Team Trump disavows Papadopoulos Transcript 10/31/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Susan Page, Jonathan Swan

Show: HARDBALL Date: November 1, 2017 Guest: Susan Page, Jonathan Swan

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We appreciate everyone watching tonight. That is it for "The Beat." I`ll see you back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "Hardball" starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, "HARDBALL" HOST: Witness for the prosecution. Let`s play "Hardball."

Good evening. I`m Chris Mathews up in New York. Threatened by an escalating Russian probe that`s now bearing down on the White House itself, President Trump has disavowed George Papadopoulos, the campaign foreign policy adviser who Trump once called an excellent guy.

Now that Papadopoulos is a proactive cooperator in the special counsel`s investigation, the message from the White House and Trump`s allies is we hardly knew him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREY LEWANDOSKI, AMERICAN POLITICAL OPERATIVE: He was not a person who was involved with the day-to-day operations of the campaign or a person I recall interacting with on a regular basis at all.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was a campaign volunteer. He wasn`t somebody that was a senior adviser as many of you want to bill him to be. He was somebody that played a minimal role if one at all, and was part of a voluntary advisory board.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I never heard of Papadopoulos. He never showed up at Trump Tower. Never had any interaction with any of the campaign leaders around me. The guy was -- he was the coffee boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the bigger question should be looming over the president right now is who in his circle knew what Papadopoulos was up to? We know that Papadopoulos revealed to Mueller`s investigators that he had long planned to arrange a meeting in Russia between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

NBC News is reporting that Papadopoulos` superior, former Trump campaign co-chair, Sam Clovis, testified before a federal grand jury last week. And now, Clovis` attorney appears to be denying a key part of what Papadopoulos revealed to investigators, "That our client encouraged a trip to Russia on behalf of the campaign. Dr. Clovis always vigorously opposed any Russian trip for Donald Trump or staff."

But the lawyer added the caveat that, "If someone posed foreign travel in a personal capacity, Dr. Clovis would have no authority to prohibit such travel." That is lawyer talk.

As we learned on Monday, documents unsealed after Clovis testified appeared to show that Clovis did encourage such a meeting as he told Papadopoulos, "I would encourage you to make the trip if it is feasible." Meanwhile, Mueller is creeping closer to the White House itself.

"Politico" reports his investigators are scheduled to interview Trump`s close aide, Hope Hicks, later this month, as well as three or four other current White House officials as early as this week. By now, there`s no question that they are aware of the consequences of making false statements to investigators.

I`m joined right now by Nicolle Wallace, host of "Deadline White House" on MSNBC, Joy Reid, host of "AM Joy" on MSNBC, Carrie Cordero is a former senior associate general counsel with the office of Director of National Intelligence. And also with us is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Blumenthal, are they threatening him, Senator, with a perjury charge that if he -- he already said something that wasn`t quite accurate. They got them down, they pled bargained, the guy down to one -- well, some zero time to six months. That doesn`t seem like throwing the book at the guy. It looks to me like they scared him into a deal. Your thoughts?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEEE: They have reduced multiple counts of false statements, each punishable by five years in prison, to a single count of a maximum exposure of less than six months, and obviously, the potential of probation if he continues to cooperate but only if he`s truthful and only if he really gives them results. And that`s why clearly what they`re doing is climbing the ladder of culpability in that campaign from Papadopoulos to the campaign supervisor.

And there are multiple contacts in that document with the campaign supervisor and then with the campaign senior adviser. And if you look at that table where Donald Trump is at the one end and Jeff Sessions is at the other, you know that campaign supervisor could well reach high into the campaign apparatus.

MATTHEWS: Now, they`re all denying it. So, let`s go to the Sam Clovis, who apparently was the next rung up on the ladder from Papadopoulos. So he is denying a lot of this.

But one thing he is particularly denying is -- his lawyer is denying rather that he had anything to do with encouraging Papadopoulos to go to Russia by saying, well, if he wanted to go on his own I couldn`t stop him. Well, that is lawyer talk. Nobody said you couldn`t stop him.

But, who is going to go to Russia on their own dime on campaign business? It seemed to me a very clever way of avoiding, yes, he did encourage him to go. Your answers, Senator?

BLUMENTHAL: That statement of offense, the plea document is a remarkable tableau. A chilling story of the collusion that Russia was seeking to arrange and the multiple contacts that took place in March and April of 2016. To say it would have been a private, unauthorized trip simply fails to pass the smell test.

And what`s really happening here is the special counsel is saying to all of the potential witnesses, the train is leaving, this plea occurred on October 5th. It was unsealed only recently. There is more to come.

Now is the time to follow Papadopoulos and cooperate, not Manafort, and confront us and face this multiple-count indictment with very heavy potential imprisonment. And I would predict we`ll see more actions soon, more indictments, and possible plea agreements.

MATTHEWS: Carrie, let me ask you about this violation of the law. Maybe it`s not always enforced but there`s something called the Logan Act. You get the word on a campaign, these Russians want to meet to give us some dirt, to work out something in terms of U.S. foreign policy, I assume.

They want somebody from the campaign to come over to Russia. They want to meet and discuss this whole aspect if you might be the next president, therefore, we`ve got to talk about this. And what we have to talk about is helping you get that job as president. It just seems to be creepily illegal, is it, what we`re hearing here?

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL OFFICE OF THE DIR. OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, you know, what`s amazing to me as someone who served on another campaign`s advisory committee on foreign policy and national security is that nobody in this who was receiving these different e-mails from Papadopoulos seemed to understand Russia as a threat as it`s understood by the rest of the intelligence community and national security community. Russia -- the director of National Intelligence has put out reports that indicate that Russia is a military, diplomatic, cybersecurity, economic threat to the United States.

And so, what`s in the Papadopoulos plea is just one snapshot of one person`s explanation of the various e-mails and communications that were trying to be set up with representatives of the Russian government. But there is more to what Papadopoulos knows that is probably not in that plea agreement that the special counsel`s office knows and the special counsel`s office is now going to look at what all the other individuals in the campaign knew about these potential meetings and coordinations that took place.

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Blumenthal, I just mentioned we also learned this week that in a meeting with Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions in March of 2016, Papadopoulos said that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin himself, which Padopoulos later tried to arrange. Well, today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she doesn`t believe the president remember -- well, this is an interesting statement -- she doesn`t believe, she doesn`t believe. Whatever she believes was what the president tells her, that the president remembers.

So, how does she know? And she thinks the president remembers, he -- that`s what he tells her, he wants to say he believes or whatever. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does the president recall at the March 31st, 2016 meeting of his National Security Advisory Board Mr. Papadopoulos suggesting the meeting between then-candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin? Does he recall that?

SANDERS: No, I don`t believe he does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, and Nicolle, pictures worth a thousand words and we`re looking at this interesting picture of what looks to be almost a Roosevelt room meeting, but it`s obviously some of the campaign room. We have got this young fella, Papadopoulos, sitting of to the left between Sessions at one end of the table and the candidate for president at the other end. And he has been denied, his very existence is being denied now.

We`re hearing from Sessions now for months there was no meeting about Russia ever. There was no connection with Russia, blah, blah, blah. We heard all that. And from Trump now through Huckabee Sanders we`re hearing he doesn`t -- according to her, she believes, she believes what she is told to believe, of course, she has to represent the president.

She believes that the president believes or says he believes that he forgot that this guy ever exists. They are going into operation separation. It`s like caster`s last stand. Divide the column and somehow we`ll survive. That seems to be their strategy, scatter.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR, DEADLINE WHITEHOUSE: Well, and it`s one we`ve seen before. He branded Jeb Bush, low energy, Jebbie. Branded Marco Rubio little Marco.

They decided to brand George Papadopoulos once they learned he`d pled guilty and have been cooperating with Bob Mueller`s investigator since at least July, low-level George. But that doesn`t -- they`re not involved in a political campaign anymore. This is definitely not a branding exercise. And Bob Mueller is impervious and indifferent to Donald Trump`s smears for his aides.

And so, I think they`ve just entered a phase where they may successfully convince the 32% of the country that will be with Donald Trump till the end of whatever this is, that George Papadopoulos was a low-level aide and doesn`t matter. And that may have been their goal. I don`t know. But they -- what they say about George Papadopoulos will have no bearing on what Bob Mueller already learned from him, what he may continue to learn from him as Bob Mueller now questions other aides that may have been around the campaign, that may have come into contact with other since Donald Trump was sworn in.

So they`re entering a phase, as you pointed out at the beginning, where everyone who goes in and answers questions from the FBI, from Bob Mueller`s investigators, must tell the truth or they could face perjury charges.

MATTHEWS: You know, you`re an inside politically, and I was there too, maybe not as high as you were, Nicolle. You were pretty high. But I just -- first of all I want to go back to something that so ethnic, it sounds awful but I`ll stick to it. I never met a Russian in politics in 50 years.

WALLACE: Me either.

MATTHEWS: -- floating in and out of the office. You know, like they`re just around at the convention talking about the Ukraine plank and the platform. Bob Mueller --Manafort was working for the Russians carter page. Well, of course he is working for the Russians.

Flynn is having dinner with Vladimir Putin. I mean, give me a break. This Russian, Russo files.

But the second point one is another you can connect. If you heard in a campaign when you`re downhill, they weren`t going to beat Hillary, last May or June, whatever. They weren`t going be hard.

She was -- got it made, of course. Then he hear that there somebody over in Russia that`s got some little tinker toy information that might be used against terror, they might turn the tide. Wouldn`t` you know about it if it came up at the table? Wouldn`t you ever forget it if it came up at the table you`re sitting at and we saw him sitting there with the candidate? He brings up Russia go, that`s something I won`t forget. They`ve got her e-mails, they got whatever they used. All they want is somebody to come over and pick up the junk.

Come over and get it. That`s all they want. And you wouldn`t remember that conversation?

WALLACE: Well, of course you would remember it. And of course you would pass it on. I mean if we know one thing about Donald Trump`s campaign, I mean, it was good enough that they figured out how to win, but it was small enough that they certainly all knew each other.

So this idea that he was some low-level coffee boy is not only insulting and rude and, frankly, stupid. He is now cooperating with federal investigators, talking about everything he saw and heard on the campaign. So calling him low-level, calling him a coffee boy, is not going to help them now.

And the idea, you know, they never forget meetings with anyone from any other country. They have had so many contacts with so many Russians, they all either lie about it, forget about it or, you know, have to turn state`s evidence to talk about it.

MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump talked to the "New York Times" tonight by phone late today. And he said, I`m not under investigation, as you know. And when it comes to the Manafort indictment, the President said, and even if you look at that there is not even a mention of Trump in there. It has nothing to do with us.

Joy, what do you think of the flakry (ph) that`s going on here? All the way down from the President -- this Bagdad-Bob approach? There was no Russian involvement, there was no flirtation from our side with them. There were no meetings.

Jeff Sessions got the memo there were no meetings. We never met with anybody. There are line -- this outer line of defense, the outer redoubt, the perimeter, is so far out there that they look like they`re lying from day one because it`s never proven to be correct.

They`ve had relations. The Russians are out to change the election. It`s all in the paper. It`s all news now. It`s not an argument.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "I AM JOY": Yes.

MATTHEWS: What are they up to with the all-out stone walling? As we call in Water Gates.

REID: Well, and I even worked in that. If there was any collusion with Hillary Clinton, it was colluded with the Russia --

MATTHEWS: You`re doing their handiwork.

REID: -- you know what interesting is you have to go back and you have to think about where Donald Trump was in March of 2016 when George Papadopoulos gets brought on to the campaign. When Sam Clovis, who is now in the spotlight as well, assembles Donald Trump`s foreign policy advisory committee. Why did he do that?

I have worked on campaigns and I can tell you, every single person on that committee, no is not going to be interacting with Corey Lewandowski, who is the campaign manager. What that committee`s job is, is to put together a foreign policy platform, put them the speech writers and the policy people and the campaign people can take out to show that this is a serious candidate for President. In March of 2016 nobody thought Donald Trump was a serious potential President.

He was seen as somebody with obviously no political experience, no foreign policy experience, just a guy from "The Apprentice" who was a joke even to Republicans. And the idea that he could be a serious person on foreign policy is something that really bothered Donald Trump. And so he was proactively trying to demonstrate that he would have a policy platform, and a policy platform.

What did the platform constantly involve? Better relationships with Russia, changing our attitude toward Russia versus the Ukraine. What were all of these people who were advisers towards sitting on Sam Clovis` committee, which included Jeff Sessions by the way. Jeff Session was sort of the big man on the committee. Sam Clovis put it together. They`re trying to show their worth. That`s what you doing.

MATTHEWS: And who are they working for? The Russians or Trump?

REID: They`re working to try to show that they can bring Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin together.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: That they create a Trump-Putin axis, because that is what Donald Trump is bringing to the table.

Every single scandal related to Russia has to do with two things. People trying to demonstrate that they can get Trump and Putin in the same room and people trying to show they can find the 33,000 e-mails. And that Russia has them, I`m going to go get them and show my worth.

That`s Trump`s problem. All the people ensnared in Russia-Gate were trying to do one of those two things.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So with the way to get ahead in the campaign was to put -- to get these two people together. Now they went to get ahead and the legal community is to spend your efforts proving they had nothing to do with each other.

REID: Exactly. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Nicolle, did you say something?

WALLACE: No. I mean, I agree with Joy. And I think that this idea that Donald Trump was a blank slate on national security and foreign policy is true with the exception of Russia.

REID: Right.

WALLACE: He had really strong instincts. He had really strong feelings about the way Putin ran his own country, about the things he liked and about his desire. And he was -- he had fights with our colleague Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. He defended Vladimir Putin when they said he is a killer. He kills journalists he said, well we kill people too.

So for a guy who was a blank slate who really didn`t know much about national security and foreign policy, he knew he liked Vladimir Putin.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s when sound like Michael Cariane (ph), who says, we don`t kill anyway. Anyway, by the way, I remember a president who said they could see into Putin`s soul, all the way in there. And I forget who that was.

WALLACE: But the policies did not look anything like this President.

MATTHEWS: Fair enough. Nicolle Wallace, thank you, Joy Reid, Carrie Cordero and Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you sir, always for coming on.

Coming up, President Trump began the morning after the Manhattan terror attack with a tweet storm. Wasn`t that appropriate? Well, did he bring the country together? Not exactly. His plenty went after Chuck Schumer and the leader of the Democrats and all the Democrats blamed everybody for everything. The instant politicization of what happened yesterday in New York is start contrast to President`s reaction to deadly shooting massacre in Las Vegas one month ago.

Plus, with the election for Virginia governor just one week out now, White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly dives into the culture war. Is that where he wanted to go? Resurrecting the debate over the confederate monuments and arguing that a lack of compromise was that what it was, led to the civil war. Went to a lot of compromises before that war?

And new reports tonight about the toll the Mueller investigation is taking inside the White House. Former Trump Aides is now fear the investigation, poses an existential threat to the Trump presidency. And he really do. And some are urging Trump to step up attacks on the man bearing the bad news, that`s the special prosecutor himself.

But let me finish with what`s called in politics a comparison ad. This is "Hardball," where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Former first lady, Michelle Obama today criticized President Donald Trump though not by name. Speaking at an event in Chicago early today, Mrs. Obama argued that people shouldn`t share their every thought on social media. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FMR. FIRST LADY: These whole tell it like it is business, that`s nonsense. You know, you don`t just say what`s on your mind, you don`t tweet every thought. Most of your first, initial thoughts -- are not worthy of the light of day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

OBAMA: And I`m not talking about anybody in particular. I am talking about us all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s been over 24 hours since a 29-year-old man drove a rental truck into a pedestrian bike path along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 12 in the deadliest terror attack on the city since 9/11.

Tonight, we`re learning more about Sayfullo Saipov, who has been charged with supporting support to ISIS and violence and destruction of motor vehicles. Saipov is a legal immigrant who moved to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010.

According to U.S. officials, Saipov planned to continue his attack yesterday near the Brooklyn Bridge.

New York Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller told reporters that the assailant perpetrated the attack on behalf of ISIS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: It appears that Mr. Saipov had been planning this for a number of weeks. He did this in the name of ISIS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, earlier today, President Trump blamed the attack in part on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, tweeting: "The terrorist came into our country through what`s called the diversity visa lottery program, a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit-based. We are fighting hard for merit- based immigration. No more Democrat lottery systems. We must get much tougher and smarter."

Well, the president was apparently reacting to a news story of sorts he saw on "FOX & Friends." At issue IS the diversity immigrant visa program, commonly known as the green card lottery, which is designed to increase the number of immigrants into the United States from countries that have a low U.S. immigration rate.

It was a bipartisan bill actually signed into law by the first President Bush.

Well, the president`s political attack so soon after a terror attack got a swift pushback from Chuck Schumer and a few of his Republican colleagues. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The president ought to stop tweeting and start leading. The American people long for leadership, not divisiveness, not finger-pointing, not name-calling.

This is a tragedy. It`s less than a day than -- after it occurred, and he can`t refrain from his nasty, divisive habits.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don`t know that they bring out the best in our country.

QUESTION: Is it too soon to go after Senator Chuck Schumer?

CORKER: I don`t know that`s the way you bring out the best in our country. But everybody has their ways, I guess.

QUESTION: What would you have liked to seen the president do after, instead of that tweeting and Schumer?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, I mean, shoot, express some solidarity with those who are trying to fix this program, or fix the situation. We shouldn`t look for blame one day after like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Christine Quinn, vice chair of the Democratic State Committee up here in New York and former NYC Council speaker here in New York City, and former Republican Congressman from Florida Dave Jolly.

Congressman, let me ask you about this, this impulse to go after immigration law.

DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Right after Las Vegas and that horrible shooting out there last month, early last month, the conservatives said, you know, we shouldn`t be talking politics and gun control after such a horrible tragedy. Let`s give it time.

And here the president is within hours blaming some law that was passed under bipartisan support back in the `90s, early `90s, and saying we should blame Chuck Schumer.

What do you make of the politics? We`re talking about immigration politics before we even know what happened or even the motive necessarily of this guy.

JOLLY: Sure.

And, as you said, a law that also got the vote of Mitch McConnell and signed by Bush 41. Look, it`s obvious that the president and Republicans and conservatives chose to stay silent after Las Vegas because it confronted and challenged the conservative narrative of unfettered access to firearms.

And in this case, in New York, it actually confirms the conservative narrative that somehow all of these national tragedies are a result of immigrants who come here and commit these atrocities.

Look, we can`t overlook with this president that, in Vegas, it was a man born in the United States with white skin, and, in New York, it was a man born overseas with brown skin.

The question is, are these statements by the president and reactions, are they an intentional manipulation of today`s politics, or is there an innate and intrinsic bias within this president that does not allow him to confront of public policy-making in the wake of national tragedy?

MATTHEWS: Christine, I have known you a bit. I must say that -- I know you are a Democrat and a liberal and all those good things, but let me ask you about the simple human thing here.

Instead of calling out public officials, like you were in New York City, and saying, let`s get together and see what we can learn about this thing, what can we avoid maybe the next time, have a better chance of avoiding -- you can`t avoid every hell that comes your way -- he calls them out.

CHRISTINE QUINN (D), FORMER NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t call them up. He calls them out.

The politics, the mannerisms of this president are always look for the partisan divide, and, if you can, if you are really lucky, look for an ethnic divide. If you can break it along racial, ethnic background lines, it`s a winner for Donald Trump.

QUINN: Absolutely.

And it`s -- it`s always wrong, but in the face of what happened yesterday, it`s actually cruel to America. I mean, Chris, yesterday this bikeway/walkway where eight people were killed -- and thank God not more because of a New York City police officer -- it`s a stone`s throw from where the original World Trade towers were taken down, a stone`s throw from where 3,000 people died, and, tragically, thousands of those people are still -- that`s their final resting place.

We had Hillary Clinton say when she went down to Ground Zero it was like walking through the gates of hell, a Democrat. We had President George W. Bush come and famously stand with firefighters. We needed that in New York. We needed to know that the entire country, all parties, wrapped their arms around us and stood with us.

And we needed that yesterday. And Las Vegas needed that. And, tragically, other cities where this might -- I pray not -- happen, that`s what we need.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

QUINN: Because at moments of death and fear -- and, look, people are afraid. We need people to stand up and say, it`s going to be OK because we have locked our arms.

Now, I know, Chris, in New York, we have locked our arms, and we will push on, but we shouldn`t have to push on in spite of the president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, the bad guy couldn`t stop Halloween in New York last night...

QUINN: That`s -- and he never will.

MATTHEWS: ... which I will say is great.

Congressman, I like political deals when they`re up front and they`re clean. I remember, after 9/11...

JOLLY: Sure.

MATTHEWS: ... I don`t want to even think about people standing on the roof of that building and having to jump to avoid being burned alive. It`s just one of the horrors of human history, I think.

JOLLY: Sure.

MATTHEWS: And -- but after it, two politicians stood next to each other.

W. -- I am not a big fan of W. I thought that war with Iran was irrelevant and awful. But he did stand next to Senator Schumer, a real Democrat deal- maker. And he said, what do you need? And he said, I need $20 billion. He said, you got it.

JOLLY: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And I think that was the way, briskly and professionally, two pols that knew what they were doing and were doing their job did them.

What do you make of this president and how he deals with everything, whether it`s...

JOLLY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It just seems like he always looks for the statues issue. He`s back in there again with his chief of staff looking for North-South, blue/gray fighting again.

JOLLY: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Trying to reignite the -- reenact -- I don`t mind reenactors, but he`s trying to reignite the Civil War.

JOLLY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of your fellow Republican?

JOLLY: Chris, I was a Hill staffer, like you.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JOLLY: And, after 9/11, my boss was chairman of the Appropriations Committee from Florida, a Republican, who said to Hillary Clinton, we are all New Yorkers now. A lot of people said that.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JOLLY: And we worked together on that.

And you raise a good point about, what about other Republicans? because this is not just about Donald Trump. The silence of Republicans after Las Vegas is deafening, as they say.

Sarah Sanders today said, listen, Trump was just trying to look out for the safety of the American people by speaking out about this immigration policy. But yet he never spoke to the issue of firearms and what is a reasonable compromise between the parties after Las Vegas.

And so this is more than just Donald Trump. This is a party who is happy to look the other way when it is domestic homegrown terror, whether it`s somebody doing it in the name of ISIS or somebody doing it because they wound over 500 people in Las Vegas.

But when it fits their narrative to be xenophobic and to create this fear, to create this binary choice for Donald Trump between the red-blooded Americans that support him and those who represent diversity of the United States, this president will exploit that every time. And Republicans in Congress go along with him. And it`s shameful.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s going to kill the brand.

Your thoughts, Christine? Last thought to you, Madam Speaker, Madam Speaker.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

QUINN: The congress member is right.

This president, and the Republican Party, and we see again only Flake and Corker speaking out. They make it about them vs. us, who did us wrong, how can we get them, when it just should be all of us together in moments like this.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

QUINN: And forget our parties. Forget where we came from. We should be Americans.

And somehow, the -- sadly, the president of the United States either never knew that, forgot it, or doesn`t care.

MATTHEWS: You know, a lot of Islamic people died for this country. Go to Arlington Cemetery over there at the vaults where they are buried in. Check it out. They`re not all crosses. They`re not all Stars of David. They`re not all.

Anyway, thank you, Christine Quinn and former Congressman David Jolly.

Up next: With less than a week to go in the Virginia governor`s race, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly finds himself, puts himself in the middle of another white-hot debate, this time over the statues of the Confederate generals.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger with breaking news.

The man who plowed a rented truck into pedestrians in Lower Manhattan has been charged with one count of material support to a terrorist organization and a count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle.

Sayfullo Saipov says he was inspired by ISIS videos he watched on his cell phone and plotted the attack for weeks. Eight people were killed. A dozen more were injured.

The New York City police officer who shot Saipov is being called a hero. Twenty-eight-year-old officer Ryan Nash opened fire after Saipov ignored commands to surrender, hitting him in the abdomen. In a brief on-camera statement, Nash thanked family and friends for their support -- back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, history is history.

And there are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good. I think -- I think we make a mistake, though, as a society and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on interpreting history.

Well, with less than one week until voters head to the polls to elect Virginia`s next governor, Kelly this week resurrected the old debate over a hot-button issue, the removal, the tearing down of Confederate monuments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which in -- 150 years ago was more important than country.

It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it`s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the monument issue has taken center stage in that Virginia governor`s race right now between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democratic Ralph Northam, the lieutenant governor down there.

The new "Washington Post" poll shows the race tightening, with Northam leading Gillespie by five points, which is in the margin of error.

For more, I`m joined by Susan Page, my colleague, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today."

Susan, first of all, there`s a -- I know you don`t like getting into values questions, but I know you are at home personally with them. Can you say the issue of slavery is relative to the time period? I mean, people like John Brown, you know, they were hanged for opposing slavery. There was an abolitionist movement in the North.

Certainly, every slave was against slavery. Every African-American at the time was against slavery. It wasn`t like slavery was overwhelmingly popular as a moral cause back in 1861.

For him to say, well, it was once OK, now it`s not OK doesn`t square with fact. It wasn`t OK. We went to war in the North; 600,000 white people were killed in that war, mostly white. They were killed fighting over the issue.

It was a real moral issue. And "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was all about getting rid of that slavery. And to say it was just some compromisable issue, I don`t know what history he took in college, in high school. What history was that?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": You know, Civil War historians say that is an inaccurate version of what happened in the Civil War.

And I am not sure what a compromise on slavery would have looked like, that it`s so clearly a moral issue.

MATTHEWS: Well, they made one in the Constitution, three-fifths of a person.

PAGE: They did.

MATTHEWS: Yes, that was a compromise.

PAGE: And it didn`t hold. It wasn`t a sustainable position to take. It wasn`t a moral position to take.

And, in the end, we fought a war that divided our nation over the issue of slavery. And the South lost. And the South fought that war. The cause of the war was the defense of slavery. And I think it`s important as Americans to remember that.

That`s part of our history and that`s part of our racial history. And, boy, this Virginia race is a reminder that our racial history continues to have outsized political power.

MATTHEWS: It sure does.

Well, today, Sanders, his spokesman, asked to -- was asked to define Kelly`s comments about compromise. Let`s hear her flackery, if you will.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: What is the definition of compromise as it relates to slavery and the Civil War?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I am not going to get in and re-litigate the Civil War.

QUESTION: Does this administration believe, does this president believe slavery was wrong?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think it is disgusting and absurd to suggest that anyone inside of this building would support slavery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, that wasn`t the question. And it certainly wasn`t the right answer.

Let me ask you about the politics of this thing. I guess I am one person who looks at this politically and wonders why Northam took such a strong position for taking down the statues, because it`s a real tricky question, because certainly battlefield generals could be properly left on the battlefield in Gettysburg, and places like that, in Bull Run, in places like Vicksburg.

They were in the battles. They were fighting it. It would make sense to memorialize their role in these battles. You can argue about it in public parks. But I wonder if this is a winner politically in the state of -- the Commonwealth of Virginia.

PAGE: Well, I think it`s been very helpful to Ed Gillespie to raise these issues in the ads that he is running on television, especially in the rural parts of Virginia, less so in the kind of northern -- the northern suburbs.

I think it`s one of the things that`s made this -- has made this race frighteningly close for Democrats.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: We have seen seven statewide polls in the month of October.

Northam, the Democrat, led only in four of them. Gillespie led in three of them. This is a clearly a race that could go either way, although we think probably Northam probably has a single-digit lead at the moment.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think Robert E. Lee is Ed Gillespie`s running mate.

Anyway, thank you, Susan Page.

Up next: As the Mueller investigation intensifies, Trump`s inner circle is divided over how to respond to the Russian probe. Should they go to war with Mueller and try to destroy him or take a less combative approach? I haven`t seen much of that.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The White House has been presenting itself like Monday`s indictments in the Russia investigation aren`t a big deal.

But not everyone is so calm. NBC News reports that, quote, Steve Bannon has been advising the president to start attacking Mueller. That`s according to multiple sources. "Vanity Fair" reports that advisers in the West Wing are on edge and doing whatever they cannot to be ensnared in the investigation.

In a "Washington Post" article titled: Upstairs at home with TV on, Trump Fumes Over Russian Indictments. A senior Republican in close contact with top staffers said, quote, the walls are closing in. Everyone is freaking out.

But the president pushed back on that narrative, of course, telling the "New York Times" tonight, that, quote, I`m actually not angry at anybody.

Well, let`s bring in tonight`s round table. Ashley Parker, she`s been reporting this, is a White House reporter for "The Washington Post." Eugene Robinson is a "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC contributor and Jonathan Swann, national political reporter for "Axios".

Ashley, you are on top of the story. When you get into the White House, are they afraid of being caught up in this sort of perjury trap where you are asked questions that are detailed and you can deny them, but you`re going to get caught and mouse trapped right away? Are they afraid of being overheard saying something that sounds like obstruction by one of their work mates? What`s the fear?

ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. So, the concern is -- and this has been the case for a while -- that anytime Russia comes up, aides want nothing to do with it. They don`t want to be in meetings about it, and they certainly -- and this was more true under the previous chief of staff -- they didn`t want to be almost even in a hallway conversation where they accidentally overheard something that might force them to hire a lawyer and be part of Mueller`s probe.

MATTHEWS: Wow. Let me go to Gene on this. This is -- you know, I mean, we both went through Watergate, and I`m telling you, there are landmarks we`re passing in this. There are people are beginning to tell the truth.

There are people getting squeezed by the prosecutors. There are people who want to tell the truth because they are mad at the president, none of that yet. But people want to save their butts.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. These things go step by step.

I`ll tell you what would really alarm me I think if I worked in the White House was -- you know, everyone expected that maybe Manafort would be subject to indictment or charges, something like that. Everyone knew that Mueller would probably go after Manafort. Nobody knew about the Papadopoulos thing until it happened. This was a surprise. And he was cooperating for potentially three months with the -- with the special counsel.

Was he doing recorded phone calls during that period? Who else might be cooperating? Who else might have talked to Mueller? These are questions that have to be on everybody`s mind right now.

MATTHEWS: You know, Jonathan, this guy Papadopoulos, maybe because of the photos we keep seeing him sort of advertising the Greek islands. He looks like a party guy. But he doesn`t look like a guy who wants to go away to prison for 10 years of his young life.

And then we hear, well, he may have perjured himself and therefore, they`ve got him hooked. And then you`ll say, well, next rung on the ladder, they go up to Clovis, his boss, and they`ll do the same thing to him. Did you arrange or approve a trip to Russia under any circumstances? And this baloney about, well, you can go there on your own. Why would anybody go to Russia on their own dime when they`re working for the campaign?

It`s all an attempt, it seems, Victoria Toensing, the lawyer, to try to lawyer their way out of Clovis being in the same situation. Hey, you`re talking about a Russian intrigue, getting into Russian territory, literally, to get stuff from them on Hillary.

You are into collusion, guys! And now, they`re saying, well, it was only on your own dime, you`re paying for your own trip. I mean, this is -- the defense is a little bit Mickey Mouse, I think. Go ahead.

JONATHAN SWAN, REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, I think, you know, one of the funny things about Papadopoulos is, you know, I covered the campaign. I have been covering this for two years. I never heard of the guy. I was getting calls yesterday from people going who is this guy?

MATTHEWS: Well, there he is, we`re looking at him in the room there.

SWAN: I know we are. But I would just say, that there is some truth to the fact that this guy really was not involved. But obviously, we`ll follow the email trail and see where it goes.

MATTHEWS: Well, he was involved with the Russians, though, explain that part.

SWAN: Sure, I`m not going to explain because I don`t know what he did with the Russians. But I`m just saying, internally, he is a huge problem, because no one really at the top level knows who he is. Obviously, he sent some e-mails. We`ll see where that goes.

I think the bigger concern for people close to Trump, I know the bigger concern, is just what the indictments revealed about the scope of where Mueller is looking. I mean, the fact that he is willing to go to associates of Trump, look at financial crimes that may be tangentially related or not even related to Russia and collusion, this is a very broad area of inquiry. Once he starts looking at people who were actually financially entangled with the president, then it starts to get very concerning for people internally.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s going to be a comprehensive investigation and prosecution.

SWAN: Without question.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the round table is sticking with us, and up next, these three will give me scoops hopefully for tomorrow.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: My nationwide book tour for "Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit" has reached number one on Amazon. It included a stop last night on Stephen Colbert`s "Late Show". Colbert told me he was struck by the picture on the back of the book, the one that shows a poor white family standing in salute as Bobby Kennedy`s funeral train passed by on its way to Arlington Cemetery.

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, TV HOST, LATE SHOW: Thank you for this book about Bobby Kennedy. Hereto me is the heartbreaking Kennedy. This picture, one of the earliest memories of my life was watching that train. And I remember my sister putting her arms around me and point me to the TV and explaining what was happening and who this man was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: My tour picks up tonight with a stop on "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS", right here on MSNBC.

And tomorrow morning, I`m going to join the women of "The View."

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Ashley, tell me something I don`t know.

PARKER: Sure. According to internal drafts circulating within the West Wing, the president`s North Korea speech that he plans to deliver on his Asia trip will be his most forceful and pointed remarks on the region yet.

MATTHEWS: Do we worry as journalists that there might be -- this might be seen as provocative, as they say in the East-West conflict, provocative to the North Koreans?

PARKER: I think it`s intended to be provocative to the North Koreans.

MATTHEWS: Eugene?

ROBINSON: Forty-two days after the hurricane, two-thirds of Puerto Rico is still in the dark. But a D.C. chef, a well-known D.C. chef, Jose Andres, went down after the hurricane and he has so far served more than 2 million meals to Puerto Ricans who desperately needed them. That`s more than the Red Cross, more than the Salvation Army, more than any other entity.

So, just a shoutout to Jose Andres for stepping up at a time when people really needed it.

MATTHEWS: You know, Gene, you and I know that not all of our leaders are in government and he`s one of our leaders, Jose.

ROBINSON: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: I`ve seen him do this kind of thing before.

Jonathan?

SWAN: There`s an ABC story today that perfectly and comically highlights the divisions between the Trump White House and GOP leadership on the Hill, specifically Paul Ryan. They`re fighting over the name of the tax bill. Paul Ryan`s office had some idea, you know, some conventional idea, the Tax Relief Act or something along those lines. Trump wants to call it The Cut Cut Cut Act of 2017.

I laughed when I first heard it. I actually think it`s branding genius.

MATTHEWS: It sounds to me like Sesame Street.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ashley Parker. Thank you, Gene Robinson and Jonathan Swan.

When we return, let me finish with what is called in politics a comparison ad. You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with what is called in politics a comparison ad. I`d like a moment of your time to compare two figures in modern American electoral life. One is Donald Trump and the other, Robert Kennedy, the man I spent the last several years discovering anew.

Think of what it is that sets President Trump apart, what distinguishes him in your view. One, he divides in order to conquer. He launched his presidential campaign declaring that the first African-American president was an illegal immigrant, someone born in Africa who snuck into the country, assumed a phantom identity, no one knew him in school and managed to con his way into the country`s highest office.

Bobby Kennedy in contrast fought for civil rights for African-Americans, championed immigrant farm workers, insisted we treat all Americans, including Native Americans, with fairness and generosity.

Compare the two on empathy. Bobby Kennedy spoke to an African-American group the night Dr. Martin Luther King was killed and asked them for understanding, spoke of his own family`s loss to violence. Donald Trump spends his time ripping open the wounds of our society, whether the matter is Confederate statues or NFL football players taking a knee. Bobby worked for peace among Americans, Trump tramples on such hopes.

Another difference, Bobby Kennedy showed the ability to learn, to grow, to become a better leader. He went from dispatch and observer of civil rights to powerful champion, from hawk to dove, from backer of the Vietnam War to zealous opponent. Donald Trump is always unchangeably Donald Trump, tweeting at dawn with the same zest to agitate, instigate, anger, disturb, confuse, mostly distract.

"Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit" which became available yesterday is a reminder to our own spirit of everything Donald Trump is not.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END

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