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2020 hopefuls prepare for first Dem debate. TRANSCRIPT: 6/25/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, David Jolly, Annie Linskey, Angus King,Neera Tanden, Barry McCaffrey, Donna Edwards

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  And then debate itself is 9:00 P.M. Eastern moderated by our MSNBC and NBC colleagues.  You don`t want to miss that.

THE BEAT will tee it up and then now take it home.  So see you tomorrow at 6:00 P.M. Eastern.  "HARDBALL" starts now.


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  You`re looking live now, wherein just 26 hours, the Democratic presidential candidates will take the stage for their first debates.  The two-hour event will give voters their first chance to personally evaluate 20 Democratic contenders, all hoping to take down President Trump.  You can catch me in the spin room down in Miami for our pre and post-debate coverage here on MSNBC starting at 7:00 P.M. Eastern.  My colleagues, Brian Williams and Nicole Wallace, will be anchoring from New York.  A lot more on that dramatic showdown tomorrow night coming up.

We start however with those stories of hard and overcrowded migrant detention facilities which have spurred so many calls for action.  Since last Friday, numerous reports have exposed the squalid conditions for hundreds of migrant children held in a border patrol station in Clint, Texas, and now, House Democrats Are scrambling to pass an aid package to address those very concerns.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been grappling, however, with a threat of a revolt among progressive lawmakers who, according to the New York Times, say they fear that the aid will be used to carry out Mr. Trump`s aggressive tactics, including deportation raids.  It appears Democrats have the votes, however, to pass that bill tonight.

The White House yesterday threatened to veto the bill, however, and today, President Trump says he`s waiting on the Democrats for the money.


REPORTER:  Are you concerned about the conditions of these border facilities?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Yes, I am.  I`m very concerned.  And they`re much better than they were under President Obama by far.  And we`re trying to get the Democrats to agree to really give us some humanitarian aid, humanitarian money.


MATTHEWS:  Also today, NBC News is reporting that the government has moved a group 100 migrant children into that facility in Texas just days after a group of lawyers described its conditions as appalling.

As we reported yesterday, 300 children had been removed from the facility following those stories of prolonged detention and inadequate sanitation and outbreaks of infectious diseases.  Meanwhile, the same allegations of neglect and mistreatment are emerging from an overflow facility from migrant teenagers in Homestead, Florida, which has doubled in size twice in the last year according to NBC News.  And that district is represented by U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who joins me right now.  David Jolly is a former Republican Congressman from Florida.  I`m also joined by NBC Correspondent Cal Perry, who`s at that facility at Homestead.

Cal, you first, what`s it look like down there?

CAL PERRY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, listen, these facilities are designed very purposefully and I can give you some of the language that comes from these facilities from these lawyers.  They say they are military-style camps, that these places are designed to mimic prison-like conditions.  This is a policy of deterrence.  This is the administration sending a very clear message that if you come to this country, you are risking your safety not only in the journey, but when you are here in these detention facilities, the conditions are going to be very unpleasant.

It is worth probably arguing about for these Democratic candidates, not only what their plan is, but the effectiveness of an administration, basically sending a message that the United States is no longer going to be a haven for people around the world, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Maybe we got this accidentally.  What we`re looking here, it looked like -- it doesn`t look like a terrible picture, young teenagers, I`d say, 15, 16-years-old playing soccer.  What are you able to see down there?

PERRY:  Yes.  So you have two sort of camps.  You`ve got the ones run by private companies, like the one behind me, the Homestead facility.  Look, these are companies that are contracted out usually to do natural disasters.  They are not contracted out to take care of children.  So the physical conditions of these camps can oftentimes look good.  But they`re isolated.  These are kids who are oftentimes isolated from the rest of the population.  They can`t visit relatives.  They can only speak to people once or twice a week on the phone for ten minutes.  They`re basically mini prisons.

So we`ve handed over the care of children from South America to basically companies that are used to running prison facilities.  That`s one of the key issues here at hand.

MATTHEWS:  Hang in there Cal.  Let me go to the Congresswoman.  Congresswoman, tell us what it`s like in your facility, the facility you have had a look at.

REP. DEBBIE-MUCARSEL-POWELL (D-FL):  I have visited now the Homestead facility five times, Chris.  And the reality is that it`s an overcrowded prison-like facility.  They are living in crowded areas.  They have about 144 bunk beds of teenagers, boys and girls, 144.  I mean, they`re separate.  Boys are living in certain quarters and girls are living in different quarters.  But they are between the ages of 13 and 17.

They have only an hour of exercise or physical activity.  They`re not eating appropriate foods.  Every time I`ve seen the cafeteria, they`re eating frozen, you know, chicken nuggets, hotdogs.  I don`t see a lot of fruits and vegetables.  But the reality is that we are treating these kids as if they were criminals.  And we are detaining children that have family members in the United States.

I met a boy who is 13 years old who has been at that facility for 44 days and his mother is living in California.  He was separated at the border 44 days ago.  So we are continuing to see this administration separating children from their families, which exacerbates the conditions, not only in the border but also at Homestead.

MATTHEWS:  Well, a lawyer last night who interviewed the children at Clinton, Texas, that`s the original facility where the hell was breaking loose, told Chris Hayes last night that the facilities cost as much per night as a night at a Ritz Carlton.  And that`s an expensive hotel.  Let`s watch.


WARREN BINFORD, PROFESSOR OF LAW, WILLIAMETTE UNIVERSITY:  These facilities cost about $750 per day per child.  That is what we would pay to put a child in the Ritz Carlton.  These are not Ritz Carltons.  And to make it worse, these kids are being kept there not for the 20 days that they are allowed to be kept by law, but rather for five, six, seven weeks.  We`ve interviewed children in these facilities for longer than nine months at this cost.

And if you do the analysis, Chris, you`ll find out that you can save the taxpayers a billion dollars a year simply by taking the children who have families here in the United States, who have parents in the United States, and placing them with those parents.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to the Congresswoman on that point, the money issue.  Is the Congress going to pass the money to deal with this situation tonight or when?

MUCARSEL-POWELL:  So, Chris, this is the biggest travesty that I find in this administration, the profit-making of the children being kept in this facility.  It`s true, we are paying close to $2 million to this for-profit company while we see kids that don`t have the basic human necessities, which is so important that we pass this supplemental bill today so that we can take care of our children at the border.

What doesn`t square right with me is that we are paying.  We have the funds.  Apparently, this administration has the funding to pay this Homestead detention facility $2 million a day but they don`t have enough funds to provide toothbrushes and soaps or appropriate food for toddlers.

MATTHEWS:  Well, people don`t see -- I don`t understand this.  $4.5 billion for Dopp Kits?  I mean, where is that money going?  And it can`t just be going for Dopp Kits, for toothbrushes and toothpaste.  Where is the $4.5 billion you are appropriating going to go?

MUCARSEL-POWELL:  That`s a very good question, and I had the same question.  And it`s divided into all the different agencies.  So a portion of those funds are going go to the Custom Borders patrol so that they can provide these children with the basic necessities that they need and the adults as well, part of those funds are going to go to pay for more immigration attorneys, for translators.  Many of these families, they don`t speak English and they don`t have enough translators.  So if a child is sick, they`re not getting the appropriate care.  Some of the funding is going to the Office of Refugee Resettlement so that they can provide that funding to smaller for facilities that can hold the children.

Overall, Chris, it`s a very difficult situation.  For me, it took me a few days, I have to be honest with you, because we don`t trust the administration.  We don`t know how they`re going to be using those funds, which is why we have been negotiating, providing, including stricter language so that we can ensure that they don`t transfer these funds, that they don`t use these funds to add more beds, that we don`t allow ICE to uUse those funds for these raids that the President is talking about, but that we actually allocate it to deal with the humanitarian crisis that we are seeing at the border.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much.

Anyway, the President, President Trump, was pressed about the conditions in these facilities, including the facility we`re talking about there in the Congresswoman`s district, Homestead, during his interview on Meet the Press.  Let`s watch what he said on Sunday.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  They are in terrible shape down there, Mr. President, down in Homestead, Florida.  That`s where I grew up.  The conditions are terrible.

TRUMP:  I agree, and it`s been that way for a long time.

TODD:  Do something.

TRUMP:  And President Obama built the cages.  Remember when they said that I built them?

TODD:  Let`s talk about what`s happening now.  Your administration, you`re not doing the recreation, not even schooling these kids anymore.  You`ve gotten rid of all that stuff.

TRUMP:  We are doing a fantastic job under the circumstances.  The Democrats aren`t even approving giving us money.  Where is the money?  You know what, the Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid.


MATTHEWS:  David Jolly, this is, again, a familiar picture, good purposes by the Democrats trying to get something good, trying to prevent something bad.  I wonder if anything is going to get resolved in this matter right now in terms of ending this appalling treatment of people.

FMR. REP. DAVID JOLLY (R-FL):  Chris, Donald Trump is a liar.  What he just said there, he lied in two very important ways, that Obama created these conditions and that the answer to all these problems is House Democrats providing more money.

This has been a multi-year problem, a multi-year challenge for DHS, for past administrations and this one around the question of capacity, and we`re seeing that.  With the surge of people coming across, we are seeing capacity needs.

And so as the Congresswoman mentioned what`s in both the House bill and the Republican Senate bills, additional money for processing facilities, for capacity, the House wants legal aid, healthcare, certain hygiene supplies and so forth.

But what the President has failed to do and what he lies about since the beginning of his administration is abide by the long settled standard which is the Flores Agreement, the Flores Settlement that`s nearly 20-years-old, that provides a certain basic level of care, particularly for children, migrant children, when it comes to access to family members, when it comes to healthcare, to hygiene and the basic standards of detention.  Donald Trump deliberately, deliberately ignored that and changed that.  Donald Trump brought in family separation.  It was not President Obama.  What Donald Trump did in that interview is a lie.

My fear is that the well-intentioned House Democrats, if they declare too much of a victory on this spending bill, will have actually advanced the President`s lies and actually bought into the President`s own narrative that it`s just the money.  It`s not just the money.  God bless the Democrats and the republicans in the Senate that want to provide the money.  But the President has said a false narrative based on a lie.  This is Donald Trump`s fault.

MATTHEWS:  Cal, let`s get back to the border.  What are the people down there who are working in this process of looking after, look at, keeping control of the situation down there with those kids?  What do they say is the problem?  Did they tell you what the problem is?

PERRY:  Yes.  So I got inside one of those facilities, the biggest ones by Custom and Border Protection in Brownsville.  And we were walking around.  They made us check our cameras.  It was really disgusting.  The stench was overwhelming.  It was all of those things that you read in that article, cramped spaces.

And the person who gave us the tour said what we really need here is immigration judges and we need more facilities and better facilities.  So when you look at Clint, that facility, that we have those horrible reports from, today, we have another 100 children going back into that facility.  It doesn`t make any sense because it`s not supposed to make sense.  The administration is intentionally putting people into these situations to send these messages around not only through the communities but to the rest of the world.

So what do we need at the border?  More immigration judges, more doctors, medics, nurses.  There is a humanitarian crisis going on.  The problem is the money is not being diverted to that issue, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Here`s something that`s so stark.  It`s a reminder, however, the perils at the border right now.  The Associated Press today published images of a man and his 23-month-old daughter from El Salvador, who drowned in the Rio Grande on Sunday, just two days ago.  Be warned that the photo you are about to see is very graphic, very sad, tragic.  Take a look.

According to journalists who captured these images, there they are, the father had already set his daughter on the U.S. bank of the river of the Rio Grande.  But when he swam back to get his wife, his daughter threw herself in the water and then both of them, father and daughter, were swept away and drowned.

I don`t know what to say, Cal, your thoughts about this.  I mean, it`s such a big picture.  It`s such a big challenge.  People desperate for a better life in our country.  Our country to the extent that it`s doing it is protecting its sovereignty and it`s a bad, bad, tragedy.  Your observations first hand?

PERRY:  This reporting on this photo, to understand that according to reporter on the ground there, this person, this family tried to present themselves for asylum and under the new, excuse me, return to Mexico policy, you can no longer do that so you returned and these people are waiting.  And this gentleman with his daughter were forced to then, as he thought, he made that decision to cross the river, I would also just say in that photo, that little girl has her arm around her father`s neck, right?

So these are people who are trying to get away from horrible conditions at home.  And they`re willing to do anything.  And it`s absolutely tragic.

MATTHEWS:  It`s biblical.  Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, David Jolly and Cal Perry.

Coming up, one day to Miami, and the first Democratic debates coming on tomorrow night, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will not be on the same stage tomorrow night.  But the they are fighting for many of the same voters.

And a new poll out today shows a potentially significant shift in the lane they`re both competing for.

And Trump`s denial of a new allegations of sexual assault from back in the `90s, he says accuser E. Jean Carroll is not my type.  It`s a defense, if you can call it that, he has used before when talking about his accusers.  His response is coming up -- hers, rather.

Much more ahead.  Stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Just now, a little more than 24 hours away from the first Democratic presidential debate of this cycle, the two-night primetime events begin tomorrow night in Miami.  It`s going to be hot down there, I hear, in a lot of ways.  The ten candidates will make up their pitch to voters on one night, include the first night will be former Congressman Beto O`Rourke, Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar and others, with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren taking center stage.

I guess this is based on polling very much in the middle.  You can see she belongs to be there.  Senator Warren will not be on the same stage with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  He`ll appear on the second night.  But they are clearly going for the same voters in many ways.

A new online straw poll out of a left-leaning group, MoveOn.Org, shows Warren surging as the first choice of its members.  This is non-scientific but as people were online and wanted to express themselves, she is beating Sanders by 20 points.

NBC News reports that while MoveOn backed Sanders over Hillary Clinton back in `16, the fact that progressives are gravitating towards like-minded policy, Warren could be another sign of trouble for Sanders, who has been overtaken by Massachusetts Senator in some recent polls nationally.

Meanwhile, a new Morning Consult poll of Democratic voters nationally shows Joe Biden actually maintaining his frontrunner status with 38 percent up from -- actually 38 percent up from three points since March.  That`s not bad from a week of buffeting.

But take a look at Sanders and Warren.  Since March, Sanders has dropped eight points while Warren as gained six points.

For more, I`m joined by Neera Tanden, a real pro, CEO of the Center for American Progress, Annie Linskey, National Political Reporter from The Washington Post, but more importantly, recently, from the globe.  So, you guys know politics as much as I know.

I`m shattered by this.  I was telling you right before we went on the air.  I`m shattered by the fact that Biden is winning 38 percent among all Democrats, but he`s not even really in the running among people on the left, the progressive side of the party.


MATTHEWS:  And there`s -- so there is going to be a disconnect. 

But let`s, for this conversation, talk about what I think is the implicit battle, intramurals, if you will, between Bernie and Elizabeth.

Bernie has -- the old soldier.  He had all the loyalties.  It`s like he`s the Adlai Stevenson of our time.  He represents the good old days.


MATTHEWS:  He made a great run against Hillary Clinton, almost won.  And he won huge numbers of votes in `16.  He`s coming back again. 

He`s 78 now.  And along comes a relatively young person, Elizabeth Warren.


MATTHEWS:  I mean, it`s getting -- it`s an old party.  She`s only 70.  And she is sort of the younger version of Bernie.

And my question, is that going to be the fight we`re going to see implicitly the next two nights, Neera?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  I do think you will see Senator Sanders try to differentiate both with Vice President Biden and, even though she`s not on the stage with him, Senator Warren.

I think the one thing is, for a lot of Democrats, actually, Senator Warren was a person they wanted to run in the past.  She didn`t run.  And some of that support went to -- obviously, a lot of that support went to Senator Sanders.

I actually think this is more of the gravitational pull of this, particularly with the MoveOn group, who really strongly supported Senator Warren and her run in Massachusetts, and has been a big backer of hers. 


TANDEN:  And I think this is actually more of a natural alignment of where they would have been. 

MATTHEWS:  I`m with you.

I sense something going in her direction, which is primordial.  There`s something in the party that says, the socialist label that Bernie has put on himself is too much to sell in the general election.  So, in a bid -- it`s not just taking Bernie`s votes away from him on electability. 

It`s grabbing some Biden votes who are afraid we`re going to get Bernie.


MATTHEWS:  So, she benefits from both.

LINSKEY:  Well, she is -- I mean, her strategy so far has been quite different from Sanders. 

And if you -- if you look at Senator Sanders and go to any of his rallies, it`s a throwback to 2016.

MATTHEWS:  Are they kids?

LINSKEY:  They`re the same people.  They`re the same people who are there.  And, more to the point, he is saying the same thing.

What Elizabeth Warren has been able to do is reach out.  And she`s been able to get people who thought maybe, oh, she`s the second choice, maybe I really like Buttigieg, but, eh, Warren is my second choice. 

And as some of those people have sort of deflated, she`s taken -- some of those people who were saying, she`s my second choice, have heard all of her policy plans.

I go to her events, and people are really paying quite close attention to the policy every day.

MATTHEWS:  She has got new ones, but she`s dynamic.


MATTHEWS:  And she has new stuff all the time, which shows energy.


MATTHEWS:  Biden hasn`t been able to show that kind of energy, intellectual energy, to come up with new stuff every day, because the party is dying for a future. 

I don`t think they want to talk about the past. 

LINSKEY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  They want to talk -- you know, by the way, it didn`t really hurt Biden talking about his ability to deal with these old seggies. 

But it didn`t help him either.  But nobody wants to talk about that stuff. 

TANDEN:  I do think one thing that is happening right now in the primary -- and it`s -- I think a lot of people were surprised by the vice president`s numbers staying relatively strong after specifically last week.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s the large world beyond the cable world. 

TANDEN:  Yes, absolutely. 

But I think what`s really happening is, people -- people underestimate how much Trump has changed factors in the Democratic Party.  So I think, right now, a lot of people just look at all these -- all these statements, or these mini-scandals, and compare them to Donald Trump. 

And they say, you know, that looks pretty small in comparison to Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS:  That`s what I hear.  I hear the phrase, what about... 

TANDEN:  What about Trump, all the time.


MATTHEWS:  I hear it from every time -- I like to argue with people, as you know.  And I argue with my friends, who are always to my left, it seems all my life are to my left.


MATTHEWS:  And I love to argue, including my family members.

And, inevitably, their response is, if I have any shot at a Democrat for being imperfect, they go, what about Trump? 

LINSKEY:  Sure. 

But I think with Biden and his last week, he was eating away at his political capital.  I mean, he`s got political capital with African- American voters.  There`s actually absolutely no doubt about that.  He has a long relationship with them. 

But the people that we were talking to, the voters we talked to last week were saying, hey, we don`t want to keep hearing this.  He can make some mistakes, OK?  He can make some mistakes.  He can`t keep making them. 

And so he -- that`s what he did.  He spent his capital last week.  That`s why you didn`t really see it in the polls.  But if he keeps doing this, if he can`t -- if he can`t get his act together...

TANDEN:  Yes, that`s fair.

MATTHEWS:  Why does he walk out -- here`s a psychobabble question. 

Why does Joe Biden, who I have known for years, and I like him -- how does he walk out on the edge all the time?  Why does go right to the edge of the cliff?  Let`s talk about race. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, how about not talking about race? 

Let`s talk about the old segregationists that used to run our party, which is the dirty secret of the Democratic Party.  It was the segregationist party in many ways up until the `60s. 


TANDEN:  And that is very fair.

But I think, to your point, there is a broad question, which is, why is he talking about the `70s or `80s, when he really should be talking not just about 2019, but 2020, `21, `22? 

I think he does -- look, we have a debate coming up.  I think he does have a strong...

MATTHEWS:  Is he going to do it tomorrow night?  Will he do it Friday?

TANDEN:  It`s Thursday.  It`s Thursday night.

MATTHEWS:  Will he do it Thursday night?

Will he talk about grandpa Finnegan again or his father?


MATTHEWS:  You know, the old Massachusetts -- will he do that again, or will he say, no, I`m going to say the word future 50 times?

LINSKEY:  That`s why Warren seems so young.  She`s not doing that. 

TANDEN:  Yes.  No, that`s very fair.

LINSKEY:  She`s coming up with new ideas that are fresh ideas. 

I mean, that`s what`s amazing, is, these are ideas that aren`t even coming out of think tanks.  They`re coming out of her think tank of four.

MATTHEWS:  Why is she getting the big push from the media right now?

Form page of "The New York Times Magazine" the other day, she gets the big -- Beto got it a month or two ago.  That whiffed.  That went away. 

TANDEN:  The media likes things that are new.


MATTHEWS:  And then Buttigieg got it too.

TANDEN:  She`s doing better in the polls.  That`s why.  She`s new.

MATTHEWS:  I want to ask you a reporter question.

Why was it Buttigieg was the flavor of the month two or three weeks ago?  Before, the flavor of the month was Beto.  And now it seems like the flavor -- does somebody decree this somewhere?


LINSKEY:  I covered Elizabeth Warren for, I think, seven or eight years. 


MATTHEWS:  There is something about -- if you just look at the front pages of the major magazines, one person gets "Esquire."  I`m sorry, they get "Vanity Fair."  Then somebody gets "The New York Times." 


LINSKEY:  I don`t think that was very helpful, that "Vanity Fair" front- page cover, for Beto O`Rourke.

MATTHEWS:  No, I think it really ticked off a lot of African-American people, who said, why is this newbie getting all this, you know? 

Anyway, thank you.

Just thinking.

Neera Tanden, you`re a tough guy, but I really like you to do it on this show, and Annie Linskey.

I think this is a good trio.  I will try to talk less.

No, I won`t.


MATTHEWS:  Up next:  President Trump and Iran`s leaders are trading threats.  This is a real Middle Eastern fight, overstatement by both sides, the -- threatening annihilation, the capitulation.  It`s frightening.

And it doesn`t look like it`s going to lead to peace.  Trump says Iran is facing -- here`s his big word of the day -- obliteration.

Curtis LeMay, welcome back.  Is that the kind of tough talk that is helping?  No. 

That`s next. 



QUESTION:  Do you think they understand the message you were sending them last week?  You decided not to strike.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I hope they understood the message.  I decided not to strike.  They shot down unmanned -- as you know, an unmanned drone. 

QUESTION:  Do they take your threats seriously?

TRUMP:  I think everybody does.  I think you do too. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was President Trump this afternoon hours after he threatened Iran with obliteration should there be any attacks on anything American in the region. 

In a series of tweets, the president wrote: "Iran leadership doesn`t understand the words nice or compassion.  They never have.  Sadly, the thing they do understand is strength and power.  Iran`s very ignorant and insulting statement put out today only shows what they -- that they do not understand reality.  Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.  In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration."

We Americans know, unfortunately, what obliteration looks like.  Here are just some of the cities in the Middle East whose people have faced obliteration firsthand.  Look at that. 

The president was referring to a statement from Iranian President Rouhani, who slammed Trump`s latest sanctions on Iran as outrageous and idiotic and that the White House is -- quote -- "afflicted by mental illness."

For more, I`m joined by independent Senator Angus King of Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence and the Armed Services committees. 

Senator, why are we talking like Curtis LeMay all of a sudden with this crazy, apocalyptic language? 

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME):  Well, it certainly doesn`t lead us towards some kind of diplomatic solution.  That`s for sure. 

And then, when you add to that the fact that we lead to the likelihood of a miscalculation on one side of the other, a mistake, something which one side thinks is defensive, the other side says is provocative, and the next thing you know, we`re on the escalation ladder, with no telling where it ends. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the president saying the other day, which I applauded in my own way, his statement that we didn`t want to lose -- cause casualties needlessly in this tit for tat?

When he heard it would be 150 people who would be killed by any kind of surgical strike or whatever against military installations, he said, that`s too many.  And then, today, he said, obliterate. 

I mean, his concern about killing 150 people in an air raid, and now is saying, I want to obliterate whole populations. 

KING:  Well, it is very hard to read. 

And the messages are very -- as you say, in this case, very inconsistent.  I think he wants -- he`s -- the whole strategy, as I understand it -- and we had a briefing from some of his people the other day -- is called maximum pressure. 

And I suppose what you saw today was the rhetorical part of the maximum pressure, talking about obliteration and an overwhelming force. 

But, again, how do we get off the path?  My question is, what`s the endgame?  Mike Pompeo listed 12 steps that the Iranians had to accept.  And, basically, they asked the Iranians to change who they are.

It`s unlikely to get a negotiated settlement when you start with a kind of maximalist position.  So, I don`t know how we get around this.  Again, the president has also said the door is open for negotiation.  John Bolton said all they have to do is walk through the door.

But they just sanctioned the guy who they want to walk through the door, if they`re sincere about some kind of negotiations. 

Chris, we`re seeing all kinds of messages go back and forth.  And, as I said before, what really worries me is a mistake, a miscalculation, "The Guns of August," and people wondering two years later..

MATTHEWS:  I agree with that, Barbara Tuchman. 

KING:  Yes, Barbara Tuchman.

How did we get into this horrible war?  And we`re exactly in that kind of situation now. 

MATTHEWS:  Question to you.  What should the United States do, assuming we had a different president?  What should the United States do to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? 

KING:  Well, I would have -- my strategy would have been to start with the JCPOA, which was working.  They were abiding by it. 

It had weaknesses, for sure.  Everybody agrees with that, and particularly the deadlines that were coming up -- and say, OK, let`s sit down at the table and talk about JCPOA number two.


KING:  And what do we have to do to get there? 

But now we`re in a situation where we`re asking not only for an end to nuclear efforts, which is good, but no missiles, no malign activity. 

And I should say, Chris, Iran is no Boy Scout here.  They are a very malign force in the Middle East.  They -- they`re running Hezbollah.  They have got proxies in Iraq.  They have killed Americans over the years.  They`re not good guys.  They need to be confronted. 

The question is, how do you confront them most effectively to get to where you want, which is to get them to stop those malign activities, without getting to the place where war looks more likely than not? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes-or-no question -- I think it is -- should he be required to get congressional approval to commit an act of war against Iran? 

KING:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I like that.

KING:  Now, the qualification there is, self-defense is always available to the president. 

But the Constitution couldn`t be more clear that -- the framers -- you go back to August of 1787, Madison`s notes where they were debating how the war powers should be handled.  And there were some that said the president should declare war and execute it.  Others said, no, that`s -- that`s the whole reason we had this little matter of a revolution, was, we don`t want the king or the executive to be -- unilaterally take people into war. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KING:  They split it.  They said, Congress declares war.  The president`s the commander in chief. 

Now, Congress has abdicated that role largely in the last 50 years or 70 years.  But I think it`s time for Congress to reassert itself, take the responsibility for making that decision, bearing in mind -- and the amendment that hopefully will come up this week says the president, of course, always has the option under Article 2 to defend the country, to respond to attacks against the country. 

But the larger question is, the American people should be behind this when we go to war.  And that means Congress. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, sir, Angus King Maine. 

Now I want to bring in General Barry McCaffrey, retired four-star Army general.

What do you make of this kind of situation where the president says, you hit any American asset, you hurt any American, we`re going to war to obliterate you? 

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY (RET.), U.S. ARMY:  Well, it`s unlikely that talking tough in public and backing people into a corner and then not negotiating is a good strategy going forward. 

Part of the problem was, we no longer, in my judgment, have a national security process, where we write down our political objectives and decide what tools of the U.S. government collectively we`re going to bring to bear, and how do we engage our allies, and how do we give them a way out, an off-ramp, so to speak?

And military power can be part of that.  But, Chris, at the end of the day, U.S. air and naval power cannot keep the Gulf open and cannot destroy the nuclear capability of the Iranian government. 

So what is our strategy?  What are we trying to achieve?  And I think, to be honest, with the president, it`s been all drama, impulsive.  It was not the process well-thought-out with an alternative that he decided on. 

And, by the way, this whole nonsense about he didn`t want to kill 150 people, all he had to do is tell the JCS, the strike has to have zero casualties.  Get 10 fighters on the ground at 2:00 in the morning.  Tell the missile battery that engaged our drone to get their people off the site we`re attacking at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning with Tomahawk missiles. 


MCCAFFREY:  So, he is just making that stuff up. 

This is impulsive, chaotic government. 

MATTHEWS:  Did anybody have a meeting where we decided that Iran is our strategic enemy?

MCCAFFREY:  Well, I think, for 20 years...

MATTHEWS:  When did we decide that we`re going to focus on them as our enemy?

MCCAFFREY:  Well, I think, for 20 years, as the senator pointed out, they have been bad actors.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

MCCAFFREY:  They`re a threat to the Sunni Arabs who provide oil to the Japanese and European Union. 

They have been a sponsor of Shiite terrorism through Syria, Iraq, Lebanon. 


MCCAFFREY:  So, there`s a -- and Trump inherited that problem.  He certainly didn`t create it. 

But the question is, going forward, what are we trying to achieve, and what tools are likely to get us there? 

Currently, we have a very belligerent, chaotic approach to the problem.  It`s unlikely good will come. 

And I don`t think there`s going to be war, by the way.  It doesn`t serve the interests of any of the actors involved. 

MATTHEWS:  Spread the word.  Thank you.



MATTHEWS:  Barry McCaffrey knows what he`s talking about.

Up next:  Add another name to the list of more than a dozen women accusing Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.  Trump`s response to the latest accusation -- you won`t believe it -- "She`s not my type."

Her response to that degrading quip is priceless.  Stick around for that one. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last Friday, E. Jean Carroll, a prominent author and frequent guest on my show in past years, I knew her a long time, accused President Trump of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s.  An excerpt from her new book published in "The New York Magazine", Carroll described an incident in which Trump allegedly physically assaulted her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman.  That`s, of course, on Fifth Avenue in New York, a high end department store in New York. 

She recounted that experience in "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". 

Let`s watch her account. 


E. JEAN CARROLL, AUTHOR:  The next thing he did the put his shoulder against me and his hand went -- I was wearing just a black Donna Karan coat dress and tights.  And it was a work of a second to reach in under my Donna Karan, through opened in the front and through the Donna Karan dress and pull down my tights.  That`s when I -- that`s within my brain went on, that`s when the adrenaline started and it became -- it became a fight. 

And it was, it hurt.  And it was against my will.  And it -- I don`t know where I got the strength, because he was big.  But I think, I was stomping my foot.  I had my hand bag in this arm.  I never put it down, I`m holding, I have no idea. 

The only reason I know I`m holding it, when I got out in the street I still had it in my hand.  So, somehow I got my knee up and pushed him back and the minute he backed up, I was out the door. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump initially issued a statement denying that allegation, accusing Carroll of lying.  He then invited people to find out if she or the magazine, "The New York Magazine", were working with the Democratic Party. 

In statement, he wrote, quote: The world should know what`s really going on.  It is a disgrace and people should pay dearly for such false accusations. 

Well, of course, the famous 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording released in October of 2016, Trump admitted to lewd behavior.  Let`s watch him. 


DONALD TRUMP, THEN-REALITY TV STAR:  You know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful.  I just start kissing them.  It`s like a magnet.  Just kiss.

I don`t even wait.  And when you`re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, TV HOST:  Whatever you want.

TRUMP:  Grab `em by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You can do anything.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Carroll joins a list of more than a dozen women now that accused Trump of gross sexual misconduct prior to him becoming president.  Well, how the president responded to this new allegation caused more outrage.  And that`s coming up next. 

Stick with us.  His responses live.  We`ll be right back. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump denied E. Jean Carroll`s accusation of sexual assault by telling "The Hill" newspaper: I`ll say with great respect, number one, she`s not my type.  Number two, it never happened.  It never happened, OK? 

Well, it`s not the first time he`s attacked his accuser like that.  Let`s watch some of his past attacks back. 


TRUMP:  These events never, ever happened and the people that said them meekly, fully understand, you take a look at these people, you study these people and you`ll understand also. 

Take a look.  You take a look, look at her.  Look at her words.  You tell me what you think. 

I don`t think so.  I don`t think so. 

When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said, I don`t think so. 

He went after me on the plane.  Yes, I`m going to go after you.  Believe me.  She would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.  Man!  You don`t know.  That would not be my first choice.


MATTHEWS:  That`s rubbing it in. 

I am joined now by Ashley Parker, "Washington Post" White House reporter and former Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards, who`s also now a columnist for "The Washington Post". 

Ashley, it is astounding that he goes to such a gross counterpunch, which is when accused of gross sexual misconduct, he says, oh, she`s not good looking enough for me.  I mean, basically, that`s the gross response, and puts her somehow under his micro scope of obnoxiousness.  Your thoughts?

ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Right, in addition to denying the allegations, which is his right to do, the subtext of sort of always making a comment about the accuser`s physical appearance is that these women are not attractive enough frankly, you know, to even be considered by the president to be in a position where they can accuse him of sexual assault.  That is not a typical response to being accused of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, even in this recent case, the accuser doesn`t use the word, she describes rape.


PARKER:  And the president just goes and attacks their physical appearance. 

MATTHEWS:  You don`t have to be a genius to understand horrible behavior to know that rape is not about attractiveness, it`s about power. 

FORMER REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D-MD):  Well, it`s -- absolutely.  It`s about power and it`s about control.  And the president`s efforts to demean these women actually underscore something about him, about the fact that he can`t deal -- he can`t deal with women, and what he`s done is, he continues to demean them by their appearance, his relationship to them. 

And I think that, you know, we have to say outloud what the president is doing.  Sixteen by my count, I think, 16, 18 women have accused of president of sexual assault, and rape.  And every day --

MATTHEWS:  This might be the one -- is there another rape charge? 

EDWARDS:  Yes, I think there is another rape charge. 

MATTHEWS:  This one jumped out at me. 

Ashley, let`s talk about this for a second.  He has people who don`t change.  We always talk about the dial moving a little on his support level.  The best bet now, it won`t move an inch against him, don`t you think?  His people don`t seem to be offended by the reality that`s biting here. 

PARKER:  Right, there is a sense that some of this is -- and to be clear, this doesn`t minimize any of the allegations or accusations against him, but there is a sense, especially from his team and supporters, that this was baked in the cake, right?  There is nothing that is coming out against the president now that his supporters and his voters don`t --

MATTHEWS:  He`s a rapist, live with it.  It`s horrible.  It`s horrible.


PARKER:  -- in the wake of the "Access Hollywood" tape. 

MATTHEWS:  You`re right in a way, and the crudeness of it.

Anyway, Carroll respond to the president`s comments on CNN last night, let`s listen too her. 


CARROLL:  He`s denied all 15 women who have come forward.  He denies, he turns it around, he threatens, and he attacks.  It was against my will and it hurt.  And it was a fight. 


MATTHEWS:  Donna?  We have an election coming up next year, this may be old news as a pattern, but it is more evidence of reality? 

EDWARDS:  Well, it is, and I think -- you know, I think that we cannot get used to a president of the United States who declares publicly that he assaults women and then we have 16 women coming out saying that he does.  For the president to say, oh, you can`t believe it, these are false accusations.  Sixteen allegations, Chris.  Somebody in there is telling the truth. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, yes.  I have to stick you with this question, Ashley, you`re not an editor at the paper, but you`re a great reporter, I do get a sense that it`s like one of those things like, it`s not front page material anymore with Trump.  I mean, this stories are not big enough to blow the roof off the capital kind of story, just, yes.  Trump.  Yes. 

PARKER:  For what it`s worth, I will say, I do believe that "The Post" put these accusations on the front page, but broader what you say has some truth.  We had campaign reporters out there with a number of the Democratic candidates.  It`s not something the Democrats are talking about and stressing as a point of attack against teh president. 


PARKER:  And they also talk to Democratic voters and it`s not something Democratic voters are bringing up either.  I can`t quite tell you why, but for whatever reason, this is not resonating the way you might expect accusations of rape against a president of the United States to resonate and grip the nation. 

MATTHEW:  Well, this is one hard country.

Thank you, Ashley Parker and Donna Edwards. 

Up next, well, the location of next week`s debate bring the issue of climate change to center stage?  I`m betting on that, I`ll tell you why when you come back.  It`s not something you can ignore if you live in Miami. 


MATTHEWS:  Historically, candidates for president are used to fighting about their level on the debate stage.  Candidates of shorter stature usually ask for a riser to elevate how they appear to the television viewer at home.  Taller candidates enjoy nothing more than when the TV cameras catch a side shot of those risers, just to humiliate the candidates standing on them.

But in the first Democratic presidential debate tomorrow and Thursday night, the elevation issue is candidate-wide -- in other words, regardless of height -- because all the candidates, all 20 of them must face the reality that Miami, the site of the debates, is just five feet above sea level, five feet.  And this matters to the people in businesses of this huge metropolitan city. 

In Miami, rising sea levels caused by climate change and warming oceans is not an issue for future generations.  It`s a concern right now in real time. 

Take a boat around the city or simply walk along the waterfront, and you realize immediately how much the beautiful downtown of Miami begins to look like Venice, a city on the water, and with five feet to go, rising sea levels don`t have far to go. 

And here`s this from the top of the front page of today`s "New York Times."  Climate change became a reality long ago in Miami where the rich and poor have been forced to grapple with the compounding effects of warmer temperatures and higher sea levels.  The evidence is everywhere of a city under siege by the rising sea. 

So, count on the topic of climate change to come up tomorrow night, just as the sea level is coming up. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now, be sure to tune, by the way, tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for our pre-debate coverage right here on MSNBC, and then the debate itself at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" of course starts right now.