Trump spotlights immigration. TRANSCRIPT: 10/31/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.
Date: October 31, 2018
Guest: Rob Reiner, Ruth Marcus, Natasha Bertrand, John Brabender,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: A Halloween presidency. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. Franklin Roosevelt who was elected in the depths of great
depression said we have nothing to fear but fear itself and six days before
another election, the man now occupying the same oval office argues we have
much to fear.
Arabs disguised as Hondurans, heading north, the migrants financed by a
wealthy Hungarian American. Rapists all descending on our country. But
before stretching an anxiety, we must remember this is the same promoter
of fear who once told us Americans that the then President of the United
States was himself an illegal imposter who had snuck into the country on
forged documents from east Africa. We must remember that fear based on
lies is the language this master of fear speaks.
What seems much further from his lips, empathy. Today, three more
congregates of Tree of Life Synagogue were laid to rest. And their names
were Joyce Feinberg, Irvin Younger and Melvin Wax. But the President
didn`t message them. Instead he tweeted about himself/
Quote Melania and I were tweeted nicely yesterday in Pittsburgh. The
office of the President was shown great respect in a very sad and solemn
day. We were treated so warmly. Small protest was not seen by us. Staged
far away. The fake news stories were just the opposite. Disgraceful.”
When the last days of the 2018 election, voters will have to make a
decision, do they say yes or no to this stuff, to Donald Trump. Amid the
heated rhetoric amid spade of violence, Republicans are worried voters will
Top Republican officials told “Axios” that they worry Republicans will pay
a price because the world looks crazy. Those were his words. Eager to
keep that from happening, sources tell “the Washington Post” that the
President and his political advisers have decided a base turn out strategy
is the best way to preserve the GOP Senate and House majority with Trump
wielding the polarizing issue of immigration as a cudgel in an attempt to
motivate his 2016 supporters to vote again for him. His focus, the Senate
seats held by Democrats in states he won. Here`s the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It seems the campaign is
going well. Looks like wean re doing very, very well in the Senate. A lot
of seats that were not really being thought of in terms of victories year
ago. Now look it like they could be victories. And the House is so – a
lot of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The House is a lot of people. That`s what he says when he
thinks he is going to lose. Well, before heading to Florida for a campaign
event, the President hit on those points. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As far as the caravan, which is very dangerous. You see what`s
been happening. As far as the caravan is concerned, our military is out.
Nobody is coming in. We are not allowing people to come in. Birthright
citizenship is a very, very important subject, in my opinion. It`s much
less complex than people think. You don`t need a constitutional amendment
for birthright citizenship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s talking about getting rid of the 14th amendment by himself.
For more, I`m joined by Susan Page, Thank you all for joining us tonight.
The first question goes to Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for “USA
Today,” Jason Johnson, politics editor for “the Root” and Elise Jordan,
cohost of Words Matter” podcast.
Thank you all for joining us tonight.
The first question goes to Susan who writes the front pages for “the USA
Today.” This is his closing argument. The caravan is coming. It`s
dangerous (INAUDIBLE). I have got the army out there to meet them like the
Alamo or something I don`t know what he is creating this iconic fight here.
And what else? It is I`m going to get rid of the 14th amendment. You
being born here doesn`t guarantee your citizenship. I`m getting rollout of
all that executive orders. It`s crazy talk. But it`s getting focus where
he wants it. Oh, my God, they are coming north.
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: You know, his closing
argument is the same as his opening argument. This is very consistent with
his message in Trump tower in June 2015 when he announced he was going to
run for president. He talked then about people coming from Mexico who are
rapist and murderers.
MATTHEWS: East Africa. Well, One guy coming from east Africa, the
PAGE: Yes. So this has been the original issue for Donald Trump. It
worked for him in getting the nomination and winning the presidency. And
he is returning to it because it`s the issue that most animates his base
MATTHEWS: And explain what he means by nationalists.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT: No. I think he was sending a
very clear signal.
MATTHEWS: He is not talking about a lot of Heidi Klum`s coming from
JOHNSON: No. No.
MATTHEWS: He is not talking about European companies here. He is talking
about lots of Latinos coming.
JOHNSON: Yes. He was like we are facing dangerous invasion of brown
people. He was sending a sign to white nationalists in the country –
wink, wink, nod, nod. I`m on your side which he has done throughout most
of his administration.
JOHNSON: I think the issue is this. You know, it`s perfectly fine to use
this message when you are running for president. And I`m not saying
morally fine. It is morally reprehensible. But that works if the focus is
you. This doesn`t trickle down very well into Wisconsin, into Michigan.
MATTHEWS: It works well, I will bet, where he won by 25 and 30 points.
MATTHEWS: He is looking at it.
JOHNSON: Exactly. That is where he is –.
MATTHEWS: He is looking at North Dakota, Missouri. He is looking at,
well, I`m sure he is looking at Indiana too.
JOHNSON: And the places that he wants a firewall because the minimum
amount of the constitution I suspect the President does understand is that
what he can be impeached by the House, he it can only be removed by the
Senate. And that is what he wants to make sure stays very red and very
Republican after the midterm.
MATTHEWS: Elise, I think he has got a more optimistic. I think he is
basically hoping to cut his losses. He is going to lose the House, he
thinks. A lot of people think. He is going to hold the Senate, maybe pick
up a couple of seats. Then he can say, look, it`s a split verdict. I
picked up a couple of seats in the Senate which is based on geography. I
lost the House which is basically the popular vote. It`s a traditional
game. Is that he is up to? Is there a mind behind this fear mongering?
ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there always is someone to
blame when it comes to Donald Trump. And today, he was going, ripping into
Paul Ryan a bit for criticizing him over the birthright citizenship issue.
This was interesting for me to go out. I just got back from Fresno,
California and Orange County, where I was helping with focus groups for
(INAUDIBLE) polls. And while Trump supporters might appreciate the efforts
to secure the border and they might not necessarily object to deploying
military force, no one is really that supportive of the birthright
citizenship proposal. And that`s really striking way out into left field
for an issue that isn`t even exactly animating the base, in my opinion.
MATTHEWS: What do you think would be the case if he said you are not a
citizen if you`re born here? What other bases would we have for American
citizenship? I would think besides geography, we are all fortunate to be
born here. And it seems you would have to then go back and not just by
your birth certificate to get a job. I think at NBC they have to do that
(INAUDIBLE), whatever. But you would have to get your parents green card.
I mean, you would have to get a lot of paper work. Talk about bureaucracy,
Elise. I don`t even know how - a lot of these guys have these theories.
That`s will make us more of a nationalist nationalists, national country or
whatever. But how do you make it work eve if you get rid of the 14th
JORDAN: Chris, I think you have definitely noticed that execution isn`t
exactly one of Donald Trump`s strong suits that he likes to throw out a
sweeping order and implementation as with the Muslim travel ban or
hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico isn`t exactly executed with smooth
precision. So I`m sure it would be another yet another colossal mess if
this actually happened, which it won`t because the Supreme Court isn`t
going to let this happen. But it`s going to be on the scale of hundreds of
orphan children because of the Trump administration`s incompetence with
their border policy.
MATTHEWS: You are right about his impulsive statements like he is going to
punish women for abortion. Some form of punishment. That`s his impulse.
He doesn`t know what he is talking about.
Anyway, as Elise mentioned, Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican, broke with
the President on this question on getting rid of the 14th amendment right
to citizenship. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump raising some eyebrows talking about an
executive order ending birthright citizenship. Where do you stand on that?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, you obviously cannot do that.
You cannot end birthright citizenship within executive order. We didn`t
like it when Obama tried changing immigration laws with executive action
and obviously, as conservatives, you know, we believe in the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in response to that, President Trump tweeted, Paul Ryan
should be focusing on holding the majority rather than giving his opinions
on birth right citizenship, something he knows nothing about. Our new
Republican majority will work on this - closing the immigration loopholes
and securing our border. What is he talking about, Susan?
PAGE: So let`s just picture six days before an election, he is attacking
the top ranking Republican.
MATTHEWS: In an attempt to hold House.
PAGE: And not in an attempt to hold the House. I don`t think this issue
helps with the House. I think it helps him hold the Senate.
MATTHEWS: What`s his motive here?
PAGE: So his motive here is he doesn`t like to be cite criticized by
anybody. And even if you are Paul Ryan and the speaker of the house and
you publicly split with him that he is going to attack you. But it`s a
remarkable political strategy this close to an election.
MATTHEWS: It seems, Jason, and you know this as well as I do, the way our
constitution was compromised in the beginning on slavery and things like
that, we noticed about those imperfections, those flaws, you can say.
MATTHEWS: There is moral flaws. It has these thing where to justify the
union and to keep everybody together you have to keep of a special plug, a
brutal break for the smores. That very people that live in North Dakota,
for example, but North Dakota gets two senators. Nobody is fighting with
that now. But if Trump focuses is on geography, which is really focusing
enough, giving up on popularity, this election when it comes to popular is
going to be going Democrat.
MATTHEWS: So he is trying to hold North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, maybe
squeak it in Florida. That`s what he`s up to.
JOHNSON: That`s what he is up to.
MATTHEWS: The whole of the Senate.
JOHNSON: Yes. He is going to hold the Senate. Like I said that`s what is
going to protect him. The problem is, and I think this has been more clear
in this election than almost any other, he has a backlash where he shows
up, right. This conversation –
MATTHEWS: Well, he can`t go to the northeast suburbs right now. He can`t
go do real Midwest suburbs.
JOHNSON: He is not invited in those places. Look, Scott Walker –.
MATTHEWS: He wasn`t invited to Pittsburgh.
MATTHEWS: All right.
JOHNSON: Scott Walker has slowly pulled back into a tie with Evers. He
has been down all through this year. Donald Trump refocusing on Wisconsin
is going to help Evers. It helps push Democrats because it is like, oh my
God, Trump is attacking us again.
MATTHEWS: You think so? Do you think Evers wins that one?
JOHNSON: I think Everest is going to squeak it out. I this is the kind of
thing that ends up harming Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Filibuster after the show? (INAUDIBLE).
JOHNSON: I don`t think Evers is going to pull it off.
JOHNSON: I think the Democrats are going to win in Wisconsin - in
Michigan. And I also think they are going to win Ohio.
MATTHEWS: Ley`s go to Elise. I want to talk to you about this question of
how close these are. But look at this. President Trump`s campaign changed
the U.S. constitution. Got an enforcement today from his chief counselor
Kellyanne Conway. Let`s listen to her. She`s very supportive of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: There are constitutional scholars
who say the 14th amendment has been misinterpreted. The Supreme Court has
never gave a solid opinion on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It has never given a solid opinion on the fact that you are born
in the United States, you are a citizen of the United States.
Anyway, her husband George Conway, hence to be a prominent conservative
lawyer and expert of the constitution, doesn`t agree with his wife. In an
opinion piece co-authored with Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor
general under President Obama, Conway argued the President`s move would be
unconstitutional and certainly would be challenged and the challenges would
undoubtedly win. And exceeds the scope of his authority. The President
just can`t just – well, Elise, he just can`t get rid of the right to
citizenship for people born in the United States. And that would be a hell
of a power. You know, you are not a citizen. I declare you, Elise, are
not a citizen even though you are born here. I declare that as president.
JORDAN: We probably would like to do that, Chris. He might like to do
that for both of us technically speaking.
JORDAN: But he is just simply not able to. And this is just Donald Trump
throwing spaghetti at the wall. He is trying to see what`s going to stick.
But this isn`t even something that actually resonates with the base, from
what I heard and observed just this last week in California.
MATTHEWS: I think citizen, even people who think we ought to do something
about immigration. I am one who believes we better regulate it reasonably.
And I don`t think the Democrats have moved up to the plate on that at all.
They did try in 2013. They haven`t tried since. They are not sitting
around and saying a baby born here should be American.
MATTHEWS: You are start playing with that stuff, you are playing with our
PAGE: And you saw - you actually saw a push back from some Republicans
which is pretty rare. Republican congressman from Florida, Congressman
Curbelo, a tweet that expressed concern about the President`s position. He
is a Republican.
MATTHEWS: I think Stephen King probably likes it.
MATTHEWS: But he is talking about people with calves like cantaloupes or
something coming up here.
PAGE: You know, it`s pretty rare that you see push back from Republicans
on the ballot.
PAGE: And I think today you saw some push back.
MATTHEWS: Well Paul Ryan.
PAGE: In a place like - Paul; Ryan. But in a place like Florida which has
a lot of immigrants, where immigrants are important part of the Republican
coalition that they depend on.
MATTHEWS: And that, if you come to this country and you come with a green
card and come in legalize, if you will, documented, you damn well want your
kids to be born Americans.
JOHNSON: Exactly. That`s what everybody wants. This is the Marco Rubio
situation. Like, literally, the fundamental myth of America unless of
course you are African-American and your ancestors were sleeves is that you
come here and if you are born in this country there is something magical
about this land that the moment you pop up, you can say you are an
This is something that offends everybody. There is no one outside of white
nationalist who agree with what the President is trying to push.
MATTHEWS: What was your memory of popping out?
MATTHEWS: That`s a great way of describing birth.
Anyway, it is very positive. Thank you so much Elise.
Thank you, Jason.
And of course, Susan.
Coming up, how will Democrats respond to President Trump`s message of fear
and division? He is throwing the spaghetti, as you said, Elise, at the
wall. Right where it excite some people would say. I`m going to ask
activist and filmmaker Rob Reiner about his last minute plea to the
American right wing.
Plus, the special counsel`s office has asked the FBI to investigate a
bizarre plot as this Mr. Right getting smeared, Robert Mueller. I don`t
believe it on the face of it.
And I was in Texas last night with Senate candidate Beto O`Rourke. I could
feel the energy he creates just walking into the room. Is this enough to
put him to a big win down in the own star state.
Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. Again, he will have a
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL REINER, COMEDIAN: In my 96 and a half years, I have seen a lot of
things, but the one thing I cannot bear to see is America being destroyed
by racism, fear mongering and lies. Fortunately, there is something we can
do about that.
On November 6th, we can vote for elected officials who will hold this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was the legendary comedian, I grew up with this guy, actor and
director, Carl Reiner, calling on all Americans to go out and vote this
That`s coming up Tuesday now just a few days ago. And with six days to go
now, it`s the final push not just for Democrats to not just energize their
base to make sure that they show up to the polls. Not just get excited and
go to marches but march over to the voting booth. It comes amid a strange
political atmosphere in this country. President Trump spent the last week
continue to startle (ph) things up against his political opponents even as
the country reels from a series of really high profile domestic violence.
Those included a politically charged campaign of mail bomb, bombs, the
murder of two African-Americans by a white guy down in Kentucky and it was
a racial crime and the murder of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
For more, I`m joined now by Rob Reiner, actor, director, and activist who
also made that ad with his father, Carl. And Ruth Marcus, the deputy
editorial page at the moderate, moderately Democratic “Washington Post.”
RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST:
Independent. We are an independent news.
MATTHEWS: I was just going to say something personal to you.
Rob, you know, I worship your father as you do. And hang onto that guy. I
grew up with him. I was in the basement of our rec room watching Ceasar`s
hour. I wasn`t old enough to watch show of shows. Your dad was the second
banana with Halley Mars (ph) on that. And back in those days you were
living up in the Bronx and that whole experience up there.
What made your father get out, stick his neck out at the age of 96 with
this very personal case for people to get out a vote?
ROB REINER, DIRECTOR/ACTIVIST: Well, you know, he`s been active his whole
life. I mean, he`s been outspoken his whole life.
And I wrote this – this piece for him because I knew this is how he felt.
I mean, he talks at the beginning of having lived a long time. He lived
through the Great Depression. He fought in the Second World War to defeat
And he talks about the fact that he was around for the invention of
television and he acted on television even before we owned a television.
So, he said he`s seen a lot of things, and he doesn`t like seeing where the
country is going.
And, at the end of the piece, he talks about, if things go right, he`s
going to live until 2020, and be able to vote for somebody that will put
America back on track to the kind of America that he always imagined, and I
have – and that he`s passed on to me, and I have imagined.
MATTHEWS: Good for you.
And Barbra Streisand, who`s quite an activist herself – and we all know
that – she`s coming out with an album about lying. It`s interesting that
Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner and Barbra Streisand, all Democrats – let`s be –
centrist Democrats, I would say – all coming out about lying, not too
Lying is this thing that`s bugging – the big lie, on the immigrants and
RUTH MARCUS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I think it`s the big lie, but I also
think it`s the lack of empathy. It`s the stirring up of these resentments.
It`s the stirring up of racial hatred and tribalism that`s animating –
it`s clearly animating Carl Reiner and so many other people.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think? Does this work? Does this work?
I think it`s going to work in the deep ruby-red states, some of them out
West, this anger he plays on.
MARCUS: Donald Trump is many things, but he is not dumb politically.
He`s got really sharp, instinctive political sense of what motivates
people. And so I think in his base states, in the ruby-red states, as you
say, in ruby-red districts, this is an effective message – for the rest of
the country, in suburban House districts that he might need to win, way
MATTHEWS: Rob, I get – some of my kids – our kids, maybe your kids –
they love Bernie, for example.
They get interested in politics on account of a positive note. They like
certain things, health care, education. They don`t seem to fear Trump in
the way that older people do. I really – really notice this. They don`t
seem to realize there`s history behind this guy, bad history.
REINER: Well, yes, yes.
I mean, you talk about nationalism and globalism and people who have
MATTHEWS: America first.
REINER: My wife`s mother lost her – she was in Auschwitz, and she lost
her entire family in the Holocaust. And my aunt was also in Auschwitz.
They remember these kind of buzzwords. And when we see things like what
happened in Pittsburgh, it`s very, very disturbing. And I don`t think
young people have the understanding of what this is.
And when you see the leader talking in authoritarian ways, talking in
nationalist ways, using the terms globalism, this is very scary stuff. And
when we see this kind of wave of fascism that seems to be spreading
throughout the world, it is very, very scary.
MATTHEWS: In Brazil. Brazil this week.
And I`m just wondering. I was – I`m a student of your business, show
business. And I think – I read about – reading the other day, I dug up
this about Victor Borge. This guy, this great comedian, brilliant
classical pianist, he escaped the Nazis.
And he had his own television – radio show on in this country in the `40s.
I mean, there`s a story of America at its best. You come to this country
to get away from the bad guys.
But how do you – I want to ask you, Ruth, how do you get kids who are –
kids – 25-year-olds, 30-year-olds? You got to get away. You`re waiting
in a Starbucks line. Get out of line and go get in a voters line. Don`t
tell me you`re too busy, when you`re getting a coffee – coffee – to vote.
I think this is a problem.
MARCUS: It has been a problem in previous elections.
There are some polls that suggest that young people, who undervote compared
to older folks who have more of a tradition and history of voting, are more
motivated this year. So…
MATTHEWS: They get better benefits.
MARCUS: So, they are more motivated this year.
MATTHEWS: That`s why they get better benefits.
MARCUS: We will see if they turn out to the polls.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, you wonder why Social Security is doing well and
Medicare? Those people are voting.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was on “The Late
Show” with the great Stephen Colbert last night, and made a new prediction
– a fresh one, I should say – for what`s going to happen Tuesday next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT”)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT”: How you
feeling about the next six days?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Well, let me say this.
Up until today, I would have said, if the election were held today, we
COLBERT: What happened today that changed that?
PELOSI: What now I`m saying is, we will win.
COLBERT: And how long are the curtains that you`re measuring right now?
PELOSI: No, we`re not measuring.
PELOSI: We`re just walking precincts.
And if everyone votes, we will have even a bigger victory. But we will,
Democrats will carry the House, if we have a bigger victory, the Senate,
governorships. It`s going to be a great night for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, Rob, what do you think of that?
I like that talk, because it always works. Optimism works. But I know
Democrats love to get anxious, and they get – I don`t know. What`s the
right word? They just get anxious. And they go, oh, we better not say
MATTHEWS: What do you think?
REINER: Well, you don`t – you don`t – you never want to count your
I feel confident that we will take the House. I`m a little bit more
nervous about the Senate. It doesn`t seem like we will, but you never
know. I mean, there are all – surprises.
We were surprised in 2016. So it seems like we will take the House. But
you don`t – there`s an expression of Jews. You don`t give it the kina
And maybe Ruth knows what that means.
MARCUS: I do.
MARCUS: It`s the evil eye, to translate.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this.
How – look, obviously, a lot of people thought Hillary would win. And I
have heard stories that may be some people didn`t vote because they thought
she had it in the bag. I don`t know if that`s true or not. I don`t think
anybody thinks the Democrats have this in the bag.
MARCUS: The Democrats don`t have this in the bag.
But I think that the optimism that Nancy Pelosi – I almost said Speaker
Pelosi – was expressing on the show is what she`s telling people behind
And I think she made another important point. While the Senate is a very
uphill and very unlikely battle, Democrats have the prospect of taking some
really important governorships. And that will have an impact for the 2020
election as well. So, watch that space.
MATTHEWS: Rob, who`s your dad`s favorite president?
I got – because he`s got a lot to choose. He was born in the early `20s.
REINER: FDR. FDR was his favorite president.
MATTHEWS: That makes sense.
REINER: No question about it, because…
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s mine too. Well, Lincoln and FDR.
REINER: … FDR passed the WPA, which basically allowed my dad to get into
MATTHEWS: Yes, so great. So great.
He went to Georgetown for 10 months. I just read that.
REINER: He did.
MATTHEWS: To study French.
REINER: He went to Georgetown during the Second World War, because he was
in the Signal Corps. And they taught him French. He learned how to speak
And then they sent him to Hawaii.
MATTHEWS: That makes perfect sense. He could be the Frenchman in “South
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Rob Reiner. And thank you, Ruth Marcus.
Up next: a plot to smear – I can`t believe this – talk about a low blow.
They`re out to smear Robert Mueller, unraveling in real time right now.
Who`s behind this thing? We will try to get to it. And what`s the FBI
going to find out about this smear attempt?
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The special counsel`s office has directed the FBI now to investigate an
apparent scheme by pro-Trump activists, pro-Trump activists, to smear
Robert Mueller with phony claims of sexual misconduct.
According to NBC News, it began when – quote – “Multiple reporters were
contacted over the past few weeks by a woman who said she had been offered
money to say she had been harassed by Mueller.”
Well, those solicitations sent to at least two women came from a company e-
mail that NBC has linked to a 20-year-old pro-Trump conspiracy theorist,
Jacob Wohl. And that`s Wohl with Trump there in a photo he posted in 2016.
Wohl denied involvement, even though he`s been predicting – quote – “a
scandalous story about Mueller” on his Twitter account.
However, a phone number associated with a company offering cash to those
women was – quote – “listed in public records as belonging to that guy`s
Wohl was also linked to Jack Burkman, another Republican conspiracy type
pushing similar claims against Mueller, and is reportedly involved this
Well, both activists could be under investigation by the agency.
In a rare statement yesterday, the special counsel`s office said – quote -
- “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money
to make false claims about the special counsel, we immediately referred the
matter to the FBI for investigation.”
Joining me right now is Natasha Bertrand, who`s been covering this for “The
Natasha, it`s all yours. Tell me this story from soup to nuts.
NATASHA BERTRAND, “THE ATLANTIC”: So, a couple weeks ago, reporters began
receiving this letter from this woman who called herself Lorraine Parsons.
And she said that she had been contacted by a gentleman who identified
himself as a researcher and investigator and said that he worked for a
private intelligence firm called Surefire Intelligence.
Now, she was kind of irked – or she said she was – because this man had
offered to pay her roughly $20,000 in cash and an extra $30,000 in credit
card payments in order to make up false claims against the special counsel.
She reached out to reporters, but she was not willing to speak by phone to
these reporters. So it kind of went uncorroborated, because we couldn`t
confirm her identity and she wasn`t willing to speak to us to explain a
little bit more about how this all happened.
So, fast-forward a few weeks. And, as it turns out, the special counsel
now was made privy to those allegations because journalists were reaching
out and asking for comment about what this woman may have been talking
So, the special counsel then referred the matter to the FBI for further
investigation, because, of course, this is a very serious thing, if women
are potentially being paid to make up smears about the special counsel just
whenever, but also just eight days before the midterms.
So, fast-forward to yesterday, and another woman actually reached out to
me. Her name is Jennifer Taub. She`s a professor at Vermont Law
School. And she said, you know: As a matter of fact, about eight days
ago, I received an e-mail from a man who also claimed to work for Surefire
Intelligence asking if I had information about Mueller based on my past
encounters with him that I would be willing to speak to him about, and he
would pay me if I were to tell him about those experiences, even though she
has actually never met Mueller in her life.
So here you have two women who, the first woman, we can`t really identify
her. We don`t know for sure who she is. But the second woman`s
description of this in the e-mail that she forwarded to me match elements
of the first woman`s description.
So, it all becomes a little murky, but, just to reiterate, the fact that
the special counsel released a statement on this is an earthquake. I mean,
the special counsel never comments on anything.
So it just shows how seriously they`re taking this.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at Jennifer Taub on MSNBC today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER TAUB, VERMONT LAW SCHOOL: When I got this e-mail Monday the 22nd,
I thought it was rather sketchy. And, at first, my instinct was just to e-
mail this person back and say, I don`t know Robert Mueller, I have never
met him, have a nice day.
But then, before I did that, it occurred to me that this was a very creepy
kind of setup. It seemed like they were casting a really broad net. And I
thought I should alert the special counsel.
QUESTION: Why do you think that you were contacted?
TAUB: I have no idea why I was contacted.
I think I`m the wrong kind of person that you would invite to participate
in some conspiracy to violate federal law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the question.
The legal – illegality of this kind of punking, making up stories, it is
illegal, right? That`s why the FBI is involved.
BERTRAND: I`m not a lawyer, but it certainly seems like there would be
some kind of criminal activity here, if they were trying to essentially
bribe women to make up stories about the special counsel.
And just to be clear, there have actually not been any allegations against
him. No women have come forward making serious allegations against
Mueller. It`s – the only allegations that exist right now are the ones
that women are potentially being offered money or have been offered money
to make up stories.
And it`s important, I think, to shed light on this because one of the
participants in this scheme, Jack Burkman, who`s a GOP lobbyist, conspiracy
theorist, he is saying that he`s going to hold a press conference tomorrow
with a woman who claims to have all these salacious accusations against
Mueller. But with this backdrop…
MATTHEWS: What do you mean she has these salacious – is it somebody who
was victimized, purportedly, or just somebody who heard it secondhand?
BERTRAND: No, someone who Jack Burkman says is going to accuse Mueller.
MATTHEWS: Oh, an actual accuser.
BERTRAND: An actual accuser.
MATTHEWS: Well, we will see.
MATTHEWS: We also know that one of the participants in this scheme –
well, that idea went away – is Jack Burkman – is someone named Jacob
Tell me about Jacob Wohl.
BERTRAND: So, Jacob Wohl is kind of a pro-Trump Twitter personality.
BERTRAND: He`s roughly 20 years old, yes. He is known for being kind of a
disgraced kind of hedge fund guy, even though he`s very young.
All he does all day really is spread conspiracy theories on the Internet.
But he happened to create this bizarre, fake intelligence company called
Surefire Intelligence that was the company that was allegedly reaching out
to these women offering them money to tell stories about Mueller.
After NBC and after I dug into the domain records for this company, we
found out that it all linked directly back to Jacob Wohl, down to the phone
number that was listed on the Web site actually redirected callers to his
mother`s cell phone.
So it seems like this is all one big interconnected web, and we`re not
quite sure where it stands. But the fact of the matter is that Mueller
obviously took this very seriously, and he doesn`t want to take any
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think the word – actually, the phrase fake news comes to
MATTHEWS: This is the real thing.
Thank you, Patricia – Natasha Bertrand.
And up next: Voter enthusiasm is off the charts, with early voting already
under way in many states. That`s among older people, I think. We will see
about younger people.
Conventional wisdom says that that is good news for the Democrats, but will
that hold true in the age of Trump? We`re going to see. In fact, we`re
all going to see Tuesday night.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: What we choose to do now
at this defining midterm election might be how we`re known for the people
of the future. The kids, the grandkids, those kids and grandkids of
generations yet unborn who will read about us, the people of 2018 and I`ll
say in the face of all this smallness, and all this fear and all this
paranoia, these people stood up. They were counted. They did the right
thing at the moment history was calling for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was Beto O`Rourke last night at our HARDBALL college
tour, talking a bit like Churchill at the University of Houston last night.
There was a lot of energy of the young students who showed up for his –
well, of course, he`s the Senate candidate down there in a traditionally
deep red state of Texas. And, of course, we only have six days until the
midterm down there like everywhere else.
Let`s bring the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Yamiche Alcindor is White
House correspondent for “PBS NewsHour”, Cornell Belcher is a Democratic
pollster and strategist, and John Brabender is a Republican strategist.
The excitement on the Democratic side, I know it`s there. It`s there with
women in the burbs. I think a lot of them voted, was ready to vote for
Hillary and hesitated is going to come out. I don`t know about young
people and minorities. I just don`t know.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Well, I can
tell you from my reporting in Florida, there were some Democratic pollsters
who were very, very worried about the fact that they didn`t think this blue
wave was going to be quite as large as Democrats in that state felt like it
was going to be. I also interviewed young people in West Virginia, in
California and in Florida.
Now, all of them said while they think that people are excited about this,
they can go to whole parties, whole gatherings of millennials and not talk
about the election at all. So, that`s –
MATTHEWS: What is this? OK, we got a pollster. What is it about, you`re
waiting in line at Starbucks but you can`t wait in line to vote. I`m
sorry. I`m asking. I sound like Uncle Tonoose here.
But what`s the problem? This election matters. The kids talk about
tuition bills and how much you owe after college. They are worried about
health care. They all say so. They`re worried about this anti-immigrant
stuff. They`re pro-LGBT and all that stuff.
They`ve got all the right moves but?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER & STRATEGIST: You know, it is
fundamentally different for this generation because even at the age they
are right now, they vote less than older generations at the same age.
Millennials look at participation differently. They think what they`re
doing on social media is also a part of participation so they are defining
However, that said –
MATTHEWS: How is that participating?
BELCHER: For them, it`s actively involvement and part of cause.
MATTHEWS: OK. If you watch food commercials on television or beer
commercial, that`s the same as going and buying it. No, it`s not.
BELCHER: I`m not arguing with you –
MATTHEWS: OK, I`m not arguing with you.
ALCINDOR: I`ll say there are young people, though, that see the tweets and
things they do on social media as being part of the national discourse.
There are a whole conversations that are born on Twitter. Ferguson,
Missouri, that wouldn`t have been a big story without that. So, it`s not
so much –
BELCHER: That`s part of participating.
ALCINDOR: – something that you just (INAUDIBLE)
BELCHER: However, that said, if they vote at the same number that boomers
vote and this generation vote, they would change the politics, right? So,
right now, they`re literally letting older votes –
MATTHEWS: Why don`t the grandparents tell their kids and their kids?
They`re still voting, and tell them to get out and vote.
BELCHER: I think some of them are. It`s still sort of breakthrough. I do
this talk sometimes and I say the good news is there`s a thousands new ways
to reach young voters. The bad news is that there`s a thousands ways to
reach young voters. So, the vehicles for reaching them and the penetration
is just different.
MATTHEWS: You know what it reminds me of, John, getting kids to go to
MATTHEWS: I go to church and people are older and older at church. The
kids you can make them go until they are 15 and 16. But then it`s our
JOHN BRABENDER, REPOUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We do know historically, younger
voters show up more often in a presidential than a non-presidential. I
would argue in this election, there`s four groups you should really watch
to see what`s to happen.
Younger voters are one. Number two are independent voters who often don`t
show up in mid-year nonpresidential. Number three are college educated
women to see not only what numbers they show up but who they vote for.
The fourth are those Democrats in Rust Belt States that voted for Trump two
years ago. Do they vote Republican this time? Because many of them are
MATTHEWS: You`re raising a possibility they won`t.
BRABENDER: Well, and I think it`s fair to question. We always have
questioned is a Trump voter necessarily a Republican voter. And so, that`s
going to determine this election. It will determine how many votes the
Democrats pick up and what happens in the Senate.
MATTHEWS: I think the Democrats are in great shape in the Northeast
especially in the burbs. Around Philly and other big cities. I think
they`re going to be surprisingly effective in the Midwest because you don`t
have Trump at the top of the ticket. You have people like Walker at the
top, or people run against Bobby Casey and people like that at the top.
BELCHER: But I also think this is a big deal, Chris. Democrats will
probably win college educated white voters this time around. That hasn`t
happened in a long time. We can look at the Trump effect realigning the
parties because you have to go back to LBJ to see Democrats winning white
voters this way.
Democrats didn`t win college white educated voter with Hillary. Obama
didn`t win them. They may win them this time around.
MATTHEWS: I just wish they win the noncollege white people, too, if you
want to get everybody in this bag.
ALCINDOR: I think if Trump could win the college educated white people the
first time around, he hasn`t really changed. If you`re outraged by Trump
in 2016, you`re probably outraged by him by now. If you`re not, then you
probably like all the things that he`s doing. Report, all the voters that
I`ve talked to, including Democrats who voted for Trump, they just love him
even more because he`s doubling down on exactly who he was.
MATTHEWS: Well, Republican Congressman Steve King who is more Trump than
Trump, was condemned yesterday by the head of the National Republican
Campaign Committee, the committee in charge of reelecting House
Republicans, for telling “The Washington Post” that if Austrian Freedom
Party founded by a former officer were in America pushing the platform that
they push, they would be Republicans. “The Des Moines Register” points
out, the GOP has been turning a deaf ear for years as King has vilified
undocumented immigrants as drug mules, palled round with alt-right
international leaders and declared himself the defender of the white man`s
Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: They aren`t all valedictorians. They weren`t
all brought in by their parents. For every one who`s a valedictorian,
there`s another 100 out there that they weigh 130 pounds and have calves
the size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana
across the desert.
You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else`s babies. You`ve
got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children
This old white people (INAUDIBLE) does get a little tired, Chris. I mean,
I`d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these
contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that
you`re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute
more to civilization?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, King after taking – that would be Steven King – taking a
page from the president saying these attacks are orchestrated by nasty,
desperate and dishonest fake news. But there we have him on tape making
these somewhat nationalistic charges, Yamiche. What do you make of it as
an African-American woman when you watch a guy talking about people with
cantaloupe legs, I mean, this guy really reaches for atrocious commentary.
ALCINDOR: I would make of it not only as an African-American woman, but
also as someone who has reported and interviewed white nationalists, there
are people very excited about Steve King and who see Donald Trump as an
echo of Steve King. People for get, people call this un-American but
remember that America was founded by stealing land, founded by enslaving
black people and there were laws engrained in our institution to keep a
whole generation of people down.
So, there`s this idea that Steve King is representative of some parts –
MATTHEWS: America has made an effort to improve itself; 600,000 people
died in the civil war trying to – most of them tried to end the situation.
BRABENDER: But let`s see give Chairman Stivers some credit. I mean, here
is the guy in charge of winning as many seats for Republicans as he can.
You have Steve King in a dead even race. It could have something to do
with who has the majority. And the head of the National Republican
Committee came out a few days before election and criticized him.
My question is, why didn`t the Democrats do the same thing today with Joe
Donnelly`s what are perceived as racist comments that he made last night?
MATTHEWS: What were they? What?
BRABENDER: He made the point – I want to get the quote right. It was
something to an extent, he goes, well, yes, in diversity, I do have an
African-American on my staff but they`re doing a really good job.
Everybody picked up on the – what do you mean but they`re doing a very
good job. It was seen in many camps and he did come out and say, oh, I
meant to say and not but.
But he did it say. He said it during the debate.
MATTHEWS: OK, your thought?
BELCHER: You know, to compare that to straight up white nationalism is a
bit of a stretch, right?
BRABENDER: I`m not. I`m comparing it to the Democrats not coming out and
BELCHER: And what Congressman King is in line with is in the Trump
continuum. What Congressman King and that nationalism that they represent
is no different from the president of the United States. The president of
the United States who said I`m a nationalist. Last time I checked, Chris,
our grandparents died fighting nationalists in Europe. Now the president
of the United States proclaims he`s a nationalist. It`s absurd.
BRABENDER: But shouldn`t the left move as quickly on their side?
ALCINDOR: I`ve been interviewing newly arrived Puerto Ricans in Florida
and young black voters, when they say I don`t like the Democratic Party, I
don`t really like the Republican Party, but the Republican Party looks like
a party to them as white nationalists. It`s a party they think because of
President Trump and other people like Steve King, they think it`s a party
that embraces it more than Democrats.
They don`t think Democrats are perfect. They don`t the Democrats are
emblematic of diversity. They just think the Republicans are giving them
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us. It`s a hot one tonight.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Yamiche, tell me something I don`t know.
ALCINDOR: Kamala Harris loves Cardi B and she hates talking about running
for president because it`s people telling her she`s using performance
artists instead of politics. That`s part of an article that I wrote for
magazine. There`s all these other details about what she was like when she
was joining her sorority.
Now, these are things that you should check it out.
MATTHEWS: Is she running for president?
ALCINDOR: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Pamela, do you think?
ALCINDOR: Feels like it.
MATTHEWS: It feels like it to me.
Thank you, Yamiche Alcindor, Cornell Belcher and John Brabender. He`s not
going to be a big supporter of Kamala Harris, I don`t think.
When we return, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch”.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: “Trump Watch”, Halloween night, 2018.
This year, we have the perfect president for Halloween. Everything he says
carries the sound of fury and fear. Boo.
Do not go out tonight. Lock your doors, and refuse to open them for anyone
but your relatives and the people you see at church. The other is out
there waiting to snatch you. The other is lurking, waiting for you to drop
Well, this is the atmosphere right now in this country, and the fear that
the president is pushing into the air is deadly. People have become
afraid, as some are now, become angry and some have become very much afraid
and become very angry. We see what`s happening in the bombs left at
doorsteps, the racial shooting, the hateful Sabbath Day attack on a
That`s right. Fear spurs hate, and hate we know leads to violence.
And last night in Houston, Texas, we saw a different approach to
leadership, a young candidate for the U.S. Senate offering a different
message to the American people, different, as he put it, invitation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`ROURKE: The invitation to hate openly, unapologetically, to call Mexican
immigrants rapists and criminals, to call asylum seekers animals, an
infestation, to describe white nationalists, Klansmen, neo-Nazis as very
fine people, that has certainly contributed to the environment in this
country at this moment. The challenge, though, is not to assess blame, but
to try to lead by example.
(END VIDOE CLIP)
MATTHEWS: By example. And perhaps when this election is over next
Wednesday, the president himself will have realized his message of hate has
failed, and will turn his voice in another direction. We can hope.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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