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Trump denies Russian interests despite evidence Transcript 12/5/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Ginger Gibson, Elise Jordan, James Zogby, Joaquin Castro; Sol Wisenberg

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 5, 2017 Guest:: Ginger Gibson, Elise Jordan, James Zogby, Joaquin Castro; Sol Wisenberg

[19:00:00] ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Trump`s lawyers say the case should wait until he leaves office. And (INAUDIBLE) lawyers are invoking a Clinton era precedent that they say allows you to sue the President.

That does it for our show. I will see you at 6:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow. "Hardball" starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Mueller mulls the money. Let`s play "Hardball."

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

It looks like special counsel Robert Mueller is following the money in his investigation to links between President Donald Trump and Russia. Now in the latest potential escalation of the probe, two American news outlets are reporting that Mueller has subpoenaed record from the German banking giant Deutsche bank.

According to "Bloomberg News" quote "Mueller issued a subpoena to Germany`s largest lenders four weeks ago forcing to submit documents between its relationship with Trump and his family according to a person briefed on the matter."

In a similar report with Reuters a U.S. official says one reason for the subpoenas was to find out whether Deutsche bank may have sold some of Trump`s mortgages or other loans to Russian state development bank, VEB or other Russian banks that are now under U.S. and European Union sanctions.

Well late today, Trump`s attorney Jay Sekulow denied these reports saying no subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.

Here`s press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We know that it hasn`t happened up until this point and that the reports out were totally false. And again, the media got ahead of their skis a little bit on pushing and driving that story that wasn`t true.


MATTHEWS: Well, Deutsche bank neither confirmed nor denied the reporting saying in a statement that it takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.

Well, the President has loans from the bank worth hundreds of million, and so does his son-in-law Jared Kushner. As "the Washington Post" reported in June quote "one month before Election Day Jared Kushner`s real estate company finalized a $280 million loan." Well this all comes after President Trump said in July that any investigation into his finances would cross a red line if it`s unrelated to Russia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family`s finances up related to Russia, is that a red line?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would that be a bridge of what his actual charges?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he was outside that lane, would that mean he would have to go?

TRUMP: No, I think that`s a violation.


MATTHEWS: Wow. I`m joined MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle, Sol Wisenberg is a former federal prosecutor, was definitely an independent council under Kenstar and Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas sits on the House intel committee.

Stephanie, set this up for me. Tell me what they would be looking for if they were going to Deutsche bank and trying to figure out what happened to those debt that he accumulated with them where Jared did.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: Now Chris, full disclosure, I spent eight years of my career working with Deutsche bank.

So go back to 1998. After the (INAUDIBLE) crisis in Russia, global banks left Russia, stop doing business there. Deutsche bank didn`t. Deutsche bank has had a long-standing relationship, and that`s a bank that`s not afraid to take a lot of risk.

Deutsche was fined earlier this year for doing business they shouldn`t have, $6 million. So just put that aside. Deutsche bank`s chairman -- former chairman Joseph Ackerman was on the board of the bank of Cyprus. Who put him on that board? Now secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross who is the vice chair of the bank of Cyprus. The bank of Cyprus sold their Russia business to a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. And in the case against Paul Manafort allegedly laundered money through Cyprus banks.

So there is a lot of smoke. And many are saying what could it be? Let`s look into this closer. Now we know Deutsche bank is a lender to President Trump through a private bank. We know they also do business through Jared Kushner`s family. All of these things could be true and they might not be related. But with all of that smoke there`s questions what could be there. Could Deutsche bank have passed those loans onto VEB bank? We don`t know it. It wouldn`t be public document and that could be why Robert Mueller is investigating.

MATTHEWS: Well, Ken, just to follow up in layman`s term. Could it mean the real loan is from Russia?

RUHLE: It could be. But again, we are jumping ahead. We don`t know that. But that could be -- if I were Robert Mueller issuing a subpoena, that`s what I would want to know. Did Deutsche bank take that loan and reassign it to VEB bank, which they would have the right to do.

MATTHEWS: So let`s talk about this whole question of whether Donald Trump, the President of the United States, the one being investigated basically here, does he have a right to say what he is allowed to be investigated for? Is he allowed to say oh, no you can`t look at my private matter, anything to do with my private family or certainly my son-in-law. You can`t do that. What would that mean when he says you can`t do that?

SOL WISENBERG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s completely meaningless. He doesn`t have the right to stop the investigation to say you can`t go here. But he has the right to free speech just like everybody else. And if he thinks Mueller is overstepping a bounce, he has a right to talk about it and he complain about it.

[19:05:14] MATTHEWS: And does that mean it has -- what about this thing that says that according to the special council mandate -- let`s look at that right now. Here is the wording. Mueller can pursue quote "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." And today the President was sour (ph) when asked if Mueller`s recent subpoena had crossed his so-called red line.


TRUMP: Thank you everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, that Mueller crossed a red line with Deutsche bank?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.


MATTHEWS: Well, there he is. He doesn`t want to talk about red lines today. But the fact is as you were implying there, the special counsel, Mr. Mueller, has complete mandate. In fact they will look at anything that has arisen during the investigation to deal with anything criminal or does arise as they continue to go through the papers.

WISENBERG: Well, it has to directly arise. But keep in mind, first of all, we don`t know that a subpoena has been issued. I don`t know -- the bank`s not allowed to inform anyone of a grand jury subpoena under (INAUDIBLE), the law that was passed during the sages and loan era. That`s number one.

But number two, Chris, they could, as you know, there`s a federal statute that criminalizes accepting aid from a foreign country in a political campaign. If Mueller is looking at that, that`s well within his mandate. So it`s just utter speculation at this point. I don`t think Trump even as a factual matter has the position to say you have gone beyond your mandate.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Joaquin Castro, the member of Congress and on intelligence committee. Congressman, thank you as always for coming on. When you guys and women look at this case, do you look at narrowly with regard to the Russian venture here or do you look it as is Donald Trump a crook?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO r, TEXAS: Well, the scope of the investigation is fairly broad. It does center mostly around the collusion issues but also on masking, for example, the leaks. And so there`s four different prongs.

My sense, though, is that Robert Mueller`s investigation is number one on a faster pace, and number two, broader than even the House investigation at least. And this is a very important and interesting development because we do know that Deutsche bank has been a lender for Donald Trump over the years on different projects. And getting these bank statements and perhaps the lending documents from back then will give Robert Mueller a much clearer understanding of exactly who was involved in these real estate projects. So it`s no surprise that President Trump is nervous about the special counsel looking into all this.

MATTHEWS: Are you looking at -- go ahead. Let me go back to you, Steph. You are my expert on this. What about --?

RUHLE: I just want to point out it wouldn`t be the first request. House Democrats asked Deutsche bank to provide these documents back in the spring, but they didn`t have subpoena power and Deutsche bank did not comply.

MATTHEWS: So you are saying if they did get the documents, they got them by subpoena?

RUHLE: Correct.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Stephanie, now that you are on again. What is the point here? Couldn`t it be that somehow the Russian influence that Trump was benefiting from all his deals over there, that somehow they influenced Deutsche bank to give his family the big loan?

Because Trump seems to live a lot of his life on loan. Everything seems to be debt with him. He lives very well when he`s so-called broke. Even when he`s absolutely in the red, he still lives like Donald Trump. So he is very comfortable borrowing lots of money. But who`s giving him the money? Why would somebody give any of these weird like the 666 investment which was coming apart? Why is it possible to get so much money from Germany, unless there`s somebody in Russia saying help him out, we are helping you out?

RUHLE: Well, Deutsche`s private bank is massive. But remember, I said it is not from the institution side, the big side of the bank. It is from the private sector. And President Trump would be in a position where he could offer as collateral hard assets. That is buildings, golf courses, houses, boats. And we know he has a lot of hard assets. So they can lend him the cash and he can then reinvest it. And he can put up against it his hard assets. So they are thinking, this guy is a clown. He is not going to pay back. They don`t care. They will seize his properties. That works for the private bank.

MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s properties in the United States have reportedly been a magnet for Russian money as Donald Trump Jr. said in the 2008 conference quote "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. For example, Reuters investigation of Trump`s south Florida buildings at least 63 individual Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $9 $98 million worth of property in seven Trump branded luxury towers.

We also know that Russian oligarchs sponsored Trump`s Miss Universe pageant in Moscow back in 2013. And even after he launched his campaign for the White House, Trump signed a letter of intent in October 2015 to build a Trump world tower in Moscow.

Congressman, what do you make of all this? This Russia, Russia, Russia. I do it every night. I have never had an American politician so engaged with Russia. It is always about Russia whether it is the Ukraine (INAUDIBLE). We talked about it yesterday in the Republican platform. Why is Donald Trump stopping everything, running over to the Republican platform committee and saying you got to do what Putin wants with regards to Ukraine? Why? Is he engaged with Russia as if he`s the lobbyist for Russia?

[19:10:34] CASTRO: Well, you are right, Chris. There have been a lot of Russian operative, a lot of Russian oligarchs who have been involved with the President for a long time. And even long before he was a presidential candidate. And one of the main questions is do these folks have any leverage over the President that is influencing and has influenced the decisions that he makes as President of the United States or even when he was a candidate?

And hopefully with Bob Mueller has his tax returns, has his bank statement now from Deutsche bank and has lending documents from different properties, and we can get a clearer sense -- a clear answer to those questions.

MATTHEWS: Does he have his tax returns, going back, congressman?

CASTRO: I have do suspect by now if I was betting, I would say yes, he should.

MATTHEWS: So would he have them based upon your understanding of this kind of case? What do you have? His documents are ready?

WISENBERG: Absolutely. It would be the first thing. They probably had them before Mueller took over. It would be the first thing a competent prosecutor would do.

And also, Chris, keep in mind the very thing the congressman was talking about, the prior relationship with Russia, that`s clearly relevant to Mueller. If you are looking at whether or not there was improper collusion during the campaign one of the things Mueller is allowed to do is say I want to look this guy`s whole history of relationship with Russia. That`s relevant to what he is doing.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Stephanie again. Why would Trump besides the grandeur of his host in terms of a reproach mind with Russia to avoid a second cold war. That`s the grandeur. I wish that was the reason I could be sure of. What other reason would he have for wanting to be so cozy with so many Russians?

RUHLE: And that`s the $8 billion question. And that`s why so many reputable businesses never do business with Russia. (INAUDIBLE), the found of Black Stone, who is the advisor to President Trump`s CEO counsel. I interviewed him three years ago in (INAUDIBLE) because people were starting to get involved in investing with Russia again. And he said to me we are absolutely not investing there. Why? Because we cannot trust the rule of law.

And if you look at topnotch companies across the board, many don`t do businesses there for that reason. You do business with Russia, they come knocking if they don`t get the returns they want. But if you are in President Trump`s position, who he was as a businessman, a guy who was bankrupt at least four times, you don`t have a lot of lending options. You may have to go loan shark style to Russia, and then lo and behold here you are as President they are going to remind you, hey, Mr. Trump, you owe us.

MATTHEWS: I hear when you owe them money and they go to collect it, they kill you. They don`t like you pushing for the money. Does that sound too outrageous? I don`t know.

RUHLE: It`s not outrageous.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, NBC News is also reporting more tonight on that June 9th campaign meeting with Russians in Trump tower in 2016.

According to the written statement of Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump, Jr. actively solicited dirt. He actively asked for dirt on Hillary Clinton. He just (INAUDIBLE).

Think about it, asking for her during that meeting. Asked her quote "whether she had evidence of illegal donation to the Clinton foundation. The lawyer told the committee that she didn`t have any such evidence at the Russian lawyer.

Let me go back to Congressman Castro. What do you make of the fact we now know according to this new report that the Trump family was actually over there pedaling for dirt on Hillary in exchange for what we don`t know. Except the Russians were helping him get elected and at the same time we know his son was actively trying to get dirt thanks to the Russians. It looks like a --. Your thoughts.

CASTRO: Yes, it`s not a surprise even though they denied it during the campaign. And since those denials there have been report after report about different meetings, phone conversations and so forth. And also in the emails that Donald junior acknowledges being part of, he alludes to that, basically wanting information that will cripple Hillary Clinton`s campaign. So, yes, when people ask the question was there collusion, the answer is yes, there was collusion. The second question to that, how effective was that collusion. But to the answer was there collusion, yes, there was.

MATTHEWS: Are you going to nail Trump?

CASTRO: Well, I think, obviously, we are going to that process now. Our investigation is still going on. But I also think that Bob Mueller is ahead of both the House and the Senate. And I feel like this thing is moving very quickly.

MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. Stephanie Ruhle, my colleague, great to have you on tonight. Thank you. Goodnight. And U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. And thank you Sol Wisenberg.

Coming up, just call Roy Moore Mr. Republican. The party is falling in line behind the accused child molester. The RNC is throwing money back into the race now while Republicans are like Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch are toning down their criticism. Isn`t that sweet? It begs the question, what does the grandole party think of Roy Moore the man.

Plus Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capitol and plans to move the embassy there. It is a moving ranging Arab leaders throughout the Middle East including our allies over there. So why is Trump doing it?

And according to a new report Mike Pence was contemplating a coupe in the days following the "Access Hollywood" bombshell and was ready to take Trump`s spot at the top of the ticket.

Finally, let me finish that Trump is not going to like this.

This is "Hardball ".where the action is.


[19:16:51] MATTHEWS: The international Olympic committee today banned Russia from competing in the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang South Korea. The sweeping punishment was handed down in response to widespread doping. And that`s believed to be state sponsored.

Russian government officials will be barred from even attending the 2018 games, and any athletes that receive special permission to compete will have to do so while wearing a neutral uniform. And the Russian anthem will not be played.

Russian lawmakers have voiced contempt for the ruling. A top member of the country`s legislator are actually said quote "we have nothing to apologize for and neither do our athletes."

Well, we will be right back.



[19:19:34] TRUMP: Yes, I think he is going to do very well. We don`t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me. We want strong borders. We want stopping crime. We want to have the things that we represent. And we certainly don`t want to have a liberal Democrat that`s controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer. We don`t want to have that for Alabama.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball."

President Trump is now fully backing Roy Moore down in Alabama. And he is not alone. According to NBC quote "the Republican National Committee which had pull-on out of the state resumed supporting Moore yesterday." So money is flowing down there.

And some Republican senators seem to be softening up on their opposition to him.

Senator Orrin Hatch said Trump had no choice but to endorse Moore, since he`s -- quote -- "the only Republican we can get down there" -- close quote.

Hatch added: "Many of the things he allegedly did were decades ago."

Anyway, the strategy from the Moore campaign, deny any wrongdoing, attack the Republican establishment and the mainstream media, and focus like a laser on social issues, especially abortion.

Listen to how Moore`s spokeswoman began her interview on CNN today with a pregnant anchorwoman.


QUESTION: Janet, it is nice to have you on. Thank you for joining us. And let me get right to it.


JANET PORTER, MOORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Thank you. It`s great to be with you.

And, by the way, congratulations on your unborn child. That`s the reason why I came down as a volunteer to speak for Judge Roy Moore, because he will stand for rights for babies like yours in the womb, where his opponent supports killing them up until the moment of birth.


MATTHEWS: He will "support killing them."

Anyway, Doug Jones, the Democrat, supports abortion rights. He says, however, he backs Alabama`s law that restricts late-term abortions with exceptions for the woman`s health.

Anyway, Michael Steele is the former chair of the Republican National Committee, and Elise Jordan is a former adviser to Senator Rand Paul`s campaign.

I don`t know where to start with you two, because you`re both pretty good on this thing.

So why don`t I start with Elise. Elise, there`s these old lines we grew up with: Republicans don`t fall in love, they fall in line. It looks like they`re not falling in love. I mean, Trump won`t even go down there and be seen with this guy, Roy Moore, but he`s endorsing him.

Explain the culture that leads him to do that.

ELISE JORDAN, "TIME": Well, President Trump is going to have a rally in Pensacola, Florida, which is right there on the border with Alabama, so it`s basically as close as he can get without actually...

MATTHEWS: Are they going to touch each other, be seen with each other or what? I don`t think so.


JORDAN: Probably not.

You see, though, the campaign`s emphasis on abortion as the closing argument just shows how this one issue will likely prove decisive in this race.

I grew up Southern Baptist, and I remember at church one Sunday we saw large pictures on the screen of a partial-birth abortion. This is something that is very important to Southern evangelicals, and it is the only closing argument that they have.

MATTHEWS: Michael, I agree. I think it`s -- when you say to a person in that culture, and maybe my culture, too, are you going to support abortion or are you going to try to forgive a fellow Christian who may have been swayed or done something wrong? Because then you`re in the role of a forgiver than someone supporting abortion.


MATTHEWS: It makes sense to me. I don`t like it. I don`t think I would vote that way, but go ahead.

STEELE: But that`s the false -- I was going to say, that`s the false choice that`s being presented to the voters of Alabama now, because they`re asking you to focus on that child in the womb. Oh, don`t worry if that child is sexually abused when they`re 13 and 14, and 15 year old by men like Roy Moore. But so just focus on the child in the womb.

So, if that`s your closing argument, if that`s where the Republican Party wants to place itself, then have at it, because while this may play in Alabama, it`s not necessarily going to play elsewhere around the country, where the state may not be as deep red and where the opportunities that we could gain are going to be lost because of this sort of maniacal desire to get one vote in the United States Senate that, at the end of the day, Chris, probably won`t make that much of a difference.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go back to Elise, because you did for a guy I like in many ways, because I do -- I grew up pretty much libertarian as kid, although I learned the evils of my ways.


MATTHEWS: But, anyway, the fact that -- it seems to me a suburban libertarian, and there`s a lot of them out there, they`re going to go, wait a minute, am I the party now of the grand old, what, pedophiles, the GOP?

The Democrats are not going to let your party off on this. They`re going to tie Roy Moore around every suburban person, Tom Fitzpatrick up in Bucks County, Meehan down in Delaware County. Every suburban Republican is going to have carry this guy, this pedophile on their shoulders through next November, don`t you think?

JORDAN: And, Chris, think about how Roy Moore hasn`t even been speaking publicly. He`s barely opening his mouth at these campaign events.

He`s not doing interviews with serious journalists who are actually probing questions. And he`s not participating in a debate against Doug Jones. He has not been opening his mouth, and he`s still in this much trouble, and the national party is still embarrassed about him.

It shows that -- just how Roy Moore further helps just isolate the Republican Party and make it a regional party.


MATTHEWS: Elise, do you buy Roy Moore`s denials of all these cases?

JORDAN: I think the women are completely credible, and I believe the women, no question. MATTHEWS: Michael, let me ask you about...

STEELE: Hear, hear.

MATTHEWS: You know, one thing has changed. It`s like a big wheel has changed. Norman Mailer used to write about the cosmos shifting.

In the last two weeks, the whole idea of basically expelling him on entry into the Senate if he were elected seems to have gone.


MATTHEWS: And I wouldn`t think that it isn`t going to happen, because if the people down there vote for him, knowing all these charges, even if they don`t believe them, knowing them all, and then do elect him, it seems to be very hard to dump him from the Senate for acts committed 30, 40 years ago.

It doesn`t seem to make sense politically.

STEELE: I think you`re right, Chris.

And this sort of phony approach that was out there a couple of weeks go that we won`t seat him, we`re going to have Ethics Committee go after him and all that, all that was really just kind of noise in the moment, because I think where the party is where the majority leader said it was yesterday.

And that is, we will wait to see what the people of Alabama will do. OK, then what? Well, the then what is, we do nothing. We will welcome Roy Moore to the United States Senate. We will work with him. We will call him colleague.

And as Elise and you just pointed out, every Republican whose name will be on a ballot next year, who wants to play footloose and fancy on this will have to account to those voters in those states about where they stood on the question of Roy Moore and what that means for the country.

And I think that`s an awful place for the party to put itself, for one man, for one vote? It makes no sense to me.

MATTHEWS: Well, Mitt Romney tweeted yesterday -- quote -- "Roy Moore in the United States would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Coffman and" -- "Corfman," rather, "and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity."

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the president`s endorsement today. Let`s watch her.


QUESTION: Is it the White House`s position, then, sort of formally here that it is worse to have a Democrat in that Senate seat than somebody who is accused of sexually abusing a teen girl?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, as I said, we find the allegations to be troubling.

QUESTION: Then why did the president endorse?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think that those are different things in terms of, we aren`t going to be the ones to determine that process.

That`s for the people of Alabama to determine what those things come down on. He does want people that support his agenda. He`s not going to obviously support a Democrat.


MATTHEWS: In an unusual way, she`s quite good at this game. I don`t like the game.

Anyway, meanwhile, Senator Jeff Flake, who has previously urged Republicans not to support Roy Moore, took it a step further. He tweeted today this photo of a check to the Doug Jones campaign. He wrote "Country over party."

Jeff Flake also said today the president`s wrong to back Moore.

But, but, Elise, another guy on his way out the door has a lot of -- freedom is just another word for nothing else to lose. Jeff Flake wasn`t going to win the primary out there in Arizona. He`s walking out the door with a lot of guts -- I guess. But it`s not the same as staying and fighting for what you say. It isn`t the same.

JORDAN: And Jeff Flake was at the White House today. He sat alongside President Trump. He was photographed with Donald Trump.

He was at a lunch where Roy Moore was a topic of conversation. I wish that he had vocally said his opposition there. I don`t know that necessarily cutting a check for Doug Jones is really going to actually be helpful to Doug Jones.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the photo-op preceded the check-writing?

JORDAN: The photo-op was -- he tweeted it after the photo-op.


MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s called CYA.

STEELE: Yes, just a little bit.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much.

Michael Steele, you and I think a lot alike. It`s frightening.

Anyway, Elise Jordan, it`s great to have you on the program. Thank you for sticking around tonight.

Up next: The Trump administration`s on the verge of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It`s a move that could trigger a lot of unrest and a lot of death over there in the Middle East especially, but anywhere in the world really. So, why is Trump doing it?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s what`s happening.

A fast-moving wind-fueled wildfire is scorching through nearly an acre per second in Ventura, California, destroying homes and businesses in its wake. The out-of-control fire has forced some 27,000 people to evacuate.

John Conyers is retiring from Congress after facing a number of allegations of sexual misconduct. He has endorsed his son to replace him.

A pile of rubble is all that`s left after an explosion destroyed a home in the Baltimore Highlands today. This is the second house explosion in just two days in that area. The cause of both is under investigation -- and now we take you back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Senior U.S. officials have confirmed to NBC News tonight that President Trump will most likely recognize Jerusalem as Israel`s capital while delaying the relocation of our embassy to Tel Aviv for another six months.

He`s expected to announce the decision tomorrow, the president is.

Anyway, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who spoke with the president earlier today -- quote -- "warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security, stability of the region and of the world."

The news drew immediate criticism from allies across the globe. Leaders from France, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and the Arab League spoke out against the move, because the international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city of Jerusalem.

Anyway, speaking alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the European Union`s top diplomat had this warning:


FEDERICA MOGHERINI, FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, EUROPEAN UNION: The European Union supports the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two- state solution.

We believe that any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled.


MATTHEWS: Well, according to Reuters, the news agency, senior U.S. officials within the State Department are deeply concerned by this decision.

The move would break with decades of bipartisan American foreign policy that the city`s status, that`s Jerusalem`s, must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians.

For more, I`m joined by James Zogby, president of the American Arab Institute.

Jim, thank you for coming on.


MATTHEWS: I don`t understand this. Is this just cheap politics? Is he paying off a debt? Is this for the evangelical community down in the South? Or who`s going to cheer this?

ZOGBY: Well, certainly, the evangelicals will. And some hard-liners on the pro-Israel side will.

But there will be people dreading it and fearing it in Israel. There will be people across the Arab world and the Muslim world who will be angered and also fearing it.

Jerusalem is a symbol, a critically important symbol not only of religious importance, but it represents to Arabs and Muslims, I think, the wound in the heart that never healed after a century of being manipulated by international players, by the imperial powers, and then by the Zionist movement taking control of this city, locking people out.

And then finally the U.S. recognizing it, that is a devastating and I think a very irresponsible and dangerous move by the president.

MATTHEWS: Well, Jim, as a kid, I got to live over there for about a month near the Old City right above Nablus Road there, above the Damascus gate. You know that area.

And I was always impressed, being back there almost every couple of years, at how everything seems to work. You have got the call to prayer, which is beautiful. You have the very ultra-orthodox Jewish people walking around with dark hats and very serious and somber, going to religion all the time.

You have got the Armenians. You have got the Christians at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Everything is intertwined, just as it is in Bethlehem, very intertwined, very exact, and it works. What is this going to do -- what is this going to do to this?


ZOGBY: It actually doesn`t, though, because here`s the problem.

Since Israel built the wall and closed off Jerusalem, you have literally served the heart of Palestine from its people. It`s the metropole. It was the place where people shopped, where people went to school, where people went to hospital, where they went for their social and political events.


ZOGBY: And then it got cut off. It`s as if you said to Northern Virginia, you can`t come to Washington anymore. It not only affected Virginia, but it would affect Washington itself.

And so the people in Palestine, in Jerusalem, in Palestinian Jerusalem, are largely unemployed. There`s a huge unemployment problem. Plus, you have thousands of homes that have been demolished by the Israelis and you have a family unification bill, where somebody from Jerusalem marries somebody out of Jerusalem, they have to leave if they want to live with their spouse. Their spouse can`t come and live with them.

We just did a poll, and we found 39 percent of people in Jerusalem said that either they or immediate family members have been brutalized by violence from settlers or the Israeli military. It is not a pretty picture in the city. And it`s something that...

MATTHEWS: OK. I just saw the...


MATTHEWS: Jim, I got to break up the -- is the implication here in the Arab world, the Islamic world that we have now recognized Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of Israel, that there will be no room for a Palestinian capital as part of Jerusalem? Is that the way it`s going to be read or not?

ZOGBY: It basically means that the U.S. is doing what no other nation on Earth has done, which is recognizing Israel`s hold on Jerusalem...

MATTHEWS: All of it.

ZOGBY: ... which the international community hasn`t done.

MATTHEWS: All of it.

ZOGBY: And it hasn`t done it because, in 1948, Jerusalem was supposed to be an international city, and Israel broke that.

In addition to that, Israel claims East Jerusalem, which is not East Jerusalem. It`s 28 Palestinian villages and a huge swatch of land where they have built settlements and say, this is now Jerusalem. It has committed a violation of international law, which is actually recognized as a violation of international law by the world community.

So I don`t know what Trump is recognizing right now.


ZOGBY: What I know is that he`s playing with fire. It`s a dangerous and irresponsible game. And there will be consequences, very serious consequences. And I don`t know if he cares.

I`m hoping he wakes up tomorrow, sees something on "FOX & Friends" and changes his mind. Who knows how absolutely -- how changeable his mind can be, but this is not a good scene.

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t agree with everything you said, Jim, but I certainly agree with playing with fire and serious consequences.

People are going to die now because of what was said today.

James Zogby, I said that.

ZOGBY: It`s tragic.

Thank you. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much.

Up next: new reporting Mike Pence was maneuvering to kick Trump off the ticket following the "Access Hollywood" tape, this as Billy Bush is speaking out about that taped conversation and firing back at the president for denying its authenticity.

Trump made a big mistake here. Those were his words. Those were recorded. There`s no denying it.

You`re watching HARDBALL.



BILLY BUSH, FORMER "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" HOST: I would also like to say that`s not me on the bus. You don`t get to say that because I was there and the last 14 months of my life I have been dealing with it. You dealt with it for 14 minutes and went on to be the president.



That was former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush on President Trump`s reported denials of the now infamous 2005 tape in which he boasts of being able to grope women. The tape did not cost Trump the presidency, obviously.

But a new profile of Vice President Mike Pence in "The Atlantic" reports it very nearly could have. Writing at the time the "Access Hollywood" tape was released, Pence was genuinely shocked by the tape and he wasn`t just thinking about dropping out. He was contemplating a coup.

It adds that within hours of the bombshell revelation, Pence made it clear to the Republican National Committee that he was ready to take Trump`s place as the prejudice nominee.

Well, a spokesman for Pence denied the reports, saying it didn`t happen.

Meanwhile, it didn`t happen. Meanwhile Billy Bush was fired by NBC over his involvement in the "Access Hollywood" blasted the president`s reported claims that the tape was inauthentic.

Let`s listen.


BUSH: That is your voice. I was there. You were there. That`s your voice on the tape.

All of these women came out with their names and told their detailed accounts. So when he said this, it infuriated me on the personal front. Twenty women don`t get together, and say, hey, you know what would be really fun, let`s take down a powerful guy together. Ha, ha. No, they don`t.

Let`s bring the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Jonathan Allen is national political reporter for NBC News digital, Ginger Gibson is political correspondent for "Reuters", and Yamiche Alcindor is national reporter for "The New York Times".

In that order -- what do we make of this coup? Do we believe that quiet Mike Pence, quiet, passionate -- patient, that`s a better word for it, waiting his turn, stopped waiting his turn and began to contemplate grabbing at all last October? Do we believe that?

Mike? Jonathan, rather.

JONATHAN ALLEN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS DIGITAL: We shouldn`t be surprised at all Mike Pence was ready to become president. I`ve known him for almost 15 years, and he has always been ready to step in and be president. Not surprising.

Also, this isn`t bad news for him to have come out in the midst of the sort of national reckoning we`re dealing with right now, that basically his attitude was he was disgusted by reports of Donald Trump. And, look, with Mike Pence, there`s also this competition between his desire to project this humility and his desire to hide his ambition. In that moment, obviously, there were greater conflict.

MATTHEWS: But, Ginger, let`s go on here, because it seems to me in politics -- I worked on the hill for years -- you never want it to pop up. That means popping up is a term used whenever the top guy is in trouble and there looks to be a vacancy because he`s going to be booted. You make a move towards the seat. And then for the rest of your career, they know that guy at the top knows, you were waiting for him to fall because you wanted to grab what he had, and therefore you can never be trusted again because you popped up.

Now, it looks like to me like Mike Pence popped up, looking for the job the boss had.

GINGER GIBSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: We know that Mike Pence was responding the way we saw most of the Republican Party when that video came out. There were many people who backed out of their endorsements of Donald Trump, who said they couldn`t vote for him.

It`s a cycle that we`re seeing play out again with Roy Moore. The Republican says this is so awful, we can`t get behind this, we don`t support this, and then they look at some polls a few weeks later and, all of a sudden, as we`re seeing this week, the RNC is back supporting Moore in Alabama.

And I think you`re right, this is bit of a pop up. We saw that in Alabama. Folks went and say, I`ll take Moore spot because there`s always going to be the person who would have stepped in and stolen Moore`s spot. And that`s the dance we`re watching play out again. It`s beginning to be a little bit of a ritualistic dance that we all know how it plays out.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, back to you. As the solid tough reporter here, do you believe we have evidence that Mike Pence was ready to grab the job after "Access Hollywood"?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that Mike Pence definitely thought hard about what he was going to do after "Access Hollywood." And I think it`s not surprising he would think about stepping into the presidency.

Remember that when Mike Pence was chosen to be the presidential candidate, many people thought he say going to be the person who could actually get the job done, he was the person who had the connections on the Hill. He was the person who`s actually seen as a conservative in the way that he thought and in the policies that he endorsed.

So, I could see him looking at the presidency, looking at Donald Trump who the Republicans did not want to be president, who did not -- was not at all endorsed by people, who the party essentially cringed when they had to go ahead and say that this is their candidate. I can see Mike Pence then saying, you know what, this is my moment to do that.

But I can also see Mike Pence playing the card now, President Trump talking to him probably as we`re speaking now, saying this is all the media that`s all fake new, you know, I have your back, because Mike Pence has been someone how has been seen as really acquiesce to whatever Donald Trump says. He`s never questioned him really publicly. He`s continued to be this vice presidential candidate that has continuing in some ways back Donald Trump at whatever costs.

MATTHEWS: Yes, you sort of have to do synchronized swimming when you`re a vice president.

Anyway, this is the first time the VP has immediately batted down reporting to say in the president`s good graces. In response to an August "New York Times" report that Pence was positioning himself for a 2020 run, the vice president denounced the article, saying it was just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration.

Well, Pence similarly rebutted an October "New Yorker" profile which reported that Trump mocked Pence`s religious beliefs. The article said, when the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, don`t ask that guy. He wants to hang them all.

That`s pretty gross. Let`s go to Jonathan on that.

It does seem Pence is almost spookily silent. I mean, nobody ever accused Joe Biden of being spookily silent. He was all over the place. But this guy is always like standing there waiting, just waiting.

ALLEN: Well, he`s got a good portion of the Republican base already, in a way in that he`s very much a favor to the Koch brothers and their network of donors. If he ever runs for president, he`s going to be able to count on that money. But he really needs that Trump voter base, those grassroots votes. He can`t alienate them. So, I think he`s trying to be a faithful vice president like you said, doing the synchronized swimming and at the same time, keeping his eye on his future and trying to make sure if Donald Trump doesn`t run for re-election or even if he does, that the next presidential nominee is Mike Pence.

MATTHEWS: Just -- I want to move from you, but I want to give you the first shot, Jonathan. Do you think he can conceivably win a national election in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, the ones that Trump won with his religious sort of fervor, in his sort of perfectionism on those moral issues? Do you think he could carry regular blue collar guys the way Trump did and win?

ALLEN: I think, he could, yes.


What do you think, Ginger? Is he presidential matter this guy Pence?

GIBSON: I think that Pence was on a short list of candidates could have run. A lot of us surprised it was the problems he had as governor that he didn`t run. And I think you could find just with that economic message that Trump pushed in those states reverberated, they would look past some of those other moral issues that he has really been strong on in the past and say they`re willing to give him a pass on those because they like the economic message.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, you think he`s a little too Da Vinci Code for the American people? What would you say?

ALCINDOR: I would think that Mike Pence, not only can he capture of the Trump base, but I think people who might be turned off from Mike Pence after voting for Trump, he could also win back some of the Republicans who fled from Trump --


ALCINDOR: -- and who went to Hillary Clinton because he is going back to the conservative base and the conservative moral issues that got people really excited that Trump was never really that excited about.

MATTHEWS: I think Trump`s going to hate this segment of the show more than he is the last segment of the show that`s coming up at the end, anyway, because all three pushing Pence as a possible successor near term. I`m not sure I agree. I don`t agree.

Anyway, the roundtable sticking with us. And up next, these three will give you scoops we`ll be talking about tomorrow.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: I`m up in New York right now for a book party tonight, later tonight for "Bob Kennedy: A Raging Spirit." And later tonight, I`ll be a guest on "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS."

And tomorrow, I`ll be up bright and early to join Joe and Mika on "MORNING JOE" at 7:00 a.m.

And now, I`m asking you my true HARDBALL fans watching right now to order a copy of "Bobby". It`s about everything missing in today`s politics -- empathy for people in trouble, unity among our people generally, and yes, a moral compass.

I spent years getting the facts of the story of Bobby Kennedy together. Please get it in your hands and savor this progressive message.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL roundtable.

Jonathan, tell me something I don`t know.

ALLEN: Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is interested in a Senate seat in Utah. The problem is Orrin Hatch is still in it.


ALLEN: The president went out to endorse Hatch yesterday. And yet, still some Republicans would like to see Mitt Romney run even if Hatch doesn`t retire.

MATTHEWS: Oh, just go for the top prize. By the way, Trump does not want that guy in his Senate.


GIBSON: The Republican Party lost a talking point they were hoping was going to come in today, the Mueller investigation put their first bill out, cost $3.2 million, a lot less than many thought, even $5 million or $10 million price tag. That means they`re not going to be able to complain like they were about the cost of the investigation.

MATTHEWS: They just dropped a trillion and a half for the rich. Anyway, I think you can handle the pocket change here.


ALCINDOR: The retiring of Representative John Conyers has set off a family feud within his own party, both his son John Conyers III is running for the seat, his father has endorsed him. But his great nephew Ian Conyers is also running. So, it`s going to be an interesting race to watch.

MATTHEWS: Well, he wins either way.

Thank you, Jonathan Allen, Ginger Gibson and Yamiche Alcindor.

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


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Tuesday, December 5th, 2017.

Well, two Republican senators have now put this $1.5 trillion Trump tax sugarplum for the rich in perspective. Orrin Hatch came out against children`s health insurance on the ground that it goes too easy on the people it helps.

Quote: I have a rough time, the Utah senator said, wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won`t help themselves, won`t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything.

Well, he`s talking about a program that helps children, a program that`s just been eliminated from the budget.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley defended Trump`s big pullback in the estate tax which allows wealthy couples to leave their heirs $22 million tax-free.

I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it`s on booze or women or movies.

That`s a U.S. senator talking.

So, this is the heart of the Republican economic doctrine. Get the poor to work harder by cutting them off. Get the rich to work harder by leaving them with more money than ever.

Why? You have to ask it. Why is it considered good Republican policy to hurt people at the bottom in order to get them presumably working harder but it`s also good Republican policy to keep more money in the hands of the wealthy in order to presumably get them to work harder? Why this sugar for the rich, the whip for the struggling class?

And what`s this about people spending their money on booze or women or movies? The senator from Iowa sounds like the townsman from River City, Iowa, singing, oh we got trouble.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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