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Police standoff in Philadelphia continues. TRANSCRIPT: 8/14/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Donna Edwards, Montel Williams, Claire McCaskill, Ben Howe

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

We`re following breaking news out of Philadelphia tonight.  Six police officers have been shot in what authorities are calling an active and ongoing situation.  All the officers are expected to survive.  The shooting began about 4:30 this afternoon in the Nicetown section of north Philadelphia, which is where I came from.  There is a massive police presence surrounding the house there where one shooter is still inside, trapped, apparently.

A police spokesman told NBC News that the incident began when an officer attempted to serve a warrant at that address there.  We`re going to continue to monitor developments in North Philadelphia and bring you the latest.

The big political news tonight is the 2020 Democratic race for president is drawing very tight.  With the deadline looming to qualify for the next debate, a new poll out today shows the race between the frontrunners in a virtual tie.  A new economist YouGov weekly tracking poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden now at 21 percent where Elizabeth Warren at 20 percent.  Senator Bernie Sanders is third at 16 percent, then comes Kamala Harris at 8 percent, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 5.

For his part, at the rally in Pennsylvania yesterday, President Trump referenced the recent tightening in the Democratic race, using his usual derogatory vocabulary.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I did it very early with Pocahontas.  I should probably have waited.  She is staging a comeback on Sleepy Joe.  I don`t know who`s going to win,  But we`ll have to hit Pocahontas very hard again if she does win.

But she is staging a little bit of a comeback.  What a group, Pocahontas and Sleepy Joe.


MATTHEWS:  But it was a different Republican under fire for comments he made today.  Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King drew criticism for remarks he made explaining his opposition to abortion, including cases of rape or incest.


REP. STEVE KING (R-IA):  We know the reasons why that we know the exceptions for the most of it is for rape and incest, because it`s not the baby`s fault.  But I sort of wonder about this.  What if it was okay and what if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest.  Would there be any population of the world left if we did that considering all the wars and all the rape and pillage that has taken place and whatever that happened to culture and society?  I don`t like to answer the following (ph), but I`m not a part of product of that.


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Anyway, King had already been stripped of all his committee assignments by the leadership of the Republican in Congress earlier this year after he questioned whether the term white supremacy was really offensive.

And a host of Democratic 2020 candidates condemned King`s comments today, many of them urging to donate to King`s Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten.

For more, I`m joined by former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Michelle Goldberg, Columnist for The New York Times.  Thank you.  You`re laughing already, I can see.  Yamiche Alcindor, a White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, and Ben Howe, author of Immoral Majority, Why Evangelicals -- there is the book, Shows Political Power Over Christian Values, because judgeships last longer than tax cuts, I think.

Let me go to Senator McCaskill, because you know the world, you know the Midwest, you know the political world, you know political world, you know what it`s like to actually run in a general election, which most of people -- neither party knows what a general election is because they don`t have to face them.

Why do these people -- why do they go back to these trolls go way back to these arguments about, you know, legitimate rape, talking about this anthropological almost opposite Thomas Malthus, oh, we wouldn`t be here today if it weren`t for rape and incest?  I mean, why do they bring this crap up?  Why do they do it?

FMR. SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-IA):  Well, I mean, Steve King is a nut.  He is a stone-cold nut.  He makes Todd Akin, who was my opponent back in `12 who said, you know, legitimate rape, a woman has a way of shutting down her pregnancy.  He makes him look kind of mainstream.  I mean, this guy, if the people of Iowa send him back to Congress, they get what they deserve.

It`s just frightening to me that this guy has a position in our government with all of the things he said offensive to people, black and brown people about immigrants, and now the notion that he thinks it`s just fine if a 14- year-old is raped repeatedly by her father that she would be forced to carry that baby and have that baby.

I guarantee you he`s never sat across the table from one of those young girls like I have when I was a prosecutor.  It might change his attitude and make him maybe not quite so cavalier about it, because it`s offensive.  I guarantee you it`s offensive to women and I think it`s offensive to most men.

He is basically saying that all men rape and commit incest because our population is full of the byproducts of that, which, of course, we all know is not true.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It`s like Meyer Lansky said in the movie Godfather, saying, it`s the business we have chosen.  It`s who we are as a people.

Yamiche, this is the guy who just agreed with the Senator.  This is a guy that said that Latinos that come to America had big legs because they`re like cantaloupes because they`re carrying all the drugs.  I mean, this is how far he reaches to make his slurring comments.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR:  It just doesn`t make any sense.  And we now see Liz Cheney, the number three Republican in the House saying he has to go.  She is echoing in some way, of course, what the 2020 Democratic candidates are saying.

But to just look at what Steve King is talking about.  He is talking about why is white supremacy an offensive term.  Well, maybe because all these people died just two few weeks ago because somebody was shooting up a Walmart looking for Latinos because they were talking about an invasion Latinos.  Or maybe it`s the idea that like when he is talking about women being rape and having to carry their rapist`s child, he is divorced from reality.  I mean, women die in childbirth.  There are states where rapists still have actual access to their children where they can get visitation rights.  These are things that people --

MATTHEWS:  They`re under our law?

ALCINDOR:  Under our laws.  These are real life consequences that people are dealing with.  And you have a sitting lawmaker making almost light of the things that are really tragedies in a lot of people`s lives.

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk politics.  Why can`t a conservative, and you can say at minimal he is a conservative, at worst, he`s a right wing crazy, why do they feel they have to go into the crazy erogenous zones of the far right to keep these people behind him?  Steve King doesn`t have to talk like this to keep his peeps behind him.  Why does he go that far?

BEN HOWE, AUTHOR, THE IMMORAL MAJORITY:  I think he does have to go that far to keep those people behind him.  I think a lot of his base online energizes online, in their communities, and the more excited they are with the idea that they have someone who is going to radically support their agenda, they will.  I think that`s the only way they`ll stay with him.

 I mean, I know that`s not --

MATTHEWS:  Why does he just say, I think abortion is immoral?

HOWE:  Why can`t he say that?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, just say, I think it`s immoral.

HOWE:  Because he needs to provide rationalizations.  This is what the evangelicals do, this is what they do with just about every group in the Republican Party, is they find ways to rationalize amongst themselves, not to convince anyone else, not to bring anyone else in and not to make a position that anyone else would find appealing, but just to make sure that within the community, they can feel okay with what they`re doing.

MATTHEWS:  Michelle, the problem with his argument, the counterpoint from him would be, okay, we`re going to force women who were raped or the victims of incest to have babies, because the law is going to come into their world and make them have the baby.  I mean, does anybody think through what kind of country we would be if that were the case?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  I think they have thought it through, and I think that`s what they want, right?  I mean, I think that he is saying two things.  Both he`s saying that, yes, I am in favor of forced birth for women who have endured horrible violence and trauma, but I think he is saying something else, and I think it`s probably what he really believes, which is that he sees rape and forced birth as important building blocks of civilization, and maybe even all worth it if it ultimately leads to the birth of Steve King, right?

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe you think it`s that self-referential.

GOLDBERG:  Well, he`s the one who said it, right?  You know, I might not be here were it not for rape and pillage.  So who can criticize rape and pillage?

MATTHEWS:  Thank God for the Visigoths.

Let me go to the Senator on this political question because I don`t think I`ve spent more time than anything in the last six, seven months, last two years trying to figure out how the Democrats are going to run a good candidate in 2020, someone who can win and hold the center of the Democratic Party and the left together to actually add up to a working, winning majority.

And my question then -- I think they could do it.  The question is the failure of Biden in the last couple of weeks to exploit the opening he has as a moderate, because he`s got that lane all to himself, what`s going on?  What do you see happening here?  He`s not played the game effectively in the last couple of weeks again.  Your thoughts.

MCCASKILL:  Well, I think, first of all, there is a lot of time left.  Second of all, I think he probably doesn`t see anybody encroaching in that lane.  If you`re just looking at this from a cold political standpoint, I think he feels like he`s got it staked out.  I don`t know.  I haven`t talked to him about it.

But I will say this.  I think, Chris, this is a different kind of election because people forget that the majority of people that will vote November 2020 will not claim either Democratic Party or the Republican Party.  They will look at the binary choice.  And we have something that will unite the middle with the Democratic Party, and that is Donald Trump.

And I think Donald Trump is such a unifying force for our party.  I think we can withstand a few bumps in the road through this torturous presidential primary process with so many candidates and so many people out there trying to play gotcha.

MATTHEWS:  Michelle, that`s the question.  Can Trump turn the question to, oh, right, you hate me, but I`m here.  I`m not a left winger to sort of socialize the country.  I mean, he`s going to make that question and maybe that is that question.  Do you want to go to the left or do you want to stay in the middle with this crazy guy you`ve got as president right now, but he is going to leave your taxes alone?  Your thoughts.

GOLDBERG:  I think he`ll make that argument if he is running against Elizabeth Warren.  He`ll probably make that argument if he is running against anyone.  But I also think he can make the converse argument about Biden.  You`ll see a lot of trolling about Biden`s records, a lot of, you know, sort of efforts to depress voter turnout, to disillusion the base.  You might see a lot of kind of trolling about his lack of energy in his campaign.  So any of these candidates are going to have vulnerabilities.

I just came back from Iowa, and any sense when I went to -- I went events for Warren, I went to events for Biden, I went to events for Harris, I went to the state fair.  When I talked to actual voters, I don`t think that these lanes that we talk about are really real.

I mean, I spoke to a lot of people who are trying to decide between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden and don`t see them as really that ideologically different.  Because on the stump, they`re both talking about their hard scrabbled childhoods, they`re both talking about middle class economics.  I think people are making decisions using kind of different metrics than we are in pundit land.

MATTHEWS:  Well, when I look at that -- I`ll just look at it, but you look at the same access we all have.  But the look at the polls.  He said, very liberal, Elizabeth Warren, somewhat liberal, surprising, Bernie, he`s a little bit to the right of her.  These are supplied (ph).  But they are, I think interesting.  Ben, your thoughts.

HOWE:  This is anecdotal, but I`m from South Carolina and that hasn`t been my experience.  The experience I`ve had is not that Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden aren`t that far apart from one another, if that`s what`s being said.  Joe Biden is much more appealing to people where I`m from who don`t like Trump, but I don`t think not liking Trump is a great strategy to begin with.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, for a Democrat to win, even Biden against Trump, in South Carolina?

HOWE:  Yes, I think Biden actually could do well.

MATTHEWS:  Could win the general?

HOWE:  I think he could win the general, yes.


ALCINDOR:  The strategy in 2016 and the talking points that you heard from Democrats in 2016 was even if Bernie and Hillary Clinton were having this bloodbath, everyone is going to coalesce because Donald Trump is such a crazy figure.  Every Democrats thought, okay, this is -- then we`re clearly going take this.  Obviously, that did not work out.

I think Pete Buttigieg though summarized the Democrats` issues really well in the last debate.  He said, no matter what policies we run, we`re going to be cast as American socialists.

And the president has kind of really settled on that language.  He`s settled on the idea of telling its voters --

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe Biden looks like a socialist?

ALCINDOR:  I think the president is going to continue to make that argument.  I`m not saying that it`s correct.

MATTHEWS:  Do centrists play golf?

ALCINDOR:  He is continuing to --

MATTHEWS:  I`m serious.  There`s is nothing about him culturally that looks like a leftist.

ALCINDOR:  I mean, his message to his voters is these are -- Democrats are going to destroy your way of life.  And it`s Democrats who are going to have to say that`s not clear.  But I think that that`s the argument that they --

MATTHEWS:  A lot of people I know are dying for a winner, and they want somebody who look likes a winner.  They don`t want to put up somebody who might win.  They want to pick up somebody they think will win.

Anyway, a former Republican congressman is urging his party right now to find someone to primary the president in the Republican Party.  In a New York Times op-ed, former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh writes, President Trump needs a challenger from the right side of the party.

Walsh argues the fact is Mr. Trump is a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia to rouse as base and advance his political prospects.  Wow.  He adds, Mr. Trump isn`t a conservative.  He is reckless on fiscal issues, he is incompetent on the border, he`s clueless on trade, he misunderstands executive power and he subverts the rule of law.

Senator, your thoughts about -- that`s a Republican who wants to see a real challenger.  I`m not sure Bill Weld fits the bill, because Bill Weld is a liberal Republican from Massachusetts.

MCCASKILL:  Well, frankly, one of your guests has written a very good book that can speak to whether or not a challenge from the right would work, because if there wasn`t vulnerability on Trump from the right, it would certainly be around fiscal policy and things like ethics, integrity and morality.

And, typically, in the Republican Party, you would see the evangelicals that would be clamoring to get a challenge to him from the right.  But he has managed to co-opt a lot of those.

And let me say this about what Yamiche said.  I get in 2016, we thought, well, it doesn`t matter because we can beat Trump.  The problem was in 2016, none of us believed that Trump could win.  So a lot of people stayed home because they thought it was done.  All of the punditry, all of the polls said Hillary Clinton was going to be president.  I think everyone was shocked, including Donald Trump, that he won.  I don`t think that will be the case in 2020.

MATTHEWS:  All I know is the experts, when I said, there is a lot of angry people on Pennsylvania, they don`t like Hillary Clinton.  There are a lot of them.  They don`t like it.  And there`s not enough of them because the Ivy League crowd, all crowds together, may say, you know, we`re all intellectuals and she is meritocrat, she has made her way and she deserves I.  And then, of course, they`re going to vote for her.  No, they don`t.  They don`t have to vote for anybody.

Here is the question about this.  Evangelicals, they got a shot at this seven to two conservative court if this guy, Trump, gets another four years.  You know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg might retire, something might happen.  Steve Breyer might quit.  They have a shot at permanent, like Hamiltonian control of the court.  Is that what is driving evangelical voting?

HOWE:  It`s absolutely what`s going to drive them to come out again in record numbers.  I mean, they came out in record numbers before for Donald Trump.  They still, even in some of the elections where there were less of them, they still have more support, 81 percent for Roy Moore, almost 81 percent for Roy Moore, of the ones who came out.

But I think that the problem is this is the promised land, what you`re talking about, supreme court.  I mean, That is -- if they can achieve that, there is no amount that Donald Trump can do, nothing he can say, no amount of cursing to upset people or using the Lord`s name in vain or any of that that`s going to prevent them from voting for him, no matter what they say right now.

ALCINDOR:  I think it`s important though to make the distinction that we`re talking about white evangelicals.  And the people that I`m talk nothing in the African-American churches are saying, this person is someone in President Trump is someone who is using racist language who is really dividing our country.

And the white evangelicals that I`ve been talking to, they`re saying, we do have a problem with his ethics, and, yes, the courts are important, but the Tweets and the talking about the invasion, that stuff works on evangelicals that I have talked to.  Some of his evangelical supporters of the president, they`re excited about the president`s language.

So I think, yes, it`s the courts, but it`s also his race baiting that is helping him get in the white evangelical vote.

MATTHEWS:  The African-American evangelical vote, they have their own issues, like Buttigieg.  Would they vote for him?

ALCINDOR:  They have their own issues and there are some people that are going to question whether or not there are going to be some African- Americans who want to support a homosexual presidential candidate.

But I think, honestly, a lot of African-Americans that I`ve talked to say, if it`s between Pete Buttigieg and the president, I`m going to go with Pete Buttigieg because I have already seen what President Trump will do, not just in his words but also in his policies.

MATTHEWS:  I`d love to see them after the polls.  I`d love to see them.  That would be very education.

It`s all about anthropology, and you`re an expert.  And your book is called The Immoral Majority.

HOWE:  Well, you know, I was going to say, it may be white evangelicals, but you`re talking about 26 percent of the electorate in the last four elections.  So it is huge voting bloc.

ALCINDOR:  Yes, it`s definitely a huge voting bloc.

HOWE:  And it`s extremely consequential.  And --

MATTHEWS:  And they ignored completely the New York-based media, completely.

Anyway, thank you, Claire McCaskill, as always, Michelle Goldberg, thank you, Yamiche Alcindor and Ben Howe.

Coming up -- and Howe.  Anyway, we`ll have the latest in the breaking news out of Philadelphia in North Philly, where six police officers have been shot.  This incident began at 4:30 this afternoon in the Nicetown area.

Plus, double standard?  Recent gaffes by Joe Biden have Democrats concerned, as they should.  But the president of the United States can`t get through his speech without making multiple false statements.  Yesterday he took credit for signing a bill he never actually signed and made false claims about the United States` trade policy with Japan.

Well, Montel Williams is calling the former -- he`s a former Republican Party member and he is calling out his former party for using hate, fear and lies over their country and says the president is dangerously unfit to confront a world he says is on fire.  Join us later in this show.  Stick around for Montel.

Much more ahead.  Stick with us.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL we continue to follow the developing situation in North Philadelphia where six police officers have been shot and are being treated for nonlife-threatening injuries at this point.

Police urge residents to avoid that area. The suspect, who is holed up in a building in North Philly near Temple University is not currently in custody, continues to fire on the police, in fact. Sources tell NBC News that police were in the scene, serving a warrant.

Well, there is a massive police presence surrounding the building, as you`ll see here. A spokesperson told NBC News they are attempting to talk to the shooter to get him to surrender. Here is an audio, audio clip from over an hour ago when police arrived on the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nearby car, nearby - shot fire, shot fire inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give S.W.A.T. ASAP. Long gun ASAP. This is Nathan 1080.



MATTHEWS: The President of the United States has been briefed on this shooting. He continues to monitor the situation from his vacation home in Jersey. For the latest I`m joined by NBC 10 Reporter Aaron Baskerville who is on the scene. Aaron, thank you joining us what do you know right now?

AARON BASKERVILLE, NBC 10 REPORTER: Well, Chris right now I`m just staring at a whole bunch of officers taking at the front position right now. We`re in North Philadelphia about two miles north of Temple.

And right now a whole bunch of officers are kind of huddled behind their vehicles in cars, and they`re just focused on that building in that area where that gunman is still holed up right now. Some of the homes in this area have been evacuated.

Me personally, I`ve heard at least 40 to 50 different gunshots. These are volleys, they are rapid-fire, there are about seven or eight gunshots and then may be five minutes later seven or eight more gunshots. That continues for about a 30, 35-minute period since I`ve been out here.

Where I`m at, my exact location, it`s kind of died down for the most part. But you talk about some of the details. Some of our sources are saying at least one officer maybe two went inside that house, serving a warrant for drugs. They went inside that house, started to arrest a couple of folks.

According to our source, that`s when at least one gunman downstairs apparently started firing through the floor upstairs. There were other officers outside who obviously heard the gunshot and came rushing towards that home. They took on some gunfire.

If there is any good news whatsoever right now is that those six officers that have been shot are facing nonlife-threatening injuries. We`ve heard may be a couple of injuries to officers. They weren`t shot, but just maybe some injuries responding.

We haven`t heard any gunshots in the last 30 minutes or so. But my position right now, I`m staring at least 50 officers who are kind of just waiting to see what happens here still kind of taking that defensive position behind vehicles out here.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Aaron Baskerville. Thank you for joining us. That`s actually the neighborhood by earliest memories of from right that area there. My grandparents lived there for years.

Let my bring in Jim Cavanaugh, Former Hostage Negotiator for ATF and Tom Winter, an NBC News Investigative Correspondent. Gentlemen, thank you.

First of all, Jim, this is a row house neighborhood, working class neighborhood African-Americans. I don`t know what we know except that you start shooting in those neighborhoods there is lot of people around?

JIM CAVANAUGH, FORMER ATF HOSTAGE INVESTIGATOR: Right, well they had to clear those people out there surrounding houses Chris. And one of the earlier reports, I don`t know if it`s been resolved from NBC Philly was that officers were trapped inside the house.

That poses quite a great dilemma for S.W.A.T. commanders if that`s the case because they have to get their rifles trained to keep the shooter away from their officers if they are trapped inside. And what Aaron just reported, maybe they were on the second floor trying to make some arrests.

So it is possible. That`s still ongoing. That`s going to slow things down. No shooting for 30 minutes may mean the shooter is dead. May mean there is ongoing negotiations, may mean they`re still trying to get him on the phone. We just don`t know.

The critical point is, are there any Philly police officers still in there? If there are, they`re talking to their commanders. They`re talking to their S.W.A.T. commander on their phones, on their radio, and they`re trying to make sure they can get their rifles between those officers, the S.W.A.T. rifles on target between those officers and any shooters.

MATTHEWS: We don`t know where they`re being held. Ransom or held captive or not, do we?

CAVANAUGH: Right. Or maybe even in another room in the building and a shooter in another room, but they don`t have access to leave, like they can`t go in the hallway because the shooter is active that`s a possibility. So they may not be shot. May not be wounded, but they may just be trapped.

The S.W.A.T. commander will have to deal with that. That was an early report. I don`t know if Aaron and his team in Philly have verified it. It`s a big issue for S.W.A.T. Command also; any other people who might be wounded in there could be bleeding. So there is a critical time frame here as well.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Jim Cavanaugh. Let`s go to Tom Winter. Tom, what are your sources telling you?

TOM WINTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, a little bit of late information here. First off have I the answer to Jim`s question, as far as whether or not there are officers inside of that house or whether or not there are any injured? There are no injured officers inside the house.

As far as whether or not there are still officers hold up inside, that`s information I`m aware of. But with respect to the ongoing law enforcement situation and officer safety, I`m not going to discuss at this time. In regards to this, this incident happened approximately 4:30 this afternoon. It was due to a warrant that was being searched, a warrant that was being executed rather at this residence as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation.

There are some initial concerns that the suspect involved, the shooter here has an AR-15 style weapon. Police are incredibly concerned about that. At this time they are trying to talk to him and trying to implore him at this point to end this so more officers are not injured here tonight.

Six officers shot. The good news or the silver lining here, Chris, if there is any is that all those officers are expected to survive. In addition to that, there had been some local schools, even a day care facility nearby. The indications that we`re getting real time here as I`ve been on the air with you and as you`ve been discussing it was that they would be able to safely evacuate those centers.

But this is still very much an active scene in the Philadelphia police department right now is really concerned about officer safety moving forward and some things inside that house.

MATTHEWS: It`s amazingly familiar territory for me. Anyway, thank you, Tom Winter and Jim Cavanaugh. It`s a close in neighborhood where neighbors all know each other. Coming up double standard recent gaps by Joe Biden have Democrats worried. The President of the United States can`t get through a speech without making multiple false statements.

How about a double standard with the President? He is getting off easy for what he says. Are these gaffes or lies? That`s next on Hardball.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Joe Biden is not playing with a full deck. This is not somebody you can have as your President.

LARA TRUMP, TRUMP 2020 SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: I do think when you hear time after time these slip-ups from him, people question his mental acuity to a degree.

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, TRUMP 2020 SENIOR ADVISOR: We see that Joe Biden is in a weakened position. He obviously can`t remember, you know, just basic facts.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL following a series of gaffes by Former Vice President Joe Biden, President Trump and his allies are trying to shape the narrative that the Democratic front-runner isn`t fit to be President.

However, the President has his own problems, don`t you think, gets facts right, don`t you think? Here are some of the false claims Trump has made just yesterday during his speech in Pennsylvania.


TRUMP: I got sued on a thing call emoluments. Have you heard the word? Nobody ever heard of it before. They went back. Now nobody looks at Obama getting $60 million for a book. That`s okay. Many car plants that are coming in from Japan, they send us house thousands and thousands, millions of cars. We send them wheat, wheat, that`s not a good deal.


MATTHEWS: Well, actually President Obama didn`t sign a book deal until 2017 after he left office. It wasn`t an emoluments situation. And wheat by the way as you look at here is only a small component what we export to Japan a very small part of it. Then there would be what you might call the lies he tells.


TRUMP: Veteran`s choice. You`ve been hearing about it for 45 years. I got it approved.


MATTHEWS: Actually, President Obama signed the Veteran`s Choice Program into law in 2014. And then there are just sloppy mistakes like these.


TRUMP: That`s a lot of people back there for an 11:00 speech. That`s a lot of people.


MATTHEWS: The President`s speech was actually held at 2:00 in the afternoon. When he looked at his watch, it should have said 2:00, and it did but he said 11.

I`m joined by Former Democratic Congressman Donna Edwards and Former Florida Republican Congressman David Jolly, who is no longer affiliated with the party. Mr. Jolly, why do we give Trump a free ride on things they are saying like crowd size, like who signed the law and his peeps don`t seem to care at all about the stuff you have to decide is he stupid or is he a liar?

FORMER REP. DAVID JOLLY (R-FL): I don`t know that he gets a free ride. I think we`ve had him under intense scrutiny rightly so in the last three years, but I think it`s important how he can conceptualize what is reported on--

MATTHEWS: We don`t say he is losing it. We don`t say he doesn`t have a full deck. We don`t make comments about his IQ like he does about Biden. He is talking competence with Biden.

JOLLY: Well, I think some of us do. I mean, some of us certainly have. But I think Chris importantly to your point that we contextualize what we hear from Donald Trump is often a lie ruled in malice, ignorance, manipulation and intended to stoke division.

The President of the United States knows he is lying where as how we contextualize where we often hear from Joe Biden and other candidates as well, not just Biden are what we have historically considered gaffes of a candidate.

And I think in each case, it`s important that we ask for explanations. I mean, we at - we are looking at people who are asking to be the next President of the United States. But we have to keep it in context.

In Donald Trump we see lies based on manipulation, malice, rooted in division and often ignorance frankly dangerous ignorance where as what we see from Joe Biden and others are truly gaffes but gaffes that need an explanation and follow-up.

MATTHEWS: When he hears the word liberal democracy, they must be thinking about Phil Burton Machine in California. No. They`re talking about countries like the United States. And one example of gaffe by the Former Vice President at a recent fundraiser reportedly misstated the locations of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

The poll reports said he corrected himself later in his remarks. President Trump also had trouble remembering all the locations of one of the shootings during his address to the country last week. Here he goes.


TRUMP: May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo. And may God protect them. May God protect all of those from Texas to Ohio?


MATTHEWS: Now Toledo is where Danny Thomas is from. Nobody says he is losing it. Nobody says any full deck.

FORMER REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D-MD): No but I mean, look, the fact checkers have checked more than 12,000 of his lies, misstatements, gap whatever you want to call them. But I actually do think some of this stuff is intentional. Remember the whole birth thing that was a lie and it was on--

MATTHEWS: I have people in Hawaii checking this out.

EDWARDS: It wasn`t on purpose. It was deliberate. There are things that he does are that are really deliberate that are harmful and are dangerous and that his people act on. I think it`s important really to call this out. I hate the comparisons between Joe Biden and Donald Trump because to me there is like not as until a comparison between somebody who makes an occasional couple of mistakes.

MATTHEWS: How you hear it when Biden makes comments like poor kids and white kids, and then he realizes somewhere in his head a bell goes off and oh, God, I just made an ethnic comment about who the wealthy kids are. No, there is wealthy black people and Hispanic people. So he corrects it. He is hearing it as he makes the mistake.

EDWARDS: When I hear the difference between candidates who was there and then he self-corrects. And frankly if you look at that room and the comments coming out of that room, the people in that room actually were not offended. Look, I think most people are - most Democrats are giving Biden a pass. You can`t see that that`s really having a deep in path.

MATTHEWS: Look at this. Here is Trump who rarely admits getting anything wrong. This is true for even one of the most inane issues. Remember back in 2017 when Trump said the infamous late night "covfefe tweet" instead, we admitting it was in the sake the word doesn`t exist. Here is how then Press Secretary the great unforgettable Sean Spicer explained it.


REPORTER: "Do you think people should be concerned that the President posted somewhat of an incoherent tweet last night and that it then stayed up for hours?"


REPORTER: Why did it stay up so long? Is no one watching there?

SPICER: No, the President and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.


MATTHEWS: David, what are these - was it fraternity code, pigeon English, whatever you call it, pig Latin. What kind of language was he talking?

JOLLY: The other topic here is the analogy, it`s not the scandal it`s the cover-up right? In moments like this and this is very important with Donald Trump. When we see him cover up and lie and trying to suggest, oh we all know what "covfefe" meant. The American people see that, they`re smart enough to know that this is a President who is doubling down on his ignorance.

They see the defensiveness. The opportunity, I think, for Biden and any other Democrat running, and to be fair, every single one of these Democrats will make a gaffe at some point. We also get to evaluate how they handle it. Your colleague Nicole Wallace yesterday talked about how Bush 43 leaned in to some of his misstatement on statuary and other comments he made, made light of them, made fun of himself.

I think the opportunity for somebody like Joe Biden because we know where his heart is in contrast to Donald Trump, when he makes the comment about poor kids and white kids, there is a leadership moment that he can embrace and the American people will embrace him for to say you know what.

I did misspeak, and it actually was important. And here`s why and here is how I want to clarify. On the simple gaffes, acknowledge them, make light of them. What we see in Donald Trump is more obfuscating than lying and we pick up on that on a very human level. This is a President with a thin skin who is defensive. And the American people see that right away.

MATTHEWS: You know I love the way you talked about the "birther" thing, because he was elaborate about it. He embroidered it. He talked about - he had to detectives in Hawaii, a lie. And we`re picking up interesting stuff.

Not only did he accuse Barack Obama of coming into the country illegally, sneaking in, but he said he didn`t have a real presence at the prestigious schools he went to. Nobody knew him. What was he suggesting? He doesn`t exist? He was very elaborate in these conspiracy theories.

JOLLY: They were lies.

EDWARDS:  It was.  And what you describe is something that is really true of him.  He takes these things and then he embraces these conspiracy theories and then he puts them out there and then he says, oh, well, somebody said, you know, as though to cast it off on someone else. 

On this birtherism thing, I think it really connect -- you have to connect the dots between that and the Central Park Five and the recent statements on Charlottesville and down the rest to connect this line where he`s saying that, you know, somehow an African-American guy who claims he wants to be president really couldn`t go to the good schools. 


EDWARDS:  He couldn`t get into the good schools.  And by the way, we haven`t even seen his grades.  He went so far as to ask President Obama like, where is your transcript?


MATTHEWS:  You can believe he got in on affirmative action, didn`t deserve these prestigious, or he didn`t go there, or nobody remembers him. 

EDWARDS:  Right.  And so -- but I do think we have to hold the president to account when he lies.  And it`s hard for somebody like me to even say the word "lie" because where I grew up, you didn`t do that. 

MATTHEWS:  I don`t like (ph) it either.

EDWARDS:  But you know, you got to call a liar when you see it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, thank you, Donna.  You`re a gentle lady to still consider the old rules of behavior.  Thank you so much because I can like `em, too. 

David Jolly, sir, thank you.  I know you`re having a hard time with in political party you used to be a member of. 

Up next, Emmy Award-winning talk show host and former Republican Montel Williams is out with a blistering op-ed column about the man he calls inept, emotionally unstable and actually president. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

An opinion piece put out today on "USA Today", Montel Williams has a stark warning for America. 

The former Republican and talk show host writes the president seems to have gone off a narcissistic cliff with America facing a rising tide of white nationalism and a world on fire we have a leader who is dangerously unfit, makes everything about him, and takes advice on war and peace from cable news hosts. 

He notes: We wake up each morning to the president of the United States live tweeting "Fox & Friends" and litigating a laundry list of personal grievances. 

As protests flared in Hong Kong with the specter of another Tiananmen Square looming large and America still reeling from three mass shootings in a week, the president was busy tweeting conspiracy theories about a suicide and waging a Twitter war with a former employee who is now a private citizen. 

Williams adds: Tuesday, as the situation on Hong Kong continued to deteriorate, the president predictably made the crisis about him.

Well, Montel Williams concludes: that is absurd, and we need to say so, because the world is watching.

But Williams didn`t limit his criticism to just the president, and that`s up next on HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

And that opinion piece in "USA Today", Montel Williams had a strong message for members of his former political party, Republicans. 

He writes: My former party has spent the last few years covering for President Trump`s incompetence, instead of telling the president his behavior is unacceptable, even crazy.  Republican leaders have chosen ambition, hate, greed, fear, lies and winning their next election over their country.

Williams continues: Because of my former party`s intransigence, we are likely stuck with an inept, emotionally unstable president until the next election in 2020.  Who shows up to vote matters, so please treat voting like your country`s future depends on it.  A low turnout election will lead to four more years of escalating chaos and depravity.

Well, I`m joined right now, the man himself, Montel Williams, former talk show host and host of "Let`s Be Blunt", the podcast. 

Montel, what is it now?  It`s August now, his second August as president -- his third August in national spotlight as the Republican leader.  What gets you now?  What are you most afraid of this August of 2019? 

MONTEL WILLIAMS, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST:  I`m afraid that`s what happening as I said in my op-ed piece, have we reached a point now only two years in where we just as a nation don`t care anymore.  We`ve heard it.  The din is so loud, that every single day, the absurdity is so loud, you can`t each pick which absurdity to focus in on.

And so, is it now we`ve gotten into his presidency for two years and people are just fed up?  They`re just done.  They don`t care.  And he`ll go away in two years.  That`s what they may think ah, don`t worry about it.  It will come back to normal maybe in six years. 

What they don`t realize in six years, this country that we have all and people like myself have put a uniform on and swore in Oval Office to protect and serve may not be here anymore. 

MATTHEWS:  What oath do the Republicans take? 


MATTHEWS:  Because they`re very loyal to this guy.  They`re loyal to a higher oath.  That`s to him.  What`s that about? 

WILLIAMS:  I don`t understand that at all.  They stood up when they accepted their placement in office and said, I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic -- yet they don`t recognize that the domestic one is the one they`ve sworn the secondary oath to of allegiance and that they will give unwavering support. 

I mean, Chris, come on.  Every single day, you a president of the United States just like some of these Republicans.  Take a look at Mitch McConnell who made sure he made a deal to lift some of the sanctions against the Russians who ensures that his state got a $200 million investment in an aluminum factory because it`s all about money.  How much money can I make and give the perception that I`m making money for you when that money is going right in their pocket.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you to help script a TV show.  So, this is about like "Veep" only in the case it`s not like "Veep" because it`s real.  "Veep" was a funny show. 

This is a show about the president of the United States.  So, here you have the president of the United States who won in the Electoral College, getting up every morning at 6:00, waiting for the newspaper to arrive.  This is what I hear goes on, sitting in a beautiful bedroom up top of the White House. 

The paper is delivered in paper, the actual "New York Times."  He reads it and begins the country`s agenda by tweeting out his grievances.  That`s what he does.

WILLIAMS:  Are you sure -- are you sure he reads it or someone colors in, putting a little stripe across a couple of lines --


MATTHEWS:  I heard this from an insider to -- I`m just saying, this is based on the timing of when the people at "The Times", for example, know when his paper gets to him physically.  And his meeting -- his tweeting begins like then.  There`s --

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  When he gets a synopsis.  When some other aide reads the newspaper and reads the entire article, pulls out one or two little talking points and hands it to him, then he responds by doing things, like, come on, this president of the United States is selling t-shirts to make fun of Chris Cuomo.  But using a derogatory phrase -- and that is what a lot of people in this country don`t understand right now, we look at what we perceive as racist comments coming from the president, we think that they`re only going to be directed at brown people. 


WILLIAMS:  But let`s remember, Chris, go back in time.  Remember, this country for a period of time, we fought riots in the streets because we didn`t like Polish people. 


WILLIAMS:  We fought riots in the streets because we didn`t like Italians.  We fought riots in the streets because we didn`t like Croatians.  We don`t like anybody that we claim is different from us. 

And so, now, we`ve got the president of the United States selling t-shirts, really disparaging Italian-Americans by using a term "Fredo".  Come on.

MATTHEWS:  Well, by the way, you know your history because in Philly, back in the last century, they built our cathedral, the Cathedral of Saints Paul -- Peter and Paul, no street level windows -- 


MATTHEWS:  -- because they didn`t want the Protestants throwing the rocks through the windows.  I mean, that was how bad it was back then. 

WILLIAMS:  How about some more history, Chris?  You know, look, I mean, what, a week ago, the president was disparaging my hometown, which is Baltimore, Maryland.  But let`s also remember that there was at one point in time, Baltimore was the capital of the United States.  And Baltimore also was one of probably the most instrumental states -- or cities in this country that helped build our infrastructure the way it did when we had Bethlehem Steel.  We had McCormick.  We had all these other business there`s that left the city and left the jobless rate as high as it is. 

So, he was disparaging the city that was probably one of the greatest cities this country ever had. 

MATTHEWS:  Baltimore also had the political conventions for years. 

Anyway, thank you, Montel Williams.

WILLIAMS:  Yes, sir.

MATTEHWS:  It`s great to hear your voice. 

WILLIAMS:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  I believe your stuff.

Up next, how Speaker Pelosi is trying to save the peace in Northern Ireland as Brexit threatens it. 

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  I grew up in a family with Irish on both sides.  My mother`s family was made up with the Shields, the Conroys, the Quinlans.  They were Irish-Catholic to the core.  My father`s mother, on the other hand, was a Protestant who emigrated here from Northern Ireland.  Nevertheless, the two families melded into one, and that one was comprised of my four brothers and me. 

Well, you might say we`re an early personification of the Good Friday agreement of 1998 which I was happy to cover for my old newspaper, `The San Francisco Examiner".  There are the headlines. 

What I love, of course, was being who I am is how Good Friday brought peace between the two sides, Catholic and Protestant, nationalist and unionist, and an agreement to sharing governing Northern Ireland and to solve their differences peaceably.  What I loved most was the end to the troubles, the violence that had plagued the North for years. 

Well, today there is a risk, Brexit.  The British Exit from the European Union threatens to reestablish a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, putting up that hard border places imperil the peace that`s endured these 21 years. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday said the United States will not agree to any U.S. trade deal with the U.K. if it brings back that hard border.  I`m glad to see her out there making this position clear as hell.  We Americans believe in the promise of Good Friday. 

That`s HARDBALL for now. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.