Manafort met with Assange. TRANSCRIPT: 11/27/2018, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.
Date: November 27, 2018
Guest: Adrienne Elrod, Chris Wilson, Jackie Speier, Daniel Goldman, Julian
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We are out of time. HARDBALL is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Case for collusion. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
A potentially explosive new report today could show a crucial new link
between the Trump campaign and the Russian conspiracy to subvert the 2016
election. It`s raising serious questions now about two primary figures in
the collusion probe. Trump`s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who released Russian-hacked emails to
wreak havoc on the Clinton campaign in 2016.
Today the British newspaper “the Guardian” reported that according to their
sources, Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the
Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange has been living in asylum since
According to this report the meetings took place during three separate
visits in 2013 and 2015. And in the spring of 2016 reportedly around
March. That`s the same month Manafort officially joined the Trump
NBC News has not independently verified “the Guardian`s” story. However,
if true, the report would link Manafort to this key intermediary in the
Russia conspiracy during a crucial time frame.
Russia had already hacked the DNC by the time Manafort reportedly met with
Assange in March of 2016. And that some - same month, March of 2016,
Russia was also in the process of hacking the email account of Clinton
campaign chairman John Podesta. And three months later in June of 2016,
WikiLeaks communicated with Russian hackers and began releasing stolen
emails in July.
Responding to the report late this afternoon, Manafort released a statement
today through his spokesman saying this story is totally false and
deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected
to him. I have never reached out to Assange or WikiLeaks on any matter.
We are considering all legal options against “the Guardian.”
Well, likewise WikiLeaks tweeted they are quote “willing to bet “the
Guardian” a million-dollars and its editor`s head that Manafort never met
Well, this comes on the heels of last night`s bombshell news that
Manafort`s deal with the special counsel is kaput. Prosecutors say that
that despite agreeing to cooperate in change for a lighter sentence,
Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying to the FBI and special
counsel`s office on a variety of subject matters.
I`m joined right now by Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter for “the daily
Beast.” Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent with PBS News Hour,
Elliot Williams is a former federal prosecutor and justice department
official and Tom Winter up in New York is investigative reporter for NBC
I want to start with Elliot on this. What is the potential damage here?
Put it all together because we have been trailing this. I`m one of those
who believe that if Mueller gets collusion, that`s the home run. That`s
where he has to go. It is nice to get obstruction, but that`s the one
people that might turn the Republicans even.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: And signs are increasingly
pointing to it. Well, what these guys all have in common is that they seem
to not tell the truth and all they seem to have connections to Julian
Assange. We seeing it with Jerome Corsi. We are seeing it with Manafort.
And Manafort has now gotten himself in a heap of trouble with a much bigger
sentence and potentially things that could come up against him in court if
he ends up in court. So yes, this is definitely pointing there. And it is
potentially a lot of liability for all these folks.
MATTHEWS: Tom, give us a sense from this. Put the jigsaw puzzle together.
(INAUDIBLE) working in, but this is pretty much in. If you can show a
connection between Manafort, the chairman of the campaign, when he went to
work for Trump, bringing this Russian connection with him, I mean, looked
like I got my bag here candidate, Mr. Candidate, I have something that`s
going to help you blow Hillary out of the water here. Go ahead.
TOM WINTER, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes. I think, Chris, the
timing of this is going to be very important. To your point, we haven`t
verified it. Manafort has denied it strenuously. Same with Julian
Assange. But we are in a little bit of – feels like we are kind of coming
to a point here, Chris, with respect to this WikiLeaks business.
You have Jerome Corsi doing interviews with my colleague, (INAUDIBLE). We
have seen draft documents that were apparently shared with him as far as
what he would be charged with and what he allegedly did. We have obviously
a lot of news about Roger Stone and associates of him. And it`s really the
one thing that Robert Mueller in his indictment so far, Chris, hasn`t
touched on, which is WikiLeaks specifically, and specifically John
I think a lot of people are forgetting here, Chris, that they were several
hacks that occurred. There was the hack of the DNC. And everything that
happened with Bernie Sanders and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and things that
you talked about extensively at the time.
WINTER: But there`s an entirely separate hack. The John Podesta hack was
not tied to DNC. It was a hack of his Gmail account. And I think - and
that occurred, you pointed this out smartly in the time line there around
the time to this alleged meeting occurred between Manafort and Assange in
So you have a lot of smoke here. And really, we are going to have to
follow what comes out in court documents and what comes out after last
night, Mueller`s team promised us that they would be filing some sort of an
update to the court as far as those crimes and lies. That was the quote in
those documents last night that you showed earlier, the crimes amiss (ph)
that Manafort is alleged to have committed here as far as this cooperation
phase. So we are going to find out exactly what it is that he may have
been untruthful about. And then we will really kind of get a sense of what
this is all about, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We are going to put this all together. But one more element
tonight, as Tom mentioned, right wing author Jerome Corsi who has walked
away - who walked away from rejected a plea deal facing potentially
imminent indictment for lying to prosecutors as well about his own
involvement with Assange and WikiLeaks.
Well today, Corsi provided NBC News himself a draft documents from the
special counsel`s office that summarize some of the evidence Mueller has
gathered against him, Jerome Corsi. The documents state that former Trump
adviser Roger Stone told Corsi in a July 2016 email to quote “get to
Assange, Ecuador embassy in London and get the pending WikiLeaks emails.
What more do you want? According to NBC, Corsi said he declined the
request. He made it clear to Stone that an attempt to contact WikiLeaks
could put them in investigators` crosshairs according to the draft court
documents. But Mueller`s team said that was a lie.
Look. I`m going to start with Betsy, Yamiche, all of you. I have known
Roger Stone a long time. What he specialize in is the dark arts. He gets
stuff on you then you don`t believe he has, anywhere of getting it. He is
really good at it. Here he is in this whole question with his friend
Jerome Corsi, and you have Manafort. All these guys, he was a business
partner with Manafort and Stone for years here in Washington. All this
connected with what guys are really good at digging up dirt. And then we
find out they are dealing with Assange and WikiLeaks and the Russians
ultimately, and all this got to us as voters and as commentators, as news
reporters, during the campaign.
We were hearing about Podesta. We were hearing about, you know,
(INAUDIBLE), commentaries and little notes and in embarrassments and stuff.
Why are we hearing about it? Why was it making Hillary`s campaign look
bad? Because these guys were all involved with doing it.
Betsy, this is we are getting to the belly of the beast here, I think.
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Podesta`s emails
didn`t just come out during the campaign. They came out a mere few hours
after the “Access Hollywood” tape that caught Donald Trump on camera
talking about allegedly sexually assaulting women was released.
MATTHEWS: Not alleging. Claiming to. He did do it.
WOODRUFF: Claiming to, exactly, yes. Right, exactly. Commenting about
MATTHEWS: More about that at the ended of show, by the way.
WOODRUFF: Boasting about it. And the timing of this WikiLeaks emails
could not have been more helpful for the Trump campaign. It was like as
soon as that tape dropped, somebody in WikiLeaks knew that this bombshell,
this collection of bombshells or bombs that they were setting on needed to
get injected into the American news (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: And just to remind everybody and myself, Trump was not winning
this campaign through the summer. It looked like really close, in fact, it
looked like until election night that Hillary was going to win. So he
needed a long ball, a Hail Mary pass. He needed some really good dirt. It
looks like he got some.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWS HOUR: What`s telling
about some of these emails that we are talking about is there`s literally -
- I want to read it because it`s one shortly-timed for after I come back
and one timed for October 2nd, planned to be very damaging.
So it is not even – we don`t have to really ask whether or not they were
doing this because they wanted to have the timing. It`s literally in the
email that Robert Mueller has. It`s a red flag that says, hey, this is
when we are going to drop this. We are going to do this right now and we
are going to make sure Hillary looks weak and we are going to try hurt her
campaign. And you have someone who is now tied with Donald Trump sending
these emails and knowing about this.
And I mean, as a reporter, I remember going through these WikiLeaks dumps
and reading all this stuff and thinking, wow, now they are really going to
be in trouble because we did learn so much and some of the stuff was normal
political banter, but it looked so bad because we only got it from the
Hillary Clinton side.
MATTHEWS: You know, this is like we are fortune (ph). We are looking at
this big wall. We are trying to figure out that sentence that we are
seeing different letters in it and we are seeing, you know, we are seeing
signs visit from, you know, probably, according to “the Guardian” where the
meeting with Manafort. And we are hearing about Corsi having conversations
with Roger Stone about how they get the stuff. But they all knew ahead of
time about what the Russian dump was going to look like, the second dumb
from our friend at the embassy, whatever where they talked dark arts. We
are getting a picture here. It is starting to fill out.
WILLIAMS: Yes. I don`t think it is weird –.
MATTHEWS: So the question to you.
MATTHEWS: Question of the hour.
WILLIAMS: Let`s hear it.
MATTHEWS: Does Mueller got it already?
WILLIAMS: He has totally got it already. This isn`t wheel of fortune,
this is wheel of guys who can`t get their stories straight. And this is –
WILLIAMS: No, but this is the kinds of the emails and the kinds of
evidence that makes prosecutors salivate when they see guys talking about
their friend in the embassy and literally –
MATTHEWS: Talking in that language.
WILLIAMS: Talking in that language and talking about the day on which they
are going to make an email dump. And so, certainly, Mueller has that but
he is also got other evidence to corroborate it too.
So, you know, last time, I was sort of I don`t know. I don`t know who far
this is going to go. This is getting more and more obvious as to how clear
what the evidence has.
MATTHEWS: I love the way they say. You know, I figured it out.
(INAUDIBLE), one of those guys that can predict the future. Figure out
what you got in your pocket.
Anyway, according to the documents that Corsi, Jerome Corsi provided to NBC
News today, the special counsel can show that Corsi wrote Stone in early
August predicting what WikiLeaks would do next, referring to Assange. Of
course he wrote, word is friend in embassy plans two more dumps, one
shortly after I`m back, 2nd in October. Impact planned to be very
What more do you want? The email suggests that Corsi was familiar with the
timing and the content of the Russian hacked emails that Assange would
eventually release. They knew it all ahead of time. Guess how. However,
here`s how Corsi explained to NBC News how he came to have advanced
knowledge of Assange`s plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME CORSI, ROGER STONE ALLY: It was speculation. It was deduction. I
just happened to be right. I said to myself, if I had these emails I would
use them as the October surprise. And why did I think they were going to
come out serially, drip by drip, because Assange is very strategic. He
understands the news cycle. And he had some 50,000 emails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The oracle of Delphi. He sees the future.
Tom, what do you make of this defense based upon my ability to tell the
future because I have that ability?
WINTER: So Chris, I saved all of my emails from all these various leaks as
they came out from that summer in 2016. And in going back and looking at
those today, I remember we were all surprised. The fact that the DNC was
hacked and then eventually we saw that information, we knew the DNC was
hacked because of their own disclosures ahead of that information becoming
public in July of 2016.
What we did not know, what nobody knew, was that John Podesta was hacked at
that point. Now maybe U.S. intelligence, maybe U.S. government knew at
that time, but publicly none of us knew that, Chris.
So for them to all of a sudden just come out and say, well, Podesta is
going to be the guy in the barrel rot o come out and say he is the next one
that`s going to be next, who would have thought John Podesta was going to
be the next person that was going to come up?
Another thing that I want to point out, Chris, is that they were talking a
lot in these emails. And you have talked about one on screen in which he
refer to one earlier. In this exchanges that we see in this court
documents, they talk about how bad it is going to be for the foundation.
And some people are trying to say, well, you know, clearly they didn`t
really know it was Podesta because they are talking about the foundation.
Not so fast.
Going back and looking at those emails from John Podesta, he was the
chairman of the Clinton foundation at that point. And his emails go back
to 2008. And I remember going through and reading a lot of them. And one
of the reasons why I read through them because I thought we would get some
information on the foundation and get a little bit of a better
understanding of it. So it`s very possible that it was communicated to
these guys whether it was by Assange or by somebody else saying, hey, we
have got Podesta`s emails. But remember, this was while he was chairman of
the Clinton foundation. There is going to be some stuff in there.
And so, it think that those are two really important things that we need to
keep in mind as we go forward in the next couple of days and start to
report this out.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I want to go far ahead, Yamiche. This is a big of the long
ball here. You know, if we are getting this information through a glass
darkly, you like, in an old Polaroid. It is finally coming clear to us
about this Assange connection with Manafort and the whole thing to do with
WikiLeaks, the whole thing to do with the Russian hacking and the DNC, all
this dirt on Hillary being filtered out to the public by the ultimately by
the Trump campaign.
How does Whitaker hide this? How does he deep six a report like this from
American history? It has happened and it will be clear to us by the time
they decide the report has happened that there was collusion. How can he
ALCINDOR: I don`t think he can bury it, not only because now we have this
out in the public. We have these the least specific emails out in the
public. You also have the Democrats who are now in control of the House
who will be happy to pull Bob Mueller for any reason if he is fired and say
give us all the stuff that you have. I don`t think –.
MATTHEWS: So they can get – they can grab anything they know exists.
ALCINDOR: Essentially you can start subpoenaing people and to say what do
you know? Where did you - where do you have? And what can you tell us
about what was going on. I also –.
MATTHEWS: There`s is no burp bag at the special prosecutor`s office or the
ALCINDOR: I mean, maybe other people – I don`t think that they are going
to be able to do that.
MATTHEWS: This is a hell of the story and it is developing fast tonight.
Thank you, Betsy Woodruff, Yamiche Alcindor, Elliott Williams and Tom
Coming up, more on this particular question but another angle. The Mueller
investigation deepens. Trump continues to lash out on twitter, calling it
a phony witch-hunt. What`s the President afraid of? Probably what we were
gist talking about.
Plus, foreman HUD secretary and potential 2020 candidate Julian Castro
joins us tonight to talk about the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico
border, now that U.S. should address the escalating situation.
And we are less than one hour away from the polls closing in good old
Mississippi where voters will decide who their next senator will be. Will
Trump`s last-minute efforts help push the Republican to victory? This is
the tough one for you, Mr. President. Mississippi.
Finally, let me finish tonight with the Democrats` big victory this month.
Democrats have got to learn how to brag. Are you listening, Al Gore?
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Reacting to the Manafort news that he met with Assange, President Trump
again lashed out against Robert Mueller and his team today calling the
special counsel a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue who is doing quote
“tremendous damage,” close quote, to the justice system.
Well, in a series of morning tweets, President Trump made unfounded
accusations in an apparent attempt, catch this, to discredit the special
He tweeted quote “the phony witch-hunt continues, but Mueller and his gang
of angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it
comes out how horribly and viciously they are treating people, ruining
lives for them refusing to lie.”
Well, Rudy Giuliani, the President`s lawyer, I guess, told reporters that
there was a joint defense agreement with Paul Manafort. That agreement
allowed Trump`s lawyers access to confidential information. In the 18
months since the beginning of his investigation, Robert Mueller, a
decorated Vietnam veteran who volunteered for service has delivered charges
against 32 people, including 26 Russians now. Four of those charged have
direct ties to the 2016 campaign. They are, of course, Michael Flynn, Paul
Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates. They have all pled guilty
to various charges.
For more I`m joined by California congresswoman Jackie Speier, member of
the House intelligence committee, and Daniel Goldman, former U.S. attorney
for the southern district of New York. What a busy court that is.
Let me go to the congresswoman. We just spent about 15 minutes talking
about the latest developments, “the Guardian” newspaper reports that has
Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange three times, including a critical
meeting apparently in March of 2016 about the time he went to work for the
Trump campaign and about the time he went to work for the Trump campaign,
at about the time we were getting the Podesta – right after the Podesta
stuff was coming out, and the hacking by the Russians, and then right
before the DNC stuff was coming out from the Russians.
It`s all starting to paint a picture of collusion between the people around
Trump, including – including Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi and Paul
Manafort, et cetera, et cetera, and the Russians.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: I think what it`s also suggesting is
that Manafort may have even committed treason, when all is said and done.
I mean, this is all becoming very clear. The president became manic with
his tweets after he submitted his answers to questions by the special
counsel. And I`m beginning to wonder if there were answers that he gave
that now would suggest that maybe he wasn`t being as truthful as he should
But, clearly, Manafort has been not at all reluctant to continue to lie
after he cut a deal with the special counsel. And he`s seeking a pardon.
SPEIER: And what he doesn`t appreciate is that he still has state court to
deal with as well.
MATTHEWS: I appreciate that.
Let`s come at the federal issue, leave it at that for a minute. And there
is a state issue here. The congresswoman`s right, of course.
Let me ask you about – we were asking Susan Page, who is a really top-
rate, I mean, top-drawer reporter, who was here was last night. And she
said, if you accept life imprisonment at his age, life imprisonment – and
that`s no – that`s no way to end your life, 15, 20 years behind bars with
the wrong people you don`t want to hang out with, and a prisoner, why would
you take that, which he seems to have chosen by choosing to lie, rather
than tell the truth and get out in two or three years, unless he`s facing
horrible danger from abroad, or he`s hoping for a pardon?
It`s either extreme, it seems to me, at this point.
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think you`re assuming that
he`s a rational actor, Chris.
And I think that may be a mistake, because someone like Paul Manafort, who
has lied and schemed for so long, thinks that he can pull one over on just
about anyone, including prosecutors.
I think the most likely scenario is that Paul Manafort wanted to minimize
his own conduct. The congresswoman just referenced treason. We don`t
quite know exactly the extent of Paul Manafort`s international connections,
what he was doing during the campaign.
But Bob Mueller certainly has a good indication of it. And Paul Manafort
would have to admit to all of his additional criminal conduct as part of
cooperating. And he may have to plead – he may have had to plead guilty
to more conduct. He might be trying to avoid that by minimizing his
So I understand the pardon rationale, which I don`t buy. If he wanted a
pardon, he should not have admitted to all these crimes for a variety of
reasons, including state court.
MATTHEWS: Let me try – let me challenge you there, then, to the
Let me start with the congresswoman on that.
Everything Trump`s been saying lately and his spokesperson, his surrogate,
Rudy Giuliani suggest they will – they intend to discredit whatever
Mueller comes out with. No matter what it is, it`s no damn good, it`s a
witch-hunt, it`s phony, it`s this, that, so that it seems to me he is
trying to set the – shape the battlefield for claiming it was an unjust
misuse of prosecutorial discretion, and, therefore, I`m going to pardon the
Why does he keep doing this, Trump?
SPEIER: Well, his goal is to discredit everyone. I mean, that`s – his
antisocial behavior is in full display all the time, because he gets great
pleasure out of discrediting people.
What he doesn`t realize here is that, unlike the Kenneth Starr special
counsel that went on for six months and cost over $55 million, this has
gone on for about a year, has cost $17 million. People are behind bars
now. People have pled guilty. People have been convicted.
And there`s something to show for the special counsel and the way that he
has conducted himself, which is truly not taking the bait, not taking any
interviews, not responding to any of this.
Well, here`s Rudy Giuliani, the president`s lawyer. He was asked by NBC
News today – or tonight, in fact, that the president has or will offer
Paul Manafort or Jerome Corsi – that`s the Roger Stone buddy – a pardon.
He said – this is Giuliani – “Is it conceivable that Paul Manafort and
Jerome Corsi, who is saying Mueller`s people are pressuring him to lie, are
telling the truth? And the special counsel, in their zeal to get the
president, may be going too far.”
And just moments ago, Giuliani told “The Wall Street Journal”: “It`s my job
as his private lawyer to tell him, you should not even consider it now
because it will be misunderstood.” That`s about a pardon.
In March, “The New York Times” reported Trump`s team had already broached
the idea pardoning both Manafort and his former National Security Adviser
So you – Dan, you don`t think there`s any chance of pardons right now?
I do, but that`s my non-lawyer`s view, because I believe Trump always
shoots the moon. He always does what he`s not supposed to do in the worst
way. What`s to stop him now?
GOLDMAN: I wouldn`t say there`s no chance of a pardon.
MATTHEWS: Like, he`s going to pardon his kids. I`m sorry. There`s no
doubt in my mind.
GOLDMAN: Maybe you`re right.
MATTHEWS: They`re not going to prison.
GOLDMAN: And I would never say that Donald Trump is not going to pardon
I`m just saying that I`m not sure Paul Manafort lied to – as part of his
cooperation to get a pardon. But I think that what Rudy Giuliani – he`s
playing with fire here, because if he wants to say that the special counsel
is pressuring Corsi into lying or pressuring Manafort into lying, and that
maybe they`re telling the truth, the special counsel is going to lay out
his case in court.
And he is going to show why he believes they lied. And it is not going to
be a close call.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I`m going to ask you a big picture question for
one minute. You have one minute to answer, because it`s really big
I get the feeling that Trump`s defense is worse for this country than
anything he did wrong in the campaign.
I was reading about Zimbabwe today, and I have been to Zimbabwe. I know
it`s a young country with all kinds of problems. But that was – that`s
sort of a young democracy trying to figure things out.
He is taking us back to where they are, where all the opposition does is
say that people who win elections are crooked, that everything`s rigged,
everything`s – nothing`s on the level, there`s no such thing as objective
truth. Everything is tribal. Our side is always right. Your side is
He is – well, that`s my judgment.
What do you make of this guy? Is the crime worse – is what he`s doing to
cover up worse than the crime or equal or what?
SPEIER: Well, I would say that he – Vladimir Putin couldn`t have dreamed
of a better mouthpiece for undermining the democracy.
I actually think that we haven`t even uncovered much of what Donald Trump,
the entrepreneur, was doing in these failed hotels in Toronto, SoHo, and in
Panama. That`s going to start to come out, I think, and we`re going to
find out that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was violated over and over
again by Donald Trump, and that he was in bed with a lot of mafia from
MATTHEWS: Well, we will find out where you get the tax returns, thanks to
the House Democrats, when you finally take over, January 3.
Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a real friend of this
SPEIER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Dan Goldman. Thank you, sir.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump`s using flat-out false and misleading
claims, as I said, to justify his administration`s treatment of migrants.
Former Obama administration Cabinet secretary Julian Castro is going to
join me next to talk about the crisis unfolding on our southern border.
Look at it. We`re watching it every night.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have had some very
violent people. And we don`t want – frankly, we don`t want those people
in our society. We don`t want those people in our country.
But we had tremendous violence. Three Border Patrol people yesterday were
very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Apparently, not very badly hurt.
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Trump on his administration`s use of tear gas against
Central American migrants at the border over this weekend.
But Trump`s assertion that agents were injured when some migrants
protesting the asylum process attempted to rush the U.S. border from inside
Mexico on Sunday contradicted the account of Border Protection itself.
In a statement Monday, the CBP commissioner said: “Agents managed the
situation safely and without any reported serious injuries on either side
of the border.”
Well, Trump was also asked to respond to images of women and children
fleeing pepper spray and the tear gas in the ensuing chaos. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well I do say, why are they there? I mean, I have to start off.
First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself.
It`s very safe. But you really say, why is a parent running up into an area
where they know the tear gas is forming and it`s going to be formed, and
they`re running up with a child?
And in some cases, you know, they`re not the parents. These are people.
They call them grabbers. They grab a child because they think they`re
going to have a certain – they`re going to have a certain status by having
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen joined the
president in fending off criticism, arguing children were being used as
Well, today, in the first White House press briefing since October, Press
Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked if the White House regretted those well-
pictured, well-photographed incidents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, no one
wants women or children or any individuals to have this happen, which is
why we have encouraged them to actually follow the law and go to ports of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Julian Castro, former secretary of
housing and urban development under President Obama. That`s a long time
JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: It sure
seems like it.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this.
And I don`t want to press you too hard, because I don`t think there is a –
I don`t know anybody who has got a clear-cut alternative to either open
borders or this horrible treatment of people. But I would love to hear it,
if you got it. Do you have one?
CASTRO: Well, I think…
MATTHEWS: Is there a solution we can agree on?
CASTRO: I think that we had five years ago now a bipartisan comprehensive
immigration reform bill that got 68 votes in the Senate, and would have
passed in the House if it had been put on the floor.
I think that one message from the American people a couple of weeks ago was
that they want folks to work together again on things like that. And so, I
mean, yes, I think…
MATTHEWS: Who has got to lead? Can Nancy Pelosi lead, if she is speaker?
CASTRO: I think she can, yes. I believe that she can.
I think that, whether you take health care or other issues, she has shown
that one of her strengths is the ability to marshal that caucus and to get
things done. So I think that she can, yes. I think the question is going
MATTHEWS: This is a general question. It`s like asking an African-
American how do the African-American look at – community look at anything,
because, obviously, not everybody can speak for a monolith.
But what do you think the people – you have grown up in Southern Texas,
CASTRO: San Antonio, yes.
MATTHEWS: Like Beto grew up in – where did he grow up?
CASTRO: El Paso
MATTHEWS: El Paso.
So you know all about living Anglo, so-called Anglo. That`s everybody
who`s not Hispanic and everybody who is Hispanic.
What do the communities down there think about the ultimate goal? What
should our country be like in terms of the border? What`s – ideally?
CASTRO: Well, I saw this research the other day that was fascinating,
because it said that all of the fear-mongering that Trump did right before
the election with this caravan that was coming to invade, that it had the
least impact on those border states, voters in Texas, in New Mexico and
Arizona and California.
CASTRO: And part of the reason is because folks get to reality-test more.
They understand that we have been able to deal with this issue and that
folks are not…
MATTHEWS: You mean through assimilation?
CASTRO: Yes, you have cultures that have mixed there for generations and
folks that have found a way of life where – that families are often
blended, and there`s a bicultural, binational sense to that border area.
People – and this is one of the reasons that there was a concern about the
port of entry being closed. Trade happens. People go legally every day to
work or go to school on both sides of the border.
CASTRO: And so my hope is that we can have leadership that tries to forge
a compromise and a solution that`s based on the facts.
The problem is that we have too many leaders, like the president, that are
dead set on using this issue to fear-monger.
MATTHEWS: Well, because it works. You know where it works? It works in
the industrial states up North, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, because
it`s the unknown.
And sometimes it`s fear of the unknown.
CASTRO: It is.
And that`s why it`s incumbent upon all of us, right, to keep reaching out
and to keep stating what the facts are.
MATTHEWS: OK, I have a guess.
2020 is coming. That`s one thing we can be sure of. The Earth is going to
be here, hopefully. No matter how hot it`s going to be, it`s going to be
You`re probably going to run. You don`t have to tell me. I think you`re
going to run. I think Beto is going to run.
CASTRO: I probably am, yes.
MATTHEWS: What is it going to be like to have – I mean, it`s going to be
a diverse crowd. We`re going to have Cory Booker, probably. We`re going
to have probably Kamala Harris. We`re going to have Elizabeth Warren,
I`m just beginning the count. Joe Biden maybe, John Kerry maybe, some of
the older guys. What`s it going to be like that 40 people running for
CASTRO: Oh, I think we need it actually on this side.
I think it`s going to be good for the party. What happened in 2016,
wherever you were, whichever camp you were in, there was a good amount of
bitterness after that campaign.
CASTRO: I think it`s going to be cathartic for the Democratic Party to go
through this process, where, as you say, a lot of talented people with
great ideas are going to run.
There are probably going to be a lot of debates this time.
MATTHEWS: I think there`s going to be four tiers of debates.
CASTRO: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: You`re – what would stop you from going ahead and running?
CASTRO: Well, what would stop me would be personal concerns.
MATTHEWS: That`s a Tim Russert question, by the way. That was a Tim
CASTRO: Yes, I mean, but…
MATTHEWS: Clearly, you`re headed there..
CASTRO: But I am very likely to run for president. And I have said that.
And if I decide to do it, then I`m going to go on my own timeline.
MATTHEWS: When are you jumping When are you making the jump?
CASTRO: As much as I would love to break the news tonight here, I will do
that in Texas if I…
MATTHEWS: Well, when do you think you would make the decision? Give me
the month. When are you going to decide?
CASTRO: No, I`m going to decide before the end of the year.
MATTHEWS: Before the end of the year.
CASTRO: So, I`m going to decide during December, yes.
MATTHEWS: What do you think will be your unique selling point, as we say
in business? What would be the Julian Castro case for him being the
CASTRO: That I have actually shown at the local level and the federal
level that I can get things done, whether it`s expanding pre-K or expanding
I have a track record of getting things done as a mayor and in the federal
government, and a strong vision for the future of this country. I`m a…
MATTHEWS: Let me stop you, because we are getting pushed.
Would a Mexican-American, a guy who grew up on the border, have a better
chance of leading the fight for a good American-style immigration policy
that we`re all proud of?
CASTRO: Well, I mean, I would just say that, in my family`s experience,
with my grandmother coming over from Mexico, and that we have been able to
live our American dream, I think that represents the history and the
experience of so many people, whether they`re Irish or Italian Americans,
or Chinese Americans.
MATTHEWS: How did you know Irish? How did you name my grandmother came
You knew. Did you research me?
CASTRO: I think that my experience speaks to the experience of so many
And so, apart from where I specifically am coming from, I think that I can
relate to what we want this country to be and what we aspire to.
MATTHEWS: Yes, my grandmother spoke with a strong foreign accent, by the
Thank you, Julian, Julian Castro. Thank you.
Up next – candidate for president, probably.
By the way, the polls in the Senate runoff in Michigan – or Mississippi,
actually, are closing in less than a half-an-hour now. We`re going to see
how Mike Espy is doing down there. Will Trump`s support help send
embattled Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith back to the Hill?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The final, I mean, final contest of the 2018 midterm election is still
under way as we speak, in racially charged Mississippi, in that runoff down
there between incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat
Mike Espy, the former secretary of agriculture.
The candidates made their final pitches last night. Let`s listen up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI: What`s on the ballot tomorrow is
not just my name, Cindy Hyde-Smith. It is your conservative values.
That`s what`s on the ballot tomorrow.
MIKE ESPY (D-MS), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: This is a campaign that goes to
the color line and reaches across color line.
We should try to rise up, above all (ph) the division, above all the
dysfunction, (INAUDIBLE) and if we`re going to rise, we`re going to rise
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump campaigned obviously for Hyde-Smith
yesterday, hoping to give her a boost in a deep red state that he carried
by 18 points.
Anyway, former President Barack Obama released a robocall in support of
Mike Espy. Espy is facing an uphill climb, of course, in a state where
white voters outnumber African-American voters nearly 2 to 1, and where,
obviously, identity is tied to ethnicity, let`s face it.
According to “The Associated Press”, at the rate, Espy would have to win 30
percent or more of white votes, a tough test in a state with possibly the
most racially polarized electorate in the country.
Let`s bring in tonight`s roundtable, Adrienne Elrod, former director of
strategic communications for Hillary Clinton. I emphasized that word.
Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster, and Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer
for “The Washington Post.”
Jonathan, I don`t know – she didn`t say the worst stuff in history, but
there certainly was some dog whistle there.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, dog whistle.
In a midterm election campaign where the president was bull horning racism
as the closing argument for why the American people should vote for
Republicans. Now, he did it in red states and basically did it to pull the
Republican senators over the line.
But Cindy Hyde-Smith, having her closing argument standing next to the
president saying, if you`re for conservative values, vote for me,
campaigning with the president with that kind of closing argument, she`s
not talking to all of Mississippi. She`s talking to –
MATTHEWS: You know some of this history. Down there, there were
conservative issues for the white citizens council. They used to call them
white citizens councils and then conservative councils. That word has
certain value there, too, for certain politicians.
CHRIS WILSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: I seriously doubt Cindy Hyde-Smith is
aware of that.
WILSON: I think you guys seriously overestimate the significance of her
rhetoric. But I think she clearly –
CAPEHART: That`s unbelievable offensive, Chris.
WILSON: Your conclusion is offensive to anyone who says, who calls
themselves conservative. To equate those two is offensive to me, frankly,
you`re going too far. You`re going too far with you`re saying.
CAPEHART: What you just said was that she doesn`t understand the rhetoric
WILSON: I mean, she`s not putting the two together. Do you know her as a
person? Do you know her as a person?
CAPEHART: I don`t know her.
WILSON: Then don`t make those comments about her. That`s just wrong.
WILSON: Those are two very different things.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, Mike Espy ran a very above
the board campaign focused on the issues. While in contrast, Hyde-Smith
has been focusing on dog whistles, like, you know, if there was a public
hanging I would show up. He can be very proud, regardless of the outcome
tonight. It`s kind of campaign he ran.
And Companies like Walmart, this very rarely happens. Walmart, corporate
America will give donations to incumbent candidates because she`s been an
incumbent seat for the last year or so. But a lot of corporations wanted
their money returned.
MATTHEWS: Because of what she said?
ELROD: Because of what she said.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, Chris?
WILSON: I`m not going to defend what she said in that situation. I`m
saying she has the tendency to put her foot in her mouth. I don`t know her
either, to be clear. But I also don`t believe –
MATTHEWS: You don`t know her either?
WILSON: I don`t know her as a person.
CAPEHART: Thanks for that lecture. You don`t even know her.
WILSON: So I would not jump to conclusions about her. I don`t make a
tendency to go judging somebody`s heart if I don`t know –
CAPEHART: I`m not judging her heart, I`m judging the words that came out
of her mouth. She`s running for Senate seat from Mississippi with the
history that it has.
You`re not going to lecture.
WILSON: No, I`m not trying to lecture. You don`t triangulate –
MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going to move on.
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi faces a real fight in her first test in reclaiming
the title as speaker with House Democrats scheduled to vote tomorrow.
That`s going to be a private vote. No one has stepped up to challenge
Pelosi, which is significant.
But she`s still facing opposition from within her party as members continue
to position themselves. They want something from her. They`re all
squeezing her from the center and left. As of now, there are 22 current
and incoming members of the House who said they will vote against her, not
vote present, not enough to keep her from winning the nomination tomorrow
but it will be enough to keep her from getting the necessary votes on the
House floor come January 3rd when it`s all on public vote, all on C-Span.
We should have results, by the way, tomorrow night on HARDBALL about how
the caucus goes.
Adrienne, any indication, say she gets 60 votes against her tomorrow like
she`s had in the past, does that tell us anything how she has to turn the
screw to get the 218 on January 3rd?
ELROD: Well, she`s not going to get 60 or 70 votes against her. She might
get, you know, 15, 16, maybe 20 votes. Of course, it`s important to
remember this is not publicly known to your fellow caucus members.
MATTHEWS: You do possibly know how many voted against her?
ELROD: Yes, you do, you do. But look, Seth Moulton who I have a lot of
respect for, I mean, he has been talking for the last two years about
challenging Pelosi and trying to –
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he do it?
ELROD: He hasn`t been able to pull anything together. It`s been a fiasco.
So, she`s very strong, there`s nobody more effective than Nancy Pelosi when
it comes to knowing her caucus, knowing where they stand, knowing where the
ELROD: That`s why – especially right now when we have so much turmoil
going on in Washington. We need an experienced leader in that position and
that`s what her caucus knows.
MATTHEWS: What`s the case against Pelosi, Chris, except for San Francisco
and she`s a liberal? She looks swank, looks wealthy. But I`m not knocked
for any of that stuff, but some people do. You look too – whatever.
WILSON: To be clear, if Republicans were smart – it was interesting to
see she was able to quash any challenge to the left immediately. So, that
never materialized. She`s got a challenge to the middle right now.
The only candidate that could have challenged her lost in the primary. And
so, if you have a moderate try and bring in Republican votes, they might
actually be successful. But that hasn`t happened at all. There`s nobody
trying to do that and if Republicans are support, they will support her for
MATTHEWS: Jon, easy question. Why do they trash her? Republicans.
CAPEHART: Because she`s effective, because she`s the leader. Who were the
Republicans – if it weren`t Nancy Pelosi, if it was Congressman Moulton,
they`d be attacking him. That`s why they attack –
MATTHEWS: Not the same way. I know what Chris does. I know what you guys
and the Republican Party do. Go ahead.
CAPEHART: But the number one issue is she`s effective. One of the things
she proudly told me when she – in the first meeting she did as minority
leader and I asked her, does Speaker Boehner have the votes to raise the
debt ceiling, and she said, you have to ask him. I said, but you know
where all, you just said you know where the votes are, that you`re a master
vote counter. And she said, well, yes, but I`ll say this, I passed the
Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote. That`s
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is sticking with us.
Up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. Learning a lot
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the round table.
Adrienne, tell me something I don`t know.
ELROD: So, there`s one more unresolved House seat in the country. That`s
California 21st congressional district.
MATTHEWS: Which is going for Democrats, 400 votes right now.
ELROD: If Democrats win the seat, we`ll have flipped 40 seats.
MATTHEWS: Who predicted the Democrats would win 30 or 40 seats all through
the election, starting in April. Let`s go to you, Chris?
WILSON: California has legislation to move its presidential primary up to
February, which makes one of the first. And with this incredibly foiled
vote counting system, we might know who the Democratic nominee is. You may
have people who dropped are still getting delegates in 2020, going into
April and May with this vote counting system they have.
MATTHEWS: Did you say I was right in my prediction, Adrienne?
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
CAPEHART: The Democratic caucus vote on speaker isn`t the only big vote
tomorrow, it`s also who`s going to be the chair of the Congressional Black
Caucus. And if all goes according to plan, Congresswoman Karen Bass of
California will be the next chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and
she is the former speaker of the California assembly, and she`s someone to
keep an eye on.
MATTHEWS: Are we going to have a new speaker in the next two years? Any
thoughts about that? Will Nancy Pelosi win on January 3rd, floor of the
House, become speaker, constitutional officer, and yet at some point in
those two years give it up?
ELROD: I don`t think she`ll give it up. She`s going to win resoundingly.
And I think we need her experienced leadership right now.
MATTHEWS: I was thinking she might pull out sometime without notice in
2020 to allow the more moderate Democrats not to have to deal with the
issue. I think she should be speaker, but just my thinking because I`m a
CAPEHART: I`ll ask.
MATTHEWS: Adrienne Elrod, thank you. Chris Wilson and Jonathan Capehart.
When we return, let me finish tonight with the Democrats` big victory last
month. Actually, it`s still November, this month. Why don`t the Democrats
learn how to brag? They had a huge wave, all blue.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the Democrats` big victory this month
of November of 2018. The party now stands as we just heard from Adrienne
on the verge of winning 40 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 40.
That`s if California 21 comes in for the party and that looks very good out
there, up 400 points, the Democrat.
But I`ve been predicting something like this since the spring. This is
hardball, April 5th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I believe the Democrats will carry the House. History suggests
and the level of this president`s popularity suggests they will pick up
more than the average 29 seats the party opposing the president gets in the
first midterm election. I believe they`ll do better, somewhere comfortably
between 30 and 40 seats picked up.
(END VIDEO CIP)
And on September 12th, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think the Democrats have picked up 30 to 40 seats in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Then again when the election drew closer on October 9th, a month
out from the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, tonight that prediction is stronger than ever, 30 to 40
seats, the Democrats will pick up in the House of Representatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: My prediction was not based on the whimsy of the weak, but on
two key factors, one history. As I said, the party of power gains average
of 29 seats in the first presidential midterm. No surprise there.
Two, and this one is big, Trump. I believe that this president never got
past that “Access Hollywood” tape. People, most notably, heard it, and
have spent the last two years watching Trump live up to it. The payment
for “Access Hollywood” came due early this month.
And that`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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