IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Peter Strzok hearing. TRANSCRIPT: 7/12/2018, Hardball with Chris Matthews.

Guests: David Miliband, Richard Blumenthal, Annie Linskey, Clarence Page

Show: HARDBALL Date: July 11, 2018 Guest: David Miliband, Richard Blumenthal, Annie Linskey, Clarence Page

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Our man in Brussels. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

On this first full day in Europe, President Trump handed Vladimir Putin a big gift. He antagonized America`s allies at the NATO summit in Brussels undermining the alliance that has helped to avert a third Word War for 70 years. In remarkable scene before the summit even began, Trump publicly rebuked the general secretary of NATO about Europeans spending on defense. Most incredibly given Trump`s affinity for Vladimir Putin, he attacked Germany for having an energy deal with Moscow, ironically calling them a captive of Russia. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they are getting 60 percent to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline. And you tell me if that is appropriate because I think it is not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite all of these differences, we have been able to unit around our (INAUDIBLE) to protect and defend each other. Because in the sign-up (ph) we are stronger together than apart.

TRUMP: How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group you want protection?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we understand that when we stand together, also dealing with Russia, we are stronger and I think what we have seen.

TRUMP: No, you are making Russia richer. Germany as far as I am concerned is captive to Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia.


MATTHEWS: It is like why he is watching John McEnroe argue with a ref.

Anyway, look at the discomfort visible there on the faces of Trump`s aides including chief of staff John Kelly, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state and NATO ambassador Kaye Bailey Hutchinson. The watched from the sidelines as the President continues to berate the secretary general of NATO.

Trump`s moved today made clear he is deliberately testing the unity and strength of the alliance. The question is why. The only beneficiary of Trump`s havoc is Vladimir Putin who has been rooting for the collapse of NATO since the days of the cold war. Putin said as much last year telling NBC`s Megan Kelly, it would help Russia if NATO ultimately fell apart.


MEGYN KELLY, NBC NEWS: President Putin, does all this squabbling over NATO help Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Squabbles over NATO, do they help Russia? Well a sense that maybe they should completely be falling apart then that will help. But we don`t see that just yet.


MATTHEWS: Well there is a smile in the little guy.

Joining me right now is Richard Blumenthal, Democratic senator from Connecticut, David Miliband is a former British foreign minister and labor party politics. He is now the President/CEO of the international rescue community. David Corn is Washington bureau chief, of course, for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC analyst and Yamiche Alcindor is White House correspondent for the News Hour in PBS and an MSNBC contributor. She joins us now from NATO summit in Brussels.

I want to start with senator Blumenthal. You know, I really do believe he is embarrassing us over there. And I don`t just mean progressives or Democrats or even independents or reasonable Trump resistant Republicans, everybody. Why would he start a fight in the kitchen with all of NATO? You look, he just wanted a fight.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: He is essentially playing from Vladimir Putin`s playbook. Vladimir Putin wants to sew discordant division, not only among our European allies with us but also within. In other words, within Germany, emboldening the right wing which is also Trump`s playbook. And so, it is really an insidious, not just embarrassing, it is disgraceful and distractive and it is wreck to our national security.

And one more point here, Chris, and you will appreciate this point. These allies have stood by our side, they have shed blood, sacrificed lives, spent treasure through World Wars, the Korean War, not Iraq and Afghanistan. We are going to need these allies at some point. And we are antagonizing the folks who are our friends just so the President, Donald Trump can create space for possible concessions. Even more alarming than what he just said, disgraceful as it is, are the concessions that he may make to Vladimir Putin when meets with him in Helsinki.

MATTHEWS: David Miliband, you know, when you read about (INAUDIBLE) back in 1945, Roosevelt did tilt towards Stalin. He did sort of mistreat I think or at least tease Winston Churchill to sort of win favor or to chat up, if you will, to use a British term, to chat up Stalin. What is going on here? Is there any possible reason to believe this is good for the world? That Trump is really dumbing on our allies in Europe?

DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER U.S. FOREIGN SECRETARY: Chris, I think teasing is different from raising. And you do need to have a historical perspective. I think it is right that you look back across the last 70 years. And this has been the longest period of peace and prosperity across the Atlantic that we have ever known. And it has good nor just for Europeans but for Americans as well.

President Trump said last month that he thought that the European Union had been set up to humiliate America and to do down America. And I think that is at the heart of the zero some view of the world that he is propagating.

I think it is important to say that Europeans are in a strange way being united by the attacks that are coming on them.


MILIBAND: Across the political spectrum, Europeans are staring in disbelief but they are also recognizing they have to take matters, more matters into their own hands. And I think you are going to see a great European unity in the face of these extraordinary attacks which are of course allied to the trade assault that is going at the moment as well.

MATTHEWS: Churchill said that John Foster Dulles, our foreign minister, our secretary of state back in the `50s, was a bull that carried his China shop around with him. Do you people in Britain, and you are from Britain of course, you are a leader over there, do you think Trump has a brain soup problem that he somehow has to have fights? That this is how re realizes himself. Fighting with somebody? Even if -- he has to pick a fight with the president NATO there across the table at breakfast. It seems to me he just wanted to be seen on television fighting.

MILIBAND: Well, certainly there is the pugilism of American politics is very much understood across Europe. What people can`t understand is that he is picking a fight less with the general of NATO, more about Mrs. Merkel who seems to be very much in his side. Of course, Mrs. Merkel knows what it means to be a captive of the Soviet Union since she grew up in East Germany and rather tartly rebuked the President this afternoon in pointing out that she knew what it meant to be free of soviet domination.

Of course, Germany has taken a much tougher line with the Russians. And I think the global context is important. Remember, we are living at a time, this is the week when German warfare has been used on British streets. It is a time when we know that there has been cyber warfare against the Baltics states. Never mind the invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. It doesn`t make you an old cold warrior to point out that (INAUDIBLE) Russia weaken its economy at home. It is striking out in a very dangerous world way abroad. And divided NATO, frankly, is no NATO at all at a time when Russia is thinking about how it can gain further strategic advantage.

MATTHEWS: Last question to you in this segment. Do you think Trump is responding to the dossier? He is afraid what Trump has got on him -- I mean what Putin has got.

MILIBAND: I don`t think that is driving. Frankly, living and working in New York, you can see that there is domestic politics play here. There is a group of Americans who are clearly riled by what they perceive to be European progress in the face of American stagnation. Frankly, the statistics don`t bear that out. Certainly, the period of trance Atlantic corporation has been marked by gains prosperity in both sides. This means a genuine win-win. And of course, the German hosting of American troops on German soil for training and other matters is actually a contribution to American security (INAUDIBLE) of it.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, do you think the President is playing for the home crowd?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWS HOUR: Well, when President Trump blasted really into this Brussels summit and went after Germany, there are some people who think, are we playing right into the hands of Russia. He is doing all this stuff because he wants to antagonize our allies.

But in reality, there is also this idea that he is projecting what people say about him on to Germany. People have said that President Trump is influenced by Russia. They are saying, obviously, that the Mueller investigation is looking at whether or not Russia had an influence on his campaign and colluded. And so, he has to then really hand his base and when and say what are you doing for us.

So in some ways I think that he was definitely playing to his base. He was having this idea that he want to look like a strong man in Europe. And remember, as a candidate, he was very clear that he was going to antagonize our allies. There are a lot of things that President Trump does that people think he is docking away from. But in this case, he is actually keeping his promise. He is basically in line with what he said he was going to do. So I think in this case, he actually and definitely thinking about home when he does this.

MATTHEWS: It is funny, we are watching a picture, Yamiche, now where he is posing with another fellow there, another one of this representatives in Brussels. And he made it put it like step -- how did he get a shoulder in front of the other guy`s shoulder.

Anyway, yesterday, President Trump said that his upcoming encounter would Putin scheduled for Monday over Helsinki, Finland would actually be easier than dealing with NATO and the U.K. Here he goes.


TRUMP: NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we will work something out. We pay far too much and they pay far too little. So I have NATO, I have the U.K. which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?


MATTHEWS: Well, we think. So another it is indication that Trump has no problem trashing American`s closest allies while at the same time he has consistently appeared going to do almost anything to do he says to get along with Russia. Here he goes.


TRUMP: Did we have a good relationship with Russia? Believe me, that is a good thing. A fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if got along with Russia.

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

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

I want to be able because I think it is very important to get along with Russia.

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

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

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


MATTHEWS: Well, there we are.

Let`s get back to David Corn. You have been writing about this. You got a great book on "Russian Roulette." What is driving him to trash our good friends of decades, in fact, a century to win, certainly to win some sort of love from Vladimir Putin? What is he up to?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Have you ever heard him say it would be a good thing to have a good relationship with our allies, with Germany, with Canada? He doesn`t say that about anyone else other than Russia.

MATTHEWS: So, what is he up to?

CORN: I think there is some psychological --.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe the dossier is driving him?

CORN: No, not necessarily.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe there is a quid pro quo from the election when he was helped to win this election by the Russia?

CORN: I don`t think that explains his love affair with Vladimir Putin. There is something psychological. When it comes to Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, I don`t think he believes he is an equal. I think he resents the fact that they want to be equal with him. Like (INAUDIBLE) little allies. And when he looks at Vladimir Putin, he sees a guy who he wants to be accepted by and who he wants to emulate as a strong man.

MATTHEWS: But Merkel is far more impressive of a leader than Putin.

CORN: Well, she is a woman to begin with so I don`t think that count much for him. And she is not an oligarchs, strong man, autocrat, corrupt, (INAUDIBLE) leader which is what he wants to be.

MATTHEWS: Senator, what do you make it? There is your best shot. Why is he kissing up, to be blunt about, Vladimir Putin at the expense of all our historic allies? What is he up to?

BLUMENTHAL: I think he is either beholden to Putin and he is because Putin intervened in the election to help him or he is in impulsive spoiled teenager who is sort of wants to carry favor with someone he might.

But the mere fact that you are asking the question, Chris, is the most dangerous and frightening part of this whole thing. And let me make this point and it may be the most important point I have to make. Donald Trump doesn`t speak for America. The senate of the United States, even as he went to Europe, passed a resolution saying to NATO, we are with you. And we want you to be with us. We are not abandoning this historic relationship. That resolution was approved 98 to two.

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, the NATO alliance who was founded at the acts of the cold war is a deterrent against soviet expansion in Europe. Of course most of us grew up knowing that. It was used as a counter balance against the USSR`s own alliance known as the WARSAW pact which included their satellite states in central and Eastern Europe.

But after the fall of 70 and the WARSAW Pact dissolved. However, NATO expanded right up to Russia`s border to include many of the countries the USSR once controlled like Poland and Hungary and the Baltics state. So you can see why Putin is a little angry because of his so-called they weren`t ours, they were his satellites are now in the western side and he is all alone up there.

Yamiche, the feeling that I get is that Trump is going over to Vladimir Putin who lost the cold war, his country did, he is a KGB operative, probably one of the killers from the KGB. He is now sitting there with no allies, no satellites, and he wants to somehow ruin our deal because the American alliance with Europe is strong as ever. But why is Trump doing this for him? Why is he breaking up the west the way history broke up the east.

ALCINDOR: Well, I will say this. Unlike the G-7 which is really an economic club, which is really a trade club, President Trump has to do a lot to get out of NATO. He has to actually get out of the treaty that was started in 1949. And that even though that he has all of this rhetoric and is talking a lot, I spoke with NATO sources here. A lot of people from different countries as well as state department officials and they said that President Trump`s rhetoric isn`t actually changing day-to-day operations.

That said, President Trump could actually be loosen U.S. connection to NATO by decreasing troops or giving less money to NATO. There are a lot of people who are very worried that when we sits down with Vladimir Putin that he is going to maybe give away some of that stuff.

NATO allies don`t really know what to think at this point because he has such a rocky day today. They are very, very worried about that. So we really won`t know until Monday until after that meeting what he does. But I think President Trump wants to look like a strong man. It goes that`s that idea that he wants to talk to his base and wants to really feel as though he is not being taking advantage of.

MATTHEWS: Well, as I mentioned earlier today, chief of staff John Kelly of the White House looked particularly uncomfortable as the President attack Germany in front of the secretary general during the breakfast meeting this morning.

However, according to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kelly was quote "displeased because he was hoping for a full breakfast and they only has pastries and cheese." This is how bad it is, David, your thought. How absurd it is that they are covering for a plainly embarrassed chief of staff by saying he was hungry for a bigger breakfast.

CORN: They should be embarrassed every waking moment. It is not just what is happening here. A few days ago, he is out there saying Putin is fine. Putin criminally attacked the Unite States. He invaded Ukraine. His government was implemented in use of nerve agents in England. And the idea that he is looking for approval from Putin, I mean, Yamiche will know after he meets with Putin. My fear is we won`t know. We won`t know what happens in the room when no one else was.

MATTHEWS: I think we will find out eventually because we find it all the best.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, sir, always, thank you for coming here.

David Miliband, thank you so much. I think you should be prime minister of that country. Too bad but good for us.

David Corn, as always my friend, a Russian expert.

Yamiche Alcindor, give us all the stories when you get home.

Coming up, as President Trump tears through Europe, how is the performance playing back home in here, United States. Trump`s base may like seeing the President humiliate our allies. I don`t think so. But what do Republicans in Congress think? Will they voice their outrage? I think they already have as a senator just said, Americans like NATO. We were in the tough fights together and we won.

Plus, growing desperations as the government misses a deadline to reunite families separate at our southern border. If the government is having so much trouble reuniting to just small number of families, how do they plan to reconnect the nearly 3,000 that are still separated?

And Michael Cohen`s new lawyer is speaking out. He says to get ready for a new Michael Cohen who is not ready to speak -- well, now, not afraid to speak his mind. The HARDBALL roundtable is going to weigh in on that, baby. The Trump`s trip abroad.

Anyway, if it is getting this bad already with NATO, what should we expect when he visits with the queen? He will really embarrass us.

Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. We are already doing it.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Well, a new filing by prosecutors in Paul Manafort`s trial is providing inside to the VIP treatment. He is enjoying it at a rural jail in Virginia. Mueller`s team says Manafort is being held in a private self- contained living unit which is larger than other inmates` units with his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, his own work space to prepare for trial. Manafort is also not required to wear a prison uniform.

According to this filing, on the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has even mentioned that he is being treated, he is saying it, like a VIP. It also says Manafort has found a way around the jail`s rules against sending or receiving emails. The filing says he reads and compose his emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team. When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort`s emails and then transmitted. Well, the judge today ordered Manafort moved from that rural jail, in the city jail which is close to where the trial is taking place.

What a strange story. I think he might talk, but who knows?

We will be right back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will see NATO, and I`m going to tell NATO, you got start paying your bills. The United States is not going to take care of everything.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. .

That was President Trump playing to his crowd in Montana last week.

Attacking NATO has become an applause line for his base, regardless of the fact that more than half of the century, it has been Republican orthodoxy to want a strong NATO alliance.

While Trump is over in Brussels, by the way, continuing his attack on our allies, back at home, Congress showed its support for NATO. By a vote of 97-2, the Senate last night passed a resolution reaffirming our support as a country for NATO, 9702

And today the House unanimously passed a similar resolution by voice vote. Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned that the president`s performance in Europe could have adverse consequences.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I`m very concerned that we have a rough meeting with NATO, and then some kind of conciliatory meeting with Putin, and it works against our country`s national interest.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. Charlie Sykes is contributing editor for "The Weekly Standard" and an MSNBC contributor.

Gentleman, thank you.

Charlie, first, how`s this playing in Peoria, to use a phrase? Is this selling out there, this pouncing on the head of NATO by the president at breakfast today?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is selling with the president`s base.

And a part of this hiding in plain sight, because what is his big slogan? It is America first. Well, go back to the 1930s, the first iteration of America first. Look at what the language was before World War II, mocking the Europeans.

There`s a long isolationist tradition in this country, a long history of hostility to the Europeans. Now, of course, the Republican Party, as you pointed out, has rejected that since World War II. But he is tapping into something that`s been around a very, very long time.

Now, does it play in Peoria if in fact he is humiliating our closest allies? Look, and next week, we`re going to see this dramatic contrast once again, the disdain for the Democratic leaders of our closest allies who stood with us and the fawning praise of Vladimir Putin.

And so the one thing we can be sure of is that, whatever happened today, it can and probably will get worse.

MATTHEWS: I just want to nail this down.

Arthur Vandenberg at the Mackinac meeting back on an island in Michigan, he was the senator from Michigan, a Republican. They ended that isolationism officially back in the 40s.

And you`re saying it`s back in your party. It`s back in the Republican Party, this isolationism, Charlie?

SYKES: Yes. It`s a recessive gene. It`s been a recessive gene in the right for a very, very long time.

And it took a very, very long time for Republicans to shake that. But that doesn`t necessarily mean that the Buchanan wing of the party and the more - - the more isolationist wing of the base is not still there, and that Donald Trump has appealed to that.

Plus, he always needs an enemy. He always need a foil.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I agree.

SYKES: And so mocking the Germans and mocking the French is convenient for him.

MATTHEWS: I think there`s a difference. I have been reading a lot in Steve -- Steve -- now the name escapes me -- Kornacki`s book.

It`s a fabulous book. It`s coming out in October. And he really makes the -- shows the precedents of where Pat Buchanan had thoughts back in the `90s and how -- in the 80s -- and how these are being voiced more loudly by President -- by President Trump.

But there`s a big difference. Pat was a big believer, Robert, in Western values, Western civilization, what he`s all about.

And there he is, this president of ours, over there humiliating us, running around over there in the china shop like a bull, trying to destroy the Western alliance.

There isn`t an absolute consistency between Trumpism and Buchananism at all. Your thoughts.

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s a fascinating debate.

When you think back to Buchanan and former Congressman Ron Paul, you think of the way they made their case on foreign policy for that isolationist streak in the GOP. It was an ideological case. It was a moral case. They talked about it in those terms.

What President Trump is doing is so different, unconventional, in that he`s applying this transactional business veneer on top of that isolationist impulse. And he`s making that American foreign policy.

And in the process, he`s leaving the hawks in this odd position, like Senator Bob Corker, not really arguing against an ideological opponent, but someone who wants to boil it all down to spending over the military.

MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s -- in your notes today, I really like your noted. He`s ruining the history and the cultural alliance that has been so important to us as Americans, our united relations with France and England and the other countries over there, and turning it just into a question of numbers.

I want to go back to something you agreed with a couple weeks ago. I said the president was talking like Popeye Doyle in "The French Connection II." I would rather be a lamppost in New York than president of France.

That`s sort of a chauvinistic attitude, is that still what`s driving this president?

COSTA: It has been part of the Republican Party going back to freedom fries during George W. Bush`s presidency, this kind of strident nationalism.

But what President Trump is doing is, he`s not so much arguing against the West, which makes this interesting. He is not making a case against Europe in the way that people in England are when it came -- in the U.K. about Brexit. He is just making it about personality against all these different leaders who he thinks are ripping off the United States.

And, again, all these counterparts are trying to make the case, morally, philosophically, historically for these institutions and norms. But he really just want to say, are you paying enough and do I have a rapport with you or not?

And it`s almost like both of these leaders around -- all these leaders around the world are playing on different chessboards or different checkers boards. They`re not playing the same game.

MATTHEWS: Well, they look better than us on this baby.

Anyway, while President Trump has openly questioned the importance of our NATO alliance, not everyone in his administration shares that same view, apparently.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo praised the organization this morning in a tweet writing: "NATO is the most successful alliance in history. All NATO allies are committed to extending the success, to increase defense spending, deterrence, and defense in fighting terrorism. Weakness provokes. Strength and cohesion protects. This remains our bedrock belief."

Charlie, I want to get back to you on the psychology of this president, his brain soup. And this is about him, who he is. I get the feeling he`s jealous. He get jealous of Justin Trudeau, maybe because he`s young and attractive and everybody likes him.

He seems jealous of Angela Merkel, because she`s so damn good at her job, and she`s lasted so many years, and she leads Europe. He is like a little kid jealous of the other kid`s cap pistol.

I mean, what is it about this guy? You tell me.

SYKES: Well, he`s also the kid on the playground who sees somebody that he can bully, that he can beat up on, as opposed to these strongmen that he admires so much.

But Costa actually made a number of absolutely fantastic points here. You want to think about the moral and historical basis of NATO and the cramped, sort of just profit-and-loss view that Donald Trump brings to it.

He doesn`t think of this in terms of values. He doesn`t think of this in terms of the shared history. He does think of it in terms of the personal chemistry or the lack of it, and also this -- I mean, remember what the Marshall Plan was. Remember what Lend-Lease was.

Winston Churchill described Lend-Lease as the most unsordid act in history.


SYKES: A lot of people thought he was talking about the Marshall Plan.

But contrast this with the dollars-and-cents ledger approach that Donald Trump is now taking to this alliance, one that began with an extraordinary act of generosity, but also an understanding of the dynamics of it and the requirement of this alliance and what it represented.

And here you have a president of the United States who has reduced it to, have you paid me this week?

MATTHEWS: I know. And, as Roosevelt said, if your neighbor`s house is on fire, it`s smart to lend him your fire hose, because your house is next to his house.

I mean, unbelievable.

Thank you, guys. You`re very smart. Thank you, Robert Costa, as always. Thank you, Charlie Sykes.

Up next: The Trump administration yesterday missed a deadline -- big surprise -- to reunite some of the youngest migrant children from their parents. With thousands more children still separated from their families, how does the government plan to deal with this ongoing tragic crisis?

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The Trump administration had until yesterday to reunite roughly 100 migrant children under the age of 5 with their parents, 100 kids. That deadline came and went, with the government insisting that by the end of the day 38 would be reunited.

Well, the Trump administration acknowledged it couldn`t meet that deadline. But a federal judge in California insisted there would be no extension. The judge warned the Department of Justice attorney that -- quote -- "These are firm deadlines. They`re not aspirational goals."

He added that the government had an affirmative obligation to reunite these families. And while the government has been scrambling to reunite young children with their parents, it`s still unclear how it will comply with its next deadline later this month, when it has to reunite roughly 3,000 older children, children older than 5, with their families.

For the latest, I`m joined by Julia Ainsley, national security reporter for NBC News.

Julia, tell us where it stands and how worse it`s probably going to get with the 5,000 kids that have to come home.

JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, I think the news we expected to hear today, even though there wasn`t a court deadline or court meeting today, was that they had successfully reunited 34 children yesterday, because they said that they were eligible, it was -- everything was in place, they verified them, vetted them. They were going to reunify.

But we haven`t heard any word from HHS. They have not updated their numbers. So, as far as we know, they are now a day past the deadline, and only four children have been reunited out of those 102.

So that does not bode well for their next deadline of July 26, when they have to fully reunite 2,900. There are a lot of really complicated cases that they go through.

There are people with criminal histories. There are people who -- there was one with an infectious disease. You can get into the weeds on all of this. But the majority of these parents came in with their children, are here, are ready to take care of their children. But they`re in detention or they have been deported, and they have been released.

And, sometimes, I just have a hard time finding them, which is really hard to believe, given that the government started this policy to begin with, but they didn`t have a policy to follow up at the other end to then reunite them.

MATTHEWS: Well, these kids aren`t human boomerangs.

You send off to Detroit to live with a family. Firstly, you got to put a 1-year-old or 2-year-old an airplane. Somebody obviously travels with them. Then you have to send somebody out to travel with them back, right?

But, on another way, there are phone systems in this country. You can call up the foster parents and say, we`re going to come and pick up the kids, nice work, we will be there tomorrow.

It shouldn`t be forever.


And I think it`s almost even easier than that, because it seems that, in the majority of these cases, these children were not sent out to foster homes. We know that the average time a child would spend in HHS care was about 60 days.

And the policy only lasted from May 7 to June 20. So, most of them are still in HHS care, which means it should be very easy for the government to track them down.

What is less hard is to find the parents. So what they did is, they interviewed 3,000 children in HHS care. You just said how young some of these children are. The fact that you have to start by interviewing a child to get that...


MATTHEWS: What is your mommy`s name?

AINSLEY: Yes, exactly.


MATTHEWS: What would have happened if they had not had the whistle -- the whistle blown on them, the judge hadn`t said, no, you have to reunite them?

Did they ever have a plan of reuniting these kids with their parents?

AINSLEY: It`s really not clear that they did.

I mean, I don`t think they would have to be interviewing the children if they had a plan. You are given an A-number. A child to be given a number and a parent given a different number. There`s a number that they could call, a hot line.


AINSLEY: But it was never a clear way of how the government was going to bring these people together.

And only under this court order do they have this new system in place where they move the parent to a detention center near where the child is staying in HHS custody. They reunite them. And then they could either release them or deport them, depending on the case.


AINSLEY: But it`s complicated.

MATTHEWS: This looks like -- it makes Katrina look like Disney World.

Anyway, thank you so much. Thank you, Julia Ainsley.

Up next: new signs that Michael Cohen may be turning on President Trump, flipping. His new lawyer, Lanny Davis, says Cohen has a whole new attitude in life right now and is ready to speak his mind. How refreshing. Maybe he`s going to talk.

The HARDBALL Roundtable weighs in on that baby.

And Trump`s brash talk over in Europe, is this just a warm-up act for the presence`s big royal visit tomorrow -- on Friday? Could this be the big embarrassment?

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There are new signs that Michael Cohen, you know him, President Trump`s former attorney and fixer, may be ready to cooperate with prosecutors, with Mueller that is, even if it means turning over his former boss.

Well, last week, Cohen told ABC News that family and country are his first loyalty -- family and country, not the president.

Now, Cohen`s new lawyer, remember him, Lanny Davis, the Clinton guy, is speaking out about that interview and what we should expect from Cohen in the future.


LANNY DAVIS, MICHAEL COHEN`S ATTORNEY: There`s a reason that he said at the very end of the interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos that he took these contrary positions to Mr. Trump who he had previously said he would take a bullet for -- a comment that I don`t believe he would -- he would say today. And the reason he said is, I will not be a punching bag as part of somebody else`s defense strategy.

This was a declaration of independence. I think you can sum it up by saying this is a new Michael Cohen, with a new attitude about speaking his mind.


MATTHEWS: Well, he`s reading those notes there, a new Michael Cohen.

I`m joined right now by the HARDBALL roundtable. Annie Linskey, national political reporter for "The Boston Globe", Clarence Page is a columnist with the "Chicago Tribune", and Howard Fineman is an MSNBC analyst.

Let me go to Annie on this. Why is he broadcasting he`s going to flip?

ANNIE LINSKEY, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Well, Chris, I think he wants something from the president. I think he`s sending a message to the president.

MATTHEWS: You mean he might not flip if he`s given something like a pardon?

LINSKEY: That`s it -- well, something, maybe some help with his legal bills. Who knows what he might want? But it`s very clear that they`re sending a message here.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you on that. What do you think he`s up to by announcing his a possible flip? I think he`s going to flip. What do you think?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that`s part of it, but I also think that Michael Cohen is trying to establish his own independent political identity. Lanny Davis isn`t really his lawyer in the court room. I mean, they got a former U.S. attorney who`s going to be handling that.

Lanny -- don`t forget, Lanny Davis is a Clinton person. He`s out there all the time. He knows how to spin on television and if Michael Cohen can`t get money out of the old people, he`ll get it maybe out of some friends of Bill Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the president over in Europe, Clarence.


MATTHEWS: What do you think this is John McEnroe performance at breakfast was about? Just fighting with the ref, just anybody want to fight here? And he`s fighting.

PAGE: I think understand what happened at breakfast, got a look at what happened later in the day when he had a one-on-one with Angela Merkel and the media. It was a different Trump. It was much milder, more -- a lot of reason together. He didn`t change anything.

MATTHEWS: Did he know the camera was on him?

PAGE: Of course, yes, very much so. He even smiled a couple of times I thought at Merkel.


MATTHEWS: His language there, he`s trying to sort of bit make nice, but he was trashing her country in the morning.

LINSKEY: Yes. Well, I -- watching some of that body language, I actually watch them and saw something else which was that Merkel didn`t even want us look at him. I mean she was just sort of staring into space as this translation was going on, and he got this sense that she wanted to pop out of her chair and just get out of there as quickly as possible.

MATTHEWS: I thought that John Kelly wanted to pop out of his chair.


MATTHEWS: They`re looking -- Howard, let`s pick up on this we all have fun with the royals. Every time I go to Safeway, I see something on the royals there, we were obsessed with the royals with Kate and the rest of them, and Meghan and all that.

So, how`s the president going to embarrass us tomorrow when he goes to Windsor Castle and meets with the queen? The queen who met with Churchill, who knows what leaders look like?

FINEMAN: Chris, I`m sort of extrapolating here, but I think the queen would much rather be judging a sheep-shearing contest in Scotland than having to serve tea to Donald Trump. I`m relying on Melania here, OK?



FINEMAN: But the other thing the other thing is Donald Trump loves luxury brands.


FINEMAN: And it`s possible that he would be so overwhelmed by the brand that is the queen, he would keep his mouth shut.

MATTHEWS: The British monarchy is bigger than him?

FINEMAN: I also investigate the plumbing, what you did in the White House.

MATTHEWS: Well, "USA Today" reports on what you can expect or we can all expect. Quote, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will meet Queen Elizabeth for tea at Windsor Castle on Friday, in an encounter that will last less than an hour, involved some of the ceremonial flourish the British do so well. The meeting will include a royal salute, a playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner" and a military march before joining the queen inside the castle.

In the past, Trump has made crude rude comments about some women in the queen`s family, among them Kate Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge, and the late Princess Diana.

So, he`s been boorish as Trump --

LINSKEY: He has.

MATTHEWS: -- with the royal family.

LINSKEY: But he`s also been obsessed with them for years and back in -- I don`t know -- I suppose --

MATTHEWS: It`s a rival brand.

LINSKEY: Well, it is -- and he lied and said that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were members of Mar-a-Lago and that part of their divorce was fighting over who got the membership which, you know, was not true, because he wanted them to be part of -- to your point -- he wanted them to be part of his brand and now he gets to go and be feted.

FINEMAN: By the way, this is the least that they can do -- basically, Donald Trump has been banned from London. I mean, the mayor of London has said, you know, don`t come here, there`s no bucket in palace which is in London, there`s none of the usual ruffles and flourishes. This is the -- this is the bargain package. You know, this is not the deluxe suite, OK? And wait until Donald Trump figures that out.

MATTHEWS: That he`s getting second --


MATTHEWS: Clarence, I want to give you a full time. We have a lot of time tonight just --


MATTHEWS: I wonder whether what the Chicago -- because it seems to me that Trump`s got to have a little -- his protocol directors got to give him a little number of things to say. You`re supposed to like back out of the room with the queen, there`s all these for protocol. You`re supposed to genuflect, I don`t -- but I don`t believe in any of that stuff.

PAGE: We`ll see how well he`s --

MATTHEWS: As an Irish-American, I don`t believe in any of that stuff. But what do you think he`ll do -- what do you think small talk how`s that golf game?

PAGE: Well, he`ll be very impressed with the military march for one thing.

I mean, nobody -- I mean, Chris, don`t you agree nobody beats the Brits when it comes to it to the ceremony, you know? This is fantastic. I think that would be something that he will find quite enthralling.

They`ll find a way to make himself part of the story.

MATTHEWS: Back to our top story, Howard, sorry.


MATTHEWS: You may remember that during last year`s NATO meeting, the president had enough of being the odd man out and shoved his side -- there he comes -- the minister from Montenegro to find his way to the front of the pack. Look at it.

You know he comes in front again. Well, the "Associated Press" reports that he didn`t shove anyone this time, but President Trump body language during NATO events Wednesday, that`s yesterday. Today suggests his relationship with key U.S. allies aren`t exactly buddy-buddy. That was evident as Trump lectured NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gesturing and repeatedly interrupting him in the process.

Howard, what is this? It is a McEnroe type of event here --

FINEMAN: Well --

MATTHEWS: Wanting to look tough.

FINEMAN: Yes, we`ll keep in mind, he -- the concept of allies as a group is something that is abhorrent to Donald Trump, because his upbringing was from his dad in real estate, don`t trust anybody.

MATTHEWS: Don`t pay any bills.

FINEMAN: And screw them -- screw them before they screw you. OK. So, the whole idea of a NATO is obnoxious to him.

Also, he doesn`t need anything from -- in a way, he doesn`t need anything from Vladimir Putin other than, you know, an adoring glance.

We`re not doing that much business with Russia. We`re doing a ton of business with NATO. Trump thinks in his own mind, I`m going to get the advantage on them by acting crazy to get a better deal out of them on trade, in the economy. That`s his justification.

But a psychological motivation is, I don`t want any allies. I want everything bilateral to come through me. All through me.

MATTHEWS: OK, a little time tonight. Clarence, you first then the other two of your colleagues, your allies here.

PAGE: Yes, yes.

MATTHEWS: Will Michael Cohen flip?

PAGE: Oh --

MATTHEWS: I want an answer.

PAGE: It`s hard for me to believe -- well, it depends of whether he trusts Donald Trump or not, and he would trust Trump enough --

MATTHEWS: Would you?

PAGE: Well, he`s different from me. He`s already expressed his fealty to Trump. If he trusts Trump to pardon him later on, then he`s not going to flip. If he doesn`t trust Trump --

MATTHEWS: He`s vetting 20 or 30 years --

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Twenty or 30 years, he`s betting on this, that he`s going to get a partner through it, whereas the other guy could probably knock him down to five years or four years or something maybe. You can get a better upfront deal.

LINSKEY: I think the pressure is going to be very strong.

MATTHEWS: To take the upfront deal.


FINEMAN: Take the curtain. Take the other --


FINEMAN: Take the upfront deal. You`re not sure Trump`s going to be -- you know, who knows what`ll happen?


MATTHEWS: You know what they say in the boxing movies? Take the short money, it`s not your night (ph).


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

Take the short money, it`s not your night.


MATTHEWS: Well, more good news out of Thailand now where the 12 boys were rescued from a flooded cave, they`re recuperating now from their 18-day ordeal. They`re they are.

In this newly released video, the boys are seen for the first time since their rescue, waving and flashing victory signs from their hospital beds. While a handful of boys are dealing with slight lung infections, doctors say they`re making remarkable progress and should be released from the hospital within the next 10 days.

What a great, great story.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Annie, you start. Tell me something I don`t know.

LINSKEY: Well, Chris, as you probably know and Democrats have an embarrassment of riches to motivate their base and this with all of the many Trump scandals. But one thing that some Democratic leaders are beginning to look at and do some polling on is whether there is some voter exhaustion going on and whether there are just too many different storylines and how they can hone in on the ones that will motivate their base and not exhaust their base. They`re getting worried about exhausting --


LINSKEY: So, they`re saying that stories about Trump tweets are exhausting to their voters, stories about the palace intrigue are exhausting because voters don`t feel like they can do anything about it.

MATTHEWS: Clarence?

PAGE: Well, speaking of voter fatigue and motivation, everybody`s asking where`s Barack Obama these days? And he today was the star of a video released by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. That`s -- that Eric Holder, remember him, heading up. This is really the launch of their big drive to do what Republicans have been doing for the last two decades, which is to work those voters from the grassroots at the state and local level, get those seats in the state legislatures and all built up the way Republicans have now taken over Washington.

So, we will see what happens.

MATTHEWS: Great. Howard?

FINEMAN: Everybody knows that the Saudis and the Israelis are under the surface and sometimes aboveboard cooperating with each other because their common enemy is Iran. What you don`t know is that, according to people close to the Israeli government that I`ve heard from, the Saudi crown prince is now relying in part for advice on security from none other than the Mossad which is the Israeli intelligence agency and probably the premier pound-for-pound intelligence agency in the world.

And if that`s the case, that`s a big story.

MATTHEWS: Ron Dermer, would he know this?

FINEMAN: I don`t know what Ron Dermer would know or not know.

MATTHEWS: He`s their ambassador to the U.S.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Annie Linskey -- I`m teasing. I`m teasing.

Annie Linskey, Clarence Page, and Howard Fineman -- I love the weed out sources. We`ll be right back


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Wednesday, July 11th, 2018.

There`s one thing that`s clear about President Trump`s words today about NATO. He`s not speaking for us. While he was attacking NATO members this morning, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution today in support of NATO following yesterday`s vote in the Senate of 97-2 for NATO.

I hope they get the message over there and listen to Secretary Pompeo as well when he called NATO the most successful alliance in history. Let`s all face it, it`s not just progressives or Democrats or independents or even resistant Republicans.

The president embarrasses us. His performance this morning in Brussels is just one example. I think Donald Trump has a problem with Angela Merkel and with Justin Trudeau, any successful democratic leader for that matter.

It seems to me some kind of jealousy, the kind of -- the fact that the kind of jealousy the very young feel when they see someone else with better toys or a nicer dress, or a bigger cop pistol.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.