McDougal suing to break silence on Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 03/20/2018. Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests:
Jennifer Rodgers, Michael Schmidt, Issie Lapowsky, Eliza Collins, John Brabender
Transcript:

HARDBALL
March 20, 2018
Guest: Jennifer Rodgers, Michael Schmidt, Issie Lapowsky, Eliza Collins, John Brabender

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s later tonight. I`m going to ask him about
this news and the lie detector test and her claims that this means she was
truthful about her claims. So if you want that, it`s tonight at 10:00 p.m.
eastern.

Don`t no anywhere now, though, HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Lie detector. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Here are three stories Donald Trump didn`t want to see today. First, adult
film actress Stormy Daniels who is suing to get out of a secrecy agreement
underwent a polygraph test back in 2011. She was asked about an alleged
sexual relationship with Trump. The White House denied the allegation but
the person who administered the polygraph test concluded Daniels was
telling the truth about having unprotected intercourse with Donald Trump in
July of 20 – actually 2006. According to the report, the probability of
deception was measured to be less than one percent.

Meanwhile as first reported by “The New York Times,” a former playboy model
who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump, sued on Tuesday, to be
released from a 2016 legal agreement requiring her silence. Karen McDougal
was paid $150,000 by the “National Enquirer” in h 2016 according to the
lawsuit. Donald Trump is friend with the chief executive of the
“Enquirer`s” parent company. A spokesperson for McDougal`s lawyer
confirmed to NBC she filed a lawsuit.

And then there is this. The “Washington Post” reports a New York judge
said Tuesday that a defamation lawsuit against President Trump related to
an allegation that he sexual harassed a former “Apprentice” contestant may
go forward. Summer Zervos sued Trump last year after he accused her of
making up claims against him.

Here is how she previously described her encounter with Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUMMER ZERVOS, FORMER APPRENTICE CONTESTANT: He put me in an embrace and I
tried to push him away. I pushed his chest to put space between us. And I
said, come on, man, get real. He repeated my words back to me, “get real,”
as he began thrusting his genitals. He tried to kiss me again with my
hands still on his chest and I said, dude, you are tripping right now.
Attempting to make it clear I was not interested.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Claire Atkins is senior media editor for NBC News. Katie
Phang is an MSNBC legal analyst. Jonathan Lamire is a White House reporter
for the “Associated Press” and MSNBC political analyst. And Jonathan
Capehart is an opinion writer for the “Washington Post” and, of course, an
MSNBC contributor.

I want to start with Claire, I think, feel free as both attorney and as
person who`s watching this story as a narrative, where are these three
together now going to add up, to more trouble, more mishigans (ph) for
Trump? I wonder how many lawyers he can deal with on one day. Three
lawyers here. Teams of lawyers. Then lawyers to fight Mueller, on all the
questions of obstruction, collusion, and possible business misbehavior.

CLAIRE ATKINSON, NBC NEWS SENIOR MEDIA EDITOR: Yes. I mean, I hate to use
a phrase from the Clinton era, but it really feels like there`s a bimbo
eruption going on. There`s an awful lot of negative news today. The lady
problems are mushrooming. The Stormy Daniels lie detector test today was
one of our top performing stories on the Web site. So there`s huge, huge
interest in what these women have to say. And passing the lie detector
test obviously suggests that Stormy`s telling the truth.

One other interesting thing to talk about, Chris, is the idea of American
media trying to stop Karen Douglas, the playboy model, from telling her
story. Catch-and-kill is a common practice in tabloid journalism. It
happens all the time in London where your rival has a great story, sorry,
somebody has a great story out, you don`t want your rivals to get it and so
you buy the story and you kill it. That`s what happened to Karen.

She wants the right to go out there and tell her story to anybody, you
know, she is fighting nondisclosure agreements and trying to release
herself from those legal problem problems and tell whatever her story is.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Katie. You have been great on this on the legal
front. Let`s start with the legal front, Katie.

It seems to me that these people are very live witnesses against Trump.
They are out there doing lie detector tests. They exist. They go on
television. They are persistent and in the case of Stormy Daniels, she may
be as good a manipulator of the media as Donald Trump, himself. That`s
saying something. Her lawyer is certainly as good as his lawyers,
Avenatti. It doesn`t – I thought these stories would go away like the bus
conversation would go away with Billy Bush. I mean, we all learned nobody
on the Trump side seems to care. He still holds his numbers in the high
30s or low 40s now. Politically, it doesn`t seem to matter in the short
run, but legally, is this going somewhere, these three cases combined?

KATIE PHANG, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. So all three of these
plaintiffs are successfully trying their cases in the courts of public
opinion before they even actually hit the ground truly running in the legal
arenas that they are each individual wily in.

Now, obviously, Summer Zervos hit a home run today when a New York Supreme
Court justice basically said quote “no one is above the law,” speaking
directly to Donald Trump.

But in terms of the legal power that`s behind this, the reason why these
cases remain and the reason why they are so interesting is because they are
going to collectively chip away at the Trump defense. Chip away at the
Trump armor eventually exposing. Because think about it, the more that you
sue him, more you take him to court, the more chances you have cha judge is
going to agree either an NDA doesn`t apply, the confidentiality is gone and
this President of the United States has to sit for a deposition and to
answer for what he has done.

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s more likely that he has to sit for a deposition the
way President Clinton had to do in the Paula Jones case which got him into
all that trouble, or the fact that these two other women, Stormy Daniels
and Karen McDougal, get to tell their stories on places like “60 Minutes.”
And in, perhaps, magazine articles, other interviews, movies, perhaps, I
don`t know. What`s more likely? All three?

PHANG: So Stormy Daniels has that potential threat of the binding
confidential arbitration that she is staring down upon. Karen McDougal`s
lawsuit is unusual. She is claiming her lawyer actually was involved in
deceiving her.

MATTHEWS: Right.

PHANG: And that creates a whole new world of potential discovery because
if her lawyer was involved in cahoots with Michael Cohen and AMI, then that
is not going to go to arbitration from what we can see. And then finally,
with Summer Zervos, her lawsuit is a defamation lawsuit and there is no
binding arbitration there. So the discovery process is open to the public.
But, of course, there`s an appellate process that Summer`s case is probably
going to take and make it sometime before deposition ever happens. But as
you also mentioned, Chris, Mueller is knocking at his door, too. It isn`t
like these are the only people that wanted to get He`s got a lot of
problems, he being Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Well, thank you, Katie.

As I mentioned NBC News confirmed the news former playboy model Karen
McDougal, you just looked at her pictures there, fought a lawsuit against
AMI, that`s parent company of the “National Enquirer.”

She said in a statement, AMI lied to me, lied to me, made empty promises
and repeatedly intimidated and manipulated me. I just want the opportunity
to set the record straight and move on with my life free from this company,
its executives and its lawyer.

Jonathan Capehart, a couple compelling arguments here. One, I mean, you
can argue Stormy Daniels and the President deserve each other. I don`t
think there`s any hero in that particular story. But the McDougal story,
she tried to sell her story to the “National Enquirer.” They bought it
then killed it. It is called catch-and-kill. So she was, I think,
manipulated, I would argue. And the other one, I did think Stormy, the
fact that Stormy is wanting to take a lie detector test, that gives her
credibility with most people that she wanted to take a lie detector test
and according to the expert passed it.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Right.

MATTHEWS: So those two seem to be getting –. Zervos, I`m not sure I
figured out that case yet. Give me your thoughts.

CAPEHART: So when it comes to Stormy Daniels and the lie detector test, in
a court of law, it`s up to the judge`s discretion whether to use it because
lie detector tests can be manipulated, but in the court of public opinion,
where the American people have been feeding on a diet of law and order and
CSI, and all of these courtroom dramas, a lie detector test means
something. It means someone was willing to sit there, be asked these
questions and if it comes out and says they are telling the truth, by in
large, people are going to believe them. So that, between the –

MATTHEWS: Well, Trump won`t take one.

CAPEHART: Well, there you go. But between the “60 Minutes” interview that
we are going to see this coming Sunday and the lie detector test and the
way as you pointed out, Michael Avenatti has been just out there in a
public relations blitz on behalf of Stormy Daniels, she is a credible
witness. So when it comes to Karen McDougal – mixing them all, Karen
McDougal or Summer –

MATTHEWS: Karen McDougal.

CAPEHART: Karen McDougal is the one who is suing because she was
hoodwinked by AMI.

MATTHEWS: Bad lawyer.

CAPEHART: And her lawyers. That`s dirty dealing that, again, will make
her a sympathetic litigant against the President, or at least puts the
President in a space where he is going, doing battle with someone –

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s the toughest question, to Jonathan Lamire, the
toughest question of all. Does this matter to Trump supporters? Any of
it?

JONATHAN LAMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: None of it has
yet. You know, his poll numbers among his core supporters, that includes
evangelicals –

MATTHEWS: He`s at 43 percent now.

LAMIRE: Right. If you were to draw up just a blind – no name, but just
list all these revelations and hand that to your average evangelical voter
they would probably be aghast. But Donald Trump, they still support him.
They believe in his mission. They think he is getting things done for
their cause even if they don`t necessarily approve of his personal
behavior.

But what this does do, it puts pressure on Republican lawmakers on Congress
– on Capitol Hill. They have to face more questions. It is another
distraction.

MATTHEWS: Does it make them want Mike Pence?

LAMIRE: I mean –

MATTHEWS: I`m serious. Does it make them want Mike Pence? Which means
would they just as soon get this guy out of there and go to Pence who they
can defend?

LAMIRE: For some it might. But we have seen to this point a lack of guts
from the Republicans to stand up to the President, who still –.

CAPEHART: Yes. They are not making any moves to look like they are
opposing the President or even setting up vice President Pence.

(CROSSTALK)

LAMIRE: And they are afraid of his twitter account. But this is – the
image here, though, of Stormy Daniels in the polygraph is a powerful one.
And this is – as you say, like, the part of why this is – this is
starting to stick is that she is out there. She`s a real person. You
know, we can hear - we are going to hear her interview. We can see her
pictures. I wouldn`t recommend Google searching her at work. But you are
seeing –

MATTHEWS: In other words, you are recommending it.

LAMIRE: Right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s take a look at the (INAUDIBLE).

Summer Zervos came to a former contestant on “Apprentice” and suing
President Trump for defamation. During the campaign of 2016, she was one
of more than a dozens of women who accused Mr. Trump of sexual assault or
misconduct. Here are some of their accounts.

(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 hand 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, Trump called the claims against him, those, totally and
absolutely false. And he attacked the women making them. Anyway, let`s
watch. Those who made the attacks. Let`s watch.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These events never, ever
happened, and the people that said them meekly fully understand. You take
a look at these people, you study these people, and you will 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)

MATTHEWS: Well, Katie, that hasn`t happened. There`s been no litigation
by him.

PHANG: No.

MATTHEWS: He hasn`t tried to keep these stories alive. They have stayed
alive of their own volition and power. What about the defamation charge,
he could have just said I didn`t do it, but he didn`t do that? He tried to
destroy them.

PHANG: Yes, so it`s very similar to the Bill Cosby defamation things that
have occurred. As you know, Bill Cosby is looking at his retrial last
month for his own criminal charges. But as you will recall, there was a
huge slew of defamation lawsuits that came from his victims because he
didn`t just say, I didn`t do it, he went one step further which is exactly
what you heard in all of those clips from Donald Trump. Instead of just
letting it go and saying it didn`t happen or maybe even saying no comment,
he went so far as to accuse them of being liars and horrible, horrible
people. And as a result, thereof, he is looking at a defamation lawsuit
from Summer Zervos.

And again, as we heard today, judge said I don`t care that you think this
case needs to be dismissed or stayed until you are done serving your
Presidential term, you are going to be an active litigant in this lawsuit,
Donald Trump, and that was the ruling from a judge today.

MATTHEWS: Claire, I thought this wasn`t going to grow. It`s growing. I
thought, you know, people after the bus incident, that conversation he had
with Billy Bush, that his people would take anything and the press can`t
keep covering this same story, but this seems to metastasize. I get - I
guess there will be more people coming forward because of the comfort level
that now the three of them are going to give anybody else who has a story
like this.

Claire, what do you make of the future, two to three weeks, and that we
have talking at this level or we have been talking serious action by the
courts or what?

ATKINSON: I think it`s a good point. You know, let`s not forget we are in
the middle of the Me Too movement where women are stepping forward every
day accusing powerful men of terrible things. And for the most part, they
are getting justice except for the likes of Summer Zervos who is saying I
have been defamed, even if he is denying it, calls me a liar.

And so, I think this keeps going. I think these women should take heart.
We will see what Stormy has to say on “60 Minutes” on Sunday. And you
know, maybe we will be looking at real evidence come Monday morning as to
who`s telling the truth in all these situations.

MATTHEWS: I think the more evidence, the more details, the more, as we say
in our business, tic-tac, of what actually happened, the better it is for
the people making the claims. People begin to realize this really did
happen because it has the sense of veracity that people begin to
understand, yes, that probably happened. Yes, I can see that happening.
And it looks bad for Trump. I don`t think this is going away.

Claire Atkinson, Katie Phang, Jonathan Lamire, and the other Jonathan, our
own Jonathan Capehart.

Coming up, as Trump`s legal problems pile up, he is struggling to shake up
his legal team in the face of the Russia investigation. He has added one
new high-profile lawyer, but another star attorney Trump wanted to hire
will not join the team, it seems. And it`s as if the only person Trump
trusts right now is Trump. And that`s a sorry condition. And that`s
ahead.

Plus, big trouble over the big data firm that helped Donald Trump win the
victory in 2016. Cambridge Analytica is under fire now for allegedly
stealing 50 million social media profiles and weaponizing them to win the
election for Trump. And now Robert Mueller wants answers to that.

And as the Russia probe closes in, Trump and his allies are pushing wild
conspiracy theories about Mueller`s probe. They are looking for a way to
discredit the Russia investigation. It`s Trump`s, I believe, last wall of
defense. The final battle he hopes will save his presidency.

Finally, let me finish tonight with a very bad national memory of 15 years
ago today. Look it up. But I`ll be back with that.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: In an exclusive new interview with NBC`s Pete Williams, FBI
director Christopher Wray addressed reports that he threatened to resign
after being pressured by the White House to fire some senior individuals.
Well, early this year, numerous allies report that Wray was pressured by
the Trump administration to get rid of former FBI deputy director Andrew
McCabe.

Here`s FBI director Wray speaking to NBC`s Pete Williams.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS HOST: Do you feel any political pressure from the
White House?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: No.

WILLIAMS: President`s never asked you to say anything about it or clear
him?

WRAY: About the Russia investigation?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

WRAY: He`s never asked me to do anything with the Russia investigation.

WILLIAMS: It`s been reported that you threatened to resign over being
urged to fire people. Is that correct?

WRAY: You know, I have been very clear from the minute I was nominated, to
the minute I walked in the door, to countless opportunities since then,
that I am unwaveringly committed to doing this job by the book,
independently, following our rules, our processes, free from political or
partisan influence.

WILLIAMS: So it sounds like you`re saying those reports are not wrong.

WRAY: I`m not going to talk about specific conversations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

As the president`s recent attacks on the special counsel suggest, Trump is
going it alone, adapting a more aggressive legal strategy to deal with the
Russia probe, despite the potential consequences.

And now “The New York Times” is reporting that Trump`s legal defense team
is collapsing and that the president`s ignoring the advice of his lawyers.

According to “The Times,” Trump`s lead lawyer, John Dowd, “has contemplated
leaving his post because he has concluded he has no control over the
behavior of the president.” Big surprise for him.

Dowd made headlines over the weekend when he said for the first time that
the special counsel`s probe should be shut down. Dowd later modified his
statement, saying he was only speaking for himself. However, “The New York
Times” now reports that he was, in fact, acting at the president`s urging
when he called for it to be shut down.

Furthermore, “Mr. Trump has weighed aloud whether to dismiss his lawyer Ty
Cobb who had pushed most strongly a strategy of cooperating fully with the
special counsel investigation.”

Aside from his handlebar mustache, Cobb is best known for the failed
promises he made to the president last fall, telling him the Russia probe
would end by a certain date. First, he said it was Thanksgiving. Then
Christmas. Then the new year. And it`s still going on.

However, as “The New York Times” reported last month, those assurances were
“primarily aimed at keeping Trump from antagonizing Mr. Mueller.”

Well, joining me right now is the co-author of that “New York Times”
article, Michael Schmidt. And Jennifer Rodgers is a former assistant U.S.
attorney.

Thank you both.

It looks to me like one of those courtroom scenes where the guy doesn`t
trust his lawyer anymore, because he`s losing.

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: I think the president is looking
for a magic bullet here to get himself out of this.

He has seen that cooperation, at least in his eyes, has not gotten him out
of this. Here we are, more than a year into the presidency. The
investigation looks like it`s intensifying, certainly not over. Lawyers
tell him one thing. He is a guy that gets frustrated easily.

And he`s looking around for other folks to come in. Who can help him get
out of this? The problem that the president has is that he thinks he`s his
best spokesman and his best lawyer and strategist. And he believes he can
drive this by himself.

The problem is, is that the lawyers are very afraid about what he could do
if he were to go and sit down with Mueller, what he would say, what more
problems he could get himself into.

MATTHEWS: Well, if he gets into a deposition situation, he could put
himself out of the White House.

SCHMIDT: The president is someone who believes he can explain everything,
but he often doesn`t stop talking. He will talk about many different
things over a very short period of time.

He will often say things that are outlandish, things that are not true.
And you just can`t do that when you`re sitting down with Bob Mueller.

MATTHEWS: Well, “The Washington Post” also describes chaos among the
president`s team, reporting that: “Lawyers tasked with defending Trump are
increasingly operating with conflicting information and are feuding
internally. Sources say Trump`s attorneys are not only working on his
defense, but are also serving as Trump`s publicists and therapists.”

Furthermore, “The Washington Post” reports that: “Trump is not consulting
with top advisers on his Russia legal choices or his comments about the
probe. He`s instead watching television and calling friends.”

Well, separately, “The Washington Post” reports that Trump`s legal team has
attempted to hire the high-profile veteran attorney Ted Olson, the former
U.S. solicitor general. However, Olson has rebuffed the offer, as Ted
Boutrous, one of his partners at Gibson Dunn, said, “Olson will not be
representing President Donald Trump.”

Let me go to Jennifer.

This – it just seems like Trump is – there`s only two people, it seems to
me, really knew what Trump did, Trump. I think he`s got a good memory of
what`s done. But he doesn`t know the illegality of what he`s done
probably. Mueller knows pretty much what Trump has done and knows all
about the illegal – or the illegalities involved.

So how does a lawyer represent Trump when they don`t have that information
that both – that is shared – that is shared basically now just by Mueller
and his team, the opposition, the enemy, and Trump? You think Trump levels
with these lawyers?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think he has to
if he`s smart. I mean, it`s unclear. Of course, what he`s telling them,
all of it will be protected by attorney/client privilege. And I`m sure
they`re emphasizing to him that he has to come clean with them, or they
can`t help him.

You know, I think they also will be speaking to other people within the
attorney/client privilege veil and trying to figure out what happened that
way, too. But it`s always been unclear how candid he is with his lawyers.
It`s always been unclear what that relationship is like.

We know some things, but not very much. So, I just think this is a
critical juncture for him. And if he wants to try to do the best job of
defending himself against this investigation, he will have to start working
with his lawyers ASAP.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s possible, Michael, that he has told his
attorneys about the relations between his family members, Donald Jr.,
Jared, his son-in-law, and the Russians?

Do you think that basic information on the probe here, so critical to it,
do you think he would tell that to his lawyers, oh, yes, I talked to Jared
about it, he talked to Kislyak, and he talked to the other lawyer that came
to the tower that day?

I can`t imagine Trump admitting that.

SCHMIDT: They have to prepare for those questions for going in.

Look, they – you have to remember, they`re at a juncture here where they
have to decide, are they going to sit down with Mueller or not? And if
they`re going to do that, they`re going to have to come up with answers to
those questions. So, they`re certainly going to have to have those
discussions.

But you have to remember, from the beginning Trump, told his lawyers, I did
nothing wrong. How can we get rid of this as quickly as possible? And
they said, cooperate.

That`s what you have seen. Now, the problem is, is that not – if the
president did do something wrong, then they have cooperated themselves into
that problem.

MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, “The Washington Post” is now reporting tonight
that President Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security
advisers when he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin today on
his reelection victory.

Trump`s briefing materials included a section in all capital letters that
read, “Do not congratulate.” But Trump ignored that guidance and
congratulated Putin anyway.

“The Post” also reports that Trump decided not to heed his aides` talking
points instructing him to condemn Putin about the recent poisoning of a
former Russian spy in the U.K., the United Kingdom.

Earlier today, Trump called his conversation with Putin a very good call.

Michael, you`re one of the hottest newsmen around on this whole thing.
Does Trump realize, by letting it go, what our closest allies in the world,
the British do, by failing to back them up on this in this conversation
with Putin, he`s going to be the bad guy in this?

SCHMIDT: Donald Trump has said a lot of…

MATTHEWS: A real bad guy on this.

SCHMIDT: Donald Trump has said a lot of nasty things about a lot of
people, but almost nothing nasty about Vladimir Putin.

MATTHEWS: Which tells you?

SCHMIDT: Very, very, very few comments…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Which normally would tell you in journalism what?

SCHMIDT: It`s a curious – it`s a curious thing.

MATTHEWS: Not that curious to you, Michael.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHMIDT: I…

MATTHEWS: What has he got in cahoots with Vladimir Putin? What do they
share that he doesn`t want shared with anyone else?

SCHMIDT: You have to ask Bob Mueller that question. He`s got some more
powers than I do to figure that out.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think.

Anyway, thank you so much. Jennifer, thank you for joining us for your
expertise, Michael Schmidt, for your reportage.

Up next: One of the firms that helped power the Trump presidential
campaign is in hot water tonight, accused of stealing private data from
more than 50 million Facebook users. This appears to be of interest to Mr.
Mueller.

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Cambridge Analytica, the data firm hired by Jared Kushner to help Donald
Trump during the 2016 election, is coming under increased scrutiny after a
series of investigations have exposed its practices.

NBC`s British partner ITN Channel 4 conducted a number of undercover
reports about the firm. The videos show a reporter posing as a prospective
client of Cambridge Analytica and executives bragging about using bribes
and prostitutes to entrap politicians.

It comes just days after both “The New York Times” and “The Guardian”
reported that the firm, which was created by Republican mega-donor Robert
Mercer and Steve Bannon, had access to data of more than 50 million
Facebook users without their permission.

In another undercover video released today, the company`s CEO is heard
bragging about the firm`s work on behalf of the Trump campaign. Let`s
watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you met Mr. Trump?

ALEXANDER NIX, CEO, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: Many times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have?

NIX: We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the
targeting. We ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and
our data informed all the strategy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Steve Bannon, who`s co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, as I
said, introduced the CEO, Alexander Nix, to the Trump campaign.

The firm was officially hired by Jared Kushner in June of 2016. The
company provided Trump campaign with data, polling and research services.

In a statement, Cambridge Analytica denied that its or its affiliates –
quote – “use entrapments, bribes, or so-called honey traps.”

It added that the company “has never claimed it won the election for
President Trump. This is patently absurd. We are proud of the work we did
on that campaign and have spoken in many public forums about what we
consider to be our contribution to the campaign.”

Well, late today, the board of Cambridge Analytica suspended CEO Alexander
Nix, pending an investigation.

And according to “The Wall Street Journal,” Robert Mueller has taken an
interest in the company`s activities during the campaign and has requested
the firm “turn over the e-mails of any Cambridge Analytica employees who
worked on the Trump campaign.”

For more on that, I`m joined by Issie Lapowsky, senior writer for “Wired.”

Issie, thank you for coming to us and helping us crosswalk to most people
the big deal here. I want to ask you my favorite question. And you can go
at it with all your guns blazing. So what?

ISSIE LAPOWSKY, “WIRED”: Well, I think the big issue here is data privacy,
right?

A lot of people are trying to boil this down to the 2016 election. But
what we have here is a massive unauthorized access of 50 million Facebook
users` data. I think a lot of people would be upset about that.

We consider in this country the vote to be a private thing. And to know
that the information that can sort of intimate how you might vote is just
being freely bought and sold on the Internet and passed along to people who
you never knew were part of the bargain to begin with is really an outrage
to a lot of Americans.

MATTHEWS: But we all – a lot of us, you know, cheered when we heard about
the microtargeting of the Obama campaign in `08, Jim Messina and the rest
of them, how they brilliantly found exactly who drives a Toyota, who drives
a – you know, a Mercedes or what that tells you, or who likes whatever,
chocolate cake over devil`s food or whatever, angel food.

I don`t know what these things do, but they somehow tell you how you`re
going to vote. And we thought that was fun and great. Now, what`s the
difference here?

LAPOWSKY: I think that we`re in, A, a different time with regard to tech
companies. I think the public discourse around big tech is changing, in
part because we saw how these tech platforms were used and abused during
the 2016 election.

The other difference with what the Obama campaign did is, at least when
they were taking all this data, which they were – you`re very right –
they had apps that they asked people to sign in through Facebook, and they
would get millions and millions of people`s data – at least those apps
were connected to the Obama campaign.

In this case, with Cambridge Analytica, they hired a researcher who created
an app that said, I will predict your personality. Just take this quiz.

It had no connection to politics. It was supposed to be for academic
purposes. And add to all of that what we`re seeing in the Channel 4 news
broadcast. You had all of this data being passed to a firm that seems to
use really underhanded tactics to get what it wants, or at least talks
about using those tactics.

MATTHEWS: Was it stolen? Is that the difference? Did the information
that the people freely gave up for use of the Obama campaign – in this
case, the information was stolen and metastasized, because they not only
took your information, but all your Facebook colleagues, everybody you
knew. They grabbed all that, too.

Was that a theft? That`s the tough question.

LAPOWSKY: I want to be clear. At the time, this was completely in
agreement with Facebook`s terms. At the time, they said, if you`re an app
developer, you not only get access to the data of the people who download
your app, but also all of their friends. This was called the Facebook
social graph API.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LAPOWSKY: They changed that in 2015. So, I wouldn`t call it a theft
necessarily.

But what happened and that wasn`t supposed to happen was this third-party
researcher who created the app was never supposed to pass that data on to
anybody else. That was supposed to be his and his alone.

Cambridge Analytica, SCL, they were never supposed to be part of the
equation. As soon as Facebook found out that they were, as soon as they
were alerted by the media, they told Cambridge, they told SCL and the
researcher, get rid of this data.

And what the new reporting is suggesting is that that didn`t necessarily
happen.

MATTHEWS: They still have it, don`t they? The Trump people have the 50
million people`s profiles.

LAPOWSKY: Well, I want to be clear. The Trump campaign says that during
the campaign, they were working with Republican National Committee data.
They had Cambridge Analytica data analysts in their office, but the data
that those analysts were crunching was from the Republican National
Committee.

But the speculation is that Cambridge or SCL still has that data.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Give me one example of how you would find a Trump voter through the
Facebook information, the data we`re talking about. Give me one indicator
that would say, this is a Trump voter.

LAPOWSKY: Well, I mean, for instance, you get access to what people like.
So, maybe they`re liking a lot of conservative news outlets. Maybe they`re
liking some conservative politicians. Maybe they`re commenting a lot or
attending events that have to do with conservative causes.

So, there`s a million different indicators. And, you know, there`s other
demographic information, of course, as well that would indicate, you know,
your general age range, probably your gender, and where you live. And all
of that gets merged with other data sources from around the Internet,
including, you know, your credit card data.

So they mix all of this together, and suddenly they have a pretty good
portrait of who you are.

MATTHEWS: Well, it doesn`t feel too good to be manipulated.

Thank you, Issie Lapowsky, for your expertise.

Up next: With the Mueller probe closing in, the president and his allies
are spouting wild conspiracy theories as Trump`s last defense, last
redoubt, I would say, to discredit the Russia probe, so that the base
doesn`t accept the special counsel`s findings when they inevitably arrive.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

As Robert Mueller`s investigation closes in on the president, the
president, himself, and his allies are waging a disinformation campaign
aimed at shutting the whole thing down. The latest line of attack,
officials within the Justice Department and FBI are supposedly engaged in a
conspiracy to take down Donald Trump. That`s the theory espoused by Joseph
diGenova, the latest lawyer to join Trump`s legal team.

Here`s what he told Fox Business two weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH DIGENOVA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: This was a plot, a brazen plot, to
exonerate Hillary Clinton in the e-mail server case, to make, to ensure
that she became president. And if by chance she lost, part of the plot was
to frame Donald Trump with a false crime. This is the single most
important scandal of the last 50 years because senior DOJ and FBI officials
engaged in conduct that was designed to corrupt an American presidential
election.

It wasn`t the Russians who corrupted the presidential election. It was the
American officials at the Department of Justice and the FBI.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it, the message that the Trump people want
everybody to have when Mueller comes out with his report. In other words,
don`t believe a word of it.

DiGenova joins a host of Trump allies calling for investigation into those
conducting the Russia investigation. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: I think there`s a lot more investigating to
do, and it may very well be that you had an informal cabal functioning in
secret with a societal goal of hurting President Trump without any
evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That sounds like a massive conspiracy theory.

GAETZ: It may have been a massive conspiracy at play.

MARK LEVIN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, Comey is like the mob boss of the
operation. All this was happening under him.

LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSIENSS HOST: This is a – this is beyond a network of
corrupt politicized cronies. This is – this is something close to some
sort of organized criminal element within Department of Justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a conspiracy.

DOBBS: Working against the very purpose of the department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lou, it`s a conspiracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`m sure they both agree.

Today, we got striking new evidence that the disinformation campaign is
already working. That`s coming up next with the HARDBALL roundtable.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump`s defenders argue there are officials within the Justice
Department and the FBI engaged in a mass conspiracy to bring down this
president. They contend that it`s part of a so-called deep state, a group
of unelected government officials manipulating policy.

A new Monmouth University poll found 72 percent, almost three-quarters of
Republicans, believe a deep state definitely or probably exists. Compare
that to a “Washington Post” poll out just last year, in April of 2017, it
found only 45 percent of Republicans believe in a deep state.

Well, the percentage of Democrats who believe in a deep state who also
skyrocketed within the last year with 72 percent now believe – this is
Democrats believe this.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. This is confounding.

Eliza Collins is reporter for “USA Today”. Cornell Belcher, of course, is
a Democratic pollster and an MSNBC political analyst. And John Brabender
is a Republican strategist.

Is there a deep state, John?

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I would –

MATTHEWS: Are you with Joseph diGenova on this?

BRABENDER: I would describe deep state different than most people do. I
think there is. But I think as a culture of Washington, that is lobbyists,
bureaucrats who have been here through different administrations, media
consultants, everybody, and in some sense, we feel like we own D.C. and –

MATTHEWS: Do they meet?

BRABENDER: No.

MATTHEWS: They don`t meet? They don`t have meetings?

BRABENDER: I think it`s a culture. In this case, I think there is a group
within some of the bureaucrats that were pro-Obama, pro-Hillary who believe

MATTHEWS: You belief the FBI is infested with liberals?

BRABENDER: I believe there are people who feel the last election was a
mistake.

MATTHEWS: The FBI?

BRABENDER: I believe there were people within the FBI who think they were
mistakes.

MATTHEWS: Ten days before the election, they announced Hillary Clinton`s
under investigation again.

BRABENDER: Can I ask a question? Right. All the Democrats were claiming
that that was a political move. If the Democrats are willing to say that
Comey was political, why can`t the Republicans –

MATTHEWS: Because you claim it`s systemic.

Anyway, Cornell, there`s a difference in the charge here. I think the
Democrats – Lanny Davis was on this show yelling about the fact – I think
he has a point, ten days out, Comey comes out with this report that Hillary
is still under investigation. I think that turned votes.

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The idea – well, it did. I
mean, you can see in the data when that broke, I mean, a lot of Clinton
people, and a lot of us watching data, when that broke, you did have
movement right, in the wrong direction.

The idea that the FBI is trying to fix it for the liberals and for the
Democrats is so preposterous, it makes my head explode, right? You know,
this is really about undermining –

MATTHEWS: This guy believes it.

BELCHER: – some central institutions. I actually don`t think – I don`t
think he believes in a deep state the way that FOX News and Donald Trump
are trying to roll it out because what they`re trying to do is really
undermine central institutions, right? They`re trying to muddy up the
waters. So, Mueller and these departments do come out with their report,
then they have sort of a way out of it, right, because they`re all in
cahoots.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that the strategy, Eliza? It looks to me like this is the
last redoubt, which everybody has to have, a plan B. When everything else
fails, they have to be ready with an argument. OK, don`t believe a word
this guy says no matter how intricately involved it is, on collusion, or
obstruction or business dealings or any of it, don`t believe any of it
because it comes from a bad source, the deep state.

ELIZA COLLINS, REPORTER, USA TODAY: Well, I think there are two things at
play. President Trump has been cooperating and seen this has not gone
away, so he`s getting increasingly frustrated. So, this weekend was the
first time he actually was calling Mueller out by name. He`s attacking
him.

But his allies have been saying this all along.

MATTHEWS: Deep state?

COLLINS: Deep state. This is not new. They believe that there was
corruption at the FBI. I mean, Andrew McCabe.

MATTHEWS: Well, they said they believe.

COLLINS: They said they believe that there was corruption in the FBI –

MATTHEWS: You never know what a politician believes. You can only go by
what they say they believe.

COLLINS: But they`ve been planting this all along to sort of help ally
themselves with the president, especially when they`re on Fox, that`s his
audience.

BRABENDER: But here`s the big problem –

MATTHEWS: But what do you think Trump`s going to do if it comes to down to
it, supposedly kids, his kids, one or two, his son-in-law, are facing
indictment. They are indicted. What is he going to do?

BRABENDER: Well, I don`t think you`re going to see any case where he`s
going it get rid of Mueller. He might criticize him but he`s not going to
get –

MATTHEWS: He pardons the kids, then?

BRABENDER: I have no idea.

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: But here`s the problem –

MATTHEWS: OK. You won`t answer my question. What`s he going to do?

BRABENDER: But here`s where I understand. We keep talking about Russia.
It`s three different things. It`s collusion where there`s been no proof.
Did they change the outcome of the election where there`s no proof? We all
know they played yet nobody is spending enough time talking about that.

Here`s the real tragedy of all this –

MATTHEWS: It only takes one to bring them down.

BRABENDER: What Russia wanted to do was create political chaos in this
country, and that they have achieved every day. I would argue today, it`s
more the Democrats` fault than anybody else, that they are playing into –

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: John Brabender here, you`re on television saying that the
country should have just let it go with the Russians?

BRABENDER: No, absolutely not. I think where we should be concentrating
on is how they impacted our elections, how they`re going to pay a penalty
and how we`re going to make sure it never happens again.

MATTHEWS: Who worked with them?

BRABENDER: Ii don`t think anybody necessarily worked with them.

MATTHEWS: How do you know that without an investigation?

BRABENDER: I don`t know that. But all I know is that this investigation
is going on forever.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think we have to know.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will
tell me something I don`t know. Be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Eliza, gets to answer the question. Tell me something I don`t know.

COLLINS: So, Conor Lamb who won the Pennsylvania district last wee, that`s
the 18th congressional district, today he filed for the 17th congressional
district.

MATTHEWS: Is that the suburban one, the good one for him near Pittsburgh?

COLLINS: Yes, so his chances are better because of the redrawing of the
map.

MATTHEWS: What about the loser, where`s he`s going?

COLLINS: I`m not sure if he filed yet, but it would be the 18th district
turns into the 14th district which will be more conservative.

BELCHER: “New York Times” extensive study out yesterday done by Stanford
and Harvard shows that inequality can be explained by what`s happening
between our black boys and our white boys. And much of the inequality
cannot be explained by traits or what`s happening in the household. Race
matters.

MATTHEWS: Even kids of millionaires?

BELCHER: Even kids of millionaires. Race matters most and all these
progressives –

MATTHEWS: Of men, not women?

BELCHER: For men, not women. That`s the whole point.

MATTHEWS: What did that tell you as an expert? Is it prejudice?

BELCHER: That tells you that your bias that you have against black men is
different. It`s fundamentally different and it`s a burden that I have to -
-

MATTHEWS: Let`s come back and talk about that in the show.

BRABENDER: In 2010, the Democrats wanted to create havoc in the Republican
primary in Senate Louisiana. So, they put an ad in Craigslist asking for
an adult film star to get into the Republican primary. One person
responded and got into the Republican race, Stormy Daniels.

MATTHEWS: Jesus. Anyway, thank you, Eliza Collins, Cornell Belcher. He`s
a comedian as well. John Brabender.

Let me return. When I do, I`m going to finish with a very bad memory of 15
years ago this day. You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a very bad memory.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the American war on
Iraq. I meant that the way I said it. It used to be that we Americans
made war on the aggressors, countries who invaded other countries. They
were the bad guys. We were among the countries who fought against
aggressor nations.

But in March 2003, we attacked Iraq, took the country over by force,
killing or taking prisoner any Iraqi national who got in our way. We took
over control of that country, occupied it and sought to control its future.

I try to keep count of those who backed that invasion of Iraq starting with
President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who lied about it
having nuclear weapons, lied to our country for the specific purpose of
selling us on that invasion.

What scares me still about that aggression by us is that it was championed
by a president of so little ability, certainly not an historic figure by
any account. And what disappoints me more but doesn`t surprise me is the
lemming-like way in which so many Democrats fell into line, particularly
and practically all of the big names, certainly all of the presidential
candidates serving in the Congress.

Why did they do it? Was it the money they got from hawkish contributors?
Was it fear of being called weak on the Middle East? Was it the high
schoolers fear of daring to be out of step with what was happening? Or was
it the gung-ho cheerleading for established names in the media for – catch
this – Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Whatever the combination, I hope never to forget that Senator Ted Kennedy
for one called his vote against that stupid war the most important of his
entire career.

Why stupid? A, morally, because it broke with our country`s prideful self-
image of being opposed to aggression, and for what in this case. B,
strategically, because knocking off Saddam Hussein removed the one great
Islamic counter to ayatollah-led Iran. And now, the only thing separating
Iran from Israel and from us is nothing.

For this I blame the stupidity of the Bush people, the ideology of the
neocons and not the least the cowardice of those who went along with the
war for the simple reason they were afraid not to, afraid not to stand up
for what America at our best has been proud all these years to stand up
for.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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