Show: HARDBALL Date: September 26, 2018 Guest: Fatima Gross Graves, Neera Tanden, Matt Schlapp, Emma Coleman Jordan, Jill Wine-Banks, Kimberly Atkins
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You used the word privilege, and that is a question that`s going to circle around tomorrow. How are people treated? How should they be treated and what does America make of this hearing?
I want to give my special thanks to some very thoughtful and very patient panelists who have been with us through a special hour of coverage, no breaks.
We are out of time. HARDBALL is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: A fourth accuser tonight. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
There`s breaking news tonight. NBC news is reporting that the Senate Judiciary Committee is probing at least one new, previously unreported allegation of misconduct against judge Kavanaugh. A fourth woman whose identity is still unknown.
Quote "according to an anonymous complaint sent to Republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Kavanaugh physically assaulted a woman he socialized with in the Washington, D.C. area in 1998 while he was inebriated."
Meanwhile, tonight, President Trump has just, for the first time, said he will watch tomorrow`s testimony by accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and then decide whether to withdraw the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are giving the women a major chance to speak. Now, it`s possible I will hear that and I will say, hey, I`m changing my mind. That is possible. We want to give them a chance to speak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think all three should have a chance?
TRUMP: Well, whoever is given a chance. We have delayed it a long time. But they are going to have a pig shot at speaking and making their case. And you know what? I could be persuaded also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When he was asked about the mounting allegations made against Kavanaugh by three other women, the President also stopped short of calling Kavanaugh`s accusers liars. He wouldn`t do it. However, he did say he believes their allegations are falls at least in certain cases. He hedged there, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, there are at least three women accusing judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Are you saying all three of those women are liars? Is there anything that could be said tomorrow that would cause you to withdraw the nomination? Anything at all that --.
TRUMP: Yes. I won`t get into that game. I only tell you this. This is one of the highest quality people that I have ever met. And everybody that knows him says the same thing. And these are all false, to me, these are false accusations in certain cases and certain cases, even the media agrees with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Did you hear the hedging there? Not only is he going to watch the hearings tomorrow to decide whether to pull this nomination, but he is not even going to say that these are all false accusations. He suggested that some are for real.
Anyway, it`s a potential game changer tomorrow, of course, whatever happens. After hinting at new accusations against Kavanaugh for days, attorney Michael Avenatti today released a sworn declaration signed by a third accuser, Julie Swetnick. Among her allegations against Kavanaugh and his childhood friend Mark Judge. Swetnick laid out some very graphic details.
Quote "I also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be gang-raped in a side room or bedroom by a train of numerous boys. I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties, waiting for their turn with a girl inside the room. Well, these boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh."
That`s a direct quote in a sworn declaration. NBC News has not been able to verify Swetnick`s sworn declaration, which was released just this morning, just 24 hours before judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey Ford are expected and to be known to be testifying tomorrow.
Kavanaugh, who has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct and certainly of sexual crimes responded in a statement today saying, this is ridiculous and from the twilight zone. I don`t know who this is and this never happened.
In his written testimony prepared for tomorrow`s hearing, Kavanaugh says that quote "there has been a frenzy of to come up with something, anything, no matter how farfetched or odious that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last-minute smears, pure and simple."
That`s Kavanaugh talking.
Anyway, in his press conference tonight, President Trump blamed Democrats for the concerns about Kavanaugh`s past, calling it all a con job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, the FBI told us they have investigated judge Kavanaugh six times, five times, many times over the years. They know him very well. But here, there was nothing to investigate from at least one standpoint. They didn`t know the location. They didn`t know the time. They didn`t know the year. They didn`t know anything. They are actually con artists because they know how quality this man is and they have destroyed a man`s reputation and they want to destroy it even more. And I think people are going to see that in the midterms, what they have done to this family. What they have done to these children, these beautiful children of his. And what they have done to his wife. And they know it`s a big, fat con job. And they go into a room and I guarantee you, they laugh like hell at what they pulled off on you and on the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me now is Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the "Associated Press," Yamiche Alcindor White house correspondent for PBS News Hour, you saw her in the press conference, Mike Murphy is a Republican strategist and NBC analyst now. Fatima Gross Graves is the President of the national women`s law center.
We begin tonight, however, with the hottest news, Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt on that exclusive NBC reporting just in on the fourth Kavanaugh accuser.
Kasie, what`s the story?
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I want to underscore what`s different about this than some of the previous allegations, but I also kind of want to give the top line, as well.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, we have learned, is probing an additional allegation, this one anonymous, unlike the other three, and this one of physical assault. This came in the form of a letter sent to Senator Cory Gardner`s office. And in it, a mother writes about an incident that she says involves her daughter. And everyone in this situation wanted to remain anonymous.
But in the letter, it outlines how Brett Kavanaugh, this was in 1998, so considerably later than some of these other allegations that we have been talking about. They were at a bar, he, this woman, and a few other witnesses, a few other friends, when they walked out of the Washington, D.C. bar, it`s alleged that she he slammed one of the women up against the wall in what was described as a sexual manner. And this letter writer says that it was a traumatic event for all involved, which is why they do not want to come forward into the public eye at this point.
We do know that the committee asked judge Kavanaugh about this allegation in the course of one of their calls this week, on Tuesday. The judge denied the allegation. My Democratic sources say there were Democrats on the call, but they didn`t think the questioning went far or deep enough. They thought it was cursory. But this is information that has been circulating among Republicans on Capitol Hill and is becoming part of this story.
So, Chris, to take a little bit of a step back from this one new incident, I think it does underscore the general mood among Republicans here on Capitol Hill. While you have this public facing full-speed-ahead push towards the hearings tomorrow, a committee vote on Friday, a full confirmation vote, potentially, as soon as Monday or Tuesday, I think you are starting to hear a few more whispers behind the scenes that there are some Republicans who think, you know what, maybe this is actually moving too fast. Maybe there is more information out there that could potentially be problematic for all of us, if it comes out after we have gone through these processes.
And I think that if we start to discover that these allegations that are coming out are potentially credible, if we do learn more information that backs them up, you could see some Republicans start to voice doubts about this nomination. And that`s beyond the group that we keep talking about. Senators Collins, Murkowski, and Jeff Flake, and potentially Bob Corker, that that group could potentially expand. That`s going to be especially true if there is a sense at some point in some way tomorrow that judge Kavanaugh isn`t telling the truth, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. Amazing story there, Kasie, a hot breaking story.
Let me go to Jonathan Lemire.
Jon, it seems to me, maybe I`m listening too closely to this, with but the news tonight I kept hearing was Trump was hedging. He on three or four occasions thanks to Hallie Jackson of NBC was forced to say, you know, I`m going to watch the testimony tomorrow by Dr. Ford. And I may hear something that persuades me or convinces me. He, number of times, suggested he is open to jumping off this hill and not fighting for it anymore.
Your thoughts about that. And this new information says that he is still bleeding. That the judge Kavanaugh, his nomination is bleeding again.
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right. And the President spoke, of course, before this latest allegation was made public, thanks to the good reporting at NBC.
You are right, this was the first time even the slightest bit of hedging, the slightest bit of doubt was conveyed by President Trump, who both publicly and privately had been completely standing behind Kavanaugh to this point. Though they don`t have much of a personal connection, he said that today in the press conference, this was not someone he really knew before this process started, he has begun to identify him, particularly on these allegations. He has been saying, time and again, he does not think these allegations are factual. And he compares them to the same sort of claims of sexual misconduct of mistreatment of women that were levied against him during the campaign, charges he, of course, has completely denied.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but that`s illogical, because he paid off women who he knew had a case against him.
LEMIRE: I`m not saying it`s --
MATTHEWS: So it not like this tells him -- come on, this doesn`t inform that the women aren`t telling the truth. His experience should inform him that they are, because he paid them to shut up!
LEMIRE: Well, that is what his -- but his public stance has never been that, of course. He does not acknowledge that he does that.
MATTHEWS: Of course.
LEMIRE: And that`s where he was again today, hitting those notes. But it was interesting that he suggested that he would be willing to listen and watch this testimony. In fact, he was also supposed to tomorrow have a meeting with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to discuss his future, perhaps to decide his fate, and therefore maybe the fate of the Russia probe. And he said tonight in this press conference he is going to delay that. Because he doesn`t want it to get in the way. He is going to want to watch this hearing and he suggested the nation will too.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much.
Let me go to Yamiche. I was watching one of the best dances I have seen on stage since Michael Jackson`s moonwalk. This guy was all over the place. I thought it was a hell of a performance actually given the fact that he is in trouble. And he is in more trouble in the last hour than he was last hour.
Yamiche, you went head to head with him, by the way, you don`t work with "The New York Times" anymore, their loss. You are with public television. But what you make -- I think the candidacy, the nomination of judge Kavanaugh is bleeding right now profusely. This latest allegation is more recent. It`s a charge of behavior, perhaps, criminal behavior. I guess you can say and you shove someone against a wall in a sexual way and as everybody was watching a gasp. It is a brutal move by a guy who has been consistently portrayed as a guy who as a bad drunk. That`s the story we keep getting. A doctor (INAUDIBLE) or Mr. High thing. A pleasant guy in the office, put him out at the bar for several hours, he`s Mr. Hyde. He gets very aggressive, belligerent, people know people like this. And this is fitting this image tonight with this latest story.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWS HOUR: Well, one of the most important things that came out of this hour and 20-minute press conference was President Trump saying, I reserve the right to withdraw my nomination of Brett Kavanaugh if what I see tomorrow moves me.
That means that President Trump gave himself an out. And we all know that President Trump goes with his gut. He can be impulsive, he can completely ignore his advisers. So even if the people in the White House are saying, we just need to stick with guy for as long as we can, President Trump could look at him tomorrow and say, you know what, I think he is a loser and I don`t want to be with him anymore. And I don`t want my legacy to be tied to this man.
On top of that, President Trump is saying feels a kinship to Brett Kavanaugh because the President himself has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.
MATTHEWS: Sure, he does.
ALCINDOR: So he is watching this with rose-colored glasses in some way, because he is saying, well, you know what, everybody in this country is guilty until proven innocent. And I don`t want to be someone that is hard on Brett Kavanaugh. But I think Brett Kavanaugh, if he was listening closely, he heard the President say, when I see you tomorrow, if you don`t look like someone I want to nominate, I will stop nominating you.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Mike Murphy, a political hand who knows what he`s talking about.
Mike, I just heard the door open, the trap door. He is looking for an escape route tonight, the President. I don`t know what you heard.
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, that was my take, too. I think in my ways, it was an amazingly incoherent press conference --
MURPHY: But I think the subtext was pretty clear. He was full of grievance against the idea of these women coming forward, but he was expressing that while strapping on extremely big escape parachute and opening the plane door. So it looked to me like he was winding up to have an option to take a walk from this thing. And I think tomorrow`s going to be one of the great -- I don`t know if it`s going to be a fact-finding mission. It is going to one of the great shows for American politics. And I think the President set himself up to bail out on the nomination tonight. We will see what he does.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk nasty, tough, numerical politics, arithmetic. He needs 50 out of 51 Republicans. He gets some Democrats if he gets to 50, as they say, you know, Joe Manchin, you know, you can get the senator from West Virginia if you don`t need him. That`s what the Republicans -- you guys know that. So he still needs 50 Republicans. Is he in anywhere near that right now? Can you tell? After all of this?
MURPHY: I don`t think he is. And I think the real choice is going to be not delaying, which there will be a lot of pressure on tomorrow with new allegations, although I`m suspicious of anonymous ones. The real question will be, is it time to change up, because the clock is ticking, to another nominee. Delaying it won`t make it better.
So the if they don`t have the votes Friday, I think you are going to see the nomination withdrawn and they will move as quick as they can, probably into the lame-duck session, which the Democrats will go crazy over, too, but change the channel, try somebody new and get out of this thing.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And to help with the base, he may go with someone even further right and say, see what you lefties did to me? You made me go further right. I can see games still to be played by him.
Anyway, in her bombshell declaration, Julie Swetnick, that`s the third accuser who came out today in a sworn declaration alleged that she witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh, the usual pair and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be gang raped in a room. Kavanaugh`s lawyer denied the allegations. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH WILKINSON, KAVANAUGH`S ATTORNEY: He doesn`t know her. He has never met her. And we have had people calling our office and emailing us saying they don`t know her. They have never seen her at the parties that they attended with him. But when you think about the allegations, they are alleging that for years, there were gang rapes going on with multiple men, with multiple women being victims. That is such a frightening allegation. No one has gone to the police to this day to report those allegations. It`s truly outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I didn`t understand that, Fatima, because as she is saying it`s outrageous that they didn`t report or outrageous that it happened?
FATIMA GROSS GRAVES, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL WOMEN`S LAW CENTER: Well --
MATTHEWS: Anyway, earlier this week, "the New Yorker" magazine spoke to mark judge`s former girlfriend who said that he had told her unashamed or ashamedly of an incident involved him and other boys taking turn having sex with a drunk woman. And today, "the Washington Post" has reported that she is willing to share her story with the FBI as part of a reopened background investigation into Kavanaugh. This is bleeding.
GRAVES: It is. But you know, unfortunately, we know that one in three high school girls say they have experienced some form of sexual assault. So it is outrageous, but it actually happens. It happened then and it happens now.
MATTHEWS: Is that what the lawyer meant there? Or did she mean that it was outrageous that it happened, it didn`t get reported or it didn`t happen?
GRAVES: Well, some of it`s outrageous that something like that could have happened. And some of that is feeding into what Trump has already been saying as the, why didn`t they report if it actually happened. That sort of victim blaming, either subtle or not so subtle has been happening over the last week.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the third accuser saying that they had repeated parties she has said attended, ten of them, where this sort of multiple sexual conquest of one woman who they got inebriated to start with then they put her in a side room and pretty much the fashion that the original accuser says happened to her, put them her in a side room, Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh as the ring leaders, put in a side room and then guys lined up, including Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. What do you make of that scenery -- scenario going on, on and on, ten times, at least, in the witnessing of this one woman?
GRAVES: It`s shocking to think about, but there is a hashtag trending today called beach week, where people were talking about what that culture actually was like. That it was fueled with alcohol, that there was sexual assault, sexual abuse. So this isn`t a thing that did not happen at all within the culture. So Republicans have to decide what they are going to do --
MATTHEWS: What do you mean, it did not happen?
GRAVES: The idea that sexual assault and heavy drinking and those sorts of things weren`t happening is outrageous. People were saying that --
MATTHEWS: I get the sense to explain it and this is a chilling idea. That these guys would invite girls who are vulnerable to these parties, people that weren`t in their same class, perhaps thrilled to be hanging around with these rich kids. You never know what game they were playing.
GRAVES: It`s shocking, but those sorts of things happen. And that is why it`s outrageous that we have had the process that we have had from the beginning. They should have had an FBI investigation. They could have been interviewing people On the Record all along.
MATTHEWS: Stay tuned. The Republicans may be desperately looking for.
Anyway, we will be right back. Everybody here, stick with us.
Coming up, we are going have more reaction to Trump`s presser today. Exclusive new reporting by NBC on a fourth Kavanaugh accuser now and what we can expect from tomorrow`s critical hearing.
This is -- this is something. And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a very big moment for our country, because you have a man who is very outstanding, but he has very strong charges against him.
Somebody could say things -- and it has happened to me many times -- where false statements are made, and, honestly, nobody knows who to believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Ahead of tomorrow`s hearing, Dr. Ford submitted prepared remarks to the committee in which she details the incident when Kavanaugh and his friend assaulted her.
She says -- quote -- "I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most and has had the most lasting impact on my life."
She goes on to say: "I truly wish I could provide detailed answers to all the questions that have been and will be asked about how I got to the party, where it took place and so forth. I don`t have all the answers. The details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult."
And we`re back with our panel, Jonathan Lemire, Yamiche Alcindor, Mike Murphy, and Fatima Goss Graves.
Let me ask go to Mike Murphy.
You were trying to ask the question, but go for it. Your statement?
MURPHY: Oh, no, I was -- I`m just -- I`m pushing back a little bit on the whole concept of anonymous accusations.
I mean, the women who were brave enough -- and it`s incredibly difficult to come forward -- ought to be respected and ought to be heard. But I have been in politics for 30 years, and I know that an anonymous accusation that instantly gets sprayed over the media and instantly believed by a lot of people can often come close to a smear.
So, while it`s difficult, I would encourage whoever sent the letter into the Gardner staff in Colorado, that they owe it to the country and the process to come forward. Anonymous charges like this...
MATTHEWS: Do you think...
MATTHEWS: ... Gardner was wrong to share it?
MURPHY: ... horrible
MATTHEWS: You think -- he`s a Republican member.
MURPHY: Well, I think it was leaked, not officially released, I think. I`m not sure. I just saw it before we went on the air.
But for that to be considered seriously -- and it might have to be -- I think the accuser has to come forward.
MATTHEWS: Fatima, one thing -- and you`re the expert on this.
Unfortunately, there has to be experts, because this happens. There`s such a pattern to this latest thing. Anything could be untrue, but all of these four cases now seem to suggest a guy who drank a lot, especially in his teenage years, 17 to 18, into Yale, freshman year, and then further now with this latest evidence, back as recently as 20 years ago, in 1998, when he`s a full-grown adult.
And a calm, regular person who women liked, respected women, did all the right things in the office, but when he had a few too many, he became this other guy. That`s all in the reporting.
GOSS GRAVES: And one of things that we know is that sometimes people can present one way with a set of people, their friends, their families at work, and very differently with other people.
And that`s one of the things we have had to come to grips with over the last year with the MeToo movement, as more and more people whose conduct has come finally to light.
So, if there was an FBI investigation, or any sort of serious mutual investigation, they would be asking questions of the people around them, who knew them then. They would be asking what their behavior was like, when he was drunk.
MATTHEWS: But -- that`s the great thing. We keep getting petitions from dozens and dozens of people saying, nicest guy in the world.
Who is writing -- who`s putting together these petitions?
GOSS GRAVES: But you`re also getting actually, on the record, under penalty of perjury, people saying, this account happened.
GOSS GRAVES: I`m willing to take a lot of risk.
And Mike talked about, why are people doing some anonymous ones? Well, you see what has happened, the sort of bullying and shaming and blaming of people who have actually come out on the record.
GOSS GRAVES: And I`m so grateful that Christine Blasey Ford is actually coming and showing up tomorrow, even after she has been smeared by the president of the United States and everyone else over the last week.
MATTHEWS: Did you read her statement? She said, I`m doing it. I`m terrified.
GOSS GRAVES: It`s powerful.
GOSS GRAVES: And she has a lot of people who are standing with her, but it`s going to be tough.
MATTHEWS: In prepared remarks which he is scheduled to deliver tomorrow, Judge Kavanaugh described his time in high school, writing: "I spent most of my time in high school focused on academics, sports, church, and service. But I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes, I had too many."
Well, it comes after he said this on FOX the other night:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Was there ever a time that you drank so much that you couldn`t remember what happened the night before?
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: No. That never happened. I was focused on trying to be number one in my class and being captain of the varsity basketball team and doing my service projects, going to church.
The vast majority of the time I spent in high school was studying or focused on sports.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, according to "The Washington Post," that choirboy image you just heard does not match the description of some who knew Kavanaugh at the time.
According to one woman who told "The Post" she was friends with Kavanaugh in college and drank with him, Kavanaugh was "a sloppy drunk and drank more than a lot of people. He`d end up slurring his words, stumbling. It`s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess."
Let me go to Yamiche.
You know, in the Watergate days, I remember the phrase limited modified hangout, where you admit everything short of criminality. So, he says, I drank a lot of beer. I said things I cringe at today, but I didn`t commit any crimes.
It seems like he`s -- there`s some preventative defense here, getting ready, pre-gaming the fact that there`ll be a lot of testimony like this.
ALCINDOR: Well, Brett Kavanaugh has also said that he didn`t do any of the sexually inappropriate behavior because he was a virgin during high school and many years after.
So there`s this idea that president -- that Brett Kavanaugh`s really crafting this image of himself and saying, look at all of the things that I have accomplished.
The issue, of course, is that all of the women who have accused him -- or at least two or three of the women who have accused him are very, very credible women who have had federal jobs, who have had to go through clearances.
I have talked to people who are close with Professor Ford, and they say, this is someone who`s a psychologist, who`s very smart, who understands what it means to remember things, and that wouldn`t make up false accusations just out of nowhere.
So, while Brett Kavanaugh is saying, I`m very credible, his accusers are also saying, I`m very credible.
So tomorrow`s hearing is going to be really tough, I think, for a lot of people to watch and weigh which person you should agree with.
But I go back to the president. I think the president is going to be all about who looks like someone who is winning. President Trump is all about winners and losers. And if Brett Kavanaugh goes in there and doesn`t seem as though he`s going to be aggressive, doesn`t seem as though he`s going to be someone who`s going to fight tooth and nail, who maybe even has to go after a little bit of these accusers, the president is not going to be impressed with Brett Kavanaugh.
And that could mean that he would pull his nomination.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Jon.
Jon, it seems to me -- let`s play lawyer critics right now. It seems to me that the lawyers have lawyered up, Judge Kavanaugh. He is now into a set of predictable phrases. It`s like in that movie, that German movie, "The Lives of Others," where they say -- the real smart spook says, you want to tell who`s lying? Listen to people who repeat themselves verbatim all the time, because they have practiced it.
He`s got practiced responses. Is that going to correct the image that`s left by Dr. Ford after she`s done speaking her heart for a couple of hours, for him to come in there with the practiced phrases? Who`s going to win that battle?
LEMIRE: Well, to your point, during his FOX News interview, I believe he said the phrase a fair process or he wanted a fair process 17 times. So, certainly, we know from our reporting...
MATTHEWS: This is Marco Rubio stuff, when you start repeating yourself like a robot.
We know from our reporting that he`s been holed up over at the West Wing some days last week. He`s in constant contact with the team there who are trying to shepherd him through this process. He is rehearsed. He is going through this, though he has balked sometimes at answering some of the very personal questions, which I now think he certainly will face tomorrow, in what will be a real moment of political theater.
But, yes, he`s certainly -- the momentum is not with him, if we`re going to be crass and just look at this in sheer politics. Like, that is where he is bleeding, to use your phrase. The president has been telling people he wished the FOX News interview went better, that he still is behind Kavanaugh.
But we saw -- we saw him today give himself some wiggle room. And Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly -- he said it again yesterday -- that this -- there will be a vote, that Judge Kavanaugh is going to be on the Supreme Court.
But this is becoming certainly politically far less tenable for Republicans. Flash back two weeks ago. It looked like he was on a glide path to this spot on the bench. And now it is very much uncertain.
MATTHEWS: You know what I think, Jon, and everybody else? I think tomorrow morning, the key phrase, the key moment, after 10:00, when the testimony begins from Dr. Ford, when she talks about how she made a clear I.D. of Kavanaugh, that she knew him, she knew him from many parties before, that she knew exactly who this guy was.
He was part of the social circuit. There was no denying it was him. And once that`s established tomorrow, everything else is B.S.
Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Lemire, Yamiche Alcindor, Mike Murphy. Good to have you on, Michael.
Fatima, for your expertise -- as I said, we shouldn`t need it, but we do. Anyway, Fatima Goss Graves.
Up next: We got a deep dive coming into what`s to expect for tomorrow`s hearing -- we have already begun that -- and what it will mean for the future of Kavanaugh.
I think the president is hedging big-time. He`s ready to pull it.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell has been brought in by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to question Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh for Republicans at tomorrow`s hearing.
She`s currently chief of the Special Victims Division of the Maricopa County Attorney`s Office out in Arizona.
On Tuesday, Mitch McConnell offered this explanation for the need for an outside counsel:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think you already know we have hired a female assistant to go on staff and to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A female assistant. Interesting phrasing.
I`m joined right now by Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant special prosecutor during Watergate, and Emma Coleman Jordan, law professor at Georgetown University and a former adviser to Anita Hill.
Well, two experts here.
Let me go to Jill on this.
How -- let me ask you, Jill, about the guys who are now living in assisted living tomorrow. They`re going to be sitting there with a woman they call a female assistant, like somebody who is coming into the house to look out for Uncle Orrin, you know, that`s having a hard time getting up and down the stairs.
I mean, it`s an absurdity, I think. What do you think that`s going to look like to basically outsource the questioning to a female assistant?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I think it will look insulting to all women that the men on this committee couldn`t have it in their consciences and have the decency to be able to ask a respectful question in a search for truth.
But I don`t expect them to be looking for the truth . They have decided to call no witnesses, except for Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. They are not letting any other witnesses testify. They have limited the questions to five minutes per senator, which is an absurd restriction and totally unnecessary.
And they have not allowed an FBI investigation. If they were looking for the truth, none of those would be applying. And it`s irrelevant who asks the questions. Everything that I have heard about Rachel Martin is very -- she`s an upstanding...
WINE-BANKS: ... and fine prosecutor, but she should not be necessary. They should have the courage to question the witness themselves.
MATTHEWS: Do you think they`re trying to gag the red-hot Democrats like Kamala Harris, who has been very tough on this nominee, or Cory Booker as well?
Are they trying to limit them to five minutes? Is that some game they`re playing to gag them? What do you think?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Emma about that.
EMMA COLEMAN JORDAN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR ANITA HILL: Yes, I think this is a deception.
It`s a way of putting a woman`s face on a transaction in which men have all the power. The votes -- the majority is in control of the votes, and they ought to be accountable for the questioning and the votes.
This prosecutor, I`m sure she`s a very fine lawyer, but this is not a legal transaction. This is raw politics. And, unfortunately for the country, the leadership of Republicans in the Senate are using that power in a way that says, we are just going to plow through.
This is a human who has had an experience and deserves to be treated with respect. And I...
MATTHEWS: Don`t you think there`s a possibility that Rachel will come in, Mitchell, who`s a -- I have been reading her background today. We all have, that she`s been tough on that priest. She put him away for 111 years, that nobody else could prosecute him.
That she will come in and prosecute the nominee, because she`s a sex crimes prosecutor, not defense attorney?
COLEMAN JORDAN: Yes, I don`t know.
There`s a chance that that might happen. I wouldn`t be surprised if it did. But the thing for me that is important is to understand that there are various political tricks being played.
COLEMAN JORDAN: Where is Mr. Judge? Hiding out at the beach.
MATTHEWS: Great question. What is his relevance?
COLEMAN JORDAN: Well, we have testimony that he was the other person in the room when Dr. Ford was attacked, and that he jumped on top of her and Kavanaugh, and it was only then that they all tumbled to the ground and she was able to escape.
But he is an eyewitness. How many times is a person who is a victim of an assault to name a dear friend of the attacker as a witness? And then the committee refuses to call him. That strikes me as deceptive, to get him out of the picture, to not get him to talk to the FBI, to not have FBI follow-up.
MATTHEWS: He`s hiding in Bethany Beach reading Superman comics. And it`s outrageous. He`s three hours away, and they`re letting him hide.
COLEMAN JORDAN: That`s -- it appears that....
MATTHEWS: One more question to Jill.
It seems to me that there`ll be some psychological advantage to Dr. Ford tomorrow. She now knows, because she will be -- obviously already knows about it right now from the news -- that she has got three people who agree with her publicly, that they`re out there now.
She`s not flying solo tomorrow. She has got people -- the leitmotif, the surrounding reality now, and every member of that committee knows it, this accuser doesn`t stand alone.
WINE-BANKS: You`re right.
But it`s only a psychological advantage to her, because they are refusing to call those other witnesses. Those are people who need to be heard by the American people and by the Senate before they exercise their advise and consent obligations.
How can they possibly give an honest opinion of the qualifications of this candidate if they haven`t heard all the accusations and evaluated them? Maybe they will find them not credible, but maybe they will find them credible. They seem to be people who have no motivation for coming forward, other than to help protect the Supreme Court from a man who is not qualified by character to be on the court, a man who has a history of heavy drinking.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope the Democratic members -- I hope the Democratic members make those points of order, they call for hearings and an FBI investigation. They can do all that with all the cameras in this country watching.
The Democrats on that committee have a tremendous platform tomorrow to demand an FBI investigation, to demand a full hearing by all witnesses and have a real hearing here, instead of this simple little thing they`re doing here.
Thank you, Jill Wine-Banks, your expertise as always appreciated here. Emma Jordan (ph), it`s great to have you on, as well, for your expertise.
And up next, Trump was asked what message it sends to call the accusations against Kavanaugh a con job. If it`s a con job, doesn`t that make the women who made these accusations part of a ruse? Part of a conspiracy? A joke?
You`re not going to believe, by the way, his answer, well, you will, I`m sure, you`re watching this program, you`re used to him.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are you at all concerned about the message that is being sent to the women who are watching this when you use language like con job in relation to allegations to sexual assault --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve used much worse language in my life than con job. That`s like probably the nicest phrase I`ve ever used. I mean, con job -- it is, it`s a con job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Less than 24 hours before the public hears from both Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill, President Trump spent more than an hour tonight responding to reporters` questions, including the allegations against his Supreme Court nominee.
Let`s bring in tonight`s roundtable, Kimberly Atkins, chief Washington reporter for "The Boston Herald", Neera Tanden, president and CEO of Center for American Progress, and Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union.
I just want to start with what looked like the outlook before tonight, which was a five-act play basically planned by the Republicans, fairly so. The president has a right to call the planning. They had a press conference tonight, two testimonies tomorrow, by the accuser and the defendant, a vote by the committee on Friday, and then a vote by the full Senate early next week.
How`s that five-act play look like right now?
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHIINGTON REPORTER, THE BOSTON HERALD: Well, it`s up in the air because the script keeps being flipped every few hours, it seems, where there are new allegations from new accusers, people -- the president coming in and sort of trying to take over the messaging in this, and his press conference, while you have other members of the Senate who are trying to proceed more cautiously before this hearing. Now you have -- what, we`re up to four accusers and only one is testifying tomorrow? It`s just thrown one, you know, one unexpected -- one unexpected update to another into all of this.
But still, as of right now, it appears that Republicans want to move forward and press forward with this vote. I don`t know if they`re afraid of running out of time. I don`t know if this point, the calculation is, better to have Brett Kavanaugh go for a vote and get voted down so they can move on to the next person, I don`t know yet. But it seems at this point, in any other universe, this nominee would have been pulled by now.
MATTHEWS: Until two weeks ago, Matt, this guy was Mr. Rogers, your neighbor. Never did anything wrong, didn`t even really drink much even. Was a pussy cat in school, nice guy, never caused any trouble with women.
And all this seems to be coming -- he`s become a pinata.
MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Right.
MATTHEWS: And every couple of hours, we get a new one. How`s this look for the president?
I think he opened the door. A couple of times today in his press conference he said, I`m looking at this, I`m going to reconsider it, I could be persuaded, what is he talking about?
SCHLAPPER: I think that`s what he should do. He ought to look at tomorrow. Tomorrow is a big day for his presidency, a big day for the court, and a big day for the country. And the American people are going to look at these two people talk and they`re going to make judgments.
And you know, it`s a critical time. I`m glad the president said he`s going take a look at that. If he had said anything different, I think most people would have criticized him for that. So I think his performance today was right.
And look, I know Brett well. I know some people are having some fun with all of this. He`s a very dear friend of mine. And if he is innocent of these charges, this is one of the worst things I`ve ever seen in politics. It`s truly hardball.
MATTHEWS: But I want to ask, do you think -- the theme here, everybody says he`s good in the office, there`s never been a harassment issue or --
SCHLAPP: Never used his power --
MATTHEWS: Right, but this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde aspect, that is coming through in all of these accusations. They don`t deny he`s good in public. They allege he`s a problem after some drinks.
SCHLAPP: Can I ask this question? I understand that, but let me just ask you this question. You say a five-act play that goes in sequence. You have to understand, for those of us who know and love Brett Kavanaugh, what is going on where none of this could go in the normal process, of this lengthy Supreme Court confirmation process. It`s all one after the other, perfectly timed. That is strange and that looks coordinated.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: It`s not perfectly timed. That`s outrageous. First of all --
SCHLAPP: How outrageous is it really?
TANDEN: It`s really outrageous.
SCHLAPP: Is it, really?
TANDEN: Oh, I`m sorry, do you have evidence that these women know each other or are you just calling these women liars because you like to?
SCHLAPP: No, all I`m saying is they might be being used by the Democratic Party.
TANDEN: They are not. Nobody is using these women. And the idea that you deny Dr. Ford agency and all of these women is just another --
SCHLAPP: I don`t.
TANDEN: You did! You said she`s being used by her lawyer. That`s denying her agency.
SCHLAPP: I didn`t.
TANDEN: Can I say one thing about this, which is, we can have a normal process. Everybody knows --
SCHLAPP: We had a normal process.
TANDEN: No, no!
SCHLAPP: Yes, we did.
TANDEN: A normal process, the irony of the situation that we`re in, is that Anita Hill actually had a much more normal process than this, which is when allegations came forward, the FBI investigated and they had witness after witness after witness and there`s really two questions that we have, the American people have, that have never been answered. Which is, why can we not have an FBI investigation of these allegations?
Every single woman has asked for an FBI investigation. Dr. Ramirez today, asked for an FBI investigation and Mark Judge`s former girlfriend is confirming the story of gang rape.
MATTHEWS: He`s the side show --
TANDEN: And also why isn`t Mark Judge testifying?
MATTHEWS: Kimberly, I want to ask you this one. Suppose tomorrow is a draw in terms of dramatics and credibility, she is incredible, empathetic, oh, that poor woman, it really did happen. And he comes in a guy who`s like, as I said, Mr. Rogers, perfectly -- you know, mild-mannered, nice, today`s man, you know, a 2018 man. No problem with women.
Don`t we need an investigation after that to basically break the tie, if there is a tie? I don`t think there will be, but --
ATKINS: And even if there is a tie, there are three other accusers. This is not just about Dr. Ford anymore. This is the biggest problem that the Republicans have.
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to hear from the others.
ATKINS: Besides from the fact that we are in a social moment, we are in a #metoo moment, and going against accusers, call accusers -- saying that they are nothing but political pawns I think is problematic for the GOP.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is the Florida recount and they want the count to stop. No more witnesses, stop it tomorrow. That`s it.
With our panel, we`ll be right back after the break. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got more on that breaking news tonight, NBC News is now reporting the Senate Judiciary Committee is probing at least one new previously unreported allegation of misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh. A fourth woman whose identity is still unknown.
We`re back with the HARDBALL round table, Kimberly, Neera and Matt.
Matt, how does the president survive with this nominee and get through the night on this?
SCHLAPP: Well, the thing that`s not very well-understood is out there in the country, I came back from four states, they believe they have lost way too many Supreme Court battles over the years. And although what was done to Merrick Garland is a rallying cry for Democrats, no one tried to smear him. No one has said he was a bad guy. He was a perfectly honorable judge.
For Republicans, this is a great unifier. And to step back from Brett Kavanaugh is very dicey.
MATTHEWS: Do they win if they lose?
SCHLAPP: They can win. I don`t -- why are you so --
MATTHEWS: Does your side win if you lose this nomination?
SCHLAPP: No. Our side has to win this nomination -- for once, we have to stand up together and fight.
MATTHEWS: Neera, what do the Democrats do to look good tomorrow? Because it looks like they`ve got the advantage here on the latest news. How do they take advantage of it without going to overkill?
TANDEN: Look, I think Judge Kavanaugh has a disastrous performance the other day. He seemed to lie -- on Fox News. He seemed to lie multiple times. I think we have Dr. Ford testify to her experience, and we see that, Judge Kavanaugh, I really don`t think Democrats have to do much. They need to point out the ridiculousness of this process in which there was no FBI investigation. They will bring into this --
MATTHEWS: Have you been talking to Ricki Seidman.
TANDEN: I have not talked to Ricki Seidman. But I think the truth here is that the Democrats have to put these other women`s voices into this mix because Republicans have silenced them. They are silencing them in this process.
ATKINS: I think absent Judge Kavanaugh falling completely on his face or being shown clearly to have lied or something else, and absent some smoking gun proof that Dr. Ford can produce, which is also unlikely, it`s going to galvanize both sides where they are. This is just a political slugfest that`s happening.
MATTHEWS: Who are they going to get the 50 votes they need, out of 51?
ATKINS: I don`t know. But I think in terms of who wins, who -- whether Republicans win, I think it`s a difference between Judge Kavanaugh going to a vote and being voted down in which the base that is angry about them will blame the Democrats and call it a smear -- or --
MATTHEWS: Matt says they`re going to blame Republicans.
SCHLAPP: They`re going to blame Republicans too.
ATKINS: Well, I think they blame Republicans if they pull the nomination. But I`m not --
SCHLAPP: No, no, I think if Republicans prevent -- all they need is 50 votes. We`ve got them. If Republicans do anything to harm this guy from getting on there --
MATTHEWS: Republican senators would not like to vote on this at this point.
TANDEN: No, I just say one quick thing, which is if you look at the polling over the last week, women, independent women, not just Democratic women, independent women, Democratic women and even Republican women are softening in poll after poll after poll.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Kimberly Atkins, Neera Tanden and Matt Schlapp.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: What a night, and that`s HARDBALL for you. Thanks for being with us. Tune in right here tomorrow, 10:00 a.m., MSNBC, for live coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. It`s a big one.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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