Show: HARDBALL Date: November 10, 2017 Guest: Susan Del Percio, John Archibald, Cristina Bellantoni, Eliza Collins, Clarence Page, Ginger Gibson, Ken Vogel, Bob Shrum, Eric Garcetti
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: More? Let's play "Hardball." Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles.
Roy Moore says he is not going anywhere. The Republican Alabama Senate candidate responded to yesterday's bombshell "Washington Post" story quoting a woman saying he inappropriately touched her when she was a 14- year-old girl in 1979. He called the charge completely false and misleading. Those are his words. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I don't know Ms. Corfman from anybody. I never talked to her, never had any contact with her. Allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false. I believe they are politically motivated. I believe they are brought only to stop a very successful campaign and that's what they are doing. I don't remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the White House issued a cautious statement earlier today. Here was Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Like most Americans the President believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person's life. However, the President also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, some Republicans went much further, calling for Moore to step away right now. Mitt Romney tweeted, innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.
Well, late today two U.S. senators Mike Lee of Utah, also of Utah and Steve Daines of Montana announced they were pulling their endorsements of Moore.
And the Senate Republican campaign arm severed financial ties with the Moore campaign. Then there were the bizarre reactions from Moore's supporters. According to the religious news service, Jerry Falwell Junior (ph) said it comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters, the candidate or the accuser. He added, and I believe the judge, that's Moore, is telling the truth.
In Alabama the state ordered Jim (INAUDIBLE) reached back to the bible to defend Moore. He said Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There's just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit of unusual.
Interesting reading of the bible there. Anyway, today he told NBC News quote "that it was taken out of context. My point was given the allegations that Roy Moore denies they are trying to paint the dirty old man syndrome which doesn't exist. There's been a long history of romances and marriages with teenage girls. Just an example. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacal. She was a teenager. They finally got married when she was 20.
Well, state representative Ed Henry suggest the women accusers should be prosecuted if they believe this man is predatory. They are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can't be a victim 40 years later in my opinion. I'm not buying it. It's too easy for someone to make these accusations.
Well, Trump's Alabama campaign co-chair also cast out on the "Washington Post" story. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not believe the women. You know, and I don't know exactly because I saw the same thing, the same accusations made when President Trump was running. I don't like to see it. I think it's false, but one way to get down to it is just to require them to take a polygraph test.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, to make sense of all of this if you can I'm joined by the assisting managing editor for politics of the "Los Angeles Times" Christina Bellantoni, columnist for the "Birmingham News" John Archibald and republican strategist Susan del Percio.
Boy, this is sticky wicket they say, as the Brits would say. What a strange story this is.
Let me, Christy, it just seems to me, seeing that this is a political show and it's not "Access Hollywood" or something like that, that what we are seeing here is people go to their corners. And they are just -- no matter what the facts are, no matter how yucky the whole thing is, you go to your side, you take your side and you play defense.
CRISTINA BELLANTONI, ASSISTING MANAGING EDITOR, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Right. And you have to keep in mind that a lot of the establishment Republicans that are distancing themselves from Moore right now didn't want him in the race to begin with, right. They backed the guy who was appointed --
MATTHEWS: So, one of these now. There is a reason.
BELLANTONI: Well, because he won the election and they would like to make sure that their numbers stay the same in the Senate. In the end this comes down to politics. But what's really --
MATTHEWS: In other words it's too late to get somebody else in there. The ballot has been printed and that's it.
BELLANTONI: Right. Look at Hollywood, I mean, there is a film that had Kevin Spacey in it as a supporting actor that they have completely recast Christopher Plumber in because of everything the accusations that have been coming out. They are --.
MATTHEWS: Jumped the character's age by 20 or 30 years just to justice to situations like this.
BELLANTONI: Right. So the entertainment industry is seeing a widespread phenomenon right now and actually taking action to change that. Now, what's going to happen in politics? Roy Moore could still very much win this election. It's also far away and a lot can happen, whether that be more allegations. Whether he decides he is going to talk about this further, whether he does step aside as some people are urging him to do.
The bottom line is he says she is not true. He doesn't even know her. You can't give somebody a polygraph when this is the type of accusation that's being leveled. It's a criminal charge in Alabama at the time that this happened if it is true.
MATTHEWS: Well, John Archibald, where are we at on this? Is there any talk of polygraph for the Senate nominee? Is there any talk on the woman - - accuser and to come forward and really go on television to make her case more dramatically throughout the rest of this campaign? There's about 30 some days left for her to speak.
JOHN ARCHIBALD, COLUMNIST, BIRMINGHAM NEWS: Yes. There are people calling for it. And of course, we would all love to see that happen, but there is a lot of effort to discredit without really going through steps to know whether it's right or not. I mean, the supporters of Roy Moore are doing back flips to try to discredit this.
MATTHEWS: You know, I'm watching this, Susan. First of all, this guy -- I don't even know. I hate talking religion on television for a political show, but I don't mind it. It was a virgin birth of Jesus. That's the Christmas. This idea that they were having sex doesn't square with certainly the Christmas story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph that I grew up with. I don't know why these people are reaching so desperately for these parallels and then Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacal. I mean, Lauren Bacal was about 19 or 20 going on 30 perhaps at the time. She was a grown up person. I mean, I watched those movies. She wasn't some 14-year-old. It's an absurd comparison. They are reaching really hard, really hard here.
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They are. And you are right. It is desperate. Right now there's a message out there, either elect a child molester or a Democrat. And some Republicans in Alabama are saying I would rather elect a child molester. Well, it's time for the Republicans to stand up and say no to this.
We have seen two senators take away their endorsement. We have seen that the Senate funding for the Republican Senate committee has taken away the funding. These are all good steps and they must continue.
These women put their name out there, and it is so difficult for them in their communities. These aren't famous women who can go hide away for a couple of weeks and lay low if they want to. You have to go to the supermarket. Their children have to go to school. This was extremely difficult. So, yes, I believe them because they have a lot more on the line.
And that these accusations or calling for polygraphs, I would rather see Moore take a polygraph. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't pass it. He has been a pariah all along for a lot of Republicans. Let's not forget when he went to Washington just a couple of weeks ago, he wouldn't take questions and a lot of people stayed very far away from him. He really has not been active. And John can talk more about this. But he hasn't been active on the campaign trail. And I don't expect to see him out there that much now.
So this interview and a few interviews won't clear up this problem. And Republicans have to continue to stand up against him.
MATTHEWS: John Archibald, there's not going to be any kind of criminal case or even civil case. This isn't going to go before a tribunal of any official nature. It does seem to be something that's going to be tried in the press. It just seems that way. What do you make of that? How do you like that?
ARCHIBALD: That's true. And, you know, we are not going to find out between now and Election Day the truth of these allegations. And I mean, which is why many Republicans have decided that it's just not worth considering.
I think what a lot of people don't understand is how much the Mitch McConnell actions, how much the so-called establishment Republican rebuke of Roy Moore only helps Roy Moore because essentially that's what pushes him over Luther Strange in the primary and there's so much animosity there that none of that drips down on Alabama. He's not going anywhere.
MATTHEWS: What is the phrase "Washington Post" mean politically down there in Alabama? When a voter hears the phrase "Washington Post," honestly what do they hear?
ARCHIBALD: They hear fake news, which is -- hurts the soul of an old newspaper guy, but that's the way it is. I mean, there's very little trust there right now among those people who support roadway Moore.
DEL PERCIO: And yet those people, Chris, just as an FYI, they all believe "The New York Times" which they also have a problem with. But when they were accusing Harvey Weinstein, they had no problem believing that and calling for Obama and other Democrats to step away from him.
BELLANTONI: Right. We don't know really what Alabama voters are believing in their press, but we do know that the strategy is to attack, attack, attack the media in particular and then go on FOX News and talk about that there. Part of the whole system is breaking down here, and if people are only hearing one bit of information, they're never going to be able to make a decision for themselves.
And I will say, you know, the "L.A. Times" we have been at the forefront of both at the entertainment here at looking into abuse allegations, misconduct allegations, harassment allegations. These are not stories that are taken lightly. We spend a lot of time reporting them. We are very careful. And that "Washington Post" story did not read like they put it together real quick. It didn't read like fake news.
BELLANTONI: Clearly --
MATTHEWS: Almost an interrogation of six different people interrogating her.
BELLANTONI: And those stories, everybody takes them very seriously and it's really important to be doing this right now. This is a phenomenon we are looking at across all industries.
MATTHEWS: Right now. Well, Roy Moore said he wasn't going anywhere and blame the attack as we just heard on the media or a media conspiracy. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: The "Washington Post" has attacked my foundation. They have attacked my wife and now they are attacking me personally on a sexual matter. I don't know what's going next, but I'm sure that in the next four weeks they are going to come out with another article because they have got an agenda and they are fulfilling their agenda right as we speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that attack by the candidate was echoed by Steve Bannon, his supporter. Let's listen to Steve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The Bezos amazon "Washington Post" that dropped that dime on Donald Trump is the same Bezos amazon "Washington Post" that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now, is that a coincidence? That's what I mean when I say opposition party. Right? It's purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to John Archibald. There's a new axis I hadn't heard of before the Bezos amazon "Washington Post." It's almost like the well, World War II kind of axis. Does this ring familiar? Does anybody know who Jeff Bezos' politics are or amazon which seems to be pretty ant septic politically, why they would have a left wing bent? Just because they're big time? Is that it?
ARCHIBALD: I think there is. They are a big time, new age -- I think it's a finely crafted phrase that was thought about for a while, and I guarantee you it resonates with some people here.
MATTHEWS: What do you think about the race? I'm looking at the poll numbers. Let's take a look at them right now. This is a new Alabama poll of likely voters. That's a good (INAUDIBLE). It means it's been screened. These are people that are probably going to show up. It shows them basically 46 all. Is that what it smells like down there, John?
ARCHIBALD: Yes. I don't know. I think that's pretty optimistic for the Democrat. It may be drawing closer, but polls here have not been very accurate. It would be a real surprise still for me for him to be that close. But, you know, it's a single race election. Turn out has been historically low in these things.
MATTHEWS: Not now. Do you think this -- I would think this would juice the electorate in a lot of ways.
I want to get back to Susan. This is going to get - I mean, I just looked at the numbers today. Eighty some percent of the people in Alabama new yesterday tall about this story and they are all going to know about it. And I don't care if you are the least political person on the block, you are going to have heard this story and have an attitude about it.
DEL PERCIO: You are. And to go to turn out, one is the -- I guess the question will be I know that there's a local race in Montgomery County which can turn out towards the democrat. Plus like we saw on Tuesday, either women are going to come out strong or there's going to be a lot of Republicans who are kind of disgusted with what's going on and not come out at all. And that's what we are looking at in a special election.
But this is going to be an ugly 30 days. There's no question about it. And just to that clip that you showed about Steve Bannon, he's one to talk. Right now he's representing child molesters and ex-felons and that's not the party --
MATTHEWS: Who are those people you are talking?
DEL PERCIO: The child molester is obviously Roy Moore and former convicted felon is Michael Grim up in New York. So that's who he is getting behind after his career in the White House? That's not what the Republican Party is.
BELLANTONI: The Democrats have to be careful here, right. Because we know that national Democrats are Googling Doug Jones' name. He is probably getting more donations. They are very vested in this race. They smell blood.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE). That's not going to help.
BELLANTONI: Exactly. And Alabama voters may not appreciate that type of message. And the other part here is that we are talking about a Senate election where you have got establishment Republicans who are saying, you know, we are not going to back that guy now. We are going to turn away. Don't forget what happened a year ago. That helped Donald Trump win the presidency.
MATTHEWS: You know, I have been thinking for years before this guy, Trump. At least a year I should say. Freddie Krueger keeps coming back in the next movie. Every time you think he is gone, Freddie Kruger is back.
Anyway, thank you Cristina Bellantoni. Not that the President is Freddie Krueger. He's just like that. Anyway, John Archibald, thank you from Birmingham Alabama. And Susan Del Percio.
We are going to have much more on our top story later in the hour.
But first NBC News reports the special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a secret deal between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and senior Turkish officials. Flynn was allegedly offered, catch this, millions of dollars to seize one of President's Erdogan's opponents here in this country and hand him over to the Turks. This is dirty business if it's true.
Plus Tuesday's election was a moral boost for Democrats and progressive. Of course, they how do they build on that momentum for 2018 and 2020. We are going to talk to (INAUDIBLE) who has been talked about as potential presidential contender.
And the continued fallout from the Roy Moore allegations. Steve Bannon is standing by the Alabama Senate candidate. We heard that. But he is calling for the ouster of another Republican lawmaker, majority leader Mitch McConnell. Fine.
Let me finish tonight with Trump watch. This is "Hardball" where the action is.
MATTHEWS: I'm out here in California on tour for Bobby Kennedy, a raging spirit which is near the very top now of "The New York Times" bestseller list. And tonight I'll be appearing on real time with Bill Maher. I will be on special two person panel with, get this, Michael Moore, Donna Brazile and Sarah Silverman round out the cast tonight. What a group.
Then tomorrow afternoon, I'll be speaking to another sold out crowd, this time at an event at Scripts College in Claremont, California. What has struck me in just a week of publication of this book is how the story of Bobby Kennedy has touched this country's heart.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We learned this week that, in the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled enough evidence to bring charges against him.
Well, now NBC News is reporting new details about Mueller's interest in Flynn's work on behalf of the government of Turkey, specifically his potential involvement in a plan to forcibly remove one of President Erdogan's political opponents from the United States and deliver him forcibly to Turkey.
Well, the plan, which the incoming national security adviser discussed with Turkish officials in a meeting during the transition, could represent -- quote -- "a potential quid pro quo in which Flynn would be paid to carry out directives from Ankara" -- that's the capital of Turkey -- "secretly while in the White House and on the White House payroll."
In exchange, "Flynn was offered upwards of $15 million to be paid directly or indirectly if he could complete the deal, according to two sources familiar with that meeting."
Well, it's the kind of leverage that Mueller could use to persuade Flynn to become a cooperating witness in the larger Russian investigation.
Well, late today, Flynn's lawyer said in a statement: "We have intentionally avoiding responding to every rumor or allegation raised in the media, but today's news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial, that we are making an exception to our usual rule. They are false."
Joining me now is the author of the reporter, NBC's Julia Ainsley. Ken Vogel is a reporter with "The New York Times," and Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist.
I want to go to Julia on this.
Tell us as much as you can about the nature of what we know to be true here about a conversation between Turkish officials and General Flynn about the question of whether he would participate in forcibly getting somebody back to Turkey that was an enemy of Erdogan, the president.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, of course, Chris, we stand by our reporting.
Carol Lee and I very much have been reporting on this for a long time, and we have sources that say that Michael Flynn and that Mueller is looking into whether Michael Flynn, in December of 2016, when he was already working for the Trump presidential transition, met at the 21 Club in New York, that is just blocks away from Trump Tower, where he was working on the transition, with Turkish officials and was offered upwards of $15 million if he could secure the removal of the Fethullah Gulen.
That, of course, is the elderly Muslim cleric living in the Poconos who is a political opponent of Turkish President Erdogan. This is something that the Turks had been pleading for, for a long time. They asked the Obama administration to review this. They dismissed it.
And then we know that after Trump came into the administration and after Flynn became his national security adviser, the FBI was asked again to review this case, with no new information.
So what Mueller is looking for now is whether or not Flynn exploited his position as national security adviser and was influenced by a foreign power in this position. This, of course, could fall under a bribery statute. Without even taking that money, he could be subject to prosecution.
MATTHEWS: To win a bribery case -- I have watched this for years -- you have to almost have a tape, don't you? I mean, you have to show a quid pro quo conversation. If I do this, you will do that. And that has to be basically sealed in a conversation.
It can't just be an inference or some assumption made. How would you get something like that in a case like this, unless one of the people were wired in real time, wired?
AINSLEY: Well, of course, it's difficult, but we know that special counsel Mueller has the ability to subpoena businesses.
He could look at the 21 Club, people who met there. He could try to talk to people who were involved in this meeting. We know that he is speaking to witnesses who worked with Flynn and the Flynn Intel Group because he's very interested in his business of lobbying on behalf of Turkey. That, of course, would encompass this.
And the grand jury is hearing from more witnesses through the end of next week. This is something he's pushing really hard on, Chris, because he wants to be able to turn Flynn into a cooperating witness, because, of course, Flynn gets closer into the Trump administration than someone like Paul Manafort or George Papadopoulos ever would.
He actually served as part of this transition and in the White House.
MATTHEWS: Ken, you know that thing, that term in mathematics and physics called asymptotic, that something gets close to close to close. It keeps cutting the distance in half, keeps cutting the distance in half, but it never quite hits? You know? It's a theory of limits.
That's what this case is like. It's so teasing, because every time we get an account, like this account, which is probably totally true, but it never quite satisfies, because you never quite get to that point of, they were heard saying, if you do this, I will do that.
And this seems to be the pattern in all Mueller's investigation. It's very teasing, very appetizing, because it seems to get, they're in a meeting. They talk about a certain topic. There was an offer made, and, pause, nothing.
And then you would go, well, I would like to know a little more here.
Go ahead, Ken. That's the pattern.
KEN VOGEL, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes.
I don't think you have to get all the way there. We saw that in the Manafort and the Gates indictments, where there's -- you know, there are foreign agents registration act violations, there are alleged tax violations, there are alleged money laundering violations.
And what you have here already is the groundwork for a case that's similar to that, for an indictment that is similar to that. Flynn has already acknowledged that he did not properly register his work on behalf of this Dutch company that is Turkish-owned through the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
This is another meeting, this meeting in December in New York City. Even if there was no money that changed hands, even if there was no contract that was signed, just the fact of that meeting, where they're talking about ways to influence U.S. foreign policy, perhaps extralegally, but nonetheless influence U.S. foreign policy, that should trigger the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
And Flynn did not register that work.
MATTHEWS: If he didn't perform -- Ken, if he didn't perform any service, didn't carry out this request, this professional offer, that would still be a violation of the law, you're saying, even just having the conversation?
VOGEL: That's my understanding, yes.
Yes, because you're meeting with a foreign principal about influencing U.S. foreign policy. It doesn't have to be money changed hands. There's been cases where there's been FARA registrations without any money changing hands, and my understanding is that this would fit that bill.
MATTHEWS: Bob, we have known each other a long time. You know what this looks like? It looks like a very impressive prosecutor who is building what might be called leverage on a lot of people.
And he's got Michael Flynn. If he broke a couple of laws, he can throw a book at the guy. Nobody wants to go to prison, even if it's a technicality, for 10, 20 years, which they can do, threatening the son. Nobody wants their son to go to jail because of something they got them into.
It looks to me like he's building and building and building with one goal in mind, get the top guy, get Trump.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, probably to get the truth.
But he wants to pressure these folks. There are a whole host of potential felonies that I think Michael Flynn could conceivably face. I don't think we can know what Mueller has until some of these cases go to trial. Even the indictment, if there is an indictment, isn't going to tell us everything.
But there's one real clue to this, I think, and that was the president asking James Comey before he fired him as FBI director to go easy on Mike Flynn.
You know, Donald Trump is not someone famous for his loyalty to anyone but his family.
MATTHEWS: He's not Saint Francis. He's not Saint Francis, no.
Anybody else can be thrown under the bus.
MATTHEWS: So, you think he was keeping him at bay?
SHRUM: Well, it suggests -- it logically suggests that Trump is worried that Flynn could put him in a whole world of hurt.
MATTHEWS: OK. You're General Flynn, and you have got to worry about what Trump might do to you, or some residue of loyalty to him, which we both understand in politics. You have a loyalty to those who have appointed you.
But to his son -- that doesn't even touch the loyalty factor here. He's got to look out for his family.
SHRUM: Well, his son -- his son obviously was involved in all sorts of -- in all parts of his business, and obviously is vulnerable here.
And I think he will worry about that. But, beyond that, he's got to think about what's going to happen to him, to what's left of his reputation. And my guess is that maybe he's hoping that, if things go badly, Trump will give him a pardon.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, why not?
Anyway, Julia, you have also been reporting for NBC News that Robert Mueller is also investigating a meeting between Flynn, General Flynn -- and this is a strange one -- Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California. I have known Dana a long time. He's a staunch advocate, for whatever reason, for lifting sanctions with Russia
Quote: "Mueller's interest in the nature of Flynn and Rohrabacher's discussion marks the first known time a member of Congress could be wrapped into the investigation."
In May, "The New York Times" also reported that "An FBI agent told Mr. Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an agent of influence, someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer Washington policy-making."
Julia, what is the politics here? It used to be, when I was growing up for thousands of years, that Republicans didn't like Russians. They considered them communists. They particularly didn't like the KGB. They were the bad guys. In the black spy/white spy stories, they were the black guy, they were black spies, the bad guys.
Now, why are the good guys now? Why does he like -- why would Rohrabacher like Putin?
AINSLEY: You know, this relationship has always caused a lot of people to raise eyebrows.
We even had that tape that "The Washington Post" reported on earlier this year where Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader on the Senate -- on the -- when Kevin McCarthy was trying to say that, if anyone is being paid by Russia, it's Trump and it's Rohrabacher.
I mean, it's very strange that his name has come up and up again. He's also advocated for dropping the Magnitsky Act, which, of course, sanctions Russians. And he's also advocated for giving protections to Julia Assange.
So, he -- the fact that his name is coming up at a meeting with Michael Flynn is, of course, an interest to Robert Mueller, and they are now looking at e-mails exchanged between the Flynn Intel Group and Rohrabacher's staff.
We know that they had a meeting September 20 in D.C., and that, at this time, he brought in a number of people from his Flynn Intel Group, the lobbying firm, not from the campaign. But it's hard to separate those two, because, at the time, Flynn was also working as an adviser to the campaign.
So, again, he's running into this place where he's trying to have both ways, being the lobbyist and the adviser.
MATTHEWS: Well, again, I will quote Jackie Mason, but this -- there's just blood here all over the place, all over the defendant, and there's Russia all over these people, Russia, Russia, Russia.
Ken, I have never in my life heard of so many Russian contacts by the Republican side or any side in American politics. And I think it has to do with lots of rubles looking for a place to go.
Anyway, thank you, Julia Ainsley.
I think we should follow the money, and I know we are.
And, of course Ken Vogel, and Bob Shrum, sir, thank you, all you guys.
Still ahead: the continued fallout from the Roy Moore allegations. And up next: How do Democrats keep the momentum coming out of Tuesday's massive - - I mean, these victories are like 1974.
We're going to ask Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a possible 2020 presidential contender. The great mentioner is mentioning him for president.
And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I'm Richard Lui with some breaking news for you.
"The Washington Post" is reporting that the body of a U.S. soldier killed in an ambush in Niger last month was found with his arms bound and a wound, indicating he may have been executed.
Comedian Louis C.K. says recent allegations of his sexual misconduct are true. He apologized to the women involved for using his power as a celebrity irresponsibly. FX Networks announced today it is serving all ties with the comedian.
And bundle up. The first major arctic blast of the season is producing bone-chilling temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast -- for now, back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: Today, Virginians have answered and have spoken. Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.
PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR-ELECT: Tonight, we declare the days of division are over. We will move forward together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tuesday's Democratic victories from Maine to Montana provided a much-needed boost, a big morale boost for a party which many argue has lost its way since last year's election.
But the high from Tuesday's victory is already waning -- or waning -- I don't know how to pronounce that -- and Democrats have yet to deal with two fundamental structural problems, a lack of leadership nationally and a unified message.
With 2020 only three years away, and President Trump historically unpopular, a slew of potential Democratic contenders has popped up across the country, from Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who just last week decided to pass on a run for governor of California.
The mayor, who was reelected last March in a massive landslide, recently launched a new national initiative to help boost infrastructure across the country, Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Well, certainly, I'm with you on this.
ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And I don't even like the word infrastructure. I want rapid rail. I want everything. I want to reunite a polarized country.
MATTHEWS: Tell us your dream.
GARCETTI: Well, we launched this...
MATTHEWS: If you were the president.
GARCETTI: We launched Accelerator for America this week in South Bend, Indiana.
And I think mayors know how to get things done.
MATTHEWS: He's a good mayor.
GARCETTI: He's a great mayor, Pete -- Mayor Pete Buttigieg out there. We had mayors from Dayton, from Columbia, South Carolina, from Nashville.
And we know that, right now, while Washington is so broken, it's up to us to show people how you can actually create jobs, fix this country, and build our future. And I think people are frustrated, not just with the White House, but the inaction that...
MATTHEWS: Why don't the leaders -- I'm watching Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer. They just wait for the president to propose a tax bill, and then they sort of whine about it.
They're not proposing stuff, like rebuilding the country. Why don't they do it?
GARCETTI: And the money that was supposed to be brought back to the country...
MATTHEWS: You're saying "and" -- well, why don't they do it? Why don't Democrats have a plan?
GARCETTI: Well, I think that, right now, they're so busy playing defense.
GARCETTI: Schumer does have a plan. I have met with him.
It's a trillion-dollar plan that would equal what the president has talked about. But I think what we forgot is the same night a year ago that Trump was elected president, cities passed $230 billion of infrastructure.
That's almost a quarter of the trillion dollars they're talking about. So, while we need Washington to step up, we're not powerless where we live, in the states where we are, the local communities we are, to get that job done. And that's what we're doing here in L.A.
We passed the largest transportation infrastructure package in U.S. history times two, $120 billion, 15 rapid transit lines, 750,000 jobs for the next 40 years in this town. Those are middle-class jobs.
MATTHEWS: OK, jobs.
How do you get the Democrats to get the white working-class back to the party?
GARCETTI: Start speaking English again. Start just speaking normal, plain, straightforward English to people about jobs, about infrastructure, and stop being obsessed about a Democratic agenda.
Start getting into an agenda for the American people again. I think people don't wake up asking, who is in charge of the Democratic Party, who is running our state party?
GARCETTI: They don't care about those internecine battles.
They want to see people who are talking to them about their education, about their debt, and about their home, about their health care, those things where people live. And we have got to go back to that. We're the party of the underdog.
MATTHEWS: Are you running?
GARCETTI: I'm not a candidate for president. I'm the mayor of a great city.
MATTHEWS: Would you like to be president of the United States?
GARCETTI: Well, I'm focused on 2018 right now and making sure that we can flip the House, protect what we have, and get a party in power that isn't defining itself by what it takes away, but what it gives.
MATTHEWS: I think you're smiling. And, by the way, I think you're running. And, by the way, it's your decision, not mine, obviously.
MATTHEWS: Is there anybody better than you to be the Democratic nominee in 2020? Is there anybody else that you can think of better than...
GARCETTI: Oh, there's great people out there.
MATTHEWS: Anybody better than you?
GARCETTI: I never assume I'm the best person.
MATTHEWS: Who is better than you?
GARCETTI: Well, Joe Biden is a dear friend of mine. He's somebody I would look forward...
MATTHEWS: You're right. You're going for running mate.
Anyway, thank you.
MATTHEWS: L.A. Mayor.
I agree, Eric.
MATTHEWS: I think you will be a great candidate. I hope you run.
GARCETTI: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: the political damage from the Roy Moore bombshell. Other Republicans may be distancing themselves -- wouldn't you? -- from the Alabama Senate candidate, but Steve Bannon has made it clear he's standing by his man.
You're watching HARDBALL.
Look at the guy, right? He's got his jobber on too. That's to show he's a regular guy.
You're watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As we mentioned, while many Republicans are in damage control over allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Steve Bannon is standing by his man. Bannon backed Moore in his primary fight against Luther Strange, even campaigning on his behalf.
Well, the former White House chief strategist has also accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of trying to destroy Moore and in an interview with "The New York Times", Bannon launched yet another attack on McConnell. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The Senate and Mitch McConnell have been the most outrageous in their lack of support of President Trump's agenda.
INTERVIEWER: So, that's his greatest offense is not supporting the president enough?
BANNON: The greatest offense is not supporting the president enough as of now. I think he showed his contempt for the grassroots movement. I think he showed his contempt for the really the Trump movement in those actions and so, yes, Mitch McConnell has to go.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think Mitch McConnell will be majority leader at this time next year?
BANNON: I absolutely do not think he'll be majority leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let's bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Eliza Collins is Capitol Hill reporter for "USA Today", Clarence Page is columnist for "The Chicago Tribune", and Ginger Gibson is political correspondent for "Reuters".
It's a great team. Why don't you all begin to assess in the order of naming you about how the Republicans get out of these Chinese handcuffs. I mean, it seems to me the more they support this guy and they already pretty much have done it, they're stuck with him. But if he wins, they're going to have to explain him through history, the indiscretion, you might call them if you're his best friend, of the past and if they lose with him, they don't -- if he gets blown out of the race, the Democrat wins.
Eliza, you first.
ELIZA COLLINS, CAPITOL HILL REPORTER, USA TODAY: They're in Chinese handcuffs. I think that's the best way to say it. They have a very narrow majority in the Senate. They could really use another Republican to help get their agenda such as tax reform through.
That being said, do they really want their Republican to be someone who is accused of dating a teenager and not quite denying it? I mean, he's denied it but he's used things like I can't remember and generally. We've seen Republicans and just tonight, we saw two senators unendorsed him, which I think is showing sort of where they're feeling.
MATTHEWS: You know, Clarence, you and I are of a similar past. We've been through the same life about the same time.
PAGE: Yes, we are.
MATTHEWS: I never heard a guy say, I've never dated somebody without asking permission of their parents. Never dated anybody. You don't meet the parents first.
It's the craziest thing I ever heard. Can I meet your parents before I go out with you, even ask you for a date? Can we go to the movie? Oh, I got your parents before I take you to the movies.
And he's talking about a 14-year-old. What would you say to the parents to a 14-year-old when you're 32? I mean, it's cockamamie.
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Hard to imagine. One of my colleagues said that he didn't touch a 1-year-old girl even when he was 14 himself. I think this is such a shocking story, in that regard.
But, Chris, you know, we've been around long enough to have seen what happened like after the Lewinski scandal. It's like I think a lot of people in the Republican base feel like, well, they let Bill Clinton get away with it and this is no worse than that and blah, blah, blah.
PAGE: But people are really justifying, and rationalizing as much as they can in order to keep party unity. But the Chinese handcuffs one is not a bad one because it's certainly appropriate.
MATTHEWS: Ginger, I just wonder about the insanity. I mean, this is all tricky business who just covers politics, but the difference between Lauren Bacall and a 14-year-old, I'm sorry, I've seen all the movies. I mean, I don't get the Lauren Bacall reference to a 14-year-old. I don't even understand what we're talking about here when people make these defenseless defenses.
GINGER GIBSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: And Humphrey Bogart wasn't running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama.
GIBSON: Republicans are in a tough spot. I've heard some suggest that Mitch McConnell may be better off with a Democrat from Alabama knowing that the next time that that seat was up it would be a win in their column.
GIBSON: I think their biggest liability is going to be all the tape recorders that would be in front of Roy Moore for his duration of time in the Senate. Reporters would be flocking to him to get his comments on nearly everything, and that's a liability because every time he gives a quote that ends up in a story, it's a reminder not just to the voters of Alabama but the voters across the country that this guy managed to get elected if he wins and would be in the United States Senate.
MATTHEWS: Well thought through. I think you're right. They could at least get rid of him if they didn't have them there. They could get somebody else in there.
Anyway, Roy Moore was championed, however, by Steve Bannon. Here are some of the candidates Bannon has backed, by the way, or reported to have encouraged to run. It's a hell of a list. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER FRIESS, REPUBLICAN MEGADONOR: This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it's such inexpensive. You know, back in my days they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it was not costly.
KELLI WARD, ARIZONA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: John McCain is falling down on the job. He's gotten weak. He's gotten old.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MTP DAILY: You brought up his age. That's a tough -- that's a tough attack.
WARD: Well, I mean, I'm a physician. I see the physiological changes that happen in normal aging in patients again and again and again over the last 20, 25 years.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think that homosexuality or homosexual conduct should be illegal today? That's a yes or no question.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Homosexual conduct should be illegal.
INTERVIEWER: Should be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances. We wanted to get him on camera on that but he -- as you saw refused to talk about that. Back to you.
MICHAEL GRIMM, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this fucking balcony.
REPORTER: Why? I just wanted to ask you --
GRIMM: If you ever do that to me again.
REPORTER: Why? Why? It's a valid question.
GRIMM: No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Eliza, that's the murderers row that has been cooked up by Steve Bannon. I mean, these characters, Michael Grimm threatening to break like a boy and we're going to outlaw being gay and all this stuff, it's just one after another. These are strange candidates, including the one that beat Strange.
COLLINS: And it's quite a list and it's a lit that the Republican Party has to figure out how to deal with. I mean, Kelli Ward, who was the one that said that Senator McCain is too old, she right now is the leading person because Jeff Flake dropped out of the Arizona Senate race. But we saw Flake when he pulled out, we saw immediately Republicans saying the only good news here is that a more mainstream candidate can get in they call her conspiracy theorist Kelli.
And so, Republicans are going to have to fug out what is better, to have a Republican in the seat or to have one of these people on Bannon's list.
MATTHEWS: What a choice. What a choice. We'll be right back.
Clarence, I've got to get right back with you in a minute.
The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three -- starting with you, Clarence -- will give me scoops for the weekend.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: President Trump is gearing up for a series of meetings later today at the APEC summit in Vietnam. World leaders kicked off the summit by taking part in a traditional family photo. There it is, during which President Trump was seen sharing small talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Well, the exchange comes amid word from the White House that there will be no formal meeting due to scheduling conflicts on both sides. Do you believe that? Despite that, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says they're going to be in the same place, are they going to bump into each other and say hello? Certainly that is possible and likely. How coy.
We'll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We're back with the HARDBALL round table.
Clarence, you're first. Tell me something I don't know.
PAGE: Well, Chris, the TSA has replaced their acting administrator after their recent tests of security enabled 80 percent of the testers to slip through the metal detectors. Also, you pay think of taking Greyhound back to Washington.
MATTHEWS: It's nice to know if you wait in line to do something, it doesn't make any difference.
GIBSON: "Reuters"/Ipsos poll this past week found that 79 percent of Americans think that tax reform should help the middle class as overt corporate tax rate cuts. However, only 8 percent of Americans think that tax reform actually will help the middle class and most believe that it will help the wealthy.
MATTHEWS: They're smart.
COLLINS: Back to Alabama, some conservative lawmakers, while they haven't publicly spoken about distancing themselves from Moore, they're talking about possible write-ins that our conservatives not to split the ticket and they're talking about Jeff Sessions, who is currently the attorney general, and Mel Brooks, the congressman from Alabama.
MATTEHWS: Wow, I don't know, it can be very tricky the ballots have been printed.
Anyway, Eliza Collins, Clarence Page, Ginger Gibson.
When we return, let me finish the night with Trump watch. You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Friday, November 10th, 2017.
This has been a nasty week for the Trump team. First, the punch in the gut from the voters on Tuesday, in the first big electoral test, the victory last November, voters yelled a layout no to the man in the White House, the blast came especially strong from the suburbs, which usually decide elections in this country.
The second came with a charge that U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore became involved with a 14-year-old back in his early '30s. Well, the reaction from fellow Republicans was swift and negative. We have, let's remind ourselves, been here before, believe Donald Trump has gotten himself in trouble so deep he'd been unable to climb out of it.
What is different this time is that voters are now calling the president to account. They sided with him last year when the issue was the attitude and performance of the political establishment. The issue now is the personality and performance of Donald Trump, himself. If he continues to perform as he has the last year, if nothing changes in his conduct, it's hard to see how the voters' verdict will be any more positive a year from now when the country votes to pick a new Congress.
And that's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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