Show: HARDBALL Date: August 10, 2018 Guest: Vinoo Varghese, Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Eric Dyson, Tara Dowdell, Evan Siegfried
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Culture war. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I am Steve Kornacki in for Chris Matthews.
Last August hundreds of white supremacist and neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia for was called the United the Right rally. Heather Iyer was killed as she protested against the far- right activists. Virginia now has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville ahead of the one year anniversary this weekend. There was also a march scheduled for Sunday in Washington D.C.
Last year President Trump can under for placing the blame with the violence on both sides. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are closely following the terribly event unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred and bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
I think there is blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Questions about his views on race had dodge the President throughout his career. In his decision this morning to once again jump into the culture war by attacking mostly black athletes for kneeling also raised some eyebrows.
In a tweet, Trump writing, the NFL players are at it again taking a knee when they should be stands proudly for the national anthem. Numerous players from different teams wanted to show their outrage at something that most of them are unable to define.
He added be happy, be cool, a football game that fans are paying so much to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Stand proudly for your national anthem or be suspended without pay.
One of those athletes, Kenny Stills of Miami Dolphins wrote on his website quote "we were not protesting the national anthem, we were actively working to create a conversation regarding police brutality and the race issues that plague this country."
For more, I am joined by Ashley Parker, White House reporter for "The Washington Post," Eugene Robinson, columnist for "The Washington Post," David Jolly, former Republican Congressman from Florida and A.C. Thompson, correspondent for "Frontline" on PBS and a Pro-Publica reporter.
Thanks to all of you for being with us.
Ashley, let me start on the question of the President, and this is not the first time we have seen this choosing to go on twitter and choosing to rile up everybody on this issue of the NFL anthem protest. Of course, the NFL pre-sees and now underway. There is that new policy. There is that dispute. There is kneeling again taking place. That is what he is responding to. But he is choosing to respond to it. Take us through -- in terms of what it sees as its political arsenal, where does the White House see this issue of kneeling?
ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So I think in a little bit, you have to separate the President from the White House. And on the one hand, it is true, he is very reactive and he is responding to something he saw with the NFL players again as the season starts up.
This is also something that he has talked to aides and confidants about for a while now. That he thinks these fights, cultural wedge issues, especially taking on the NFL, he has privately mentioned the players in the NFL by name. He thinks this is a good fight for him. He thinks it is good for him with his base. He thinks it is something he can win. He thinks it is something that he enjoys waiting into. And so, you are right. He is choosing. It is intentional. And while this responsive, he also believes that there is a political upside for him on this.
KORNACKI: Eugene, the flipside if this is something that Trump looks at and thinks it is going to fire up his base, I certainly seen some polling that suggests that is there a counter effect. Does it fire up the other side?
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it probably does. I mean, you know, the President, when he weighs into these racially charged issues, and he is doing it now at the time of the anniversary of Charlottesville, I think I think it will makes people remember how he spoke and behave during the tragedy and remember and see that this is a kind of cynical, very cynical political ploy on his part to try to, you know, it is a wedge issue to him. And I don`t think it is anything more than that. And it will rile up some people on the other side.
KORNACKI: There is a "Washington Post" Kaiser Family foundation poll from the spring. According to that, a slight majority of Americans, 53 percent say it is never appropriate to kneel during the anthem. Overall, 42 percent say it is sometimes appropriate.
And David Jolly, I`m wondering, how do you read those numbers? Because on the one hand, I think that number has actually fallen since the President begin embracing this. I think it was over 60 percent, the number of folks who maybe a year or so ago saying it is never appropriate to kneel for the (INAUDIBLE). It is getting - it is getting tighter but you are stilling in in a majority there. And I wonder do folks, some of those outside of Trump`s base who say it is never appropriate to kneel for the anthem. How do these comments from him lay? Do they laid as a cynical racially charged (INAUDIBLE)? Or do they lay a standing up for something they agree with?
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Yes. Look, it depends on the constituents. And looks, see overwhelming a majority of the American people who suggest you should stand for the national anthem. But there is also a leadership component here. And there are few less presidential thinks the president can do than to weigh into this controversy. The reality is those who kneel are doing so out of patriotism not pushing back against patriotism.
And to Eugene`s point about doing this on the anniversary of Charlottesville, that also cannot be overlooked. But Charlottesville is one of those inflection points in this administration the President will never be able to get away from.
It was similar to Bush 43 standing by his FEMA director during Katrina. It was similar to Bill Clinton say he didn`t have sex with Monica Lewinsky. It was similar to Bill Clinton during Iran contra saying my heart still thinks I was right, but the facts say I was wrong.
Donald Trump can never escape the person he was during the events of Charlottesville. And yet, without even trying to escape it, he is doubling down in these culture wars. He is wrong. It is a failure of leadership. If you tell the American people, God bless you for wanting to stand for the national anthem. But part of what this nation was founded on, was understanding those who have questions about it. And why are they choosing to kneel during that NFL football game. That is a conversation the President should lead us into, not to admonish and to criticize those who choose to kneel.
KORNACKI: A.C., in your documentary for "Frontline" in pro-Publica, you investigated the white supremacist and neo-Nazi involved in that 2017 Charlottesville rally. Let`s take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over time we still see within the last year, so couple of years, I have seen this whole white supremacy thing become more embolden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just in the last couple of years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, more active in my career.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in almost 30 years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and a little bit different too because you see a mainstream that you wouldn`t suspect. You are seeing college kids become embolden in this movement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So moving out of the subculture and moving into the mainstream, of American life?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. It worries me a lot. I am really concerned. I am afraid Charlottesville can happen again and be a lot worst.
KORNACKI: Yes. And A.C., I think everybody remember, I think it was this Friday night comparably on the calendar a year ago where they had that rally, the folks with the torches, everybody saw that kick off last weekend. And those were the people Donald Trump was referring to, when I think he said good people on both sides. I know you have taking a really close. Look at this.
Tell us a little bit more about what you learned about the white supremacist who were there, where they are coming from, what is motivating them, where they stand in society? I think there was some surprises there in terms of the status maybe some of these people have?
A.C. THOMPSON, CORRESPONDENT, PBS FRONTLINE: Yes, exactly. I think when people think about white supremacist, they think about the earlier generation, the Klan, the neo-Nazis, the militia movement of the `80s and `90s. And the current generation is a lot different. These are generally young men, almost all young men under 30. Generally, well off or affluent college educated. And I think people often times think these guys are not very bright, that they are a bunch of red necks, these kind of thing. That is wrong. That is the wrong thing to think.
These are sophisticated young men, intelligent and able to manipulate media and social media in ways that their predecessors could never dream of.
KORNACKI: And when we look back at Charlottesville, you know, a year later, Ashley, is there any sense around the White House, the President drawing any lessons from that? Does he look back a year later and take anything from it?
PARKER: So there is a few inflection points in his presidency or his campaign. One was obviously access Hollywood. But with Charlottesville, it was sort of a similar lesson which was it was a real low point in his presidency in that moment, but no one resigned over it in the White House and he got through it.
And so, I think one of the lessons that was not new to Charlottesville but comes in a lot of these low moments where the President seems to recover, is that he will recover and nothing necessarily matters for that long. And so, these are blips, these are things they have to hunker down for like the Rob Porter scandal, like the Michael Wolf - not to put them on the same level at all.
But in these moments, there are sort of the notion that this is a President who continues to defy gravity, who had defied, you know, what (INAUDIBLE) and the wise men have always said and he might again do that in the future.
KORNACKI: Yes, Gene, I wonder what you make of that. I mean, it is not the first time with Donald Trump as a candidate or President, you can look at incident and say I can think of any other politicians who could do this or say this and just not see the bottom fallout. But I think Donald Trump around this time last year, his approval rating was somewhere in the mid to high 30s. It is a couple of ticks higher now. It is not great but it is in the low 40s. What do you make of that?
ROBINSON: Well, look. There obviously is nothing that you or I can imagine that Donald Trump could do that would cause his base to tell pollsters they are abandoning him. I mean, just nothing. He has an overwhelming support of Republicans, of identified Republicans. And his base is just as loyal as you could get. But there are people on the fringes (ph), you know. He got more than 41 percent (INAUDIBLE) and will need more than 41 percent of support. Republicans would need more of that. That do will on the midterms and you will need more than that to get re- elected. And he loses people on the fringes. He loses people who just cannot stomach the racism and the division and the anger. And so I think he does pay a price but not with the core base.
KORNACKI: And David Jolly, longer term, playing it out, you know, maybe this presidency goes two more years, maybe, you know, goes four more after that, we will see what the election holds. But long-term, the Republican Party has taken a turn here with Donald Trump to obviously a different style of politics. The demographic coalition at least going after blue- collar white voters that put him over the top there in 2013. What is the long term trajectory the Republican Party is on? Is it going to keep following this road or when Trump goes away, this goes away?
JOLLY: Look. I think everybody is wondering what comes next and be the consequences could be tragic.
To Ashley`s point that this President can survive just about anything, that is such an important conversation because the only reason he can survive is because the Republican Party today allows him to. Past leaders of the Republican Party have either completely rejected these elements within the party or at least try to quiet him, not acknowledge him, not invite them to the table.
Donald Trump has given permission to these elements within the party. To be seen as coequals if you will, he has legitimized these voices within the Republican Party under some type of white nationalist populism agenda or empowerment. And it will forever tarnish the Republican Party brand. It will become unrecognizable if this continues.
There is no question right now, the only reason it has occurred is because Donald Trump has chosen to allow it, to continue to manifest itself within the Republican Party. If there is not a clear wholesale rejection of it in the future, then the party will be lost and it will become a minor party for generations.
KORNACKI: You know, that is really interesting point to because when you think about this, Eugene, maybe I go to you on this, but we talk so much about Donald Trump. He has never change on everything. He is the same guy he was 30, 40 years ago.
Here is one thing where there is a difference. Sixteen, 17 years ago and 18 years ago, I guess Donald Trump sort of ran for the reform party nomination. His opponent was Pat Buchanan. Pat Buchanan was being egged on by David Duke.
And Donald Trump said when he decided not to run for reform party nomination in 2000 that he could not stand to be in the same company as David Duke. We would leave the reform party. He did not want to be associated with it. He said that 18 years ago.
David Duke was at this rally last summer. David Duke was being very positive about Trump at 16. He has changed on his posture towards this David Duke element.
ROBINSON: Yes. I mean, just look at the hard edge, the bitterness and the anger, racial anger, frankly, in his immigration policy. And he gives, by this, he gives permission for the expression of just sort of flat out racist statements that would not have heard ten years ago and would have been rejected by any previous President that I can think of going back to Woodrow Wilson, Republican or Democrat. He had Trump does encourage it and brings it out into the sunshine and I think the party will pay a price, I think the country is paying a price.
KORNACKI: Eugene Robinson, Ashley Parker, David Jolly and A.C. Thompson, thank you all for joining us. And be sure to tune in on Sunday. MSNBC shares the story of a former white supremacist who is now dedicated his life to reforming others. "Breaking hate," 9:00 p.m. eastern Sunday night right here on MSNBC.
And on Monday, Chris is going to be back. He is going to sit down with Omarosa, talk to her about her new book "Unhinged." A lot of people talking about that.
Coming up, Rick Gates copped a plea and testified against his former boss, Paul Manafort. But a new court filing indicates the Mueller team is not done with him. What role is the former Trump campaign staffer playing in the Russia probe? We are going to get in to that next.
Plus, Chris Matthews recently spoke to author of Professor Michael Eric Dyson about race in America. What has changed since President Trump took off?
And who the voters think is scarier, Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi? The HARDBALL roundtable going to weigh in that.
And that wild race for governor of Kansas today, Kris Kobach, the secretary of state out there, he says he is going it recuse himself from the recount.
And finally, the vote counts are actually still going on. And finally, the roundtable is going to be here. They will tell me something I don`t know.
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
KORNACKI: Federal judge holding Roger Stone`s former aide Andrew Miller in contempt of court for refusing to testify before the grand jury in the Russia investigation. Subpoena is indicating information on Miller`s ties to WikiLeaks` founder Julian Assange. Miller is challenging that subpoena on the grounds that Robert Mueller`s appointment as special counsel is unconstitutional. The federal judge in that case already ruled against that challenge but Miller is appealing it. It is an appeal that could go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Be right back.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The bank and tax fraud of President Trump`s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort wrapped its second week today. And this has been the first real test for Robert Mueller special counsel. Investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election while the charges against Manafort predate his time on the Trump campaign. We have seen where the two investigations overlap.
Prosecution star witness Rick Gates who testified against his longtime business partner earlier this week has been cooperating with the special counsel since he accepted a plea deal back in February. And it appears that Gates may be still providing information to Mueller`s team about his time with the Trump campaign.
Yesterday, the judge in the Manafort case is agree to seal the transcript of the private discussion he had with the attorneys after the prosecution argued that it would quote "reveal substitute evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation." That ongoing investigation is presumably the one you can trust in the campaign.
For more, I`m joined by former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and Vinoo Varghese, a white-collar criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.
Vinoo, the prosecution`s had a couple weeks here, two weeks, to make their case. How strong does it look right now?
VINOO VARGHESE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think the first thing is that -- they have problems. They have had problems. They have beaten up by the judge.
The judge at one point took the role of the defense lawyer in questioning Gates` comment. That`s a problem.
The second -- the second thing here is that this conversation that they sealed today is going to give the jury a bad feeling, because you have got to think that these jurors, even though they`re told not to go look at the news, they`re listening.
So if they`re hearing President Trump say this is a witch-hunt, then from Alexandria, Virginia, to D.C., is not that far to go witch-hunting. But if he`s -- if that`s what they`re thinking, then this is more fodder for them, because what the lawyers should have asked is, are you getting more benefit for providing information for the Russia collusion inquiry?
KORNACKI: So you think the case might be in some trouble here?
VARGHESE: I think so.
KORNACKI: Do you agree with that?
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, I mean, I think there`s no question that the judge has meddled, to use a well-worn word, and was hostile to this case from the get-go.
But I think that the government has substantial amount of evidence. Yes, I mean, Rick Gates, he`s been tarnished. It`s questionable about his own ethics and integrity. Can people really trust him?
But the level of evidence, I think, is pretty substantial. So, yes, you have concern, but I`m not sure that he`s not going to be convicted. The government has a very good conviction record in general.
KORNACKI: In their continued media blitz, President Trump, his personal attorneys Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani, they were on the radio again this afternoon discussing ways Trump could get caught in a perjury trap if he sits down with Mueller.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: When you say a perjury trap, in other words, here`s what you have got.
You have got one witness that says this is what happened. And then you got another witness that recalls, well, no, that`s not how I recall it. It happened this way.
And does then someone write up a report and say, well, we believe this one, we don`t believe that one, thus it`s perjury?
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Flynn is the example.
No crime. If -- it had been said -- the president says go easy on him...
SEKULOW: Which the president says....
GIULIANI: He didn`t say, stop it, don`t do it. So no crime. However, it didn`t take place, according to the president. According to Comey, it did. Now...
SEKULOW: Of course, if it did, it wouldn`t have mattered. But then you would -- but you`re right.
(END AUDIO CLIP) KORNACKI: According to The Daily Beast, Trump`s lawyers are fighting the case in the court of public opinion -- quote -- "Some have likened the back and forth to a chess match. But it`s more like the parties are actually playing two different games. Mueller is playing the legal game, while Giuliani is playing a political one."
It is so fascinating to see. You can think of other investigations involving presidents in the past. To have the two lawyers just kind of on the radio going back and forth like that, we certainly haven`t had that in the past.
What do you make of it, though, what Giuliani`s up to? Is it effective in the court of public opinion?
HOLTZMAN: We will see. I mean, that`s what Nixon did in Watergate. It was all a P.R. offensive, because they knew underneath it all the facts were against them.
There`s no question that the president the United States is a bit of a wimp, a lot of a wimp. He doesn`t want to go forward. He`s telling the American people, I really want to talk. But, in fact, he is scared to death to talk, because it`s not just a perjury trap.
It`s that he has -- the question is whether he`s engaged in obstruction of justice. And we have seen evidence of that constantly, whether it`s attacking the Manafort trial, the constant attacks on the prosecutor, trying to shut this investigation down.
I mean, Mueller right now has had two major indictments against more than 30 Russians involved in what he claims is information war against the United States. Are we going to shut down the investigation if there are other spies out there?
I mean, what is the president doing? What side is he on? Is he on the side of the people the United States or is he on his side? I think it`s quite clear he`s on his side, and that`s going to become clearer and clearer to the American people.
KORNACKI: And this term, the idea of a perjury trap, take us to that from a lawyer`s standpoint.
How real is that when prosecutors get to sit down with somebody they`re interested in? Is it something -- tell us, is it something lawyers on the other side should be worried about?
VARGHESE: Well, absolutely.
Look, President Trump is dying to say to Robert Mueller, you`re fired. But this isn`t "The Apprentice," right? So he`s -- he really wants to fire him, but they know that`s fraught with peril.
Giuliani is doing something that he`s actually supposed to do. He has actually an ethical -- ethical responsibility to defend his client in the court -- the court of public opinion. So he`s doing that. And Giuliani has said this. He has been very up front about this.
The issue for Giuliani as a lawyer is delay, delay, delay, because he knows that you cannot put President Trump into an interview, a sworn statement, with Robert Mueller. Or even if it`s not sworn, you can still be charged if you lie to a federal agent. He knows that.
The history shows that there`s too many inconsistencies with President Trump.
KORNACKI: And it`s just that tendency on Trump`s part, it seems, to just he sort of keeps talking and keeps talking and kind of goes in circles.
And you almost -- you`re not sure what`s going to come out, I guess.
But, ultimately, Mueller has the power of a subpoena here. And if he keeps drawing out this matter, Giuliani and delay, delay, as you say, we`re going to be up at the midterm trials -- the midterm elections.
What are the American people going to think if the president of the United States doesn`t come forward and testify?
KORNACKI: Do you think Mueller needs -- to complete this investigation, does he need to sit down with Trump?
HOLTZMAN: I`m not sure he needs, but I think, to complete his investigation, to assure the American people that he`s left no stone unturned, he wants the president to come down and explain his point of view.
But this is a little bit like Nixon and the tapes. Why was Nixon fighting the release of tapes that would prove him innocent? Why is Trump refusing to testify if he`s innocent? That`s exactly...
KORNACKI: Bottom line, do you think, if Giuliani says no, do you think there is a subpoena?
HOLTZMAN: There could very well be a subpoena.
And if we come close to the midterm elections, what are the American people going to think? This is a president who doesn`t want to tell the truth, who`s afraid of the prosecutors, and has got something to hide.
KORNACKI: Very quickly, Vinoo, do you think there would be a subpoena?
There`s a longstanding DOJ policy against subpoenaing a sitting president. So I don`t think Mueller`s going to -- that`s fraught with political peril for him. So he`s trying to get Donald Trump in.
While I agree with you that what do you think about a president, what people may think, his base, as you were saying in your previous segment, won`t really care.
KORNACKI: Well, we walked up to that line with that issue of the subpoena with Bill Clinton back in -- back in 1998. Then he ended up testifying.
And we will see how this goes.
Elizabeth Holtzman, Vinoo Varghese, thank you both for being with us.
Up next: It was a year ago Sunday that that white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly.
Chris Matthews recently talked with author Michael Eric Dyson about what he calls our unfinished conversation about race in America.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. .
As I mentioned earlier, white supremacists are planning a rally this weekend in Washington, one year after that deadly protest in Charlottesville. That protest renewed discussions on the state of race relations in the country.
Chris Matthews recently spoke about that with Michael Eric Dyson, the author of "What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America."
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Well, you liked the -- Barack Obama, president, white and black America and other Americans, but -- what`s the but?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE: ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JAMES BALDWIN, AND OUR UNFINISHED CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN AMERICA": well, the but is that there`s a persistence of a malignant perception of black people, that there`s still a resentment of black identity.
Look, Chris, we don`t have to look very far. Black people can`t go to Starbucks. They can`t have lemonade for their kids. They can`t do barbecues in the park.
Now, that sounds very minimal to many people, but it means that microaggressions, the way in which race bundles up every day in bigotry in bite-sized form and attacks black people means that we`re not welcome in many spaces in America.
Unarmed black people are still being gunned down by police people in this country. So despite the fact that we had an enormous rise with Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States of America, he was at the top of the pyramid, but the rest of that pyramid has been attacked by resentment, by reaction, and by a refusal to acknowledge the humanity of those black people.
If Barack Obama was not acknowledged as a human being by some people, if the birtherism could take hold in this most exquisite and extraordinary human being, this man of remarkable intelligence and personality and charisma, what more for the masses of black people who don`t have anybody to protect them, to extol their virtues, or to celebrate them in public office?
So while Barack Obama`s rise was remarkable, it didn`t gesture toward the masses of black people who still continue to confront in this country racial bigotry and racial resentment.
MATTHEWS: Well, except for the Native Americans, who were here before any of us, African-Americans were here, among the first to come to this continent, from another continent, from Africa.
MATTHEWS: How do you get that into people`s heads and hearts, that they preceded people like me? My families came from -- mostly, a couple, from the early of the 20th century and some from the 20th -- the 19th century, Irish and English.
But we know we`re coming from immigrant stock. I know it.
DYSON: Right. Yes.
MATTHEWS: But African-Americans are so deep in their history here. When are people going to say, yes, they were here before most of us?
DYSON: Yes, that`s a great point.
In my book, Chris, I talk about that conversation between Bobby Kennedy and James Baldwin. And at one point, Bobby Kennedy turns to the group there assembled and says, look, hold on for hope, because one day, like us -- I`m an Irishman. I`m second-generation. We have already produced a president.
He thought this would go over well with the audience, but it went over like a brick cloud, because Jimmy Baldwin said to him, that`s the problem.
DYSON: I have been here for five and six generations, and can`t get much of a toehold in American society.
So until people acknowledge that black people are deeply entrenched and rooted in America, Martin Luther King Jr. said, I ain`t going nowhere.
When I get hate mail from people who tell me to go back where I came from, I`m from Detroit, Michigan. I didn`t come from anywhere else but this nation.
MATTHEWS: That`s so true. It`s sad.
DYSON: And the reality is, many people don`t acknowledge that in fundamental ways.
MATTHEWS: It is sad and ridiculous.
Let me ask you about politics, because that`s what I -- that is my beat.
MATTHEWS: Yours is anthropology, sociology and race and everything.
I`m looking at the 2020 thing, and I`m thinking, look at the ones roaring to run. Kamala Harris definitely seems to be out there. Cory Booker seems to be out there. Deval Patrick from Massachusetts, the former governor, seems to be out there.
MATTHEWS: What do you make -- of course, Bernie is -- I think Bernie Sanders, I think, is running again. I think Elizabeth Warren`s is running.
There is going to be a lot of candidates.
MATTHEWS: What about the role of color in putting that ticket together? Do you think it`s essential that the Democrats, because of their constituents and their values, have to have room on that ticket again for a person of color?
DYSON: No question about it.
MATTHEWS: What do you think?
DYSON: When you look at Kamala Harris or Senator Booker or Governor Patrick, there`s no question -- or Attorney General Holder. It`s been rumored that he`s going to run as well.
So when you look at that all-star lineup of African-American politicos, there`s no doubt that they are eminently qualified. And given the base of Democrats in this country, black people have been among the most loyal constituents of that particular party, but the party has had a problem and trouble in adjusting its expectations and its moral trajectory and its political expectation, along with the reality of its demographics, that a lot of black and brown people are there.
Look at what happened in New York with the unseating of Joe Crowley. There is a rising tide of black and brown political figures who are demanding their space and their place. And I think that these figures represent the best of American politics.
And of course the Democratic Party has to take them seriously as it vets those people who will come to the top of the ticket.
MATTHEWS: Take them seriously. I meant to -- I think I included Kamala Harris, another bright star.
DYSON: You did.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, author, great, beautiful writer and thinker Michael Eric Dyson.
The book is called "What Truth Sounds Like."
KORNACKI: All right.
Up next: What`s going to motivate Republican voters more in the upcoming midterms? Is it going to be loyalty to Donald Trump or worry about Nancy Pelosi?
We`re going to get into that more with our Roundtable straight ahead.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Democrats are optimistic that a blue wave could hand them control of the House this fall, but a growing number of Democratic candidates are already anxious about the prospect of giving the speaker`s gavel back to the party`s longtime leader, Nancy Pelosi.
According to a new NBC News survey here, more than 50 Democrats running for the House say they will not support Pelosi for speaker. That includes nine who are already members of Congress, nine incumbents.
The source of the problem could be ads like these that are running in races across the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: With Pelosi as speaker, everything we fought for will come undone.
NARRATOR: A vote for Paul Davis is a vote for Nancy Pelosi. That`s too risky.
NARRATOR: After lying the whole campaign, dishonest Danny O`Connor now admits he would vote for Pelosi.
NARRATOR: McCall for Congress? Pelosi for speaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, Pelosi has served as the top Democrat in the House for nearly 16 years, helping Democrats win back the majority in 2006. That made her the first woman to become the speaker of the house.
Late today, President Trump wrote on Twitter, Democrats please do not distance yourselves from Nancy Pelosi, she is a wonderful person whose ideas and policies may be bad but who should definitely be given a fourth chance.
Joining now by the Hardball roundtable, Evan Siegfried is a Republican strategist, Tara Dowdell, a Democratic strategist and Beth Fouhy, Senior Politics Editor for NBC News and MSNBC.
Tara, we`re looking at a scenario where the Democrats skip back the House. They may not have much of a margin for error in terms of their majority, to decide their majority. I mean we`ll see there. It could be gigantic wave here. But when you start talking about nine incumbents and dozens of candidates, a lot of whom are probably going to get elected and come to Congress. Can Nancy Pelosi get elected Democratic leader by this Democratic Party?
TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, that remains to be seen. But one of the things that I think I`m concerned with the Democratic Party is that, Democrats should not fall into this trap. The Republicans are setting for them around Nancy Pelosi. Republicans want Democrats talking about Nancy Pelosi. This is a perennial strategy that they run every two years. I call it the attack Nancy Pelosi to distract from the issue strategy.
When Democrats are talking on the issues, speaking about the issues, particularly the local issues that matter in the districts where they`re running and the more national issues, they win. When they fall into the frame that Republicans set up, they risk not winning. So I think that it`s important that, if I`m advising -- if I were advising these Democrats, I would tell them to call this strategy out for what it is.
It`s about distracting from the issues. It`s about distracting from the corruption that`s under -- that`s happening in the Trump administration. And it`s about making it the argument about Nancy Pelosi and putting her on the ballot and not to fall into that trap.
KORNACKI: Now, even there are some Democrats who are out there making their case best. But again, these numbers, you`ve got a lot of Democrats who are running in Republican friendly districts. And it seems like sort of inoculation strategy. On the other hand, you`ve got folks like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, certainly on the left side of the party, in a very safe district.
She`s not committing to anything either. It does make me wonder, I know we had, you know, that there was tea party sort of uprising against John Boehner. He had a close call in the House floor a couple of years ago. I`m looking at numbers here. I haven`t seen with party leader in a long time now.
BETH FOUHY, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR: Well, but she`s been the leader for such a long time. I mean, let`s face it. She has been a very effective good leader for many, many years. But at this point, perhaps it is this time that she move along. And not -- I hate what I`ve see is fixes (ph) the tax on her.
But I really don`t think at this point, the folks who are distancing themselves are doing so because they feel like, she`s a woman -- she`s an older woman, she should go away, she should shut up.
That`s sort of a strong. And I don`t think that`s what`s going on here. Fact is, she`s been in power at the top of that party for so long. She`s held on to it with this iron grip, why not step aside and let younger people, new people come in and try it out, see how they do.
KORNACKI: Yes, so who are -- so Crowley, Joe Crowley in New York was supposed to be, hey, if Pelosi steps aside, Hoyer is too old, they won`t be in, Clyburn is too old.
KORNACKI: A lot of people thought Crowley, now he`s gone who would it be?
FOUHY: They would have to be a whole new generation of people. I mean people are talking about Joe Kennedy from Massachusetts, Seth Moulton from Massachusetts. It`s going to be sort of a fight. No question about it. And maybe that`s right. Maybe there aren`t people automatically ready to take over.
But that again, is a consequence of her sitting there for so long just because hanging on to that power with no regard for bringing up these younger members.
KORNACKI: And Evan, we`ve seen this a couple times, now in this special elections, saw it in Pennsylvania, saw it again in Ohio recently. Republicans try out a lot of different messages in these contested congressional races. They try taxes. They try some culture war they end up on Nancy Pelosi. Is it a strong strategy for Republicans to run on this year or does it represent the absence of any other strategy?
EVAN SIEGFRIED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It fires up our base. And Nancy Pelosi is prone to gaffe. As much as I respect her from a position of being able to keep a caucus together, but we sorely need it in the Republican side especially with the freedom caucus. But she comes out and says things like, a $1,000 to an American family is just crumbs.
That sounds like out of touch. But her really stunning gaffe was when President Trump attacked MS-13 which is actually a violent and vicious gang, so much so that when Loretta Lynch was the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York. She went after them with fury indicting them on everything that they could.
And she wanted them out of the country. But she said, they`re people too when President Trump was doing that. Gaffes like that can lead to follow- up questions. If you`re candidate that says, either, maybe, I don`t know or yes, I`d support her, OK, well, she says that -- or she seems to be siding with MS-13. It opens up a whole new carnivores.
It`s a very smart tragedy for us when we`re facing significant headwinds. And Nancy Pelosi can be the person to end this for everybody. All she has to do is have a press conference and say, this Congress is my last conference as leader of the caucus, but she won`t.
KORNACKI: I see you shaking your head. But is there a chance that happens that you get to September or so, and you see all these Democrats distancing themselves and there`s a call that say, hey, for the good of the party, make this announcement, make sure we get the House here?
DOWDELL: Here`s the thing, Nancy Pelosi is taken out of context all the time by Republicans. Democrats are accused of siding with everybody under the sun by Republicans. The attacks that Republicans are leveling, they are going to level regardless. If it`s not Nancy Pelosi, they will find a new person. It was Barack Obama, it was Hillary Clinton. It`s all -- and first of all, it`s typically a woman, and a person of color which is another problem.
And that`s something a Democrats need to push back on as well. The problem is, a Democrats are arguing about Nancy Pelosi, they`re not talking about the issues. And in these local districts, they need to keep their eyes on the prize and its talking to voters about the issues. At the end of the day, voters care about what matters to them. And Democrats have to stay focused on that. Laser focused on that.
And also, I just want to make another point. You know, Denny Hastert, the speaker of the house under the Republicans is a child molester. And so, Republicans are going after Nancy Pelosi, Democrats need to hit harder also when they`re under attack in these situations.
KORNACKI: Right. Yes. I mean I think the Republicans, to give some benefit of the doubt here, the Hastert thing didn`t come out until, you know, until years later.
DOWDELL: But he is -- But Nancy Pelosi is a punching bag.
KORNACKI: But hold on, hold on, but you -- what?
SIEGFRIED: Here`s the thing, Nancy Pelosi gives gifts to us when she does say things like that. It wasn`t taken out of context when she was asked, do you agree with President Trump that MS-13 are animals. She said they`re human beings too. That is a really stupid move. But the thing is, and I agree with Tara, Democrats should focus on the issues.
You know what, the two things they should focus on, health care because that`s going to be the biggest issue. And the second biggest issue, Democrats would be smart if they ceded that we`re in a great economy. But then they follow it up and asked a question, is this economy working for you?
And I bet you more voters will say, no, it`s not, I`m not feeling look good things here. Don`t let Nancy Pelosi become an issue. Don`t even respond. And stick to the issues you feel much better.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting because in terms of Republicans strategy here, Evan, we`ve had you on a number of times and I know you`re very critical of Donald Trump and you seemed down on him. I`m listening to you get going in Nancy Pelosi and I think you`re sort of answering my question about in terms of Republicans finding unifying message. I said it`s a red bull to our base. He seems to get them all struck.
DOWDELL: -- Evans.
FOUHY: But -- and the other thing that was (INAUDIBLE) is Nancy Pelosi argument was very effective when Barack Obama was President. Republicans could make the point, oh unify Democratic control, everything, our whole -- the world is we know is going to fall apart. Now, we see poll after poll, voters want a check in Donald Trump in Congress. So that argument is not as effective.
KORNACKI: Our roundtable is staying with us. Up next, First lady Melania Trump`s parents became citizens yesterday. Thanks to something President Trump has denounced chain migration. You`re watching Hardball.
KORNACKI: Finally, the drama continues in that nail biter of a governor`s raced out in Kansas between incumbent Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach has now recused himself from the vote counting after Colyer called on him to stop giving advice to county election officials and accused him of saying things quote, inconsistent with Kansas law.
Now, according to the associated press, Kobach shot back at Colyer into letter writing, as governor of Kansas, your unrestrained rhetoric has the potential to undermine the public`s confidence in the election process. This race, it remains too close to call. Kobach holds a tiny lead with a difference of just 110 votes right now at a more than 300,000 cast, will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will get rid of chain migration. Chain migration is a total disaster which threatens our security and our economy. We have to end the chain. The chain is like a disaster. You bring one person in, you end up with 32 people. Chain migration is bringing in many, many people with one and often it doesn`t work out very well. Those many people are not doing us right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Welcome back to Hardball, President Trump is repeatedly attacked the policy of family based migration which he refers to as chain migration. The policy allows Americans to sponsor their spouse, children or parents for U.S. citizenship. Just yesterday, Trump`s in-laws took the citizenship oath using that policy.
The New York Times reports that an attorney from Melania Trump`s parents confirmed the couple obtained citizenship after being sponsored by the first lady. When asked if they had obtained citizenship through chain migration their lawyer Michael Wildes said, I suppose.
He said chain migration is a dirtier way of characterizing what he called a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification. We are back with our Hardball roundtable Evan, Tara, and Beth. Michael Wildes, by the way, he was a politician in New Jersey.
KORNACKI: It`s very interesting to see this turn of events with him. But it`s an interesting irony isn`t it?
FOUHY: How about that? Yes, I mean look, chain migration is a dirty way of putting in. I mean, it`s really a policy of family unification. The anti-immigration forces have sort of called the chain migration. It makes it seemed very dehumanized.
Trump talks about it as though, you know, if you let in one person, they`re going to bring, you know, 27 dozen relatives with them. None of which is actually the case. But it`s effective. And that bond that Trump has with his most loyal voters is around immigration. It`s that wall. It`s illegal immigration. It`s illegal immigrants bringing crime and drugs and so forth.
So the picture that he paints of immigrants taking advantage of this policy are sort of this -- that`s very dark view of what those people are and what they`re going to do not his lovely parents-in-law from Europe.
KORNACKI: But tara, who`s head got nodding when I said Michael Wildes, she knows New Jersey a little bit too.
DOWDELL: I know.
KORNACKI: Does that -- do you think that seeing Trump`s family benefit from the policy does that scramble the politics of this at all?
DOWDELL: Steve, I`m still waiting on that press conference Melania was supposed to have about her own citizenship and some of the controversies surrounding that. But look, I think that Donald Trump`s base doesn`t care. His hypocrisy is level that I`ve never seen before. His amount of projection is leveled that I`ve never seen before. His base could care less.
I think that though, what he does do, his hypocrisy and the chain -- calling a chain migration and then not applying with his own family. It`s just -- it fires the Democrats because it`s just yet another affront to Democrats.
And I think -- and to other people who are more objective observers of politics who may not be aligned to either party. And that`s what the trouble is going to be for the Republicans. Because if you`re someone who`s not really that aligned to either party, this ongoing hypocrisy is not lost on you.
KORNACKI: Does it bother Republican voters at all?
SIEGFRIED: No, first of all, because and I think Tara was right, there are Republican voters who say, you know what, it`s fine. I think that we should actually not be talking about this. I think that it`s a distraction that ends up benefiting Republicans because Republicans overwhelmingly win independent voters on the issue of immigration.
Democrats don`t win on this. If Democrats wanted to be smart, they say, great, should they came in to the country legally. We should all applaud that. There`s nothing wrong with that. But what they should talk about is, they should say, Donald Trump isn`t serious about illegal immigration.
Why? He keeps focusing on the southern border. But 42 percent of the legal immigrants in United States overstayed their visa. Sixty-six percent of the legal immigrants who came to the United States since 2014 overstayed their visa.
Why isn`t Donald Trump tackling that? And then with the wall, they should hit him on the eminent domain issue. The wall is not going to be built quickly and expensively. It could take 20 to 30 years and double to triple the cost because of the eminent domain issues.
On the Mexico-Texas border which is 1254 miles long, 1154 miles of that are privately owned. And you`re going to have a lot of court cases with landowners where the government is going to spend decades in court.
KORNACKI: All right, the -- and the roundtable is staying with us. You`re watching Hardball.
KORNACKI: All right, thank you to Evans Siegfried, Tara Dowdell, and Beth Fouhy and that is Hardball for now. Chris Matthews will be back Monday with special guest, Omarosa, you`re not going to want to miss that one. All In with Chris Hayes, starts right now.
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