Trump vs US Justice system Transcript 11/2/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Dana Milbank, Megan Murphy, Peter Emerson, Michael Caputo

Show: HARDBALL Date: November 2, 2017 Guest: Dana Milbank, Megan Murphy, Peter Emerson, Michael Caputo

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Caught on camera. Let`s play hardball.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York. Well, tonight, we`re seeing again the guilty plea of former Trump Campaign Advisor George Papadopoulos continues to reverberate to Washington.

The revelation that some high-ranking Trump officials knew the campaign was in contact with Russians during the election campaign has already tainted Paul Manafort and Sam Clovis. Now it appears that Attorney General Jeff Sessions who attended a meeting with Papadopoulos and the President, there is the picture in March of 2016, was at least aware that Papadopoulos wanted the campaign to make an overture to Russia.

NBC News has reported that according to a source close to Sessions, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejected a proposal by a junior campaign aide who offered to use his Russian contacts," that`s the phrase, "to try to set up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin himself." Sessions has said previously that he was not aware of anyone in the campaign who had communicated with Russia.

Here is what he told to Senator Al Franken in his confirmation hearing in January.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN, (D), MINNESOTA: If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator Franken, I`m not aware of any of those activities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And more recently, we saw that Sessions was careful to avoid a direct answer to this question posed by Senator Lindsay Graham just last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA : Did you ever overhear a conversation between you or anybody on the campaign to talk about meeting with the Russians?

SESSIONS: I have not seen anything that would indicate a collusion with the Russians to impact the campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Very careful there, very careful, Attorney General.

Anyway, separately, Senator Al Franken sent a letter to the Attorney General today asking him to address the information that Papadopoulos gave to investigators. Franken wrote Sessions saying, "This is another example of an alarming pattern in which you, the nation`s top law enforcement officer, apparently failed to tell the truth under oath about the Trump team`s contacts with agents of Russia."

Senator Pat Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also asked the Attorney General to return to Capitol Hill for more questioning.

Joining me right now is Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Franken, what do you make of this sort of indirect claim by Attorney General Sessions now that he shot down the idea by Papadopoulos to do business with the Russians?

FRANKEN: Well, that`s what`s being reported that he said something to the effect in that meeting which was of the foreign policy group that was meeting with Trump and they met with Trump that day. And there`s a photo of this with Sessions there sitting too away from Papadopoulos. And that Sessions said, "I don`t think we should do this and I don`t want anyone -- no one should talk about this again."

And Papadopoulos had been meeting with Russian contacts. So when he was asked first in that first confirmation hearing in January, he said he hadn`t met with any Russians and he didn`t know of anyone meeting with Russians. And that turned out -- at least the part of him not meeting with Russians turned out not to be true. He met with Kislyak, the ambassador, three times.

And then when later, you know, as recently, rather, as the last hearing with him in the judiciary, he said he still didn`t believe that anyone had met from the Trump campaign with Russians. And, you know, I asked him, Jared Kushner, "Do you know about, you know, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort who all met with Russians in Trump Tower?"

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FRANKEN: And he -- but he still claimed then that he didn`t think that anybody from the Trump campaign had met with Russians. And now it turns out that Papadopoulos in his guilty plea said that he had been meeting with his Russian contacts and told them that in this meeting and said that, "I think I can arrange this meeting between Putin and Trump." And Sessions reacted to that, strongly enough to, I believe, remember that.

So, I have a lot of questions --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FRANKEN: -- for the Attorney General. And they`re in my letter. And I agree with Patrick Leahy that he should return to the judiciary committee and answer some questions before us.

MATTHEWS: Well, how could the Attorney General say now through an intermediary, I supposed, to the press that he told this young guy to shut it down and not to have any more communications with the Russians because he saw it was dangerous politically and perhaps in terms of national security, he shouldn`t be doing anything like that, (INAUDIBLE) kind of stuff. And yet he didn`t ever have a conversation like that. Either he did it or he didn`t, if he did say shut it down, kid, then he remembered there were contacts with Russians.

FRANKEN: Exactly. Look, he has contradicted himself so many times in the last -- since January that it really is hard to believe that he`s been telling the truth at any one point.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It seems like he`s an old enough man to know what the cold war felt like, what the KGB acts like to be smart enough to say stay away from those damn Russians. He seemed to be smart enough to know that when Papadopoulos raised the idea, but he also seems to have a mind set, if I deny all contact with Russia, I`ll be safe. Just deny everything.

FRANKEN: Yes, he denied. He denied contact with Russia in his confirmation hearing and he met with Kislyak three times. He met with the ambassador three times. S that wasn`t true.

So then he changed it. He said, "Well, I didn`t meet with any Russians to discuss the campaign." Then it turned out that he had kind of talked about some campaign issues with Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel. And then he changed it to, wel, I didn`t meet with any Russians to talk about interference with the campaign.

So he`s been moving the goal post. He -- tis is very, very hanky. And he needs to come back and testify. He needs to answer my letter s well.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, one thing I keep reminding myself of is that Watergate ended with evidence. Evidence established that the President of the United States in that case obstructed justice and because we got the tapes.

In this case do you sense that Mueller is moving along consistently in a way that he has something in mind at the end? Does he seem to have the -- would you mind call the smoking gun at this point? Does he have it?

FRANKEN: I don`t know. What I think he is doing is doing a very serious and thorough investigation. And I think that the revelations from this guilty plea and that`s how a lot of things get unearthed during these investigations is people plead guilty so they don`t have to spend a long time in prison.

MATTHEWS: So, is it -- the way they get truth is to promise people zero to six months in a minimum security prison situation. They probably don`t have to serve and you do that and work your way up the ladder.

FRANKEN: Yes. I -- and that`s what I believe happened. I mean, they were -- I believe John Dean spent time in prison, and I do also believe and a lot of the Nixon.

MATTHEWS: Yes, they did.

FRANKEN: Yes, but Dean cooperated, obviously. I don`t think he spent a terribly long time in prison. And I think it was in a very minimum security prison, where there was tennis.

MATTHEWS: There were adequate tennis facilities and new tennis balls. Anyway thank you, Senator Al Franken, of Minnesota.

FRANKEN: I think they were old tennis balls --

MATTHEWS: OK.

FRANKEN: -- at the prison.

MATTHEWS: We`ll correct that for the record. Thank you very much, Senator Al Franken, a member of the senate judiciary committee.

FRANKEN: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I am joined right now by Barbara Mcquade, a former Federal Prosecutor and MSNBC contributor. Barbara, thank you. And Ken Vogel, a reporter with "The New York Times"

I want to start with the Times here in the story. It seems to me we`re moving along here this week. A pretty much prog -- a lot of progress being made. We`ve got Papadopoulos pleading. We`ve got him pleading to the fact that there were discussions over the table with the President, with the future Attorney General President about whether to go in to business with the Russian and getting dirt about Hillary Clinton. We`re getting progress in that.

Today, we got the break that through an intermediary and through a flack of some sort, a cut-off if you will, the Attorney General is now admitting that he did have a conversation about Russian help but he shut it down that he told this young Papadopoulos no more.

What do you know about that? And where is that taking us in terms of this developing story?

KEN VOGEL, "THE NEW YORK TIMES", REPORTER: Well, Chris, you have to figure a lot of these revelations that are coming out now that seemed to be voluntary, seemed to be Sessions people trying to get in front of something are, in fact, prompted by what Mueller is doing. And that guilty plea of Papadopoulos, and people going back through and looking and figuring out, "Hey, what is my exposure here?"

A lot people of people have freaked out. And it`s more than what we`ve seen. It`s more than just the guilty plea from Papadopoulos or even the indictment against Manafort and Gates.

You see like Mueller sort of showing a little bit of leg in some of these ways that are not necessarily in the four corners of the cases. For instance, in the supplemental material that was submitted in the Gates and Manafort charging related to their bail, they just dropped in there that, oh, by the way, they had this bank and they`ve been paid millions of dollar by Russian oligarchs and they have these bank accounts that co-beneficiary is a Russian national, like, huh, why wasn`t that in the indictment? And it is as if he`s signaling there`s a lot more to come.

MATTHEWS: You know, Barbara, also Sam Clovis, he was the superior in the campaign to Papadopoulos. He has now withdrawn his nomination for a top job at the agriculture department. I mean the shoes are dropping. These people are pulling back because they know they`re not going to get through any confirmation hearing and they know they`ve been tainted because of the way this testimony is coming out under pressure of a possible long-term prison sentences.

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR U.S. ATTORNEY: Well I think the Sam Clovis withdrawal serves not only his interest, but maybe others in the Trump administration. Imagine the kinds of questions he would be asked in his confirmation hearing under oath. This would be -- not only a huge distraction but an opportunity for members of Congress to ask him about all of the matters in those e-mails, who are these other people who are identified only by title in the emails that were revealed in the statement of the case, in the George Papadopoulos case. So I think that he and others in the Trump administration thought that there was no choice, but to withdraw the nomination.

MATTHEWS: Ken let`s look at how the story is developing in various directions. As Barbara you just pointed, you`ve just point out, the honest testimony under pressure of Papadopoulos, the guy we didn`t know about really a couple week -- well a week ago, is now opening up a lot of doors. Now Carter Page, when you start hearing in these conversations, oh, go over there on your own dime, go to Moscow on your own dime (INAUDIBLE), wait a minute, nobody goes over there on their own dime. These guys are expense account (ph) people, they always get someway to pay their way and their consultants, whatever you want to call them, lobbyists, somebody`s paying. And when somebody like one of these top guys like Clovis says, young man, if you want to the go to Russia, get some dirt on Hillary Clinton. Go on your own.

Are you kidding me? Somebody is picking up the tab and my question is what about Carter Page? This Kato Kaelin character they keep showing up in our discussions. He`s always present, his role is unclear.

VOGEL: Yes. And the Trump people certainly want us to think that both he and Papadopoulos were minimal players and they were doing this as you suggest and as they have suggested on their own volition. But what sort of makes it harder to take at face value their characterizations is that they similarly tried to minimize Manafort`s role. And man , when it first became for --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

VOGEL: -- for the Manafort was a target, they said, you know, you remember Sean Spicer at the podium say, he played a very limited role for a very limited period of time. That is just simply false.

So when you hear them making this excuse about other people who had implicated, you just wonder whether you could that at face value or not, even if it appears as it does with Carter Page that he was not a central player. It just -- You got to think that Mueller is looking more closer this end and that we shouldn`t necessarily take them at face -- for their word when they say this guy was a nobody.

MATTHEWS: It is kind of a mob thing. You know, I don`t know anything. I don`t know, I don`t remember that guy. He don`t mean anything to me.

Anyway Carter Page spoke to the House Intelligence Committee today just days after he told Chris Hayes (INAUDIBLE) that he might have correspond, had corresponds with Papadopoulos about Russia among other things. Let`s hear him.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Were you guys on e-mail chains together, you and Papadopoulos?

CARTER PAGE, AMERICAN OIL INDUSTRY CONSULTANT: Look I -- we`re -- there`s a lot of emails all over the place when you`re in a campaign.

HAYES: Right. But yes or no. Were you in email chains with Papadopoulos?

PAGE: Probably a few, yes.

HAYES: Were you in email chains with him about Russia?

PAGE: It may have come up from time to time.

HAYES: Now, you travel over the summer to Moscow.

PAGE: Yes.

HAYES: Are you the person they`re talking about?

PAGE: I don`t think so. And if you listen to the audio of all or the transcripts of everything that I said, I was always there just as a private citizen, and I`ve spoken at universities in Moscow and Russia and Asia and Europe but in many times and it was totally separate.

HAYES: But it has already been a sense.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

MATTHEWS: Message of a very important mean and here`s what he said about the trip following his testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you clear you whether you trip to Russia was the one that was referenced in some of the disclosure and some of the filing from Mr. Papadopoulos?

PAGE: No I had nothing to do with any of that.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Barbara. This guy seems ditzy to me. I don`t get it. He should be on "Fox & Friends" regularly. I don`t get the guy. It`s hard for me that even Donald Trump would invest to a lot of capital in him doing anything and this guy Papadopoulos. This is the strangest group of people.

The one thing they have in common is the word Russia. I`ve never seen so many Russian connections. What is your sense about how the prosecution is proceeding?

I`m very impressed that Prosecutor Mueller has begun with a very small person. He let him off the hook with a zero to six-month prison sentence which may end up being nothing. He then is moving up toward this guy Clovis. He`s moving toward the other guys in a very chronological, even, way.

MCQUADE: Yes. This is the methodical process of right out of the prosecutor`s playbook. Start with smaller-level people and the people whose names we were not familiar with, as you said, a week ago. Find a crime that they`ve committed and encourage them to cooperate in exchange for leniency.

You may notice that in complaint, the initial complaint, Papadopoulos was charged not only with the fault statements but also with obstruction of justice which carried a higher prison term for altering his Facebook page. That charge ultimately was dropped. So in exchange for leniency, he is providing information.

It also says in some of those documents that they wanted to seal his document for a while so as not to tip off others in the investigation so they could conduct interviews and maybe even engage in proactive cooperation. That means he may have worn a wire, recorded phone calls. So I`ll bet there are a lot of top administration officials shaking their boots.

MATTHEWS: Is that what does that mean Barbara of proactive cooperatives. Does that mean wear a wire, basically?

MCQUADE: Yes. It most often means either wears a wire in a live meeting or record phone calls.

MATTHEWS: Wow. In fact, once they accuse W. (ph) wearing a wire during debate, remember that, Ken, that was kind of strange. Anyway this is much more serious. Anyway it`s great having you and Barbara and quite -- it`s great to have an expert on and Ken as always the story perceives.

Coming up, Trump says the suspect in this week`s terror attack in New York should get the death penalty. What is this guy? The judge imperial or what? Anyway why is that Trump coming -- why is President Trump commenting on a criminal case considering his comments could end up weakening, in fact jeopardizing the whole prosecution case and helping the guy that`s being prosecuted. Plus, Trump promised to hire the best people, so why is he giving plum government jobs to people who one was recently cabana boy, a bartender, a muffler job (INAUDIBLE). But do they prepare for the jobs Trump gave people.

Stick around for that. And "The Hardball Roundtable" tonight on Joe Biden`s spirited attack on Donald Trump and whether Trump can resist the right-wingers, the kneecap, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Final, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch. This is "Hardball" where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Most Americans will be able to file taxes on a single sheet of paper. What do you think of that, Kevin? Are you still there? Or will it be a paper and a half?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Great job. Thank you very much. I didn`t know I was going to be given a prop.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Beautiful. Thank you.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s funny? Stay with us here. Welcome back to "Hardball." Republicans are new revealing their tax plan. It slashes the corporate tax rate from 35% down to 20%. It cuts the individual taxes of some upper income people, it gradually eliminates the estate tax altogether, it adds $1.5 trillion to the debt in 10 years. Democrats characterized that is a big giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, people like Donald Trump himself.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: This is a shell game, a Ponzi scheme that corporate America will perpetrate on the American people. The Republican Bill written in secret, designed to be raced forward before it`s truly understood ransacks vital benefits for the middle class.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY) MINORITY LEADER: The Republicans know the more this bill is exposed out there, the less people like it. In short, the bill is like a fish. If it stays out in the sunlight too long, it stinks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know what, This is something that should be taken seriously.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And what we`re getting here is (INAUDIBLE).

VELSHI: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And I think --

VELSHI: It should be taken seriously.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk with Ali Velshi.

VELSHI: Yes.

MATTHEWS: One of the big winners today, they`re really thrilled. The markets are probably sower. And let`s start with stockholders because all that cash is going to flow down, the corporate tax cut from 35 percent to 20 percent. Money pouring in this --

VELSHI: So this is key. Nobody pays 35%. That`s the statutory rate. You can look at these a million ways and you come out to about 18.6 percent because there`re so many loop holes, and companies do that. So if you bring it down to 20 percent.

MATTHEWS: So why is the market discounting this big flesh of money coming to bill (ph)?

VELSHI: Well, because the market is doing it, the market is doing it, sort of ignoring everything. Unless Donald Trump completely reverses things and adds regulation, the market is going to keep on going. So what you`ve got is 20 percent without a big change in loopholes which means the effective rate the companies will pay is even less.

So this was a very, very big giveaway to businesses and the wealthy and a small giveaway to the middle class, so they can claim that a lot of people in the middle class will get a tax cut, but many of them will get a very, very small tax cut.

MATTHEWS: Yes. But what he did is brilliantly cut the tax of anybody who makes between $250 and a million.

VELSHI: Right.

MATTHEWS: That`s a lot of people with a lot of money.

VELSHI: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: It`s not a few at the very top. It`s a lot of --

VELSHI: Right.

MATTHEWS: Are all going to like him for this.

VELSHI: So it -- it has relatively broad appeal but the concept that this is a middle class tax cut is largely false and it increases the deficit. So this doesn`t achieve a whole lot of goals.

MATTHEWS: OK. You go to Latin America, and place like that, and there`s a few people zillionaires.

VELSHI: Yes. That`s correct.

MATTHEWS: They own all the farmland, they own arable land, they own everything that`s of any value.

VELSHI: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And then masses -- you know why? They don`t have estate tax.

VELSHI: Right.

MATTHEWS: Because you can accumulate wealth over generations and generations.

VELSHI: Right.

MATTHEWS: So 10 or 20 generations in, you don`t have to work, you can do anything. OK. That`s why we have an estate tax. To stop the accumulation of family wealth. He gets rid of the estate tax. Who -- who wants that done?

VELSHI: Well, we`ve run the numbers and just in Donald Trump`s estate, according to the numbers that Forbes has on what his wealth is, it would save his kids or net his kids another $525 million. The fact is --

MATTHEWS: There will always be Trumps.

VELSHI: Look, there`s a philosophical argument to be had that I can hear about whether or not you should tax people`s estates, but the concept that this is a middle class problem is entirely false. In 2017 the number of estates that will be subject to the estate tax is 5,500 in total. The number of those that are --

MATTHEWS: The oligarchs.

VELSHI: The number of those that are businesses or family enterprises that the Republicans keep talking about?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

VELSHI: Eighty. 8-0.

MATTHEWS: OK.

VELSHI: This is not a big middle class thing.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much. I think it`s a rich person`s tax cut and we weren`t surprised.

Ali Velshi, thank you.

VELSHI: All right.

MATTHEWS: I like the way you deliver the facts.

Up next, justice Trump style. The president tweets that the New York terror suspect (INAUDIBLE) for the White House should get the death penalty. He says. Doesn`t he know this could jeopardize the prosecution`s case? This is Nixon stuff again. Manson. Nixon did this with Charles Manson. He almost got the guy off.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Prosecutors are starting to lay out their case against the suspect in Tuesday`s terror attack in New York City. Yesterday they brought terrorism charges against Sayfullo Saipov, saying he was inspired by ISIS. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOON KIM, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NEW YORK SOUTHERN DISTRICT: Yesterday afternoon a man consumed by hate and twisted ideology attacked our country and our city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: If this suspect is convicted on terrorism charges he could face the death penalty.

[19:25:02] And late last night President Trump welcomed that news tweeting that the terrorist, quote, "should get death penalty." This morning he doubled down, adding, "There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. Death penalty." Again he said it.

In addition to calling for the death penalty, the president also took a swipe at the American justice system itself. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need quick justice and we need strong justice. Much quicker and much stronger than we have right now because what we have right now is a joke. And it`s a laughingstock.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more, I`m joined by Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst, and also Michael Caputo, who`s a former Trump campaign adviser.

Michael, I want to hear from you first. What`s the case for the president to call for the death penalty?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, I think -- I think I`ve heard you and most of the media complain about the president`s tweets now for about 18 months.

MATTHEWS: No. What about the death penalty? What about the death penalty?

CAPUTO: I understand that. What you`re alleging here is that Donald Trump crossed what they call the Manson-Nixon line. Right?

MATTHEWS: Right. Yes.

CAPUTO: I mean, and you look at what the president did. You know, I`ve heard people talk about how the president may have messed up the Bergdahl prosecution. That the judge there said that the president`s tweets about it, he would take them into consideration as mitigating circumstances, but he didn`t think that it changed anything in the case. He didn`t think it soured the public on the veracity of the military justice system. So I think some of this hand wringing over the president`s tweet is a little bit over the top.

MATTHEWS: You think, if you were an ACLU lawyer or a public defender and you were given this case, you wouldn`t use the president`s comments in terms of tainting the jury pool and try to get a better -- commute or lighten up the sentence to say life in prison? Wouldn`t you use that -- those very words for your client?

CAPUTO: Well, I see where it`s been done in the past. I see what it`s done in the Bergdahl case. It didn`t seem to have an impact on Bergdahl. In this case, this guy has been singing about his own guilt for quite some time now.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CAPUTO: I don`t think it`s going to affect the sentencing phase all that much when you realize --

MATTHEWS: Mason is still alive.

CAPUTO: Right. You know, we realize that he`s totally guilty, he`s admitted to it, he`s killed people outright. He was -- it`s complete confession and he wants to hang an ISIS flag in his hospital room. I don`t think the president`s tweet is going to have much impact on this.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask -- as Michael mentioned back in 1970, President Richard Nixon also weighed in on an infamous case declaring Charles Manson guilty of murder even though his trial was still under way. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I noted, for example, the coverage of the Charles Manson case when I was in Los Angeles. Front page every day in the papers that usually got a couple of minutes on the evening news. Here was a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, within a half hour of making those remarks, Nixon`s press secretary was forced to issue a correction saying that the president failed to use the word alleged. Anyway, the correction did not stop Manson`s lawyers from seeking a mistrial. Manson himself even stood up in court holding a newspaper with the headline, "Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares." There it is. The sketch from the courtroom sketcher. Despite that, a mistrial was never granted.

Let me go to Paul Butler as an expert on this. I don`t know. I think it`s something presidents should be told not to do. Just here`s on the list when you become president, here`s things you don`t do. Don`t get involved in criminal trials. You`re not a judge. You`re not a juror. You`re an observer. You`re a citizen. That`s it.

PAUL BUTLER, GEORGETOWN SCHOOL OF LAW: You know, Chris, most presidents don`t have to be told that, but like a lot of other things that Donald Trump does, this is unethical, it`s inappropriate. It`s unpresidential. It`s not exactly against the law. If you care about things like the due process, equal administration of justice, a president shouldn`t be doing these things.

President Nixon had the grace to apologize, to withdraw. How do we know that Donald Trump isn`t going to do that? Because he has a history here. The Central Park Five, the people who were ultimately exonerated of a notorious crime in New York. When the crime happened President Trump took out an ad in the four daily newspapers in New York calling for the death penalty. When those young men, young African-American men ultimately were exonerated, the president refused to apologize.

So again, it`s almost like he thinks that there should be like what they used to do in the old days, skip the trial, legal lynching, and that`s not how we administer justice in the United States of America.

MATTHEWS: Michael, your response to that, because, of course, President Trump has been responsible in the past for these kinds of comments. He talked about the Bergdahl case. He called the guy a traitor, you know, a no-good traitor, blah, blah, blah. He should have been executed.

[19:30:03] I mean, he doesn`t mind getting involved in criminal trials and capital cases either.

CAPUTO: No. It`s interesting, too, and we talked about this like the Manson-Nixon line. I mean, we look back on that now and some analysts say that Nixon was doing it to stay ahead of the curve in the cultural war that was emerging in that era. I think that`s an astute analysis and I think that`s might be the kind of analysis we`re looking for here. I mean, the president sends these tweets, he does things that people --

MATTHEWS: It`s my analysis. It`s my analysis.

CAPUTO: Right.

MATTHEWS: It`s what I think and Nixon was doing it, he was trying to roll up the score in that `70 election. That was the Agnew election where they really went hard to try to get everybody to hate the press, hate the liberals, the long hairs, that was the culture war back then, as well. You`re right.

CAPUTO: And also, you look at this just as the numbers cruncher and a campaign person, a political addict like you and I both are. You know, the president right now according to the media is in a lot of trouble. He`s in a precarious position, but he`s not for a good reason because the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate are behind him. The reason why? Any poll that will tell you, even the worst poll will tell you that 80 percent to 90 plus percent of Republicans back this president.

And one of the reasons why they do, you might postulate, is he echoes the sentiments that they feel. He resonates when he agrees that this person needs to have the death penalty.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, you know what?

BUTLER: Here`s the problem with that argument --

MATTHEWS: I agree, you know, Michael. You may think we have different politics but let me tell you something, everything you say is true. I have real skepticism, Paul, as well, to you. I have real skepticism whether this Republican Congress next year has to face an impeachment trial in the House Judiciary Committee, may not even report out Articles of Impeachment no matter what Mueller does because I can see them just basically doing jury nullification and saying yes, you might have a case here, Mr. Smartypants.

You may have a case on obstruction or a case on collusion, but you know what? We the people of the Republican Party are not going to act on it because we like this, cut at this guy`s jib.

Michael, you may have something. It`s nefarious, but you may have something.

Michael Caputo, thank you. And Paul Butler.

Up next, President Trump says he only hires the best. So how does he explain the resumes of some of his administration officials?

This is not going to be condescension, but he`s picked some strange people for some very important jobs.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

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[19:35:59] MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Trump promised during the campaign that he would hire the best people for the country. Here he goes.

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TRUMP: We`re going to deliver. We`re going to get the best people in the world. You know, we have the greatest business people in the world. We don`t use them.

We`re going to use our smartest and our best. We`re not using political hacks anymore. That`s the people that do these deals. They`re political hacks.

We want experts, our finest people. We don`t want people that are B-level, C-level, D-level. We have to get our absolute best.

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MATTHEWS: But as Dana Milbank points out in the "Washington Post" today he hasn`t followed through on that promise one bit. He nominated Sam Clovis to be chief scientist at the USDA. Well, he`s not a scientist but he`s a former talk show host, nothing wrong with that, and a Trump campaign adviser. And as we mentioned earlier, Clovis withdrew his nomination today due to his ties with the Russian investigation.

Sid Bowdidge was hired as an assistant to the secretary of Energy. Previously he`d been manager of a Meineke car care branch. He has since been fired after his past anti-Muslim tweets were uncovered.

Victoria Barton handles congressional relations for the HUD department. She`s also worked as an office manager and a bar manager.

And Christopher Hagan, a confidential assistant at the USDA, was a cabana attendant, dealing with chairs and towels as recently as 2015.

I`m joined now by Dana Milbank, the author of that article and a columnist for the "Washington Post."

Dana, how did you get the backgrounds of these people which were so seemingly -- I remember when W, the president, had the head of the Arabian Horse Association run the Federal Emergency Management which dealt with Katrina, that was a laugh. Where did he get this cast of characters?

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Terrific group called American Oversight FOIA`d all of these resumes and overlaid it with whose been appointed and who worked in the Trump campaign, and it is really quite funny. I mean, there`s nothing wrong with Meineke muffler. I would take my car there. But does a guy who ran the Meineke muffler branch in Seabrook, New Hampshire, be long making energy policy? I don`t know what he knows about energy policy but Americans could be confident knowing that as long as he was there they were not going to pay a lot for that muffler.

MATTHEWS: What about this guy, Bowdidge? Sid Bowdidge.

(LAUGHTER)

MILBANK: I think that`s the very one. It appears that he moonlighted a bit as a massage therapist as well. We have the cabana boy has gone to the USDA, along with a maker of scented candles and a trucker. The bartender has gone to HUD and that`s very important because a bartender would certainly be able to help the HUD secretary who happens to be a retired brain surgeon.

So all of these people may be qualified in their own rights.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MILBANK: They just don`t seem to be qualified for the positions that he`s put them in. It`s a little bit like we`re watching an episode of "The Apprentice" and everything has gone a bit haywire.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a factoid that everybody listening right now and watching will never forget. Today`s Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said that fossil fuels play a role in preventing sexual assault.

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RICK PERRY, ENERGY SECRETARY: From the standpoint of sexual assault, when the lights are on, when you have light, it shines the righteousness, if you will, of -- on those types of acts. So from the standpoint of how you really affect people`s lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that. I happen to think it`s going to play a positive role.

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MATTHEWS: Is he speaking metaphorically? It sheds righteousness. I mean, this is Chancy Gardner out of being there. I mean, this is the secretary of Energy. This is the guy who couldn`t remember the three departments he was going to get rid of and here he is saying he`s figured out the metaphysical connection between light and avoiding evil.

I mean, this is like something out of -- I don`t know what. Genesis.

MILBANK: It`s so easy to say, I`m not going to say oops, I`m not going to go down the path of suggesting that the secretary of Energy is a dim bulb, but he didn`t have a whole lot of background. I mean, at least he was the governor of Texas so he had some experience. But think about it, we had a secretary of Education who does not have a lot of knowledge about education, but has, you know, talked about the danger of bears attacking public schools.

The Treasury secretary is most recently known for the "Lego Batman" movie and, of course, we`ve got Ben Carson, the brain surgeon, at the Housing and Urban Development, and then, you`ve got a guy like Mattis at the Pentagon who is superbly qualified and Trump keeps stepping all over him and contradicting him.

So, you wonder why they don`t have more experts.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I`m going to give some balance to this discussion. There needs to be balance. Let me say something about Rick Perry. I know.

OK, Rick Perry has said some stupid things, and but I`ve got to tell you, back during Katrina, back when the people in New Orleans were under water, a lot of African-Americans, he offered refuge in his cities like Houston. They offered those people a place to go and live and stay there.

It was an unusual act of generosity and welcoming, I thought, from a conservative Republican governor, and I have to give him credit for that. I`ve always remembered I liked the guy for one reason and the way he responded to really hard in the lives of those poor people that had to leave their city back in Katrina days.

MILBANK: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He looked a lot better than W. ever will.

Thank you, Dana Milbank. I had to offer some counterbalance to --

MILBANK: Fair enough.

MATTHEWS: -- how cruel some of us can be.

Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable takes on the conservative crusade against special counsel Mueller and Joe Biden`s latest fiery attack on President Trump.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

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MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The White House says President Trump has no plans to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but Nicholas Kristof of "The New York Times" wrote that Mueller finds himself in the crosshairs, warning, we may shortly be facing a national crisis. President Trump`s base is egging him on to undertake his own Saturday night massacre.

Well, in fact, some of the president`s allies have not only called for Mueller`s ouster. They`ve also called for an investigation, big surprise, of Hillary Clinton again.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Megan Murphy is editor of "Bloomberg Businessweek", Eddie Glaude is chairman of the Center for African-American Studies at the prestigious Princeton University, and Peter Emerson is a "Huffington Post" contributor.

I want to go across the table here -- it`s not quite a roundtable, but it`s a table.

You know, I think it works. I mean, if you want to check with "Fox and Friends" and Sean in the evening and they all begin to sing the Greek chorus. It`s about Hillary. Let`s go back to Hillary. Let`s go back to the uranium. Let`s go back to whatever.

And I think it`s not going to stop Mueller, one inch, one step. He just keeps going for it.

MEGAN MURPHY, EDITOR, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Of course, it`s not going to stop Robert Mueller. I mean, you only have to look at the indictment and how methodical he`s been in this process, how methodical he`s been in this first set of charges and the outline to know how serious and how great this is, and that`s what all of our reporters shows, that inside the White House, while they`re trying to project an image of calm and coolness and, in fact, distancing themselves not only from the players involved but from the entire tenor of the investigation, there`s this classic bait and switch.

Let`s go back to Hillary, and let`s go back to Uranium One, let`s look at whether CFIUS looked at this deal. Let`s go back to China, let`s look at the Clinton connections. It`s ludicrous and ridiculous to believe that really what the American people in particular focused on is uranium dealings under the Clinton, Obama administration.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me that it`s easy to feed people talking points for offense than talking points for defense.

EDDIE GLAUDE, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. I`m thinking of two converging factors and one it seems to me that there is in some ways his belief that Trump can`t be wrong, that there is an absolute loyalty to it.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GLAUDE: And then that leads to all sorts of --

MATTHEWS: OK. Professor, explain that. Why do they believe whatever he says?

GLAUDE: I think it`s tied to the second reason. Some people believe there is an absolute obsession with maintaining power. So, there`s folks who don`t think he can do anything wrong, because he actually represents their interests, and there are others who are just really interested in holding on to the reins of power and they`re willing to do anything.

MATTHEWS: Do you think if Mueller comes in with a hard case of obstruction of justice or collusion with the Russians, that the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee will move? Do you think they will?

GLAUDE: I think so. There is a piece written in "Vox" by David Roberts just today saying that he could come in with the facts and they show that there`s collusion, but the "Breitbarts" and the Fox News and those folks that they can actually say it`s not true.

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re trying to get rid of Mueller.

Anyway, former Vice President Joe Biden took aim at President Trump yesterday, saying that the president has preyed on the fears of the middle- class voters. Let`s listen to Joe Biden.

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JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We are seeing forces here in the United States seek to manipulate and exploit the legitimate concern that people feel. These people aren`t prejudice. They`re realistic. They`re realistic, and they become targets to charlatans, and look what happens. Like most charlatans throughout time who seek to aggrandize themselves and consolidate their power by always blaming the other.

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MATTHEWS: Peter, he looks like he`s trying to interpret in some sort of mythical way this president`s ability to shape minds to move people who feel under assault because of what`s happening with Mueller and the information that keeps coming out in the front page. Oh, that may be one version of life, but this other version we`d like you to think about, the Sean Hannity at night and Steve Doocy in the morning to get your talking points is that really it`s all about Hillary and the idea that was made that never did send uranium to anywhere in the world except here, but we should investigate her.

PETER EMERSON, HUFFPOST CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the Republicans understand better than anyone else that the primary rule, the primary tool in advertising and marketing is frequency and consistency and they`re doing it over and over and over again very effectively. And so, all of their platforms and all of their voices are as both -- everyone has said at this table driven either against Mueller to discredit him and bringing up Hillary and the uranium and whatever, whatever, whatever.

Ultimately though, what Biden did not do was name the president specifically. He said charlatans in an indirect way.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

EMERSON: And what I`d like to see is Obama. I`d like it see Biden. I`d like to see Bush be direct rather than coy and -- Paul Revere did not run around hundreds of years ago and whisper, they`re coming, they`re coming. You know who I mean. He was very explicit.

MATTHEWS: Yes. The British are coming.

Anyway, I guess they`re avoiding getting into a mano-a-mano situation because Trump can be very dangerous and lethal. He can throw -- a quiet old man, you know, retire -- I can see it being quite personal and brutal to Joe Biden.

Well, we`ll see. It`s coming, Peter. It`s coming.

EMERSON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, these three will tell us, will there going to be more scoops? I put a high bar around here. I want news for tomorrow.

This is HARDBALL.

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MATTHEWS: Well, programming note about the nationwide book tour for "Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit", which has reached number one on the Amazon bestsellers list in the country tonight.

And tonight, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, I`m going to be a guest on "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." I expect we`ll be talking about the intrigues involving Joe McCarthy, Sam (INAUDIBLE) and other dark figures of the Bobby Kennedy story.

Then Saturday morning, I`ll be on "A.M. JOY" with Joy Reid, my friend. And then later in the afternoon, with my colleague Alex Witt.

Lots of stories to tell from the book.

And we`ll be right back.

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MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.

Megan, tell me something I don`t know.

MURPHY: The other day`s big political news, Robert Mercer, Renaissance Technologies, big Trump donor, stepping away from that hedge fund and telling a stake in Breitbart. But, look, he`s planning a comeback. He`s going to look at starting up his own separate organization where he can raise money and spend more time on the causes he wants to push.

MATTHEWS: Another rich person`s name I can`t like -- I can`t stand hearing spoken by the way.

Go ahead.

GLAUDE: I`m going to go back to the past, 142 years ago today, was a coup d`etat in the state of Mississippi. The Democrats of the state of Mississippi overthrew the reconstruction government. And it shows us today that we have to be vigilant about democracy.

MATTHEWS: Because there were blacks getting elected to high office in the Senate and the Congress, it was great.

Go ahead.

EMERSON: During the Asian trip, Donald Trump is going to demand of the president of China to pay up and stop exporting contaminated building materials. There`s a state-owned company that owes hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to Americans whose homes were destroyed by bad drywall and Trump`s going to say, you play by the rules in America as businesses do in China.

MATTHEWS: Caveat emptor, buyer beware of Chinese goods.

Megan Murphy, Professor Eddie Glaude, and Peter Emerson.

We`ll be right back with "Trump Watch."

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MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Thursday, November 2nd, 2017. I speak often about the corrupt political practice known as rolling disclosure. It`s when a politician tells you the truth after you already know it, after the politician and his minions have worked round the clock to keep it from you.

So, when a young Trump campaign aide pleads guilty and accepts a small sentence for telling the truth, we find out that he was talking with the Russians about getting dirt on opponent Hillary Clinton. We find out for the simple reason that that young campaign aide was threatened with a far longer prison term if he didn`t tell the truth about those dealings with the Russians. We have that truth because Robert Mueller`s prosecutors were able to tear that truth from the hands of a young Trump aide fearful of having his life ruined, having to sit in a federal prison for a long time thinking about what a terrible mistake he made in opening up a conversation with Russians on getting dirt on a political opponent.

Well, now comes the rolling truth. Faced with a photograph of himself sitting with -- two seats from that young aide in a meeting to discuss that young aide`s conversations with the Russians, the attorney general of the United States now confesses through an intermediary, that yes, he was sitting in that meeting when the Russian offer was discussed.

Rolling disclosure. We better get used to it because we continue to learn the only time we get the truth from the Trump boys is when it`s pulled from their teeth.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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