Show: HARDBALL Date: November 17, 2017 Guest: Rachael Bade, Alexi McCammond, Clarence Page; Shannon Pettypiece, Eugene Scott
[19:00:00] ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: And "Hardball" with Chris Matthews starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The star falls in Alabama. Let`s play "Hardball."
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Dallas, Texas.
Roy Moore`s wife delivered a defiant message today. Kayla Moore told a crowd of supporters her husband wasn`t going anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLA MOORE, ROY MOORE`S WIFE: All of the very same people who were attacking President Trump are also attacking us. Let me set the record straight, even after all the attacks against me, against my family, against the foundation, and now against my husband, he will not step down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And yet, Republicans may have reason to be nervous. Two polls two days in a row show Moore trailing his Democratic opponent. The latest poll out today shows Moore five points behind. And yesterday, a FOX News poll had him down eight points.
In Washington, there is one Republican, however, glaringly absent from the conversation about Roy Moore. President Donald Trump hasn`t spoken or tweeted a word about the Senate candidate since returning from his trip to Asia. And here is how the President reacted to a question this week about Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President? Do you believe his accusers?
TRUMP: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the accusers of Roy Moore, Mr. President? Should he resign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, his response was very different to another scandal.
Yesterday a radio news anchor Leeanne Tweeden accused Senator Al Franken of kissing her without permission. It happened during a USO tour in 2006. The two were rehearsing a skit. She also released this photo of Franken appearing to grab her chest while she slept. Well, Tweeden said today she accepted Franken`s apology.
Last night Trump tweeted, the Al Frankenstein picture is really bad. Speaks a thousand words. Where do his Hands go in pictures two, three, four, five, and six while she sleeps? And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Well, Trump ends with the question, Leslie Staal tape?
That appears to be a reference to a 1995 "New York" magazine article which "Saturday Night Live" writers were discussing a skit about "60 Minutes." Franken, then a writer on the show, suggested a joke about raping Leslie Staal. Well, Trump is the man who once bragged about being able to grab women`s private parts. More than a dozen women have accused him of sexual assault or misconduct. He has denied all of them.
Anyway, White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about all the different responses to the two stories. Let`s watch her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some critics have said it was hypocritical of the president to tweet about Al Franken and not weigh in on Roy Moore.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has weighed in on Roy Moore. He did it while he was on a foreign trip in Asia. I did it repeatedly yesterday. To suggest that this White House, and specifically that this President hasn`t weighed in is just inaccurate and wrong. He weighed in. He said if the allegations are true, he should step aside. He also weighed in when he supported the RNC`s decision to withdraw resources from the state of Alabama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by author and MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes, Bloomberg White House reporter Shannon Pettypiece, and Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.
I want to start with Charlie on this. What do you make of, well, it`s probably so obvious a question, but I will ask you, why does he not talk about Moore but he talks about Franken? So kind of rough to put it lightly.
CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, the hypocrisy has hair on it in this particular case, you know. Number one, Donald Trump understands that his base is still with Roy Moore, and that`s the message that Steve Bannon has been spitting out and nothing this President ever does separates from the base, you know.
And number two, look, you know, this is his playbook. The playbook is to play the card of what aboutism. And he thinks this playbook worked for him. This is basically almost the entire message of the Moore campaign, the evangelical Christians supporting Moore, the Trump world people supporting Moore, which is to turn it around just like he did after "Access Hollywood." The question is whether that playbook really accounts for the way in which the game has I think changed. The ground is shifting but he is still going back to, this is what Donald Trump does. He punches back and he does not separate himself from his base.
[19:05:02] MATTHEWS: Yes. And I don`t know where to start here.
Shannon Pettypiece, I mean, this is -- you know, the way the President played this was so gross. It wasn`t like he said there is the guy caught in a terribly embarrassing and off manner satirizing, he was touching this woman for a picture taking thing while he was asleep. Ok, that`s bad enough. Then he suggested this kind of like the Bill Cosby allegation something that he is groping her all part of her body. I mean, he out grosses Al Franken in this thing by a mile in his own imagination. Let`s call it that, his image - although we know it is probably worse than that. What do you think?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes. I mean, the tweet really doesn`t make very much sense. I mean, like a lot of his tweets don`t necessarily make sense.
MATTHEWS: But where are we in pictures two, three, four, five, and six?
PETTYPIECE: I don`t know if there were two, three, four, I don`t think they were other pictures.
MATTHEWS: Of course, there probably weren`t.
PETTYPIECE: So it doesn`t make any sense, you know. But I mean, to Charlie`s point, this strategy that -- I see a lot of parallels between this and the "Access Hollywood" tape. I mean, there is even a similar time between now and when the "Access Hollywood" we have got about three weeks, four weeks before the election.
There`s a lot that can help between now and then. And if Roy Moore takes the Donald Trump strategy of dig his heels in, fight, fight, fight, counterpunch, raise a few doubts in people`s minds, hold your ground, you know, he think he probably he could pull off the same thing because when the voters of Alabama go by themselves in that voting booth, and there have been lifelong Republicans, are they going to pull the lever for the name of the Democrat on there? And that doesn`t seem to be any serious momentum right now to get another Republican in there.
MATTHEWS: Well, Clarence, let`s get back to our area of specialty and comfort which is politics. It seems to me that as we talk about it here up in the national media, the people down in Alabama are taking care of this quite well themselves. They are shifting, I guess especially the women voters are shifting away from their normal voting pattern of voting Republican here, and they are all shifting over at least in the polling today and yesterday, to Jones, the Democratic nominee.
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I think that`s critical, Chris, you know. One thing that Donald Trump knows about, it`s his base. He understands audience. And I think the way he ran away from the microphone when he was asked about Roy Moore today was indicative of how he does not want to divide his base. And he sees that Roy Moore does divide the base. It`s a heavy evangelical base, very moralistic in their thinking and very conservative. And that`s what I think you are seeing in this erosion in the polls.
A lot of people are saying, I have got to go in there and decide who to send to Washington to represent Alabama, represent my state. Do I want to vote for a guy who is probably a pedophile? And that`s what people are thinking down there. And that`s going to be very interesting because the turnout, of course, is going to make a difference. Will they turn out for Roy Moore or not?
MATTHEWS: Yes. I wonder if Megan`s law relates here.
Anyway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders today said comparisons between Franken and trump were unfair, because Franken admitted to wrongdoing, and the President has not. Just a reminder by the way, the President once bragged about being able to get away with grabbing women by their private parts. Let`s listen to that infamous quote from the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am automatically attracted to beautiful, I just start kissing them. It is like magnet, you just kiss. (INAUDIBLE). And when you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (bleep).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: At the time Donald Trump the candidate dismissed that as "locker room" talk. But during the campaign, more than a dozen women actually accused Trump of sexual assault or misconduct. Here are some of their (INAUDIBLE). These are actually people in public, On the Record, doing so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ACCUSER: It was a real shock when all of a sudden his hands were all over me. He started encroaching on my space. And I hesitate to use this expression, but I`m going to, and that is he was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place.
JILL HARTH. TRUMP ACCUSER: He pushed me up against the wall and had his hands all over me, and tried to get up my dress again. And I had to physically say, what are you doing, stop it! It was a shocking thing to have him do this.
KRISTIN ANDERSON, TRUMP ACCUSER: The person on my right, who unbeknownst to me at that time was Donald trump, put their hands up my skirt. He did touch my vagina through my underwear.
KARENA VIRGINIA, TRUMP ACCUSER: He then walked up to me and reached his right arm and grabbed my right arm. Then his hand touched the right inside of my breast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump called the claims against him, all of those women, totally and absolutely false, and he attacked the women making those charges. Let`s watch him in action here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These events never, ever happened, and the people that said them fully understand. You take a look at these people. You study these people and you`ll understand also.
These people are horrible people. They are horrible, horrible liars.
I have no idea who these women are, have no idea.
When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said I don`t think so. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:10:11] MATTHEWS: Charlie, where do we begin here? I mean --.
MATTHEWS: As uncomfortable these conversations could be, those women were explicit. They were wonderfully articulate and very credible. And they seem to have a clear memory of what he did. He has no memory. He denies it but he does say that they are horrible people. Then he says I don`t know them. I don`t know people but they are horrible.
It`s his ability, the same sentence make 180 arguments from each other, and that people applaud it. Explain.
SYKES: Well, this is going to be a hell of a problem for him and the Republican Party because, you know, when you think about he was able to pull this off by doing the Aboutism with Clinton a year ago, I think the ground has shifted as I said before. But you know, just listening to those sound bites again, you realize how incredibly ugly this is, that he is re- abusing these women by attacking them.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Adding insult to injury.
SYKES: Adding insult to injury. But also what they are doing is, this is a warning to women not to come forward because we will attack you and we will vilify you and you will be ignored. This is going to be a live issue for him again, you know, as this all plays out. There`s no way it doesn`t.
But it is also a problem for Republicans. And a lot of Republicans are going to have to answer the question, you know, if you believe the other women were making accusations, do you or do you not believe the women who are making the charges against Donald Trump? And they have to answer that at some point if it is pressed.
So it`s a problem for Trump. It`s going to come back. It is going to be a live issue. It ought to be a live issue and it ought to be a live issue for Republicans who have enabled him since the "Access Hollywood" video came out.
MATTHEWS: You know, Shannon, I always accused the right (INAUDIBLE) always obviously, but I have accused them over the years of conflation. They will conflate something like what happened on 9/11 to us, the horror of 9/11 with Iraq and say we have to go to Iraq even though Iraq had nothing to do with it. They are very good at this.
And in this case, they are conflating the misconduct and admitted misconduct of senator Franken with the real problem, I mean, real personal problem we have that it looks like it was an enduring problem, addiction problem we have with Mr. Moore, Judge Moore. And they are throwing him out. And I think that`s what Trump is up to. This moral equivalence that is putting them all in the same category because the media has to struggle to put these same stories in the same article without putting them in the same category. He does make it hard to cover these stories accurately and fairly.
PETTYPIECE: Right. And it gets them to like this argument about whose defense is worse? So this one admitted it and this one had six accusers, this one had one. And it`s like some sort of a contest, I mean, like who can be the biggest and you know, sexual offender here.
And I think though over -- between now and the next election or the next three years, we are just going to see more of these. I mean, we are just going to see more of this. I mean, especially on Capitol Hill, and the reporters I know have been walking the halls of Capitol Hill for years. They know there are more stories out here. So it`s just going to be a continual discussion about who did what, who is worse. And of course, like where are we going to draw the line too of, you know, what was crossing the line, what`s not crossing the line, what is going too far back in someone`s past? It didn`t happen when they were in Congress.
I mean, I think there is a ground shifting and we are just at the very beginning of this. I think there are going to be more and more and this conversation is going to be in a completely different place a year from now than where it is now.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And one guy is on a USO tour trying to help the troops, doing something he shouldn`t have done. And the other guy is trolling/shopping malls for teenagers. We have to put all this into our head and think through this and discernment is what God gave us the ability to do. And we should do it here.
Anyway, Charlie Sykes, it is great to have you on. Shannon Pettypiece as always and my old pal Clarence Page.
Coming up, lots of developments in the Russian investigation today including a new report from NBC News that Jared Kushner, remember him? Son-in-law to the President. Failed to disclose a back door overture to the campaign by Trump involving a Russian banker with alleged ties to the Russian mob. And that Russian banker ended upsetting next to Donald Trump, Jr. at an NRA event in Kentucky last May. Well the question is, why did he end up there? Why are there always Russians nearby the Trumps? That`s ahead.
Plus, with accusations of sexual harassment on the front page, some Democrats are beginning to reconsider the actions of former president Bill Clinton. New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who owes her career in large part to the Clinton, says Bill Clinton should have resigned after his behavior in the Lewinsky scandal.
And house of lies. According to report this week, President Trump makes five false or misleading claims every day he lives. It is a staggering numbers, staggering percentage. But he is not the only administration official who has trouble telling the truth, as Michael Gersham puts it, the Russian investigation alone has led to a spectacular accumulation of lies by Trump and his people.
Finally, let me finish tonight what I have decide the inspiring welcome I have been getting from Bobby Kennedy raging speech across the country, Our fans see the (INAUDIBLE) legacy by the way as atonic, don`t you think? For all we have for going on today in politics.
And this is "Hardball" where the action is.
[19:16:50] MATTHEWS: A shouting match erupted late last night during a Senate hearing for the Republican tax plan. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio accused Republicans of writing a bill that favors corporations and the rich instead of middle class Americans. And those comments clearly got under the skin of the committee`s chairman, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: When Republicans are in power, the first thing they want to do is give tax cuts to the rich. That`s just one -- it`s in their DNA. It`s what they are going to do.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I really resent anybody saying that I`m just doing this for the rich. Give me a break. True, it`s nice political play.
SHERROD: Well, Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, I get sick and tired --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order, Mr. Chairman.
HATCH: Listen! I have honored you by allowing you to spout off here. And what you said was not right! That`s all I`m saying. I come from the lower middle class originally. We didn`t have anything. So don`t spew that stuff on me. I get a little tired of that crap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know what I like to hear them being genuine and both those guys were. And that said, according to a new analysis by a nonpartisan congressional group, the Senate plan would give large tax cuts to the rich, while raising taxes on those earning less than $75-k a year.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
There are new indications now, and today, in fact, that senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president`s son-in-law, hasn`t been telling the full truth to congressional investigators when it comes to the campaign`s contacts with Russian officials.
In a letter yesterday to Kushner`s lawyer, the Senate Judiciary Committee said that Kushner has failed to turn over documents that their committee requested last month.
Among the missing documents are -- quote -- "communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks, as well as documents concerning a Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite."
Well, now, in a late-breaking story tonight, NBC News is reporting tonight that the undisclosed Russian overture involved a banker who has been accused of links to Russian organized crime, and that`s according to three sources familiar with the matter.
A series of e-mails described requests from Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator and close Putin ally, who wanted Trump to attend an event he was organizing on the sidelines of an NRA, a National Rifle Association, event out in May of 2016.
Well, according to NBC News, the e-mail also suggests Torshin was speaking to meet with a high-level Trump campaign official during the convention and that he may have had a message from Trump -- for Trump from Putin, the sources said.
Well, while Kushner rebuffed the request, Torshin told Bloomberg that he dined with Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner on the sidelines of an NRA event.
And joining me right now is Carol Lee, investigative reporter with NBC News, and Paul Butler. He`s a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst.
Carol Lee, thank you for joining us.
CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Put this together.
How does this support -- it does apparently support the idea that Kushner is not being clean with the investigators. But does it suggest more so that he was colluding, that somebody was colluding with the Russians, or not?
LEE: Well, what it suggests is -- or shows is that Kushner did not disclose this e-mail, which was essentially a series of e-mail exchanges between a campaign official and somebody acting on behalf of this Russian banker, in which they`re saying he wants to have some sort of meeting or contact around this NRA convention.
Those exchanges forwarded to Kushner and a handful of other senior campaign officials, and we are told that Kushner replayed, saying, take a pass on this and any future sorts of requests along these lines.
The problem that the committee has with this is that he -- this turned up in their requests for documents from other officials, and Kushner himself didn`t disclose it. Now, the problem for Kushner in terms of, was this any sort of collusion, I think it would argue that he was dismissive of this, that the e-mail would show he is dismissive of this.
What it does raise a question about is Don Jr., and whether, if Kushner rejected this suggestion to have some sort of meeting along the sidelines of this NRA convention, then -- and this individual then went and told Bloomberg that he had privately dined with Donald Trump Jr., how did that come to be?
And we should note that, in the Bloomberg story, it was reported earlier this year somebody acting on behalf of Donald Trump Jr. said that he doesn`t recall that as being the same, that he recalls meeting a Russian, but he doesn`t know if it was this specific person.
MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump is, to me, notorious for going over to Africa and killing big game for picture-taking purposes, for photo-ops, but he does seem to have a pattern of vulnerability to the other side.
Put it together. Wasn`t he the one that was at the meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians? Is he sort of the soft underbelly of the Trump team, of the Trump family, where they go to him because he`s not quite as tough- thinking as the rest of the family about what he`s up to? I`m trying to be nice.
LEE: Well, based on what we know -- and we don`t know everything. In fact, we probably know a lot less than there is -- and certainly Robert Mueller knows.
But, based on what we know, there are a number of increasing questions that are being raised around the president`s son. And this is just another one, and I think that he`s -- there`s going to be -- he`s going to have to answer questions about, what was this dinner? Did it happen? How did it happen?
How did it happen, when the president`s son-in-law apparently said that nobody should take any sort of meeting along these lines?
And so we do seem to learn a little bit more and more about Donald Trump Jr. as this goes on.
MATTHEWS: Paul, how do you see this case? Is this one of these cases, like Billy Carter, the brother`s brother wasn`t too -- there`s always a presidential family member -- and I have watched this for decades now -- that gets the president in trouble.
Sam Houston Johnson was one. They all seem to have a brother or somebody involved who gets them into trouble.
And then there`s also the case that we see in local problems in cases where the father gets the son brought into the corruption or the wife brought into it. Horrible cases. What is the line of authority here? Is it the softer underbelly in the form of Donald Jr., who gets invited to stuff and thinks he`s helping dad out, but he doesn`t know what he`s up to, or is it -- he being designated to be the front man by the father?
What is going on here?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s certainly something that prosecutors exploit.
So, Mueller is being kind of cold-blooded with regard to Michael Flynn`s son.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he, too.
BUTLER: He`s doing the...
BUTLER: ... of like tough investigation, may bring him up on charges, again, not so much because he cares about Michael Flynn Jr., but because he wants to get dad.
So, again, if we find that special counsel Mueller honing in on Kushner, the son-in-law, and Donald Trump Jr., at the end of the day, it`s all about the big guy, because, Chris, again, it`s not just that all these Trump operatives are meeting with these shady Russian operatives.
It`s that they failed to disclose. So, we have Kushner, Trump Jr., Sessions, Flynn, George Papadopoulos. There comes a point where failure to disclose becomes willfully withholding evidence, becomes a lie, becomes a cover-up. That`s a crime.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Carol on that same point.
You have been covering this. And it seems to me that it is a case of a creeping investigation, whereby he tries to -- Mueller and his team find cases where laws have been broken that normally wouldn`t be so important when they were broken, but in this case create opportunities for the prosecutors to squeeze.
LEE: Yes, that`s absolutely right.
What you have seen is using things like registering for FARA, which nobody has -- would think that that wasn`t something that was regularly prosecuted.
MATTHEWS: Foreign Agency -- Foreign Agents Registration Act, yes, FARA.
LEE: Yes. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Help the people out on this.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: And, so, normally, if somebody failed to do that, it would be sort of a misdemeanor, at worst, but, in this case, it can be used to lever the truth from people that don`t want to give you the truth otherwise.
LEE: Right, because if you`re going to really enforce that, it could carry some significant penalties.
So we have seen Robert Mueller take -- be able to look at using things like that to try to squeeze -- I mean, the whole thing, the whole goal here seems to be to just get some of these lower-level -- not level -- and by that, I mean outer rungs away from the president, folks, to just -- to find some -- compel them to somehow flip.
And when you are taken -- one way to do that is to take these sort of things like registering as a foreign agent that weren`t necessarily enforced a lot, and basically enforce them.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re learning a lot day by day.
Carol Lee, thank you for your reporting, of course, and Paul Butler for the analysis.
Up next: New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says former President Bill Clinton should have -- this is a blockbuster -- should have resigned following the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She has Hillary`s seat.
And given the current climate in Washington, is now the time for Bill Clinton`s day of reckoning? I thought he was reckoned with. I thought he was impeached. Don`t we remember that? And tried in the Senate? That wasn`t exactly a secret tribunal.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The increased focus now on sexual misconduct has forced both Democrats and Republicans, obviously, to come face to face with some of their parties` own sorted past, if you will.
For Democrats, the party of women, because women have been voting more Democratic for years now, the allegations against Al Franken have started a national discussion about their own support for former President Bill Clinton.
Some Democrats have been emboldened to speak out, of course.
In an interview with "The New York Times," Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who occupies the New York Senate seat, as I said, once held by Hillary Clinton, said the former President Bill Clinton should have resigned over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Here she is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you think that we would be in a different place right now had President Clinton resigned?
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I don`t know. I think this has been a problem we have had in society certainly my entire life.
But we have never had a conversation this important. And it couldn`t come too soon.
QUESTION: Is it your view that President Clinton should have stepped down at that time, given the allegations?
GILLIBRAND: Yes. I think that is the appropriate response. But I think things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances, there should be a very different reaction.
And I think in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is good journalism you just heard there, good interviewing, catching a politician, a top politician, and getting that politician to make a real statement, which Senator Gillibrand did make right there.
Has Bill Clinton`s day of reckoning come? I personally think it has come.
But for more, I`m joined by MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle, and Eugene Scott, a political reporter with "The Washington Post."
Stephanie, Bill Clinton was impeached. He wasn`t convicted, but he had to be tried before the United States Senate. Everybody this side of the world, in fact, all around the world, knew what he was involved with, with a young employee, a former intern in her early 20s, and he was president of the United States. We all knew the situation.
We all pretty much knew the Starr report, even the too-much-information part of it. We do know what happened. We knew that the president wasn`t honest in his grand jury testimony. We know all of that. What more needs to be said about that at this point all these years later?
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: I mean, listen, we called it the Lewinsky scandal. We didn`t call it the Clinton scandal. And we looked at Monica Lewinsky as a villain.
But, come on, Chris, she was a victim.
MATTHEWS: We did?
RUHLE: Well, many people did. Think about...
MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead. I`m talking about -- I`m talking about the punishment -- the punishment -- look, I was tougher on Bill Clinton than just about anybody on the center-left. I know all about it. I remember what I was.
I sometimes think I was too tough on him. But one thing you can`t say is that people didn`t get a very clear hearing on what he had one. We saw it, and we talked about it. And he was judged by the United States Senate, wasn`t he?
RUHLE: He was definitely judged by the United States Senate, and Monica Lewinsky was practically run out of town.
And look at Kirsten Gillibrand making the brave statement that she has right now. And she`s already getting pushback from those who have said, the Clintons, they gave you money, they gave you Hillary Clinton`s seat, you should be grateful.
But Kirsten Gillibrand was not in a position then to say anything. The world accepted the Clintons. They were among the most powerful people in the Democratic Party. We all accepted it.
And now Kirsten Gillibrand in a position of power, and it`s pretty brave of her right now to say something like she has.
MATTHEWS: I agree, but what should we do?
RUHLE: What should we do? Change what we`re doing going forward.
Listen, I spent 14 years of my life sitting on a trading floor. Did I know that when I was sent home from dinner a little bit early, guys were going to a strip club, or I didn`t get invited to conferences in Vegas or fishing trips in Costa Rica? I knew what was happening, but I wasn`t in a position of power.
RUHLE: Now, today, finally, there is a change, and we can actually do something about it.
And anyone who thinks, oh, no, this is a political move, women are just trying to take this too far and run everything, give me a break.
MATTHEWS: Stephanie, please don`t argue with me. I`m just trying to say that Bill Clinton, who I was very tough on, went through hell on this. What did he escape? Just help me out. How did he escape judgment?
RUHLE: He didn`t escape judgment. It was just a different time.
RUHLE: People judged Bill Clinton. But over year after year, we accepted -- I mean, Bill Clinton was a womanizer for years, and we accepted it.
RUHLE: And now that Kirsten Gillibrand is trying to say, maybe we shouldn`t have, and this is a different time.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t we talk about -- let`s talk about the other cases that have come up.
And I want to bring in Eugene here, too.
We have got Juanita Broaddrick with her charge, which is much more serious than anything else. We have got Kathleen Willey with her charges.
How do you put them all into this question of what should be done now moving forward in 2017?
EUGENE SCOTT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think, moving forward, what people are asking is that Democrats be consistent with believing women.
And I think that`s what Gillibrand was getting to.
SCOTT: When these cases came up, these allegations came up, people did not immediately believe women.
We had people, including Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton and other Democratic strategists, try to discredit these women, in a way very similar to what we`re seeing Roy Moore do, as well as Donald Trump, involving the women that have accused them of inappropriate behavior.
And so whether or not Bill Clinton got impeached or was criticized or received negative pushback isn`t the main focus. I think the main focus right now is just how much women were not believed when they came forward against the president.
RUHLE: And let`s do better.
RUHLE: It doesn`t mean if it`s -- it could be politics, it could be business. In power circles, more junior people get taken advantage of. Let`s listen to them and let`s try to be better.
MATTHEWS: I think people thought, by the way -- Stephanie, on your point, I think that people thought that Bill Clinton was the predator with regard to Monica Lewinsky.
I don`t think people thought -- did they think she was the predator or the one -- aggressor sexually? I thought Clinton took that hit as the person in charge of that office, as president of the United States. He was in a superior position. He shouldn`t have had anything to do with her socially or sexually at all.
RUHLE: He took that hit.
MATTHEWS: I think people made that judgment.
RUHLE: But so did she.
RUHLE: I mean, do you mean to tell me that you don`t think Monica Lewinsky also took a hit? Come on.
SCOTT: She took a bigger hit.
I mean, Clinton went on to launch a much more lucrative career after all of this. And Monica Lewinsky was a very promising young person, interning in the White House, and her career as a result has not become what it could have been based on this.
RUHLE: OK, hold on. She was not Bill Clinton`s peer. So it`s not like they`re one and the same.
But Monica Lewinsky`s life, to a large part, was destroyed.
SCOTT: Right. Right.
RUHLE: Bill Clinton`s wasn`t.
MATTHEWS: We can agree on that.
MATTHEWS: We can agree on that.
Thank you, Stephanie. I hear your points, and they`re well-received here.
Thank you, Eugene Scott.
I`m trying to make up for the fact I think I was too tough on Clinton.
Anyway, Eugene Scott, thank you -- Stephanie Ruhle.
Up next: According to "The Washington Post," President Trump says something that isn`t true more than five times a day. It`s a stunning figure, by the way, to have a running average like that. But he`s not alone. Trump`s top officials have shown time and again that they have little interest in telling the truth.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The Trump administration is having trouble with the truth. Big surprise? Since President Trump took office back in January 20th of this year, "The Washington Post" has been tracking one very specific statistic, all the president`s falsehoods. "The Post" fact checker found in 298 days, Trump made 1,628 false or misleading claims. Quote, an average of 5.5 claims a day. That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first term in office, that aren`t true.
Any way, the president isn`t the only member of the administration who has shown little interest in being forthright. On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly evaded questions about the Trump campaign`s interactions with the Russians. Let`s listen to the A.G.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: My answers have not changed. I`ve always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them to the best of my recollection.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss your meetings with Ambassador Kislyak with Mr. Flynn?
SESSIONS: I do not recall, and don`t believe I communicated any of that information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anybody forward to you a communication from Mr. Papadopoulos?
SESSIONS: I don`t recall it. I don`t recall ever being made aware of that before. I don`t recall it. I do not recall such a conversation. I don`t recall it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your testimony today, you have stated "I don`t recall" at least 20 times. Is that fair to say?
SESSIONS: I have no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, who has a low regard for President Trump, writes in "The Washington Post," quote, the Russian investigation has led to a spectacular accumulation of lies. That was his phrase, by Trump and his administration. Lies on Twitter, lies in the White House briefing room, lies to the FBI, self- protective lies by the attorney general, blocking and tackling lies by Vice President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people whom truth, political honor, ethics and integrity mean nothing.
Well, that`s tough writing by Michael Gerson.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL table. Rachael Bade is a reporter for "Politico", Jonathan Allen is national political reporter for NBC News Digital, and Alexi McCammond is deputy news editor at "Axios".
Let me start with Jonathan Allen. Your thoughts on this? This pattern is brutal, but it doesn`t seem to affect his rock hard 38 percent of people. They don`t seem to be focused on his veracity as their reasons for their loyalty to him.
JONATHAN ALLEN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS DIGITAL: Yes, there`s a really strong contingent, Chris, that finds him to be authentic. Whether or not the president is telling the truth with regard to this Russian investigation, a lot of these lies of commission and omission are pertaining to that, and of course, the temporary selective amnesia of the attorney general that I think reminded all us we`re old enough of the Iran Contra hearings back in 1986, with all the Reagan administration officials not being able to recall things.
I think the problem for President Trump over time is that it will make it difficult to expand his base. We saw this with Hillary Clinton in 2016. By the time the American public decided that she wasn`t honest and trustworthy, it made her incapable of making the case for herself because what she was saying wasn`t considered valid.
MATTHEWS: Rachel, I remember when Richard Nixon went down, he went down because people stopped believing anything he had to say. He was proven to not be telling the truth, especially with regard to the cover-up of Watergate. When is that step going to come where the president says something and everybody even on the right starts to laugh? Laugh at inaccurate statements.
RACHAEL BADE, REPORTER, POLITICO: Credibility. There`s definitely some credibility issues on the Hill right now.
I would say from covering Capitol Hill, it`s interesting, there`s two reactions, there`s frustrations. I remember a couple of days ago after we found out that Sessions was in the very room that George Papadopoulos floated the idea of having Trump meet Vladimir Putin, which, of course, he did not mention in any of his congressional hearings. We saw Lindsey Graham go on TV and say Sessions, you need to tell us what is going on here. We`re sick of you forgetting things. And he said it point blank.
And this is a person he was very close with in the Senate. But there also this numbness I am sort of sensing on Capitol Hill. People are starting to roll their eyes, you know, another falsehood, another thing they forgot to mention, more amnesia. And people are going to stop or they already are questioning things coming out of the administration and wondering, are these things true? This comes back to credibility.
There`s going to be a time when President Trump or one of his campaign officials is going to say something and they`re going to want people to believe them. Of course, they do already. But -- and nobody is going to believe them, because credibility means everything, and they`re losing it right now.
MATTHEWS: Alexi, it`s kind of like a strike out here. You`ve got the president always doing a 180, and what he said in the first part of his sentence he`s changed it by the second part. You have this country boy act we`re getting from Jeff Sessions all the time, you know, slow talking and I don`t remember and all that stuff. It`s a game I watched in old movies where the country boy is always the one who`s pretending he`s not so smart but is smart, a lot smarter than he`s pretending to be. Then, of course, we got the document hunt, we have to squeeze it out of these people. You`ve got -- it`s always rolling disclosure. They never want to give you -- you know, Jared is just the classic case who forgets to tell you about his latest meeting with the Russians.
ALEXI MCCAMMOND, DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR, AXIOS: Right, exactly. And I think when the president is making on average 5.5 misleading or false claims a day, how can anyone underneath him keep up with those lies, and those false claims and add their own lies. I think that speaks to why they sort of claim that they don`t remember or it`s easier to say, well, I don`t remember, I don`t recall that happening, because otherwise they`re implicating themselves and they have to keep up with what the president is saying, which is often false and misleading.
And I also think the latest news about Mueller, sending subpoenas to 12 top White House officials suggests what they`re saying, which is they`re not complying with his requests for documents in the way that they claim they are. They`re coming up slowly and he wants them all at once.
MATTHEWS: Well, OK. We`ll be right back. Go ahead, your thoughts?
BADE: Just very quickly, I was looking at my phone on the way over here and reading a story about Sessions making a joke when he was at the Mayflower earlier today in Washington where he was caught talking to Russians and not mentioning it, saying something like, are there any Russians in the room? And everybody laughs. So, he`s joking about this meanwhile.
MATTHEWS: Not very funny.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will give us some scoops we`ll be talking about over this exciting weekend to come.
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Our HARDBALL roundtable going to tell me three things I don`t know when we come back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Rachael, tell me something I don`t know.
BADE: President Trump is apparently obsessed with Louie Gohmert, who as you know is kind of an oddball lawmaker from Texas who is very far right- wing and who has been on TV talking a lot about Mueller stepping down and needing to get rid of the special investigation, the special counsel.
I know this because the president was supposed to come to the Hill the other day to rally house Republicans to pass the tax bill apparently my source in the room said he went on and on about how he loves Louie Gohmert. He loves watching him on TV.
MATTHEWS: Of course. He`s a birther. Louie is a birther.
BADE: Yes, that`s true. It also shows while the president is not attacking him more himself, he is certainly applauding people who are doing it for him.
MATTHEWS: I get you. Indirection. Thank you.
ALLEN: President Trump just tweeted he`s putting that big game decision on hold, the one that has stirred up all the controversy over people shooting elephants until he has an opportunity to talk to Secretary Ryan Zinke about it. So, obviously, those who are in the conservation community have gotten President Trump`s ear for the moment.
MATTEHWS: I`ve been hearing good stuff about what I said last night. I raised hell about it and I`m going to keep doing that. That`s a terrible decision to let people bring tusks and heads of elephants and all kinds of stuff, terrible stuff.
Anyway, Alexi, thank you. Your thoughts?
MCCAMMOND: At "Axios", we`re privately hearing from Republican senators that they are worried that Trump is going to do something between now and the end of the year that will force them into a public vote either for or against him. They`re not talking impeachment. They`re talking a little bit more specifically about a vote to censure him, which we know is like a public display. But they`re really worried because it`s a lose-lose. If they vote for Trump, it`s against their principles, if they vote against him, it`s against their Republican base.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s unconstitutional. But anyway, thank you, Rachel Bade, and thank you, Jonathan Allen, and Alexi McCammond.
We`ll be right back after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a spirited weeks we`ve spent on the road talking with all the welcoming HARDBALL fans, all in the joy on honoring the affectionate legacy of Bobby Kennedy. I`ve never felt the warmth of fans and colleagues live like I have these sweet days of November 2017.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, HOST, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: He is the host of MSNBC`s HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS and the author of "Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit", Chris Matthews.
MATTHEWS: It`s possible to bring back the white working class with the black working class and middle class. You can do it if you appeal to both groups. What Sarah`s doing, don`t dump on them, love them a little.
MATTHEWS: Because that`s how you might get them back.
AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION: People don`t know, he built the restoration project. Not only did he grow, he wanted to grow. Tell us, Chris, I don`t know anyone who knows American politics better than you.
MATTHEWS: I think it really matters that you have a president who can feel the people`s hurt when they have it.
SHARPTON: And people feel that they feel it.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Just extraordinary. We knew you were a Kennedy scholar, but I think you learned so much.
MATTHEWS: I want a gut patriotism connected to our leaders again. I want to have that common feel for the country that unite the people with their leaders. We don`t have it now. We have cynicism.
We don`t have a moral compass anymore. We need it. We need empathy. That`s what we don`t have.
MITCHELL: You have it in great, great measure.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Andrea. You know and I have known each other for a long time. And he`s the guy that people that you and I may not agree with politically, there is a tremendous feel for this guy who believed that law could be just.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: That`s, of course, was the night that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. You have someone who was white, you know, Irish guy from Massachusetts who is able to speak with such moral authority to African-Americans. There is no one who can do that now.
MATTHEWS: It`s not such the book I`m out there promoting, it`s him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`ll be speaking at the Miami book fair tomorrow in Miami, Saturday, and then back in Washington on Monday night at the new Politics and Prose at The Wharf.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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