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Trump preparing to unveil Supreme Court pick. TRANSCRIPT: 7/9/2018, Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Chris Murphy, Nina Totenberg, Cecile Richards, Greg Brower, Shawna Thomas, Aaron Blake

Show: HARDBALL Date: July 9, 2018 Guest: Chris Murphy, Nina Totenberg, Cecile Richards, Greg Brower, Shawna Thomas, Aaron Blake


Julius Caesar wrote that gall was divided into three parts. Well, so is the government of the United States. And one of those three parts is to be decided tonight when President Trump declares his pick for the decisive fifth seat in the Supreme Court. It will be a political appointment even more than the Supreme Court and who sits on it often is. Never forget who decided the year 2000 election for President or decided in the citizens united case on the role of money in every U.S. election.

For Trump this pick is a chance to middle, to use a street corner political term, those Democrats that are from states that are strong for him and force them to choose between represent the Democratic Party in Washington or representing their voters back home, voting the way New York`s Chuck Schumer wants him or her to vote or the way most voting adults in, say, North Dakota or Indiana or West Virginia want them to vote.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in the nation`s capital where President Trump is just two hours away from announcing his Supreme Court pick. It`s a choice that will almost certainly shift the balance of the court rightward and could have a wide-ranging impact on issues like abortion rights and gay rights.

Justice Anthony Kennedy was often the decisive vote on the most contentious constitutional issues the court faced. Now President Trump seeks to fill his vacancy with a strong conservative who can serve 40 to 45 years as Trump suggested.

The former "Apprentice" host has spent the last week building the drama with all the flash of a primetime reality TV reveal. He wrote on twitter this morning, I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of the Supreme Court justice. Will be announced tonight at 9:00 p.m.

On Sunday, he teased his choice saying he would have a final decision by noon today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe this person will do a great job. But I`m very close to making a decision. Let`s say it`s the four people. And they`re excellent. Every one. You can`t go wrong.


MATTHEWS: Well, those final four contenders are all conservative appeals court judges. But yesterday NBC reported that he narrowed his focus down to two, Thomas Hardiman and Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh is a former clerk to justice Kennedy. Justice Hardiman was runner-up to justice Neil Gorsuch in filling the previous high court vacancy last year.

I`m joined right now by Connecticut Democratic senator Chris Murphy, Robert Costa, national political reporter for the "Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. Michael Steele, former RNC chair and MSNBC political analyst. Ruth Marcus, columnist for the "Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

A great -- you`re the final four for tonight for us.


MATTHEWS: Senator Murphy, is there any way this isn`t going to become an enormously political decision by your fellow members of the Senate? Especially from the red states.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: He decided to make this a momentous political moment by outsourcing the decision to the heritage institute and to the federalist society the day that he basically put these right-wing political organizations in charge of selecting the next Supreme Court justice, who would basically telegraph that the only people on those lists are people who will not only overturn Roe versus Wade but possibly the right to privacy in Grizzle v. Connecticut.

MATTHEWS: That was the one about birth control pills way back then, right?

MURPHY: Yes. I just don`t think you have to mistake what the agenda is here. The agenda is not just to get rid of Roe. It`s to go after Griswold itself so you can go after contraception. So the minute he outsourced the decision to those political groups he knew he was going to be in for the fight of his life and he knew it was going to be hard to keep all of the Republicans, some of which have a big problem with a court that`s going to overturn the right to full reproductive health care for women.

MATTHEWS: Robert Costa, I think that Trump is playing this not just to rule the Supreme Court for the next 40 or 45 years as he puts it because he could well do that. If Ginsburg retires next year or later, he could still grab three seats altogether and make it 6-3 and overwhelmingly a right-wing court. My question is, does he also using this as a political tool to destroy the political future of people like Heidi Heitkamp out in north Dakota, of Joe Manchin in West Virginia, of Joe Donnelly in Indiana and possibly end or shorten the career of Doug Jones down in Alabama by saying vote your state or vote your party, you choose and I`ll kill you either way. Your thoughts.

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: The poking and prodding of these red state Democrats politically starts today. You saw it in the invitations, Chris, from the White House that went out to those four red state Democrats. They all declined to go. So did moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine. And the minute this person`s announced tonight you will see the judicial crisis network and other conservative groups put millions of dollars on the airwaves to try to pressure these red state Democrats running in states won by Trump to back the nominee.

MATTHEWS: Michael, this is a political test, and I`m going to say at the end of the show, I can say it right now, I think it`s going to be brutal for people like those senators I just mentioned. Because Trump says that he is connivingly brilliant at this. He said are you going to vote the way you people at home would vote on this nomination the way your party`s going to vote? He is going to middle them, force them to choose between their party and their state.


MATTHEWS: It is nasty.

STEELE: They have already made their choice. They are going to vote the way their people at home want them to vote.

MATTHEWS: But then this nomination is dead. I mean it`s in for sure.

STEELE: It`s in for sure. Because I think this choice, whether it`s one of the two gentlemen that you showed at the beginning of the program or even someone else who we have not talked about on this list, they are going to be cut very close out of that cloth of Gorsuch. They are going to be that type of nominee. They are not going to be someone that is going to swing so far in the debate that it makes it hard for those votes to congeal, if you will, around this nominee.

MATTHEWS: And no porks in there.

STEELE: Right, exactly. There`s not that play. So I think the President has listened to a lot of smart people about this. This is the one time where the President sort of gives himself over to others in that regard. Yes, he does the showman bit out front but behind the scenes he is listening and following direction directions on this and I think this nominee is not going to be the kind of political play people anticipate it will.

MATTHEWS: It added from both directions. The values question that work here. What kind of country do you want to live in? What rights should women and other people have, gay people have, and respect and dignity. All those values questions. Against the politics of the game he is playing. It is a game he is setting up here by doing this.

RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: So the politics are really clear. You have to be able to get to a majority of votes against the nominee. And the only way you are going to get to that --

MATTHEWS: Fifty-one.

MARCUS: -- is if you peel off the Republican senators who declined wisely, I think the White House`s nomination tonight. I will be stunned if it`s one of the two folks, Kavanaugh or Hardiman, if they end up voting against them. So if that is true, why would Democrats in those red states sort of go on the suicide, political suicide mission? Why would Chuck Schumer the leader want them to go on the suicide mission, pay attention --

MATTHEWS: I`ll give you a reason.

MARCUS: -- to your prospects.

MATTHEWS: I will give you a reason, Ocasio Cortez. Because the leadership is going to be trashed if they let this go by them.

MARCUS: They can trash it but they need to worry about trying to claw back as close to a majority as possible. You know, on the substance --

MATTHEWS: So you argue the best side of -- discretion`s the best form of valor, in other words, decide now you are not going to win this fight, so just start --

STEELE: Do the math.

MARCUS: Do the math. You know, Justice Brennan --

MATTHEWS: You are the senator. You are a voter.

MURPHY: I think this notion it`s a suicide mission for Democrats in Trump- leaning states to vote against a pro-corporate, anti-choice, anti- collective bargaining nominee is ridiculous. The fact of the matter is --

MATTHEWS: North Dakota?

MURPHY: Well, in many of these states.

STEELE: West Virginia.

MURPHY: Yes. But in many states you may have public who likes Trump but the polling also tells you that they don`t mind a senator who is going to be a check on the --

MATTHEWS: Would you tell Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota with the small population, don`t run on local issues, vote with your party on this and see how it goes?

MURPHY: I wouldn`t tell Heidi or Joe or any of them to do anything. They are going to have to make their own decision. But I`m going to tell you, if you run a nationwide campaign making clear who this nominee is going to be, voters all across the country are going to have problems with the kind of decisions he or she --

MATTHEWS: Robert, let`s go back to (INAUDIBLE), because (INAUDIBLE). There`s going to be hearings. They are going to be all over television for months. The hearings are going to be dynamite, though, you know. There are people there who really know how to do the hearings. They are going to questions of religion perhaps are going to come up. They can go both ways. But my question is won`t the Democrats and the leadership especially, they go into those private rooms at the capitol, Schumer`s room, they sit in there and they go -- you sit there -- Schumer talking to Heidi Heitkamp, you say you know what, I think we are not going to get Murkowski or Collins, so know what? You are free. I can hear that conversation because why commit suicide?

COSTA: It`s going to all depend on the hearings. They don`t have that conversation until they see how these hearings go. And these hearings as you say could be explosive. If it`s judge Kavanaugh, they are going to go over his time with the special counsel in the 1990s investigating Vince Foster and President Clinton and they will go over his work in George W. Bush`s White House.

If it`s Judge Hardiman, they are going to look at all these rulings he`s done on gun rights that are very conservative. So if you`re Heidi Heitkamp of the world, it`s TBD. It all depends on how these hearings play, how the country sees the nominee.

MATTHEWS: Can you find -- do you think -- let me go back to the senator. Do you think a senator from these red states would find something strong enough to use back home against the nominee that they could justify it?

MURPHY: Absolutely. And I think it`s right. This is all going to play out as the country learns who these nominees are. I think a lot of Trump`s base, right? Not that he was going to take on corporate America, that he was going to return power to the people. What they are going to find is all of these judges were hand-selected by the federalist society because they are going to take power away from regular people and hand them to big corporations.

I think if we make that case effectively, if we tell people that these are the judges who are going to take away federal protections for you, if you have a pre-existing condition, that they are going to overturn the affordable care act, all of a sudden this looks like a very different vote in those places than it maybe if all that matters is the judge was picked by Donald Trump. These judges are going to have a record, and we`re going to make that very clear to the American people by the time --

MATTHEWS: I notice -- I get Bob Casey`s information, somebody put him on my list, his fund-raising list. That`s not how I got on there because I know the guy and I like him. Buy he is really pushing this corporate thing like you are. In other words, it`s not all about Roe or LGBT rights, it`s also about what side are you on in terms of the economy. Are you with the rich people and the capitol people or are you with the working people?

MURPHY: Number one issue in America right now is health care, and this is a court that`s going to decide whether or not the Congress can under the constitution protect people from --

MATTHEWS: How do they do it, by the way? Now they have lost the individual mandate. Once you have lost the individual mandate it`s not perceived as a tax bill, which is the way Roberts voted for it.

MARCUS: Well, the answer is once it`s not perceived as a tax bill because there`s no individual mandate, there`s no unconstitutional compulsion. No arguably unconstitutional compulsion. Look, I would have loved to see Justice Merrick Garland. Would have loved to see him confirmed. I understand the anger and the frustration among Senate Democrats. I have to say looking at a Judge Hardiman or Judge Kavanaugh I do not see this nominee as significantly different than what a president Jeb Bush or a President Mitt Romney would have picked. And that is going to be hard to see.

MATTHEWS: OK. You are very benign tonight.

Anyway, on "Meet the Press," Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, the senator from Missouri, said, of all four finalists, he said, that all be confirmed by this, all the four we are hearing about, he said they are all going through with 50 votes plus the vice President. Let`s hear it.


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: I think they all be - they are good judges. I think they would be fine justices of the Supreme Court. I do think the President has to think about who is the easiest to get confirmed here. And I expect we`ll do that on sort of a normal timetable of a couple of months.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what we are hearing from Michael here. They are going to go for the one that can slip through easily.

Anyway, the "Washington Post" reports that President Trump spoke with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Friday.

Quote "McConnell did not push any choice on the President."

But the report goes on to add that McConnell did note that Hardiman and Kethledge could fare well in the senate because their reputations are record for not as politically charges as the others on the President`s short list of nominees.

Senator, I love to have you here, by the way. Thank you because I love to have a senator here to have some insight. You know the feeling that buddy whenever he talks to each other in the cork rooms. Would we be better off with the old 60-vote requirement where you have to have some kind of bipartisan consensus to get anybody through? Wasn`t that a better system?

MURPHY: I have been a critic of the filibuster, but I always thought that it made sense for the Supreme Court. I didn`t mind getting rid of it for the lower courts for Presidential appointees. And I also frankly don`t mind a conversation about reforming it for legislation. But when it comes to the Supreme Court, a lifetime appointment, especially now that Presidents are picking people in their 40s and 50s --

MATTHEWS: Forever.

MURPHY: Yes. It certainly seems --

MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that, as the philosopher and the column writer?

MARCUS: Yes, actually, I share the senator`s view. Don`t like the filibuster for executive branch nominees. Do like it for judicial nominees. I think once you made the decision to get rid of decisions for lower court nominees, it was absolutely inevitable. It was going to be eliminated for the Supreme Court.

STEELE: I like the filibuster because I like the drama.

MATTHEWS: OK. (INAUDIBLE) and the reality.

Let me go back to Robert. As Robert, you know Trump pretty well. And you try to figure I wonder whether he knows for history, and he is going for history now. Whatever the progressives think, I think he is thinking history. Like he is maybe not Meg Rushmore but he will come out as a pretty good President he thinks.

Now one way he will do that with the conservative side is I pick three Supreme Court justices. My hunch is he will keep Amy Barrett on the on deck circle. Keep her back, maybe somebody else. But he`s going for three, isn`t he? I mean, Ginsburg is 85. He has got to be going for three in this term, which would make him one of the most masterfully successful pickers of courts in history since Washington. Go ahead.

COSTA: And he`s got White House counsel Don McGahn, federalist society, executive Leonard Leo in the President`s ear saying this is for history. You are playing for your legacy here. You have got to have someone who has an extensive judicial writing record. Look at the writing, they are telling the President. That`s the only way to really prove someone`s conservatism. You don`t want to be seen as someone who picked a judge who then sort of evolved in the Supreme Court over the years.

MATTHEWS: Are they afraid of a judge suiter (ph) or frankfurter, someone going left to right -- or -- in their case right to left.

COSTA: That`s why they came off with this list. That`s why it was start from the beginning by McGahn and Leonard Leo.

MATTHEWS: And so the senator was right. This was all approved by the higher authorities.

MURPHY: Yes. I think this was a reaction to Roberts and to suiter (ph). They don`t want any wild cards.

MATTHEWS: Meaning moderates.

MURPHY: Yes. They don`t want anybody who is going to surprise them. And so, they just outsourced the selection to a bunch of political operatives who can make sure that anybody that he picks is going to go down the line and be essentially in the same place that Clarence Thomas --

MATTHEWS: And Alito I guess.

MURPHY: But let`s also not rewrite Kennedy`s history here, right. I mean, he is certainly the swing vote on a handful of very important issues. But what would matter much more is if Trump gets to select a replacement for Ginsburg or for Breyer.

STEELE: That`s the fight.


That`s where he`s going. How are the Democrats going to do any better when they have the same numbers -- unless you`re right and Ruth says go for more numbers.

STEELE: Democrats are banking on a 2020 takeover. But that`s --

MATTHEWS: I think you make the point you made earlier, senator, which is sure people like me and Ruth and others have rooted for justice Kennedy on social issues, LGBT issues and abortion rights and things like that, even capital punishment for youth and people like that, not executing kids below 18.

But when it comes to economic issues and partisan issues, he was in there. He was in there with citizens united, with Gore v. Bush. And he was right in there with the Republican partisanship. I think he is a real Republican. I`m sorry, a northern California Republican, nonetheless.

Anyway, thank you senator Chris Murphy. Thank you from Connecticut. Thank you for having him here.

And thank you Robert Costa, Ruth Marcus, and Michael Steele.

We will be covering this story throughout this hour of course because it`s all coming up tonight. The pick, the selection is at 9:00. We may get a leak, though. We might get a scoop. And I will be joining my colleague Rachel Maddow later on tonight following the President`s 9:00 p.m. declaration.

Coming up next, the President`s pick could tilt the court to the right for decades to come. He says 40 to 45 years he wants them to last. So what`s at stake for Roe v. Wade, for gay rights? For more corporate issues?

Plus Trump`s team stirs up -- or steps up its assault on the Mueller probe. Rudy Giuliani now says that the special counsel needs to show evidence that Trump committed a crime before the President will agree to an interview. How`s that for getting it backwards? It`s just talk of course. It`s like Trump saying I will give you my tax returns when the audit is over. When is that audit going to finish?

And boy does it work with the base, however. And will the battle over Trump`s Supreme Court nominee hurt red state Democrats? We will talk more about that. The HARDBALL round table weighs in on that.

Plus the chaotic scramble to reunite migrant families, their children as young as one year old are being forced to appear in court. How`s that for testimony with the government now saying it`s unable to locate many of the parents because they are out of the country because they have been deported.

Finally let me finish tonight with Trump watch. A lot of people aren`t going to like this one tonight.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: In Thailand, eight boys have now been rescued from the cave where they were trapped for 17 days almost without any food at all. They are being treated in a local hospital where doctors say all eight have been in relatively good condition. That leaves four boys and the team`s coach still down there. But rescuers need to rest and recharge their oxygen tanks before they -- what a bunch of courageous guys, going in there. What, boy, people to look up to.

We will be right back.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Considering the ample evidence that President Trump will only select a nominee who will undermine protection for Americans with preexisting conditions, give greater weight to corporate interests than the interests of our citizens, no what matter what president says, and vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the next nominee has an obligation, a serious and solemn obligation, to share their personal views on these legal issues.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Senate Minority Leader, Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor today warning about what is at stake now with the president`s Supreme Court pick, which is coming at 9:00 Eastern tonight, a little more than an hour from now.

A new 5-4 court could threaten to upend many of the issues, of course, where Justice Kennedy decided with the liberals. Of course, he was the offsetting vote to the conservatives. According to NPR, Kennedy believes that once rights are recognized, they will not be taken away. That includes the right to abortion that he helped preserve and the rights to gay people that he helped establish, including the right to marry and to be treated equally in our society. Of course, time will tell.

I`m joined right now by Nina Totenberg, NPR legal affairs correspondent and the author of the article, and Cecile -- Cecile -- why do I do this? I have known you forever. Cecile Richards, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Thank you both.

Nina, I have known you forever. You`re probably the most famous person covering the court.


MATTHEWS: How do you see this? Just talk about -- forget politics for two seconds, only now. If you`re looking at this thing as a judicial process, picking the right sort of a relatively conservative person, what`s at risk if you`re a progressive looking at the court right now?

What could -- are they really in danger of getting rid of Roe v. Wade, the undue burden phrase from the Casey case? Are they really endangering that right now, do you think?

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: Well, I think in the worst-case scenario, from the progressive point of view, Roe gets overturned. And I would say there`s a decent likelihood of that.

But just as likely is that the court starts making it easier and easier for states to regulate abortion, to make it very difficult to access abortion, so that in at least probably the 20 states where there are lots of laws that have been actually blocked until now, that those states will be able to do that.

They will limit when you can have an abortion, how far pregnant you can be in order to get an abortion, the types of abortions available. They will make it very difficult for clinics to operate, so that for -- especially for poor and rural women who live very far away, it could make it very difficult in large swathes of the country to get an abortion.

MATTHEWS: Cecile, that seems to be the cutting edge right now, which is, you don`t create an undue burden, except you say things that seems reasonable to the non-person involved in it -- person not involved, the male voter, for example, and you go, OK, you should have hospital facilities available, hostile type facilities. You can`t just have some lean clinic operation.

You have to have all the facilities of a big hospital if you`re going to have this procedure. That kind of thing seems reasonable. But, in often cases, it means no clinics, no abortion rights. Your thoughts about that.


And what Nina said is exactly correct. I come from the state of Texas, where they have passed every possible regulation against abortion. And the goal of the legislature and the governor has been to end abortion access.

And, in fact, it was a Supreme Court case, the Whole Women`s Health case, that ruled the laws in Texas unconstitutional. But that was a vote that, with another nominee to the court who opposes abortion rights, that case would likely go another way, and the result would be that there would be only a handful of doctors in the state that actually met all the requirements.

None of these laws -- and that was actually what was demonstrated in that case -- none of these laws were actually passed for the health or welfare of women. They were actually passed to try to end abortion access.

And I think one of the important things to remember, Chris, is that abortion existed before Roe. It was simply illegal and unsafe. And young, healthy women died routinely in emergency rooms across this country. And that`s what we`re looking at again if this court in fact tips the other side.

MATTHEWS: Well, Leonard Leo, who`s President Trump`s adviser on judicial nominees, said this weekend that the warning from Democrats that Republicans are working to overturn Roe v. Wade is simply a scare tactic.

That`s what he`s claiming. Listen here.

RICHARDS: Well, it`s not a...


LEONARD LEO, FOUNDER, THE FEDERALIST SOCIETY: We have been talking about this for 36 years, going all the way back to the nomination of Sandra O`Connor.

And after that 36-year period, we only have a single individual on the court who`s expressly said he would overturn Roe. So, I think it`s a bit of a scare tactic and rank speculation more than anything else.


MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know that I believe that.

Of course, this is in stark contrast, which we all know, to what candidate Trump promised when he said he`s going to pick pro-life judges. Let`s hear Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justice on, that`s really what`s going to be -- that will happen. And that`ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.


MATTHEWS: Well, according to NBC News, no nominee has said outright what their position is, but experts tell NBC that some have used coded language to send a signal to conservative activists that they would want to overturn Roe.

Nina? Was that Nina?

TOTENBERG: I was going to say, there are a ton of other issues for any nominee to the court.


TOTENBERG: Things that affect workers` rights, the environment, everything from consumers` rights, to small business, to you name it.

And if you just look at everything you do in a given day, the Supreme Court probably has issued an opinion that had some effect on that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk health care.


TOTENBERG: As much as Roe is the lightning rod, there will be other issues that come up.

MATTHEWS: It is the lightning rod.

Talk about the preexisting conditions aspect of the Affordable Care Act. And it seems to me that John Roberts surprised everybody by saying it was constitutional, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, because it was basically a tax on the federal government`s right to tax.

Nina, where will that stand now that there`s no more individual mandate?

TOTENBERG: Well, Kennedy was in the minority in that case. So Roberts was the swing vote in that case. And I would have to say it`s probably the only case I can think of that really infuriated conservatives.

He`s a very conservative justice. He`s just not quite as conservative as Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia and probably Neil Gorsuch. But I think I counted five cases where he sided with the liberals.

And none of them, except for Obamacare, are the kind of ideological cases we think of. However, having said that, you know, for example, there`s a case working its way up that tests -- that was brought by Texas -- that tests whether the preexisting conditions mandate in the Affordable Care Act that says you can`t discriminate based on preexisting conditions, whether that`s unconstitutional.

I have no idea where the members of the court stand on that. But it`s a very big issue for lots of people who like the ban on discrimination against people who have preexisting medical conditions.


Let me go back to Cecile.

Cecile, it seems to me that we -- I watch -- we all watch the news. You watch particularly when it comes to reproductive rights. One of the causes out there is the 20-week limit. In other words, after 20 weeks of pregnancy, you can`t have an abortion.

It seems to me that kind of a thing would be possible, plausibly accepted by the Supreme Court if it has another conservative on it. Your thoughts?

RICHARDS: Oh, my God, there are so many cases coming up through this court system that are at risk, I mean, so many.

And, as we know, in many of the states -- and I think Nina really spoke to this -- in many of the states, you have the right to safe and legal abortion, but absolutely zero access to it. And, again, I think there are so many cases in which the undue burden has been -- that has been the standard.

This is why, frankly, when we talk about what the impact is going to be, women in this country are enraged. And I think, if we see this process go through -- and, again, it will be very interesting to see what the questions are -- women are already highly motivated to go vote.

They`re running for office in record numbers. I think what we`re going see out of the Supreme Court fight is a record number of women turning out to vote this November to protect their rights.

MATTHEWS: We will see. I think you`re going to see that.

Anyway, Nina Totenberg, it`s an honor to have you on.

I do think -- and Cecile.

I do think the headlines coming out of tonight`s decision by the president will have to do with abortion rights.

Anyway, up next: President Trump`s attorney -- that`s right, that`s his job -- Rudy Giuliani says it will be great if Michael Cohen cooperates with prosecutors. He`s urging Trump`s fixer to tell them everything he knows about Trump`s dealings.

I have only one response to that. Interesting.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.



RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We would not recommend an interview for the president unless they can satisfy us that there`s some -- some basis for this investigation. What we`re asking for is, is this the witch-hunt that a lot of people think it is? Or is there a factual basis for this?


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, there he is, at it again, dangling the possibility that the president will testify, while creating new conditions that the special counsel is sure to reject.

He continued his performance in a series of interviews yesterday, delaying a decision as he attacked the investigation. Let`s watch.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Have you simply determined that the president is not going to sit down for an interview?

GIULIANI: We have not. We`re close to determining that. George, he wants to testify. He believes...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, it`s hard to believe that anymore, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: Well, it is hard to believe, given all the things that have been shown about how tainted this investigation is. This is the most corrupt investigation I have ever seen that the Justice Department is allowing to go forward.


MATTHEWS: However, this comes as an influential former Republican leader in the Senate calls on members of his party to stand up to Trump.

In a "Washington Post" op-ed, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says that staying silent is no longer an option for his party. He writes that: "Special counsel Robert Mueller`s under assault. And that is wrong. As a party, we can`t let the president or his allies erode the independence of the Justice Department or public trust in the vital work of law enforcement."

Giuliani`s interviews also reveal how artificial Trump`s legal strategy really is. Rather than make a decision on meeting with Mueller, he`s still making excuses. It`s the same song and dance we have seen from Giuliani for months now.

Let`s watch the parade of those excuses.


GIULIANI: I have got a client who wants to testify. Please, don`t -- he said it yesterday.

The president wants to testify. He wants to -- he wants to give out -- give his side of the case.

If they had an open mind, we would be inclined maybe to let our client do what he wants to do.

If and when we find that this was handled appropriately, and there`s some evidence on which they could base this phony investigation, we will have him testify.

If we can decide by July 4 if we`re going to do an interview, they can do it within two weeks of that, three weeks of that.

I mean, it depends on what -- on what they offer, what they come up with, how narrow the questioning is.

QUESTION: So you haven`t closed the door on talking to Mueller?

GIULIANI: Have not closed the door.

President Trump wants to testify. We have to hold him back.


MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is Greg Brower. He`s former U.S. attorney and a former senior FBI official.

That`s quite a combination of things on your resume.

How long can Rudy B.S. this thing? Because he`s just coming up with excuses. Like Trump saying, I will gladly show you my tax returns when the audit is -- there`s no audit.

Go ahead.

GREG BROWER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, it`s hard to take it seriously.

And, of course, I don`t know and none us know exactly what Bob Mueller has found in the way of evidence.

I do know, though, one thing for sure. And that is Bob Mueller`s not really paying attention to what Rudy Giuliani or anyone else says in this regard. He`s moving forward, doing his job, collecting the evidence, and then making charging decisions.

And this background noise just won`t affect that.

MATTHEWS: If Trump refuses a subpoena, he says, I`m not going to act on it, Rudy comes out and explains we`re not going to do it for X many reasons, how long would it take for the Supreme Court to rule on that?

And would the ninth, the new member of the Supreme Court, have a decisive vote in deciding whether the president has to testify or not? In other words, the president is in the process of picking his own judge.

BROWER: Well, there`s nine of them, remember.

MATTHEWS: Well, he will be picking one of them.

BROWER: Right.

So, cases like this in the past, if you look at the Nixon case and others, were decided unanimously. And I would think, I would hope that that would be the case here, although it`s possible that it would not be.

But I think, to answer your first question, it would be an expedited appeal up to the Supreme Court, so it wouldn`t take very long at all.

MATTHEWS: What do you think would they say? What`s the court going to do? Would the court say, you have to testify?

We have been talking about this back and forth for months now. Rudy Giuliani acts like it`s up to the defendant, the president, whether he wants to testify or not.

I thought the Nixon tapes and other case like those precedents said, no, you have got to. Bill Clinton had to answer to a grand jury request, and he did it.

BROWER: Right.

MATTHEWS: He didn`t want to. The Paula Jones case. He didn`t want to go out there and do that. And he did it.


And I think, at the end of the day, for President Clinton in particular, it just -- it seemed to him and his advisers that it was just not tenable for the president of the United States to appear to be not cooperating with an investigation.

I`m not sure that same old-school mentality would apply here.

MATTHEWS: So smart. Trump doesn`t care what he looks like. To his 45 percent, it`s -- anyway, I want to last -- while you`re here, when it comes to Michael Cohen, who`s an interesting guy, who appears more and more willing to flip to the president -- against the president, Giuliani maintained that Cohen had nothing that could implicate the president and encouraged Cohen to tell the truth to prosecutors.

Let`s watch this -- well, this is a limited modified hangout, as they said in Watergate days.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": You want Michael Cohen to cooperate with the feds? You think that`s a good development for the president if he does?

GIULIANI: Yes, because it`s going to lead to nothing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you have no concerns at all about anything that Michael Cohen might tell the prosecutors?

GIULIANI: Zero. None. As long as he tells the truth, we`re -- we`re home-free.


MATTHEWS: However, Cohen`s new attorney, former Clinton aide Lanny Davis, took issue with Giuliani`s remarks.

He tweeted today -- quote -- "Did Rudy Giuliani really say on Sunday shows that Michael Cohen should cooperate with prosecutors and tell the truth? Seriously? Is that Trump and Giuliani`s definition of truth? Trump and Giuliani next to the word truth is an oxymoron. Stay tuned. The truth matters."

What did you make of that? This is words back and forth.

BROWER: It`s, I think, more political spin, or I think, just as likely, Rudy Giuliani really doesn`t...

MATTHEWS: Why would you hire Lanny Davis?

BROWER: Well, I think he`s a formidable foe.

MATTHEWS: He`s a media guy.

BROWER: As opposed to Giuliani.

Well, Giuliani is making himself out to be a media guy right now too. And so I think it`s probably a fair fight between the two of them.

MATTHEWS: So, they`re going to have this sort of peeing match back and forth between the two of them? That`s going to be really helpful.

BROWER: All of which is going to be completely ignored by Robert Mueller and his team.

MATTHEWS: Are you confident Mueller has something?

BROWER: I`m not sure.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s got something on obstruction? That`s the reason I think he`s in the case.

BROWER: That`s the big question. We will see.

MATTHEWS: You don`t have the answer?

BROWER: I`m not going to predict that.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Greg Brower. I guess that`s why you were a U.S. attorney.

Anyway, up next: Has the Supreme Court fight nationalized the upcoming election in a way that will hurt red state Democrats? I think that`s what Trump`s up to. He wants to make them fight on a national basis in conservative states.

And as Trump looks to rally support for his nominee, his administration`s also grappling with another major issue, the effort to reunite thousands of families separated at our border.

The HARDBALL Roundtable weighs in on all of that, the human interest, the politics, and the values.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Getting some news now this hour. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, one of the president`s Supreme Court finalists, there she is, was spotted at home in Indiana, hundreds of miles away from the White House where the president will make his pick tonight. After that announcement, by the way, the political fight will begin.

"Axios" is reporting that within seconds of that announcement, both conservative and progressive groups will launch an all-out media war. Those groups will be targeting pivotal senators from key states like Alaska, Maine, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. We`ve been talking about that tonight.

With a slim one-vote majority in the Senate, a Republican defection could spell defeat. That is, if Democrats all vote together. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote on the president`s nominee before the midterm elections, ensuring the outcome of the nomination will become central to the election.

For more, I`m joined by the HARDBALL round table. Eugene Robinson, columnist at the "Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor. Shawna Thomas, Washington bureau chief for "Vice News". And Aaron Blake, senior political reporter for the "Washington Post."

Thank you all.

And here`s the question, the politics of this, Gene. Does it work for or against the president`s people? Is it good for the president, squeezing the Democrats in red states?

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, to the extent that he`s able to squeeze them, you know?

And it could be uncomfortable for them. It depends on what pick he makes. It looks like he`s not picking Barrett, who would have been the most problematic, the hardest to get through, and the easiest for Democrats to deal with. They could just say no. She`s against abortion rights.

The others who don`t have that sort of controversial paper trail who are just rock-rib conservatives who probably are against Roe v. Wade but we don`t know for sure --

MATTHEWS: They don`t have seven kids.



MATTHEWS: I hate to say, it but that`s the cartoon version of the way people look at these appointments.

ROBINSON: But, you know, as I`ve said before, you know, look at where Democrats are now. They`ve got to do what they can to win elections basically.

MATTHEWS: So you`re with what we heard from Ruth Marcus earlier, I know it sounds tawdry to agree with somebody, but the idea for Democrats, a fight for leadership, focus on votes.

ROBINSON: That`s where I am here. And, you know?


SHAWNA THOMAS, VICE NEWS D.C. BUREAU CHIEF: You know, it`s similar -- whenever you ask Nancy Pelosi about impeaching President Trump, she says that that`s a terrible thing to talk about because she doesn`t want to create it as a litmus test in this election, right? I don`t think the people running these parties as in the Democratic Party, the Nancy Pelosis, the Chuck Schumers of the world, want to make this a litmus test for those red state Democrats you`re talking about.

However, progressive groups on the outside may not care what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer want. If you see ads being run like in the "Axios" piece in some of these states urging senators to vote for him, the Democratic side, the progressive side is also going to push these senators.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re going -- your question, your instinct is -- is your instinct protest or govern?


MATTHEWS: You can`t govern unless you get 51 seats right now because you`ve got a Republican president.

BLAKE: I keep going back to what happened with Neil Gorsuch. Democrats were justifiably upset about what happened with Merrick Garland. It was right after the election. They thought they were supposed to win the election.

MATTHEWS: I`m upset by it.

BLAKE: Well, they come out--

MATTHEWS: Who wouldn`t be upset? He screwed the guy for a year.

BLAKE: I said justifiably.

So, they were upset. They wanted blood. They filibustered Neil Gorsuch even though they knew just Republicans get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. You know, maybe we`re talking about a little bit different scenario here if they have to get rid of the filibuster for a justice that`s right before an election, and also a justice that would actually change the balance of the Supreme Court which Neil Gorsuch was not.

It may not have been the case. But, you know, it probably --

MATTHEWS: Don`t you think Mitch McConnell`s a little too smug?

BLAKE: No, they would get rid of it, no question about it. But the question is, would the Republicans actually pay a price for it four months before election, two months before an election, rather than an early 2017 when everybody`s already forgotten about it?

ROBINSON: Here`s the circumstance under which all Democrats should fight. And, you know, it`s that if something comes out about the nominee during the course of the hearings, something emerges and the person becomes controversial and Collins and Murkowski --

MATTHEWS: Then you fight.

ROBINSON: -- Murkowski start to waver, you might actually pick off one or two Republicans, then yes, Democrats have to stick together, because they could win.

MATTHEWS: How does -- but it is discerning. You agree it`s discernment?

THOMAS: And I do.


THOMAS: But if Collins -- if it looks like Collins and Murkowski are going to vote with the rest of the Republicans, it looks like Mitch McConnell`s like the guys he likes end up chosen, then it actually frees up those red state Democrats because they`re not the ones who take the Supreme Court justice over --

MATTHEWS: Did you see Murkowski and Collins both voted for Kavanaugh for the appellate position?


MATTHEWS: This information`s available.

Anyway, the Trump administration will not meet Tuesday`s court-ordered deadline to reunite 102 toddlers under the age of 5 who have been separated from their parents at the border. Instead a federal judge has agreed to extend the deadline so the government can unify the -- reunify the families.

Originally, this administration had 14 days to comply but federal officials were unable to locate, because the parents are gone, they`ve been deported. According to the "Associated Press" children as young as one, that`s 1 year old, some of whom are still in diapers, have been required to appear alone before judges for deportation proceedings.

Nearly 3,000 children have had to be reunited after having been forcibly, we know this story, Gene. It`s not looking good for -- this is one I think they`ve cost a few points on this on the human side of things.

ROBINSON: I think justifiable. It is -- this is just outrageous. A 1- year-old appearing without benefit of an attorney. I mean, this is --

MATTHEWS: "Saturday Night Live" can`t do this. "SNL" couldn`t do it. It`s too corrupt.

ROBINSON: And, you know, I hope that judge -- I hope the judge`s patience is not unlimited. People need to be held in contempt of court. And if that`s -- I mean, this is just outrageous.

THOMAS: But what is holding them in contempt of court going to do? When I saw that the date was originally Tuesday I was like --

ROBINSON: Put them in jail.


THOMAS: -- the judge is going to extend that as long as the government can show they are working --

MATTHEWS: I just hope they can find the parents and reunite them. It`s horrible. They probably will eventually. But you know, all of us are rooting for those kids down in that cave today. This is not as bad, but it`s pretty bad.

The roundtable`s sticking with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: We`re coming right back with the HARDBALL roundtable. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.

And, Eugene, tell me something I don`t know.

ROBINSON: It`s something you know, but I don`t think people are paying enough attention. The biggest thing going on in the world today isn`t the NATO summit. It isn`t the Supreme Court pick. It`s the World Cup that`s happening and the semifinals tomorrow. France versus Belgium --

MATTHEWS: Croatia.

ROBINSON: France-Belgium is the one tomorrow. Croatia-England is Wednesday. France-Belgium could pit the two best teams in the tournament. I`m going with the waffle over the croissant. But it`s going to be a great --

MATTHEWS: Which one`s the waffle?

ROBINSON: Two p.m. Eastern.

MATTHEWS: I know there`s a lot of anglophiles and Francophiles out there. I don`t know if there`s any Croatophiles, but I don`t know.


THOMAS: I`m stealing this from Nate Cohen of "The New York Times", 37.5 percent of registered voters voted in California. That is a 60 percent increase from 2014 and if you look at --

MATTHEWS: What threw them out? Was it the governor`s race or --

THOMAS: I think it was the governor`s race but also the House races to a certain extent.

MATTHEWS: Why the low turnout in Queens where it was 12,000 votes to 8,000 votes in a 600,000-person district?

THOMAS: Maybe because their congressman didn`t actually campaign all much.


BLAKE: Two data points on the trade war. One was a new Brookings Institution study that showed 65 percent of the industries and employees that are being impacted by China`s retaliatory tariffs come from Trump counties, only 35 percent from blue counties.

There was also a "Washington Post"/George Mason study over the weekend that showed 73 percent of people worried that this would be bad for the cost of goods in the country. That was actually higher, 78 percent, in battleground House districts in the 2018 elections.

We don`t know what`s going to happen with this trade war. Lots is going to play out here. But this is the kind of thing that hits people`s pocketbooks. This is the kind of thing that --

MATTHEWS: But that`s what they wanted. This fight is what a lot of working people wanted. They wanted to stand up to these other countries that were screwing us on trade. They wanted this fight.

BLAKE: There`s no sign they`re backing off of that stance right now but there`s four months here.

MATTHEWS: I think people want to go war on the trade thing. I think we`ve been losing our industrial base all across the Rust Belt.

Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson. Thank you, Shawna Thomas and Aaron Blake.

When we return let me finish tonight with Trump watch. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Monday, July 9th, 2018.

Well, this confirmation fight is, as we have to admit, precisely what President Trump ordered. Why? Because it creates a nasty situation for those very Democratic senators from red pro-Trump states that already faced possible elimination this November. It`s almost but not nearly as nasty a situation for Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, the man who will be asking those Democrats from North Dakota, Indiana, and West Virginia to vote with him on the court nominee.

What makes it nastier still for him, Chuck Schumer, is that the recent evidence coming from Queens, New York, is that the Democratic Party base is in a fighting mood and while Senator Schumer and other Democratic senators may fear losing the Senate this fall to the Republicans, they might fear more looking like they didn`t do their job of stopping Donald Trump from packing the Supreme Court with already one, now twom and perhaps on the way to picking three hard conservatives before his term is out.

And that`s the thought that puts steam in the rebellion, that creates a trail far more bitter than the one the DNC did with its cute little trick in 2016 of burying those Hillary-Bernie debates between the avalanche of viewers watching big NFL games.

So, the pressure`s on now for Trump to see how much power and trouble he can generate for the Democrats in red states to decide between their near- term loyalties and their long-term careers, for the Democratic leadership to decide what is more important for them, to release endangered senators to flee for their lives or to demand that they fight till as one recent Democratic star put it so well, until the last dog dies.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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