Trump slams Franken, quiet on Moore Transcript 11/17/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: November 17, 2017
Guest: Rachael Bade, Alexi McCammond, Clarence Page; Shannon Pettypiece, Eugene Scott
[19:00:00] ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: And “Hardball” with Chris
Matthews starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The star falls in Alabama. Let`s play
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Dallas, Texas.
Roy Moore`s wife delivered a defiant message today. Kayla Moore told a
crowd of supporters her husband wasn`t going anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLA MOORE, ROY MOORE`S WIFE: All of the very same people who were
attacking President Trump are also attacking us. Let me set the record
straight, even after all the attacks against me, against my family, against
the foundation, and now against my husband, he will not step down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And yet, Republicans may have reason to be nervous. Two polls
two days in a row show Moore trailing his Democratic opponent. The latest
poll out today shows Moore five points behind. And yesterday, a FOX News
poll had him down eight points.
In Washington, there is one Republican, however, glaringly absent from the
conversation about Roy Moore. President Donald Trump hasn`t spoken or
tweeted a word about the Senate candidate since returning from his trip to
Asia. And here is how the President reacted to a question this week about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Thank
you. Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President? Do you
believe his accusers?
TRUMP: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the accusers of Roy Moore, Mr.
President? Should he resign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, his response was very different to another scandal.
Yesterday a radio news anchor Leeanne Tweeden accused Senator Al Franken of
kissing her without permission. It happened during a USO tour in 2006.
The two were rehearsing a skit. She also released this photo of Franken
appearing to grab her chest while she slept. Well, Tweeden said today she
accepted Franken`s apology.
Last night Trump tweeted, the Al Frankenstein picture is really bad.
Speaks a thousand words. Where do his Hands go in pictures two, three,
four, five, and six while she sleeps? And to think that just last week he
was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect
for women. Well, Trump ends with the question, Leslie Staal tape?
That appears to be a reference to a 1995 “New York” magazine article which
“Saturday Night Live” writers were discussing a skit about “60 Minutes.”
Franken, then a writer on the show, suggested a joke about raping Leslie
Staal. Well, Trump is the man who once bragged about being able to grab
women`s private parts. More than a dozen women have accused him of sexual
assault or misconduct. He has denied all of them.
Anyway, White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about all
the different responses to the two stories. Let`s watch her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some critics have said it was hypocritical of the
president to tweet about Al Franken and not weigh in on Roy Moore.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has weighed in on
Roy Moore. He did it while he was on a foreign trip in Asia. I did it
repeatedly yesterday. To suggest that this White House, and specifically
that this President hasn`t weighed in is just inaccurate and wrong. He
weighed in. He said if the allegations are true, he should step aside. He
also weighed in when he supported the RNC`s decision to withdraw resources
from the state of Alabama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by author and MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes,
Bloomberg White House reporter Shannon Pettypiece, and Chicago Tribune
columnist Clarence Page.
I want to start with Charlie on this. What do you make of, well, it`s
probably so obvious a question, but I will ask you, why does he not talk
about Moore but he talks about Franken? So kind of rough to put it
CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, the hypocrisy has
hair on it in this particular case, you know. Number one, Donald Trump
understands that his base is still with Roy Moore, and that`s the message
that Steve Bannon has been spitting out and nothing this President ever
does separates from the base, you know.
And number two, look, you know, this is his playbook. The playbook is to
play the card of what aboutism. And he thinks this playbook worked for
him. This is basically almost the entire message of the Moore campaign,
the evangelical Christians supporting Moore, the Trump world people
supporting Moore, which is to turn it around just like he did after “Access
Hollywood.” The question is whether that playbook really accounts for the
way in which the game has I think changed. The ground is shifting but he
is still going back to, this is what Donald Trump does. He punches back
and he does not separate himself from his base.
[19:05:02] MATTHEWS: Yes. And I don`t know where to start here.
Shannon Pettypiece, I mean, this is – you know, the way the President
played this was so gross. It wasn`t like he said there is the guy caught
in a terribly embarrassing and off manner satirizing, he was touching this
woman for a picture taking thing while he was asleep. Ok, that`s bad
enough. Then he suggested this kind of like the Bill Cosby allegation
something that he is groping her all part of her body. I mean, he out
grosses Al Franken in this thing by a mile in his own imagination. Let`s
call it that, his image - although we know it is probably worse than that.
What do you think?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes. I mean, the tweet really doesn`t
make very much sense. I mean, like a lot of his tweets don`t necessarily
MATTHEWS: But where are we in pictures two, three, four, five, and six?
PETTYPIECE: I don`t know if there were two, three, four, I don`t think
they were other pictures.
MATTHEWS: Of course, there probably weren`t.
PETTYPIECE: So it doesn`t make any sense, you know. But I mean, to
Charlie`s point, this strategy that – I see a lot of parallels between
this and the “Access Hollywood” tape. I mean, there is even a similar time
between now and when the “Access Hollywood” we have got about three weeks,
four weeks before the election.
There`s a lot that can help between now and then. And if Roy Moore takes
the Donald Trump strategy of dig his heels in, fight, fight, fight,
counterpunch, raise a few doubts in people`s minds, hold your ground, you
know, he think he probably he could pull off the same thing because when
the voters of Alabama go by themselves in that voting booth, and there have
been lifelong Republicans, are they going to pull the lever for the name of
the Democrat on there? And that doesn`t seem to be any serious momentum
right now to get another Republican in there.
MATTHEWS: Well, Clarence, let`s get back to our area of specialty and
comfort which is politics. It seems to me that as we talk about it here up
in the national media, the people down in Alabama are taking care of this
quite well themselves. They are shifting, I guess especially the women
voters are shifting away from their normal voting pattern of voting
Republican here, and they are all shifting over at least in the polling
today and yesterday, to Jones, the Democratic nominee.
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I think that`s critical, Chris, you know.
One thing that Donald Trump knows about, it`s his base. He understands
audience. And I think the way he ran away from the microphone when he was
asked about Roy Moore today was indicative of how he does not want to
divide his base. And he sees that Roy Moore does divide the base. It`s a
heavy evangelical base, very moralistic in their thinking and very
conservative. And that`s what I think you are seeing in this erosion in
A lot of people are saying, I have got to go in there and decide who to
send to Washington to represent Alabama, represent my state. Do I want to
vote for a guy who is probably a pedophile? And that`s what people are
thinking down there. And that`s going to be very interesting because the
turnout, of course, is going to make a difference. Will they turn out for
Roy Moore or not?
MATTHEWS: Yes. I wonder if Megan`s law relates here.
Anyway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders today said comparisons between Franken and
trump were unfair, because Franken admitted to wrongdoing, and the
President has not. Just a reminder by the way, the President once bragged
about being able to get away with grabbing women by their private parts.
Let`s listen to that infamous quote from the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am automatically attracted to beautiful, I just start kissing
them. It is like magnet, you just kiss. (INAUDIBLE). And when you are a
star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (bleep).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: At the time Donald Trump the candidate dismissed that as “locker
room” talk. But during the campaign, more than a dozen women actually
accused Trump of sexual assault or misconduct. Here are some of their
(INAUDIBLE). These are actually people in public, On the Record, doing so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ACCUSER: It was a real shock when all of a sudden his
hands were all over me. He started encroaching on my space. And I
hesitate to use this expression, but I`m going to, and that is he was like
an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place.
JILL HARTH. TRUMP ACCUSER: He pushed me up against the wall and had his
hands all over me, and tried to get up my dress again. And I had to
physically say, what are you doing, stop it! It was a shocking thing to
have him do this.
KRISTIN ANDERSON, TRUMP ACCUSER: The person on my right, who unbeknownst
to me at that time was Donald trump, put their hands up my skirt. He did
touch my vagina through my underwear.
KARENA VIRGINIA, TRUMP ACCUSER: He then walked up to me and reached his
right arm and grabbed my right arm. Then his hand touched the right inside
of my breast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump called the claims against him, all of those
women, totally and absolutely false, and he attacked the women making those
charges. Let`s watch him in action here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These events never, ever happened, and the people that said them
fully understand. You take a look at these people. You study these people
and you`ll understand also.
These people are horrible people. They are horrible, horrible liars.
I have no idea who these women are, have no idea.
When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said I don`t think
so. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:10:11] MATTHEWS: Charlie, where do we begin here? I mean –.
MATTHEWS: As uncomfortable these conversations could be, those women were
explicit. They were wonderfully articulate and very credible. And they
seem to have a clear memory of what he did. He has no memory. He denies
it but he does say that they are horrible people. Then he says I don`t
know them. I don`t know people but they are horrible.
It`s his ability, the same sentence make 180 arguments from each other, and
that people applaud it. Explain.
SYKES: Well, this is going to be a hell of a problem for him and the
Republican Party because, you know, when you think about he was able to
pull this off by doing the Aboutism with Clinton a year ago, I think the
ground has shifted as I said before. But you know, just listening to those
sound bites again, you realize how incredibly ugly this is, that he is re-
abusing these women by attacking them.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Adding insult to injury.
SYKES: Adding insult to injury. But also what they are doing is, this is
a warning to women not to come forward because we will attack you and we
will vilify you and you will be ignored. This is going to be a live issue
for him again, you know, as this all plays out. There`s no way it doesn`t.
But it is also a problem for Republicans. And a lot of Republicans are
going to have to answer the question, you know, if you believe the other
women were making accusations, do you or do you not believe the women who
are making the charges against Donald Trump? And they have to answer that
at some point if it is pressed.
So it`s a problem for Trump. It`s going to come back. It is going to be a
live issue. It ought to be a live issue and it ought to be a live issue
for Republicans who have enabled him since the “Access Hollywood” video
MATTHEWS: You know, Shannon, I always accused the right (INAUDIBLE) always
obviously, but I have accused them over the years of conflation. They will
conflate something like what happened on 9/11 to us, the horror of 9/11
with Iraq and say we have to go to Iraq even though Iraq had nothing to do
with it. They are very good at this.
And in this case, they are conflating the misconduct and admitted
misconduct of senator Franken with the real problem, I mean, real personal
problem we have that it looks like it was an enduring problem, addiction
problem we have with Mr. Moore, Judge Moore. And they are throwing him
out. And I think that`s what Trump is up to. This moral equivalence that
is putting them all in the same category because the media has to struggle
to put these same stories in the same article without putting them in the
same category. He does make it hard to cover these stories accurately and
PETTYPIECE: Right. And it gets them to like this argument about whose
defense is worse? So this one admitted it and this one had six accusers,
this one had one. And it`s like some sort of a contest, I mean, like who
can be the biggest and you know, sexual offender here.
And I think though over – between now and the next election or the next
three years, we are just going to see more of these. I mean, we are just
going to see more of this. I mean, especially on Capitol Hill, and the
reporters I know have been walking the halls of Capitol Hill for years.
They know there are more stories out here. So it`s just going to be a
continual discussion about who did what, who is worse. And of course, like
where are we going to draw the line too of, you know, what was crossing the
line, what`s not crossing the line, what is going too far back in someone`s
past? It didn`t happen when they were in Congress.
I mean, I think there is a ground shifting and we are just at the very
beginning of this. I think there are going to be more and more and this
conversation is going to be in a completely different place a year from now
than where it is now.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And one guy is on a USO tour trying to help the troops,
doing something he shouldn`t have done. And the other guy is
trolling/shopping malls for teenagers. We have to put all this into our
head and think through this and discernment is what God gave us the ability
to do. And we should do it here.
Anyway, Charlie Sykes, it is great to have you on. Shannon Pettypiece as
always and my old pal Clarence Page.
Coming up, lots of developments in the Russian investigation today
including a new report from NBC News that Jared Kushner, remember him?
Son-in-law to the President. Failed to disclose a back door overture to
the campaign by Trump involving a Russian banker with alleged ties to the
Russian mob. And that Russian banker ended upsetting next to Donald Trump,
Jr. at an NRA event in Kentucky last May. Well the question is, why did he
end up there? Why are there always Russians nearby the Trumps? That`s
Plus, with accusations of sexual harassment on the front page, some
Democrats are beginning to reconsider the actions of former president Bill
Clinton. New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who owes her career in large
part to the Clinton, says Bill Clinton should have resigned after his
behavior in the Lewinsky scandal.
And house of lies. According to report this week, President Trump makes
five false or misleading claims every day he lives. It is a staggering
numbers, staggering percentage. But he is not the only administration
official who has trouble telling the truth, as Michael Gersham puts it, the
Russian investigation alone has led to a spectacular accumulation of lies
by Trump and his people.
Finally, let me finish tonight what I have decide the inspiring welcome I
have been getting from Bobby Kennedy raging speech across the country, Our
fans see the (INAUDIBLE) legacy by the way as atonic, don`t you think? For
all we have for going on today in politics.
And this is “Hardball” where the action is.
[19:16:50] MATTHEWS: A shouting match erupted late last night during a
Senate hearing for the Republican tax plan. Democratic Senator Sherrod
Brown of Ohio accused Republicans of writing a bill that favors
corporations and the rich instead of middle class Americans. And those
comments clearly got under the skin of the committee`s chairman, Republican
Senator Orrin Hatch. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: When Republicans are in power, the first
thing they want to do is give tax cuts to the rich. That`s just one –
it`s in their DNA. It`s what they are going to do.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I really resent anybody saying that I`m just
doing this for the rich. Give me a break. True, it`s nice political play.
SHERROD: Well, Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, I get sick and tired –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order, Mr. Chairman.
HATCH: Listen! I have honored you by allowing you to spout off here. And
what you said was not right! That`s all I`m saying. I come from the lower
middle class originally. We didn`t have anything. So don`t spew that
stuff on me. I get a little tired of that crap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know what I like to hear them being genuine and both those
guys were. And that said, according to a new analysis by a nonpartisan
congressional group, the Senate plan would give large tax cuts to the rich,
while raising taxes on those earning less than $75-k a year.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
There are new indications now, and today, in fact, that senior White House
adviser Jared Kushner, the president`s son-in-law, hasn`t been telling the
full truth to congressional investigators when it comes to the campaign`s
contacts with Russian officials.
In a letter yesterday to Kushner`s lawyer, the Senate Judiciary Committee
said that Kushner has failed to turn over documents that their committee
requested last month.
Among the missing documents are – quote – “communications to Mr. Kushner
concerning WikiLeaks, as well as documents concerning a Russian backdoor
overture and dinner invite.”
Well, now, in a late-breaking story tonight, NBC News is reporting tonight
that the undisclosed Russian overture involved a banker who has been
accused of links to Russian organized crime, and that`s according to three
sources familiar with the matter.
A series of e-mails described requests from Alexander Torshin, a former
Russian senator and close Putin ally, who wanted Trump to attend an event
he was organizing on the sidelines of an NRA, a National Rifle Association,
event out in May of 2016.
Well, according to NBC News, the e-mail also suggests Torshin was speaking
to meet with a high-level Trump campaign official during the convention and
that he may have had a message from Trump – for Trump from Putin, the
Well, while Kushner rebuffed the request, Torshin told Bloomberg that he
dined with Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner on the sidelines of an NRA
And joining me right now is Carol Lee, investigative reporter with NBC
News, and Paul Butler. He`s a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal
Carol Lee, thank you for joining us.
CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Put this together.
How does this support – it does apparently support the idea that Kushner
is not being clean with the investigators. But does it suggest more so
that he was colluding, that somebody was colluding with the Russians, or
LEE: Well, what it suggests is – or shows is that Kushner did not
disclose this e-mail, which was essentially a series of e-mail exchanges
between a campaign official and somebody acting on behalf of this Russian
banker, in which they`re saying he wants to have some sort of meeting or
contact around this NRA convention.
Those exchanges forwarded to Kushner and a handful of other senior campaign
officials, and we are told that Kushner replayed, saying, take a pass on
this and any future sorts of requests along these lines.
The problem that the committee has with this is that he – this turned up
in their requests for documents from other officials, and Kushner himself
didn`t disclose it. Now, the problem for Kushner in terms of, was this any
sort of collusion, I think it would argue that he was dismissive of this,
that the e-mail would show he is dismissive of this.
What it does raise a question about is Don Jr., and whether, if Kushner
rejected this suggestion to have some sort of meeting along the sidelines
of this NRA convention, then – and this individual then went and told
Bloomberg that he had privately dined with Donald Trump Jr., how did that
come to be?
And we should note that, in the Bloomberg story, it was reported earlier
this year somebody acting on behalf of Donald Trump Jr. said that he
doesn`t recall that as being the same, that he recalls meeting a Russian,
but he doesn`t know if it was this specific person.
MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump is, to me, notorious for going over to Africa
and killing big game for picture-taking purposes, for photo-ops, but he
does seem to have a pattern of vulnerability to the other side.
Put it together. Wasn`t he the one that was at the meeting in Trump Tower
with the Russians? Is he sort of the soft underbelly of the Trump team, of
the Trump family, where they go to him because he`s not quite as tough-
thinking as the rest of the family about what he`s up to? I`m trying to be
LEE: Well, based on what we know – and we don`t know everything. In
fact, we probably know a lot less than there is – and certainly Robert
But, based on what we know, there are a number of increasing questions that
are being raised around the president`s son. And this is just another one,
and I think that he`s – there`s going to be – he`s going to have to
answer questions about, what was this dinner? Did it happen? How did it
How did it happen, when the president`s son-in-law apparently said that
nobody should take any sort of meeting along these lines?
And so we do seem to learn a little bit more and more about Donald Trump
Jr. as this goes on.
MATTHEWS: Paul, how do you see this case? Is this one of these cases,
like Billy Carter, the brother`s brother wasn`t too – there`s always a
presidential family member – and I have watched this for decades now –
that gets the president in trouble.
Sam Houston Johnson was one. They all seem to have a brother or somebody
involved who gets them into trouble.
And then there`s also the case that we see in local problems in cases where
the father gets the son brought into the corruption or the wife brought
into it. Horrible cases. What is the line of authority here? Is it the
softer underbelly in the form of Donald Jr., who gets invited to stuff and
thinks he`s helping dad out, but he doesn`t know what he`s up to, or is it
– he being designated to be the front man by the father?
What is going on here?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s certainly something that
So, Mueller is being kind of cold-blooded with regard to Michael Flynn`s
MATTHEWS: Yes, he, too.
BUTLER: He`s doing the…
BUTLER: … of like tough investigation, may bring him up on charges,
again, not so much because he cares about Michael Flynn Jr., but because he
wants to get dad.
So, again, if we find that special counsel Mueller honing in on Kushner,
the son-in-law, and Donald Trump Jr., at the end of the day, it`s all about
the big guy, because, Chris, again, it`s not just that all these Trump
operatives are meeting with these shady Russian operatives.
It`s that they failed to disclose. So, we have Kushner, Trump Jr.,
Sessions, Flynn, George Papadopoulos. There comes a point where failure to
disclose becomes willfully withholding evidence, becomes a lie, becomes a
cover-up. That`s a crime.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Carol on that same point.
You have been covering this. And it seems to me that it is a case of a
creeping investigation, whereby he tries to – Mueller and his team find
cases where laws have been broken that normally wouldn`t be so important
when they were broken, but in this case create opportunities for the
prosecutors to squeeze.
LEE: Yes, that`s absolutely right.
What you have seen is using things like registering for FARA, which nobody
has – would think that that wasn`t something that was regularly
MATTHEWS: Foreign Agency – Foreign Agents Registration Act, yes, FARA.
LEE: Yes. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Help the people out on this.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: And, so, normally, if somebody failed to do that, it would be
sort of a misdemeanor, at worst, but, in this case, it can be used to lever
the truth from people that don`t want to give you the truth otherwise.
LEE: Right, because if you`re going to really enforce that, it could carry
some significant penalties.
So we have seen Robert Mueller take – be able to look at using things like
that to try to squeeze – I mean, the whole thing, the whole goal here
seems to be to just get some of these lower-level – not level – and by
that, I mean outer rungs away from the president, folks, to just – to find
some – compel them to somehow flip.
And when you are taken – one way to do that is to take these sort of
things like registering as a foreign agent that weren`t necessarily
enforced a lot, and basically enforce them.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re learning a lot day by day.
Carol Lee, thank you for your reporting, of course, and Paul Butler for the
Up next: New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says former President Bill
Clinton should have – this is a blockbuster – should have resigned
following the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She has Hillary`s seat.
And given the current climate in Washington, is now the time for Bill
Clinton`s day of reckoning? I thought he was reckoned with. I thought he
was impeached. Don`t we remember that? And tried in the Senate? That
wasn`t exactly a secret tribunal.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The increased focus now on sexual misconduct has forced both Democrats and
Republicans, obviously, to come face to face with some of their parties`
own sorted past, if you will.
For Democrats, the party of women, because women have been voting more
Democratic for years now, the allegations against Al Franken have started a
national discussion about their own support for former President Bill
Some Democrats have been emboldened to speak out, of course.
In an interview with “The New York Times,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who
occupies the New York Senate seat, as I said, once held by Hillary Clinton,
said the former President Bill Clinton should have resigned over his affair
with Monica Lewinsky.
Here she is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you think that we would be in a different place right now had
President Clinton resigned?
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I don`t know. I think this has
been a problem we have had in society certainly my entire life.
But we have never had a conversation this important. And it couldn`t come
QUESTION: Is it your view that President Clinton should have stepped down
at that time, given the allegations?
GILLIBRAND: Yes. I think that is the appropriate response. But I think
things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances, there
should be a very different reaction.
And I think in light of this conversation, we should have a very different
conversation about President Trump.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is good journalism you just heard there, good interviewing,
catching a politician, a top politician, and getting that politician to
make a real statement, which Senator Gillibrand did make right there.
Has Bill Clinton`s day of reckoning come? I personally think it has come.
But for more, I`m joined by MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle, and Eugene Scott,
a political reporter with “The Washington Post.”
Stephanie, Bill Clinton was impeached. He wasn`t convicted, but he had to
be tried before the United States Senate. Everybody this side of the
world, in fact, all around the world, knew what he was involved with, with
a young employee, a former intern in her early 20s, and he was president of
the United States. We all knew the situation.
We all pretty much knew the Starr report, even the too-much-information
part of it. We do know what happened. We knew that the president wasn`t
honest in his grand jury testimony. We know all of that. What more needs
to be said about that at this point all these years later?
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: I mean, listen, we called it the Lewinsky
scandal. We didn`t call it the Clinton scandal. And we looked at Monica
Lewinsky as a villain.
But, come on, Chris, she was a victim.
MATTHEWS: We did?
RUHLE: Well, many people did. Think about…
MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead. I`m talking about – I`m talking about the
punishment – the punishment – look, I was tougher on Bill Clinton than
just about anybody on the center-left. I know all about it. I remember
what I was.
I sometimes think I was too tough on him. But one thing you can`t say is
that people didn`t get a very clear hearing on what he had one. We saw it,
and we talked about it. And he was judged by the United States Senate,
RUHLE: He was definitely judged by the United States Senate, and Monica
Lewinsky was practically run out of town.
And look at Kirsten Gillibrand making the brave statement that she has
right now. And she`s already getting pushback from those who have said,
the Clintons, they gave you money, they gave you Hillary Clinton`s seat,
you should be grateful.
But Kirsten Gillibrand was not in a position then to say anything. The
world accepted the Clintons. They were among the most powerful people in
the Democratic Party. We all accepted it.
And now Kirsten Gillibrand in a position of power, and it`s pretty brave of
her right now to say something like she has.
MATTHEWS: I agree, but what should we do?
RUHLE: What should we do? Change what we`re doing going forward.
Listen, I spent 14 years of my life sitting on a trading floor. Did I know
that when I was sent home from dinner a little bit early, guys were going
to a strip club, or I didn`t get invited to conferences in Vegas or fishing
trips in Costa Rica? I knew what was happening, but I wasn`t in a position
RUHLE: Now, today, finally, there is a change, and we can actually do
something about it.
And anyone who thinks, oh, no, this is a political move, women are just
trying to take this too far and run everything, give me a break.
MATTHEWS: Stephanie, please don`t argue with me. I`m just trying to say
that Bill Clinton, who I was very tough on, went through hell on this.
What did he escape? Just help me out. How did he escape judgment?
RUHLE: He didn`t escape judgment. It was just a different time.
RUHLE: People judged Bill Clinton. But over year after year, we accepted
– I mean, Bill Clinton was a womanizer for years, and we accepted it.
RUHLE: And now that Kirsten Gillibrand is trying to say, maybe we
shouldn`t have, and this is a different time.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t we talk about – let`s talk about the other cases that
have come up.
And I want to bring in Eugene here, too.
We have got Juanita Broaddrick with her charge, which is much more serious
than anything else. We have got Kathleen Willey with her charges.
How do you put them all into this question of what should be done now
moving forward in 2017?
EUGENE SCOTT, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I think, moving forward, what people
are asking is that Democrats be consistent with believing women.
And I think that`s what Gillibrand was getting to.
SCOTT: When these cases came up, these allegations came up, people did not
immediately believe women.
We had people, including Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton and other
Democratic strategists, try to discredit these women, in a way very similar
to what we`re seeing Roy Moore do, as well as Donald Trump, involving the
women that have accused them of inappropriate behavior.
And so whether or not Bill Clinton got impeached or was criticized or
received negative pushback isn`t the main focus. I think the main focus
right now is just how much women were not believed when they came forward
against the president.
RUHLE: And let`s do better.
RUHLE: It doesn`t mean if it`s – it could be politics, it could be
business. In power circles, more junior people get taken advantage of.
Let`s listen to them and let`s try to be better.
MATTHEWS: I think people thought, by the way – Stephanie, on your point,
I think that people thought that Bill Clinton was the predator with regard
to Monica Lewinsky.
I don`t think people thought – did they think she was the predator or the
one – aggressor sexually? I thought Clinton took that hit as the person
in charge of that office, as president of the United States. He was in a
superior position. He shouldn`t have had anything to do with her socially
or sexually at all.
RUHLE: He took that hit.
MATTHEWS: I think people made that judgment.
RUHLE: But so did she.
RUHLE: I mean, do you mean to tell me that you don`t think Monica Lewinsky
also took a hit? Come on.
SCOTT: She took a bigger hit.
I mean, Clinton went on to launch a much more lucrative career after all of
this. And Monica Lewinsky was a very promising young person, interning in
the White House, and her career as a result has not become what it could
have been based on this.
RUHLE: OK, hold on. She was not Bill Clinton`s peer. So it`s not like
they`re one and the same.
But Monica Lewinsky`s life, to a large part, was destroyed.
SCOTT: Right. Right.
RUHLE: Bill Clinton`s wasn`t.
MATTHEWS: We can agree on that.
MATTHEWS: We can agree on that.
Thank you, Stephanie. I hear your points, and they`re well-received here.
Thank you, Eugene Scott.
I`m trying to make up for the fact I think I was too tough on Clinton.
Anyway, Eugene Scott, thank you – Stephanie Ruhle.
Up next: According to “The Washington Post,” President Trump says
something that isn`t true more than five times a day. It`s a stunning
figure, by the way, to have a running average like that. But he`s not
alone. Trump`s top officials have shown time and again that they have
little interest in telling the truth.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The Trump administration is having trouble with the truth. Big surprise?
Since President Trump took office back in January 20th of this year, “The
Washington Post” has been tracking one very specific statistic, all the
president`s falsehoods. “The Post” fact checker found in 298 days, Trump
made 1,628 false or misleading claims. Quote, an average of 5.5 claims a
day. That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of
his first term in office, that aren`t true.
Any way, the president isn`t the only member of the administration who has
shown little interest in being forthright. On Tuesday, Attorney General
Jeff Sessions repeatedly evaded questions about the Trump campaign`s
interactions with the Russians. Let`s listen to the A.G.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: My answers have not changed. I`ve always
told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them to
the best of my recollection.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss your meetings with Ambassador Kislyak
with Mr. Flynn?
SESSIONS: I do not recall, and don`t believe I communicated any of that
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anybody forward to you a communication from Mr.
SESSIONS: I don`t recall it. I don`t recall ever being made aware of that
before. I don`t recall it. I do not recall such a conversation. I don`t
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your testimony today, you have stated “I don`t
recall” at least 20 times. Is that fair to say?
SESSIONS: I have no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, who
has a low regard for President Trump, writes in “The Washington Post,”
quote, the Russian investigation has led to a spectacular accumulation of
lies. That was his phrase, by Trump and his administration. Lies on
Twitter, lies in the White House briefing room, lies to the FBI, self-
protective lies by the attorney general, blocking and tackling lies by Vice
President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people whom
truth, political honor, ethics and integrity mean nothing.
Well, that`s tough writing by Michael Gerson.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL table. Rachael Bade is a reporter for
“Politico”, Jonathan Allen is national political reporter for NBC News
Digital, and Alexi McCammond is deputy news editor at “Axios”.
Let me start with Jonathan Allen. Your thoughts on this? This pattern is
brutal, but it doesn`t seem to affect his rock hard 38 percent of people.
They don`t seem to be focused on his veracity as their reasons for their
loyalty to him.
JONATHAN ALLEN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS DIGITAL: Yes,
there`s a really strong contingent, Chris, that finds him to be authentic.
Whether or not the president is telling the truth with regard to this
Russian investigation, a lot of these lies of commission and omission are
pertaining to that, and of course, the temporary selective amnesia of the
attorney general that I think reminded all us we`re old enough of the Iran
Contra hearings back in 1986, with all the Reagan administration officials
not being able to recall things.
I think the problem for President Trump over time is that it will make it
difficult to expand his base. We saw this with Hillary Clinton in 2016.
By the time the American public decided that she wasn`t honest and
trustworthy, it made her incapable of making the case for herself because
what she was saying wasn`t considered valid.
MATTHEWS: Rachel, I remember when Richard Nixon went down, he went down
because people stopped believing anything he had to say. He was proven to
not be telling the truth, especially with regard to the cover-up of
Watergate. When is that step going to come where the president says
something and everybody even on the right starts to laugh? Laugh at
RACHAEL BADE, REPORTER, POLITICO: Credibility. There`s definitely some
credibility issues on the Hill right now.
I would say from covering Capitol Hill, it`s interesting, there`s two
reactions, there`s frustrations. I remember a couple of days ago after we
found out that Sessions was in the very room that George Papadopoulos
floated the idea of having Trump meet Vladimir Putin, which, of course, he
did not mention in any of his congressional hearings. We saw Lindsey
Graham go on TV and say Sessions, you need to tell us what is going on
here. We`re sick of you forgetting things. And he said it point blank.
And this is a person he was very close with in the Senate. But there also
this numbness I am sort of sensing on Capitol Hill. People are starting to
roll their eyes, you know, another falsehood, another thing they forgot to
mention, more amnesia. And people are going to stop or they already are
questioning things coming out of the administration and wondering, are
these things true? This comes back to credibility.
There`s going to be a time when President Trump or one of his campaign
officials is going to say something and they`re going to want people to
believe them. Of course, they do already. But – and nobody is going to
believe them, because credibility means everything, and they`re losing it
MATTHEWS: Alexi, it`s kind of like a strike out here. You`ve got the
president always doing a 180, and what he said in the first part of his
sentence he`s changed it by the second part. You have this country boy act
we`re getting from Jeff Sessions all the time, you know, slow talking and I
don`t remember and all that stuff. It`s a game I watched in old movies
where the country boy is always the one who`s pretending he`s not so smart
but is smart, a lot smarter than he`s pretending to be. Then, of course,
we got the document hunt, we have to squeeze it out of these people.
You`ve got – it`s always rolling disclosure. They never want to give you
– you know, Jared is just the classic case who forgets to tell you about
his latest meeting with the Russians.
ALEXI MCCAMMOND, DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR, AXIOS: Right, exactly. And I think
when the president is making on average 5.5 misleading or false claims a
day, how can anyone underneath him keep up with those lies, and those false
claims and add their own lies. I think that speaks to why they sort of
claim that they don`t remember or it`s easier to say, well, I don`t
remember, I don`t recall that happening, because otherwise they`re
implicating themselves and they have to keep up with what the president is
saying, which is often false and misleading.
And I also think the latest news about Mueller, sending subpoenas to 12 top
White House officials suggests what they`re saying, which is they`re not
complying with his requests for documents in the way that they claim they
are. They`re coming up slowly and he wants them all at once.
MATTHEWS: Well, OK. We`ll be right back. Go ahead, your thoughts?
BADE: Just very quickly, I was looking at my phone on the way over here
and reading a story about Sessions making a joke when he was at the
Mayflower earlier today in Washington where he was caught talking to
Russians and not mentioning it, saying something like, are there any
Russians in the room? And everybody laughs. So, he`s joking about this
MATTHEWS: Not very funny.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will
give us some scoops we`ll be talking about over this exciting weekend to
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Our HARDBALL roundtable going to tell me three things I don`t
know when we come back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Rachael, tell me something I don`t know.
BADE: President Trump is apparently obsessed with Louie Gohmert, who as
you know is kind of an oddball lawmaker from Texas who is very far right-
wing and who has been on TV talking a lot about Mueller stepping down and
needing to get rid of the special investigation, the special counsel.
I know this because the president was supposed to come to the Hill the
other day to rally house Republicans to pass the tax bill apparently my
source in the room said he went on and on about how he loves Louie Gohmert.
He loves watching him on TV.
MATTHEWS: Of course. He`s a birther. Louie is a birther.
BADE: Yes, that`s true. It also shows while the president is not
attacking him more himself, he is certainly applauding people who are doing
it for him.
MATTHEWS: I get you. Indirection. Thank you.
ALLEN: President Trump just tweeted he`s putting that big game decision on
hold, the one that has stirred up all the controversy over people shooting
elephants until he has an opportunity to talk to Secretary Ryan Zinke about
it. So, obviously, those who are in the conservation community have gotten
President Trump`s ear for the moment.
MATTEHWS: I`ve been hearing good stuff about what I said last night. I
raised hell about it and I`m going to keep doing that. That`s a terrible
decision to let people bring tusks and heads of elephants and all kinds of
stuff, terrible stuff.
Anyway, Alexi, thank you. Your thoughts?
MCCAMMOND: At “Axios”, we`re privately hearing from Republican senators
that they are worried that Trump is going to do something between now and
the end of the year that will force them into a public vote either for or
against him. They`re not talking impeachment. They`re talking a little
bit more specifically about a vote to censure him, which we know is like a
public display. But they`re really worried because it`s a lose-lose. If
they vote for Trump, it`s against their principles, if they vote against
him, it`s against their Republican base.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s unconstitutional. But anyway, thank you, Rachel
Bade, and thank you, Jonathan Allen, and Alexi McCammond.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a spirited weeks we`ve spent on the
road talking with all the welcoming HARDBALL fans, all in the joy on
honoring the affectionate legacy of Bobby Kennedy. I`ve never felt the
warmth of fans and colleagues live like I have these sweet days of November
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, HOST, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: He is the host of MSNBC`s
HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS and the author of “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging
Spirit”, Chris Matthews.
MATTHEWS: It`s possible to bring back the white working class with the
black working class and middle class. You can do it if you appeal to both
groups. What Sarah`s doing, don`t dump on them, love them a little.
MATTHEWS: Because that`s how you might get them back.
AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION: People don`t know, he built the restoration
project. Not only did he grow, he wanted to grow. Tell us, Chris, I don`t
know anyone who knows American politics better than you.
MATTHEWS: I think it really matters that you have a president who can feel
the people`s hurt when they have it.
SHARPTON: And people feel that they feel it.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Just extraordinary. We knew you were a
Kennedy scholar, but I think you learned so much.
MATTHEWS: I want a gut patriotism connected to our leaders again. I want
to have that common feel for the country that unite the people with their
leaders. We don`t have it now. We have cynicism.
We don`t have a moral compass anymore. We need it. We need empathy.
That`s what we don`t have.
MITCHELL: You have it in great, great measure.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Andrea. You know and I have known each other for a
long time. And he`s the guy that people that you and I may not agree with
politically, there is a tremendous feel for this guy who believed that law
could be just.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: That`s, of course, was the night that Martin Luther
King Jr. was assassinated. You have someone who was white, you know, Irish
guy from Massachusetts who is able to speak with such moral authority to
African-Americans. There is no one who can do that now.
MATTHEWS: It`s not such the book I`m out there promoting, it`s him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`ll be speaking at the Miami book fair tomorrow in Miami,
Saturday, and then back in Washington on Monday night at the new Politics
and Prose at The Wharf.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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