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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 9/12/17 The case for Trump-Russia collusion

Guests: Rosie Gray, Astead Herndon, Rand Paul, Anne Applebaum, Eric Swalwell, Betsy Woodruff, Alice Hill, Susan Page, Erica Orden

Show: HARDBALL Date: September 12, 2017

Guest: Rosie Gray, Astead Herndon, Rand Paul, Anne Applebaum, Eric Swalwell, Betsy Woodruff, Alice Hill, Susan Page, Erica Orden

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The web tightens.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

There are new developments tonight in the Russian investigation.

But first, an update on that devastation and the cleanup from Hurricane Irma. The death toll in Florida has climbed to 12 as residents continue to survey the damage from the storm. The devastation in the Florida Keys is not fully known as access to all but the closest islands remains closed. Officials say a quarter of the homes in the Keys are destroyed. We`ll have an update in just a minute.

Now to the Russian probe and with a body of evidence that`s growing by the week, the investigation threatens to cast an all-enveloping net around the president`s advisers and associates. Now there`s a new sign the special counsel`s probe is honing in on the Trump campaign in the search for potential evidence of collusion with Russia.

The DailyBeast reports today the Trump campaign has began handing over documents over to Bob Mueller. It`s a development that suggests that a conclusion to the probe may not be all that near. Trump`s attorney, John Dowd, says the campaign is in total cooperation with Mueller on the matter.

While it`s still soon for Mueller to reveal any findings, Pulitzer Prize- winning columnist Anne Applebaum makes the case in "The Washington Post" that circumstantial evidence of Russian collusion with his campaign is already available, and direct evidence is getting very, very close.

Amid multiple new reports about the astounding reach of the Russian disinformation campaign on social media, Applebaum raises key questions that now confront Mueller. How did the Russians behind the fake American accounts know which real Americans would be most excited to read conspiracy theories on Facebook? How did Trump happen to use the same conspiracy theories that were proliferating on Russian media, both real and fake?

There`s also new evidence that leaders in Russia itself acknowledge, and even now take pride in, their campaign to subvert the U.S. election. Catch this. Speaking on a political panel over the weekend, a member of the Russian parliament, the Duma, boasted on live TV that Russian intelligence was more powerful than American intelligence in this case. According to "The Hill," he said that intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States.

I`m joined right now by a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize- winning author and columnist with "The Washington Post," and Betsy Woodruff is a reporter with the DailyBeast.

I want to start with Anne. Give us -- take a couple minutes. I`m really impressed by your column because it connects a lot of dots, a lot of points of light, to use the Bush term, that sort of puts it pretty clearly as an enveloping curtain, if you will, that does capture a lot of the argument that you would need to show collusion between Washington and Moscow.

ANNE APPLEBAUM, "WASHINGTON POST" COLUMNIST: Yes. Well, I think it`s fair to say that we now can see what a lot of the motives were on both sides. We know that it wasn`t just disruption in the U.S. There were groups of Russian oligarchs, businessmen who wanted to see sanctions overturned in the United States, and they sent a lawyer to discuss that. That was the lawyer, Veselnitskaya, who came to discuss with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner and Don, Junior, a few months ago.

We know the motives of the Trump campaign. We know now that Trump was actually negotiating to build -- building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the primaries and well into the campaign.

And I think with the latest social media evidence that you referred to, we now have a much more concrete conversation of something that I saw last summer and found mystifying, which is why was the Trump campaign using the same kind of language and the same kinds of conspiracies -- conspiracy theories that I could see on Russian media, everything from Obama founded ISIS to Google search engine is helping Hillary to Hillary will start World War III.

These are the kinds of things you could see on Russian media, on Sputnik, which is a Russian Web site, on RT, which is a Russian television station, and you could also see it on Russian language media, too. And now we know that there were actually fake Web sites owned by or founded by Russians which were propagating those ideas and which were also buying ads on Facebook to promote them.

There`s an example that came up in some of the evidence that was revealed. For example, a Web site called SecuredBorders, which was very focused on Idaho, which had 133,000 followers and was trying to organize anti- immigrant protests in Idaho. This was a Russian Web site using American language and trying to involve itself in American politics in a very concrete way.

Now, the question is, how did Russians know to target Idaho? How did they know which accounts to look for? And that`s I think the question that the Mueller campaign needs to -- the Mueller investigation needs to explore now.

MATTHEWS: What about spotters? I mean, I agree with you, it makes sense that they must have known how to embarrass the DNC by putting out all that hacked material. They knew how to embarrass Podesta, how to embarrass Palmieri about the religion stuff. We know those very interesting very little land mines that went off. They knew where to go to break up the land mines and ignite them. And we also knew the same thing with these ads. They knew where to run the ads where it would have the most impact.

But do we know they were Trump people as spotters? Could they have -- we know one thing, what always amazes me, how RT can always hire some American to do something. There`s always a lot of free-floating unemployed people out there that will go to work for RT, and I assume, based upon the sounds of the names, Sputnik, as well.

How do we know they`re Trump people that are these American spotters?

APPLEBAUM: Well, we don`t know that -- you know, we don`t know that yet. But it is fascinating how Infowars and Breitbart and RT and Sputnik were all saying many of the same things at the same time, and then Trump was repeating them.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but let me go -- let me go right now to -- what do you make of this now?

BETSY WOODRUFF, DAILYBEAST: It`s a really important development, particularly on the front of what these Russian actors were doing not just to push information that was fake, but actually to push Americans to take action during the campaign. DailyBeast has reported extensively on this...

MATTHEWS: These rallies...


WOODRUFF: DailyBeast has reported extensively on this SecuredBorders...


MATTHEWS: Did the people actually show up when they were told to?

WOODRUFF: In Idaho, there actually was a rally that Americans attended that Russian actors had been pushing on. That`s an extraordinary fact.

MATTHEWS: And they used Facebook methodology.

WOODRUFF: They used Facebook, and Facebook has confirmed to us that that - - that SecuredBorders paid for ads that is used as part of this campaign. They`ve confirmed -- Facebook knows this happened, and it`s just sort of fascinating.

MATTHEWS: I`m amazed. Congressman Swalwell, I think this piece of information keeps adding more and more information, but I am impressed by the -- by what`s going on here with the Russian Duma. When you have a member of the Duma bragging about how they influenced our election, it`s like when I heard recently, a couple months ago, that there`s a -- there was a Julius and Ethelberg (sic) high school over in communist (sic) Poland, I said, Well, maybe they knew something about spying that we weren`t sure of.

So in this case, you`ve got them bragging about how they screwed with our election. Are your Republican colleagues as in the know as the Russian Duma members are? Do they know what`s going on, or are they still denying it?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, look, first, we just need the president to accept...

MATTHEWS: Like Nunes -- Nunes. I don`t know what he`s up to, that guy. He looks like such a homer for the -- for the Trump crowd in the White House. First of all, he does that midnight ride of Paul Revere, shows up down at the Eisenhower building, grabs some stuff, then shows up at dawn the next morning in the West Wing saying, I got some hot stuff. He just got it from the same guy who then sends a staff guy over to work on your committee.

So one of these characters working at the White House has been dumped on your majority staff there. What do you make of that?

SWALWELL: Yes, so Chris...

MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s fair ball?

SWALWELL: Maybe because a Russian government official said it, the president will finally accept it. On our committee, I have not seen the acceptance that Russia interfered in our election and we have a responsibility to do something about it. And when you look at the eagerness and willingness of the Trump campaign to work with the Russians, we have more smoking guns than Bonnie and Clyde. We have that evidence that they were willing to work with the Russians.

The question is, did it materialize to a working relationship? But what I`m afraid of Chris, is nothing sharpens the knives of the Russians more for a future attack than disunity among our investigation. Nothing will strengthen our shield in a future attack than having a report that understands what Russia did, identifies who was responsible and makes reforms so it never happens again. We don`t have that right now.

MATTHEWS: Are you confident that your committee, the House Intelligence Committee, is going to break this case, crack it?

SWALWELL: It`s so troubling, Chris. It`s like watching your favorite football team complete a 20-yard pass, and the next play, you have a 10- yard sack. That`s what the obstructive behavior from the chairman does when he issues subpoenas without even working with us.

But we brought in a lot of witnesses in the last few weeks. We have a lot more this month. So I hope we get there. We need more yards than we lose, and so far...

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s...


SWALWELL: ... that means Trump and the chairman stand out of the way.

MATTHEWS: You make it sound like it`s mistakes, but I`m not sure it`s mistakes. I get the feeling your chairman is hiring...


MATTHEWS: ... some Trumpster from the White House to help quash this investigation. That`s what it looks like.

SWALWELL: And that...

MATTHEWS: Is that what`s going on here? Nunes -- is he working for the inside? Is he working for the defense here in this case?

SWALWELL: He`s being obstructive. I don`t know what his motives are, but it keeps us from being able to do our job.

MATTHEWS: What do you think his motives are?

SWALWELL: Well, he was on the transition team, and I hope -- he left the transition team to lead our Intelligence Committee. And right now, by having any staffer affiliated with the Trump White House, that threatens our independence. I hope the staffer can separate his prior work with the White House.

But again, our job is to report to the American people what we`re doing to make sure this never happens again and not to have an asterisk on our report.

MATTHEWS: Yes, what do you think it is, Betsy? Because I don`t think I see a lot of confidence there in the unified effort to get to the truth here. I see a lot of questions and hope that, somehow, these people who worked for Trump are now working for the committee, this guy, and that Nunes, who seems to be working for Trump, is somehow going to turn around and prosecute.

WOODRUFF: There`s obviously already significant skepticism about Nunes`s committee and the work that they`re doing...

MATTHEWS: He`s the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He`s the hope we have...


MATTHEWS: ... Mr. Swalwell just talked about hope. Our hope lies in a Trumpster to get Trump? I mean, that`s a pretty thin hope.

APPLEBAUM: I would point out this is why Bob Mueller`s special counsel probe is so important because there aren`t any alumnis (sic) of the Trump transition team working on it. This is why what we`ve reported today that you mentioned is so crucial, that the White House claims that they`re cooperating with Mueller`s probe and that they`re turning over documents in the process of still producing more information for Mueller. And it`s so important that Mueller has his own investigation, given...

MATTHEWS: I agree with you on that.


MATTHEWS: I have a lot more faith in Mueller than I do in the Hill.

Anyway, Trump not only spoke favorably about Russia amid their influence campaign, he also praised Wikileaks, the Web site that served as a conduit for Russian hacked material, discussing the circumstantial evidence of collusion. In an interview with ""USA Today," Hillary Clinton said Trump mentioned Wikileaks 160 times just in October last year before the election -- 160 -- she asked why. Why is he pumping up the importance of Wikileaks, which is working with the Russians?

Let`s take a look at some of those examples.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, did you see another one, another one came in today? This Wikileaks is like a treasure trove!

This Wikileaks is unbelievable, what we`ve learned about her and her people.

Oh, we love Wikileaks. Boy, they are really -- Wikileaks!

Boy that Wikileaks has done a job on her, hasn`t it?

I`ll tell you, this Wikileaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You got to read it.

Now this just came out. This just came out. Wikileaks! I love Wikileaks!


MATTHEWS: You know, I`ve got to go back -- got to go back to Anne Applebaum in putting this all together. You have a great ability as a columnist to do that. I want you to try to put together the fact that there you have Trump as a candidate basically trying to seduce Wikileaks, just wooing them on television, again and again saying how great they are, they work they`re doing in helping with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and all the rest, and basically saying, I want them to - - I wish somebody would give me -- over on the Russian side, give me some of that Hillary e-mail stuff.

I mean, he was openly not just flirting but attempting to seduce the Russians into helping him as they were helping him.

APPLEBAUM: Well, and let`s remember what Wikileaks did. Wikileaks leaked an enormous amount of information stolen by Russian hackers. You mentioned a few minutes ago the Russians bragging about this sort of stuff. Actually, Putin has made a couple of references. He said something about, Well, you know, there may have been some patriotic hackers who helped us out, you know, wink wink.

They`ve more of less conceded that these were Russians who hacked it, who handed it to Wikileaks and it was Wikileaks who leaked it. So yes, that was an open piece of collaboration.

And one more point. It`s worth remembering that this is something that the Russians know about. They`ve done it before. They`ve done -- they`ve used leaked material before to interrupt other election campaigns. They`ve used tapes.

They like using secret information because they`ve understood something psychologically important, which is that people will become fascinated by any secret information, any leaks, even if they`re banal. And let`s face it, most of the stuff that came from Hillary Clinton`s campaign was banal. It was, you know, garbage that anybody sends anybody during a campaign. But it was -- it was -- it was, you know, created into a million conspiracy theories, spun into pizzagate. This is something that Russians know how to do and have done before.

MATTHEWS: In fact, I go to that pizza joint quite often with my family, by the way. That was one bogus story!

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congress Eric Swalwell, sir...

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

MATTHEWS: ... Anne Applebaum, congratulations on all your awards, which you deserve them, deserve them for again for tonight. Thank you so much. Betsy Woodruff, thank you, as always. Great to have you on.

Coming up, new reporting that Trump`s legal team debated whether the president`s son-in-law -- you know, Jared Kushner -- you know, nepotism working here -- should step down. They`re wising up to the fact that he`s a problem because his connections to Russia made him legally vulnerable. Well, they tried to get rid of him. Trumpster says, No, that`s how nepotism works. You keep the guys on. Michael Flynn, good-bye! Paul Manafort, good-bye! But when it`s the son-in-law, Oh, keep him around.

Plus, "What Happened," Hillary Clinton`s book, is out today. It`s a question mark, "What Happened," and what why -- and about why she lost the 2016 election. And she wants to know why she`s such a lightning rod. This is the very human question she`s asking. Why do all these millions of people not like me? It`s all (ph) -- we`re going to talk about that, what she wrote. It`s a very profound and candid book.

And what do you make, by the way, of all the talk that President Trump is pivoting from the Republican to the Democrats to announce something of a coalition of some Democrats and a lot of Republicans on tax reform, which is really -- you know it`s tax cutting for the rich. Is he going to keep in this playing field, playing the field? The HARDBALL roundtable tackles that question.

Finally, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch." You`re going to like this if you question Trump. I`m not sure he`ll like it.

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. With the state of Florida out of harm`s way now, residents are now assessing the damage with the hope they can soon return to their daily lives. That won`t be easy for the many who saw the most devastating effects of Hurricane Irma, especially those in the Florida Keys.

According to "The New York Times," insurance estimates show that the cost of the storm could range between $20 billion to $50 billion. Governor Rick Scott said it`ll be a long road to recovery.

Even the city of Jacksonville, which was spared a direct hit, saw record flooding, the result of the storm surge and torrential rain. And in the Caribbean, the devastation`s even more widespread, with the Coast Guard and the Navy bringing much needed supplies to the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys.

For more on the storm, I`m joined now by Gadi Schwartz from Cudjoe Key, Florida.


GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC CORRESPONDENT: This is where Hurricane Irma first made landfall in the United States. And when it did, it packed winds so strong that it lifted this mobile home up over this fence, smashing it right here on the ground. And neighbors around here talk of seeing tornadoes as the hurricane`s eye passed.

You can see Hurricane Irma`s paths of destruction stretching all throughout the Florida Keys.

(voice-over): Tonight, in some parts of the Florida Keys, what was once a paradise now completely destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn`t see eight feet away, it was such a whiteout of water.

SCHWARTZ: In one family`s home, the clock stopped around 1:00, just hours after hurricane Irma made landfall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every door`s gone. The roof`s gone.

SCHWARTZ: Mobile homes tossed over fences and demolished. Here in Big Pine Key, some homes ripped off of their foundation while other homes completely flattened. Many of these neighborhoods ghost towns after residents evacuated, while those who braved the storm are just starting to check on the damage, some scavenging though debris to find gas, batteries and water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need water, food. We need gas.

SCHWARTZ: And in this stretch of highway linking some of America`s most famous sailing communities, broken boats litter the roads and the shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s not going to be any tourism down here for quite some time, which is going to make life tough. No way to make a living.

SCHWARTZ: Irma`s impacts are still crippling much of the southeast. In Jacksonville, it could take a week for historic floodwaters to recede. Today, the mayor praised first responders the for rescuing more than 350 people from rising waters.

LENNY CURRY, JACKSONVILLE MAYOR: What I saw on the ground yesterday was nothing short of what the definition of humanity should be all about.

SCHWARTZ: Streets in Charleston still flooded after four feet of water rushed into downtown. And in Georgia, at least two people were killed by falling trees from Irma`s ferocious winds. But there are some hopeful signs that normalcy is returning. The Miami and Ft. Lauderdale airports reopened today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got three flights, and so whichever one is going to be on time and that`s actually going to come through, I hope to be on.

SCHWARTZ: And in Miami Beach, bumper-to-bumper traffic as residents were allowed to return home for the first time. The road to recovery may be the longest here in the Florida Keys, but those who live here say they`re ready to rebuild.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to come back strong, everybody that lives here in this community. We will survive. We will survive this.

SCHWARTZ: Gadi Schwartz, NBC News, Cudjoe Key, Florida.


MATTHEWS: Thank you, NBC`s Gadi Schwartz in the Florida Keys.

For more on the recovery, I`m joined right now by Alice Hill, former special assistant to President Obama.

Look, once the water recedes, we have learned this from Katrina, Sandy, it`s hell to pay.


This is a long road to recovery. We have debris removal. We have people who need to find ways to get to work. We have homeless. We have very ill people who have lacked medical care. This will be a very difficult task for everyone. It will require all of the community to pitch in.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about housing, because people have one house, most people. They live in the house. And once the water goes back, they think can go back to their house. What usually happens?

HILL: I think there will be nasty surprises, particularly if the water enters the basement and then goes above the first floor.

The house may be a total loss. So, that`s looking at...


MATTHEWS: That`s because of molding -- mold?

HILL: Mold and structural damage.

And then sometimes we ask people to fill in their basements and raise the structures. That`s not usually very popular. So we see that there`s just enormous amounts of damage. There`s going to be roofs that are damaged, not safe to live in, and people will go home and there will be a tag on it saying they can`t come in.

MATTHEWS: Well, now we have probably a bipartisan belief that states` rights isn`t going to answer this question. It`s a federal and a national problem.

Is it your experience that, regardless of ideology, when people have a disaster like this, they`re ready to take the money from Washington?

HILL: That`s our experience. And unfortunately there`s often an expectation that there will be money from Washington, which means that we don`t see as much preparedness or mitigation of risk in advance of the event.

If we did better at building higher, building more soundly, we could save ourselves so much money in terms of the recovery. But that`s not the paradigm that we currently follow in the United States.

MATTHEWS: Well, people have histories with the places, like the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. They like to live there. They like the feel of the place, the family connections.

How do you get people to go from -- some people live in trailer parks. You`re not going to have a stronger trailer park. Right? These are -- mobile housing.

HILL: Well, we actually can have strong mobile homes.

And we do have structures. We have learned from prior events that our mobile homes can collapse very easily. So we do require stricter, stronger mobile homes. But you`re absolutely right. People want to rebuild exactly where they have lived. Their families are there. And that`s a huge challenge, when it`s too dangerous to live there anymore.


MATTHEWS: So, the weather could be pretty nice in some of the more dangerous areas.

Thank you so much, Alice Hill, for your expertise.

HILL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: We will be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In an interview of Susan Page of "USA Today," Hillary Clinton says she believes that Trump associates help Russia meddle in the 2016 election.

Clinton says that -- quote -- "There`s no doubt in my mind that the Trump campaign and other associates have worked really hard to hide their connections with Russians."

Asked point blank whether she thinks Trump`s associates colluded with Russia, Clinton says, "I`m convinced of it."

Well, this comes as Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner comes under renewed scrutiny. While Kushner has denied any collusion, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that early this summer, some in Trump`s legal team concluded that Kushner should step down from his White House job -- quote - - "Among their concerns was that Mr. Kushner was the adviser closest to the president who had the most dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople during the campaign and transition, some of which are being currently examined by federal investigators and congressional oversight panels."

However, "The Wall Street Journal" notes that Trump attorney John Dowd says he never agreed that Kushner should go. And Marc Kasowitz said he wasn`t aware of anyone recommending that Kushner should step down.

Ty Cobb, the president`s special counsel, called the story completely false. Well, he would, wouldn`t he?

Anyway, meantime, there are some questions about Kushner`s role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Here`s former White House strategist Steve Bannon.


CHARLIE ROSE, "60 MINUTES": It`s been reported that Jared Kushner was in favor of firing James Comey. Is that correct??

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I have -- you guys have -- they will have to find that out either through the media or through investigation. I don`t know.


MATTHEWS: Well, for more, I`m joined by Erica Orden of "The Wall Street Journal," who co-authored that reporting on Kushner, and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today."

I want to start with Susan. And we will go over to Erica.

Hillary Clinton, when you look deeply into her eyes like, what was it, Bush W. looked into Putin`s eyes -- I`m just kidding -- did you get a sense she really believes there was collusion? She`s a lawyer. She`s a smart lawyer. Does she think she`s got the case?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": She believes it was collusion. She doesn`t think the case is finally made, that it`s made to a legal standard, but she says there are too many coincidences, too many tangled threads and entanglements, to believe that there wasn`t collusion.

And she said some of the evidence has come out since she wrote the book, since she had to send in the book to be printed, like the targeting of Facebook, the weaponizing of e-mails. These are things she says indicate that there was coordination and communication with Trump associates.

MATTHEWS: Erica, to me, it goes beyond questions of Logan Act violations or taking some gift in kind from a foreign government or a conspiracy case. A lawyer could put together a RICO kind of charge.

To me, it`s about the Declaration of Independence, our founding document, and our Constitution, of course. If you get caught and found to have gotten the aid of a foreign government in winning an election in a significant way, which this could be, that to me gets to impeachment questions, because it`s not about breaking a law that anybody can break.

It`s only a presidential candidate can break that rule. You don`t take assistance from a foreign government in an independent country like ours that treasures its independence. You know? We declared it. We don`t anybody telling us who to elect or who to be in power here.

ERICA ORDEN, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, we may get to that point, of course, but there`s a long way to go before we get there.

MATTHEWS: Really? You don`t see Russian involvement in picking Trump?


MATTHEWS: They sure tried. They got a guy in the Duma today over there, the parliament, saying, we did it.

ORDEN: No, my point is that the Mueller investigation is going to come -- presumably will come first, and may come to some head before we get to...


MATTHEWS: OK, here`s my question about Jared Kushner. OK.

I don`t like nepotism. We have all learned through centuries and centuries of history, including the papacy, that you don`t hire your kid and call him your nephew. Your don`t hire your son-in-law, because you can`t fire him. He becomes a headless nail.

It didn`t bother Trump to fire Manafort from his campaign or to fire Flynn from the White House, because they weren`t kin. They weren`t kin. He will not fire Jared, not because he innocent. He doesn`t want to fire his daughter`s husband.

ORDEN: Well, that particular factor didn`t come up explicitly in our reporting.

But one of the issues that some of the lawyers were concerned by was the concern that Jared might speak to the president about the Russia probe without the presence of a lawyer.

MATTHEWS: How would that endanger the president?

ORDEN: It`s just something that would not be advisable for the president or for Jared -- or for Jared Kushner.

MATTHEWS: He`s not Typhoid Mary. If he did something wrong, he did something wrong. If he tells somebody he did something wrong, how does it make that person he tells he did something wrong incriminated?

ORDEN: It makes that person exposed to possible questions by the Mueller team.

MATTHEWS: So, the talk was that you`re able to report at "The Wall Street Journal," the discussion about getting rid of him as a staffer in the White House, a top staffer, was really not so much because they thought he was tainted, tainted goods, and may be going to jail, but because they`re afraid he might spread a conversation throughout the White House that then would require more witnessing?

ORDEN: Well, that was one of the concerns.

There were other concerns, including at the time this was raised by some of the president`s lawyers, they -- there were two meetings that were being examined by the Mueller team that concerned Kushner and Russian officials or Russian operatives.

And there was a third that the attorneys were aware of that had not yet become public, and that was the Trump Tower meeting.

MATTHEWS: Could you tell -- without giving into your sources -- or giving them away, although I always want to find them out, did you think there was a bias there by people that just didn`t like the cut of that guy`s jib, Kushner?

Some of these lawyers just wanted him out of there because they didn`t like him, or were people on the side that tended to like him and root for him?

ORDEN: Our reporting didn`t show any of that. So, I can`t say for sure, but...

MATTHEWS: It was purely professional.

ORDEN: I can`t say for sure, but this...

MATTHEWS: Because everything coming out of the White House seems to be bent in some direction by some group that either is a globalist or a Trumpite nationalist, and they seem to fight it out between the Bannon crowd and what was once the Reince Priebus crowd that is now not much left.

ORDEN: Well, there was certainly dispute even within the legal team about whether this should be recommended.

MATTHEWS: Well, they should have had a dispute way back when about whether to have a son-in-law work in the White House and a daughter working in the White House. It`s called nepotism.

Anyway, thank you, Erica. Thank you, Erica.


MATTHEWS: Great reporting by "The Wall Street Journal," as often is the case.

Susan Page is going to stick with us, because she had one wow interview with Hillary Clinton. I have been reading it on the paper today, "USA Today." She`s going to share it with us very personally. The book is called "What Happened." It`s a very well, I must say, published book. It looks like it`s going to sell a lot.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Hillary Clinton`s now tell-all book "What Happened" came out today. This is pub date, as they say. It`s her take on what wrong and what she wishes she had done differently during the 2016 election.

She writes that: "It`s fair to say there was a fundamental mismatch between how I approach politics and what a lot of the country wanted to hear in 2016. I have learned that even the best plans and proposals can land on deaf ears when people are disillusioned by a broken political system and disgusted with politicians. When people are angry and looking for someone to blame, they don`t want to hear your 10-point plan to create jobs and raise wages. They want you to be angry too."

She admits that: "I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people, millions and millions of people, decided they just didn`t like me. Imagine what that feels like. It hurts. And it`s a hard thing to accept. But there`s no getting around it."

In today`s briefing, by the way, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the book sad. Let`s watch her.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it`s sad that after Hillary Clinton ran one of the most negative campaigns in history and lost and the last chapter of her public life is going to be now defined by propping up book sales with false and reckless attacks.


MATTHEWS: Said out of anger or what? Sadness.

Anyway, I`m back with "USA Today" Washington bureau chief Susan Page, who interviewed Hillary Clinton yesterday about the book.

I find the book fascinating. I think it is very authentic so far, what I`m reading.

The thing that gets to me is a couple of things. Many times now, she says, I didn`t follow my instinct, whether it was turning around to the lug behind her when Trump was trolling after her like the Phantom, some strange character, and she said, maybe I should have turned around and confronted him, and then saying, maybe I should have confronted some other charges, like going after Comey or whatever.

Why did she abandon instinct all of those times, do you think? Does she have an understanding why she wasn`t instinctive?

PAGE: I think she`s always been a pretty cautious politician and not a risk-taking one. She`s never been a John McCain or a Lindsey Graham kind of politician who felt confident enough to say what they thought and then deal with the consequences if it made a mess.

She`s always been very carefully spoken, pretty cautious and calculating. And I did think the difference in this book, compared with her two previous memoirs, is that she is to a degree less calculating, more candid and pretty wounded still I think from the election.

MATTHEWS: Is she wounded by -- because no matter what you say in politics -- well, she got the most votes. She swept California. I`m saying, she swept New York. She won the popular, as everybody will always remember.

Is she at all angry -- I haven`t read the book yet, just pieces of it. Is she angry at the staff people, because, in the end, you pay these staff people a couple hundred a year sometimes, morning more, and you give them a good salary, usually by the month, a lot by the month. And you expect them to give you the lay of the land, what`s the mood out there, what`s working.

Every since Kennedy hired Lou Harris to be his pollster, they have pollsters. How come they didn`t pick it up? They didn`t pick up this resentment that is out there.

PAGE: There are two people she`s mad at.

She`s mad at Bernie Sanders, because she says his attacks on her for those Wall Street speeches in the primaries gave Trump a way to attack her as crooked Hillary. And she is especially angry at James Comey, because she basically blames Comey and that October 28 statement on finding new e-mails with costing her the election.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Bernie, because Bernie is not retired. Bernie Sanders, I think, could well run. I don`t care how old he is. He looks like he`s running now. He`s hitting all of the states. He`s moving around. He`s got his juice still. He`s still got it.

And she`s now -- you think she is out of the running? You think he`s basically decided, I have tried it, it`s over?

PAGE: She says, she told me: I`m not going to run for office again.

And this is not the book she would have written if she was going to run for office again. So, yes, I believe she`s not going to run for office again, but I do think that she wants to stay engaged in politics. And I do think that she`s going to be a critic of Bernie Sanders going forward.

MATTHEWS: Do you think she`s -- look, I have always thought she was a moderate. She`s too hawkish for me. She just is on that one issue.

But on other issues, I`m sort of back and forth on free trade sometimes. But I think she`s a free trader, a bit of a hawk, certainly a moderate, like her husband, like Bill Clinton. I think she was for NAFTA. We have got a long record here. People work hard and play by the rules, all that old Clinton sales pitch. I think she believes in that.

I don`t think she`s a lefty. Do you think she will stay in the ring as an advocate for a moderate Democrat candidate in 2020?

PAGE: Yes, I think she`s a pragmatist. Right?

And she`s also kind of the dutiful student. So, she wants your program to add up. She wants to have a 10-point program and she wants the budget numbers to add up.

And that is not the kind of campaign that tends to catch fire, that gets people all charged up. It`s not aspirational.


PAGE: And I think that`s one of the things that undid her when she was running against Bernie Sanders. That`s not to say that she`s not a progressive. I think she is. She is in many ways...

MATTHEWS: That word is pretty widely used now.

PAGE: But she`s a liberal on issues that come to civil rights and women`s rights and...

MATTHEWS: That`s true. I`m talking about economics, I guess.

You`re right. On the social issues, like abortion rights and things like that, choice rights and gay rights all the way to the latest concerns about transgender people and all that, I think she is very liberal on all that stuff. I think she is.

Susan Page, great reporting, as always, a really nice human thing from you about her.

Up next: President Trump reportedly raved about the great press he received after striking a deal with Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Will he continue to change partners and dance? That`s what he`s doing.

Whoever helps him get what he wants, Democrat, Republican, or some mix of that -- we`re going to get some clues about that. What`s he up to now? He`s no longer tied to the Republican Party, it looks like.

You`re watching HARDBALL.



On the heels of a successful bipartisan deal with Democrats, President Trump is continuing his outreach. Eager to keep the positive reviews coming in, President Trump is hosting a handful of Democrats from states he won at the White House for a dinner to discuss tax reform.

This includes Senator Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota. There they are on the map there. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Joe Donnelly, Notre Dame guy, from Indiana.

According to "Bloomberg News", the dinner detente is part of a larger White House strategy to get the president back on the offense. "Bloomberg" reports that the White House will target 13 states over the next seven weeks to sell the idea of tax overhaul as the administration tries to avoid repeating the communication failures of its attempt to repeal Obamacare. He`s going to travel to all those 13 states.

For more, I`m joined by the HARDBALL round table tonight. Rosie Gray, White House correspondent for "The Atlantic", Astead Herndon, national politics reporter for "The Boston Globe", and Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for "The Associated Press" and a political contributor for MSNBC.

Thank you all for joining us.

Right down the line here. Is Trump showing -- tell me what it shows you about Trump`s flexibility. He`s dancing with Chuck and Nancy, one dance. He gets something, the three-month extension without a lot of crap about debt ceiling. He gets government stay open.

He also gets help for Harvey, screws the Republicans side, makes Mitch McConnell angry and Paul Ryan angry. But he gets something done. And now, he`s apparently going to try to get a tax bill with the help of some Democrats.

ROSIE GRAY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPODENT, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think it`s important to sort of note that Donald Trump has not been a Republican his whole life. So, I don`t think he feels necessarily any sort of, you know, really fierce partisan loyalty. I think he`s definitely willing to make deals with Democrat to get something done that he wants to get done. And the fact of the matter is that on the Hill, he has not been able to get a lot done. So, anybody who can help him sort of get a win at this point I think he`s probably willing to work with.

MATTHEWS: So, he looks at Mitch McConnell and says you had your shot. You blew it. I`m working with the other side for a while.

ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, BOSTON GLOBE: It may not be that conscious. He may just be trying to throw stuff at the wall and tried to see what comes for a win. But this is a president that knows that people voted for him. They didn`t necessarily vote for the person who was just the Republican Party nominee.

And he knows that his base sees him as sometimes kind of separate from the Senate majority leader, from the House speaker and sometimes they don`t like those people and they thought that they were standing in the way of the president getting his agenda done. So, in that respect, he has the ability to be flexible.

MATTHEWS: But why did he blow his first wad if you will by going after Obamacare and the dumbest -- all he did is some sort of tackling dummy for the Democrats because the Republicans say we`ve got to get rid of Obamacare without any idea of how to replace it or repeal it or anything. And he played their game.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He did and there`s deep frustration.

MATTHEWS: He didn`t run on that issue that I thought of. He ran on trade and immigration and stupid wars. You know, the thing about Obamacare was on the side.

LEMIRE: He suggested that would be something that he would do. But there`s deep frustration in the White House at Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell that they started with health care. The president has told people close to him that he blames Ryan, suggesting this would have been an early easy win.


LEMIRE: And when the first House bill went down, the Trump feels like that was a blow to him. Trump is all about winning. That`s the whole idea. Remember, the campaign slogan was we`re going to win so much, you`re going to be tired of it.

And right out of the gate, he was handed a significant loss and he is --

MATTHEWS: When are they going to learn that of all of the complicated issues in American life, like war and peace, and social security and abortion rights, it`s the hardest, health care? It`s the hardest because everybody`s got health, everybody worries about it, everybody has got family, everybody thinks they`re getting screwed and they`re not getting what they want, and everybody want some kind of an edge. And therefore, look at what happened to Hillary and Bill Clinton, same thing.

LEMIRE: Right. And there`s regret in the White House that they didn`t perhaps tackle something like infrastructure first where they feel like they could have landed some bipartisan support.

MATTHEWS: Well, how come we all know that and Trump didn`t know that? Because everybody I know knows infrastructure was a seller.

HERNDON: I mean, there was a fear --

MATTHEWS: It`s a winner among Democrats and union guy, union women, they want these jobs.

HERNDON: There was a fear among the Democrats that he would come in and start with infrastructure and be sort of a transformative president. He came in and have a series of controversial divisive issues that emboldened the Democratic Party to stand against him. I think it`s important that we don`t go too far. We still have to see what the tax reform ends up being.

If he comes out with a plan that is still the tax cuts that not a large scale for him, that goes against what he was saying in the campaign and --

MATTHEWS: It can`t just be a rich man`s deal.


GRAY: Yes, I think that`s a really good point. I think that, you know, we`re -- we shouldn`t take this necessarily at face value that they`re going to get this big win on tax reform until we see what it`s actually going to look like and who signs on.

MATTHEWS: I`m always hopeful we can have a government that operates successfully anyway. Whatever happens, I like to see a tax bill that cleans up the system, reduces the loopholes, makes it easier to pay your taxes if you`re honest. Makes it easier to be honest.

The roundtable is sticking with us and up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL round table.

Rosie, tell me something I don`t know.

GRAY: Well, you referred earlier in the show to a story that I wrote yesterday about Derrick Harvey, a former NSC official who is joining the staff of the Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence chairman --

MATTHEWS: The homer from the White House.

GRAY: And something that you might not know about that is that he`s previously worked for Nunes in the past. So, I think that gives sort of --

MATTHEWS: Well, what side is he on? Is he on Trump`s side of this investigation? Is he fighting for the truth or trying to keep us from it?

GRAY: I think it`s still sort of unclear, you know, what kind of role --

MATTHEWS: Isn`t he the guy that sent Nunez on the midnight ride? I`m sorry, too much (INAUDIBLE)

Go ahead, Astead.

HERNDON: I was talking to a Trump biographer a couple of weeks ago and he told me that Trump, two years ago, unprompted told him, I don`t respect people because most people are not worthy of respect.

MATTHEWS: That`s cute.


LEMIRE: Tim Scott of South Carolina is the only African-American Republican senator. He was sharply critical of the president`s response to Charlottesville, suggested that if the president couldn`t be counted on to lead against the KKK, how could he lead this nation against our foes overseas?

Where is he going tomorrow? He`s going to the White House. He`s on a one- on-one meeting with the president. Charlottesville is sure to come up.

MATTHEWS: Hope he`d stay strong.

Thank you, Rosie Gray. Thank you, Astead Herndon and Jonathan Lemire.

Up next, Senator Rand Paul says Congress had abdicated its role when it comes to authorizing wars. So, what does he plan to do about that? We`ll ask him. I`m on this guy`s side on this issue. We got to authorize or not these wars?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.



SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared, and unconstitutional war.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky arguing for a vote on his amendment to end authorizations for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last night, he staged a protest on the floor of the Senate, vowing to do everything in his power to prevent the Senate from moving forward on their defense bill if they refuse to vote on reauthorizing these wars.

I`m joined right now by Senator Paul.

Why are you so alone out there, Senator?

PAUL: You know, I don`t know. I actually think there`s going to be a coming-together of right and left on this. I`m excited tonight to tell you and your viewers that I am going to get the vote.

I sat quietly last night because the rules say I could only speak for an hour, but I could sit quietly as long as I wanted. But in sitting quietly I was delaying them from their bill. So, we`ve negotiated a vote.

And so, tomorrow morning, for the first time in 15 years, we`re going to vote on whether we should be at war and where we should be at war. Now, I don`t believe I will win, but I think you will see the right and the left coming together on this. And saying, we should sunset the current authorizations, which most of us think don`t apply to any of the seven wars that we`re currently involved in, and have a new vote.

And this is a big deal because the Senate and Congress has been ignoring this for 15 years now.

MATTHEWS: How do the neocons and their allies continue to say that this is just like keeping troops, our American GIs in Germany, and keeping our GIs on the 38th parallel in Korea, when there`s no action there? Nobody was killed in Germany I think since 1945. The 38th parallel is a border we`re protecting. It`s not a hot war.

And yet they keep saying it`s just like that. But this is a hot war in Afghanistan. A hot war in Iraq. They keep making that dishonest comparison.

Your thoughts?

PAUL: You can`t pull any punches. You got it exactly right, it`s intellectually dishonest to say that when we voted to go to war against those who attacked us in 9/11, that that has anything to do with the war in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan.

None of the seven wars that we`re involved with now have anything to do with 9/11. They have nothing to do with Saddam Hussein. And so, it`s just intellectually dishonest.

But it`s even worse than that. If you`ll talk to the hardcore neoconservatives, if we were to vote to get rid of the use of force, you know what they would tell you? They would say that the president has inherent powers under Article II of the Constitution to commit war anywhere, anytime that he or she wishes. And that I have a real problem with.

So, there`s a great divide in our country. But I`m with the Founding Fathers who really wanted to circumscribe the ability to go to war and they wanted to make it difficult to go to war.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re the real conservative. Thank you so much, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

PAUL: Thanks, Chris (ph).

MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with tonight with Trump Watch. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Tuesday, September 12th, 2017.

I keep wondering, did Trump`s huge cadre of lawyers see the net that`s now enveloping their clients, including client number one? Do they see the multiplying points of light showing the route between Moscow and Washington and back again? Do they see the growing list of ways in which the Russians tried to screw our elections toward Trump and how Trump and his motley crew had their hands and mouths ready to blow kisses to the Kremlin?

Or here`s -- another possibility -- that each regiment of lawyers, one for the campaign, one for the transition, one for presidency itself, another outfit for Trump himself, another squadron of lawyers defending Jared, still another for Donald Jr., not to mention the teams of attorneys looking out for the Moscow-prone Paul Manafort, for Michael Flynn, for Roger Stone, Carter Page, for Vice President Mike Pence. That these hundred of lawyers are each seeing only their client`s spot on the battlefield, that they don`t see the forest because they`re so busy protecting their own tree. That they don`t see how the whole matrix screams togetherness and the helping hand reaching out from the Kremlin wall, the receiving hand grabbing whatever is being offered from Trump Tower.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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