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Alabama Senate Special Election Transcript 12/12/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: John Archibald; Matt Murphy; Onnie Lindenberg, Brenda Lawrence, Stephanie Schriock

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 12, 2017 Guest: John Archibald; Matt Murphy; Onnie Lindenberg, Brenda Lawrence, Stephanie Schriock

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: There`s a special edition of "Hardball" up next. That is a show I would not miss on a night like tonight. I`m Ari Melber signing off with "the Beat." We will see you soon. "Hardball with Chris Matthews" starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Horse race. Let`s play "Hardball."

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews here in Washington.

All eyes on Alabama tonight, however, where polls close in less than an hour at 8:00 p.m. eastern. Today the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, there he is, was a man on horseback riding to his polling station his horse sassy. Deep in the heart of Dixie, voters are deciding between Republican Ry Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.

Exit polls show a very close battle between those who think that charges of past sexual misconduct against Moore are true and those who don`t, 49 percent say the charges are definitely and probably true, 49 percent while 45 percent say the charges are definitely and probably not true, false.

Another telling result is on the question of President Trump`s job approval. Look at this number, 48 percent, even Steven on Trump`s job performance, that`s a great leading indicator of what`s coming tonight. And this comes after Trump began this day, Election Day, by accusing New York senator Kristen Gillibrand of being a total flunky for Chuck Schumer, begging for campaign contribution from Trump and FOX saying she would do anything for them.

That was the phrase Trump used tonight, that she came into his office, met with him, she had she would do anything to get his campaign money. Senator Elizabeth Warren called that a case of slut-shaming.

A lot hangs in the balance down in Alabama tonight for the Republican Party. A victory for Jones would weaken Republican control of the Senate, potentially jeopardizing the President`s agenda. But a victory for Moore could also leave lasting effects on the party struggling to define itself. Both men made a last-minute appeal to voters today. Let`s listen to them.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Here today is a very important race for our country, for our state, and for the future.

DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: We feel very good about where we are in this race, what we have done, what we have accomplished. If Alabama, we have come so far with too many things. And there`s this saying. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Alabama`s not going to let that happen again.


MATTHEWS: Well, Moore had been missing from the campaign trail for almost a week, made a defiant return last night rallying supporters and attacking the women who accused him of sexual misconduct. Let`s watch.


MOORE: We have been intimidated. Other people have been intimidated and we are tired of it. "The Washington Post" put out this terrible, disgusting article saying I had done something. And I want you to understand something. They said these women, two, had not come forward for nearly 40 years. But they waited till 30 days before this general election to come forward. Actions are going to speak louder than words.


MATTHEWS: Well, the former judge got some serious reinforcement from his biggest booster, Steve Bannon.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: This is greater than Judge Moore, right? It`s even greater than the people of Alabama. I know one thing. Nobody can come down here and tell folks in Alabama what to do.


MATTHEWS: Well, he is doing it.

Anyway, his challenger Doug Jones held his own rally and made his closing arguments to the voters of Alabama.


JONES: It is time, and I think we are going to see it tomorrow, that the majority of the people of Alabama say that it is time that we put our decency, our state, before political party.


MATTHEWS: Well, Jones brought along some support and it came from Alabama native and now one of my favorites, Charles Barkley. He used to play for the Sixers. Here he is.


CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER: I am begging and urging everybody to get out, call all your friends. We got to at some point, we got to stop looking like idiots to the nation.


MATTHEWS: Love Barkley.

Anyway, early this morning the President weighed in and reminded his supporters just where he stood tweeting, the people of Alabama will do the right thing, Jones the Pelosi-Schumer puppet, Roy Moore will always vote with us. Vote Roy Moore.

For the latest, I`m joined by John Archibald. He is a columnist for the Alabama media group and Onnie Lindenberg and Matt Murphy, the host of the Matt and Audie, the most listened to in political news radio program down in Alabama.

John, thank you. First, what do you smell tonight? That`s my favorite question politically, what do you smell? You know what I mean.

JOHN ARCHIBALD, COLUMNIST, ALABAMA MEDIA GROUP: I smell a tight one. I don`t know what`s going to happen. It`s getting intense out there. The exit polling is really interesting. This is going to go down to the wire. And I tell you what, I have never seen anything like it in my 30 years of doing this stuff.

[19:05:01] MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Audie and let me go to Matt. Nice to meet you folks. People talk you up. Let me ask you this. When you see the exit polls that say Trump, 48/48, what`s that tell you about tonight, anything? Onnie first.

ANDREA LINDENBERG, TALK RADIO HOST: Could you repeat that, Chris?

MATTHEWS: When you see an exit poll that shows President Trump`s job support in Alabama, among those who voted today, at 48-48, what does that tell you about who is going to win tonight? Anything?

LINDENBERG: It tells me this race is, as we say, tight as a tick, Chris.

MATTHEWS: How tight is a tick? I don`t know any ticks. How tight are they? When it`s bitten into you? I guess that`s what you mean.

LINDENBERG: Yes. I mean, I don`t know, we kind of went into this thinking there may be a five-point lead. I bumped it down to a two-point lead. But I don`t know. I mean, I just don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Who do you give to it right now?


MATTHEWS: Roy Moore.

What to say, Matt? Same question.

MATT MURPHY, TALK RADIO HOST: It`s a lot tighter than I expected, even a week ago, Chris. I would expect that Roy Moore squeezes this one out. It`s a lot tighter than anyone would have expected, considering some of the exit polling we are getting with African-American turnout being a little higher than we anticipated. It is anybody`s bargain. It`s a jump ball right now.

MATTHEWS: How high is it? Is it up to 25 percent? Back to John on this.

John, the black vote, is the black vote going to be 25 percent, which apparently is the threshold to win this thing for Jones?

ARCHIBALD: It looks to me like the turnout is going to be a little higher than (INAUDIBLE) which was 20/25. And we are hearing pretty high turnout in African-American communities. Pretty high community expert. So it is a pretty high turnout all over. High being relative, of course if you consider 30 percent high. So I think there is a window where Doug Jones has the only chance that he has.

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well. Let me ask you about this. What makes -- what`s turning at the last minute? Ana, you first. Tell me what you see happening, right. I was like to call races starting Thursday before and start of getting a number in my head, and then thinking from that number which way is the wind blowing? And then coming up with who I think is going to win. When you peg it four, five days ago, and then look at the wind direction, where do you end up?

LINDENBERG: You know, I can tell you what our listeners have been saying when they call in to us. I think it`s a lot like the Presidential vote was. There were people who would not say they were voting for Trump. They weren`t answering poll questions. They kind of kept to it themselves. Didn`t talk about it at parties and that sort of thing.

But then they went into the polls and they ended up voting for Trump. And I feel the same about this. Not a lot of us are excited to vote for Roy Moore. But some of us will go in and do that. And we didn`t answer a poll question. We didn`t tell people how we were voting. So I think there`s a silent vote here we can`t discount.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you along those lines because I believe completely in what you said. People don`t like telling people how they are voting if they think it`s politically incorrect. But they also go by the voice that`s on the phone. If somebody calls up, they may have a northern accent, they may have perfect standard English with no regional accent whatever, or they sound like they are a little bit hifalutin, it seems to me I would be a little hesitant to tell them what I thought because I would think they had a predisposition to not like me if I had the wrong view as far as they are concerned. You know what I`m talking about. Do you think that plays a role in polling and its inability to tell us who`s going to win?

LINDENBERG: It may. But I have to tell you, I don`t discriminate against accents, wherever you come from, it`s good by me. I don`t have a land line. And so I don`t have a land line. I know those are disappearing across the country. So I think that factors into it. Unless they catch me on my cellphone, they have no clue what I think.

MATTHEWS: Matt, what do you think about the sound of the voice that comes in this? Can I says, excuse me, sir, how would you be voting today? Are you going to vote for that fellow Mr. Moore or vote for Mr. Jones? You don`t think that plays into it.

MURPHY: Chris, I was talking about the days of my grandpa. My grandpa, if he didn`t recognize the voice on the other end of the phone, he hung up the phone. I think a lot of conservatives in Alabama are like that. They are just going to hang up the phone on someone they don`t recognize. I think that plays into it.

For me, though, it`s all about where the turnout comes from. It`s not necessarily about the polling. It`s just does the turnout come from rural areas? Does it come from urban areas? That`s going to be the key tonight.

MATTHEWS: What about the wealthier suburbs around Birmingham? The college-educated folk with a little more money than average? How are they going to vote tonight? You first, Onnie. How are they going to vote?

LINDENBERG: I mean, that`s a tough call because I know there are people who are disgusted by what has come out about what`s out about Roy Moore or they never liked him in the first place.

You know, Roy Moore is not new to Alabama politics. He has been around for decades. Those comments he said over the years we have all heard. I think there are some who just won`t go vote. On the other hand, I think some of the educated -- college-educated will go. Like I said they are the ones who won`t tell anyone they are voting for Roy Moore but they will go do it.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think happened, by the way, in Pennsylvania last year, by the way. Exactly what you just said, Onnie. The so-called better-educated, the people who think they are better, ended up voting Republican. Now why would they do that? Just because that`s their ideology, right? How would you describe it?

[19:10:00] LINDENBERG: Well, I think for me, I was raised that way in the south, you know. I`m a Christian. I tend to lean conservative and vote conservative. And it`s just the lifestyle I grew up in. And the majority of the state was raised the same way. Not all of us but the majority. That`s clear by us being a red state.

MATTHEWS: How big a mistake - I have to ask you because you are the only woman on the show right now. I have got to address this to you, Onnie. How big a mistake was it or wrong answer was it for Doug Jones to say he is for abortion basically right through? All the way to the end? To delivery almost?

LINDENBERG: Yes. When I heard that interview with Chuck Todd, that was a game changer. And I actually went on social media and said, if you are a Republican and you can`t stomach voting for Roy Moore - and this was before the allegations came out -- and you vote for Doug Jones, I don`t consider you a Republican. And I took a lot of heat for that. But when I heard that that I went back and listened to it again. And Todd gave him the opportunity to back that up and he didn`t. And so for me, that`s a huge part of this. And a lot of people in this state.

MATTHEWS: Matt, do you agree with that? It could be a game changer, particularly for evangelical people?

MURPHY: I am on record, Chris, as saying if Doug Jones had taken a more moderate position on the issue of abortion, he would ahead by 10 points right now. We get call after call after call above and beyond the issue of the recent allegations against Roy Moore that tell us they simply cannot pull a lever for a person that believes in their words, in abortion on demand.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, earlier this month Roy Moore was accused of anti- Semitism after he seemed to say billionaire investor and liberal donor George Soros was headed to hell. Let`s listen.


MOORE: Soros certainly is trying to alter the voting populace and that`s true. He is pushing an agenda. His agenda is sexual in nature. His agenda is liberal and not what Americans need. It`s not our American culture. Soros comes from another world that I don`t identify with. I wish I could face him directly, I would tell him the same thing. No matter how much money he`s got, he`s still going to the same place. The people who don`t recognize god and morality and accept his salvation are going. And that`s not a good place.


MATTHEWS: You heard it right there. No explanation need to interpret what he just said. Last night Moore`s wife Kayla attack the media for their reporting on the comment and defended her husband against those claims. Let`s listen.


KAYLA MOORE, ROY MOORE`S WIFE: Fake news would tell you that we don`t care for Jews. I tell you all this because I`ve seen it also. I just want to set the record straight while they`re here. One of our attorneys is a Jew.


MATTHEWS: John Archibald, I`m sorry. This is the funniest thing I ever heard. Maybe because I live in the northeast. I don`t live in a diverse society. I don`t know how who your lawyer is tells you what your attitudes are. So anyway. But what did you make of that? I`m just letting you all three of you comment on what you thought of that comment by Ms. Kayla Moore.

ARCHIBALD: You can`t make this stuff up. You know, we have lived here in Alabama, covered Roy Moore for a long time, so we have heard a lot of crazy stuff come out of his mouth. But to hear it again dribble out like this is kind of a wakeup call to all of us. But it`s amazing.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of it, Onnie? Your thoughts.

LINDENBERG: You know, we talked to Charles Barkley. He called in our show this morning. And politically, I don`t agree a lot with Charles, even though we went to Auburn University. We share that love. And said something -- I heard him say last night that, I know all sorts of people of different races, of different religions, but that doesn`t mean racism isn`t around. I thought it was awkward to say, our attorney is a Jew. We know Jewish people. We are friends with Jewish people. It just sounded a little awkward to me.

MURPHY: Yes. It harkened back to the days, Chris. It harken back to the day of, you know, well, I have a really good friend who is a black person. It just came off very awkwardly. I wouldn`t say that -- I find it intriguing that everybody has a special place in hell nowadays.

LINDENBERG: That`s the thing.

MURPHY: Steve Bannon thinks you have a special place in hell if you don`t vote for the GOP. Everybody that votes differently than you seems to have a special place in hell in this election.

LINDENBERG: It took the place of everyone is Hitler. You know, in the Presidential race.

MATTHEWS: I agree. Let me give you a minute or two now. What is it about Alabama, just tell me what -- give me the picture of the culture of Alabama. You first, Onnie. Just how do you feel if you are going to somewhere overseas somewhere? Let me tell you about Alabama. What would you tell them?

LINDENBERG: Let me tell you something about Alabama, yes.

MATTHEWS: I`m all ears.

LINDENBERG: Listen. The rest of the nation thinks we are redneck, backward country. We did get plumbing, that`s something new for us here. But we have an auto industry that is thriving.

MATTHEWS: Sure is.

LINDENBERG: We have a food industry that is thriving. We are educated. We are thoughtful. This is a complicated election. It`s not as simple as you are going to vote for the child molester or are you going to vote for the abortionist? It`s not that simple. We have been dealing with hell in the political realm in the state since our governor was kicked out for shenanigans in the office with one of his assistants. So this has been the longest craziest political year. But don`t judge us by some of these politicians` actions because we are not to be -- thought less of, you know. It`s not all what you people think out there.

[19:15:23] MATTHEWS: You people. I accept that. Go ahead, Matt. I just love that attitude.

MURPHY: I don`t think we are nearly as monolithic as the rest of the country might have you believe. Roy Moore has been a known quantity for 20 years. And he has been a controversial figure for 20 years. He was almost the candidate by default. If Luther Strange had made an attempt to be what he had always been during the course of the election, he would be the candidate in this race right now. And I think he heat beat Doug Jones by 15 points. But unfortunately he didn`t do that.

But I would tell you that Alabama, since I have been here, I got here in 1999, it is a thoughtful, considerate place when it comes to politics. And despite our conservatism and how that might be perceived around the nation, we do put a lot of thought into the candidate that we vote for come Election Day.

MATTHEWS: You know, I did go to Chapel Hill. I`m not completely alien to the south. But thank you. You guys are piece of work. You are great.

Anyway, John Archibald, make your call. Who is going to win tonight?

ARCHIBALD: I still think that it`s leaning toward Roy Moore. But, you know, anything can happen. It really is -- I hate to say it, but it is a coin flip.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Sometimes it is. Sometimes we smell a tie.

Anyway, thank you, John Archibald, Onnie Lindenberg, and Matt Murphy. You two are something special.

We are going to get a look by the way more at the exit polls in Alabama in just a minute. We are going to have more. We have been learning already before the polls close. We are back at midnight tonight with all the results in the Alabama Senate race. I`m going to call the show tonight, late night midnight cowboy because of that candidate, Roy Moore.

Also coming up tonight, Donald Trump lashing out at three women on who revived their accusations of sexual misconduct against him, the President. And now he is making a sexual insinuation about a sitting senator who called on him to resign or face a congressional investigation. That`s ahead. He is getting pretty nasty.

Plus, the Russia investigation as Robert Mueller moves in, conservatives want him stopped. Trump wants a special prosecutor to investigate the special prosecutor. You know what that`s about, deflection.

And the "Hardball" around table is here as Alabama voters go to the polls. I say they are pretty much going to the polls. Will they reject Roy Moore by 8:00? We will see when voting ends tonight at the end of the hour just 45 minutes from now. We may have a good count on midnight.

Finally let me finish with "Trump watch." We`ll see how he likes this the baby.

This is "Hardball" where the action is.


[19:18:48] MATTHEWS: As I said, we`ll have more on the race in Alabama throughout this hour as we await poll closing at 8:00 eastern time. It`s coming up fast now, about 42 minutes from now. Don`t forget our special edition of "Hardball" at midnight. We will call it midnight cowboy because guess what, win or lose, it is about Roy Moore.

Up next, President Trump attacked Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York lashing out in a tweet and you have to do with sexually degrading. It clearly was. This is Democrats are calling on the President to be investigated for his misconduct or resign. I don`t think he`s going to do that.

You are watching "Hardball."


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump lashing out today against a leading voice in the U.S. Senate against sexual misconduct, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

In a tweet early this morning that many have interpreted as sexually suggestive -- I would say so -- Trump said the senator said she would do anything for him if he`d give her campaign money.

The way he set it up -- watch this. Trump wrote: "Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office `begging` for campaign contributions not so long ago and would do anything for them is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill and Crooked. Used."

That was his phrase.

The president`s tweet sparked a fierce backlash. Let`s watch.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice. And I will not be silenced on this issue. Neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: What the president tweeted about our colleague Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is grotesque.

It took my breath away. And it represents the conduct of a person who is ill-equipped to be the president of the United States.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: The president`s tweet this morning against Senator Gillibrand was a disgraceful sexist slur that has no place in American dialogue and diminishes and shames the office of the president.


MATTHEWS: Well, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who will say anything in the president`s defense, was asked about the president`s tweet. Here`s what she said.


QUESTION: Is Gillibrand owed an apology for the misunderstanding from the president`s tweet this morning, because many, including the senator, thinks that it`s about sexual innuendoes?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way.

And -- so, no.


MATTHEWS: Well, she seemed to be responding -- actually, Trump appears to be responding to Senator Gillibrand`s call yesterday for Congress to investigate allegations against him of sexual misconduct.

Well, more than 50 Democratic congresswomen have echoed Gillibrand`s appeal, asking for an investigation, a probe by the House Oversight Committee, which apparently has wide-ranging authority to hold such investigations.

Senator Gillibrand, by the way, is also one of six Democratic senators who have called for the president to quit. There they are.

For more, I`m joined by U.S. Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence from Michigan, one of the Democrats calling for investigation into the president. Stephanie Schriock, who has been here forever, she`s with EMILY`s list.

Not forever, as long as -- half as long as I have been here.


MATTHEWS: And "The Washington Post"`s Robert Costa.

Congresswoman, I don`t think it takes a lot of interpretation when a president comes on and tweets at down today that she came into his office, apparently all alone, and says, I will do anything for money.

It was pretty clear it was slut-shaming, to use the phrase of Elizabeth Warren.

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D), MICHIGAN: But this is a continuance of behavior, of wording, of just his view of women.

It is so comfortable for him to give these type of comments. And for him, he`s been Teflon, and nothing has stuck. But we are...


MATTHEWS: But it has stuck, Congresswoman. We all know this.

We all know all this stuff about him, and he actually never denies it, really, and gets away with it.

LAWRENCE: We have called for an investigation, saying that this president -- if we`re holding other members of Congress accountable, it doesn`t stop in the House. It should go to the White House.

He has admitted that -- he admitted he said those things in the recording. Then he goes back and said, well, it`s just shop talk, it was just locker room talk.


LAWRENCE: And now here we have it again.

Look at how he treated other anchorwomen, and it`s continuous. This is a president has no respect for women. And even in this Moore situation, he takes a national platform to say, these women, they`re just allegations, don`t pay them any attention, men can do what they want to do, and there`s no accountability.

He should be investigated, just like everyone else with allegations of sexual harassment.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Robert for a minute, before I get to Stephanie. Robert, why do you think he did this, this morning? Because he really put -- he really upped -- you`re not supposed to shoot down. He`s president of the United States. He`s going after the junior senator from New York, who`s not known by 90 percent of the people in the country. She`s very smart and may well be president someday, but right now she`s not known.

He`s building her up to like a duel. He`s like, it`s me against Kirsten Gillibrand. People out in West, in Wyoming, are saying, who`s this he`s fighting with today? Why is he building her up by accusing her of this?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You hinted at it in your question, Chris.

He sees in Senator Gillibrand and in Senator Elizabeth Warren potential 2020 rivals. And he wants to define them on his own rough terms at this early stage.


What do you make of that, Stephanie? You`re a smart pol. Do you think it`s smart of him to build them up, because he thinks he can beat them, obviously?


No, I don`t think most of the things he does is very smart, to be fair to that. Like, he`s not. I think it is -- how he is doing it that is so, so disgusting. And I was outraged this morning, as we all were.

MATTHEWS: Did you hear it the way most people heard it?


MATTHEWS: He was basically accusing her of saying, here I am for you, buddy?

SCHRIOCK: And I say to the press secretary as well -- I mean, Sarah surely heard that it way too.


MATTHEWS: Why did she say to April Ryan, your mind`s in the gutter?


SCHRIOCK: Because she has to defend.

But we all know what he said, because he`s a bully. And he`s really good at using this coded language. And as he goes after Senator Gillibrand, goes after Senator Warren, we see it over and over again. He`s using this gender-coded language.

He also does it on the racial front as well. And that`s really what this was.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, let`s talk about this.

He did the same thing against the opponent, the woman opponent. Remember, he made fun of her looks.


MATTHEWS: And then the woman said, brilliantly, the smartest thing she said in the campaign, every woman in America knew what you meant.

Well, this time, I think every man and woman in America knows what he meant. Now, why does he say it, then deny it or have his flack come out and deny it? He clearly intends to reduce her sexually. That`s what he did.

LAWRENCE: This man is a predator. He has demonstrated time and time again that he views women at a level that is unacceptable for anyone.

But for him to be the president of the United States, just think about the young girls who are watching this, the girls who are growing up and seeing the president of the United States said, oh, you were in the office and you will do anything to get money from me.


LAWRENCE: The shock is, oh, my goodness, what is he saying? And this is - - we need to call for accountability, accountability for this man, who was elected to be president, who has taken his platform to attack women.


SCHRIOCK: Can I add one thing, though?

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

SCHRIOCK: Because she`s not taken credit for something great that happened today.

The difference about this moment right now is that we have these incredible women in Congress, like Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, and Senator Gillibrand, who are willing to stand up, to hear the women`s voices that are being called.

And I think about the MeToo movement that we are in the middle of. And to know that the women in Congress are there to say, we are going to hear you, we`re going to listen, this is -- I`m telling you. And you know me. I work to elect Democratic women at EMILY`s List.

MATTHEWS: I`m going to talk about that. Let`s talk about Democrats.

SCHRIOCK: I got to tell you, across the board, we need more of them.


MATTHEWS: I know the tools the opposition has.


MATTHEWS: You guys have -- you Democrats -- I will now talk at Democrats, although I tend to vote that way mostly, not all the time.


MATTHEWS: I`m looking at you and I`m saying, why don`t you guys do -- you could get special orders.

You could start the minute the session`s over tonight or tomorrow night, go into the well of the House, and all night long on C-SPAN, you could rail against this president and his -- the accusations against him.

You could quote chapter and verse all the charges again. You own that facility. And yet the Democrats don`t use the tools of public communication the way the Republicans know how to do. Why don`t you do it?

LAWRENCE: I would have to push back from you.

We have never had a president that every single day...

MATTHEWS: Well, why don`t you do what I`m saying?

LAWRENCE: Every single day, we are attacking those issues, because every single day, there`s something...


MATTHEWS: Why aren`t you using special orders?


LAWRENCE: We are doing...


LAWRENCE: We are on the floor every night. The tax plan. We have to fight for taxes. We have to fight for DACA. We have to fight for CHIP.

MATTHEWS: But on this, are you on this all night?

LAWRENCE: Am I this all night?

MATTHEWS: Are the Democrats using the floor of the House to...


LAWRENCE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: On this issue?

LAWRENCE: On this issue, we had a press conference today. We had over 100 women.

MATTHEWS: We`re arguing against each other.

LAWRENCE: One hundred women signed on to ask for an investigation.


MATTHEWS: I hate to give advice, because it`s never really taken.


LAWRENCE: ... said it was criminal and that we should refer it to the Department of Justice.


MATTHEWS: These are good arguments. You have got the floor of the House. You should use it.

LAWRENCE: We`re using it.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, last thought from you, Robert.

I love to argue.

Robert, give me a sense. Is President Trump happy with the way this thing`s turned out today, that it`s become a battle between him and Kirsten Gillibrand?

COSTA: He always likes to be at the center of things. But he now faces the point that if Doug Jones wins tonight in Alabama or he comes close to winning, it`s going to show that, even in red states, questions of character and conduct matter, even to Trump voters, Trump`s core base.

That could have reverberations in the 2018 midterms, because the allegations against President Trump have been revived, and will continue to be revived.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

Thank you much.

By the way, U.S. Congresswomen, they`re called special orders. I`m pushing for them.

Anyway, use them, exploit them.


LAWRENCE: Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS: They`re your tools.


MATTHEWS: No, don`t call me sir. Just listen.



MATTHEWS: The painful experience of history. I`m so much older than you.

Thank you. Thank you, Congresswoman, for coming on.

LAWRENCE: Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, Stephanie Schriock, of course, always, with EMILY`s List, and Robert Costa of "The Washington Post."

Up next: As special counsel Mueller`s investigation closes in on Trump`s inner circle, conservatives are pushing back. The president`s lawyers now want a second special counsel appointed to distract, of course.

And later, back to the Alabama Senate race. Polls will be closed in half- an-hour now. I`m looking there -- less than a half-an-hour.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Trump`s defenders and his lawyers are trying to deflect attention from the ongoing Russian probe and are instead calling again for investigations of the FBI and of Hillary Clinton again.

And now Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow is getting in into the game after FOX News reported that a Justice Department official was demoted for having connections to, including his wife having worked for the research firm that hired the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to compile the dossier on Donald Trump.

FOX reported last week that the House Intelligence Committee, led by Devin Nunes, has evidence that the demoted Justice Department official met with Steele during the election last year and later met with the founder of the company that hired him to produce the dossier.

Then FOX further reported yesterday that the wife of the demoted official worked for the opposition research firm last year.

And now Trump attorney Jay Sekulow tells Axios that -- quote -- "The Department of Justice and FBI cannot ignore the multiple problems that have been created by these obvious conflicts of interest. These new revelations require the appointment of a special counsel to investigate."

He later added: "It has nothing to do with Bob Mueller or Mueller`s team."

I`m joined right now by Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC`s legal analyst.

But let`s start with that admission by Sekulow, the lawyer for the president. He`s saying it has nothing to do with Bob Mueller`s investigation. So why are they having a special investigation about an internal matter within the Justice Department about whether there was a conflict between a guy having something to do with picking this research firm and his wife working for that research firm and that research firm having worked for Hillary?

It doesn`t necessarily mean that they`re doing any corrupt here. And, by the, way can`t the Department of Justice figure this out?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Special counsel for what?


BUTLER: So, when I come on HARDBALL, I do my homework.

I looked up the special counsel statute. It says, if there`s a conflict of interest that the department can`t prosecute the case objectively. Like, for example, when the attorney general does not tell the truth about his own dealings with the Russians, and he`s supposed to be investigating the Russians, that`s a conflict.

It`s not a conflict when there`s no allegations that anyone`s done anything wrong. So -- or who`s a subject of this new call, all he has is a wife who has a job. You`re allowed to have a partner who works outside of the Department of Justice. He hasn`t done anything wrong.

Again, we do need to know about his conversations with Steele, with the people who collected this dossier, whether that had anything to do with how the department ruled. But, again, there`s no allegations at this point of any impropriety. It`s a false equivalence.

The president`s lawyers are saying, because there`s a special counsel who is investigating Trump, there ought to be a special counsel to investigate Hillary.

That`s not how it works.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think they`re doing it, just -- what for, to just create trouble?

BUTLER: Well, again, I don`t blame the president`s defense attorney, because finally the president has a lawyer who understands that this lawyer`s responsibility is to President Trump, to keeping Donald Trump out of prison or in office, as opposed to his loyalty being to the United States, which is the loyalty of the attorney general.

Who I do blame is the people who are on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Republicans who are also calling for a special counsel, because their duty is to the United States.

And this investigation, for which there is a special counsel, Russian collusion, that`s about the integrity of American democracy. It`s more consequential than Watergate. And so for them to play politics about this and say, oh, we need another special counsel, that`s unconscionable.

MATTHEWS: And it is what they do.

Anyway, they did it, before during the Iraq War cover-up, remember? They went after a U.S. ambassador that went over there and reported back from Africa because he wife worked for the CIA, and they outed her just to show something that didn`t prove anything, except that they were scurrilous.

Anyway, thank you, Paul Butler.

Alabama, by the way, the polls close down there in just 20 minutes. Will Republicans break with their candidate, Roy Moore, or not? It looks really close, based upon all the numbers we have looked at.

And will Democrats see heavy turnout at the polls, especially among African-American and women voters?

We have got more from our exit polling coming up next, by the way, right now.

You`re watching it, HARDBALL.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: There`s that music again. It`s an election on NBC News and MSNBC.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Polls in Alabama will be closed in less than 20 minutes. For the latest exit polling in the race, let`s go to our expert who`s always right, Steve Kornacki.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, look, the word we`ve been using in the race, talking about the horse race here, was polarizing. How polarized the electorate was, how polarized politics are. We have a polarized exit poll.

Some of the highlight questions, the question of values, a basic character judgment about the candidates. Does Roy Moore share your values? You see here 46 percent in this exit poll saying yes, 49 percent saying no.

Now, if you turn the question around, ask the same thing about his opponent, Doug Jones, what do you see? Not that different. Forty-nine percent saying Jones shares their values, 48 percent no. So almost an event split for both candidates. A very, very slight difference in Jones` favor.

A couple of other things we can show you here. How about -- this is the issue, one of the big issues the Moore folks want people to be voting on, party instead of person? Which party do you want controlling the Senate? You can see here it is a slight majority for the Republicans, 51-43. Of course, in a state like Alabama, traditionally, that number would be much higher, but still ahead for the Republicans there.

And then the question of abortion. This is the other issue that Moore`s people want folks focusing on instead of the scandals. The question of abortion. You see Alabama one of the most anti-abortion states in the country, not a surprise to see the majority here, 54 percent, saying that abortion should be illegal. Of course, Jones, the Democrat, he is running as a pro-choice Democrat in one of the most anti-abortion states in the country.

So, again, this is one of those numbers that Jones folks were thinking about during this campaign, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Let me get back to my tut-tut there. Do you think eight points is slight? I really think that party ID thing seemed pretty significant, that number.

What do you think of it?

KORNACKI: Well, sure. I mean, look, if you`re looking in the abstract, 51 percent, 43 percent, Republicans have the advantage. If you look at it from the standpoint of Donald Trump just won this state last year with 63 percent of the vote, if you`re looking at this, you had to go back to 2002 to find a Senate race that was within 20 points in this state.

MATTHEWS: I see it`s down. I got you.

KORNACKI: In the context of Alabama politics, you`d never see it this close.

MATTHEWS: So well said. Thank you so much, Steve Kornacki.

With recent public tracking polls varying so widely, the winner of tonight`s race between Roy Moore and Doug Jones is anybody`s guess. Roy`s counting on turnout by Trump Republicans, as you just saw. Are they willing to overlook the numerous allegations of his past sexual misconduct?

Well, according to exit polls data, a wide majority of white evangelical voters, 72 percent, almost three quarters, say they believe those allegations are false. Boy, that`s a powerful number. They`ve heard the same news we`ve all gotten and they`re rejecting it.

In turn, Doug Jones needs women voters as well as solid support from African-Americans who represent one-quarter of the state`s population. However, a voter ID law which passed in 2011 could suppress turnout among potential Jones voters. As Scott Douglas writes in "The New York Times" op-ed, in Alabama, an estimated 118,000 registered voters, registered voters, do not have a photo ID they can use to vote. Black and Latino voters are nearly twice as likely as white voters to lack such documentation. This is democracy?

I`m joined by the HARDBALL roundtable. Sophia Nelson is a contributor to NBCBLK and former House GOP committee counsel. Cornell Belcher is a Democratic pollster and an MSNBC political analyst. And Heidi Przybyla, as you all know, is senior politics editor at "USA Today", and MSNBC political analyst.

So, let`s talk about everything. What grabs you about this race?

SOPHIA NELSON, CONTRIBUTOR, NBCBLK: Well, Chris, I think that this race is going to come down to white evangelical Christians. I have a piece right now on NBC think about this and I break it down, that`s the real story here.

Is there hypocrisy? Will they choose the guy who`s pro-life but may have done inappropriate things with young girls? Or the Democrat who`s pro- choice and who helped to find people that killed the four little girls in the black church?

So there`s a real conundrum for white evangelical Christians. That to me is the story.

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I love Sophia but I`m going to disagree with her slightly because I think we know what white evangelical Christians are going to do. To me, it`s going to come down to one of those more moderate, middle of the road Republican women doing, right?

And let`s be clear, this is a Republican state. Republican as all heck. He only wins if Republicans either sit on their hands or some switch over, right? This is not a close --

MATTHEWS: You`re saying Doug --

BELCHER: It`s going to come down --

MATTHEWS: Doug Jones only wins if there`s a strange development?

BELCHER: If there`s increased turnout among minorities, which the early exit polling says they`re over-indexing. And -- but still, even with that --

MATTHEWS: Over 25 percent?

BELCHER: Right now it`s over 25 percent, which is better than what it typically is. But you still need Republican women to cross over.

MATTHEWS: That`s 25 percent of the electorate tonight will be African- American. That`s a good sign.

BELCHER: More than 25 percent of the electorate tonight is African- American which right now the early exits show it more than -- that`s a good sign for Democrats. Also, one quick thing, only 49 percent plurality, think the allegations is true, also is a bad indicate for Roy Moore.

MATTHEWS: Bad indicator?



HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if -- the turn out models are that if overall numbers get up to not just midterm levels but kind of presidential levels of voting, that Doug Jones actually could have a chance at this. But I agree, 100 percent with Cornell. Sorry, Sophia. This does come down to those Republican women.

And the conversation that they have with themselves once they get inside that voting booth, because look, we should all be thinking having flashbacks to the actual presidential election itself when all of the polls suggested that Hillary Clinton had it in the bag, but there was this segment of voters to this day that we think weren`t straight with the pollsters about what they were going to do.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that.

NELSON: White women.

MATTHEWS: Why weren`t they straight?


NELSON: Twenty (ph) percent of white women. That`s what I`m trying to say, it`s the white women, stupid. Believe me or not.

MATTHEWS: Why are they saying one thing to pollsters --

NELSON: It`s not politically correct, they didn`t want say they were voting against Hillary Clinton. But 53 percent of women put Donald Trump in the White House.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, guys, the big question, there`s been a lot of national attention on this race across the country everywhere. The whole world`s watching this, anybody is following the news around the world is watching this.

Has that been a plus or negative for Roy Moore? I think it`s probably encouraged the turnout. But it`s also created this sort of Alabama against the world mentality.

NELSON: I agree. I totally agree with you.

MATTHEWS: What`s the net effect of all this publicity?

NELSON: I think Cornell is right. If there`s a 30 percent black turnout, I think Doug Jones has a shot. If it`s below that, white evangelicals and white women are going to carry him into this seat.

BELCHER: I think, real quickly, I think that the world is watching this is bad for Mitch McConnell, right? Either way --

MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to this question. Is it driving up the attitude of Alabama outside agitators, which we grew up with that phrase --

PRZYBYLA: I had to tell you, I had a conversation with Senator Kennedy, who`s neighboring Louisiana but similar culturally today. We cannot underestimate the seething anger of people in that region about Washington, not just Washington but the rest of the world coming down there, people like Charles Barkley saying, show them y`all are not rednecks.

MATTHEWS: You heard it a minute ago, Lindbergh, she was saying we`re not all the way you people think we are, throwing me in that barrel.

BELCHER: But the flip side of that is, of course, the business communities who are saying, we don`t want to look -- a state that`s trying to be a tech and manufacturing hub, who wants to bring in all these new companies, we don`t want to look backwards in the view of the world.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s a great conflicting strain.

Anyway, the roundtable`s sticking with us. Up next, scoops from these people by tomorrow. They can predict if they want to before 8:00.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Well, a program note, MSNBC, of course, will be tracking results out of Alabama all evening tonight. That includes a special edition of HARDBALL. I`m going to call it midnight cowboy for guess who, back on the air at midnight, 12:00 Eastern.

We`ll be right back now.


MATTHEWS: Well, the polls are going to be closed in Alabama at the top of the hour which we`re getting to right now. And we`re going to get our first characterization of the race. Don`t you like that, too close, too late, or whatever.

Right now, we`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Sophia, tell me something I don`t know.

NELSON: Well, first, I think Roy Moore will win by 3 points. And then I think what you don`t know is, is that --

MATTHEWS: Testable prediction. Wow.

NELSON: -- three "Washington Post" reporters were turned away from the Moore headquarters event tonight. You know, the election campaign event.

MATTHEWS: Turned away.

NELSON: Yes, they wouldn`t let them in. They don`t like "The Washington Post."

BELCHER: I`ve actually changed my "tell you something". I actually think that Doug Jones is going to win. When I look at that 49 percent --

MATTHEWS: By how many?

BELCHER: I think Doug Jones wins by a percentage point. And I think no one`s rooting more for Doug Jones than Mitch McConnell. That`s something you don`t know.

MATTHEWS: That`s well-said. Thank you.

PRZYBYLA: I`m not making a prediction.

MATTHEWS: You don`t have to.



PRZYBYLA: I`m going to report here that I`ve been in touch with Mitch McConnell`s aides this evening and if Moore wins, as we`re expecting potentially, he will try and kick this over to the conference as a decision about what they`re going to do with the committee posts, about what they`re going to do with an ethics investigation.


PRZYBYLA: Stress that many of these things are very complicated processes and it`s up to the conference.

MATTHEWS: Well, fascinating. Great forward-looking reporting.

Sophia Nelson, thank you as always. Cornell Belcher, it`s a great group. And, Heidi, of course, Heidi Przybyla.

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


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Tuesday, December 12th, 2017.

We`re on the verge of getting Alabama`s verdict. Polls will close in just a minute. Much of the news-connected world is looking to see the latest take on what America stands for. Are we a country that upholds traditional values even if it means abiding their violation? That will be the message if Roy Moore comes out the victor because the voters of Alabama will be saying just that, that they want a senator in Washington who shares their values on abortion and marriage, that would be Republican Roy Moore, and don`t want one that is not, that being Democrat Doug Jones.

The difficulty of predicting this election lies in the unwillingness of people to speak honestly to pollsters. It`s an old belief of mine. If you get a phone call from someone with a well-educated voice, it could face a certain political attitude. Should you hold hard right political views, you may not be so interested in sharing that fact with someone with a voice like that, of the pollster who`s got you on the phone.

So, based on all of this, I think it`s going to be close tonight. But no matter how close, the verdict from Alabama is going be heard worldwide. It`s going to be a signal from this country about who we are what we value, what behavior we will abide.

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

The polls in Alabama are about to close. And just a reminder, I`ll be back at midnight tonight with "Midnight Cowboy," the story of Roy Moore and how he did today.

"ALL N WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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