GOP Senator Flake confronted. TRANSCRIPT: 9/28/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Tony Schwartz, Yamiche Alcindor, Margaret Carlson, Nina Totenberg, Pramila Jayapal, Clarence Page, Elana Schor

Show: HARDBALL Date: September 28, 2018 Guest: Michelle Goldberg, Tony Schwartz, Yamiche Alcindor, Margaret Carlson, Nina Totenberg, Pramila Jayapal, Clarence Page, Elana Schor

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Overtime. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

With all the political and moral consequence it holds, the nominee of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court has been just that, a contest. And tonight what looked like a victory for the President early today has gone into overtime.

Late today, President Trump ordered a subpoena mental background check be opened on Kavanaugh`s file hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee requested that he do so. Kavanaugh`s fate now lies in the hands of the federal bureau of investigation. What counts now more than anything is what the bureau comes up with on the nominee? Did he engage in the conduct of which the several women accusers said he did? Was he a heavy drinker who becomes belligerent when intoxicated? A week from now we should know or know more of the answers.

That dramatic development came after Senator Jeff flake of Arizona threatened to vote "no" on Kavanaugh`s nomination unless allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Kavanaugh were investigated by the FBI.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I would be only comfortable moving forward on the floor, I will move it out of committee, but I will only be comfortable moving on the floor until the FBI has done more investigation than they have already. This country is being ripped apart here, and we have got to make sure that we do due diligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In a statement judge Kavanaugh wrote throughout this process I have been interviewed by the FBI, I have done a number of background calls directly with the Senate, and yesterday, I answered questions under oath about every topic the senators and their counsel asked me. I have done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate. Well, according to NBC News, the drama this morning unfolded as Senator Flake and Senator Chris Coons of Delaware huddled in the room negotiating the terms. There they are.

Another key Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was involved in the talks via phone.

And on his way to the hearing, Senator Flake was confronted. This was a real moment to remember by two sexual assault survivors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me. I didn`t tell anybody and you are telling all women that they don`t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them you are going to ignore them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are allowing someone who is unwilling to take responsibility for his own actions. And put him in the higher court of the country and to have the role of repairing the harm that has been done in this country to many people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Flake was asked if that moment affected him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLAKE: I think everything that I have seen and viewed and experienced in the last couple of weeks has had an impact. So it`s been everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, majority leader Mitch McConnell has no obligation, of course, to honor this commitment but was forced to oblige as other Republicans joined Senator Flake`s position. Senators Murkowski, Collins, Manchin and Heitkamp endorsed the move that the FBI do further investigation. And all of them have seen as - are seen as pivotal, undecided votes when it comes to the judge Kavanaugh`s nomination.

And here`s what Senator Murkowski had to say about the investigation to come.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Murkowski, how do you feel about what has been agreed to?

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I think it was a good step today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more I`m joined by NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, Michelle Goldberg of "The New York Times." She is a columnist. U.S. congressman Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania and Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC analyst.

I want to start in that order.

Kasie, what a day. I mean, I think he started today saying he is going to vote "aye" to get it out to the committee and then a lot of things happened. Tell me how the sequence worked that led to this overtime in the game, if you will.

KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it was really remarkable. I mean, we, in the morning got this statement from Jeff Flake that said I`m going to vote for judge Kavanaugh. And we all thought, you know, that was potentially bad. That was potentially going to put more pressure on these other Republican senators who were still on the fence. We thought the hearing was going to go forward. The mood was going to remain contentious everyone at each other`s throat.

And then something changed that hallway - that elevator encounter that you showed with Jeff Flake as he was on his way to the committee room. When he got to the committee room, after his statement has broken, reporters told Chris Coons, who is a friend of Flake`s that the statement has been put out. And Coons became visibly emotional. He is not a guy who typically swears. He used a swear words but in a tone that was more sad than angry. And that was what proceeded what then played out in the hearing roommate. And remember, they were in there for hours. It started at 9:30. We didn`t have an outcome until 1:30.

And this was about, Chris, and I hope you will indulge me for just a second, this was about a personal relationship between two people who have served together in the Senate. It was with the cameras off and it was because they trusted each other. That Jeff Flake could trust what Senator Coons was saying. And that kind of an interaction, that kind of trust, that has been missing from the Senate and from the Congress more broadly, and that is what is breaking it.

And if you think about the outside political forces, when we have seen a lot of this this week, the political tribalism, the way the bases in each party enforce the codes that they have, and I`m interested to see what kind of reception Coons and Flake receive from people on their respective sides over the course of the next week.

That is forcing people to never do things like this. Instead, you have people - I mean, Susan Collins had, you know, how to get driven out of the capital tonight in a police car because there were people who have been threatening her in a way that makes her feel very uncomfortable.

This is a moment in our politics where people have to decide what kind of people do you want running this country? Do you want people doing what Jeff Flake and Senator Coons did today? Or do you want people acting differently? And I think, really, it`s something that we are all going to have to grapple with as this process unfolds.

MATTHEWS: Kasie, I can hear in your voice you are concern on our republic, but that is just as a reporter and I agree completely. I hope this does turn the tide against this evil instability that`s going on because I think it does meet some of the demands of the people who criticize this nomination.

The FBI is a pretty good organization with a lot of resources. It can get a lot done in a week. Thank you very much for that reporting with heart, Kasie Hunt.

OK. Let`s go to Michelle Goldberg who has written beautifully about this with passion. Do you think this will begin - I mean, I do, I will make the case? The FBI has got a lot of people. They can put 50 people down there (INAUDIBLE) whatever the hell it is down there and find this character. And they can get them On the Record. I don`t care what if they spend enough time with him, the same with all the people that may have been at the party over at Chevy Chase area. All of them may have been there. All the people that made this woman who went to high school in Gettysburg (ph) what she has to say. The woman up in New York (INAUDIBLE) who said something awful happened with her and him one night.

It does seem they have got the fire power, the candle power, to find out a good percentage of the truth about this guy. Your thoughts, Michelle? You wrote beautiful today.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think that`s right. And I think that that`s why this came as - I mean, this came as a profound relief to me because what Christine Blasey Ford, what the Democrats have been asking for has not been that radical, right. They have been asking for an FBI investigation. They have been asking for at least a process as decent as Anita Hill got, which is now remembered as a national shame.

And so I think that, yes, there are a lot of leads. It`s been crazy the way yesterday was presented as he said/she said, when by all acknowledgments there is another witness, another witness that Christine Blasey Ford identified as being in the room, wanted to be subpoenaed, wanted the FBI to interview, and people are acting as if there is no way to get at the truth of what happened 36 years ago when as you said, there are a lot of different leads that you can follow, and that what`s she has been asking for all along.

MATTHEWS: And (INAUDIBLE), it seems like it is not hard to crack the case made by the nominee. First of all, if there was a party. He will deny, and they knew he was there and he denies it, well, that`s a problem. If he is sound to be in public, a man who drinks too much against belligerent and he said I hardly drink at all. I have a few beers. He kept saying I like beer. It seems to me that he can be caught in a perjury trap pretty easily if the FBI gets out there and really does the job.

GOLDBERG: Well, to me, one of the questions going forward is if they don`t actually find anything defensive of the sexual assault. And we don`t know if they will. Whether it will matter the sort of smaller lies that he told while he was testifying to Congress that are almost definitely - I mean, he was almost certainly dishonest about his drinking record, you know, was talking about how he had never blacked out when many classmates say otherwise. He seemed to have been dishonest about the meaning of certain kind of sexual innuendoes in his year books, certain slang in his yearbook. There was plenty of times where he could have been a little bit frank and, you know, may be admitted that he used to - he was a jerky high school student, and instead he put forward this image as a choir boy. I have a feeling that all of that is going to be shown pretty quickly to be untrue. The question is whether any of that will be definitive when the senate finally votes on this.

MATTHEWS: Yes. A hard line to defend.

Anyway, two women have accused Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge of sexual misconduct. Of course, I think it is a story where the misconduct here at parties when they were younger.

Well, yesterday under oath, Dr. Ford accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her while Judge looked on, an allegation he has denied. And as a central figure, Mr. Judge was never called to testify to speak to the FBI. Not yes. Well, I think he is going to have his day. Dr. Ford was asked if she would like to see that happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Would you like Mark Judge to be interviewed in connection with the background investigation and the serious credible allegations that you have made?

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH`S ACCUSER: That would be my preference. I`m not sure it`s really up to me. But I certainly would feel like I could be more helpful to everyone if I knew the date that he worked at the safe way so I could give a more specific date of the assault.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, with the investigation reopened now as of today, Judge through his lawyer said held cooperate with any law enforcement agency. There is a sign to confidentially investigate these allegations.

Paul Butler, what does that mean? It seems to me he is a figure in this case, a possible witness a possible perp, if you will, and he says I want to be confidential?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. That`s not going to happen. So the bureau will do 302s that would go to all of the senators and to the president.

MATTHEWS: Once they are completed?

BUTLER: Yes. So the FBI is going to be looking at witnesses, at corroborating information and assessing the credibility of Kavanaugh. With witnesses you have someone you never have in a sexual assault case, you have an eyewitness. They have to talk to Mark Judge. Yes, his lawyers submitted a letter, but when you are sitting in a room with two or three law enforcement agents skilled in the art of interrogation, that`s a different story.

Corroborating evidence, Dr. Ford has a very specific memory of the house, its layout -- the rooms. She says she doesn`t know the address. FBI agents will drive her around the neighborhood to see if she can locate it.

And as Michelle alluded to, whether he is credible, whether judge Kavanaugh has told the truth under oath to the Senate, among other things he said he had never been to any party like the one that Dr. Ford described. I don`t think anybody believes that. Again, when the Senate is confronted with FBI statements about little lies that judge Kavanaugh told time after time, they will have a decision to make.

MATTHEWS: What about the woman who was at the party downstairs? Another witness to the occasion who would remember the occasion night, I think?

BUTLER: Again, there`s literally a lot of people who they could talk to, including people who have come up in the other investigation because they have or the other allegation because they have consistent statements. So, for example, Michael Avenatti`s client, he says that yes, this is a man who was frequently drunk and he watched a woman being sexually assaulted - I`m sorry, Mark Judge`s girlfriend during college has the same story. She doesn`t place judge Kavanaugh there, but she said Mark Judge told her about an experience that he had when he was in college or high school in which a woman was sexually assaulted with a bunch of guys watching.

MATTHEWS: The FBI has enough people to do this quickly, right?

BUTLER: Yes. And one last thing, Chris. They have lie detector tests. And guess what, the D.C. circuit in 2016 decided a case with someone was complaining about law enforcement using lie detector tests, what they said it wasn`t credible. The D.C. circuit said they are credible for law enforcement agents to use in criminal investigation and background checks. The guy who wrote that opinion, his name is Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

MATTHEWS: And that`s relative.

Let me go to Congressman Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania.

Congressman, thank you for joining us. I have to tell you, it was - if not a profile encourage by that senator from Arizona because he is leaving the senate. But it did show the one lawmaker like yourself can make a big difference when the big shots are in a hole.

REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I thought Kasie was right on point in terms of meeting people in the middle and anchoring things from trust and friendship. And I do applaud Senator Coons and Senator Flake for doing that. Because while I have been reluctant to say we need an additional FBI investigation because that`s for a confidential investigative techniques, to me Mark Judge holed up in (INAUDIBLE) or wherever the heck he was just didn`t make much sense, and I thought it was terrible optics.

And I do think that for someone like senator Collins, Senator Murkowski, Senator Flake, and Senator Manchin, I don`t want to speak for how they are going to vote, but they tend to always reflect a real consciousness and independence and be able to explain how they are going to vote to the other side in a way that even if they don`t agree with the vote, even though they might be reluctant to want to agree, they still respect the procedure and pattern by which they got there.

And I think that what Senator Flake did today is going to really outrage the right because the base is with Lindsey Graham on this. The base is outraged by what they feel is bad faith by Democrats.

But I think a lot of the country looked at Dr. Ford and said at minimum, at minimum, something happened to her, I have chills saying this, that dramatically changed her life that was very, very wrong. And I also think a lot of people saw judge Kavanaugh and said I think he is telling the truth, but I also don`t think -- I think he was probably paying more attention to beer parties than church in high school. And that`s where I think his testimony was a little -- to the point that someone just mentioned a second ago as we get into the next week, some of those nonsexual misconduct type things may creep up.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think a lot of it has to do with drinking and the way different people react to too much beer. And we are going to learn a lot about this guy in a week. I have a lot of faith in the FBI. They have thousands of people to deploy here. There is only about ten people who have mentioned that have to be talked to sternly, perhaps with a lie detector has been certainly On the Record with somebody with a pad in front of them jotting down everything they say.

Anyway, thank you, Michelle Goldberg. Great column writing as always.

Congressman Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania. Hope a good future in ahead of you after the Congress.

Paul Butler, my friend, thank you.

Coming up, President Trump praised Brett Kavanaugh`s performance today - yesterday. So what does he think about the delay in the judge`s confirmation? A delay.

Plus, what kind of Supreme Court justice would Kavanaugh make if he were to end on the highest court? Do you like the show had he put on yesterday? And the one up the senator Klobuchar, when she was asked about a belligerent after drinking too much. He said what about you? Do you ever black out? Great, smart question to ask one of your judges.

More on the Flake factor coming up, by the way. This is the good news. Arizona senator took the stand today forcing the Republicans to allow an FBI investigation of the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh and who knows what Pandora`s Box we are going to see in the next week. Who knows who is going to come forward? Who know what the FBI is going to get under oath perhaps with a lie detector?

Finally, let me finish tonight with Dr. Blasey Ford`s powerful testimony yesterday about guys laughing at her as they tortured her, basically.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, protests took place across the country today as the Senate judiciary held a vote on that - on advancing judge Kavanaugh to the Senate floor. Their message to Republicans on the hill, November`s coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: November is coming. November is coming. November is coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m not speaking for Mitch. I`m not -- I`m just -- I`m going to talk with Jeff.

And somebody has got to explain this to Trump. So I guess that would be my job.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Lindsey Graham.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Lindsey, of course, just after today`s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

In reality, President Trump is no longer calling the shots on Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination. You heard it there. That role is now filled by a potential 50th vote in the Senate, namely, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Flake called for a delay today in a vote pending on that -- depending on the FBI investigation, the background investigation that is to come this week. He demanded that President Trump honor it late today.

In a statement, he said -- quote -- "I have ordered the FBI to conduct to supplemental investigation update Judge Kavanaugh`s file" -- that`s the president -- "as the senator has requested. This update must be limited in scope and completed in less than a week." Less than a week. It`s a week.

It`s a reversal for the president, who just two days ago said an FBI investigation into the allegations against his nominee wouldn`t have mattered.

Well, this afternoon, Trump said he`d defer to the Senate, but was steadfast in his support of Kavanaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it will work out very well for the country. I just want it to work out well for the country. If that happens, I`m happy.

QUESTION: Have you thought at all about a replacement for Judge Kavanaugh?

TRUMP: Not even a little bit. Not even a little bit. not even sure

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the "PBS NewsHour," and Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project and co-author of "The Art of the Deal." Of course, he ghosted that for Trump. I think that`s the right word.

Let me -- let me go to you, Tony, because you`re a sort expert on this guy Trump. You`re a Trump watcher. How`s he like the fact that he`s no longer calling the shots? This was decided by Flake, who forced the Senate committee to make the decision. They said you got to go -- basically said to the president, you want my vote, give me an FBI investigation for one full week or I`m not going with you.

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": You know, it`s been bizarre this week, because Trump, in the midst of all this, has seemed kind of jaunty and jolly in a way I don`t see him very often these days.

And I suspect it was because he thought it was a lock and he was going to get his candidate, his second Supreme Court justice, and look good, feel good and so on. And I think he was probably pretty stunned this morning, as the rest of us were, that he didn`t.

And I can say with pretty -- pretty much -- with a great deal of certainty that he is not a happy dude tonight.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about that and the way he thinks.

You get two Supreme Court nominees in, in the ideology of your liking, that is sort of like a pitcher in the Major Leagues winning over 20 games. I mean, that`s a hell of a season for him. And now that season is in real jeopardy. He could walk away with one, but he could also look away with a guy with a lot of stuff on his face, as the guy who picked the wrong guy, who had a drinking problem and whatever else problems, belligerence problem that comes forth, and the guy`s blown away without Trump`s say-so.

Tony, what`s he going to do if that happens?

SCHWARTZ: He`s already doing it, which is, he`s already off-loading it to McConnell in the Senate. He did that this afternoon. He`s -- this is their problem. This is their responsibility.

And Trump has no loyalty to Kavanaugh. It wasn`t his first choice. And he -- it`s not the kind of guy he could remotely imagine going out to dinner with. I would imagine that he cringed today when -- I`m sorry -- yesterday, when Kavanaugh -- when Kavanaugh cried, because, to Trump, that`s weakness and vulnerability, the last thing he would ever do.

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, I think thought that too.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: So I think Trump is preparing to lose.

MATTHEWS: Why wouldn`t he like a guy like this guy? Because he`s not rich? He`s a government employee?

SCHWARTZ: Why -- I`m sorry. Say that again.

MATTHEWS: Why wouldn`t Trump like a guy like Kavanaugh? Fill in the blank on that. Why wouldn`t he feel any -- I mean, Trump likes big shots like Putin and what`s his name, the guy from North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

SCHWARTZ: Because...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He likes bosses, big shots...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... people.

SCHWARTZ: No, no, he doesn`t like people who he doesn`t think he can be like.

He does think he can be like authoritarians like Putin and Kim Jong-un. He doesn`t think he can be like a Kavanaugh, in the sense of a Harvard graduate -- a Yale graduate -- Yale Law School graduate.

MATTHEWS: Double, yes.

SCHWARTZ: This elite background.

I mean, Trump is the outer borough kid who`s always been trying to get accepted by people like Kavanaugh. And because he never actually has been accepted by the sort of establishment, deep in his heart, he hates them.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR": Well, but here`s the thing.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Yamiche.

ALCINDOR: President Trump sees himself in Brett Kavanaugh, in that he sees himself as someone who was falsely accused of sexually assaulting women, who then had...

MATTHEWS: But he wasn`t falsely accused.

ALCINDOR: That`s what President Trump said.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You think he believes he was falsely accused? He knew what he did with what`s her name, Stormy Daniels. He knows what he did with McDougal.

ALCINDOR: At the press conference, I specifically asked the president this. And he said it was going to have an impact on the way that he viewed that hearing, that he said that he felt like all these women were all over TV, and people were covering these women constantly, and that he felt very wronged by that.

So, when he sees Brett Kavanaugh, he says, well, here`s another guy that they`re just trying to take down. Add to that the fact that Brett Kavanaugh was talking about Hillary Clinton having revenge on him, and the fact that the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Explain that part. How do they see that wired? How did Hillary get even with him in this nomination fight?

ALCINDOR: Well, Brett Kavanaugh thinks that it`s because the Democrats have basically conjured up all of this stuff, and Hillary Clinton must be in the background somewhere playing strings.

So that`s a conspiracy theory that he was talking about.

MATTHEWS: Any evidence that they have any groups? I mean, there are groups out there, MoveOn, and all those people. They`re very loyal to Clinton.

ALCINDOR: I haven`t seen any evidence that the Clintons themselves caused Dr. Blasey Ford to come forward with an allegation from 35 years ago.

But you remember that Brett Kavanaugh...

MATTHEWS: No belief that they may have had a role in it being leaked, through the lawyers perhaps?

ALCINDOR: Not that I have -- not at all that I have heard.

MATTHEWS: I thought they had a theory on this.

ALCINDOR: But he also talked about the 2016 presidential election and said, the reason why everyone`s attacking me is because I`m President Trump`s nominee and everyone`s mad that he`s president.

President Trump heard that, and he heard that very loud and clear, which is why I talked to a source today and he said President Trump believes in Brett Kavanaugh, not believes him as much, but believes in him, which, of course, means that, yes, he might, of course, believe his allegation, but it`s the fact that he actually believes that this is someone who he can -- he can be tied to.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Well, we got to report. Once the president -- by the way, guys, every member of the United States Senate is going to get this Senate -- this report from the FBI. There will be -- leaking will be immediate, but everybody`s going to read it.

And this idea of Mr. Mark Judge -- what an interesting name, Judge -- keeping his words confidential is insane. This is going to be out there. He`s a player here. He will have to talk.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Tony.

SCHWARTZ: Chris, this notion that time is on the Republicans` side is absurd.

He is -- he -- every day that goes by, the chances that more are going to - - more is going to come out and that -- and that Kavanaugh himself is going to dissemble again increase.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

SCHWARTZ: So, I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t say the Republicans are feeling great right now.

ALCINDOR: And the president`s frustrated, very, very frustrated. He wants this to get pushed through.

MATTHEWS: I think the tip box is big and it`s open.

Thank you very much, Yamiche Alcindor and Tony Schwartz.

When considering a nominee for the United States Supreme Court, judicial temperament is supposed to be part of the equation. What do Kavanaugh`s partisan attacks in yesterday`s hearing tell us about his judicial temperament? And what does that mean for the future of the Supreme Court?

I think we saw yesterday, but let`s show it to you again, this guy`s performance yesterday.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

From the outside of his testimony yesterday, Judge Brett Kavanaugh struck a tone of righteous indignation, don`t you think so, accusing the Democrats of orchestrating a political hit job on him.

Under questioning, he appeared peeved and petulant when Democrats pressed him for details about his past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: You`re saying there`s never been a case where you drank so much that you didn`t remember what happened the night before, or part of what happened?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: It`s -- you`re asking about, you know, blackout. I don`t know. Have you?

KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, Judge? I just -- so you -- that`s not happened? Is that your answer?

KAVANAUGH: Yes. And I`m curious if you have.

KLOBUCHAR: I have no drinking problem.

KAVANAUGH: The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Would you like to say more about it?

KAVANAUGH: No.

I was number one in the class freshman...

(CROSSTALK)

KAVANAUGH: No, no, no. You got this up. I`m going to talk about my high school -- no.

(CROSSTALK)

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Let him answer.

KAVANAUGH: I`m going to talk about my high school record if you`re going to sit here and mock me.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Did the word ralph you used in your yearbook relate to alcohol?

KAVANAUGH: I already said -- I already answered the question.

WHITEHOUSE: Did it relate to alcohol? You haven`t answered that.

KAVANAUGH: I like beer. I like beer. I don`t know if you do.

WHITEHOUSE: OK.

KAVANAUGH: Do you like beer, Senator, or not? What do you like to drink?

WHITEHOUSE: Next one is...

KAVANAUGH: Senator, what do you like to drink?

WHITEHOUSE: ... Judge...

KAVANAUGH: I would welcome whatever the committee wants to do, because I`m telling the truth.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: I want to know what you want to do.

KAVANAUGH: I`m telling the truth.

DURBIN: I want to know what you want to do.

KAVANAUGH: I`m innocent. I`m innocent of this charge.

DURBIN: Then you`re prepared for an FBI investigation?

KAVANAUGH: They don`t reach conclusions. You reach the conclusions, Senator.

DURBIN: No, but they do investigate questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, described Kavanaugh`s behavior as aggressive and belligerent, saying that: "I have never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner."

Well, joining me right now is Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio, and Pramila Jayapal, who is a Democratic congresswoman from the state of Washington and, in fact, from Seattle, which is very important.

Let`s go on.

You`re the expert, Nina. You have had fights with Senator Simpson. You got a history of what temperament is all about in your days.

(CROSSTALK)

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: Oh, when I was very youthful.

Look, I didn`t think that Judge Kavanaugh was a good witness. And the reason he was -- wasn`t a good witness was -- I`m not saying that he -- that he`s guilty as charged, but he was unhinged.

I mean, I -- he -- as you picked and chose the cuts, yes, but there was more of that than there was of anything thoughtful or -- there was some tearful, but there was more rage there than anything else.

I mean, if you had a boss who acted like that, no matter what the circumstances were, you would run for the exit.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It was almost scenes from "A Few Good Men" or "The Caine Mutiny."

(CROSSTALK)

TOTENBERG: You`re not the first person who said that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where the bad guy just shows it off in perfect form at the end.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Or when they`re yelling at each other.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JAYAPAL: I mean, the crazy thing is, he spent a lot of time in the earlier hearings trying to project sort of this deeply serious, grounded judicial temperament.

And it all fell away last -- yesterday, during the -- during those hearings. He became belligerent, abusive, defiant, defensive, not righteous indignation, but actually self-righteous denigration was what I felt like we were hearing.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he lost? Do you think he felt that he had already lost, and he might as well say what he felt?

JAYAPAL: I think that might have been part of it.

But I will tell you, I got a lot of calls from constituents today and e- mails from constituents who were horrified at that piece. They were saying, look, we were horrified to start with, with the allegations of assault.

But this piece around temperament is really critical. We want somebody on the Supreme Court who is going to be able to fair. And this man doesn`t -- he looks unhinged, as Nina said. He does not look like he...

MATTHEWS: He didn`t hit me as Anthony Kennedy.

Anyway, Kavanaugh also engaged in some conspiratorial thinking, blaming the emergence of the allegations against him on left-wing activists who are seeking revenge on behalf of the Clintons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAVANAUGH: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And, Nina, where`s the facts on that? Are there any facts of a big...

TOTENBERG: No.

MATTHEWS: I know that there are a lot of activists on the progressive side. We know them.

TOTENBERG: There are a lot of activists -- there a lot of activists who are opposed to his nomination.

There have been some ads, probably hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ads, but not as many as the millions of dollars of ads that have supported him or that were, for that matter, run by conservatives against Merrick Garland.

MATTHEWS: They`re still running today.

TOTENBERG: Yes, they`re still running today.

But the point is that I have never seen a nominee for any judicial position or any position, any, be so overtly partisan. He said repeatedly, I wrote this myself. I hope he didn`t. I hope this is...

MATTHEWS: Didn`t you hear in his voice, both of you, the voice of a former White House staffer, a guy who really worked his way up the political ladder, not so much the judicial ladder?

JAYAPAL: It`s a good point.

MATTHEWS: He comes from that world.

JAYAPAL: He does. He does, though I heard...

MATTHEWS: Because I was in that world. I`m not knocking it.

JAYAPAL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I was in the partisan political world.

TOTENBERG: Yes, but this is more Trumpian than Bushian.

JAYAPAL: Yes.

And there were times when I felt like I was listening to the voice of a 3- year-old. "I like beer."

(LAUGHTER)

JAYAPAL: I mean, it is a -- it is a bizarre thing...

MATTHEWS: Mikey likes it.

JAYAPAL: ... for a judicial nominee to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re a politician.

Why would a guy say maybe 10 times in a hearing about his belligerence under the influence of alcohol, keep saying, "I like beer"?

JAYAPAL: I think he was trying to appeal to a certain group of voters across the country, the base, the Trump base.

MATTHEWS: Joe Six-Pack.

JAYAPAL: I mean, I think that was part of it.

TOTENBERG: I don`t think that`s fair.

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What was his argument for saying, "I like beer?"

JAYAPAL: Why else would he say that over and over again?

TOTENBERG: Because he`s not pretending that, I have never drunk beer.

And so I think it`s a fair thing to say, look, I like beer. I probably drank too much beer in high school occasionally, but I didn`t do this. That`s -- he went way beyond that.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JAYAPAL: He actually, though -- I would say he has actually tried to deny over and over again that he was -- that he liked beer a lot.

I mean, he`s gone back and forth as you go through this.

MATTHEWS: They`re going to kill him on "Saturday Night Live" Saturday night. We were talking about that.

"Saturday Night Live" is going to the bank with this guy. I mean, they`re going to have a guy on the witness stand with a beer next to him, probably a big sign.

Thank you, Nina Totenberg. You`re a pro, the best.

TOTENBERG: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of the great city of Seattle.

Up next right -- by the way, the whether is great today.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: A hairline fracture in the partisanship that`s come to define American politics, courtesy of a Republican senator from Arizona with nothing to lose.

What does this tell us about our politicians and the people who will vote for them in November? Look at this guy. The man who is no factor is the factor tonight.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I have been speaking with a number of people on the other side. We have had conversations ongoing for a while with regard to making sure that we do due diligence here.

And I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than one week, in order to let the FBI continue to do an investigation, limited in time and scope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: To paraphrase Russell Crowe, the actor, we owe this FBI investigation to one bloke.

You just saw him there, Jeff Flake.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake is one of the 100 U.S. senators, but today he took the reins in the confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

His request for a one-week delay in order to reopen the FBI background investigation has received support from three other potential swing votes, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

And, late today, President Trump was forced to bow to a man he once called a nonfactor in the U.S. Senate.

Let`s bring in tonight`s Roundtable, Elana Schor, congressional reporter for Politico, Clarence Page, columnist for "The Chicago Tribune," of course, and Margaret Carlson, columnist for The Daily Beast.

Thank you all.

So what do you make of this guy? One vote does make a difference. One guy. One person.

ELANA SCHOR, POLITICO: Well, it also really shows the power of this bloc of swing votes in this Senate.

In a 51-49 chamber, Jeff Flake was able to get together -- and we have an indication they were talking about this last night -- to get this coalition.

MATTHEWS: About an FBI report.

SCHOR: Yes.

MATTHEWS: But what was the smarts about him saying, OK, I will vote to he report it out of committee, but I`m also going to push for this other thing? So he didn`t become a nay vote. He became an affirmative demand vote. It was so interesting.

He just changed it, Clarence.

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Yes, that`s right.

Whenever you have got a close-vote Congress like this one, it empowers the middle. And he`s taking advantage of that now. And it also shows you what a senator can do who is not planning to run again.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s not worried, Margaret, about the nine out of 10 Republican voters who back Trump on every single thing. That`s why the other ones are hog-tied.

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it is a big relief.

But I was struck by a profile in democracy. Here`s a guy who held an elevator door. Senators have their own elevators in order to keep those people out. They don`t welcome them in. And he listened to them for as long as they went.

PAGE: He`s not an elitist.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: No. I mean, he`s got a warm and human side to him.

And the friendship with Coons is real. And he showed you can do something if you want.

MATTHEWS: We have come a long way from Strom Thurmond, who a woman would not get on the elevator with.

Anyway, Republicans -- I mean it.

Lindsey Graham has been one of the most vocal defenders of Brett Kavanaugh in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And, today, Lindsey insisted he was not going to back down from speaking his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: I know I`m a single white male from South Carolina, and I`m told I should shut up, but I will not shut up, if that`s OK, because I got here the same way everybody else did.

The people in South Carolina voted for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What was that, a cry for help? A single white male?

SCHOR: Well, you know what it actually was, was Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat, a while back had told...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, woman from Hawaii, yes.

SCHOR: Yes, had told them -- had told the men to shut up. So he was actually subtly telling Democrats, I see you, and I`m not going to shut up.

It was an interesting moment.

MATTHEWS: Battle of the genders looks like a draw, at least today.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Well, Lindsey has always been a free thinker too.

What`s interesting, though, is how he`s gone from being the never-Trump who had to throw out his cell phone because Trump gave his phone number away, to being a disciple, a spokesman, an advocate.

Like, today, he said, well, somebody`s got to get the president`s permission. I guess that`s going to be me, because he was the guy.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Margaret, let`s have a little fun.

Who`s going to have a bad week next week?

CARLSON: I think it`s...

MATTHEWS: With the FBI out on the trail, thousands of agents deployed all over the -- talking to every accuser, every possible witness, everybody who has ever drank with him, everybody who has ever been around when he`s not in the best mood.

This is a -- this is a lot of firepower and candle power. They know what they`re doing.

CARLSON: Yes, I mean, it`s hard to bear up under that.

And we already know about the little lies that Brett Kavanaugh -- the gratuitous lies he didn`t have to tell about what words meant and what was in the yearbook and about that poor girl that was in everybody`s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You didn`t think ralph had to do with his bad stomach?

CARLSON: No. I think, if you go to the Urban Dictionary, you can figure it out. It`s not spicy foods.

MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s booze, too much booze to cause you to vomit.

Anyway, before Senator Flake`s announcement earlier today, the partisan attacks were on full display in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DURBIN: Two members of this committee leveled personal attacks at Senator Feinstein. They said she concealed Dr. Ford`s letter for partisan reasons.

Perhaps in this Trumpian era, those sorts of baseless personal charges are to be expected.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: My Democratic colleagues are embarrassed to say publicly, because they demonstrate that this has become a partisan circus - - this is not about substance. This is about smears.

KLOBUCHAR: The Constitution does not say, we, the ruling party. The Constitution says, we, the people.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: As far as I`m concerned, Congress has hit rock bottom and started to dig.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you think of that? They`re all knocking themselves.

SCHOR: I have to say, I have been a reporter on Capitol Hill for more than a decade, and I have never seen it this intense and this strained between these members. It`s been a really rough month.

MATTHEWS: Why?

SCHOR: Part of it is just the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The fifth seat?

SCHOR: Yes, the high stakes politically.

MATTHEWS: The choice -- issue of choice, and life issues, the two factions that are so impassioned, that the stakes are so high.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And you hear from the people who are so polarized on an issue that`s not -- make it 7,000 or 9,000. Let`s make it eight. Abortion is very hard to compromise on.

PAGE: This is their base.

MATTHEWS: It`s hard to compromise on.

PAGE: Remember back to 1980, when Ronald Reagan brought the Christian coalition and with Robertson and Falwell.

And it`s a party that became a core group in the GOP. And since then now, they care about the Supreme Court more than Democrats do. Democrats get upset at times like this, when they can see that the court is going to tilt the wrong way. But who`s out there every Election Day pitching for a conservative court? It`s the right.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: So that`s why Republicans now are forgetting Merrick Garland, forgetting all the other hardball politics of the past that they played, and saying, oh, it`s the Democrats who always do all this.

MATTHEWS: Margaret, you`re a lawyer. And I think it`s fair to say that the politicians in both parties have shoved the hardest issues of our times -- and this has been going on since the `50s -- over to the court.

You decide.

CARLSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: You decide about segregating -- integrating our high schools and grade schools.

CARLSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: You decide on whether we have prayer in school. You decide on women`s rights. You decide all this stuff. You decide about all these -- and the court ends up making the most horrifically difficult and divisive issues.

They have to heat them -- they got to take the heat.

CARLSON: I mean, I think the biggest cultural issues are there.

And what we saw yesterday was the stakes were very high, but also that division between left and right. Yesterday, it was depressing, because half of the country was going to end up not speaking to the other half of the country over Brett Kavanaugh.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CARLSON: It has seeped down.

And I had friends that -- where we can bridge the gap. It was very hard yesterday.

MATTHEWS: And he`s not the strongest personality in the world either.

PAGE: I thought it was as bad during Thomas-Hill.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Huh?

CARLSON: Well, not yesterday.

PAGE: Don`t forget Thomas-Hill. That`s with the country too.

MATTHEWS: OK. You`re right about that. We all remember that one.

The Roundtable is sticking with us enough.

And up next, these three will Tell Me Something I Don`t Know.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, you won`t want to miss MSNBC`s live coverage tomorrow, Saturday, of the Global Citizen Festival up in New York, with performances by Janet Jackson, John Legend -- he`s great -- and many more.

Join Chris Hayes, Ari Melber, Joy Reid, and Jacob Soboroff beginning at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, Eastern, right here on MSNBC, I think only on MSNBC.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back with the HARDBALL Roundtable.

Elana, Tell Me Something I Don`t Know, 15 seconds.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHOR: Well, the public charge rule is what the Trump administration is rolling out now to try to deter further legal immigration by making immigrants concerned about receiving benefits.

And I think it needs more attention.

MATTHEWS: I heard about that.

Clarence.

PAGE: Your fellow Philadelphian Bill Cosby, his first week in prison there in Pennsylvania, and he`s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where is he, Allenwood or Lewisburg?

PAGE: He`s at what they call Phoenix GCI (sic) or something like that.

MATTHEWS: OK.

PAGE: Anyway, he -- well, they released the menu, and there`s pudding. And it`s not Jell-O.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s very sarcastic. You`re awful.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway. Thank you.

Margaret.

CARLSON: Oh, the word came out that Justin Trudeau did not think it would be fruitful to meet with Trump again over NAFTA.

And so Trump put it out very quickly that he did not want to meet with Justin Trudeau, because he always wants to break up first.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: That`s like, so`s your old man in this case.

CARLSON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Elana Schor, Clarence Page, and Margaret Carlson.

When we return, Let Me Finish today with Dr. Christine Blasey and her moving words yesterday.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: It`s been a week of high drama on Capitol Hill.

And it ended with the president forced to reopen the FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, a step both the White House and Republican leaders in the Senate had rejected.

For most of the Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the goal was to rush through the confirmation of Kavanaugh and basically ignore the testimony of his accuser.

So I`m going to let Dr. Ford finish tonight, because she deserves to be heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: What is the strongest memory you have, the strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget? Take whatever time you need.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.

LEAHY: You`ve never forgotten that laughter. You`ve never forgotten them laughing at you.

BLASEY FORD: They were laughing with each other.

LEAHY: And you were the object of the laughter?

BLASEY FORD: I was, you know, underneath one of them while the two laughed, two friends having a really good time with one another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END