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Trump defends racially charged remarks. TRANSCRIPT: 7/12/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Raja Krishnamoorthi, David Jolly, Susan Page, Anita Kumar, DavidCay Johnston

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  That does it for me.  I`ll be back live from Washington tomorrow for THE BEAT at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

But right now, it`s "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  American blasphemy?  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.  When an American President spoke of welfare queens, we knew what he meant.  When that same American President spoke of the young buck who bought gin with his food stamps, we got the point.  When his successor exploited the angry portrait of Willie Horton, we got that again.  And when his successor went after sister soldier, we saw him working the same racial wedge, but not since Woodrow Wilson showed birth of a nation in the White House has an American President been so flagrant in his racial messaging as this one.

Today, President Trump amplified his language on race from a dog whistle to a bugle call, driving home his inflammatory and racist attacks on four democratic congresswomen of color.

On Sunday, he went after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, Tweeting that the progressive democrat women, congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe should go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came, then come back and show us how it`s done.

Well, all four congresswomen are American citizens.  Three of them were born here in this country.  Bbut today, the President sharpened his attack, escalating his incendiary words.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  All I`m saying that if they`re not happy here, they can leave. They can leave.  And you know what?  I`m sure that there will be many people that won`t miss them.

REPORTER:  Are you okay with people --

TRUMP:  But these are people -- quiet, quiet, quiet.

REPORTER:  Mr. President, are you okay with people thinking your Tweets are racist, sir?

TRUMP:  Quiet.  They`re socialists, definitely.  As to whether or not they`re communists, I would think they might be.  But this isn`t what our country is about.

Nevertheless, they are free to leave if they want.  These are people that hate our country.  Hey, John, they hate our country.  They hate it, I think, with a passion.

Now, it`s possible I`m wrong.  The voter will decide.

REPORTER:  Does it concern you that many people saw that Tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?

TRUMP:  It doesn`t concern me because many people agree with me.  And all I`m saying, they want to leave, they can leave.

Now, it doesn`t say leave forever.  It says leave if you want.


MATTHEWS:  Well, even before his tirade this afternoon, the President had already dug in and demanded an apology from them, saying for the foul language they have used and the terrible things they have said.

Well, democrats were united in their condemnation of the President`s invective.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tweeted, the President`s Tweet, quote, reaffirms his plan to make America great again has always been about making America white again.  Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.

Well, the four congresswomen who responded to the President`s comments today at the Capitol just a short time ago.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI):  The recent Tweets and words from the President are simply a continuation of his racist, xenophobic playbook.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN):  This is his plan to pit us against one another.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY):  All of this is a distraction.  It`s a distraction from what`s most important and from our core values as American citizens.

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA):  I encourage the American people and all of us in this room and beyond to not take the bait.  This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people.


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, Jamal Simmons, democratic strategist, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, and Jon Meacham, NBC News Historian.  I want to start with Christina.

It`s possible, I guess, we saw today that the President can say something that`s not only evil but also dumb.  What did he accomplish today in American history?

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  I mean, he shored up his base, per usual.  But I think the greater problem is we spend so much time talking about these racist, not racially coded, these racist Tweets and his behavior that is getting more and more incendiary and we`re not keeping our eye on the ball.

And we have to -- you know, we have to keep talking about Flint.  We have to keep talking about hurricane season and the fact that Puerto Rico is still without power and medicine and sort of basic needs as American citizens deserve.  We have to talk about so many of the social justice issues that this president just continues to ignore.

And so, unfortunately, he realizes that this bully pulpit, as he gets more and more nervous as 2020 approaches, he has to make sure that he makes his case to the American people in framing it.  Because he has failed economic policies, it has to be Latinos and immigrants who are taking their jobs away, which is obviously not true, right?  He has to sort of make this case that all of his failed initiatives that he promised his base and his party when he came down that gold escalator.

Mind you now, as a child of immigrants and twice married to two immigrants, right?  Four of his five children are children of immigrants, but he has to use this rhetoric to make sure that he can frame all of his failures in a way that it`s never him and it`s always someone else who is taking away from the good, quote, unquote, white Americans who deserve to be here.

And I think what really needs to happen is, if I hear one person say, well, I didn`t vote for him, you know, I definitely didn`t vote for him, but everyone in my family did, you know, it`s time for a lot of American citizens who are so frustrated and disgusted by this president, they have to do the work in their own families to make sure that this does not happen again, because this particular president is getting more and more vicious in his attacks.

MATTHEWS:  Professor, I don`t tell my brothers how to vote and they don`t tell me how to vote, so good luck with that one.  I`m not sure that`s going to work.

Let me go to Peter.

Look, I disagree with the professor.  I think it is front page news.  I think every newspaper in the country is going to put it the top of the fold tomorrow, these four impressive women who were attacked by the President.  I think it is history-making, the language he used.

As she said, Christina, I think the language was direct and racist, unlike the dog whistles we`ve been getting from previous presidents.  Your thoughts about the news worthy nature of what he said today and over the weekend.

GREER:  Oh, definitely.  I mean, the fact that he is singling out four women of color specifically, explicitly and consistently lets us know that we know that he has a gender problem, we know that he has a race problem and he cannot ever stand to see that these women are equal in representing the United States of America as citizens.  I mean, he just cannot wrap his mind around it.  And the particular ire he has toward these four public servants, mind you, is really disgusting.

But the problem is, it`s not just the President, it`s the silence of the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

GREER:  You know, every single republican should be having the same press conference saying this is absolutely unacceptable.  But yet and still we are greeted by his racist and xenophobic and white supremacist language with absolute silence from people who know better and should be doing better because there are many republicans that have been public servants for many decades and we are not seeing or hearing from them in a way that we should.

MATTHEWS:  All right.  Peter -- well said.  Let me go to Peter on this, because, Peter, you write the big front page analysis piece about this.  What is the political power of what the President has been saying?  While just today out there in the Rose Garden -- well, by the way, I felt sorry for the U.S. Marine there in uniform that had to stand there and do his job while this crapola was coming out of the President`s mouth.  And he had to stand there like a real patriot and just take it.  Your thoughts?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Yes.  You know, he`s drawing a line for 2020 in effect.  He`s drawing a line between people who share his memory of a largely white, native-born America that hasn`t really been the case here for quite awhile, and the more diverse, more foreign-born, more, you know, eclectic America that we see today.  It`s right at the heart of the multicultural, you know, divide that we have seen as the demographics change, as the culture changes, as the country evolves over these years.  And he goes straight for the wedge, right?

As you say, other presidents, you know, danced around to it, played to it in in a kind of subtle, maybe less subtle way.  He goes straight for it.  He doesn`t shy away from it.  He doesn`t even bother to really make much of a pretense.  He goes straight for it in a way that no other politician in the modern times would feel comfortable doing, certainly any who would rise to the Presidency.

What`s remarkable -- one of the things that is remarkable to hear him say is if you`re unhappy with America, you should leave it.  The premise of his 2016 campaign was that America was terrible, American carnage, remember.  When we say make America great again, it`s because we don`t think America is great, and yet he has now turned that around now that he`s in office and saying anybody who doesn`t share his view that he has made it great should think about leaving the country.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Jamal, that language almost right out of West Side Story.  I know a boat you can get on, you know.  But that`s Puerto Rico.  And here`s a woman from Puerto Rico, AOC, that is America and everybody knows it.  The African-Americans came to this country, as you know, in the 1620s.  I mean, what is he talking about black come from?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  That`s right.  When we look about -- when you think about where African-Americans are in this country, you just -- the thing that I recoil at every time is African-Americans love this country as much, if not, more than anybody else.  You know why?  Because we built it and we fought for it in wars.  And then we defended it, other places.  Nobody -- and we`ve loved America when America didn`t love us back.  And that`s a real -- that`s a real passion.

So I think when he comes after somebody like Ayanna Pressley, who is from - -

MATTHEWS:  I love what she said today about the people who greeted her at the airport today and said, I may have voted for Trump, but I`m not that guy and they were embarrassed by it.

SIMMONS:  That`s right.  And, listen, he`s not just doing this for kicks.  Donald Trump thinks there is something in this sauce for him, right?  So he`s looking at this and he`s saying, there are some voters out there who maybe they`re not turning up and I need to go find a way to go get those voters.  And one thing that animates them is this anxiety about America`s demographic change and I am going to do everything I can to find those -- mostly guys, and go find them and bring them out --

MATTHEWS:  I did the math today, everybody, and I want to go to Jon Meacham on this.

There are 47 million people here who are African-American, whose roots go back before most European-Americans ever got here.  And you got 56 million Hispanic people, many of them are color, almost 100 million people.  This isn`t a marginalized little group of people in New York City, this is a big chunk of this country he`s talking about today when he makes fun of people and says they should go home.

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  And even the premise of the question, which is entirely fair, is giving him too much of a victory, giving the President too much of a victory.  It`s long been said -- President Reagan said it quite well, that America is the one place on earth that is not about a birthright, it`s about the ascent to an idea, an idea that was written in one of the most important sentences ever written in the English language that all men were created equal and were endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.  We didn`t apply that fully then.  We haven`t applied it fully now.  But that journey towards of a more perfect union is the story of the country.

And what the President has done here is yet again, because I think he did it after Charlottesville and I think he did it, frankly, when he was pushing the birther lie about President Obama, is he has joined Andrew Johnson  as the most racist president in American history.

Johnson, in a state message, said that African-Americans were incapable of self-government and relapsed into barbarism if they weren`t closely supervised.  Eric Foner, the great historian of Reconstruction, says that was the single most racist statement by a president in a public paper.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about the more recent one, Jon.  What about presidents who have used the wedge, George Bush Sr. who talked about Willie Horton at that portrait of him, the horrific picture of him they put all over the place, Reagan talking about young bucks, talking about welfare queens, Bill Clinton with sister soldier and these nuance things like people who work hard and play by the rules?  These are -- it seems that wedge is very useful politically to get white voters to say, yes, I`m with them, I`m not with the others?

MEACHAM:  Well, without getting into all those specifics, as you know very, very well, American politics has been defined since the brown decision and even before, really, but particularly since May 1954, by an attempt by politicians to put poor African-Americans and brown Americans and poor white Americans pointing at each other instead of pointing up.

MATTHEWS:  George Wallace.

MEACHAM:  Yes.  That`s the story of the racial politics of the country in the modern era.

And by using culture instead of economics, the Republican Party in the modern era has done very well.  There was a -- it was, to be fair, because I think this is a stupid argument about historical complicity from one party to the other about now, but to be fair, white democrats did it forever, republicans are doing it at the moment and it could switch again in terms of the label.

The more important point is that what we have to do faced with this -- and I thought Peter`s lead this morning was fantastic about he just decided to throw a match on the kindling.


MEACHAM:  And when people say -- one last thing here.  When people say, this isn`t who we are, that`s not true, it is who we are, it`s who we are on our worst day.  And it`s pointless to try to give -- expiate ourselves from what Trump has been saying.  There is a complicity, there`s a national complicity in this and the way America moves forward is 51 percent of the time we`re with Lincoln instead of Andrew Johnson.

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, Jamal.

SIMMONS:  I`ve seen this in my work doing politics in the south.  And, you know, Donald Trump is placing a bet.  He`s placing a bet that the history of the Republican Party was winking at racism and then people would go, well, okay, we kind of understand you`re flirting with it.  Well, he`s saying, no, no, no, no more flirtation.  I`m going all the way in.

And I`m just going to tell you, I have seen this again and again.  There are a lot of people who don`t think of themselves necessarily as very racially progressive.  They`re not hanging out with black people or brown people in the weekends, but they also don`t think of themselves as racists.  And when you play the race card so overtly, you have the possibility of turning off people who should be his natural allies who just won`t buy it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go to Christina now because I want to ask you a direct -- it`s like you`re in a traffic fight with somebody and somebody`s cutting you off and it`s raw.  And that`s what Trump seems to be creating here, like let`s get a real ethnic tribal war going on here.  Why is he doing that?  Why is he creating like the environment of a 95-degree temperature in a big city where people are fighting with each other in traffic?  Why does he want to do that tribally or ethnically right now?  What`s he up to?

GREER:  Well, that`s who he`s always been.  I mean, you know, he is a white ethnic from Queens who has always trafficked in racial tropes, racial stereotypes and racist ideology, thanks to his father.  So, I mean, this is not new.

And for a country that`s predicated on anti-black racism, white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy, the President perfectly encapsulates all four of those negative ideals when put together, and that`s the history of our country.  That`s who we were.


GREER:  That`s -- unfortunately, we still have too much of that.

And so when people come up to you in the airport and say --

SIMMONS:  Wait, wait, wait, you`re putting capitalism on the same plain with patriarchy and white supremacy?

GREER:  I`m saying -- may I finish?  I`m saying that the country is built on four legs and the table rests on capitalism, patriarchy, anti-black racism and white supremacy.

So when people come up to whomever and say, I voted for him, except for, you know, I don`t really believe in that.  It`s like, you know what, you do believe in it now, because if you are standing by this president and this administration whilst all of these things happen on his watch, ICE raids, cages, Puerto Rico, Flint, urban centers, you name it, it`s like, you have to be honest with yourself.

And the onus of racial progress has always been put on the people of color and it has to be transferred just as equally to white Americans who are active participants in all of the racialized ideologies, ills, whatever it may be that are happening in this nation right now.

And I think, unfortunately --

MATTHEWS:  Jamal, your last thought?  I`m sorry, Professor.  Respond for a bit.

SIMMONS:  My last thought on this is just this.  I come from Michigan.  I know a lot of people.  My family moved up from the south to go to Detroit in order to work in big auto companies.  They wanted to make money.  They wanted to believe in capitalism.  They wanted to -- I have a lot of friends who did the same thing.  I would not put capitalism on the same leg.  I think the ideas of white supremacy and other questions are very real in bad parts of America.

The question is though how is it that we --

GREER:  Well, considering U.S. chattel slavery is capitalism so --

SIMMONS:  How is it that we include more people in the American dream, not how do we exclude people from the American dream.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think that`s an old argument.  I don`t agree with Christina on that because I think -- well, anyway, we know the ideological battles and they`re going to go on here every night, so let`s keep it up.

Thank you, Christina Greer, Jamal Simmons.

GREER:  Thanks.  Oh, and, Chris, I do have a book called Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration and Pursuit of the American Dream, so we can discuss that hopefully next.

MATTHEWS:  It`s available in the commercial system known as capitalism.  Thank you so much.  You buy -- pay for it.  And you can get a profit on it, finally, $4.50, probably.

Jamal, thank you.  I`m a sarcastic guy.  Thank you, Professor.  I love Fordham.

GREER:  Appreciate it.

MATTHEWS:  Jon Meacham, one of the great historians of our time.  Peter Baker, I can`t wait to  read The Times tomorrow morning.  Top of the fold, I say women are top of the fold in every major newspaper, including The Wall Street Journal.

Here is -- by the way, how has Trump`s attack on minority lawmakers going to play to non-white Americans?  Is he saying that you`re a foreigner even if you were born here?

And what about naturalized citizens?  Does Trump think you`re not fully American?  Well, this answers are rhetoric.  I`m going to talk to an immigrant who is now a member of the United States Congress.

And after a day of almost complete silence, as Christina talked about, some republicans are coming forward to condemn the President`s divisive words, some.  At least two GOP congressmen called it racist.  Why is it so hard for republicans to call this man out when he says such terrible things?

Much more coming up.  Stick with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Unbowed by criticism, President Donald Trump proudly defended his racist tweets, telling four Democratic congresswomen of color that they can leave the country. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If you`re not happy here, then you can leave.  That`s what I say all the time.  If you`re not happy in the U.S., if you`re complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave. 

You`re not happy, you can leave. 

They`re very unhappy.  I`m watching them.  All they do is complain.  So all I`m saying is, if they want to leave, they can leave.  This isn`t what our country is about.  Nevertheless, they`re free to leave if they want. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, his comments were greeted with cheers from supporters who were gathered at the White House for a manufacturing event. 

Trump offered no knowledge, by the way, of where those women should go to. 

And later this afternoon, U.S. Congresswoman Omar responded to those remarks. 

Let`s listen to her. 


REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN):  You might have noticed how, when he said, go back to where you came from, there was an uproar through the -- through all of our communities, because every single person who is brown and black at some point in their life in this country heard that. 


MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat from Illinois. 

How did you hear the president?  What did you make of it emotionally when you heard about the president talking about people like yourself, go home where you came from? 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  You know, that used to be kind of a taunt in a schoolyard or maybe in a bit of -- in a fit of road rage in traffic. 

To now see it elevated to the president`s Twitter feed is shocking. 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  But, that being said, it is completely antithetical to what the vast majority of Americans believe in. 

You know, President Ronald Reagan said it best.  You know, you can go to live in France.  You can`t be a Frenchman.  You can go to Germany and live there.  You can`t be a German.  But you can come from any corner of the world to America, and you can be an American. 

MATTHEWS:  Well said. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  And that is who we are as a country. 

MATTHEWS:  And that`s what Barack Obama said.  You just said that very well.  That`s what Barack Obama said in that wonderful 2004 speech... 


MATTHEWS:  ... in Boston. 


MATTHEWS:  ... where he said only in this country is my story possible. 

People should be thrilled by that... 


MATTHEWS:  ... and not resist it, the fact that this is a country of ideas and values, not of ethnicity. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you think he is going to achieve by this? 

I think it may -- I hate to say this, but I really -- I don`t hate to say it.  I`m skeptical of my own thinking here.  I think he really stepped in it, because I thought he would run on citizenship, against illegal immigrants. 

But, here, he`s running on pure ethnicity, not even citizenship, which would be a politically tactical smart thing to do, run on citizenship.  But here he`s making fun of four citizens. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  That`s right. 

There are so many people in this country who are just one generation away from having immigrated.  Thirty percent of my district was born in another country.  And they came here from places like Poland and Ireland and Germany, as well as Mexico and India and other places in the world. 

And I can tell you, almost with 100 percent certainty, that, when they saw those remarks, they would have been shocked and would have condemned them. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, just a few days ago, hardly hours ago, this president looked like he had a great opportunity to help drive a wedge in the Democratic Caucus in the House, because Ayanna Pressley had made those tough remarks about race and identity.

And, of course, there was a big fight going on in "The New York Times" between Nancy Pelosi and the Squad, those four young women.  And now your whole caucus is united against Trump and what he`s been saying. 


We recognize the common opposition here.  We are completely united against bigotry and prejudice and intolerance and hatred and racism in all its forms.  And his tweets embodied all of those things, Chris.  It reminded us of why we came here and what the stakes are in 2020. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he un-American? 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I think his tweets were un-American. 

I think they were racist and race-baiting.  And I think that -- I think most people see them for what they are. 

One thing I just want to say, this is part and parcel of his trying to create a culture of fear and cruelty towards immigrants and foreigners. 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  This weekend, on Sunday, I marched through the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, which is the epicenter of the Mexican American area of Chicago, to distribute flyers, know-your-rights flyers, because of the threatened immigration raids. 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Unfortunately, there was no one to hand these flyers out to, Chris. 

Most people were shuttered inside, fearing that, if they were to go out, they would -- they would basically be caught up in an ICE trap. 

And so now, with these tweets, with the threatened immigration raids, with what we see on the border, I think this is completely a pattern of un- American activity at the highest levels of government. 

MATTHEWS:  And here you are, an American, speaking out in the U.S. Capitol.  I`m so proud. 

Thank you, U.S. Congressman Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thank you.  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Can you speak up? 

Only a handful of rebukes coming from Republicans, only a few.  Lawmakers are figuring out that it`s either -- well, they`re going to speak against Trump or keep their jobs.  They`re so scared. 

Well, you can`t be both courageous and safe with this guy. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Republicans were largely silent this weekend, as I said, after Trump`s tweet telling four Democratic congresswomen to go back where they came from.  And though a very few came out strongly today to condemn the president`s language, some directly calling his tweets racist, others provided tepid criticism, while simultaneously attacking the Democratic women he went after.

Let`s watch.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  A number of these new members of Congress have views that are not consistent with my experience and not consistent with building a strong America. 

The president failed badly this weekend and continues to do so today. 

QUESTION:  Do you think that his tweets were racist towards those congresswomen? 

ROMNEY:  What was tweeted was destructive, was demeaning, was disunifying.  And, frankly, it was very wrong. 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists.  They hate Israel.  They hate our own country. 

They`re anti-Semitic.  They`re anti-America.  Don`t get down.  Aim higher.  We don`t need to know anything about them personally.  Talk about their policies.


MATTHEWS:  Well, others defended the president`s own comments. 


QUESTION:  Do you find the president`s tweets racist, and what do you make of white nationalists praising those tweets? 

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY:  I don`t find them racist. 

REP. ANDY HARRIS (R-MD):  And, clearly, it`s not a racist comment.  He could have meant go back to the district they came from. 

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I think the president believes that, the more he can get the country to look at the so-called Squad, the more he can get them to realize how radical they are and how fundamentally anti-American their views are, in the long run, the better off he is. 


MATTHEWS:  I don`t think -- I don`t think the former speaker believes what he just said there.  I don`t think he -- he`s a lot smarter than that. 

I`m joined now by former Florida congressman, Republican congressman -- no longer a Republican -- formerly known as a Republican -- David Jolly, and Susan Page, "USA Today" Washington bureau chief. 

What do you make of your party and why -- the ex-party you were in -- why are they such toadies?  I do not understand Lindsey Graham.  Is he that worried about his primary that he has to do this stuff?

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  Yes, he`s getting worse.  And he`s in cycle. 

But, you know, Chris, I find myself -- and I think a lot of Americans do -- 24 hours into this, you`re kind of moving from outrage to heartbreak.  You`re really wrestling with the fact that the president of the United States engaged in this racist narrative, this racist dialogue, and then doubled down today. 

I think, for Republicans, we know they`re acting through enlightened self- interest, right, their own reelection, Lindsey Graham`s being a perfect example. 

I think the only way to get to them is for them to understand that, through their own enlightened self-interest, their legacy is on the line.


JOLLY:  In their silence, they normalize Donald Trump. 

And we haven`t talked about that.  We have talked about the fact that Donald Trump gives permission to these racist elements that were already out there, right? 


JOLLY:  Republican elected officials on Capitol Hill, in their silence, are giving Donald Trump permission. 

This is their legacy.  And they need to understand, in their own self- interests, this is what they will be remembered for.  They will be remembered for normalizing racism in the national political dialogue in 2019.  This is on them, just as much as it`s on Donald Trump. 

This is on the likes of Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell.  Everybody single Republican up there, Kevin McCarthy, who refuses to condemn racism for racism, this is their legacy, more than it is Donald Trump`s. 

MATTHEWS:  It was pretty much what Dave said.  That` pretty much what they did during the birther period.  They didn`t stand up against him. 

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY":  And in some contrast to the Charlottesville comments, which were almost exactly two years ago.  That got a bigger outcry...

MATTHEWS:  Somebody got killed there. 

PAGE:  ... than these -- than these.

Somebody got killed there.  But, also, I think it was before it was so clear that Trump had taken over the Republican Party... 


PAGE:  ... and it was very dangerous for Republicans to defy him. 

You did have a couple, though.  Joni Ernst said the comments were racist.  Pat Toomey came up with a pretty strong statement saying that they -- the four congresswomen were as American as he was.  But they were the exceptions.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s good for him. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, Pennsylvania is an interesting state to watch, because it`s not going to buy into that racism. 

But what do you think -- you know how the Hill works.  You know how the Hill works.  You have got a bunch of staff people around you, usually a smart chief of staff, a smart press person, or they wouldn`t be there. 

And you sit around, and you sort of decide these things over an hour or so.  And they decided deliberately not to challenge Trump.  It wasn`t like an impulsive thing.  How do you explain that, calculation, the calculation of a congress -- political animal is, back the president on his worst?

JOLLY:  In the end, there is only one person in each congressional office who holds the public trust.  It`s the elected official whose name is on the ballot. 


JOLLY:  Their is their leadership moment and their failure in making a decision to step out. 

They see the politics.  Look, the Republican Party is a party of populism right now.  And the reality is, populism is largely the politics of white middle-class grievance.  This plays to that very well. 

The president`s pivot today -- he pivoted from yesterday saying Americans of color need to go back home to today saying, love it or leave it. 

Chris, that`s a very powerful message that will work for the president and for a lot of the Republican constituencies.

MATTHEWS:  In the burbs?  In the burbs? 

JOLLY:  Yes, love it or leave it?  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

JOLLY:  It absolutely will.  And I think Republicans...

PAGE:  I`m actually not sure I agree with you. 

When you look at the core supporters for President Trump, I think they are not deterred by comments like that.  But when you look at the voters who abandoned Republicans in 2018...

JOLLY:  Sure. 

PAGE:  ... they were college-educated suburbanites, who I think might well be distressed by him...


MATTHEWS:  Nobody says leave it or love it -- love it or leave it to some ticked-off white guy.  Nobody ever says that. 

JOLLY:  No.  You go through the...

MATTHEWS:  I never heard that used.  Some guy from West Virginia or somebody from Western Pennsylvania who is angry about the liberal nature of the big cities and everything, you don`t say, oh, get out of here. 


You know the constituency that is going to respond to this?  And, frankly, it is populists throughout the Electoral College key swing states.  It`s the same constituency that responded to Toby Keith after 9/11 when he wrote that song, "We will put a boot in your ass."

It is the -- it speaks to the spirit of nativism, that we are strong.  And if you disagree with it, then get out. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe the guy or woman on the commuter train in Connecticut or Philadelphia coming home from work in the afternoon is willing to engage in this kind of racist talk?  Do you?

PAGE:  And economic grievance is one thing.

MATTHEWS:  On the train with other people around?

PAGE:  And, certainly, we have economic grievance in this -- in this country. 

But this is really racial grievance.  This is really directed at America`s diversity. 

JOLLY:  Oh, it is, yes.

PAGE:  And I think that is -- that is different and more -- and more dangerous, more dangerous for Trump, more dangerous for the Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  There`s 96 -- I just counted today.  I went through the census, the one we have -- 40 some million African-Americans, 50-some -- 56-some Hispanic Americans from different backgrounds.  That`s almost 100 million people in this country.

It`s not some marginalist little group living in Detroit somewhere.  It`s a big part of the country.  And they all heard that today. 

PAGE:  And it`s not as though the racial diversity of America is going to be reversed. 

It`s going to be -- we`re going to become more diverse than we are before. 

MATTHEWS:  Of course.

PAGE:  So this is -- a this is a very short-term strategy.


JOLLY:  But they`re not turning out for Donald Trump. 

MATTHEWS:  I don`t think -- I don`t think he got above 40 today with the case for his stuff today. 

Anyway, the "FOX & Friends" hosts reacted to the president`s tweet on Sunday morning by laughing and saying he made an important point.  Talking about toady-ism.  Let`s watch. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This tweet that you`re just seeing now is clearly going to get, I think, a lot of discussion. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Someone is feeling very comedic today. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think President Trump is making an important point. 

He is drawing attention to that and saying, if you don`t like what this country stands for, you`re not going to change it and take away all these things that Americans value so much. 

Like, if you don`t like it, leave and go set up camp somewhere else, but you`re not going to destroy what we have fought so hard and so long to value. 


MATTHEWS:  It doesn`t ring true to me. 

You think it does for those people watching FOX? 

JOLLY:  Understand, I think, politically, it will work with the only constituency Donald Trump has left. 

But what I see right there is voices of leadership giving permission to racism in the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, former U.S. Congressman, formerly known as -- well, he`s always going to be a congressman, that`s a good title, but not always a Republican -- David Jolly.  Thank you, sir. 

And thank you, one of the greats, Susan Page.  Thank you.

Up next:  Trump trades in his racial dog whistle for a bullhorn.  Mapping out Trump`s long, ugly history of using divisive language and being rewarded for it politically.  That`s what we`re going to go through, his rap sheet.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The president`s attack on four Democrats of color have elicited numerous charges of racism, and while other politicians have used racist dog whistles in recent American history, Trump`s behavior is often out in the open.  Let`s take a look. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Trump comes along and said birth certificate.  He gave a birth certificate.  Whether or not that was a really certificate, because a lot of people question it, I certainly question it. 

They`re bringing drugs.  They`re bringing crime.  They`re rapists. 

He`s a Mexican.  We`re building a wall between here and Mexico. 

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. 

Look at my African-American over here.  Look at him.  Are you the greatest? 

I don`t know anything about David Duke, OK?  I don`t know anything about what you`re even talking about with white supremacy or what supremacists.  You wouldn`t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. 

But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, the president`s latest remarks have drawn new scrutiny to his record on race, a record that predates his political career by over 40 years.  In fact, the very first time Trump`s name ever appeared in "The New York Times," it was all about race, and that`s coming up next. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump has repeatedly denied charges of racism throughout his entire public career, yet the record shows that time and time again he, Donald Trump, has taken actions that suggest otherwise.  In fact, the first time Trump`s name ever appeared, as I said, in "The New York Times" was when the Justice Department accused his company of discriminating against African-Americans in 1973. 

Well, years later he placed a full-page advertisement in that same "New York Times" calling for five black teenagers to be put to death for a crime that DNA evidence later showed they did not commit. 

And as President Trump has made an ugly reference to describe African countries among others, you know what that word is. 

I`m joined right now by Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for "Politico", and David Cay Johnston, columnist and author of "The Making of Donald Trump."

David, tell us about Trump and his -- what do you think, is he the kind of guy in a back room with other right-wing business guys who would make slurs about people of color?  Is he that kind of guy? 

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP":  That`s not Donald`s style.  Donald`s actions are what matter here.  He once removed a black blackjack dealer because he thought it would curry favor with his biggest gambler, Bob LiButti. 

He`s been found in proceedings to have discriminated in his casino business against blacks, Asians, women, Puerto Ricans.  He has a long history of actions.  And I think we should be paying attention to his actions and they`re flat-out racist. 

MATTHEWS:  I heard about his accountant one time.  He didn`t want an African-American accountant. 

JOHNSTON:  Right.  He said I only want short guys wearing yarmulkes handling my money, not black guys.  And this is Donald`s actions and that`s what should matter to us and his tweets are doing nothing but dividing this country.  They`re also distracting us from other issues, which, of course, is one of Donald`s great skills, distracting us. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, Anita?  I mean, look at, you know, people of color told me a racist is someone who speaks racially, someone who uses it negatively against them to hold them back.  It doesn`t matter what`s in their heart or even if -- because they`re doing it. 

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO:  Yes.  I mean, I think part of what he`s doing is this us against them.  That`s his whole --

MATTHEWS:  How much us are there? 

KUMAR:  Well, he`s been doing this for two and a half years. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there enough us for 50 percent next year? 

KUMAR:  Well, there`s enough us that he got elected. 

I mean, he, as we know politically, he hasn`t expanded his base and that`s what he`s looking at right now.  What he`s focused on can he just get those people to turn out.  That base.  He`s not looking to expand it.  So that is the "us" he`s talking about. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here is my question.  I`m a political guy, not an anthropologist necessarily.  It seems to me the one thing that fell off in `16 was the African-American vote in big cities like Philly.  They didn`t come out as much as they did for the first African-American president, Barack Obama.  That makes sense. 

But you got a guy looking like a racist, I wonder if that would get the vote out and he could lose. 

KUMAR:  Right.  I agree.  And also, look what happened in 2018.  He already lost some people.  So, could he lose some more? 

And he is clearly banking on that this is going to work for him, not work against him. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  David, how much of this is in his gut and not in his head?  How much of this is just his gut drive that`s tribal? 

JOHNSTON:  Well, it`s important to understand something that`s very difficult for many people to accept.  We have a mentally ill person in the White House, someone who is deranged, and it`s awful to contemplate that. 

I was talking to someone in France the other day who said the reasons Europeans don`t like Trump but they don`t have a sense of outrage about him is they`ve had centuries of mad kings and crazy warlords and other rulers who were nuts, and that this is a new experience for America.  And we need to recognize this, that we have somebody who is incompetent --

MATTHEWS:  You believe he`s a nut, right?  David, you think he`s nutty. 

JOHNSTON:  Oh, yes.  He is at times delusional and there are videos where you can see he`s delusional.  Donald has said the best advisers reside in his head.  He`s said he talks to people that don`t exist and he does it all the time.  He is deeply mentally ill.

  MATTHEWS:  Well, former Vice President Joe Biden reacted to the president`s tweets today about the four congresswomen in an exclusive interview that will air tomorrow on "MORNING JOE."  Here it goes.  Here`s part of it. 


MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST:  His tweets, for example, and these comments about these four congresswomen, it`s racist, it`s awful, it`s outrageous.  What`s the impact on our standing? 

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It`s not only shameful, it`s incredibly damaging. 


BIDEN:  Look, we`ve led the world by the power of our example.  What presidents say, they`re the face of America, like it or not.  They`re the face of America.  And the idea that Donald Trump says and does the things he does is just absolutely despicable. 


MATTHEWS:  Anita? 

KUMAR:  I do agree with what the former vice president just said about presidents in this country and in other countries have this huge, enormous influence.  So, it`s just that the politics, and I know we`re talking about that.  But what they say carries weight in society, in America, in cities and towns. 


KUMAR:  So there is a greater weight. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I`m going to bring this up at the end, David, but they once said of the great Franklin Roosevelt, his idea of being president was being Roosevelt.  And that was good in that case.

I`m afraid Donald Trump`s thought is being Trump.  Was it outrageous?  He hasn`t changed -- he hasn`t elevated his game at all as president.

JOHNSTON:  Yes, Chris, that is an absolutely great insight.  That`s exactly what it is.  And let`s keep in mind here, the four women that Donald attacked, three of whom are American born citizens, how is Donald different from them? 

Let`s see, he`s a first generation American on his mother`s side.  Two of his three wives are immigrants. 


JOHNSTON:  And what`s the difference here?  He`s white, they`re not.  That`s the only difference here. 

MATTHEWS:  And he thinks like that? 

JOHNSTON:  Oh, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  This is impulsive? 

JOHNSTON:  Donald thinks in racial terms, absolutely.  He assumes things about you based on the color of your skin which is a, you know, long historic practice, but it is absolute nonsense.  The color of your skin has nothing to do with your character. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, he is actually the king of identity politics if you get into it.  He`s white so he talks white.  I mean, that`s really the identity politics definition. 

KUMAR:  Well, I mean, I totally agree with this idea that we`ve lost track of -- people aren`t talking about his own background and his wife`s background.  Remember back, there was -- his in-laws got to be citizens because of his wife, things that he opposes, but no one sort of talks about that or calls him out on that. 

MATTHEWS:  We all know this.  Everybody watching knows what we`re talking about.  And everybody knows that 10 million Heidi Klums were coming into the country nobody would be complaining because it is race.  It just is race.  And we know it and it stinks. 

Trump has brought it out in the open.  Maybe that`s healthy.  We hear what it sounds like, as ugly as it is. 

Thank you, Anita Kumar.  Always great to come on. 

David Cay Johnston, you know too much, sir, about this guy.  He`s nutty.  That`s what you say.

Anyway, up next, Omar -- Obama, rather, I want to talk about a real president, and a tale of two presidencies.  And we had a very good one right before, in fact, a very good one, on this kind of issue, ethnicity and race. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  An American president is a head of state.  He or some day she is more than a chief executive or head of government or even less, a leader of a political party.  A head of state represents this country, its values, its history, its national purpose. 

Here is a president, a very recent one, who knew and embraced this duty well before he was given it.  Here is Barack Obama introducing himself to the country four years before his election. 


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Now, even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us.  The spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. 

Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America.  There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America, there is the United States of America. 


MATTHEWS:  And here he is, that same man in his moment of taking the oath as head of state. 


OBAMA:  The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit, to choose our better history, to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation, the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. 


MATTHEWS:  It`s been said that his predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt`s idea of being president was simply being Franklin Roosevelt.  Unfortunately for us and our country`s history, Donald Trump`s idea of being president is being Donald Trump. 

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

"ALL IN" right now with Joy Reid sitting in for Chris Hayes.