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The Reality Star President vs. The Reality Star. TRANSCRIPT: 8/15/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Zerlina Maxwell, David Cay Johnston, Joyce Vance, Jonathan Capehart

Show: HARDBALL Date: August 15, 2018 Guest: Zerlina Maxwell, David Cay Johnston, Joyce Vance, Jonathan Capehart

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Reality bites. Let`s play Hardball.

Good evening, I am Chris Matthews in Washington. As the star of an old time TV show once put it, what a revolten development this is. Donald Trump the reality TV star, president, has finally met his match in his former "Apprentice" star, Omarosa Manigault-Newman.

And now Mr. Reality Show finds himself in her reality show. The woman who learned everything she knows about playing the game from Trump is now out to fire him. It`s a new era in American politics. And old fashion duel that harkens back to the days of Hamilton and Bure, but with a new made for reality TV update.

The key to successful reality television is conflict, competition, people duking it out, mano-a-mano, a role Omaros embraced even from her earliest days on "The Apprentice."


OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEMAN, TELEVISION ACTOR: Heidi was fantastic and I will tell you that I haven`t been a fan of Heidi and I haven`t always thought that she was professional, nor did she have much class or finesse, but --



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s one of the worst compliments I`ve ever heard.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: (Inaudible) and I know class. But, I`ve been very candid with Heidi.

BRESSLER: Yes, I appreciate that.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: But in this instance --

BRESSLER: Tell her to love me.

TRUMP: No, I`m not so sure.


TRUMP: That`s maybe the worst thing I`ve heard.

BRESSLER: I`m worth it. I mean, I have a lot of class.

TRUMP: That`s the worse thing I think I`ve heard. That`s the worst compliment I`ve ever heard.


MATTHEWS: This time it`s President Trump who`s in the cast, while Omarosa is directing. On "The Daily Show" last night she even seemed to dare us all to stay tuned.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Trevor, I would say this, if you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear.


MATTHEWS: Well, Omarosa`s transformation from villain to whistleblower hasn`t gone unnoticed, as we, the viewing public, await her next big reveal. In fact, one former White House official told Axios`, Jonathan Swan, look, she may be the purest of all the Trump characters. She may be the most Trumpian, she knows media, she`s knows about physical presence like Trump does. That`s why I think he`s rattled.

Well, it`s been great fodder for national columnist in the newspapers. Trump biographer, Timothy O`Brien, said the two were kindred spirits from the start, writing the future president was fascinated by her. He was fascinated by her self absorption and nastiness. "The Washington Post," Kathleen Parker wrote, all things considered, it sounds as if Trump and Omarosa may deserve each other.

"The New York Times," Frank Bruni, sums up the conflict now facing Trump. The problem with being Donald Trump isn`t just being Donald Trump, it`s all the other lesser Trumps around you. It`s the versions of yourself that you create. The echoes of yourself that you inspire, they`ll devour you in the end.

Well, Trump`s tried everything to shank Omarosa loose, including the usual suspects of his trade, the legal threats, the insults, the nicknames, and that old favorite, distraction. He attempted today to change the narrative in his own drama, today, by retreating to his preferred plot line, the fall back of attacking the Mueller investigation as a rigged witch hunt.

Desperate to change the channel from Omarosa, he found his latest glistening object revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director, John Brennan, now he`s Senior National Security Analyst here at NBC News and nine others who have been critical of him.

I`m joined right now by, Ashley Parker, White House reporter for "The Washington Post," has been covering this story. Zerlina Maxell is Director of Progressive Programming for SiriusXM,and Katy Tur, a NBC News correspondent and our fellow correspondent here who covered the Trump campaign throughout. David Cay Johnston, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Making of Donald Trump."

I want start with Zerlina. Zerlina, this African-American woman, strong as hell, confident as hell and trained in this game, this reality TV game by guess who? Is now taking on Mr. Reality TV, and doing it in a way that`s kept our attention on every medium, every newspaper, every broadcast TV show, every cable show, she has dominated it now for almost a week.

I think she`s got some leg left, as we say in the business, a couple more days, at least, of dominating a week with no other big news. She`s seemed to found news hole in which to go pugilistic warfare with the guy who taught her. Your thoughts.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, DIRECTOR FOR SIRIUSXM: I think that she`s been very strategic from the beginning. I think that picking the month of August to put a book out and a slow summer news week was very smart.

But also, if you think about it, think about just how many reality stars there are. There are lots. And there are only a few that you can actually name them by just their first name, without even their last name, right? We know her as Omarosa.

It`s almost amazing to think that 15 years ago she was on the first season of "The Apprentice," and we still are talking about her today. So, obviously she is doing something right. She`s very media savvy. She has staffed other people to do interviews. And so, that`s why you see her prepared, and on message in her interviews. And she knows their M.O. So, every single time they call her a lier, she presents a tape, has recepits to say, nope, you`re the lier.

MATTHEWS: You know, Katy, you`re an expert as a reporter covering him. I think you`re the best of reporters covering him. And yet, you and I watched the inability of his natural political opponents to duke out with him.

He would say you`re low energy, and the guy would like low energy (ph) and, sort of, fade on him. He`d say little Marco and the guy starts throwing water around. They - they see the melt (ph) in front of his assault where she delights in it. Hit me again, you know, come at me again Mr. President. I got some - I got some tapes for you.


MATTHEWS: Keep at it. She wants this fight everyday, your thoughts?

KATY TUR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, I would say Ashley Parker is the best Trump - Trump report, but in terms of Omarosa, she clearly knows his game because she studied under him. And she`s very, clearly, prepared for whatever - whatever he may throw at her.

But, you know, it does fit to the larger environment that Donald Trump creates when he is, either, leading an organization, a campaign, or a White House. It was the same in the campaign. He does inspire this blind, loyalty and we saw that from Omarosa when she was doing the campaign, and when she was in this White House.

She had nothing but praise for him. But at the same time, those people who are devoted to him, they do know that at some point, when they no longer have anything to offer, they`re no longer useful to him, they are aware that his loyalty toward them runs out.

Once he doesn`t need you any longer he is more than willing to throw you under the bus. That is why people say, people like Michael Cohen, or Omarosa will say that they record conversations of Donald Trump.


TUR: That`s why it`s not unheard of. Not necessarily because you have to have a record of what he says because you want to have a record of what you say as well because you never know how he`s going to misrepresent you.

MATTHEWS: And as a Peace Corps pal of mine once said, people don`t mind being used, they mind being discarded. Yesterday Trump lowered the clash with Omarosa, calling her, a human being and fellow American, a dog. Ashley, you reported today that long time Trump observers say it is a measure of his rage and sense of betrayal that he called Manigault-Newman that dog.

The president, who has an aversion to dogs and other pets, considers canine comparisons to be among his most devastating put-downs. Whatever, but he did choose the word and I think it hurt Trump as much as anything he`s ever said, the word dog. It just diminished him, that`s what I think.

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, it absolutely did and there was a lot of commentary that it was racist to call her a dog, but at the very least, even people who normally descend (ph) him, kind of, (inaudible).

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t call white guys dogs.

PARKER: I think you would - he calls a lot of.

MATTHEWS: In simile he does, but he never calls them dogs.

PARKER: So, there`s that level of criticism which is something that he`s always grappling with. And even the people who say it`s not racist, he insults everyone said that this is not helpful language for him to be using. It`s problematic, and it gives the White House another issue to grapple with when they`re already dealing with the fallout of the book.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me talk about her as a - as a - as a pugilist. She has a face that`s obviously attractive, but she has a face that dramatizes her thinking. Have you noticed? He has a dramatic face. And when she comes back you must think, you`re watching - who wants to - who wants to tackle this? Do you want to tackle it? The guy thinks - you`re watching it - what`s she thinking, what`s she doing now, what`s she going to do right now?

PARKER: Well, she`s a great reality television villainess. That`s how she first appeared fully formed on the Apprentice.


PARKER: .in 2004 and this was something that then-businessman Donald Trump loved about her. He was kind of curious how to become a celebrity.


PARKER: And he watched Omarosa do it. At that time, it was just the sideshow curiosity. You have to keep in mind, the only point he has turned on her is when she then turned those same skills back on him.


PARKER: But for a while, he, sort of, saw himself in her and admired some of those qualities.

MATTHEWS: David, tell us about Trump and his history when dealing with African American women and also dealing with in your face competitors. This one seems to be bugging him. He`s resorting to nickname, a dog, that, of course, the nickname he`s comparing her to an animal.

Saying he`s going to sue her for violation of some agreement back in the campaign. And now he`s resorting to going after poor John Brennan to beat his head in that can even - to change the subject. It just seems he`s trying everything to loosen the grip she`s got on him, David.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP: Well, she`s playing her cards extremely well and I think she`s playing a longer game than we`re seeing. She`s managed to be in the news for a week, but we may see things as she pops up in the future. After all, she got 15 years of fame out of Donald Trump`s T.V. show.

MATTHEWS: She`s back on the tour tomorrow, back on this network tomorrow.


MATTHEWS: She`s going to start again. You`re right.

JOHNSTON: Yes. And she`s made it clear that she has lots of tapes. We don`t know if those tapes go back to before the show - before the show in the White House to the show. And she also has no controls on her except for what she sees as advancing her role. And I agree, would be a guest (ph) as a - as a villainess character.

And in that, she very much is Donald`s match. So, he - he and other people in the White House should be, deeply, worried about what she`s got, and what - what she can spill on them from their own words.

MATTHEWS: Well, bigger question, wider aperture here, how can she do this so well when all the people that ran against Donald Trump, especially on the Republican side, not Hillary Rodham. She got in there late, but all those men that he ran against, and women he ran against seem to be unable to take him on, much less take him down.

TUR: Yes, I think - hold on, I`m going to answer this. I think she`s.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

TUR: .number one, she`s trained under him. She studied him. She`s a version of him, but I would - I wouldn`t go far as to say that she`s going to be more successful than anybody else or - that was on the campaign trail.

Yes, she`s hitting back very hard, but is she going to change the mind of anyone who voted for Donald Trump? I`m not so sure. I think that the version of Donald Trump that she is putting out there is the version of Donald Trump that everybody knows.

And I also think that the president gives.


TUR: .pretty easy cover - no, pretty easy cover for his supporters by pacing her as a liar and as an opportunist. I`m not sure whose mind she changes (INAUDIBLE).


MATTHEWS: Women in the suburbs did not want to vote for.


MATTHEWS: .an out and out racist. Women in - I will just generalize. Women in the suburbs.

TUR: I`m just not sure what she`s shown.

MATTHEWS: .don`t want to vote for an out and out racist. Go ahead.

TUR: What she has shown that we haven`t already seen from the president himself on his Twitter feed, or in the way he speaks about people, or we saw during the campaign. A lot of this is something - I mean, Omarosa has said some pretty spectacular things, including that the president knew about the WikiLeaks emails before WikiLeaks went out. I don`t think calling him a racist or a misogynist is as surprising as a revelation like that.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well in her interview on the Daily Show, Omarosa said she`d been instructed by her lawyers not to give Trump more ammunition by giving him the attention he loves. Let`s take a look.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: There`s one way to shut Donald Trump down and that is just don`t give him the oxygen. And the oxygen comes from the clicks, the likes, the shock, the discussions.


MATTHEWS: Well, actually, those reports that white advisor, that counseled the president to hold his tongue, noting several told him to ignore her, and then engaging what only boosts her book sales. Well, Trump said privately that, first, that Melania Trump had advised him to stay above it, but they know he wouldn`t be able to resist. Well, today one Fox News host suggests the President`s been outplayed. Here he goes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE PARTICIPANT: In order to sell a book, she`s come out with a series of tapes and, in many ways, seems to have outsmarted the President who has taken the bait, and gone out and tweeted directly after it.


MATTHEWS: Well Brian (ph) knows how to sell books. Anyways, let me get back to Ashley here. What do you think - I don`t know, the reporting on Trump always amazes me. What you guys are able to. You find out what somebody - that Trump said to somebody as he`s walking down the hallway. I don`t know how you get this stuff.

You guys laugh when I say - when they say they`re not going to leak anymore. How does somebody know that Trump said to somebody, Melania said to me, I shouldn`t play her game? How do you find that out? This is tradecraft, I know.

PARKER: Yes - yes, without getting into sources and methods, look, there`s a number of people in that west wing, in that White House who, clearly, talk to reporters. And another thing to keep in mind is the president talks to people. He - one thing, General Kelly came in, he tried to put these controls on the president.

It didn`t work. The president in the morning, late at night at their residence, (INAUDIBLE), Mar-a-Lago, he`s calling friends, they`re calling friends, they`re calling reporters.

MATTHEWS: Who else thoughts - has thoughts here? Let me go back to David on this - or Katy, I`m going to Katy on this. What do we know about the White House staff and the way they, sort of, kibitz about the fact that Trump and he`s playing this wrong, and this Omarosa is dangerous to all of us. That`s the story we heard today, and yesterday. Omarosa may have tapes on everybody she`s worked with.

TUR: Well, we know from that Politico reporting is that Politico is saying that White House staffers are terrified of what tape Omarosa may be about to reveal next. And we saw this from Katrina Pierson just this week. On Monday, she was Fox News saying she never had a conversation or a conference call discussing whether or not the president used the N word.

On Tuesday, Omarosa went on CBS and dropped a tape of Katrina Pierson discussing whether the President used the - used the N word. And Katrina Pierson, herself, saying he did it, he`s just embarrassed on it. On Wednesday, she had to go back on Fox News to try and defend herself and it was very effective.

So, the idea that she is taping someone like Katrina Pierson, fine, but she`s taping John Kelly in the situation room. If she`s willing to tape the Chief of Staff in the most sensitive room in the White House, it makes you wonder who else she`d be willing to tape and especially that communications team who she had a lot more interactions with than - than pretty much anyone else. And there`s also talk of tapes from Jared - of Jared and Ivanka. Tapes of other Trump family members that are going to, potentially, come out.

MATTHEWS: I`ve got to get to Zerlina on this. Big -- this is an empty question and I`m going to direct it to you. It seems to me we`ve spent a lot of days now asking, did Donald Trump, did he or not use the N-word back in whatever, during the -- apparently the first year of taping "The Apprentice."

What do you make that sort of hunt, hunt for that word? What do you make of it, just generally as an American?

MAXWELL: I think it`s silly, because I don`t think that finding the tape is going to convince the people that support Trump, post Charlottesville, that he`s a racist. There is enough documented evidence that we can see or we can hear that proves that Donald Trump has racist feelings in his heart.

He demonstrates that every single day. The fact that he tweeted and called a black woman a dog and on the same day, we`re wondering aloud whether or not he said the N-word on tape, in private, I think that that`s a ridiculous conversation. We don`t need to be on the hunt for a tape when we have evidence in our faces.

And beyond that, the N-word is not the only manifestation of racism. I have been called the N-word maybe like three times in my entire life. It is the everyday`s acts of racism, diminishing women, interrupting them, treating people of color like less than. The border, what`s happening on the border with children being separated from their parents.

Those things are everyday manifestations of racism that are more important than one instance in which Donald Trump says the N-word on tape and I`m certain that people are looking for the tape, we may end up finding it, but that may not change anyone`s mind and so I think that the tape is almost like a red herring.

MATTHEWS: You know and you talked about the use of the N-word in the second person to your face, what about in the third person, reference to somebody who isn`t in room. Thank you Ashley Parker, Zerlina Maxwell. Well spoken here today. Katy Tur is always my colleague. David Cay Johnson, thank you for the biographical of surrounding this thing.

Coming up, the realty show lawyer, Rudy Giuliani has been muddying the waters. Is that his job since day one? With outrageous statements, flip- flops everyday, exaggerations, what`s this guy`s actual job? Is that a fair question? I think so.

Plus, the sins of our fathers. The shocking grand jury report details seven decades of abuse by more than 300 Catholic priests in my home state of Pennsylvania and church leaders are being blamed for the cover-up, as they should.

But why are they covering it up? That`s my big question tonight. The motive for the cover-up. And President Trump has insisted he`s the least racist person you`ve ever met. Decades of behavior shows otherwise.

The Hardball round table goes on with that one and the historic wins for Democrats last night and what it means for November. The Democrats are getting more diverse, the Republicans more white.

Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch, it`s about presidents and how they talk about dogs. This is Hardball, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Former Trump Campaign Manager, Paul Manafort`s fate is now in the hands of the jury. The prosecution and defense presenting closing arguments today before the judge gave the jury it`s final instructions.

Prosecutors painted Manafort as a habitual liar who knew exactly what he was doing when he repeatedly lied about his finances. The defense focused mostly on Manafort`s business partner, Rick Gates, who`s cooperating with the prosecution and pushed the argument that the government had failed to prove Manafort`s guilt, quote, "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Well the jury will begin their deliberations tomorrow morning. Who knows, this is a big one, we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Fighting back the hard way, even though President Trump has yet to speak to prosecutors himself personally, Rudy Giuliani is threatening consequences for special counsel Mueller if the investigation, get this, isn`t wrapped up by the end of August.

Giuliani told Bloomberg News, "If he doesn`t get it done in the next two or three weeks, we will just unload on him like a ton of bricks." This is Rudy Giuliani talking. It`s the latest B.S. from a T.V. who`s prone to outrageous statements, flip-flops and total exaggerations. In fact, when Giuliani was hired last April, he promised to bring the investigation to a speedy conclusion saying, "I don`t think it`s going to take more than a week or two..." this is back in April " get a resolution." Well, from the outset, Giuliani has shown no regard for consistency in his public statements about key incidents and key witnesses.

For instance, Rudy contradicted himself on Michael Cohen first calling him an honest lawyer then saying "He`s lied all his life." Let`s watch.


GUILIANI: I expected something like this from Cohen. He`s been lying all week I mean for -- he`s been lying for years because he`s lied all his life.


MATTHEWS: Similarly, Giuliani confirmed last night that Trump told James Comey to give Flynn a break, remember that? But now, Giuliani says that conversation never happened.


(UNKNOWN): How is he a good witness for the President if he`s saying that the President was asking, directing him in his words to let the Michael Flynn investigation go?

GUILIANI: He didn`t direct him to do that. What he said to him was -- the reality is as a prosecutor, I was told that many times, "Can you give the man a break?"

(UNKNOWN): What happened in that conversation with Comey about Michael Flynn? What exactly did President Trump say?

GUILIANI: There was no conversation about Michael Flynn.


MATTHEWS: Did you hear that? He goes on saying, well, he did say give him a break and then he says, "That never happened. There was no such conversation." He`s able to do this on national television.

Anyway, Giuliani has dangled the prospect of presidential pardons only to later walk back those assurances. As he said of Paul Manafort in June, "When the whole thing is over things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons." Last but not least, we`ve seen Giuliani go from denying collusions -- by the way, collusion isn`t even a crime. Well, Giuliani`s daily babble has made clear that his job to obfuscate, not to clarify and in doing that job, he`s revealed himself to be nothing more than a T.V. lawyer in a reality show of Trump`s own invention.

Well, joinin me right now is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney, and Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter for the Daily Beast. Joyce, I don`t know what he is. Is Rudy Giuliani an actual trial lawyer? Is he a guy who goes into a courtroom and convinces a jury and follows the rules and procedures or is he as clownish in his role as his performance has been clownish? What is his role?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I can`t imagine we`ll ever see him in court representing the President of the United States. The sorts of arguments that he`s making are really more of a PR strategy than a legal argument. In fact, lawyers owe a duty of candor to the court. That means that when lawyers are in the courtroom, they`re obligated to be truthful.

If Rudy was saying this sort of stuff in a courtroom, contradicting himself on the facts, he would have problems with the state bar at that point.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get through a couple of points with Betsy here. He says that it`s going to be over in a week or two. That`s in April. He says they did talk about giving Flynn a break. The President did bring that up in that private meeting with the FBI director. And then, he says a month later -- I sound like a (inaudible) -- and then he says it never happened. But the tape exists and he knows we can show those tapes.

WOODRUFF: It`s really perplexing. Giuliani is acting...

MATTHEWS: Jim Russell would pull these things out and say, "Five years ago you said." This guy said it a month ago.

WOODRUFF: Giuliani is acting like a human equivalent of one, big shiny object trying to distract people from whatever the latest Trump controversy is. I think you have trouble saying how he`s put any sort of points on the board. All he does is throw out assertions that contradict previous assertions doing the cable news equivalent of tossing (i) and then kind of disappearing (i).

MATTHEWS: Is he like one of those idiots, Joyce, in the NBA games behind the foul -- behind the basket waiving those stupid things? Is that all he is, Joyce?

VANCE: He really is. I think that he is a distraction for people from whatever the drama of the day is with Trump and by drama, I don`t mean Omarosa. I mean the evidence that`s beginning to amass against the President and the people around him. And Giuliani is throwing up distractions saying it`s a witch hunt, saying you can`t trust Bob Mueller when in fact he knows full well that that`s not true. But that`s his role in this whole little shindig.

MATTHEWS: Joyce, did you get a sense as an expert and did you get a sense he was coached by his client. He says one day, "Yes. They did talk about giving Flynn a break," not putting him away for a couple of years, but giving him a break. In other words dropping the case. And then, he says next time, "Well, I never talked about that".

Was that -- do you think that was the client saying, "Hey, buddy, you`re getting me on hot water here. You`re getting me too close to the truth here."

VANCE: It`s hard to know for sure. It could be the President coaching the lawyer which we can talk about the dysfunction of having the client telling the lawyer what legal strategy to engage. That`s one entire kettle of fish. But alternatively, it could be that as Giuliani sees the public failure of some of the strategies he`s trying, he`s moving on to the next one, in essence hoping that something he throws up against the wall will stick on Trump`s behalf.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not working. Since day one, Rudy Giuliani has dangled the prospect of the President`s testimony before Mueller, routinely promising a decision on that point within weeks. However, no final decision has ever been made and Giuliani`s public commentary about this ongoing negotiation with Mueller has become a farce. Let`s watch it.


GUILIANI: The President wants to testify -- or he wants to give his side of the case only if and when we find that this was handled appropriately and there`s some evidence on which they could base this phony investigation, we`ll have him testify.

If we can decide by July 4th if we`re going to do an interview, they could do it within two weeks of that, three weeks of that.

I mean, it depends on what they offer, what they come up with, how narrow the questioning is.

We would not recommend an interview for the President unless they can satisfy us that there is some basis for this investigation.

(UNKNOWN): Have you simply determined that the President is not going to sit down...

GUILIANI: We have not -- we`re close to determining that.

We haven`t made the final decision. There`s still a slight opening. We offered him an opportunity to do a form of questioning. He can say yes or no. We can do it. If he doesn`t want to do it, he knows the answers to every question that he wants to ask.


MATTHEWS: Betsy, remember 9/11, the great thing I thought about this guy, America`s mayor, and the reason he got the title is not he stopped the attack or he did anything to save the victims or anything, but the great thing about him as mayor, as a public official in charge, every time he had have these press conferences out in the street in the dust, he`d tell you what`s going on. He gave you an up-to-date.

That moment, not rolling disclosure, "This is what we know about anthrax. This is what we know. This is what we know right now." It was right now information and that`s what we wanted. And right now, he`s not giving us anything except well I think B.S. to be honest about it.

WOODRUFF: It`s kind of the opposite of the role that he had during 9/11. It`s Giuliani stepping into this position where he doesn`t seem to be treating his credibility like it`s something that matters, like it`s something that he needs to preserve.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It doesn`t matter.

WOODRUFF: Right, exactly. And rather, instead of coming to -- taking a role of uniting the country, bringing people together, sharing vital information, instead, Giuliani just seems to be saying something different every week because he needs to make noise on Fox News.


WOODRUFF: That`s what he`s doing. That`s the role that he`s...

MATTHEWS: I don`t know why he went from -- wanted to go from America`s mayor to Baghdad Bob. I don`t know why he chose that career choice.

Anyway, Joyce Vance, thank you, Betsy Woodruff, both of you. Up next, a stunning new report on abuse, the Catholic Church is sending - in the Catholic Church is sending shockwaves across the U.S. and I mean among not just Catholics, will the people who perpetrated these crimes, knows who covered up these crimes be held accountable. Would they be held accountable after so many years? And why do they do it? Why did they cover up? I want to get to motive. Who benefited from the silence besides the perpetrators?

This is Hardball, where the action is.


(UNKNOWN): They knew and they let it happen to kids, OK? It could have been you. It could have been me. It could have been any of us. We got to nail these scumbags. We got to show people that nobody could get away with this, not a priest, or a cardinal, or a freaking pope.

MATTHEWS: (i) the Academy Award winning movie, Spotlight, literally put a true spotlight on the problem of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston diocese -- archdiocese. And now a searing new grand jury report alleges abuse of more than 1,000 children by catholic priests in Pennsylvania over a period of seven decades. And the report blames church officials for covering it all up.

The 900-page report goes into graphic detail about the abuses including, hold your ears, "A ring of priests in the diocese of Pittsburgh allegedly manufactured child pornography on diocesan property and used whips, violence, and sadism on their kids, the victims." That same group of priests gave boys gold cross necklaces, catch this, the report states, where a signal of those crosses were to other predators that the children were optimal targets for further victimization. In another words, they were passing around their victims, the priests were.

And there appeared to be no punishment for a priest in the diocese in Erie who confessed to raping at least 15 buys as young as seven years old, 15 victims of outright rape. The problems plaguing the Catholic Church are not going away, as stated a report, "Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability. Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of god who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all."

I`m joined now by Michael Rezendes, the investigative reporter with a Boston Globe`s Pulitzer Prize winning Spotlight team which exposed the church abuse in Boston. By the way, he is the journalist that Mark Ruffalo portrayed in the movie.

Thank you so much, Michael. I guess this is as a Catholic. I went 16 years to Catholic school. So, I got to church every week. Look. We all talk about the priests. We wonder what the problems are and what leads to it in terms of orientation. We don`t even know what it is. What is the motive however because I don`t know, god knows. What is the motive for the cover-up? From the ground up, why don`t other priests rat other priests out when they even hear something like this going on?

REZENDES: Well, there are several factors that go into this. One is many of the bishops and the cardinals are more interested in protecting the institution than they are in protecting children. And this is embedded in canon law, the law that governs the church.

Under canon law, it is a bishop`s responsibility to save the church, protect the church from scandal, and of course, there`s no greater scandal right now than priests who sexually molest children.

The other thing that may be more significant is what I refer to as kind of a protection racket and it has to do with the celibacy requirement for priests. No. Celibacy does not cause priests to molest children. But here`s what happens. You have all sex prohibited for priests. All sex is prohibited.

But, guess what? Priests are human beings and they have sex. Many are having sex with women. Many are having sex with men. A smaller cohort perhaps...

MATTHEWS: How do we know that fact, if it is a fact? How do we know that?

REZENDES: Well, we know this by the research that was conducted by Richard Sipe in the early `90s. He conducted a survey based on 1,500 interviews and he found that half of the priests were sexually active.

MATTHEWS: And they admitted it? How did he get the information?

REZENDES: Yes. Well, he saw them in various settings. He was a psychotherapist. He was a former priest himself.


REZENDES: So, many of these priests were seeking help. Many of them were in psychotherapy and the same is true for the victims. So, he found that half the priests were having sex and those who were not having sex had -- many had had sex in the past. But, here is the dynamic.

MATTHEWS: So, one says to another who`s complaining about what happens to a 13-year-old altar boy or whatever says, "Well, I wouldn`t it be so pious, father?" Is that what it is? In other words, if you got any skeletons in your closet, somebody will rat you out. You said protection racket, explain it that way.

REZENDES: I think you explained it perfectly. A priest who is having sex with a woman or a man or who may have had sex in the past and has a secret to protect, none of them are going to rat out so to speak a priest who`s having sex with a child because they all have transgressed.

MATTHEWS: What about the good guys? What about the ones who have put up with the horniness or whatever you want to call it, the sexual repression, which we can all sort of figure out as human beings? What about the ones who put up with that pain and whatever it is, the frustration and they see other people who don`t put up with it? Why don`t they rat out the people who don`t play by the rules?

REZENDES: Well, I think it has to do with protecting the institution. When I started covering this story, harking back to my days as a young reporter doing police stories, whenever there was an instance of police brutality or police misconduct, the police would circle the wagons and the priority became to protect one another.


REZENDES: The clergy is an all-male, secret society and they protect one another. It is their first instinct. And I also have to say that the fact that it is an all-male culture may have something to do with this, because you have to wonder whether there is some intrinsic inability to understand the damage that sexual abuse can do to a child in an all-male culture where there are no women and no children present.

MATTHEWS: Yes. OK. Well, I have to tell you, Mike. Growing up Catholic, 16 years at catholic school, altar boy, the whole works, never heard of any of this stuff. I don`t know how we were lucky. We were fortunate to have missed it all. I don`t know.

REZENDES: I can tell you how. I mean, I would just bet that you had an intact family. You had a mother and father and you were not vulnerable.

MATTHEWS: Yes, my four brothers and good parents. Anyway, thank you. I think - I thought good priests too. Anyway, Michael Rezendes, thank you, sir.

Up next, President Trump insists he`s the least racist person who`s ever met -- we`ve ever met, anybody`s ever met. So, why does evidence to the contrary just keep popping up? You`re watching Hardball.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. It`s been a few days now since Omarosa first accused the President of using a racist term when referring to black people. But the President`s fraught relationship with race goes back decades.

In the 1970s, he and his father were sued by the Department of Justice for systematically discriminating against black people in housing rentals. In the 1980s, he took out a full-page ad urging the death penalty for five young teenagers, black and Latino, accused of raping a white woman. They were later -- that charge was vacated, as you used the word anyway in column today.

In 1989, speaking about African-Americans, Trump said, this is NBC news for a special on race.


TRUMP: A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well- educated white in terms of the job market. And I think sometimes a black may think that they don`t really have the advantage or this or that, but in actuality, today, currently, it`s a -- I said on one occasion, even about myself if I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.


MATTHEWS: I think some of our viewers are enjoying that ridiculousness. Anyway, in 2011, Trump rose to prominence by pushing the charge that the first black President Barrack Obama was not born here in the United States. Well, earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that the President allegedly referred to Haiti and African nations as S-holes, you know what he meant, countries. So, what more does President Trump need to say on this matter?

For more, I`m joined by Hardball roundtable experts actually, Karen Tumulty is a political columnist to the Washington Post. She writes a fact-based column which makes her different than some people. John Bradbender is a Republican strategist and Jonathan Capehart is a Pulitzer Prize winning opinion writer.

If I had a Pulitzer Prize, Jonathan, I would put it in my name with the Washington Post. Thank you for joining.


MATTHEWS: You`ve been very modest. Let me ask you. Let me start with you on this.


MATTHEWS: Does Trump recognized to have a race problem?

CAPEHART: Yes. Yes. He is, particularly by people in New York -- in New York City and definitively because of the Central Park Five which you talked about. Before people in New York knew about the problems with his family`s buildings and their unwillingness to rent apartments to African- Americans, I think to people of color and African-Americans in particular, there is no shock here at all and there should be no shock to anyone who...

MATTHEWS: So, it`s on his baseball card.


MATTHEWS: People know this.

CAPEHART: Yes. And for those who didn`t know those two things, who don`t live in New York City, if you`ve been watching him since June 16th, 2015 when he called Mexicans rapists and then went downhill from there, you would know that he has a race problem and he has a problem with African- Americans in particular.

MATTHEWS: Does it mean anything to you as a person whether he`s doing this strategically or it`s his feelings showing?

CAPEHART: No. It doesn`t matter to me and it doesn`t matter to me because he`s President of the United States. A President of the United States should know better. A President of the United States would never have done what he did a year ago after Charlottesville. No President of the United States should equivocate on whether people protesting hate and the people who are hateful, Nazis, white supremacists, they are not the same. They are not very fine people on both sides. They`re all very fine people on one side, Chris.

MATTHEWS: John, your thoughts?

JOHN BRADBENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think all of this is very complicated. I think the fact that our country was...

MATTHEWS: Complicated.

BRADBENDER: Yes, I do. I think the fact that we`re still talking about race in the year 2018 on a country built on "we`re all created equal" is on all of us.

CAPEHART: Built on the back of slaves though, John.

BRADBENDER: I agree with you. And I`m saying that Democrat, Republican, all of us share that blame and right now, we`re trying to throw everything on Donald Trump. Second of all, this comes on the heels of there have been surveys out that say that Donald Trump`s approval rating among African- Americans has gone up.

CAPEHART: To what, double digits?


BRADBENDER: But it is a fact among African-American men. It has doubled since he`s become President. It`s not where it should be. I`m not saying that.

MATTHEWS: So, how does he earn that?

BRADBENDER: Well, one of the things -- and I`ve seen a couple of speeches recently with Mike Pence where he has stood in front of audiences that were 98 percent white and said, "One of the most proud accomplishments that we have as an administration is that African-American unemployment is at its lowest in history." And so, my...

MATTHEWS: First of all, these are different. These are different arguments.

(i). You can be a crusty African-American of a certain age, my age, and you`ve been through all this race all your life and say, "Yes. I`ll give him credit, there`s more jobs right now." You can make those two distinctions, but I don`t trust the guy personally. These are different arguments.

Your thoughts, Karen, very calm today by the way.

KAREN TUMULTY, WASHINGTON POST WRITER: Thank you. Thank you. I mean, the fact is none of us knows what`s in Donald Trump`s heart, but we can watch what he says. We can watch what he does. You refer to this as a race problem. His actions would suggest he sees it as a race opportunity.

Much of his political career has been built on fanning racial resentment. And he has as much as people think of him as sort of undisciplined with his words, he has shown a real skill at kind of saying things that will divide people, but leaving himself and leaving his supporters just enough of a sheen of deniability.

MATTHEWS: Did people really believe that he sent inspectors to Hawaii to find out whether his predecessor was an American or not? I mean I don`t believe they believe it. Do you believe, John, that he really wanted to try to find that Barrack Obama was born in the U.S.?

BRADBENDER: Yes. I`m not even going down that rat hole. But, look, you got to understand. This President, we keep saying "Because he said this, he must be racist". Look. He`s gone after John McCain, a war hero. Does that mean he`s anti-veteran? Does he have a bias? He went...


CAPEHART: A Gold Star family.

BRADBENDER: But that`s my whole point. He`s an equal opportunity insulter. He goes after everybody. So, you can`t...

MATTHEWS: You think he`s Don Rickles, right? He`s just some guy.

BRADBENDER: But don`t you to some degree? I mean, don`t you think there`s some truth to that?

MATTHEWS: Look. If you want to know what I think, I think he`s figured it out. When he picked the fight we`re talking before with Lebron James, an upstanding citizen of this country if there is one, a guy is going to be a big entrepreneur, a guy who`s really been courageous as the underdog for his team. Why do you go after him? Why does he pick fights with the guys who are not lefties, who are not causing trouble in this country politically with him?

He wants to fight with blacks it seems to me.


MATTHEWS: And he likes to look at the fight. I think he likes that picture in the boxing ring.

CAPEHART: Yes. He loves the fight. He loves the picture. And for his supporters, he loves the fact -- well, they love the fact that here he is standing up to these uppity, ungrateful black folks who are pushing it and who are pushing it in our faces that with their protests and their demands for equality...

BRADBENDER: Let me ask you. Who is he talking to, Democrats in the rust belt states? Who is he talking to?

CAPEHART: He`s talking to people who support him, John.

BRADBENDER: Democrats in the rust belt states.

CAPEHART: Well, I mean, you can try to pull in Democrats into the...


MATTHEWS: I know he`s talking about the guy in the -- at the Green Bay game. I know he`s talking to that guy or the Vikings game. I know he`s talking to the white guy with the red face and everything. I know that. But I don`t think that guy agrees with him completely. I think those guys look for those players.

The roundtable sticking with us. Up next, these three tell me something I don`t know. I`m talking fast. You`re watching Hardball.


MATTHEWS: Will be right back with the Hardball roundtable and up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. You`re watching Hardball.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the Hardball roundtable. Karen, tell me something I don`t know.

TUMULTY: One of the things, one of the private conversations that a lot of Democrats are having these days is to how concerned they are about Hispanic turnout and also Hispanic intensity in this election because a lot of these seats that they absolutely have to win to take back the House are in districts with heavy Hispanic population.

MATTHEWS: They want a key to getting that up, they got to get that up. I know. I agree with you.

BRADBENDER: Cord cutting is going through the roof at a much higher accelerated rate than anybody thought, 33 million in America by the next presidential race. It`s going to be up to about 45 million Americans who can vote but have no T.V. It`s going to change the dynamics particularly in the primaries.

CAPEHART: Chris, the Democrats...

MATTHEWS: They going to watch me? Just kidding. Go ahead, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: All right. Look. Everyone is focused on whether there is going to be a blue wave in November. But people, Democrats in particular, need to focus on the fact that ALEC, the conservative organization is pushing very hard for an Article V constitutional convention. There are now 28 states. They only need 35 to do it.

They say they want it for a balanced budget amendment. But once you open up to a constitutional convention, everything...

MATTHEWS: How will the first amendment survive that baby?

Anyway, thank you, Karen Tumulty, a real pro. Thank you, John Bradbender. He had a tough day, and Jonathan Capehart. We`ll be returning in just a moment. Let me finish tonight with the Trump watch, coming up in a minute.


MATTHEWS: Trump watch, Wednesday, August 15th, 2018. I said last night that Donald Trump calling a fellow American a dog might be the low point to date in his role as this country`s head of state. To show how low he`s taking us, watch this snippet of an earlier U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt responding to a charge by his 1944 Republican opponent, New York governor Thomas Dewey, that FDR has wasted taxpayer`s money retrieving his dog, Fala, the Republicans claimed that had been left behind on the Aleutian Islands.


ROOSEVELT: I don`t resent attacks and my family don`t resent attacks facts, but Fala does resent them. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself but I think I have the right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a great president showing to diffuse a partisan shot by turning it back on its critics, by pretending to be upset by the attack on his dog. Well, today, we witnessed the President calling his rival a dog. What`s happened to this country?

And that`s Hardball for now, really is. Thanks for being with us. All In with Chris Hayes starts right now.



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