IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Department of Justice reverses course. TRANSCRIPT: 7/3/9, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Hakeem Jeffries; Carole King; Carlos Curbelo; Kim Wehle, AaronBlake, Kristen Hawn, Mike Quigley


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Tomorrow, we celebrate the high human standards of our founders.  We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their created with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The 4th of July is there for because of these words, essentially, the celebration of American ideals, of equality, of national unity, of freedom from a bullying government, of the dignity of the individual person.  Yet it is on this 4th of July and in this city that this president has decreed that a procession of combat tanks will line the capital while the President speaks to the nation flanked by the country`s highest ranking military chiefs.

For the first time in the history of our democratic republic, we are being instructed to honor not the values of our declaration of our independence but the power of the military.  And this, and it must be said, the grandeur of Donald J. Trump`s personal self.

There is, of course, a danger being risked in such a promenade tomorrow.  Many who come to Washington will come to champion this president, this president.  Others here in Washington on the Mall tomorrow will not be so moved.  A country already divided with such malice by this president faces the peril of driving that wedge even deeper between us.  To hope for violence would be, of course, treasonous.  Not to expect it would be naive.

The details and costs of Trump`s martial spectacle tomorrow have already ignited wide disgust.  Early this week, the President previewed the speech he plans to give tomorrow on the 243rd anniversary of the birth of this republic, standing in the shadow of President Lincoln.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  We`re going to have a great 4th of July in Washington, D.C.  It will be like no other.  It will be special.  And I hope a lot of people come, and it`s going to be about this country.  And it`s a salute to America.

REPORTER:  Do you think that you give a speech that can reach all Americans on July 4th?

TRUMP:  I think so, I think so.  I think I`ve reached most Americans.  Most Americans want no crime.  Most Americans want a strong military.  They want good education.  They want good healthcare.  If you look at preexisting conditions, the republicans are going to say preexisting conditions.  The democrats won`t be able to do it.  What the democrats plan is going to destroy the country, and it`s going to be horrible healthcare, horrible healthcare.


MATTHEWS:  On Twitter this morning, the President boasted the event is looking to be really big.  It will be a show of a lifetime, he said.  But The Washington Post reports the National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in interests and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs for this exhibit, the spectacle.  It adds, well, the diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of this event.

President Trump, by the way, downplayed concerns about the cost on Twitter, writing, quote, the cost of our great salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth.  We own the planes.  We have the pilots.  The airport is right next door, Andrews, all we need is the fuel.  We own the tanks and all fireworks are donated by two of the greats.  Nice.  Nice.

I`m joined now by Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.  Mr. Jeffries, thank you for joining us, congressman.  And I leave the door open to you, your thoughts about the aesthetics of it, the politics of it, the narcissism.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  Well, thanks for having me on, Chris.  Donald Trump is going to turn a national celebration on the National Mall into a national embarrassment to feed his out of control ego.  This is another example of his narcissism.  Sometimes it`s malignant.  Sometimes it`s out of control.  At this particular point in time, it really is an embarrassment and it will be a waste of taxpayer dollars to use the military as a political prop for his own purposes.  And it`s really another sad moment during the Trump presidency.

MATTHEWS:  Is there any way of stopping him from using the pictures tomorrow, which are basically the production is paid for by the American taxpayer, especially the people that go -- the older people, the senior citizens who go to these national parks and pay the $10 or whatever it is you have to pay.  My question is, suppose he turns this into a big extravaganza for his ad campaign for next year, is that legal?

JEFFRIES:  Well, certainly, I think it should be looked at, though the President, of course,, as you know, Chris, is granted wide latitude and discretion in terms of the non-governmental and the governmental activity.  We`ve also seen many in his administration, of course, abuse those privileges and violate the Hatch Act in ways that they don`t seem to care.

I think, ultimately, this is all going to come down to condemnation from the American people, and a recognition that the 4th of July is a national celebration not of democrats, independents or republicans, but as Americans.  And everything that Donald Trump touches becomes divisive.  And that`s why his breaking from past practice is really unfortunate in this particular instance.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think about him standing where Dr. King stood?

JEFFRIES:  Well, it`s a direct contrast to the things that Dr. King stood for, that Abraham Lincoln stood for.  You know, those are figures who wanted to bring the country together.  Donald Trump is tearing us apart.  Those were individuals who wanted to move the country forward.  Donald Trump clearly wants to turn back the clock in ways that will be unfortunate for the great gorgeous mosaic that are the American people.

I think if Donald Trump spent a little bit more time actually focused on trying to work with House Democrats to get things done for the American people, because, Chris, after all, that`s our job, and we want to fix our crumbling infrastructure.  We need a partner in order to do so.  We want to lower the high costs of life-saving prescription drugs.  We need a partner to do so.

Instead, Donald Trump has been fantasizing about this grandiose display on the National Mall, and also spending his time sort of interacting with dictators all across the country in ways that are also entirely inappropriate for a country that is a leader of the free world.

MATTHEWS:  Well, great countries, great leaders have found ways to solve problems.  We had a great poverty problem in this country, and Social Security went a long way towards dealing with it, especially for older people, and then Medicare came along.  And, of course, we`ve had successful decisions about immigration before that may not have been enforced but there were attempts.  Do you think the President wants solutions or he wants issues, that he loves the issues he fights over?

JEFFRIES:  Well, I think you hit on something right there.  Instead of actually solving big problems on behalf of the American people, he clearly is intent on continuing to motivate his very narrow base as a pathway toward another so-called Electoral College presidential victor instead of trying to bring people together, reaching across to the other side of the aisle and solving the challenges that the American people confront.  If we were able to do that, then I think that would put the American people in a better possible place.

One of the reasons why people are so cynical about the political process right now is because it seems like some in Washington, D.C. are only concerned with the political permanent campaign as opposed to the space to govern.  We as House democrats, Nancy Pelosi has indicated time and again, we want to govern, but we need a partner.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much U.S. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, happy 4th of July, sir.

Coming now and joining me now, former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida and singer and songwriter Carole King, who is performing tomorrow night at the Capitol Fourth, a traditional event held on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol.  Carole, thank you for joining us.

Explain the difference.  I know you`re eager to do that between your professional performance as an entertainer at the steps of the Capitol and the show that`s going to on down at the other end of the Mall.

CAROLE KING, SINGER/SONGWRITER:  Right.  Well, show that I am performing in is a diverse, as Congressman Jeffries said, mosaic of people from around the country.  And this is the traditional 39th annual event at the lawn outside the Capitol, which celebrates our birthday, birthday of America.

In contrast, you have a separate event.  And that`s the point that --

MATTHEWS:  But you`re the warm-up, unfortunately.

KING:  Well --

MATTHEWS:  Isn`t yours around 6:00 and his is later in the evening?

KING:  I don`t think of us as the warm-up.  We are the main event and he is following.

MATTHEWS:  And the weather report right now is very good for the early part of the evening.  So let`s see how it works out.

But what do you think about the fact that he is sort of piggybacking his political show on top of this national thing that you`re proud to be part of tomorrow night at the Capitol?

KING:  His spectacle, with tanks and the air show and everything, is feeding the ego of someone who is arguably the most insecure person on the planet.

MATTHEWS:  You think it`s ego?

KING:  Totally.  And he`s insecure that he needs this.

MATTHEWS:  Well, White House officials are, reportedly, anxious about the President`s extravaganza.  According to Politico, White House officials and allies are wringing their hands over the risk of the hastily arranged event morphing into Trump`s inauguration 2.0, in which the size of the crowd and the ensuing media coverage do not meet the President`s own outsized expectations.

Right, here we go again.  One aide said there are questions about the ticket distribution and who will show up.  The weather might be bad.  Heads are spinning.  Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that according to one defense official, the Pentagon was not planning for tanks to be involved in a July 4th event until late last week.

But after the President requested them, they were shipped up by rail from Fort Stewart in Georgia.  Congressman, thank you so much, Curbelo.  Thank you for joining.  This is a weird thing because this seems like a Helter Skelter attempt to scare of some ego juice for the President rather than any kind long-term planning.  I don`t know what`s going to happen.

My fear is a lot of people are going to show who are pro-Trump.  They`re going have their confederate flags flying and their license plates and all kinds of trouble making.  There will be a lot of other people that are going to meet like in a storm and you`re going have a real conflict out there.  Your thoughts?

FMR. REP. CARLOS CURBELO:  Chris, a lot of people in the government are anxious and disappointed.  Why, Chris?  Because George Washington gave a great example of what this country is and showed why our founding fathers built an exceptional nation.

In the Capitol Rotunda, there is a painting that captures the moment when Washington turns over his military commission after being elected president to make it clear that in this country, the people are in charge and not the military.

And that in this country, we celebrate the freedom of the people of every citizen, not the power of the government, as people do in other countries throughout the world.  I think of Cuba, the country my parents fled.  You see military parades there constantly because the government wants to be at the center of society.

Our founding fathers didn`t want the government to be at the center of society, and certainly not the President of the United States.  So a lot of people over the country.

But even in the President`s White House, and even among congressional republicans, there is a lot of consternation about this, because it is a very clean break with an important 243-year tradition that we are going to see tomorrow, and it`s not a positive break.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why do you think that is, that people that are sort of dictator-ish, like the Castro Brothers, why they would instead of giving people political freedom, which they never gave them, having promised it when I was growing up, everybody thought Castro was going to be a democrat, a liberal democrat, because he promised to be one.  He swore he was not a communist dictator.  He swore it.  We all heard it.  He go at Meet the Press and Ed Sullivan, I think he did all of these shows, and he didn`t do any of that.  He lied to everybody.  But your thoughts here?

I think it was wonderful what you said about George Washington.  Because when George the Third, he asked someone, what`s Washington going to do after the war?  And he was told, Washington is going back to Virginia, to his farm, his plantation.  And George the Third, you know what he said, then he will be the greatest man in the world, because everybody respects giving up power like that to a democracy, yes.

CURBELO:  George Washington had the option of being king, and he said, no.  That is not what this new experiment in democracy is going to be.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think Trump would do?

CURBELO:  He would take it in a second.  He would take it in a second.  And that`s what part of this event tomorrow is.  He wants to be at the center, not just of the government, but of American life.  And that`s just the complete opposite of what our founding fathers designed and of what I think most Americans want.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I hope that everybody goes there, Carole, especially the political moderates and progressives, if they see somebody looking for trouble, they just walk away, because the last thing we need is another Charlottesville.  The last thing we need is this battle of ideology in the streets.

KING:  Absolutely.  You know, I wanted to make a comment about the fact that this is a day that we at Capitol Fourth are honoring the troops and honoring the birthday of our country.  This guy is taking troops away from their family.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s see what tracks the tanks leave.  They`re 60 tons, these vehicles.  They`re not meant for promotions, P.R. displays.  They`re meant for defending the country.

Thank you former Congressman Carlos Curbelo.  Thank you, as always, sir, for the country and for coming here tonight.  And thank you, Carole King, again.

Coming up, you can`t appeal a Supreme Court decision, but President Trump seems to think it`s possible.  He`s ordering now today the Justice Department to find a way to get that citizenship question back into the sentence after the Supreme Court said it`s not getting in there.

And the battle for the democratic presidential nomination is getting tighter.  Of course, it looks like fewer and fewer people might win this thing.  New poll shows some African-American voters may be moving away from Joe Biden to Senator Kamala Harris.  I want to talk to the Reverend, Al Sharpton about that and where this whole thing is heading right now this July.  It`s getting close to the big battle for Iowa this fall.

Plus, the showdown.  We`re exactly two weeks away from Robert Mueller`s scheduled congressional testimony, and President Trump is already planning a very public rebuttal that same day in front of a crowd of his own adoring fans.  He is counterprogramming.  Does he have a countertruth?

Much more ahead.  Stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump refusing to take no for an answer, is demanding that his Department of Justice find a way to circumvent the Supreme Court and get a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Early this morning, the President Tweeted, the news reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the citizenship question on the census is incorrect or, to state it differently, fake.  We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.

Well, his Tweet directly contradicted his Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, who said this in a statement yesterday.  The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.

Well, the President`s Tweet plunged his Department of Justice into chaos.  And Assistant Attorney General told the judge today, quote, we at the Department of Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward.

Another lawyer from the Justice Department explained, quote, the Tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President`s position.  I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means.  I can tell you that I have confirmed that the Census Bureau is continuing the process of printing the questionnaire without a citizenship question.

Well, last week, the Supreme Court rejected the administration`s stated reason for adding the question calling it contrived.  The administration had argued that the citizen question was necessary to protect voters and enforce parts of the Voting Rights Act.

For more, I`m joined by Aaron Blake, Washington Post Senior Political Reporter, and Kim Wehle, Law Professor and Author of the new book How to Read the Constitution and Why.  That`s a timely book.

Let me go to Aaron first.  Okay.  Is it going to be in the census question for 2020, the citizenship question?

AARON BLAKE, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  As of right now, the government is moving forward and they are printing the census without this question. 

They seem to think that they can do that right now, and still pursue some kind of a court case.  If you look at what the Supreme Court ruled last week, it was not, there are under no circumstances that you can actually do this.  It was, the justification that you provided was contrived.  It wasn`t good enough.  It wasn`t the actual reason.  Basically, you fabricated this entire thing. 

But John Roberts, the chief justice, who wrote this decision, allowed for them to potentially come back through the court system and make another case, offer another justification.  The question from there is, do they have enough time, because this needs to start being printed?  It`s due by April 2020.

And, also, are they going to be able to come up with an actual valid justification that doesn`t completely fly in the face of what they just told these judges?  And, apparently, the Justice Department decided this was not possible.  They didn`t have enough time. 

And they actually told this judge on Tuesday that they were done.  And then the president tweeted on Wednesday.  He said that this was not a settled issue.  He wanted people to look for issue -- ways to make this happen. 

And that put these lawyers in the position of basically going back to this judge and offering a mea culpa, saying, we are going to try something, we don`t know what it is.  I don`t even know what the president`s talking about.  But we`re still in this game right now. 

MATTHEWS:  So they`re doing two things at the same time.  They`re printing the existing format of the questionnaire, which does not include a question about citizenship.  Meanwhile, they`re fighting the court case, with some hope that they can get it overturned. 

Why did they do this?  Why do they -- why do they want the citizenship question in there politically?  What`s the reason?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL:  Well, politically, it looks like from the record that they want to basically make it hard for non-citizens to actually answer the question and then be counted for this for the census, because the census numbers are used for purposes of reapportioning federal districts.

MATTHEWS:  So they want to scare people who -- who have family members who aren`t undocumented into not participating, and therefore not building up the population of those areas where they live?

WEHLE:  Correct. 

And the census itself is about counting heads.  It`s not about counting citizens.  I don`t think everyone understands that.  So it`s not like that is impossible.

MATTHEWS:  Can you have a congressional seat that represents 600,000 people not legally in the country, potentially?

WEHLE:  Under the Enumeration Clause, it`s about actually counting people, not counting citizens.

MATTHEWS:  They could all be visitors.

WEHLE:  But it doesn`t forbid the government from getting additional information on the census form.  That`s the issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the average Trumpite understands this kind of complicated push? 

WEHLE:  No, I don`t.

I actually teach this kind of law, agency administrative law.  It`s very, very complicated.  Very few people understand it.

MATTHEWS:  Who is going to vote for Trump who wouldn`t normally vote for Trump because he`s making you put citizenship questions, put a -- answering a citizenship question your census?

WEHLE:  I think very few. 

But if we get -- if this continues down this road where it could go, that is, where -- the president of the United States flouting a Supreme Court decision, the judge in this hearing said, what do you want me to do, issue an injunction telling the president to stop tweeting in a manner that`s inconsistent?

MATTHEWS:  I thought they had to come up with a better argument.  Isn`t that still the case?  Isn`t that still the case? 

BLAKE:  Yes, that`s basically what they have to do.  But they have to make that argument...

MATTHEWS:  Can they be honest and say, we`re doing this for political reasons, because we want to reduce the power of progressive minority voters?

BLAKE:  Well, that was the theory after...

MATTHEWS:  Can they say that?

BLAKE:  Right. 

That was actually a theory after these decisions last week, because not only did that decision come down that day, but the partisan gerrymandering case came forward.  And, basically, the court gave states the authority to do partisan gerrymandering. 

So why couldn`t the Justice Department come forward and say, yes, we did this because we wanted to help Republicans?  It`s not completely inconceivable.


MATTHEWS:  Are you laughing, or you mean it?

BLAKE:  No, there are legal experts who thought that was a potential argument that they could make. 

The problem for the Trump administration right now is, whatever justification they offer, they have to square with what they said before.

If they come forward and offer a completely different justification, they`re basically admitting that what they said before was total nonsense.  It wasn`t actually their justification.  And that`s -- that`s a tough argument.

MATTHEWS:  You know what this reminds me of?  The Muslim ban. 

The first time, they said no Muslims or anybody of that background and that religion can come in the country.  They said, no, we better yet -- better fix that.  Now we will just have countries that have, what, active terrorist watches going on.

BLAKE:  But John Roberts left it.  They -- he said that the secretary of commerce has brought authority to put questions on the census.  They just basically have to actually -- offer an actual justification. 

I think it was actually a pretty broad door that he left open for this question.  But we didn`t know if there was going to be enough time for them.  We didn`t know if they could actually come forward with an actual justification.

MATTHEWS:  Is this a part of the Republican Party recognizing they`re becoming a smaller group of older white people, basically, recognize that that`s the reality, so they have to cheat? 

They have to cheat through gerrymandering.  They have to cheat through suppression efforts like plastic I.D. cards.  You have to come with an I.D. card, getting old people who live in row houses to go somewhere, Department of Transportation building, to get an I.D. card.

All this is just to reduce the minority vote. 

WEHLE:  Well, that`s the argument. 

I`m not a political analyst.  But I think that is certainly what the record was developed in this particular case suggested.  And, actually, this, as a matter of law, is kind of an out-of-the-box decision by Justice Roberts.

The court held that the stated rationale under the statute was actually OK.  They can give whatever rationale they want, as long as it`s legitimate.


WEHLE:  The problem here was that -- was that the court said there was bad faith here in actually reaching out and manufacturing this Voting Rights Act.  And the fact that...


MATTHEWS:  Do you agree with Aaron?  It`s possible that this court, 5-4 Republican court, would say, yes, it`s good Republican partisanship, go ahead?

WEHLE:  Not -- I think not on this, in this case, on this record.

I think it would have to be in 10 years, frankly.  Otherwise, they`re really undermining the rule of law. 

MATTHEWS:  So, how`s it look right now?  We`re going to have a census next year, 2020, that doesn`t have the question in it.  That looks like where it`s headed, right?

BLAKE:  There`s basically no way in which they can delay this.

The real deadline here, according legal experts, is October 31.  This is being printed right now.  Ostensibly, they could print it and then do a reprint.

MATTHEWS:  Throw it -- then throw that all away.

BLAKE:  Yes, throw it all away, waste the money and reprint it.

But October 31 is the real deadline, where they really have to have a resolution on this.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Aaron Blake.

Thank you, Kim Wehle, for coming in.

And what is the name of your book again?

WEHLE: "How to Read the Constitution and Why."

MATTHEWS:  I`m big on civics, civics.  We need to learn civics.

WEHLE:  We need it.  This is an entryway to the basics.

MATTHEWS:  Get a copy to the Cabinet. 

Anyway, still ahead, which Democratic candidate does Newt Gingrich say poses the biggest danger to Donald Trump?  The answer may surprise you.  I`m not sure if Newt know what he`s talking about, but it`s an interesting theory he has here. 

I`m going to break down the latest on the 2020 race with the Reverend Al Sharpton after this break.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

It`s been one week now since the first Democratic debate of the 2020 primaries, enough time for the release of multiple post-debate polls.  This Monday, CNN released a poll showing an increase in support for Senator Kamala Harris, with the race tightening between her and former Vice President Biden. 

Then, yesterday, Quinnipiac came out with a poll with an even more dramatic rise for Harris, up 13 points from their last poll in June, and only two points away from Biden, in fact, well within the poll`s margin of our.

Today`s "Washington Post"/ABC poll, a little different, showed Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders still solidly ahead of both Harris and Elizabeth Warren. 

And Harris didn`t just impress Democrats, however, last week.  Here`s what former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich had to say about her standing in the race:


QUESTION:  Who poses the biggest threat on the left right now for the president, Speaker?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  He would probably have a marginally harder time in some ways with Biden or a marginally harder time with Kamala Harris, who I think is -- I just wrote a piece for "Newsweek" - - I think she`s probably the most dangerous of the Democrats. 

But I also think that a left-wing politician from California is a pretty long way from the center of the American political system. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m joined right now by Reverend Al Sharpton, host of "POLITICS NATION" on MSNBC, and Kristen Hawn, who`s a Democratic strategist. 

Reverend, I love what you`re thinking, because I don`t know what it is. 


MATTHEWS:  So, tell me, because I know what -- there`s a conflict in what you just heard old Newt come up with there.  He said she would be dangerous on the stage, I think he was saying, but not so much in the voting booth.  I think he was saying that. 

Your thoughts? 

AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION":  Well, I think that is probably what he was saying.  It`s hard to tell with Newt. 

But the reality is that what Ms. Harris did, Senator Harris did, was show, one, that she would fight, and she would fight on an issue that a lot of people, including her, was passionate about. 

And the issue, Chris, is not just busing.  The issue is that, when Mr. Biden responded, he said, well, Senator Harris, when you were bused, it was the local school board that chose that, not the federal government. 

So are you now advocating states` rights?  That`s a concern to not only blacks, but that`s a concern to women.  That`s a concern to LGBTQ.  Are we going back to bathroom cases like in Indiana?  I mean, how can we say that, to calm people down, we should let the federal government step back and the states decide, when, in effect, you are going back into states` right? 

That makes him very vulnerable if he doesn`t clarify that. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, I think he was doing that to get off the hook, Reverend.  I`m not sure he was arguing the constitutional theory there.  I think he was just saying, don`t blame me.  It`s not my job. 

That seems like he was saying.  What do you think? 

SHARPTON:  But it is the government`s job. 

The government`s job is to protect minorities, whether they be black or Latino or gay, against the tyranny of the majority.  That`s what the whole civil rights movement was about.  Did they tell the Freedom Riders don`t ride the Greyhound buses because it`s going to cause division?

Did they tell gays don`t march in Indiana, it`s going to cause division?  We would have never had Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, any of that, if that was the deciding factor on people standing up for what was right and what make this country better. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Kristen, I think Biden has got a problem, because you can apologize for certain things.  You can apologize for insensitivity.  But he called forced busing or busing required by the courts asinine.

His language was not nuanced.  I mean, he really used the language.  He thought -- and, let`s face it, it wasn`t very popular among working-class whites who go to public school.  That`s their option.  And they didn`t feel like they should go back into the old neighborhood they moved out of. 


MATTHEWS:  And they said, why do we have to go back to that old neighborhood again?  And I understand that, for all kinds of social reasons, but the fact is, you can`t defend that today. 

rMD-IT_HAWN:  You can`t.

MATTHEWS:  Back then, it sounded like, OK, it`s a tough call.  Now it isn`t.

HAWN:  Yes. 

I mean, and he`s using bad examples.  There are all these missteps.  I mean, in some ways, he didn`t have many places to go but down.

But Kamala Harris, I mean, she showed -- it wasn`t just on one issue, I don`t think, particularly to women -- that she -- it was a strong debate performance.

MATTHEWS:  Can she stay on offense?  Can she win a -- I don`t know how you lose if you`re constantly an offense.  If you`re scoring baskets, in a sports sense, and the other side can`t hurt you, how do you lose? 

HAWN:  I mean...


MATTHEWS:  And Biden, on the other hand, I can`t think he goes on offense against her.  What`s he going to say against her? 

HAWN:  I think he has trouble. 

And I think he will have trouble against any woman.  And I`m telling you what I mean.  There is -- there -- I think there`s been a shift, at least in the Democratic Party, a fundamental shift.  We want to see a woman in office.  We saw that in the midterms. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you speaking for yourself?  I hear it. 

HAWN:  I am.  I can`t...

MATTHEWS:  I hear it.

HAWN:  And I think that whoever the woman is that emerges as the strongest -- and I think it`s her right now -- has a really good shot, and can be a real danger to President Trump at the ballot box. 

MATTHEWS:  I think things have changed, just like you just said.

At a campaign rally today, Senator Harris made the case for why she`s ready to prosecute, in a political sense, Trump in the general election.  Let`s watch. 


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Donald Trump has predatory nature and predatory instincts. 

And the thing about predators you should know is that they prey on the vulnerable.  They prey on those who they do not believe are strong.  And the thing about predators you must most importantly know, predators are cowards.  Predators are cowards. 

And so when we look at this campaign, and we look at the task before us, it will be to successfully prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump.  And I am prepared to do that. 


MATTHEWS:  Reverend, I have been watching debates for years.  And they`re very powerful in the moment.  They last in their power about a week, about a week. 

And then the campaigns tend to go back to the numbers they were in before.  It just is amazing.  I saw that with Reagan and Carter.  I saw that with so many -- Nixon and Kennedy.  Yes, it has a big, powerful punch. 

Beth Fouhy of our network said this morning -- I heard her say something I agree with.  She said, Kamala is really good at winning the moment.  She did it against Brett Kavanaugh.  She did it against Bill Barr.  She did it against Joe Biden.  But she hasn`t figured out a way to sustain that forward motion.  What do you think? 

SHARPTON:  I think that the difference this time is that she`s dealing with opponents in the primaries, and you`re dealing with someone that can continue to go on the offense on policy issues, as I said, states` rights vs. federal government, deal with health care, deal with voting rights. 

If she stays on the offensive, which distinguishes herself from some of the others, I think that she can turn the moment into a movement.  When you`re doing a stand-alone announcement with 20,000 people, which she did, that`s a moment.

But you`re not in the ring with some other people.  When she got in the ring, she showed her strength.  And that is what a lot of Democrats want, no matter whether they`re progressive or moderate.  And they can see her doing that to Donald Trump.  And we all know Donald Trump is afraid of prosecutors. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know that.  Most people are.

But let me ask you about this key question.  A lot of Democrats -- in fact, all I have watched -- have been afraid of this rape charge, E. Jean Carroll.  It looked to me like a thing -- a thing that ought to be investigated, even at this late date. 

It`s a serious charge.  It used to be a capital charged in many states.  Trump said the people -- about the Central Park 5, he said they should be executed even before a trial.  And they were later exonerated as factually innocent. 

What about this case?  She was saying predator.  I don`t know if she`s getting closer to affecting that, of saying that is a factor in this race. 

I heard it.  Predator?  That`s what we`re talking about here. 


HAWN:  Right.  But I`m not sure if anything sticks. 

I mean, like -- and if you look at like the Central Park 5.... 

MATTHEWS:  With Trump?

HAWN:  With Trump?

MATTHEWS:  Why doesn`t it stick? 

HAWN:  It is beyond...

MATTHEWS:  A credible charge.

HAWN:  A credible charge.  I just -- I mean, we heard him speaking about women in a derogatory way on a recording.

MATTHEWS:  On what he could get away with.

HAWN:  On what he can get away with.

We heard him.  We heard his voice talk about sexually assaulting women, and it didn`t stick.  So I think that just running against him is an entirely different -- it`s an entirely different ball game. 

I do think, though, if we have a woman candidate come through the primary, he may have some issues there.

MATTHEWS:  Who`s a stronger candidate, Elizabeth Warren, senator, or Senator Harris?

HAWN:  Senator Harris.

MATTHEWS:  In the general?

HAWN:  I think so. 


MATTHEWS:  I think, if she can stay -- she can stay towards the...


MATTHEWS:  That`s my favorite question right now, because I think those two are really on the move. 

Thank you, Reverend Al Sharpton, as always, sir.  And, Kristen Hawn, thank you so much. 

Up next:  With Robert Mueller set to testify July 17, two weeks from today, President Trump`s warning him. 

Who is he?  This is Al Capone stuff.  He`s warning him to stick to his script, and is planning also some counterprogramming, a big rally.

Who is he?  This guy doesn`t work for him.  He doesn`t work for Trump.  Who is he to warn him?  What`s that -- what`s the bullying?  What`s that mean?  Or else what, Mr. President?  What are you going to do about it?  Except you`re acting like a bully.  You`re -- or a predator. 

We`re back after this. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Two weeks from today, former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before Congress in what many see as the Democrats` last good shot at making their case for the impeachment of President Trump.  It will either happen now or never.  Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in what could be the most consequential hearings of Trump`s presidency. 

The president has long called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt and a hoax, despite the fact that it handed up 34 indictments.  And that includes the president`s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the president`s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who are both serving time in prison, as well as the president`s former national security adviser Michael Flynn who is awaiting sentencing. 

President Trump has not shied away from going after the former special counsel. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think he is a total conflicted person.  I think Mueller is a true Never Trumper.  He is somebody that dislikes Donald Trump.  He is somebody that didn`t get a job that he requested that he wanted very badly. 

Bob Mueller is no friend of mine.  I had conflicts with him.  We had a business dispute.  We had somebody that is in love with James Comey. 

Mueller terminated them illegally.  He terminated the emails.  He terminated all of the stuff between Strzok and Page.  They`re gone.  And that`s illegal.  That`s a crime. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, Mueller has already laid out what to expect from his testimony during his only public statement on camera back in May. 


ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report.  It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made.  And the report is my testimony.  I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress. 


MATTHEWS:  And President Trump is warning Mueller that he`d better hold true to that and limit his testimony to what`s in the report.  The president tweeted: He said he could only stick to the report, and that is what he would and must do after so much testimony and total transparency.  This witch hunt must now end.  No more do-overs.  No collusion, no obstruction.  The great hoax is dead.  That`s Trump talking. 

And now we`ve learn in order about the president`s strategy to counter Robert Mueller`s testimony two weeks from tonight.  It`s the most Trumpian approach possible.  Think about it. 

That`s coming up, next.  Stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump is trying to make sure that he is playing offense, not defense when former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies in front of Congress in 14 days.  Last night, the Trump campaign announced the president will be holding a rally in Greenville, North Carolina on that same day as Mueller is testifying.  On Capitol Hill, the president`s Republican allies, meanwhile, are preparing a coordinated effort to, quote, try to undercut Mueller`s credibility and paint him as a political pawn and Democrats` efforts to try to undermine the president. 

Trump has already tried to intimidate Mueller to deliver his testimony to Congress. 

For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, member of the House Intelligence Committee, and Ken Dilanian, NBC News national security reporter. 

Congressman, what do you make of these three salients, if you will, points of attack.  They`re going to try to intimidate the guy into not saying anything more than he put in the report.  The Republicans in your committees are going to go after him probably for Strzok and his girlfriend and all the bad stuff, the bad apple stuff, and all that stuff.  And, of course, he is holding a rally.  I guess the rally can`t do much about. 

But what about -- you`re going to be sitting there with each Democrat getting five minutes to make their own pitch.  Meanwhile, the Republicans apparently have a coordinated campaign to bring up all the dirt on Mueller. 

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):  Yes.  I think what I`ll point out first is when a special counsel was appointed, there was bipartisan support, talking about the integrity of Mr. Mueller, and that he was the perfect choice.  But, of course, when he comes out with a report they don`t quite like, all of that changes. 

None of this is any different than what they`ve done for the last almost three years, which to act like the president`s political counselor and legal (AUDIO GAP), whatever it does to take to protect the president politically and legally.  So, that`s no surprise.  At least part of our (AUDIO GAP) probably be involved with defending the special counsel at that time. 

MATTHEWS:  What about getting him to go a bit further than he did in his report and what he said in those eight minutes in that later statement? 

QUIGLEY:  I think that`s a great point.  Look, I have the greatest admiration for the special counsel, but he doesn`t get to decide what he is going to talk about.  There are very fair questions about what happened to the counterintelligence investigation, where all this began.  Talk to us about Trump Tower Moscow and what they gleaned, the possibility of money laundering. 

We know there were people working on the counterintelligence investigation.  What did they learn are, where is that information, are they still working on this project, and what is the role of the FBI?  So, a lot of questions for us to understand how the president was compromised.  (AUDIO GAP) as a result of the president being compromised? 

MATTHEWS:  Ken, the bullying tactic of the president.  It was almost he better not go -- he doesn`t have any authority in the institution over this guy Mueller.  He has no right to tell him what to say. 

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  I think he is scared, because Robert Mueller, if he could speak freely, could really powerfully criticize the president in a way that almost no one else can.  This is a life-long Republican, Chris.


DILANIAN:  He volunteered for the Vietnam War when Donald Trump was in Studio 54, who led the FBI after 9/11.  And what he didn`t do in his report, he said there was no conspiracy, no crime that he could prove, but he didn`t pass moral judgment on the Trump campaign`s flirtation with the Russians. 

He didn`t say, you know what?  This is a terrible idea that they did this.  It was bad for the country.  If he says that, that could be bad for Donald Trump. 

He`s also going to demolish Trump`s two big talking points that Mueller found no collusion and Mueller exonerated Trump.  Neither of those things are true.  Mueller said it in the eight-minute news conference, but now he is going to talk about it in detail.  And let`s not forget, that news conference moved the polls on impeachment. 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk than for a moment with the congressman. 

Congressman, you`re a political kind of guy.  Tell me how you can move that dial.  Can you move it from 20-some percent who support impeachment to, say, 40 percent?  How do you do that when your big day comes two weeks from now? 

QUIGLEY:  Yes, I think members have to be very judicious in their time and not give a four and a half minute speech and give the special counsel 30 seconds to respond. 


QUIGLEY:  I think this needs to be a coordinated plan to allow the special counsel to tell the truth. 

And you`re absolutely right.  In eight minutes, he moved the dial.  He is going to have four hours in front of the American people.  It`s our job to set him up in a position where he`s allowed to go into this in more detail, tell the American people. 

And if anything, if all he does in four hours is to go into more detail as the fact that the president was not exonerated and why, I think that in itself moves the needle.  He`ll have the opportunity to go into detail in a manner that matters.  When I would write long briefs in criminal cases that a three-judge panel would still have a lot of questions, and obviously, the members of the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee will have those kinds of questions. 

MATTHEWS:  Has Speaker Pelosi told you folks on the committees that are hearing the testimony from two weeks from now what her standard is in terms of changing her position and going along with impeachment?  Is there any signal what the standard would be? 

QUIGLEY:  I think that the speaker`s public stance has been her private stance.  I think she understands how to count noses in the Senate and what it might mean from a political point of view.  I do think that the needle is moving within the caucus and within the American people.  I think asking for the impeachment inquiry will help us from a legal point of view.  I call it obstruction after the fact.  After the Muller report has been out, the Trump administration`s obstruction has only got worse. 

If we`re going get to the truth, we`re going have to move forward with the inquiry. 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks so much, Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois.  Thank you, Ken Dilanian.  Have a nice weekend both of you, folks. 

Coming up, Trump`s Fourth of July spectacle was a bad idea.  But there is some good news there.  Well, about our country, I should say, not about this president. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  I speak now on the eve of this undemocratic spectacle in this city where I work, a city where I have chosen to live my life, a city that I love. 

I am as you all know a student of national politics.  My interests are the relationship between the free individual and the government in Washington and the role America should rightly play in the world. 

I like the way that President Harry Truman talked about we Americans.  He called us this country.  He didn`t mean the government in Washington, but the American people and those splendid moments when we feel and act as one. 

Some of those moments I have shared myself.  I was in college when Jack Kennedy was killed.  I was in remote Africa when 50 years ago this month Americans crossed the star-filled night on their way to the moon.  I shared this country`s anger at our leaders` lies over Vietnam and Watergate, and yes, the petty indignities of the Clinton era. 

And through it all, I have watched the American spirit not only survive, but prevail, where politicians have failed us, the country itself has risen to the challenge, quickened to each new assault on its morale.  I have loved this city of Washington that Trump intends to abuse tomorrow, since my first visit here with my parents and two of my brothers back in 1954. 

I`m especially fond now of driving home at night past the monuments of Lincoln and Jefferson and looking across the Potomac to the Lee Mansion, and on it the little twinkle of light guarding the grave of John F. Kennedy. 

I think we`ll get through what Trump has planned for us here, because the good news is that we are all still Americans, and that same spirit that built this great country continues to rip across it today.  The same destiny lures us.  The same optimistic, rebellious nature drives us that did even in those early scary days of recreating our republic -- when our country was small but our soul was large, large enough and gutsy enough to declare to the whole world that all are created equal. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.