Team Trump disavows Papadopoulos Transcript 10/31/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: November 1, 2017
Guest: Susan Page, Jonathan Swan
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We appreciate everyone watching tonight. That is
it for “The Beat.” I`ll see you back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. “Hardball”
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST: Witness for the prosecution. Let`s play
Good evening. I`m Chris Mathews up in New York. Threatened by an
escalating Russian probe that`s now bearing down on the White House itself,
President Trump has disavowed George Papadopoulos, the campaign foreign
policy adviser who Trump once called an excellent guy.
Now that Papadopoulos is a proactive cooperator in the special counsel`s
investigation, the message from the White House and Trump`s allies is we
hardly knew him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY LEWANDOSKI, AMERICAN POLITICAL OPERATIVE: He was not a person who
was involved with the day-to-day operations of the campaign or a person I
recall interacting with on a regular basis at all.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was a campaign
volunteer. He wasn`t somebody that was a senior adviser as many of you
want to bill him to be. He was somebody that played a minimal role if one
at all, and was part of a voluntary advisory board.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I never heard of
Papadopoulos. He never showed up at Trump Tower. Never had any
interaction with any of the campaign leaders around me. The guy was – he
was the coffee boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the bigger question should be looming over the president
right now is who in his circle knew what Papadopoulos was up to? We know
that Papadopoulos revealed to Mueller`s investigators that he had long
planned to arrange a meeting in Russia between members of the Trump
campaign and Russian officials.
NBC News is reporting that Papadopoulos` superior, former Trump campaign
co-chair, Sam Clovis, testified before a federal grand jury last week. And
now, Clovis` attorney appears to be denying a key part of what Papadopoulos
revealed to investigators, “That our client encouraged a trip to Russia on
behalf of the campaign. Dr. Clovis always vigorously opposed any Russian
trip for Donald Trump or staff.”
But the lawyer added the caveat that, “If someone posed foreign travel in a
personal capacity, Dr. Clovis would have no authority to prohibit such
travel.” That is lawyer talk.
As we learned on Monday, documents unsealed after Clovis testified appeared
to show that Clovis did encourage such a meeting as he told Papadopoulos,
“I would encourage you to make the trip if it is feasible.” Meanwhile,
Mueller is creeping closer to the White House itself.
“Politico” reports his investigators are scheduled to interview Trump`s
close aide, Hope Hicks, later this month, as well as three or four other
current White House officials as early as this week. By now, there`s no
question that they are aware of the consequences of making false statements
I`m joined right now by Nicolle Wallace, host of “Deadline White House” on
MSNBC, Joy Reid, host of “AM Joy” on MSNBC, Carrie Cordero is a former
senior associate general counsel with the office of Director of National
Intelligence. And also with us is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of
Connecticut who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Blumenthal, are they threatening him, Senator, with a perjury
charge that if he – he already said something that wasn`t quite accurate.
They got them down, they pled bargained, the guy down to one – well, some
zero time to six months. That doesn`t seem like throwing the book at the
guy. It looks to me like they scared him into a deal. Your thoughts?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEEE: They have reduced
multiple counts of false statements, each punishable by five years in
prison, to a single count of a maximum exposure of less than six months,
and obviously, the potential of probation if he continues to cooperate but
only if he`s truthful and only if he really gives them results. And that`s
why clearly what they`re doing is climbing the ladder of culpability in
that campaign from Papadopoulos to the campaign supervisor.
And there are multiple contacts in that document with the campaign
supervisor and then with the campaign senior adviser. And if you look at
that table where Donald Trump is at the one end and Jeff Sessions is at the
other, you know that campaign supervisor could well reach high into the
MATTHEWS: Now, they`re all denying it. So, let`s go to the Sam Clovis,
who apparently was the next rung up on the ladder from Papadopoulos. So he
is denying a lot of this.
But one thing he is particularly denying is – his lawyer is denying rather
that he had anything to do with encouraging Papadopoulos to go to Russia by
saying, well, if he wanted to go on his own I couldn`t stop him. Well,
that is lawyer talk. Nobody said you couldn`t stop him.
But, who is going to go to Russia on their own dime on campaign business?
It seemed to me a very clever way of avoiding, yes, he did encourage him to
go. Your answers, Senator?
BLUMENTHAL: That statement of offense, the plea document is a remarkable
tableau. A chilling story of the collusion that Russia was seeking to
arrange and the multiple contacts that took place in March and April of
2016. To say it would have been a private, unauthorized trip simply fails
to pass the smell test.
And what`s really happening here is the special counsel is saying to all of
the potential witnesses, the train is leaving, this plea occurred on
October 5th. It was unsealed only recently. There is more to come.
Now is the time to follow Papadopoulos and cooperate, not Manafort, and
confront us and face this multiple-count indictment with very heavy
potential imprisonment. And I would predict we`ll see more actions soon,
more indictments, and possible plea agreements.
MATTHEWS: Carrie, let me ask you about this violation of the law. Maybe
it`s not always enforced but there`s something called the Logan Act. You
get the word on a campaign, these Russians want to meet to give us some
dirt, to work out something in terms of U.S. foreign policy, I assume.
They want somebody from the campaign to come over to Russia. They want to
meet and discuss this whole aspect if you might be the next president,
therefore, we`ve got to talk about this. And what we have to talk about is
helping you get that job as president. It just seems to be creepily
illegal, is it, what we`re hearing here?
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL OFFICE OF THE DIR. OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:
Well, you know, what`s amazing to me as someone who served on another
campaign`s advisory committee on foreign policy and national security is
that nobody in this who was receiving these different e-mails from
Papadopoulos seemed to understand Russia as a threat as it`s understood by
the rest of the intelligence community and national security community.
Russia – the director of National Intelligence has put out reports that
indicate that Russia is a military, diplomatic, cybersecurity, economic
threat to the United States.
And so, what`s in the Papadopoulos plea is just one snapshot of one
person`s explanation of the various e-mails and communications that were
trying to be set up with representatives of the Russian government. But
there is more to what Papadopoulos knows that is probably not in that plea
agreement that the special counsel`s office knows and the special counsel`s
office is now going to look at what all the other individuals in the
campaign knew about these potential meetings and coordinations that took
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Blumenthal, I just mentioned we also learned this
week that in a meeting with Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions in March of
2016, Papadopoulos said that he had connections that could help arrange a
meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin himself, which
Padopoulos later tried to arrange. Well, today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders
told reporters she doesn`t believe the president remember – well, this is
an interesting statement – she doesn`t believe, she doesn`t believe.
Whatever she believes was what the president tells her, that the president
So, how does she know? And she thinks the president remembers, he –
that`s what he tells her, he wants to say he believes or whatever. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does the president recall at the March
31st, 2016 meeting of his National Security Advisory Board Mr. Papadopoulos
suggesting the meeting between then-candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin?
Does he recall that?
SANDERS: No, I don`t believe he does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, and Nicolle, pictures worth a thousand words and we`re
looking at this interesting picture of what looks to be almost a Roosevelt
room meeting, but it`s obviously some of the campaign room. We have got
this young fella, Papadopoulos, sitting of to the left between Sessions at
one end of the table and the candidate for president at the other end. And
he has been denied, his very existence is being denied now.
We`re hearing from Sessions now for months there was no meeting about
Russia ever. There was no connection with Russia, blah, blah, blah. We
heard all that. And from Trump now through Huckabee Sanders we`re hearing
he doesn`t – according to her, she believes, she believes what she is told
to believe, of course, she has to represent the president.
She believes that the president believes or says he believes that he forgot
that this guy ever exists. They are going into operation separation. It`s
like caster`s last stand. Divide the column and somehow we`ll survive.
That seems to be their strategy, scatter.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR, DEADLINE WHITEHOUSE: Well, and it`s one
we`ve seen before. He branded Jeb Bush, low energy, Jebbie. Branded Marco
Rubio little Marco.
They decided to brand George Papadopoulos once they learned he`d pled
guilty and have been cooperating with Bob Mueller`s investigator since at
least July, low-level George. But that doesn`t – they`re not involved in
a political campaign anymore. This is definitely not a branding exercise.
And Bob Mueller is impervious and indifferent to Donald Trump`s smears for
And so, I think they`ve just entered a phase where they may successfully
convince the 32% of the country that will be with Donald Trump till the end
of whatever this is, that George Papadopoulos was a low-level aide and
doesn`t matter. And that may have been their goal. I don`t know. But
they – what they say about George Papadopoulos will have no bearing on
what Bob Mueller already learned from him, what he may continue to learn
from him as Bob Mueller now questions other aides that may have been around
the campaign, that may have come into contact with other since Donald Trump
was sworn in.
So they`re entering a phase, as you pointed out at the beginning, where
everyone who goes in and answers questions from the FBI, from Bob Mueller`s
investigators, must tell the truth or they could face perjury charges.
MATTHEWS: You know, you`re an inside politically, and I was there too,
maybe not as high as you were, Nicolle. You were pretty high. But I just
– first of all I want to go back to something that so ethnic, it sounds
awful but I`ll stick to it. I never met a Russian in politics in 50 years.
WALLACE: Me either.
MATTHEWS: – floating in and out of the office. You know, like they`re
just around at the convention talking about the Ukraine plank and the
platform. Bob Mueller –Manafort was working for the Russians carter page.
Well, of course he is working for the Russians.
Flynn is having dinner with Vladimir Putin. I mean, give me a break. This
Russian, Russo files.
But the second point one is another you can connect. If you heard in a
campaign when you`re downhill, they weren`t going to beat Hillary, last May
or June, whatever. They weren`t going be hard.
She was – got it made, of course. Then he hear that there somebody over
in Russia that`s got some little tinker toy information that might be used
against terror, they might turn the tide. Wouldn`t` you know about it if
it came up at the table? Wouldn`t you ever forget it if it came up at the
table you`re sitting at and we saw him sitting there with the candidate?
He brings up Russia go, that`s something I won`t forget. They`ve got her
e-mails, they got whatever they used. All they want is somebody to come
over and pick up the junk.
Come over and get it. That`s all they want. And you wouldn`t remember
WALLACE: Well, of course you would remember it. And of course you would
pass it on. I mean if we know one thing about Donald Trump`s campaign, I
mean, it was good enough that they figured out how to win, but it was small
enough that they certainly all knew each other.
So this idea that he was some low-level coffee boy is not only insulting
and rude and, frankly, stupid. He is now cooperating with federal
investigators, talking about everything he saw and heard on the campaign.
So calling him low-level, calling him a coffee boy, is not going to help
And the idea, you know, they never forget meetings with anyone from any
other country. They have had so many contacts with so many Russians, they
all either lie about it, forget about it or, you know, have to turn state`s
evidence to talk about it.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump talked to the “New York Times” tonight by
phone late today. And he said, I`m not under investigation, as you know.
And when it comes to the Manafort indictment, the President said, and even
if you look at that there is not even a mention of Trump in there. It has
nothing to do with us.
Joy, what do you think of the flakry (ph) that`s going on here? All the
way down from the President – this Bagdad-Bob approach? There was no
Russian involvement, there was no flirtation from our side with them.
There were no meetings.
Jeff Sessions got the memo there were no meetings. We never met with
anybody. There are line – this outer line of defense, the outer redoubt,
the perimeter, is so far out there that they look like they`re lying from
day one because it`s never proven to be correct.
They`ve had relations. The Russians are out to change the election. It`s
all in the paper. It`s all news now. It`s not an argument.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, “I AM JOY”: Yes.
MATTHEWS: What are they up to with the all-out stone walling? As we call
in Water Gates.
REID: Well, and I even worked in that. If there was any collusion with
Hillary Clinton, it was colluded with the Russia –
MATTHEWS: You`re doing their handiwork.
REID: – you know what interesting is you have to go back and you have to
think about where Donald Trump was in March of 2016 when George
Papadopoulos gets brought on to the campaign. When Sam Clovis, who is now
in the spotlight as well, assembles Donald Trump`s foreign policy advisory
committee. Why did he do that?
I have worked on campaigns and I can tell you, every single person on that
committee, no is not going to be interacting with Corey Lewandowski, who is
the campaign manager. What that committee`s job is, is to put together a
foreign policy platform, put them the speech writers and the policy people
and the campaign people can take out to show that this is a serious
candidate for President. In March of 2016 nobody thought Donald Trump was
a serious potential President.
He was seen as somebody with obviously no political experience, no foreign
policy experience, just a guy from “The Apprentice” who was a joke even to
Republicans. And the idea that he could be a serious person on foreign
policy is something that really bothered Donald Trump. And so he was
proactively trying to demonstrate that he would have a policy platform, and
a policy platform.
What did the platform constantly involve? Better relationships with
Russia, changing our attitude toward Russia versus the Ukraine. What were
all of these people who were advisers towards sitting on Sam Clovis`
committee, which included Jeff Sessions by the way. Jeff Session was sort
of the big man on the committee. Sam Clovis put it together. They`re
trying to show their worth. That`s what you doing.
MATTHEWS: And who are they working for? The Russians or Trump?
REID: They`re working to try to show that they can bring Donald Trump and
Vladimir Putin together.
REID: That they create a Trump-Putin axis, because that is what Donald
Trump is bringing to the table.
Every single scandal related to Russia has to do with two things. People
trying to demonstrate that they can get Trump and Putin in the same room
and people trying to show they can find the 33,000 e-mails. And that
Russia has them, I`m going to go get them and show my worth.
That`s Trump`s problem. All the people ensnared in Russia-Gate were trying
to do one of those two things.
MATTHEWS: So with the way to get ahead in the campaign was to put – to
get these two people together. Now they went to get ahead and the legal
community is to spend your efforts proving they had nothing to do with each
REID: Exactly. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Nicolle, did you say something?
WALLACE: No. I mean, I agree with Joy. And I think that this idea that
Donald Trump was a blank slate on national security and foreign policy is
true with the exception of Russia.
WALLACE: He had really strong instincts. He had really strong feelings
about the way Putin ran his own country, about the things he liked and
about his desire. And he was – he had fights with our colleague Joe
Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. He defended Vladimir Putin when they said
he is a killer. He kills journalists he said, well we kill people too.
So for a guy who was a blank slate who really didn`t know much about
national security and foreign policy, he knew he liked Vladimir Putin.
MATTHEWS: That`s when sound like Michael Cariane (ph), who says, we don`t
kill anyway. Anyway, by the way, I remember a president who said they
could see into Putin`s soul, all the way in there. And I forget who that
WALLACE: But the policies did not look anything like this President.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. Nicolle Wallace, thank you, Joy Reid, Carrie
Cordero and Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you sir, always for coming
Coming up, President Trump began the morning after the Manhattan terror
attack with a tweet storm. Wasn`t that appropriate? Well, did he bring
the country together? Not exactly. His plenty went after Chuck Schumer
and the leader of the Democrats and all the Democrats blamed everybody for
everything. The instant politicization of what happened yesterday in New
York is start contrast to President`s reaction to deadly shooting massacre
in Las Vegas one month ago.
Plus, with the election for Virginia governor just one week out now, White
House Chief of Staff, John Kelly dives into the culture war. Is that where
he wanted to go? Resurrecting the debate over the confederate monuments
and arguing that a lack of compromise was that what it was, led to the
civil war. Went to a lot of compromises before that war?
And new reports tonight about the toll the Mueller investigation is taking
inside the White House. Former Trump Aides is now fear the investigation,
poses an existential threat to the Trump presidency. And he really do.
And some are urging Trump to step up attacks on the man bearing the bad
news, that`s the special prosecutor himself.
But let me finish with what`s called in politics a comparison ad. This is
“Hardball,” where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Former first lady, Michelle Obama today criticized President
Donald Trump though not by name. Speaking at an event in Chicago early
today, Mrs. Obama argued that people shouldn`t share their every thought on
social media. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FMR. FIRST LADY: These whole tell it like it is business,
that`s nonsense. You know, you don`t just say what`s on your mind, you
don`t tweet every thought. Most of your first, initial thoughts – are not
worthy of the light of day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
OBAMA: And I`m not talking about anybody in particular. I am talking
about us all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s been over 24 hours since a 29-year-old man drove a rental truck into a
pedestrian bike path along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan, killing
eight people and injuring 12 in the deadliest terror attack on the city
Tonight, we`re learning more about Sayfullo Saipov, who has been charged
with supporting support to ISIS and violence and destruction of motor
vehicles. Saipov is a legal immigrant who moved to the United States from
Uzbekistan in 2010.
According to U.S. officials, Saipov planned to continue his attack
yesterday near the Brooklyn Bridge.
New York Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller told reporters that the
assailant perpetrated the attack on behalf of ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: It appears that Mr. Saipov had been
planning this for a number of weeks. He did this in the name of ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, earlier today, President Trump blamed the attack in part
on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, tweeting: “The terrorist came into
our country through what`s called the diversity visa lottery program, a
Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit-based. We are fighting hard for merit-
based immigration. No more Democrat lottery systems. We must get much
tougher and smarter.”
Well, the president was apparently reacting to a news story of sorts he saw
on “FOX & Friends.” At issue IS the diversity immigrant visa program,
commonly known as the green card lottery, which is designed to increase the
number of immigrants into the United States from countries that have a low
U.S. immigration rate.
It was a bipartisan bill actually signed into law by the first President
Well, the president`s political attack so soon after a terror attack got a
swift pushback from Chuck Schumer and a few of his Republican colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The president ought to stop tweeting
and start leading. The American people long for leadership, not
divisiveness, not finger-pointing, not name-calling.
This is a tragedy. It`s less than a day than – after it occurred, and he
can`t refrain from his nasty, divisive habits.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don`t know that they bring out the best
in our country.
QUESTION: Is it too soon to go after Senator Chuck Schumer?
CORKER: I don`t know that`s the way you bring out the best in our country.
But everybody has their ways, I guess.
QUESTION: What would you have liked to seen the president do after,
instead of that tweeting and Schumer?
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, I mean, shoot, express some solidarity
with those who are trying to fix this program, or fix the situation. We
shouldn`t look for blame one day after like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Christine Quinn, vice chair of the
Democratic State Committee up here in New York and former NYC Council
speaker here in New York City, and former Republican Congressman from
Florida Dave Jolly.
Congressman, let me ask you about this, this impulse to go after
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Sure.
MATTHEWS: Right after Las Vegas and that horrible shooting out there last
month, early last month, the conservatives said, you know, we shouldn`t be
talking politics and gun control after such a horrible tragedy. Let`s give
And here the president is within hours blaming some law that was passed
under bipartisan support back in the `90s, early `90s, and saying we should
blame Chuck Schumer.
What do you make of the politics? We`re talking about immigration politics
before we even know what happened or even the motive necessarily of this
And, as you said, a law that also got the vote of Mitch McConnell and
signed by Bush 41. Look, it`s obvious that the president and Republicans
and conservatives chose to stay silent after Las Vegas because it
confronted and challenged the conservative narrative of unfettered access
And in this case, in New York, it actually confirms the conservative
narrative that somehow all of these national tragedies are a result of
immigrants who come here and commit these atrocities.
Look, we can`t overlook with this president that, in Vegas, it was a man
born in the United States with white skin, and, in New York, it was a man
born overseas with brown skin.
The question is, are these statements by the president and reactions, are
they an intentional manipulation of today`s politics, or is there an innate
and intrinsic bias within this president that does not allow him to
confront of public policy-making in the wake of national tragedy?
MATTHEWS: Christine, I have known you a bit. I must say that – I know
you are a Democrat and a liberal and all those good things, but let me ask
you about the simple human thing here.
Instead of calling out public officials, like you were in New York City,
and saying, let`s get together and see what we can learn about this thing,
what can we avoid maybe the next time, have a better chance of avoiding –
you can`t avoid every hell that comes your way – he calls them out.
CHRISTINE QUINN (D), FORMER NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: Yes.
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t call them up. He calls them out.
The politics, the mannerisms of this president are always look for the
partisan divide, and, if you can, if you are really lucky, look for an
ethnic divide. If you can break it along racial, ethnic background lines,
it`s a winner for Donald Trump.
And it`s – it`s always wrong, but in the face of what happened yesterday,
it`s actually cruel to America. I mean, Chris, yesterday this
bikeway/walkway where eight people were killed – and thank God not more
because of a New York City police officer – it`s a stone`s throw from
where the original World Trade towers were taken down, a stone`s throw from
where 3,000 people died, and, tragically, thousands of those people are
still – that`s their final resting place.
We had Hillary Clinton say when she went down to Ground Zero it was like
walking through the gates of hell, a Democrat. We had President George W.
Bush come and famously stand with firefighters. We needed that in New
York. We needed to know that the entire country, all parties, wrapped
their arms around us and stood with us.
And we needed that yesterday. And Las Vegas needed that. And, tragically,
other cities where this might – I pray not – happen, that`s what we need.
QUINN: Because at moments of death and fear – and, look, people are
afraid. We need people to stand up and say, it`s going to be OK because we
have locked our arms.
Now, I know, Chris, in New York, we have locked our arms, and we will push
on, but we shouldn`t have to push on in spite of the president of the
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, the bad guy couldn`t stop Halloween in New York last
QUINN: That`s – and he never will.
MATTHEWS: … which I will say is great.
Congressman, I like political deals when they`re up front and they`re
clean. I remember, after 9/11…
MATTHEWS: … I don`t want to even think about people standing on the roof
of that building and having to jump to avoid being burned alive. It`s just
one of the horrors of human history, I think.
MATTHEWS: And – but after it, two politicians stood next to each other.
W. – I am not a big fan of W. I thought that war with Iran was irrelevant
and awful. But he did stand next to Senator Schumer, a real Democrat deal-
maker. And he said, what do you need? And he said, I need $20 billion.
He said, you got it.
JOLLY: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And I think that was the way, briskly and professionally, two
pols that knew what they were doing and were doing their job did them.
What do you make of this president and how he deals with everything,
MATTHEWS: It just seems like he always looks for the statues issue. He`s
back in there again with his chief of staff looking for North-South,
blue/gray fighting again.
MATTHEWS: Trying to reignite the – reenact – I don`t mind reenactors,
but he`s trying to reignite the Civil War.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of your fellow Republican?
JOLLY: Chris, I was a Hill staffer, like you.
JOLLY: And, after 9/11, my boss was chairman of the Appropriations
Committee from Florida, a Republican, who said to Hillary Clinton, we are
all New Yorkers now. A lot of people said that.
JOLLY: And we worked together on that.
And you raise a good point about, what about other Republicans? because
this is not just about Donald Trump. The silence of Republicans after Las
Vegas is deafening, as they say.
Sarah Sanders today said, listen, Trump was just trying to look out for the
safety of the American people by speaking out about this immigration
policy. But yet he never spoke to the issue of firearms and what is a
reasonable compromise between the parties after Las Vegas.
And so this is more than just Donald Trump. This is a party who is happy
to look the other way when it is domestic homegrown terror, whether it`s
somebody doing it in the name of ISIS or somebody doing it because they
wound over 500 people in Las Vegas.
But when it fits their narrative to be xenophobic and to create this fear,
to create this binary choice for Donald Trump between the red-blooded
Americans that support him and those who represent diversity of the United
States, this president will exploit that every time. And Republicans in
Congress go along with him. And it`s shameful.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s going to kill the brand.
Your thoughts, Christine? Last thought to you, Madam Speaker, Madam
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
QUINN: The congress member is right.
This president, and the Republican Party, and we see again only Flake and
Corker speaking out. They make it about them vs. us, who did us wrong, how
can we get them, when it just should be all of us together in moments like
QUINN: And forget our parties. Forget where we came from. We should be
And somehow, the – sadly, the president of the United States either never
knew that, forgot it, or doesn`t care.
MATTHEWS: You know, a lot of Islamic people died for this country. Go to
Arlington Cemetery over there at the vaults where they are buried in.
Check it out. They`re not all crosses. They`re not all Stars of David.
They`re not all.
Anyway, thank you, Christine Quinn and former Congressman David Jolly.
Up next: With less than a week to go in the Virginia governor`s race,
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly finds himself, puts himself in the
middle of another white-hot debate, this time over the statues of the
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger with
The man who plowed a rented truck into pedestrians in Lower Manhattan has
been charged with one count of material support to a terrorist organization
and a count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle.
Sayfullo Saipov says he was inspired by ISIS videos he watched on his cell
phone and plotted the attack for weeks. Eight people were killed. A dozen
more were injured.
The New York City police officer who shot Saipov is being called a hero.
Twenty-eight-year-old officer Ryan Nash opened fire after Saipov ignored
commands to surrender, hitting him in the abdomen. In a brief on-camera
statement, Nash thanked family and friends for their support – back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, history is history.
And there are certain things in history that were not so good and other
things that were very, very good. I think – I think we make a mistake,
though, as a society and certainly as individuals, when we take what is
today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on interpreting history.
Well, with less than one week until voters head to the polls to elect
Virginia`s next governor, Kelly this week resurrected the old debate over a
hot-button issue, the removal, the tearing down of Confederate monuments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a
man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which in – 150 years
ago was more important than country.
It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it`s
different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil
War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where
their conscience had them make their stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the monument issue has taken center stage in that Virginia
governor`s race right now between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democratic
Ralph Northam, the lieutenant governor down there.
The new “Washington Post” poll shows the race tightening, with Northam
leading Gillespie by five points, which is in the margin of error.
For more, I`m joined by Susan Page, my colleague, Washington bureau chief
for “USA Today.”
Susan, first of all, there`s a – I know you don`t like getting into values
questions, but I know you are at home personally with them. Can you say
the issue of slavery is relative to the time period? I mean, people like
John Brown, you know, they were hanged for opposing slavery. There was an
abolitionist movement in the North.
Certainly, every slave was against slavery. Every African-American at the
time was against slavery. It wasn`t like slavery was overwhelmingly
popular as a moral cause back in 1861.
For him to say, well, it was once OK, now it`s not OK doesn`t square with
fact. It wasn`t OK. We went to war in the North; 600,000 white people
were killed in that war, mostly white. They were killed fighting over the
It was a real moral issue. And “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was all
about getting rid of that slavery. And to say it was just some
compromisable issue, I don`t know what history he took in college, in high
school. What history was that?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “USA TODAY”: You know, Civil War
historians say that is an inaccurate version of what happened in the Civil
And I am not sure what a compromise on slavery would have looked like, that
it`s so clearly a moral issue.
MATTHEWS: Well, they made one in the Constitution, three-fifths of a
PAGE: They did.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that was a compromise.
PAGE: And it didn`t hold. It wasn`t a sustainable position to take. It
wasn`t a moral position to take.
And, in the end, we fought a war that divided our nation over the issue of
slavery. And the South lost. And the South fought that war. The cause of
the war was the defense of slavery. And I think it`s important as
Americans to remember that.
That`s part of our history and that`s part of our racial history. And,
boy, this Virginia race is a reminder that our racial history continues to
have outsized political power.
MATTHEWS: It sure does.
Well, today, Sanders, his spokesman, asked to – was asked to define
Kelly`s comments about compromise. Let`s hear her flackery, if you will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What is the definition of compromise as it relates to slavery
and the Civil War?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I am not going
to get in and re-litigate the Civil War.
QUESTION: Does this administration believe, does this president believe
slavery was wrong?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think it is disgusting and absurd to suggest that
anyone inside of this building would support slavery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, that wasn`t the question. And it certainly
wasn`t the right answer.
Let me ask you about the politics of this thing. I guess I am one person
who looks at this politically and wonders why Northam took such a strong
position for taking down the statues, because it`s a real tricky question,
because certainly battlefield generals could be properly left on the
battlefield in Gettysburg, and places like that, in Bull Run, in places
They were in the battles. They were fighting it. It would make sense to
memorialize their role in these battles. You can argue about it in public
parks. But I wonder if this is a winner politically in the state of – the
Commonwealth of Virginia.
PAGE: Well, I think it`s been very helpful to Ed Gillespie to raise these
issues in the ads that he is running on television, especially in the rural
parts of Virginia, less so in the kind of northern – the northern suburbs.
I think it`s one of the things that`s made this – has made this race
frighteningly close for Democrats.
PAGE: We have seen seven statewide polls in the month of October.
Northam, the Democrat, led only in four of them. Gillespie led in three of
them. This is a clearly a race that could go either way, although we think
probably Northam probably has a single-digit lead at the moment.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think Robert E. Lee is Ed Gillespie`s running mate.
Anyway, thank you, Susan Page.
Up next: As the Mueller investigation intensifies, Trump`s inner circle is
divided over how to respond to the Russian probe. Should they go to war
with Mueller and try to destroy him or take a less combative approach? I
haven`t seen much of that.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MADDOW: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The White House has been presenting itself like Monday`s indictments in the
Russia investigation aren`t a big deal.
But not everyone is so calm. NBC News reports that, quote, Steve Bannon
has been advising the president to start attacking Mueller. That`s
according to multiple sources. “Vanity Fair” reports that advisers in the
West Wing are on edge and doing whatever they cannot to be ensnared in the
In a “Washington Post” article titled: Upstairs at home with TV on, Trump
Fumes Over Russian Indictments. A senior Republican in close contact with
top staffers said, quote, the walls are closing in. Everyone is freaking
But the president pushed back on that narrative, of course, telling the
“New York Times” tonight, that, quote, I`m actually not angry at anybody.
Well, let`s bring in tonight`s round table. Ashley Parker, she`s been
reporting this, is a White House reporter for “The Washington Post.”
Eugene Robinson is a “Washington Post” columnist and MSNBC contributor and
Jonathan Swann, national political reporter for “Axios”.
Ashley, you are on top of the story. When you get into the White House,
are they afraid of being caught up in this sort of perjury trap where you
are asked questions that are detailed and you can deny them, but you`re
going to get caught and mouse trapped right away? Are they afraid of being
overheard saying something that sounds like obstruction by one of their
work mates? What`s the fear?
ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. So, the
concern is – and this has been the case for a while – that anytime Russia
comes up, aides want nothing to do with it. They don`t want to be in
meetings about it, and they certainly – and this was more true under the
previous chief of staff – they didn`t want to be almost even in a hallway
conversation where they accidentally overheard something that might force
them to hire a lawyer and be part of Mueller`s probe.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Let me go to Gene on this. This is – you know, I mean,
we both went through Watergate, and I`m telling you, there are landmarks
we`re passing in this. There are people are beginning to tell the truth.
There are people getting squeezed by the prosecutors. There are people who
want to tell the truth because they are mad at the president, none of that
yet. But people want to save their butts.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. These things go step by
I`ll tell you what would really alarm me I think if I worked in the White
House was – you know, everyone expected that maybe Manafort would be
subject to indictment or charges, something like that. Everyone knew that
Mueller would probably go after Manafort. Nobody knew about the
Papadopoulos thing until it happened. This was a surprise. And he was
cooperating for potentially three months with the – with the special
Was he doing recorded phone calls during that period? Who else might be
cooperating? Who else might have talked to Mueller? These are questions
that have to be on everybody`s mind right now.
MATTHEWS: You know, Jonathan, this guy Papadopoulos, maybe because of the
photos we keep seeing him sort of advertising the Greek islands. He looks
like a party guy. But he doesn`t look like a guy who wants to go away to
prison for 10 years of his young life.
And then we hear, well, he may have perjured himself and therefore, they`ve
got him hooked. And then you`ll say, well, next rung on the ladder, they
go up to Clovis, his boss, and they`ll do the same thing to him. Did you
arrange or approve a trip to Russia under any circumstances? And this
baloney about, well, you can go there on your own. Why would anybody go to
Russia on their own dime when they`re working for the campaign?
It`s all an attempt, it seems, Victoria Toensing, the lawyer, to try to
lawyer their way out of Clovis being in the same situation. Hey, you`re
talking about a Russian intrigue, getting into Russian territory,
literally, to get stuff from them on Hillary.
You are into collusion, guys! And now, they`re saying, well, it was only
on your own dime, you`re paying for your own trip. I mean, this is – the
defense is a little bit Mickey Mouse, I think. Go ahead.
JONATHAN SWAN, REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, I think, you know, one of the funny
things about Papadopoulos is, you know, I covered the campaign. I have
been covering this for two years. I never heard of the guy. I was getting
calls yesterday from people going who is this guy?
MATTHEWS: Well, there he is, we`re looking at him in the room there.
SWAN: I know we are. But I would just say, that there is some truth to
the fact that this guy really was not involved. But obviously, we`ll
follow the email trail and see where it goes.
MATTHEWS: Well, he was involved with the Russians, though, explain that
SWAN: Sure, I`m not going to explain because I don`t know what he did with
the Russians. But I`m just saying, internally, he is a huge problem,
because no one really at the top level knows who he is. Obviously, he sent
some e-mails. We`ll see where that goes.
I think the bigger concern for people close to Trump, I know the bigger
concern, is just what the indictments revealed about the scope of where
Mueller is looking. I mean, the fact that he is willing to go to
associates of Trump, look at financial crimes that may be tangentially
related or not even related to Russia and collusion, this is a very broad
area of inquiry. Once he starts looking at people who were actually
financially entangled with the president, then it starts to get very
concerning for people internally.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s going to be a comprehensive investigation and
SWAN: Without question.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the round table is sticking with us, and up next, these
three will give me scoops hopefully for tomorrow.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: My nationwide book tour for “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” has
reached number one on Amazon. It included a stop last night on Stephen
Colbert`s “Late Show”. Colbert told me he was struck by the picture on the
back of the book, the one that shows a poor white family standing in salute
as Bobby Kennedy`s funeral train passed by on its way to Arlington
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, TV HOST, LATE SHOW: Thank you for this book about Bobby
Kennedy. Hereto me is the heartbreaking Kennedy. This picture, one of the
earliest memories of my life was watching that train. And I remember my
sister putting her arms around me and point me to the TV and explaining
what was happening and who this man was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: My tour picks up tonight with a stop on “THE 11TH HOUR WITH
BRIAN WILLIAMS”, right here on MSNBC.
And tomorrow morning, I`m going to join the women of “The View.”
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Ashley, tell me something I don`t know.
PARKER: Sure. According to internal drafts circulating within the West
Wing, the president`s North Korea speech that he plans to deliver on his
Asia trip will be his most forceful and pointed remarks on the region yet.
MATTHEWS: Do we worry as journalists that there might be – this might be
seen as provocative, as they say in the East-West conflict, provocative to
the North Koreans?
PARKER: I think it`s intended to be provocative to the North Koreans.
ROBINSON: Forty-two days after the hurricane, two-thirds of Puerto Rico is
still in the dark. But a D.C. chef, a well-known D.C. chef, Jose Andres,
went down after the hurricane and he has so far served more than 2 million
meals to Puerto Ricans who desperately needed them. That`s more than the
Red Cross, more than the Salvation Army, more than any other entity.
So, just a shoutout to Jose Andres for stepping up at a time when people
really needed it.
MATTHEWS: You know, Gene, you and I know that not all of our leaders are
in government and he`s one of our leaders, Jose.
MATTHEWS: I`ve seen him do this kind of thing before.
SWAN: There`s an ABC story today that perfectly and comically highlights
the divisions between the Trump White House and GOP leadership on the Hill,
specifically Paul Ryan. They`re fighting over the name of the tax bill.
Paul Ryan`s office had some idea, you know, some conventional idea, the Tax
Relief Act or something along those lines. Trump wants to call it The Cut
Cut Cut Act of 2017.
I laughed when I first heard it. I actually think it`s branding genius.
MATTHEWS: It sounds to me like Sesame Street.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ashley Parker. Thank you, Gene Robinson and Jonathan
When we return, let me finish with what is called in politics a comparison
ad. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with what is called in politics a
comparison ad. I`d like a moment of your time to compare two figures in
modern American electoral life. One is Donald Trump and the other, Robert
Kennedy, the man I spent the last several years discovering anew.
Think of what it is that sets President Trump apart, what distinguishes him
in your view. One, he divides in order to conquer. He launched his
presidential campaign declaring that the first African-American president
was an illegal immigrant, someone born in Africa who snuck into the
country, assumed a phantom identity, no one knew him in school and managed
to con his way into the country`s highest office.
Bobby Kennedy in contrast fought for civil rights for African-Americans,
championed immigrant farm workers, insisted we treat all Americans,
including Native Americans, with fairness and generosity.
Compare the two on empathy. Bobby Kennedy spoke to an African-American
group the night Dr. Martin Luther King was killed and asked them for
understanding, spoke of his own family`s loss to violence. Donald Trump
spends his time ripping open the wounds of our society, whether the matter
is Confederate statues or NFL football players taking a knee. Bobby worked
for peace among Americans, Trump tramples on such hopes.
Another difference, Bobby Kennedy showed the ability to learn, to grow, to
become a better leader. He went from dispatch and observer of civil rights
to powerful champion, from hawk to dove, from backer of the Vietnam War to
zealous opponent. Donald Trump is always unchangeably Donald Trump,
tweeting at dawn with the same zest to agitate, instigate, anger, disturb,
confuse, mostly distract.
“Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” which became available yesterday is a
reminder to our own spirit of everything Donald Trump is not.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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