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Trump says the FBI should interview anyone. TRANSCRIPT: 10/1/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Adrienne Elrod, John Brabender, Eugene Scott, Susan Page, Dana Milbank

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 1, 2018 Guest: Adrienne Elrod, John Brabender, Eugene Scott, Susan Page, Dana Milbank

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Kavanaugh cover up? Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Tonight, there are new revelations concerning judge Kavanaugh`s second accuser, Deborah Ramirez who alleged late last month that the Supreme Court nominee had once exposed himself to her at a dorm party while they were both at Yale. NBC News is now reporting tonight that in the days before Ramirez went public with her allegation quote "the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute that claim," according to text messages obtained by NBC News.

Those texts sent between two of Kavanaugh`s friends suggested the nominee himself was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez`s story in advance of "the New Yorker" article that made her allegation public.

Also tonight, Kavanaugh`s third accuser Julie Swetnick is speaking out in an interview with NBC News. Last week`s Swetnick`s lawyer Michael Avenatti released a sworn declaration which alleged in graphic detail that she quote "witnessed efforts by Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be gang raped."

Here`s what Swetnick said about Kavanaugh`s alleged behavior and high school parties on NBC Nightly News tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you describe to me what you saw him do?

JULIE SWETNICK, KAVANAUGH`S ACCUSER: He was very aggressive, very sloppy drunk, very mean drunk. I saw him go up to girls and paw on them, try to, you know, get a little too handsy, touching them in private parts. I saw him try to shift clothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there people?

SWETNICK: Yes -- there are people that know about those parties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Kavanaugh has vehemently denied Swetnick`s allegations saying he doesn`t even know who she is. And NBC News has not been able to independently corroborate her claims. While Avenatti provided the names of four people he said could confirm her account, one is dead, another says he does not remember Julie Swetnick at all and the others have not responded to NBC News.

While meanwhile after attempting to limit the FBI`s ability to conduct a full background investigation on Brett Kavanaugh this week, the President is now backing down and allowing the FBI to do its job. Well, that`s good news. "The New York Times" was the first to report that.

Quote "the White House has authorized the FBI to expand its abbreviated investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh by interviewing anyone it deems necessary as long as the review is finished by the end of the week."

At first, the White House had tied FBI`s hands dictated and investigators could only speak to, believe this or not, four witnesses, four. That`s all they were allow to talk to. There they are. Among them was Mark Judge who was today interviewed by the FBI.

And joining me right now is Heidi Przybyla who broke that latest story in Kavanaugh and Ramirez NBC News, Glenn Kirschner is a federal prosecutor and Geoff Bennett, White House reporter for NBC News.

Thank you all. Congratulations on breaking this story.

You know, I was looking at it and thinking this is tampering with witnesses. This is going around finding people that were going to be interviewed. And by the way, Judge Kavanaugh said he didn`t even know about this allegation until he read about it in "New Yorker." Your reporting shows it was around before the story ever ran in "New Yorker" trying to kill witnesses basically.

HEIDI PRYZBYLA, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Part of my reporting was I went back and looked at his testimony when Senator Hatch asked him, when did you find out about these allegations? He said in the "New Yorker" story.

Well, according to these text messages that we have obtained which are between two friends in this tight Yale University circle, Brett as he is referred and as well as Brett`s guy and Brett`s team were very much behind the scenes trying to control the narrative in advance. What were they doing? Number one, they were trying to get a photo of Debbie Ramirez and Brett Kavanaugh at a wedding that was ten years later showing them together smiling. Secondly, one of the women was being pursued by quote "Brett" to go public and refute Debbie Ramirez.

The White House is not responding, Chris, but Bob Bauer, who is someone who has run these types of confirmations before told us it is highly imprudent for someone in Brett Kavanaugh`s position to be a Supreme Court nominee and also with the allegations --

MATTHEWS: This Robert Bauer, the Democratic lawyer.

PRYZBYLA: Yes, the Democratic lawyer. For these allegations being so severe that he would be trying to do anything, that that would be very unwise of him to be trying to do that behind the scenes.

The second important thing, Chris, I think all of us need to take a look at which is actually lower down in the story is really compelling, is that one of the former classmates said when she went to that wedding, she noticed something very odd about Debbie Ramirez, that she was really uncomfortable and she was avoiding Brett and his friends at all costs, which was really odd since they were supposed to be friends in a tight circle.

MATTHEWS: Well, I can imagine you are trying to avoid him if that happened ten years before.

Anyway, NBC`s reports that Kavanaugh and his team try to refute Ramirez`s claim before it came public. Brett Kavanaugh appeared to tell the Senate judiciary committee as I said last week that he first told about Ramirez`s allegation from the article in "New Yorker." Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you first hear of Miss Ramirez`s allegations against you?

BRETT KAVANAUAGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: In the last -- in the period since then, the "New Yorker" story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there he is saying something that may have covered his tracks because he didn`t want to admit he was out there scurrying around getting people to say nice things about him, refute this story that was coming. He knew Ramirez was about to make the allegation about what he did with his private parts in her face, the whole thing. And yet he denied knowing about it. Why would he do that, Glenn?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, because he didn`t want --

MATTHEWS: Under oath.

KIRSCHNER: He didn`t want to be caught sort of knowing something he shouldn`t know in advance of that story breaking. But you know, and Heidi said that people have said that it`s highly imprudent for somebody in his situation to reach out and communicate with witnesses. It is beyond that. It is downright reckless. Because first of all, every attorney will tell his client do not directly communicate with witnesses regardless of whether your intentions are pure. Because if you say something to a witness like, remember, I didn`t do anything to you. Well, how is that going to be perceived?

And you know, it is always a danger zone. I won`t call it witness tampering yet because we will have to determine if judge Kavanaugh had -- was trying to corruptly persuade the witness to change her story, withhold her story, or otherwise --

MATTHEWS: I think Clinton was blamed for -- accused to that before with his secretary, about being in a room alone with Monica Lewinsky, that whole thing.

Anyway. As I mentioned, Trump lifted the White House restrictions on the FBI investigation today shortly after he claimed he was merely following the wishes the Senate. But on the questioning, however, the President was forced to admit that only he has the authority to set the limits of the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I said is let the Senate decide whatever they want to do is OK with me and also the FBI. My White House will do whatever the senators want. I`m open to whatever they want. I`m guided by the Senate. I want to make the Senate happy because ultimately they`re making the judgment. I`m not making the judgment. I have already made my judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s up to you to instruct the FBI --

TRUMP: It is up to me. It is up to me. But I am instructing them as per what I feel the Senate wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Trump is also pressed about who the FBI should or should not be allow interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For clarity, will you instruct the White House counsel Don McGahn to give the FBI free rein to interview whomever they feel is necessary?

TRUMP: Well, I have so instructed him and I did it again over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So just to be clear, should the FBI interview all three of Brett Kavanaugh`s accusers?

TRUMP: It wouldn`t bother me at all. I think the FBI should interview anybody that they want within reason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Brett Kavanaugh be interviewed by the FBI?

TRUMP: I think so. I think it`s fine if they do. I don`t know. That`s up to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Jeff, sometimes I think interaction with the media is helpful to the republic and I think this is a case where he was prodded to give them full license to do the job which he apparently told them not to do before.

GEOFF BENNETT, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And I have to give --

MATTHEWS: Anybody I know that`s been talking about this all weekend. Is this going to be a real FBI investigation or some cover up operation, some quickie job just to say they got it done, talk to three or four people? Apparently is it started off with he told them, just talk to four people. What a joke.

BENNETT: And the White House says that they were taking their direction from the Senate because the Senate said we want to interview all of the current and credible accusers. And so in the view of the White House, Julie Swetnick was not viewed as being credible. So only Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez were the two allegations that were -- the FBI was allowed - -

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk common sense. It`s a job interview.

BENNETT: Right.

MATTHEWS: This is what they kept saying during the interview. All the Republicans kept saying, this is not an investigation, this is a job interview.

OK. If it`s a job interview and you hear the guy is a problem drunk, you know, he is belligerent, he is mean drunk, wouldn`t you want to check it out beyond the two cases? Wouldn`t you like to expand your vision for people to hang out with him, drinking buddies, like this guy Dan Ludington?

BENNETT: You would but there is the time issue, too. And Republicans didn`t want to allow --.

MATTHEWS: He`s already talking to this guy.

BENNETT: Yes.

PRYZBYLA: Well, that`s the whole problem, Chris. The Republicans are saying there`s no corroboration. There is no corroboration. But let`s not talk to the people who could provide corroboration, like Christine Bertram (ph) who is the woman or Kerry Bertram (ph), who is the woman I talked to today who didn`t want to come forward and who has been trying, this is like her third attempt to try to get through to the FBI to get the FBI to talk to her to say, look, I have these text messages. I have got this memo. You need to talk to me. And just earlier before we came on air saying, they told her to talk to a field office and the field office saying, oh, we are not actually the right people for you to talk to for that.

So on the one hand, the President is saying they are expanding the investigation but are they going to talk to people like Kerry Bertram (ph)?

MATTHEWS: Here`s a familiar name, another expert in "The New York Times" op-ed former director James Comey has said that the FBI agents are capable of rooting out inconsistencies in Kavanaugh`s story.

Quote, this is Comey, "they will confront people with testimony and other accounts testing them and pushing them in a professional way. Agents have much better nonsense detectors than partisans because they aren`t starting with a conclusion. They also know little lies point too bigger lies. They know that obvious lies by the nominee about the meaning of words in a year book are a flashing signal to dig deeper." Glenn, expand.

KIRSCHNER: Yes. So, you know, unfortunately, this is an artificial exercise because if you interview one person as an FBI agent, then that`s going to lead you to two or three or four other people you`re going to need to interview, not to mention you are going to need to get text message and emails and self-cited (ph) information to corroborate what each of these people tell you. And in order to cram this down the throats of the American people in one week or less really kind of shows it to be, I hate to say, the rigged set up that it is.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, when you write a book, I read a couple books, one by Jack Kennedy. And he once said the reason people read biographies is to find out the answer to the simple question, what was he like? We were all want to know what somebody is like. And the only that answer to that is go from a close friend to a guy, somebody really closer to him than me. And there is another guy who is even closer. Another guy knew him a different way. And that`s how you find out what a guy is like whether he is a drunk or not.

BENNETT: Well, right. But Republicans hold up the three-day threshold that it took the FBI to investigate the claims made during the Anita Hill case and say why can`t this be done in three days? They really are trying to stick to this, keep this entire thing relegate today one week because time has never been on the side of this Kavanaugh confirmation process. We have already blown through the October 1st deadline for a Supreme Court. And they definitely want to have them done before the midterms. And public polling keep showing that the longer this keeps going more people oppose his nomination than support it. So that is what is driving this fast tracking to get him on the court.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your reporting tonight, Heidi. He was -- the judge, judge Kavanaugh was around calling up people making sure they were about to say the right stuff when this Ramirez case broke well ahead of the article. He went, is that jury tampering? What is that?

PRYZBYLA: I`m not a legal --

MATTHEWS: It seems he`s tampering with what people would say spontaneously.

KIRSCHNER: I mean, jury tampering, it all goes back to - and we have heard so much over the last year and a half about corrupt intent. You have to look into the mind of the person who is contacting witnesses and say --

MATTHEWS: How many entangle to save his butt?

KIRSCHNER: That would be corrupt if that`s the purpose.

MATTHEWS: OK. How you read these comments?

PRYZBYLA: This is but one stream of text messages we have obtained. And the question now is the FBI actually going to contact all of these other individuals who are in this tight knit circle, these close friends of Brett Kavanaugh to see what was going on in the run up to this investigation or into this story coming out. And what more there is about Kavanaugh`s role and trying to control the narrative and what may have also even been inadvertently admit today or leaked in those texts. So the question now, is the FBI going to actually look at that?

MATTHEWS: I`m curious how things got developed like the petition put together by the people, 60 some names --

BENNETT: It is 65 women.

MATTHEWS: OK. Who does all that orchestration?

BENNETT: I would say it happened organically over a period of days.

MATTHEWS: Explain that word here.

BENNETT: That it was not orchestrated by the Kavanaugh team, that it was Kavanaugh`s friends, 65 of whom from high school. I can`t recall 65 people I went to high school with, but apparently they have a close knit group.

MATTHEWS: I knew guys like that at school. They say, when you want to run for student council and say or vice-President, some of the guys got together and thought I should run -- no, they didn`t. Nobody got together. You wanted to run. And this guy wanted to protect himself.

BENNETT: It appears to be that way.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go on "60 Minutes" last night. Republican senator Jeff Flake and Democratic senator Chris Coons said that Kavanaugh should not be confirmed if the FBI discovered he lied in his testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the committee, nomination is over?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Oh, yes. I would think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. Well, several of Kavanaugh`s classmates have already stepped forward saying that at the very least, Kavanaugh misled the committee about his drinking. As one Yale Chat Ludington said yesterday, Brett was a frequent drinker and a heavy drinking. When Brett got drunk he was often belligerent and aggressive.

According to Ludington`s account quote "I witnessed him respond to a semi hostile remark by throwing his beer in the man`s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail."

However, here`s what President Trump said when asked about, well, today whether he will put Kavanaugh`s nomination forward if he is found to have lied about the drinking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are now concerns that he may have lied or mischaracterized his drinking while testifying. If they find that he did, do you think that bars him from being your Supreme Court nominee?

TRUMP: Well, I have -- I watched him. I was surprised at how vocal he was about the fact that he likes beer. This is not a man that said alcohol was -- that he was perfect with respect to alcohol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So if he did lie about his drinking, does that mean you will pull --?

TRUMP: I don`t think he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well Chad Ludington, the guy that went to Yale with him, last question here, said that he drank so much he couldn`t possibly remember what he has done.

KIRSCHNER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And therefore, he can`t credibly deny what he is accused of doing by Dr. Ford because he wouldn`t remember it.

KIRSCHNER: And in this day and age, with so much outrageous conduct by our high officials, some of them, you know, we are always looking for the next smoking gun. Well, can we prove what he did to Dr. Ford? Can we prove what he did to Miss Ramirez? What about Swetnick? When his unsuitability to be Supreme Court justice is hiding in plain sight, we all watched him during those confirmation hearings be disrespectful, combative, left wing conspiracy threw the Clintons in. He can`t answer questions --.

MATTHEWS: Did you ever have left wing conspiracy here? Every time he is accused of something, didn`t you ever do it? He did it to Amy Klobuchar. (INAUDIBLE) White House.

BENNETT: OK, Democrats have already signaled that is the next wave, but they are going to point to his lack of neutrality and his temperament as the issue why it should be his fault.

PRYZBYLA: He literally said what goes around comes around.

MATTHEWS: Well, things get even like Clarence, maybe.

And let me just say, I think this still lies in the hands - I think the President said something accurate today. It`s up to the Senate. That`s a fact.

BENNETT: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: And in the end of this week, if Mitch McConnell pulls a quick one this week on Friday afternoon, there is the midnight for how we are going to vote the minute we get this report, you can`t read it fast enough, I think in the end it`s going to be up to Flake.

KIRSCHNER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And he and the President are not as close as with the President of North Korea.

Anyway, thank you, Heidi Pryzbyla, Glenn Kirschner and Geoff Bennett.

Coming up, Democrats are complaining about the scope of the Kavanaugh investigations. Republicans are threatening to investigate their own Democratic colleagues. And President Trump is threatening to accuse the senator who he said has been in compromising situations. Look at the way he intimidates people. This is street corner stuff. Well, not surprising. And it`s only Monday.

And what will the investigation into the partisan fighting mean for the midterms? Who stands to win from this whole contested mess? "Saturday Night Live" was back this weekend and it came back well. And weighed in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put this spring cord now. Don`t vote. No discussion. You give him a probe and you let him do whatever the hell he wants.

MATT DAMON AS BRETT KAVANAUGH, ACTOR: So, am I angry? You are dam right. But if you think I`m angry now, you just wait until I get on that Supreme Court because then you are all going to pay. Give me a can of water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Matt Damon was spectacular.

Plus, Trump has an interesting choice of words out there to describe his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. On the campaign rally over the week, he says he loves the guy.

Finally we finish tonight with Trump watch. This is HARDBALL where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: In a new Quinnipiac poll, 48 percent of Americans say that judge Kavanaugh should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court. That`s 48 percent. Forty-two percent said he should be confirmed. So is he down 48-42. And when asked who they believe most, 48 percent said they believe Dr. Blasey Ford, 41 percent said they believe Kavanaugh. That`s consistent whether they think he should be on or not.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel badly for all parties. I feel badly for everybody. I feel badly for our country.

This is so bad for our country. But I will tell you, I watched those senators on the Democrat side, and I thought it was a disgrace, and partially because I know they have. I know them too well. And you know what? They are not angels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump this morning unloading on Senate Judiciary Democrats for their handling of Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination, also I would say threatening them.

Over the weekend, Trump complained that Democrats were raising questions about the scope of the investigation -- quote -- "The Democrats are only thinking obstruct and delay. For them, it was never enough. Never will be enough."

In reality, it was Republican Senator Jeff Flake who forced the weeklong investigation into Kavanaugh before holding a confirmation on his nomination. But that didn`t stop Trump from making his vague claim without any evidence about an unnamed Democratic senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know, I tell you what, I happen to know some United States senators, one who is on the other side who is pretty aggressive. I have seen that person in very bad situations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Trump also indicated he`s open to changing his mind on the Kavanaugh pick if the FBI investigation uncovers relevant information on the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have a very open mind. I just think he`s an outstanding person. I think he`s been treated horribly.

Even if you were going to bring up some of the subjects that were brought up, they didn`t have to treat him so viciously and so violently as they have treated him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Fore more, I`m joined by Adrienne Elrod, former director of strategic communications for Hillary for America, and John Brabender, a Republican strategist.

So, what do you think of the president threatening a member of the Democratic side of the Judiciary Committee with personal information he has on him or her?

ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Or her, right.

Look, this is what he does. He deflects. Whenever there is something he doesn`t want to talk about, when he doesn`t want to take the blame for him or his own party, he deflects. He tries to blame it on Democrats.

I`m frankly surprised that he didn`t try to bring President Clinton or Hillary Clinton into this today. So who knows what he`s saying. I think it`s just your typical Trump threat that`s baseless.

MATTHEWS: It`s just what Judge Kavanaugh did a couple of times with Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and for Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

How about? How many blackouts have you had? This turning the gun around is really pretty tough stuff in politics.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, can you imagine how Middle America looks at this and thinks that Washington believes we`re the moral authority?

On arguing, on sex, on drinking, on everything else. That`s why so many heads are exploding. And, by the way, the Quinnipiac poll you mentioned, 49 percent in that poll did say that they thought Judge Kavanaugh was part of a political attack against him. And so there was some sympathy for him in that poll as well.

MATTHEWS: Well, that could be both the truth and the messenger could be both true. You can have some dirt on somebody that`s real dirt, as I think the Democrats believe they have got on Kavanaugh, which is true.

It`s not like they`re making stuff up. Well, no, different questions. Yes, the Democrats are happy to have this stuff to use against Kavanaugh, but don`t tell me the stuff against Kavanaugh isn`t accurate. Those are totally different questions.

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: We have moved away from the...

ELROD: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Anita Hill was real. I don`t doubt that a lot of liberal groups didn`t wanted her to talk. Right?

ELROD: And Republicans have not learned one thing. Especially Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have not learned one thing since 1991 during the Anita Hill testimony.

MATTHEWS: Well, they hired a female assistant.

ELROD: Yes, the assistant.

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: Then I take it, it doesn`t bother you that they were caught leaking information that Professor Ford asked them not to? Obviously...

(CROSSTALK)

ELROD: We don`t know who leaked it. We don`t know who leaked it.

BRABENDER: Would you support an investigation of that?

(CROSSTALK)

ELROD: I think that`s ridiculous. It`s ridiculous.

BRABENDER: Why?

ELROD: Again, you have got Tom Cotton, who is the president`s basically like, you know, top surrogate in the Senate...

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: Do you think there should be an investigation that they happen to forget to tell Professor Ford that they could have gone to California to do this behind closed doors, like she requested? Instead, they wanted to do this infomercial.

ELROD: I think we need to keep in mind here that Senator Feinstein was protecting Professor Blasey Ford`s request to keep this private.

BRABENDER: Well, since that didn`t happen, shouldn`t Senator Feinstein be the first to call for an investigation to find out how that didn`t happen?

ELROD: No. No, no, there should not be an investigation on this.

BRABENDER: Of course not, because you`re on the other side.

(CROSSTALK)

ELROD: We`re simply trying need to get to the bottom of what is his character.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: First of all, let`s get to this point.

Over the weekend, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas said the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, should be investigated over who made Christine Blasey Ford`s allegations public. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m going to call for an investigation of what happened in this committee, who betrayed Dr. Ford`s trust. We`re going to do a wholesale full-scale investigation of what I think was a despicable process to deter it from happening again.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: They have betrayed her. Dianne Feinstein and her staff is going to face an investigation why they leaked that. All of this could have been done discretely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in a statement late today, Senator Feinstein again denied leaking Dr. Ford`s letter, saying -- quote -- "President Trump and Senate Republicans are trying to deflect attention from Brett Kavanaugh`s sexual assault allegations by saying my staff or I leaked the letter from Dr. Ford. They`re wrong."

Let me ask you this. Wouldn`t it have been better, because I think your side is suggesting that, and your side is opposing it, wouldn`t it have been better if we kept that letter secret and nobody leaked it, if they had held a private conversation with Dr. Ford out in L.A. somewhere, in California somewhere, and kept it all as a backroom discussion, and not had her testify before the American people this week?

Do you think that would have been a better development?

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: I think it would have been better if that is indeed what she asked for.

MATTHEWS: Why is it better for the country not to hear her words about a guy who may be seated on the Supreme Court?

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: This is the arguments that the Republicans are making. They`re using her as a pawn. The timing of the leak is suspicious. The fact they leaked it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I don`t doubt the possibility there was skullduggery here.

But the fact is, wasn`t it better to know what this woman believed she went through and its relevance to this nomination and confirmation? It is an advise-and-consent question. If I were a senator, I would be -- have been glad to have heard her very powerful testimony and not say, well, a couple of staff guys talked to her out there in L.A. and she says this.

I don`t think that would have been as powerful.

ELROD: Yes. No, I completely agree.

I think, number one, the American people needed to see this. And she was willing to go in front of the committee in a very public format. And I think that was important here.

And, number two, we have got to keep in mind here she is not in a criminal trial or a trial in front of a jury. This is simply a testimony in front of a very key committee for a seat on the top court of the land. Brett Kavanaugh could be on that court, on the Supreme Court for 30 or 40 years.

There is a lot at stake here. I think the public, the general public deserved to see this.

MATTHEWS: What do you think? Do you think she`s telling the truth?

BRABENDER: I have no reason to think she`s not telling the truth. Of course. How would I know? She sounded very convincing. I thought he sounded very convincing.

MATTHEWS: Do you?

BRABENDER: So, what do we have?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You felt that he wasn`t just upset that he had been challenged?

BRABENDER: I think that somebody in that position, if they were falsely accused, he reacted the exact way that they would.

But here`s the part I don`t understand today. So, the Democrats, Senator Coons said...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Would you say to a Senator, did you ever black out? What do you drink? What`s your favorite booze, these questions?

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: I thought he was fine until he got to Senator Klobuchar, who I love and thinks is one of the nicest people I have met, and hope she runs for president on the Democrat side.

I think she will lose, but...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: By the way, I don`t think you`re right. But she was tremendous down at "The Texas Tribune" this weekend. I was just down there this weekend.

(CROSSTALK)

ELROD: She was. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: But here`s what I don`t understand.

Why doesn`t somebody talk about -- so you have the Democrats, Senator Coons, say, let`s just do one week. So, can do this all in a week. So the president says yes. The Senate says yes.

Now the Democrats are saying, oh, my gosh, it`s only a week. It was their suggestion.

MATTHEWS: No, they`re not saying that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They`re saying, it`s only four witnesses. They`re only saying four witnesses. And, by the way, Mitch has already revved it up for a vote this Friday. You know what he`s up to.

BRABENDER: The FBI isn`t one guy and an Uber driver.

(CROSSTALK)

ELROD: But the investigation, the scope is limited.

BRABENDER: But isn`t a week enough for you?

ELROD: And that`s the issue. That`s the issue. This is not -- this is a sham investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: What would the scope be?

(CROSSTALK)

ELROD: To allow all the witnesses to come forward who have credible accusations.

BRABENDER: And how long should that take?

ELROD: As long as it takes. This is the Supreme Court of the United States.

BRABENDER: Could it take after the 2018 elections maybe?

ELROD: Possibly, yes, yes.

BRABENDER: Yes, of course.

MATTHEWS: All right. OK. Thank you.

I think, Adrienne, you let -- you fell into his trap there. He wants you to say all you want to do is delay this thing.

Anyway -- you don`t just want to delay it, do you?

ELROD: No, but I think it needs to take the time that needs.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Adrienne Elrod, thank you. And, John Brabender, you bring the cause right in the room with us, John.

Up next: The November is just around the corner, of course. Will we see a Kavanaugh wave? Or if so, who is it going to help? I have a theory. I`m going to test it. I think, if he gets confirmed, the Republicans cut their losses. I think, if he doesn`t get confirmed, they get hurt on both sides.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Democrats are willing to do anything and to hurt anyone to get their way, like they`re doing with Judge Kavanaugh.

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Do you believe he just said that? Democrats will do anything to get their way.

We`re talking -- Trump`s talking here. Trump`s talking, him, saying he doesn`t believe the ends justifies the means.

Anyway, that was President Trump just moments ago at a rally in Tennessee. With just over a month now until midterm elections, the debate over Judge Kavanaugh`s nomination is likely to be in voters` minds, don`t you think, when they head to the ballot box.

According to NBC News, there are predictions of a Kavanaugh wave -- that`s the phrase -- in November. But the question is, which side? At least here. Democrats say Dr. Ford`s testimony made it clear that the wave of women what marched against Trump beginning the day after that election shared stories of abuse in the MeToo era and powered female candidates to primary victories this year.

That is for sure. That can only build. And Republicans say they see signs that Kavanaugh`s defiant testimony brought the GOP together and fired up apathetic base voters the party needs.

Well, let`s bring in tonight`s Roundtable, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," Dana Milbank, political columnist for "The Washington Post," Eugene Scott, political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Look, first of all, there is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Ford is going to help the Democrats, because she was the most likable public event in American politics in I don`t know how long. People liked her. They believed her to be authentic. They didn`t think she was political, which makes the -- oddly enough, helps one side, because she didn`t look to be a politician.

And I think the other guy -- I guess Lindsey fired up men in this kind of strange moment of scream for help kind of thing. But I have always liked - - despite everything he does, I find that I do like Lindsey Graham. I don`t -- can`t quite explain why I do like him, because I have known him a long time and I do like him.

But I don`t think they`re equal. There`s no comparison to me to how effective she was compared to his sort of desperate cry for help, Lindsey`s.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": But I do think that it`s helpful for Democrats because women who have been on fire for about two years have got more fuel on that fire.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Look at how many winners won in the primaries.

PAGE: But I think it`s also helpful for Republicans, because Republicans, we have seen this enthusiasm gap.

This was a reminder to Republicans about why they like being in power, the ability to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. I think the defiance that we saw Judge Kavanaugh show in the hearing will help Republicans turn out their vote. And that had been a problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do they have to win?

OK. You are playing it so down the middle and so straight. You`re not giving my answer.

OK, let`s do it this way. If Kavanaugh squeaks through this Friday night or Saturday night, he gets through with 50 votes, he`s the next member of the nine-man -- nine-member Supreme Court, he is the middle guy, the fifth, number one most decisive vote in the Supreme Court for years to come, that helps them, right?

PAGE: Helps who?

MATTHEWS: The Republicans.

PAGE: I think it helps Republicans turn out voters, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MILBANK: I would say it`s the opposite.

PAGE: Well, you would be wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

MILBANK: Well, it`s wrong whenever I disagree with Susan.

I think, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, particularly if it`s some sort of a Friday night scenario, before the investigation is through, I think...

MATTHEWS: With all the crap showing.

MILBANK: I think the anger that`s been building will turn into rage.

The backlash will be the sort of which you have never seen, to use a phrase Trump often does.

Now, on the other -- and if Kavanaugh is confirmed, well, you can only be so angry about the treatment, because they got the result they want.

Now, if Kavanaugh is rejected, well, then I think you do have a lot of the angry Lindsey Graham types.

EUGENE SCOTT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I definitely think, if Kavanaugh`s confirmed, it helps the Republicans, in part because so many conservatives back Trump while holding their nose with the hope that he would deliver judges, specifically white evangelicals.

And so if he is able to say, I got this guy through, like I told you I would, I think he will win.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me talk winning and losing in this weird world.

What started the women`s marches down Fifth Avenue in New York, which -- I forget which direction they were going, they must have been going. Anyway, coming along Fifth Avenue. I saw -- I had never seen a reaction like that. And my wife, my -- all my female -- all my relatives were in those marches. All of them were out there, all of them. I mean all of them were out there. Even the more conservatives are all out there against Trump.

And I just say -- well, there aren`t many conservatives in that crowd.

But, anyway, don`t you think there would be the same reaction? I think the same. I`m with Dana.

I think, if this guy walks in Sunday morning, people pick up their newspapers and see -- or they watch "Meet the Press," say, oh, my God, he`s in, with all the problems of boozing and pushing people around and belligerent drunkenness? And this guy walks through, because the men are running the world again?

PAGE: I think it reminds women, especially, as we know, suburban women who are key in a lot of these -- especially some of these competitive House races, it`s going to remind them how mad they were two years ago.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: And turn them out.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Without a Hillary issue to get in the way.

PAGE: I`m just saying it`s also energizing for the other side.

MILBANK: We also have to remember, we are five weeks from the election.

And in Trump time, we could have a dozen calamities between now and then that will have Kavanaugh on the back burner.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Anyway, finally, "Saturday Night Live" kicked off at season premiere with a skit about Kavanaugh`s testimony. Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE"")

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Let me tell you this. I`m going to start at 11.

(LAUGHTER)

DAMON: I`m going to take it to about a 15 real quick!

(LAUGHTER)

DAMON: This is my speech. There are others like it, but this is mine.

(LAUGHTER)

DAMON: I wrote it myself last night while screaming into an empty bag of Doritos.

(LAUGHTER)

DAMON: Now, I am usually an optimist. I`m a keg-is-half-full kind of guy.

(LAUGHTER)

DAMON: Dr. Ford has no evidence, none! Meanwhile, I have got these.

(LAUGHTER)

DAMON: I have got these calenders, these beautiful, creepy calenders.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Dana, his friendship for his friends was over the top, his love of Squi and all these guys and P.J. and, what`s his name, Mark, and he was crying over the calender events that he shared with them.

It was frightening.

MILBANK: It was a very beautiful moment on Saturday night.

(LAUGHTER)

MILBANK: Look, I think the skit might have gone on a bit too long. But that was just sheer, sheer brilliance.

MATTHEWS: I thought his acting was great.

Jeff (sic), the acting.

SCOTT: Yes.

I mean, he definitely did a great job. I don`t think most people before that would have thought of Matt Damon when they thought of Brett Kavanaugh. But I think a lot of people -- we`ve seen these pieces. We`ve got one in "The Washington Post" right now, conservative men really identify with his response and their response always was, if that came at me, those accusations, I would have been angry and crying as well.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I wonder. My feeling is Trump`s watching it, this guy cries. I don`t cry. I fight, but I don`t cry. It was too anguished.

MILBANK: But he would like the anger -- there is something to the notion that this becomes something about drinking beer in high school and college --

MATTHEWS: That`s the way he spun it.

MILBANK: That`s where Kavanaugh would like it to be, not about the sex.

MATTHEWS: What about this new guy, Chad Ludington, who said they drank to the point of not being able to remember what they did that night? That goes into the problem.

MILBANK: I`ve never heard of such a thing happening.

MATTHEWS: That is what they`re -- he`s trying to build a case just like they say about Dr. Ford, oh, something awful happened to her. They all say this. It was just somebody else.

One thing they can say about their guy, you know, he probably did forget it. Yes, it happened, he was awful, he was awful. But he forgot it.

PAGE: So, if it continues along --

MATTHEWS: Because that`s what Ludington said tonight.

PAGE: Right, I understand that. We have some friends saying yes, he did drink too much. He was a mean drunk. And yet you don`t get a corroboration from the more serious accusations. Then it seems to me it doesn`t --

MATTHEWS: It fits with the main charge what he did that night.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: It`s consistent, it`s not determinative. It seems to me you need more than that to stop him from being --

MILBANK: He set himself up by this for doing the whole choir boy thing. And now you have Jeff Flake and Chris Coons saying if he lied about his testimony, that`s not necessarily just lying about the accusations. Jeff Flake and Chris Coons are saying so.

SCOTT: And the conservative voters are being sympathetic to that because they`re viewing that as goal post shifting. But they really could be more connected if you have a larger narrative that points to someone who just doesn`t know what they could be doing when they`re not conscious of where they are.

PAGE: Anyway, Susan, Dana, and Eugene, are frankly wonderfully sticking around.

And up next, President Trump is boasting about his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He said that the two -- this is strange language -- fell in love.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

During his West Virginia rally on Saturday night, President Trump boasted about the progress he had made with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and provided a surprising description of their relationship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was really being tough, and so was he. We would go back and forth, and then we fell in love, OK? No, really, he wrote me beautiful letters and they`re great letters. We fell in love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m back with HARDBALL round table.

We`re stunned. Susan, Dana and Eugene -- I think this is a Cyrano de Bergerac of the letter. I mean, fell in love?

PAGE: If loving him is wrong, he didn`t want to be right.

MATTHEWS: Dana, this is beyond satire. You can`t beat this thing.

MILBANK: It`s a matter of some geopolitical concern because what happens when Vladimir Putin says that and they had fallen in love previously and then you`ve got --

MATTHEWS: This a triangle?

MILBANK: Don`t say devil`s triangle.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I just said triangle. I mean, I kept thinking, Eugene, love means never having to say you`re sorry. What does it mean when he starts blowing up, shooting up those rockets again?

SCOTT: Yes, like we have to remember, this is someone who has real human rights violations concerns. I mean, the U.N. says there is murder and executions, forced abortions. You would think people who are more sympathetic to those issues would bristle with Trump saying he`s falling in love with a dictator.

MATTHEWS: Trump decides, though. He says 90 percent of Republicans, yes, I think I`m in love with Kim Jong-un, too.

PAGE: He`s not in love with Justin Trudeau.

MATTHEWS: He`s cute.

MILBANK: Well, he does like him again. He`s not a terribly faithful lover. And what have you done for me lately? And just today, he decided that weak and dishonest Justin Trudeau is, in fact, a good man who does good things for his people.

SCOTT: Maybe he wrote him a letter. Maybe it was a letter.

MATTHEWS: USMCA, new trade deal sounds better than NAFTA.

SCOTT: That`s what he said.

MATTHEWS: I know. How do we explain this? How can he get away with this stuff? I`m out of words.

Make it official when you say I`m in love with this guy, I don`t know what to say.

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

(COMERMCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, just a few minutes ago at a rally in Tennessee, President Trump attacked possible 2020 challenger -- two of them, Elizabeth Warren, again calling her Pocahontas, and former Vice President Joe Biden. Here he goes at, he`s starting early.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Democrats can no longer be trusted with your power. You can`t let it happen. They have moved so far left that Pocahontas is considered a conservative.

That`s right, Elizabeth Warren. She said she`s considering a run for the presidency. Please, please run.

How about that group Biden? Biden. We call him 1 percent Biden. Until Obama took him off the trash heap, he couldn`t do anything. Now he`s talking about running.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s a little rough. Anyway, we`ll right back.

I mean, people like --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.

Susan, tell me something I don`t know.

PAGE: OK, it`s October 1st, the first day of the fiscal year.

MATTHEWS: Today.

PAGE: What we usually do today? What we usually do to celebrate the new fiscal year is to shutdown the government. We didn`t do that this October 1st. But don`t worry, we`re going to shutdown the government on December 7th when the money runs out and when Trump demands more funding for the wall.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MILBANK: Well, the president said today that Kavanaugh couldn`t have done anything too bad because he was number one in his class at Yale. Now, I was at Yale a few years after Kavanaugh and I can state he was not number one in his class. What he was is cum laude which sounds good, except that in those days, half the class was graduating cum laude.

And I can state from personal experience, it is possible to devote almost entire part of your college career to drinking beer and still graduate cum laude.

MATTHEWS: Were you cum laude?

MILBANK: Yes, and I like beer.

MATTHEWS: I`ll extend you one more. Of all the years I`ve known you, you have done me the favor of never telling me you went to Yale.

Let me go to you, Gene. No bragging from you. But go ahead.

SCOTT: Well, in a more heavier note, more than 13,000 kids are being held by the government unaccompanied minors and there is so little room for them that like 1,600 of them have been moved to tents in the middle of the night just to have housing for them and to protect them and keep them from running away.

They are no longer being sent to school, which was the norm before.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCOTT: And it`s just a really rough situation. And it`s not looking like the Trump administration has any solutions to the problem.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for keeping up with something that`s really human important.

Anyway, NBC spoke with Chad Ludington tonight. He was a roommate or classmate of Kavanaugh at Yale. Let`s listen to Chad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAD LUDINGTON, CLASSMATE OF KAVANAUGH AT YALE: Again, like I said before, it was a sense that the truth is being distorted in Brett`s dissembling. For four nights, I couldn`t sleep. So, it kind of keeps you up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Susan Page.

The guy went on and on. You`ll read it in the paper. Lots more from that guy, Ludington has a story to tell about Judge Kavanaugh. Dana Milbank, Eugene Scott, thank you all tonight.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Monday, October 1st, 2018.

Ask yourself at what stage of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination process of those supporting him wanted us, the American people, to hear the truth, the full truth and nothing but the truth?

Actually it`s been just the opposite. What has upset them is having Dr. Ford testify in public. They had hoped to keep her story limited in the back room where they could do what they wanted with it or do nothing at all. They hoped to get Kavanaugh confirmed without all this further investigation. Again and again, they put down an FBI probe as a waste of time.

Well, then, confronted with the need for some sort of probe, they tried to limit it to a fewer than a handful of witnesses. And again, it was damage control. Not getting out the truth, but limiting how much truth got out.

And now tonight, we learn one further step at keeping the truth from us. Quote, witness tampering is the act of attempting to alter or prevent the testimony of witnesses within criminal or civil proceedings, laws regarding witness tampering also apply to proceedings before the U.S. Congress, executive departments and administrative agencies, the Congress.

NBC News is reporting tonight that Brett Kavanaugh, a federal judge, actively called on friends to refute the accusation that he exposed himself to a college roommate or classmate. At every stage, the goal here has been to keep us from knowing the truth about the man who could spend the rest of his days sitting in judgment of us.

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

And today, by the way, is President Carter`s 94th birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. President.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

END

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