Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/3/17 Las Vegas shooting coverage
Date: October 3, 2017
Guest: Dr. Park Dietz, Adriano Espaillat, Carol Leonnig, Jennifer Rubin,
Geoff Bennett, Erica Werner
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Now or never.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
We`re learning more about the suspect in Sunday night`s mass shooting out
in Las Vegas that killed 59 people and injured more than 500. The details
are disturbing, of course. Stephen Paddock had an arsenal of weapons of
war up in his hotel room. Police found now (ph) accounts (ph) to 23 guns
he had there. There were 19 more guns found in his home with explosives
and thousands of bullets. He also had two bump stocks. Those are devices
that can make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic ones – in other
words, machine guns.
In fact, you can hear the sound of one. Listen.
Every bit of that sound could be used to kill people, and it did. Should
these types of weapons be available in this country?
Well, today President Trump praised the response to the shooting. He
tweeted, “I`m so proud of our great country. God bless America.”
Before boarding a flight to Puerto Rico, he was asked if now is the time
for stiffer gun laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we have a tragedy.
We`re going to do – and what happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a
miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job. And we`ll
be talking about gun laws as time goes by. But I do have to say how
quickly the police department was able to get in was really very much of a
miracle. They`ve done an amazing job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Who came up with that leisure suit he`s wearing?
Anyway, the president and many Republicans want to put off a discussion on
gun laws, obviously, put it off permanently. They argue now is not the
time, though there will never be a time. Those poor dears, they can`t
handle the conversation.
But while we might never know the shooter`s motive, we do know his
ballistic capability. And the question now – Are we willing to live in a
society where incidents like this become fairly regular happenings? By the
way, they are.
We begin with the latest on the investigation itself. NBC`s Steve
Patterson is in Las Vegas. Steve, thank you for your reporting. Tell us
what`s the up-to-date accounting of how much weaponry, how much firepower
this man possessed.
STEVE PATTERSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, you just said it best.
This is an arsenal fit for war, at least a small militia inside that hotel
room, 23 weapons.
Right now, though, we`re next to the crime scene. It`s very active. You
saw police activity to my left. Beyond this police line is a street.
Beyond that street is a barrier. Beyond that barrier is the route 91
concert festival, where those 22,000 people were packed in and that shooter
was firing down below.
Inside that hotel room – you said it, a veritable arsenal. We`re talking
about a mixture of semi-automatic long guns along with stocks for
stability, scopes for distance, hammers to break out the windows, and as we
learned tonight, cameras both in and outside of that hotel room, as the
sheriff put it, to see if the police were going to be greeted by the
All of this to say, as the sheriff said today in a press conference, he
believes that this was a meticulously planned attack, a meticulously
planned mass murder upon those people below. That`s not to mention the 19
guns that were found in his home or the explosive material that was found
in the suspect`s car, Chris.
MATTHEWS: All of it legal, right, as we know?
PATTERSON: Well, look, Chris, this is Nevada. I mean, people come to
Nevada to fire fully automatic weapons. There are gun ranges up and down
the Strip. If you want to do that, you can. You don`t need a permit for
most weapons here. You don`t need a registration for most weapons here.
Machine guns are regulated a little bit more tightly because that`s a
federal thing. But there are so many loopholes in this state to get around
it, including modification. And as we`ve been mentioning, at least one,
maybe two of those weapons were heavily modified if not for fully automatic
fire then for nearly fully automatic fire, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And now Las Vegas will be known, among other things, for this.
Thank you, NBC`s Steve Patterson, great reporting out in Las Vegas.
For more, let`s bring in “USA Today`s” Heidi Przybyla here with me and
“Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson also next to me. And U.S.
Congressman Ruben Kihuen of Nevada.
Congressman, I want to talk to you about this. Gun control – I mean, I
grew up in Pennsylvania. I know it`s a touchy issue. Where`s it going to
take a state like yours that goes all the way, practically all the way to
Tommy guns in terms of law enforcement and in terms of whether we use the
law to control weaponry?
REP. RUBEN KIHUEN (D), NEVADA: Chris, thoughts and prayers are important,
but they`re – we need to do a lot more. It`s time for action. It`s time
for Congress and each state to take it upon themselves to pass laws to
protect our American citizens. It is unacceptable what happened yesterday
here in Las Vegas and it is unacceptable all across the country.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do the people feel that you represent? I mean, they
must be in touch with you today. You must be getting calls. Do they want
gun control, or do they want us to lay off and let them be libertarians
KIHUEN: Look, our state of Nevada has already in the last election passed
a ballot initiative to have universal background checks. Unfortunately,
it`s caught up in the courts because the AG refuses to listen to the will
of Nevadans. And so we`re going to continue fighting this in the court.
We have to fight this at the congressional level.
And I am asking my colleagues in Congress that we need to take action.
Thoughts and prayers are important, but it`s not enough. We have to take
action in Congress.
MATTHEWS: You know, my theory about this is that we`ll spend a lot of time
trying to figure out the psychology of this killer who did all this murder
the other day and mayhem, and we`ll probably never get to the bottom of it.
But we can get to the bottom of what he processed and his capability. And
my suggestion – I`ll put it to you as a lawmaker. If you give 100 people
the kind of weaponry that this guy had, put it in their hands, a lot of
them are going use it. It`s just a question of access and availability and
knowing that every several hundred people are going to have a little
problem, a little anger that day. If you give everybody the gun,
somebody`s going to use them.
And my question to you is, how can people defend the ability of people that
go out and buy all this hardware, all this, and be able to just upgrade a
gun to a Tommy gun, basically, because they feel like doing it?
KIHUEN: Look, it`s incomprehensible to me how this killer managed to bring
23 weapons into the hotel room. It`s incomprehensible to me how he had
thousands and thousands of ammo. You know, there`s got to be a limit to
the amount of –
MATTHEWS: Well, who would have stopped him?
KIHUEN: … ammo in the magazine.
MATTHEWS: Under the law you have out in Nevada, who would have stopped
KIHUEN: This is exactly why we need to change the law. This is exactly
why Americans are fed up with Congress and with our legislators because
they refuse to take action. You know, we`re tired of seeing rhetoric.
We`re tired of seeing these type of shootings. We have to take action, and
it has to be immediately.
MATTHEWS: A year from now, will the laws be any different?
KIHUEN: Look, we saw what happened in Pulse a year ago. Nothing has
changed since that shooting. Now we have the largest, biggest mass
shooting in the country in its history, unfortunately, right here in my
state. That is unacceptable. The American people deserve better. The
American people deserve to feel safe.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Congressman, for joining us, Congressman
Kihuen of Nevada.
KIHUEN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I want to go back to Heidi and to Gene. Gene, you know – and I
love parallels. I know you write about parallels. You`re given to that,
like all great columnists. You know, we couldn`t win in Vietnam because we
were going the stay – they were going to stay there, and we`re going to
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Right.
MATTHEWS: The people who are for gun control get interested in something
for a while, but the gun owners stay with it. They never leave it.
They`re the home team, and they`re never going to let people touch their
ROBINSON: Exactly. And they always have the edge on intensity on that
image. And that has been the case for years and years and years, and is
certainly the case now. And looking at the national level, the federal
level, this Congress and this president, it`s – I wish I could work myself
up into thinking that something would happen, but I can`t. I can`t.
MATTHEWS: Heidi, once you get west of New York state, in fact, better stay
down in the city part of New York, the suburban part, you run into gun
country. I grew up in it from – all the way from Allentown all the way
out to Goddamn Wyoming. Anywhere you are, it`s all gun country, except
maybe Chicago and there they`ve got their own gun problem with the gangs.
But you can`t be a senator from one of those states, Democrat or
Republican, and get serious about gun control. It doesn`t work.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, “USA TODAY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And here`s what has
MATTHEWS: You get defeated.
PRZYBYLA: … in that gun culture that has been such a bloody and
devastating shift in our gun culture…
MATTHEWS: I shouldn`t say “damned Wyoming.” I actually like that state,
but it`s all part of that whole swath of people that are very pro-gun.
PRZYBYLA: OK, Chris. But what`s happened to gun culture over the past 10
to 30 years. We`ve gone from just your traditional bolt action pistols
that people use for hunting, but that wasn`t going to last forever. And
the NRA knew that. They knew that hunting culture is decreasing. So they
start pushing these semi-automatic weapons and pump out the fear and the
paranoia, as well, that – first of all, convincing people that they need
the semi-automatics to defend themselves, that these pistols are not going
to do the trick. You need these – these street weapons, these war weapons
to defend yourself.
MATTHEWS: And how do you use one of those? You go – if somebody`s
knocking on your window and trying to get in your house, you go find the
ROBINSON: Right. You go find your machine gun. I mean, it`s just – it`s
ridiculous as a defensive weapon. It`s ridiculous as a weapon to use to
shoot a deer or a rabbit or anything. I mean, but – but there are 300
million guns in this country, and an awful lot of them are assault weapons.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think? We`re going to get these people on as
the days go on, but to the real gun person, what`s their reaction to this
horror? What do they say? Oh, I know what it is – evil.
PRZYBYLA: They say there`s nothing that you can do because if – these
people are evil. And they want to get the guns, they`re going to get them.
But they completely dismiss when confronted with any of the facts that this
is a unique problem in our country. So either there`s something wrong with
our laws, or we have a unique high number of evil people in our country.
ROBINSON: There has been polling of gun owners and of NRA members, and in
both cases, they`ve shown majorities, for example, in favor of universal
MATTHEWS: Ninety-some percent.
ROBINSON: Exactly. Ann to say nothing of the opinion of the whole
country, which is even more in favor of universal background checks. Just
as a first step. And we could not even get that after Newtown, after –
PRZYBYLA: Because it comes back to intensity. Who killed Newtown? It was
the red state Democrats. A number of Republicans, like John McCain and
Susan Collins, found it within themselves to vote for that modest measure.
It was the red state Democrats who feared, had this outsized fear of the
NRA, which in the end, was not there for them.
ROBINSON: NRA takes an absolutist position…
ROBINSON: … powerful lobbies in town.
MATTHEWS: … latest example of loony (ph). Last night on his show, “The
700 Club,” Pat Robertson blamed the shooting in Las Vegas and other acts of
violence on a lack of respect for authority, including for President Trump.
Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, “700 CLUB”: Violence in the streets, ladies and gentlemen.
Why is it happening? You know, what I`d like to give you is the fact that
we have disrespect for authority. There is profound disrespect of our
president all across this nation. They say terrible things about him.
It`s in the news. It`s in other places. There`s disrespect now for our
national anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the
institutions of our government, disrespect of the court system. All the
way up and down the line, disrespect. And when you lose that kind of
respect, you lose (INAUDIBLE) authority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So those on the progressive side of issues are responsible for
ROBINSON: Exactly. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) like this.
ROBINSON: Well, that`s just ridiculous and offensive, borderline insane.
MATTHEWS: He`s a Yale Law graduate, did you know that?
ROBINSON: Obscene. But I mean, I – I – you know, I think…
MATTHEWS: This biblical – these prophets of our time…
PRZYBYLA: When you don`t have the facts on your side, you make it about
ROBINSON: Exactly. But…
MATTHEWS: … battle stations. I think that guy should retire. Anyway,
Hank you, Heidi, as always, Heidi Przybyla and Eugene Robinson.
Coming up, profile of a mass murder. What are we learning about the
motive? I think it`s going to be an endless search behind the carnage in
Las Vegas. We`ve got new clues tonight – clues – as we try to sort out
what this guy did what he did.
Plus, President Trump travels to Puerto Rico to survey the damage from
Hurricane Maria. Trump spent much of the weekend, of course, insulting the
island and the mayor of San Juan, who`s been very critical of the federal
government`s response. And today, he chided local officials for throwing
the budget out of whack and said Hurricane Katrina was a, quote, “real
catastrophe.” He also was throwing out (INAUDIBLE) quicker picker-upper
and all the people lacking of water. Now they`re getting paper towels.
Wait`ll you see the president doing thing. It`s buffonery.
And new developments tonight in the Russian investigation. We now know
more about Russian operatives and how they used Facebook to sow racial
discord during the 2016 election, as if we need that. And we`ve got new
details about previously unknown contacts between Trump`s company and
Russia during the campaign. It keeps growing.
Finally, my thoughts on how this Las Vegas horror fits into our political
And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION? Any sort of explanation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not – I`m – believe me, I sympathize with
everybody who`s grasping. Who on this planet do you think is grasping for
this understanding more than me? I can`t even process this yet really. I
mean, it`s just – I woke up this morning crying!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Las Vegas gunman Stephen
Paddock`s brother struggling to find an explanation for why his brother
decided to shoot into a crowd of concertgoers on Sunday.
Well, as the country tries to process this mass shooting in Vegas,
Investigators are working to establish the shooter`s motive. He was a
high-stakes gambler with the highest status, by the way, at Caesar`s
Palace, and a millionaire, according to his brother.
He had also recently wired $100,000 to the Philippines where his
girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was – has family and visiting at the time of
the shooting. There she is.
I`m joined by a forensic psychiatrist Dr. Paul (SIC) Dietz, whose niece was
at that concert Sunday night. Doctor, thank you for joining us. Do you
know any sense of this man who did this shooting?
DR. PARK DIETZ, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: I think it`s premature for us to
really make any judgments about his motives. We know from past mass
murderers what their motives have been and the kinds of things that they
thought justified their actions. But here the investigation has just
begun, and the man obviously did not communicate very loudly or clearly
what his mood was, what his hopes and dreams were or why he was unhappy
enough to do this.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he wanted to go out with – to use the phrase
badly, but a bang, he just wanted to go out like top of the world ma (ph),
like James Cagney in “White Heat.” He just wanted to go out with everybody
noticing his power. Could that be as basic as it was as a motive?
DIETZ: Without question. That is a big part of it. You see, mass murder
is the angry man`s suicide. It`s a flamboyant way to do it. And they do
pay attention to body count. They pay attention to what kind of media
they`ll get. This fellow even videotaped it, according to news reports,
and that`s because he wants that to be shown. He wants to be remembered
for this. Hopefully, he will have recorded himself explaining why he did
it, as well.
MATTHEWS: Why do they commit suicide after they`ve killed 50 people? He
was probably trying to kill many more. Why do they commit suicide at the
end of the thing?
DIETZ: I think that`s the wrong question. I think the issue is, why do
some men choose this form of suicide…
MATTHEWS: I see.
DIETZ: … and why does this form of suicide get front page news while
other forms don`t because we know it`s contagious.
MATTHEWS: You`re a smart man, Doctor. Thank you so much. And I hope your
niece is doing fine. Is she OK?
DIETZ: She`s doing as the others are. They don`t think they`ll ever be
able to forget this. Thanks for asking.
MATTHEWS: You`re a good man. Thank you so much, Dr. Paul (SIC) Dietz.
Up next, President Trump has been criticized for his handling of Puerto
Rico, and today`s visit didn`t help much. Wait until you see some of his
buffoon (ph) performance. Anyway, Trump telling officials they should be
proud that the death toll isn`t higher, even comparing it to, quote, “a
real catastrophe like Katrina”? It`s all score card stuff with him. There
he is wearing that ridiculous costume.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria pummelled the island of Puerto Rico,
95 percent of electricity customers remain without power, including some
hospitals. Look at that.
Much of the countryside is still struggling to access basic necessities
like food, water, and even cash. As I said, the ATM machines are down.
And, today, President Trump landed on the island and came face to face with
the apocalyptic world Puerto Rico has been living with. There he is.
In a briefing with local and federal officials, Trump told reporters of the
high praise his administration was getting, they were getting, on their
response effort. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right from the beginning,
this governor did not play politics. He didn`t play it at all. He was
saying it like it was, and he was giving us the highest grades.
Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, who I have watched the other day,
and she was saying such nice things about all of the people that have
worked so hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he also seemed to fault the island for receiving help from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you have thrown our budget a
little out of whack, because we have spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico.
And that`s fine. We have saved a lot of lives. If you look at the –
every death is a horror. But if you look at a real catastrophe like
Katrina, and you look at the tremendous, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds
of people that died, 16 people certified, 16 people, vs. in the thousands,
you can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working
together, 16 vs. literally thousands of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the awkward comparison to Katrina came as his
administration has been actively trying to combat the perception that they
were slow to respond to the disaster on the island.
President Trump spent the weekend attacking what he called politically
motivated ingrates who he said wanted everything done for them. He also
went after the mayor of San Juan, who slammed the administration`s response
to the hurricane, criticizing her poor leadership ability.
The president`s schedule was carefully orchestrated to limit his exposure
to the public. That was smart.
Near the end of his trip, Trump visited a relief center, tossing rolls of
paper towels – Bounty quicker picker uppers – into the crowd and handing
out cans of chicken and also flashlights.
And for more, I`m joined by U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who is a
Democrat from New York, and Yamiche Alcindor, of course, reporter for “The
New York Times” and an MSNBC contributor.
I don`t know how to do this. And I know you represent probably a lot,
Latinos, and people that care about Puerto Rico. They come from there.
It`s part of this country.
But what`s the screw-up about? Is it FEMA`s fault? Is it Trump`s fault?
Is it the governor`s fault? This is a lot of finger-pointing going on
here. Nobody seems to be saying they`re – except for Trump. He says, I`m
doing a great job.
REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: Well, look, I think, first of all,
we were late to get there. But, obviously, this is not an easy task.
I think it requires really the Department of Defense to go in there and lay
out a plan, almost like if they were in an armed conflict. You got to lay
– fix roads. You got to remove debris. You have to put floatable bridges
MATTHEWS: Like we did in Somalia a few years ago. We went in, in force.
ESPAILLAT: This is no different than that kind of an operation.
To rebuild Puerto Rico is going to take years. But they need money. They
need $20 billion right away. They can`t wait another week.
MATTHEWS: Well, what would that go to?
ESPAILLAT: That would go to Puerto Rico, hopefully to the municipalities.
They know where the people are stuck in their homes, that have not been
able to get out.
Right now, the U.S. forces there are airlifting some help there to those
towns in the hills that have been disconnected, no water, no electricity,
really, really a bad situation.
MATTHEWS: What`s this about the guys not getting in their trucks to
deliver water, that people aren`t just doing the stuff that they`re
supposed to be doing? Sounds terrible.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC ANALYST: It sounds terrible.
And I think when you talk about who it is – who there is to blame, you
have to think about the fact that this president essentially failed really
at communicating the importance of this and staying laser-focused on Puerto
So many people, while they think that the U.S. government was trying to do
all that it could, while his tweets on the NFL, his arguments with the
mayor, all that made people feel as though he was unfocused, even if he was
trying his best. The idea that you`re saying, well, this is not a real
catastrophe, because this is not really my Katrina, he`s not saying that
isn`t as terrible as Katrina. What he is really saying is that this isn`t
MATTHEWS: Congressman, you`re a politician. All right? There`s nothing
wrong with being a politician. I like politicians.
ESPAILLAT: Absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: But the optics. He acts like he`s Prince Charles visiting one
of the colonies. I mean, he shows up in that ridiculous costume with his
beautiful wife. That`s great. But it`s very ceremonial.
Doesn`t that look ceremonial today? Like, he`s not really there to lead
any effort. He`s there to be seen throwing out paper towels. Paper
towels? Why would he be throwing out – like it`s the dolphins in
SeaWorld. He only had enough paper towels for like one in 100 people
They were all going to be looking like fools, reaching for towels and
nobody gets one. It`s embarrassing.
ESPAILLAT: Well, look, this is about exchanging niceties or throwing
three-point shots with paper towels.
This is about saving people`s lives. I spent Saturday…
MATTHEWS: Look at it. There we go. There it is. What is this about?
What is he…
ALCINDOR: Remember, people…
MATTHEWS: Yamiche, you know optics. What is he trying to sell there?
ALCINDOR: Remember, people, all of the people that I interviewed on the
campaign trail who love Donald Trump…
MATTHEWS: Look. He`s president of the United States.
ALCINDOR: … they voted for an entertainer.
And you know what they`re getting? They`re getting an entertainer. This
is someone who understands that he`s going there to look good, he`s going
there for optics. He actually says the word optics when you ask him what
his motives are for certain things, like firing Tom Price.
So, it`s the idea that he – he`s not even running from the fact that he
says, look, I built my reputation on “The Apprentice,” and this is what I
You get someone that is like a reality TV president.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but even Oprah and Ellen, they say everybody in the
audience is going to go home with a book or go home with a car or something
like – he`s only throwing out these little items to a few people.
It`s not – it`s not even – it`s embarrassing.
ESPAILLAT: This is San Juan or in Guayama.
ESPAILLAT: But the real areas that were – the areas that were hard-hit up
in the mountains, he – no one ever saw…
MATTHEWS: They`re never going to see him either.
Anyway, throughout the visit, the president continually referred to the low
official death count as a way to congratulate officials and himself on
their response to the crisis. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What`s happened in terms of recovery, in terms of lives, 16 lives,
that`s a lot. But we compare that to the thousands of people that died in
other hurricanes, and, frankly, we`re not nearly as severe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Vox News has reported that those numbers of his, the 16,
are most likely inaccurate because the government is not functioning enough
to document the true death toll, which is likely to rise.
Yamiche, this story, is this reaching Katrina stage in terms of bad news
for the development for the administration, the effort of FEMA?
ALCINDOR: A lot of it is going to have to – is going to depend on how
many people actually perish.
I think the president is right in some ways to say that we haven`t lost as
many people as we did in Katrina right now. But if it goes to the Katrina
numbers, and then we start having to connect that to his trips to the golf
courses and him being distracted while Americans were perishing, that`s
when we get to the Katrina level dysfunction, between George Bush
essentially was most criticized because people died on their roofs waiting
for the American government to save them.
ESPAILLAT: Well, also, also, this is not at the level where potential
epidemics could hit the island. This is the Tropics. This is the
MATTHEWS: That could come.
ESPAILLAT: And that can come.
So this hurricane has taken some lives now, but it could take other lives
down the line, when you have phase two or phase three of the storm.
ALCINDOR: And it`s still hurricane season. As a Floridian, I know that
you could still have more hurricanes.
MATTHEWS: Well, at today`s briefing with local and federal officials,
President Trump seemed to make it a point that exclude the mayor of San
He, however, shook her hand. And then they had an interesting exchange.
Let`s watch him with the mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: How are you?
CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: It`s not about
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What did you think of that little physical damage control? He
goes like – it was a weird…
ESPAILLAT: I spent Saturday with Carmen Yulin Cruz. And I saw her at
work. She`s a tremendous leader.
MATTHEWS: She`s great.
ESPAILLAT: Tremendous leader.
MATTHEWS: And, not incidentally, a great HARDBALL fan. She watches the
show. Oh, I shouldn`t say that`s important.
But I just hope this country understands its relationship with Puerto Rico
after this. It`s part of our country. Those are American citizens out
there. They should get equal rights and equal treatment. And I think
that`s a message that this president hasn`t gotten.
By the way, I did think back when George W. blew Katrina. I said, if had
gone down to the Astrodome down there, and he had – I think it was the
Astrodome. No, not the Astrodome.
MATTHEWS: The Superdome.
MATTHEWS: If he had gone down there and just stood there all day handing
out water bottles just to all the people, everybody there, just showed –
LBJ used to do stuff like this.
He wasn`t perfect, but he understood you have got to connect with people`s
ALCINDOR: You have to really look like you care, especially when you have
a history, like Donald Trump has, where people already think that you have
real issues with race, where you have real issues with inequality.
This is not just Puerto Rico.
ALCINDOR: It`s also an island full of brown people that you need to go to
and say, I understand that you`re Americans.
And he`s so far has kind of failed to do that. Today was a different day.
MATTHEWS: Who noticed? Did he notice that?
ALCINDOR: I think he noticed that. And I think that`s why he went down.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I see. OK, thank you.
A little late there.
Thank you, Congressman. It`s great to have you on the show, Congressman
Adriano Espaillat of New York City.
ESPAILLAT: Thank you. Thank you so much. Pleasure.
MATTHEWS: Yamiche Alcindor, as always, from “The New York Times.”
Up next: the latest on the Russian effort to swing the 2016 election. They
get more and more involved as we look back in our rear-view mirror of what
role they played in 2016. New reporting now on how Russian operatives
identified and targeted voters susceptible to propaganda, including racial
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We`re learning a lot now about Russian efforts to manipulate public opinion
in the 2016 presidential election, now that Facebook turned over more than
3,000 Russian-funded advertisements to Congress.
According to “The Washington Post,” one of the Russian-bought
advertisements featured photographs of an armed black women dry-firing a
rifle. That means pulling the trigger of the weapon without a bullet in
In addition to ads intended to deepen racial divisions, there were also ads
– quote – “featuring photos of Hillary Clinton behind what appear to be
Separately, “The Post” is also reporting on the sophistication of the
targeting operation, revealing that Russian operatives set up an array of
misleading Web sites and social media pages to identify American voters
susceptible to propaganda.
“The New York Times” also released two examples of suspected Russian
propaganda on Facebook. One is a group promoting an anti-immigrant
message. And another is in support of gun rights. There it is.
For the latest on the Russia investigation, I`m joined by Carol Leonnig,
reporter with “The Washington Post.”
Carol, thank you so much. You`re great in doing this and explaining it.
How does – this thing keeps growing. Tell us what the latest is we`re
learning about what the Russians were doing through Facebook.
CAROL LEONNIG, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: So, my colleagues at “The Washington
Post” have been really doing a gangbusters job of explaining just exactly
how well Facebook was milked and manipulated by the Russians, at least in
the form of a weird, mysterious troll farm in St. Petersburg.
This company created hundreds of fake ads and also fake pages and users`
accounts that looked look you and me who were pretending to be real people
and were pushing other users to these fake pages.
So, imagine if you will, a fake page that is saying that it supports
African-Americans and will advocate for them. This fake page would be a
place where, if you clicked on and said you were interested in it, you
would essentially become a person targeted for very specific ads and news
stories that were about – not necessarily about the election, but very
much indirectly about the election.
And you would become like a virus in Facebook yourself, because once you
liked this, you would be forcing a lot of these ads and these fake sort of
news pieces into the stream of your Facebook friends.
You would become essentially a purveyor, an influencer of however many
friends you have. And your friends, like the shampoo commercial, would
pass it on to their friends.
MATTHEWS: Is there a way of tracing how powerful this influence was, how
it may have metastasized and really gotten out there in an exponential way?
LEONNIG: Well, Facebook initially told us that these were – that they
could trace to this one St. Petersburg troll farm, this shadowy Internet
group, they initially told us that this was only $100,000 in ad buys.
But what we were able to see is that now it looks like that could have been
seen 10 million times. That`s a lot of impressions. That`s a lot of
MATTHEWS: A lot of voters.
Thank you so much, Carol Leonnig of “The Washington Post”
Up next: Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel responded to the Las Vegas shooting,
saying it feels like someone has opened a window into hell.
Americans across the country are outraged, of course, and overwhelmingly
support some commonsense gun control, like background checks. So why won`t
Congress do anything?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”: They`re weapons designed to kill
large numbers of people in the shortest possible amount of time.
This guy reportedly had 10 of them in his room, apparently legally. At
least some of them were there legally.
Why is that allowed? I don`t know why our so-called leaders allow this to
happen. Or maybe a better question, why do we continue to let them to
allow it to happen?
We have a major problem with gun violence in this country and I guess they
don`t care. If I`m wrong on that, fine, do something about it, because I`m
sick of it. So, tell your Congress people to do something. I mean, it`s
not enough to send your love and prayers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Jimmy Kimmel last night pleading for Congress to do something on
gun control following the massacre in his hometown of Las Vegas.
With the issue now facing lawmakers, many Democrats are already calling for
tougher gun laws.
Here`s Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: The entire country is focused on why
this happened. And the reality is that much of it is rooted in the evil
inside this one individual. But much of it is also rooted in our laws
which allowed him to get his hands on weapons that are illegal in almost
every other civilized country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, actually, the House was expected to act sooner than NRA-
backed bill that would have eased regulations on gun silencers. How`s that
for a walk backwards?
Speaker Paul Ryan today said that bill is currently not scheduled. That`s
finessing the issue. Ryan was also asked what Congress` plan to do to make
Americans more safe given these frequent mass shootings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think one of the things
that we`ve learned from these shootings is that often underneath this is a
diagnosis of mental illness. I think it`s important that as we see the
dust settle and we see what was behind some of these tragedies, that mental
health reform is a critical ingredient to making sure that we can prevent
these things from happening in the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the last gun control push, a bipartisan bill on background
checks put forth by West Virginia`s Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania`s Pat
Toomey failed in the Senate four years ago in the aftermath of the Sandy
Hook shooting. But a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed an
overwhelming majority of Americans support requiring background checks for
all gun buyers, including 93 percent of Republicans say so. And a majority
of this country, 54 percent, said they support stricter gun laws, period.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Jennifer Rubin is an opinion
writer for “The Washington Post”, Geoff Bennett is White House reporter for
NPR, and Erica Werner is congressional correspondent for “A.P.”
Erica, you`re first because you`re new. Erica, why don`t we have gun laws?
ERICA WERNER, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think
one of your earlier panel addressed this, is that the NRA has the
intensity, they have single issue voters that they can get out in
primaries, in midterms and the other side has not been able to match that.
Mike Bloomberg tried, Gabby Giffords has tried, others have tried, and it
just hasn`t happened.
MATTHEWS: Well, Mike spreads himself around among guns and the 16-ounce
Cokes and stuff. But the gun people never lose their focus, do they?
Geoff? And it`s never lost their focus.
GEOFF BENNETT, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, NPR: Well, that`s right. And the
challenge that Democrats have is that a nuanced policy argument about how
some, you know, tougher gun restrictions might be good for Americans will
always lose against the slippery slope argument that Donald Trump made on
the campaign stump and that Republicans make all of the time, and that`s
that, you know, one gun control law is a slippery slope to a militia of
liberal Democrats knocking on the people`s door asking for their guns back.
MATTHEWS: But you can`t have a bazooka and walk down the street. You
can`t a tank, Jennifer. You can`t buy – legally, you can`t buy a Tommy
gun. You can`t buy a machine gun. That was outlawed back in the days of
Machine Gun Kelly in the `30s or whatever. Al Capone.
So, there was common sense, just move that line over to semi automatics.
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Correct, and that`s
something that the NRA will not have. It`s gotten worse actually –
MATTHEWS: You need a semi-automatic to hunt? What kind of hunting are you
RUBIN: That`s kind of a pulverized animal.
MATTHEWS: I bet on a rifle.
RUBIN: Yes. But, you know, listen, Donald Trump relied on the NRA to a
huge degree. That was one group that really did turn out for him, stuck
with him and he`s not about to throw them under the bus in this.
MATTHEWS: Did you hear what Bannon says if he messes with gun control, in
any way, he`s finished? Did you hear that, Geoff?
BENNETT: Yes. And why would Bannon say that? Because the gun issue is in
many ways a proxy for the urban/rural divide in ways that no other
political issue is. And for a guy in West Virginia who spent Saturdays
with his dad in a tree stand hunting every weekend, let`s say, he`s going
to vote on a gun control issue or gun rights issue in a way that people
who, you know, would advocate for gun control might not.
MATTHEWS: OK. From Pennsylvania to Wyoming, OK, I`m serious, right out to
California border, to Utah, places like Nevada, is any state safe for gun
control? Is anybody willing to be for gun control in that whole swath of
the country? You got to be from the coast to be for gun control?
WERNER: I mean, I don`t that that`s going to be tested entirely. But no
one is going to – no Republican is going there at all. And red state
Democrats don`t even really want to.
I mean, we – the Manchin-Toomey bill that you referenced that was after
Sandy Hook, the few red state Democrats that were trying to save their
hides in that cycle by opposing it, they got defeated anyways. So, it`s
not like, you know, the NRA wasn`t there for them. But if – if it
wouldn`t happen after Newtown with new laws, it`s no going to happen now.
MATTHEWS: It cost Tom Foley`s job as speaker, it costs Joe Clark in
Pennsylvania, like the last several we had up there. When asked whether or
not they would consider gun legislation, several Senate Republicans offered
the same answer. Let`s watch them in action here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think it`s particularly
inappropriate to politicize an event like this. It just happened within
the last day and a half. It`s entirely premature to be discussing about
legislative solutions if any.
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We should be talking about
understanding the facts around this event and we could have that discussion
at another time. I`m willing to have an intelligent discussion about it
but not in the middle of a crisis that the people in Las Vegas are dealing
with right now.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I`m not for changing the law right now.
I am against politicizing this.
SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: That dialogue does need to occur but I don`t
think now is the time for this. You know, we have a lot of victims. We
have a lot of survivors. We have a lot of families in town right now. And
I think, right now, our focus needs to be on those individuals to be sure
that they have everything that they need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ballsy bastards, aren`t they? I mean, these guys are paid to
write the laws for saving this country. They`re supposed to look after the
domestic welfare and all they are is dodging it.
BENNETT: And it`s not a coincidence that you heard them all saying the
same thing. That was a Republican talking point that came out from the
RNC, I believe, that was circulated. And that`s one of the reasons why
they`re all on the same page.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know nothing.
BENNETT: Yes, and this period of discourse free mourning, right? It`s
because they`re trying to set the parameters for a conversation they do not
want to have.
MATTHEWS: So, next week, they`ll say it`s old news.
RUBIN: News, exactly. And, you know, Trump never has a problem leaping in
on a terrorist attack to raise the Muslim ban or any other issue. So, the
hypocrisy is really –
MATTHEWS: He`s quick to point the blame even if we don`t know it`s a
Muslim. Go ahead, Erica.
WERNER: Dean Heller, the Nevada Republican that we just saw, he`s up for
reelection. He`s very vulnerable. I mean, Democrats could litigate this
issue in that Senate race if they chose to, but they too lack the courage
of their convictions on this issue often. They don`t feel it`s good
politics in the state of Nevada.
MATTHEWS: I think (INAUDIBLE) guns, Republicans are afraid of gun issue.
Anyway, the round table is sticking with us and up next, these three will
give me scoops, three scoops tonight you`ll be talking about tomorrow.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Once again, the people of Las Vegas turned out by the hundred to
donate blood. Lines snaked down the block at donation centers across the
city with many waiting more than three hours in order to donate blood. In
some locations, people were in line as early as 6:00 a.m. Blood banks in
Las Vegas are now at full capacity as are centers in Reno, a seven-hour
drive away. This is so humanly impressive.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.
Jennifer, tell me something I don`t know, make it a scoop.
RUBIN: There`s grudging recognition on the Republican side that they are
blowing it on tax reform of all things. Rand Paul`s off the reservation,
John McCain`s off the reservation. They blew it. They couldn`t resist the
urge to shovel the money in the direction of the rich. And now they`re
going to have to regroup, I think.
MATTHEWS: A loser.
Go ahead, Geoff.
BENNETT: Top congressional Democrats believe they had a deal with
President Trump to support the DREAM Act to protect the so-called DREAMers.
Well, now, President Trump had dinner with congressional Republicans and
they say he backs their plan, which is far more restrictive and could
include funding for the long-promised southern border wall.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think so.
Go ahead, Erica.
WERNER: Back on the gun issue.
MATTHEWS: I think he speaks with forked tongue.
WERNER: Back on the gun issue, the NRA that we`ve been talking about,
their political power, they actually used to be much more reasonable. They
supported background checks. They essentially got primaried by grouped to
their right, including gun owners of America that calls itself the only no-
compromise gun group in Washington.
MATTHEWS: They`re tougher than NRA, aren`t they?
WERNER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Jennifer Rubin, Geoff Bennett and Erica Werner.
When we return, my thoughts on this how to Las Vegas horror fits into our
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me end tonight with a word about guns. And the feelings so
many of us have after that deadly shooting.
As I opened the show last night, I noted how gruesomely accustomed we have
gotten to this. Every time someone with the easy access to guns goes on
one of these deadly and familiar sprees, we take two predictable steps. We
catalogue the event by location – Orlando, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook,
Columbine, Fort Hood, Charleston, Aurora, San Bernardino – then consign it
to the history books.
And now, we have a fresh entry. We tag it Las Vegas, trying to ignore the
fact that the name of that city will forever carry a trace of gun smoke and
Oh, by the way, Sunday`s carnage on the Las Vegas strip was the precise
two-year anniversary, though I know that`s not the right word for it, for
an earlier mass shooting, the one in Roseburg, Oregon, where a 26-year-old
killed eight fellow students and a professor at the local community
college. Ironically, although here again, that might not be the right
word, this is where presidential candidate Robert Kennedy had spoken on the
last weekend before the 1968 Oregon primary, 10 days before he himself was
shot and killed.
Despite the local sheriff`s warning about hostile demonstrators that day,
or more likely because of it, Bobby wanted to talk to the people of
Roseburg about gun control. I describe in my book that comes out this
month, how he stood before a crowd of United States hundreds in this
lumberjack town and he made his case with angry indignation. He spoke of
the outlandish case of a guy on death row in Kansas, a murderer who killed
a half dozen people who had sent away to Chicago for a mail order rifle and
had it arrive. Does that make any sense, he demanded, that you should put
rifles and guns in the hands of people of long criminal records, of people
who are so young they don`t know how to handle rifles and guns?
Yet even this drew boos from his listeners. They`ll get them anyway,
Well, it`s easy not to understand Kennedy`s own passion on the subject, his
brother, the president, had been shot and killed five years earlier by
someone using a mail order rifle. And just a month before, Bobby stood in
an African-American neighborhood in Indianapolis telling those who`d come
to cheer him that Martin Luther King had just been shot and killed in
A week and a half later, as I said, after his visit to Roseburg, he, too,
Bobby Kennedy, was shot and killed.
And here we are tonight. Once again wondering about this country we live
in. Is this as good as it gets here? Where assassinations by gun fire
separate from us the rest of the world? From Lincoln to Garfield to
McKinley to attempts on Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and Truman, the
killing of President Kennedy, the near-killing of Ronald Reagan, the
killing of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and all these mass
shootings that scream but refuse to be heard, only in America?
I was up in Montreal when Bobby was shot. A French Canadian cab driver
taking me back to the airport kept mumbling, the giant has stubbed his toe,
the giant has stubbed his toe.
When I got back to Chapel Hill where I was going to school, I wrote my
congressman. It was the only time in my life I did so. Johnny Carson was
huge back then and a friend of Bobby`s had been up to that night
determinedly nonpolitical, but he made an exception and urged all of us to
write those who represent us in Washington to try and do something about
the ease with which all kinds of people get their hands on guns.
We are not, we know, a giant stumbling in the dark. We know the country we
live in. If some believe this is the best we can do, let them say so. If
there are those who believe we can do better, let them say so all the
louder. Perhaps this starts with a call to your member of Congress, and
here, if your care, is the Capitol phone number. Write it down, 202-225-
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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