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Mueller bookends public statement. TRANSCRIPT: 6/5/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Steve Bullock, Claire McCaskill, Susan Page, Jamal Simmons, ClintWatts, Yamiche Alcindor, Bill Nye

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  We`ll be reporting on this race going forward.  I hope you come back.

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT):  Thanks again for having me today, Ari.

MELBER:  Absolutely.  Thanks to Governor Bullock.

That is this episode of THE BEAT.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The Looney Tunes in London.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington, but the craziest story in the world tonight is in London, where the President of the United States today was performing the political equivalent of Looney Tunes.

Trump started by saying he got out of going to Vietnam because, as he said, quote, nobody ever heard of the country.  I claim that maybe at the top of his all time list, given the fact that when he grabbed his bone spur draft dodge in 1968, the Vietnam War was listed by the American people at the time as the country`s number one problem in the Gallup Poll.

In a mind-exploding interview on a British broadcast morning show, the President made a number of such ridiculous claims ending with his dismissal of climate change, which we`ll get to later.  The stand out moment came, as I said, when Trump was pressed by Piers Morgan about whether he would have liked, I love that word, liked to serve his country in Vietnam.

Stumbling through his excuses, the President offered up a series of alibis, each more absurd than the one before.  First, he suggested he didn`t serve because he wasn`t a fan.  That was his word.  He wasn`t a fan of the Vietnam War.  Then he claimed nobody had ever heard of Vietnam at the time.  And finally, Trump said that he has now atoned for dodging the war, dodging the draft, by increasing the military`s budget as president.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST:  You were not able to serve in Vietnam because of a bone spur condition in your feet.  Do you wish you have been able to serve?  Would you like to serve your country?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Well, I was never a fan of that war.  I`ll be honest with you.  I thought it was a terrible war and I thought it was very far away.  Nobody ever -- you know, when you`re talking about Vietnam, and at that time, nobody ever heard of the country (INAUDIBLE) --

MORGAN:  Would you like to have served, generally?  That`s another --

TRUMP:  I would not have minded that at all.  I would have been honored.  But I think I`d make up for it right now.  Look, $700 billion I gave last year, and then this year, $716 billion.  And I think I`m making up for it rapidly because we`re rebuilding our military at a level that has never seen before.


MATTHEWS:  Well, before the ridiculousness in London tonight with Piers Morgan, his previous excuse for evading the war was that he served his Vietnam by avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.  That`s what he said before.

Well, in other words, Trump just admitted that he needed to make up for dodging the Vietnam War because he served up all this money to the military as president.  And because it`s his job, by the way, to propose the military budget, he`s effectively saying that his national service as a citizen is simply being president.

According to The New York Times, Trump avoided the war with a medical deferment in 1968 for bone spurs.  But contrary to Trump`s claim that nobody ever heard of Vietnam, as I said, the polling at the time shows that Vietnam was at top -- the very top issue list.  There it is, the article in the L.A. Times, the top issue in the country at the very time he was skipping the draft.

Anyway, for medical deferment, which didn`t exist because, as we found out, one of his father`s tenants had given him the draft excuse.

In that same interview, the President was asked about his attacks on the late senator, John McCain.  Here is what he said about the news last week that one of his aides asked to hide the navy destroyer, the USS John McCain, during his trip to Japan.


TRUMP:  I`m not even sure -- first of all, I didn`t know anything about it.  But I`m not even sure it happened.  Somebody said they`re painting the ship and they have to drop (INAUDIBLE) -- and they`re painting the ship, and they have dropped (INAUDIBLE) all over the place.  I have no idea if it happened or not.  I hear it`s fake news.  But maybe it is, maybe it isn`t.  But, again, I don`t talk about John McCain unless somebody asks me about him.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump now says it didn`t happen.  But the U.S. Navy confirmed that a request was indeed made from the White House to hide the ship from Trump`s view.  It`s all on the record.  In fact, Trump`s acting Chief of Staff and Head of the OMB also said it happened.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Are you confident that it was nobody in the White House or the White House advanced person that made the request to the Navy to cover up the USS John McCain?

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Oh, no.  I absolutely believe it was probably somebody in the advanced team.  The fact that some 23 or 24-year-old person in the advanced team went to that site and said, oh my goodness, there is the John McCain, we all know how the President feels about the former senator.  Maybe that`s not the best backdrop.  Can somebody look into moving it?  That`s not an unreasonable thing to ask.

TODD:  Seriously?

MULVANEY:  It`s not.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there is a man concerned about his reputation, unlike the President of the United States.

I`m joined right now by former U.S. Senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent from PBS NewsHour over in London, Eugene Robinson is here with me, he`s a columnist with The Washington Post, and Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today.  Thank you.  What a list.  We start with the Senator.

I don`t know whether being embarrassed by our president is the right word, but how do you make of these Looney Tunes?  And that`s what they are, cartoonish answers to serious questions.  Did you wish you had served in Vietnam?  A lot of people my age were asked would you wish you had played your role in that war even if you were against the war and didn`t serve.  And however you got out of it was up to you.  But Trump is saying he got out of it because he never heard of the place, that nobody ever heard of the country.  Isn`t that the most ridiculous thing you`ve ever heard?  Vietnam was in everybody`s hearts, minds and souls in the late 1960s.

FMR. SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO):  Yes, it was embarrassing.  I mean, what he never said was I dodged the draft because I didn`t want to fight for my country.  And that`s the reality of what he did.  He dodged the draft because he had money in power and there were a lot of young men that died in Vietnam that were drafted that maybe didn`t feel great about going to Vietnam, but they went, because that`s what we do in this country.  When we have a war and a draft, people must go.

And he never admitted that he was a draft dodger and, frankly, one of the most ridiculous things he said which was beyond embarrassing is it was so far away.  Like that has something to do with it.  You know, I mean, it is -- it`s outrageous.

MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry, it`s ludicrous.  But I`m laughing.  I`m laughing.  It`s so far away.

MCCASKILL:  It`s unbelievable.

MATTHEWS:  Mommy, it`s so far away.  I don`t want to go that far.  Susan?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY:  Well, you know, we should remember that a lot of young men dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, including Bill Clinton.  But if you ask Bill Clinton this question, and he was asked this question, he came up with a very different answer about objections to the war and about his honor to those who chose to served, not equating raising whatever budgetary measures he took with the military.

MATTHEWS:  He told the head of ROTC at the University of Arkansas that he was going to join and he didn`t.  That`s a pretty --

PAGE:  So I`m just saying that the fact that he did -- that Trump tried to get out of the draft is not what is offensive about what he said.  What`s offensive is equating the service of young men and women who put their lives in peril and who give their lives for things like the Vietnam War or for --

MATTHEWS:  He went to some cheesy doctor who was a tenant of his father`s building and got them to cook up something.  That`s part of the family lore, how they they cooked it up for him.  He was a concierge doctor.

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Look, as a young man, I was a little bit young, a couple of years young.  I had a draft number.  Everybody has a story about their Vietnam time, right?  And so had the sort of escalation phase gone on a couple of years later, I probably would have had to go.  I didn`t have bone spurs.  But that`s my honest story.  I mean, everybody -- you know, you have your honest story.  And --

MATTHEWS:  Well, a lot of us had very high draft numbers.  And the peace court (ph), a lot of them, you have huge draft numbers and nobody bothers.  You get a 304, you are home free.

ROBINSON:  Yes, exactly.

MATTHEWS:  That`s the way it works.

ROBINSON:  You know, they`re pretty high too.  So --

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I mean, let me go to Yamiche Alcindor.  What`s the smell like over there having our president making up these cockamamy excuses for?  He doesn`t make a defense.  He doesn`t say, you know, the Clinton people sort of did, which like nobody wanted to go.  Your thoughts?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR:  I mean, the President is, of course, trying to make the -- well, really, try to get credit for the fact that he is the President and that he`s considered the Commander-in-Chief, and that he is really trying to prioritize the military.  But I should tell you here in London, I`ve talked to so many people, mostly protesters of the President, who really put Donald Trump in a global window.  They have said, he is not just someone who might be problematic for the United States.  What he is is a global symbol for fascism and far right extreme thoughts.  And I think that`s, in some ways, what the U.S. --

MATTHEWS:  Fascism?

ALCINDOR:  Fascism.  A lot of people say that --

MATTHEWS:  They look at our president-elected in this country just two years ago, three years ago as a fascist?

ALCINDOR:  Yes.  And there are people who have said, and, again, these are protesters, people who weren`t happy with Donald Trump and came out in the streets, they told me that they were worried about the fact that he was over here talking to Boris Johnson, talking Nigel Farage, talking to these people that they hope are fringed (ph) characters in their own country and they don`t want the President here, they think, spreading his ideology.

So that was something, that as an American, some might take people aback the idea that when the American president comes, they don`t think democracy and freedom, what they think is racism and someone who is really a symbol of all the things that are wrong in the world.

MATTHEWS:  Wonderful.  When asked about America`s problem with gun violence by Piers Morgan, the President defended the use of assault rifles as a form of, here`s his word, entertainment.  Let`s listen.


MORGAN:  I don`t understand.  I never have understood why anyone in America needs a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle at home.  Why do they need that?

TRUMP:  Well, a lot of them use it for entertainment.  They do.  I mean, it`s really --

MORGAN:  Are guns entertainment?

TRUMP:  For some people, it`s entertainment.  They go out and they shoot, and they go to ranges.

MORGAN:  This guy in Vegas had 13 AR-15 assault rifles.  He bought 52 guns in one year.

TRUMP:  And he is a sick guy.  And if it wasn`t guns, it would have been bombs or he would have done something else.  He was actually a pretty smart guy.  He was supposedly a good, successful gambler, and there is almost no such thing as a successful gambler.  And he went out and what he did was incredible.


MATTHEWS:  He sounds like he is praising his abilities, Susan.

PAGE:  He also sounds like he`s discounting the threat that we`ve seen in this country within the last few days from this kind of arsenals that citizens have.  And the question he is getting is from one of the friendliest interviewers he could have had.

ROBINSON:  Exactly.

PAGE:  It`s from someone he thinks of as a friend, which is why he did the interview.

MATTHEWS:  Why did he say the guy is incredible, the guy is really successful?  He`s a great gambler.  Why build him up?

ROBINSON:  I don`t understand that.  I mean, there`s a part in Trump --

MATTHEWS:  He killed 50 some people.

ROBINSON:  -- who looks at -- you know, who probably looks at John Gotti as a successful guy.  He really knew what he was doing, right?  He was a murderous mobster.  I mean, there is a part of Trump that just takes any success in any field, in any direction as success on its merits.  And that says a lot about Trump, actually, but that sort of leaks out every once in a while.

MATTHEWS:  He`s a leader in his field.

ROBINSON:  Yes, he`s a leader in his field.  He really went for it, you know.  It`s incredible.  And he also -- and also the word choice.  I mean, entertainment is just a bizarre word choice for --

MATTHEWS:  Senator, this guy won an election you lost.  What`s going?  I mean, I`m serious.  We picked him.  I keep thinking.  Is it like -- I mean, this is D-Day 75 years later.  And I thought one of the wonderful things that I did and it looks better all the time as I think most of us agree, he wrote a letter explaining the failure of Normandy, if it failed.  He was all ready to take the blame.  He said, you know, it`s my fault.  I made the decision on the day, the strategy and everything.  It was my alliance.  I - - blame me.

Maybe the American people have to have that ability in 2020.  We made a mistake.  We just made a mistake, including in Missouri.

MCCASKILL:  Well, let`s hope that more people realize that.  You have to understand though, Chris, there is such angst and frustration with the dysfunction of our government right now.  The middle has disappeared.  Everyone has gone to their respective corners.  And when that happens in a democracy, nothing gets done.  And when nothing gets done, people get cynical.  And then when they get cynical, to use a metaphor here that may not be appropriate, they pull the pin on the grenade and toss it into the swamp.  And that was what Donald Trump was to the people who supported him in our state.  We need change and maybe this guy because he is so different.  Barack Hussein Obama didn`t get us change.

MATTHEWS:  Senator, did they expect this jack in the box to blow open like this guy has?  Did they expect the performance we just saw today?

MCCASKILL:  A lot of them are disillusioned by his performance.  But keep in mind, a lot of them are very defensive of this president.  And they feel like the only reason he is not succeeding is because the media is lying about him and because the swamp is getting in his way.

So that`s the reality on the ground in places that support Donald Trump.  That`s why our candidate, whoever that might be, needs to stay firmly focused on the entire group of people that are potentially going to vote for them, not just the folks that are really active in a democratic primary, but also those people who are proud to call themselves moderates.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I saw George McGovern lose more than 40 states to Richard Nixon.  I`ve been through that.  I know what that feels like.

Well, let me go to Yamiche for the last thought.  This presidential performance over there, how do you feel as a reporter watching this spectacle?

ALCINDOR:  I mean, I think, in some ways, we`re obviously watching history.  The President came here and he was throwing insults at people from before he landed, picking fights with the Mayor of London, saying that Meghan Markle was nasty, even though he said that`s not what he meant.  But the idea is that, I think, as a reporter, I`m seeing for -- in a global sense, everyone`s reaction to the President.  I think that America was shocked, even the President was shocked when he was elected.

But when you go out into the world, people in Britain are really beside themselves when they`re looking at the President, if there`s someone who doesn`t support him, because they are thinking how is this what America became.  We looked to you for so many things.  We looked to be leaders on climate change.  We looked to you to be leaders on how to be a president and how to really fulfill the democratic values.

And what we are seeing for people who don`t like President Trump, they`re seeing a total collapse of American values.

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe they will see him some day as an aberration like Cromwell.  Anyway, former Senator Claire McCaskill, thank you so much, Yamiche Alcindor, Eugene Robinson and Susan Page.

Coming up, the battle for the democrats` progressive left, Senator Elizabeth warren may be gaining momentum eating into Senator Bernie Sander`s support among the strongest progressives.  It looks like that might be happening.  Chris Hayes joins tonight to talk about his town hall coming up tonight right after this with Senator Warren.

Plus, more from Trump`s international road show, Prince Charles tried in vain to convince Trump that climate change is a crisis.  Well, Trump says - - he had this to say about the Prince`s concern for the future.


TRUMP:  He`s really not doing this for him.  He`s doing this for future generations.  He really -- and this is real.  He believes that.  He wants to have a world that`s good for future generations, and I do too.  And that really -- he`s a leader.  You know, he`s Prince Charles.  He doesn`t have to worry about future generations in theory unless he`s a very good person who cares about people.


MATTHEWS:  It`s like an eight-year-old with crayons.  I don`t know what to say about these conversations.

Anyway, Bill Nye, the science guy, who is the real thing, a leading voice on climate change joins us live.

Much more ahead.  Stick with us on this Looney Tunes day from London.  Stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In 2016, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders cornered the market on the progressive wing of the democratic party as he ran against Hillary Clinton.  And now, four years later with a much larger field of candidates, look at them, there is a battle brewing over who will win over the support of the democratic left now.

Trying to gain momentum over Sanders is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Here she is today in Indiana campaigning on her populist economic message and trying to win back voters there who went for Trump in 2016.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA):  America`s economic policy for decades now has been what giant corporations do pretty whatever they want.

Here`s the problem.  Those giant corporations, they are not loyal to America.  They are not loyal to American workers.  They`re loyal to exactly one thing, their own profits.  Yes.


MATTHEWS:  Well, as The New York Times writes, neither Ms. Warren`s campaigns nor that of Mr. Sanders` will say at this point that they`re deliberately eying each other even though they are the candidates out of more than 20 who most represent the Democratic Party`s left flank.  But her trip to the Upper Midwest this week is the latest example of how they are increasingly jockeying for the same cohort of left-leaning voters and donors."

A new poll from "Morning Consult" makes the point.  It shows Warren`s support trending upward, while Sanders is seeing his numbers decline.  Look at that.  Look at that.  She was 7 to his 24 just two months ago, and now she`s 10 to his 19.  That is a tightening race on the left.

For more, I`m joined by Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC`s "ALL IN," who will be holding a live town hall at 8:00 right after HARDBALL tonight with Senator Warren up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Chris, I don`t whether you see it.  I think -- well, let`s talk about it. 

I get the sense that it`s zero sum with her and Bernie right now.  She goes up, he`s going to come down a bit. 

CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES":  I think that`s probably right, although I think there`s a lot of space and time for all those dynamics to shake out. 

I mean, there`s -- there are a whole lot of votes on the table.  And I think that the most obvious sort of formulation that I think people are conceiving of since Biden got in the race is basically Biden and then a few alternatives to Biden, as they winnow down. 

And I think that it`s possible there`s space for both of them as that field windows down.  I think, if you look at the polling, they clearly are commanding larger chunks of the electorate than the 12 or so who are polling at 4 percent or less. 

But, ultimately, yes, I mean, ultimately, as the field narrows down, if both of those candidates survive later and later, which I think right now they`re both well-poised to do, there is going to be a natural desire for one of them to overtake the other. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make about Bernie`s race this year?  Do you think it has the fire? 

Let me just put it this way.  She has been protean.  She goes up with new ideas just about every couple days.  She`s -- she is generating policies, places. 

HAYES:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  As she says, I have got something for everything, pretty much. 

HAYES:  Yes.  I...

MATTHEWS:  Bernie is basically selling soul, the socialist old mantle of, I`m the guy at the left.  I`m the guy who`s been there before.  Stick with me. 

HAYES:  Yes, I think -- I think there`s two things that happened. 

One, I think that when Sanders conceived of -- when Sanders and Sanders team conceived of their race, I`m not sure they thought Biden was going to get in.  And I`m not sure they were quite prepared for how much of a chunk of voters Biden would take up at the beginning, and how much of the oxygen he would take, partly because, the last time around, they were the only non-Hillary Clinton candidate functionally. 

Warren, on the other hand, I think, saw herself as needing to make up ground from the beginning.  And she and the campaign sort of had a theory of the case and a strategy, which was, we`re going to make news by releasing policy, by coming up with ideas.


HAYES:  We`re going to go out and do a ton of town halls, take a ton of questions, be very clear about what our positions are. 

And that kind of tortoise and the hare dynamic there, their theory of the case so far has borne a lot of rewards. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, what do you think of the wealth tax?  Because I get the sense that`s one way to grab the passion the very hard left, people that are really angry about equal -- inequality in the country economically.

HAYES:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  They don`t think all boats rise with the tide.  And they want somebody to say that. 

HAYES:  Chris, the funniest thing about the wealth tax that it has plurality support among Republicans when polled. 

I mean, the -- whether that would survive an actual election in which a huge amount of money and messaging would be brought to bear on why the wealth tax is a bad idea, if you go out and talk to people, even though, in the terms of American political debate, taxing actual wealth, as opposed to income, is a real departure from the way our tax code works, it`s broadly extremely popular when you pass it by people, not just on the left. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it may not even be constitutional at this point.  We will see, though. 

Chris, good luck tonight with the crowd.  I see them behind you.  They`re all very attentive and ready to hear from you. 


HAYES:  You guys want to wave to Chris Matthews? 


HAYES:  Will you say hi to Chris Matthews?


MATTHEWS:  They`re so quiet.  Our people are much noisier. 


HAYES:  They`re trying to be respectful.  They`re trying to be -- yes, they will be louder later.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  It`s very nice.  I like them.  I like them already. 

Thank you so much, Chris Hayes.  Good luck tonight. 

HAYES:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Be sure, by the way, everybody watching right now to catch Chris` live town hall with Senator -- there she is, Warren, Senator Elizabeth Warren, right after HARDBALL tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. 

I`m joined right now by Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist and host of Hill TV, and Susan Del Percio, Republican strategist. 

Susan, you first, because I want you to look at the field.  Is there anything moving?  I mean, I`m looking at it, the numbers we get every couple of days now.  Do you see anybody moving up or down? 

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, people are moving.  But the question is, is, when will it stop? 

And we know we`re going to see this for several more months.  We`re three weeks away from the first debate on MSNBC and NBC.  And that`s going to be very telling.  I think that`s when we see those bright lights go up.  And you`re going to see some people really shine who we didn`t expect and others probably have flop sweat not expecting that either. 

So we have a lot of time to see movement.  But when it does come to the Sanders-Warren situation, I think that it`s more about, Sanders came in, and he had that support, being the outsider against the establishment from 2016. 


DEL PERCIO:  And he just thought he had it.  And he didn`t realize that he had to keep earning it.

And Elizabeth Warren assumed nothing , and she`s just grinding it out, doing her job, going from town hall to town hall, offering policy.


DEL PERCIO:  And I think Bernie seems a little mean and angry right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Jamal, he had my kids, some of my kids, going into this thing.  And he had a lot of people`s kids.  He had the young people. 

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  He did have the young people. 

I remember sitting next to a young woman in Detroit, Michigan, in the primary last time who said that she was for Bernie.  I said, why?  She said, because everybody says I shouldn`t be.  That`s why I`m for him.

She just wanted to be an iconoclast, against the norm. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, let me try my theory by you, both of you. 


MATTHEWS:  That Elizabeth Warren is not eating Bernie`s lunch, but she`s gaining on him. 



SIMMONS:  Listen, I think Elizabeth Warren is doing something that is very keen.  She`s showing leadership. 

She puts it -- it`s not just the policy she puts out.  When they asked her the question about the impeachment, her reaction was, yes, impeach him.  She didn`t kind of dance.  She didn`t, let`s -- let`s show people a little bit more of the evidence and then see where people land. 

She just said, impeach him and went right for it.

MATTHEWS:  It`s an honest answer too.

SIMMONS:  And whether you agree with her or not...

MATTHEWS:  By the way, nobody wants more evidence.  I mean, it`s either...


SIMMONS:  Yes.  But whether you agree with her or not, she had a position, she took it.  And I don`t think -- it doesn`t sound like she`s playing politics. 

Listen, I don`t know if this is all...

MATTHEWS:  By the way, what I like about her is that she`s been pushing this populist argument that she -- it`s way before she was a senator from Massachusetts. 


MATTHEWS:  This is who she is.

SIMMONS:  You know why she`s running for president. 


SIMMONS:  Here`s the difference.  People compare her to Hillary Clinton.  And I think it`s absolutely wrong. 


SIMMONS:  It`s a gender and age dynamic that is the only thing they have in common. 

MATTHEWS:  She`s an activist.

SIMMONS:  But also she has a very clear reason about why she`s running for president, in a way that we never really knew why Hillary Clinton was running for president and what she wanted to do. 

Let me just say this.  I think, at the end of the day, both Warren and Elizabeth -- both Warren and Bernie are running kind of in the intellectual left, right?  It`s a head argument.  You got somebody like Cory Booker who`s running from the emotional left.  It`s about social justice. 

And he`s going after those voters who really care about the social justice agenda.  And the question will be...



SIMMONS:  Cory Booker is.

And the question will be, when you get to someplace like South Carolina, is it like the economic, intellectual left or the social justice, emotional left? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here`s President Trump preparing to formally declare his reelection bid later this month.  The president`s approval numbers, by the way, remain underwater in some of the key battleground states, in fact, all of them.

According to "Morning Consult," the poll we just talked about for the Dems, the presidents` approval rating is below 50 percent in states won, like Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania.

Susan, what do you make of that? 

DEL PERCIO:  Well, think...

MATTHEWS:  Anything?


DEL PERCIO:  It`s not surprising.  It matches what we have been seeing all throughout his presidency. 

What I find interesting is that the Trump team is trying so hard to change the map.  They know that so many states that he won are not going to be in play.  But where they`re trying to go into play, in places like Colorado and New Mexico, where he lost both states.

Now, New Hampshire, he did he tight -- I think was 46.4 to 46.8.  So it was close, but they don`t have a plan to pick up new states.  And that`s really going to be a problem for them.  So they`re playing hard.  And I will give them credit, the campaign credit, in that they are going into these states early and trying to do something. 


DEL PERCIO:  But, after 2018, I don`t see how that`s going to work. 

MATTHEWS:  There used to be a boxer named Ingemar Johansson from Sweden.  He knocked out Floyd Patterson.  He had one good punch, one good fight.  And then he kept getting beat the rest of his life. 


MATTHEWS:  I mean, sometimes, people have that Sunday punch, Jamal.

SIMMONS:  That`s right, right, the Buster Douglas in my era.


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  And they land that punch, but they can never do it again, because lightning doesn`t strike twice. 

SIMMONS:  That`s right. 

But here`s the thing.  In the Democratic Party, that`s especially true.  Democrats are miserable to the people who have run before.   

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Oh, yes.  They shoot their wounded.

SIMMONS:  It`s a challenge for Biden.  It`s a challenge for Bernie. 

These candidates who are first-time candidates...

MATTHEWS:  You`re so historic.

SIMMONS:  These guys who are first-time candidates, they have got an edge just because they`re first-timers. 

MATTHEWS:  It`s interesting. 

Susan, your party has always been kinder to its defeated.  They bring back Bob Dole 20 years later.  They bring in Jack Kemp.  Give him one more try.  Democrats do shoot their wounded. 

DEL PERCIO:  Well, Chris, I don`t know if that`s the case under this party right now with President Trump.  I think Trump`s just happy to shoot at anybody and won`t let anyone stand up. 

But the other side of that is, I know we all are hesitant about looking and saying Donald Trump and how difficult it will be, because of the outcome of 2016.  But, again, you look at those poll numbers state by state, which is the important way to look at it, because let`s not forget, the polls were not wrong on the national election.  Hillary Clinton got more votes. 

It`s when you look at states in state to state, and the poll numbers are not there.  The math is not on the -- on Trump`s side right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think that, if Warren runs the kind of disciplined race she`s been running and sticks to those populist economic issues, and looks solid on them, she can beat Trump.

We will see.


SIMMONS:  She could.  But anywhere Donald Trump is at 48 percent, he can win that state. 

MATTHEWS:  I know that, because he will duke it out. 

Anyway, thank you.

Pennsylvania, he`s very high.  He`s at 48.  Thank you, Jamal Simmons.  Thank you, Susan Del Percio.  It`s great being with the pros.

Up next:  In his one and only appearance before the American public, Robert Mueller warned Americans of the ongoing threat of foreign interference in our elections.  Now officials in North Carolina are scrambling to shore up security there, based on reports that Russians tried to hack into its systems ahead of the 2016 election. 

Imagine if North Carolina`s vote doesn`t count next time or any state`s because of a screw-up by the Russians.  What are we going to do if we can`t count the Electoral College?

That is next on HARDBALL.



ROBERT MUELLER, RUSSIA PROBE SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.

The indictments allege and the other activities in our report describe efforts to interfere in our political system.  They needed to be investigated and understood. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Those were some of Robert Mueller`s very first words last week on the disturbing extent of Russia`s infiltration into our American political system in 2016. 

And now the Department of Homeland Security is looking into a computer system malfunction in Durham County, North Carolina, which includes Durham, the capital, on Election Day 2016 that could potentially have ties to the Russian effort. 

"The Washington Post" is reporting that leaked documents revealed that Russians had tried to hack software company VR Systems shortly before the election. 

On Election Day 2016, VR Systems` poll book was showing that some voters had already cast ballots, while the voters themselves said they had not.  It was also prompting poll workers to ask for some voters` picture I.D.s, even though a North Carolina law that required those I.D.s had been struck down legally by the courts. 

But Mueller`s report raised new questions, noting, Russian intelligence officers targeted employees of a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls and installed malware on the company network. 

Well, the company acknowledged to "The Post" that they may be the one reference, but denied their network was breached.  Mueller`s investigation charged nearly 30 Russian officials, by the way, as we recall, or companies for their alleged roles in election interference in 2016. 

And, last week, Mueller wrapped up his remarks with a warning about the challenge ahead. 


MUELLER:  And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.  And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. 


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Clint Watts, senior fellow at Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Clint, it`s great to have you on.

After all the sound and fury, all of the Sturm und Drang of all the hearings, whatever happens on in impeachment, the one undeniable fact is the Russians messed with us, trying to undermine the great reputation American democracy enjoys, not just here, but around the world.  We are the role model. 

What do you know, from what you know about this North Carolina case, of how close they are to really screwing up our count perhaps in 2020? 

CLINT WATTS, FOREIGN POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE:  Yes, what`s remarkable is, this strikes at the core of the Russian approach, which is active measures, as they call it, is to subvert democracy. 

And so going into the final two months, they really shifted their messaging on social media.  My team and I were watching them talk about voter -- voter fraud, election rigging.  And at the same time they were hitting these databases.  They were trying to get into those voter rolls to create confusion whenever people turned out.

If you can get into the system and change the identity, you can disenfranchise certain voters.  You could make screw-ups in the systems which create real long lines, or you could actually almost shut the place down, if you don`t have that interface working, so that people can`t even vote at all. 

This creates distrust in the system.  Did my vote really count?  This is the core of our democracy, right?  And the second part is, then, was it rigged?  Did someone actually change the votes? 

And what we saw the Russians do in Europe, particularly in Ukraine, was they actually were successful at times at changing the votes.  The Ukrainians caught them, but they have the ability to do that if they wanted to.  They can actually suppress.  And it also creates these information operations they can put into American minds that the trick has been played on you.  You don`t really have a say in your vote.  We do.  And we control that system. 

And that`s a message they would like to repeat going into 2020. 

MATTHEWS:  How close are they, or are they already there, to being able to rig it, so that older people, people of color, people of less money or transportation to get to the polls or anything?  Are they able to rig it, so it makes it harder for them?  I guess the I.D. card trick.

WATTS:  Yes.  

They could do it.  I think it`s much harder now.  I have to say that DHS has made a lot of strides in this, despite the folks on Capitol Hill not always being so supportive in terms of getting the needed resources out there, even in terms of the conflicts that they have going out to every state to declare critical infrastructure, and then help them along. 

But they have made a lot of gains.  But even at this point, we still have voting machines out there that don`t have either a verifiable audit trail or a paper ballot backup. 

And this has been now three years.  So what are we going to do over the next year to make sure it`s there?  I know DHS is pushing hard.  But this topic isn`t really being discussed enough out there on Capitol Hill.

MATTHEWS:  So, project what`s going on in Moscow and other centers, cyber- centers.  Are there people like on the Manhattan Project sitting over there devilishly trying to figure can they get to the point of, say, knocking out one of the state`s electoral delegates, the electors?

WATTS:  Right.   

MATTHEWS:  Can they knock -- make it so our next election isn`t callable, that there is no clear winner?  Can they do that? 

WATTS:  They are probably thinking through ways to do that.  But there is a cost-benefit calculus, which is, what do they want going into 2020? 

I mean, based on their overt propaganda that you watch right now, they would like to see another Trump term.  So why go ahead and provoke the election?  I think it would -- they would only do that if they really were concerned about a potential challenger actually overtaking Trump.  And they would have to make a decision even about that challenger, would this be someone that might support Russian views in foreign policy?

To go ahead and hack us again in 2020 would be provocation potentially for war, at least a cyber-war, at a minimum. 

I do have to say, the NSA and Cyber Command, FBI, DHS, they are now war- gaming out these scenarios and are better prepared going into 2020.

MATTHEWS:  We`re rooting for them. 

Thank you so much.  We`re rooting for you too, Clint.  Thank you so much, Clint Watts. 

Up next:  Trump takes his reality show approach to governing to the world stage, talking climate change with Prince Charles.  Wouldn`t you like to be a fly on the wall there? 

Bill Nye, The Science Guy, joins us to inject some actual reality into Trump`s road show overseas, his London loony tunes.  What can we say? 

We`ll be right back. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Early this week, an Australian think tank warned civilization was in danger of crumbling by the year 2050 if more wasn`t done to confront climate change more aggressively. 

Well, that shocking report is just the latest headline in what seems to be a constant stream of disturbing news about climate change these days, including how it`s leading to the collapse -- look at this stuff -- of a quarter of the Antarctic`s ice sheet.  That`s happening right now, threatening the extinction of one million species and causing rising sea levels that could swamp major cities and displace nearly 200 million people. 

I mean, look, out Miami.

And despite all of that kind of evidence, President Trump has consistently dismissed the very threat of climate change. 


INTERVIEWER:  Do you still think that climate change is a hoax? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Look, I think something is happening, something is changing, and it will change back again. 

I`m a totally believer in science, but nothing is very conclusive. 

I`m not a believer in climate change.  Now, it`s gone to global warming and climate change and now they call it actually extreme weather. 

The pope believes in global warming.  You do know that, right?  Hey, in this room, it`s so hot in here, maybe I`ll start to believe it myself. 

We need some global warming!  It`s freezing! 

If I take hair spray and spray it in my apartment which is all sealed, you are telling me that affects the ozone layer.  Yes.  I say, no way, folks.  No way.


MATTHEWS:  The president of the United States is talking about hair spray, instead of climate change.

As the president ignored his own government`s warnings about the danger of climate change and has taken active measures to roll back environmental and climate protections. 

And while in the United Kingdom over there, Prince Charles, an environmentalist, confronted President Trump on the issue.  Well, stay tuned after this break to find out if the prince got anywhere with the president. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump recounting his 90-minute meeting with Prince Charles told Piers Morgan that he shares the desire for good climate and was skeptical of the science of climate change. 


PIERS MORGAN, TV HOST:  Do you personally believe in climate change? 

TRUMP:  I believe there is a change in weather and I think it changes both ways.  It used to be called global warming and that wasn`t working, and then it was called climate change, now, it`s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather, you can`t miss. 

Look, we have a thing now with tornadoes.  I don`t remember tornadoes in the U.S. to the extent.  But then when you look back 40 years ago, we had the worst tornado binge that we`ve ever had.  In the 1890s, we had our worst hurricanes and I would say we`ve had some very bad hurricanes. 

MORGAN:  Were you able to give Prince Charles any comfort that you as the United States president are taking it seriously? 

TRUMP:  I think I was.  Yes, I think we had a great conversation and it was about as you would call it, climate change. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, Piers Morgan also asked if the prince, Prince Charles himself, was successful in any way in convincing Trump. 


MORGAN:  Has he moved you a little bit? 

TRUMP:  I`ll tell you what moved me is his passion for future generations.  He is not doing this for him.  He`s doing this for future generations. 

He really feels -- and this is -- this is real.  He believes that.  He wants to have a world that`s good for future generations.  And I do, too. 


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Bill Nye, of course, the science guy and host of the Science World podcast. 

Bill, thank you for joining us tonight.

One thing I have to ask you about.  It sounds like Trump who does no homework, who has no sense of history, I don`t think he took a single science or humanities course in college, come up with the thing about tornados 90 years ago.  Somebody is feeding him this crap.  Somebody`s giving him an arsenal of B.S. to challenge science. 

BILL NYE, SCIENCE GUY:  Yes.  You call it cherry-picking the data.  It`s very common thing you can find where there are an exceptional number of tornados, but everybody -- the key to it is, the world is getting warmer faster than it`s ever gotten in history. 

So, climate change and global warming are the same thing.  Global warming is more heat energy is causing climates to change and extreme weather to get -- to increase to more extreme weather events.  These are all the same thing.  Pretending or being told by somebody -- some of his advisers that these are different ideas is incorrect. 

MATTHEWS:  Can we argue this in terms of experience?  I mean, for example, I grew up -- I have been here for 47 years in Washington.  It was a predictable weather pattern.  It was pretty cold in the winter, it snowed once in a while.  Not too much.  We were surprised by snow here. 

And then in the summer, starting sometime like July or August, July was the worst month in the farmers almanac, you felt like a big wet heavy wool blanket was thrown over you when you get up in the morning after you shower.  It always has been that way. 

Now, it`s not like that.  The weather here has been spectacular.  You can`t predict it anymore. 

NYE:  Well, this is -- I mean, there is no question the world is getting warmer.  There`s no question weather patterns are changing.  Just, are we going to have the political will or the drive to do something about all the carbon dioxide and methane we are putting in the atmosphere and changing from a fossil fuel economy to renewable energy economy.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What will be the signs -- the biblical signs between now and 2050, say, where people say stop denying?  This is scary. 

NYE:  Oh, well, two things are happening.  First of all, young people are very concerned about climate change.  People of my generation and perhaps yours are where you`re going to find climate change deniers. 

Once in a while, you meet a young person.  And I believe the other side is very much aware of this.  I have heard Harris Faulkner and even Sean Hannity acknowledged that there is a political reason to embrace climate change, political reason to have a position on climate change, and that is amazing because -- 


NYE:  -- those people have, heretofore those people.  People on the other cable network have heretofore been in lock step with the president and his advisers on climate change.  And the chink -- the cracks are starting to form. 

So, come next election, the election after this one, all candidates are going to have to have a position on climate change, but they`re concerned.  Is it going to be soon enough?  And so, you know, I have been talking about this for over 20 years and the time to act is now. 

MATTHEWS:  The one thing that grabbed me in was watching "Apollo 11" the other night, the hotel, I was stuck in a hotel after work one night alone and I was watching that great documentary.  When the astronauts go around the moon and see the earth, it`s chilling because you realize how vulnerable we are.  We`re not the universe. 

We`re just one place in the universe where we can survive.  And it`s got this wonderful blue-green shell around us.  Not even a shell, just a film.  And you realize, that`s us. 

NYE:  That`s right.

MATTHEWS:  If something happens to that, we are all gone. 

NYE:  So, the big thing is the speed, everybody.  It`s not that we are going to die in 12 years.  It`s just not going to be able to move our infrastructure, our sea ports, our railroads and so on, and move our agriculture away from the equators fast enough to feed everybody as we get to be 9 billion and 10 billion unless we get to work. 

There is enormous opportunities.  You know, I am always optimistic about this because tomorrow is the anniversary of D-Day.  And it was -- of course there was tremendous loss and tremendous sacrifice.  But it was part of this greater idea that we have a global problem and we are going to solve it. 

And I always respect that.  Both of my parents are veterans.  They`re both at Arlington.  And we can do this.  It`s the United States.

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

NYE:  And so, things are changing.

MATTHEWS:  Keep it up. 

NYE:  So, we can do this, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  You are our leader, Bill.  You`re a leader.  Thank you.  I know you are.  Thank you, Bill.

NYE:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  We had to have you on tonight.  Thank you.

NYE:  Thanks a lot.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, the military and political teamwork that led to a great alliance of democratic nations 75 years ago on the cliffs of Normandy. 

You are watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Tomorrow is June 6th, the day of great historic pride for Americans because of the courage of our forces in taking Normandy, because of the cause we are fighting against Nazism, because of our leadership as a country.  The victory at Normandy, the opening of the Western Front against Adolf Hitler was all about an alliance, was about General Eisenhower`s determination to hold together the allies.  It was about military and political teamwork, was that great American general personified. 

Eisenhower was an ally and he never forgot it.  And that was the greatness of the victory on D-Day, the ability of the world`s forces to stick together, the greatness of what came after the Western Front was the alliance stuck together after the war. 

I love what Senator Mitt Romney said yesterday about the victory at Normandy, but also about the great legacy it created, the alliance of the great democratic countries. 


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  Alliances are essential to America`s security, to our future.  I can`t state that more plainly.  We should strengthen our alliances and not dismiss or begrudge them.  It`s in the United States` most vital interest to see a strong NATO, a strong Europe, stronger ties with the free nations of Asia, the Pacific, the subcontinent and with every free country.  We need to hold our friends closer, not neglect them or drive them away. 


MATTHEWS:  So true.  I wish our own president understood those words. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now. 

The "ALL IN" town hall with Senator Elizabeth Warren is next.