Third candidate jumps into Alabama Senate Race Transcript 11/28/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: November 28, 2017
Guest: Susan Page; Jonathan Swan; Luke Harding, Elizabeth Warren, Barney Frank, Anna Palmer, Kimberly Atkins
[19:00:00] ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: That does it for our show.
You can always find “the Beat” at 6:00 p.m. eastern here on MSNBC.
“Hardball” with Chris Matthews starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Sex, lies and videotape, let`s play
Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
We have got some big guests tonight on “Hardball.” Elizabeth Warren and
Bernie Frank will both be joining us later.
The campaign to protect Roy Moore and discredit the free press hit a low
road this week with “the Washington Post” reporting that a woman approached
the Post trying to peddle a fake story about Roy Moore.
According to the Post, in a series of interviews over two weeks the woman
shared a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship with Moore in
1992 that led to an abortion when she was 15 years old. And during the
interview she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on
the effects that her claims could have on the Moore candidacy if she went
Well, the Post never reported the unsubstantiated story. Instead they
researched the woman trying to push the story. They found a Web site by
someone with the same name, Jamie Phillips, trying to raise to fun her move
to New York to quote “work in the conservative media movement to combat the
lies and deceit of liberal mainstream media,” close quote.
Well, according to “Washington Post,” reporters followed her to her home
and saw her walking in to the New York office of project Veritas. That`s
the group that sends a video sting operations to discredit news
organizations and other liberal groups such as ACORN (ph).
Well, the Trump foundation donated $10,000 to the group in 2015. And last
Wednesday, Phillips met with a Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen at a
restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. Quote “Phillips had arrived early and
was waiting for McCrummen. Her purse resting on the table. When McCrummen
put her purse next to or near Phillips` purse to block a possible camera
shot, Phillips moved hers. Well, McCrummen confronted her about her story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE, MCCRUMMEN, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Do you still have an
interest in, as this says, combatting the lies and deceit of the liberal
MSM? Do you still have an interest in working in the conservative media
movement to combat the lies and deceit of the liberal MSM? Is that – is
that still your interest?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not really.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mumble, mumble.
Anyway, the Post also confronted project Veritas founder James O`Keeffe.
You remember him who decline to say whether Phillips work for his group.
Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Jamie Phillips work for project Veritas? Did you
guys send her to pose as a victim of Roy Moore to the “Washington Post?”
JAMES O`KEEFFE, FOUNDER, PROJECT VERITAS: I`m 15 minutes late. So I have
got to run.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jamie Phillips, does she work for the “Washington
Post?” Does she work for project Veritas?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He was quiet, wasn`t he? Anyway, O`Keefe told the Post reporter
to come back later. Of course, he was waiting from a confrontation of his
own. Here he goes, O`Keefe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Jamie Phillips work for project Veritas? Are you
going to answer that question?
O`KEEFFE: I`m going to have a few things to say here. We are going to
talk for a while.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Second question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you working with Roy Moore?
O`KEEFFE: OK. So –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you working with Steve Bannon?
O`KEEFFE: I`m going to ask –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you working with the Republican Party?
O`KEEFFE: No –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you working with the Republican party of Alabama?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by “USA Today`s” Washington bureau chief
Susan Page, national political reporter for Axios Jonathan Swan and Jason
Johnson, the political editor at the “Root.”
I want to start with Susan. And one thing I love about this story, besides
people getting caught with sneaky business on trying to put a punk job on
the “Washington Post” by trying to sell them a salacious story, they could
then point out a day later was a complete joke, a punking operation. It
shows that real newspapers with real editors and to be honest with you,
grownups have been around a few times on the ride here who spot and smell
deceit. They saw this as a setup.
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: You know the musical
schoolhouse rock, that has how that becomes law? This is like how a story
gets into print with real journalism. This was people acting just like you
want journalists to act. I think you show this in journalism schools.
Because you listen to an unsolicited comment from somebody. They are
offering you information with the chance of you don`t take it at face
value. You check it out and you confront them if you find out that it`s
false and phony. And so good for them.
MATTHEWS: I can see this story running if the Post had fallen for this
trap, they would have write a big splash, 15-year-old claims that she had
an abortion after being impregnated by Roy Moore. And then the next day,
this group comes out, the Breitbart sort of organization, we had Veritas,
which is a bad name for them, because that means truth in Latin, comes out
and says it`s all a joke, we fooled them. That proves that all the women
who went out against Roy Moore are all dishonest. All the media coverage
has been dishonest. We got you. Roy Moore wins big. He may still win.
[19:05:05] JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Right. It`s
not just Veritas doing this. I mean, Steve Bannon sent two of his top
reporters of Breitbart News to Alabama, (INAUDIBLE), with an express
mission to discredit a female accusers. This is a strategy of a lot of
these groups on the outside.
MATTHEWS: What was their plan? How would they discredit? The usual? To
ruin their reputations?
SWAN: No, to try and prove that they were lying. And look, they have
failed to do that, but there have been a number of stories about these
women which have raise doubts about these stories, and the women, the
character, you know, varying levels of sourcing. But this has been a
campaign. This is the latest in a series of stories that –
MATTHEWS: Jason tells me they can`t win on defense anymore. They can`t
deny the charges so they are going on wicked, nasty, dirty offense. If we
can destroy “the Washington Post,” then all the people down there in
Alabama say just shows you can`t trust those northern reporters. They are
out to get us.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL EDITOR, THE ROOT: Well, see, that`s the thing,
Chris. There were two parts of this video that really struck me. And I
thought my students about this. I say look, this is real reporting.
Everyone in my department was teaching this today. It wasn`t just the
matter of how degrading and despicable it is to have a woman pretend to be
a victim of abuse and rape. And that`s supposed to diminish –.
MATTHEWS: And she had an abortion because of it, all lies.
MATTHEWS: All lies.
JOHNSON: But the second thing is how many times do you get the reporters
to say that this would harm Roy Moore? Because they would have won with
that too. Even if they have just got them on tape saying, yes, this would
really damage them. Project Veritas would have gotten what they wanted.
Because they just want to prove bias even if they can`t prove that the
MATTHEWS: So they put a pocketbook, a purse if you will, on the table.
And apparently every time the legitimate “Washington Post” reporter would
walk in for the meeting, the two of the meetings that it just happened to
be a big purse sitting on the table. And she puts her purse, this is like
black spy, white spy, you know, comic book, magazine. And she put her
purse in front and then the dubious one, the bogus one, the punster,
whatever, she moves her pocketbook, her purse. So it gets a better shot
directly at him. So this – tell me about this. Is this going to be –
Jason said this is going to be already in the journalism classes.
PAGE: Because, of course, this is exactly what journalists are supposed to
do. And it is - I think it`s great that people who like the news media and
those who are suspicious see how this works because this is what
journalists do every day all around town.
MATTHEWS: Much less experience with you in print but - what I really
liked, I did a takeout piece on Sunday, (INAUDIBLE) investigating. You
know, I got my editors and even the top editor, who was your source on
that? Tell me about that person. Can you get another one? Can you get
Lendsner (ph)? Can you get Terry Lendsner (ph)? Can you get him? Can you
get this other person? Constantly pushing you for deadline to have the
best source you can get.
Anyway, last night in his first campaign appearance in ten days, Roy Moore
said the allegations to him were, I love this, completely false and
malicious. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Why are they doing this? Well,
I`m going to tell you why they are doing this. They are trying to hide the
true issues, which faked the people of this country and this state that
they want resolved. It`s no different than when the “Washington Post”
brought out the Russian investigation at a time when President Trump is
trying to get his agenda passed. Everybody knows I have not one – run one
negative ad. But I`m going to take off some gloves and show the truth in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, somebody`s put some gas in this guy`s tank. He looks like
he might win now.
JOHNSON: I always thought he was going to win, Chris.
JOHNSON: Because at the core issue here, you have a lot of conservative
Republican voters who view the Democratic Party as inherently immoral. And
if you have got groups of people, and this is not a criticism, just a fact,
if you have got groups of people who think that two adult men, consenting
men having sex is a greater sin. That is a greater sin to them than what
they think Roy Moore might have possibly done. I always thought he was
going to win this election. Regardless of the circumstance, and if it ever
looks like he is not winning, it is just undecided voters and those are
really (INAUDIBLE) voters who just don`t want to admit it yet.
MATTHEWS: So these are various questions that surmount any act of personal
villainy at all.
PAGE: I don`t think we know that yet. I mean, Roy Moore - were out to
win. I mean, given that this state –.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this third party guy, this third guy coming
in, Lee Busby and show that piece again, is the third person jumped to the
race in Alabama as a write-in candidate, Lee Busby. His name is retired
marine colonel. He says he usually votes Republican. Let`s watch how that
affects life. Let`s take a listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Did you – were you a supporter of Roy Moore before the allegations of
child molestation? What changed your mind that you couldn`t vote for Roy
LEE BUSBY, RUNNING WRITE-IN CAMPAIGN IN ALABAMA: It was not the swirl
going on. It was not that at all. I have got no interest in it. I hope
they get it sorted out but it`s not my interest. I don`t know Roy Moore.
I have never met him. But there`s a sense of self-righteousness that comes
out of that campaign that bother things. And I don`t think it represents
the majority of Alabama voters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:10:10] MATTHEWS: Jason, he looks attractive, I hate to make judgments,
but he seems like raw material there for a candidate. I don`t know. I
mean, he has got the right accent. He seems rough and ready. I don`t know
what to make of him.
JOHNSON: Yes. It`s sort of like Wes Clark of Alabama, you know. You know
him teary guy. You know him tough and macho.
I think at the end of the day, though, I don`t think this ends up making
that much of a difference, right. If you are someone who is offended by
Roy Moore and the Republicans, like I cannot vote for this guy, OK. Then
maybe you write for the write-in candidate. But there are enough people on
that state where like, look, they are taking the Donald Trump argument. We
need those votes in the Senate. And I don`t think the first party
MATTHEWS: Well, I have simple question all three. Who wins because this
third party - third guy entering the race? He is pro-life like Roy Moore.
So if you are pro-life and you can`t vote - you fought against gay rights
too, whatever, gay marriage, equality, so maybe he is a safe way to vote
against Roy Moore without voting for the enemy.
JOHNSON: It is, but I still think people votes for Roy Moore. I still
think he wins.
SWAN: It is going help the Democrat, to the extent that it helps anyone.
PAGE: Yes. I think it helps the Democrat but probably it`s irrelevant to
the outcome, I would guess.
SWAN: I agree.
MATTHEWS: How can it be irrelevant if you still think Roy Moore might
PAGE: I think - I just think we don`t know. I think you can`t trust the
poll in this situation like this. Because Turnout`s going to be really
MATTHEWS: Jason, you made a great point. I want you repeat it about when
people said they hadn`t made up their mind. They had made up their mind.
They didn`t want to tell the polls. They were for Moore.
JOHNSON: Exactly. That`s like basic polling 101 in political science.
Especially since we saw those numbers occur during the worst week of these
allegations. And suddenly you have eight percent saying undecided. They
are not undecided.
Look. I think that Busby may end making a difference if this is going to
be a close race. But I think it is going to be a five or six-point win.
SWAN: I mean, Chris, how I miss the polls? Do you want to vote for the
accused pedophile? I mean, this is like – if we are going to test the
sort of gap between what you said in the surveyor and reality.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know about that. I`d like to know the fact feature.
Anyway, Susan Page, you are holding your powder try. Jonathan Swan and
Jason, I think you know where you are going on this one.
Coming up, the Russia investigation. We are going to connect the dots and
all the evidence of collusion we know right now. We are going to bring up
to date on that.
We are going to talk to Luke Harding, the former Moscow bureau chief for
“the Guardians” and author of the new book “Collusion.” You know what
that`s about. And he has got the story and that`s ahead.
Plus, when Trump called Senator Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas at a White
House event honoring the (INAUDIBLE), she was – was he propping her up for
a Presidential run in 2020? It looked like he was building her up.
Senator Warren is here tonight to talk about that.
And Donald Trump campaign, like a populous promising to help work at people
in this country. But as present, he is doing the opposite, looking out for
his donors. Just look at the Trump tower tax cut. It is a total giveaway,
the top one percent, it would hurt people who voted for Trump, yet Trump
and the Republicans may yet get it passed.
Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch, you won`t like this one.
This is “Hardball,” where the action is.
[19:14:11] MATTHEWS: North Korea has once again defied the international
community by test firing another ballistic missile. The missile was fired
east and appears to have landed in the Sea of Japan. It was the country`s
first launch in more than two months and comes just a week after the Trump
administration declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism and
imposed strict new sanctions against the regime. The President respond to
the news saying it`s a situation we will handle.
And we will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:16:45] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you
are listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are
missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “Hardball.”
That was Donald Trump making his now famous overture to Russia during the
campaign. Now as we know now Russia was already trying to help Trump win
In his new book “Collusion, secret meeting, dirty money and how Russia
helped Donald Trump win, Luke Harding, the former Moscow bureau chief of
“the Guardian” connects the dots in the developing Trump-Russia story.
Writing about the book for her column in the “New York Times,” Michelle
Goldberg says it`s difficult to see the big picture with so many new
revelations emerging so regularly.
Quote “one uncanny aspect of the investigation in the Trump-Russia
connections is that instead of too little evidence, there`s too much.
Incidents that would be major scandals in a normal administration become
minor subplots in this one.” Harding`s book, she says, brings the bigger
picture into focus.
I`m joined right by the author of “Collusion,” Luke Harding of the
“Guardians” and also our friend Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and
MSNBC legal analyst here in United States.
Luke, let me ask you about this. What do you have that ties together Trump
with Russia that say “The New York Times” hasn`t been able to get?
LUKE HARDING, FORMER MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF, THE GUARDIANS: Well, Chris, I
think to understand the story of Donald Trump and collusion you have to go
back to the cold war and to Donald Trump`s first trip to soviet Moscow in
And one thing I discovered when I was investigating was the soviet
government, the communist government basically wooed Donald Trump, paid for
his trip. Brought him over. His travel was arranged by a soviet travel
agency, basically the KGB. And I think it`s pretty clear this was a
cultivation attempt, which fizzled out, but then kind of was renewed in the
last four or five years before Donald Trump became U.S. President.
MATTHEWS: You know, I have long heard that Russians like to have – before
or after Soviet Union liked to have an American. The like to have Viet –
their American, and use him for everything. They always feel comfortable
that way. Is this that kind of case, they picked out who they wanted to
HARDING: Yes, if you look at the kind of secret KGB memos from this
period, they extremely instructive. They are looking to recruit people
from all over the place, but in particular Americans. They are looking for
certain personality traits, people who are narcissistic, perhaps
corruptible, not very good analysts, perhaps not faithful in their
marriages. And really you look at all these categories and then you get to
Donald Trump being, as I said, brought over. And then I think a process of
reengagement with him about four or five years ago which led to the
extraordinary events of last year.
MATTHEWS: Well Luke, you write down after guilty plea of former campaign
adviser George Papadopoulos last month quote “Trump`s claim that there had
been no collusion sound increasingly hallow and fake. And now there was
evidence of collusion. It was impossible to read the legal documents with
their cold empirical facts in any other way.
Do you think the case has been tied up neatly enough for you to show a quid
pro quo relationship between Trump and the Russians?
HARDING: Chris, I think we`re across the line.
I think there have been a series of secret meetings. The White House for a
very long period said there had been no encounters with Russia whatsoever.
Then, of course, we learned of the famous meeting involving Donald Trump
Jr. in Trump Tower in the summer of last year.
Most recently, we get three indictments from Robert Mueller, which I think
is the sort of sign of the direction he`s traveling in pretty aggressively.
And we learned of this foreign policy aide that most people haven`t paid
much too attention to, George Papadopoulos, meeting with Russian
intelligence agents in my town, in London.
And so I think there`s more to come. I think the Steele dossier, the
dossier by Christopher Steele, the former British spy, I think is broadly
correct. That`s certainly what he`s told friends. And he thinks it`s
about between 70 and 90 percent accurate, which really is very damning
indeed, and I think in part explains why we get these kind of very vexed
tweets from the president, who dismisses this as fake news.
But, unfortunately for him, it`s not fake news.
MATTHEWS: Paul, when you look at all this evidence, it`s scattered, but
it`s all over the place and there`s a lot of it.
Do you see kind of like a criminal enterprise potential charge here,
something like a RICO, where, if you put it all together, somebody must
masterminding this, because there`s so much involvement on both sides and
so much money potentially involved in all these dealings?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that`s what special counsel
Mueller has 16 of the country`s best prosecutors and even more FBI agents
So, the concern is that collusion, it is not a crime. It`s not even a
crime for the president to be more loyal to the Russians than to the
American process of democracy. It`s the political part that`s supposed to
prevent that, not the criminal law.
Conspiracy is illegal. And so if there`s evidence of conspiracy to hack
Hillary`s e-mails or to solicit foreign campaign contributions, then
somebody`s going down. And, again, that`s the subject of the special
MATTHEWS: Luke Harding, one of the earliest leads you followed was Trump`s
history of dealing with Russia as a business guy, something he`s adamantly
denied ever since the campaign. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I own nothing in Russia. I
have no loans in Russia. I don`t have any deals in Russia.
I have no relationship to Russia whatsoever.
I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no investments in Russia. None
whatsoever. I don`t have property in Russia.
I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no
deals that could happen in Russia, because we have stayed away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Luke, if he were to say that under oath, all that under oath,
would he be a perjurer?
HARDING: Well, ultimately, that`s for a kind of lawyer to decide. But, in
my view, yes, I think he would be on several levels.
We know, when he went in 1987, it was to discuss building a Trump hotel in
the center of Moscow. From my perspective, this was kind of a dangle,
something held out lam as bait for Donald Trump. Thirty years later, he`s
still discussing the same project.
We know from revelations in “The New York Times” that Michael Cohen,
Trump`s lawyer, was sending an e-mail as late as early 2016 to Vladimir
Putin`s press guy, saying, help us build this tower.
Meanwhile, Trump is on the campaign saying, wouldn`t it be good if we had
nice relations with Russia, better relations with Vladimir?
HARDING: And the flow is from Moscow to Trump, rather than from Trump to
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Luke Harding. Thank you for coming on
tonight, and, as always, sir, Paul Butler, for your expertise.
Up next: Senator Elizabeth Warren plays HARDBALL. We will get her
thoughts on how Democrats should fight the Republican tax plan this week
and whether she thinks Donald Trump is setting her up, by attacking her as
Pocahontas and that nonsense, to run for president in 2020.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
A federal judge declined a request to force out Mick Mulvaney. He is
President Trump`s pick to serve as acting director of the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau.
A jury convicted Ahmed Abu Khattala of terrorism-related charges, but
acquitted him of murder in connection with the Benghazi attacks. The U.S.
ambassador and three other Americans were killed in those 2012 attacks.
Pope Francis is being criticized by human rights groups after failing to
use a term Rohingya in his speech to Myanmar`s leadership. The country is
accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim
minority – back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Since President Trump was elected last November, opponents of his policies
have not shied away from protests, from the crowds that poured up New
York`s Fifth Avenue shouting “Not our president” the day after the
election, to the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets for the
women`s march back in January, and the disabled protesters who swarmed
Capitol Hill to combat Senate Republicans` attempt to repeal Obamacare.
But as Republicans continue full-speed ahead in their effort to ram through
a major tax overhaul with a vote expected later this week, the streets and
hallways of the Capitol have been largely empty.
And, today, only several dozen protesters gathered outside the Senate
Budget Committee in advance of a vote that would put the tax bill on the
Meanwhile, President Trump was on Capitol Hill rallying Republican
holdouts, but with Congress facing a December 8 deadline to pass a spending
bill to avoid a government shutdown, Democratic Leaders Chuck Schumer and
Nancy Pelosi abruptly pulled out of a planned meeting with the president
after he attacked them on Twitter.
The president wrote – quote – “Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today about
keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal
immigrants flooding our country unchecked, are weak on crime, and want to
substantially raise taxes. I don`t see a deal.”
That`s Trump talking in tweet language.
On the Senate floor, Schumer called the plan session a show meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Unfortunately, this morning, instead
of leading, the president tweeted a blatantly inaccurate statement and then
concluded, “I don`t see a deal.”
The president said, “I don`t see a deal” three hours before our meeting,
before he heard anything we had to say.
Given that the president doesn`t see a deal between Democrats and the White
House, Leader Pelosi and I believe the best path forward is to continue
negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Schumer also called the Republican tax plan a gift
to the wealthy. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: If the president and Republicans in Congress set out to pass a
middle-class tax cut, as they claim, if that`s where they set out, this
bill completely misses the mark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined right now by Democratic Senator Elizabeth
Warren of Massachusetts.
Senator, you`re a firebrand. You know how to make a case. Are you
impressed by the Democratic opposition to this tax bill?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Look, this tax bill is terrible.
And we need to be –
MATTHEWS: Are you impressed by the leadership? Do you think they have
done a good job?
WARREN: We need to be strong against it.
Right now, about two out of every three people in America think it is a bad
tax bill. And yet the Republicans just keep jamming it forward.
You know, we talked about today the fact that what the Republicans are
trying to do here Islam, they want to give away about a trillion-and-a-half
dollars to giant corporations, and then they want to have higher taxes on
people making less than $75,000 a year. And they want to raise taxes on
students, people who have to borrow money in order to go to school.
This is a terrible plan. And the real question has to be, with two out of
three Americans opposed to this plan, why do the Republicans keep pushing
And I will tell you why keep pushing it. They keep pushing it because it`s
a payoff to their big donors. That`s what the Republicans are here for.
In fact, some of them have admitted it, quite openly, that they`re here to
help their big donors, because, if they don`t, their big donors may pull
money from the next election, and not help them get reelected.
That`s what this is about.
MATTHEWS: Is one of the reasons why the Democrats are so anemic in
fighting it is because they have the same rich donors?
I`m tired. I saw a lot of activity last January, a lot of resistance in
MATTHEWS: don`t see it now, Senator. I don`t see the action out there
against this bill. Where is it visually? It doesn`t seem to be obvious.
WARREN: But if you ask people around the country, they get what this tax
bill is about, Chris. They understand that this is a tax bill to help the
They see it, they taste it, they feel it. And if the Republicans ram this
thing through, they`re going to explode the debt, they`re going to raise
taxes on hardworking families.
And, by the way, even today, we had the nominee in to be the chair of the
Federal Reserve Bank. And he admitted that when you raise taxes on people
making less than $75,000 a year, what you do to the economy is, you pull
demand out of the economy. That`s going to be hard on the economy overall.
When you explode the debt, that`s something America`s going to have to pay
for down the line. It is fiscally irresponsible. It is democratically
MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense that – I have looked at the bill, like you
have. You`re the expert on the bill. I have looked at the bill, and I
noticed one thing, that states like New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts,
New Jersey, California, blue states, are being penalized.
Do you believe the president sat down with his people, and besides getting
their piece of the pork they wanted – they all wanted to get what you have
described as their benefits for the wealthy and their donor class – I
agree with all that – that they targeted the states that voted for
They seem to have done that.
WARREN: Well –
MATTHEWS: Is this a penalty box situation for the people who voted for the
WARREN: They have targeted the states that actually are responsible, the
states that say, you know, we`re going to tax ourselves a little bit more,
so that we can provide better education for our kids, so that we can invest
more in infrastructure, so that we can put some dollars on the table for
research, so that we can build a stronger future.
And now what the Republicans want to do is, they want to say, we want you
to pay a penalty for that. We want you to be double-taxed on that.
WARREN: We don`t want you, who are out there trying to build an economy
that works not just for a thin slice at the top, but an economy that works
for all of us, we want to try to get in the way of that. We want to stick
a stick in the spokes.
You know, in Massachusetts, we work hard. And we do. We tax ourselves, so
we can make investments in building a future for all of our kids. And what
the Republicans don`t like is, we show in Massachusetts how we can make
government work for all of us. That`s something the Republicans don`t want
MATTHEWS: So, have you excluded the possibility it`s a political penalty
as well for voting for his opponent?
WARREN: You know, look, I don`t know the motives. I can`t look into the
motives of these guys.
But what I sure can do is see what they`re actually doing.
WARREN: They`re taking states like Massachusetts that are doing a great
job, and they`re saying, we`re going to raise your costs, we`re going to
double-tax you here, because we don`t like you building a future for your
Let me ask you about this. I`m a student of modern political history, as
WARREN: I know.
MATTHEWS: And I watched how Lyndon Johnson promoted Richard Nixon back in
`66 in that midterm election by calling him out, calling him a chronic
And what he did is elevate Nixon. Nixon got the time to respond to him.
It seems, in a weird, ironic way, although you have nothing to do with
Richard Nixon – and, by the way, Massachusetts is the one state that
really didn`t like Nixon at all, ever.
MATTHEWS: He seems like he`s promoting you with this Pocahontas nonsense.
It seems like he can`t get off of you. Is he afraid of you? And,
ironically, is he helping promote people wanting you to be his opponent
WARREN: Look, what happened yesterday, I don`t think this is about
politics. I think this is really appalling.
That was supposed to be a ceremony yesterday to honor Native Americans who
have fought for this country during World War II, who had put it all on the
line and saved countless lives, Americans and our allies, incredible men
who are now in their 90s, to honor them, to honor their families.
And he just couldn`t make it through without a racial slur.
WARREN: You know, I think that Donald Trump thinks that by doing that he`s
going to shut me up. But he`s not.
I`m still going to get out there and I`m going to talk about this terrible
tax bill. I`m going to get out there, and I`m going to talk about the
consumer agency and why we need a consumer agency that fights for families,
instead of one that`s just another big wet kiss for Wall Street.
MATTHEWS: So, Pocahontas is going to be your bugle call. Every time he
does this, you`re going to come back fighting. Is that it?
WARREN: You know, look, it`s wrong for him to do this.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s ridiculous. Yes.
WARREN: It`s wrong. It`s not just ridiculous. It`s wrong.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, thank you for the firebrand
performance tonight. And thanks for coming on HARDBALL.
Up next: Republicans are pushing ahead with the Trump Tower tax cut. It`s
a handout to the rich, as you just heard, and a far cry from the populism
Trump preached when he was running for president. But how should Democrats
be fighting this legislation?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As we mentioned earlier, Republicans are intent on passing what they`re
calling a tax overhaul in order to score their first political or
legislative accomplishment this year, the first ever this year.
For months, President Trump promised that this legislation would deliver on
his promise to help the forgotten man and woman. That was his phrase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a middle income tax
reduction, and it`s a very big one.
It will be the biggest tax reduction in the history of our country. It
will bring jobs. It will bring a lot of income coming into the country,
buying product, et cetera.
It will lead to tremendous prosperity for American families, communities
and also for our job producing businesses. At the center of our plan are
tax cuts for the working Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, according to estimates, this bill will do anything but
what he just said. Independent organizations like the Congressional Budget
Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the legislation
will provide roughly $1 trillion in tax cuts for corporations, as well as
changes to the tax code that will benefit the very wealthy.
Meanwhile, middle class and lower income Americans would be forced to pay
higher taxes. A recent Quinnipiac University poll, by the way, shows that
a majority of Americans agree, 52 percent, a real majority, disapprove of
this Republican bill.
For more, I`m joined by former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of
Congressman Frank, what do you think is the worst? I`m going to open the
door here? What`s the worst part of this bill if you had to put it in
FORMER REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, the overall
distribution, the fact that it mostly goes to the wealthier people. I have
a specific objection in someone who believes in government has a
responsibility, that we have a responsibility for the government to
respond, that they are not only trying to disable the federal government
from coming together to meet our needs, they want to penalize the states
that have stepped up.
If a state has been willing to enact taxes in its political process, so
it`s better able to deal with problems, that state gets penalized by this
bill, by the way in which they take away certain tax deductions. And it is
clearly intended not to simply reduce the amount of money that`s allowed by
the federal level to do major programs – and by the way, you know, we have
this gap, we have the president complaining about the opioid crisis,
talking about the opioid crisis, and providing virtually no money for it.
We go on and on and there`s better – no money for it. But what he`s doing
is penalizing those states that have been willing the people of the states
to tax themselves by increasing the taxes that they`re going to have to
So along with the overall, that is the final point aimed at reducing the
money the federal government has to do things. There are programs that are
popular that they would like to cut back, the right wing, including, by the
way, Medicare and Social Security, but other programs. And they know that
they`re too popular to do it on their own. So, they have a two-step.
First, they create a larger deficit by overall tax reduction, and then they
say, gee, they can`t afford these programs.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, do you think this is payback for the
states? Because if you enumerate them, Massachusetts, your state, New
York, Connecticut, New Jersey, I guess, Pennsylvania, certainly California
their states that – not Pennsylvania, all those other states, coastal
states, east and west, voted against him for president.
Is this the penalty box? Is this getting even?
FRANK: That`s part of it, but for them it`s a twofer. It also carries out
their ideological view, that you penalize – that you disable government.
Look, we`ve seen this playing out in the consumer bureau panel. They`ve
got a court decision today.
The purpose of having Mick Mulvaney there was to shut it down, because they
don`t think it is an appropriate function of government to interfere with
the unrestrained capitalism of the free enterprises. And, by the way,
you`re right. Obviously, to point out he said this was for the working
People should understand the way he plans to do this. His view is that by
cutting the corporate tax out of the good goodness of their hearts, those
corporations as they have more and more money available will voluntarily
raise wages. That is, of course, something for which we have no evidence
whatsoever. But he is justifying – and, by the way, there was reason to
cut the corporate tax some.
But the argument that cutting the corporate tax will primarily benefit or
substantially benefit wage earners because of those corporations that have
now become much more profitable will decide to increase the wages, there`s
no evidence of that whatsoever.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.
Thank you for coming on, sir. We`ll keep coming back.
We`re going to bring in the HARDBALL roundtable right now. Michael Steele
sitting next to me, former RNC chair and MSNBC political analyst, Anna
Palmer, a very powerful person, senior Washington correspondent for
“Politico”, and Kimberly Atkins, chief Washington reporter for “The Boston
I`m starting with you. I get the peeling, Kimberly, right across the table
here, I think the Democratic opposition has been weak. I think it`s been
I don`t hear – this tax bill gets rid of – basically doubles the
exemption for the estate tax, give up to $22 million to your kids. It
lowers the top income rate, which means a lot of money if you go from 39.5
down to 35. It gets rid of corporate all together, it gets rid of the
alternative minimum tax altogether, and it disables, basically, Obamacare.
It`s horrible from a progressive point of view or even a moderate point of
view. And yet, it`s still in the works and probably will pass. Why
haven`t the Democrats been able to just bazooka this thing? Just destroy
it? They haven`t.
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE BOSTON HERALD: I think
they`re trying to follow the same playbook they did for the efforts to
repeal and replace Obamacare, which essentially is, let the Republicans`
horrible plan, and the fact that they are being forced to take a risky
vote. I mean, look, this vote, it depends on what you mean about –
MATTHEWS: Whether it passes, only a couple steps down from the president.
ATKINS: Look, overall, people want tax cuts. But Americans hate this
bill. I think the Democrats have done a fairly good job of messaging that
this is really for the wealthier Americans, that it`s really bad for the
lower and middle class people.
MATTHEWS: Is it going to win the argument?
ATKINS: Even small businesses –
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Kimberly, they`re likely to receive –
MATTHEWS: They want the other side to score the touchdown so they can
complain about it in the next election.
ATKINS: The Democrats can`t stop the Republicans from passing a bad bill.
MATTHEWS: I think they want something to run against.
ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDNT, POLITICO: I actually think
they have not done what they did with health care, where I feel like they
were able to personalize it, they were able to bring up people who said,
I`m going to lose my health care. My grandma`s not going to be able to
have her chemo, these like long-term health care issues that were very
personal, they had the story-telling ability, where tax cuts is not
something they`ve been able to message on.
I think it`s a strategy. I actually think this is a lot more about the
Senate and Chuck Schumer being able to keep moderates, Heidi Heitkamp up
from North Dakota, be able to get her to not vote for this is a big deal.
MATTHEWS: How about they would like the six endangered Republicans to vote
for it so they can run against them and beat them on this issue? Because
if those people break with the Republican majority, if they break with them
and vote the right way in the tax bill, they won`t have a hammer to hit
them with, the Democrats.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you would think the
Democrats would be working back room magic on that front, but they haven`t.
I think it`s exactly the case where the Democrats have been lowballing
this, taking this approach that maybe the Republicans will continue to fail
on the messaging effectively, which they have.
MATTHEWS: Who`s going to win Friday night? Are we going to be sitting
here Friday and say the Republicans won?
STEELE: I think so.
PALMER: I think that`s probably right. I mean, it looks better than it
did earlier today.
MATTHEWS: If the Democrats want to beat the bill they have failed, if they
want to beat. Are you sure they wanted to beat it?
PALMER: I don`t think they have any ability to do that.
MATTHEWS: Oh, well, let`s take a look at this. A group of more than a
dozen Democratic senators, including three key moderates, criticized the
bill and suggest that without major changes, it`s unlikely they would get
any Democratic support. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Rather than rush this thing through,
rather than trying to find a pathway forward and people are looking for
different gimmicks, if you will, use us as the gimmick.
SEN. JOE DONNELLY (D), INDIANA: This is good faith. This is an effort to
say, let`s do this as a nation. Let`s do this as the American team. And I
just want everybody to know we`re ready to go.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: We are all hopeful that this
misguided attempt that is anything but regular order fails so that we can
then come together and work as Bill Nelson said, in a bipartisan way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know if they`re all moderates. I spotted progressives
in that group, Ron Wyden, in other ones.
What do you think, Kimberly? Do you think – what do you think – do you
think that six is going to shake the six Republicans on the edge of this
ATKINS: I don`t know if they`ll shake the Republicans loose. It was a
missed opportunity by Mitch McConnell to not reach out to some of these
more moderate Democrats to try to offer them something to –
MATTHEWS: Was he allowed to do that?
ATKINS: – to try to bring them onboard. Well, I don`t know if he was
allowed. He made a decision early that this was a Republican-only project
and that the Democrats would not be part of negotiating this.
STEELE: What is McConnell going to offer them that the conservatives who
have been pushing this –
MATTHEWS: We won`t destroy Obamacare, how about that for an offer?
STEELE: Right, well –
MATTHEWS: They want to destroy Obamacare.
STEELE: But the Senate was the one putting these mandates in this bill to
repeal the mandates. So, I don`t know what the – what McConnell or any
Republican senators are going to offer Manchin and others.
MATTHEWS: Here`s – I love personal politics. McCain doesn`t like this
president, Flake doesn`t like this president, Corker doesn`t like him.
Will those three guys go over to vote the tax bill to make themselves look
good with their Republican contributors, the wealthy? Would they rather
keep the love affair with their contributors than their anger towards the
president? What`s more important to them?
ATKINS: I think it will be really tough for McCain to vote for a measure
that this man`s full support of Obamacare, after standing up before and
saying and refusing.
MATTHEWS: You`re romantic. Kimberly, you`re a romantic. Hatred is good.
I`m just kidding. No, go ahead.
PALMER: Yes. I mean, I think, look, Bob Corker voted for this in the
Budget Committee. He said they`re going to come together on some kind of
trigger mechanism on the deficit. So, I think it looks more likely tonight
than it did earlier today he`s going to vote –
MATTHEWS: Your party`s looking bad here. It looks like, your party –
STEELE: No, I think this whole thing is mishandled. I think they should
have stopped the process and sat a room and done it the regular order way.
MATTHEWS: Well said. But you`ve avoided the question. If they`d done it
by the regular, ended up with the same bill, would you be for it?
MATTHEWS: OK. Why are we arguing about the order?
STEELE: Well, because I think the pressures would have been different,
because now, the pressure is to pass something, we don`t care what it is.
MATTHEWS: I think this is pigs at the trough.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And you`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Coming up next: three big scoops we`ll be talking about
tomorrow. HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.
Michael, tell me something I don`t know.
STEELE: Well, given all the pressures coming from North Korea, this week,
Hawaii is slated to –
MATTHEWS: The ballistic missile crisis pressures?
STEELE: Right. They`re reinstituting their statewide nuclear siren this
week in case just something crazy happens, they want everybody prepared.
MATTHEWS: Who`s doing this?
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re –
STEELE: Haven`t done it since the Cold War.
MATTHEWS: They are closer.
Anyway, go ahead, Anna.
PALMER: We saw a lot of emotion –
MATTHEWS: They were hit once by –
STEELE: Right. So they know.
PALMER: We saw a lot of emotion from Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell coming out of his meeting today. A lot of happiness, he called,
getting to the tax code, doing the tax reform, a 50 vote, kind of like the
Rubik`s cube. I expect him to be pretty happy through the rest of this
STEELE: Mitch McConnell`s happy, we`re not.
Go ahead, Kimberly.
ATKINS: So, we`ve been talking about different sides of the political
spectrum not coming together, not much bipartisanship here. Well, tomorrow
at the U.S. Supreme Court, there is an issue that is uniting people from
across the political spectrum, from the ACLU to Citizens United, it`s a
case about whether police need a warrant to get cell phone location data,
all these groups think it`s a bad idea for the government just to be able
to grab that without a warrant.
So, we`ll see if the Supreme Court is persuaded by their argument.
MATTHEWS: To find out where you?
ATKINS: Right. Location data, anywhere you go, everywhere you go.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. It`s fascinating.
Thank you, Michael – Dick Tracy would have liked this stuff. Michael
Steele, Anna Palmer, and, Kimberly Atkins.
When we return, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch”.
MATTHEWS: “Trump Watch”, Tuesday, November 28th, 2017.
This has been a loser of a day for Donald Trump allies, a big winner for
country`s free press. A group close to “Breitbart” tried to pull a sting
on “The Washington Post”. It tried selling the newspaper a made-up story
of how Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore had a sexual relationship with a
15-year-old that led to an abortion.
Well, they wanted “The Post” to splash the story all over its front page,
then come roaring in to show the whole account a sham. This would make
“The Washington Post” look like it was so ready to slime Moore that it went
with a bogus story.
Well, it didn`t work out that way. It turns out that “The Washington Post”
was suspicious of the tip, checked it out, discovered the whole thing was a
con job. Good for “The Washington Post,” bad for Trump allies. Good for
the advantage of quality journalism which you can`t be sure you`re getting
unless you`ve got serious editors who demand to know a reporter`s sources,
who insist on verifiable truth on what gets printed.
Three cheers for “The Washington Post”. Three Bronx cheers for the dirty
tricksters who tried to make its reporting look bad in order to make Donald
Trump look not so bad. It shows that when it comes to protecting Roy
Moore, some of his friends have decided the only defense is a dirty
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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