Candidates heading into homestretch. TRANSCRIPT: 10/22/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Cheri Bustos, Elliot Williams, Chris Coons, Amanda Terkel, Adrienne Elrod, Matt Schlapp

Date: October 22, 2018
Guest: Cheri Bustos, Elliot Williams, Chris Coons, Amanda Terkel, Adrienne
Elrod, Matt Schlapp

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump at the gate. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

With midterms just two weeks from tomorrow, President Trump is doubling
down on his warning of mobs at the gate. At a rally in Nevada, over the
weekend, he accused Democrats of being behind that caravan of Central
American migrants. There it is. There they are, heading through Mexico
toward the U.S. border.


Republicans produce jobs. That`s become a hashtag. They want to open your
borders, let people in illegally. The Democrats want to throw open your
borders to deadly drugs and gangs and anybody else that wants to come in.

The Democrats want caravans. They like the caravans. So the Democrats
don`t care that a flood of illegal immigration will bankrupt our country.


MATTHEWS: Trump continues stoking fears on illegal immigration, a series
of three morning tweets today. He warned of a quote “caravan heading to
the southern border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle
Easterners mixed in.”

He also added, think and blame the Democrats. And remember the midterms.

Well, today, Trump was asked to support his words about the caravan. Let`s


TRUMP: Take your camera. Go into the middle and search. You are going to
find MS-13, you are going to find Middle Eastern, and you are going to find
everything. And guess what? We are not allowing them in our country. We
want safety.


MATTHEWS: In fact, NBC News reports there`s no evidence to support Trump`s
claim about the caravan noting that internal U.S. government documents on
the caravan make no mention of Middle Easterners, criminals or a terror

Over the weekend Trump also rolled out another warning without any
evidence, again without evidence, writing on twitter, all levels of
government and law enforcement are watching carefully for voter fraud,
including during early voting. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be
subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal.

In spite of all that, in the latest NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll it found
Trump`s job approval up to 47 percent among registered voters, 47 percent,
his highest approval rating ever in the survey.

For more I`m joined by Illinois Democratic congresswoman Cheri Bustos, a
rising star in the Democratic Party, also Yamiche Alcindor, White House
correspondent for the PBS News Hour and Charlie Sykes, contributing editor
at the “Weekly Standard.”

I want all three of you, starting with congresswoman Bustos to tell us how
the Democrats react to what looks to be a (INAUDIBLE), a loud scream of
fear and fright from Donald Trump that they are coming, they are coming
through the gates, and the Democrats are welcoming them in as illegal
immigrants by the thousands. What do Democratic leadership should they be
saying to the American voter at this moment? Congresswoman.

REP. CHERI BUSTOS (D), ILLINOIS: Well, first of all, Chris, Donald Trump
is the master distracter. And here we are 15 days out from this election.
We have got Democrats all over the country who are some of the sharpest
candidates I have ever seen in my political lifetime. They are running
scared. And what do they do when they are running scared? They resort to
fear tactics. And that`s what`s happening.

What we need to stay focused on is the legislation that we will do once we
win back the majority, that`s number one. Bring down the cost of health
care, prescription drug prices. We will rebuild this country with a real
trillion dollar infrastructure package not the fake one like the President
introduced. And number three, we are going to make Washington functional
again. We are going to address the dysfunction in Washington, the self-
dealing, the money in politics. And we will do that as soon as we win back
the majority. We just have to make sure that we continue to do our best to
earn the trust of the American public again.

MATTHEWS: What can you do if you can`t win back the Senate?

BUSTOS: Well, you know, I`m staying focused on the House because that`s
where I serve. I think the Senate, it`s tough, but we have some tremendous
candidates. Kiersten Sinema in Arizona, Jackie Rosen in Nevada. I love
Beto O`Rourke in Texas. It`s a tough one. But look at the campaign he is

Right now my role at the Democratic congressional campaign committee is
heart land engagement chair. So I am working with candidates running in 12
mostly Midwestern states. We have also included West Virginia and
Pennsylvania in there.

And, Chris, these candidates are going to change the way Congress does
business. They are not going to have anybody tell them what to do.
They`re going to stay focused on the 700-ish thousand people they will
represent. And we are going to get the nation`s work done again.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, your thoughts about what the congresswoman just said.
The battle of her offering what the Democrats will do if they regain the
Congress. They have to get the presidency back, too, ultimately to get a
bill signed. Against the fear of the President, which he is talking about
the mob at the gate. What he`s going to do the next two weeks, we know it

in West Virginia. And it`s the nature of the Democrats to say we need to
talk to people and welcome people who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing

So – the problem is, of course, the caravan is the worst possible time for
Democrats for this to be happening politically because they are going to
show up on the gates of the United States right when people are voting so
they are going to be on people`s minds. And the President, of course, has
had this hard line immigration policy –

MATTHEWS: Can you discern – I want to get back to the congresswoman.
What is the Democratic response to these people? They are in need, they
are afraid, they are coming here. What`s the Democratic – if you ran the
entire U.S. government right now, the Democratic Party, what would they do
when these people reach our gate, our border what would they do? What
should we do?

BUSTOS: Well, they are seeking refuge.

MATTHEWS: So what should we do?

BUSTOS: Donald Trump is – well, you give them a path to make sure that
they can have safety. These are people that are seeking rapes and murders
and gang violence. And the President`s claim that this is the gangs
themselves in the middle of all of this and the so-called Middle Easterners
in all of this, as you said in your opener, Chris, that`s been refuted. It
is not true.

We have a President who likes to peddle in miss truths, and is peddling
fear once again. We can`t just not have an answer to that, but the answer
is that we have been a country for 250, almost 50 years where people are
seeking refuge, escaping violence and murders and rapes, we are a country
that has helped people like that.

Do we need to have strong borders? Absolutely. Do we need to keep out
anybody who is a criminal? Absolutely. But we also ought to be a country
that lives in a way that we`re compassionate, that we help people, and we
will keep out the violent criminals. That`s not what we want to welcome in
this country.

MATTHEWS: That`s very moral and I am supporting that in all moral terms.

Charlie, I want to bring you in here. How is that going to sell, what you
just heard?

to get a better message –

MATTHEWS: The moral case.

SYKES: This is exactly the campaign that Donald Trump wants to run. If he
is the executive producer of the reality TV show of the midterm elections,
this is caravan is something that he would have come up with. He would
have scripted it in this particular way.

And I think what the Democrats have got to do is they have to make it
clear, number one, what their response is, that we in fact do have borders,
that we can be humane. That we don`t need to demagogue this issue. But
then our border enforcement will be able to handle this. That this is not
a threat. These women and children are not a national emergency, but they
also have to make it clear that, no, they are not, as Donald Trump wants
people to believe, for open borders.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the problem.

Yamiche, are they making that clear? You hear the Democrats with a clarion
statement, they are not from open borders. Do you hear that?

ALCINDOR: I just came from California and West Virginia. And the
Democratic candidate that I am following say that. But what voters hear
are that they want an open border because what Representative Bustos said
and she is not wrong in the idea that America should welcome people, that
there should be people, if they`re fleeing violence and rape, that they
should be welcome this to this country.


ALCINDOR: But there are a lot of people who look at this and say they are
going to take over the country. This is why we don`t want them here.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, let me play partisan Democrat for a minute and
give you an example in the old school guys like me would do. We would say
we have a comprehensive bill that was about border protection. It was
about illegal hiring. You can`t hire somebody illegally who comes into the
country. You can`t do it. They are not documented, in fact. That all
went over to the House and Republican speaker at the time said we are not
even going to vote on it, Boehner. Not even going to vote. But the
Democrats had a bill, supported by 12 Republican senators.

You had a comprehensive border program. You had one, they won`t pass one.
Number two, Mitch McConnell came out last week and said I`m going after
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It`s not just the preexisting
issue. He is going over the whole shebang. It is capacity of the biggest
tax cut for the rich in history and he is going to pay for that like
cutting into the middle class programs that they paid for their whole
lives. That is of the scream I would do out there.

I think the Democrats are too calm about this. They don`t know how to yell
back at Trump with scarier stuff he throws. Because it is truly scare.
When Mitch McConnell in his calm little way says we have to go after
Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare and we are going to do it so save money
because we blew all the money on the tax cut, it doesn`t come up with the

I don`t understand why you guys don`t know how to exploit an obvious
opportunity when some fool on the other side gives it to you. Trump knows
how to exploit, boy does he. I shouldn`t be yelling. But I`m old school.
I just know how to do it. I`m sorry. I`m sorry.

BUSTOS: No, that`s all right.

Hey, Chris, if you came to this part of the country, and I`m sitting in
Peoria, Illinois right now. If you came to this part of the country, you
would hear the candidates that are running for House all over the Midwest,
in Illinois, in Iowa, in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, all over the place, you
would hear them saying exactly what you just said.

We know what Mitch McConnell said. And we also know that was that that the
Republican play book. Pass this tax scam, increase the debt by $2
trillion, and then oh, my God, let`s scream bloody murder, now we are going
to have to go over so-called entitlements.

MATTHEWS: Exactly. All we care about deficits now. All I am saying they
care about deficits. I`m sorry. Tell us the message. I don`t want to get
in your way. What`s the best Democratic argument to get people to vote
Democrat two weeks from tomorrow?

BUSTOS: It`s exactly what you just said. We are yelling and screaming in
a polite Midwestern way about what Mitch McConnell said. He wants to now
address this $2 trillion debt on the backs of seniors who are recipients of
Social Security. Our parents and our grandparents who are on Medicare, and
that`s his answer to this $2 trillion debt now.

We are talking about in every single one of these race that`s we are
running all throughout the country. And so maybe it`s not coming from
Washington, D.C. constantly, but it is here in Peoria, Illinois, it is in
Dubuque, Iowa, it`s in Kentucky, it`s in southern Illinois. It`s all over
the place. We are talking about it loudly and clearly.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, here`s my feeling about it, and I have expressed it.
American people are not greedy. They want to protect their families. They
don`t want the rich people`s money. They don`t want anybody billionaire`s
money. They want what they need. That`s what they want. They want Social
security, Medicare, Medicaid, when they get long term, they get Alzheimer`s
in the family. And they want to have a job for the kids somewhere nearby
that they can visit once in a while. That`s really it. Go ahead.

ALCINDOR: That`s what people want.

MATTHEWS: And African-Americans I have learned, no change in that, except
they want to be treated as 100 percent Americans without any crap about it.

ALCINDOR: It`s that double jeopardy skit “SNL” where the black person and
Trump supporter, both say what I really want is a job.

I interviewed an EMT worker, some of who is in an ambulance every day who
can`t afford healthcare in West Virginia. These are Republicans voting
Democratic candidate. And he said the reason why I`m doing that is because
I need to help my family. I need to figure out how to do this. And I need
someone who supports the public option.

I think that Democrats if they want to win, that`s the message they have to
have. But I will say Republicans, President Trump is so, so popular right
now. And no one can out-trump Trump. He is so good at misinformation. He
is so good in getting his base fire-up and he is continuing to do that.

MATTHEWS: Well, he is very good at the mob at the gate, Charlie. The mob
at the gate. As you just said it`s his techni-color production. If we
find out from ten years ago he organized everything down in Honduras, I
would say that makes sense. Your thoughts?

SYKES: It almost does make too much sense.

And look, he is running a campaign of fear, and this is not the first time
that he has done that. He wants to make people worried about the country.
Look, I think the Trumpian rhetoric is fascinating. You know, we are
strong, but we are also victims.

Gary Kasperoff makes this point. We are in charge of everything, but
everything that goes wrong is somebody else`s fault, you know. I was
elected to keep you safe but I want you to be afraid.

And unfortunately this is a campaign that is not appealing to our better
angels or to our hope. And frankly, interestingly enough, given how strong
the economy is, he doesn`t want to talk about the economy. He wants to
make it about these people who are coming and they are attacking, they are
invading your country.

Look, I do think that Democrats need to say, look, we care very deeply
about what`s happening at the border. But then they need to immediately
remind people of what Trump`s policy on the border is, the separation of
children from their parents. Why are they not talking about that? There
are ways of securing the border without being cruel and inhuman, and that`s
a point I think they could make.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, thank you much, Cheri Bustos, as I do meant it.
You are a rising start. I`m sorry to give you my theories, but again, I`m
old school. I know how to win.

BUSTOS: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you Cheri Bustos.

And thank you, Charlie Sykes.

And thank you, Yamiche Alcindor. The woman in the middle here, a
completely straight arrow.

Coming up, new reporting today that Robert Mueller is aggressively
investigating longtime Trump advisor. This is delicious, Roger Stone. He
is the man who asserted the Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman John
Podesta would soon be seeing his time in the barrel just weeks before
Podesta`s hacked emails went public.

Plus, the story keeps changing from the Saudis about the killing of
journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump just weighed in again in a
brand-new interview.

And Trump down in Texas today stumping for Ted Cruz just hours after he
told reporters he has no regrets about saying Cruz`s father was involved in
killing President Kennedy. I think I would remember that kind of charge if
my dad were accused ever that.

And finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. It`s about the bad
example – I was with some teachers this weekend, that he is giving to
students of these teachers. They say things like, I can call people bad
name. The President does it. How about that?

This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump mounting his final campaign blitz in Texas tonight.
The Democrats are bring out their own big guns in the battle ground states
of Florida and Nevada. Vice-President Biden lit up a room full of
supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, and
incumbent Senator Bill Nelson down in Florida.

And out in Vegas today, President Obama told supporters of Democratic
Senate Jackie Rosen that this was the most important election of their
lifetime. Watch.


elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime, and
that includes when I was on the ballot. That`s saying something.
Politicians say every time, this is the most important election. This
one`s really that important. The stakes are high. The consequence of
anybody here not turning out and doing everything you can to get your
friends, neighbors, family to turnout, the consequence of you staying home
would be profoundly dangerous to this country, to our democracy.


MATTHEWS: We will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Roger Stone, who represents a direct line to Richard Nixon, Roy
Cohn, and nowadays Donald Trump, is back in the crosshairs of special
counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation.

New reporting from “the Washington Post” today shows special counsel Robert
Mueller has been aggressively pursuing leads, whether President Trump`s
long-time advisor, that would be Roger Stone, had advance knowledge of
hacked Democratic emails ahead of the 2016 election.

In particular, on August 21st of 2016, Stone tweeted a warning to Hillary
Clinton`s campaign chairman John Podesta that it would soon be quote
“Podesta`s time in the barrel.” Then on October 5th, Stone tweeted, Libz
thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking. Pay load coming.
Lock them up. Two days after that, WikiLeaks began publishing the Stone
emails hacked from Podesta`s account.

Stone has repeatedly denied he had any involvement with the Watergate-style
hacking. He repeated those details again today to NBC News, saying: “I
never received anything, including allegedly hacked e-mails, from Guccifer
2.0, the Russian – Russians, WikiLeaks, Assange, or anyone else, and never
passed anything on to Donald Trump, the Trump campaign or anyone else.”

As it relates to Mueller, this shows collusion is still part of his ongoing
investigation, don`t you think?

Joining me right now is Ken Dilanian, NBC News intelligence and national
security reporter, Elliot Williams, former federal prosecutor.

Gentlemen, I love it, because it tells me that Mueller is back on the heart
of this case, collusion between the Trump people, including Roger Stone,
his fixer, dirty trickster, as he calls himself, and the Russians, and
knowing stuff ahead of time. The ability to forecast something is to me
knowledge of something that`s going to happen. Just a thought.


And as many 11 associates of Roger Stone, we think, have been paraded
before that grand jury. They have spent hours listening to testimony.
They have gone over reams of documents.

And Robert Mueller doesn`t use the grand jury for a fishing expedition,
Chris. If he`s doing this, there`s a reason. You wouldn`t take all this
time for the grand jury if you didn`t have some evidence of wrongdoing.

Now, Stone in an e-mail to me and other places says he`s absolutely
innocent, didn`t do anything…


MATTHEWS: A very carefully worded denial, very carefully worded.


MATTHEWS: He didn`t say, I had no advanced knowledge.

DILANIAN: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: I couldn`t find that in there, because he did have advanced


someone is not telling the truth, either him or his comedian friend Randy
Credico, either to the grand jury or to Congress.


MATTHEWS: Has Credico taken – has Credico thrown him under the bus yet or

WILLIAMS: Someone`s throwing somebody under the bus, because, look, we
have seen this narrative play out before, which is an associate of Donald
Trump saying, this investigation is all a joke, I`m not going to
participate with it, ride or die with the president, and leave it at that.

And then, eventually, when it becomes at the point of self-preservation,
that`s when they start singing like a bird.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think Roger put out the word that he will never flip?

He`s also raising money on the Internet, out there trying to raise money
for his legal defense. So he`s trying to raise money from the true


MATTHEWS: And he`s also signaling to Trump, pardon me?


WILLIAMS: And the president has proven that he`s willing to use the pardon
power to help his friends out.


MATTHEWS: This guy has Nixon tattooed on his back.

WILLIAMS: Over all him.

MATTHEWS: And Roy Cohn going all the way back. He`s part of that whole
line of infamy.

DILANIAN: Right. It`s part of his image to be a tough guy, to say, I am
never going to roll over. The liberal media is trying to destroy me,
Mueller and his group of crooks.

I mean, he`s been so inflammatory. But the bottom line is, in August of
2016, he said a number of things and tweeted a number things that made it
seem like he knew this stuff was coming. He can`t take that back now.

MATTHEWS: OK, besides – on the issue of what`s coming, I keep thinking
that Mueller is going to come out with something fairly soon. I don`t
think he will wait until next year.

If he does it this year, will it be the whole package, collusion and

WILLIAMS: We don`t know.

And, remember, in the grand scheme of investigations like this, we`re
actually not that far.

MATTHEWS: That`s why you`re here, to tell me what`s going to happen.



MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. You and Ken.

WILLIAMS: If only I were clairvoyant and could predict. But we`re not
that far…

MATTHEWS: Is he that secretive?

WILLIAMS: No, but we`re just not that far into the investigation.

DILANIAN: That`s a fair point.


WILLIAMS: No, think about Watergate and Iran-Contra. And all of these
investigations took years and years and years.


MATTHEWS: No, wait a minute. Nixon was gone by the summer of `74.
Watergate was the summer of `72. So it wasn`t years and years and years.

It was two years.

WILLIAMS: OK, but in the grand scheme of special counsel and independent
counsel – Whitewater also took from `94 to 2001.


Lawrence Walsh came out with his WASPY whatever stuff nine years later. It
had no importance on anybody, because it was too late to matter.

WILLIAMS: Needless to say…


MATTHEWS: I`m not a lawyer that likes to make time – take time.

I think it`s time for him to get going by the end of the year.

DILANIAN: Every time I ask somebody who knows Robert Mueller, who`s seen
some of this intelligence, what do you think he`s got, does he have
something we haven`t seen before, they say, absolutely, there will be
bombshells, maybe not presidency-ending impeachment stuff, but some very
disturbing, incriminating information.


WILLIAMS: And, remember, it`s not entirely important, the WikiLeaks point,
when he found out or what.

It`s what that information led to.


MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t it be nice to know if the Russians affected the results
of the 2016 election before we have the 2020 election? I would to know
before the next one.

WILLIAMS: We probably will.

MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, in Moscow today, White House Security Adviser
John Bolton – I don`t like that guy much – played down the consequences
of Russia`s interference – he played it down – in the 2016 election.

In a radio interview, Bolton said: “I told our Russian colleagues that
their meddling in our election process had hardly had any real effect.”

He did add that, regardless, the behavior shouldn`t be tolerated.

DILANIAN: There`s no way he can know that, because intelligence leaders
have said they have never studied this. It`s outside of their purview.

But people who have looked at it say it absolutely had an effect.


MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary won the election in the popular vote by millions
of votes, five million votes, something like that. So what do you mean by
had an effect?

DILANIAN: Millions of people saw these very divisive messages that were
going after wedge issues.

And those…


MATTHEWS: So, Hillary would have won by more popular vote?

DILANIAN: Well, what about the 100,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and
Ohio that…


MATTHEWS: How can you isolate that, what the impact was in those
particular industrial states?

WILLIAMS: From my perspective, forget the states. Forget the politics.

Did someone meddle in our elections, and did people…


MATTHEWS: Well, they meddle in this – they`re meddling in this one.

WILLIAMS: And then the Trump campaign, did they know about it and did they
act on it?

And that – hopefully, we find out something, like you said, very soon
about it.

MATTHEWS: Is that impeachable?

WILLIAMS: I`m not going to lock in…

MATTHEWS: That`s a reasonable question.


MATTHEWS: If somebody helps somebody else advance a criminal conspiracy to
help them get elected president, wouldn`t that be impeachable?

DILANIAN: If there`s proof that he knew about it, there will absolutely be
an impeachment. Will there be a conviction, a two-third vote in the

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s politics. I want to know about the impeachment.
That`s the indictment part.

That`s evidentiary.

WILLIAMS: On its face, it`s not something we should throw out and it`s
certainly worth consideration. But…


MATTHEWS: Anyway, anyway, thank you, Ken Delaney – Dilanian, rather, and
Elliot Williams.

DILANIAN: Thanks a lot.

MATTHEWS: You`re all too careful.

Up next: The Saudis have fielded their version of events surrounding the
death of Jamal Khashoggi. Does anyone believe them? Does anybody watching
believe the Saudis? I don`t think anybody believes this crap.

But how will the president respond? And whether he believes it or not, he
won`t tell us. He will just decide to go along with them, probably.

We`re back with – coming back with HARDBALL, where the action is, right
now tonight.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Today, Reuters, citing two intelligence sources, is reporting that a top
aide for the crown prince of Saudi Arabia orchestrated the brutal killing
of Jamal Khashoggi over Skype. The man who once ran social media for the
crown prince is now the fall guy for the killing.

The new report comes just two days after the Saudi royal court claimed that
the journalist was accidentally killed – that`s – accidentally is their
word – killed in a brawl with intelligence agents inside the Saudi
Consulate in Istanbul.

In other words, 15 agents got into a brawl with one guy, including one of
the agents being a doctor with a saw – thing for sawing bones.

Anyway, the Saudi foreign minister appeared on FOX, repeating something,
President Trump`s claim, that claim, that it was a rogue operation. Let`s


was a rogue operation. This was an operation where individuals ended up
exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had.

They made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate, and
they tried to cover up for it.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s Adel Al-Jubeir, who used to be the ambassador over

That`s not true, by the way, what he just said.

The aide, who has been fired, once tweeted that he was a faithful executor
of the orders of the king and the crown prince. In other words, he took

In a brand-new interview with “USA Today,” however, President Trump called
the death of Khashoggi a plot gone awry. He said he opposes any efforts to
cease arms sales to the country as punishment.

Well, up to now, the crown prince and other Saudi officials had said that
Khashoggi left the consulate freely, alive. And, on Sunday, the president
of Turkey said he would reveal the naked truth of what happened to
Khashoggi in the consulate. He`s going to do that apparently at 4:00
tomorrow morning.

For more, I`m joined by Senator Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware.

Senator, where are you on this? And is there any connection between what
Trump is saying and the truth?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Chris, here`s one of the hardest
things about this, is the big gap between what our president is saying and
what`s true.

First, he`s claiming that there`s something like $110 billion in arms sales
at risk here. There isn`t. That`s just not true. After President Trump
visited Saudi Arabia, there`s been maybe $4 billion in arm sales that have
been projected.

Second, we`re a country of values, not just a country of interests. And it
is astonishing to me that President Trump, even after the two years we have
gone through, it is still surprising to me that, with a straight face, he
can say that we shouldn`t put at risk arm sales because that`s not an
America`s best interests.

Chris, what`s in America`s best interests is to be a country that stands
for something, that stands for free speech, the protection of journalists,
the advancement of human rights. That`s got to be at the head of the line
of our interests around the world, is protecting the values that define us
as America.

Our president is instead turning that on its head and saying that we`re –
what we`re most interested in is selling weapons to anybody who will pay us
for them. That`s not why we sell weapons to other countries. We sell
weapons to those countries that are allies, that share our interests and
share our values.

Increasingly, it`s clear that Saudi Arabia doesn`t share our values. And
while I recognize they are a vital ally of ours in the Middle East in the
project of pushing back on Iranian aggression, I don`t think we should do
that at any cost. And the cost here is one that goes right to the very
core of who we are as a country.


COONS: I was struck that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin appeared in the Middle
East and went to meet with the Saudi crown prince, MBS…


COONS: … and took a grinning photo today.

This does not suggest that the Trump administration is taking this issue

MATTHEWS: Do you think the president wants this to fade, he wants this
issue to just fade without any action appropriate to a murder, to a
premeditated murder?


You don`t wait for the further developments in an investigation that`s
being run by a murder suspect if you`re serious about getting to the bottom
of it.

Any of our last four presidents would have been calling for an
international investigation, would have been calling for either the FBI,
our own intelligence community, or our partners throughout the world to be
conducting a thorough investigation with the Turks to get to the bottom of
this, not asking the Saudis to take more time, if they`d like to, to come
up with another explanation that is clearly not true.

For the first two weeks, the Saudis told the world that Khashoggi walked
out alive of their own consulate in Istanbul. Clearly not true. Now they
have made up another story. Clearly not true, as I suspect we will hear
tomorrow from Erdogan, president of Turkey.

They have got detailed information about this that may make this even more
difficult for the Saudis to maintain with a straight face.

MATTHEWS: Well, during an interview with CNN, Jared Kushner, the
president`s son-in-law, the crown prince, if you will, declined to say
whether or not he bought the most recent excuse provided by the Saudis.

Let`s listen to Jared.


in Saudi Arabia, I would say that right now, as an administration, we`re
more in the fact-finding phase. And we`re obviously getting as many facts
as – as we can from the different places, and then we will determine which
facts are credible.

We have to be able to work with our allies. And Saudi Arabia has been, I
think, a very strong ally.


MATTHEWS: You know, the ways you`re raising the question of values vs.
interests, there`s a guy who seems to be a business type, whatever you
think of him.

He doesn`t think – I don`t think Jared Kushner is the guy you bring in for
a values discussion. He`s out to make some money. He`s out to cut a deal.

I think he`s a ridiculous person, by the way.

And I will just say this. Why the hell he`s going to put together a Middle
East deal, based on the Saudis underwriting some crazy deal with – with
the Israelis, I don`t know what they`re thinking about. I think they`re
crazy, just in terms of putting all their money on…

COONS: Well, Chris – Chris, there was…

MATTHEWS: … putting all their money on Jared and the Saudis to
underwrite a reasonable Middle East deal.

Your thoughts?

COONS: Well, Chris, there was another important speech this week that was
given that I think President Trump and Jared are trying to distract us from
that was about values and money.

Mitch McConnell said his biggest disappointment in this Congress was their
failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and that he thinks the biggest
thing affecting our deficits is the entitlement programs, Social Security,
Medicare and Medicaid.


COONS: I think everybody ought to focusing on the fact that the
Republicans wants to repeal the protections for preexisting conditions, and
want to find a way to cut entitlement programs, and are frankly focusing us
on this Middle Eastern, allegedly – caravan of folks that includes,
allegedly, gangsters and Middle Easterners, rather than focusing on our
core values of protecting human rights around the world and advancing the
health care interests of average Americans.

Chris, I think this is just a matter of a shell game, where they`re trying
to distract us from what really matters to the average American.

MATTHEWS: I think you should tell – as I said in the first part of the
show, you should remind every voter that Mitch McConnell is coming after
your Social Security, your Medicare, and your Medicaid.

And it`s for real. It`s all on tape.

COONS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And he means it. Unlike Trump, he is a real ideologue, and he`s
after it. And he`s the leader of the Republican Senate.

Thank you so much, Chris Coons of Delaware.

COONS: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump is in Texas tonight stumping for his
one-time enemy Ted Cruz, the son of the guy he said shot Kennedy.

Well, Cruz says his problems with Trump and Trump supporters are ancient
history. Are Texas voters buying it? Apparently so, like lemmings,
Republicans are everywhere.

You`re watching HARDBALL.



REPORTER: Have you buried the hatchet with Senator Cruz?

get along very well. He`s not Lyin` Ted anymore. He`s beautiful Ted.
He`s Texas – I call him Texas Ted.

I like him a lot. I actually like him a lot, and he`s a very smart guy.

REPORTER: Do you regret saying Ted Cruz`s dad killed JFK?

TRUMP: I don`t regret anything honestly. It all worked out very nicely.


MATTHEWS: It all worked out me calling his father a Kennedy assassin.

Well, that was President Trump earlier today praising Ted Cruz, Texas Ted
he now calls him, but defending connecting Cruz`s dad to the JFK
assassination which he did very dramatically in the 2016 campaign.

Well, Trump is currently in Texas to campaign for Ted Cruz, there he is,
who once called him a sniveling coward.

Cruz isn`t the only former critic of the president who rely on him now to
turn out Republican support in their midterm campaigns. This past
Saturday, Nevada Senator Dean Heller who said he was 99 percent against
Trump before the 2016 election, went overboard in praising the president
this Saturday. Let`s listen.


SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: Welcome to Trump country.


Now, Mr. President, you know a little bit about gold. In fact, I think
everything you touch turns to gold.



MATTHEWS: But Florida gubernatorial candidate, the guy running for
governor, Ron DeSantis, who campaigned on his support for Trump during the
Republican primary, dodged a question about the president just last night.
Let`s watch him weasel out of this.


JAKE TAPPER, DEBATE MODERATOR: Do you think President Trump is a good role
model for the children of Florida?

wife and I were poking a little fun at ourselves because of the way that
campaign was going. And I`m proud of family though.

We – I don`t actually read “The Art of the Deal” to my son Mason. He`s a
great kid. He smiles at anything, but that`s not necessarily his cup of

Here`s what I know. You know, I was very passionate about moving our
American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I know Andrew didn`t support
that ask doesn`t think that`s right, but to me that was true leadership.

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor?


TAPPER: The question was whether or not he – whether or not he thinks
president Trump is a good role model for the children of Florida.

GILLUM: That`s what I thought originally. I got confused.


GILLUM: So, no, he`s not.


MATTHEWS: I think the mayor of Tallahassee is too sophisticated for their
opponent there.

Anyway, let`s bring in tonight`s HARDBALL round table. Amanda Terkel,
Washington bureau chief of “The Huffington Post”, Adrienne Elrod is former
director of strategic communications for Hillary for America, Matt Schlapp
is chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Amanda, a little tongue tied action by the Republican candidate for
governor down there. He didn`t seem to want his kids to talk – I was with
some school teachers this weekend up in Rhode Island. And at least five of
them told me separately, each individually, they can`t get their kids under
control because they just say when they call somebody a bad name or
misbehave, hey, the president does it.


MATTHEWS: And this is for real cases. Yes.

TERKEL: Yes, and he`s putting all that bad stuff out there on Twitter.

I mean, Ron DeSantis is in a weird place. He ran as trying to be the most
Trump candidate in the primary and it helped him win. Trump campaigned for
him, he endorsed him. But now, he has to do something different to win the
general election. A third of Florida voters are not registered with a
political party. And Trump is down their spewing conspiracy theories about


TERKEL: That doesn`t play in Florida.

MATTHEWS: Adrienne?

ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, here`s the bottom line. The
Republican Party is now the Republican Party of Donald Trump. So, those
guys who tried to distance themselves from –

MATTHEWS: They`re not going to sell us behavior in school rooms.

ELROD: No, but they`re not.


MATTHEWS: How do you deal with this? You wouldn`t tell your kids to act
like that. Nobody would. Act like Trump. Just say, act like Trump.


MATTHEWS: There we go. Talk about the embassy move, bring up the embassy,
what the hell.


SCHLAPP: You guys want to answer for me? I`m good with it.

MATTHEWS: I gave the Republican answer. We moved the embassy. Go ahead.
I`m sorry.

SCHLAPP: Look, every human being has virtue and vices. Donald Trump has
great virtues for Republicans and conservatives who feel like we lose a lot
of cultural battles, and a lot of the big battles about the size and scope
of government. And then he has the vices which is he says things in
politics that offend people, and sometimes he`s over the line with some of
his comments.

I think actually the voters kind of get that. He fights so hard sometimes,
he fights a little too much. And they`d like maybe – even his own
supporters, once in a while want him to say, look, you`re winning.

And he`s winning, by the way. He`s doing pretty well. The economy is
doing great. The American people, 40 percent of them –

MATTHEWS: I thought the question was his behavior. Do you like it?


MATTHEWS: You do like his behavior?

SCHLAPP: I do like his behavior.

ELROD: Really? Wow.

SCHLAPP: There is much to Donald Trump I love m kids to emulate, including
the fact when he –

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s start with this, because he says some things that are
wrong, that are objectionable. He`s going to pass a big Republican middle
class tax cut before the election. Congress is out for the year. What
does he mean which that?

SCHLAPP: I think he meant his election, but that`s all right.


TERKEL: You know, ask the White House. Like, we have no plan for this.
It`s not happening. He`s just lying.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Cruz. Let`s talk about Cruz. This president
has called his father a Kennedy assassin. Is that something you just sort
of kiss off and say, well, that was just campaigning?

SCHLAPP: I told you, this is a – I`m married to a Cuban-American. This
is not really something that I understand in terms of what Ted Cruz`s
father did or didn`t do.

The fact is this. They said terrible things about each other in this
primary contest. They got through it. Here`s the thing –

MATTHEWS: But some people believe what Trump says. Isn`t there a problem
with the president –


MATTHEWS: Do you believe Ted Cruz`s father killed Kennedy?

SCHLAPP: No, I do not believe that.

MATTHEWS: But you`re saying you believe Trump. What is it?

SCHLAPP: Look, this is where you guys –

MATTHEWS: What do you laugh at this stuff? It`s outrageous.

SCHLAPP: Others are laughing. I`m not laughing. But I think that the
point is with Trump is that you guys all get stuck.


MATTHEWS: Adrienne, be one of you guys for a second. Go ahead. Take him

ELROD: Look, I`m going to simply say here the Republican Party, they have
to embrace Trump. If you`re Ted Cruz in a really tight reelection right
now, the only way you`re going to win is have Donald Trump a endorse you
and aggressively campaign for you.

That is not just in Texas. We`re seeing this in races across the country.
Dean Heller in Nevada, for example. This is the Republican Party of Donald

SCHLAPP: I embrace it. It`s the truth. Those who have fought Trump,
Corker, Flake, saw their approval ratings –

ELROD: Have to retire.

SCHLAPP: – torpedoed in their states and they had to retire.

We`re more unified than we`ve ever been, ever.


TERKEL: Father aside, Trump also talked about how ugly Ted Cruz`s wife


TERKEL: I mean, Trump, I`m sure, loves this. It`s all these candidates
who insulted him.

SCHLAPP: And Obama and Hillary, they just loved each other, they all got
along. Come on!


SCHLAPP: That is ridiculous. Do you remember that Hillary Clinton press
conference? Stop lying about me, Barack Obama. Come on.


SCHLAPP: And what about Barack Obama going out on the campaign trail and
saying it would be dangerous if Republicans did well in November? That`s a
step too far.


TERKEL: There`s no comparison.

MATTHEWS: You`re down with Trump? All the way.

SCHLAPP: What does that mean all the way? Every word he says is
magnificent and beautiful? No.

MATTHEWS: Making fun of people`s looks, where are you on that one?

SCHLAPP: I don`t think we should make fun of people`s looks.

MATTHEWS: What about saying things that aren`t true?

SCHLAPP: Of course we should say things that are true. You`re getting
caught up in – you`re getting –

MATTHEWS: I`m getting caught up – I`m trying to figure this guy out
because he`s getting away with this stuff.

TERKEL: Yes, he has.


SCHLAPP: You know the policies, he`s right on the policies. Not just me.
A lot of people

ELROD: And the leaders of your party do not have the guts to stand up to

TERKEL: Right, because he`s more popular than they are.

SCHLAPP: Why would you stand up to a guy who is succeeding so –

MATTHEWS: I think he wins because he hates the people or seems to hate the
people that his people hate.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, the Trump White House
is reportedly targeting transgender Americans. Is that just a coincidence
that this is coming out two weeks before an election?

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Well, looking at the flurry of new polls coming out right now
before the midterms, a new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll shows
unprecedented enthusiasm by voters in both parties, but especially among
women, Latinos and young voters.

And checking in on our HARDBALL 10, the 10 key races that will decide who
controls the U.S. Senate, watch this.

In Florida, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Senator Bill Nelson coming back,
six-point lead over Rick Scott. That is even after the hurricane. And
Nelson holding a potentially decisive 22-point advantage among independent
voters. That should carry the day for him.

In North Dakota, however, the story where polling has been sparse. A new
poll there shows Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer enjoying a 16-point
lead over Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

We`ll be right back.


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

“The New York Times” reporting today the Trump administration is
considering narrowing or narrowly defining gender as a biological, here`s
the keyword, immutable, unchangeable condition determined by genitalia at
birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back
recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil
rights law.

NBC`s Hallie Jackson asked President Trump about that today, about how this
squares with his promise which he made to protect transgender Americans.

Let`s watch.


what about your promise to protect transgender Americans? Are you giving
up on that?

TRUMP: We`re looking at it. We have a lot of different –

JACKSON: Looking at redefining?

TRUMP: – concepts right now. They have a lot of different things
happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that, as well as
I do. And we`re looking at it very seriously.

JACKSON: So, what about your promise to protect the LGBT community?
Transgender Americans say you`re giving up on them.

TRUMP: I`m protecting everybody. You know what I`m doing? I`m protecting
everybody. I want to protect our country.


MATTHEWS: If someone either surgically or non-surgically changes their
assignment, gender, why would the government want to get away with that in
a free society?


TERKEL: Because they don`t want to provide civil rights protections to
them. That`s what the Trump administration is trying to do.

Right. I mean, Obama administration expanded these protections. They`re
about 1.4 million Americans.

MATTHEWS: Where does it work? Where would it impact them in real life?
Where the transgender person confront the loss of life under this new –

TERKEL: Public rest rooms. If you`re in school and you want to play on a
sports team, that`s different than your assigned gender, you would face
that, too. Single sex schools.

You face it all over, just how you`re perceived. You know, if you`re
trying to present yourself as a certain gender and you have a driver`s
license, that says something else. It takes away their basic rights and
the Trump administration – it`s interesting this is being trotted out, a
couple weeks before the election.

MATTHEWS: Do you want somebody who is transgender, assigns them self as a
female, walking into a men`s room? It seems like this thing works against
common sense. You should let people go where they present because that
creates more tranquility and people have a normal life. They don`t even
know the person is transgender most of the time.

But under this, you`d have to go where God made you in the beginning.
You`d have to show up, what would seem to be the wrong person`s bathroom.
I`m just being practical. I`m trying to find common ground here.

SCHLAPP: Let`s be practical also. There`s no policy change yet but the
question is on Title 9 which was a desire to have equality when it came to
women`s sports, especially in college. How do you help women`s sports if
you`re not defining people as women? That`s a very fair question.

MATTHEWS: My wife played for the national championship Stanford tennis
team and women on the team had to pay for all foreign travel, any travel to
another team.

SCHLAPP: Not the guys. That`s right.

MATTHEWS: They have to change that stuff.

Thank you, Amanda Terkel, Adrienne Elrod and Matt Schlapp. I`m married to
an athlete.

When we return, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch”. You`re watching


MATTHEWS: “Trump Watch”, Monday, October 22nd, 2018.

This Saturday, up in Rhode Island, I spoke to a crowd that included a
handful of teachers. Each one of them told me how their students behave
badly to each other and say it`s okay to do that because the president does
it. The president does it. They`re saying, these future grown ups of this
country, that it`s okay to dump on someone, make fun of someone`s looks the
way god made him or her because the leader of this country does it and does
it a lot.

So why not take this to the Trump supporters out there? Sure, we can argue
about taxes and trade and our dealings with some other countries. We can
have fair disagreements on who we like in politics, and who we don`t. But
is there anyone anywhere in the political spectrum who thinks it`s good for
this country to have a chief of state, the personal symbol of the United
States of America who talks like the worst bully on the school yard?

I think it matters. I`m sure you do. The teachers do is frightening. We
have someone in the Oval Office who if he were acting like this in class,
would be sent down to the vice principal`s office.

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

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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