Mayor Pete Buttigieg interview. TRANSCRIPT: 8/6/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Bret Stephens, Pete Buttigieg, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, Tom Steyer

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  She was speaking about something much deeper.  And we leave her final words as our final words tonight.

Thank you for watching THE BEAT.  "HARDBALL" starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  TeleTrumper.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

American history has showcased leaders commanding the moral authority needed to face this country`s long challenges.  Abraham Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery and won the war that ended it.  FDR stood firm against Hitler and saved the world from fascism.  Martin Luther king marched for civil rights and ultimately sacrificed his life for it.  And Presidents Kennedy, Truman and Reagan had to resolve to avert catastrophe during the cold war.  Their moral authority helped this country survive and prevail.

Now, however, we find ourselves without it.  The dual attacks of this weekend raised the question whether we can address gun violence and the rising threat of white nationalism.  Trump`s official response was a scripted speech he read Monday from a teleprompter in the diplomatic room of the White House.  Trump recited the kinds of words condemning white supremacy and hate killings that a president should say in the wake of such a tragedy.

But they were words he could neither credibly deliver nor be taken to heart.  As The Washington Post points out, that unifying message stood in stark contrast to more than two and a half years of name-calling, demonizing minorities and inflaming racial animus.

Trump`s speech came on Monday after a visit to his golf club in New Jersey, where he spent part of the weekend complaining to allies and club members of the golf resort about media coverage that seemed to blame him for the shootings.

According to this report in The Post, Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller led the effort to draft the speech he gave on Monday, and White House aides talked to Trump about what he would say and how his tone should be presidential.  But as he often does, the President spoke more candidly on Twitter, where he blamed the media and attacked President Obama.

Meanwhile, the President heads tomorrow to El Paso and Dayton.

I`m joined right now by Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour.  Jason Johnson is Politics Editor of The Root.  Bret Stephens an Op-Ed Columnist at The New York Times.  Thank you all for joining us.

There`s a Jekyll and Hyde aspect to this.  But, clearly, what is credible, Yamiche, is Trump on Tweet, the one he Tweets out, what a great word, Tweet, at 6:30 in the morning when most people are still asleep.  That`s Trump.  This guy reading a teleprompter, I love it, in the diplomatic room.  In other words, the room where you have to be diplomatic.  Your thoughts.  Who is the real guy?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR:  I`ll say this.  The great Toni Morrison that died today said, if you can only be tall if someone else is on your knees, then you have a serious problem.  And there are people all across this country who think the President has a serious problem likely shown on Twitter, which is that he wants to demonize other people.  He wants to make immigrants as scapegoats.

I just came back from Dayton, Ohio, where people there are pointing to his rhetoric to say, not only is he creating divisions in our own community, but he`s also -- I mean, his inaction in gun reform and in passing gun legislation, he is creating the societies and creating this atmosphere that is making us all unsafe.

I think, yes, the President definitely changed his tone and condemned white nationalism.  But he said nothing of how his own words could have contributed to this unstable individual going and killing so many people in El Paso.  He could have said, look, people think I`m talking to white nationalists.  I`m not doing that.  People think when I say immigrants are invading this country that you should then go out and shoot them, I`m not doing that.  He could have made it so much more personal, and he didn`t do that.

Part of that is because he doesn`t want to be tied to this thing.  But it`s hard for him to be credible on this topic because the people I`ve talked to all across this country just don`t see him as a moral authority for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that he has added to this atmosphere.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Jason, of course, he never used the word I in that scripted remarks.  He didn`t blame -- he said guns kill people, not people.  He did anything he could to relieve guns of any moral responsibility, obviously.  And he didn`t mention the fact that it was a Latino community that was targeted, that there was an ethnic piece, a racial piece, never mentioned it.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT:  Because the President doesn`t care, Chris.  Like at his core, I don`t think he only cares.  He only cares about these things to the degree that they reflect on him.

And so the key thing, which is the real Trump?  We all know who the real Donald Trump is.  That`s the guy who gets in front of crowds in Cincinnati.

MATTHEWS:  Why did he do this phony baloney thing yesterday?

JOHNSON:  Because he has people who advise him who say you have to at least pretend that you care about how to do this job.  He wasn`t his typical funny, witty, engaging self.  You know what he`s like.  He looks like he is making a hostage video.  And he has that odd stuff that he gets.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, definitely.  Like he had his fingers crossed.

JOHNSON:  Yes, fingers crossed that sort of keep himself concentrated and motivated.

And here`s the problem, Chris.  At the end of the day, when you don`t have any sort of moral authority at the top of a country, it makes it difficult for anyone else to act on the problems that are there.  The republicans feel like they`re stymied because they don`t have moral leadership from the President.  The democrats have to waste time criticizing the President and then enacting their own policies.  We don`t have leadership right now in this country.  That`s why some of these issues are so difficult to tackle.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Bret Stephens on this issue, because even Bill Clinton with his limited -- some on the moral front, he had some problems, to be honest about it. But, you know, in Oklahoma city and he went down there and talked for the country, people believed it.  They thought, you know, at least, on a lot of levels, Bill Clinton is a good guy.  He may have problems but he`s a good guy.

And on this issue about caring about the country, caring about how the government was attacked of the American people because it was the government of the American people, he was credible, morally credible, I thought.

BRET STEPHENS, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  He was morally credible.  I remember George w. Bush downtown in Manhattan in the days after 9/11 or even going back to the Reagan administration after the challenger disaster, the killing of our marines in Beirut.

Presidents in history have always been able to rise to the occasion and to unite the country beyond partisanship.  Trump is uniquely unable to do so, because from the very beginning, not just of his presidency, but of his candidacy, he has been demonizing multiple racial and ethnic groups.

It began with the birtherism.  It continued with the assault on Latin American immigrants when he announced his candidacy in 2015.  I`ll never forget the way he characterized Judge Gonzalo Curiel as unfit to be a judge simply for being Mexican-American, his assaults on Muslim Americans.

So all of this has a cumulative impact, which is why the statements that he read from the teleprompter the other day seems so weightless, so insincere and so contrived, and why you can bet, just as he did after Charlottesville, that pretty soon we`re going hear from the real Donald Trump communicating to his following to a base that doesn`t entirely mind the assault, not the violent assault, but the rhetorical assault on Latin American immigrants, on Mexican-American citizens.

MATTHEWS:  I think he is going to circle around like other people have thought, but he`s particularly good at it.

Trump is attack former President Obama now after Obama yesterday called on Americans to soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of those of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred.  In response, President Trump Tweeted a quote from Brian Kilmeade of Fox News saying did George Bush ever condemned President Obama after Sandy Hook?  President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign.  Not many people said Obama is out of control.  Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running.

But let`s talk about the idiocy of this thing.  First of all, he claims as an intellectually higher authority, a commentator on Fox.  It doesn`t embarrass him.  He`s not quoting Rudyard Kipling.  He`s just -- just some character speaks better than he does, and he acknowledges in his words, and he hates Obama.  He`s never gotten over what Obama said about him at that White House correspondents` dinner.  He made fun of him because of the idiocy of what he was doing professionally.

ALCINDOR:  Well, there are so many people that see President Trump as just grasping for the legacy of President Obama and is still angry at the fact that he isn`t beloved in the way he thinks President Obama was and, frankly, in the way that President Obama was to a lot of people.  He`s still grasping for this idea that he, even though he won the 2016 election, nobody was really there praising him or excited about him.

MATTHEWS:  Obama won two majority votes of the American people.  A small point, but he won both popular majorities.

ALCINDOR:  Then we can all go back to the first scandal of this presidency, which is that he was trying to claim that his inauguration was bigger than Obama`s.  From the very beginning, he`s had this kind of -- this rhetorical thing --

MATTHEWS:  Does it bother him that Obama is black, to be blunt?  I mean, we`ve watched this guy pattern, excuse me.  Does that bother him?

ALCINDOR:  I mean, here`s the thing, he kicked off his political career, his political life by saying Obama wasn`t born in this country.  So I think there is -- of course, there`s a problem there with him personally with President Obama.  I don`t know if it`s because he is black.  Maybe Jason can say that.  But it`s definitely because, obviously --

MATTHEWS:  But I don`t think it`s an odd question.  He seems to be really bugged by this guy and his success.

JOHNSON:  It infuriates Donald Trump for anybody to be more popular or more beloved than him.  And he really has never been able to deal with the fact that, one, like you said, Chris, that Obama made fun of him, but that this black guy has gotten all the love, all the appreciation, even from the same New York elites that used to like Donald Trump in the way the has had.

MATTHEWS:  Guess who`s moving to New York, by the way?

JOHNSON:  Who`s moving?

MATTHEWS:  Barack Obama.  It`s going to drive him crazy.

JOHNSON:  Exactly.  He`ll be in his own neighborhood.

MATTHEWS:  And, by the way, guess who has a lot of money now?  Barack Obama.

Anyway, I`m not going to belittle the conversation, but it is kind of delightful anyway.

And, by the way, I think it bothers him that Obama has moral superiority to him.

JOHNSON:  Completely, even now.

MATTHEWS:  For a guy that`s messed around a lot in his life, and I`m not knock it per se, because a lot of people do and I don`t like it.  But the fact is Barack Obama has been an upstanding husband, father, has done every single thing morally right in his life, it seems, in terms of public life.  It must bug him.

Anyway, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is ignoring demands to call the Senate into session from its vacation to vote on gun safety measure.  It was a vote that passed the House this year, passed both measures.

And while he said he is prepared to address the recent mass murders in a bipartisan way, that will be a first, NBC notes that his statement made no mention of any timeline to do so, and he didn`t mention the word guns.

McConnell is also facing criticism for his re-election campaign`s attempt this weekend at a partisan joke.  His campaign Tweeted, there they are, Tweeted out an image of several tombstones, there they are, including one bearing the name of his democratic opponent in next year`s election, even while the news of the El Paso attack was breaking.

Bret Stephens, bad editorial judgment here to put tombstones out in whatever, some sort of email message to your followers right after a mass killing?

STEPHENS:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Same day.

STEPHENS:  I mean, obviously, some P.R. flak should get fired.  It was idiotic.  But it`s also the significant point is that it`s not just idiotic, it`s emblematic.  You have a Senate.  You have a Republican Congress that has been absolutely unwilling to move on even the most basic steps for common sense gun control to prevent the fact that a shooter can kill nine people and injure many more in the space of the 30 seconds that it takes to stop him.

And the Senate Majority Leader is not prepared to lift a finger to even try to check that.  Even the Governor of Ohio, former Senator, Governor DeWine, is prepared to act.  But it`s extraordinary that the Republican Party has put up such a wall of opposition to minimal movement and that Trump quite frankly hasn`t had so much -- even had the political common sense to understand that he could get -- he could make real headway and be a useful president for a change by getting behind some of the basic gun control laws that he himself suggested he might support, like bans on bump stocks after the Parkland shootings.  So this is McConnell in his --

MATTHEWS:  But you know why, Bret.  You studied ideology.  He has to carry all the weight of the farthest right.  He can`t give away -- he doesn`t have enough angry white people to give away any of them.  In America, he needs all the way to the farthest reaches of fascism.  He needs to reach them all to get his 46 or 47 percent, he can win the electoral college.

STEPHEN:  Correct.  And Senator McConnell is now facing a credible challenger in the Senate.  He`s unpopular in Kentucky.  And he imagines that the only way he is going to win is with a base play that completely ignores the needs of the country so that he can have the support of the NRA and other aspects of the gun lobby.

The problem is that we`re living in a country in which thousands of people are being killed because there`s insufficient gun regulation and in which the number of mass shootings just seems to be rising geometrically, if not, exponentially.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the President has now continued to propose solutions that ignore the essential reality of guns.  How about mentioning guns in mass shootings?  They play a role.

For instance, the President yesterday blamed video games.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  We must stop the glorification of violence in our society.  This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That`s the President reading something that was thrown at him.  Some people said he was sight reading it.  He had never read it before.

In addressing the mass shootings on his website, former Arkansas Governor, wait until you get this one, Huckabee said, the lack of thought and prayers is probably the single biggest factor in what is behind them.  That`s about the shootings.  And Fox`s Sean Hannity proposed installing armed guards in every public building, in other words, that there aren`t enough guns out there, enough already.  Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST:  I have been calling for a long time.  Every school, secure the perimeter of those schools.  Equip them with retired police and military.  They should be on every floor of every school.

We could do that with stores.  We can do that in malls.  We can do that pretty much anywhere the public is, court houses.  We can expand that out anywhere.

Have one armed guard on every floor of every school, all over every mall, the perimeter and inside every hall of every mall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  My God, he`s AOC.  Everybody works today.  I mean, that`s a full employment program, every floor of every school, of every department store?  This is a job for everybody.

JOHNSON:  I love this police state, this police state that basically Sean Hannity is calling for for everybody to have.  So there are several problems with this.

Number one --

MATTHEWS:  You do have as many guards as teachers.

JOHNSON:  Right, exactly.

MATTHEWS:  And they may make as much.

JOHNSON:  And they`re probably being paid better, you know?

So there are so many issues so there are so many issues with this.

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Let`s go back.  I`ve got to go back to Huckabee.  Would you take on Huckabee?  I mean, this is what, Sodom and Gomorrah is causing our problems?  I mean, I don`t know.  But isn`t this second or square (ph) where we talk about things, why does he come up with this stuff?

ALCINDOR:  I mean, one, obviously, because it`s part of who he is.  His core thing is to put Christianity and to put his religion at the forefront of things.  And there are people that think more love, more Christianity would help.

But I should tell you, I interviewed Anthony Reynolds.  This was a man ten feet away from the shooter in Dayton.  And the thing that he said coming out of that was he shouldn`t be able to have this gun that I saw him kill people with.

When you talk to people who are now living through this, they say, the thing that scared me more was the gun.  It was the idea that someone can have ammunition with 100 rounds of ammunition and kill all these people.  24 seconds, 30 seconds and nine people are dead.  That`s incredible.  And I think that that`s what most people want to be focused on, especially the people that I`ve been talking to who survived these mass shootings.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much.  Take care.  Toni Morrison today.

ALCINDOR:  I know.  I cried all day about this.

MATTHEWS:  So many great heroes.

ALCINDOR:  A genius.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you, Jason Johnson, and thank you, Bret Stephens.

Coming up, two of the democrats running for president join me, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and and impeachment activist and presidential candidate Tom Steyer, both coming here on HARDBALL right now.  We`ll hear their solutions to our current national crisis and crises and the role President Trump has played in, well, starting them.

And with white nationalist violence on the rise, why is the government cutting resources, moolah, to fighting domestic terrorism?  You show where your (INAUDIBLE) the government where you`re spending money, we`re cutting it.  We`re dealing with these kinds of problems.

And why some experts say there are striking similarities between the radicalization of white nationalists and members of ISIS.

Much more ahead.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In his remarks at the White House yesterday, the teleprompter version of President Trump blasted the white nationalist sentiment that appeared to motivate the Texas gunman, and offered his own assortment of ideas to reduce gun violence. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. 

We must stop the glorification of violence in our society.  This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. 

Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.

Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside -- so destructive -- and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion, and love. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  There was a significant omission, however, any mention of the Latino community of El Paso that was targeted by the gunman, who parroted Trump`s own words in his online rant about an invasion of Hispanics coming across the border. 

I`m joined right now by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president. 

Mayor, Mayor Pete, thank you for coming on. 

I don`t know where you want to begin on this guy.  But it seems to me like his on-teleprompter lines weren`t credible. 

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, it`s certainly not consistent with the message we have been getting him -- from him all along, demonizing Mexicans and Latinos and immigrants, often celebrating violence, or at least seeming to go along with it when political violence is being cheered on at his rallies. 

Look, what we saw was the absolute bare minimum that you would expect from a president, but what we need from a president is two things, first of all, the ability to unify this country, and, secondly, the ability to lead the way on something that will actually make us safe. 

Earlier today, I put out an action plan on national security when it comes to these kinds of incidents.  It`s really got two sets of things we have got to deal with.  One of them is gun safety.  The other one is countering extremism. 

This administration has actually reduced the capacity of the Department of Homeland Security to deal with homegrown terrorism and violent extremism in our midst.  We have got change that. 

And, of course, we have got to deliver commonsense gun safety reform, something the president could do with one phone call to Mitch McConnell, especially knowing that the House has already passed some measures, only to have them not even get a vote in the Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUTTIGIEG:  Actions speak louder than words.  Let`s see if the president is going the act in any way.  I don`t have my hopes up, but if it was ever a time for him to do something out of character, this would be it. 

MATTHEWS:  But his words, even in the teleprompter speech that was written for him, or written with him, he said it`s not guns that kill people, it`s the mental illness and the hatred.

I mean, that is aping the language or mimicking the alliance of the NRA that guns don`t kill people, people do, or whatever. 

BUTTIGIEG:  Well, and it`s absurd to point to video games. 

Look, violent video games are available in every developed country, but we`re the only one that has this kind of frequency and intensity of gun violence.  He is repeating lines given to him by an NRA that no longer speaks for most gun owners in this country. 

Most gun owners, most Americans, most Republicans think we ought to at least do things like background checks and red flag laws.  The NRA now speaks for gun company executives, for whom this is a matter of money, and who will continue to defy any kind of commonsense call for things like background checks, things like red flag laws, not to mention the ban that we need on the kind of weapons that makes it possible for somebody in Dayton to kill as many people as he killed in less than a minute. 

This is common sense.  Most Americans are there.  And it is time for the Congress and this president to respond to the American people.  I don`t think they will, which is why we need to vote them out. 

And I`m running based, among other things, on my proposals to keep America safe from violent extremism in particular and gun violence in general. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, teach us something here, because you have carried firearms.  You have carried these military-style -- what is an assault weapon, as opposed to just any run-of-the-mill semiautomatic rifle? 

Explain what a military-style weapon is. 

BUTTIGIEG:  Well, the definition includes several different features. 

One of the key ones is the way the magazine works, having the interchangeable magazines.  Another has to do with the kind of grip, whether it`s a pistol grip or another grip that makes it easier for these kinds of close-action firing that goes on. 

The bottom line is, we know that weapons of war don`t belong in our neighborhoods.  And yet, for far too long, the gun lobby has made it sound like you cannot have any restriction of any kind of any weapon for any American. 

Now, if you just stopped and thought about that for a sec, that`s obviously not the case, because, in this country, anybody can have a water balloon, nobody can have a nuclear weapon.  Somewhere in that spectrum, we`re going draw a line. 

So it`s not like the Second Amendment doesn`t allow us to draw a line.  We have just got to decide where. 

And I think, in the wake of what we have seen, not that it should have required something like this horrific weekend for us to do it, but if not now, when?  We have got to have these commonsense measures. 

We have also got to add to the resources that are available to our government in order to deal with domestic terrorism.  I propose that we have a billion dollars in an account where right now they have actually cut it from $10 million to less for countering violent extremism. 

If we were able after 9/11, however imperfectly, to step up and undertake a tremendous amount of added capacity to deal with international terrorism, we ought to be able to do the same thing when the threat is coming from white supremacist terrorism. 

It may be embarrassing for this administration to act on it, because that would mean acknowledging that this ideology that they have sometimes aligned themselves with is killing Americans, but it`s plain as day.  It`s right in front of us, and we have got to act. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you expect -- if you were in a situation like Dayton right now, another Midwestern city, would you expect the president, welcome him positively into the city after an incident like this? 

BUTTIGIEG:  You know, first of all, I want to say Nan Whaley is doing a phenomenal job as the mayor of Dayton, doing what mayors do, just like what presidents should do, which is bring people together in a time of grief and in a time when people really need that kind of leadership. 

She is obviously being put in a difficult position by a president who wakes up in the morning and complains about his predecessor in the context of this tragedy, and then decides that tomorrow he wants to show up in her community, where people are grieving.

And who knows what he is going to say.  A mayor customarily greets a president, but this shouldn`t even be a -- under a healthy presidency, this shouldn`t even be a question or a problem.  You should be able to feel like a president of either party, whether you agree with them or not, coming to your city is an honor. 

And, unfortunately, this president has so divided Americans, that it`s really hard to say whether his upcoming visits will do more good or more harm.  And we`re just going to have to see what happens tomorrow. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, you write a lot in your proposals for action, which were admiral, about -- but the intersocial metric kind of connections like the role of misogyny, for example, with regard to this white racism, with this anger. 

But the bigger question to me -- and it`s all -- these are all parts of it -- is this level of violent anger in this country. 

Even if you don`t count armed weapons, arms, if you don`t use them, people kill people for -- with other means in this country, like no other country in the world.  It`s like a big percentage of the people who murder people in this country use them without arms, without guns. 

What is -- why are people, so many -- so much anger out there that reaches the level of killing and violence?  Any theory?  It`s a big question, I know. 

BUTTIGIEG:  Well, we have got overlapping problems here. 

We have got -- yes, we have got extremist ideology, which is killing people.  We have got the loose policies on guns in this country, which is contributing to people getting killed, and then you got this broader question of just where we are as a country and where people are. 

You see the rise, for example, in deaths, what are called deaths from despair, drug overdose and suicide.  And there is no question that things are troubled in this country.  It`s made dramatically worse by our failure to enact commonsense gun reform, like what I`m calling for today. 

But you`re right.  Even as we act in that direction, we have also got to ask some deeper questions about where we are as a country.  So much attention, correctly, goes into the policy functions of the presidency.  But we ought to look at the moral function of the presidency too, that symbolic part of the job that I didn`t much care about when I was a student. 

All I cared about was policy and things you could measure.  And now, having been mayor of a community that`s been through a lot, having watched what`s happening in our country when you don`t have moral leadership from the president, you begin to understand how important that part of the presidency is. 

It`s not only a function of political office.  But what we know is that America is at a vulnerable moment in the history of our people.  We need to be brought together.  It`s one of the reasons why I have proposed national service, just one way to get Americans to be in a position...

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

BUTTIGIEG:  ... to get to know each other better, rebuild some of that social fabric and lift each other up. 

Look, we can`t fix every problem overnight.  But what we do know is that these commonsense actions on counterterrorism in the domestic context, on gun violence will save lives, not every life, but so many lives that shame on us if we don`t do it now. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, you speak like a guy who would be a good president.  Thank you so much.

I love the way you talk about these things, because it raises our level of understanding in our hearts. 

Thank you so much, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South -- South Bend, of course.

Up next:  Violence fueled by white racism or racialism is on the rise and nationalism, so why did the Trump administration actually cut the funding for programs aimed at dealing with these very problems? 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR:  I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we have investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence, but it includes other things as well. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was FBI Director Christopher Wray last month telling lawmakers that a majority of the domestic terrorism suspects they have arrested in the past nine months are white supremacists. 

In fact, extremist-related murders spiked 35 percent from 2017 to 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995. 

According to the Anti-Defamation League, last year, every one of those extremist-related murders was carried out by a right-wing extremist. 

Well, "The New York Times" cites FBI statistics showing that there have been eight mass shootings in the United States since 2017 in which the attackers espoused white supremacist views. 

And while President Trump said yesterday that he would provide the FBI with whatever it needs to combat this growing problem, his administration has actually cut money from the agencies that target domestic terrorism. 

Among them, the Department of Homeland Security has reassigned a group of intelligence analysts who did focus on domestic terrorism, reduced funding at the DHS office handling domestic terrorism from $21 million down to less than $3 million, and cut grants to local organizations working to prevent members from becoming radicalized. 

And it`s not just the cuts that are causing problems for law enforcement.  Like most things today, it comes down to politics and the president`s political base.  And that`s next. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

As the country faces a growing threat of white nationalist violence, federal agencies are scrambling to counter these types of attacks after money cuts. 

A Department of Homeland Security official tells NBC News, for example, that the feeling of DHS out there is, uh-oh, we have a problem. 

A former FBI supervisor who oversaw terrorism cases, Dave Gomez, tells "The Washington Post": "I think in many ways the FBI is hamstrung in trying to investigate the white supremacist movement like the old FBI would.  There is some reluctance among agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base," political base.

"It`s a no-win situation for the FBI agent or supervisor."

For more, I`m joined by Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, Malcolm Nance, MSNBC terrorism analyst, and Cynthia Miller-Idriss, professor at the American University and the author of "The Extreme Gone Mainstream."

  Boy, I don`t know where to start, but I got to go with Frank on the one point.

Frank, what is your sense about the morale problems of agents who are afraid to go after white nationalist groups because they`re afraid what`s - - they don`t know what side the president`s on? 

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR:  If an FBI case isn`t opening a case on a case on domestic terrorism headed to violence because he`s worried about the president, the FBI agent should be fired. 

I don`t agree with that statement that`s been made.  That`s not the problem. 

The problem is that we don`t have the investigative tools in the toolkit.  The FBI and law enforcement isn`t permitted to be where they need to be to see this happening and unfolding. And the issue is a serious one for society to wrestle with, which is one of free speech and hate speech and when that becomes violent. 

So, the Supreme Court said once about obscenity, we know it when we see it. 

Well, we know violence when we see it, but, when it`s happening, it`s too late.  We`re cleaning up the carnage. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FIGLIUZZI: So we need to get in there before to see it happen and develop. 

And the problem is Americans really don`t want people spying on conversations and their weekend groups and their church groups.  We don`t want that.  So we`ve got to come up with a definition and a law that works for us. 

And a start would be to criminalize the concept of domestic terrorism and make it look like international terrorism.  We have plenty of laws regarding international terrorism.  If you change the religion of the El Paso shooter and change his motivation to Islam and violent jihad, you`ve got laws to address it.  We`ve got a white guy driving from Dallas, we got nothing but the fact that he shot up and killed people. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the president paralleling a terrorist encourage imam, Frank? 

FIGLIUZZI:  Well, look, I`m seeing a radicalization play out here.  There is very little room between what we see in Islamic jihad radicalization to violence and what we`re seeing on white supremacy, white nationalism call to action.  They`re aligning with a leader, a kind of father figure who is giving them license. 

Now there is a distinction.  President Trump, to be clear has never called for direct violent action.  But understand that unstable people don`t make that distinction.  It`s lost on them.  So, they`re feeling encouraged by it.  And the president`s press conference yesterday didn`t go far enough to say that he personally condemns that ideology. 

So the radicalization process has not been disrupted.  And unfortunately, we may see more violence unless this inciter in chief comes out and says I need you to stop this. 

MATTHEWS:  Cynthia, what cause as white supremacist to be a white supremacist to the extent of believing they`re going to take action, violent action to make the country -- ethnic cleansing, whatever you`re going to call it, these people are killing people who aren`t white. 

CYNTHIA MILLER-IDRISS, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY:  Well, I think a lot of people understand white supremacy to be based on dehumanizing ideologies, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia.  What people don`t understand is there are other components to it too.  When you get to the extremist fringe, you`re talking about people who believe there is an existential threat.  They believe that their people are imminently threatened, and that they have to take action. 

And they also believe that violence is the solution to that problem and that it`s their obligation to what`s called accelerate societal discord through violence that will lead to a new world order.  So they think they`re being heroic. 

MATTHEWS:  When does it start?  You`re the expert.  Is it from anger -- failure to deal with your relationships with women?  Is it -- because these are all guys. 

MILLER-IDRISS:  Most of what we`re seeing is they`re being drawn in by two sets of emotional impulses.  One is a desire to belong, to have a sense of purpose, to contribute to something bigger and better than themselves.  They want meaning in their lives. 

The other is anger, fear, disfranchisement, perceived inequality.  They think they`re being left behind, even when it`s not really true.  And that kind of emotional impulse, those two impulses are goaded by mainstream political rhetoric that tells them there are invaders coming and that, you know, they are being replaced and that they have to take action. 

MATTHEWS:  Malcolm, your feelings and thoughts about the last couple of days.  I haven`t talked to you since these things happened. 

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST:  Well, I think that we`re finally in for a great societal change where we`re finally addressing this issue. 

You know, when I wrote -- I wrote a book last year called "The Plot to Destroy Democracy."  And one of the chapters I led off with the massacre of 68 children in Norway by the original white supremacist terrorist who created the concept of this terrorist manifesto, Anders Behring Breivik. 

And he did that because he thought the great replacement was under way in Norway and the government was allowing unbridled immigration into that country.  So, in his trial, he said he massacred those children because he wanted to eliminate the next generation of liberal leadership from Norway as a warning. 

This country has had several of these mass incidents, but I think we`re overdue for a Breivik-style real massacre of a political nature.  And as Cynthia said, these people feel that they are the foot soldiers and executors of what the disenfranchisement that the white race is feeling, and Donald Trump is giving them subliminal orders in their head.  They are no different than the mobilized, you know, self-starting radical -- self- radicalized terrorists of ISIS here in the United States and Europe who take cars and drive down streets.  It`s just that they have a permissive environment in which they can get firearms and go out and attack their perceived enemies. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Where to begin?  We`ve just begun this terrible discussion. 

Thank you, Frank Figliuzzi.  Thank you, Malcolm Nance.  And thank you, Cynthia Miller-Idriss. 

Up next, the shooting in El Paso has put Trump on the defensive again over his divisive rhetoric, and his failure to move forward on gun reforms in any way.  President candidate -- actually presidential candidate Tom Steyer is going to join us to talk about all this and his main cause so far has been impeachment, right after this break.  He`ll be here live. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump is on defense over his response to the mass shootings at El Paso and at Dayton, Ohio, facing condemnation over a lack of action on gun control, and his past anti-immigrant rhetoric, of course, which goes back to the day his campaign for president began. 

Let`s watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best.  They`re bringing drugs.  They`re bringing crime, they`re rapists. 

The border, people are fantastic, Border Patrol, your military are fantastic.  I`m going have to call up more military.  But our military, don`t forget, can`t act like a military would act because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy. 

But we`re taking people out of the country.  You wouldn`t believe how bad these people are.  These aren`t people.  These are animals. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Trump later said that he was using that word "animals" to describe members of the MS-13 gang.  Yes.

I`m joined now by Tom Steyer, long-time activist and 2020 presidential candidate. 

Tom, thank you for joining us.

Mr. Steyer, it seems to me that well -- well, let me layer your voice about this.  Trump clearly was lying here.  He`s not talking about people. 

They come up here out of economic desperation.  Sometimes they really have hopes for getting good jobs up here.  They`re not sent up here by the government.  That`s not true. 

And the idea of having soldiers of the United States Army mow them down or whatever he means by using the army the way he wants it, get a little rough with them, what does he mean by that? 

So, he seems to have demonized Mexican-Americans and other Latin American people coming up here, demonized them to the point of being rapists and thugs and animals.  That`s what he does.  Your thoughts? 

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Chris, it`s not just that he is fomenting an atmosphere of hate and racial divisiveness.  I think we all know he is doing that.  He is also making it clear that violence is a response to that.  He`s been doing it recently with regard to the four young congresswomen of color where he`s encouraging chants of send them home -- get rid of them, they`re not real Americans is the implication of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

STEYER:  And I think that he is -- if you look at the change in hate crimes since he`s been president, he`s effectively given license to racists to act out their worst impulses, and he is doing the exact opposite of what the president of the United States should do, which is to talk about the values of justice and equality that are the very core of our country and that I think should be animating every presidential candidate and certainly every president to bring this country together instead to try to divide us for his own political purposes. 

MATTHEWS:  You`re trying to be elected president and you have a full- fledged campaign.  You`ve run the ads on our program here.  That`s going on right now.

And I think -- I guess the question to you is, how would you like to get rid of this president?  By impeachment or bouncing him at the polls next year? 

STEYER:  Look, from the very beginning, Chris, I`ve said there are three ways we can get rid of him.  Impeach him and remove him from office.  He resigns, which he`ll never do, or beat him at the polls. 

And right now, the impeachment process is continuing.  The grassroots are working.  The majority of Democrats in Congress have come out for an impeachment inquiry.

But I am working full time to become the Democratic nominee for president because I view this problem we`re having in El Paso, what we saw in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, as part of a bigger problem.  And I see it as a function and a symptom of a failed government that this government -- this is the over 250 incidents of mass shootings this year in the United States.  We`ve seen this same horrible tragedy play out in community after community, and the Congress has done nothing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about your campaign and how you`re going to win this thing, because you`re in this with big money.  You`re going to spend $100 million.  That`s a big investment for anyone, whatever their wealth. 

My question is how do you turn the corner and go from, we`ve got about 10, 15 candidates now that can`t break two points.  How do you get past them and on to passing Buttigieg who was on the program tonight to getting into the top three or four?  How do you do it? 

STEYER:  Well, my basic assumption is what we have to do is confront this broken government which is a function of a hostile corporate takeover of our democracy, and we have to get back to government of, by and for the people. 

And as somebody who as an outsider has been organizing coalitions of ordinary American citizens to take on that unchecked corporate power for 10 years and beating them -- beating the oil companies, beating the tobacco companies and beating the drug companies -- and organizing people to show up and vote in completely different proportion from before, I believe that kind of experience, ten years of grassroots organizing and beating corporations is what we need to reform Washington, so we don`t have this sad conversation next year and the year after about we have another mass shooting, we have another white nationalist attack and we`re doing nothing about it. 

It`s time for Americans to take back the democracy.  And that`s got to come from the outside, Chris.  I`m sorry.  It does. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I give you credit.  You`re putting your money where your mouth is and you`re in the arena, like Teddy Roosevelt.  It`s better to be in the arena than standing outside it, mouthing slogans.  You`re in there, and thank you for that. 

Tom Steyer, thank you for coming on the program. 

STEYER:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next, one thing Democrats need to learn from the other side.  You have to beat the other side.  The way you have to do it is get tough and play some hardball.  I like that word. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I`ve watched the Democratic debates, of course, with great interest.  What I want to know is how they intend to govern from the White House while Mitch McConnell is still leading from the U.S. Senate.  Because McConnell`s majority of 53 seats accords him the power to ignore any proposal the president sends up. 

But if Democrats threw their best candidates on to the field, that three- vote majority could end up gone.  The Democrats have decent prospects in Maine and Arizona, offset by a critical challenge in Alabama, where Doug Jones is fighting for reelection. 

But imagine if Governor Steve Bullock were out there running for the Senate in Montana, if John Hickenlooper out there running in Colorado, or Beto O`Rourke in Texas, the more attractive candidates Democrats have out there, the more likely they`ll pick up seats they need to take the Senate. 

You know, the one thing the Democrats need to learn from the Republicans is to get serious about building their power.  Republicans spent years working on the state legislatures.  It gave them the majorities they needed when reapportionment time came. 

We live in a country when the Senate majority leader said one of his proudest moments was when he looked Obama in the eye and told him he wasn`t going to get his Supreme Court nominee even considered, not even considered.  A Senate majority leader who`s has earned the name Moscow Mitch for refusing to let cyber security measures on the floor, refuse to let the Senate look at assault rifle bans. 

So, as Joe Biden likes to say, here`s the deal.  You Democrats go out there and pick up a net three Senate seats.  Then if a Democrat beats Trump, it`s enough for the new president to govern, to begin to meet some of the promises he or she has made. 

If not, enjoy the debates because that`s all you`re going get.  Debates and promises that don`t pass bills, because bills don`t get passed by debates, they get passed by majorities in the U.S. Senate. 

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. 

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