Trump denies discussing Wikileaks. TRANSCRIPT: 11/28/18, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews

Eric Swalwell, Richard Blumenthal, Ginger Gibson, Corey Lewandowski



Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. 


Tonight, President Donald Trump is saying publicly that a pardon is on the

table for Paul Manafort.  For the first time, the President himself is

talking about protecting the former star witness and convicted felon who

now stands accused of lying to federal investigators. 


In a move that`s raising new questions about obstruction of justice, Trump

today told the “New York Post” that he won`t rule out a pardon saying it

was never discussed with Manafort but I, big but here, I wouldn`t take it

off the table.  Why would I take it off the table? 


Well, this comes after “the New York Times” revealed the explosive news

that the President has been getting information from Manafort, the same

witness former governor witness he may now pardon. 


Quote “a lawyer for Paul Manafort repeatedly briefed President Trump`s

lawyers on his client`s discussions with federal investigators after Mr.

Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.”  That means that

Manafort`s lawyers were actively helping Trump whom Paul Manafort had

supposedly flipped on. 


Most significant is that by funneling inside information to the President`s

lawyers quote “his updates helped pressure Mr. Trump`s legal team that

Manafort had not implicated the President in any possible wrong doing.”  So

all the time, the guy seem to be turning state`s evidence, he is telling

Trump, don`t worry. 


Anyway, Mueller discovered the arrangement before he called off Manafort`s

cooperation deal this week having concluded that Manafort was lying to,

rather than cooperating with his prosecutors. 


Well, the communication between Manafort and Trump`s respective legal teams

could represent obstruction of justice.  Witness - in fact, witness

tampering itself, especially in light of the fact that President Trump is

now publicly dangling a pardon to Manafort. 


I`m joined now by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California and

sits in the House intelligence and judiciary committee and Michael Schmidt

who broke that story for the “New York Times” last week. 


I want to go to the congressman in this thing.  Pardon, it`s in the

President`s arsenal, it`s one of the weapons he has got.  Is he going to

use it?  He is talking about using it here? 



which is useful to him right now.  Whether he actually follows up and helps

Paul Manafort in the end, who knows with this guy, you know. 


MATTHEWS:  Explain why would dangle it? 


SWALWELL:  Well, right now, he is dangling it for Manafort who has backed

off.  Corsi I think also sees – 


MATTHEWS:  But why is he saying in public for Manafort who is basically in

chains –? 


SWALWELL:  This guy is so exposed. 


MATTHEWS:  By the way, I can get you out of this. 


SWALWELL:  He is exposed.  It`s so obvious that they were eager to collude

with Russia.  Now we are seeing the evidence that there was a conspiracy to

cover up.  And he is, you know, playing the last, you know, hands that he

has out of desperation. 


MATTHEWS:  Michael, he doesn`t hide his technique.  Here is out there

saying I want to shut this guy up.  I`m going to protect myself by giving

him his freedom, at least from federal law. 



the fall of 2017 when Mike Flynn was going to flip and cooperate with

Mueller, John Dowd, the President`s lawyer at the time, said why is he

going to that?  The President will pardon him.  This has been an easier –. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, it is new for Manafort. 


SCHMIDT:  He was talking to Manafort`s lawyers at the time as well back in

2017.  And then when Mueller wanted to tell Trump`s lawyers the questions

he wanted to ask Trump, that was in there.  What did you know about pardon

offers that John Dowd was making?  So when you look at the broader

obstruction question, this is not a new thing.  This is something that has

been going on and has been on Mueller`s radar. 


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let`s bring in Jill Wine-Banks, former Watergate



Jill, thanks for coming in from Chicago tonight.  And what do make of this? 

I it is not like this is sneaky pro.  Here is a guy saying to the `New York

Post,” not - of course, he is not of the esteem of “the New York Times” by

any way, but here you are telling the “New York Post” which is going to put

on the front page tomorrow or would.  They are going to give the big story,

pardon.  Why is he doing this? 



doesn`t understand what is right and wrong.  He is apparently not a very

good lawyer because he has made a big mistake in saying this.  The pardon

dangling could definitely be obstruction of justice.  The cooperation

between Mueller - I`m saying not between Mueller, between Manafort and the

President`s trial team is really not an appropriate thing.  It could be one

of the other accusations that could lead to impeachment and/or an

indictment because I still think legally he could be indicted, the



MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s get back to that question.  It seems to me everybody

wonders.  Will Manafort talk?  Will he give up the President to save his

rear end and keep himself from spending the rest of his life in prison? 


Last couple of days, we get the report from your paper basically he is not

going to cut the deal.  He is not going to live up to the deal.  He is not

going to give it.  And we are also getting the word from your paper that he

is talking to Trump`s lawyers all this time saying don`t worry I`m not

giving your guy up.  So it seems like he is playing it both ways telling

Mueller I`m going to give the guy up, get me out of here.  And he is

telling the President, don`t worry, we are not going to give you up.  How

long can he play that game?  Apparently not longer than this week. 


SCHMIDT:  He can play it a long time.  But you have to understand –. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, not this - past this week about doing it. 


SCHMIDT:  Hold on.  What Mueller has done is he tore up the plea agreement

with Manafort.  So there`s only one person left that can stop Donald Trump

from spending - I mean, can stop Paul Manafort from spending the rest of

his life in prison, and that`s Donald Trump who has the power of pardon. 

Mueller has said he will not do that for him anymore.  No one else has that

power except for Trump, (INAUDIBLE). 


SWALWELL:  There is a break in case of emergency option.  And you have to

believe that Bob Mueller is talking to the New York attorney general`s

office, talking to other local prosecutors who have jurisdiction to make

sure that there`s a backstop against any Trump pardon. 


MATTHEWS:  The federal government plays ball.  I don`t think Trump is

worried about the New York –. 


For Manafort, should be. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s right.  There`s also new concern - new concerning, a news

concerning that infamous Trump tower meeting.  Remember the Russians in

June of 2016?  Who could forget it?  And what the President may have known

about it as a candidate. 


According to “The New York Times” now, Trump`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said

Mr. Manafort`s lawyer told him that prosecutors hammered away at whether

the President knew about that June 2016 Trump tower meeting.  NBC News

today reporting that in his written answers to Mueller`s questions, the

President specifically denied being told about the meeting. 


Michael, (INAUDIBLE) in the Times story here.  Who is leaking the

President`s answers? 


SCHMIDT:  Who is leaking the President`s answers?  I don`t know.  But I

guess this is the narrative that they want out there that he didn`t, you

know, he didn`t know about the meeting, you know.  He didn`t –. 


MATTHEWS:  This is what the President`s lawyers want out?  So they are

leaking their own answers? 


SCHMIDT:  I don`t know who is leaking it.  But this is a good for them. 

They think is a good message.  He didn`t know anything, trying to put arm`s

distance between, you know, himself, Stone, who is under scrutiny, and the

Trump tower meeting. 


MATTHEWS:  Did he think that`s exactly what Manafort said so they were

matching up in their testimony? 


SCHMIDT:  I don`t know that. 


MATTHEWS:  Was Manafort lying when he said the President didn`t know?  So

the President thought he could say he didn`t know? 


SCHMIDT:  I don`t know that. 


MATTHEWS:  It`s like the Menendez brothers with connected phones giving the

testimony.  I know.  I loved the Menendez brothers story because they had

their phones taped together so they could give the same story. 


SCHMIDT: I can`t – I don`t have answers to your questions, but the problem

is by having the arrangement they did, it created the appearance of an

impropriety.  And that`s the issue at the very least.  And it doesn`t look

good to the average person who says, why are they talking to each other?  


SWALWELL:  The timing though of Trump turning his answers, he has had these

questions for months.  When does he turn them in?  After Matt Whitaker is

placed as acting attorney general.  He has a new window into the Mueller

investigation, and after Manafort starts feeding back information to Trump. 

I think he turned in those answers to couch them to what he knew other

witnesses were saying.  That seemed to make more sense than anything else. 


MATTHEWS:  Jill, let me go to you on the jurisdiction or the jurisprudence

aspect to this.  I don`t think we go with guidelines or precedent or

whatever the way things are done when you go to Donald Trump.  He doesn`t

want to hear any of that.  He decides what he can get away with. 


Now he put – everybody said he had to go with Rosenstein, the deputy.  HE

had a follow procedure.  Give the guy his job.  It should be the job.  He

said, no, I`m going to bring this guy, this ringer in, this guy Matt

Whitaker and then make him acting attorney general as long as I want him to

be there. 


So he doesn`t listen to precedent.  He doesn`t listen guidelines.  He

doesn`t care.  What`s to stop this guy from just coming out in the next

couple of weeks with a whole bunch of pardons?  I have keep asking myself

that and testing with the Supreme Court which he basically put together,

his Supreme Court.  Why not?  What he has got to lose? 


WINE-BANKS:  Well, the only thing that he has to lose is the support of

even the most loyal Trump supporters. 


MATTHEWS:  Really? 


WINE-BANKS: And hopefully even in Congress.  And I want to just point out

another thing about what the evidence is.  Manafort is accused of lying. 

That means that Mueller has really direct, hardcore evidence that is

opposite of whatever he said.  So to the extent that there was coordination

in the answers between what the written answers from the President are and

what Manafort said, it means that the prosecution can prove that both are

lies.  He can prove it without any testimony. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I think (INAUDIBLE) where you are at.  Our people I work

with here thinks that`s what`s going on here.  It may be speculations, but

it seems pretty solid that the reason the President we are sure are

confident in saying I knew nothing about the Trump tower meeting in June of

2016, is that I know that Manafort`s always given that same testimony, and

therefore, I`m going to be matched up with my buddy who is now going to get

pardoned at some point, right?  You are smiling. 


WINE-BANKS:  Exactly.  And I never used feminine intuition before, but I`m

telling you from the day I heard about that meeting, there is no way that

his son who sought his approval did not tell his father about that meeting. 

He would have gone bragging to him saying I have just got something really

good to help you.  I know that`s true.  I believe it. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I think that`s human intuition, by the way.  (INAUDIBLE). 

And guess that – guess what, I got some dirt on Hillary.  You might win

this after all.  


Anyway, another point of possible conclusion, above Trump associates who

appeared to have - well, they did, had advanced knowledge of the released

of those Russian hacked emails.  In a new story in the plea deal that

Jerome Corsi rejected this deal, “The New York Times” again reported, they

did it again, Mr. Corsi`s dealings with Mr. Muelller prosecutors have

caused alarm among the President`s legal team, specifically Trump`s lawyers

were troubled by stated by prosecutors that quote “Corsi said that Roger

Stone who Corsi understood to be in regular contact with senior members of

the Trump campaign including with the then-candidate Donald Trump asked

Corsi to get in touch with WikiLeaks. 


The reference suggests Mueller has potential evidence that could draw a

line from Trump through Corsi and Stone to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks who

released the Kremlin hacked emails.  NBC News is also reporting today that

in his written testimony to Mueller, the President did not ever receiving

or discussing WikiLeaks with Roger Stone. 


I have to go to “The New York Times” with this one, Michael.  This – I

always thought what he said it`s John Podesta`s time in the barrel, and his

kind of gross way of describing that bad news coming for Podesta, that you

know, he isn`t one of these guys that used to be on television 40 years ago

that could predict the future, what`s in your pocket and all that nonsense. 


How else did he know except he knew?  And when you knew about it, breaking

at it, it`s presumed possible, in fact, probable that you knew you were

part of the break-in to come. 


SCHMIDT:  Two weeks ago they were preparing to send in his answers, his

lawyers found out and saw the Corsi draft deal and they didn`t like the

language.  They thought the language made the President look like an

unindicted conspirator.  And even though it didn`t say that, they though it

made it look like he was part of the communication chain between –. 


MATTHEWS:  What made it look like that? 


SCHMIDT:  The Corsi`s plea deal had a thing in it that discussed whether

Stone had told Corsi that he was in touch with the President.  The

President`s lawyers didn`t like that.  They didn`t like the pressure that

was being put on Manafort at the time.  They did not like the fact that

these documents were unsealed in the eastern district of Virginia that

showed that Assange was charged.  And they said what is going on here?  Is

there something afoot?  Are they laying a trap for the President?  They

went it, met with Mueller`s team.  We were reassured to that.  And then

provided the answers. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, congressman? 




MATTHEWS:  And I think we are getting into the really deep possibility of

collusion here, not just obstruction. 


SWALWELL:  Well, they colluded and they conspired to try and cover it up. 

Roger Stone is a dirty trickster.  There`s no reason to believe that he

would change his ways when his best pal is running for President and he has

information that is about to come that he wouldn`t have told Donald Trump. 

The same intuition that Jill Wine-Banks had about Don Jr. tell his father. 

The same intuition I and others had that Roger Stone, of course, would have

pulled the candidate that he has got the goods. 


MATTHEWS:  Who could believe not long ago that this whole thing about this

President and how he got to be President and how the Russians helped him

had to do with old Nixon trickster, Roger Stone? 


Anyway, thank you U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, Michael

Schmidt of the great “New York Times” and Jill Wine-Banks.  You are

amazing.  Thank you for coming on. 


Coming up, as the President lobs attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller,

Senate Republicans have blocked a vote on a bill to protect Mueller.  What

will this mean for the Russia probe, the Russian?  By the way, look.  Talk

about a protection racket being run by Mitch McConnell. 


Plus, Democrats in the House voted today on the future of their party.  And

Nancy Pelosi won the first round.  She is the nominee for speaker.  We will

see if she gets the job on January 3rd.  How much deal making went into

that?  We`ll get to that point with the progressives. 


And what steps are Trump, is he willing to take to protect himself and his

family from the Russia probe.  How many pardons and could his efforts put

his reelection bid in serious jeopardy. 


Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. 


This is HARDBALL where the action is. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


As Robert Mueller`s investigation seems to be picking up momentum right

now, don`t you think?  And moving closer to the President, there`s a new

urgency to protect the work of the special counsel, to protect Mueller

himself.  However, the Republican-controlled Senate, a coequal branch,

remember, meant to serve as a check on the presidency once again has failed

to act. 


A single Republican senator, Mike Lee of Utah, blocked a vote on a bill

that would have protected the special counsel.  Arizona Republican Jeff

Flake who is retiring worked with two Democrats to force a vote on the

bill.  Here is what he had to say. 




SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA:  With the President tweeting on a regular

basis, a daily basis, that the special counsel is conflicted, that he is

leading so-called 12 angry Democrats and demeaning and rid ridiculing him

in every way, to be so sanguine about the chances of him being fired is

folly for us, I believe. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, Senate majority Mitch McConnell knew it wouldn`t be him

and has shown little will to protect Mueller.  Let`s watch him in action. 




SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER:  This is a solution in search of

a problem.  The President`s not going to fire Robert Mueller.  We have a

lot of things to do to try to finish up this year without taking votes on

things that are completely irrelevant to outcomes. 




MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal of

Connecticut and Meike Eoyang, vice president of the national security

program at Third Way. 


Senator, why does he had the crest scene behind him?  Why does he have to

have the two shepherds or the two sheep standing behind him (INAUDIBLE)? 

Why are they always stand there behind him, Mitch McConnell? 


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT:  Do I have a right to remain



MATTHEWS:  OK, fine. 


What do you make of the fact that-you know, here`s my big question.  If

Mitch McConnell is refusing to do anything to statutorily protect the role

of the special counsel, so he doesn`t get thrown out like Nixon through Cox

out the door, do you have any confidence he will do anything of Nixon, thus

throw?  If he does throw Robert Mueller at the door, he fires him and we

can`t – one morning, he is tweeting, I fired him.  He has so - he is gone. 

Do you think Mitch McConnell will do anything then either?  Do you think? 


BLUMENTHAL:  I think he would. 


What would he do then? 


BLUMENTHAL:  I think it would take his membership in effect compelling him

to act, you know.  You don`t wait to buy a fire truck until the fire

department has to put out a fire. 


MATTHEWS:  That`s what you`re saying he is going to do.  He is waiting for

the fire.  


BLUMENTHAL:  I think what we have in store is a Saturday Night Massacre in

slow motion, strangling and suffocating the special counsel through his

acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, who has been hired for that

purpose, in effect.


And I think it will take the kind of outrage that we saw today on the floor

of the Senate about the failure to produce Gina Haspel for a meeting on…




MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.  We will get to that in a minute. 


That`s the whole question of what they`re – why they`re covering up the

Saudi killing. 


Mieke, this whole question of – you know, we – three branches of





MATTHEWS:  One of them`s the U.S. Congress.




MATTHEWS:  It`s supposed to put a check on executive power, in this case,

the president`s power to stop a prosecution of himself.  They`re not doing



EOYANG:  That`s right. 


MATTHEWS:  And Mike Lee, by the way, who is breaking with the president on

the Saudi thing, is not breaking with him on this one. 


EOYANG:  Yes. 


And he`s claiming that Scalia had said that this statute for the special

counsel is a constitutional violation.  To protect the Constitution, you

shouldn`t do this. 


But what he`s failing to recognize is the unique threat that this president

poses to the Constitution.


MATTHEWS:  You mean Mike Lee or Mitch McConnell?


EOYANG:  Mike Lee, failing to recognize the unique threat that this

president poses to the Constitution itself, to undermining the rule of law,

to so many of the things that he`s doing, where he`s trying to really take

on himself powers that he really shouldn`t have.  And so…


MATTHEWS:  But aren`t Republicans for limited government?  Isn`t that one

of the prized principles of the party?  Less government?  Less government? 


BLUMENTHAL:  The Republican Party has betrayed a lot of its prized

principles, like fighting the deficit, like states` right and sovereignty.


MATTHEWS:  You mean that trillion-dollar deficit we got?


BLUMENTHAL:  Like basic integrity in government.


And what we need is Republicans to stand up. 


MATTHEWS:  Meanwhile, two key Trump administration officials were on the

Capitol Hill today, where they defended Saudi leaders.  What is going on?


Secretary Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, and Jim Mattis, secretary of

defense, briefed all 100 senators and were asked about the murder of Jamal





QUESTION:  You have seen all the intelligence, presumably.  Do you believe

that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia ordered Jamal Khashoggi`s killing? 


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  I do believe I have read every piece

of intelligence, unless it`s come in, in the last few hours.  I think I

have read it all. 


There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to

murder Jamal Khashoggi.




MATTHEWS:  The two deputy – the two secretaries also tried to convince

U.S. senators that America should continue to support the Saudi war in



In fact, the briefing comes a day after President Trump continued his vocal

defense of the Saudi crown prince. 


He told – Trump did – “The Washington Post” – quote – Take everything

into consideration.  And, again, he totally denies it.  And he denied it to

me on three different occasions on three different calls.  And a lot of

other people deny it too.  Did he do it?  As I said, maybe he did and maybe

he didn`t.  But in the meantime, Saudi Arabia is spending billions and

billions of dollars in the United States, and I want them to the spend it



Bipartisan lawmakers were unconvinced.  Hours after the briefing, 63

senators out of 100 voted to advance a resolution that would end U.S.

support for the Sony-led war in Yemen, which is starving all those people

down there.


Senator, again, what is the motive for this president and his obviously

impressive Cabinet members – there`s nothing wrong with Pompeo, as I can

see it, nothing wrong with Mattis – they are solid, sober-minded, smart,

patriotic guys who are defending the indefensible.  That prince did this. 


Why are they saying it didn`t happen that way?  Why are they refusing to

listen to the tape?  Pompeo says, “I don`t speak Arabic.”


I spent the `60s going to foreign movies.  I didn`t speak French or German

or anything Italian, but I like – I got the message.  Why doesn`t he want

to listen to the tapes of what happened? 


BLUMENTHAL:  What is most significant…


MATTHEWS:  As if he couldn`t figure them out because he didn`t know what

was going on in Arabic.  Come on. 


BLUMENTHAL:  What`s most significant about that vote, Chris – and it

implies the combination of skepticism and outrage that you…




MATTHEWS:  Bolton said that.  I`m sorry.


BLUMENTHAL:  That 19 of my colleagues switched their votes from the last

time that this resolution was before us.  I co-sponsored this resolution

back in March.  We got only 44 votes.  Today, we got 63. 


Those 19 switches were the result of any lack of credible or persuasive

explanation for the administration`s position.  In fact, it was a deeply

costly briefing for this administration.




BLUMENTHAL:  The failure to produce Gina Haspel, the lack of credibility in

the supposed explanation given by the secretary of defense and the

secretary of state, the two highest-ranking administrative officials, was

directly responsible for that stunning rebuke.


MATTHEWS: Mieke, do you think United States has some tribal connection with

Saudi Arabia now?




MATTHEWS:  Like the Sunnis were against the Shias in Iran?  So anything

they do, we`re on the side of.


What is the – they`re defending this murderous starvation of people in

Yemen.  They`re defending the murder by – this American journalist.  They

will defend anything now.  Why?


EOYANG:  Yes, you saw this administration go all in on Saudi Arabia early,

despite all the terrible, erratic things that they have done under the

leadership of the crown prince.


And they just keep doubling down it.


MATTHEWS:  Is this the son-in-law?


EOYANG:  The president`s son-in-law?


MATTHEWS:  It`s Jared?  He`s our crown prince.  Is he calling the shots?


EOYANG:  I think that`s a serious question. 


I think that we, the American people, don`t know whether it`s about Saudi

financing of the Trump real estate empire or this arms deal is a serious



MATTHEWS:  I haven`t said it in a while, but they are the Romanovs. 


Thank you, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.  And, Mieke Eoyang,

thank you much.


Up next:  Nancy Pelosi wins at least the first round in her fight for the

speaker`s gavel.  If she pulls it off in January, what kind of House will

she be leading? 


She`s making a lot of deals on the left and in the middle.  Will we see a

fully functioning legislative body or a full-throated resistance to the

Trump agenda?


This is HARDBALL, where the action is. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


The final midterm battle of the Senate played out in Mississippi last

night, with a win for Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith.  She got 54 percent of

the vote.


On the House side, the Democratic leadership is holding votes today.  And

the top three positions remain unchanged, with Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer of

Maryland, and James Clyburn of South Carolina all winning a majority of the

votes in the Democratic Caucus.


Pelosi received 203 votes in favor and 32 votes against.  There was no

opponent.  Three members left their ballot blank.  And one member was

absent for the vote.  That is far fewer votes against Pelosi.  Back in

2016, 63 House Democrats voted against her in the caucus, but, of course,

back then, she had an opponent, Tim Ryan.


In order to reclaim her title as speaker of the House formally, she will

need to get 218 votes on the House floor coming in January.  Pelosi spent

the past few weeks making deals and wrangling those in the party, including

the large group of freshmen progressive members, to back her for speaker



For more, I`m joined one of those incoming Democrats, congresswoman-elect

Ilhan Omar.  And Michael Steel is a former spokesman for House Speaker John



Congratulations, congresswoman-elect, for your seat in the U.S. House.


And now your first request from me is, what was it like in the Democratic

Caucus today when you renominated Nancy Pelosi?



for having me. 


There was a lot of really exciting energy.  There was an overwhelming

support for the speaker to get her back her gavel and to lead our caucus. 


MATTHEWS:  Did you hear from the people who voted against her or who voted

nothing, who voted present?  Did they have anything to say? 


OMAR:  No, actually, on the contrary, we heard from folks who were eager,

who understood that we got elected to make a decision about the direction

of our nation, that it was going to be important for us to build consensus

and be a deliberative body, to decide on who is going to get us the

progressive wins that we need to have going forward, so that we can have

prosperity for all Americans. 


MATTHEWS:  How do you get stuff done?  You control the House now.  A good

portion of the Democratic Caucus is progressive now, with 90 members.


How do you get those 90 members to project their power through the

Democratic leadership, through the whole House, past the Republican-

controlled Senate, which is more Republican now, and then past a Republican

president?  How do you get what you just said done, a progressive agenda?


OMAR:  So, as you probably know, Leader Pelosi is a strong progressive.


And we have full confidence in knowing that she is going to push for the

agenda that we all got elected on, making sure that we have health care be

affordable and accessible for folks, that we are tackling the issue of

student debt, that we`re working to make sure that we reform our

immigration system, and that we put Americans back to work and fix our



Today, we heard from people from all walks of life who represent Americans

come to speak on her behalf, folks within the Progressive Caucus and with

other caucuses, who have clear trust in knowing that she is an expert, that

she is a thoughtful leader, a consensus-builder, and someone who has the

best interests of all of us to make sure that our voices are at the table

and ultimately we move an agenda that is inclusive and progressive and one

that leads to prosperity for all of us. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Congresswoman.


Let me get another voice here. 


Michael Steel, you worked for the Republican leadership.  You had all kinds

of deals inside your caucus. To begin with, you have the – you had the

Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party people that had a kind of veto.  We would

hear about how Boehner would come to the White House.  He gets in the car

to ride away having cut a deal with Obama.


Next thing you know, his chief of staff says, excuse me, that`s not going

to sell.




MATTHEWS:  So, how does – looking at the Democrats now in a similar

position, come riled, all kinds of excitement and optimism coming in, but

yet with a group of them that have very progressive goals that they want to

see achieved?


STEEL:  I would tell both the progressive members and the leadership in the

Democratic Caucus right now, enjoy the honeymoon.


This is…


MATTHEWS:  What would you say positive, besides sarcasm?  What would you

say positively?


STEEL:  About what they can do to…




STEEL:  Look, I think Speaker Pelosi is doing a great job getting the votes

to become the next speaker of the House. 


I think that the argument that Democrats couldn`t win with her as leader

got blown up by a 40-seat victory in the midterms.  And she`s going to have

a period of time when she`s going to be able to wield her caucus



But I think it`s going to be short.  There is an – there is a frustration

that comes with controlling one-half of one-third of the federal government

and the limits with what you can do with that.  And you can`t enact a

progressive agenda.  You can do oversight.  You can block Trump, but you

can`t enact an aggressive agenda that way.


MATTHEWS:  Well, let me try something that will start a little – a fight



Congresswoman, thank you, because you said something I completely believe

in, comprehensive immigration reform.  Let`s stop arguing.  Let`s be

Americans, and put a good American immigration plan together, and put it

into law and enforce it. 


But my question is, the Republicans, when they had a chance to vote on a

bipartisan measure coming out of the Senate back at five years ago, they

wouldn`t let it come to a vote, because the Republican Tea Partiers

wouldn`t let the speaker, who was a Republican, even bring it up, even

though it had majority support in both houses.


As progressives, will you push for votes, even when you disagree with it,

if they have majority support?


OMAR:  So, I mean, I think the difference is that we have a leader that has

been really effective in governing. 


And so we`re excited to know that we have someone who knows how things are

supposed to work, who knows the hard work that goes into building consensus

within your caucus, and someone who understands the kind of mandate that we

have to get real change instituted for all of us. 


So, I think the difference between the Tea Party coming in, in 2010  to

kind of be the obstructionists, and those of us coming in to bring about

hope, to bring about change, to work on behalf of Americans is a really big





OMAR:  And I think we`re going to see that going forth in this new class. 


MATTHEWS:  I hope you`re right.  And I hope we have Democratic will,

lowercase D, as well as uppercase D, that the majority wins, and we get

votes when a majority wants a vote. 


Thank you so much, Minnesota congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar, and, of

course, Michael Steel, who is here all the time.  Thank you. 


Up next:  How far is Trump willing to go, him, to protect himself and his

family from the Mueller investigation, how many pardons, how much



You`re watching HARDBALL. 






In fact, in addition to publicly acknowledging a pardon is on the table for

Paul Manafort today, President Trump is defending two other central to

special counsel – other central figures to the special counsel

investigation into possible collusion in the 2016 campaign, Jerome Corsi

and Roger Stone.


In his interview with the “New York Post” today, Trump argued the three

were being asked to lie by the special counsel, saying: “You know, this

flipping stuff is terrible.  You flip, and you lie, and you get – the

prosecutors will tell you – you get – 99 percent of the time, you get

people to flip.  It`s rare they can`t flip.


Well, Trump went on to add, I had three people, Manafort, Corsi, I don`t

know Corsi, but he refuses to say what they demanded.  Manafort, Corsi and

Roger Stone.  It`s actually very brave, he said of the trio, and I`m

telling you, this is McCarthyism. 


I`m joined by the HARDBALL roundtable tonight.  Ginger Gibson is chuckling,

a political correspondent for “Reuters”.  Corey Lewandowski, well, we know

him, the former chief political adviser of Trump`s 2016 campaign, and

author of the new book, “Trump`s Enemies,” its` coming out.  “How the Deep

State Undermining the Presidency” as we speak.  And Jason Johnson is

politics editor for 


All of you, I mean, what do we make of this? 



remember that Donald Trump has very keen political instincts that that he

is going to be figuring out what`s best looking at the election coming in



MATTHEWS:  Well, he always gets warm and fuzzy to the guys he want to keep,

Corey.  Like he was doing with Flynn, oh, we like him a lot over here, and

he`s doing it now with, of course, Manafort.  Of course, he`s doing it with

Roger Stone.  There`s a sweetheart. 




MATTHEWS:  And Jerome Corsi.  He always says nice things about guys he

doesn`t want to flip.


LEWANDOWSKI:  Well, look, let me say this – we talked to President Trump

in our book and we interviewed him saying, what did you think of the

Mueller investigation?  He said, it makes my base stronger, which I think

is true. 


He understands that many people who voted for Donald Trump think this is a

witch-hunt.  And so, him continuing to go after –


MATTHEWS:  Roger Stone knew weeks before the leak – WikiLeaks that Russian

hacks came out and they knew exactly by name who was going to be hit by it. 




LEWANDOWSKI:  Roger and Paul go (ph) back a long time together, Chris. 

They`ve been partners for 30 years.  Paul`s inside, Roger maybe joined him. 


MATTHEWS:  But you didn`t answer my question.  Why did Roger Stone the

Russian hacking was going to happen? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  It`s a great question.  If you go back –


MATTHEWS:  I`m asking you.  You were on the inside. 


LEWANDOWSKI:  I never talked to Roger Stone.  Luckily for me, I haven`t had

to talk to him. 


MATTHEWS:  You don`t have a Nixon tattoo on your back? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  No, I`m going to Trump one I think. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Jason, because I think that is the thing.  A lot of

this stuff gets murky.  But when you know about the break-in ahead of time,

you know exactly what the address is going to be, you know, who`s going to

have their desk ransacked, and you find out in modern cyber terms, you knew

it was going to be a hacking of John Podesta e-mail, and you knew it weeks

before.  That tells you you`re in on it? 


JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM:  Not only are you in on it but you promote

conspiracy theories that come from it like (INAUDIBLE) and things like

that, that lead to violence and sort of an undermining of our overall

system of elections.  I think this is all disgusting.  I think it`s all



Whether or not we`re going to eventually find out this is legally, whether

or not we`re going to find out that this goes all the way up to the

presidency is really what I think is most important to most voters.  Where

would he know there`s a bunch of guys who are circling around the

president, but we don`t know quite know –


MATTHEWS:  Corey, you said something.  Jill Wine-Banks is a real believer

in the law.  She`s not a political person.  She said the minute people find

out there`s inclusion with Russia, they`ll turn on him. 


LEWANDOWSKI:  Hold on.  Is this the one that used (ph) women intuition? 




MATTHEWS:  Don`t do that here.


But do you really believe – honestly, will the Trump voter will be turned

off with factual evidence of collusion with the Russians? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  Well, look, I was there.  I was there.  There was no



MATTHEWS:  Will they be turned off?  Will they be turned off by it? 

Speculate with me? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  Here`s what I think – I think Trump supporters are with

Trump because they know there was no collusion.  The other thing I know,

it`s very important –


MATTHEWS:  You`re walking around my question. 


LEWANDOWSKI:  It`s very important.  Roger Stone says one thing and does

something different.  When I call him out, he says what I said, I really

never did.  The guy is a serial liar.  You can`t believe a word that comes

out of his word.  He and Paul have been lying to each other for 30 years. 

Look, Manafort, Stone, and black (ph), right? 


MATTHEWS:  Anyone who turns against the president is a liar? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  No, not all of them.  Those two are clearly in that bucket. 


MATTHEWS:  The president you`re going to be in a barrel in a minute.


Anyway, the president took a time-out to retweet a Trump fan account this

morning.  The tweet came from the Trump train suggesting a number of

Democrats and current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials

should be tried for treason.  Among those pictured behind those bars,

President Obama, both Clintons, Robert Mueller, James Comey, and Deputy

Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 


Corey, why would the president put out a picture that shows all these

people of various walks of life but all prominent Americans as treasonous? 

Why would he do that?


LEWANDOWSKI:  I don`t know.  I don`t know who`s retweeting it.




MATTHEWS:  You know Trump.  You got a book called “Trump`s Enemies”.  You

know the guy.  You`re selling books about him, and you won`t tell me why he

would do that? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  Look, in that picture, there are some enemies of Trump.  The

guys who use their badges to spy on Americans on domestic soil because they

don`t like their political parties, Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, those guys

are enemies and there has to be accountability. 




MATTHEWS:  Why are they enemies of Trump?  What made them enemies?


LEWANDOWSKI:  What made them enemies were they used their badges as FBI

agents –


MATTHEWS:  Why?  What would be their motives against him?


LEWANDOWSKI:  Look, because they had an insurance policy to make sure

Donald Trump was never elected. 


MATTHEWS:  Oh, the Democrats? 




LEWANDOWSKI:  No, no.  They didn`t want Donald Trump –




JOHNSON:  So, basically, you`re saying these are the most idiotic

conspiracy theorists on the face of the planet because if they`re goal was

to stop the president from getting elected, they failed tremendously.  The

issue is the terminology and the visuals that this president puts out

endangers people, when he says that someone is an enemy of the country,

when he says that the press or the ex-president is an enemy of the country,

was trying to spy them through microwave, that leads to crazy people in

this country committing violence.  That`s why this is dangerous. 


It`s not just cute.  It`s not just people lying.  It endangers the sanctity

of this country and our elections and our integrity. 


LEWANDOWSKI:  Did Barack Obama know about Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI`s

plan to spy on American citizens on domestic soil through a faulty FISA

application?  The answer is he did.  We know that now.  We know the highest

levels of government knew that. 


Did they condone it?  I don`t know.  But they clearly know about it and

that should give pause to any American. 


MATTHEWS:  Spy on who?


LEWANDOWSKI:  On Carter Page, who was an American citizen, never been

charged but had a FISA application served on him, first FISA application

was denied by the FISA court. 


MATTHEWS:  He`s never denied working with the Russians.


JOHNSON:  Right.


LEWANDOWSKI:  He`s never been charged with a crime. 


MATTHEWS:  But he`s working with the Russians.  Shouldn`t we know he`s

working with the Russians?


JOHNSON:  Should we be concerned with that?


LEWANDOWSKI:  About Hillary Clinton working with the Russians on the

Uranium One deal?


GIBSON:  Donald Trump is winning if we`re arguing about whether or not

Hillary Clinton created treason.  This is about distraction, this is about

undermining the investigation, this is about preemptively undermining

anything that they find.  This is about getting us to debate these things

so that we – no one else is paying attention to the things they don`t want

to pay attention to. 




MATTHEWS:  Between Trump and his kids, what`s he`d decide?


LEWANDOWSKI:  I think he takes his children. 


MATTHEWS:  So, he`ll pardon them if he has to? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  I don`t think they`re accused of any crimes, but I think if

it were me, I would do anything I could to protect my children. 


MATTHEWS:  I think you`re right. We agree. 


The roundtable is sticking with us.


And next, Ivanka Trump is defending her use of private e-mail saying lock

her up doesn`t apply to Ivanka Trump.  Anyway, will congressional oversight

committees agree with that thought? 


You`re watching HARDBALL.







trusted.  We`ve learned that with America`s security.  You take a look at

her e-mail situation, can we trust her with our security? 


We are a nation of laws, and that we are all equal under those laws. 

Hillary`s corruption shreds the principle of which our nation was founded. 

If that were a Republican that did what she did with the e-mails, they

would have been in jail 12 months ago. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, you heard it all there, equal justice, we all should be

treated the same. 


Well, Donald Trump made Hillary Clinton`s untrustworthiness a central theme

of his 2016 campaign, criticizing her use of a personal e-mail account when

she was secretary of state. 


But as “The Washington Post” reported last week, his daughter, Trump`s

daughter Ivanka Trump is now facing similar criticism for using a personal

account, to send e-mails about government business. 


In an ABC interview today, Ivanka was asked about the similarities between

her e-mail use and Hillary Clinton`s.  Let`s watch. 




INTERVIEWER:  Your father had taken Hillary Clinton to task for this.  How

did you wind up in a similar situation? 


IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER:  Well, there really is no equivalency. 

There`s no prohibition from using private email as long as it`s archived,

and as long as there`s nothing in it that`s classified.


INTERVIEWER:  But your father hammered Hillary Clinton on this. 


TRUMP:  My e-mails have not been deleted, nor was there anything of

substance, nothing confidential that was within them.  So, there`s no

connection between the two things. 


INTERVIEWER:  So the idea of lock her up doesn`t apply to you? 


TRUMP:  No. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, we`re back with Ginger, Corey and Jason. 


I want to start with Jason. 


Do you see a parallel here in the lock her up world if you use outside e-

mails you are not a law-abiding citizen?  And, by the way, Trump laid it

out, all people should be treated the same I heard. 


JOHNSON:  Right.  This is just nonsense.  It`s a corrupt swamp of perpetual

liars and hypocrites who are in this White House. 


Look, lots of people use private e-mails in ways that they shouldn`t,

right?  Reince Priebus was doing this.  Bannon was doing this.  There are

questions as to whether or not the president has always has the most secure



Is it the same thing as Hillary Clinton?  No, because Ivanka is not

secretary of state.  But does she know everything she`s communicating over

e-mails isn`t necessarily something secure?  Isn`t something that we need

to be concerned about?  We don`t know that.  She can`t prove it one way or



And that`s why this is a problem.  This sort of laziness and dishonesty. 


MATTHEWS:  What do people do it?  Let me go to Corey on this.  Why do

people do this?  Why do they break the rules for their convenience when

they know they`re going to take a lot of hell of it?


LEWANDOWSKI:  I really think it`s a convenience factor.  Look, Ivanka Trump



MATTHEWS:  So, you break the law if convenient?


LEWANDOWSKI:  No, Ivanka Trump came into the government, unlike Hillary

Clinton who had been a creature of the government for 30-plus years, she

came into the government from the private sector and I`m sure she was

briefed on –


MATTHEWS:  She lived through this whole thing with Hillary. 


LEWANDOWSKI:  There`s a fine difference between having worked three months

government and 30 years in the government. 


MATTHEWS:  But she lived in the United States the whole time we talked

about Hillary e-mail. 


LEWANDOWSKI:  There`s also a very big difference case of having your own

server set up in someone else`s bathroom and using a dotcom account.-


MATTHEWS:  Are you allowed to speak against the Trumps? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  Of course, and I do all the time. 


MATTHEWS:  Give me an example. 


LEWANDOWSKI:  I have said so many times the mistakes of this administration

made were hiring the wrong people, they continue to hire the wrong people. 


MATTHEWS:  What`s the worst thing about Donald Trump? 


LEWANDOWSKI:  He works too hard. 


JOHNSON:  Oh, my goodness, gracious. 


MATTHEWS:  I`m talking like Joe Biden. 


JOHNSON:  On the golf course, maybe. 


MATTHEWS:  Your thoughts about e-mail comparison, e-mail used by Hillary

Clinton and that by Ivanka Trump, a White House staffer. 


GIBSON:  It`s clearly not the same – 


MATTHEWS:  For starters.


GIBSON:  For starters because she didn`t set up a server, like Hillary

Clinton did. 


But what is amazing is especially with a president who`s politically astute

and very careful about public perception that they didn`t think that any

use of public e-mail in this situation –


MATTHEWS:  Caesar`s wife, remember that one?  Caesar`s wife means be

careful because everybody`s watching.  You`re my daughter. 


GIBSON:  You have to know that even if you sent a “thank you” e-mail

accidentally on your Gmail, you`re at risk of that being criticized.  It`s

surprising that it`s sort of an own goal, they gave it up for no good



MATTHEWS:  I thought Hillary had a good reason for keeping that separate e-

mail and having a server.  It doesn`t ass, boy, muster or be kosher or

anything like that, whatever the phrase is, but I know why, she`s raising a

keeping a happy – a political army.  She was going to run for president

when she was secretary of state. 


She had to keep everybody`s promises and requests, and all this stuff,

keeping in touch with people.  Can you get my daughter into Stanford?  Can

you get this done?  All that stuff.  You know how this stuff – Corey, you

know this too.  It wasn`t easy. 


JOHNSON:  The issue is just the security part.  Yes, it`s not just an issue

of the own goal, but it`s the fact this administration doesn`t care.  When

they spend two years screaming about this, they don`t care that they`re

lying, that they could be endangering people.  And she`s not the only one

who`s done it.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, equal, equal, good for the goose, good for the



Thank you, Ginger Rogers – Ginger Rogers, I`m old, you know?  Anyway,

Corey Lewandowski, thank you.  Good luck on the book.  And Jason Johnson,

you`re great, Johnson. 


When we return, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch”.  It`s all about

him, he won`t like it. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  “Trump Watch”, November 28th, 2018.


The picture of Russian collusion is coming into focus now.  We are seeing

how Trump`s people, starting with Roger Stone, knew all about the Russian

hacking in the 2016 election ahead of time.  They knew it completely and

they knew it before it got released.  It`s as if the Nixon people weren`t

caught chatting about the Watergate break-in long before the break-in. 


And now, if it comes out that the Trump people were working hand in glove

with Moscow to flip the election, would that constitute evidence of capable

of winning Republican support for conviction?  We talked about that

tonight, would it move the GOP of the 21st century the way the smoking gun

tape moved the Republican forbearers to join the push for Richard Nixon`s

removal.  Would today`s Republicans even pay serious attention to evidence

of Trump`s people working with Moscow, would they stretch their

imaginations to picture what their verdict might be had it not been Donald

Trump but Hillary Rodham Clinton who had been caught working with the



It`s food for thought, isn`t it?  Because there will be a time when the

whole country will learn whether we are, in fact, one country or simply a

battling pair of tribes, each honoring its own truth, ignoring all else. 

That`s what I fear. 


That`s HARDBALL for now.


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 







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