Show: HARDBALL Date: August 20, 2018 Guest: Susan del Percio, Yamiche Alcindor, Cynthia Alksne, Barry Grissom, Sherrod Brown, Sabrina Siddiqui
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Anything but the truth. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews from Washington.
I hereby swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. For centuries, that oath has been taken by witnesses in the court of justice. And now, President Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, are going after the very notion that human justice is the pursuit of that objective of finding the truth. Challenging if there is such a thing as objective truth.
What matters for Giuliani now is to get people to believe anything his guy says, that guy being the President, and what Trump claims is what matters to the Trump base. It`s not about who`s telling the truth, it`s what Giuliani and Trump need to say to get them through the night. Trump never stops, does he? And this assault on the very existence of truth proves it.
He`s already gone out to trash every institution or principle to save himself from impeachment. To keep the FBI off his trail, he pushed his director to swear him personal loyalty, urged him to go easy on a possible witness, and then ended up firing the FBI director all together. To keep the Justice Department off his back, he`s gone - again and again bullied the Attorney General to grab hold of the government case and turn it away from him. To get a top witness from testifying against him, he`s urged the jury in the Paul Manafort case, which is still sitting, to acquit him. From intimidation of the FBI to badgering the Justice Department that oversees it to publicly exhorting the jury, Donald Trump and Giuliani have gone down a trail of legal obstruction in broad daylight. And now, he`s got his lawyer trying to keep him, Donald Trump, from being questioned on the grounds that truth, objective truth, doesn`t even exist. (START VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: I`m not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he`s going to tell the truth and he shouldn`t worry, well, that`s so silly, because it`s somebody`s version of the truth, not the truth. He didn`t have a conversation about...
CHUCK TODD, HOST, "MEET THE PRESS": Truth is truth. I don`t mean to go, like..
GIULIANI: No, it isn`t truth! Truth isn`t truth! (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Rudy`s denial of objective reality extended to his defense of that infamous Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GIULIANI: The meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about Clinton. The meeting turned into a meeting...
TODD: Which is itself attempted collusion.
GIULIANI: No, it`s not! TODD: (INAUDIBLE) you just said it. The meeting was intended to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin lawyer. GIULIANI: No, no, no. TODD: That was the intention of the meeting. You just said it. GIULIANI: That was the original intention of the meeting. It turned out to be a meeting about another subject, and it was not pursued at all. And, of course, any meeting with regards to getting information on your opponent is something any candidate`s staff would take. If someone said, "I have information about your opponent," you would take that meeting. If it happens to be from the Russian... TODD: From the Russian government? GIULIANI: She didn`t represent the Russian government! She`s a private citizen. I don`t even know if they knew she was Russian at the time. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that denial that had something to do with the Russian government is directly contradicted by e-mails Donald Trump, Jr. received prior to that meeting in Trump Tower, in which he was told he would be meeting, quote, "with a Russian government attorney...as part of Russia and its government`s support for Mr. Trump." That`s all in the record.
And then late today, in an interview with Reuters, President Trump weighed in on the Mueller investigation, echoing Rudy Giuliani`s comments that his sit-down could lead to a perjury trap, saying, "Even if I am telling the truth, that makes me a lawyer," Trump said. "That`s no good." What`s he talking about?
Trump also said he`s chosen not to be involved in the investigation, telling White House correspondent Jeff Mason, "I`ve decided to stay out. Now, I don`t have to stay out, as you know. I can go in, and I can do what. I could run it if I want." Trump is asserting that he could run the investigation of Donald Trump. This is what he`s saying. This is Looney Tunes.
I`m joined now by Susan del Percio, Republican strategist; Michael Schmidt, Washington correspondent for the New York Times; Eugene Robinson, columnist for the Washington Post; and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS News Hour. Susan, why don`t we just go in order of your faces there?
What is Rudy talking about, that he could be running the investigation of himself? This is the newest after his guy, Rudy Giuliani, denied there`s such a thing as objective truth.
Rudy went, I believe, to Manhattan College. He studied under the Christian brothers. One thing you learn in Catholic school is a lot of philosophy, a lot of time trying to figure out the meaning of truth and figure out the meaning of objective truth. And a total commitment to the idea there`s such a thing as truth. I`m sure all religions believe this, but his certainly did.
How can Rudy walk out there and say there`s no such thing as objective truth, it`s whatever anybody says, and if my guy says something, that`s just as good as anybody else? That`s what he asserted with Chuck Todd yesterday. What are your thoughts?
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I mean it`s clear that Rudy Giuliani`s gone from a world-class leader to a second-rate apprentice in following Donald Trump, and that`s all he`s doing, is whatever will make Donald Trump happy. He`s trying to muddy the waters.
This was a career prosecutor. His career was launched being a prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani`s. To hear him say that and twist himself up and not get the facts out either because he didn`t know or didn`t remember or because chose to lie is so disheartening. Especially for me, someone who worked in the administration, someone who learned to love government because I served in his administration. He`s now supporting a government that I have no respect for, meaning Donald Trump and his administration.
MATTHEWS: Yamiche, pick up on this, because two things here just jump out at you. One is the denial of objective truth, which is the essence of everything.
And by the way, just to remind everybody, as if they need a message of philosophy. If somebody tells you the movie starts at 7:00, and it starts at 7:30, one person`s right. It did start at 7:00. If somebody says the capital of Japan is something else, I don`t know what, it`s Tokyo! There`s only one right answer. There is such a thing as objective truth.
And if they had a tape recording of that meeting that he had with Mueller - I`m sorry, with Comey, about what to do with Flynn, then we know the objective truth. So, there is a search for it. It`s not one person`s opinion against another, and that`s what Rudy`s now saying.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWS HOUR: The idea that Rudy Giuliani is saying truth is truth is directly related to the fact that Kellyanne Conway said there are alternative facts. This is an administration that wants to create its own version of truth, have millions of people who believe only what they tell them, and as a result they`re laying this foundation...
MATTHEWS: Why is he doing this? Just explain the politics, if you can. Why would you deny what everybody knows when they were a kid, when you`re taught not to fib when you`re three years old? Who - or five or six, at least. Why would somebody say there`s no such thing as the truth or not truth?
ALCINDOR: Because if the Mueller investigation comes out and says that you, in fact, broke the law, and here are all the reasons why and here`s all the evidence, you can then turn around and say, well, their version of the truth is actually not the truth. Our version of the truth is what the truth is. They`re doing this because they want to get ahead of whether or not - of any sort of indictment, any sort of criminal charges, any sort of problems that the president or the people around him might have when it comes to the legality of things.
MATTHEWS: OK, speaking of a crazy world, Trump`s now saying he could run the Trump investigation.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yeah.
MATTHEWS: And he just told that to Reuters. What does he mean? Some screwy notion of executive power?
ROBINSON: No. Well, his idea of executive power is that he could sweep in and he could fire Sessions and (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: Arrest Omarosa?
ROBINSON: Exactly, arrest Omarosa, you know. Send people to the tombs or whatever. He could do whatever he wants, and he could shut down the investigation. He could run it. He would turn it into an investigation of Hillary Clinton and the "dirty Dems" or whatever. I mean, it`s...
MATTHEWS: So is Omarosa (INAUDIBLE)? He`s not as smart, not as confident as he once was? What are we talking about here? These claims are absurd.
ROBINSON: Well, yeah, but he always makes outsized claims. I mean, he`s always done that, actually, made outsized claims that are on their face kind of ridiculous. It does seem to be getting worse. He seems to be sort of bouncing off the walls.
But one thing that we saw, especially in Rudy Giuliani`s remarks, is how hard it is to keep the story together. Right? I mean, to keep it all straight.
And so, he flat-out admits that it was to, yeah, the meeting was to get dirt of Hillary. Oh, was he - was I supposed to admit that? Well, anyhow, they didn`t even know she was Russian. I mean, it`s just ridiculous.
MATTHEWS: Well, fortunately we have a press, and we have the New York Times and the Washington Post and all the other, PBS and everything else. Rudy`s "Meet the Press" interview came just one day after the New York Times reported this weekend White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated extensively with Mueller`s Russia investigation. This is a wow.
The report sent Trump into a week-long - weekend-long Twitter tirade that continued into this morning. Trump referred to the "disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller" and his whole group of "angry Democrat thugs," he calls them. He added, "Mueller`s angry Dems are looking to impact the election." And he wrote, "The failing New York Times wrote a fake piece today implying that because White House council" - he spells it with a "C" - "Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to special council, he must be a John Dean-type rat. But I allowed him and all others to testify. I didn`t have to. I have nothing to hide."
Well, today the New York Times reported McGahn`s participation with Mueller may present another problem for Trump and his legal team, namely they don`t know what he actually told investigators. Michael, that was a hell of a piece yesterday, and I think it was like pulling the tablecloth off the table and leaving all the silverware there, because Trump doesn`t seem to know what you`ve got.
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Trump doesn`t...
MATTHEWS: And you broke this story that McGahn, 30 hours of testimony.
SCHMIDT: At least. Trump did not know the extent of this. He thought, he sees lawyers as people that fix his problems. The idea of a White House counsel is a hard one for him to understand, someone that represents the institution.
MATTHEWS: You mean an honest guy.
SCHMIDT: He felt McGahn would go in and say, "Hey, Mueller, here`s why the president`s done nothing wrong," as if he was a defense lawyer. As if she was explaining to him. I don`t think he appreciated the fact that McGahn was going in...
MATTHEWS: As a public servant.
SCHMIDT: To answer detailed questions about the investigation in an open- ending, wide-ranging way.
MATTHEWS: Well, what does this do? Mueller suggests - everybody can get in here, Eugene and everybody, Yamiche and Susan. The thing is that we`ve always guessed what was in that incredible, what I call the iceberg of what he knows. And you guys know a lot of the big papers, but he knows a lot.
And Yamiche, I`m going to start with you on this, it seems to me that if he had 30 hours of the president`s own lawyer, who`s sitting in the room all the time with Trump, his White House lawyer, he knows a hell of a lot to sort of fill in the blanks here on this case against the president.
ALCINDOR: Well, here`s the thing that I thought was most remarkable about Michael`s reporting. The fact that you reported that President - that Don McGahn went in there with some legal - but his own lawyer, and realizing that he did not want to be the person that was going to be the scapegoat for this. And that dovetails with the reporting that I`ve done with sources that say there are people that work in the White House if who are very worried about what legal impact just being in the presence of all this might have on them, and as a result they`ve hired lawyers to protect themselves.
So, 30 hours of testimony, I`ve no idea obviously what he said. But the idea that he knows that much, but also that he had his own lawyer making sure that he was going to be protected tells you that he was worried about what he was going to have to say.
MATTHEWS: Gene, there`s so many hours. Remember that scene in "World War II" where the arrows are pointing to the enemy and the different salients are coming in? You`ve got Mike Cohen talking, you`ve got Manafort potentially talking, you`ve got definitely Clint talking, you`ve got McGahn talking, all coming - and now probably Omarosa talking. All these informations coming in, and Trump trying to play defense.
ROBINSON: And I don`t think - and I think there are probably more. I mean, there are other people that were talking that we don`t know about, probably.
ROBINSON: I think it`s - one thing that Mueller has, just strictly from McGahn that he would have that he wouldn`t otherwise have in this form, is probably, surely, a detailed, very accurate timeline involving various decisions, meetings, conversations, that could go into an obstruction case. We don`t have a sense of what he might have had to say that could go into a collusion or conspiracy case, but we don`t know that there was nothing. I mean, we don`t know - we could be (MULTIPLE SPEAKERS).
MATTHEWS: We`ve heard (INAUDIBLE). Susan, your thoughts about the way that the president is behaving? Just the way he`s behaving. Flying out with this stuff like there`s no such thing as truth, or I could be running the investigation. It`s wild! I mean, in a certain era I think when we knew - well, we never know much about mental conditions of anybody, maybe, but we would think that the guy`s losing his control over any notion of objective reality.
DEL PERCIO: Yes. And I`ve said this before, he`s like an animal backed into a corner and he`s just scrapping to find out. And let`s not forget, we all learned this from that great reporting on Saturday and yesterday, Robert Mueller has been - has had this information for a much longer period of time, so who knows what he`s discovered based on those interviews?
And I think that`s the thing that has the president really bouncing off the walls right now and just raging, is that he doesn`t know who to trust, he doesn`t know who`s spoken to Mueller, and now he`s concerned at what level. He doesn`t know who has tapes. We know that Cohen, his lawyer has tapes, Cohen. We know that Omarosa has tapes. There`s a lot of tapes out there, and that, I think, scares the president the most. I think he sits there wracking his brain, what have I said to whom over the last two years?
MATTHEWS: And Rudy can`t help him if there`s tape. Rudy came up with this nonsense about there`s no such thing as objective truth, but guess what? Tapes brought down Nixon. All the arguing in the world didn`t stop that.
Thank you so much, Susan del Percio, for your insight. Michael Schmidt, great reporting, again. Gene, your wisdom amazes me sometimes. Thank you, sir. I mean it, thank you. And Yamiche, you`re so young and so brilliant. I`m just teasing.
This is an amazing time. I`m a little crazy, but this is a crazy time to be covering a president who`s acting like this guy`s acting, like he doesn`t want to deal with reality. I keep thinking of Jack Nicholson, can he handle the truth?
More reporting today, by the way, on the investigation into Trump`s former fixer, Michael Cohen, while the jury continuing delivering the fate of the president`s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. They`re still meeting, the jury, third day. Trump seems to be sweating the outcome of both cases. What`s he got more to worry about?
Plus, Senator Sherman Brown of Ohio joins me tonight on set to discuss his fight to win again in a state that went for Donald Trump by eight points in 2016. How are the Democrats going to win back those Trump voters in 2018, that`s this November, and next time? It`s a question I keep asking.
And the rhetoric from Trump World sounds downright Orwellian, doesn`t it? Denying the existence of objective truth? Well, the HARDBALL panel (INAUDIBLE) the HARDBALL Roundtable is going there then.
And also, John Brennan is considering taking the president to court over his security clearance being revoked.
And finally, let me finish tonight with the failure of the Republican Party to show any backbone - have you noticed - against Trump. This is HARDBALL, where the action is. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL If his tweets are any indication, the president seems to be worried about potential legal threats from two former employees.
First, "The New York Times" reports the president`s former attorney - there he is - and personal fixer Michael Cohen`s under investigation now for potential tax and bank fraud, surrounding more than $20 million in loans obtained by taxing businesses he and his family owned. Federal prosecutors are also looking into whether Cohen violated campaign finance law by arranging those hush money payments to women - there they are - who said they had affairs with Trump. Convincingly, I must say. According to NBC, an indictment could come at the end of this month. "The New York Times" reports that Cohen "has hinted publicly and has stated explicitly in private that he is eager to tell prosecutors what he knows in exchange for" - here it comes - "leniency."
This all comes as a jury in Alexander, Virginia, wrapped up its third day of deliberations in the trial of Trump`s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, who`s also facing charges of bank and tax fraud. Both Cohen and Manafort have insider knowledge of the internal workings of Trump campaigns and his operation that could be valuable to the special counsel if they were to cooperate to get some time off.
I`m joined now by Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor, and Barry Grissom, former U.S. attorney. Thank you all. And you all have been thinking about this case as we have been covering it.
And I want to start with Cynthia, then to Barry.
When you are looking at Cohen, the guy is not a nice guy. He comes across as sympathetic, however, It looks like he`s sad. He`s going down.
What are you -- what -- if you are his attorney, what are you thinking about, a pardon, or you thinking about copping a plea to Mueller? What are you thinking about this? Because he has got these huge charges against him in terms of bank fraud and failure to pay -- honestly to pay taxes, honestly to pay -- to report campaign expenditures, the whole bang.
And they can get him.
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Correct. They can get him.
Well, he`s going to have to make a deal. He has nowhere else to go. He`s pushed himself away from Trump. He doesn`t have the same flexibility, because Trump can`t really pardon him because he -- he potentially has state charges.
I will tell you what he`s...
MATTHEWS: Could his lawyer tell him that?
ALKSNE: Oh, yes.
I will tell what he`s got that Manafort doesn`t have. He has relationships and deals with Trump`s kids. If he can -- if he can give the prosecutor something on Trump`s kids, now you have got a pressure point that is very different from what Manafort could do.
MATTHEWS: And that is pressure on the president.
MATTHEWS: I -- what do you -- do you share my intuition that the last thing he wants to come into the presidency, run for the presidency, win the presidency, serve for a year, and that the bottom line in family terms put his kids in jail?
ALKSNE: He`s not going to put his kids in jail.
I mean, I think that`s the only redeeming quality of the guy.
MATTHEWS: That he would -- he would give up the presidency to free them?
MATTHEWS: Is that a deal you can make?
ALKSNE: I don`t know. It depends on what he has done.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know. Can you make a law?
I mean, can you cut a deal saying, OK, because I know a guy that -- you could promise never to run for office again. People resign and then the prosecutions are dropped.
ALKSNE: Oh, you mean could Mueller make a -- Mueller can make whatever deal he wants.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he could make a deal. So, if says, if you want your kids to walk, you walk.
ALKSNE: He has a lot of power.
MATTHEWS: You`re gone. You give up the presidency .
I mean, but that`s what`s different about Cohen than somebody else.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about this other guy, Manafort.
Barry, Manafort is looking at huge time. We don`t know what that jury is up to. So I`m sure -- look, I`m not a lawyer. I say it a million times, but you`re thinking of his -- you got to -- you`re representing Manafort, who is facing a serious time.
If he does get a hung jury, how does that change things? Because they`re three days in now.
BARRY GRISSOM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, I don`t think just being three days in is a critical amount of time.
I mean, this jury has been asked to review a lot of complex tax information. They have probably never heard of banking laws dealing with foreign banking entities. So they -- I would say that they`re doing a good job as far as weeding through all the various accounts and matching up the evidence with each count.
If we are still talking like this a week from now, I think Mr. Manafort should be happy, because that means somebody is holding out. But I have got a feeling within the next couple of days, we will have a verdict.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that judge has been fair in not helping them wade through all this paper? They have got all these exhibits. They have got to crosswalk those exhibits to the particular charges and try to understand what evidence they really have and where it applies.
He said, I`m not going to help you with that. I mean, it seems to me that puts a tremendous strain on regular civilian jurors to figure this thing out.
GRISSOM: It really does, I mean, because -- because the lawyers are there. They`re basically teaching the jury what this case is about.
GRISSOM: If some of your teaching mechanisms or tools are taken away from you, it only harms your case, whether you`re the prosecution or the defendant.
MATTHEWS: What do you think, Cynthia, watching it? Do you think it`s been a fair -- I just watched this judge constantly put his finger on the scale to help the defendant.
ALKSNE: Well, it -- they`re so obsessed in Alexandria with getting through quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly.
MATTHEWS: One day of voir dire? One day of picking the whole jury?
ALKSNE: Right. Yes.
Well, voir dire, I`m not as concerned about, as that they could not publish the exhibits to the jury. So now the jury is totally confused about what exhibits go with what.
ALKSNE: They didn`t see them for the first time. It`s a problem.
MATTHEWS: Bigger threat to Trump, is it Manafort or Cohen?
MATTHEWS: Barry, biggest threat?
GRISSOM: I would say Cohen, absolutely, because Cohen was his personal lawyer for all those years leading up to the time of the beginning of the administration.
So if there`s anything, any dirt out there, Mr. Cohen has been involved in it.
MATTHEWS: Well said.
Thank you, Cynthia Alksne. Thank you, Barry Grissom.
I see a lot of salience in this war against Trump facing into him now.
Up next: the battle for Democrats to win back Trump voters. The pivotal swing state of Ohio went for President Trump by eight points in 2016. Will voters stick with Trump in November, stick with Trump`s thinking?
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown joins us here on the set.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. .
On Friday, President Trump is set to make yet another trip to Ohio. It`s a state that voted for him in 2008 -- actually voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and then swung dramatically to Trump in 2016. He beat Hillary Clinton in Ohio by eight points.
Well, the president is set to host a fund-raiser there for Republican Senate candidate -- the candidate Jim Renacci. Renacci, who is challenging two-term Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, faces an uphill battle. Brown holds a double-digit lead right now, according to RealClearPolitics in the averaging of polls.
First elected in 2006, Senator Brown has been a vocal advocate for the working families of his state. In today`s "Cincinnati Enquirer," he writes: "We need to reset the conversation to focus on our greatest asset, the American worker. And one place we can start is by unraveling the disastrous provisions of the GOP tax plan that actually rewards companies that move their productions to foreign countries."
For more, I`m joined by himself.
Well, Senator Brown, I have always thought you were the ideal Democrat nationally. But let`s talk about Ohio.
Trump ran on some pretty appealing things to people like you, even though we didn`t vote for him. I didn`t vote for him. And I don`t think you did.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Chris, that`s a fair assumption.
MATTHEWS: One, he was going to get rid of stupid wars. And you were against the Iraq War. He was going to build infrastructure. He was going to be for the working family.
BROWN: Still waiting.
MATTHEWS: Yes, what happened?
BROWN: Well, I...
MATTHEWS: He promised all this good stuff.
BROWN: Yes, I think people -- well, I think Ohioans, a lot of working Ohioans believe that Washington`s forgotten them. They have seen these trade agreements that have shut down production in Mansfield and Toledo and moved it to Wuhan and Beijing and Reynosa, Mexico.
And they don`t see their children having it better -- having a better material life than they are. And they rolled the dice. I think they`re saying that there is no infrastructure plan, that the tax bill overwhelmingly helps the rich.
There`s a provision in the tax bill. If you -- if you`re manufacturing in Youngstown, you pay 21 percent corporate tax rate. GM does. But if they move that plan to Mexico that they have talked about, they pay 10.5 percent. So government basically gives them a 50 percent off coupon on their taxes.
BROWN: What is fair about that?
MATTHEWS: On infrastructure, I want to remind people like you, he made a specific promise. He was going to rebuild Penn Station in New York all the way to LAX Airport in California. He was going to rebuild this country. Instead, he gave the tax cuts to the rich.
Anyway, here`s your ad. I do like the ad. I think it does tell the Democratic story, not just in your state. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: There is dignity in work.
Whether you collect minimum wage, punch a clock or earn a salary, your hard labor should pay off in fair wages and benefits, affordable health care, in overtime pay when you earn it, because patriotism demands investing in American workers.
And if you love this country, you fight for the people who make it work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So the Democrats have always been, since I was a kid, back in the days of Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, Jack Kennedy, of course, for the working family.
MATTHEWS: Then Trump comes along and steals your lunch. What happened?
BROWN: Well, I think Democrats have not talked enough about fighting for the little guy, meaning really our party...
MATTHEWS: Are they too intellectual, too free trade?
BROWN: Well, they`re not -- no, they`re too -- the party has been too free trade, but the Republicans have been more free trade. But that`s our problem to show where we are and fight for workers.
But I don`t think the voters necessarily think what we should be thinking. And that is, you fight for the little guy, whether she punches a clock, whether he works in a diner, whether she works construction, whether he works in manufacturing or works in a nursing home.
And when we don`t, as a party -- we have got to show we`re fighting for the little guy. We don`t do that enough. That`s what that ad is about. It`s about the dignity of work, respecting all work, no matter what you earn, no matter where you work, that the dignity of work is what drives this country and gives people a decent standard of living.
And we have too often forgotten that.
MATTHEWS: I hear it from you. And I hear it from Bobby Casey or Marcy Kaptur, people like that, the people from that part of the country.
I grew up in Pennsylvania -- actually, Philadelphia, which isn`t exactly Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: But all the way across of that area, and yet that is the -- that is the grounds for 2020 as well as, isn`t it?
BROWN: Yes, sure it is.
MATTHEWS: You have got to win that back.
BROWN: Sure, it is.
I mean, we could win the popular vote by five million, but we have got to win Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.
But, I mean, it really is, though, talking about workers, talking about the dignity of work, and showing -- showing the voters, showing -- and I don`t talk about Clinton voters and Trump voters. I don`t talk about black or white or Latino workers. I talk about workers.
And I think that`s how you pull people together.
MATTHEWS: Democrats used to be really -- Bill Clinton was really good at this.
He used to say, I`m for people to work hard and play by the rules. That sent a message to people. I`m not for welfare. I`m for work. I`m for people with jobs getting a little better break. They would say things to liberal Catholics like me, I`m for making abortion safe, legal, and rare.
That appeal that seemed to get to the center of the country politically doesn`t seem to be there lately.
BROWN: Yes. And we should have -- I have introduced a bill...
MATTHEWS: The ability of talking to people where they`re at.
And you want -- and you want it -- you want it -- when you have had -- you mentioned that tax bill at the beginning and how it really is just a giveaway to the rich, instead of building infrastructure.
I said to the president at the White House with a group of a dozen senators, look at my Patriot Corporation Act. It says, if a company pays decent wages, provides good benefits and makes in the United States, like the suits made by union workers 10 miles from my house, if you do that, then you get a lower tax rate.
That`s the -- that`s the kind of government people in Ohio want, a government that`s responsive to workers, that helps our country, that provide -- brings prosperity to our communities.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this Supreme Court thing coming up, because you`re a senator. And you`re going to get to decide this thing.
How do you like -- you met with Kavanaugh today. There he is, Brett Kavanaugh. What do you make of the cut of his jib right now? Where do you worry about him? What are you thinking about him?
BROWN: I talked to him about worker rights. And I talked to him about women`s health. And I talked to him about the CFPB.
And I talked to him about health care. And to me...
MATTHEWS: Is in the bag with the corporate world?
I mean, I -- he says he isn`t, but, I mean, I think his history has shown that. There`s a reason the president appointed him, nominated him.
And I -- five million people in my state have a preexisting condition, five million people. If this -- if the narrative on this court nominee -- nomination is that he will repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away that consumer protection, he could go down, because, overwhelmingly, people in this country, regardless of your party, care about -- care about preexisting condition and know we need consumer protection.
MATTHEWS: I think health care is the -- is one of the big things the country counts on the federal government doing something about.
They made not be able to get you a job tomorrow morning, but they can look out for your health care and preexisting condition. Can we save Obamacare without the -- without the individual mandate? Will it last?
BROWN: Yes, because Congress will make some allowances if the Democrats win next year.
But it`s hard. But, I mean, clearly -- clearly, the Republicans have not lined up to eliminate preexisting conditions.
MATTHEWS: No, people love Medicare.
BROWN: Yes, of course they do.
MATTHEWS: They love Social Security a lot. They like Medicaid for people that need it, like long-term care.
We got to win that fight on health care for everybody.
BROWN: And candidate Trump promised not to raise the eligibility age Medicare or Social Security, even though, to pay for the tax cut, they have already started to think about raising the eligibility age for Medicaid and Social Security.
MATTHEWS: Good ad. Keep fighting, Senator.
BROWN: If I could ask people to share it, to go to SherrodBrown.com, and share that ad about the dignity of work, because it`s so important.
MATTHEWS: I like what you say.
Thank you, Senator, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, up for reelection this November.
Up next: Rudy Giuliani suggests that truth isn`t truth. You like that? It`s not the first time Trump world has told its followers not to believe in facts, alternative facts.
The Roundtable weighs in next.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
President Trump and his closest aides have repeatedly told his supporters to believe Trump and only Trump. Well, their rhetoric, which at times, has sounded downright Orwellian, has included dismissing now the very idea of facts. Facts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS WITH CHUCK TODD")
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And when you tell me that he should testify because he`s going to tell the truth and he shouldn`t worry, well, that`s so silly, because it`s somebody`s version of the truth, not the truth.
He didn`t have a conversation about...
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Truth is truth. I don`t mean to go like...
GIULIANI: No, it isn`t truth. Truth isn`t truth.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I believe we have to be honest with the American people. I think, sometimes, we can disagree with the facts.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: You`re saying it`s a falsehood. And they`re giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don`t believe that crap you see from these people, the fake news. Just remember what you`re seeing and what you`re reading is not what`s happening now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in the HARDBALL Roundtable tonight.
Sabrina Siddiqui is a political reporter for "The Guardian." Asawin Suebsaeng is the White House reporter for The Daily Beast. And Howard Fineman, of course, is MSNBC political analyst.
I want to start right down the line there.
What do you make of a guy who went to the college and studied philosophy and went to -- actually went to a pretty school in New York, Manhattan, and he studied all this about truth and objective reality, and now he`s denying it?
Just anything to defend his guy against having to testify under oath.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Truth isn`t the truth is the new alternative facts. This Russia cloud has been hanging over the Trump presidency. And it`s been a fixation for this president.
Obviously, his team has continued to try and discredit the entire Mueller probe. Even take a look at his presidency. Outside of tax reform, there has been little to show by way of legislative accomplishments.
And so all this president is really left with is trying to harden his support within the base. And the way he does that is by creating an alternative narrative, where he tries to undermine the media.
But a lot of the rhetoric is that you expect from authoritarian regimes in the United States.
MATTHEWS: Asawin, this is deeper. It`s one thing to say to "The New York Times" missed it on the front page. That`s an architect you can make.
But you can`t say there is no such thing as the truth there can be on the front page, that that`s a truth he can under observation that you can`t say two and two are four. I mean, there are facts we live with him they`re denying that.
ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, WHITE HOUSE, DAILY BEAST: True.
MATTHEWS: He`s saying whatever my account is. You can have account. They`re equal?
SUEBSAENG: Well, team Trump as a whole and certainly the president of the United States certainly has a horrifically grotesque bad track record when it comes with objective fact and truth. But I might be the dissenting voice on this panel, because I didn`t hear Rudy Giuliani literally saying the truth is literally not the truth. What I heard him make a sloppy legal argument regarding parallel narratives.
MATTHEWS: That`s not what he said.
SUEBSAENG: Well, I mean --
MATTHEWS: He didn`t say he had different accounts, the truth is not a truth. I mean, he denied the existence of truth.
SUEBSAENG: Right. There certainly wouldn`t be a first time --
MATTHEWS: Howard, if there were a tape recording of meetings between Comey and Trump, or meetings between whoever at the Trump Tower, we would have pretty much the objective truth.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, Chris, we have a legal system not because we don`t think truth exists but because we think that sometimes it`s hard ascertain. That`s what you have evidence for. And as a matter of fact, he made many factual mistakes elsewhere in that interview with Chuck Todd.
But let`s leave that aside, his big point, Rudy`s big point and the president`s big point is the to undercut the very idea of facts and truth in politics. Think of Rudy who is from New York, from Gotham is like the Joker in that his objective is to undermine any sense of order or fact in the city. He`s undermining every institution he can get his hands on.
Now, Donald Trump -- not being a lawyer, Donald Trump can`t go after the legal system the way at least if theory Rudy can. Rudy was a U.S. attorney. Rudy in theory was a lawyer. He`s not a lawyer anymore.
FINEMAN: He`s a joker in the legal system.
MATTHEWS: I`d be along those lines. I think he wants to confuse and make sure nobody has a clear head when they hear the arguments.
SIDDIQUI: They want to muddy the waters, and there has been a clear and consistent attempt by the president and his legal team to erode trust in our institutions. And you`ve seen that with the Trump administration as well.
They want the public to already have a preconceived notion that this investigation was tainted when there is no evidence to support the fact that it is.
MATTHEWS: Well, here we have somebody else to bring information, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman is ratcheting up her criticism, particularly on the race issue. Talking with my colleague Reverend Al Sharpton this week on MSNBC, Omarosa accused Trump of being a racist, himself. And said, in her opinion, he is unfit to serve as president of the United States.
Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STAFFER: Donald Trump is disingenuous about his engagement and his outreach. In fact, I believe he wants to start a race war in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SUEBSAENG: Well --
SUEBSAENG: I mean, if that`s the case, that`s her penalties now, Omarosa spent years both as Donald Trump the candidate and Donald Trump as leader of the free world helping him to start a race war. I mean, it`s -- team Trump is not wrong objectively when they say that Omarosa is incredibly lacking credibility.
Now, so as soon --
MATTHEWS: She has tapes.
SUEBSAENG: Yes, but that`s different from the narrative she`s trying to president out now.
MATTHEWS: Try to put out the argument Trump has not tried to divide this country racially and ethnically. Try to make that argument.
SUEBSAENG: No, I`m not making argument.
MATTHEWS: OK, I thought you were. I thought you were.
SUEBSAENG: No, no, what I`m saying is Omarosa is not a reliable narrator on this because up until (AUDIO GAP) to people in and outside the administration with every breath she had --
MATTHEWS: By that argument, Asawin, that we didn`t trust Michael Cohen when he is pressed enough. Or we shouldn`t listen to Flynn. These guys all rat out.
FINEMAN: It`s almost as if Donald Trump deliberately surrounded himself over the years.
MATTHEWS: With incredible people.
FINEMAN: With incredibly untrustworthy people.
MATTHEWS: That`s what monsters do. I mean --
FINEMAN: So when they turn on him, everybody will say, they don`t have any credibility. Frankly, there`s very few people around Donald Trump these days who do have credibility.
SUEBSAENG: Sure, numerous people who are better equipped to make the race argument against Donald Trump than Omarosa.
FINEMAN: Well, looking for the exceptions, which is good. Which is good.
MATTHEWS: I think Steve Schmidt was right today, look how McGahn tells the truth.
Anyway, former CIA Director John Brennan said yesterday, that`s just a day ago, that he`s considering taking Donald Trump to court after the president revoked his security clearance last week. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I have been contacted about a number of lawyers. And they have already given me their thoughts about the basis for a complaint and injunction to try to prevent him from doing this in the future. If my clearances and my reputation as I`m being pulled through the mud now, if that`s the price to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people to me it`s a small price to pay.
So I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future. If it means going to court, I will -- I will do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, over 175 former and national security officials have signed a letter opposing Trump`s removal of security clearances from personal reasons. The president responded to Brennan, by the way, this morning, tweeting: I hope John Brennan, the worst CIA director in our country`s history, brings a lawsuit.
The president also called Brennan a political hack. I mean, this is street corner stuff.
SIDDIQUI: Can we just take a step back for a second? Because John Brennan and James Clapper and some of these other former intelligence officials had served Democratic and Republican administrations alike. They each have decades worth of service.
And so, presidents have come and gone, and they have never been so outspoken in their criticism of anyone. And so, the idea that they are being partisan ignored the history of their service.
MATTHEWS: What`s the bottom line these people that serve the country have a problem with Trump?
SIDDIQUI: Because they do. They have been fairly opened that they think there is a unique threat that he poses to this democracy and to our institutions and, of course, they have all been very outspoken about the question of Russia interference in the election and the president`s efforts to undermine that investigation.
MATTHEWS: Asawin, he has basically tried to character assassinates so many U.S. institutions in just a year-and-a-half. He`s going after the FBI, he`s discredited. He`s discredited the CIA, the intelligence community.
It`s unlimited. He doesn`t seem to care about these institutions, they know it and they don`t like it.
SUEBSAENG: And he`s going after in incredibly self-centered and selfish way. He`s not coming at these institutions like the CIA and FBI, where there is room for very good, accurate, much needed aggressive critique in terms of their abuses. He is doing it, because James Comey was mean to me which is --
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, here`s somebody who is independent of the president, First Lady Melania Trump spoke as a part of her anti-bullying campaign. Let`s watch her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: In today`s global society, social media is an inventible part of our children`s daily lives. It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly. Let`s face it: most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults. But we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, according to "New York Times," President Trump, himself, has suggested Mrs. Trump choose a different topic to avoid questions about how the wife of a notorious Twitter bully could lead a campaign to spotlight anti-bullying. In response to questions over the disconnect between Trump`s tweets and the first lady`s initiative today, her spokeswoman said in a statement today, she is aware of the criticism, but it will not deter her from doing what she feels is right, the president is proud of her commitment to children and encourages her in all that she does.
Howard, it`s -- I don`t know, what do you make of all this?
FINEMAN: Well, first of all, I think blinker naivete, is better than outright corruption. So, on that standard, she`s doing great. I think she deserves some credit for saying what she`s saying, but I wonder if politically, in a marginal degree, she is enabling Donald Trump or other people can use her to enable Donald Trump.
After all, Donald Trump is the biggest most powerful cyber bully in the history of the planet. He`s president of the United States, by any measure, whoever he decides to attack on Twitter, he`s bullying. And this is something that he glories in and she`s married to the guy who glories in it. I mean, I give her credit, but I think it`s more limited than other people might --
MATTHEWS: A responsorial hymn.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.
FINEMAN: Good for her, yes.
MATTHEWS: Up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Pope Francis is begging for forgiveness now on behalf of all Catholic leaders after the release of that stunning grand jury report that found more than 1,000 children were sexually abused by predator priests in Pennsylvania over a period of 70 years. The pope`s letter reads, in part: With shame and repentance we act knowledge as our ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.
Pope Francis says he supports a zero tolerance policy on abuse and is looking at ways to hold those who perpetrate or covered up these crimes responsibility, despite expired statutes of limitation.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Sabrina, tell me something I don`t know.
SIDDIQUI: More fallout from Trump`s zero tolerance policy. Defense attorneys in California are saying that the Trump administration is coercing people who have been convicted of low level offenses to plead guilty, which includes immigrants who might be eligible for asylum. Now, these guilty please have been used against him to expedite them into deportation proceedings, sometimes within a matter of a couple of days.
SUEBSAENG: Last week when I reported at TheDailyBeast.com that President Trump in early 2017 had a pretty tense meeting with veteran`s groups advocates in the Roosevelt Room where he got into a bizarre argument with them about the movie "Apocalypse Now", Agent Orange and napalm.
Something that was left on the cutting room floor of that article was Omarosa was also in the room and the start of it, when the president started to get annoyed at the pace of the press trying to get out of the room, he said, Omarosa, handle it like you handled it on "The Apprentice".
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. Howard, very good Alec Baldwin there.
FINEMAN: That was very good.
Kentucky, as you know, big time Republican state, red state, went for Donald Trump overwhelmingly. My sources in Kentucky where I started out as a reporter --
MATTHEWS: I know you did, yes.
FINEMAN: -- and still remain and have close ties, say that Amy McGrath, a Democrat, in the blue grass is district, who is a Marine pilot who flew 89 missions against the Taliban and al Qaeda, has a very good chance to take that seat back to the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Is that a red seat?
FINEMAN: That is a red seat now held Andy Barr. She`s got a really good chance and the Republicans are worried, do they bring Donald Trump in or not?
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s always a tough question, House seats.
Thank you, Sabrina Siddiqui, Asawin Suebsaeng, and Howard Fineman.
When we return, let me finish tonight with the failure -- and I mean it -- of the Republican Party to stand up to Trump.
You are watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the failure of the Republican Party.
We`ve all enjoyed that old line about how Democrats fall in love with their heroes, and Republicans simply fall in line. But that line now is getting scary.
It`s not that Republicans have fallen in love with this president. More likely, they`re simply riding out the wave. But why do they have to bow to him so pathetically, why do they go along with the worst things about him, calling women dogs and the rest of it. They just go along with it, trailing after him like the man in the White House is really worthy of this kind of respect.
The fact is, these Republican officeholders know better. I know they do because they would try to exterminate a Democrat who`ve spoken and acted like this guy. We know that. And they know that.
I doubt this will do much good. But let us all remain us about Republicans going along with Republican -- going along with Trump to consider the story of the snake. Remember that? That`s Trump`s favorite story.
That`s when you take a snake home. And he bites and kills you. You knew it was a snake when you brought it home. It`s all your fault.
Well, Mr. Republican, we knew that Trump was like that when you brought him home and you were a Republican Party. You got all the signs, all the warnings about Trump and yet you made him at home right there in the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, and yes, Barry Goldwater and John McCain.
So, let`s be real, Trump is Trump. He was Trump. He will be Trump. It`s the Republican Party that`s changed so he`d feel at home. Pretty at the awful.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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