Manafort indicted on 12 counts surrenders to FBI Transcript 10/30/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Michael Schmidt, Jennifer Rodgers, Renato Mariott; Frank Figliuzzi, Nan Hayworth

Date: October 30, 2017
Guest: Michael Schmidt, Jennifer Rodgers, Renato Mariott; Frank Figliuzzi, Nan Hayworth

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Russian interests.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York on a day of historic
developments in the Russian investigation.

First there was today`s indictment of Donald Trump`s presidential campaign
manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort`s long-time associate, Rick Gates.
The 12 counts against them include conspiracy against the United States,
money laundering and failure to report foreign bank accounts. This
afternoon, both men stood in a Washington courtroom and pled not guilty to
all counts.

According to the indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller, quote, “in
order to hide Ukraine payments from the United States authorities over the
period of 10 years, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores
of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.”

The charges don`t mention the Trump campaign or Russian meddling in the
election, something his lawyer emphasized this afternoon.


KEVIN DOWNING, MANAFORT ATTORNEY: Well, I think you all saw today that
President Donald Trump was correct. There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort
or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. Mr. Manafort
represented pro-European Union campaigns for the Ukrainian, and in that, he
was seeking to further democracy and to help the Ukraine come closer to the
United States and the EU. Those activities ended in 2014, over two years
before Mr. Manafort served in the Trump campaign.


MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, in what might be a far more significant development
today, news broke that a former Trump adviser pled guilty three weeks ago
to lying to federal officials about his contacts with individuals linked to
the Kremlin. George Papadopoulos was arrested back in July. His guilty
plea indicates he is cooperating with the Mueller probe.

The court documents unsealed today lay out contacts between Papadopoulos
and two individuals with connections to Russian government officials. In
the spring of 2016, one of them, described as a professor, told
Papadopoulos that the Russians possessed dirt on Hillary Clinton in the
form of thousands of e-mails. The document also lays out communications
between Papadopoulos and unnamed Trump campaign officials who encouraged
him on.

In August of last year, there was a discussion of potential off-the-record
meeting with Russian officials. According to the document, a campaign
supervisor told Papadopoulos, I would encourage you and another foreign
policy adviser to the campaign to, quote, “make the trip, if it is
feasible.” Well, Yahoo News is reporting that that supervisor is Sam
Clovis, the co-chair of the campaign.

For more on everything that we learned today, I`m joined by MSNBC News
justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, in order of importance, the two
actions that we learned about today, is it about Manafort or about

two reasons. Number one, it`s more directly connected to the campaign.
And secondly, we know – as you suggested, we know that Papadopoulos is
cooperating with Robert Mueller`s prosecutors because the court documents
explicitly say that after he was arrested in July, he has been repeatedly
questioned by them and has been answering their questions.

And we also know it because it seems like they`re willing to cut him a deal
in return for his guilty plea. He`s charged with lying to federal agents,
and the government says they would recommend a sentence, basically, of zero
to six months which means basically that they`d be willing to let him out
on probation.

But I think it`s important to point out that the only criminal allegation,
the only thing he`s pleaded guilty to that`s illegal was lying to the FBI
when he said when he had all these contacts with the Russians, he was not
working for the campaign. That turns out not to be true. The other things
that the guilty plea talks about, these meetings with the Russians trying
to set up a meeting, that`s of course not illegal.

MATTHEWS: When you look at the pattern, what do you see in terms of the
dynamic here? Are they using the charges against Paul Manafort and his
associate Rick Gates to pressure him with huge penalties in terms of prison
time? Are they using George Papadopoulos to try to provide information?
Because it seems to me the supervisor that`s referenced here may well be
Manafort, and that this is all about responding to a Russian overture where
the Russians offer information on Hillary Clinton. And there`s some kind
of response by the Trump team. And we`re going to have to find out what
that response was to see if there was collusion.

WILLIAMS: Well, it`s clearly his role in the campaign that interests them.
You would certainly think that the prosecutors are going to use these
charges against Manafort and Gates that are very serious and could carry
sentences of many years in prison to try to get their cooperation.

You`d also assume, Chris, that the prosecutors have already tried to get
their cooperation, just like the deal they cut with Papadopoulos. Whether
that`s going to happen or whether they`re going tough it out, we just don`t
know yet.

MATTHEWS: So one guy is facing huge numbers of years and one guy is facing
zero to six months. One guy is cooperating.

WILLIAMS: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. You see through these things so well.

WILLIAMS: You bet.

MATTHEWS: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.

I`m joined right now by “The New York Times`s” Michael Schmidt, former
federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti and former Assistant U.S. attorney for
the southern district of New York, Jennifer Rodgers.

In order, Michael first. What do you see here because I – when you read
through the tea leaves – not the tea leaves, through the evidence, you`re
getting a sense that the Russians through Papadopoulos, a guy who`s not
even in the picture for many of us for a while here at all – you get the
sense they were sending the word that they`ve got some stuff on Hillary
Clinton, some e-mails, or they want somebody to come over to Russia and
pick them up. They want an overture from the Trump campaign as they were
doing very well in May of last year. They looked like the nominees, of
course then, pretty clearly.

They wanted them to show some sort of back and forth. We`re willing to
play ball with you. And it`s not clear how or if they did play ball. Your
notion of it now as a reporter. Michael?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, this is now the third time that
we`ve seen the Trump campaign going after so-called Russian “dirt” about
Hillary Clinton. It shows sort of a determined effort. And in the case of
Papadopoulos, as you were pointing out, it shows that campaign officials
above him knew what he was doing. He was not a rogue element here. They
were abreast of these communications, and that`s significant.

And today would have been a bad day for Donald Trump if it had just been
Manafort and Gates. But this really sort of takes the story to the next
level and raises these questions about why were there so many contacts and
why were they trying so hard to get this “dirt” from the Russians.

MATTHEWS: As a news man, a news person, let me ask you about this story.
For days now, Huckabee Sanders has been putting out the word this thing`s
about to be snuffed. This is reaching its last legs. How`s that look
today, that claim?

SCHMIDT: Well, it doesn`t appear to be that accurate. If anything, I
think we`re maybe in the third or the fourth inning.

Look, there is – it looks like Mueller is building a case here. He`s
trying to put pressure on folks. He`s trying to do these – you know, to
move forward with his own investigation. I think she may be thinking that
the interviews of White House officials may be wrapping up and that Mueller
wants to get them done by Thanksgiving. But the idea that we`re coming to
the end of this I think is wrong. And I think the facts continue to bear
that out.

MATTHEWS: Renato, give you a sense – give your sense as a prosecutor of
how it looks like Mueller is proceeding. Now, I noticed here he`s going
with Papadopoulos, who`s the first example back in May of last year, May of
2016 – the first evidence we have of an overture from the Russians that
they want to provide some dirt on Hillary Clinton, and the first evidence
that perhaps, and more than perhaps, the Russia team – the Trump team is
responding. They want to go back and meet. They`re suggesting who should
go pick up the documents. It does have sort of a crime scene atmosphere to
it, a dealing that`s taking place here.

Renato, give us a sense of what you think the prosecutors are up to.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, sure. What I think, Chris,
is that they – you know, it`s clear that they flipped Papadopoulos. He`s
a cooperator. And I agree that this is only the beginning.

What I would be concerned about if I was in the Trump camp is who has
Papadopoulos been talking to, who has he communicated with. You know, we
have seen reporting – I believe that you had mentioned earlier, Chris,
about how Sam Clovis, who was also, I think, co-chair of the campaign, is
one of those individuals that Papadopoulos was communicating with. He`s
just been appointed – or excuse me, nominated to be undersecretary of
agriculture. So you know, he is somebody who potentially Papadopoulos
could be testifying against and providing information against.

So you know, those e-mails raise some very serious questions. There`s one
passage in there that I talked about on Twitter about how there`s a
footnote that says, We should not – let`s not send somebody high level.
Let`s send a low level person to deal with the Russians.

And that suggests to me a consciousness that this is a very problematic
activity. And you know, the fact that there`s a suggestion from the White
House that this is going to wrap up quickly is either willful, you know,
misdirection or it`s hopeful thinking.

MATTHEWS: Well, Jennifer, this isn`t the only attempt by the Russians to
sell dirt on Hillary and try to establish a relationship with the Trump
team. I mean, this was in May, we`re talking about, of last year.

In June, they had the infamous meeting at Trump Tower where they did the
same thing. The lawyer came in – the woman lawyer came in with, “I`ve got
some stuff.” Turns out she didn`t have anything in hand, but she was
offering something.

And I watched – you know, like a lot of us have watched “The Americans”
for years, trying to figure out what the Russians – how KGB people
operate, and Putin is the ultimate KGB person. And it looks like they`re
trying to entrap, if you will, engage, if you want to put it more
positively, the Trump team in some sort of Russian plan to proceed with
their interests.

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, that`s right. And of
course, when the news started coming out about that June meeting of last
year, the immediate response was, Oh, yes, we had that meeting, but they
didn`t give us anything. Nothing happened. In fact, all we talked about
was adoptions, et cetera.

So you know, now we know kind of yet again that that narrative isn`t really
the right one, that in fact, they were actively engaged and interested in
getting dirt from the Russians and were pursuing that as an active strategy
for the campaign.

MATTHEWS: Well, what would you think if you thought – oh, here`s a guy,
Donald Trump, president of the United States. First of all, he has
consistently said there was no effort by the Russians to interfere with our
elections last year. And then he said there was absolutely no response by
our team to anything to do with them. I mean, the walls keep crumbling on
his notion of the alternative truth.

RODGERS: That`s true…

MATTHEWS: Is he a credible witness? Would Trump be a credible witness in
court on this case based on what he said?

RODGERS: Well, I mean – look, when he – when he first started doing it,
he said – he said, with Jim Comey – I and tons of other people said if
it`s really a credibility contest between the two of them, you know, Comey
wins that hands-down. I mean, Trump has again and again proven to be
someone who speaks inaccurately, to say the very least. So I think he is
not a credible witness.

I think his view is just deny, deny, deny and you know, hope that
ultimately, the case doesn`t get up to as high as he is.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Mike on this because I`ve been following your
reporting so well. And I have to tell you – you and have I watched movies
about prosecutors. And they usually have a wall somewhere, and on the
wall, they have all these faces and they`re trying to put them together.
And you got Papadopoulos, a smaller face in the story so far, but yet it
turns out he may have been the first one to receive the Russian overture.
And then you`ve got Manafort, who was sort of a Russian-oriented guy to
begin with. You`ve got all these Russian connections, Carter Page, all of
them. They all seem to – you know, Michael Flynn. Everybody`s got a
Russian deal.

I`ve never seen anything like it. I`ve been following American politics
since I was 5 or 6, and I never heard of Russian connections in any regard
in any campaign in any party by anybody, by any candidate. All of a
sudden, you have a candidate comes along, Donald Trump has got Russia all
over the place. I do think of Jackie Mason saying he walks through the
blood, he walks around the blood, with O.J. Why so much Russian?

How do you put it together on a chart on a wall. Papadopoulos today
getting indicted for what, a couple of months in Allenwood, maybe to play
tennis up there, and the other guy facing what, 30, 40 years or whatever.
How do you put it together in terms of filling out that chart and tracing,
if there was, a conspiracy?

SCHMIDT: Well, you don`t. And what you try and do is you try and take
every piece of information like the piece that we have today and
contextualize it and see if there is anything larger there.

This is a significant thing. You know, we`ve had different incremental
developments along the way here, some bigger than others, you know, the
Trump Tower meeting being one of them. And this is another one that sort
of elevates the story again. And it doesn`t provide all the answers we
want, and we won`t have that for some time.

But we do today have a better understanding of what the campaign knew and
what their efforts were. And that`s significant. And that`s what`s
different. That`s what`s different about this story.

MATTHEWS: Back to you, Renato. How do you see the dynamic of the
prosecution now? Mueller`s starting from the very beginning. He`s
starting with the first sign of a Russian attempt to hook up, if you will,
with the Trump people. And then you see – you have a guy who they may be
able to squeeze for more because he was a big shot in the campaign last
May. He was the kind of guy that Papadopoulos would have to deal with at
the top in terms of agreeing to a trip back to Russia to pick up the stuff,
to agree to accept the stuff, more generally to agree to play ball with
Putin. This is a serious business, that somebody at the top has to make
that decision, I would think.

MARIOTTI: Well, no question about that, Chris. And what I think will
happen is Mueller is going to be putting pressure. You know, he`s already
put pressure on Papadopoulos. So what they`ve already been doing – you
know, one thing we learned today, Chris, is that Papadopoulos was arrested
back in July. This deal was consummated on October 5th. So you know,
Mueller`s running a pretty tight ship, and he has been putting the screws
on Papadopoulos for – for, you know, months now, getting Papadopoulos to
cooperate against others.

I would imagine now the next target is going to be, whether it`s Clovis or
someone else who was directly dealing with Papadopoulos. And in the
meantime, just to be clear, you know, if you`re Manafort`s attorney, I know
he made sort of a bold statement that you played earlier. But he`s facing
some serious charges. And there could be more to come.

MATTHEWS: Why is he defending Trump? Why is that lawyer out there
sounding like he`s Trump`s lawyer instead of Manafort`s lawyer? Our
producers were saying this guy doesn`t make sense as an attorney.

MARIOTTI: I`ll tell you how. The only way it makes sense, Chris, is one
word, pardon because, otherwise, that statement was foolish. It was
actually – it was unprofessional and it was doing a disservice to his
client. Blasting the prosecutor when your client is facing, you know, 10
years or more in prison on very serious charges that are going to be
difficult to defend – it`s literally – it`s malpractice.

And I think at this point, if there is not a pardon that is forthcoming for
Paul Manafort, he should be considering cooperation. And so I assume
that`s what his attorney is trying to get.

MATTHEWS: Counselor, I just heard the word “bingo” in my mind – bingo,
the pardon. Thank you so much, Michael Schmidt. Thank you, Renato
Mariotti and Jennifer Rodgers.

Much more to get on this big day of breaking news, including what do we now
know about George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser
whose guilty plea was announced today? But boy, he got off easy, zero to
six months at a nice place. What other Trump officials could be implicated
by Papadopoulos himself? We`ll get the latest, next.

Plus, the White House spin machine. The Trump team is ramping up its
response, but you`ve heard it all before. Trump says there was no
collusion, and then attacked, of course, his usual suspect, Hillary Rodham

And as special prosecutor Robert Mueller makes his first move, what happens
if Trump decides to fire him? Tonight, Democrats are warning Trump against
doing just that. But will he be able to stop himself?

Finally, let me finish tonight with the arrival tomorrow of “Bobby Kennedy:
A Raging Spirit.”

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.


A programing note now about the nationwide tour for my new book, “Bobby
Kennedy: A Raging Spirit,” whose official publication date is tomorrow.
Well, today at 9:00 PM Eastern, I will be a guest on “The Rachel Maddow
Show” right here on MSNBC. Then I`ll be back up in the morning, thing
tomorrow to discuss the book on “Morning Joe.” That`s the kickoff, the big
day for this book. “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” arrives in book stores
tomorrow, October 31st.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the news that two Trump
associates have been indicted and another already pleaded guilty to charges
in connection with the Russian probe is an indication that Mueller, Bob
Mueller, is getting closer to showing collusion. Most significant is the
news that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is cooperating
with investigators. So how does this little known adviser connect to Trump
and others inside the campaign?

Well, in an interview with “The Washington Post” back in March of last
year, Trump names Papadopoulos, along with Carter Page, as members of his
foreign policy advisory team. Trump even vouched for Papadopoulos, calling
him an excellent guy.


QUESTION: We heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory
team soon.

you some of the names.

QUESTION: Be delighted.

TRUMP: I wouldn`t mind.

Carter Page, Ph.D. George Papadopoulos, he`s an oil and energy consultant,
excellent guy.


MATTHEWS: Well, now documents in connection with his plea show that, at a
meeting late last March – or late March with then candidate Trump and then
Senator Jeff Sessions, Papadopoulos said he had connections that could
arrange a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin himself.

The filings also showed that, by late April, Papadopoulos and perhaps
others in the campaign were aware that – quote – “The Russians had e-
mails of Clinton, in fact, thousands of e-mails, and that they have dirt on

Wow. Well, that information was given to Papadopoulos almost two months
before news even arrived here of Russia`s hacking, which was made public

We also now know that Papadopoulos regularly updated members of the Trump
campaign team about his Russian contacts.

I`m joined by Ken Dilanian, investigative report with NBC News, and Frank
Figliuzzi, who is a former assistant director for counterintelligence at
the FBI.

Gentlemen, thank you.

Ken, how it could be that a character – and these have become almost a
play of characters – like George Papadopoulos be so unknown to us and all
of the sudden come about to be the first person really to receive the
Russian overture of information of dirt on Hillary?

possible explanation for that is this was not the only Russian overture.
This is just the one we`re finding out about right now, because you`re
absolutely right.

No one can claim that George Papadopoulos was a well-known figure, even
within the Trump campaign. Senior Trump officials were telling reporters
today they had never heard of this guy.

And that`s actually believable. He is 30 years old. He was not a major
player. But, in point of fact, he was clearly in contact with people who
many experts – and you have got Frank Figliuzzi here, who is one of the
foremost experts on how the Russians operate.

They say this was a classic Russian intelligence operation to recruit this
guy. That`s what this looks like. The FBI didn`t quite spell that out in
their documents that they released today. But that`s exactly what most
experts are saying.

They were offering dirt on the Russians and e-mails one month after John
Podesta – we know now after John Podesta`s computer was hacked at the DNC.
Here was this professor with links to the Kremlin offering this low-level
guy thousands of Russian e-mails. That is hugely significant, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Frank on that to follow up that reputation of

I want to hear from you now.


MATTHEWS: Let me – you know, I watch “The Americans.” I was a little
late, but I have watched every one of the shows they have produced so far.
And there`s a pattern.

People tell me it`s an authoritative pattern how they do business, how they
seduce people, how they find people with weaknesses or sexual problems or
financial problems or health problems, family problems, and they use them.

And here they find young people who just perhaps are – perhaps not very
sophisticated. They`re naive. You see, they went after Jared Kushner.
They went after this young guy, Papadopoulos.

Tell me how you see the pattern here, how it fits their normal pattern, the


If you look at all of the developments today through the lens of a
counterintelligence professional – and here is what I`m doing. I`m
looking through that lens, and I`m seeing Russian fingerprints all over

So we have got a young man who is meeting with a professor who has links to
the Kremlin. He gets introduced to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official,
which we know MFA is often a cover for Russian intelligence officers. He
gets introduced to a woman who claims she is a relative of Vladimir Putin,
but we find out today that she is not.

This is a classic cut-out, recruitment type operation. And let`s not
forget the whole Manafort-Gates issue, where they had represented for $17
million a pro-Russian Kremlin connected candidate for president of Ukraine.

And where did that $17 million consulting money go? Cyprus. And who else
uses Cyprus to launder money? The Russian intelligence services. So are
we looking at a primer being handed to Manafort and Gates on how the
Russians can manipulate a campaign and Manafort saying, I wonder if they
could do that for us?

And the classic small guy, the Papadopoulos guy, who is the cut-out, he is
expendable. Make him go to the meeting, not D.T., as we see referred to in
the documents today, Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: What do they want from us, the Russians? Why do they want to
get involved in our elections?

FIGLIUZZI: U.S. sanctions are killing the Russians right now.

They need to be able to get that – get their oil and gas out. They need
to be able to do business with American businesses, and they`re not able to
do that.

And you have got all of the oligarchs who are friends of Putin, their
assets have been frozen around the world. They can`t move their cash.
They are not happy campers. So, all of that is the target of change. And
they`re trying to see a candidate like Trump who might be able accomplish
that mission for them.

MATTHEWS: Well, NBC News is also reporting that Manafort is one of the
unnamed high-ranking campaign officials described in that Papadopoulos plea
deal, revealing that Manafort was aware of the effort to send Trump to

In fact, Manafort didn`t want Trump to go, writing in an e-mail – quote –
“Donald Trump is not doing these trips. It should be someone low-level in
the campaign, so as not to send any signal” – close quote.

Well, the plea further shows that, in August, Papadopoulos and another
adviser were – quote – “encouraged by someone identified as the campaign
supervisor to make the trip themselves.” The supervisor has been
identified by Yahoo News as campaign co-chair and policy adviser Sam

I`m going to go back to my friend Ken.

Ken, if you look at this thing unwrapping, Trump`s current redoubt or the
wall he puts up lately is, there was no Russian attempt to influence our
election, not at all. And that`s Huckabee Sanders` job to keep saying
that. And then there was no collusion on our part.

Now, wait a minute here. Well, if there is no collusion, why was this
young guy Papadopoulos, why was Jared Kushner, your son-in-law, why were
all so ready to meet any time the Russians wanted to meet? They were
there. They were ready to show up and collude.

DILANIAN: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know how far this is going to go. But the idea that
they were totally innocent of any idea to collude is indefensible already,

DILANIAN: Absolutely, Chris.

And here – what is interesting about what you just said about Papadopoulos
coordinating with senior campaign officials is that Sarah Huckabee Sanders
tried to say from the White House podium today that this was a low-level
campaign aide operating on his own, he had nothing to do with the campaign.

That`s manifestly untrue, as exposed in these documents. And, you know,
did the Trump campaign call the FBI and report an attempt by Russian
intelligence to infiltrate them? No, they did not.

And did this guy Papadopoulos tell these senior officials in the Trump
campaign that the Russians had offered him Hillary`s e-mails? Well, these
documents are silent on that question, but you can bet that Robert Mueller
knows the answer to that question, because he`s got Papadopoulos` e-mails,
and he`s got a lot of other information about who he was talking to in the

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Frank, it`s great having you on. Frank Figliuzzi, it`s
great having you on.

And, Ken, you`re my guy. Thanks so much, Ken Dilanian.

DILANIAN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: More breaking news tonight. It just came out.

NBC News is now reporting this evening that Facebook estimates that, catch
this, 126 million Americans, roughly one-third of all of us, received
content from fake Russian-backed pages during the 2016 campaign, according
to a prepared testimony given in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I`m joined right now by the reporter of that. That`s NBC News` Carol Lee.

Explain the significance of the fact of the sheer numbers involved here.

CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s a very high number; 126
million is, I think, more than people would have expected.

What this is, specifically, Chris, is, this is content that was generated
by pages, fake pages by Russia – that were backed by Russia. So it was
things like videos or fake news or, you know, pictures, things like that,
and that they were posted.

And then, you know, the way they got to 126 million is that, initially, 29
million people saw that content directly. But then they reposted it,
shared it, liked it, and it got spread. And so it grew and grew and grew
to this 129 million number, which, as you mention, is a significant number,
if, potentially, about half of eligible voters in the U.S. would have seen
this content.

Now, Facebook is really – in this prepared testimony that we received is
really downplaying this. They`re saying this was an extremely
insignificant number when you put it in the context of the whole scheme of
what Facebook users typically see on their news feeds.

But this is obviously going to be something of huge interest to the
congressional investigators during the testimony of the next two days.

MATTHEWS: I bet it will. Thank you so much with great breaking news from
Carol Lee of NBC.

LEE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: The Trump spin machine is firing on all cylinders.
The president is trying to, of course, deflect attention from the big
indictments today. But, once again, they`re going after, as they call it,
crooked Hillary, the same old suspect. They always blame her.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.



Netflix pulling the plug on its hit show “House of Cards” after its sixth
season ends next year. The online streaming service saying in a statement
it is deeply troubled over allegations of unwanted sexual advances in 1986
by Kevin Spacey against then 14-year-old Anthony Rapp. Spacey saying he
does not remember the incident.

President Trump and the first lady handed out candy to trick-or-treaters at
the White House tonight for Halloween – now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump, in an effort to distract from the Russian probe, has fired
up the spin machine, accusing Hillary Clinton and Democrats of campaign
crimes and questionable deals.

Shortly after news of Manafort`s indictment was released today, the
president tweeted: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was
part of the Trump campaign. But why aren`t crooked Hillary and the Dems
the focus? Also, there is no collusion.”

Over the weekend the president tweeted: “All this Russia talk right when
the Republicans are making their historic splash for historic tax cuts and
reform. Is this coincidental? Not.”

Does President Trump really think that blaming Hillary and the Democrats is
his best defense tonight?

For more, I`m joined by Bret Stephens, columnist with “The New York Times,”
an MSNBC contributor as well, and former U.S. Congresswoman Nan Hayworth,
who is now on the board of directors at the Independent Women`s Forum.

Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.


Bret, I want to start with you about strategy. Does deflection to Hillary
have any value here, because – well, doesn`t it – open question.

BRET STEPHENS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, well, look, it`s a terrific
strategy, because Donald Trump I think learned long ago that truth is what
you can get away with.

And I guess the corollary to that is truth is what people will let you get
away with. Trump saw an opening in the fact that the Clinton campaign
seems to have either lied or at least not told the truth about its role in
paying for some of the research that went to Fusion GPS, some of the
opposition research.

This, to me, strikes me as irrelevant. The only relevant issue is whether
the research in that dossier is true. But they have been able, as you
said, to wave enough terrible towels in the face of the media that people
are buying it.

And don`t be surprised if the next thing that Trump does is simply issue a
blanket pardon to everyone, including Manafort, Page, and so on, perhaps
including himself, to simply put this behind him. These things work.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to the congresswoman.

Do you believe Donald Trump at his word?

HAYWORTH: I had no evidence to think otherwise in terms of any of these
dealings that we have been talking about, Chris.


Donald Trump spent a year saying that Barack Obama was an illegal immigrant
who snuck in the country, assumed a false identity, really didn`t go to the
schools he went to, nobody knew him, and somehow became president. He
stuck to that line until some Friday afternoon, he dumped it and said, oh,
I didn`t really believe that.

Did you believe it all those months? Did you believe Donald Trump with his
birther theory? Did you?

HAYWORTH: I believed that President Obama was born in Hawaii.

But, Chris, that`s not the point here.


MATTHEWS: Well, why do you now believe Trump is telling the truth? Is he
a truth-teller?

HAYWORTH: But, Chris, that`s – that`s – that`s – that`s not the point

MATTHEWS: It isn`t?


MATTHEWS: I asked you, do you take him at his word? I`m just asking that
simple question.

HAYWORTH: The point is – I`m absolutely taking the president at his word
about this Russian collusion question.

MATTHEWS: So, when he says that his people never – that there was no
Russian involvement in the campaign, that the Russians never tried to
pursue an overture to his campaign to offer them dirt on Hillary, even as
we`re getting this testimony, under oath, we`re getting this – and you`re
denying the truth of that and believing Trump when he says there was no
Russian attempt to influence our campaign, no Russian influence in the
campaign, nobody in my campaign had anything to do with flirting with them
and to receive that information.

You stick to that line?

HAYWORTH: Chris, what the president has said substantively is that the
Russians did not assist, he did not have assistance from the Russians in
winning the 2016 election, which he did not.

And it`s very clear, Chris. It`s clear to every American with any common
sense that the Russians have tried to manipulate on both sides of the aisle
in the 2016 election. But, in fact, where they succeeded…


MATTHEWS: Carol Lee just reported 126 million people were given Facebook
advertisements from the Russians to influence the campaign. Isn`t that
significant, a little?

HAYWORTH: Chris, Chris, listen to me.

Number one, we all have to be discerning consumers of information. That`s
eminently clear, no matter what our political persuasion is.

But there has been an avalanche of information. As you know, the FBI has
just released a major informant from his NDA regarding the millions and
millions of dollars that flowed into the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton
Global Initiative, the half-million dollars that went to President Bill
Clinton to speak with a Russian bank, all the while Secretary Clinton was
one of nine Cabinet members on CFIUS, the board approving effectively the
sale of 20 percent of our uranium supply to Russia.

That is huge and important.

MATTHEWS: Well, that was all done by – that was all done – that was not
illegal. That was done – you can argue that.

By the way, the uranium cannot reach any other country but the United
States without the approval of the United States. So, this idea that
they`re the Rosenbergs and they should be executed is insane.


MATTHEWS: Let me go back to this thing.

Have you any evidence that Hillary Clinton got any help by the Russians in
the 2016 election?

HAYWORTH: I think there is plenty of evidence coming that Hillary Clinton
effectively got help.

MATTHEWS: Where? Where?

HAYWORTH: And, by the way, where are her 33,000 e-mails?

MATTHEWS: Give me some.

HAYWORTH: Connect the dots, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Give me some evidence.

HAYWORTH: OK, Frank Giustra, right, whose company was Uranium One,
collaborating with Rosatom, gave, under the cover of being Canadian, so
being a foreign citizen, so it didn`t have to show up immediately on their
disclosures. What a clever idea.

MATTHEWS: What did that have to do with the campaign?

HAYWORTH: Millions and millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation and
the Clinton Global Initiative?

MATTHEWS: In exchange for what?

HAYWORTH: And Hillary Clinton is either so clueless or ignorant that she
has no idea of it?

Chris, that just defies common sense.


HAYWORTH: There is real Russian collusion and intervention and cooperation


MATTHEWS: But I want to go back – Congresswoman, you know this. You know
that that uranium cannot be transported outside the United States. So, why
are you…

HAYWORTH: Well, here is something I do know.

MATTHEWS: Why are you talking about it being some sort of a Rosenberg case
kind of situation? It cannot be sent outside the United States under
federal law. Why do you keep suggesting there was some intrigue here?


HAYWORTH: OK, let me give you name.

Vadim Mikerin, OK, Mikerin, he is the only figure, he is one figure who was
finally indicted after years and convicted after years of investigation of
the collusion and the connections between the Russians and the Russian
nuclear industry and the Americans.

And what he was doing was effectively bribing and overcharging for the
transport of commercial uranium by Russian sellers to United States nuclear
plants, OK, nuclear fuel.

MATTHEWS: Right. How does that provide strategic materials to Russia?


HAYWORTH: They were overcharging.


MATTHEWS: … what does this got to do with the problem – what`s this got
to do with Donald Trump`s problem right now?

HAYWORTH: It has to do…

MATTHEWS: His campaign manager has just been indicted on huge numbers of
counts that could put him away for 30 or 40 years.

He is getting squeezed by the special prosecutor.


MATTHEWS: You have got Papadopoulos – Papadopoulos, who has just come
out. It turns out that he was getting overtures from the Russians, just
like Jared Kushner was getting them a month later.

There is all evidence here that there was collusion or certainly close to
collusion. And you`re laughing because I know that technique.

HAYWORTH: I`m only laughing because –

MATTHEWS: But that doesn`t exonerate Trump laughing about it.

HAYWORTH: Chris, I`m not – I`m laughing because the collusion is all very
evidently on the Clinton side, OK? So the Russians were overcharging us
for our own uranium, for heaven`s sakes. They were reselling it to us.

MATTHEWS: They`re not allowed to get the uranium under our laws, and you
know that.

HAYWORTH: They were selling commercial uranium to the United States
nuclear plants –


HAYWORTH: – at an inflated profit with the apparent benign oversight by
the United States government.

MATTHEWS: Is what you`re saying now going to in any substantive way
protect Trump`s operation from prosecution? Because it`s moving forward,
the prosecution.

You have a guy pleading a case today, pleading himself out so he can talk.
Obviously, Papadopoulos. You`ve got another fellow who was chairman of
your campaign last year, chairman of the president`s campaign who now faces
multi-years of imprison.

How can you say all we have to do is wave this little distraction and
everybody is going to think about somebody else? It doesn`t matter what
right wingers think about something else. What matters is the prosecution
and the evidence they`re developing. And all your talk about distraction
isn`t going to help your side.

HAYWORTH: But, Chris, only you can consider it a distraction. Folks from
the left consider it a distraction. Robert Mueller when he was FBI
director was examining this entire relationship for years, all the Russian

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, thank you.

HAYWORTH: And bribery.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re doing your best. I understand. I`ve seen this
before in politics. I get it. But it`s not going to change reality.

HAYWORTH: But it`s the truth, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Bret Stephens, I`ve got to give you the last word, Brett. You
know, I watched Watergate in real-time like a lot of people did. After all
the arguments and distractions and get off his back and Rabbi Korf and the
hard hats on his side, in the end, it was the evidence. In the end, it was
the evidence that he was part of the cover-up, the 23rd tape.

Will this case end on the evidence, do you think?

claim collusion between Clinton and the Russians when she was the one who
suffered from the Russian disclosures of her e-mails.

And I would say to the congresswoman, look, I`m on the political right. I
voted for Republicans in every election up until the last one.

It`s conservatives who should be most concerned about the fact that so many
members, senior members of the Trump campaign were so interested in
changing the tone with Russia to the point that they were willing to change
the Republican party platform in order to appease Russian interests. That
was the same kind of policy you and other Republicans were criticizing when
it was the reset under the Obama administration with Russia. It should be
Republicans who are most concerned that there was so much collusion between
or cooperation or commonality of interest between the person who is now the
president of the United States and the government of the Soviet Union,

MATTHEWS: By the way, Congresswoman, with all due respect, and I don`t
mean that sarcastically, a lot of our viewers are chuckling, even hooting
at the idea that Hillary is part of the American left. They don`t believe

Thank you, Bret Stephens, and thank you, Nan Hayworth.

HAYWORTH: Congratulations on your book.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

Up next, the special counsel Bob Mueller closing in? Maybe. How will the
president respond? He`s been warned against it, but will he try and fire
Mueller? You don`t think it`s that outlandish if you know Trump. He did
fire Comey.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

As Robert Mueller makes his first criminal charges today, Democrats are
already stepping up efforts to protect the special counsel. Minority
leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, issued a warning in fact on the Senate


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The president must not under
any circumstances in any way interfere with the special counsel`s work. If
he does, Congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally, and in a bipartisan
way to ensure that the investigation continues and the truth, the whole
truth comes out.


MATTHEWS: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there is
no plan to fire the special counsel. But in some conservative quarters,
people are openly calling for his removal.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Heidi Przybyla, White House
reporter for “USA Today”, Jonathan Allen, national political reporter for
NBC News Digital, and Jason Johnson is politics editor for

Heidi, you start. Just kick the ball around tonight. What are the chances
that Trump will see the end coming and try to stop it by destroying
Mueller, getting rid of him?

the Democrats are really concerned because they`re looking at the
president`s own past statements, which is that if Mueller crosses a red
line, which is looking into his finances, that that would be cause for
firing him. And today, we learned that`s exactly what he is doing with
these Paul Manafort charges.

But at the same time, Chris, I think right now, there is just too much
political potential downside to doing this. And the president is not going
to do it. At least until it seems that this is going to be more focused on
Trump himself. And that Paul Manafort isn`t the top of the fish head.

I think that it would take a Archibald Cox type Saturday night massacre for
president to get there, because he has to go through the framework of the
Justice Department. He`d have to pressure Christopher Wray or he`d had to
fire Christopher Wray. So, the logistics are difficult.

And two, it would be devastating for his presidency at this point. He
would lose all political capital. And I think the impeachment bell that
has been really kind of subterranean. You only have a few Democrats
actually going in that direction, would start to ring a lot louder.

Heidi is absolutely right about that Saturday night massacre reference. We
all know how that turned out for President Richard Nixon. Not very well.

I think that was a moment when a lot of Republicans decided that he was
basically violating the law and left his side. You know, I also think that
there is a possibility, remote as it may seem right now, if the president
fired the special prosecutor looking into him, Robert Mueller, that you
would start to have some talk in the cabinet about whether to move on him
from there.

There is a 25th Amendment scenario in which the cabinet can certify that
the president isn`t fit for office. I think we`re a long way from that.
But I also think we`re a long way from the president firing Mueller. I
think that would be a tremendously bad move politically for him.

how close they think the dagger is. How close they think this is to
getting to Trump, because on the one hand, you have some lawyers saying
see, this proves it`s all about Manafort. It doesn`t have anything to do
with Trump.

And I think there`s a real calculation here, that not just Trump, but his
closest advisers have to be thinking about it. You notice we`ve had fewer
leaks since the Mueller investigation? If you get rid of Mueller, then all
the leaks come back. All the people who have problems with this
administration, the deep state as they claim will go back to saying, look,
this is the only way we can stop this guy.

So, there may be a real sense let`s just wait this out. Let`s see if other
people get turned before Trump does something that drastic.

MATTHEWS: Let`s see if Mueller announce she`s going after Trump`s tax
returns, how long his job exist?

Anyway, thank you. Because I don`t think Trump wants anybody near, anybody
near his tax returns.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. We`ll be back with them.
HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable is going to give me three
scoops about the Russia investigation you`ll be talking about forever.
Back after this.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.

Heidi, tell me something I don`t know.

PRZYBYLA: Chris, in the coming days, you`re going to see a concerted
effort from this administration to distance itself from Paul Manafort. But
we unearthed a quote from Newt Gingrich, who is very close to the
administration from August of last year that I think we should all keep in

Quote, nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really
help get this campaign to where it is right now. Paul Manafort was right
in the middle of everything at that time when the Russia collusion – or
the potential Russia collusion was at its height.

MATTHEWS: Good for the Newtster. Anyway, thank you.


ALLEN: Manafort gives very few political contributions. One person he has
given money to is Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, his former colleague in the
Reagan White House, who also happens to be the most pro-Russia lawmaker on
Capitol Hill.

MATTHEWS: The surfing congressman.

Anyway, Jason?

JOHNSON: Chris, we all know part of these charges are a FARA violation on
Manafort`s part. The Foreign Agent Registration Act where you have to
admit that you`re lobbying on the part of a foreign country. The
Department of Justice did their own investigation on FARA enforcement in
2016. They have only prosecuted seven people in the last 50 years for
violating FARA. Manafort is now the eighth.

MATTHEWS: Number eight.

Anyway, thank you, Heidi, Heidi Przybyla, Jonathan Allen and Jason Johnson.

When we return, let me finish tonight with the arrival tomorrow of “Bobby
Kennedy: A Raging Spirit”. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish with the arrival tomorrow of “Bobby Kennedy: A
Raging Spirit.”

The book offers a revival of the American spirit, a reminder that what
we`re seeing today is not the way it has to be. That instead of racial
division between blacks and white, between police and community, we can
actually have leaders who unite us, who believe law and justice must work
hand in hand. But instead of cynical manipulation of public emotions, we
can actually have leaders with true moral authority, as Robert Kennedy
showed when he walked before a crowd of African Americans to plead for
peace and understanding just after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, who
had white working class Americans standing in fervent salute to him as his
body was taken by train from New York to join his brother at Arlington
cemetery, who believed and said so that cops and waitresses and
firefighters were his people.

“Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” revives the life of someone who believes
minorities and working class whites could be united in political purpose.

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

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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