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Trump rips Fed Chair. TRANSCRIPT: 8/23/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Beto O`Rourke, David Wallace-Wells; Ben Rhodes; Jill Colvin;Michael Froman


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

President Trump is roiling financial markets today around the world, escalating his trade war with China and attacking the chair of the Federal Reserve, all this as he heads off to herald the strengths of the U.S. economy at the G7 summit this weekend in France.

Responding to a retaliatory move by China earlier today, the president tonight declared that he`s hiking U.S. tariffs on Beijing, raising existing rates, as well as those set to kick in next month.  It comes after China announced this morning that they were imposing a new round of tariffs on $75 billion worth of American goods.

The news was met with outrage at the White House where the president took to Twitter and attempted to order all American companies to cut their ties with China, all American companies, no more trade with China.  Of course, that`s ridiculous.  Trump Tweeted, we don`t need China, and, frankly, we would be better off without them.  Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies home and making your products in the USA.  Well, that`s the president this morning trumpeting powers he doesn`t possess.

However, The Washington Post points out, the White House does not have the authority to force companies to follow such directives as that.

According to the Census Bureau, the United States has $380 billion trade deficit however with China in 2018, a deficit that appears to be increasing this year.  Look at those numbers.  Trump`s Tweeting ignited a rapid sell- off on Wall Street.  Late today, the Dow, which had been in positive territory going into today, plunged suddenly and closed down 623 points just in one day, but remains near its average for the summer.

Earlier today, the president appeared to joke about the market`s decline, saying, the Dow is down, perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.  Wow, what a card.

All this comes after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said this morning, the trade policy uncertainty seems to be playing a role in the global slowdown.  Well, his speech, which was intended to reassure markets instead Trump, prompted an attack from the president.  Quote, as usual, the Fed did nothing.  It is incredible that they can speak without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly.  We have a very strong dollar and a very weak Fed.

And then in a stunning move, the president added, my only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi of China?

I`m joined by Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Adviser to President Obama, Jill Colvin, White House Reporter for The Washington Post, and Ambassador Michael Froman, who is vice chairman of Mastercard and a former U.S. trade rep in the Obama administration.  Thank you all.  This is going to be very powerful.

Let`s talk about -- I`m a big believer that the trade deficit with China has to be dealt with because China keeps making money off us, which they do by selling us some great goods.  There`s no doubt about it.  We love their stuff, especially their cotton goods and all that stuff.  But they use all that exchange they get from us to buy the rest of the world, especially Africa.  I don`t like it, Ben.  Your thoughts about what should we be doing if not this?

But let`s start with Trump.  What`s he doing?  What`s he up to?

BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER:  The problem is he doesn`t really know what he`s doing, Chris.  He has gotten into this, and the only play he`s had is to escalate this trade war with the Chinese.  But I don`t think anybody knows where this is leading.

And the Chinese have clearly decided to dig in and to match him move for move.  And the risk is that he`s not only raising prices on Americans, hurting American sectors like the agricultural sector, but he`s dragging down the entire global economy.

The way to do this, if you wanted to stand up to China`s unfair trade practices, if you wanted to stand up for American workers and businesses, is not to alienate the United States from the rest of the world and take on the Chinese alone.  It would be to rally all of our allies, the people he`s seeing at the G7, the countries that we negotiated with, that Mike Froman negotiated with in the Obama administration and Asia-Pacific region, so that we have a united front with other countries to go to the Chinese and say, you need to cut out your theft of intellectual property, you need to cut out your unfair trade practices.

MATTHEWS:  Ben, has anyone been able to do that, get the world to take on China, because they`re the big monster?  Has anybody in the -- has any president, including Obama, been able to do that?

RHODES:  Well, Chris, unfortunately, we were building up to that type of capacity.  The trade agreement that we negotiated, the transpacific partnership with a number of the leading Asia-Pacific economies, was meant to give the president of the United States greater leverage for that type of confrontation.

And I think what you need to do is you need to --

MATTHEWS:  You`re so right.  But Hillary wouldn`t go along with it.

RHODES:  And that was a mistake by Hillary.  And, frankly, I think the Democrats have to learn too, Chris, look, it`s not just about free trade, it`s about trade agreements that can work for American businesses and workers, trade agreements that are more progressive.  If voters are looking for someone who`s going to tear up trade agreements and have trade wars, they that have candidate in Donald Trump, and it`s not delivering good results.

I think Democrats can put forward a different alternative that is about rallying the world to our side.

MATTHEWS:  Ben, you`re the best.  In fact, I`m not getting into the Clinton war because there was an interesting war, because Bill Clinton, I was in Tokyo when he said he thought it was a fabulous agreement, the TTP.  And you know politics in this country.  Hillary came out against it.  I know how politics work.

Anyway, let`s go to you, Jill.  You`re with the Associated Press.  Tell me, does Trump just get petulant or does he have a strategy to really take on China?  Somebody has got to take on China.

JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS:  The president has been saying now for decades that China has been ripping the U.S. off.

MATTHEWS:  But they are.

COLVIN:  And as he stood there as we saw on the south lawn today and literally summoned the sky and said he that had been appointed, he was the chosen one to take on China.  He does feel like China has been ripping us off and feels that he wants to take them on.

MATTHEWS:  Does anyone disagree with that premise that somebody has to do it?

COLVIN:  I think that that`s a pretty -- even as the TPP agreement was trying to address, absolutely.  And so he believed he is the one to do this, and that it makes sense for him to risk some potential economic hardship in order to get that done, in order to seem strong.  But the problem is that the way he has been doing this has created the economic ripple effects across the globe that really are now threatening his re- election chances.

MATTHEWS:  Well, earlier this morning, Trump`s director of trade policy, Peter Navarro, said that China`s latest round of tariffs shouldn`t affect financial markets.  He should have call that --


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER:  $75 billion worth of tariffs in terms of, what, the combined $30 trillion economy is not something for the stock market to worry about.  And we`re cool here.


MATTHEWS:  How can you beat the Chinese?  It`s a command economy, a command society, Xi is the boss.  He can do this stuff that Trump says he think can do, tell American companies they can`t trade with China.  How do you beat them?

AMB. MICHAEL FROMAN, FORMER U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE:  Well, look, I think you organize all of your like-minded companies, Europe, Canada, Japan, major emerging economies to put pressure on China on the issues that are legitimately out there, including their overcapacity.  And that`s what we were doing at the end of the Obama administration.  You organize the countries in the region to set higher standards and higher rules for trade that China will be forced to compete with, and then use all the tools at your disposal to hold China to account for violating --

MATTHEWS:  You think China can be beaten in this war?  Because this is the 21st century, the way they`re going, they will beat us.

FROMAN:  I think they have a strategy that they`re executing on well.  I think it`s important for us to also have a strategy, including a domestic strategy that`s around investing and research and technology, lifelong learning, portable benefits, all the things we`re going to need, whether it`s trade or whether it`s technology, that`s going to affect the American worker.  We`ve got to make sure the American worker can succeed in a rapidly changing economy.

MATTHEWS:  Are we better than they in innovation?  Can we win that war that way?  We can`t win in population.  They outpopulate us, obviously.

FROMAN:  We have great universities.  We have great universities in --

MATTHEWS:  Yes, most of the great universities are here.

FROMAN:  We are a leader in innovation.  But they are also catching up quite a bit in a number of areas and according to some ahead of us in some of the areas.  So we shouldn`t be complacent about it.  And we haven`t invested in the same way domestically as they have.

MATTHEWS:  Why don`t we buy everything from Vietnam?

FROMAN:  Well, we are buying a certain amount from Vietnam.

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn`t that screw the Chinese if we said, no, we like to buy stuff from Vietnam now?

FROMAN:  Look, China is the second largest economy in the world, the first largest consumer economy in the world.  It`s important for our exporters, our companies and our workers and farmers to have access to that market.  So getting market access, leveling the playing field, having fair trade with them is important.

And I think the president has created a certain amount of leverage in his initial threatening of putting tariffs on.  But you`ve got to translate that leverage into actual agreements.  And that`s the hard part.  Because it`s easy just to impose tariffs, it`s hard to take them off.  And once tariffs are in place for a while, people get used to them.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to Ben on the politics of this thing, because I think we ought to fight with China and I think that Trump is may be doing it the wrong way.  This culture is so long-term.  Their indifference curve is so long.  They`re willing to -- they`ll take eons to get what they want to get.  And we`re thinking about Friday night, what movie we`re going to.

Let me ask you about a fight that seems to be totally dilatory, stupid.  Why is he attacking his Fed chairman so publicly?  Does he think he can get lower rates and help the economy get some more soup in it if he just bashes this guy every day on television?

RHODES:  No, Chris.  Here`s what I think is going on, right?  We are potentially heading into an economic downturn, potentially a recession, because of the reckless leadership of Donald Trump.  The tools that you would have in place to try to stimulate an economy, we don`t have those in place because Donald Trump gave away a trillion dollars in his tax bill, largely in corporate tax cuts, tax cuts to the wealthy.  The Fed already has low rates.  Donald Trump is looking for other people to blame if the recession comes, the downturn comes before his election.

So he`s set up the Fed.  He`s set up Xi Jinping.  He`s going to set up the Democrats in Congress.  Anybody but himself, the chosen one, as he says, anyone but himself to blame.  And I think that`s what this is all about, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  It sounds biblical.


MATTHEWS:  It sounds like biblical to me.

Let me ask you about something that I don`t understand.  I know Keynesian economics.  Everybody at this table knows it.  A big tax cuts means a lot more money to spend.  You spend a certain percentage of it and you`ve got an economic growth.  You have increased growth.

But what happened this time, this zillion dollar tax cut, why didn`t it work?  Why is it -- is it money just being used to buy back stock by corporate leaders.  Where did it go to, all this money, or is it sitting somewhere?

Ben, it`s a tough question.  Why did it not work?

RHODES:  Well, because it wasn`t designed, right, to -- it was designed to go to the wealthy and to corporations.  It wasn`t designed to get people, to put money in people`s pockets.  It wasn`t designed for the middle class.  It wasn`t designed to boost consumer spending in this country.  It was designed to reward, frankly, corporations and wealthy backers of this president who put that money away.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what are the billionaire -- they use that Sanders` accent, what are the billionaires and millionaires doing with it all?  They got it in their bank accounts?  Do you know where the money is?  Who got the money?

COLVIN:  I don`t know.

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Ambassador, where did the money -- you`re an economics guy.  Where did all those zillions of dollars that we gave away from the Federal Treasury, basically, to soup up the economy so Trump would get a good re- election?  Well, he`s not the only loser here.  The American people have lost with this money going out the door.

FROMAN:  I think we`re very fortunate that the economy is actually quite resilient and we`re ten years into a recovery and consumer spending continues to be fairly strong.


FROMAN:  An economist will generally say, trees don`t grow inside (ph).

MATTHEWS:  Are we facing two quarters of declining GDP, which is a recession?

FROMAN:  We don`t know yet.


FROMAN:  But the question will be what triggers it if it happens, and the kind of trade tensions we`re seeing could be one of those factors that --

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it looks like.  And despite the co-dependence, by the way, between the companies that make up the global economy, the president gloated that the U.S. economy is doing well while others are not.  We`re the only ones doing well, he says.

He said on Twitter, the economy is strong and good whereas the rest of the world isn`t doing so well.  Plus, The Washington Post described it that despite signs of a homegrown slowdown, Trump at least publicly maintains U.S. is immune to the weak and economic trends rattling other countries.

Then the president accused his enemies of conspiring to crash the U.S. economy, saying, quote, despite this, the fake news media together with their, the Democratic Party, that`s partisan talk, are working overtime to convince people that they are in or will soon be going into a recession.  They are willing to lose their wealth or a big part of it just for the possibility of winning the election.

I don`t know what to say about that.  You`re not political and you`re not political.  I`ve got to go back to Ben on this.  First of all, I think there`s a point there that the press likes to be ahead on the story.  Nobody wants to be behind on the story.  The story right now is could there be a recession?  Trump says that`s beating down the economy.  Your thoughts, the press is beating down the economy.

RHODES:  Again, Chris, he`s just looking for someone to blame.  Because what he`s getting, some of this data, he`s seeing the writing on the wall, his actions have brought this about.  His erratic leadership, his trade war with China, the rattling of the markets, right, this tax bill that did nothing to really address the fundamental problems in the economy, whether that`s wage stagnation or whether that`s the investments that Mike mentioned that should be made and the research and innovative base of this country, right.  So he is just looking for scapegoats.  He`s looking for people to blame.

I think, for the Democrats, it`s a very simple message, right?  This guy didn`t take care of you.  He said he was going to look out for you, Chris, those people you were always talking about in Pennsylvania.  Instead of looking out for you, he looked out for the wealthiest Americans.  He looked out for corporations.  And meanwhile, you`re the one who is getting hit.  Your wages aren`t going up.  And your student loans are still going up.  Your retirement security is still elusive.  The price of healthcare is going up.

So even though he spent a trillion dollars on this tax bill, things are not getting better for the people who are struggling in this economy.  And I think the Democrats need to be making that message forcefully.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I wish he was making a forceful message like you just did.  He ought to be pushing people who have the cash, if they`re swirling in cash right now, the big guys, use it to build new plant and equipment and to be as optimistic on the economy, as Trump talks, as he talks.

Thank you, Ambassador Mike Froman.  Thank you for your service to the country.  Ben, thank you as well.  But you and Jill are sticking with us.

Coming up next, Trump versus the world.  He loves this fight.  I`ll fight anybody in the house for a dollar.

Remember this photo from the last year`s G7 summit?  There he is, looking at there, like -- this is like one of those pictures you saw in bar windows, like one of the Republican presidents in there fighting with all the Democrats.  He`s sitting there with his arms crossed defiantly in front of other world leaders.  I`ll put my money on Merkel.

Anyway, well, here we go again.  America`s allies are bracing for another contentious summit, a stormy one over there in France, and trying to figure out how to keep Trump from blowing it up.  That`s their concern.

And presidential contender Beto O`Rourke joins us live tonight.  His strategy for winning the nomination, he`s going after Trump.

We`ve got much more to get to.  Stay with us.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

After escalating a trade war, we just talked about that, with China and inciting chaos here at home, President Trump now takes his road show across the Atlantic.  Tonight, the president departs for France.  And the G7, and our allies brace for a stormy summit.

French President Emmanuel Macron now wonders how to handle Trump.  The Washington Post reports, France`s main objectives as host of this weekend`s Group of Seven summit is to minimize the chances that President Trump will blow it up.  There may be troubles ahead as world leaders talk global trade, Iran, and climate change, including the fires raging right now in the Amazon rain forest, which is really scary.

On top of all that, President Trump is pushing for Russia to be added back into the group, once again, acting as an agent for Russia.  Does the conspiracy go on?  You`ve got to ask yourself, how did he get the job of lobbyist or ambassador for Russia?  He`s still doing it.

President Trump, Macron, by the way, says it`s not going to happen unless Russia gets its hands off Ukraine, which is unlikely.  Russia was kicked out of the G7 when it annexed Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014.

Well, here again, the past is prologue.  Look at this picture from last year`s summit in Canada that displays the diplomatic discord of that gathering.  Look at them.  President Trump visibly surrounded and opposed by all the other world leaders.  Look at that.  Of course, John Bolton is there at his side.

Trump left that summit early.  He left early and announced in a Tweet from Air Force One that he would not be signing the official communique, the end-of-meeting communique, because he was angry with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. 

Well, French President Macron is making sure that won`t happen in France, saying there will not be an end-of-meeting communique this year, for the first time ever, because, as Macron said, Trump won`t agree.  It`s pointless. 

Well, back with me are Ben Rhodes and Jill Colvin.  And joining me right now is Eugene Robinson, of course, columnist.

I want to start with Gene on this one. 

And I just -- I`m just stunned.  He`s the bull in the china shop who hauls the china shop with him wherever he goes.


MATTHEWS:  Why does he have to play John McEnroe everywhere he goes? 

ROBINSON:  Well, he loves it.

MATTHEWS:  What is good he`s getting?

ROBINSON:  Well, number one, he thinks it`s his brand.  Right?  It`s his brand to be a nationalist.  It`s his brand to be, I am America against the world.  We don`t need the rest of the world.  We don`t need these cheese eaters, you know?

And that picture that we showed, I mean, he`s loving it.  He`s the center of attention.  He`s loving that moment, where they`re all having to appeal to him to do something, and he`s saying no. 


ROBINSON:  He just eats that up.  He gets, I think, a satisfaction out of that.  And...

MATTHEWS:  Except for one guy.  He loves Boris Johnson, the other guy with the hair, the other story, the other wild picture.  He wants the other wild man. 


ROBINSON:  He`s not going to love Boris quite as much as he thinks. 

They`re going to get along.  And Boris is a performer like Trump.  I knew him a little bit when I was in London.  He was a journalist then. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Boris, he was. 

ROBINSON:  A hack, actually, but he was...


MATTHEWS:  He wasn`t reliable on facts, was he? 

ROBINSON:  No, he was not reliable on facts. 

MATTHEWS:  I didn`t think so.

ROBINSON:  But, you know, he`s a performer, a politician performer, like Trump.  And so they will get that.  And he`s also a nationalist. 


MATTHEWS:  Gene, you know who else was a journalist and started that way? 

ROBINSON:  Who else?

MATTHEWS:  Benito Mussolini. 



MATTHEWS:  Same guy.

ROBINSON:  It can go wrong.

But Boris Johnson is still basically a European.  He`s not going to agree with Trump on a lot of things.  He doesn`t agree with him on bringing Russia back in, for example. 


ROBINSON:  He knows about this little unpleasantness in Ukraine.  He`s read history. 


MATTHEWS:  He wrote history.  He wrote the great book on Churchill.  Yes. 

ROBINSON:  So, if Trump thinks he`s coming, you know, to meet a Mini-Me, Boris isn`t exactly going to be that. 

MATTHEWS:  No, the guy down in Brazil is. 

ROBINSON:  Yes.  Bolsonaro, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, we`re going to get to that a little later in the show, anyway, the rain forest. 

Ben, here`s -- this is your line of country.  I have to tell you, Trump acts like -- if they don`t have the dossier on him, if they don`t have video of the hotel scenes, why is he acting like this? 

Why is he going over to France with a number one goal of getting Russia back in?  Why has he got this lobbying job for Russia? 

RHODES:  Chris, it`s absolutely mystifying. 

MATTHEWS:  Or not. 

RHODES:  Well, yes. 

I was there when we kicked Russia out of the G8, and I can tell you, that was a unanimous decision of all the other countries because they had invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine.  And the fact is, you go to these summits -- I went to eight of them -- to meet with your allies and to make strategies on the issues around the world that you agree with these countries about, and you`re just trying to figure out how to solve problems. 

Russia would be a spoiler in that mix.  The only thing I can think of, Chris, is, obviously, he`s carrying Putin`s water.  He`s doing exactly what Putin wants, which is trying to divide the West, trying to divide the Democratic world so that Russia can take advantage of that division. 

And it seems like he`s just so eager to meet with Putin.  Remember, he invited him to the White House.  And he couldn`t go through with that because he got so much political blowback.  He`s always very happy to meet with him at the G20.  Makes fun of reporters sitting next to Vladimir Putin, even though Vladimir Putin has had reporters killed. 

And it seems like he`s eager to get Russia in another meeting, so he has another chance to meet with Vladimir Putin. 

But the thing is, we need this G7 really badly.  Just right now, look at the international crises, the trade war with China, climate change and the Amazon on fire, Iran re-accumulating stockpiled nuclear weapons, North Korea firing off missiles.

These are the things that you want to talk to these countries about.  And instead of thinking about those things, our allies are thinking about, how do we prevent the United States from blowing up the summit?

It`s a sign of just how far the United States has fallen in terms of our standing in the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump is again criticizing our allies he`s planning to meet with. 

At a rally last week, the president said this about the European Union:


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The European Union is worse than China, just smaller.  It treats us horribly.  Barriers, tariffs, taxes.  And we let them come in. 


MATTHEWS:  And last month, the president threatened to place tariffs on French wine in response to the country`s new tax affecting technology countries -- companies. 

And, by the way, here`s what Trump tweeted: "I have always said American wine is better than French wine."

Now, the question there -- and it`s a legitimate one -- he doesn`t drink. 

COLVIN:  Yes, but he said that the labels on the bottles look prettier, and that that`s what makes it good. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, that`s smart.

COLVIN:  Also, he happens to own a vineyard in Virginia, OK, of course, so there`s a business interest. 

MATTHEWS:  But why does he make statements that don`t mean anything? 

COLVIN:  You know what?  This is, I think, just a fascinating pattern. 

In addition to that kind of mic drop moment that the president did in Canada when he was leaving, he just has this -- I don`t know why he does it. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s such a generational thing you`re doing here, Jill, the mic drop.  That`s new. 

COLVIN:  Do that.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Go ahead.  Go ahead. 

COLVIN:  But he has this thing where every time, it seems, he goes to visit one of these summits, he goes to an allied nation...


MATTHEWS:  What is it?  You cover this guy.  What`s his psyche?

COLVIN:  What he likes to do is create these moments of conflict.  I think he thinks that it generates attention.  He doesn`t really like spending time at these summits.  He finds them quite boring.

He often tries to ask staff to get him out of them because he doesn`t want to go.  And so he creates all of this drama before he arrives. 

You saw just this week he threatened to release ISIS prisoners into European nations, into the country`s allies.  He had this spat now with Denmark, where he is furious about his inability to buy Greenland. 


MATTHEWS:  Excuse me.  Does he hate the very idea of equality, of him sitting at a table with six other leaders?  Does the very idea of that run against him? 

COLVIN:  Well, the president certainly prefers trips where he`s sort of hailed as this glorious figure, where there`s all the pomp and circumstance, countries like countries like China that really roll out the red carpet. 


ROBINSON:  But with the drama, he scripts an episode.  He`s scripting an episode.  He does it.  We should be used to that by now.  He approaches every day, every meeting, every encounter like an episode of a reality show. 

And that act is old.  But we should expect that by now. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, to your point, Jill, the G7 also comes on the heels of the president`s feud with Denmark this week. 

The president pulled out of a state visit after Denmark`s prime minister called Trump`s desire to purchase Greenland absurd. 

Well, the other G7 leaders have surely taken notice.  According to "The New York Times" -- quote -- "Most of the other leaders of the Group of 7 powers will no doubt save their eye-rolling for when he`s not looking.  But they have come to see -- they have come to see the mercurial behavior as the new norm by the president."

Ben, Greenland.  I sometimes think -- I`m not a Trump hater.  I know I disagree with most of what he does, but I got to tell you something.  There`s a part of him that is simply an 8-year-old.  Some people say 11- year-old. 

Gee whiz, I`m looking at the board game, it`s "Monopoly," and I saw this big acquisition I can make here.  I can buy -- Broad -- I can buy Park Place or whatever it is.  I can buy this.  I will buy Greenland. 

It`s just -- they`re never going to sell it.  Why does -- what do you make of this, this strange behavior?  It`s not going to happen. 

RHODES:  Yes, this one is particularly crazy. 

And here the thing, though, Chris.  As someone who had to work on foreign policy and think about our relationships around the world, we`re kind of laughing at this stuff here.  They`re not around the world.  They`re thinking, like, what happened to America?  How did they elect this person?  Who is this person? 

And I should add, too, yes, it`s true, he likes to go and create drama at the summits.  Not when he`s going to see dictators, not when he`s going to see Kim Jong-un, not when he`s sitting down -- he tries to get along with Vladimir Putin every time he sees him.

It`s peculiarly only with Democratic allies that he exhibits this behavior.  And that`s what`s so worrying to me.  I think he`s a nationalist.  He`s a man with authoritarian tendencies.  He`s more comfortable around people who are also like that, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un.

He`s comfortable in their company, not in the company of our European allies, our closest allies in the world there, Justin Trudeau, or Shinzo Abe from Japan. 

That`s what`s so distressing about this.

MATTHEWS:  You`re so smart.


RHODES:  And the rest of the world is seeing this.

MATTHEWS:  Gene, I want to let you talk, answer this.

ROBINSON:  He`s right. 

  MATTHEWS:  Because World War II, with all its horror, 50 million dead, something good called a world order, because, before that, little countries didn`t matter. 

Germany could gobble up Czechoslovakia, gobble up Poland.  It was just Stalin and the USSR, Germany, the Japanese, us, and the big boys decided everything.  And the little countries had to live with it. 

It seems like Trump wants that back. 

ROBINSON:  Right. 

He seems to want a sort of sphere of influence world of great powers, where you have the United States and you have China in a lesser role over there, and you have -- you know, who cares about Europe? 

It`s a tragic mistake, I think.  The institutions and alliances that were created after the Second World War were spectacularly successful, and you know, at keeping the peace, at generating prosperity.  It`s a system that worked very well, not perfectly, but very well.

MATTHEWS:  And it was bipartisan, too.  It was bipartisan. 

ROBINSON:  It was bipartisan.  Donald Trump doesn`t understand any of that.  He certainly doesn`t believe in it.  And Ben is absolutely right.  He`s much more comfortable with Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin. 

MATTHEWS:  Who would have believed in 1945, at the end of all that hell, that Germany would be a great democracy, that Japan would be a great democracy, and all this, and Europe would be united?


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Ben Rhodes.  Sir, it`s great to have you on.  And thank you for your service too. 

Jill Colvin, thank you from the Associated Press, and Eugene Robinson, one of our great colleagues here.

Up next, 2020 presidential contender Beto O`Rourke is ready to play HARDBALL.  I hope I said it right.

And still ahead, the massive wildfires destroying the Amazon, the French president calls it a global crisis.  I doubt Trump -- Trump doesn`t even understand what this is, the lungs of our planet down there. 

Don`t go anywhere.  We`re back after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Today, the Democratic field of 2020 candidates shrunk by one, as Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton ended his presidential campaign.  Moulton`s the fourth candidate to drop out so far, following Swalwell, Hickenlooper, and Inslee. 

Well, many of the remaining candidates spend the day campaigning at a Democratic summer meeting out in San Francisco. 

Former Congressman Beto O`Rourke, however, was in Texas with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was severely wounded in a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, visiting with victims today of recent mass -- the recent mass shooting in El Paso, of course. 

There they are in the hospital. 

In an interview with "The New York Times" last week, O`Rourke said he would detach his travel from the primary calendar and plan his political activities around confronting Mr. Trump, in direct and personal terms. 

Here he was today on the importance of connecting Trump`s rhetoric to hate crimes. 


BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If I don`t connect the dots, then I am in part culpable for the next mass shooting animated by the president`s racism. 

So we have got to call that out.  And we have got to make those connections clear to our fellow Americans, who themselves may have not understood how the president`s rhetoric, his language, his laughter when somebody at one of his rallies says "Shoot them" when talking about how we stop the invasion he`s been warning us of when it comes to immigrants in this country. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, the president has been all over the place on gun control, of course, promising action on background checks right after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, only to later retreat on that promise. 

Well, earlier this week, he seemed more focused on whether or not the El Paso victims liked him than what they wanted from him on gun control. 


QUESTION:  Are you talking to victims of mass shootings to talk -- to ask them what they want?

TRUMP:  I did.  I went to the hospitals.  I will tell you this.  I went to the hospitals.  It was totally falsely reported. 

And, frankly, you want to know the truth?  They love their president.  And nobody wrote that.  Nobody wrote that, because you didn`t write the truth.  "New York Times" doesn`t like to write the truth.

QUESTION:  Sir, what...

TRUMP:  But they love -- they totally love our country.  And they do love our president. 

Like, nobody would meet with me.  Not only did they meet with me.   They were pouring out of the room. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, last night, Trump tweeted: "I am hopeful Congress will engage with my team to pass meaningful legislation that will take a -- make a real difference, and, most importantly, save lives."

I`m joined right now by former Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Beto O`Rourke. 

Beto, thank you so much for joining us tonight. 

And let`s talk about your -- what you have been saying.  You said that the president`s words have animated this violence.  Explain the connection between words and shooting people. 

O`ROURKE:  When he was making his case to the country, announcing his candidacy for the presidency, he talks about Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, repeatedly warned of invasions from Mexico and Central America, called asylum seekers animals, called them killers, called them predators, put their children in cages, deported their parents back to the very countries from which they fled. 

And you talked about this a little bit in the run-up to this interview.  At that rally in May in Florida, when he`s warning of this invasion, and he says, how do we stop these people, someone yells out, "Shoot them."


O`ROURKE:  And the crowd roars their approval, and he smiles.  He says this is OK. 

And in the face of gun violence that has claimed 40,000 lives just in the last year, he`s done nothing.  He`s complicit, actually corrupted by the NRA.  So he`s driving a lot of this violence. 

And I want to make clear, racism in America did not start with Donald Trump. 


O`ROURKE:  But he`s given it new life.  He`s welcomed it into the open, and along with that, the violence that drove somebody literally 600 miles from Allen, Texas, to El Paso to kill 22 people in the city. 

So we have got to connect those dots, or we`re not going to stop the next mass shooting or the next act of domestic terrorism inspired by white supremacy. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think he`s up to when he does this?  Because he`s -- the president is not stupid.  He knows how words work.  He knows how to rev up a crowd, when he says hit them on the way out.

Remember that?  He would do that to any protester.  He would yell at the people, rough them up.  The police, he says, don`t worry about banging their heads on the roof of the car when you put them in the squad car. 

He almost prescribes violence. 

O`ROURKE:  Yes. 

I mean, part of the genius of this country is, more or less, we`re able to resolve our differences peacefully, democratically.  I got a lot of hell from going to his inauguration in 2017.  And I said, I go not to celebrate the man, but the fact that we can still pull this off more than 240 years later. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, good point.

O`ROURKE:  And yet he`s going to fundamentally destroy this ability for us to disagree in an agreeable manner, inviting that violence, telling people of color to go back to their own country, though they were born here, though they`re U.S. citizens in America. 

The day he signs his ban on Muslim travel to the U.S., the mosque in Victoria, Texas, burned to the ground.  A gunman walks into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh raving about caravans financed by wealthy Jewish Americans.

The president of the United States raving about caravans, and when asked if George Soros is funding them, says, who knows, maybe he is. 

So you`re right.  This guy knows exactly what he`s doing. 


O`ROURKE:  What he`s doing is ripping apart an already divided country and inviting violence into our politics and into our communities. 

Latinos here in El Paso, throughout America now feel like they have a target on their back, in large part thanks to Donald Trump. 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about your fight in the primary.  You have moved up a bit.  You`re getting a little -- breaking from the lower pack.  You`re in a category of your own, really, I think, in sort of the third tier.  You may not like to hear it, but you are moving up. 

And my question is this.  If this all ends at the end of next May, and the Democrat -- because Seth Moulton just dropped out of the race and said he`s fearful this will happen -- and the Democratic Party picks a nominee that appears, whether they are or not, very left, and the American electorate, which is generally centrist, has to choose between Trump, who is awful to a lot of people, and someone they`re very much afraid of because they`re so far left, do you worry about that, like Seth Moulton, who is worried, when he quit the race today?

O`ROURKE:  Chris, I`m so focused on being that nominee, on being able to carry Texas and its 38 Electoral College votes, revving up, not just Democrats, but bringing independents and Republicans as well who no longer have a home in the party of Donald Trump, much the way we did in Texas. 

MATTHEWS:  Will you carry Texas?  If you get the nomination, will you carry Texas? 

O`ROURKE:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Beto O`Rourke, thank you for joining me. 

O`ROURKE:  Absolutely.

Yes, I think we... 

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

O`ROURKE:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Last thought.

O`ROURKE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you so much, Beto O`Rourke, because that is one hell of a plan. 

Anyway, up next:  The Amazon rain forest, which has been called the lungs of the Earth for all kinds of environmental reasons, really is important to the whole globe, it`s burning up. 

Foreign leaders are calling it a global crisis, which it is, saying it should be a top priority at the G7 this week.  But the president of Brazil, who is sort of mini-Trump, tells everybody to mind their own business.  What happens next? 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Tonight, in what looks like a scene from an apocalyptic movie, dozens of fires continue to rage throughout the Amazon, ravaging thousands of acres of forest, charring a region regarded as the lungs of the planet. 

Look at it.  The Amazon is home to a 10th of all species of plants and animals on the Earth.  It`s also home to a million indigenous people.  The Amazon also helps absorb massive amount of carbon dioxide, which helps combat the rise of global temperatures. 

According to Brazil`s National Institute for Space Research, since January, almost 73,000 acres have been ravaged by fires.  That`s an 83 percent increase in damage compared to the same period last year.  There was fires last year.

On Tuesday, the same institute said it registered a new fire in the Amazon every minute. 

The cause of the fires is unclear, but the Amazon Environmental Research Institute has stated that a recent increase in the number of fires is directly related to deliberate deforestation. 

The intense fires sent smoke and soot thousands of miles away, plunging Brazil`s largest city, Sao Paulo, into  -- there it is -- midday darkness.  If that`s not climate change in your face, what is? 

Brazil`s President Bolsonaro, an incendiary figure, was elected on the promise to open the Amazon to development, has rebuffed the public outcry over the fires.  Instead, he`s accused, without evidence -- quote -- "left- wing nongovernmental organizations" of setting the fires, and claimed that the media is exploiting the situation to undermine his government. 

Who does he sound like? 

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is hosting the G7 this weekend, called the wildfires an international crisis, tweeting: "Our house is burning, literally.  The Amazon rain forest, the lungs which produce 20 percent of our planet`s oxygen, is on fire."

Bolsonaro respond by accusing Macron of trying to seek personal gain from Brazil`s internal matters and accused Macron of engaging in colonialist mentality.

But scientists warn of dire consequences for Brazil and the world if the Brazilian government doesn`t get control of the fires very soon. 

And that`s coming up next. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

After initially telling reporters that the government lacked the resources to fight the fires in the Amazon rain forest, and now under increasing international pressure, Brazilian President Bolsonaro late today signed an order deploying federal troops finally to battle the fires. 

This comes amid dire warnings from scientists that say losing just 20 percent of Brazil`s rain forest could accelerate global warming. 

As "Business Insider" reports -- quote -- "These fires, coupled with deforestation losses, could destroy so many trees, that they trigger a doomsday scenario for the world`s largest rain forest called a dieback.  The process would turn the Amazon into an African savanna-type landscape.  The tropical trees and the fauna they support would disappear, releasing up to 140 billion tons of stored carbon into the atmosphere and causing an uptick in already rising global temperatures."

My God.

For more, I`m joined by David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor at "New York Magazine," author of "The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming."

Well, David, tell us as bad as it looks to you, because we don`t know.  The American viewer watching right now wants to know why this is so dire. 

DAVID WALLACE-WELLS, DEPUTY EDITOR, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE":  It just undermines everything that we want to do to stabilize the planet`s climate.  Every tree that`s on the planet sucks carbon out of the air and produces oxygen, which means it`s basically our best tool in combating climate change.

And the Amazon is the biggest collection of that plant life out there.  It`s doing the most photosynthesis and sucking all that carbon out of the atmosphere. 

That means that even -- even before we get to a dieback scenario, where the Amazon collapses into a savanna, which is still a ways away, all of those trees which store carbon are today burning, releasing carbon into the atmosphere. 

It`s as though we`re having huge coal plants going out of control in the Amazon in a place that used to actually absorb carbon.  So we`re -- we don`t have to wait for this to impact our climate change hopes.  It`s already undermining them quite dramatically today.

MATTHEWS:  Well, put it altogether. 

When we see these giant icebergs breaking off from the Arctic, and we look at that in that part of the world, and we look at the warfare going on in the Horn of Africa and we see it all, isn`t this the sign from God or whoever that this is happening, it`s all happening, it`s not scientific theory, we`re watching it? 

WALLACE-WELLS:  I think the last couple years have showed us exactly that. 

Every summer now, we`re having record heat waves.  We`re about -- Europe is about to have its third record heat wave already this summer.  They set records.  Then, a week later, they records again.  And now, a month later, we`re going to set records again.  There are extreme heat records now being set in China. 

We`re having, in places like Mozambique, historic storms followed a month later by storms that are just as bad.  We`re having unprecedented wildfires, not just in the Amazon, as we`re talking about, but in California and the Arctic Circle. 

In Siberia, there were fires that burned through an area of the size of Austria just a few weeks ago. 

And this was, as you say, just a few years ago, something that we could only read about in predictions and projections.  Now we`re seeing it every night on our TV screens.  And that`s because the world is now, at just 1.1 degrees of warming, hotter than it`s ever been in all of human history. 

And we`re almost certain to get almost twice as much warming as we have today, and if we don`t do anything about it, perhaps three or four times as much warming, which would produce truly catastrophic outcomes for the planet, the total loss of those ice sheets, which could mean 260 feet of sea level rise.

We could have a global GDP by the end of the century that was 30 percent smaller than it would be without climate change, which is an impact that`s twice as deep as the Great Depression, and it would be permanent, and then many, many more impacts besides.

Now, those impacts are still a century away, and there`s a lot we can do to avoid them.  But the impacts that are much closer are just as scary.  At just two degrees, which is likely where we will be at in 2040 or 2040, many of the biggest cities in South Asia and the Middle East will be literally unlivably hot in summer.  You won`t be able to go outside during summer without dying. 

That`s why the U.N. thinks that we could have 200 million climate refugees just by 2050.  They actually think it`s possible we could have a billion, which is as many people as today to live in North and South America combined. 

I think those estimates are a little high, but even if you take the low end figure, divide it in half, it`s still literally 100 times as big as the European refugee crisis that was produced by the Syrian civil war, which has totally scrambled the politics of that continent. 

And I think that`s one of the really interesting emerging stories we`re seeing in this Amazon rain forest news cycle, but also more broadly, which is how global geopolitics is playing into this crisis, how -- not just how will politics respond, but how will climate force the hand of our leaders and perhaps push us into -- in directions we never anticipated.

The kinds of pressure that Macron is talking about and is probably -- will probably be applied at the G7, this is something that no leaders contemplated just a few years ago, imposing sanctions or suspending trade deals in order to push leaders into line on the climate. 

I think -- personally, I think it`s necessary, but it`s also a completely different world politically that we were living in even just a few years ago with the signing of the Paris accords.

MATTHEWS:  Let`s speak -- let`s talk about out politics. 

We have so-called populist leaders like Bolsonaro in Brazil, Trump in the United States.  We have nationalist right-wing leaders in Hungary and places like that in Europe.  They`re exploiting anger over cultural change, over immigration, at the same time they`re fanning the flames literally of the reason for the immigration. 

WALLACE-WELLS:  Yes.  It`s a really toxic cocktail. 

And I think that phenomenon all around the world, and it`s especially tragic when you think about it in terms of climate change, in the sense that if you had to imagine a global threat that was big enough, all- encompassing enough and serious enough to really call the world into coordinated global action, climate change would be it. 

That`s how big it is.  That`s how dangerous it is.  And yet we`re facing this catastrophe, this crisis, precisely at the moment when so many of the world`s leader are retreating from those arrangements and those alliances, pulling back into nativism and xenophobia and a sort of narrowly defined sense of self-interest, which is exactly what Bolsonaro is doing with the Amazon.

His country can benefit enormously economically by exploiting the resources of that region, in part because of trade deals with countries in the E.U. and the U.S.  We`re essentially paying Brazil to deforest the Amazon. 

But it`s also the case that he`s -- that Brazil is only going to have to shoulder a very small slice of the burden for what happens.  The rest of the world will have to deal with most of it. 


WALLACE-WELLS:  And so we need a kind of a system, I think, to evolve in which we line up these incentives, so that each individual nation is not encouraged to behave badly for their own narrow benefit, while the rest of the world suffers. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  David, thank you so much. 

The social costs are well beyond the costs to that country. 

Thank you so much.  You`re a very compelling spokesman for the need to act.  Thank you so much, David Wallace-Wells from Europe.

We`re back after this.  You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s HARDBALL for now.

Up next, a special edition of "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" in front of a live studio audience. 

That starts right now.