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Woodward fires back after Trump lashes out. TRANSCRIPT: 9/10/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Vivian Salama, Rick Tyler, Victoria DeFrancesco

Show: HARDBALL Date: September 10, 2018 Guest: Vivian Salama, Rick Tyler, Victoria DeFrancesco

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We wanted to get that in because we think it`s important.

And that does it for us. We are out of time. I will see you back here tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. eastern. HARDBALL with Chris Mathews starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The case against Trump. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Mathews in Washington.

Donald Trump now faces someone his own size. Bob Woodward who has taken down one President now confronts this one with the truth, a weapon that he, Donald Trump, cannot even grasp.

His new book out tomorrow assaults the man in the White House with a trio of lethal blows. That he cannot be trust today speak truthfully under pressure. That he is detached from reality. And finally that his top people see their role as protecting the country and the world from his clutches.

Grappling with the explosive revelations from Woodward`s book, President Trump has now taken on a siege mentality. He is battling the emerge in the image of himself that he is not just incompetent, but dangerous.

On "the Today Show" just this morning Woodward said that after covering nine administrations, he has never reported on a President so detached from reality. So detached, in fact, that Woodward said the President has to be told that it`s his job to avoid World War III.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you shocked by what you uncovered in this book?

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, FEAR: Well, I have never seen an instance when the President is so detached from the reality of what`s going on. In one NSC meeting, a year after Trump was in office, the secretary of defense has to tell him -- because the President is complaining about all this money we are spending on U.S. forces abroad. James Mattis says to him, we are doing this to prevent World War III.

Here`s the problem. This has not been treated seriously enough. And the things, some of the things Trump did and does jeopardize the real national security.


MATTHEWS: Well, according to Bob Woodward, not only has the President put national security in jeopardy, he has fundamentally unable to tell the truth. As the book asserts, Trump`s former lawyer John Dowd ultimately concluded that the President can never testify before Robert Mueller because, in Dowd`s view, he is a liar. And here`s Woodward.


WOODWARD: What Dowd concludes in the end is that President Trump can`t testify because he can`t tell the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that`s what he mean by clearly disabled?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s an inability to tell the truth in Dowd`s view?

WOODWARD: And he actually has a practice session with the President on January 27th of this year in the White House, and the President goes ballistic. He is not under control. And Dowd says, you know, you can`t do this. You are not a good witness. And his conclusion, Dowd`s conclusion in the end is that the President is an f-ing liar.


MATTHEWS: Well, now, a day before the publication of Woodward`s book, it comes out tomorrow, President Trump is trying to discredit Woodward.

Quote "the Woodward book is a joke." This is the President speaking. "Just another assault against me and a barrage of assaults using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources, many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can`t stand. Dems can`t stand losing. I`ll write the real book."

On another tweet the President wrote, the Woodward book is a scam. I don`t talk the way I am quoted. If I did, I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up. He also defended his competence saying, the White House is a smooth running machine.

However, Jonathan Swan of Axios details the jaw-dropping list of problems now confronting this White House. Reporting that Trump`s fine-tuned machine is creaking under this stress.

Quote "the President now knows that some of his previously trusted White House aides play starring roles in Woodward`s narrative. Trump is privately furious at Gary Cohn and Rob Porter and sources with direct knowledge of Trump`s thinking tell me, it`s possible he publicly attacks Porter and Kohn this week.

Well, joining me right now is Annie Linskey, chief correspondent for the Boston Globe. Jonathan Swan himself, national political reporter at Axios and Ron Reagan is an author and a political analyst. Thank you all. What a great trio.

Let me start with Jonathan. Do you expect Trump in his usual fashion to strike out against the sources in this book including Porter and attack him personally?

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: It`s very possible. This week -- so, Trump hasn`t read the book. The White House got a pdf version of the book last Tuesday night. And aides have been reading through the book and feeding to Trump what they are reading. And one of the things that really struck them was that Gary Cohn and Rob Porter play starring roles in the book.

The book opens with Gary Cohn taking a piece of paper of the Korean trade deal off Trump`s desk so Trump can`t sign the termination. Rob Porter is seemingly on almost every page. So, the White House is furious at them and Trump is furious at them privately.

MATTHEWS: Will he go after Rob Porter personally wit this?

SWAN: He has talked about that privately.

MATTHEWS: Do you expect him to do it publicly?

SWAN: I wouldn`t rule it out.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Annie Linskey on this. There is a couple of questions I want to - just straight reporting. What`s the mood in the White House? Here`s a President accused of not just incompetence, but accused of being dangerous to the republic. This is new.

ANNIE LINSKEY, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, BOSTON GLOBE: Yes, it is new. I mean - and the mood is sort of characterized by this frantic passing around of this pdf, this book, which you know, it`s gotten to the point where you even have sources sending it around -- you know, I have gotten a copy from White House sources saying, oh, my God, have you looked at this portion? Have you looked at this portion? And I think this is one of the sort of most emailed pieces of information in the White House now.

SWAN: They are all doing like - they are all doing the search of their name and compiling it.

MATTHEWS: What`s rattling around here? That`s strange.

Anyway, let me get back to Ron Reagan on this thing.

Ron, I have never seen a presidency challenged and told that the people around him are protecting the country from him, that he is not able to tell the truth. He doesn`t know reality enough to do it under oath. This is bizarre stuff and it`s all in the book.

RON REAGAN, AUTHOR/POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And one of the stunning things about this is that, of course, this is backed up by the op-ed piece that was written. And also by everybody like the wonderful reporters like Jonathan and all who for the last, what is it, 20 months now, have been hearing from people in the White House just this sort of thing.

From the moment Donald Trump entered the oval office, this nation was in crisis. We went into crisis. The take away from all of this is not who wrote the op-ed or, you know, this thing or that thing about Woodward`s book. It`s that this President is unfit for office and this presents us with a national crisis on our hands. Bob Woodward is correct. We are not taking this seriously enough. This could not be more serious.

MATTHEWS: I think the most striking thing in the book, of course, is the President`s inability to understand our role in the world, as every third or fourth grader came to understand it when I was growing up, that we had to protect the world from another world war. And the way to do that was with good alliance, with good intelligence and common sense.

Here`s what press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked if the President can go toe to toe with Bob Woodward over the issue of credibility.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the President think he could win a credibility battle with Bob Woodward? How could he win that credibility battle?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Once again, I would certainly rather take the actual on record account from people who are here who have been working in this building who have interacted with the President day in and day out like general Mattis, like general Kelly, like myself. Not disgruntled former employees that refuse to put them names on things when they come out to attack the President.


MATTHEWS: However, Woodward has stood by his reporting despite the recent statements from the White House officials who have disputed accounts from his book. Here he is.


WOODWARD: These people -- these are political statements to protect their jobs, totally understandable. But this is as carefully done as you can do an excavation of the reality of what goes on.

Look, my job here is not to psychoanalyze. It`s to describe what happened on specific dates and specific moments. And the people that are -- look, look, the people who are willing to talk are people of conscience, people of courage, people who said look, the world needs to know this. If you don`t think it`s risky for somebody to answer the questions and give the real details, it is -- and they are willing to take that risk because, as Gary Cohn said, got to protect the country.


MATTHEWS: Ron, I wonder about this President`s grasp of reality to this point. Does he know that the public will trust Bob Woodward a lot more than they will trust him? Woodward has a pretty good track record. He brought down Nixon on truth. He had no other weapon to bring Nixon down with. All we had was the truth. It was end up backed up by the tape recordings. That`s all he had was by truth. And this guy says I can outmaneuver this guy on truth telling. It`s not his weapon of choice. Trump isn`t reliable at truth. He`s good at B.S., he is good at salesmanship, but truth, that is Bob Woodward`s game.

REAGAN: Bob Woodward has a long record for meticulous reporting. Nobody - -none of us sitting here having this conversation, nobody in Washington is going to take Donald Trump`s word over Bob Woodward`s. But Donald Trump is not necessarily playing to that crowd and his base will assume that Bob Woodward is just part of the deep state and the elitist --


REAGAN: Yes, to Trump`s base? Yes, absolutely. Nobody else. Everybody else will believe Woodward.

MATTHEWS: Ron, I don`t even know. I have known Bob Woodward for what, 40 years. I don`t even know what party he`s in. I have never heard a liberal sentiment come out of the guy once, Annie. I don`t think he is (INAUDIBLE) in any way.


LINSKEY: He has really comes across as a very sober mind the counter point to Trump. I thought, you know, the recording that was released to "the Washington Post" of Donald Trump talking to Bob Woodward was just -- such a sober minded individual talking to him very calmly, which is -- to your point, the exact opposite of Trump`s demeanor, which is to kind of go nuts on someone.


Let`s go to this other question. You have Bob Woodward, and everybody got Omarosa`s book and then you got Bob Woodward has this article running in "The New York Times" a couple days ago. And by the way, the President is barely consumed by who wrote that, that anonymous op-ed, written by a member of his administration describing a resistance inside the executive branch.

Well, a new Quinnipiac poll is just out. And this asked voters were they believed the allegations made in the op-ed in "The New York Times" that Trump advisors worked behind him back that stop him from making bad decisions, well, here are the numbers. Mr. President, bad news for you, 55 percent say they believe the allegations are true, while only 28 percent say they believe the allegations are false.

Jonathan, 28 is even lower than our lowest estimate of the Trump crowd.

SWAN: I was going to say that. That`s worse than the approval rating.

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t have too many people backing him on the issue of truth.

SWAN: Well, that mean that very specific question, I mean, it is an objective fact that and we hear it, you know, every day from people in the administration at a pretty senior level that they are trying to in different ways protect the country from this President. It is not a uniform view. It`s not something that everyone shares inside the White House. And actually the President has a circle of loyalist around him, he does. But certainly there are and there have been people who believe that it is their role to protect morally America --

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s challenge this. I want to start with Annie and then I want to go to you, Jon and then Ron.

The people around him, talk about his loyalist. I personally think have brains. They must not believe that he is good at the truth, number one. They must not believe that he knows really what are role is in the world in terms of post-World War II reality in the global mission during in the nuclear age. He must not - they must know he is not good on that. And third, they must know that their job is to protect us from him. So I can see them being toadies publicly. But inside don`t they recognize the problem here?

LINSKEY: Well, certainly there is push back in the inner circle. I mean, there are --

MATTHEWS: Yes, publicly. What do they think?

LINSKEY: And privately. I think many of them --

MATTHEWS: Privately they say the guy is really a truth teller?


LINSKEY: No, no, no. But they will privately present their views which are - which, you know, they are not sycophants to his phase in all cases. But I think one of the keys here is people are not pushing back on the central themes of "The New York Times" op-ed or the Woodward book, even pieces of Omarosa`s book. I mean, this is why people in the country believe --

MATTHEWS: That`s important. In other words, the bones of these books and the bones of this article they except, the bone structure.

LINSKEY: Yes. They are picking a part the names that is rooted who the very first but not --.

MATTHEWS: That`s what people always do in politics, it is called flackery. You argue about little details and said the article is inaccurate. Meaning it missed a little thing here. Yes.

SWAN: I mean, the conversations I have at the last week have been, can you believe this POS, you know, name ex-colleagues said X? It is all score certainly in the anger et cetera, et cetera. It is not some big thematic conversation.

MATTHEWS: Ron, where is this going? I mean, this week looks like it might be a blowout. I mean, I do think he is going to attack everybody in the book who he thinks is a source. I think he`s still in this captain Kweeg (ph), search for who got the frozen strawberries. I really do. He is still doing that. Well, where does this take us?

REAGAN: Well, I don`t know. But, you know, it was during World War II, and I can`t remember who said after D-day that it`s not the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.

MATTHEWS: Churchill.

REAGAN: Yes. OK, Churchill said it. Ad I have got that feeling now that we are not, you know, this isn`t the final push here, but the beginning has ended with the Woodward book, the op-ed and everything else. Nobody now in their right mind thinks that we have got a competent President or a President that can remain in office for any real length of time without doing serious damage. And the question we all have to ask ourselves now is, what are we going to do about it?

And the person that wrote that op-ed, and I assume that there are others in the administration highly placed, I think it`s time for them to step up and publicly identify themselves. And if they have these concerns, which they obviously do, they were thinking of invoking the 25th amendment, well, say so. Come and testify before Congress and explain yourselves. This is too serious to be hiding behind an anonymous.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

Yes, Kennedy didn`t write profiles in courage about people that stayed anonymous.

Thank you so much, Annie Linskey.

Thank you Jonathan Swan.

Ron, it`s great to have you on. Ron Reagan.

Coming up, Republicans contend with the unthinkable. Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz, you know that Joe McCarthy look alike, could actually lose in Texas this November. As one of the Trump`s own aides put it, he`s not likeable.

Plus the Pence defense. Vice-President Mike Pence pushed back against the ports of the Trump presidency in Bob Woodard`s new book. And he said he would take a lie detector test to prove he wasn`t the unnamed official who penned the op-ed. Isn`t that a little desperate on the vice president to say I`ll take a lie detector test so you will take my word for it, Mr. President?

And Omarosa released more tapes of the President. We are going to play them for you tonight.

Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. You like one tonight. He won`t.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: NBC News is reporting tonight that the White House has accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un for a second summit sent in a letter to the President today. Anyway, this as U.S. intelligence agencies are looking at a steady stream of evidence that North Korea is stepping up efforts to conceal its nuclear activity. Intelligence officials tell NBC News that in the three months since the Trump-Kim summit, Kim has surrendered or dismantled no nuclear weapons. And North Korea is still on pace to produce up to nine new weapons this year. That`s right in line with intelligence predictions before that summit in which Kim promised full denuclearization.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With just 57 days until November`s midterm election we are focusing on the hardball ten. Those are the ten key Senate races that will determine the balance of power in the Senate. Democrats are trying to flip four of those seats currently held by Republicans. Among the four, the toughest reach we all agree is Texas.

Democratic Congressman Beto O`Rourke, who has stirred up Democrats with his inspiring speeches so far, large social media following, and impressive fund-raising, is looking to defeat incumbent Senator -- there he is -- Ted Cruz.

And it`s that surprisingly close battle that seems to have Republicans worried right now.

The New York Times reports that President Trump`s OMB director, Mick Mulvaney, recently told some party donors -- quote -- "There`s a very real possibility we will win a race for Senate in Florida and lose a race in Texas for Senate, OK? I don`t think it`s likely, but it`s a possibility. How likely is a candidate -- how likable is a candidate? That still counts."

That`s Mick Mulvaney, the OMB director, talking to party people.

And Politico reports that a collection of conservative groups are launching a rescue effort right now for Senator Cruz. The report notes that the other Republican senator from Texas, John Cornyn, said he had a simple directive to GOP contributors -- quote -- "We`re not bluffing. This is real. It`s a serious threat."

I`m joined now by Rick Tyler, Republican strategist and former spokesman for Ted Cruz`s presidential campaign, and Victoria DeFrancesco, professor of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.

Thank you all.

Let me go to Rick about this thing.

Ted Cruz was never likable. That was never his selling point. He`s an intellectual, proud of it, a hard conservative. How close is this going to get because of his lack of likability, according to Mick Mulvaney?

RICK TYLER, FORMER TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Look, he wasn`t in the Washington. He`s been trying to fix that, and now he`s not getting the benefit of that. You have had -- now you have Mitch McConnell and Cornyn, who people see as part of the establishment.

Remember, Ted Cruz ran in the Tea Party against the establishment. They`re now saying nice things about him. That`s -- that`s not good.

He`s also...

MATTHEWS: You mean that hurts him at home?

TYLER: I think so.

And I think Ted is likable enough in Texas. But, remember, he said some pretty dramatic things about President Trump. And Texas is still a Trump state. He went by nine points. But Texas demographics are changing.

So it really remains to be seen. The big unknown is who`s going to show up in November? And is his race emblematic of what`s going on across the country? If it is, the Republicans are in real trouble. Or is it that Beto O`Rourke has just run an incredible campaign and raised a lot of money and now it`s a real race?

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the Latino vote.

Victoria, thank you for joining us.

And just about this question, it`s so ironic. You have one guy named Rafael whose nickname is Ted. The other guy`s real name is Robert, but he calls himself Beto since he was a kid. One is going to a Spanish nickname, the other guy going away from a Spanish name.

And yet it`s not like it`s an open-and-shut case who the Hispanic or the Latino vote is going to go for it. What do you think it looks like now for the two of them? How are they going to share that part of the electorate?


So what we see is a Beto not assuming that Latino Democrats are going to turn out and vote for him. So, in the primary, he won the Latino vote by the skin of his teeth, by 51 percent. So I think this is a blessing in disguise for Beto O`Rourke, because he has been spending the last couple of weeks in the valley.

He is not letting any Latino vote go on touch. So I think that this is very good. He`s not getting the Latino vote or making inroads just because he`s a Democrat or just because he goes by Beto, but because he is doing the work.

And lay on top of that, Chris, that he is so likable. He`s charismatic. I would say that he is the male Ann Richards. Don`t compare him to...


DEFRANCESCO: Compare him to Ann Richards.

MATTHEWS: But Richards lost. But she lost.

DEFRANCESCO: Ann Richards.

MATTHEWS: Ann Richards lost.


MATTHEWS: She lost to W.

DEFRANCESCO: Ann Richards...

MATTHEWS: Ann Richards lost to W.

DEFRANCESCO: But, before she lost to W., she was our governor, and she had that Texas bravado that was what got her into office in the first place.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the fact that Beto -- I can`t pronounce the Spanish way, but Beto, do you think the fact he`s about a foot taller than Ted Cruz is going to help him? He`s the tallest guy I think that has ever ran for the Senate. Your thoughts?

DEFRANCESCO: History would say that he probably would. There is a height advantage, if you look just at the data on that.

But I would say that, in addition to the height, it`s the bigness of his personality. Ted Cruz is more of an intellectual. He is -- he`s likable enough, as Rick Tyler said. But Beto has the height, the boyish good looks.

And then you add on top of that that pounding charisma, he`s got a winning combination.

MATTHEWS: Well, Politico reports the -- quote -- "Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a former sports reporter, showed up in Washington on July 25 to deliver an urgent plea to the White House officials: Send President Donald Trump down there."

Well, late last month, Trump tweeted: "I will be doing a major rally for Senator Ted Cruz in October. I`m picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find."

Isn`t that going to be a love match, the two of them?


MATTHEWS: He accused Cruz`s father of helping to kill Kennedy. Are you kidding me?

TYLER: Well, that`s true.


MATTHEWS: Don`t say that, because people are going to think -- no, people are going to believe you.

TYLER: No, I`m kidding.

MATTHEWS: Well, he wasn`t.

TYLER: Look, the thing about -- Ted Cruz has a lot more to worry about.

It`s not it`s not just the Hispanic vote. What`s interesting about the Hispanic vote in Texas is one in three Hispanics in Texas are actually too young to vote. The future is Hispanic in Texas. And if the Republican Party is losing Hispanics, the way Donald Trump is driving them away, that`s the future of our party.

MATTHEWS: What is that about? Because W. used to get a very good Latino vote.

TYLER: He did, because he understood the demographics, that the Latino community is a growing community. The same with African-Americans in Texas. One in four is too young to vote.

So our party has to either appeal to Hispanics and Latinos and Asians, or we`re just going to lose. We will just be a minority party forever.

MATTHEWS: Everybody now knows the midterm elections are a challenge for turnout, Victoria. And the question I have to put to you is, how does Beto get out the Hispanic vote? Because it`s down about -- the last presidential election, it was 24 percent, about a quarter of the vote in Texas.

That`s actually a big powerful a bloc of votes. But it has to be a larger percentage of a bloc of votes for Beto to win, apparently.

Your thoughts?

DEFRANCESCO: I think it`s a combination of turning out the Hispanic vote.

And we know that Hispanics are the least likely to turn out. So that`s one challenge. And young people are the least likely to vote. So there`s a double whammy. And that`s why we see Beto making so much use of social media and just retail politics.

But I think the other part of this is persuading independents, Chamber of Commerce Republicans to just not cast a vote for Ted Cruz, maybe not vote for Beto, but just don`t pull the lever for Ted Cruz. You can vote for any other Republican you want. Just don`t vote for him.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think I know where you stand.

Thank you, Victoria DeFrancesco, for teaching me how to pronounce the name of the Democratic -- Beto.



Thank you so much, Rick Tyler. Thank you, Victoria.

Up next: Vice President Pence playing defense, but Sunday -- that`s yesterday -- professing his unwavering loyalty. It`s a religious loyalty to President Trump in the wake of that blistering, quiet resistance op-ed, that naughty article in The New York Times that he didn`t like.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Vice President Mike Pence is again playing the role of President Trump`s chief defender and translator, even, trying to make sense of what often seems nonsensical.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": The president is saying, play politics, protect members of Congress, even if they have committed acts of corruption before the election.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don`t think that`s what the president was saying at all, Chris.

I think the president was referring to the longstanding tradition in the Justice Department to avoid unnecessarily impacting election outcomes.

I think President Donald Trump is the most accomplished president of my lifetime, and I think already one of the most successful presidents in American history.


MATTHEWS: Well, yesterday amid the fallout from the unnamed opinion piece in The New York Times, Vice President Pence pledged fidelity to the president and vowed to prove he`s not the author of that article.

Let`s take a listen to that.


WALLACE: Do you think who Anonymous is?

PENCE: I don`t. I don`t know.

But I do know that they should resign and leave this administration.

WALLACE: Should all top officials take a lie-detector test? And would you agree to take one?

PENCE: I would agree to take it in a heartbeat and would submit to any review the administration wanted to do.


MATTHEWS: Well, back in May, columnist George F. Will wrote: "The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his..."


MATTHEWS: Oleaginous. Thanks for the help -- "with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could become America`s most repulsive public figure."

He added that the vice president has become "the authentic voice of today`s lickspittle Republican Party."

I can`t outdo you.

George F. Will, thank you for joining us.

I get the feeling, when I watch this guy, that he is very much in the model that Robert Caro placed Lyndon Johnson. His only way to the presidency was through the vice presidency, and he will do what it takes.

WILL: Linda Johnson didn`t realize, however, that the Kennedy people were going to treat him so badly. I think that was an unpleasant experience.

Mr. Trump got his man. And his man knew what he was signing up for. In the history of great loves, Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise, Pence and Trump, the difference is that it`s not reciprocated, because there`s no love coming back toward Mr. Pence, because Mr. Trump is monogamous. He loves only himself.

MATTHEWS: How can he win the presidency in any form, in any fashion, in any transition plan, if he`s sitting there like a supernumerary in "The Da Vinci Code," in this sort of pious way, looking at 45 degrees of the back of Trump`s neck all the time when you see pictures of him?

Is that supposed to impress -- not in that picture -- is that supposed to impress the Trumpites?

WILL: Being vice president is inherently difficult. It`s like eating corn on the cob. It`s hard to do it with dignity.


WILL: That said, Mondale did. Al Gore did. Cheney did. They all had good relations with their president.

But you don`t have that kind of relationship with -- with this president.

MATTHEWS: Someone once said that a man had the soul of a vice president.


WILL: Who said that about...


MATTHEWS: Well, it was terrible. It was Gene McCarthy talking me about Walter Mondale. But that was a Minnesota intramural thought.

Anyway, the vice president has frequently played the role of the president`s biggest cheerleader, don`t you think? Let`s watch.


PENCE: Thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare.

Thank you for your boundless faith in the American people.

President Trump has been making history since the first day of this administration.

I know I speak on behalf of the entire Cabinet and of millions of Americans when I say, congratulations and thank you. You have restored American credibility on the world stage. You signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any president in American history.

You have spurred an optimism in this country that is setting records. I`m deeply humbled as your vice president to be able to be here.

It`s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to President Trump. He`s a man of his word. He`s a man of action.



MATTHEWS: I keep -- I think of the culture of these two gentlemen.

One is totally secular in his life. His lifestyle is not pious and religious in any form. The other one seems very pious, very evangelical, I would think moral by his terms.

What do they got in common, these two guys?

WILL: Nothing.


WILL: Nothing whatever.

But if you believe, as Mr. Pence might, and some people say he does believe, that, A, he is in constant communication with God, and that God wants him to be president, therefore, anything Mr. Pence does that advances his presidential prospects pleases God, if you have that line of reasoning, then you can see why nothing he does is really degrading. It`s God`s will.

MATTHEWS: Well, his career has been -- has been lickety-split. He went from U.S. Congress to governor of Indiana to vice president of the United States. It`s almost Nixonian in its speed.

Maybe he has something we don`t know. Maybe he knows something we don`t know, George. I`m kidding. But he must have reason to believe that he`s been selected here.

WILL: Well, he might have known that getting on the ticket with Mr. Trump was a way of avoiding a race in Indiana last year, in 2016, that he might have lost.

MATTHEWS: I know that.

Well, where are we going with this? What do you think this vice president is going to do? Is he going to stick around?

Obviously, he will for as many terms as he can get, right?

WILL: Of course.

MATTHEWS: Well, there we are.

George F. Will, thank you for this absolutely abysmal outlook on the future of Mike Pence.


MATTHEWS: Up next -- I consider him a character out of "Da Vinci Code," the one they know, the flailing on the back kind of guy.

Anyway, up next time: Omarosa has released two more secret recordings from her time inside Trump`s White House.

Ahead, we`re going to find out what made Trump say this about the Mueller investigation:


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, the whole Russia thing, I think, seems to have turned around.

What do you think, Sarah?




MATTHEWS: You`re watching HARDBALL.

Who -- Sarah agrees.



SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: I don`t have any desire to beat the president up, but it`s pretty clear that this White House is a reality show, soap opera presidency. I mean, the drama is -- the drama of Omarosa and the drama of Cohen and the drama of Manafort and the drama of Woodward quotes, the drama of the op-eds. What you`d like is the president not worry so much about the short term of staffing, but long term of vision casting for America, pull us together as a people, help us deliberate about where we should go and then build a team of great, big cause, low ego people around you.


MATTHEWS: Big cause, low ego. That was a switch.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse listening all the drama the White House is dealing with right now. Well, the president tweeted this morning however that the White House is a smooth-running machine.

Let`s bring in tonight`s HARDBALL round table to round out that one. Phil Rucker, White House bureau chief for "The Washington Post", Vivian Salama is a White House reporter for the "Wall Street Journal", and Eugene Robinson, of course, is columnist with "The Washington Post".

I want to go to Phil with the smooth running machine. As you operate inside, how smooth is it running?

PHIL RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Not very smoothly, Chris. That is according to any reporters covering it. Just look at the president`s Twitter feed and sort of the statements that are coming out of the White House publicly. And it doesn`t look very smooth. It`s less smooth internally.

MATTHEWS: Why does he say stuff like that when it`s so obviously not true? That he`s running around like Captain Queeg trying to figure out who did what to him, who wrote the article, it`s manic. It`s not smooth running obviously.

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: This is obviously -- the president is trying to deflect, the White House is trying to deflect. We saw it last week when the op-ed came out in "The New York Times". Minutes later, the president was out in the East Room and he was reading off economic statistics trying to show everything was on track and his presidency was ultimately bringing results to the American people.

But behind closed doors, we`re obviously seeing the White House struggle, with one scandal after the next. And it`s just been overwhelming to a lot of them where it`s just every day, it`s something new. Last week, between the Woodward book, after that, the op-ed, it was one thing after another.

MATTHEWS: Gene, the new Quinnipiac poll has come back. It`s a fast poll. They went out on the field and coming back with a report that a majority, a strong majority of the people believe the staff is protecting us from Trump.

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I believe it, too actually. And it`s not really a surprise. The president, in terms of his credibility, with most Americans, most Americans know he says stuff that isn`t true all the time.

It just simply isn`t true and you can look it up. You can check. You can Google it. It`s just not true.

So, I don`t know the wisdom of getting into the sort of credit battle especially with somebody like Bob Woodward.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s chosen that battle. Anyway, meanwhile, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman released two new tapes of President Trump today from the White House communications meeting. It was back in October of 2017. And one of the tapes released exclusively here at MSNBC, Trump swifts from talking about the economy to military action in Niger over in Africa


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Niger, so what happens is we`re decimated -- you know, it`s a rough business. They`re rough, too, they want to kill us. We`ve let the military do what they have to do. And whether you call it rules of engagement or anyway you want to say it, we let them do what they want to do.

And in the Middle East there`s very few left. We really -- we`ve done a very good job. We`ve done more in seven months, because really it`s seven months we`ve started. We`ve done more in seven months than they`ve done in eight years, OK?


MATTHEWS: On a separate tape from that meeting, same meeting, however, President Trump`s obsession with Hillary Clinton was on full display. Let`s listen to that part about Hillary.


TRUMP: I think Hillary is getting killed now with Russia. The real Russia story is Hillary and collusion. Somebody told me, Hope, you told me, it was $9 million they spent on the phony report.

SARAH SANDERS: Close to six.

HOPE HICKS: Yes, someone just said, she`s far for the country than we thought if she didn`t know her own campaign was spending $9 million.

TRUMP: Did you see? Nobody knows who spent it.


MATTHEWS: Gene, I think it was Woody Allen who once said, what did reality ever do for me? What world is he in here?

ROBINSON: Right, exactly.

MATTHEWS: What world is he in here?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, but it`s interesting. One thing consistent about Donald Trump is that he believes he can create his own weather. He can create his own reality.

And he`s had some success doing it, right? I mean, he says the stuff over and over and over again. It`s like he`s trying out his lines --


ROBINSON: Right, on the inside. His sort of focus grouping what he`s going to sell to the base and he repeats it and he repeats it, and he repeats it, and, you know, what, 28, 30, 35 percent believe him.

MATTHEWS: It`s like Popeye. You know, over and over again, that character, waw-waw-waw-waw.

Vivian, why is he saying stuff that his own staff know isn`t true? The country is not obsessed about Hillary and the Russians. Nobody even makes the connection.

SALAMA: Whether or not his staff believes it, I remember reporting last year another meeting about immigration where the president was obsessively trying to interrogate his staff over why we were allowing immigrants come in from Afghanistan and from Haiti and other countries where they were just standard admitees in the country. It wasn`t anything illegal.

But the president was so angry at his staff because he felt like this was going to make him look bad to his core, his base. And so, this was something he pressed very hard against. And so, I think, you know, the president, obviously, when he believes something, he pushes it.

MATTHEWS: Well, catch this, former President Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail. You saw this. He`s taking swipes at President Trump, of course. Here`s what he said about the economy on Friday.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: When you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let`s just remember when this recovery started.


I`m glad it`s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that`s been going on, when the job numbers come out, monthly job numbers, suddenly, Republicans are saying it`s a miracle. I have to kind of remind them, actually those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015.


MATTHEWS: Well, here`s how President Trump responded to that.


TRUMP: If the Democrats got in with their agenda in November of almost two years ago, instead of having 4.2 up, I believe honestly, you`d have 4.2 down. You`d be negative. You`d be in negative numbers.


MATTHEWS: What make of that, Phil Rucker?

RUCKER: Well, a couple of things. As Gene said, he creates his own weather. So, he talked that right there with his own economic analysis. But it`s undeniable the economy was recovering under President Obama.

MATTHEWS: Why was there no cheering from the Democrats? Is that just a Democrat problem, they don`t like to cheer about the economy? Or what? Because Trump knows how to cheer.

RUCKER: He does know how to cheer. And to his credit, it has improved. It`s a strong economy right now. It was strong too under President Obama.

And the problem with Trump is he`s making these arguments like the last couple days on Twitter. He doesn`t have full command of the facts.


RUCKER: He`s not precise in the facts, and the numbers and data. And today, his economic advisor had to correct him at the White House press briefing, which is a problem --

MATTHEWS: This bragging, I`ll telling you, it`s American to brag and he knows how to do it.


MATTHEWS: The Democrats -- I`ve had this problem with our Democratic Party so long. Al Gore made this mistake. They had a pretty good economy under Clinton.


MATTHEWS: He didn`t brag. You know, because they`re always afraid because they do have a conscience, that there are some people that aren`t making it. If they brag about how the economy is doing, they`re going to look bad to those people, Gene. Republicans don`t have that problem.

ROBINSON: Yes. I mean, if you want to take into account people who are still struggling, people who have been left out of the economic expansion, you`re more reserved in the praise of the economy, whereas Republicans in general, certainly Donald Trump, had no such compunctions, and they`ll just put it out there.

MATTHEWS: It`s awful truth.

ROBINSON: The context is, though, yes, the recovery clearly started under Obama. Most of the recovery was under Obama. Trump`s stimulus did boost it. It actually had an effect, and whatever the truth is, the incumbent president is going to get the credit or the blame for the economy. Just the way it is.

MATTHEWS: How come nobody remembers it was the Republicans that put us in the dog house to begin with? They put us downward, and Barack Obama had to save us from. How come they walk away from that? Oh, we like W., he`s got a great personality. Yes, but look what he gave us in terms of an economy.

SALAMA: Well, honestly, Chris, to Phil and to Eugene`s point, right now, we are in an election cycle, and obviously, President Trump is going to try to boast his own successes to help Republican candidates moving forward. But it`s up to voters to really take these facts and try to determine for themselves what is real, the fact versus the fiction. And so, unfortunately, the economy is doing well right now, President Trump is not solely responsible for that increase.

And so, this has been something where I keep on saying, you know, can`t we just agree to get along on this? That both parties --


MATTHEWS: Going back to my point, Democrats don`t know how to brag. George McGovern was a war hero, you never knew about it in the whole campaign for president against Nixon. Nixon was the supply officer. I`m not knocking that. But George was flying those planes over Europe and getting shot at, and he never mentioned it in the whole campaign.

The roundtable is sticking with us, and up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got a couple big interviews coming up this week on HARDBALL. Tomorrow, I`ll be joined by John Kerry. What does the former secretary of state make of Bob Woodward`s new reporting that Donald Trump is detached from reality when it comes to national security?

Then, on Wednesday, a big day, I`m going to sit down with both the Republican governor of Ohio John Kasich who may run for president next time and the Democratic senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown, who also may run. Don`t miss it. We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL round table.

Phil, tell me something I don`t know.

RUCKER: So, Bob Woodward`s book has raised a lot of questions about the president`s fitness for office and this week will be a big test of competency. Can he manage the crisis? And that will be the hurricane, Hurricane Florence headed straight toward the Carolinas. A lot of pressure on the president to do better, manage it better than he did in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.



SALAMA: You had a great segment about the Senate race earlier. I`m going to be talking about the House. Sixty-six GOP held seats are on the cusp of a Republican or Democratic win or a toss-up according to "The Cook Political Report".

My colleague Rita Epstein has a great story in the "Wall Street Journal" today. Nine of Pennsylvania`s 18 House sheets could change this year. So, you`ve got to keep an eye on Pennsylvania --

MATTHEWS: So based on your numbers, all you have to do is flip coin, and all those flip a coin races are the Democrats get the House.


SALAMA: And then what?

ROBINSON: Well, and then what?


ROBINSON: Cory Book, according to "The Guardian", has four staffers out in Iowa now helping local candidates. Why Iowa? Gee, Chris, you know --


ROBINSON: -- do you have any idea Iowa, why he would be speaking to the Democratic Party in Iowa?

MATTHEWS: I think Cory is really running.

Anyway, thank you, Phil Rucker. Thank you, Vivian Salama and Eugene Robinson.

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


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Monday, September 10th, 2018.

Bob Woodward who made his bones bringing down one president has now brought damning evidence against another. His book makes three hard cases against Donald Trump.

First, he cannot handle the truth. He cannot speak factually and when forced to describe his own actions, his lawyer realized he lies.

Second, Trump lacks a basic understanding of the real world. He doesn`t recognize the role this country has played in the nuclear age, which is to prevent another world war. That all its alliances and intelligence gathering and other assets is to do just that.

Third, the people around Trump see their role as protecting the country and the world from the second fact about the president -- his detachment from reality.

Bob Woodward`s book is going to be the best seller for many weeks. The good news is it gives the country, and maybe just enough information to save us from the worst.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



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