistering attacks against Democrats in Washington. Here are the highlights or dim lights depending how you see it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: One of my biggest critics (INAUDIBLE) man named Joe Crowley got his ass kicked. He was going to take Nancy Pelosi's place and I was so disappointed because I want to keep Nancy Pelosi right where she is with Maxine Waters. They keep talking about this blue wave. Their blue wave is really sputtering badly. The red wave is happen. Now they say, you will admit, a thing comes out, a couple polls, a number of polls that he is the most powerful, most popular Republican in the history of the party. Is there any better place to be on a nice beautiful evening in North Dakota than at a Trump rally, right? We're having a good time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Will you meet with President Putin, sir, and where?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most likely. John Bolton is over there now. He's over in Russia right now. So we will probably be meeting some time around my trip to Europe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump yesterday on his planned meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, which is now set to just after the upcoming NATO summit in Europe next month. It's going to be in Helsinki, Finland.

The announcement comes amid new signs that this president is determined to embrace -- that's the right word for it -- the Russian autocrat without holding him to account for the cyber-war he attacked against us in 2016.

Seventeen months after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at the United States' presidential election, Trump still appears eager to whitewash Russia's role in attacking our democracy.

Unbelievably, Trump today tweeted Putin's denial. He's quoting Putin. "Russia" -- this is Trump., president of the United States. "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election."

What, is he flacking for Moscow?

We have seen since day one that Putin has had a mesmerizing, almost hypnotic hold on this president, an allure that has confounded America's alliance, as it should.

Every time the subject comes up, Trump talks about what a good thing it would be to get along with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that's a good thing.

It would be a fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if we got along with Russia.

Yes, I think we got along very well. And I think that's a good thing. That's not a bad thing.

I hope that we do have good relations with Russia. I say it loud and clear. I have been saying it for years.

I want to be able, because I think it's very important, to get along with Russia.

I think I could have a very good relationship with Russia and with President Putin. And if I did, that would be a great thing.

If we can get along with Russia, that's a good thing, not a bad thing.

But getting along with Russia would be a good thing, not a bad thing. And just about everybody agrees to that, except very stupid people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Excuse me.

I'm joined right now by Shannon Pettypiece, White House reporter for Bloomberg news. David Corn is Washington bureau chief at "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Excuse me. I want to go to David, men first in this one instance.

This guy has been writing about this Russian thing for a long time.

Why, when you really get down to it, putting apart all ideological thinking, just straight evidence, why does Trump want to have this love affair with Putin against all the evidence he's out to screw us?

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He identifies with Putin. He seems to want Putin's respect and legitimacy. And he wants validation from Putin. He's been saying for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It's not a great country. And he's not a great leader. Why does he want his respect?

CORN: He's a strongman. He's an autocrat. He does what he wants to do. And I think he actually likes -- I think he likes the fact that Putin attacked the United States and got away with it. This tweet that you just showed on the screen -- I mean, there are a lot of outrageous things that happened today and this week.

The earth should have stood still for this tweet at least for 20 seconds.

MATTHEWS: To say, I'm quoting them.

CORN: A foreign adversary attacks the United States, and our whole -- House Republicans, Senate Republicans agree with the intelligence community. Every U.S. intelligence official that Trump has appointed agrees.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Shannon, I know you're young for this.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But like had Roosevelt -- had Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor had said, no, I believe Tojo when he said they weren't responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor. I don't believe our Navy.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: People in his own administration disagree with his stance on Russia. He has been advised by national security advisers, by the intelligence community that this meeting with Putin is a bad idea. You shouldn't do it.

He was advised not to congratulate Putin on his election. He has been advised over and over again to a tough stance.

MATTHEWS: Why is Bolton playing his leader dog on this?

PETTYPIECE: And Bolton has completely shifted course in his rhetoric on Russia. He was -- set a very strong course on Russia.

But, listen, this president is not taking advice from anyone anymore. It's very true that he is following his instincts. He continues to be emboldened to believe to follow his instincts.

And those in his administration now, they can speak up, they can advise him. But once he says he's not going to do it, they have to get in line.

MATTHEWS: Well, the news of the Trump-Putin meeting has alarmed America's NATO allies, who wanted to demonstrate a united front against Russian aggression.

Well, Axios reports that, according to a senior European official, the fear is that Trump will provoke a fight with his closest allies and then lavish praise on a dictator, as he did on Kim Jong-un. Axios also reports that President Trump showed disdain for the transatlantic alliance, saying NATO is as bad as NAFTA. It's much too costly for the United States.

Well, NATO allies may have good reason to worry, since President Trump has repeatedly questioned America's commitment to the alliance. "The Washington Post" reported this week that, in March, "The Swedish prime minister explained to Trump that Sweden, although not a member of NATO, partners with the alliance on a case-by-case analysis. Trump responded that the United States should consider that approach," in other words, not really being in NATO anymore.

Well, during the campaign, Trump also has said unless NATO allies paid more for their defense, he was open to scrapping the alliance altogether.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will tell you about NATO. It's obsolete and we're paying too much money. Either they pay up, including for past deficiencies, or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let's go to the accounting here on this.

What can Putin do for Trump in response to him going over there and kissing him over in Helsinki? What can -- if you were a Trump person, what would you be able to say we're going to get out of it?

And, two, worst-case scenario, suppose this takes this -- suppose Putin takes this whole thing as a breakup of the Western alliance. He starts grabbing for the Baltic countries. He starts really getting aggressive, knowing that we're not going to go to their aid.

CORN: Well, that's what he wants. Putin has a strategic aim.

In this book I had, "Russian Roulette," with Mike Isikoff, we talked about how he had a three -- a plan for years on how to break up Western liberal democracies, the alliances, undermine their elections. The United States, we were just one of a piece of that.

So, he has a strategic aim. Trump, there's no strategic aim here. What does he want from Putin? He wants a bear hug. He wants to go horse riding. That's really what it's about.

MATTHEWS: Bare -- without shirts on?

CORN: He can't sit down with our allies and have a civil conversation about policy issues. He wants a headline.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You mean no tangible results? Shannon, no, could he come back from Russia -- or from Helsinki with nothing?

CORN: Yes.

PETTYPIECE: Well, that has been one of the questions, is, what is in this for Trump?

Same with North Korea. What is in it for the U.S.? Trump has said he wants help with Syria. OK, fine.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that, if he could do it. But what help are we going to get?

PETTYPIECE: But even what is in our national interests that would be bigger than Syria? Well, telling Russia to knock it off, to not attempt to invade our allies anymore, like the Ukraine, or maybe moves towards the Baltics.

MATTHEWS: Is there any chance -- you know this.

Is there any chance he would give us some help with Syria? I always thought there needed to be something to break up this sort of deadlock in the Middle East. If he drops support for Syria, Syria -- the government falls.

PETTYPIECE: Right. Well, that is a possibility.

And also a possibility, but an unlikely one, is that Trump will tell Putin to knock it off and to keep out of meddling in our elections, meddling with our adversaries, and meddling with our allies.

MATTHEWS: Well, they would have to admit that they did it then.

CORN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That's the problem.

CORN: I think there seems to be zero chance that he will take a strong stand on Putin.

Putin has shown again and again and again that he has no interest in getting rid of his alliance with the Syrian government. So, what does Trump want? He wants what he got out of the Kim Jong-un meeting, headlines, in which he says, North Korea threat doesn't exist anymore.

He doesn't care about the details. He wants the glory, the headlines. He wants to create a story.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, that won't work if he invades and grabs Latvia. It's not going to work.

CORN: No, it doesn't matter. He wants a story for his followers who follow the headlines.

MATTHEWS: Last word from you.

PETTYPIECE: And Trump's base does not have the as negative view of Putin as many in the intelligence or foreign establishment -- foreign policy establishment do.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He seems to like the guy riding around on a horse.

PETTYPIECE: He views him as a strongman.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Shannon. Shannon Pettypiece, thank you, and David Corn, expert on Russia.

Up next: A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite families separated under that zero tolerance policy, calling it a chaotic circumstance of the government's own making. That's a judge talking.

Will the administration comply? Will it do it? Can they do it fast? There is no system in place to track these kids' whereabouts. So, how are they going to find them?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Amid the chaos and confusion and cruelty created by the Trump administration's forced separations of families, first lady Melania Trump made her second trip to the border, providing another P.R. push to paper over what remains a bureaucratic catastrophe.

On Tuesday night, a Republican-appointed -- Republican-appointed federal judge in California gave the White House 30 days to reunify migrant families separated at the border.

In the judge's ruling, he wrote: "The unfortunate reality is that, under the present system, migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot justify or satisfy the requirements of due process. Placing the burden on the parents to find and request unification with their children under the circumstances presented here is backwards."

The judge also issued a nationwide injunction against further family separations. The Justice Department has not indicated it will appeal the injunction against the judge.

Anyway, in a Senate hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who is responsible for these children, struggled to say with any clarity how many had in fact been reunified. Let's watch the secretary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: I want to know about the children in your department's custody. How many of them have been reunified?

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, that's exactly what I'm saying. They have been placed with a parent or other relative who is here in the United States.

WYDEN: How many? How many?

AZAR: Several hundred.

WYDEN: Of the...

AZAR: Of the 2,300-plus that we -- that came into our care. We currently have 2,047.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more, I'm joined by U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Democrat from New York City.

Thank you, Congressman.

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: Tell me. You have been out there. You know what we don't know. What's it like on the ground with these kids?

ESPAILLAT: Well, I went to visit one of the centers where -- that's providing services for them, and they told me that there's 239 of them there, 100 of which have been placed with some relative.

Now, these kids are coming with little notes attached with a safety pin. That's how they are getting them together with their relatives. The federal government is doing very little to reconnect the children back with their families.

And I met with some of the fathers at the federal facility on Father's Day. And they told me how their children were being ripped away from them. In fact, many of them just broke down because they told us how, at the border, when they were questioned, the first thing that came to question was whether or not they were the real dads.

They were alleging that they were tracking young children. And so many of them, when they told the story, they broke down. This is what is going on, on the ground. These children are not being helped by government.

It is in fact the service providers that are doing much of the groundwork. They came from Arizona, from California. There's 700-plus of them in New York state, 239 of them in my district. And I went to visit them. They're resilient kids, but I cannot guarantee that they haven't been traumatized.

MATTHEWS: And you're up on the border between Manhattan and the Bronx.

ESPAILLAT: That's correct. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this talk about trafficking.

What is that? Is that just a bogus claim? Who is saying there's been tracking with these kids?

ESPAILLAT: Well, if one of the males, if a father is coming with their child -- and very often a father is the one also that brings the children, because that's a very dangerous journey.

MATTHEWS: Sure.

ESPAILLAT: So, immediately, the allegation would be, is that your child? And they told us, the children were holding onto their legs.

MATTHEWS: Well, they know it. So, why are they challenging that? Why do they think that is...

(CROSSTALK)

ESPAILLAT: I think that's just the modus operandi down there at the border.

MATTHEWS: Well, hundreds of demonstrators stormed a Senate office building here in Washington earlier today to protest the Trump administration's forced family separations.

More than 500 people were arrested today. There some of them are as they chanted "Abolish ICE." Many were wearing the same Mylar blankets that were distributed to migrant children at the border. Those are the things that look like aluminum paper.

Anyway, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is one of the people arrested.

Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: I just got arrested with a group of, I don't know exactly how many, but over 500 women, at least 500 women, who took over the center of the Hart Senate Building, protesting the inhumane and cruel zero tolerance policy of Donald Trump and this administration, the separation of families, the caging of children, the imprisonment of asylum seekers who just seek a better life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Now, Congress has an oversight role here.

You have a judge who has enjoined them to get these kids home to their parents in 30 days. How do you guys -- how can you pressure that?

ESPAILLAT: Well, first of all, that, judge was very clear, 30 days, and two weeks if the child is under 5 years old.

So, clearly, there's a present danger, clear and present danger for these children. We should be holding hearings immediately on the situation with these children and how they have been ripped away from their families.

There's just no way about it. I will continue to visit some of these sites. I'm going back again this week and see how the kids are doing.

MATTHEWS: Your background is Dominican.

ESPAILLAT: That's correct.

MATTHEWS: Congratulations. What a guy you are. Thank you. It's so impressive, your whole life.

ESPAILLAT: And I'm not a shortstop.

MATTHEWS: No, your whole life is so impressive. Thank you, U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York City and New York State.

Up next: The Obamas' legacy is being destroyed. The Supreme Court is hanging in the balance. What will it take to fire up the Democrats in the Senate, and how much of a role will President Obama play in taking on Trump? He's going out there to campaign. We will see how hard he's going to campaign.

You're watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Are you fired up? Ready to go? Fired up? Ready to go? Fired up? Ready to go?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, that didn't work.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Obama working up a New Hampshire crowd in 2016. CNBC is reporting the former president is expected to head back into the campaign this fall. That's welcome news for Democrats looking to motivate or energize their voters.

Without major gains in the House and Senate, Democrats face another two years on the sidelines. However, or already, Obama's legacy has been systemically dismantled and the Supreme Court is on the verge of being lost for generation to come, a couple of generations.

I'm joined right now by the roundtable, Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the "PBS NewsHour", Jose Aristimuno, he's a former Democratic National Committee press secretary, and Peter Emerson is a Democratic strategist.

All of you, let's talk about the Democrats. I'm focused on them and I want to know what they're going to do to deal with this nomination.

Trump thinks women should be punished for abortion. We know his thinking. He says he wants to get somebody in there who's going to get rid of Roe v. Wade. He's clear as he can possibly be the kind of judge he's going to pick.

What do the Democrats do to fire up the base and make enough noise to stop this?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: I don't think Democrats can stop it. From a procedural point of view, the Republicans have the votes they need without the Democrats to do this. I think that during the midterms --

MATTHEWS: Don't let them off hook. The vote hasn't been taken yet. Peter, it hasn't been taken.

PETER EMERSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: They can get people to vote against it. I've got a half dozen Supreme Court nominees in recent years that got knocked off in this process. It's doable.

ALCINDOR: Susan Collins and Murkowski both voted for Neil Gorsuch. He was someone who is pro-life. There is, of course, a case now that because things are different, that they now feel compelled to not vote for someone who might overturn abortion and Roe v. Wade. But, of course, the most important thing from the White House sources that I've been talking to, the most important thing to the president is that person is young, is going to be pro-life --

MATTHEWS: Forty-five years.

ALCINDOR: -- and they're going to be super conservative.

MATTHEWS: He wants them in for 40 to 50 years. He said today.

JOSE ARISTIMUNO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, the same thing the Republican leadership did to us a few years back, trying to block nominations, we need to do the same thing. There should be no nomination till after the midterm election.

MATTHEWS: Peter, how do they galvanize enough people to stop this? Because they had to go beyond parliamentary procedure. They do have the number. It seems to me people in the past have had enough juice to have been able to stop these things.

EMERSON: Well, exactly, it's about emotions. And right now, you've got the minority leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, standing in front of a bunch of microphones begging for fairness. That's not going to motivate anyone.

You and I have both been in the Senate. You know, there's procedural parliamentary rules where they could slow it down long enough to get into the field and really put pressure on elected and candidates right now.

MATTHEWS: They put the pressure on these women who are pro-choice. By the way, Senator Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska, you could argue this a number of ways. If you've already vote for one of Trump's nominees for the high court, you do get some cover here.

You can say to your people back home, I passed one of them. I'm not going to pass this other one. I have discernment. I can accept one but not this other one.

I do say -- I'm talking about Heitkamp and Donnelly and people like that, and Manchin, the conservative Democrats.

ALCINDOR: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Can't they use that as an argument? We gave him one, I'm not going to give them two. Not in one season.

ALCINDOR: I mean, they could but they're all in districts -- I think Democrats don't -- I mean, that they can find a way to not vote for a Trump appointee. Republicans on the other hand, Susan Collins and Murkowski have shown they will vote for someone who is pro-life. As a reporter, I don't see them now saying they would not vote for someone for those reasons.

MATTHEWS: Let me get to the real politics of this. If you're a Democrat running for election or you're just a Democrat in office right now, should you take this to the people? Should you go out there and talk to voters about this, get them excited, get them writing letters, get them going to rallies? Should you wake up the Democratic Party, especially its base, or just slip and slide along and said, oh, we're one vote short. We can't stop it.

EMERSON: This is the party that is leaderless. You've got to take it to the people. And this is a moral issue. This isn't just a political issue. Where is the representation in the Senate and the house like John Lewis? Angry and ready to go to jail for principle? That's what the Democratic Party and the base is demanding.

ARISTIMUNO: Democrats have been asking for these sort of issues to bring it back to the voters. There's another issue. We know the family separation. There's a bunch things this administration has been doing. So, Democrats need to say if you want this all to stop, you need to elect Democrats come November.

MATTHEWS: Well, for Democrats it's not just messaging. It's leadership as you guys are saying. The top three Democrats in the House have been in Congress for a combined 93 years. It's almost comical.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 78, Congressman Steny Hoyer, the number two guy, is 70. I think those dates are wrong. It's the other way around. But let's go, the number three Democrat, Congressman Jim Clyburn is 77. They're all in their late 70s.

The fourth ranking member, Congressman Joe Crowley of New York, lost his primary to 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Here's what she said when asked if it was a time for a change of party leadership.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDDATE: I do think that we do need to elect a generation of new people to Congress on both parties, you know? I think that some of the issues that we have today may have to do with some of the calcified structures and relationships.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you think, Yamiche? Is there going to be -- is this dynamic out there right now, younger voters getting elected? Is this going to shake the leadership?

ALCINDOR: I think that if more people get elect, if we see more people being ousted from incumbents actually losing to young, kind of progressive people who are kind of in the wing of Bernie Sanders, I think then the Democratic Party starts looking at leadership. But look at the Democratic leadership is also what Congress looks like. I used to cover Congress.

You walk around those hallways, their people are very old. I'm not saying that as a critique. I'm just saying that as an observation, there are a lot of people who are older staffers.

MATTHEWS: Compared to you, everybody is old.

ALCINDOR: True, but you see that staffers are running a lot of things. And you see these young staffers who are on the bench essentially. Democrats have a lot of youth, a lot of people who are smart that could run the party but people just stay in office --

MATTHEWS: I look at the loss of Joe Crowley, who I know a bit, and I talked to him today, and I have to tell you -- it's not just he's taken out of the line of succession, which is obvious, he's out of the business right now politically. He was one of Nancy Pelosi's people out there. She had people like Jack Murtha in the East Coast, all kinds of people looking out for in the cloak room, building up support. She's lost a real ally in Crowley, not just successors.

ARISTIMUNO: Chris, this reminds me of the great song by Bob Dylan, "Times, they are achanging." This is just that.

Now, look, I'm OK with Nancy Pelosi, I respect her. I think she's a phenomenal fund-raiser for her party. She can stay in power. But as long as she welcomes the new voices such as Alexandria into the party, really, but I mean really welcome them.

EMERSON: There's nobody in leadership in the House. The youngest two are number seven and number eight in the House. On the Senate side, it's even worse.

There's no sense and I'll make it a critique that there should be younger faces because these faces --

MATTHEWS: Here's what I believe, if Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the speaker next year, or Democratic leader, she'll have to be replaced by another woman. There's no way -- because a lot of these primary fights are women having a chance to come forward. A woman has to replace a woman. I don't think -- I'm looking at Bustos. I'm looking at Cheri.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. You're watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We'll be right back with the HARDBALL roundtable. It turns out we had the ages of the Democratic leadership correct.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back with the roundtable.

Yamiche, tell me something I don't know, because you're always good at this.

ALCINDOR: A non-profit aligned with Mitch McConnell is launching a digital media ad blitz focused on electing or having a conservative replace Justice Kennedy. They're spending something like $100,000 in states like Florida, Indiana, West Virginia, so Republicans are taking this seriously and they're coming to voters.

MATTHEWS: Hope the Democrats do.

Let me go to Jose.

ARISTIMUNO: So, FEMA, the FEMA housing assistance who is helping Puerto Ricans in Orlando who moved here because of Hurricane Maria is set to expire this Saturday, June 30th. Governor Rick Scott needs to step up to the plate. Very disappointed in the federal government. About 600 families are going to be placed on the street.

EMERSON: Follow the money. I had dinner with Senator Udall during his trip.

MATTHEWS: New Mexico.

EMERSON: Yes, exactly, to the Mexican border. He discovered that one facility, one detention facility, costs $400,000 per day or $2,000 (AUDIO GAP). There's a less expensive day, $4.50. Why? The largest private- owned prison system political action committee gave the Trump campaign $170,000.

MATTHEWS: People incarceration for --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. I've heard of that in Pennsylvania. Thank you, Yamiche Alcindor, Jose Aristimuno, and Peter Emerson.

When we return, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch". He won't like tonight. And you're watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Thursday, June 28th, 2018.

What I said last night about the need to resist having a Trump-like justice on Supreme Court is true tonight. It will be just as true 30 years from now when that Trump-like justice will have worked his will for three decades.

I say this because there's nothing that the Congress decides this year or the years ahead that is likely to matter as much as this decision. We attacked and invaded Iraq because we had the one president that would have taken on such an extraordinarily horrible and stupid course.

Never forget, it wasn't the American people who picked W. It was the five Republican voters on Supreme Court. They picked that president. That limited man who called himself the decider who decided on this war of choice.

We live in a country where guns are everywhere now. Assault rifles, guns that serve as fully automatic, guns with ammo magazines and allow some killer standing in a school to kill everyone in a classroom. It was this 5-4 Supreme Court that broke with long constitutional history to declare owning a gun of any kind is an unrestricted and unrestrictable right, ignoring all the words of the Founding Fathers that they were talking about the need to raise an armed militia.

It was this 5-4 Supreme Court that money should have unrestricted power to turn American elections, that the side with the most dollars should have the biggest unlimited voice in our popular elections. So, don't let anyone tell you picking this decisive member of the Supreme Court is not essentially a political decision, to pick a Republican justice is to have a Republican court. If the Democrats and the United States Senate cannot resist Trump's putting the country's highest court in a death grip, they will and should pay an insufferable price.

Now is the time for political warfare, not after this election when the enduring historic damage had already been sustained.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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