Court Attorney investigated. TRANSCRIPT: 5/13/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Jackie Speier, Elliot Williams, Joel Payne, John Brabender, TeresaL. Todd, Dana Milbank

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST:  That does it for me.  Ari will be back tomorrow.  And I`ll see you back here tomorrow morning on First Look at 5:00 A.M. Eastern.

"HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts right now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump Justice?  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Tonight, Donald Trump is attacking his own people.  Not content to fire away at democrats or the media or anyone else for that matter, the President`s at war now with the very people he appointed to their top positions, his targets, anyone who shows loyalty to the rule of law, to historic government institutions like the FBI, anyone or thing but Donald J. Trump.

Over the weekend, Trump turned his rage against two administration officials, former White House Counsel Don McGahn and his FBI Director Christopher Wray.  Trump is trashing McGahn after the news broke Friday that McGahn had refused Trump`s demand to clear him of obstruction of justice for trying to fire Special Counsel Mueller.

On Saturday, Trump Tweeted, I was not going to fire Bob Mueller and did not fire Bob Mueller.  Actually, lawyer Don McGahn had a much better chance of being fired than Mueller.  Never a big fan.

Separately, Trump`s attack on FBI Director Wray comes after Wray refused to say in his testimony last week that the FBI had spied on Trump`s campaign.  Trump wanted him to use that word, spy.  In a series of Tweets yesterday, Trump quoted a right-wing activist saying, quote, the FBI has no leadership.  The Director is protecting the same gang that tried to overthrow the President through an illegal coup.

McGahn and Wray now join a growing list of officials, look at them, whom the President has publicly attacked after personally hiring them for top jobs.  The list assembled by The Washington Post includes, you won`t believe this list, the former Secretary of States and Defense, his former Chief of Staff, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  The pattern of behavior shows that Trump doesn`t want civil servants in his government.  He wants office holders to be his servants.

Meanwhile, the President`s administration continues a remarkable effort to erode the separation of powers by stonewalling Congress at every turn.  The Washington Post again counted 20 house inquiries that the President and his allies have blocked by ignoring requests or refusing subpoenas all together.

I`m joined now by U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, democrat of California and a member of the House Intelligence and the Oversight Committee, Heidi Przybyla is the National Political Correspondent for NBC News and Elliot Williams, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

Congresswoman, I just want to say, what do you make of this guy`s personality?  I mean, he hires people to be his top lawyer in the White House, the Head of the FBI, these are incredibly important positions, now, he trashes them.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  Well, it`s very typical of the President.  He is paranoid.  He is, you know, a narcissist, anti-social behavior.  He loves to attack people.  He gets his thrills out of attacking people.  Don McGahn, the White House Counsel, is probably responsible for keeping Donald Trump out of jail by preventing him from firing Bob Mueller.  I mean, he was going to actually resign, if we recall correctly, and he didn`t because Donald Trump finally said, okay, I won`t do it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, in a way what he points out the character of other people and his own lack, what do you think about the fact that McGahn has stood up to him?  He won`t clear him on obstruction of justice.  He refuses under testimony.  He won`t say the President is clean.  And then Wray refuses the word, spy.  It reminds me of what George Bush Sr. once said, I`m not going to allow the NRA to describe government officials as jackbooted thugs.  I believe in the government.  Trump doesn`t.

SPEIER:  So what we have is a president who wants a group of sycophants around him.  And if you stand up to him at all, you`re either fired or leave on your own accord.  And as you pointed out, there is a very long list.  This president can`t keep staff, he can`t field a cabinet and he can`t work with congress.  This is not someone who should be the President of the United States.

And Lindsey Graham is a classic example.  He on the campaign --

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of him?  What`s he up to?

SPEIER:  Well, on the campaign trail, you remember, he said things like he`s a cook, I think he is crazy, he`s unfit to be in office.  And now, he has done a total flip.  So he has become one of those sycophants for whatever reasons because he probably is afraid that if he isn`t, he will lose his senatorial seat.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, I was just checking today because I think like you do, Congresswoman.  I do think, politically, occasionally.  I`m just kidding.  I look at one of his republican support is in South Carolina.  Lindsey Graham`s state is for Trump.  It`s 82 percent, more than four out of five.  That`s a safe place to be a sycophant.

Anyway, here`s what the President said today when asked about his unprecedented stonewalling of the U.S. Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  You`ve talked about transparency, sir.  If you`re so transparent, why continue to block these House Democrats looking for information?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Because they`re asking for things that they`re not entitled to.  I could ask them, I assume, if they ask me, I could ask them for the same kind of thing.  They wouldn`t want to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And there he is sitting next to that autocrat from Hungary, Orban.  It`s unbelievable.  He wants to be like Orban, an absolute boss.

Anyway, in an interview yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham chose to side with the President`s familyover the institution he serves in, which is the United States Senate.  Graham said that Donald Trump Jr. should not comply with the subpoena issued by his colleagues in the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Here he goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  If I were Donald Trump Jr.`s lawyer, I would tell him you don`t need to go back into this environment anymore.  You`ve been there for hours and hours and hours and nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation.  I would call it a day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Elliot, what do you make of the fact that the President`s telling -- well, actually the Senator from South Carolina, the friend of the President, his golfing buddy, is saying ignore subpoenas from the Senate?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Boy, the fear of a primary challenge is one hell of a drug.  I tell you that because he sort of mixed up -- what would 1999 Lindsey Graham -- impeachment Lindsey Graham or 2006 Lindsey Graham, who was cutting immigration deals with democrats, think about what we just watched right there?  And it`s feeding into the President`s notion that Congress isn`t a co-equal branch of government that is entitled to do its own investigating of criminal and other matters.  So --

MATTHEWS:  These guys aren`t profiles-in-courage, are they?

WILLIAMS:  No.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  The thing is it is not just Lindsey Graham.  And I think this is a moment that was underappreciated.  And it`s not just Mitch McConnell, Chris.  Did you watch the Senate Judiciary Committee interview Bill Barr?  There were hardly any questions about what was very, very troubling report, a two-year report on just the extent to which the Russians attacked this country and the questions were all about investigating the investigators.  It was very partisan and I think a sign that the President continues to do this because he gets away with it.

You showed that long list of people who have been given the boot.  It continues to happen because unless you are a republican who is retiring, and we saw this in the last Congress and we`re seeing it in this Congress.  We saw it in the last Congress with Corker being the lone voice and now with Burr on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Intelligence Committee, being the one person who is going to be to stand up for it here and he`s getting beat up for it.  So it is not just one or two republicans, it is a party systemic issue.

WILLIAMS:  And Graham`s whole thing also calls attention to the fact that Don Jr. did not speak to Mueller the first time around.  So everybody is getting conscripted into protecting the Trump family and Lindsey Graham is just carrying the President`s water.  It seems like he would do quite well as a member of the administration because what he`s doing is showing for the President and not really do much job --

MATTHEWS:  I just wonder.  Congresswoman, what do you think about this cult of personality?  Because it does seem that the Republican Party, which I grew up in a moderate republican family, my brothers, a couple of them still are, but they actually believe in fiscal responsibility, they actually believe in alliances around the world, they actually believe in rule by law.  I mean, Trump doesn`t believe in anything except Trump.  It really is a difference and yet this party is going along with him like little ducklings, trumpeting and trumpeting along behind the master, like that`s the right reference but --

SPEIER:  I think what`s really -- well, I think what`s really remarkable here is Senator Burr has actually voted with the President over 80 percent of the time.  So his calling on Donald Trump Jr. to come before him with a subpoena is because they`ve negotiated for months and Donald Trump Jr. has not been cooperative.  He used the world, cult.  Well, I know a fair amount about cults having been in Jonestown back in 1978, and it`s a little eerie to see the kind of sycophants that the Senate has become on behalf of the President.

And it`s all about somehow being able to stay in the Senate.  If the voters started to turn, you would see those Senators turn just as fast.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that term which we used for years, maybe dark humor, drinking the Kool-Aid.  When you bump into your republican colleagues, and you do, it`s part of the traffic over there in the House, you bump into them, do they look like they`re a little zonked out on Trump?  Or how would you describe -- do they admit to you, look, I got to get re-elected.

SPEIER:  Sure, they do.

MATTHEWS:  They do?

SPEIER:  If course, they do.  Yes.  There are a number who have said that to me, that they rolled their eyes about the President.  But, you know, they say very clearly that they`re worried about someone from the right running against them in the republican primary.

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Well, here is somebody who drank deeply of the -- whatever -- the Kool-Aid.  Here is Rudy Giuliani.  He says he`s cancelled his trip to Ukraine to ask the government of that country to investigate Trump`s political opponent, Joe Biden.  Giuliani`s attempts to enlist a foreign country, of course, to interfere in another presidential election provoked widespread outrage after it was reported by The Times last week, that he`s going over there to get dirt on this president -- the current president`s possible opponent, Joe Biden.

Anyway, late Friday night, Giuliani announced that he`s backing off the idea of going to Ukraine not because it`s wrong or even illegal, he says, but because he now says that the government of Ukraine is Trump`s enemy.  Let`s watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP`S PERSONAL ATTORNEY:  I`m not going to go to the Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER:  You`re not going to go?

GIULIANI:  I`m not going to go because I think I`m walking into a group of people that are enemies of the President, in some cases, enemies of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, now, Trump is saying he could urge the Attorney General to investigate Biden, he said, his possible 2020 opponent.  As Trump told Politico late Friday, it certainly would be an appropriate thing to speak to him about, but I have not done that as yet.

Heidi, you know everything so I`m going to ask you this.  What happened to Rudy Giuliani`s crazy trip to Kiev?  Could it be that he was punked?  Because I`ve been reading today that maybe the group that had invited him did not have a good intention for him and he finally figured out he was being lured (ph) --

PRZYBYLA:  First of all, was he invited?  Because a lot of the reporting was that he was going to go there and try to get a meeting.  And then some of the reporting came out that -- well, that they actually didn`t want to meet with him.

MATTHEWS:  From Zelensky, the new President.

PRZYBYLA:  Correct.  So, yes, in a sense, he got punked.  But the amazing part of this story was just the brazenness and the openness.  Okay, so now, I`m going to get on a United flight to Kiev and talk to a foreign government about how he can try to bring down Trump`s political adversary.  All aboard.

MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry.  Go ahead.

WILLIAMS:  Personally, on top of that, there is no world in which it`s ever okay for a President of the United States to direct or dictate -- to dictate prosecutions.  And, look, I watched a show with a woman riding a dragon blowing up a city last night and it`s not okay there either.  There is never a circumstance.  This is why we left the British Republic -- the British Empire, the thought of rulers getting too much power and using that power to go after the political adversaries.

MATTHEWS:  Well, public pressure still matters a bit.  Why do you think Rudy Giuliani didn`t pull off his trip to Kiev, Congresswoman?  Do you think it was the embarrassment that everybody thought you look like an idiot going over there looking for more dirt when the whole colossal scandal over the last few years about getting dirt from an eastern power over there?

SPEIER:  So, I think, a couple of things.  First of all, he is not a member of the executive branch.  So was he going to fly over there on a campaign credit card from Donald Trump?  I think, clearly, he was probably violating the Logan Act.  The President has been throwing the Logan Act around, but he is not a member of the administration, and is going to a foreign country to negotiate with that foreign country.  Once again, I think the President is operating off the seat of his pants.  And probably what happened is there was a lot of blowback because they got off of it very fast.

MATTHEWS:  And I don`t think Rudy Giuliani -- speaking of pants, I don`t think he was spending any personal funds on this trip to go to Ukraine, my guess.

PRZYBYLA:  This is -- you know, we laugh about it, but this is what Lock Her Up was all about during the campaign, and we, the media, were berated for taking it seriously.  And now, you have Rudy Giuliani going to Kiev and you have the President saying that it`s well within his rights to talk with Barr about investigating his political adversaries.

WILLIAMS:  There is a long bipartisan tradition and history in the Justice Department of the President, even as the head of the executive branch, not meddling in the affairs of the Justice Department.  I was making the point earlier --

MATTHEWS:  So it`s wrong to suggest the prosecution?

WILLIAMS:  It is absolutely wrong to suggest a prosecution.  It`s absolutely wrong, frankly, to talk about the substance of prosecutions with anyone in the Justice Department.  And believe it or -- even as the head of the executive branch, there is a pretty strict and clear wall between the White House and --

MATTHEWS:  I guess I`m (INAUDIBLE) memory here, young man, and I remember the big steel crisis and Bobby and Jack Kennedy going after the steel executives.  5:00 in the morning, the FBI was investigating these guys, saying that they`re using their expense accounts for their girlfriends.  I mean, it was pretty rough in those days.

WILLIAMS:  In the Justice Department that I worked in for six years at a very senior level, I do remember quite specifically one that -- you know, if the White House ever tried sniffing around anything we were doing, it was a problem.

PRZYBYLA:  It`s a context policy that we`ve created after Watergate to prevent this type of undue influence --

MATTHEWS:  After Bobby and Jack Kennedy, yes.

PRZYBYLA:  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  Times have changed for the better, young man.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has until this Friday to comply with a House subpoena for the President`s tax returns, which he has so far, of course, refused to turn over to the Congress.  The President now says he wants them to be an election issue, his tax returns, Tweeting, I won the 2016 election partially based on no tax returns while I`m under audit, which I still am, and the voters didn`t care.  Now, the radical left democrats want to, again, re-litigate this matter.  Make it a part of the 2020 election.  This is Trump Tweeting.

Well, today, Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey threatened to fine or jail Secretary Mnuchin if he doesn`t comply.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BILL PASCRELL (D-NJ):  Mr. Mnuchin should remember, as our Treasury Secretary, that 71 -- 7214 in the code is even clearer as to what happens if you do not hand over the tax returns.  There are fines.  There is jail.  There is -- et cetera, et cetera.  This is serious business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Congresswoman, this is HARDBALL, and I will bring out my sarcastic wit.  Can you imagine the Sergeant-at-Arms for the U.S. House of Representatives going to the Treasury Department, demanding entrance into the Treasury building right next to the White House, demanding to be able to arrest the Secretary of the Treasury because he`s not complying with this subpoena and then dragging him up to some cell on Capitol Hill and putting him in there until such time as it`s decided how to proceed?

Now, I don`t think that`s going to happen nor will it be a fine exacted against the Secretary of the Treasury.  All these remedies that are somewhere in the pocket of the constitution, somewhere in the statute book, how are you going to make them work?

SPEIER:  Well, Chris, they`re there for a reason.  Now, they haven`t been used since the 1930s, but we do have that authority.  And I don`t think you should dismiss so cavalierly the --

MATTHEWS:  But how do you do it though?

SPEIER:  Well, no, I think you -- I think we can call him to the House floor where he can be tried, he can be fined.  I don`t know that we will put him in -- behind bars, but there are places in the Capitol where someone could be held.  I mean, this is so clear in the constitution that - -

MATTHEWS:  This is so Venezuela.  This is so Venezuela, Congresswoman.  (INAUDIBLE) something down there.  Do you really think that the Congress -- go ahead.  You go ahead.

SPEIER:  Well, it`s so clear in the constitution or in the statute that you shall turn over the tax returns.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

SPEIER:  So the fact that that hasn`t happened, that there are lackeys in these positions that are not complying with it, means that they are violating the law.  And Congress does have independent authority.  We are an equal branch of government with the executive branch, and the President doesn`t get that.  He somehow thinks that he is superior.  He is not.  The only thing that is superior is the constitution of the United States.

MATTHEWS:  I agree completely in this sentiment and the spirit of what you say.  I just wonder how does it become operational.  And you believe there is a real possibility plausibly that the U.S. Congress will send the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House to go arrest the Secretary of the Treasury?  That`s plausible?

SPEIER:  I think it could happen.  I think it could happen.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s news.

WILLIAMS:  But even if it doesn`t, we still haven`t gone to the courts yet.  There is still another branch of government that -- you know, that can address this.

MATTHEWS:  Judge Kavanaugh is waiting for the case.

WILLIAMS:  If they don`t comply with the court order, then we`re at the crisis point.

MATTHEWS:  I think we`ve got to vote next year, the American people have to vote on this kind of government and they`ve react to it strongly or it`s going to get worse.  A second term of Trump will be much more of this scufflery (ph).

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier.  Sorry to put you on the skill.  And I really do have a problem with the operational powers of Congress.  I think it`s an elaborative (ph) body, not an operational one.  Thank you.  Heidi Przybyla, thank you.  And thank you, Elliot Williams.

Coming up, who is getting hit hardest by the trade wars?  We`re getting serious where the tire hits the road.  Trump says it`s China, but the American consumer also getting hit with 25 percent markups and what we buy.  All that cotton, is this the necessary price to stop China`s economic aggression, however?

Plus, Trump`s long fight to change Washington`s 4th of July celebration to make it all about -- I can`t believe he`s grabbing the 4th of July and how he`s turning this year`s event, the 4th, into the mother of all MAGA rallies.

Much more ahead, stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The bottom line is, we are taking in tremendous amounts of money.  It already started as of last Friday, but it really started seven months before that. 

It`s in the form of tariffs or taxes.  And it had a tremendous impact.  So we`re in a very good position, and I think it`s only going to get better. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was President Trump, of course, in the Oval Office today saying he isn`t backing down on his escalating trade war with China. 

After Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods last week, China fired back with $60 billion worth of tariffs on American goods. 

For President Trump, who can boast about a much-improved U.S. economy, this promised battle was the potential -- has the potential to cause some economic pain everywhere.  In the last five trading days, for example, the Dow Jones average has dropped almost 1,000 points, costing stockholders the reality of about a 4 percent loss of their wealth. 

Four percent is a lot. 

Since Friday, the president has tweeted and retweeted more than two dozen times about the economy and the ongoing trade war.  And while the president continues to inaccurately -- or incorrectly say it is China who is paying for tariffs, his own economic adviser, Lawrence Kudlow, is saying it`s Americans who are going to suffer. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL:  In fact, both sides will pay, both sides will pay in these things.  And, of course, it depends...

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY":  Well, if it`s a tariff on goods coming into the country, the Chinese aren`t paying. 

KUDLOW:  No, but the Chinese will suffer GDP losses and so forth. 

WALLACE:  They may suffer consequences, but it`s U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers who pay, correct? 

KUDLOW:  Yes, to some extent.  I don`t disagree with that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: "I don`t disagree with that," because it`s true. 

For more, I`m joined by John Brabender, Republican strategist, and Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist. 

Let`s talk the politics of this.  And, in all fairness, I think Donald Trump, although he`s in many ways a wealthy guy and a Republican, I guess - - you think he is now? 

He`s also running against trade.  And that has been a position a lot of people I grew up with in Pennsylvania were against.  They thought trade was negative.  They didn`t like the Kennedy Round.  They didn`t like all this free trade talk.  It hurts the working -- it killed industry in big -- it states like Pennsylvania. 

And some people like Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bobby Casey and Marcy Kaptur, there`s a lot of Democrats who are very much against what`s been called free trade. 

Trump comes along and says, I`m going to do something about it.  Everybody knows, Joel, it`s going to hurt.  If you get into a trade war with a country that makes stuff really well -- I mean, the cotton undershirts, dress shirts, everything we buy is cotton, is 100 percent cotton, and everybody likes it.

  And it comes from China.  It doesn`t kill us.  So it`s very hard to fight with them.  We want their stuff. 

JOEL PAYNE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Yes, look, and I think the president -- look, even as a Democrat, has made a smart play on trade.

But he`s like a bull in a china shop.  What he`s not taking into account is the collateral damage that he`s causing to the economy.  You mentioned the 4 percent that`s been impacted by the stock market.  What about all the people who are going to be impacted by all these goods going up in costs?

And also not to be honest about it -- it`s the same thing as saying Mexico`s going to pay for the wall.  Mexico is not going to pay for the wall.

MATTHEWS:  What would a good Democrat do?  You`re a Democratic strategist.  What would a good Democrat do on trade?  Because we have been stuck with this situation for years with China. 

PAYNE:  I think there are places to agree with the president on trade. 

I think someone like Sherrod Brown has been smart about finding those places to agree.  And I wouldn`t talk down the economy.  But what I wouldn`t do is line up behind Donald Trump in terms of tone and in terms of being the type of economic statesman that we`re expecting in the Oval Office. 

MATTHEWS:  Well said.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Yes, but here`s what people don`t understand. 

This is Donald Trump.  In fact, I would argue China might be the biggest reason that he ran.  What he`s doing is saying, look, there`s one thing worse than getting a no deal, and that`s getting a really bad deal. 

Most politicians will go, they will have these meetings, and if they walk away with no deal, they say, we failed.  That`s not how Trump looks at it. 

Second of all, Trump believes, in the case of China right now, we`re negotiating from strength.  Their economy is nowhere near as strong as our economy.  And he`s willing to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Real simply, what do we sell in China?  I know we buy from them, cotton goods, shirts, everything, like pants, khaki pants and everything.  What do we sell them? 

BRABENDER:  Well, we sell them soybeans.  And right now, they`re down 90 percent because of this whole tariffs deal. 

And what`s interesting, though, is the farmers and people in the Rust Belt are still staying with this president, understanding that we need to have a long-term deal, not short-term.  And so...

PAYNE:  Well, of course they are, because of his strategy, right?

It`s a base strategy.  So, there is not a strategy that is built on going after moderates and going after independents.  He doesn`t care about that.  He`s created this culture war where he`s got 35 percent to 40 percent of the people that are going to always be with him. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What are these people trading?  They`re giving up economic pain.  They`re accepting it.  Higher prices. 

PAYNE:  Well, they want to be a part of the gang.  They want to be a part of the Trump gang or the Trump club.  That`s what they`re trading.  They`re trading...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I`m talking about voters.  I`m talking about regular voters. 

PAYNE:  Yes, that`s what I`m talking about, too.  These people want to be associated -- they want to be associated with Donald Trump. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump`s confrontational approach to China should come as no surprise, as he campaigned heavily on the issue, as you said, Joel, in 2016.  Let`s watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  We`re going to stand up to China on trade. 

China, which has been ripping us off, the greatest abuser in the history of this country. 

We can`t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that`s what they`re doing.  It`s the greatest theft in the history of the world. 

Then they say we`re going to lose the trade war.  We`re already lose the trade war, folks. 

We`re losing $500 billion in trade with China.  Who the hell cares if there is a trade war? 

We`re in a competition with the world, and I want America to win. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  When it comes to the president`s supporters on issues like this, "Wall Street Journal" columnist Peggy Noonan writes -- I liked her column this week -- ":I have never talked to a Trump supporter who thought Trump had a high personal character.  On the other high they sincerely believe he has a high political character, in that he pursues the issues he campaigned on.  They hired him as an insult to the political class, as a Hail Mary pass.  We have tried everything else.  Maybe this will work, and because we agreed with him on the issues."

John.

BRABENDER:  Well, here`s -- she`s right.  And here`s what I don`t understand, is the left keeps saying, well, he`s just playing to his base, and they`re just responding. 

Well, his base are Democrats in places like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Youngstown, Ohio.  I don`t understand why the left is constantly criticizing the base they wish that they had.  This is on this particular issue they think we have been getting sand kicked in our face all over the world for decades, and they`re pretty happy when they see this...

PAYNE:  And now they`re being lied to by a president who is saying that they are not going to shoulder the burden of his food-fight with China. 

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER:  They see somebody standing up and representing them and giving them a megaphone for the first time in a long time, and they like it, quite frankly. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, my problem with the Chinese -- and I think they`re good at it -- they have long-term plans.  They had like two bad centuries after the last 20 or 30 centuries, 19th and 20th. 

They`re going to win this century.  And the Chinese want to win it by having a great trade advantage with us.  And they get all that cash they get from us, and they go buy all the land in Africa. 

That`s what they do.

PAYNE:  Chris, can I just say something about the economy real quick? 

MATTHEWS:  No, I want to say that point. 

PAYNE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  China wins.  They beat us on trade.  And they take the money and they go around buying up resources all around the world forever. 

PAYNE:  And there is a part of that that Trump plays into, which is, we`re not going to get kicked around again, which is smart political theater. 

But the point I want to make here is about, I think there`s this thought that Donald Trump has -- how can he lose with this economy?  I think you should turn around the other way and say, how is he not winning by more?  How is he only at 45 or 46 percent with one of the greatest economies we have ever seen?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Because of his character.  Because of his character.  Because of what Peggy Noonan just wrote, his personal character.

PAYNE:  Exactly. 

BRABENDER:  But at least I appreciate you saying that Donald Trump has created one of the greatest economies of all time, because there`s truth to that.

PAYNE:  Well, I don`t think I said that.  I don`t think I said that.

Thanks, Obama.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I`m not sure the jobs are all great, but I was taught in school, in grad school -- I was working for a Ph.D. actually at one point -- you couldn`t get 3.6 percent unemployment, that you couldn`t get that low. 

So something`s going -- Pennsylvania, by the latest numbers, incredible numbers in Pennsylvania on the economy. 

Thank you, John Brabender and Joel Payne.  Good competition here. 

A quick reminder:  Don`t miss HARDBALL`s special live event "The Deciders."  We`re heading to Pennsylvania find out what issues are important to people up there and why they vote the way they do.  That`s Thursday night at 7:00 Eastern right here on MSNBC.

And coming up now, next, the Trump administration is cracking down on U.S. citizens who just show any good samaritan help to migrants they bump into.  What are you supposed to do when you see somebody dying? 

Up next, we will talk to the good samaritan who could be facing criminal charges after pulling off the highway to help three young migrants in distress. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

President Trump`s call for a wall on the southern border with Mexico has been at the center of his plan, of course, to crack down on illegal immigration. 

Well, meanwhile, "The New York Times" reports -- quote -- "As the Trump administration moves on multiple fronts to shut down illegal border crossings, it has also stepped up punitive measures targeting private American citizens who provide compassionate help to migrants, good samaritan aid that is often intended to just save somebody`s live. "

In January, four humanitarian aid volunteers with an Arizona nonprofit were convicted of misdemeanor charges for leaving water and food for migrants coming by.  An additional volunteer with the group faces federal felony harboring and concealment charges. 

Well, "The New York Times" highlights the case of Texas County attorney Teresa Todd, who stopped to help three young Central American migrants. 

The report notes: "Ms. Todd told the three young people to get out of the cold and into her car.  She was phoning and texting friends for help when the sheriff`s deputy drove up, followed soon by the Border Patrol.  She says: `They asked me to step behind my car.  And the supervisor came and started Mirandizing me.  And then he says that I could be found guilty of transporting illegal aliens.`"

Wow. 

Well, joining me right now is Teresa Todd, county attorney of Jeff Davis County, Texas. 

Thank you.  Teresa, thank you for coming on. 

TERESA L. TODD, JEFF DAVIS, TEXAS, COUNTY ATTORNEY:  Thank you for having me. 

MATTHEWS:  And I think the best thing you can do is, without many questions from you, just tell us your good samaritan experience and how it went the way it did. 

TODD:  Yes. 

I was driving home from work one night.  I had had a late meeting at the city of Marfa.  And I had had a working dinner after that.  It was almost 10:00.  And I was driving the 20 miles between Marfa and Presidio County and Fort Davis, where I live in Jeff Davis County.

And a young man just ran out into the road and flagged me down.  He was about the same size as -- he looked about the same age as my younger son.  So, my heart just went out to him.  And I thought, oh, my lord, I have got to stop and help this young man.  What if this were my son?  I would want somebody to stop and help him. 

So I turned around, drove all the way back around, and stopped to talk to him.  And he was with his brother and his sister.  They had all been traveling for days.  They didn`t have food or water.  And his sister was very, very ill. 

I could tell that she needed immediate medical attention.  It was chilly that night.  So I asked them to get in my car, so they would be in out of the elements.  I turned on the heater.  And I called -- tried to call a friend who works for a refugee services organization.

And then I called my friend who is sector counsel for the U.S. Border Patrol.  And while I`m making these calls, I see someone pull up very slowly behind me.  I don`t know who it is.  And it was very scary, because I didn`t know if it was somebody who might want to cause harm to the kids or to me. 

So it ended up, it was a Presidio County sheriff`s deputy.  And he came.  And I explained the situation.  I explained that the sister, who now I know her name is Esmeralda, that she really needed medical assistance immediately. 

The Border Patrol came.  And I assumed that I, of course, would be asked to come down to the station and give a statement.  I mean, I`m a prosecutor in Texas.  We take statements from witnesses. 

But when they asked me to step behind my car and started Mirandizing me for harboring or transporting illegal aliens, it was very surreal.  And it was crazy.  And I immediately said: "I didn`t do that.  I didn`t do anything.  I`m just trying to help these kids."

But they took the kids in.

MATTHEWS:  Well, here`s the question.  We have got to figure out the lesson, because everything has to give us a lesson. 

What were you supposed to do, as a human being, an American, or whatever?  You`re walking -- you`re driving along in the dark.  You see people in desperate trouble.  Are they arguing you should have just left them alone out there to die maybe, in the one case of the one person who`s really in trouble physically? 

Is that what they said to you, you should just let them alone, just leave them out there alone? 

TODD:  No.

What they did say after they released me was that it wasn`t safe for me traveling alone to have stopped to help anyone on the side of the road. 

MATTHEWS:  Hmm. 

What do you think should be done?  Is there an experience there that is useful to -- because there is always this battle between humanity and our sovereignty.  How do we protect our sovereignty and also respect the humanity of people who are in desperate need for a better life? 

How do we put the two together?  That is, to me, the conundrum. 

TODD:  It`s a great question, Chris.

And I have thought a lot about it.  And in Texas law, we have several defenses to prosecution for situations where one person is trying to help another.  We have a defense of necessity.  We have a defense of defense of third persons.  And we have another defense that has to do with people`s physical welfare. 

So I believe that -- I`m not aware of there being any of these types of defenses under a federal immigration law, but I think there needs to be.  I think that`s how we preserve our humanity. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  Well said.  It`s so great to have you on.  I`m so glad we read about your story in "The New York Times." 

Teresa Todd, good luck with the legal proceedings.  I got to believe you`re going to make it.  But you`re a good person.  I will tell you that.  I know that. 

TODD:  I appreciate...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If I was out there in the desert, I would want you to stop. 

So, that`s -- you look at it that way.

Up next...

TODD:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, thank you. 

Donald Trump thinks Americans` Independence Day -- that`s the Fourth of July -- our celebrations here in Washington need to be more about Donald Trump. 

How this president`s inserting him -- you won`t believe this -- this is cartoonish -- how he`s inserting himself into America`s birthday celebration.  It used to be the Beach Boys.  Now it`s him. 

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Ever since President Trump got to see the splendid pageantry of the annual Bastille Day celebration over in France, there it is, he`s been trying to find a way to have one here for himself.  As soon as he got home from Paris, he got to work. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I was your guests at Bastille Day.  And it was one of the greatest parades I`ve ever seen.  I came back and one of my early calls were I think we`re going to have to start looking at that ourselves.  We`re actually thinking about 4th of July, Pennsylvania Avenue, having a really great parade to show our military strength. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Sometimes he talks like he`s 8 years old. 

Well, that idea quickly morphed into a plan to host a military parade on Veterans Day which eventually flamed out because it was too expensive.  And then in February this year, during a cabinet meeting, President Trump announced he was considering hosting a 4th of July event at the Lincoln Memorial. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  We`re thinking about doing something which would become perhaps a tradition, a salute to America on July 4th or July 4th weekend, somewhere around that area.  I think it would be a very exciting day, and the fireworks is there anyway, so we just saved on fireworks.  We get free fireworks because it`s already being done. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That`s why they have cabinet meetings. 

Anyway, that tradition, of course, for 4th of July celebrations clearly already exists.  In fact, Washington, D.C. has a long history of paying tribute to our military during this national holiday.  So, stay tuned to find out how President Trump plans to rebrand Trumpy, the 4th of July. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

If you`re planning to visit the National Mall for the 4th of July celebration, take note that things are changing.  According to "The Washington Post," President Trump has taken charge of the 4th of July, the celebration, receiving regular briefings on the effort in the Oval Office and has got involved in the minutia of the planning, showing interest in the event he often doesn`t exhibit for other administration priorities. 

Well, administration officials said that "The Washington Post", they tell them, that the fireworks display is moving from the mall to a location closer to the Potomac River and plans are being made for the president himself to deliver an address from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

For more than 50 years, of course, the National Park Service has been in charge of the event, which includes a free concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol, and a parade typically of presidential speeches are not part of the events. 

For more, I`m joined by Dana Milbank, columnist for "The Washington Post", and a man known to satire lovers everywhere, and Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian. 

Let`s start with the history.  The Beach Boys, the Reagans were so smart.  They never tried to politicize it. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody wants -- it`s blazing hot in Washington.  It`s not always, but it`s the hottest month, according to the farmer`s almanac.  Hotter than March.  I`m sorry, obviously, March -- much hotter than August. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  And it just blazes and sweats.  The one thing is free entertainment on the Mall and now he wants to turn it into a Trump event. 

BESCHLOSS:  And without the president sticking his face in the middle of it.  And that`s a tradition. 

You know, it goes all the way back to George Washington who from the very beginning he could have been a king, he could have been called your majesty.  He didn`t want that. 

What did he do on the 4th of July?  He couldn`t have given a speech somewhere.  Instead, he mostly spent it at Mount Vernon. 

Calvin Coolidge in 1928 was trout fishing. 

Recent presidents tend to watch the fireworks from the balcony, Truman balcony, or they go home. 

MATTHEWS:  The Canadian embassy is a good place.

BESCHLOSS:  Yes, something -- not a bad thing.  It`s a pretty good view.  The Federal Reserve does the same thing. 

But it`s not about the president.  It`s about the country.  It`s about the Founders.  It`s about our history.  And we`ll see what Donald Trump does with this, but if this turns out to be a Donald Trump festival, this sounds more like an authoritarian government than ours. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, a little bit of el doche (ph) here, don`t you think?  He wanted the parade that`s very much, he wanted the big parade.

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Sure.  Now, this is the worst parade envy that I`ve heard of, you know?  You know, first, he tried to take over Veterans Day, and now, he`s gone to the Fourth of July. 

Michael mentioned George Washington.  We know when Trump -- 

MATTHEWS:  You have to turn these things to the period. 

MILBANK:  When Trump took my phone out there --

MATTHEWS:  Parade envy.  Where did you get that line from? 

(CROSSTALK)

MILBANK:  When Trump took Macron out there, he took out there to Mount Vernon -- 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

MILBANK:  -- and he said -- he was baffled that George Washington had not named Mount Vernon after himself. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right. 

MILBANK:  He said, if you don`t name stuff after yourself, nobody`s ever going to remember you.  Of course, that`s exactly what happened to poor George Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but he got a capital named after him. 

MILBANK:  Yes, that`s the point.  This is what Trump has always done, first with his buildings and now he`s trying to inject himself into Christmas. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right. 

MILBANK:  I mean, tonight is the Iftar dinner at the White House.  No doubt it`s the Donald Trump Ramadan celebration or something like that. 

MATTHEWS:  But I feel like we`re watching Wilbur --

BESCHLOSS:  Ross. 

MATTHEWS:  We`re watching those guys all sitting there probingly as the president has a serious meeting.  Why don`t we have a big celebration with me giving a big speech? 

BESCHLOSS:  Did you expect them to disagree? 

MATTHEWS:  It`s so frightening. 

BESCHLOSS:  Fireworks on the National Mall. 

MATTHEWS:  But the part of the president that is 8 years old, is so true.  And actually I think some people vote for him would agree with it.  Some parts of him are like that kid in "Big," the grown-up who is actually still a kid, you know?

He likes big parades.  He wants to have, you know, like Nixon wanting the big uniforms.  What you want if you`re 8 years old.  I want a parade.  I`m president. 

BESCHLOSS:  I hope that`s all it is, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, help me out here. 

BESCHLOSS:  I hope we can come back and say that`s all it was.  I`m not so sure.  The host of Viktor Orban, the dictator of Hungary, who said he was a great guy and approves of what he`s done in his country of Hungary.  There are a lot of signs that suggest that we`re not exactly dealing with the free floating anxiety and worrying that --

MATTHEWS:  Why is he --

BESCHLOSS:  -- Donald Trump would love to be a dictator. 

MATTHEWS:  I do think it`s scary for history.  He likes Kim Jong-un for no reason. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  He likes Vladimir Putin for no reason.  He likes Netanyahu, slightly different classification.  He likes tough guys. 

MILBANK:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And yet, he won`t talk to the ayatollah.  He won`t talk to people he should be doing business with. 

MILBANK:  You never know whether it`s following a totalitarian streak or whether it`s just being done sort of clumsily. 

BESCHLOSS:  We do not know that. 

MILBANK:  And it seems often to be a mixture of the two things. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right. 

MILBANK:  But we know what`s going to happen.  Some people are going to boycott the thing.  There will probably be a protest there.  Now, the 4th of July is now even politicized.  Is it now going to be the Trump Liberty Bell at the Trump independence hall? 

MATTHEWS:  I was talking to my producers today and we were trying to figure out what this is about.  It`s taking a holiday.  Of course, it`s about our independence, the 4th of July, but people don`t think about that.  What they think about on the 4th of July, this is a holiday.  The whole country can have fun together.  It`s a holiday and he`s turning it into a political day. 

BESCHLOSS:  And the most recent time somebody tried to do that was Richard Nixon July 4th, 1970, couple of months after he had very controversially announced that he was invading Cambodia.  Four students killed at Kent State.  Later on students in Mississippi killed at Jackson State.

So, Nixon wanted to bring the attention back to himself favorably, so they had what was called "Honor America Day."  Big ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial.  Kate Smith, Bob Hope --

MATTHEWS:  She`s had a hard week or two, Kate Smith.  Not what she used to be. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right.  Has been accused lately --

MATTHEWS:  Giving racist speeches for songs back in the `30s. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right.  But in any case, the idea was a little good publicity for Nixon.  Even Nixon had the good taste and restraint to know that it would not finally help him for him to be there, so he went to San Clementi and let "Honor America Day" transpire and there were weed smoking protesters and they waded into the reflecting pool.  It was never Trump. 

MATTHEWS:  If I want to give my speech about people coming to Washington, I love this city. 

BESCHLOSS:  Of course. 

MATTHEWS:  I`ve been here most of my life. 

It`s free if you can afford a hotel room within 20 or 30 miles, you can get one cheap.  And everything is free.  All the museums are free.  All the monuments are free. 

I tell people come to Washington, you already paid for it.  That is so true. 

Dana Milbank, thank you.  Michael Beschloss, come to Washington.  You already paid for it. 

Up next, the blue state of Pennsylvania wasn`t supposed to go for Trump in 2016 but it did.  I want to find out this week. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I grew up with my four brothers in Pennsylvania on the Philadelphia border with Bucks County.  And when we moved there, we had barbed wire out back to keep the cows off the property, and a view I remember of five farm houses in different directions. 

So, I wasn`t completely a city kid.  I grew up with the usual Pennsylvanian sense that we were getting passed over, ignored, really, as we watched all the shows on television talk about New York and how great it is, Chicago, and Los Angeles, of course. 

Well, this Thursday night, we`re taking this show to Pennsylvania to learn something about this great country.  How did Donald Trump win the presidency?  And how can he win it again? 

Pennsylvania was the blue wall that was going to guarantee the presidency to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Guarantee because the Democratic Party`s presidential candidate has been a key part of the Democratic electoral victory for candidates practically from the days of Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama.  In fact, the last time the Democrats won the election without carrying Pennsylvania was in 1948 when Truman beat New York Governor Thomas Dewey.  That`s 3/4 of a century of the Pennsylvania blue wall.

So what happened three years ago?  Why did the blue state of Pennsylvania go to Donald Trump?  Wasn`t supposed to, so why did it? 

Well, this Thursday, we`re going to Luzerne County, which shifted dramatically, there it is on the map, from the Democrats to Trump in 2016.  We want to hear from real people.  Why?  What mattered to them, what was at stake to them, what was their attitude to Trump, to Hillary Clinton, to the political establishment of both parties, and are they ready to do it all over again in 2020 or not? 

That`s HARDBALL for now. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. 

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END