Show: HARDBALL Date: August 17, 2018 Guest: Geoff Bennet, Ginger Gibson, Ken Vogel, Christine Emba, John McLaughlin, Benjamin Wittes, Heidi Przybyla, Susan del Percio
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Power trip. Let`s play Hardball.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews from Washington.
We`ve got breaking news tonight from the Associated Press. It just broke. The news service is reporting that Omarosa Manigault Newman has more than just audio tapes. It turns out, according to the report, she also has video, e-mails, and text messages, lots of them, to support her claims about President Trump and all the claims in her book. We`ll get to that bombshell in just a moment, it just broke.
We begin the other big story news tonight. Obsessed with power, President Trump appears ready and willing to use his office to punish enemies like Omarosa, silence his critics in the media, and scare others, including his own people, into submission. Having revoked the security clearances of former CIA director John Brennan, who`s now a senior national security analyst at NBC, Trump is, in effect, weaponizing the presidency in order to extract revenge.
Axios reports now that, according to sources close to the President, quote, "(Trump) has become especially enamored with powers he can exercise...without the approval or even consultation of anyone else." When it comes to yanking security clearances, for example, "It`s a power that is uniquely and solely his, and matches his idea of how the presidency ought to be: pure power and instant gratification."
And, as the President`s behavior has already made clear, he would do even more if he could, if he thought he could get away with it. For example, we`ve seen how Trump has unabashedly tried to bully his Attorney General into ending the Russia probe and investigate his enemies. Yesterday, Vanity Fair also reported that, according to a Republican source, Trump told advisers that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have Omarosa Manigault arrested. Arrested! Though NBC News has not confirmed that reporting as yet.
Meanwhile, the President appears unconcerned with the consequences of the actions he`s taken to date, and a list of his next targets include key figures inside the Mueller probe. As the Washington Post reports, the President is now eager to revoke more security clearances because, quote, "(He) believes he has emerged looking strong and decisive in his escalating feud with Brennan." He said as much on the White House lawn earlier today. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that I`ve gotten a tremendous response from having done that, because security clearances are very important to me. Very, very important. And I`ve had a tremendous response for having done that.
REPORTER: Was this political retribution, sir? Was this political retribution, sir?
REPORTER: That`re trying to silence your critics?
TRUMP: There`s no silence. If anything, I`m giving them a bigger voice. Many people don`t even know who he is, and now he has a bigger voice; and that`s OK with me because I like taking on voices like that.
I`ve never respected him. I`ve never had a lot of respect.
MATTHEWS: Well, now a dozen former CIA leaders who served under presidents from both parties have banded together to rebuke the President for his unprecedented behavior, calling Trump`s action against Brennan "an attempt to stifle free speech." They write, "We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case."
Tonight, some 60 more CIA officials joined with their former directors in protesting the President`s conduct. Joining me now is John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA; Benjamin Wittes is a Brookings Institution fellow and the editor of Lawfare; Heidi Przybyla is a national political reporter with NBC News; and Susan del Percio is a Republican strategist.
I`m going to start with John. You know, I`m not sure Trump cares where he shoots, he`s shooting. If anybody gets in his way, he goes with whatever weapon he can find in his holster. He wants to arrest Omarosa. He wants his FBI - his eight attorney generals to just go out and arrest her! Suing her isn`t enough. But he does know he`s allowed to yank security clearances, so that`s his first weapon of choice.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER ACTING CIA DIRECTOR: Yes, and in this case, I don`t think he looks strong and determined, as he says. I think he looks thoughtless and looks a little bit like a mad king. I`ve seen this movie before, and it`s never in a democracy. This is what you see when a tyrant chooses to use power that they exclusively hold to punish people who`ve spoken out against them. And frankly, he`s been very transparent about this. There`s not much artifice in his response. He basically says - the guy`s erratic.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, following your lines, I`ve often thought that demagoguery`s not a good long-term career move. The only one I know who got a long-term career out of it was Franco. The rest of them all died hideously. Your thoughts, Ben?
BENJAMIN WITTES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION SENIOR FELLOW: Yes, so, the other problem with this is, it`s not going to work because you can revoke the security clearances unilaterally of people who are out of government and who aren`t actively using them anyway. But the problem with revoking security clearances as a strategy for dealing with your political problems is that most of the people who have them actually need them to do jobs that they`re doing in the service of you. And so, you know, what are you going to do?
MATTHEWS: You`re talking about governing.
WITTES: I`m not - well, I`m...
MATTHEWS: Trump`s not interested in what you`re talking about. Governing the country?
WITTES: Well, if you want to run the CIA, you`ve got to have some people with (INAUDIBLE) clearances.
MATTHEWS: You`re long-term in your thinking. I`m serious, Heidi, I think he just reaches for the reachable weapon, the one that`s, apparently he - what we`re reporting now is that he loves any power he can get.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Because I think there are moments when we need to remind people that Trump`s presidency is, in itself, a grand experiment in the American experience. Never had a president without public service experience. Never had a president without government experience, military experience. And actually, never had a president with no accountability, even within - as a businessman, he was a sole proprietor. He wasn`t accountable to a board or to shareholders. We just thought that he would learn and respect the norms that had been established throughout the history of this country.
And here`s why people are - you talk about Franco and other dictators. Here`s why we`re having that discussion. People compare some of his moves to Nixon. Having an enemies list. This is why we`re moving from Nixonian to people saying creeping authoritarianism, because Nixon at least knew enough to be embarrassed by his enemies list. Like John said...
MATTHEWS: They were his enemies, not the state`s.
PRZYBYLA: He`s out of it. He thinks it makes him look strong.
MATTHEWS: This guy said these are enemies of the people. He says they`re enemies of the people.
Susan, here`s a thought. I think Trump is back on his heels for the first time in his presidency. I think he`s acting in reaction. I think everything he`s doing now with Brennan is reacting against Omarosa. And Omarosa`s got a lot more ammo than he`s ever thought of.
This is a person who has created, in terms of tactics, he`s got more - apparently, when we get to the next segment, she`s got e-mails, she`s got all kinds of documentation. Video film, tapes, she`s got everything. She`s got - we`re going to get to a lot of stuff, but she`s got a hell of an arsenal.
And I think he`s reacting. I think Brennan paid the price for Omarosa`s assault. We just found out today, for example, that Michael Cohen began his payoff to Stormy Daniels - Stephanie Clifford - paying her off because of the "Access Hollywood" tapes. Tapes scare Trump because it`s not fake news, it`s real. It`s existent. Your thoughts? You know this guy.
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first, I agree with you a hundred percent. Donald Trump is back on his heels and he`s like a cornered animal who will just keep striking out. And especially when it comes to Omarosa, because he knows what she`s capable of. And I do think that, now we hear about more tapes, that is - or videos, especially videos.
DEL PERCIO: E-mails, everything, that has got to concern him. But also, let`s not forget, whenever he goes out after, whether it`s Karen McDougal, Stormy Daniels, or even Omarosa, his bite is - his bark is way worse than his bite. None of these non-disclosure agreements have held up, and that`s also something that he`s very much aware of. But I agree, he went after Brennan, and once again, Chris, this man, who is weak and petty, not surprisingly put himself before country. Because that`s what he`s doing when he`s looking to revoke these security clearances. It is all about himself, and nothing to do with the security of this country.
MATTHEWS: Well, he occasionally - in fact, more often for his own good, or too often for his own good, he admits such. Trump has admitted he took action against Brennan because of the Russia probe. But as I`ve mentioned, there also appears to be an ulterior motive in making that announcement this week.
As the Washington Post has reported, Trump made his decision weeks ago about Brennan. However, senior advisers, including Sarah Sanders, recommended to the President that they announce that action Wednesday amid an onslaught of news coverage from former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman`s new book.
John, I know you`re concerned about your institution, the CIA, and the government of the United States. This President is primarily concerned about covering his butt.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. You know...
MATTHEWS: He`ll use anything.
MCLAUGHLIN: I think that`s why you see the signatures of all of these people on these letters.
MCLAUGHLIN: It`s because all of them, particularly the directors and deputy directors, have had governing responsibility, they`ve had responsibility for granting these clearances or sometimes adjudicating them or revoking them on occasion. And they`ve had to do that under the law, they`ve had to do it fairly, they`ve had to do it with integrity, and they know that it affects the security of the United States. It`s never been done in my memory for any political reason.
MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, do it for that reason and you`re going to end up in court. Now, the President has the authority to do it. I don`t think he should because this is all - all of this is governed by executive order.
MCLAUGHLIN: This is legislation. So, this is an area that he can seize upon, although I think it will rebound on him.
MATTHEWS: Ben, take a moment on this. People who have spent their life working for the FBI or the CIA. I know through relatives, I know people who see themselves as working for America the country. Not some bureaucracy, but the country.
MATTHEWS: They see themselves as the good guys. And they don`t make a lot of money. They do this they`re whole life because they think that`s a cause, almost like a vocation. Like being somebody of God, if you will, because it`s about their country. And they want to defend these institutions because they`ve served them. They believe people who work with them share the same ambition to serve the country.
Trump comes along. What`s his value system?
WITTES: Well, so, you know...
MATTHEWS: This is all collateral damage to him.
WITTES: Right. So, you actually left out a really - something that was implied in what you said, but you didn`t articulate it, and I want to sort of flesh it out. Which is that, people actually do believe. I know like people outside of Washington have trouble with this, but it`s really true that the people who work in these agencies have a deep-seated idea of a political service, and that they don`t go in there as Democrats or Republicans. I know the fashionable thing is to think of them as the "deep state" that has some cosmic political interests of its own. That`s not the way they think of it. They think of it as service to country.
MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with that.
MATTHEWS: I know, I do, too. I think the Bureau of Labor statistics is filled with guys and women who just want to get the facts out about the economy.
MATTHEWS: Because they know it`s good for our country.
WITTES: They want us - like, how many jobs were created last month?
MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s important to know this.
WITTES: And, you know, people - there are people in the CIA who work on very particular parts of the world. Political economy in Myanmar, and they want to get the political economy of Myanmar right and do good analysis.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Because I was at Chapel Hill in grad school and they tried to recruit me to study the Soviet economy. I would --
PRZYBYLA: Like the debate club.
MATTHEWS: And then you have this value system that Trump`s up against is something that he doesn`t even fathom. He doesn`t understand selfless service.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what that is!
WITTES: So, how does somebody come in who can`t even pretend not to be about himself? He can`t even fake it. And that really comes, you know, really comes off to people who actually went in with a service mentality.
MATTHEWS: He`s going after some people, it`s not just he`s going after his so-called enemies or what he calls enemies of the people, Heidi. He`s going after people who might testify against him.
PRZYBYLA: Well, that`s...
MATTHEWS: He`s going after people involved with the Mueller probe.
PRZYBYLA: That was the point I was going to make, is that you look at the expanded list, because he has now put out an expanded list. No one`s pushing back on him. You look at the response in Congress. He`s not getting a lot of push back there. So that the dots that line up on that list, when you look at people like Sally Yates, is they have been involved in some form or fashion in the Russia investigation, as well.
So, it`s two things. It`s speaking out against him. It`s involvement in the Russia investigation. And I`ve got to say, I was a little surprised that we didn`t have more push back on the Hill. Or at least an attempt to look like they were not giving up...
MATTHEWS: Giving his Republican contraires, who find no fault with this man?
PRZYBYLA: Well, Senator Kennedy, for example.
MATTHEWS: The Kennedy from Louisiana. The namesake. Yes.
PRZYBYLA: From Louisiana. Called Brennan totally political and, quote, "a butthead." Senator Shelby said, you know, people don`t really need it. We don`t really need it. So, there`s either...
MATTHEWS: So they`re piling on.
PRZYBYLA: So, there`s either going along with it and defending it, or just completely downplaying it.
MCLAUGHLIN: Chris, can I add a point?
MATTHEWS: Yeah, go ahead, John.
MCLAUGHLIN: I`m very disappointed in the reaction of his party, including from people I respect like Senator Byrd, Senator Graham, and so forth. I don`t know that they know what they`re doing here, because in societies that go bad, what happens is the law is set aside. The procedures are set aside. And if you notice what they`ve said about Brennan is, basically, that they don`t like him. He deserved it.
MCLAUGHLIN: He was out of line. That`s not a reason to pull a security clearance. When you set aside the procedures and you set aside the normal way of doing this and you say, "We`re just going to do this because these guys deserve it," you begin to erode the whole process of governing.
MATTHEWS: See, the worst it`s going, I think he`s out there basically tampering almost with the jury now. I can`t say that clinically, but that jury`s sitting right now and he`s out there kissing up to Manafort right now today as they`re deciding his fate, the Trumps saying, "Good guy." There`s nothing stopping Trump.
I mean, this used to be really bad behavior when Nixon went after Charles Manson. That was sort of messing with the jury in a jury pool. This guy`s talking about a jury and to a jury that`s now sitting this weekend.
DEL PERCIO: I also think he`s projecting a bit, because one of the things that scares him most is that Robert Mueller may have his tax returns. And that`s exactly what Manafort is on trial for, for not paying his taxes and tax evasion and several other things. So, I think that, more likely than not, I don`t think he cares about Manafort. I think he cares about how it reflects on him. And I do think he`s very concerned about where this investigation is going and where his tax returns will show up.
MATTHEWS: Will the amen corner in the Republican caucus in the Senate back him if he`s caught as a tax cheat, Susan?
DEL PERCIO: I don`t know, and I find that so hard for me to say. It`s so disappointing that these members are not doing their job. They`re not putting country first.
And, you know, that`s where Donald Trump is successful. He made this about an individual, about Brennan, who has been talking badly about him, and that`s where, unfortunately, he`s able to be successful, in attacking people. So, the senators say, "Oh, well, he`s just one person. Let`s see where Donald Trump takes us." Because there`s only so much people are going to take from the Republican Party before they completely fall apart.
WITTES: If you did this all on one day and stripped all of these people of their security clearances on the same day, we`d be talking about how it was a Saturday night massacre. (MULTIPLE SPEAKERS) And we get used to it along the way and you have defenders along the way.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the Sherman tank coming at the President. Her name`s Omarosa. Like Cher, she has one name. That`s all she needs right now.
And he is petrified. I think everything we are talking about right now, as bad as it is, is reactive. I think he`s scared to death of somebody with tape, because tape has caused this guy trouble.
John McLaughlin, sir, thank you. Benjamin Wittes, thank you, sir. Heidi Przybyla, madam. I have to be consistent here. Susan del Percio, madam, thank you very much.
John Brennan will be Rachel Maddow`s guest tonight. That`s a big get for our colleague at 9 o`clock tonight. It`s his first appearance since President Trump revoked his security clearance. Good timing for Rachel.
Of course, coming up, Omarosa reportedly has as many as 200 more tapes she could release when she wants to, like time-release aspirin. And speaking of tapes, there`s new reporting that it was Trump`s infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that triggered Michael Cohen`s decision to give Stormy Daniels $130,000. So, it does work.
Plus, what does Steve Bannon have to say about President Trump`s "America First" agenda two years into his presidency? My colleague, Ari, is going to sit down with me, as he`s been sitting down with Bannon.
And Trump`s overblown, overpriced military break gets canceled. According to him, he`s not to blame. The "Hardball" roundtable will weigh in on that one, and Trump`s escalating fight with New York mayor Andrew Cuomo. A lot of fronts on this war.
Finally, let me finish tonight with how the major newspapers covered the death of Aretha Franklin. I was very impressed.
This is "Hardball," where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. .
There`s brand-new reporting tonight from the Associated Press that Omarosa Manigault-Newman has more than just audiotapes.
According to a person with direct knowledge, she also has a stash -- apparently, a big one -- of videos, e-mails, text messages, and other hard documentation supporting her claims against President Trump.
This comes after she released tapes this week already having to do with the president possibly using racist language and a job offer in exchange for her shutting up, basically.
She`s -- she said she wasn`t done yet. And that`s apparently true. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I`m not going to be bullied. I`m not intimidated.
And I`m going to go toe to toe with him, everything he throws at me. Believe me, my tapes are much better than theirs.
QUESTION: You`re going to release more tapes?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: If I need to do. I will do what I have to do to protect myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Ken Vogel, political reporter with "The New York Times." Christine Emba is a columnist for "The Washington Post."
Thank you both. I like your reporting and your writing.
Let me go to Ken.
You have already reported that she`s got hundreds of tapes. What do you know of -- how do you react to the news that somebody is getting the reporting tonight at the Associated Press that she`s got other forms of proof of her -- what she wrote in the book, because she did say everything in the book is documented, and documentable.
KEN VOGEL, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, that is very much consistent with our approach, which was very premeditated, to come in there with the assumption that either she was going to try to cash in on her experience in the form of a tell-all book, or she was going to need to protect herself, because she thought that the Trump -- Trump inner circle and Donald Trump himself had the capacity to turn on people.
In this case, both manifest themselves. And she is playing Trump`s tactics against him very effectively in a way that is driving him just crazy, as you can see from his Twitter feed.
MATTHEWS: Do you know whether she began collecting this documentation, especially the audiotapes, when she knew he -- she was going to be dumped on, disposed of by Trump, or she did so from the beginning?
VOGEL: I mean, so far, what she`s released have been more recent, and suggest that it was after she learned that things were going south.
However, in very Trumpian fashion, she is suggesting, without any evidence, that there`s a whole lot more out there that`s a whole lot more explosive, because, again, what we have seen thus far, telling certainly. It`s telling both in the content -- both in the content and also to actually hear these things directly from some of the people in their voice.
But it`s not bombshells. We haven`t seen anything super explosive. However, just like Trump suggesting he has Barack Obama`s birth certificate and it shows he wasn`t born in the U.S., she is suggesting that there is more here that is really going to make them squirm.
MATTHEWS: Well, she has so far -- Trump was full of B.S. on his claim. She has actually provided -- I disagree a bit, Ken.
MATTHEWS: I think that -- well, she has some -- what she`s provided so forth is pretty interesting to me, wanted...
VOGEL: It is interesting.
MATTHEWS: First was Lara Bush (sic) offering $185,000 a year, and for three years. That`s a lot of money, right through the campaign, to shut up. There was no definition of what the job was. It was just money.
VOGEL: Yes, we kind -- yes.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
VOGEL: Yes, we kind of already knew that some of that was going on.
The super PAC has -- oh, the Trump-backed super PAC has a lot of people who are working for it who don`t really have clear job descriptions and sort of fit into the categories of just hangers-on.
That said, you`re right. To hear Lara Trump actually make that offer, it is powerful. And it does lead us wanting to know what else she has.
MATTHEWS: I have never heard of a job conversation where the offer of a job is primarily about the money, but not really a lot -- if you want to give a speech down now and then, that would be OK.
Christine, what a job. It sounded like hush to me. Hush-hush, sweet Omarosa.
CHRISTINE EMBA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It really does.
It`s like, if you want to talk, if you want to even exist, it`s fine, but just please don`t hurt us.
And I think that speaks to how important these tapes are to Trump, or these tapes...
MATTHEWS: I don`t think the general -- General Kelly, with all his dignity, when he tried to erase her from the scene, please leave the building, don`t cause any trouble and he won`t destroy you, had any idea what kind of order of battle she had, what kind of weapons she possessed.
EMBA: Yes, it`s actually fascinating.
This is one of the crises that Trump has responded to almost the most strongly. I think he tweeted about her eight times in one day. But the thing is, these tapes, like, really represent an existential threat to the whole Trump M.O., right, which is about being slippery with the truth.
You say X one day, Y the next. You never know. But when there`s hard evidence, you can`t do that anymore. It really throws a wrench into his whole thing.
MATTHEWS: I was -- I`m wondering, Ken, if you`re Trump and you think you`re the smartest guy in your family -- I think that`s fair to assume -- he thinks so -- and you got people around, these Fredo characters in his family, that aren`t quite as wise or as tough as he is, and then he finds out that Lara Bush (sic) got taped -- his daughter-in-law -- he`s already worried about Don Jr. at the tower, the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, I wonder if he`s worried as he goes to sleep or plays golf this weekend, on about the eighth hole, he`s thinking, you know what, what in the hell has that woman gun on my kids?
Because they don`t know they`re being taped. We already know they got something.
Your thoughts? Because that`s what I think Trump`s worried about. He wonders if she has the gall to walk -- actually, she`s already taped him too.
And you -- you even hear in Lara Trump`s sort of tone in that tape that was played that you guys did obtain that she`s saying how much he cares for her.
Well, I don`t think Omarosa went in with this expectation of loyalty or sort of a warm mutual relationship. She went in, and she was butting heads with people from the very beginning. She had a long list of folks who were kind of on her bad side who she had motivation to be recording.
And it just so happens that some of the tapes that she`s released thus far -- again, though, in my opinion, are not super condemnatory -- are of some of the most powerful people who are closest to Trump.
VOGEL: So, yes, it does -- it should raise concerns about who else she has and what she has them saying.
MATTHEWS: Well, it was just broke, Christine, that the reason that they gave the $130,000 -- that`s a lot of money -- to Stormy Daniels -- they were we`re going to give her a nickel.
The reason they did it is because they heard the "Access Hollywood" tapes, and they got spooked. EMBA: Yes.
I mean, again, it shows the power of the tapes. It also shows what Trump`s usual method is. He was planning to just brazen it out to completely lie about the whole affair. And then someone had the evidence, and suddenly it doesn`t work.
And I think that is frightening to Trump.
EMBA: ... against him.
MATTHEWS: You love it when he says, that`s not my voice on the tape.
MATTHEWS: It`s unbelievable.
One thing we know is what he sounds like. It`s great to have you. Please come back, Christina -- Christine or Christina?
MATTHEWS: Why did somebody say Christina? I have been misinformed.
Thank you, Christine Emba. Thank you, from "The Washington Post," and Ken Vogel of "The New York Times."
Up next, my colleague Ari Melber is going to join us to talk about his interview that`s coming on tonight with Trump former chief strategist Steve Bannon and Bannon`s push to make the midterms all about Trump. What is this hard-right nationalist pushing now? I can`t wait to hear from Ari.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Economic nationalism doesn`t care about your race, your color, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual preference.
What it cares about is you`re a citizen of the United States. It`s one of the reasons, in this group I founded, I said, one of the things that I think really hurt the country back in the `80s, came out of business school, is this whole thing of maximization of shareholder value.
And I like the fact that Elizabeth Warren kind of ripped me off in using that the other day when she laid out...
ARI MELBER, HOST, "THE BEAT": You think guys agree on that?
BANNON: We definitely agree on that. I don`t like there`s any doubt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
That was former White House chief strategist, believe it or not, Steve Bannon in a big interview coming on tonight at 10:00 with MSNBC`s Ari Melber, who is sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
Steve Bannon was a leading force, of course, in Trump`s presidential campaign and the early months of his administration as well, pushing a nationalist agenda. It`s called America first. Remember that approach? Meaning tougher trade policies, rebuilding infrastructure of this country, keeping the country out of stupid wars.
But now, 18 months into his presidency, we face an unsettled trade situation with Trump, a nonexistent infrastructure plan to rebuild the country, and all this saber-rattling at countries like Iran that could bring us closer to new wars.
So what happened to Trump`s agenda that look attractive to -- a little bit, to some people a little bit, who are smart, a little bit?
Joining us right now is the anchor of "THE BEAT" -- great name for a show - - Ari Melber.
Ari, I really wanted you to come on the show because I`m thinking, when this guy Bannon was first out there, a lot it of was awful. He seemed too far right, too, not fascistic, but something scary about him, this nationalist thing.
But there around the edges were things that were attractive to people, and there were things like no more stupid wars, we`re going to look out for ourselves in terms of economic deals, and we`re going to rebuild this country, not worried about the electric grid in Afghanistan. We`re going to rebuild stuff here.
I don`t see that. I see a guy saber-rattling. I see a guy -- in Trump, I see a guy who`s arguing with Manigault and -- Omarosa, and all these stupid intramural fights. I don`t see the guy pursuing rebuilding the country, for one, staying out of stupid wars, secondly. I don`t see that.
MELBER: I think...
MATTHEWS: Has this guy lost his influence?
MELBER: Well, he`s out. He`s on the outs, and he`s trying to claw his way back in by spending money this week.
And so some of the things we talk about in this interview that, as you mentioned, is airing later, but I will get into some of it was, how do you say that Donald Trump`s for the working class, when 83 percent of the tax bill benefits go to the top 1 percent?
MATTHEWS: And what`s he say?
MELBER: And how do you deal with an infrastructure bill that he said was going to get passed, and didn`t?
MATTHEWS: Because he spent all the money on tax cuts for the rich.
MELBER: And how do you deal with Wall Street and say you`re going to take them on, when you won`t release who your donors are because you have a secret organization under the laws that doesn`t force their disclosure?
So, we get in to all that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re going to give me a piece.
Let`s take a look at your interview tonight, a little tease.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: We do not want to isolate America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We got the wrong thing up there. I don`t know. We`re going to have to wait. I got -- that was frustrating.
Let`s go. That was Pat Buchanan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: This is an up-or-down vote on President Trump. This election is going to come as a referendum on him.
He permeates the entire political culture. And I think those that are around him are telling him that, hey, it`s OK to lose the House. You can work with the Democrats, and you can run against a Democratic House in 2020.
It`s bad advice.
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MATTHEWS: OK, that`s a political point. I think it`s a good one.
He -- Trump`s floating around the idea -- at least it comes out of him -- I can lose the House. Then I will blame everything on Pelosi or the Democrats or anybody else.
And this guy says, wait a minute, you lose the House, you lose the subpoena power, and the House, they can come get you like they got Nixon.
MELBER: This is where the Republicans are clearly in a divide, some call it a civil war.
Bannon says he wants to be at war with the left. But you have folks in Washington around Trump and down the Hill, McConnell, who basically are privately saying that the House is written off and they will deal with it.
And then you have the hard-core guys -- Bannon is as someone who, whether you like him or not -- and a lot of people don`t -- he was the guy who backed up Trump after "Access Hollywood," which a lot of people thought was disgusting. But then they did go on to win in November.
So do you want to have a politics where we actually confront and expose and see what they`re doing? He wants this to be no holds barred and say impeachment and Trump is on the table.
We also talked about the times up movement, which he said is very powerful. He talked about his daughter, who`s in the military, and what it means. And I pressed him on that and how do you square that with your support for Roy Moore?
And he talked about patriarchy. And I said, well, if it`s time to change gender relations in this country, if we`re going to have gender equality, then don`t you have to take on the patriarchy?
So this is a person who, while clearly reviled -- and I address that with him -- and we talk Charlottesville as well -- is also getting in, in ways that some other conservatives on when he talks about these movements, these candidates, the economy, Wall Street. He`s trying to push this conversation right now, even as Donald Trump says they`re not buddies.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think people have to listen to him. And I congratulate you in getting him on, because people on the progressive side of things, people in the center-left, where I`m sort of at, I think need to hear this other side.
They got to hear it again and again. It`s not going to change anybody`s minds, but people ought to hear it, because you got to know what you`re up against.
MELBER: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MELBER: And, on that, I mean, in 2016, some people were caught by surprise because we weren`t listening to everything.
MATTHEWS: We all thought Hillary Clinton was going to win, right up until about 8:30 election night, because people kept saying, oh, she`s going to win, she`s going to win. There`s not enough angry white people out in the world.
There are hell of a lot of angry white people like this guy.
Thank you, Ari Melber.
MELBER: Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: A great program to have you on tonight.
Ari`s full interview, as I said, with Steve Bannon airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern right here on MSNBC.
A big night, by the way, because Rachel -- of course, Rachel Maddow -- has got John Brennan on tonight. And he`s right in the middle of the news.
Up next, we will give our Roundtable a chance to weigh in on the battle over security clearances and everything else with Manigault, and the U.S. intelligence officials who are red hot about what Trump`s using. They`re banging. He is hitting said them because he mad about and scared of Manigault.
Anyway, Trump is now blaming the District of Columbia, by the way, for forcing him to stop his military parade. His Bastille Day Parade isn`t going to happen because he`s blaming the mayor of D.C.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome to Hardball. President Trump`s plan for a big military parade down in Pennsylvania this November has been shelved due to the skyrocketing cost. Yesterday, a Pentagon official told CNBC. The expected cost of this parade had ballooned up to 90 -- at possible $92 million just for a one day parade up for getting testament (ph) of 12 million, 12 to 92.
Well, today Trump wrote on Twitter. The local politicians who run Washington D.C. "poorly know a windfall when they see it". When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up!
D.C.`s mayor tweeted back say, yes, I`m Muriel Bowser. Mayor of Washington D.C. the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities $21.6 million of parades, events, demonstrations in Trump country, sad.
You may remember by the way, Trump got military parade envy after attending a Bastille Day parade during his trip last July to France.
I`m joined by the Hardball roundtable tonight, Ginger Gibson, is political correspondent of Reuters, Jonathan Allen is national political reporter for NBC News and digital, and Geoff Bennet, he`s a White House Correspondent for NBC.
Geoff, what do you make of this --I mean I don`t know, it seems that Trump really want his parade, would have -- have gone back with a numbers, the number crunches, he got the number down.
GEOFF BENNET, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Nearly everyone thought of this parade was a bad idea, except for President Trump and when he tweeted today that D.C. is poorly run, what he was doing was harkening back to the D.C. of the 1980s and 1990s --
MATTHEWS: Yes, but in the public eye, it`s run by African-Americans and that works for him, you know.
BENNET: Well and that`s right. But we should say though that D.C. has a budget surplus these days. And has a high bond rating Muriel Bowser is doing a by all accounts a good job running the city, but that was not the D.C. that President Trump was talking about.
BENNET: He was running is (INAUDIBLE)
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS REPORTER: You`re talking about, you`re talking about Robert --
MATTHEWS: And Geoff by the way -- Geoff this is so consistent with this guy, OK, we`re not shy. Go ahead.
ALLEN: You`re talk about Robert see bird days in the old days when he go back to West Virginia and talk about how he`s cutting welfare in the city, I mean that`s the impression of D.C. that a lot of people have. Muriel Bowser as Geoff points out, the most popular D.C. Mayor in history or certainly recent history, but what I think this claim --
MATTHEWS: That clean is a whistle tone. It was very -- big city.
ALLEN: But the key here is November. They were planning to do this in November. The President has a really good chance of losing the House and then join a military style parade. I don`t think it mattered that the Pentagon didn`t want to pay for it, the city didn`t want to pay for it. I think he didn`t want to look like a fool after bad election having a military parade.
MATTHEWS: Well some of these weapons are so heavy that they actually leave tracks on far it`s not a joke. Anyway, this (INAUDIBLE) while President Trump escalated his fight, a new fight, I believe and everyone -- new war front for the President fighting with everybody like Groucho Marx these days, Andrew Cuomo of New York on Wednesday, Governor Cuomo is running for reelection made jab (ph) Trump 2016 campaign slogan.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: We`re not going to make America great again, it was never that great. We have not reached greatness.
MATTHEW: Well, Governor Cuomo faced a backlash for that remark. And today Trump`s took him on -- to game at the Governor a series of tweets. He said Cuomo`s comments could be career threatening. Well today Cuomo clarify his remarks telling reporters, the expression I used the other day was inartful, of course America is great and of course America has always been great. It also took another shot of Trump saying, "Where he is taking this country, in my opinion is the antithesis of American greatness". Ginger?
GINGER GIBSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: This -- we have to remember that Andrew Cuomo is in a re-election fight. He`s got a primary opponent. And if there are a lot of people, if you`re a minority, if you`re a woman, they don`t think America has reached greatness for you. He very well could have been talking to those people in this --
MATTHEWS: Do you think it was a smart punch?
GIBSON: And we have to remember he`s in a primary fight --
MATTHEWS: Why did he take it back then?
GIBSON: -- with the most challenging among the left.
MATTHEWS: Why did he take it back then?
GIBSON: The same reason Donald Trump does thing and takes them back because your base hears you or you think your basis heard you. And they`re happy with what you said and they think you`re only taking it back because someone made you.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s just go ahead because this is a lot of opinion. Go ahead.
ALLEN: Look, Andrew Cuomo is lucky in that everything he says on the campaign trail in this race running future ways will be better than that. That was the low moment for him. But what I`m hearing from Cuomo --
MATTHEWS: There`s an up state New York, by the way.
ALLEN: What I`m hearing from Cuomo`s camp is we should expect to hear him and see him punching at Donald Trump a lot more. He see despite that Donald Trump is picking in him with all these tweets as an opportunity for him to draw a real contrast between the view of government that Trump has and what he`s doing in New York.
MATTHEWS: So (INAUDIBLE) finish point. I agree with you. I think when you say America was dandy 50 years ago and the 50s and all. People in the- - minority people they go, wait, a minute, not for us. Women, not for us. You`re right, I`m with you on that.
Now but you see can probably punches way as Cuomo by just punching at Trump.
GIBSON: And he wants to fight and Trump wants to fight. These are two politicians who think that fighting makes them look better, they makes them look stronger.
BENNET: But it`s a politician the minute you have to explain your argument, you`ve basically lost your argument. So I think this is the one that top one in Cuomo lost.
ALLEN: But he`s got the standing in New York. The governor of New York. I mean that`s a big --
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you a question Ginger, because I know. I`ve been listening to you off camera. Now I`m going to ask you this, do you believe the polls that show him so far ahead of Cynthia Nixon, and he can`t lose?
GIBSON: That`s going to be -- Yes, I hate --
MATTHEWS: Do you believe those polls are humongous to margins?
GIBSON: They are humongous and I think that he is quite popular in the state and I think that it would be however unwise of him to write it off. We`ve seen in 2010 when a wave shows up unexpected people lose primaries. And Cuomo`s going to make sure that he`s not one of those unexpected.
MATTHEWS: He spends apparently hundreds of thousands of dollars on polls, right?
ALLEN: I think, yes, I think he spends a lot of money on consulting. But I -- I mean whether or not he gets the poll numbers. Cynthia Nixon has a huge hill to climb. And I think it`s been actually helps him in a way to have somebody attacking --
MATTHEWS: Because I heard, it`s not going to quest her a bit to run this race though. This is probably going to be good for her, I`m just guessing. It`s not like --
ALLEN: For her.
ALLEN: But, yes, but I think the primary is good for him because he`s got this. Now, he`s got somebody out in the left that he can sort of position himself again.
MATTHEWS: Well say, fine New York is moving though, even Kentucky move to the left. Anyway White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway tried defending President Trump`s decision to strip former CIA Director John Brennan of a security clearance by degrading him as someone who`s quote, pay for his opinion.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: He`s a former CIA -- he`s a former CIA director since then. And show no interest in helping this administration further the national security interest of this country. He`s paid for his opinion now. And his opinion is (INAUDIBLE) against to the interest of this administration which are serving the interest of our national security.
ALLEN: Look Kellyanne Conway`s criticism of Brennan especially cynical because the President himself as recruited as we all know an employed countless former T.V. news contributors, pundits and executives to serve right in this White House including his current now security advisor John Bolton.
Let me ask you Ginger, is it so bad to be on television, this President who did nine years of "The Apprentice". It really put him out there is his brand, and the reason on the White House most people think.
GIBSON: This President values what`s get said on cable news. He values the criticism that is there and views it as something that needs to be addressed directly. If Brennan --
MATTHEWS: Sean Hannity is sitting on his ear lobe.
GIBSON: Yes. The President is watching the cable news, he`s watching these people. If this guy was writing at columns in the "New York Times" and the "Wall Street Journal" and then at "Washington Post", President Trump probably wouldn`t have revoke the security clearance.
MATTHEWS: Does he read?
GIBSON: Well, I don`t know what --
MATTHEWS: He does read the headlines? I know he reads the headlines.
GIBSON: He cares about what gets that on cable, he cares about the object.
ALLEN: Kellyanne and George Conway live in some incredible glass house more to come out and say the cable news pundits don`t have any credibility given how much she has made for living --
MATTHEWS: Well, I`ll tell you it was a great guest for years here. I`m not going to knock it round, they will say what is that next. These table tell me something, I don`t know. You`re watching "Hardball".
MATTHEWS: An NBC News exclusive report, says President Trump is so frustrated with the pace of U.S. military progress in Afghanistan that he showed -- well he`s showing renewed interest in a proposal by Blackwater founder Erik Prince to privatize the war in Afghanistan.
The plan would take the Pentagon out of the loop and turn operations in the battlefield over to private military contractors who would report to a special envoy who then report directly to the President. And now security counsel spokesperson pushed back acknowledging Trump`s frustration for saying "Prince`s plan is not under consideration." We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the "Hardball" roundtable. Ginger tell me something I don`t know.
GIBSON: A Reuters analysis, a state legislative candidates across the country found that state legislators could go from having 25% women to 40% women and has sort (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: This time, I think it`s women`s year. Yes, I agree.
ALLEN: A big Republican donor name Ben Everhart. He`s the CEO of Canary. It`s an oil field services company. Sent a letter to his customer today or this week saying that they`re raising prices because of the tariffs. Starting to see the real effect of this Trump tariff.
MATTHEWS: It`s Oil?
ALLEN: Oil field services all depends around it.
BENNET: President Trump, we learn today said to spend 40 of the 64 days between Labor Day and the midterms on the trail, it`s really an effort to get out the base to mitigate the train right, that Republicans are afraid in the midterm length.
MATTHEWS: I think he can save the Senate and not the House. We`ll see. Ginger Gibson, Jonathan Allen, Geoff Bennet.
When we return, let me finish tonight with reactions to the passing of this Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. You`re watching "Hardball".
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with yet another effort to elevate the national conversation. I started out Monday praising the World War II broadcast of the great Edward R. Murrow the first to really set the standard getting the truth out to the people in challenging situations.
On Tuesday I -- covering from the Stockholm home speech of Noble Laureate William Faulkner where he predicted mankind without any survive. The nuclear threats to the Cold War era would prevail. And on Wednesday I studied Franklin Roosevelt`s Fala speech as an example of high tone political rapport. Say something we`ve surely need to find our way back to.
And last night I quoted another President Ronald Reagan on the essential value and validity of a free press. Well, along those lines I want to pay tribute tonight to the pattern I saw on the front pages of today`s major newspapers. The "New York Times", the "Wall Street Journal", and the "Washington Post". All displayed glorious historic photographs of Aretha Franklin.
All three put those portraits of her up there at the top of A1. As we say in the trade well above the fold. That they did so says well up today`s journalism.
Ms. Franklin was not a president or was her death violent or otherwise dramatic. It was her life that demanded the highest attention. What she did with it that put her up there above just below the banner. It was her work that won this country`s respect, her soul that seized this final hour.
That`s "Hardball" for now. Thanks for being with us. See you Monday. "All In With Chris Hayes" starts now.
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