Show: HARDBALL Date: August 14, 2018 Guest: Chuck Rosenberg, Aisha Moodie-Mills
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST OF HARDBALL: Dog fight. Let's play hardball.
I've been trying to think of a U.S. President who'd called someone a dog. I'm trying to remember Obama or W. or Bill Clinton or Bush, Sr. or Ronald Reagan calling a woman who used to work for him, for the world to hear, a dog.
So, how far is this president taking us on this down escalator from Trump Tower? How far is he taking his office into history's basement? Can we ever, even when he's gone, rise up to the surface of our pride, our hopes, our image of ourselves as Americans?
Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews in Washington.
The president likes to say that when he's backed into a corner, he fights back. Well, tonight President Trump is taking fire from former staffer and confident, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, and he's using everything in his arsenal to fight back.
This morning, the President of the United States lowered the clash with Omarosa, calling her a fellow human being, an American citizen, obviously, a dog. President Trump, who called Omarosa a low life yesterday, tweeted today, when you give a crazed, crying, low life a break and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn't work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog.
What has brought Trump to this level of depravity? What makes this former staffer so dangerous to him? Here's Omarosa earlier today on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, TELEVISION ACTOR: It's interesting that he's trying to silence me. So, what is he trying to hide? What is he afraid of? I think he should be afraid of being exposed as the misogamist, the bigot, and the racist that he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was forced to address those questions again and again today and the allegations of a recording of President Trump making racist remarks.
The spokesperson for the president could not guarantee that a recording does not exist. Here's that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WELKER, CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC: Can you stand at the podium and guarantee the American people will never hear Donald Trump utter the N word on a recording in any context?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can't guarantee anything, but I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that wasn't the only explosive moment of the day. Those who watched our show last night heard Omaros say, in passing, that she had already been questioned by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Omarosa, do you have any other recordings? You wouldn't share them here. Do you got some?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Oh, I have plenty.
MATTHEWS: Anything Mueller would like to see? Robert Mueller.
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: If he -- if he -- if his office calls again --
MATTHEWS: Would you be a good --
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Anything they want, I'll share.
MATTHEWS: . witness in this investigation by Mueller?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Absolutely. Anything that they want, I will certainly cooperate.
MATTHEWS: Do you think (inaudible) should be --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: If he calls again. You heard that. Well, today she repeated to Katy Tur that she had spoken to Mueller's team already. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Let's talk about something you talked to Chris Matthews about last night, the Mueller investigation. Have you been interviewed by the Special Counsel?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I have.
TUR: You have. And what sort of questions were they asking you?
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: That's the extent I can go into discussing that as well. I feel like my hands are tied because, as you know, I do love to communicate about the things that are going on my life, but unfortunately, I can't elaborate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So what more does the president have to fear that she may give or has already given to Special Counsel Mueller. For more I'm joined by Michael Steele, former RNC Chair and host of the new podcast, Man of Steele. Ron Reagan, author and political commentator, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Democratic strategist and Phil Rucker, White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post."
I want to start with Phil on this, on the general question of this issue of the N-word, if we will, it sounds -- well that's the way we say because we don't like the word. Historically, we have no reason to like it.
What do you make of that nondefense by Sarah Huckabee today? She didn't deny blankly that he had never used it because she may be wary like everybody, and apparently everybody at the White House was. According to tapes, there was people worried about that, including some people who don't like Omarosa, said wait a minute, there's tapes that I'm worried about this tape.
PHIL RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: So she struggled to defend President Trump generally about -- against charges of racism, but specifically on that N-word tape, it was striking that she could not, at the podium, at the White House, say to the American people that the president is not on tape, there's not a recording of him using the N-word.
She, of course, said she hadn't heard the N-word, but under that sharp questioning from Kristen Welker, who was great there, she just could not give that guarantee, which makes you wonder what's out there, what kind of tapes could be there.
MATTHEWS: Ron Reagan, we've got this guy, Penn Jillette, part of the Penn and Teller team from Vegas, we know that -- and he's a bright guy, of course, he said, I was in the room, I would say racially insensitive of things, I heard them, I say racially insensitive lies that made me uncomfortable. That was him talking there.
So there -- witnesses are starting to peak out from under the covers here. This isn't something the White House is ready to defend in a blank form. And some say, oh yes, he never said it.
RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENATOR: Well, yes, I have to say that this is one of those instances where Omarosa's telling us things that we already, more or less, assumed.
I mean, is any of us actually surprised that Donald Trump would deploy the N-word in various contexts? I'm not. But, I have to admit, if there's a tape and you actually hear him saying that, that's liable to have some impact there. And I'm sure he doesn't want that to come out.
MATTHEWS: Well, the White House brief today was dominated. I mean question after question, there were two questions on other subjects today by questions about Omarosa and President Trump's response to her allegations.
Let's watch today. It is the number one news story today, whatever you think of it it's up there because of what this, watch this happening today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN MALE: Is this any way for a president to talk about any American, let alone, somebody that he hired?
SANDERS: The president is certainly voicing his frustration.
UNKNOWN MALE: Why did he hire somebody he's describing as a dog?
UNKNOWN MALE: Why doesn't he just ignore it?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Part of a pattern of insulting prominent African- Americans.
SANDERS: This has absolutely nothing to do with race.
WELKER: Have you asked the president if he's ever used the N-word?
SANDERS: I didn't have to because he addressed it to the American people.
WELKER: Can you stand at the podium and guarantee the American people?
SANDERS: I can't guarantee anything, but I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly.
WELKER: Just to be clear, you can't guarantee it?
SANDERS: If you look at the actions that this president has taken, certainly the policies that he's enacted, you can see the heart of who he is.
UNKNOWN MALE: We would like the president to stop tweeting about Omarosa?
SANDERS: The administration, in some cases, will be forced to respond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Aisha, let's get your thoughts in here. You're the only woman, I notice, on the panel right now. So, take some time here. The dog word, the use of that word in this context, in this heat, right now, of this argument, what does it tell you about the president's character?
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well let's be clear about what he was trying to say. He couldn't tweet out the B-word, which is really what he wanted to say, was to call her a female dog, so he just called her a dog.
I'm troubled with the fact that we're trying to have a dignified conversation about the fact that there is a vial and bigoted person in the White House, who is the President of the United States. We knew what his character was when he was running for office.
We knew what his character was right before the presidential election when the tapes came out where he talked about his stature as a celebrity and how he could grab women any kind of way he wanted to. We knew what his character was decades ago when he put an ad in "The New York Times" to put innocent black boys in jail for a crime that they did not commit and they - -
MATTHEWS: The Wylie incident, yes. And they were innocent.
MOODIE-MILLS: So, we know this guy is and now Omarosa just happens to have some facts to corroborate that.
MATTHEWS: Well let's -- let me go to this whole thing, both of it. First the dog thing, I think it's derogatory, especially towards women, I think he -- I think it has a history there. This is not something, I grew up, I heard it.
It's heard -- it's always derogatory, it has to do with everything awful. It is terrible. The president -- I keep going back to this, when the president speaks, he's not just the head of the Executive branch, he's not just Chief Executive, he's not just Commander in Chief, he's Head of State.
MICHAEL STEELE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
MATTHEWS: He speaks for our country.
STEELE: He represents all of us.
MATTHEWS: He sits in Lincoln's chair and he talks for the country and he calls a member of our society, a fellow citizen, a dog, because he disagrees with what she's been saying. That's unusual. I'm speaking politely. That's unusual for any president I can remember going back, I don't remember past Ike.
MATTHEWS: But I do -- I read the history books. Dog is not in the lexicon of presidents.
STEELE: It's unusual in the public sense. Now, what president's might have said privately, that's a whole different ballgame. But you're absolutely right, it is unusual in that -- in the sense that this president has no filter.
MATTHEWS: He tweeted it.
STEELE: He tweeted it. He has no filter with regard to this. Look --
MATTHEWS: What's he trying to say? What's he trying to get that, he's a politician. What does he want to get done by calling someone a canine, a dog.
STEELE: It's his way -- it goes to the first point that, yes, he was trying -- he wanted to use the B-word, but --
MATTHEWS: You think?
STEELE: Oh absolutely. No --
MATTHEWS: You think he's more angry. I think he's more afraid of her.
MOODIE-MILLS: Of course he did. Of course.
MATTHEWS: Aisha, that's your opinion, but --
MOODIE-MILLS: That's exactly what he wanted to say.
STEELE: No, I agree.
MATTHEWS: I think he's afraid of her. I don't think he's angry. I think he's afraid of her.
STEELE: Well, I don't think he has any -- I don't think he's afraid of her in the sense that he would -- because he created her. But I think in this sense, he wanted to use that word but couldn't, so he fell back on dog.
MATTHEWS: That's interesting. So, let's go back to how he used her. He used her to vouch for him among African-Americans and liberals to show his diversity and his sensitivity to the need for diversity.
RUCKER: That's him against charges of racism and sexism during the campaign. She's one of the people that he would put out on camera to defend him and say he's not racist, he's not sexist. The irony is, now, these are the charges that she's leveling against him.
But, the dog thing, that goes back to a long history of authoritarian leaders using animalistic slurs to try to dehumanize people or groups of people. And it's keeping with a pattern through history.
MOODIE-MILLS: And guys, as the black liberal on the panel, I just wanted to add, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, oh well, look at his record. Look at what this president has done. I want to be clear that black people didn't buy the hype from Omarosa when he was her out before to try to come to the community and say, oh, look at what he can do for.
MOODIE-MILLS: .for black people.
MOODIE-MILLS: And, certainly, he has not had any policies that have demonstrating a commitment to the community. So, just by her own, you know, conversation today, we can show that the President is not down with black people. And that is its own policy issue, right?
MOODIE-MILLS: But this calling people out of their name, whether it be a woman, whether it be a person of color, whether it be immigrants is just problematic for the President of the United States.
MATTHEWS: OK. We've gotten (ph) that.
MOODIE-MILLS: And we got to just focus on that.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think the idea - I think he's been siding with - with what he thinks is going to be a tribal election in 2020 already. I think he's been sizing this up, picking a - picking a fight with LeBron James who everybody respects, everybody routed for him. He was the underdog in that race for the NBA. He was the guy out there all alone. People cared about that guy as a human being.
And to pick a fight with him, I though was telling me a lot about his policies. Anyways, as I said, calling Omarosa a dog is part of a long pattern of dehumanizing comments by President Trump. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You call women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Only Rosie O'Donnell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O'Donnell.
TRUMP: Yes, I'm sure it (inaudible). I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. And he starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions and, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. So, you have beauty and then you have Rosie, the beast. You have beauty and the beast. What was that, was that a dog?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was Hillary.
TRUMP: Uh oh, it's Hillary.
TRUMP: Ah, only in New Hampshire. That was - first it was a screechy dog, then it was a very serious dog, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ron Reagan about this - I really do think and I - and I think it's a nonpartisan assessment. I think the presidency does - I was just reading his book that's coming out about LBJ and at the moment Kennedy was killed.
Those around him who necessarily - don't necessarily like LBJ, saw something in him where he grew and he became (ph) for all those months ahead when he got the civil rights bill through, and the voting rights act through. He grew into someone he wasn't before.
The presidency drew something out of him that was good, and proud. This President doesn't seem to be effected by his election, by the Electoral College. He doesn't seem to have said, wait a minute, now I can't say dog anymore. I can't make these street corner comments I used to make when I was a tycoon, talk about it.
RON REAGAN, AUTHOR AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You asked a few minutes ago whether any other president, any president that we could remember would ever say anything like this about a fellow American citizen and the answer, of course, is no, not publically.
But if any - if the last two years have taught us anything, it's that Donald Trump does not appreciate, or grasp, the granger and the dignity of the office he holds. And you're quite right that when people come to that office, if they're good people they grow into it to the extent that they can.
Trump has had the opposite effect. He is not growing into the dignity and the granger of the office. He is dragging that dignity, and that granger.
REAGAN: .through the gutter because that's who he is. There is no larger self there that he is going to assume now that he has taken office. This is what we get. Aisha was very - was correct at the beginning. We should've known this all along and many of us did. What do you think you're going to get when you - when you install in the Oval Office, an imbecilic sociopath? Things are not going to turn out well.
MATTHEWS: Well, that's - well, maybe where we're headed, but Aisha, thank you so much. I just want to remind everybody about somebody I disagree with on, almost, everything. Ronald Reagan Senior, the president, and I have to say something about him. He wouldn't walk - this about head of state, not about policy, left, center, right, or anything.
He wouldn't walk into the Oval Office without his suite coat on, it was that serious and I like that. The older I get the more I like a little formality, a little class in our President. Thank you, Michael Steele. Thank you, Ron Reagan, Aisha Moodie-Mills, thank you for joining us, a newcomer here. Please come back. Phil Rucker, a great reporter.
Coming up, President Trump steps up his attacks on all fronts in the face of numeral legal threats right now and worries from Omarosa. Then Michael Cohen to a possible motion (ph) subpoena. Trump's problems are not going away. They're multiplying; they just keep adding up.
Plus, the defense rests in their case in the trail of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort without calling a single witness, closing (INAUDIBLE) with begin tomorrow and it's up to the hands of the jury. I think they're bluffing on defense.
They don't have a case. And the President signed a defense bill named for Senator John McCain. Catch this, he wouldn't even admit, in his statement last night, that it is called the Senator McCain bill, where he was talking about that in a round table and they're going to weigh in on that baby and the escalating war of words between Omarosa and Trump.
Everything Trump has done over the last 24 hours shows a man petrified of what's coming from her. Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch. This is Hardball, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: We're keeping an eye on those four states holding important primaries tonight. The polls have just closed in Vermont where four Democratic candidates are applying (ph) for the chance to take on Republican governor Phil Scott. Well, his challenger (INAUDIBLE) in November. And in Connecticut, voters are choosing between two Democratic and five Republican candidates for governor.
The most closely watched races tonight are in Minnesota and Wisconsin where the polls won't close until nine eastern. In Minnesota, Senator Al Franken's resignation means two senate seats in play.
Voters are also choosing candidates for the House, governor, and State Attorney General. In Wisconsin, Republicans will pick between two candidates to challenge incumbent Democratic senator Tammy Baldwin and eight Democratic candidates are applying (ph) for the opportunity to take on Republican governor Scott Walker.
He's always (INAUDIBLE) in November. Start with - stay with MSNBC for more (INAUDIBLE) updates on these primary races throughout this night. We'll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. Facing new challenges on multiple fronts, it's clear President Trump's problems aren't going away anywhere. In fact, they're adding up. As we're seeing, there are numerable worries, right now, that threaten to consume his whole presidency.
Most recently, there are the tape recordings made by former staffer Omarosa with a promise of more tapes to come. There's the looming prospect of a damaging report from the Special Counsel, not to mention the legal wrangling over Trump's testimony, and a potential subpoena, especially over the issue of obstruction.
Then there's the trial of Paul Manafort which could conclude in a matter of days. Then there's the unpredictability surrounding Michael Cohen. What's he got to say? Who could spill, easily, more of the President's secrets?
Then there's the already cooperating - those already cooperating on the Russia probe including Michael Flynn who's already talking -- he's already told prosecutors what they know now. Last but not least there's the growing possibility that the President's own son, Donald Trump Jr., could be in serious criminal jeopardy in connection with the Trump Tower meeting.
All these concerns in addition to actually, catch this, being President of the United States on the side of all this stuff, it could explain why we so often see the President lashing out on Twitter like we did today.
Among his many tweets he again called for an end to the Russian probe, of course, referring to fired FBI agent Peter Strzok. He said, "Strzok started the illegal Rigged Witch Hunt. Why isn't this so-called probe ended immediately?"
Well, given all that's transpired who's left to believe him. Trump that is. A new CNN poll released today shows a majority of Americans 56 percent say the President's public statements about the Russian probe are mostly or completely false, 56 percent.
Joining me now is Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant special prosecutor during Watergate and Ken Vogel, political reporter with the New York Times.
Jill, I don't know if you're as old as I am but I will ask you, do you remember that song, Jackson Browne wrote the lyrics, "seven women on my mind." It's like if I'm Trump, I'm worried about all these possible witnesses, including his own words that will be used against him.
His son could go to the calaboose. He's got Flynn out there talking. He's got Manafort maybe going to talk. He's got certainly Michael Cohen talking already. It's just seemed like there are so many people and, of course, Omarosa with tapes. She's got piles of tapes she says now in her closet somewhere ready to play for us the next couple of weeks.
How does a guy like that, a defendant basically, keep his mind if he has one?
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR AND LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL PROSECUTOROSENBERG: Well, I think the answer is he doesn't have one and that he is delusional. I think he really does almost believe what he says because his lies.
MATTHEWS: That he's completely innocent. He has nothing to fear from any of these people.
WINE-BANKS: It's the only explanation because the things that he say -- says are so easily disproved that if you weren't delusional you wouldn't say them. A liar always says something that there's some way of proving is true or some way you could make people believe it.
And now when 56 percent do not believe him, I'm shocked that it's even 40 some percent that do. No one should believe him because it's right in front of us. The obstruction is in front of us. It's in plain sight.
The collusion which is not collusion, it is conspiracy to defraud of the United States, conspiracy to violate our election laws. Those are things that are crimes being committed in our face. And when he says stop the investigation in a tweet and by the way, speaking of tweets, I consider it an insult to dogs to have used that reference because I'm a big dog lover.
Let me go -- let me go to Ken on this. It seems to me you've got a lot of potential witnesses and active witnesses. You got people all of whom, starting with Manafort and Flynn, talked to him and Cohen as well.
And I think Omarosa probably on the further outskirts, all heard him talking for all those months they work with him. You work for a boss, I've been in politics. You hear them talk. They don't hide in the corner and talk. They're talking all the time like Popeye talk -- they're talking, what are we going to do with the Russians? What can we do with the Russians? (inaudible).
In all these conversations, he must be afraid that he said something that all of them or all of them and each individual put them, add them all up together have a hell of a pile of witnessing to do against him, your thoughts, starting with Omarosa, his inbox right now.
KEN VOGEL, POLITICAL REPORTER WITH THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. I mean he feels a great existential threat, I don't think there's any question to his presidency, but even more acutely what he feels are sort of three areas where his sensitivities are being inflamed.
Number one is that someone is making money off him. That's what really bothers him. Omarosa is out there hawking a book and she's making money off him.
VOGEL: He also really doesn't like when people talk -- when people are disloyal to him. Here you have three folks, more than that who he thinks he made -- he thinks he made Omarosa and maybe he did.
MATTHEWS: Who is he loyal to? Who is he loyal to?
VOGEL: Well, that's a good question. I mean that's the point. These people are all preparing for him to flip on them even if he expects them to continue to be loyal to him.
VOGEL: And so -- but that really bothers him when they come out, someone who he sort of built up and feels like he made their career comes out and said something disparaging about him. You have that with Michael Cohen. You have that with Omarosa. You have that even to some extent with Paul Manafort.
And then additionally, he also feels like these people are giving Mueller something that would allow him to sort of better make this case and this case being, in his mind, that he somehow doesn't deserve credit for the presidency, for winning the presidency.
That's really the underlying thing here that bothers him, that somehow the Russians were involved in tipping the election to him, even though there has been no allegation in Mueller's investigation.
MATTHEWS: Yes, yes.
VOGEL: That's what bothers him about the whole specter of Russia hanging over his presidency.
MATTHEWS: Here we are wearing the same tie. Anyway, as Omarosa has confirmed that she has spoken Robert Mueller's prosecutors and she alleged that during the campaign Trump had prior knowledge of the hacked emails before they were released to the public.
So he's like Roger Stone who also intimated, he knew that it was time for Podesta's time in the barrel. Let's watch that again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATY TUR, MSNBC LIVE ANCHOR AND BROADCAST JOURNALIST, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Did Donald Trump know about those emails before they came out?
OMAROSA ONEE MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, EX-WHITE HOUSE STAFFER AND TV CELEBRITY: Absolutely.
TUROSENBERG: He knew about them.
TUROSENBERG: He knew what was coming out before WikiLeaks released them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, she didn't provide any evidence to that to back that allegation. NBC News reported in February that Mueller has been intent on finding out whether Trump knew about those hacked emails before they were released.
Let me get back to Jill on this. She has been called as a witness. It came out last night in passing at the end of our interview last night. Omarosa pointed out he may ask to see me, call me again. So, we have evidence already that Mueller thinks she's got something, something worth - - getting testimony from and probably go back to her again, right?
WINE-BANKS: Absolutely. And there is no question that if he knew what was on those tapes and if he knew that they were hacked by the Russians, that is the end of the case against him. That is unbelievable evidence.
So I hope that she has proof of that or that Mueller has gotten the proof of it. He is getting desperate, that is Trump. He's actually taken out against his son now when he says, "To the best of my knowledge." He's throwing his son under the bus. So he is really getting desperate.
WINE-BANKS: And I think he is really worried about all of the very many witnesses. He said he would bring the best to the government and he has brought people who reflect his own values, which are none. And they're all birds of a feather flocking together.
WINE-BANKS: And we need to really take a hard look at what we are going to find out.
MATTHEWS: Yes. He's created these mini-me's, I think. Thank you so much. By the way, I want to ask Ken one last question about Roger Stone. Lots of whispers about he might be getting indicted. He might be part of a report.
If he knew that it was John Podesta's turn in the barrel to use his locution there, his comment, could it be he would have told President Trump? I mean I don't think Roger kept secrets from Trump. I mean he had stuff -- "Guess what, Mr. President, the Russians are about to give you a big break here." Your thoughts. Ken?
VOGEL: Yes. If that is the case that's certainly one logical possible explanation for how Trump might have known, but knowing and actually having emails, actually incorporating the emails or in the parlance of the Federal Election Commission rules, coordinating with a foreign power that might be releasing the emails are different things.
I would want to see proof from Omarosa that both he new and that even more that he actually had the emails and based his campaign plan strategy on the release of those emails.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Right. Well, I think when he goes to bed, puts his head on the pillow tonight, the President of the United States has got Omarosa on his mind.
Anyway, thank you very much Jill Wine-Banks and Ken Vogel.
Up next, Paul Manafort's defense team has rested its case without actually putting Manafort in the stand or even presenting a case. Can the government prove its case? This is Hardball where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. The defense in the trial of President Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort decided not to present a defense today, not calling any witnesses to the stand.
Manafort's lead attorney, Kevin Downing spoke briefly with reporters outside the Virginia Courthouse today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN DOWNING, AMERICAN ATTORNEY: Mr. Manafort just rested his case and he did so because he and his legal team believe that the government has not met its burden of proof.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, while Manafort did speak for the first time during his trial today, the federal judge asked him if he wanted to testify on his own behalf. Manafort simply said, "No, Sir." Closing arguments are expected to start tomorrow and before the day is done the jury could start deliberations on the 18th, bank and tax fraud charges levied against Manafort, if found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
To discuss all this, I'm joined by Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney and Senior FBI official.
You're so good on this. I've been listening to you, Chuck. And I just -- give me your sense. I don't have to ask you a lot of questions. Your sense of what Manafort is facing right now, what the jury is looking at. How does things are going to proceed the next couple of days?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY AND SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL: Right. So it's an intensive document case, Chris, which means the jury is going to take a lot of time matching up witnesses with documents, with evidence, trying to remember who said what.
They're going to go through the indictment slowly and they're going to take their time. I imagine deliberations will be a couple of days.
MATTHEWS: Do you think having watched the case that an average person, say, went to grade school, went to high school education knows a little bit of math, a little bit of bookkeeping would be able to grasp the implications of all this documentation?
ROSENBERG: Yes. I mean you don't have to know the tax code to know that if you have X amount of income and report X minus Y, sorry to use algebra here.
ROSENBERG: And report X minus Y on your income tax return that that's a crime. If you have a foreign bank account and didn't report it, it's a crime, if you overstate your income when you apply for a bank loan that's a crime. So, you don't have to be an accountant to see the crime here.
MATTHEWS: What is the normal attitude? You've tried -- you told me before, 50 cases before juries, what's the normal jury attitude to a tax cheat?
MATTHEWS: If this is -- it is seen to be a tax cheat.
ROSENBERG: Yes. That's an interesting question. Most jurors, not all, but most are W-2 employees.
MATTHEWS: Simple form.
ROSENBERG: Simple form. When you get paid, you have some amount of taxes withheld from your pay, right, school teachers, bus drivers, those types of -- me, you.
MATTHEWS: Right. Sure. Cops, firemen, I've been W-2 for years.
And so I think most people, the overwhelming majority of people pay their taxes fully and fairly and on time. And so there's an inevitably some resentment for those who.
MATTHEWS: They feel like chumps if they hear about other people cheating.
ROSENBERG: Well, and this is.
MATTHEWS: They feel like they've been honest and the other guy out there who's not honest is making the money.
ROSENBERG: Chris, there is cheating and then there is Manafort cheating. I mean we're talking millions and millions of dollars. We're talking multiple overseas bank accounts. This is big-time cheating. This is not a rounding error.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, this guy looks like he's prosperous, you see him walking out there a million times. There is Paul Manafort. I've only met him a few times during the campaign in `16.
What about Rick Gates? What do they think about a guy who's ratting him out; who made money off him, stole some money from him?
MATTHEWS: What do they make of that human witness alongside all the documents?
ROSENBERG: They're not going to like him for that. I don't think that's the important question. The important question is are they going to believe him. Remember, bank robbers run with bank robbers. Drug dealers run with drug dealers. Fraudsters run with fraudsters.
So they don't have to like the guy. They have to believe the guy. And the question becomes how do they believe him? Why should they believe him? And the answer I think is, Chris, because there are so many documents that corroborate what Gates said.
ROSENBERG: It's not just Gates' word against Manafort's. It's Gate's plus lots and lots and lots of paper evidence against Manafort.
MATTHEWS: How about if there's a Republican on the jury who just likes Trump, he doesn't want to hurt Manafort? Is there a chance for that?
ROSENBERG: No. I don't think it matters. The judge is going to be very careful in any trial, but particularly a trial like this to make sure that a jury can be fair. They don't have to come in knowing nothing about politics or Manafort or the President.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You can't sneak on to a jury?
ROSENBERG: I don't think you can sneak on to a jury.
ROSENBERG: And in any event you are promising the judge in open court that you're going to sit there and be fair and be impartial. And in my experience, Chris, most people do that.
MATTHEWS: That's very helpful. Thank you much, Chuck Rosenberg. He's been very good on this topic. Up next, how did President Trump managed to make a big deal about signing a defense measure, a big one this year named for war hero John McCain and never mentioned McCain or his service to the country. His name was on the bill. He skipped over the words John McCain to avoid giving any credit to his political, I guess, still rival.
You're watching Hardball.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. Yesterday President Trump appeared at Fort Drum in New York, upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act.
The annual defense spending bill was named in honor of McCain who led efforts to pass the bill in the Senate as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. But instead of acknowledging McCain's service to the Committee and the country, Trump left out McCain's name from what he was reading. He just skipped the name. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That National Defense Authorization Act is the most significant investment in our military and our war fighters in modern history. We would not be here for today's signing ceremony without the dedicated efforts of the members of Congress who worked so hard to pass the National Defense Authorization Act.
I'd like to recognize Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who's district proudly includes (inaudible). I also want to thank Representatives Don Bacon, Dan Donovan, and Joe Wilson who are with us today also. There's another member of Congress here today, and I've gotten to know her very well and she is terrific, Congresswoman Martha McSally.
MATTHEWS: While Trump may have - well, he did omit McCain's name during that appearance, but at a fundraiser hours he renewed his attack on the senator for his vote against repealing Obamacare. Here he goes.
TRUMP: Obamacare, we got rid of the individual mandate, which is the most unpopular aspect. I would have gotten rid of everything, but as you know, one of our wonderful senators said thumbs down at 2 o'clock in the morning.
MATTHEWS: Well, it think it was 1 o'clock the first time. Anyway, in a statement on the defense bill, McCain wrote, "I'm humble that my colleagues in Congress chose to designate this bill in my name. Serving as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and working on behalf of America's brave service members has been one of the greatest honors of my life." McCain went on to add, "there is no higher calling that to serve a cause greater than self interest."
I'm joined right now by that Hardball roundtable tonight, Annie Linskey, National Political Reporter for The Globe, that would be the Boston Globe, the hub of the universe. The leading baseball team who has already got a winning record and the season's only half through - a winning record for the season. Sam Stein is Politics Editor at the Daily Beast, and Sabrina Siddiqui is the Political Reporter for The Guardian.
Well, nobody can match the Soxs this year. Philly maybe, but at some point. Let me ask you about this president who harbors such personal antipathy worse that rivalry with Obama, who he detests. But why does he detest John McCain? Is he jealous? What is the thing? The guy is in very bad shape right now.
ANNIE LINSKEY, THE GLOBE NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: He's in extremely bad shape.
MATTHEWS: He's fighting for his life, and he out there still has to pumble him.
LINSKEY: He's somebody that has stood up to Trump. I mean, Trump absolutely despises anybody who puts their head up and has a steel spine like McCain does, and he has to keep trying and trying to cut him down because that's what he does to everybody who stands up to him.
And McCain, somehow despite Trump's effort, still has this aura of glory around him and I think Trump finds that really, really frustrating, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Sam, you're thoughts on that. We'll work down the line.
SAM STEIN, DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR: I agree with all of that, but you have to also recognize that this began before McCain was speaking out. I mean, this began in the campaign where he denigrated his war service in a moment -
MATTHEWS: And by the way, he said he likes guys that didn't get captured. He dived, but he bombed. I've been over there in Hanoi. His plane went into the water in the middle of Hanoi, the enemy capital. He went in the water. The plane crashed. He didn't just give up. He crashed, he gets in the water. The people swim out. They go to start (ph) beating to hell. They're breaking his arms and legs. They bring him - he didn't surrender.
STEIN: That's half the story. I mean, Donald Trump got a number of deferments because of bone splints (ph).
STEIN: I mean, it's a ridiculous comparison and it's totally outrageous that he would even make it. So I don't know what is, you know, what makes him -
MATTHEWS: Well, he hates Obama, too.
STEIN: And I think the only explanation is that he has this long-standing view that everyone who was ever a big-time political figure - Obama, Romney, McCain, of course, the Bushes - were losers in his estimation. They just couldn't run the country correctly. I don't know why it has contributed to this incredibly nasty animist, this sort of sophomoric approached politics, but it seems to animate everything he does.
MATTHEWS: Sabrina, your feelings about this?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that -
MATTHEWS: Because it is a feelings questions. Why would a person be so mean to a guy who's in the shape and has had the history that McCain has had?
SIDDIQUI: Well, the short answer is that the president has shown that he's petty and he's shown it time and again. I think, as Sam pointed out, initially it was Trump who attacked McCain without any reason. It was before McCain started to be more critical of Trump and his candidacy. Since then, of course, he's been one of the most outspoken critics of his presidency.
But one thing that's important to understand here is that McCain has increasingly unpopular on the right among the base of supporters to which Trump has been -
MATTHEWS: Well, that started when he pushed campaign reform.
SIDDIQUI: - trying to appeal. Absolutely, but that's critical to understanding why Trump gets a pass because this is now Donald Trump's Republican party. We often talk about this old guard McCain, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, the more usual suspects in terms of criticism of Trump as though they are still relevant, as though they still have persuasion. But they frankly don't. It's Trump who has all of it -
MATTHEWS: Let's get back to our - thank you. Let's go back to our top story tonight. And interview with CBS this morning, former White House staffer Omarosa shared a recording that reportedly - it probably did - featured former Trump campaign ads, Katrina Pierson and Lynne Patton, discussing how to handle the allegations of a recording of the president making racist remarks. Pierson had denied any such conversation had taken place and late today she responded to Omarosa's charges.
KATRINA PIERSON: What you don't hear on these tapes is Omarosa. You don't hear the hours upon hours of Omarosa's consistent, constant - she really was a dog with a bone when it came to this tape.
MATTHEWS: She back to the dog. Anyway, Pierson also defended President Trump calling Omarosa a dog.
PIERSON: I'm perfectly fine with it. He's nicer than I would have been.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So your find -
PIERSON: This is a man that spent years helping this woman build her brand, make money, become a star, invested in her ventures, gave her a top job at the White House and this is how she's repaying him? I think the president is actually going easy on her.
BURNETT: So you don't think any of this any of this is racist? Not -
PIERSON: No, I don't.
BURNETT: You're not smart or a dog. You're comfortable with that?
PIERSON: Not one bit, not one bit.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think Omarosa has one advantage in this argument. She has the tapes. So that person (ph) talking about how do we deal with these tapes that may well exist out there, Trump using the N-word and how we're going to deal with it, it's all on tape. So her battle cry against her there saying, "dog's a good word for me," is just cozying up to the president.
LINSKEY: It makes me think of Comey's comment of, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes." And in this case, there certainly are and, I mean, Omarosa is brilliant. She learned from the best in terms of dripping out information.
MATTHEWS: Isn't she like tromping away saying she's a street fighter. He's found another street fighter.
STEIN: I say this in the kindest way possible. This is Frankenstein's monster essentially.
MATTHEWS: Or Becket (ph).
STEIN: Yes well -
MATTHEWS: If you wanted to really make it sophisticated.
STEIN: Yes, fine, fine, I know. I think that this is someone who knows precisely the moves that Trump will make. The problem we have here is that everyone in this weird circus is a liar. I mean, that night before -
MATTHEWS: The tapes don't like.
STEIN: So yes, but the night before Katrina Pierson said no such conversation ever existed, and then, of course, the tapes don't lie and they're produced and ensure that, in fact, the conversations did exist -
MATTHEWS: Theirs is another pattern here besides the iniquity and the dishonesty of some politicians and staffers. Look at this. Here's Trump lashing out at her this morning by calling her a dog. Omarosa alleged Trump has derogatory nicknames for just about everyone. Here she goes.
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: He talked about all of the people around him. If you were in the room with him, you leave the room, for instance, he would call Betsy Devos "Dipsy Devos". When General Kelly left the room, he had a nickname for him. Anybody that was in his world because of his small ability to communicate, he would give them these derogatory nicknames and it just wanted appropriate.
MATTHEWS: You know, when you listen to that, it sounds like, Sabrina, he wants to diminish people around him. He wants, if you will, small people.
SIDDIQUI: Well, he -
MATTHEWS: With nicknames.
SIDDIQUI: - he did that throughout the campaign trial, Lying Tav (ph), Little Marco, Low-energy -
MATTHEWS: But basically people have come out to help (ph) him.
SIDDIQUI: He tries to diminish others and he - in part to try and lift himself up. I mean, he can't -
MATTHEWS: Is there anyone still loyal (ph) -
SIDDIQUI: Can we just say one thing though? You know, either the White House is trying to say that Omarosa lacks any credibility and -
SIDDIQUI: - they're trying to discredit her. They're the ones who brought her into a top job in this administration where she drew a six figure, tax payer funded salary. So yes, everyone in this situation has a credibility problem, but that White House has to be able to answer for why they would have every employed her in the first place.
LINSKEY: Yes, you know, I mean, I think this does explain one of the mysteries early in the White House, early in the Trump tenure. You had this issue where all of the staff was attending every single meeting and following him around, and you kind of maybe know why now because everybody's afraid to leave -
STEIN: Well, I also -
LINSKEY: - because he'll start stabbing them in the back.
STEIN: I also think there's something Freudian about it, right? I mean, if you keep on diminishing the people around you, if you make fun of them, a fear filled with mockery, then they become obedient in a certain way. And only when they leave do they maybe get rid of that.
Now, look at the other books that have been written by people who have left the White House. They've been largely rotators. They've been sycophantic almost. The Sean Spicer book was incredibly positive in its reflection of Trump. Omarosa seems to have taken a different path and maybe she's gone now from under the spell.
SIDDIQUI: This is also - it's remembering a president who asks everyone for loyalty pledge, but I think the fact that he has nicknames for everyone who works for him behind their back, we've seen time and again that loyalty does not work both ways.
MATTHEWS: Maybe they should put their nicknames on these - the disclosure forms. Anyway, the roundtable sticking with us. (inaudible) tell me something I don't know. They're doing a good job of that already. You're watching Hardball.
MATTHEWS: We're back with the round table. Annie, tell me something I don't know.
LINSKEY: So Chris, "The Boston Globe's" editorial page is organizing papers around the country to run an editorial on Thursday in support of the first amendment and I have some updates for you.
MATTHEWS: You've got 70 organizations backing you now, right?
LINSKEY: We have 200, actually.
MATTHEWS: Why doesn't "The Washington Post" back you guys?
LINSKEY: "The Washington Post" has said that they don't participate in campaigns. So, they're not, but "The Wall Street Journal" also is not going to be participating.
MATTHEWS: But, you've got "The Times?"
LINSKEY: "The Times," but more importantly there are just dozens and dozens of local newspapers that are backing this plan and it gets to how Trumps --
MATTHEWS: Well, I think enemy of the people is a lot worse than fake news. Fake news is just (inaudible).
MATTHEWS: Enemy of the people is a statement. Go ahead, Sam.
STEIN: Three hundred and twenty eight. Do you know the significance of that number? It's the number of days it took us to get all the power restored to the island of Puerto Rico after the devastating hurricane. It just happened 328 days after the devastation. It is abysmal.
MATTHEWS: What was the derogatory term for Puerto Rico that the president used? Is it --
STEIN: I don't remember.
LINSKEY: And we don't know.
MATTHEWS: -- was something like --
STEIN: I don't remember.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Sabrina?
SIDDIQUI: Five hundred and fifty nine children are still separated from their parents, 386 of those parents have already been deported without their kids, 163 of them said, that they won't reunite with their children. They'd rather their children stay here in the U.S. --
SIDDIQUI: -- returning to their home countries, which they fled, because it's not safe and the government has no information for 26 parents to these children.
MATTHEWS: But, those kids that are left here by departing parents who said, it's --
SIDDIQUI: The parents are deported without their children against their will. And now they're saying their kids are safer here.
MATTHEWS: Are they with foster parents?
SIDDIQUI: They're in combination of government detentions centers and foster parents. MATTHEWS: Okay, that's desperate. Thank you Annie Linskey, for the socks, Sam Stein, for the socks and Sabrina Siddiqui, independent.
When we return we'll finish with Trump Watch. You're watching Hardball.
Trump Watch, Tuesday, August 14, 2018. When I was first thinking about the world, the question was survival. At St. Christopher's grade school, we had air raid drills to prepare us for the nuclear bombs that would someday come from Russia.
These exercises were dead serious. The questions seemed to be not, if there would be a nuclear war, but when. The great American writer, William Faulkner, said it best in accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949.
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear. There are no longer problems of the spirit, there's only the question, when will I be blown up.
Well, today I think it's different. Our problems are of the spirit today. We've elected a president who speaks of another American citizen as a dog without the slightest lick of embarrassment or remorse or shame.
Here's his tweet in full context, out for the world to read. "When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn't work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!"
It strikes me that this hits a new low for this president. He is, after all, the president of our country. I believe it will get past this way, the way of the world, the one we chose here in this moment and this month and this year and this president. So, we'll get past all of it, but will anyone look back and see this as our countries finest hour?
William Faulkner, that great writer of "American South," should give us hope even as we face this challenge to our countries spirit. He said, in receiving that Nobel Prize, that we will overcome the very threat that then faced our existence, that of nuclear annihilation. He said, we will not only survive, but prevail. Let's hope that faith, as we battle this new challenge of the spirit, this challenge that comes at us from just blocks from here from the very house of our presidents. That's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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