Supreme court nomination in question. TRANSCRIPT: 9/18/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Mike Murphy, Pramila Jayapal, Michael Moore, Glenn Kirschner, Bob Woodward

Show: HARDBALL Date: September 18, 2018 Guest: Mike Murphy, Pramila Jayapal, Michael Moore, Glenn Kirschner, Bob Woodward

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s our show. Programming note, former secretary of state John Kerry will be on THE BEAT tomorrow.

As for right now, "HARDBALL" is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Can we handle the truth? Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

There`s breaking news tonight in the fight over the Supreme Court. The longtime friend of Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of being in the room during an alleged sexual assault some 30 years ago told the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter he had quote "no memory of the incident." However, Mark Judge, the man, also said he won`t agree to testify under oath. Interesting.

The committee has scheduled a hearing next Monday over the allegation against Kavanaugh. The woman who has publicly accused him, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will get a chance to share her story if she accepts the invitation. At this hour the committee has not received a d a response from her.

"The New York Times" is reporting that according to a person close to Dr. Ford quote "she has been inundated with vulgar email and social media messages and has moved out of her house. Arranging for private security for herself and her family and is effectively right now in hiding."

Well, over the weekend, Dr. Ford told the "Washington Post" that judge Kavanaugh who was stumbling drunk attacked her at a party when they were both teenagers. Kavanaugh who spent the past two days hunkered down at the White House and denies the accusation has agreed to testify this Monday.

President Trump who was uncharacteristically tempered on this matter continued, however, to stand by his man. He painted Kavanaugh as the victim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m totally supportive, yes. I`m very supportive. He is a -- I would say few people that I have ever seen that I have ever known, and I know people of great success, have been so outstanding as judge Kavanaugh. I feel so badly for him that he is going through this, to be honest with you. I feel so badly for him. This is not a man that deserves this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the accusation has left Republicans defending the President`s nominee ahead of a midterm election that could see, as we all know, record turnout by women voters. According to "Politico," Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is orchestrating a strategy to satisfy Kavanaugh`s defenders, and also appease Republicans uncomfortable with forging ahead until the nominee`s accuser gets a full public hearing. However, McConnell made it clear he`s 100 percent behind Kavanaugh.

Well, some Republicans have seized on Dr. Ford`s silence in the last day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: If she`s not planning on attending then I don`t know what the point of going forward would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Other Republicans have vocally sided with Kavanaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Alleged incidents, completely at variance with his entire life history.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Is there really enough evidence here given the nature of the allegation, how old it is, and the uncertain nature of it, to deny this man who has lived an incredible life a promotion to the Supreme Court? And I`m going to look at everything in judge Kavanaugh`s life, not just this one accusation.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Do you think this woman, whoever she is, is mixed up? And, but I can`t speak for her. All I can say is, no, I don`t. I know the judge very, very well. I know how honest he is. I know how straightforward he is. I know how he stands up for what he believes in, what`s right. And, frankly, if you were going to believe anybody, you`d believe him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You believe it is 2018?

For more I`m joined by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington State. Also Robert Costa, national political reporter for the "Washington Post." Heidi Pryzbyla, national political correspondent for NBC News. And Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist of some renown. Thank you.

Congresswoman, I just heard Orrin Hatch. I thought it was 1991, and we are doing Anita Hill here. This woman, whoever she is, is mixed up. Primafacia (ph), he is saying don`t trust the woman. I`m sorry. I know he is about to retire. He maybe should have left a while ago. What do you make of the presumption this woman is mixed up, we don`t know who she is, if she has a name, and believing Kavanaugh.

REP. JAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: These people are living in the dark ages. I think Brett Kavanaugh and some of these Republicans who are defending him have three things going against them, Chris. The first one is her credibility. The second one is his credibility. And the third one is the Me Too movement.

Her credibility, I mean, this is not a woman who was looking to come forward. It`s clear she`s been struggling with this. This is not a new issue, from the notes from her therapist going back to 2012. She has been struggling as women who have been sexually assaulted often do. And this has been very difficult. It`s clear to me from the accounts that she came forward out of some sense of duty to the country. Initially hoping to be anonymous, and then realizing she had to stand up for herself.

But given what she is experiencing, you see why people don`t want to come forward. His credibility. He has at best misled the Judiciary Committee on a number of issues, at worst, purr perjured himself. But the reality is --.

MATTHEWS: Give me an example because I`m not sure that -- when has perjured himself?

JAYAPAL: Well, I said at best misled. And at worst, perjured.

MATTHEWS: When has he misled?

JAYAPAL: I`ll give you one specific example around the judge`s nominations. When he said back in I think it was 2006 when he was testifying before the Judiciary Committee, that he had had no contact and no involvement with the nominations of a number of judges including judge Pryor. He was questioned later by Leahy, again, about this. He said, no. The emails that were finally released just a few days before this all started and this hearing showed very clearly that, in fact, he had had contact with that nomination and with a number of other nominations.

What`s being called Memo-gate is another example. And so whether or not you think he misled or perjured, the reality is he hasn`t been completely truthful. And the fact that Mark Judge does not want to come forward and testify, she didn`t have to put somebody else in the room at the time of this event. In fact, it would have been better for her in some instances to say it was just me and Brett Kavanaugh, but that`s not what she did. She said there was another person in the room. That person does not want to testify, and if you look at his writings and his books --

MATTHEWS: Right.

JAYAPAL: -- in some ways, he is actually making her case for her that this was a drunken stumble through the teenage years, and he doesn`t, you know, he`s gone back and forth saying I don`t remember it, it didn`t happen. So I don`t think judge Kavanaugh has a lot going for him with the credibility.

And remember, Chris, only 38 percent to 40 percent depending what polls you look at of Americans actually think that judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed. And finally, the third point, we are in the midst of the Me Too movement. And as you said, you would not know it by listening to some of those comments from Republican senators.

But the reality is, this country has seen over and over again that women have been assaulted, that men deny those assaults until they can`t. Seventy-two percent of Americans believe that sexual assault in this country is real and a serious problem. So I think that this is a big problem for the Republicans. And I think that, you know, women across the country are watching this very closely.

To have these senators and President Trump come out and essentially deem her guilty before she`s even, you know, had a chance to have a fair investigation when we are talking about the highest court of the land. I think that`s going to be unacceptable to Republican and democratic women across this country. And I think Republicans better be very, very careful and think about what century they`re living in.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Well said. Thank you.

Let me go to Robert Costa on the reporting here, because I think Trump has been a little bit -- the President`s been a little skittish about this. He hasn`t come out and put his arms around this guy completely. He always offers this caveat, I didn`t like it being held until the last minute, I don`t like this was being played but we have to be careful here. Somebody`s in his ear, in his instinct, his jumbled instincts, saying don`t embrace this guy right now. It`s risky.

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: You are exactly right. They kept judge Kavanaugh away from the President on Monday, kept him away from the President again on Tuesday. Even though judge Kavanaugh was at the White House huddling with Don McGahn, the White House counsel, going through what a source was telling us was murder boards or prep for this Monday testimony. They know questions are going to be tough.

MATTHEWS: Right. Who is with the accuser? Who is with Dr. Ford now? From what I have been hearing, she`s out there alone. She worried about herself physically. She`s worried about being attacked verbally over the phone at least, perhaps physically attacked. She`s worried about -- is there somebody out there looking out for the situation, the police or somebody, for her?

COSTA: Based on the reporting, she is dealing with some security people right now. Her lawyer is talking to the press. There`s a real question on Capitol Hill. I was at the capitol all day. Whether she shows up on Monday, maybe it has to be postponed for security reasons, for getting her there. This whole process has been very rushed for Dr. Ford. Going from Sunday in the "Washington Post." It`s only Tuesday.

MATTHEWS: Heidi, you think if she were to say I need a delay of five days, a week, I don`t see how the Republicans can deny her that. Her attorney comes out and said I have had some surgery this week, Debby Katz is her attorney. She says I have to get ready for this. I don`t know how they can deny her. They can`t say Monday or bust, can they?

HEIDI PRYZBYLA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, USA TODAY: Well, the first artificial deadline was Thursday and may prove that that art artificial but pushing it to Monday. And Democrats will be (INAUDIBLE) to remind everyone that the last nominee, Merrick Garland, was held up for 14 months. So there is no legitimate reason why you have to argue other than if you are doing this for political reasons to do it in time for the election.

But I think what`s happening here, up until a few minutes, Chris, I actually thought the best possible outcome for Republicans would be if she didn`t show because you saw them starting to seize on that. But now you see the reporting that she is going effectively into hiding. This is someone who has faced trauma from this. She has her therapist notes, Her lie detector test. I don`t see how a pause is going to take anything away from her credibility and think the Republicans will be forced into doing that by their own, by the women, Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins.

Look, I think they are in a really difficult situation here. Either she testifies and we don`t know by Monday what`s true and what`s not, and this is hanging, this cloud is hanging over him --

MATTHEWS: I`m with you.

PRYZBYLA: -- or she doesn`t testify and the cloud is still hanging over him.

MATTHEWS: Well, unable to go after Dr. Ford`s credibility directly, Republicans have gone after blaming Democrats, of course, for failing to get the information about Ford out earlier. Well, let`s take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It`s, frankly, a terrible thing that this information wasn`t given to us a long time ago. Months ago when they got it. They could have done that instead of waiting until everything was finished and all of a sudden spring it. But that`s what Democrats do. That`s what they do. It is obstruction, it is resist, it is whatever you have to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation of the Supreme Court is entirely of the Democrats` own making.

MCCONNELL: Senate Democrats chose to play politics and keep it secret throughout the entirety of judge Kavanaugh`s regular confirmation process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Mike Murphy, it`s as if they are throwing a penalty flag on the field. And of course, they can argue that, that this was held for some malicious reason until the last minute, but in the end, doesn`t the objective reality of this woman`s accusations stand in the history books? It`s there. How are the Republicans going to deal with it?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think, you know, there`s going to be the typical party squabbling. The Democrats would like to delay this thing to 2025. The Republicans would like to have done it yesterday.

She needs to be heard and heard respectfully. That means a hearing, that means under oath. It doesn`t have to be televised if she doesn`t want to. But what`s interesting about this one, to me, is you got judge Kavanaugh who is not saying, well, it was the high school, et cetera. He is flatly denying it. And she`s making the accusation. One of the two of them is not telling the truth. So we have to find out.

And I think there`s a lot of people in the political world who`ve already jumped to conclusions based on which side they are for. And that doesn`t really do much for picking a good Supreme Court justice. People I know and trust, not Donald Trump, who know judge Kavanaugh, think he has exemplary character. She appears to have people who believe in her. But the only way to do is swear them in. I wish Mark Judge would participate, too. I would like to hear what he has to say under oath.

MATTHEWS: The second guy, yes.

MURPHY: And the country will have to figure out who it believes, you know. If this was a court case, it wouldn`t work. There`s no collaborating evidence. But it`s not. It`s the court of public opinion. So guess what, you got to raise your hand, swear yourself in and see who the country believes.

MATTHEWS: Well, the discussion surrounding next week`s hearing is reminiscent to some of Clarence Thomas` 1991 confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court. Anita Hill who then accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment faced harsh rhetoric from the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. Let`s watch back at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: How would you allow this kind of reprehensible conduct to go on right in the headquarters without doing something about it?

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: As a practical matter, if Mr. Thomas was doing all these things that professor Hill accuses him of, he wouldn`t have been doing them just with her. It would be a weakness that would come out in conversations and activities with other people.

HATCH: This has come down to this. One woman`s allegations that are ten years old against your lifetime of service over that same ten-year period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, an opinion piece in "The New York Times" today, Anita Hill writes, there`s no way to redo 1991 but ways to do better." She criticized the committee`s decision to hold a hearing next Monday writing, a week`s preparation is not enough time for meaningful inquiry into very serious charges.

Mike, what do you think stands now between now and 50 days from now in this midterm election? It seems to me this could be the last big story to go into the people`s heads before they vote.

MURPHY: Yes, I think that`s true. And this is one of those hyper-partisan things where everybody is already lined up. What the truth is is unknown and, therefore, not too important. It ought to be more important.

I think there will be a hearing. I hope she offers to show up. She will be treated respectfully as much as it happens in these thunder dome hearings we now do to pick Supreme Court justices. And the country has to decide who it believes. And we will see if any minds are changed. If not, it will be dug in. It is already a tough year for Republicans for other reasons. And in some places if she`s a credible witness, is willing to appear and makes a credible argument that people believe, politically, it could become more of a problem but the Republicans still have the votes. We will see if the testimony is enough to actually change Republican votes in the Senate. That`s the open question. If not, Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, congresswoman.

JAYAPAL: Chris, I just wanted to say that I think it really does a disservice to the whole issue of sexual assault to sort of frame this in partisan terms. Obviously, there`s a very partisan backdrop to this. I`m not denying that. But I really think that these things that people have said about judge Kavanaugh, things like, you know, he`s a very good man, he`s had a long history of service. This denies the reality that we have seen, which is that sexual assault happens with good people sometimes. People who have done important things for the country. People that we like and respect. I have certainly been out on the front lines on this. Even with people that I love.

But the reality is sexual assault is real. This isn`t about partisanship. This needs to have an actual investigation. To put Dr. Ford in front of a committee and do some of the things that even, you know, I saw that Senator Collins was calling for her lawyer to be able to question him.

MATTHEWS: Right. I heard that.

JAYAPAL: His lawyer to be able to question her. I mean, that`s just outrageous. And I think that what this needs, and I have called for this, is an independent investigation. Whether that`s the FBI or whether that`s an investigation, I think this needs to have the credit, the respect, and the credibility of an independent investigation that looks at this and investigates all of these different pieces.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JAYAPAL: That is certainly not something that`s going to happen quickly. And I think it`s very unfair to say people have already decided what is, you know, what is right and wrong because I think that what people have decided is sexual assault - and I`ll speak for myself here -- sexual assault is real. That we have seen over and over again good men do very bad things.

MATTHEWS: OK.

JAYAPAL: Mostly men do very bad things. And I think that Dr. Ford is in a very difficult position right now, but she`s doing something she thinks is right for the country. And I think Republicans should just stop this process right now, have an independent investigation, and let it continue from there.

MATTHEWS: I think a lot of Republicans wanted that to happen back in the Clinton era. Didn`t get their way. Heidi?

PRYZBYLA: Even if there is a hearing on Monday, this is not going to end because as you see from the Democrats, we are not going to have any more answers on Monday than we do today, other than her word against his word. And this is going to continue to be a cloud that hangs over him. So let`s see how this play out in the weekend (ph).

MATTHEWS: You know what I think? I think the President who put up this nominee has got to defend him now and he has to decide, himself, this President, Donald Trump, has to decide if he believes what Dr. Ford is saying. If he believes what she is saying, he should withdraw this nomination, he would act on it himself and not pass it off to the senators or the public opinion after Monday. He has to decide whether she`s telling the truth or not. And if he thinks she is telling the truth, he should pull this nomination. As simple as that.

He`s got to be the leader, Trump, on this one. He`s got to decide if she`s right or not and act on that fact.

Anyway, and that is the fact you better face.

Anyway, Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much for coming on the program tonight.

Robert Costa as always.

Heidi Przybyla as always.

And Mike Murphy, welcome to the show, sir. It is good to have you on.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, a couple big guests coming up. First, author Bob Woodward is coming here in a moment. He has chronicled that Trump White House going into a nervous breakdown. So what does he make of the President`s response to this crisis?

Plus, filmmaker Michael Moore is coming here. He joins me to talk about his new movie "Fahrenheit 119" and what he expects from the upcoming midterm elections?

And Trump`s legal threat is growing but "The New York Times" reports his lawyers are operating partly in the dark. He is not telling his lawyers what he is done. That`s a problem.

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

This is HARDBALL where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are looking to get this done as quickly as possible. He is a truly outstanding person, as you know.

He`s got an unblemished record. This is a terrible thing that took place, and it`s, frankly, a terrible thing that this information wasn`t given to us a long time ago, months ago, when they got it. They could have done that, instead of waiting until everything was finished, and then all of a sudden spring it. But that`s what the Democrats do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to the HARDBALL -- to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump defending his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

His current restraint, by the way, in response to allegation of sexual assault is a far cry from one telling passage in Bob Woodward`s new book.

In the book, President Trump advised a friend who acknowledged some bad behavior toward women to be strong amid the allegations. According to Woodward, Trump told his friend who did the bad stuff: "You have got to deny, deny, deny, and push back on these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you`re dead. You have got to deny anything that`s said about you. Never admit."

Wow.

Woodward`s book offers evidence that Trump has been unwilling to accept facts.

When his former attorney John Dowd questioned him on the troubling evidence of James Comey`s memo and testimony that Trump asked him to go easy on Michael Flynn, Woodward writes: "Trump denied he said that or anything like it. `What did you say?` Dowd asked the president. And the president said, `Well, I didn`t say that.`"

Furthermore, the book shows that the president had no qualms about lying whenever it suited him. And when he was reminded of a conversation he had had with the Australian prime minister, Trump told former economic adviser Gary Cohn: "I`m going to deny it. I never had that conversation with him."

I`m joined right now by veteran journalist Bob Woodward, the author of the new book "Fear: Trump in the White House," which is known in Holland as "Angst," which is a much more frightening title.

Bob, thank you.

BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank you.

MATTHEWS: What you`re saying -- and I went through this again on the train last night coming back from Philly -- one of the points that grabbed me, not that Trump lies. A lot of politicians lie, maybe not as much as he does.

But that he -- when faced with absolute rock-solid fact, he just denies it. And in this case, he`s confronting a woman who has got a whole story to tell about what happened to her at the hands of this nominee for the Supreme Court, and yet he`s acting in this way a little bit nuanced, like he`s not willing to throw the book and close it and say, it never happened.

It`s more like, I like the guy, I want to hear from her, I feel sorry for him, but I want to hear from her.

It seems like he`s not playing the usual Trump game, as you describe it.

WOODWARD: Yes, I think that`s right, because I`m sure -- I haven`t done reporting on this, but when you spend a couple of years looking at President Trump, you realize there`s certain moves.

And when he gets in a corner, he will take the political temperature. And the political temperature on these sort of alleged sexual assaults is very one-sided. He knows that. And so it`s stacked against him unless there`s more evidence.

And, you know, you -- as a reporter, you look at this and you say, I want to see what the evidence is. And we may not get much evidence. It really may be the classic he said/she said.

MATTHEWS: But she took a lie-detector test.

WOODWARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And she told her husband about this six years ago. It wasn`t done for political reason, to me, based on the evidence.

WOODWARD: I think that`s quite true.

But the issue is, what`s Trump -- you know, he`s got his wet finger in the air. Oh my goodness, if this is bad, this is going to be bad for him, it`s going to be bad for the Republican Party coming up with the midterm elections.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he -- based upon your reporting, that he thinks long term? Is he thinking up until 2020, or is he thinking about getting through the night on this one?

WOODWARD: Well, sometimes, he will think ahead, but, most of the time, he`s not strategic. He just doesn`t plan.

And that`s, of course, the problem. I say, quite plainly, in putting all the evidence together, there`s a nervous breakdown in the Trump White House. Things are not connected. There is not managing.

As you know yourself, you talk to people there, and they get up in the morning: What are the tweets going to be? What is the agenda?

There`s no kind of -- you compare it with Ronald Reagan, who had three things he wanted to do in eight years, and that was it. And that was his focus.

MATTHEWS: In your book, I believe you said he doesn`t have a list.

WOODWARD: That`s right. There`s no to-do list.

MATTHEWS: In other words, he doesn`t have a reason to be president.

WOODWARD: You probably -- we all have one in our head.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WOODWARD: It`s best to kind of write it down and get the team, you know, you do this, you do that.

But there`s not a team here. And the examples in the book are very clear of people taking action.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

You`re sort of the opposite of Donald Trump, because you once told me about your tradecraft, which is, before you start a project like this, to find out what`s gettable, what can you reasonably expect to get if you go out reporting on a mission for a year or so?

And Trump doesn`t seem to have that search in his hand for facts.

WOODWARD: No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He has this sort of gut. I don`t like trade, right?

WOODWARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Or I don`t like alliances. I don`t like NAFTA. I don`t like NATO.

And then, no matter what anybody tells him in your book, he has a wall against it.

WOODWARD: And he`s obsessed with money.

And in these in NSC meetings, which you don`t often get a glimpse of...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WOODWARD: ... they will say, hey, look, all this money we`re spending on defense in South Korea or in NATO, and he will say, we`re being played for suckers.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WOODWARD: We are protecting them.

And the secretary of defense, Mattis, will say to him, no, no, we`re doing this for ourselves.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WOODWARD: If we had a chance to spend 10 times the money for this, we would do it.

And Trump goes back to this idea of -- of -- and that`s not the first week in office. That`s a year into office. He`s still...

MATTHEWS: OK.

What bugged me, besides so many things I learned in your book, is, he has no greater mission. He doesn`t seem to -- he sounds like Joe Kennedy, not Jack Kennedy, just money, transaction, no grander -- as you just said, no grander purpose for the United States of America in the world.

WOODWARD: Yes.

And let`s face it. Such a shame, because presidents can -- as we know, can do great things. They can say, this is the next stage of good for a majority of people in the country, not one party, not a base, not a bunch of interest groups, but the average -- you can figure that out.

There are certain things to do. And it doesn`t fit with this erratic agenda.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s up against you now. And I have never noticed you having any ideology, Bob. I have never thought of you as a classic liberal in any way or liberal in any way.

Are you?

WOODWARD: What did he call me? A Democratic operative.

MATTHEWS: Not exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I have known you a long time, and I have never sensed that about you, Bob. You`re the reporter.

Thank you, Bob Woodward.

The book`s called "Fear," or if you`re buying a book over in Holland, in Amsterdam, it would be called "Angst." Same deal.

Up next: The always outspoken Michael Moore joins us to talk about his newest documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9," and the central question facing Democrats: How do you beat Donald Trump come 2020?

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAHRENHEIT 11/9")

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: One thing was abundantly clear. These candidates were fighters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People deserve someone who is going to fight for the people and not the corporations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be able to encourage someone to run for office, man, it is truly the lack of political will from our Democrats, and their backbone is literally just missing. Right? And you put both of those components together, and then on top of that, you`re taking money from the same folks the Republicans are taking money from?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was a clip from filmmaker Michael Moore`s latest documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9."

The film examines the factors that led to the rise of the Trump presidency and impact it has had on the two years since the 2016 election, including what Moore calls the failure of Democrats to fight back.

I`m joined right now by Michael Moore.

Michael, thanks for coming on.

We`re going to promote the movie. It`s making a lot of noise, as you always do, and the right kind of noise.

Let me ask you, do you have any thoughts about this current mishegas going on right now with this court nominee?

MOORE: Well, yes.

I have thought for the last couple of months that any president who is under a criminal investigation possibly for treason should have the right to appoint no one to any office, especially such a high office as the Supreme Court. So, right there, that was wrong and still is wrong to begin with.

As far as what`s happening now with Justice Kavanaugh and the allegations, there should be a full investigation. They should not rush this. And the American people deserve the truth about who he is and what his character is.

And I was watching the news earlier this afternoon, and I heard somebody on this network say, back when they were teenagers. Well, I think now we know that he was 17, and she was at least a couple years younger.

MATTHEWS: Fifteen.

MOORE: And that makes -- she was 15, I believe.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MOORE: So he was either a junior or senior in high school, and she was a freshman or a sophomore.

So to just call them teenagers tries to soften what may be really going on here. So let`s call this what it is. Let`s have the investigation. And - - but Trump shouldn`t be appointing anybody at this point anyways until Mueller has completed his investigation.

MATTHEWS: You`re a pretty good prognosticator. You figured out that Trump was going to win in Michigan and win the country last time. You were about alone on that.

So, let`s talk about the elections of 50 days from now. Women -- my instinct is to say a lot -- from what I have been able to tell, certainly where I grew up, in Philadelphia and around the suburbs around Philly, I think the Democrats are going to clean up.

Women, who I think some of them had a problem with Hillary in personality terms, or men, that`s gone. Now they`re just going to vote philosophy. I think they`re going to sweep the House.

What`s your thinking?

MOORE: I don`t know. I mean, it could go either way.

I...

MATTHEWS: Really?

MOORE: There could definitely be a tsunami of women and young people and people of color at the polls on November 6. I think everybody knows this is the most important election.

People ask me, well, what do you think about 2020? Who should run in 2020? My answer is, I don`t even know what 2020 is. There`s only one election, the most important election, and that`s November 6.

So if people get out -- I think that there`s enough good candidates, really good candidates, Chris, this time that are running, like you showed in the clip there, fighters, people who have a backbone.

The things that where -- why a lot of Democrats maybe have stayed home and have become nonvoters, I think maybe they will come back this time because who is on your ballot in your local elections, in your state elections, in your congressional district are fighters.

And -- and I would encourage people to check it out, because we have got good progressive candidates running. And we cannot only create a sweep here. It could be a sweep for real change, not half-measures, like we`re often used to.

MATTHEWS: You know, when I was 28 years old, I had run for the House against the machine. I know all about taking on authority.

And I`m wondering, how do -- the real authority figure I`m afraid of right now is Trump. And you talk in your documentary about it being not Hitler, because that`s dangerous to talk like that, but there`s something in the air right now with Trump that was like the `30s in Germany.

Tell me about what you fear most from this president.

MOORE: What I fear, not maybe so much from the president, is what I fear about ourselves.

I think we already got Trump`s number. He`s an autocrat. He doesn`t like democracy very much. But you can say that about just about every CEO. They don`t run their businesses as democracies. So they`re not inclined to that.

And the idea of one person, one vote, there`s 325 million of us, and less than 1,000 of them. So that one person, one vote thing isn`t good either if you`re rich.

I think what`s important here, when you talk about the `30s and Germany, is that Germany then was a very educated, enlightened, cultured society, and it was one of the most liberal democracies in the world.

And the Nazis won an election, and then there was a terrorist incident, the Reichstag fire. And Hitler said, we have got to clamp down, we got to ban these parties. And he consolidated power during a time when people were afraid.

That`s what I`m worried about, that, whatever happens under Trump, whatever national emergency or real emergency may happen, that we not allow him to take away our democratic rights because he has to protect us.

That`s what we have to be very, very cautious of when that point happens. And so I point that out in the movie, that there are these parallels.

But, as far as fascism, there was a book I read a number of years ago called "Friendly Fascism." And the author said that the fascism of the 21st century would not come with concentration camps and swastikas. It will come with a TV show and a smiley face.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MOORE: And that is really how Trump and others like him are trying to commandeer the American public, through this kind of propaganda, and also by helping to dumb down the country.

Our schools aren`t what they used to be. Our libraries are closing. We have less and less of a diverse press. And, when you dumb down a country, you end up with a Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: How do you put together -- there`s a couple times in our history when the left has been able to lead the center -- lead the center-left and the middle to a progressive agenda, the first and second New Deals, of course, Lyndon Johnson`s Great Society, a little bit under Obama, when the left has been able to lead the center-left and the middle.

How do you put together than kind of progressive coalition to beat Trump? I know you don`t want to do it yet, but 2020.

MOORE: I think that -- I think actually we should be talking about just left. We are a liberal country. We are the majority. Can you --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`ve got 50 percent -- and can you get 270 electoral votes in the --

MOORE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- Electoral College coming 2020 on the left, hard left, only Left.

MOORE: If we have strong -- yes. No, I don`t call hard left. It`s like our parents used to go, he`s listening to that hard rock.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MOORE: You know, it`s rock and it is left.

The American people are very liberal. They take the liberal position on just about every single issue, whether it`s climate change, minimum wage, mass incarceration, equal pay for women -- you go down the whole list -- Americans take the liberal position.

So we are a liberal country. We got three million more votes in this last election than the other side. People should start acting like we`re the majority, because we are the majority. And I think that, Chris, try to look at it that -- I don`t think the old way of looking at it, in terms of being a moderate or being a centrist -- I think that`s hurt Democrats, because they haven`t taken a strong position.

I interviewed John Podesta for this film.

MATTHEWS: Okay. I disagree with you about one issue where you quoted me in a movie. I`ll disagree on the issue I was --

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That clip had, late term abortion in Pennsylvania where I grew up is a killer.

MOORE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Hillary went way too far on that. It`s one thing to be pro- choice, but you get into late term, which see, for whatever reason, down the line defend it, it was a big mistake with a lot of people I grew up with and I think it drove up, unfairly, totally unfairly the Trump vote. That`s what I think.

MOORE: So that`s your view.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s not economic issue. It`s cultural issue.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: That`s what your view of that, but here`s what I think. I think the America we live in now is -- it`s right now more than two-thirds of the electorate is either female, people of color or 18 to 35-year-olds or a combination of those three.

MATTHEWS: Right.

MOORE: That`s the America that`s voting now. It isn`t white guys of your age or mine.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MOORE: Not that you`re that much older. But I`m just saying that --

MATTHEWS: I don`t mind.

MOORE: I think --

MATTHEWS: I`m a fan of Michael Moore, so we`re going to come back with you next time. I`m out of time, Michael.

But last thought, quickly. I`m sorry.

MOORE: That this tsunami of women, of young people at the polls and on the ballot, this is what hopefully is going to save us. And everybody right now who`s watching me, just about -- unless you live in Montana or Texas, you live within a couple of hours` driving distance of a swing district.

Plan on spending at least one weekend in October getting out there, get out the vote. We`re the majority and it`s time to end this madness. We have to end it now. We may not make it to 2020 with the democracy that we want to have.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you, Michael Moore. Thank you and I hope everybody listens to that call to arms.

MOORE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, President Trump`s legal team is expanding in the face of two federal investigations, but "The New York Times" says those lawyers are struggling just to keep up the speed because they`re hampered in part by a client, Mr. President. They`re not sure if he`s 100 percent honest with them. We`re going to get to that.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With his former campaign chair cooperating with investigators against him, President Trump has even more reason to fear special counsel Robert Mueller. And now, "The New York Times" is reporting that the president`s legal team, such as it is, is at least partially in the dark about what might be coming next in the ongoing probe. That`s because Trump`s lawyers, quote, have only a limited sense of what many witnesses have told investigators.

Additionally, according to "The Times," quote, it is not clear if Mr. Trump has given his lawyers a full account of some key events in which he`s been involved as president or during his decades running the Trump Organization. That`s in part because Trump`s former lawyer, John Dowd, took Mr. Trump at his word that he had done nothing wrong and never conducted a full internal investigation to determine the president`s true legal exposure. Wow.

I`m joined right now by the roundtable. Betsy Woodruff, political reporter with "The Daily Beast", Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor who`s worked with Robert Mueller, and Paul Butler is a former U.S. attorney.

Paul, I want to start with you. What good is a client that won`t talk to his attorneys?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, no defense attorney expects the client to be completely forthcoming. But what you do hope is they`ll tell you what evidence they think the government has. And that they`ll follow your advice.

President Trump is a lousy client for a lawyer because he doesn`t heed his own lawyers` advice and in this case, the initial lawyers that the president had, I don`t want to use the word "malpractice", but there`s some things that they absolutely should have done. For example, they made this decision to cooperate with Mueller. They let White House staffers talk and they did not debrief them.

So, a lot of -- they didn`t know what they were saying. That`s, again, outrageous.

MATTHEWS: Glenn, when you read Bob Woodward, who was just sitting here a minute ago, you had the sense a lot of them are telling Bob Woodward stuff they never told the president.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. Clients lie to their lawyers. They just do. And, you know, we saw a perfect example of that when Jay Sekulow many months ago came out and said the president took no part in drafting the narrative concerning what happened at the Trump Tower meeting. Where did Jay Sekulow get that? From his client. From the president.

Giuliani had to walk it back when it was exposed as a lie, which proves the point that, you know, I don`t think the president has it in his DNA to be honest with his lawyers, particularly about his own wrongdoing.

MATTHEWS: So, this means when the Robert Mueller report comes out probably after the election this year, maybe Christmastime, I don`t know, under the tree, it`s going to come out, Trump`s lawyers starting with Rudy Giuliani on down will be surprised.

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, DAILY BEAST: There`s a very good chance. Part of the reason for that is this is all consistent with Trump`s history of dealing with lawyers. If you talk to people who worked with him over the decades, he`s been involved in complex legal and financial situations in New York, a common thread is people complaining that he wasn`t forthright or that he didn`t pay his bills.

Part of the reason he started off with such an unorthodox legal team is that a lot of mainstream big legal firms didn`t want to have anything to do with him because they didn`t think he would pay them. So, his legal problems, some of them are self-inflicted.

BUTLER: I can actually help him out. I made a little list, three things the lawyers need to be prepared for. Trump`s defense attorneys. So, the first is get ready for incriminating statement from Paul Manafort. Mueller would not have made that deal unless Manafort had the goods on someone higher up in the food chain. That`s Trump`s family or President Trump.

Get ready for a damaging report from Mueller on obstruction, which could lead to impeachment if the House changes. And the last thing, get ready for Mueller to use Trump`s family members, a threat of prosecution of them as leverage against Trump.

MATTHEWS: To get what?

BUTLER: To make some kind of deal, maybe if Trump agrees not to run for re-election.

MATTHEWS: That`s the way I see it. I`m not a lawyer. That`s the way I see it because he`s not going to let his family go to jail. He is the Romanovs after all. They are the royal family.

In an attempt to undermine that prosecution, Trump yesterday ordered the Justice Department and FBI to release classified materials for political purposes, helping to show that the investigation is biased against him. Democratic Senator Mark Warner said today that the move could backfire against the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The president has the right to declassify, but I can`t find any indication where a president would arbitrarily choose to declassify information in the midst of an investigation of his own campaign. And would again say, particularly for some of these individuals who may not have read the documents, be careful what you wish for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He`s trying to show bias. What else can he say, Glenn?

KIRSCHNER: Yes, I`ll tell you. Chris, when I see this, it makes me think back to the 1980s when I was an army prosecutor, I was a JAG. And it was drilled into us that not only must you obey a lawful order, you must disobey an unlawful order. This looks like an abuse of power, this declassification for political purposes, I`m going to declassify what makes me look good, I`m not going to declassify what makes me look bad.

It`s the kind of abuse of power that I think DOJ leadership, the FBI leadership needs to stand up and address.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Betsy Woodruff. More time next time, Betsy.

And, of course, Glenn, thank you, Glenn Kirschner and Paul Butler.

HARDBALL back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Tomorrow, one of the country`s best known presidential historians, Doris Kearns Goodwin joins me here to discuss the Trump era.

Be back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Tuesday, September 18th, 2018.

There are two verdicts available in the case of Brett Kavanaugh. The first is that he`s confirmed by this Senate, and sits on the Supreme Court for life, or for as long as he chooses, potentially taking him through almost half this century. The second verdict is that he falls short of the 50 votes need and the president sends up another nomination.

If Manafort gets confirmed, this president and Republican senators will have to carry the burden of what we now know about him. I wonder if they want to have a second member with the members of the Supreme Court with an accusation such as this lying against him like the ones against Clarence Thomas. I wonder if the best outcome right now would be for the president to simply withdraw Kavanaugh`s nomination now. He would be doing so after learning something important this weekend, admittedly late in the game, but nonetheless important.

President Trump has an unusually good foot to stand on between now and next Monday. But if he waits until Friday when Dr. Ford testifies, it will be reacting rather than acting, he will be moving with public opinion instead of acting on the facts.

The question of Brett Kavanaugh`s fitness for the country`s highest court does not begin with the country`s reaction to Dr. Ford story, or the Senate`s reaction. It began this weekend. Does the man who nominated Kavanaugh believe her? Does he believe her? That`s the question.

And if he does, he must remove his nomination.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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