Show: HARDBALL Date: June 29, 2018 Guest: Eric Swalwell, Pramila Jayapal, Sahil Kapur, Anita Kumar
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This we cannot do. and by not yielding -- and by not yielding -- and I say --
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AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And on that note that does it for me. Have a great weekend. Catch me on social media and tune in at 5:00 p.m. eastern for my show. HARDBALL starts right knew.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Resisting Trump. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Two huge stories tonight. First, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said Trump used him, then he gave Trump covered, the alibi to fire FBI director James Comey. Second, the resistance emerges to Trump as he grabs a chance to shape the Supreme Court for generations and by doing so drive his own reelection.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. As the only person with ultimate authority over the special counsel`s probe, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein is the only person standing out there between President Trump and Robert Mueller. His defense of Mueller and the justice department have made him a prime target of the right wing.
However, Rosenstein is also -- was also instrumental to the White House in May of last year when President Trump decided to fire FBI director James Comey. It was Rod Rosenstein who ultimately drafted that memo that the President used to justify Comey`s firing.
In an explosive story tonight, the "New York Times" is now reporting that Rosenstein told colleagues he believed he was used. Quote "in the days after the FBI director James Comey was fired last year, Rod Rosenstein repeatedly expressed anger about how the White House used him to rationalize the firing saying the experience damaged his reputation according to four people familiar with his outbursts."
Well, those sources describe the deputy attorney general as seemingly conflicted. Quote "Rosenstein ultimately defended his involvement, expressed remorse at the tumult it unleashed and said the White House manipulated him."
However, if Rosenstein did feel manipulated, there may be good reason. That`s because the President`s behavior in the days that followed Comey`s firing suggested he use Rod Rosenstein`s memo as an alibi. Rather than cite the memo, Trump told Lester Holt, however, that the Russia investigation was the reason he fired Comey.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the President also met with Russian diplomats in the oval office and he repeatedly told them, I faced great pressure because of Russia. That`s taken off.
Well, it was after those statements that Rosenstein appointed the special counsel to oversee the probe. According to the "New York Times," upon learning of the appointment Mr. Trump erupted in anger saying he needed someone overseeing the investigation who would be loyal to him.
I`m joined right now by the author of this "New York Times" report, Michael Schmidt of the "Times" who is also an MSNBC contributor. Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell, he seats on the House judiciary committee and Barbara McQuade is former U.S. attorney and MSNBC legal analyst.
I want to start with Michael. This is a hell of a story because it talks about how what reported at the time with -- Rosenstein was doing what the President wanted them to do but not what he thought was the whole story.
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Rosenstein had been deputy attorney general for a week and a half when this happens. The President wanted to send this letter to James Comey that said why he wanted to get rid of him. The White House counsel saw it, Don McGahn, he said this is not a good idea. We need to come up with a cleaner reason for this. The President`s letter was rambling, it went on and on. And they did also mentioned Russia, the Russia investigation.
So McGahn brings in Sessions and Rosenstein. Rosenstein offers to write this memo. The memo is the reason the White House uses to explain the Comey firing. They stand on the White House lawn the night of the firing and they read from the letter and explain to people that Comey had to go because he was too harsh on Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: If you are Robert Mueller and his associates and you have now realized or you realized now for month perhaps that Rosenstein felt he was used. He didn`t feel he was being accurate and certainly in all honest about the reasons for the firing, what would that tell you about obstruction of justice?
SCHMIDT: Well, Mueller` is known this probably for a year. This is nothing that is that new.
MATTHEWS: But the public didn`t know it.
SCHMIDT: The public did not know it. But this is the thing. This is a very important period of time. It`s a little more than a week between when Comey is fired and Mueller is appointed and what Trump defenders and Trump`s lawyers would say, they would say, well, Rosenstein was more than happy to be part of the Comey firing. And then several days later appoints Mueller to investigate the same thing he was a part of. He is now overseeing it and he is a chief witness.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to -- let me go to the congressman on this.
First of all, congressman Swalwell, thank you for joining us from Stanford out there. What do you make that now we know On the Record from the "New York Times," this hell of a report here that Rosenstein knew and said so at the time he was used, that that wasn`t the reason for the firing of Comey. The reason was probably Russia and the cover-up.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Of course the President used him, Chris, the President uses everyone around him. And right now he is trying to fool the American people that he really cares about them. It`s always been about Donald Trump.
I don`t believe Rod Rosenstein should recuse himself. This is a question that he has posed to the department of justice. I believe he was sincere when he asked them if he should recuse themselves and they advised that he shouldn`t. So Republicans now have a real interest in whether he should be recused. We saw that at the Judiciary Committee hearing. But that`s not because they want to make sure that this investigation is done right, it`s because they want to delay, obstruct and do everything they can to stop Bob Mueller from making the progress he needs to make in this investigation and now we must insist that Rosenstein and Mueller stay. And if Rosenstein is fired it will be treated the same as if Mueller were fired.
MATTHEWS: Barb, it always seemed to me and I think most people following this whole Russia investigation that the heart of obstruction, if you want to believe there was obstruction was the firing of Comey because Comey was coming at this President and the President got rid of Comey because of that reason. He came up to other reasons thanks to the help of Rosenstein who agreed as deputy attorney general to craft a memo that suggest, in fact, claimed it wasn`t a cover-up, it was really just had something to do with other issues, the way Comey treated Hillary Clinton in the campaign, et cetera. What does this mean to an obstruction investigation?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think this is one more piece of evidence that could add to a theory of obstruction of justice. You know, when someone lies about something they did or offers a pre-text for something they did it causes you to wonder if they are not hiding their consciousness of guilt. I know what I did was wrong therefore I have to come up with a lie that explains the real reason.
Whenever there`s a jury question on obstruction of justice, and in this instance maybe it would be a Senate question, whoever is the fact finder, they are told in their instructions that because no one can read someone else`s mind to determine what was in someone`s mind and their intent you have to look at all of the facts and circumstances. The totality of the circumstances, what a person said and did. So I think this is one more item on the list that Robert Mueller can point to about what was said and done that could add to the mix to establish obstruction of justice and the corrupt intent necessary.
MATTHEWS: One more item on the list.
Anyway, to the congressman`s earlier point, Rosenstein was asked if he would recuse himself after overseeing the special counsel`s probe because of his role in Comey`s firing. Let`s watch what he said.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like you should be recused from this more so than Jeff Sessions because you were involved in making decisions in both prongs of this investigation. Why haven`t you done that?
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congressman, I can assure you, if it were appropriate for me to recuse, I would be more than happy to do so and let somebody else handle this but it`s my responsibility to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there we have a problem there, Michael Schmidt, your reporting today. What is he going to do? It seems like in the kind of almost twisted way in which the opposition to this investigation have operated, they might say well, you know, the fact that this -- Rosenstein was upset about the fact he was used by the President, biased him to the point when he hired Robert Mueller to investigate the President. I know how they think. It`s another Benghazi to them. Another weird rabbit hole to go down.
SCHMIDT: But this shows all the different sort of roles that Rosenstein is playing at the same time. Despite the fact that he was part of the Comey firing, in favor of doing that, you have representative Swalwell, a Democrat, saying we really need to keep him around. For the Democrats they think he is their best bet and they are afraid of what Trump would put at the top of the justice. That`s the sort of their redlines and I don`t know if they can enforce the redline. They don`t have the power to do that. But they keep on saying, you can`t do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman, to that point, it seems me as we have sitting here around here with the producers tonight to this program, we are trying to figure out what stop this is President from getting rid of Mueller? What stops him is Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions (INAUDIBLE) but mainly Rosenstein who appointed him. Is that true and is that why the Republicans on your committee and elsewhere seem to always be targeting, always targeting Rosenstein from a variety of directions?
SWALWELL: Yes. And then first, Chris, they are trying to put an asterisk on this investigation should it bring more indictments, especially if it hits the President or his family. But what stops the President is public sentiment. He wants to be popular. He wants to be liked. That is more important than doing the right thing. We saw that when it came to separating mothers from their children at the border. Only because it became unpopular did he do the right thing. And I think he fears because the American people have been quite loud about this and the public polling shows this that if he were to fire Robert Mueller or if he would fire Rosenstein that Republicans would move on him and they would view that as obstruction of justice.
I fear, though, that the committee that would have to hold him responsible first, the House Judiciary Committee, is lost. Because they are doing all they can right now to make sure he has a green light to fire Mueller and Rosenstein.
MATTHEWS: Nunes means do nothing. Anyway, would you think if he were to fire Mueller or try to fire Rosenstein rather that that would Nixonize him? Trump?
SWALWELL: Yes. Yes. To the leadership in the Republican Party, I believe that is their own red line because that is also where the public is on this. And the polling, again, reflects that. But the house Judiciary Committee, they are his fixers in Congress. That is, you know, about 20 Michael Cohens sitting there trying to fix this investigation in the President`s favor.
MATTHEWS: Well, it must be great sitting next to them.
By the way, I thought it was interesting they separated the steps, the minority and majority staffs by some kind of partition. Do you think that was part of the effort so they could go about their business of saving this President`s neck without your committee and staff people getting involved?
SWALWELL: Yes, they have taken away the bipartisan comedy that we have had in prior Congresses solely to protect the President, not to protect the democracy or the ballot box in our future elections and I think they are going to pay a price in November, Chris, because people just want someone to push the big red button that stops the wrecking ball that`s Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: As I mentioned, this comes as Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, finds himself under attack by House Republicans seeking to undermine him or otherwise sabotage this whole Russian probe. In that Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Republicans who have effectively swamped the justice department with document requests accused Rosenstein of hiding information from them. Here`s a tense exchange with Congressman Jim Jordan, one of the tea partiers.
REP. JIM JORDAN, (R), OHIO: Mr. Rosenstein, why are you keeping information from Congress?
ROSENSTEIN: I am not keeping any information from congress.
JORDAN: I want to know why you won`t give us what we have asked for.
ROSENSTEIN: Sir, I certainly hope that your colleagues are not under that impression. That is not accurate, sir.
JORDAN: It is accurate. We have caught you hiding information--.
ROSENSTEIN: Mr. Chairman, your statement that I`m personally keeping information from you, trying to conceal information --
JORDAN: You`re the boss, Mr. Rosenstein.
ROSENSTEIN: That`s correct. And my job is to make sure we respond to your concerns. We have, sir.
MATTHEWS: Even congressman Trey Gowdy who once defended the special counsel piled on urging Rosenstein to expedite the Mueller investigation. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We have seen the bias. We have seen the bias. We need to see the evidence. If you have evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury. Whatever you got. Finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.
ROSENSTEIN: I have heard suggestions that we should just close the investigation. I think the best thing we can do is finish it appropriately and reach a conclusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Gowdy. That`s congressman Gowdy`s criticism of the pace of Russia probe, it`s disingenuous at best. As the chairman of the Benghazi committee, remember that one, Gowdy spent two-and-a-half years investigating Hillary Clinton which concluded without a single indictment. It got nowhere because there was nowhere to go. In contrast, the Mueller probe has gone on for a year and has produced 20 indictments.
You know, I want to go back to Congressman Swalwell who is the politician here. You know, this reminds me of an error of the Nixon probe which led to the removal of the President by resignation. There was an error toward the end when the Nixon defenders, a small cadre still around, began to say get off his back. A rabbi court was a conservative churchman who led the cause. It became almost lunatic. I have noticed that with 90 percent of Republican voters supporting Trump that people like Gowdy, even the guys like he are jumping aboard the last chance saloon here.
SWALWELL: That`s right, Chris. But again, the American people want to see this investigation concluded. However, to Mr. Gowdy, I would say when you lie to investigators, when you tamper with witnesses as Paul Manafort has done and when you refuse to sit in the chair even when you have been given the questions that the FBI wants to ask you it`s going to take longer . So if you do that, we could finish it the hell up.
MATTHEWS: Is the President going testify this year or not?
SWALWELL: No, I don`t think he would ever do that, no. I don`t see him ever doing that. He`s never met the truth in his life and he doesn`t want to meet this investigation team.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much.
Michael Schmidt, great reporting, as always.
U.S. congressman Eric Swalwell out of Stanford.
And Barbara McQuade, we rely on your expertise.
Coming up, with President Trump on the attack, it`s time for the resistance to fight back, don`t you think? Democrats are facing a five-alarm fire now when it comes to the Supreme Court. Even President Obama is warning about this and warning his party personally.
Plus, new reporting that White House chief of staff John Kelly is on his way out the door. It`s no wonder Trump has decided his instincts, think about that, his instincts are better than anyone else`s thoughts and he is sick of having a hall monitor.
And further proof today that the President is looking for someone to be his Trumpet. A FOX News executive, wouldn`t that great, is set to become communications director. The echo chamber will be a fish bowl. The HARDBALL round table tackles that.
And the administration`s secret campaign to get Justice Kennedy to retire at their time convenience. That would be this July, so they can pick a substitute before they lose the Senate.
Finally, let me finish a word about what happened yesterday in Annapolis among those straight news reporters for that paper.
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump told reported today that he will announced his Supreme Court pick on Monday, July 9th. That would be the week after next. Trump says there is six of seven candidate or seven candidates including two women. There is a possibility that he may meet with some of those contenders this weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Isn`t that an appropriate setting to fill the Supreme Court? A little golf on the side there.
We will be right back.
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JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I couldn`t remain silent after I saw those neo-Nazis coming out of fields carrying torches in one of the historic cities in America followed by and accompanied by white supremacists and then being objected to by other citizens and the Presidents saying there are good people in both places. Come on. This is about the soul of the America. This is a battle for the soul of America. We cannot afford to lose it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For many people, this week was a side reminder of just how divisive President Trump has been and made this country. On the border, there were reports of toddlers being forced into court. Imagine, in a court, alone because their families are seeking asylum. At the Supreme Court, the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy created a very real possibility that the fate of issues like abortion rights, the environment, unions, union rights, guns, gun rights will fall into the hands of a partisan court firmly aligned with the Republican Party.
At a fund-raiser on Thursday night, in fact, former President Barack Obama gave some of his most pointed remarks since he left the presidency.
According to Politico, Obama told Democratic donors that night they were right to be concerned, but he said they should not want -- wait for the perfect message -- or messenger, I think, in order that to vote.
While never mentioning President Trump by name, he warned Democrats not to underestimate Trump`s band of politics. "Fear is powerful," he said, but he added: "The majority of the American people prefer a story of hope. A majority of the American people prefer a country that comes together, rather than being divided."
Well, we will see about that, won`t we?
We saw examples of this in last year`s massive women`s march, which brought together millions of people to advocate for human rights, women`s rights and health care. Look at this, all those cities converging in one point.
Yesterday, roughly 600 protesters were arrested near the U.S. Capitol demanding an end to forced family separations at the border.
Among them was U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington state. She joins me now, along with Sam Stein, politics editor of The Daily Beast -- love that name -- and Jason Johnson, politics editor of something more calm, TheRoot.com.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. You`re not with The Beast. You`re with The Root.
Anyway, well, thank you.
Congresswoman, you`re at the ramparts, as we used to say in the `60s. You`re out there. You got handcuffed. No, you didn`t get handcuffed.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: No handcuffs. No handcuffs.
MATTHEWS: What was your protest about? What did it involve, and why did you do it?
JAYAPAL: Well, 2,500 women from all over the country came to really show their moral outrage at the president and his policy, zero tolerance, zero humanity, as I say, policy, putting kids in cages, putting parents who are seeking asylum into prisons.
And so they were there to say, we`re putting ourselves on the line. I went to speak to them, actually, but I was so moved by how passionate they were and the stories that we were all telling. And so I sat down with them and I got arrested.
I believe civil disobedience is an important tactic to really push an issue to the forefront.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s good to watch. And it`s participatory democracy, as we called it in the old days, in the `60s.
MATTHEWS: But I got to tell you, he`s about to pick the decisive member of the Supreme Court.
JAYAPAL: It`s a...
MATTHEWS: Somebody who will be there for, he thinks, 45 years perhaps sitting on the bench.
JAYAPAL: This is a horrible, horrible thing.
I do think that, if we can make it clear to the American people what`s at stake, that this will also help us to get a wave out across the country, make sure that we win back the House, make sure that we introduce some checks and balances. That`s what we don`t have.
MATTHEWS: Well, what good is it if they have the election and they pick the court justice, the decisive fifth member out of nine people -- the fifth one makes the difference -- before the election?
JAYAPAL: Well, that is -- we got to -- as you have said over and over...
MATTHEWS: I will keep saying, they have got to find a way to stop it. They have got to come up with a plan.
JAYAPAL: They have to play hardball. They have got to stop it. And that`s just...
MATTHEWS: If old McConnell passes it by one vote, everybody in the press will say, what a brilliant parliamentarian he was to do with just one vote.
Well, if he`s brilliant to do it, it doesn`t take brilliance to stop him, Jason.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, no.
And this is the thing. There`s two issues. It`s always hard to run on the Supreme Court, but now people can. Right? It`s not just abortion, because there is going to be some people in the country that are like, I don`t know how they feel about that.
But it`s also this is the justice who will decide if the president can pardon himself, because that`s the endgame.
MATTHEWS: You mean this president?
JOHNSON: Yes, this president can pardon himself.
MATTHEWS: If he gets his way.
JOHNSON: If he gets his way.
Those are the two issues. And I think it`s not just about the first person he picks. The Republicans play the long game. They may pick somebody ridiculous at first, let the Democrats fool themselves into thinking, OK, we got that person to go, and then pick someone more moderate.
They have got to be prepared to fight all the way until the end. There`s going to be some brilliant parliamentarian out there who knows how to stall this.
MATTHEWS: Sam, I think a lot of this changed in 2000, when the Supreme Court picked the president. I know presidents pick the Supreme Court. In 2000, they picked the president.
SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Five of them, including -- including Kennedy.
And I have always wanted to know how they got cert, how somebody in Florida, Jim Baker, somebody got the word to the Supreme Court, oh, come down here and take over this election, stop the count, and you guys vote.
And, by the way, they voted entirely on partisan lines. Five Republicans on the court gave the presidency to W. W. gave us the Iraq War. It all happened because of the court.
MATTHEWS: It was partisan voting.
STEIN: I know there`s a lot of anguish right now among Democrats about the likelihood that the court will be pulled to the right and tarnish the court...
MATTHEWS: To the Republican side, not just the right.
STEIN: Tarnish the court as a -- as essentially functioning arm of the Republican Party.
But the truth is as you just illuminated, which is, the court`s reputation has been damaged for a while now. And it`s not just Bush v. Gore. Citizens United was a case that people thought was unfairly decided.
A bunch of 5-4 cases that have come down where it really is almost predictable in advance what the decision is going to be so. And we had this sort of veneer of bipartisanship, that the court was immune to this type of partisan influences.
MATTHEWS: When was that?
STEIN: The truth is, I`m not really sure.
I`m not really sure, because you can go back to the FDR days, the court packing days. But certainly there was an aura and an era where the court was....
MATTHEWS: I think with Nixon when they came out unanimously and said, release the tapes.
STEIN: To that point, some of those judges were appointed by Nixon.
So, to your point about how this court will have to decide on the potential that Trump gets to pardon himself, there is maybe a small sliver of hope that there can be people who rise above.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, your thoughts about this, because you sit in the legislative branch.
MATTHEWS: You hear Trump today? He referred to "my government."
MATTHEWS: I have never heard that phrase in my -- we don`t have a government. Britain has governments, because they have a parliamentary judiciary
We have the legislative branch, the executive branch and the courts. And there`s not -- there`s nobody that can say my government.
It doesn`t work that way.
JAYAPAL: He has been saying that about the Department of Justice, the loyalty pledges.
JAYAPAL: That is how he thinks about this, which is what is so dangerous.
And I do think one of the things that worries me about how we are electing Supreme Court justices today -- or appointing Supreme Court justices today is the influence of big money.
You look at Gorsuch and how much money was put into that race in order to...
MATTHEWS: Really? You`re calling it a race.
MATTHEWS: It was a race.
JAYAPAL: Because it was, because the senators vote on that. And they have put money into those targeted states with those specific senators, and they`re going to do it again. They have already started doing it again.
So that does worry me. And I think we have to continue to call for everybody to play hardball.
MATTHEWS: It`s an amazing coalition now, which is FOX, the president, and now increasingly perhaps the Supreme Court.
President Trump sat down with FOX News today to discuss what he`s looking for on the Supreme Court. That`s sort of an intramural conversation. Here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: Are you going ask your nominees beforehand how they might vote on Roe v. Wade?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that`s a big one, and probably not. They`re all saying, don`t do that, you don`t do that, you shouldn`t do that. But I`m putting conservative people on.
And I`m very proud of Neil Gorsuch. He`s been outstanding. His opinions are so well-written, so brilliant. And I`m going to try and do something like that, but I don`t think I`m going to be so specific.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I can`t imagine that this particular president, he`s obviously as smart as most politicians, but sitting down and reading the opinions of Judge Gorsuch.
JAYAPAL: I don`t think so.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think he sat down and read them.
That contradicts what the president promised to do back in October of 2016. Let`s listen to what he promised as a candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade?
TRUMP: Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that`s really what`s going to be -- that will happen.
And that will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s pretty clear.
JAYAPAL: That`s pretty clear.
MATTHEWS: How does he know they are, when he doesn`t ask them?
JAYAPAL: He has lots of conversations long before. And I read that article that said he was -- he`s actually been courting Kennedy through his son.
MATTHEWS: We will get to that in the show tonight, this elaborate sort of seduction to get him to quit, not just this year, but to quit by a date certain, which gives the Supreme -- gives the Senate...
STEIN: Well, the thing about Supreme Court confirmation hearings and processes is it`s all so much Kabuki theater.
Everyone will say, I can`t answer these things, it`s potentially going to come before me, when, in truth, we know Donald Trump wants someone to overturn Roe. We know that The Federalist Society is pushing this. We know that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are mostly interested in this.
And the question we really are awaiting is, will Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski demand that any prospective nominee answer that question? And to be honest, they are going to dance around it.
MATTHEWS: I think it is going to be Amy Barrett. And I think they have got it figured out already.
JOHNSON: They probably do.
But, like I said, I don`t know if that is going to be their first run. I think they may think of this in the long term.
The other issue is this. And Barrett qualifies. And there will be probably some surprise people. They are going to pick somebody who`s like 15 minutes out of law school. Like, they`re going to pick the youngest person they can.
MATTHEWS: Forty-five years.
JOHNSON: Yes, exactly.
MATTHEWS: You got to go with life expectancy with this crowd.
Anyway, in a surprise appearance on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" last night, Jon Stewart also called on Democrats to fight. Here he is, the cheerleader for the right side. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT")
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: I just want to say, if there`s one hallmark to your presidency that I think we`re finding the most difficult, is that, no matter what you do, it always comes with an extra layer of gleeful cruelty.
Donald, you could have absolutely made a more stringent border policy that would have made your point about enforcement, but I guess it wouldn`t have felt right without a Dickensian level of villainy.
And what Donald Trump wants is for us to stop calling his cruelty and fear and divisiveness wrong, but to join him in calling it right. And this, we cannot do.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: And by not yielding -- and by not yielding -- and I say, by not yielding, we will prevail!
Unless, of course, the Democratic leadership continues to be a bunch of feckless...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Until that last outburst, he was Adlai Stevenson compared to what we have now, Jason.
JOHNSON: You need to say that.
Look, look, Jon Stewart always represented that sort of rage of the left, and it was first the New York left. Now it`s the sort of entire left.
But resistance is the only way to go at this particular point. And the leadership of the Democratic Party is behind the times for how frustrated and angry their base is. And perhaps when they`re all gone, if they win the -- if the Democrats take over the House this fall, we will some see more active leadership, because right now...
MATTHEWS: Maybe New York will take over the House this fall.
Anyway, Cortez is leading the way.
Anyway, U.S. Congresswoman Jayapal, Sam Stein...
MATTHEWS: .. and Jason Johnson, real simple pronunciations, and this wonderful one here.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Rumors are swirling that Chief of Staff John Kelly, the general ,four-star general, is on his way out.
And if a four-star general, as someone said today, can`t keep this guy in line, nobody will. Who is going to replace him? Apparently, not really anyone. He wants to go it alone. Trump loves his instincts. He believes they`re better than anyone else`s thinking.
We`re in for trouble. Aren`t we in trouble?
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
We`re now just a month away from John Kelly`s one year -- isn`t it exciting? One-year anniversary as chief of staff. It comes up on July 31, actually when the judge is about to leave, Anthony Kennedy, same date.
But, according to a new "Wall Street Journal" report on the front page today, General Kelly may be out -- not be able to make his own deadline.
This report says that President Trump is now openly consulting advisers, asking them about who to replace Kelly with. One person close to the White House said: "Mr. Kelly doesn`t believe he can serve Mr. Trump well because the president has stopped listening to him."
Well, this person said Mr. Kelly no longer likes the job and doesn`t believe the president wants a chief of staff.
Well, the report in "The Journal" adds that the top two choices to replace the general are Vice President Pence`s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, or OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. Whether they will have better luck restraining Trump`s mercurial instincts than a retired four-star general isn`t an open question.
Well, back in April, NBC News reported that Kelly was likely to leave by July 31, noting that Kelly had repeatedly -- or reportedly referred to Trump as an idiot. The other guy called him a moron. You got to keep that straight.
I`m joined right now by the HARDBALL Donald Trump Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy. Phil Rucker is the White House bureau chief for "The Washington Post," and Sahil Kapur, national political reporter for Bloomberg.
All of you ,every time I see the general, I look at a grownup, and every time I see the president, I see something a little different. All right?
How does he get to tell the president what to do? It looks to me like he can`t, Anita. He has realized now he can`t.
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS: Well, he probably can`t. He`s having trouble with that.
But if he leaves, the situation at the White House, a lot of things are going to remain exactly the same, right? He`s had two chief of staffs. They had very different background backgrounds. And...
MATTHEWS: Remind me. Reince Priebus.
KUMAR: Reince Priebus and then John Kelly. Right?
MATTHEWS: Right. KUMAR: So, they have very different backgrounds, right?
Priebus came from the RNC, political guy. And a lot of things have stayed the same. Now, some things did change when John Kelly came in there, but still Trump is going to do what he wants to do. Right?
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe the chief of staff`s job is to tell the president, before we decide on a summit meeting with the dictator of North Korea, we might check with the defense secretary. Little protocols like that, that apparently are not being honored at all.
Trump does what he feels like doing when he feels like doing it.
PHILIP RUCKER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I mean, Trump refuses to be managed in a traditional sense.
Kelly tried to do that the first few months in the job. He found a lot of resistance. The president chafed against it. And now Kelly is very much in an operational role. He`s helping run the government, but Trump is really calling the shots, making the decisions, deciding where he goes, who he talks to, what he does, and deciding to have that summit with Kim Jong- un.
SAHIL KAPUR, BLOOMBERG: Yes, Trump is his own chief of staff, senior adviser, and communications director all rolled into one. And...
MATTHEWS: The chief cheerleader for himself.
KAPUR: And as the -- as time goes on in the White House, he gets more comfortable with his instincts. He listens to people less and less.
You can have a chief of staff that tries to control what kind of paper he sees and tries to set up some structures, but the president is going to get around it.
MATTHEWS: But that`s about his winning streak. I think a lot of not just dictators, but a lot of people go, my hunches seem to be better than the people around me, you know, Phil?
KAPUR: And on things like tariffs, for instance, the president didn`t do that in his first year. He listened to people around him who said don`t do it. On withdrawing from the Iran deal, he didn`t do it, but this year, as time goes on, he listened to himself more and more.
MATTHEWS: Is he the smartest guy in the White House, Trump?
RUCKER: He thinks he is. And he thinks he`s smarter, not only in terms of intelligence, but he thinks he has better political instincts than the political professionals. And he has felt that way all along.
MATTHEWS: Who agrees with him, Anita, when he decides like we`re not going to deal with the Europeans anymore, we`re breaking the NATO alliance, it`s worse than NAFTA, blah, blah, blah, we don`t like the Canadians, we don`t like the prime minister up there, we don`t like anybody?
The people we like are Kim Jong-un and Putin. We like the world`s dictators. When you -- does anybody think like him in the White House? I know Bolton doesn`t think like this. Who does he around him that says good point, and honestly mean it?
KUMAR: Well, clearly, they`re not saying that before. This is a good point to make. I mean, that`s not happening. So the question is, what do they say to him after?
Are they really saying to him, you shouldn`t have done that?
KUMAR: Are you going to say that to the president of the United States?
MATTHEWS: Would that work, Phil?
RUCKER: No, they manage the fallout of it. So they sort of let him decide to do what he wants to do, say what he wants to say, and then manage it within the government, try to create a system...
KUMAR: Or try to manage it.
MATTHEWS: "The Last King of Scotland," that movie with Forest Whitaker, he played Idi Amin. He fell in love with certain people for a while, then he fell out of them.
Nixon was like that. Nixon liked people like Pat Moynihan for a while, and then he dropped him.
Is that the president`s problem, or the problem we have with this president? He likes people for a couple of months, and then...
KAPUR: He gets bored with people. We know he gets bored of people.
We know that he values chemistry between himself and the people around him. And that usually fizzles, unless, of course, it`s his family.
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, the FOX-to-White House pipeline continues.
NBC News has confirmed that former FOX News president Bill Shine is likely to join the White House in a senior role, possibly as Trump`s next communications director.
Shine has a longstanding relationship with a Trump ally, Sean Hannity. Shine would add to a growing list of FOX News staffers who have worked for this administration.
There`s a picture. It`s not just the personnel list. Others have become the president`s unofficial advisers. "New York Magazine" reported last month that the president and Sean speak multiple times on some days, often at night.
The Daily Beast reports in April that during the president`s first year, FOX business host Lou Dobbs would be patched into the Oval Office via speakerphone to weigh in on decisions.
Anita, this is an incestuous -- well, I don`t even know what to call it anymore. It`s a close relationship between FOX...
KUMAR: It`s a close relationship.
And, remember, this is a president who loves television, the TV moment, right? Those are the moments he tries to orchestrate himself.
MATTHEWS: "FOX & Friends" begins his day.
KUMAR: Right, so this is not a surprise. Right?
MATTHEWS: So, he tweets and FOXes, or whatever the verb is.
And Bill Shine coming in, he is not going to just be a communications director. He is going to be deputy chief of staff likely. He is going to have a big purview in sort of this third era of the Trump White House.
And I think he is going to be helping the president, not only deal with the press and deal with messaging , but figure out a political strategy for the midterms and more importantly, in the 2020 reelection.
How to get this presidency more on track than it is right now.
KAPUR: There`s a mind meld there clearly between the president and Fox News. You know, the president watches them a lot. He gets softball interview from many of their personalities and anchors. So -- and in many cases, some of the personalities there amplify his message. So, it`s a natural relationship and it wouldn`t surprise me if, you know, someone like the former president of that network would be running communications.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, Howdy Doody liked the peanut gallery. That`s an old time reference. Nobody knows it anymore but I know what I`m talking about.
The round table is sticking with us.
And up next, "The New York Times" runs down all the ways the Trump administration worked behind the scenes to help create a second opening on the Supreme Court, giving Trump an opportunity to move the nation`s highest court sharply to the right. How they wooed Justice Kennedy into leaving.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In just a moment, Justice Gorsuch will be sworn in by Justice Kennedy, a great man of outstanding accomplishment. Throughout his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy has been praised by all for his dedicated and dignified service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was President Trump praising Anthony Kennedy last April in a swearing-in ceremony for Justice Neil Gorsuch.
As the president looks to make a generational choice in picking a successor for Justice Kennedy whose replacement Trump plans to announce on July 9th, that we got to next, "The New York Times" reports the president`s kind words for Kennedy were part of a strategic campaign to create an opening on the high court. Part of the strategy was to assure Kennedy his legacy would be in good hands.
But according to "The Times" allies of the White House were more blunt, warning the 81-year-old justice that time was of the essence. There was no telling, they said, what would happen if Democrats gained control of the Senate this November and had the power to block the president`s choice as Kennedy`s successor.
I`m back with the HARDBALL round table, Anita, Phil and Sahil.
What do you make of this? This story is so interesting because it`s subtle because what you -- you put all these little points together, were all these points like Ivanka going to talk to Justice Kennedy and get a sort of tour of the Supreme Court, it could have been just a social thing, you don`t know. Was it part of a strategy to endear them to him somehow?
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPER: It was interesting for all these little pieces put together. I mean, it`s no surprise. Presidents always want to appoint a new Supreme Court justice and solidify that for decades to come. And so, that`s not a surprise.
You know, liberals wanted Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire so President Obama could appoint someone else. So, that`s not a surprise.
But, you know, when you look back at the last year and a half, President Trump has talked so much about Neil Gorsuch, it`s one of his biggest accomplishments. It`s not a surprise he would want a second chance at that.
MATTHEWS: And one thing Trump has despite his sort of known lifestyle whatever you want to make of it, it would not side him with the reverends of this world, the religious right. But on the issue of abortion right, on life issues, I think it had a lot to do with him winning Pennsylvania. I think he`s playing this really hard. He wants to pick another pro-life judge.
RUCKER: And publishing that list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court that he did during the campaign sent a clear signal to the Christian right, to the evangelical base, that he was going to prioritize the court and he thinks -- Trump thinks that that`s what helped him lock up the base and win that election.
And Don McGahn, the White House counsel, has been the hand behind all of this. And it`s not just the Supreme Court, but they`ve been stacking the federal bench, the appeals court with conservative justices.
MATTHEWS: How did they get Kennedy to quit?
RUCKER: I think a combination of factors including Kennedy just deciding it felt like the right time.
MATTHEWS: Sahil, I wonder if they were determined -- you know, I think Republicans have a good shot of keeping the Senate. This is really going to be close. We don`t know which wave is going to be dominant come October, but they may have been word -- it looks to me on the reporting, Justice Kennedy wanted a Republican to replace him.
KAPUR: It sure seems that way and it`s true, there is no telling what would happen, if Democrats take over. I think there`s a lot of animosity for the way Republicans treated Merrick Garland, President Obama`s nominee who was blocked.
What`s interesting here is that I think getting Kennedy to step down was less about Kennedy`s legacy and more about President Trump`s legacy. Kennedy has a very, very idiosyncratic record. He has sided with the left flank of the court on issues like abortion, on same-sex marriage, on affirmative action, on detainee rights. All those are going to be in potential jeopardy if another solidly conservative person from that list of 25 is appointed.
Now, having said that, there are things that Kennedy has done that decided with the right flank of the court that are going to be cemented now, things like voting rights, gun rights, campaign finance and Citizens United.
KUMAR: But that`s why his -- President Trump`s comments, the praise you talked about to Justice Kennedy was so interesting. Conservatives -- a lot of conservatives don`t like him.
MATTHEWS: I know. Well, he knew what he was doing, didn`t he?
It sure looks like Fox News` Sean Hannity is blaming yesterday`s tragedy at the "Capital Gazette" newspaper of Maryland on a couple of Democrats. Let`s watch him in action here.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I`ve been saying for days that something horrible is going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really, Maxine? You want people to create -- call your friends, get in their faces, and Obama said that, too. Get in their faces, call them out, all your friends. You know, get protesters, follow them into restaurants and shopping malls and wherever else she said.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: No connection between the horror yesterday and anything to do with politicians on either side of the aisle, Hannity blames them to Democrats.
RUCKER: And, look, you know, Maxine Waters is among a number of politicians who you could blame for contributing to this environment, but the main contributor is President Trump. He`s the one who calls the news organizations fake news, calls reporters disgusting and despicable --
MATTHEWS: But this was a reporter apparently who did it.
RUCKER: (INAUDIBLE) for the people.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I don`t think it had anything to do with politics.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: After that deadly shooting at the "Capital Gazette" in Maryland yesterday, staffers vowed to continue working and to put a damn paper despite -- put out a damn paper despite their grief. And here it is on the front page, photos of the five victims with profiles inside.
On the editorial page, however, just 56 words, including these: Today, we are speechless. The rest of the page was intentionally left blank to commemorate the victims. The editorial board promises to return the page to its steady purpose tomorrow of keeping readers informed that might be -- they might be better citizens.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.
Anita, tell me something I don`t know.
KUMAR: I`m going stick with the theme of yesterday`s shooting -- and journalists, we`re so used to doing things under terrible circumstances, hurricanes and other things, but I was just really struck by how these three reporters used -- got in a truck, somebody`s truck, and filed their stories while a blues CD was playing. That`s how they put out their paper today.
RUCKER: They`re heroes.
Look ahead to July 16th, President Trump`s going to be in Helsinki for that summit with President Putin of Russia. He says today that he`s going to bring up Russia`s occupation of Crimea as well as Russia`s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. A lot of experts think he`s going shy away from doing that, so we`ll have to see if he`ll have the courage to confront Putin.
MATTHEWS: That`s a week after to the day after he announced his Supreme Court pick. What a month.
KAPUR: Chris, the left wing cause of abolishing ICE took a step from the radical fridges into the mainstream of the Democratic Party this week after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset the fourth-ranking House Democrat Joe Crowley. Since then, Senator Kirstin Gillibrand has embraced the cause as has Congresswoman Nadia Velasquez. This is moving very quickly --
MATTHEWS: Yes, this is like the right wing saying you`re going after the IRS. You still have to replace it with some functioning government.
KAPUR: Or trying to abolish the Department of Education or something like that. But this will be one to watch and the Democratic --
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Anita Kumar. And thank you, Phil Rucker and Sahil Kapur.
When we return, let me finish tonight with a word about what happened yesterday in Annapolis to those newspaper people.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a word about what happened yesterday in Annapolis.
The "Capital Gazette" newspaper reporters that were killed in the line of duty died doing what they committed their lives to -- getting the news to their readers. They weren`t reporting fake news. Deadline reporting isn`t grand or necessarily overly eloquent. It`s about getting the news into print accurately before anyone else does.
The people who managed to get careers, getting stories on the front page are into news, breaking news, hard news, there`s a joy in that job, of course, beating the round-the-clock pressure, landing what you`ve come up with on the front page, really breaking the story.
I like how one of the surviving reporters from the "Gazette" put it on MSNBC earlier today. He said his colleagues that were shot were simply doing their bit.
When I said earlier this week that my message at the Foley Legacy Foundation honoring the life and moral courage of murdered conflict reporter James Foley stays true. I come here tonight out of moral humility but also professional humility, all those times riding on a campaign bus with deadline daily reporters, I came to deeply respect them.
I`ve grown in my respect as they appear and share their reporting here on HARDBALL. I know well that when it comes to reporting, I live merely in the chain of custody from them to the viewer, the reporter, not the commentator, is the hero.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
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