tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC August 6, 2018 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
rick gates, testimony today, as someone following russia, does it strike you as an important day? >> it is. ient dothink it's as important right this second because it's ultimately about paul manafort's financial dealings. but he will also have a lot of information about manafort's connection to russia and his connection to trump. >> rob reiner, you can handle it. you can handle the truth. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> that is our show, "the beat." "hardball" starts now. trump feels the heat. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm steve kornacki in new york in for chris matthews. we're following a couple big stories tonight. in a federal courthouse in alexandria, the prosecution's star witness took the stand today in the trial of paul manafort. rick gates was manafort's protege, and today, he told jurors that he committed crimes
with manafort. we're going to have the latest on that dramatic development very shortly. we begin, though, with donald trump's story on his son's 2016 meeting with russians at trump tower. on sunday, the president again acknowledged the meeting was set up to get dirt on hillary clinton. the president tweeting, this was a meeting to get information on an opponent. totally legal and done all the time in politics. and it went nowhere. i did not know about it. in addition to donald trump jr., paul manafort, and jared kushner were also present at the meeting, which was with a well connected russian attorney, natalia veselnitskaya and four other people with russian ties. the president's son was promised official dumentds and information that would incriminate hillary. in agreeing to the meeting, donald jr. said if it's what you say, i love it. that response suggested at least a willingness to collude on trump jr.'s part. this even as the trump team has
continued to insist there was no actual collusion. when that trump tower meeting was revealed last summer, trump world claimed it was about adoption. >> there was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for discussion about adoption and the magnitsky act. >> but then there's the president's son, forced to confirm that the meeting was set up under the pretense of providing information to the campaign on hillary clinton. trump jr. saying last year, veselnitskaya, quote, stated she had information on hillary clinton. also, he insists no details or supporting information was provided or even offered. >> when you read the parts about the russian government or russia supporting your father, did that put off any sirens in your head? >> honestly, i don't know. just basic information that was going to be possibly there. >> my son is a wonderful young man. he took a meeting with a russian
lawyer. not a government lawyer, but a russian lawyer. i think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. it's called opposition research or even research into your opponent. >> the president's decision to tweet this weekend reignites the controversy over that meeting and all of the questions around it which could be central to robert mueller's investigation. while the president insists the meeting with russian interests to obtain information on his opponent would be, quote, totally legal, the associated press notes that federal campaign finance law makes it illegal for a political campaign to accept a thing of value from foreign nationals. and it's possible the a.p. says that opposition research, though not in and of itself illegal, could be considered in that category for these purposes. for more, i'm joined by robert costa, "washington post" national political reporter, susan page, washington bureau chief for usa today. michael steele, former chairman of the rnc, and daniel alonzo, former federal prosecutor.
robert costa, let me start with you. just what do we know, we say it's the president reigniting this controversy with a tweet over the weekend. what do we know about the context of the tweet? why did he decide to send it, what was his state of mind? what was the stimulus for that? what do you know about it? >> the president didn't make this tweet in a vacuum. he's facing numerous political and legal challenges on the horizon. this week, will his legal team agree to a sit-down with robert mueller and his investigators or not? will mueller issue a subpoena? he knows the manafort trial is ongoing. he's been increasingly frustrated about the news coverage of that whole experience. based on our reporting over the weekend. and so you have a president also seeing the legal spotlight because of what michael cohen's legal team is talking about privately. his son is being brought back into the headlines. it's getting personal for president trump. >> what do you know, robert? do you know anything in terms of what folks around the president, specifically, i guess, his attorney, rudy giuliani. what do they think of tweeting?
something this explosive, is that something they're signing off on, is that something they're warning him not to do? is that something they're saying afterwards, please don't do this in the future? >> i was talking to mayor giuliani five minutes ago. and he reiterates every time you have a conversation with him as a source, someone who is the president's chief lawyer, he can't control the president's tweets. he works with the president, thinks through the strategy, but he's relying on president trump to be mounting a public war against mueller, to be the public messenger, because the white house as an operation is not really taking any kind of lead here. it's the president, giuliani, together with jay sekulow, the other lawyer in the president's legal team, thinking through how can they take an ax to mueller and that entire operation. >> so susan page, if that's the strategy, if that's the thinking here that rely on trump, use that platform, use twitter as robert says to try to take an ax to robert mueller, are they achieving that at all? >> well, you know, this is not a
legal strategy. this is a political strategy. it seems to me it's designed not to help the president when it comes to his legal troubles with robert mueller. in fact, it's likely to make them worse. it's designed to set a different kind of landscape for anything that mr. mueller finds out to be received, to convince at least his own supporters that nothing -- it wasn't illegal or anybody does that, and by the way, i didn't know anything about it. these are -- this is an attempt to set a context where people won't take seriously or at least won't be convinced that if there are serious -- if there's a serious report from robert mueller, which is what we expect, they should take it with a grain of salt. we know from polling that president trump's core supporters are persuaded by this, that they're inclined to believe this is a witch hunt. and that he's being treated unfairly. whatever the findings of the special counsel turn out to be. >> and dan, you look at this through the lens of yourself being a former prosecutor. how does a prosecutor, how might somebody in mueller's shoes look
at donald trump's tweet this weekend? how would they read that? >> well, it depends. for one thing, it could be seen as what they call a false exculpatory statement or could be seen as suddenly communicating a message to witnesses out there, saying this is just opposition research. and that happens with some regularity. it's not that uncommon. you kind of ignore the rest of the equation, which is okay, fine, it's great to get opposition research when you're a candidate, but what about the part where these are foreign nationals and federal election law says you're not supposed to get something of value from a foreign national? good question. is this something of value? is dirt something of value? >> i think that's the other question, then, too. is there, from a legal standpoint, if mueller is taking a look at this, established now, it seems in the public record, was an intent or an openness to collude. the e-mails telling trump jr., hey, look, we got something on clinton, and trump jr. saying great, let's have a meeting. there was an openness to it. how much of a legal standpoint hinges on whether something was
actually exchanged in the meeting? >> it's the whole thing. you could imagine the defense trump wanted dirt on hillary desperately, but didn't think for a minute there was a problem with dealing with a foreign national. the whole point is the foreign national given something of value. that might be the opposition research, it might be as creative as the opposition research cost a lot of money so it does have a monetary value. a lot of times the cases hinge on monetary value, not on the more intangible value we have here. >> when the news broke about the president's son holding the meeting with someone promising him damaging information about hillary clinton, a number of the president's aides and allies came to his defense. at first, they ignored the president was involved. >> he certainly didn't dictate, but he, like i said, he weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do. >> the president didn't sign off on anything. >> eventually, those aides began to walk that back. yesterday, jay sekulow, the president's personal lawyer, was
asked about his earlier comments. this is what he told abc. >> why did you deny president trump's involvement? when did you learn the denial wasn't true? >> well, let me tell you two things on that. number one, as you know, i was in the case, as you know, a couple weeks. there was a lot of information gathering. as rudy giuliani said, i had bad information at that point. i made a mistake in my statement. >> michael steele, again, this is about the initial explanation that was offered by trump world, and donald trump apparently dictating that statement, saying hey, that meeting, it was about adoptions. nothing to see. i guess it points to a bigger question. i'm curious as a republican looking ahead to these elections. you have what robert costa laid out in terms of why the folks around trump, why somebody like rudy giuliani wants him publicly being out there in the middle of it, mixing it up like this. from a republican candidate's perspective this year, somebody running for office in trump's party, in a competitive election. how do they want him handling it? do they see benefit to him being
out there trying to sort of poison the jury or do they want him saying absolutely nothing? >> it depends on how you define competitive. if you're talking about competitive in a plus 20, plus 30 congressional dict, yeah, you'll run with trump all day long because that's largely where the base in the district is, and it doesn't matter the democratic opposition that may come. you still have -- you have the cushion, if you will, to withstand whatever they do or however they try to nationalize the election. in fact, you will likely nationalize the election yourself. you know, if you're talking about something where it's a little closer, it's a different conversation. if you're in a plus-three, plus-five congressional district, you are going to walk a little differently. you're not necessarily going to nationalize it. you're going do keep it local and you don't want to necessarily bring the president's problems into your district because, like we see in a number of states, including ohio, that level of closeness in what should be arguably a
republican leaning district becomes problematic. >> you mentioned ohio. special election out there for congress tomorrow. much more on that later on. donald trump jr. called in meanwhile to laura ingraham's radio show earlier today. once again said the primary issue of the meeting was adoption. let's listen. >> donny, did the issue of adoption, it's near and dear to my heart because i have two russian adopted sons. >> we spoke about it. >> did that come up? >> when? >> in the meeting with vezal nit skia? >> that was the primary thing we had spoken about in the meeting. that was -- that's not the premise that got them in the room. and then they started -- it was essentially a bait and switch to talk about that. and everyone has basically said that in testimony already. so this is nothing new. but you know, like i said, i don't understand that it's an important issue to you and near and dear to people's hearts, but this wasn't a campaign issue to us, this wasn't relevant to us and something we weren't going to do anything with.
>> robert costa, donald trump jr. being so central to this, being sort of the focus and the speculation shifting so much to him in the last couple days, is there an aspect of this, of the president feeling protective of his son? >> the president has been protective of his son throughout this entire process. and he's not just his son. in the same way that ivanka trump is inside of the white house, as a senior adviser to the president, you have donald trump jr. now as a key surrogate for president trump ahead of these midterm elections, traveling around to different red states, trying to rally the president's base. he's someone who's inside, if not the white house, he's inside of the president's circle politically. he's an important force. and you see him going to laura ingraham, someone who has been very supportive of president trump and trying to explain his position, but at this point, what really matters is not what he says to a conservative commentator, what matters is what does robert mueller want to do in terms of prosecuting or
not prosecuting. that's his choice, with regard to this meeting in 2016. >> all right, that's where it seems to lay with so many of the questions on this topic. we can talk about what we think, what the political world thinks, but ultimately, it matters what robert mueller thinks of it. robert costa, susan page, michael steele, daniel alonzo. coming up, week two in the manafort trial begins as a key witness takes the stand. what we will learn from the testimony of former manafort aide rick gates. >> plus, we'll go to the big board and take a look at what's at steak in the big special election. we teed it up a second ago, out in ohio, can democrats pull a rabbit out of the hat? pull off a win out there in john kasich's old district? what will it mean tomorrow and for november. >> also, the uninvited guest. donald trump dropped by a troy bolderson rally and leaves behind his endorsement, the problem is the gop contender may not have asked for one. "hardball" roundtable is going to tackle that and the president's bizarre attacks against lebron james over the weekend. what does he have against the
king, who happens to be pouring money into a new school for underprivileged kids, and finally, the panel will tell me something i don't know. this is "hardball," where the action is. ♪yeah ♪and i just wanna tell you right now that i♪ ♪i believe, i really do believe that♪ ♪something's got a hold on me, yeah♪ ♪oh, it must be love ♪oh, something's got a hold on me right now, child♪ ♪oh, it must be love ♪let me tell you now, oh it must be love♪
at midnight tonight, the trump administration will reimpose trade sanctions on iran that were suspended under the 2015 nuclear deal. the move will further distance the u.s. from european allies who also signed that deal and put the deal itself in jeopardy. in a statement on iranian television today, iran's president called for national unity in the face of impending economic hardship. and warned the u.s. will regret these sanctions. we'll be right back. and this is frank's record shop. frank knowns northern soul, but how to set up a limited liability company... what's that mean? not so much. so he turned to his friends at legalzoom. yup! they hooked me up. we helped with his llc, contracts, and some other stuff
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today, rick gates, the prosecution's star witness, took the stand and testified under oath that he and manafort were involved in criminal activity together. gates, who has been described as manafort's right-hand man, also admitted to embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from his longtime business partner. gates was originally charged as a co-conspirator in manafort's case but has been cooperating with robert mueller's investigation after pleading guilty to conspiracy and lying to the fbi. the case will only be looking at manafort's business dealings, gates also worked with him on donald trump's presidential campaign. gates stayed on the campaign even after manafort left and played a significant role in the presidential transition. today's court appearance was the first time gates and manafort have been the same room together since gates made his plea deal. i'm joined by betsy woodruff, politics reporter for the daily beast, and ken dilanian who was at the alexandria courthouse today. ken, in terms of the basics, the
meat and potatoes here, what exactly is it that gates was admitting to today? >> to everything, steve. it was really rather remarkable. i mean, we knew most of this was going to happen, but still, to see him walk into that courtroom, paul manafort's protege of ten years. worked for him from 2006 to 2016 and sit down at the witness stand, just feet away from paul manafort, was something incredible. and manafort was staring him down, and gates tended not to look at manafort's direction. nonetheless, he was a pretty calm and compelling witness. a little nervous, but he testified that he had been charged with paul manafort in these bank and tax fraud indictments, and he admitted he was guilty of all those charges. and that he had cut a deal with the prosecution to plead guilty to a lesser charge, a charge involving lying to the fbi, in exchange for a reduced sentence if he cooperated. he laid all that out, then he also explained in the course of this plea agreement, he had to admit everything else bad he did. that included something the government didn't even know
about, which is that he was embezzling money, stealing money from paul manafort while they were on this alleged crime spree, defrauding banks and committing tax evasion. gates was putting his hand into the cookie jar in the form of bogus expense reports, essentially, and said it was worth about a couple hundred thousand dollars. he was essentially taking advantage of his ability to wir and wiring money from overseas based on false expense accounts. he also admitted lesser things including being 15 minutes late for curfew. the point of that is the prosecution wants no surprises when gates is cross-examined. they want to confront the jury with everything that is bad about gates and say despite that, you should believe him because if he lies on the stand now, this agreement is void and he's going to go to prisoning for long time. pretty dramatic stuff and it continues tomorrow. >> yeah, and betsy, i guess that's the other thing. you know, ken says to be continued tomorrow. that's probably the suspense now. how will gates after admitting
all this, how will he hold up under a cross-examination? there's probably a lot there that the manafort side could hit him with. >> that's right. it's going to be bruising. and additionally, it's going to be personal. there was significant friction several months back when rick gates was going through the process of deciding whether or not he was going to flip on paul manafort. whether he was going to essentially turn on a man who had been his business partner and boss for upwards of a decade. at the time, that caused significant consternation on manafort's team. there were reports manafort's team up until the last moment thought he was going to reject a plea deal, tough it out, stand by manafort, be a loyal foot soldier, the loyal colleague they had always perceived, though incorrectly, had perceived him to be. then at the last minute, sort of when push came to shove, gates decided no, he was going to cross the line, work with mueller and his team, and sort of abandon, if you will, his former colleague. so this isn't just a question of
legal machinations. this is also a personal issue for gates, manafort, manafort's legal team, gates' legal team, and you can expect that to come through as gates faces cross-examination from manafort's attorneys. >> just in terms of the human drama, i think of how many mafia movies we have seen where somebody flips. they're in the courtroom, and there's that moment when they basically, they're staring, you know, 20 feet away from the person they're flipping. what was that like? you say manafort was staring him down. set the scene. we didn't have cameras in there. what was it like to watch those two together? >> it was pretty dramatic. admittedly, it's hard for us in the courtroom to see manafort because we're looking at the back of his head, but he seems to be clearly staring gates down, and gates did not want to look at him. and i was told by one of our producers that during the break, that gates refused to look at manafort even though manafort was staring at gates. let me make one other point, which is even if gates collapses on cross-examination, and the jury doesn't believe a word that he says, the prosecution still
has a very strong case against paul manafort because this is a case about foreign bank accounts, and we had testimony from manafort's bookkeepers and accountants they had no idea he had control of all these foreign bank accounts. they prepared his tax returns and said there were no foreign bank accounts. that's a felony. he was paying for these luxuries with money wired from cyprus, and the only defense we have seen to that is manafort didn't realize it was a crime, he didn't realize he filled out the form incorrectly. it's a strong case with or without gates. >> and betsy, we talk about this case we're talking about, the finances. not to do with the campaign, but is there a connection between what's being revealed, what might be revealed, the fate that might meet paul manafort in this trial and questions about his role in the campaign? >> perhaps the biggest revelation we have received from the trial, from mueller's team, is what was initially believed to be a $10 million loan that
putin ally and russian oligarch deripaska made to manafort wasn't actually a loan. it was actually, according to prosecutors, a payment of $10 million. the fact that deripaska made that significant payment to manafort raises questions about the type of work manafort was doing for deripaska. any loyalties that might have been there, as well as additional frictions that existed between the man who would go on to be trump's campaign chairman and a man very up in putin's inner circle. deripaska has sued manafort and gates, he said they mishandled or stole even some of the money that he paid them. there's a lot of friction between the two men, and during the presidential campaign, reportedly, manafort reached out to deripaska world and suggested that potentially he would be willing to give deripaska personal private updates on how the campaign was going. any subsequent revelations we get in this trial about manafort's relationship with deripaska, the types of loans
and/or payments deripaska was making to manafort, when he was making the payments. those revelations could potentially have implications for the way we view the work manafort did when he was working on trump's campaign. >> betsy woodruff, ken delainian, thanks for being with us. >> up next, taking a trip across the studio to the big board. we have a big special election tomorrow out in ohio, right around columbus. suddenly, it's a nail biter. this is a longtime republican seat democrats have an actual chance to flip tomorrow. what could it tell us about democrats' chances in the midterms coming up in november? we'll break it all down over at the big board. you don't want to miss it. this is "hardball," where the action is.
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"hardball." folks, guess what, it is 7:29 on the east coast. that means in exactly 24 hours and 1 minute, polls are going to close in the last major special election test before the big midterms in november. in this race, it has suddenly become a barn burner. it's in the 12th district of ohio, dead middle of the state, right around the columbus area. danny o'connor, the democrat, troy balderson, the republican. we have polls showing this thing dead even now. the backdrop, this is a republican district. the 12th district of ohio. john kasich, he used to represent it in congress. in 2016, it went for trump by 11 points. in 2012, it went for romney by
11 points. if you have been following these special elections, you know democrats have been able to make gains so far right around 10, 11 points on average in these house special elections. so what are we going to look for tomorrow night? if it's a dead even race, i'll be at the board all night watching the returns coming in. i want to give you a preview of what we're going to see tomorrow. let's take a closer look at the district because this district is fascinating. it's really a story of the two different americas we talk about so much in terms of how 2016 happened. one group we talk about, we talk about college educated, upscale white collar professionals. suburbanites. that's a big part of this district. at least in terms of population. it's right here. you see this? this is that part of columbus right here, upscale suburbs right outside columbus, bleeding over into delaware county. really more than half the vote in the district will be come out right here. you see franklin county, hillary clinton won this by 18 points. that was a big surge in the democrats' direction. a third of the votes out of
franklin, the democratic base. tomorrow night, the question is, is o'connor able to match or exceed hillary clinton's number there? and what's the turnout like there? delaware county, again, talking suburbs. trump won it by 16, but for a republican, that's bad. these are republicans who -- some of them, at least, were not comfortable with trump. again, if that republican number there is close to 55 tomorrow, that's very good news for the democrats. but the rest of this district, right up here, sort of the northern part, right down here, licking, zanesville, mansfield up here, this is the other america we talk about so much. blue collar, white-noncollege, huge, and i mean huge swings in 2016 to donald trump. while this part of the district was swinging away from trump, down here, how about this? the portion of this county, zanesville here, the portion of this county that's in the district, barack obama won in 2012. and in 2016, donald trump carried it by almost 30 points. those are the kinds of swings we're talking about. again, that's the other question
here for democrats. they want to run up the score right around columbus. they want to be right around where clinton was in delaware county. they want huge turnout here, and that's the other question, can they improve, can they get back somewhere close to where barack obama did in the other part of that district? can they erase that trump surge in those non-college white, the blue collar white part of the district. a fascinating story. two very different parts of the district that went like this in 2016. again, this is it. this is the last major special election test before the midterms. you know democrats would dearly love to win this one. republicans hope and they don't have another p.a. '18 on their hands. 7:30 tomorrow night eastern time the polls close. you better believe we're going to be here. >> up next, republican candidates were happy to embrace the president in the primary season, will the same hold true in the midterms? we'll get to the roundtable straight ahead. you're watching "hardball."
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i said troy, did you invite trump in here? the president? he said no, i didn't. so you know, i think donald trump decides where he wants to go, and they think they're firing up the base, but i have to tell you, at the same time he comes in here, i was with some women last night who said, hey, you know what? i'm not voting. and they're republicans. i'm not voting for the republican. see, this is the problem the party has now. >> welcome back to "hardball." that was ohio governor john kasich suggesting that republican candidate troy balderson didn't invite president trump to the rally held over the weekend ahead of the special election tomorrow. this in that house district, ohio 12, that kasich himself represented for a long time. if that bothered balderson, he certainly didn't show it publicly. >> i was very honored and humbled to have the president of the united states here for me yesterday. or saturday, and to stand on stage was incredible. >> meanwhile, trump weighed in on another one of tomorrow's races. he tweeted his endorsement of kansas secretary of state kris
kobach in the republican primary for governor there. kobach, the former vice chair of trump's defunct voter fraud commission. "the new york times" reports that trump bucked advice in making the endorsement, noting the republican governors' association and a number of high level operatives counseled against supporting kobach because he would provide democrats an opening to take back the governorship. i'm joined by the roundtable, susan del percio, basils michael, a democratic strategist, and caitlin huey-burns with real clear politics. susan, let me start with you. we just laid out the dynamics in this district. i'm looking at kasich basically saying the president maybe is doing more harm than good for republicans. half this district seemed to love donald trump in 2016. really gravitated towards him, and the other half seemed to run away from him. from the republican candidate's standpoint, was it good or bad
to have trump come in there at the wire of a close race? >> very bad, horrible. it's as bad as it gets in a swing district to have donald trump show up the day before. the only thing or two days before an election. maybe if it was a weekend, it could have been potentially worse for him. because it takes a while to kind of reach out and get voters on either side, but this is a swing district right now, well, it wasn't, but it's in play now. it's tied. it's 43-44 depending on the polls you look at. turnout is essential. we know that donald trump is extremely unpopular with suburban women. and that's the area that you showed on your map. we know they're going to turn out in droves against donald trump. the other thing that you have in that district, like a lot of places, are what we call trump triers. that in 2016, they weren't happy necessarily with hillary clinton. they said let's give it a shot and go with donald trump, what do we have to lose? they tried him and decided they don't like him. >> basil, in terms of the
numbers for house control, if the democrats pull this off tomorrow in ohio, their magic number this november goes from 23 to 22. then they have to pick off 22 republicans. it would get more doable by a factor of one. what does it mean psychologically for democrats if they pull it off? . it's a huge psychological win. i predicted the pennsylvania race with conor lamb and i'll predict this one. a democratic victory here. it's a huge momentum change for us, number one. it's ohio, which is incredibly important. but it also shows to susan's point the erosion of the kind of support that donald trump had in 2016, how that's eroded going into 2018, and there was an article in "the new york times," i think yesterday or today, but something i have been talking about. it gives us an opportunity also to not just double down on our base. we can actually reach across a little more. yes to independents but certainly to republicans who are dissatisfied with this president to lay out a strategy going into 2020. so if we can pull this off, and i think we will, it actually
bodes well for a national strategy going into -- >> also, you get to appeal to more voters who typically don't come out to vote. that's even more -- >> the other question is, too, the stakes for trump himself, not just the republican party, but trump himself. he goes out to this special election in ohio, maybe without an invitation, he's injected himself in it. at the last minute in kansas, he injected himself into the governor's race. about an hour after the announcement, bob dole, former senate republican leader from kansas came out and endorsed the other candidate in the republican primary. what's on the line for trump tomorrow? >> what's interesting is trump has been doing pretty well in terms of winning the candidates he's endorsed in the primaries winning their primaries. these two are pretty different. i mean, he is putting some of his own skin in the game here. but i talked to strategists who say that maybe he's also thinking about his own 2020 electoral prospects going to places like ohio and florida, places that he won, obviously,
and wants to win again. what's really interesting about the kansas race, and i was talking to a republican operative today who was saying the white house knew, trump knew that republicans did not want kobach to win this primary. they don't think that he is very electable in november. and the key thing about these governors' races are not just winning them but also having someone at the top of the ticket there to help in these congressional races as well. and that also puts more into play for this president in the longer term. >> to that point, it just shows how much donald trump always makes it about himself. he goes into ohio probably because he thinks it's good for him. in the kansas primary, going against an incumbent is crazy for republicans. this was someone who could win. and this is why he did it. it's 32-32 in the polling. you have 11% undecided. which we're breaking for colure. what happens now? donald trump gets involved. it probably could lead to a win
for the insurgent candidate, which is exactly what donald trump wants to show, look, i decide the winners. >> he wants to say i weighed in. >> this is why all of these campaigns are going to have to strategize and figure out where trump is a benefit and a liability to them. you know, if you're in a state like north dakota or indiana, of course, and you're running for the senate, of course, you want trump to come in and you want him to talk about himself because you want his voters to turn out. but i was talking to a former campaign operative as well who was saying that this is the delicate balance. you want trump supporters to turn out, but do they turn out for people other than trump? >> it's so fascinating to me, when we look at this ohio district, it's just that split between the two different kinds of voters. it's the voters that gravitated so strongly towards him and the ones who went -- i wonder that other half of the district we talk about, there's been this whole debate in the democratic party about what's the way forward for democrats? do you try to keep motivating
the core democratic base or is there a strategy to win back trump voters. this seems to be a perfect example of it. you have a county there that obama won and trump carried it by 30 points. if the democrat is going to win tomorrow, has to come close to winning that county. >> it's a great opportunity for us to test message and test sort of the broad messaging that alexandria ocasio-cortez, i got her name right today, that messages she's been going from state to state to talk about. one of the other things that hasn't been addressed as much is the influence donald trump has in down ballot elections. we have an attorney general race here in new york, one in minnesota with keith ellison. you have all of these other folks running within these states who are running against or at least for trying to find a way to defend the state against donald trump policies. so he's having an effect across the board and down ballot. so what it does is not just brings out new voters, will it tamp down republican voters who are dissatisfied? >> it's the cliche to say turnout is the key, but turnout
might be one of the keys tomorrow. >> meanwhile, "the washington post" reported this weekend that trump is anxious about the russia investigation's widening fallout. quote, the president more than ever is channeling his internal frustration and fear into a ravenous ma of grievance and infective. he's turning out false statements with greater frequency and attacking his perceived enemies with fear. that's a well written paragraph there. what do you make of the president this weekend? we were talking about this earlier. the decision to bring back into the public discussion there, that meeting at trump tower? >> it's so interesting to me the way in which the president repeatedly weighs in on the russia investigation on the mueller investigation, when he has a good economy, right? he should be helping people kind of feel good about everything going on. i mean, part of the reason why he does this is because he feels like this investigation is overshadowing his entire presidency. and he's also trying to win somewhat of a public relations front here. he's trying to tell his
supporters and also others that, look, this is going on too long, and sweeping over everything that we want to do. >> there's also one other thing when it comes to donald trump. when he starts tweeting about something that's had controversy or there's been a drip, drip, drip, he kind of likes to get ahead of it, so this recent tweet about don jr., i think was kind of a little bit of a bread crumb. he knows the story is going to come out, so let's put it out there. there's also another strategy. we have heard this from trump's attorneys. they keep sayingering well, we're going to give him his final recommendation over the next week. how is it -- about giving an interview to mueller. how is it possible they don't have a recommendation by now, and not only that, this tweet with trump also now opens up the investigation again, putting hope hicks on air force one. it makes the investigation grow. so i think they are looking to deliberately delay this until after the midterms. >> it's interesting, too, that question every time donald trump tweets, is this part of a strategy to try to get out ahead
of something or what he watched on cable news two minutes ago. there's always that question. roundtable is staying with us. president trump rips lebron james, reviving criticism of trump's views on race. you're watching "hardball." o wo, who would have guessed? an energy company helping cars emit less. making cars lighter, it's a good place to start, advanced oils for those hard-working parts. fuels that go further so drivers pump less. improving efficiency is what we do best. energy lives here.
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an interview on friday, nba star lebron james accused president trump of using sports to divide the country. let's watch. >> what i have noticed over the last few months, that he's kind of used sports to kind of divide us and that's something that i can't relate to because i know that sport was the first time i ever was around someone white and i got an opportunity to see them and learn about them. >> what would you say to the president if he was sitting here? >> i would never sit across from him. >> you don't want to talk to him? >> no. >> a few hours later the president tweeted lebron james was just interviewed by the dumbest man. trump's tweet came before the one-year anniversary of the white nationalists rally reminding that the president has
done little to stop that low water mark as one of the defining images of his presidency. we are back with our roundtable. the context of the president lashing out like that, i saw it come in on friday and it's like wow. in some ways this is a familiar thing. he has a history with don linco when he says low iq and when he says dumb, it does seem to apply to people of color more. >> yes and he's been consistent in that regard with the nfl players as well. i think at its core this is about race. he does not like african-americans that challenge his authority and what he perceives control over government and this country. there's another element as well. folks that have covered him in new york knows he likes to be
part of pop culture and if you look at the people he's taken shots at these are pop culture icons that challenge his authority. he feels those individuals are acting against his framework. it's racial and i think it's him feeling he's not a part of the group that he wants to be part of. >> that's the other part of this too. i think it's a broader story too i think where president trump, the reality star version of him, he was embraced by pop culture in a lot of ways in a way that now he's public enemy number one to them. >> he was successful in pop culture for a long time, but now he's president of the united states and as a candidate he said the mexican judge. when he came out with the muslim ban as a campaign idea.
donald trump is racist and what he's doing is now bringing in race to appeal, to bring forward part of his base to get him behind, not his entire base, but he is using race as a mechanism to appeal to the worst part of the republican party and use that as a unifier. this is the president of the united states and lebron james said talk about what divides us. this president divides us and he's doing it in the most disruptive and dangerous way over race. >> another division was within the white house because he had the first lady putting out a statement where she seemed to say i like lebron. >> lebron is a beloved figure in ohio which separates him out from some of the other athletes that trump has gone after who
may not be as compelling as lebron james who in the bigger point of that interview was, of course, to talk about the school that he's opening and these kids' whose lives he's going to change. i think the president picked a fight that nobody wants to be engaged in. even supporters of his in the state would raise alarm about that. what's interesting about the nfl part, there's a lot of that that is strategic. i've talked to republican campaigns who say that, yeah, that's fine. that plays to a certain portion of the electorate. he hasn't faced any consequences for these actions. he has a tax reform bill and the economy is good and republicans are supportive of him still.
>> we've been talking with respect to donald trump and the one year anniversary of charlottesville, the book of diversity explosion talks about the diversity in this country and it is something that a lot of folks who fear diversity should not be afraid of. it actually portends more racial healing, more engagement and it goes to what we've been talking about. >> new jersey. bob mendez looking like he's going to have to spend more time and the democrats are really concerned that they're going to have to invest heavily in that race. the corruption charge stuck. he had a primary opponent who got nearly 40% of the vote spending no money with no id. he has $15 million already against him in negative ads by his challenger and he's a wealthy republican. >> someone pull that race.
>> august primaries are going to put a handful of republican women potentially running for the senate in positions to make history in their states, but candidates are not playing up the gender card. they have disadvantages in this election. that's it for hardball tonight. thanks for being with us. tonight on all in. >> i think politics is a dirty game. >> the president all but admits to campaign conspiracy with russians. >> as you can see from the e-mails, the pretext of the meeting was we have information. >> amid fears of legal jeopardy for donald trump junior. >> as far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. >> tonight the case for collusion in plain sight and why the president's adult son may be in trouble. the star witness takes the stand in the manafort trial. dramatic testimony from