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Key Senators waiting for FBI probe to finish. TRANSCRIPT: 10/2/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Ayesha Rascoe, Michael Steel

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 2, 2018 Guest: Ayesha Rascoe, Michael Steel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The midnight special? Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

The FBI is just three more days now to complete its background investigation to President Trump`s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Three more days. But NBC News has learned that the investigation could wrap up as early as tonight. It`s Tuesday night according to sources familiar with the matter. Tuesday night. They are done already. But even as the FBI continued their work today, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he is full speed ahead on the confirmation vote.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: One thing for sure, the Senate will vote on judge Kavanaugh here on this floor this week.


MATTHEWS: Well, as for the investigation itself, today attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford whose allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh sparked the entire background probe told NBC News, you won`t believe this, the FBI has not contacted her. Dr. Ford has not even heard from the FBI.

The FBI has completed its interview on Mark Judge, however, Kavanaugh`s friend who Ford identified as being in the room when she was allegedly assaulted. And attorneys for Deborah Ramirez who alleged Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a dorm party while they were at Yale issued a statement today saying she spoke to the FBI for over four - actually two hours on Saturday. So some are being investigated.

According to Ramirez`s attorney, at the end of the interview, however, her lawyers provided the FBI with names and known contact information of additional witnesses totaling more than 20 people. We are not aware of the FBI affirmatively reaching out to those witnesses. So not only they are not interviewing Ford, they are not interviewing Kavanaugh and they are not following up what any leads that they get. Anyway, Kavanaugh has denied both allegations, of course.

At the White House today President Trump once again expressed optimism about Kavanaugh`s fate and defended him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that judge Kavanaugh is doing pretty, it seems to me, over the last 24 hours. A lot is going to depend on what comes back from the FBI in terms of their additional number seven investigation. But I think that judge Kavanaugh is doing very well right now.

Hopefully as Mitch said they will have a vote by the end of the week and it will be a positive vote. But it will be dependent on what comes back from the FBI. If you can be an exemplary person for 35 years and then somebody comes and they say you did this or that and they give three witnesses and the three witnesses at this point do not corroborate what you were saying, it`s a very scary situation where you are guilty until proven incent.


MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, Republican senator Jeff Flake who forced the investigation himself said the FBI`s work should not be restricted.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: We both hope and have been pushing the White House to make sure it is a fulsome investigation and it is not unduly limited. And I hope they are doing it to find fact. My hope is that they, as they interview the individuals then they will immediately follow up on other leads that they might have.


MATTHEWS: The "Washington Post" reports that while the White House allowed the bureau to expand the scope of the probe quote "the FBI will not, for example, conduct an unfettered of Kavanaugh`s youthful drinking or examine statement`s Kavanaugh made about his alcohol consumptions during a senate judiciary committee hearing to see if those answers were accurate or misleading, the people familiar with the matter said."

I`m joined now by Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney and senior FBI official and Eugene Robinson, the columnist for the "Washington Post."

I`m glad I have you here, Chuck. But you know, I`m stunned. They are not going to talk to Dr. Ford who brought this all about with her accusation. They are not going to talk to the person she has accused. That is Kavanaugh. They are not going to follow up on the drinking situation which was pretty much laid out during the hearings and his I love beer 29 times, he said during the hearing. They are not following on any of these character questions or any witnesses. They are doing only the minimum, and even not that.

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It is important to understand why they are not doing those things, Chuck. And the reason is this. In a background investigation they work for the White House. The White House is the client. The White House directs the background investigation. If this were the other thing, a criminal investigation, they would have the latitude to do all of that. So it is the difference between capability which they absolutely have and authority which they do not have.

MATTHEWS: This is what most people think Trump would like the Mueller probe to be like.


MATTHEWS: In other words, don`t look too far. Don`t see -- if you see something, don`t say something. It`s exactly what he wants. Mueller walking like horse blinders. Let me look at this one little thing. If that is not true, do not go any further.

ALKSNE: And it makes the point on the Mueller investigation why Rosenstein is so important. You can tell whoever is in charge of the investigation is in a position to alter the investigation.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, how the real one.

ALKSNE: It have a real one because if a Trump was in-charge of Mueller he could reduce the budget. He could say no one, say we are not doing that witness. We not looking - we are not going to travel overseas. It is the exact the same thing. This thing is completely rigged. The fact that they would not --

MATTHEWS: Does it pass the smell test the way it looks? They are going to finish tonight at midnight and don`t even talk to the accuser or the accused. They don`t follow up on the character questions. It depends on mean drunk accusations which I think is a serious accusations already checked-up on.

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, look. It doesn`t pass my smell test. But that is not the important thing. The important thing is whether it passes Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins` smell test. And if it does, if they feel this gives enough sort of cover, if that is what they are looking for, in order to vote for Kavanaugh, then, you know, the fix is in.

MATTHEWS: OK. Fair enough.

ROBINSON: I`m not sure about that yet.

MATTHEWS: Well, we know senator Collins of Maine, one of the people who is going to be decisive here, we know that she has said I want to know about Swetnick. Now maybe there are some doge in this theory in that accusations, but she wants it followed up on, Chuck.


MATTHEWS: She said so.

ROSENBERG: Right. And I hope they talk to everyone.

Look. In an investigation, Chris, you talk to people who know a lot of stuff. You know, you talk to people who know a little bit of stuff and you talk to people who are making stuff up.


ROSENBERG: You talk to everybody. That is the point of doing a full investigation. I have no sense sitting who is telling the truth and who is not. I do have a sense of how good investigations are done, however. And in good investigations, you have the latitude to talk to everyone with whom you need to speak.

MATTHEWS: Well, there is new stuff, a new report tonight from "the New York Times" depicts Kavanaugh in high school as a member of a small clique of football players who dominated Georgetown preps, work hard, play hard culture. His circle celebrated a culture of heavy drinking even by the statements of that era.

Well, "the New York Times" obtained the letter that Kavanaugh allegedly wrote to high school classmates who rented a beach front property together in Ocean City in Maryland back in 1983. In the letter according to the Times, Kavanaugh wrote whoever arrived first at the condo should quote "warn the neighbors that we are loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us."

Cynthia, this guy carries a poster around with him.

ALKSNE: Right. Well, if they are not going to look into it and he has lied about it, I mean, the fix is in. I mean, if all Collins wants to do is find out about this last third accusation, I will tell you even though Chuck is correct, you want to track everything down, it`s not --


MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Eugene.

ROBINSON: No. I was going to say, the thing that disturbs me is that they are not having any further contact with Dr. Blasey Ford. Because to me, you know, a very credible allegation was made in that hearing on Thursday by a witness who had no reason that we know of to lie, who didn`t, as far as we know, have a pattern of why, a very credible person, you know, a scholar, a Ph.D., a successful academic, kind of witness you would put some stock in. I mean, testimony is --.

MATTHEWS: Why they didn`t interview him?

ROBINSON: Well, you know.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go - let`s recall --.


MATTHEWS: She is accused him of what she believed at the time and paired up because she felt she was the victim and locked the door. These guys take her in the room. This wasn`t, you know, romancing anybody. This is taking a person they don`t even really know, take them in the room and lock the door behind her, turn up the music to cover up whatever they think is going to happen or plan to happen. And she has a right to believe as an instinctive human being, I`m in trouble here. These people are about to assault me in some way. I have a right and I better damn well do everything I can to escape from this situation because it looks criminal to me. And then say the guy can go on the court.

ALKSNE: Right. And there is an important witness that the FBI isn`t bothering to interview which is important to the identification. The guy that she was dating, (INAUDIBLE), they are not interviewing, he introduced her to that crowd, and that clique. That is how we know that she knew him.


ALKSNE: That`s an important witness --.

MATTHEWS: Judge Kavanaugh said that on July 1st of that year, he went out for a Brodsky (ph) party, a ski party with these five guys. He listed all the guys he went bruising with.

ALKSNE: Right. They should all interviewed.

MATTHEWS: And now he says I don`t remember anything like that. He wrote it in his diary, Chuck. There is evidence to begin with, that he recorded it.

ROSENBERG: And Cynthia is right. They should all be interviewed. One caveat, we talk about this all the time, when we are talking about the Mueller investigation, you always save your most important witnesses for the end.

ROBINSON: That`s true.

ROSENBERG: You work up the ladder or if you prefer different metaphor.

MATTHEWS: That`s midnight tonight.


ROSENBERG: No, we don`t know that for sure. But or you work from the outside in. And so, maybe, just maybe, they are talking to everyone else first and saving the most important witnesses for the end. I hope that is the case.

MATTHEWS: If it is not, the FBI is going to be blamed because despite what you say --

ROSENBERG: That`s is unfair.

MATTHEWS: It is unfair, that`s because you say it is unfair. But the FBI is supposed to be, and you know, FBI in peace and war, they are supposed to look out for us. They are supposed to protect us.

ROSENBERG: At least they can --.

MATTHEWS: And now you are saying -- are they private guards.

ROBINSON: They can`t do what they are not authorized to do, Chris.

ALKSNE: But there will be memos to the file.

ROBINSON: You know, they won`t. (INAUDIBLE).

MATTHEWS: Why don`t they quit? Why doesn`t Christopher Wray quit and say I didn`t come here to be your personal bodyguard?

ROSENBERG: There is a long-time standing protocol between the FBI and White House for background investigations, not for criminal, but for background investigations where the White House is the client. And so they want it reopened, you reopen it. If they want it just talk to Chris and Cynthia --.

MATTHEWS: But why does the Congress make them our clients? Because they are the ones that asking me to do this?

ROSENBERG: Because that is not - well, because it`s really the nominee is the President`s nominee.



MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Chuck. I think we should (INAUDIBLE) here.

OK. The FBI (INAUDIBLE) presidency. We have a narrow directive here. The Congress will say, well, we asked them to do an investigation but we weren`t going to vote. But we didn`t know that he was going to narrow it.

Gene, talk to the politics of this. Because it looks like it is very possible it come Saturday night, they will confirm this guy and Flake will say it was the President who narrowed the investigation. Susan Collins will say, you know, I wish they would ask more questions. I guess the FBI wasn`t there for her. It was his fault and they still vote for the guy.

ROBINSON: Well, then the focus is on Flake and Collins and Murkowski and other Republican senators who were going along with such a charade. I mean, and because it is kind of obvious you can`t just say, well, the White House, you know, we demand it. They demand it.

MATTHEWS: They did it.

ROBINSON: On paying to voting no.

MATTHEWS: Right. It wasn`t Trump`s idea.

ROBINSON: Exactly.


ROBINSON: They demanded an actual investigation. So if they don`t get one, how are they going to --?

MATTHEWS: Well, it doesn`t look like they are going to get one -- Cynthia.

ALKSNE: Well, after the midterms, my guess is if the Democrats take the House all these memos will be subpoenaed.

MATTHEWS: Yes. To what effect?

ALKSNE: Well --.

MATTHEWS: Thanks - judge.

ALKSNE: Well, but it`s important to have the transparency and to find out exactly what happened.

MATTHEWS: Cow is out of the barn, milk spilled. They got the Supreme Court judge right in the middle for the rest of his life. As I said, worst case scenario, maybe.


MATTHEWS: Reporting by the FBI, it is reporting that the FBI could be wrapping up this tonight. Today Senator Mitch McConnell indicated it will not be made public. In other words, this report is coming out at midnight. But nobody is going to get to see this except 100 senators. See if that stays secret. Go ahead.


MCCONNELL: We will get an FBI report soon. It will be made available to each senator and only senators will be allowed to look at it. That is the way these reports are always handled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much time do you plan it to take senators to read and digest the FBI fillings before you hold a vote?

MCCONNELL: It shouldn`t take long. They will read it as quickly as they can. And - but that will not be used as another reason for delay. I can tell you that.


MATTHEWS: Does anybody know how they deliver these little package of joy? I mean, they deliver the message to the each senator. Most senators rely on staff. They are not like House members. They rely on stuff. They have an executive assistant. They have a chief of staff. They have all kinds of communications people. And they sit down with their peeps. And they figure something out. They don`t go sneaking into a little back room and then rip it up and put it in the burner.

Chuck, do you really believe that the Republican leader thinks that he can keep this, he can sequester this document with 100 senators looking at it?

ROSENBERG: Seems unlikely, Chris. But on the other hand, that is the protocol. You don`t release these things publically. At least, the FBI does not. The FBI treats it confidentially[DB1]. If the senators can`t do that, then shame on them.

MATTHEWS: Suppose the report comes out Mr. Chad Ludington says he drank too much. He was a really heavy drinker. On the other hand, Chris Dudley said he never saw him drink too much. Do those accounts both show up in the report and they leave it to the senators and say, well, they believe godly or Ludington?

ROSENBERG: What the FBI will do is interview whoever they interview and write up a report of the interview. They are not going to conclude that one is telling the truth and the other is not. They are going to simply say here you go, Chris. This is what they said --.

MATTHEWS: Suppose they said one of them is lying. Do they say that?

ROSENBERG: We don`t put in our reports of interview what we think. We put in what we are told.

MATTHEWS: Well, how about a person who gives inconsistent testimony?

ALKSNE: That goes in.

MATTHEWS: Can you say that? (INAUDIBLE) testimony.


MATTHEWS: Do you think that is going to be coherent?

ALKSNE: No. He said x and then seven minutes later in the interview he said y.

ROSENBERG: Cynthia is right. You don`t characterize it. You report.

MATTHEWS: OK. How about if I asked whether Bart O`Kavanaugh was Brett Kavanaugh or not and he said no. You actually type that up as a serious response?


MATTHEWS: Did anybody say maverick? It was Brett and Bart Maverick. I think I know where he got the idea.

Anyway, meanwhile, the fate of judge Kavanaugh`s confirmation most likely comes down to a few undecided senators. Let`s listen to what some of these key people have to say today.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: The FBI is doing its investigation. We need them to do their investigation. And what I`m going to do is I`m going to wait to see what comes back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I ask you, though, if it turns out Kavanaugh lied about --?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That finishes everything.

FLAKE: I was very troubled by the tone of the remarks. The interactions with the members was sharp and partisan. And that concerns me. And I tell myself you give a little leeway because of what he has been through. But on the other hand, we can`t have this on the court. We simply can`t.


MATTHEWS: Well, as we used to say at Philly, the big five, Gene, the big five are these, three Republicans and two Democrats.

ROBINSON: That`s the big five that we know of, I mean. And you know, there are other Republican senators who haven`t had a lot to say about this nomination all along, one presumes.

MATTHEWS: You think Corker is in play in.

ROBINSON: I have no reason to believe that he is. It is just that he hasn`t talked a whole lot. Tim Scott hasn`t talked a lot. (INAUDIBLE) hasn`t talk a lot.

MATTHEWS: She wanted to hold (ph) arms.

ROBINSON: So, you know, one assumes what you have to assume, they are, you know, inside the tent unless they are not, right. And we don`t know.

MATTHEWS: And there is more than two Republican women. There is Capito.

Anyway, thank you, Cynthia Alksne.

Chuck Rosenberg, thanks for your expertise. It is great to have you. It`s the sultry, by the way, when you tell me. It is the sultry news. I`m not confident the FBI can butt this president because they don`t want - they don`t have to.

Eugene Robinson, thank you, sir.

Coming up, the picture of Donald Trump as a self-made billionaire, forget about it. He is coming out in a new scrutiny today, thanks to the bombshell "New York Times" he inherited $400 million that not exactly $1 million, $400 million by today`s values. According to the Times the President owes this in part to dubious tax schemes to allow him to get the money from the old man and instances of outright fraud.

Plus, according to a new book President Trump was close to meeting with Robert Mueller this past January. But his legal team pull the plug at the very last minute. I`m going to talk to the guy who figured that story out. Why did he want to talk - wanted to talk to him - wanted to talk to Mueller, but he didn`t do it.

And call it the Kavanaugh effect. Donald Trump says this is a scary time for young men or old men. Can the Republican Party stoke the anxiety of male voters to win in November? What do you think?

Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the HARDBALL ten. The key races that will decide control in the U.S. Senate.

In West Virginia, Democratic senator Joe Manchin now holds an eight - look at that, it is healthy, lead over likely voters with voters over his Republican challenger state attorney general Patrick Morrissey of New Jersey.

But it is a very different picture in North Dakota. Republican congressman Kevin Cramer holds a ten point lead now among likely voters over Democratic incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Lots of different things going on. A big blue wave and then a smaller red wave out west.

We will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, late today, "The New York Times" dropped a bombshell, an investigative report about the source of President Trump`s money, a report that dramatically challenges Trump`s carefully crafted image as a self-made billionaire.

Quote: "`The Times`` investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today at least $413 million from his father`s real estate empire starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day."

That`s $400 million, not the million he used to claim.

Well, the story details the extreme lengths that the president`s father would go to pass along his fortune, ultimately transferring over $1 billion to all of his children, while managing the pay only 5 percent in gift and inheritance taxes.

Well, it should be about 55 percent legally. And it was 5 percent.

Most damaging in that, according to "The Times": "President Trump participant in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents."

Well, in a statement to "The Times," a lawyer to President Trump called the report "100 percent false and highly defamatory." What is defamatory? Saying: "There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone."

However, it could be accurate too. However, Trump`s attorney added that: "President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters."

I`m joined right now by the author.

Well, first of all, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democratic congressman from California, Caroline Polisi, a criminal defense attorney, and David Barstow, one of the "New York Times" reporters who broke this story. He joins me by phone.

David, this story, it does open up the question. I mean, I was doing the math -- $420 million these days about -- well, it`s about $50 million back then, back in the `60s. It`s still a hell of a lot of money back then in nominal terms.

How did they wire it? How, basically, did he get that money to his son?

DAVID BARSTOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": We documented 295 different ways that Fred Trump found ways to funnel money to his children, and especially to Donald Trump.

And it started when Donald was a toddler, age 3, and it continued throughout Donald Trump`s adolescence into adulthood, and well into his 40s and 50s.

And what Fred Trump did was -- as much as of a genius as he was about real estate, he was also endlessly creative in kind of concocting new ways to get money to his -- to his son. So he didn`t just put him on his payroll, but he also made him his banker and he made them his landlord and a consultant and the purchasing agent and the property manager.

He even gave him the laundry money from his building. And so one big component of the story is to actually describe the extent to which Donald Trump`s wealth was really intertwined very much so with his father`s wealth.

The second really important point is that the amount of money that Fred Trump passed to his son through gift in an inheritance was greatly increased by a number of very dubious tax schemes, including some instances of outside fraud, outright fraud.

And, in one case, as we describe in the story, the Trump family set up a sham corporation that was basically designed to siphon cash out of Fred Trump`s empire and into the pockets of the Trump children in a way that would evade the 55 percent tax on gifts.

And there are a number of other things that we lay out in this -- in this story, which we also, I should note, went to great lengths to actually make available to our readers the source documents, the actual tax returns, the actual financial documents that form the basis of this investigation.

MATTHEWS: A hell of a story, David Barstow of "The New York Times." What a story. Thank you for joining us by phone, David.

Let me go to Congressman Swalwell.

It seems to me that one of the Alfred Hitchcock questions going in -- or Eliot Ness questions going into this guy Trump from day one was, how come, unlike every other presidential candidate, including Hillary Clinton, we never get to see his tax returns?

And here we are, a classic example of what, if this is all true -- and this is "the New York Times" -- he was hiding this.


MATTHEWS: He wasn`t a self-made billionaire. He was an inherited rich kid.

SWALWELL: Well, we have always thought that Donald Trump was born on third base. This investigation shows that he was actually born in the trophy case. Yet he`s still managed screw it up.

But we`re not helpless here, Chris, because Donald Trump could just come clean and release his tax returns. Or the House Republicans could demand them. And you only have to do that...


MATTHEWS: Does Mueller have them?

SWALWELL: I would suspect he does. I don`t even know if he needs them for what his mandate is.


SWALWELL: But the Republicans could do this. But I promise you, if we win the House, we will do all the investigations that they have been unwilling to do.


Now we get down to the issue we have been dealing with, with Kavanaugh, basic honesty, OK? Donald Trump has repeated again and again the claim that only he -- he only received a small loan from his father when he went into adulthood, which he turned into this vast billion-plus fortune of his.

Let`s watch him doing that promise against the reality we have just discovered thanks to "The Times" piece.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s not been easy for me. It has not been easy for me. And I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan, and I had to pay him back, and I had to pay him back with interest.

But I came into Manhattan, I started buying up properties, and I did great.


MATTHEWS: Caroline, what do you make that claim?

Anyway, in fact, according to "The Times" in this article, Trump`s father gave hi loan over loan again and again, many he never repaid. He provided money for his car, money for his employees, money to buy stock, money for his first Manhattan offices, money to renovate those offices.

He gave him three trust funds. He gave him shares in multiple partnerships. He gave him $10,000 Christmas checks. He gave him laundry revenue from -- well, laundry revenue -- not laundry, but laundry revenue from his buildings.

Caroline, this guy was not born on first base.



MATTHEWS: He was sliding into home. Yes.

POLISI: And since when has one million dollars been a small loan? Not in my world.

But, in any event, if the reporting is true, it does seem like there has been a decade-long pattern and practice of not just outright fraud necessarily, but sort of death by 1,000 cuts of the tax code, and small ways of sort of outsmarting and indeed performing illegal sort of maneuvers, in many cases undervaluing the price of certain -- certain properties when it behooves them in terms of how it pertains to the tax code, and then overvaluing them in other circumstances.

So, the hallmark of any criminal prosecution, obviously, is a knowing and willful violation of the law. Even though the statute of limitations has long since passed on a criminal charge -- it`s three or six years, depending on how you look at it -- certainly, there still could be civil charges up for -- up for debate, up for charging here.

MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman, he has an amazing ability to slip out from under claims. I mean, he`s the little guy that made it big, you know, and the Sinatra type, and then you find out he`s not.

And yet he just slips right through these things. I mean, I didn`t -- he doesn`t have to say something else.

SWALWELL: Yes, but, to be an effective president, you have to be a trusted president.

And right now, the American people deserve to know if he`s a fraud. And if the president has convinced them that he was successful, and the way he became successful is truly fraudulent, how can they believe that he will make them successful?

And it`s really a credibility issue.

MATTHEWS: Do you think somebody running against him for president in a couple years, starting pretty soon, actually, the campaign begins, will be able to make a case that he`s the guy who pulled the con?

SWALWELL: Yes, but he heard and saw a lot of people who are not heard and seen, but because he`s so fraudulent, and because he`s a cheat, he`s not able to deliver for them.

And those issues are still there. And those people will still be counting on someone to deliver for them.

MATTHEWS: I just wonder, Caroline Polisi, whether Joe Six Pack, if you will, that old phrase for the average guy, the average woman, is going to buy the fact that he`s one of them now.

POLISI: Well, it looks like what -- based on the statement that Charles Harder gave about "The Times"` reporting, it looks like they`re going to employ some sort of advice of counsel defense, which is basically, look, the tax code is endlessly complicated for the average man to understand.


POLISI: And it`s basically hiding behind your lawyer, saying, look, I had no idea what was going on here. We employed legitimate people for the purposes of doing our taxes, and so on and so forth.

So who knows if that will pass muster. It seems to me like -- it seems pretty clear that he was well aware of what was going on.

MATTHEWS: Oh, I forgot. His taxes are being audited. He says that ever and -- again. Every time we bring it up, they`re being -- do you think the auditors might be able to take a look at this new information, the so- called auditors?

Good luck. They don`t even exist.

Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. And, Caroline Polisi, thank you.

Up next: A new book is out detailing previously unreported details about Russian interference in the 2016 elections and the Mueller probe. You don`t want to miss this. There`s a lot of new stuff about -- well, about collusion.

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The special counsel`s investigation, Robert Mueller`s, continues to threaten the future of Trump`s presidency. And now Greg Miller of "The Washington Post" is out with a new book entitled "The Apprentice," a reference not to Trump`s reality show, but to his own servility to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

It`s a detailed narrative story, a history revealing previously unreported details about Russia`s interference and the ensuing federal investigation of that. For instance, despite the standoff with Mueller over Trump`s testimony that continues to this day, Miller reports that, last January, the president and his attorneys had embraced a plan to actually sit down with the special counsel.

They had a deal -- a plan, rather. In fact, the planning had progressed to the point that Trump`s lawyers and Mueller had set a date for the interview. It was going to be January 27 of this year out at Camp David, the president`s retreat. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, Trump lawyer John Dowd pulled the plug on that investigation.

I`m joined right now by the author of that book, Greg Miller of "The Washington Post."

Well, a couple things. We can start at the beginning. But I want to start at the end.

When you do all this work about what Russia was up to in 2016, how they tried to screw with our electoral process, how Putin was at the top of it, how they were helping -- and you had evidence of the Russians helping Trump the candidate, the Republican candidate, who eventually won the Electoral College -- did you conclude that there was collusion between the two forces?

GREG MILLER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I will tell you what the CIA people told me, that the collusion was always out there in the open, right?

We don`t know whether there`s a smoking gun memo memorializing some secret agreement between Trump and Putin. Maybe Robert Mueller will find that, if it exists. It`s...

MATTHEWS: What is it -- what was -- what evidence of collusion was in plain sight, as you see it, in plain sight?

MILLER: Well, I mean, there were the interactions in public between the Kremlin and Trump throughout the campaign that carried forward into his presidency.

A lot of it was visible, right? Some of it is, Russia, if you`re listening...

MATTHEWS: Trump Tower?

MILLER: Trump Tower Russia.

MATTHEWS: I was always fascinated with the...


MILLER: That is like the invisible at the time.


MATTHEWS: OK, the Republican Convention with Russia, it was Kislyak, the ambassador, screwing around there.

MILLER: Correct, all these contacts. Russia, if you`re listening. All of his praise, his flattery of Vladimir Putin, and much -- some of that was returned and reciprocated.

And then you layer in -- and what this book does is, it really layers in all of the stuff we weren`t seeing at that time. And so when Trump says, Russia, if you`re listening, Russia is listening. The Kremlin, its spy agencies, within hours are launching spear-phishing attacks on Hillary Clinton e-mail servers.

MATTHEWS: What jumped out at me was a Republican Party, which from the time I was a kid, and back when I grew up in a Republican family, which was so anti-Russian. The Russians were the bad guys.

The Kremlin, the very word was awful, Khrushchev and all that. And now we find a Republican candidate trying to win the nomination of his party, the Republican Party, the anti-Russian party, by cooing across the world to Vladimir Putin.

MILLER: Yes. It`s so bizarre.

MATTHEWS: How else do you explain it, except there was something there?

MILLER: It`s so bizarre. Right.

I mean, there are all these theories, right? There is, Putin has kompromat from Trump in a hotel room in Moscow with prostitutes or something. Or it`s the -- and some hidden financial connections to Russia. And some of those theories may yet prove to be true.

I think one thing we learned from Helsinki was that what -- one thing Putin absolutely has over Trump is, he knows exactly how far Russia went in trying to propel him into the Oval Office. That`s the sort of secret that Trump can never sort of acknowledge, right?

He clings to that fiction most fiercely. He cannot -- it would be devastating to him if -- if Putin were to come forward and say, we absolutely interfered in the U.S. election.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about, what do you feel the book has got? What are the gems in here? Give me a gem.

MILLER: I think there are details -- I mean, you`re -- I`m not the most -- biased reader, of course.

But there are details about so much of the story from -- that -- much of which we broke at "The Washington Post" at the time, the former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn`s interactions with the Russian ambassador, his dishonesty about that.

There are scenes in this book about lawyers kind of racing down from the NSC when Flynn is meeting with the FBI in secret at the -- in his West Wing office.

MATTHEWS: Why did Flynn, who was working for Trump at the time, he was about to be his national security directory -- he gave him that job -- why would he meet with Kislyak and talk about sanctions, the very thing that the Russians wanted removed, and then lie about it?

He must have known he was violating the Logan Act or something. Something -- what was it that made him think he should do something in the interest of his candidate, but then deny it on the record?

MILLER: I think that he just sort of ends up being trapped by this, right?

He -- against all odds, I mean -- so many -- as is true of so many of the characters around Trump, none of them really expect him to win, none of them expect to be vaulted into these senior positions in government. And then they have to account for this behavior that occurred before he is sworn in.

And Flynn is doing -- we now know that he has checked with the Trump campaign down in Florida before he has this conversation with the Russian ambassador. And then he`s got to hide it. He sort of faces a choice, and he makes a terrible choice. He decides to lie about it.

MATTHEWS: It`s the story of our time. And you have written it, Greg, "The Apprentice." Trump won`t like this name, "The Apprentice," because this is -- he`s the apprentice in your book to Vladimir Putin.

It`s kind of embarrassing for a grown man to be admitted that you have some sort of relationship like that.

Anyway, up next: a tale of two Trumps. By day, he tells reporters that the FBI should interview whoever they want! I`m talking like Trump. And by night, he accuses Democrats of trying to destroy Brett Kavanaugh.

Which is it? Does he want a real investigation, or some quickie that`s over with by midnight tonight, three days ahead of schedule?

You`re watching HARDBALL.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of. This is a very, very difficult time. What`s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice.



Somebody has got to do a study of this guy`s gestures. They are amazing.

Anyway, that was President Trump early today saying the fight over Brett Kavanaugh is bigger than just a Supreme Court nomination. Oh, yes?

According to the "Washington Post", the allegations against Kavanaugh, quote, have sparked a wave of unbridled anger and anxiety from many Republican men who say they are in danger of being swept up by false accusers who are biased against them. In other words, it`s politics plus #metoo together.

Anyway, let`s bring in tonight`s HARDBALL round table.

Ayesha Rascoe, White House reporter for NPR, Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor for "The Washington Post", and Michael Steel, former spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.

I notice there`s one male here, so I`m going to start with you. Do you feel anxious and worried about this --



MATTHEWS: As a Republican male.

STEEL: I do think that President Trump is wrong because old men are the ones who are nervous. Men who are worried about --

MATTHEWS: How old?

STEEL: I would say over 25 or 30 or 35. There are people brought up in the standards of today probably aren`t that worried. But the men brought up in a different era and may have done something that they regret, something that could be exposed and used against them, yes, they are scared.


MATTHEWS: You are closer to my age but not there.

MARCUS: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: But gentle about that are actually honest. Do you believe there is ever a day when the behavior that Kavanaugh was accused by Dr. Ford was acceptable?

MARCUS: I think there were times when it was considered -- and I`m not condoning this in any way, but considered more acceptable and more in the nature of boys will be boys rough housing than it is today.

MATTHEWS: Locking the door, turning up the music to cover up a crime is rough housing?

MARCUS: You asked if there was a day when it was considered more acceptable. Don`t get me into more trouble here than I`m already in.

But I really want to talk about the really skewed nature of the president`s empathy here, right? He looks at the situation. Who does he feel for? Not the young woman, not the woman who we saw who was clearly traumatized by having to testify, traumatized by what had happened to her, not worried about the many, many women that we have heard about who had similar things happen to them who had been unable to speak up, unwilling to speak up after all these years.

Nope, he thinks about the potential for these hordes of victims and of hordes of false accusations that are conjured up.


MATTHEWS: Is that, Ayesha, because -- I have a different theory. I always thought the same as yours. It`s not that he believes the women who made against him are wrong, is that he knows they are right.

AYESHA RASCOE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, NPR: I can`t speak to that, but I will say that he is very selective in where he does his empathy. This is a person who went after the Central Five before they were convicted and took out a big ad in the "New York Times."

MATTHEWS: And then they were acquitted.

RASCOE: And they were acquitted. And even after they were exonerated, he still says that they were guilty.

MATTHEWS: He wanted them executed in their mid teens.

RASCOE: And he has not taken that back. He felt that they were guilty before they were proven.

MATTHEWS: Well, President Trump hasn`t shied away from the cameras in the last couple of days, discussing Kavanaugh at both an official press conference and a campaign rally yesterday. His tone changed from telling reporters he supported the FBI investigation to now telling supporters that the Democrats were out to destroy Kavanaugh. So, he is turning here.

Let`s watch.


TRUMP: I think the FBI should interview anybody that they want within reason.

They have been trying to destroy him since the very first second he was announced.

I feel badly for all parties. I feel badly for everybody. I feel badly for our country.

Democrats are willing to do anything and hurt anyone to get their way like they are doing with Judge Kavanaugh.

I have a very open mind. I just think he is an outstanding person. I think he has been treated horribly. Even if you are 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 treated him.

Never had a problem. All of a sudden let`s go back to high school and then maybe before high school.


MATTHEWS: He is flipping back and forth, Ayesha.

RASCOE: It`s mixed messages. So, I think he is trying to set it up so that even if Kavanaugh goes down, he can just blame the Democrats and say they were doing their dirty tricks or something like that, and to also defend himself to say, hey, it`s not that I picked the bad guy, or that I didn`t do proper vetting, it is that these Democrats are kind of just going way back into the past and trying to take someone down.

MARCUS: He always has this thing where he creates this rhetorical escape hatch for himself. So, that --

MATTHEWS: You heard it today.

MARCUS: So, he is very upset about Democrats, poor, poor Judge Kavanaugh, but also maybe if something comes out that he always said maybe it can come out and maybe it should be believable.

STEEL: But he`s got two audiences and two objectives. His base which he wants to get to the polls, he wants to get fired up. They want to see the fight and they want to see him angry, they wan to see him railing against Democrats, but the audience of three, the three senators who presumably hold Judge Kavanaugh`s fate in their hands, Murkowski, Collins, Flake they are going to want to see the most complete, thorough, fair and transparent investigation.

MATTHEWS: Can he get away to playing to both crowds because he has to play to Flake and the two women senators?

STEEL: He has always been able to bounce back and forth. That is the night and day Trump you`re seeing right there.


MATTHEWS: Do you believe those women? You know the two women senators from Alaska and Maine and Flake from Arizona and perhaps a couple of other people like Donnelly from Indiana and Joe mansion. Do you think they will buy a quickie report like comes out tonight?

MARCUS: I am mystified by why once they went to doing the FBI investigation, they didn`t go through all the indicia of a real investigation. They knew it was going to be contained in time. Just interview all the people, the basic witnesses involved.

And so, Flake had to push them to do at least as much as they have had. So, I think this has been a mistake. Will they buy it? Probably.

MATTHEWS: Are you that cynical?

RASCOE: It will take a lot for them to be the senators, to block Kavanaugh. That is a very big stand to take. So, I don`t know if you can -- that is not an easy bet.

MATTEHWS: I don`t know.

The roundtable is staying with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Be right back with the HARDBALL round table. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. And you`re watching HARDBALL.


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

Ayesha, tell me something I don`t know.

RASCOE: So, my colleague has a story out today about another reliably conservative constituency that`s being turned off by President Trump, and that is married women. A recent poll found that 57 percent of married women disapprove of President Trump, and that is a group that`s usually --

MATTHEWS: That has always been solid Republican. By the way, they`re showing up at the Democratic headquarters, these campaigns, I hear, for the Democrat, and not telling their husbands.

MARCUS: Whatever happens with Judge Kavanaugh, he`s going to set a record for the most network coverage of his confirmation battle, 329 minutes as of Friday afternoon. Justice Thomas, 397 minutes. By contrast, Neil Gorsuch, 66 minutes.

MATTHEWS: How many times did he say he likes beer? Twenty-nine.

MARCUS: More minutes on beer than any nominee also.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Michael.

STEEL: So, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee does a text message to raise money every week. The one two days after the Kavanaugh testimony brought in twice as much money as the one the week before. This is firing up the base. This is sending Republicans --

MATTHEWS: If you add up all the money, Republicans are beating Democrats. Koch brothers, your party is winning.

STEEL: I think so.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I hear and it`s a big surprise we`re hearing before.

Ayesha Rascoe, Ruth Marcus and Michael Steel, without the E.

When we return, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch".

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018.

It seems to me that a little common sense and a trace of skepticism demands that we get certain results of this FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. First, we need trustworthy eyewitness accounts of that night that Dr. Ford says she will never forget. I especially one to hear from Kavanaugh`s drinking buddy Mark Judge. Judge has written about a fellow named Bart O`Kavanaugh.

Was that a reference to his real life buddy Brett Kavanaugh? Am I only the one who remembers the Maverick brothers on television, Bret and Bart? Bret was played by James Garner, and his brother Bart was played by a lesser known Jack Kelly.

Could this be the way author Mark Judge meant to disguise Bret and his accounts of wild drinking and associated horrors? Bottom line, I want to know everything Mr. Judge can tell us and more. He knows. If he says he doesn`t remember, the FBI agents should get judge to admit that, because saying you can`t remember can`t be served up as Mr. Judge`s alibi for himself and perhaps future Justice Kavanaugh.

We also need of get a full reading of what happened that night with Deborah Ramirez. Did Brett Kavanaugh do what she said he did? The same goes for Michael Avenatti`s client and accuser Julia Swetnick.

But beyond the events alleged so far, I believe we also need a solid probe of Kavanaugh`s drinking habits. Was he a bad drunk? Was he a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type who alternated between bad guy and good guy depending on his consumption and his company?

If this nominee really does lurched off in the bad directions when he`s drinking, and with the wrong people, that could tell us that once on the Supreme Court, he could find himself pulled to the hard right by the people who pushed this nomination in the first place and got him this far, you know who they are.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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