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Trump says his base is energized. TRANSCRIPT: 10/9/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthew.

Guests: Jon Ralston, Abby Livingston, David Jolly, Jonathan Lemire, Donna Edwards

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 9, 2018 Guest: Jon Ralston, Abby Livingston, David Jolly, Jonathan Lemire, Donna Edwards

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A resounding Democratic victory.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Here`s what I predicted six months ago:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I say it on this 5th day of April. With all the possibilities looming this summer and early fall, I believe the Democrats will carry the House.

History suggests and the level of this president`s popularity suggests they will pick up more than the average 29 seats the party opposing the president gets in the first midterm election. I believe they will do better, somewhere comfortably between 30 and 40 seats picked up. And so hold me to that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Hold me to that.

Well, tonight, that prediction is stronger than ever, 30 to 40 seats the Democrats will pick up in the House of Representatives. That`s -- by the way, right now, it`s four weeks exactly before the fall midterm election.

And that`s what the Democrats are headed for, 30 to 40 seats. Politico`s latest race rating suggests the Republican majority in the House is crumbling now, noting a total of 68 seats currently held by Republicans are firmly in play rated as lean Republican or worse for the GOP.

There are now 209 seats either firmly or leaning in the Democratic column, just nine shy of the 218 the party needs to wrest away control of the chamber

Well, President Trump and Republican leaders have bragged the nomination battle over Justice Brett Kavanaugh has revved up their voters.

Here`s President Trump at the White House today trying to make that point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How do you keep your base energized now that you have the big Kavanaugh victory?

I would say that just by winning. I can tell you, the energy on the Republican side, I don`t think it`s ever been greater.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: But when it comes to which party voters want to take control the House this fall, a new -- new CNN poll found it`s Democrats who hold the advantage with a 13-point lead among likely voters.

And that poll was taken last week during the height of the Supreme Court showdown that inflamed passions and protests among some of the Democratic Party faithful. They have now got four weeks to propel or translate that anger into energy and head to the polls.

And they have got some of the biggest names in the Democratic Party cheering the voters on. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: This is not a time to curl up. It is not a time to shut up. It is not a time to give up. It`s a time to get up, to rise up, to speak up. It`s time for you not to wait for hope, but to be the hope.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: That the bottom line is that they may have the power right now, but we need to take it back.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: The only way we are going to do that is when we get everyone out to vote.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Those Republicans, man, they got a lot going their way. Oh, you bet they do.

But I`m going to tell you this. I would rather be us than them.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WARREN: And I`ll tell you why. I`ll tell you why. They may have the money. They may have the power right now. But there`s a whole lot more of us than there is of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Donna Edwards, former Democratic congresswoman from Maryland, Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press, and former Republican Congressman David Jolly from Florida.

Let me go to get the information on the voting first of all, before we get the point of view.

Let me go to Jonathan Lemire on this.

I`m looking at all these numbers, Jonathan, and I have been thinking for a long time 30 to 40 seats. It`s going to happen. Your thoughts? What`s the analysis?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS:rMD-BO_ Well, it`s a good time to revive your prediction, Chris, no question.

And I think there`s a multitude of people close to the White House who share in their -- in your view, and they`re worried by it. There are people who -- as much as the president is bullish -- and, publicly, you saw it again today.

He is going to say time and time again that he believes in the energy that`s on the Republican side. There`s no question that there has been some increased enthusiasm because of the Kavanaugh fight. We have seen, particularly on the Senate side, some improvements in the polls there.

But will that remain now that Kavanaugh is in? It would be one thing if Kavanaugh had been denied his seat on the bench and that Republicans could have had an anger towards it, believe that their man was treated unfairly, and that would fuel them going into November, where traditionally Republicans do better, have better turnout operations in midterm elections than Democrats to begin with.

But now that he`s on there, will that energy last, or will it dissipate? That remains to be seen. But certainly those close to the president, Republicans, high-placed Republicans on Capitol Hill, feel pretty confident about the Senate, but the House, yes, they`re concerned.

They feel it could slip away, that they think it could be potentially a gain of seats Democrats like you have outlined. And if that happens, what does that mean? It means that the Democrats, yes, they could think about impeachment, but really what it means is that they control a body of Congress.

They would have the power to subpoena. And they can haul up Trump official after Trump official up to the Hill, swear them in, and proceed to run investigations, not just on Russia, but on corruption issues or the emoluments, and utterly bog down the Trump administration`s agenda and provide that image night after night of Republicans close to the White House being forced to testify.

And that is something that people close to the president are very concerned about.

MATTHEWS: Donna, I was watching yesterday and trying to imagine what most passionate Democrats are feeling watching that power festivity yesterday at the White House, where they just showed off their power.

They trooped in all the Supreme Court people, they trooped in all these Republicans, just so they could have a ceremony. They already made the guy chief -- a justice. They just wanted to show it off.

DONNA EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: They did.

And it was like a campaign rally. Actually, it was a pretty disgusting show. And I think that what`s happening is that every time President Trump does that kind of thing, when he goes out in those rallies, it actually inspires Democrats.

And so I see that enthusiasm. We were sitting here four months ago, and you demanded that I give you an answer about how many seats were going to be won.

MATTHEWS: Well, I did it.

(LAUGHTER)

EDWARDS: And I said 35.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, that`s in the middle of what I`m saying.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think we`re together on that.

Dave, let me ask you about this, because Republicans are into power. democrats are into arguments sometimes and values, I could say. But the sheer power that we saw on display yesterday is something Republicans love. They love the executive. They love the Supreme Court. They like to be in control of Congress. But what they really like is owning it.

You know what I mean? You were in that party. You know what they like. It`s, bottom line, we own it.

DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Chris, and I think they`re going to overplay their hand. Donald Trump`s going to overplay his hand.

And this is what I mean by that. Follow me on this. The spike in GOP enthusiasm means this. If you love the Republican Party, you love the Republican Party more. But it does not mean that more people today love the Republican Party after Kavanaugh.

What Republicans are ignoring is, this complete erosion of independents and the enthusiasm spike among Democrats. That`s why we`re seeing numbers in the House that suggest that we should see a change a party or change of control, like we saw in `94, possibly `06, 2010.

We`re looking at a historic night. Democrats have been working for two years towards this November 6 moment.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JOLLY: I don`t believe they`re going to let it slip away.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me talk to that.

Let me talk to Jonathan about that and everybody here.

It seems to me you have an accumulation of passion on the Democratic side. You have got this latest whiff of it over how badly treated Brett was, or whatever, or how Lindsey was all upset.

But on the Democratic side, on the progressive side, you have the MeToo movement, which has been going on for a while around politics. You have the fact that a lot of Democrats are furious that they lost the 2016 election, and maybe they had questions about Hillary, but they damn well didn`t want Trump.

And they have been marching since the day after the inauguration -- day after the election back in `16. Then you have two years of Trump, which drives most of the progressives crazy. And then you got the whole -- this thing the way they treated Dr. Blasey Ford.

So you have a whole accumulation of reasons to get out and vote, whereas all the Republicans have, I think, is the sugar high of how sad they felt with Lindsey and Brett Kavanaugh and how weak they looked.

Your thoughts?

LEMIRE: Yes, you`re right.

There`s an extraordinary array of reasons why Democrats are energized. And you hit it. We saw the day after the inauguration is when the women`s march took over the streets in countless American cities, hundreds of thousands of women, with men alongside, protesting the Trump inauguration.

And we saw it again a week later, when they protested the first travel ban. And it hasn`t really let up. There has not necessarily been a demonstration every day or a demonstration every weekend or a march, but rather that energy is still there.

We`re seeing in terms of the number of candidates running for office, particularly women candidates, who a lot of Democrats feel very bullish about electing a number, a record-setting, perhaps, number of women to the House this fall.

And we`re seeing it time and again, that Trump is such an ever-present part of our lives. He`s an obvious foil for these Democrats, for the liberals. He gives them something to run against.

It`s a little harder for Republicans. Yes, Kavanaugh does give them a boost. As I said, it remains to be seen how long it will last. But for so many Republicans, the Trump administration has been perhaps a mixed bag.

Yes, you now have two Supreme Court justices, but you have day after day of drama. You have what happened in Helsinki. You have what happened with the children being separated from their parents at the border. You have the ongoing Russia probe.

But even those who are perhaps sympathetic to the president feel like this is not necessarily what our party wanted, and they may not be willing to turn out for his -- for people this November. Or, conversely, the die-hard Trumpsters may wait to 2020, when they see the president`s name on the ballot again.

And they may not come out this November.

MATTHEWS: You know, Donna, I just want to ask you about women, because you`re here. And I keep thinking of, well, Stormy Davis (sic), whatever you think of her, she was bought out for $165,000.

And Susan (sic) McDougal was bought off for $150,000 for their silence. And then you have the woman, Dr. Blasey Ford. And not to be too crude, but the fact is, she said she has had somebody`s hand over her mouth, so she couldn`t call for help.

And that person, she said, was Brett Kavanaugh. And there`s never really been really a good argument that wasn`t Brett Kavanaugh. She was the witness. Nobody`s denied it, OK, except him, because he says he can`t remember it.

It seems me that would be a pretty strong primordial argument for a scream this November. I mean, it`s time to say something, when you have been gagged, basically.

EDWARDS: Well, and I think that that`s what women are feeling across the country.

And if you take a look at some of the districts that are really in play in the House, they are places that you wouldn`t have thought of, in Kansas, in Iowa, in Nebraska, in Texas. And these are all a lot of suburban districts, where those college-educated white women voters are going to show up, and they`re going to show up and they`re going to vote for Democrats because they`re tired of this mess.

MATTHEWS: President Trump weighed in on the hundreds of demonstrators who took to Capitol Hill to make their voices heard. He didn`t like that either. He doesn`t like people on the other side, especially women, opposing Kavanaugh`s confirmation.

Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of those were paid protesters. You saw that. They`re all unhappy because they haven`t been paid yet. I have been calling it. They were paid protesters. That was professionals. That was orchestrated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the president`s Republican allies tried to channel their supporters` outrage over protests into a winning issue by casting Democrats as an angry mob.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Reason and deliberation triumphed over what was literally, literally an attempt to sway the Senate using mob tactics.

The far left mob is not letting up.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we legitimize this process, the rule of law gave away to the mob rule.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s simply no doubt the left`s mob-like tactics are backfiring.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: That behavior of those protesters was just unacceptable, and what happened afterwards, which is really kind of -- you see the mob rule that`s coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Outside agitators.

I mean, I`m sorry, David. Outside agitators, I grew up with that. We all did. It`s not the legitimate protests of voices of the people, which those -- I looked at those protesters. They tend to be pretty middle-class people, a diverse background, but basically regular people.

There`s not -- there wasn`t any crazy people in that crowd. And what`s this thing about they haven`t been paid yet? That`s like birtherism. Trump just makes this stuff up, which everybody knows is lying. There`s no evidence of anybody getting paid to protest here.

This is -- who`s he`s talking to that is buying this mouthwash?

JOLLY: There`s a couple important things here.

The first is, we can`t overlook the fact that this president and many Republicans were far more forceful and swift in their condemnation of legitimate legal protesters over the Kavanaugh confirmation than they ever were about the racist and rioters in Charlottesville.

Let`s not forget that memory. But then let`s also look at the fact that every one of those quotes, when they talked about an angry left mob, if you substituted left for right, we`re describing the Tea Party town halls in 2009, 2010, when members of Congress had to be escorted out by security.

The reality is, you have a lot of entitled empty suits who sit in the United States Senate who realize that the American people control the Senate, the American people get to hold them accountable. And when you see, frankly, words like Mitch McConnell, suggesting that this is a mob, I think that`s going to overplay their hand.

It`s wrong. It shows a disdain for the American people. The American people, though, are going to realize they`re being spoken down to by the likes of Mitch McConnell. That`s why the left energy is going to stay through November 6. I don`t think the energy on the right will.

MATTHEWS: Somebody should read the Constitution, wherein it gives the right to the American people to petition Congress, to petition Congress, to the very thing that they`re doing there, petitioning Congress.

And that`s a right, just like the Second Amendment, Mr. and Mrs. Gun Owner. It`s just like the Second Amendment. You ought to value that too.

Thank you, Donna Edwards. Thank you, Jonathan Lemire. And thank you, David Jolly.

Coming up: How will the dust settle after the Kavanaugh fight in key states like Nevada and Texas, states from which Democrats hope to add Senate seats?

Plus, former top Trump official Rick Gates sought out proposals from an Israeli company to use social media to fight Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. It sounds exactly like what the Russians ended up doing in terms of interfering with our elections. They went to the Israelis first, that company, and then they ended up getting this stuff from the Russians, the same thing they were pitching for before.

So it looks like, well, could it have been the Trump crowd came up with the idea of Russian help before the Russians came up with it?

And White House officials are reportedly questioning the timing of Nikki Haley`s resignation, coming less than a month before the November midterms.

I`m betting on her.

Finally, Let Me Finish tonight with something I have learned about leaders.

This is HARDBALL, HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: One observer described the atmosphere in the courtroom as jovial, as Brett Kavanaugh took his seat today as the newest associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. There are the pictures, the sketches.

Also attending today`s session as observers, Kavanaugh`s wife and two daughters and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. There he is.

Today, the court heard arguments in a case involving prison sentences, as the newest member of the court, Kavanaugh, will also take on a few special jobs, including sitting on the committee that oversee the court -- oversees the court`s cafeteria, a task Chief Justice Roberts says is aimed at bringing a new justice back down to earth, after the excitement of confirmation and appointment.

I guess he`s had enough excitement.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With four weeks to go until the midterms, tonight, we take a look at two of the HARDBALL 10 Senate races, Nevada and Texas.

The states represent Democrats` best shot -- that would be Nevada -- and its dream shot -- and that would be Texas. That`s their dream of picking up a new Senate seat in Texas.

First, if Democrats have any hope of cutting into the Republican Senate majority of 51-49 this fall, they needed to defeat Senator Dean Heller in Nevada, a state Hillary won by two points. It`s one state where the Democrats have an advantage in terms of Hillary having won there and not Trump.

Heller, an incumbent, faces Democratic challenger and first-term U.S. Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, who raised over $7 million in the last three months. There she is.

In a brand-new NBC/Marist poll, Heller now has a two-point lead over Rosen, 46 among likely voters to her 44.

Anyway, however, a RealClearPolitics average of the most recent polls show Rosen with a two-point edge over Heller. So this is back and forth.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a deep red state, of course, U.S. Congressman Beto O`Rourke is running a surprisingly -- there he is -- competitive race against the somewhat unliked incumbent, Ted Cruz.

A new ad out by a famous director takes Cruz to task for supporting President Trump.

Let`s watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody left something on my door the other day. It said, "Ted Cruz, tough as Texas."

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, come on.

If somebody called my wife a dog and said my daddy was in on the Kennedy assassination, I wouldn`t be kissing their ass.

You stick a finger in their chest and give them a few choice words, or you drag their ass out by the woodshed and kick their ass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For the latest, I`m joined by Jon Ralston, editor of "The Nevada Independent," and Abby Livingston, the Washington bureau chief for the great "Texas Tribune" newspaper.

Jon, let`s start with Nevada.

It seems to me that Jacky Rosen has to win, or the Democrats are not going to pick up the net two seats to take control the Senate. It`s the best bet they got.

JON RALSTON, "THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT": Yes.

And I think there`s a lot of folks in Washington, Chris, who thought that Heller was a dead duck for a long time because he apparently is trying to lose this race, and not succeeding, by taking every position he can on repealing Obamacare, by just getting caught on tape saying foolish things, by having a campaign that really has not been that great, and really has only had one strategy, Chris, which is to be in love with Trump, and then be in love with Kavanaugh, changing how he was before, to try to hope that the base will turn out, as they often do in midterms, and especially in Nevada -- Democrats don`t do well here -- and he can hold out.

As you mentioned, the polling has gone back and forth. It`s been a margin- of-error race all year long. And I think Democrats are really worried, both here and nationally, that Heller, who was never lost a race, can hold on.

MATTHEWS: I think about Nevada almost with a cartoon view. I tell people, it`s the one state when you meet the union workers. You meet -- the whole time you`re in Vegas, for example, in Clark County, you`re meeting union people.

They`re not people behind some factory line somewhere. They`re waiting your table. They are casino -- they`re -- what do you call them -- croupiers, whatever. They`re pit bosses. They`re all over the place, union people.

And then you had that other thing, that rural Mormon, LDS culture that is also out there. How do you measure one against the other, sort of the big city Vegas crowd, which is a lot of women workers, union workers are women, on the left sort of in terms of practicality? And then you have that quiet, more rural, Mormon crowd.

What`s the power? Because -- because...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Harry Reid is both.

RALSTON: It`s interesting.

(CROSSTALK)

RALSTON: You have been out here. You have talked to all these folks, right?

You have been in the casinos. That vote is crucial. That culinary worker vote, they represent 50,000 or so folks. That`s what helped Harry Reid survive in a midterm, even though his numbers were as terrible as Heller.

And then you talk about rural Nevada. They love Trump out there. They want to hang Democrats in effigy. They`re going to vote in huge numbers for Heller. But that`s only about 15 to 18 percent of the vote.

So you`re really threading a needle there to try to get the landslide there to make up for what you`re going to lose in Clark County. And that makes Reno and Washoe County the swing county, where if the Democrats can at least hold their own there, they should win.

But that`s exactly -- Nevada, you said it. It`s essentially two states. It`s really three, with the rural, Southern Nevada, and then Reno, which is where the swing voters really are.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

And Katy Tur was up there today with you.

Anyway, in an interview with NBC`s Lester Holt, Senator Cruz of Texas was asked about O`Rourke`s challenge to him. Here`s what Cruz had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think it`s the sign of the times nationally, that the extreme left, they`re really angry and they`re energized. And we`re seeing that in Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s on the roof here.

Abby, what do you make of this race? I have been sensing that Beto O`Rourke has got more guts than most people ever had in their life. He`s taking on a guy that nobody could beat. And yet he`s fallen. He`s a little bit behind them. And he is sort of stuck there.

ABBY LIVINGSTON, "THE TEXAS TRIBUNE": It seems like the race has stabilized, with him trailing by about five points. And that five points is a huge amount to make up in a state as populous as Texas.

I can say I have been covering politics in Texas for a long time. And I have lived it as a kid. And I have never seen a race like this before.

MATTHEWS: What could turn it? What would -- because I say he seems to be so damn attractive as a candidate. The Kennedy connection has obviously been mentioned. He`s getting out the people and the crowds. How do you translate those crowds to voters in the booth?

LIVINGSTON: Well, what I do wonder, when we look at these polls, there`s...

MATTHEWS: Look at these crowds. This is -- people in most states would die for this kind of enthusiasm.

LIVINGSTON: I have been to these events. It feels like New Hampshire a week out before a presidential primary.

I think what it will take is, if we look back at the Virginia gubernatorial race last year, it seemed neck and neck between the Republican and Democrat. And the Republican actually lost by nine points.

So my question is, can the polling detect this kind of enthusiasm? And that`s to me the path for him, along with consolidating the Hispanic vote.

MATTHEWS: If he gets a turnout on the Democratic side consistent with a presidential year, that wouldn`t even be enough, though. He has to get better than that, doesn`t he?

LIVINGSTON: Absolutely. Hillary Clinton lost Texas by nine points, which was significant step forward for Democrats.

But it`s really hard to underscore how difficult this can be. But, again, I have never seen anything like this. And I can imagine stranger things have happened in American politics.

MATTHEWS: Why does Cruz, who seems like an unpopular sort of personality to most of us -- look at him. He`s not a charmer by any means.

He`s arrogant. He used to say, when he was in law school, he wouldn`t study with the kids who went to Penn. They had to go to Yale or Harvard or Princeton. He`s arrogant. And maybe that`s -- some people like arrogant.

How about the Hispanic vote, the Latino vote? How does he get 30-some percent? How did happen?

LIVINGSTON: Well, I think one thing to remember is the name Cruz is Hispanic. And in South Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, your last name is extremely important among those Hispanic voters.

And while Beto has a Spanish nickname, his last name is Irish. And so that is one thing, but also the Hispanic voting bloc in Texas is not monolithic. There is an anti-abortion group within that sector.

MATTHEWS: Sure. I understand that.

LIVINGSTON: And so it`s -- Texas is just so complex. And sometimes it`s just not black or white.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is a hell of a race. This may be the number one race in the country.

Jon Ralston, thank you, sir. Your reporting is spectacular, fantastic. Thank you so much, as always.

RALSTON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And, Abby Livingston, we just met you. You`re great.

I tell you, that is the race to watch. We`re going to go down there pretty soon, we hope.

Up next: A stunning new report from "The New York Times" says a former Trump campaign official -- get this -- was out there soliciting proposals for manipulating the social media by using fake online identities to sow disinformation about Trump`s political opponents.

Sound familiar? It`s exactly what the Russians ended up doing. But, here, they have caught the Trump people out there pitching the idea of some foreign government screwing with our elections to hurt Hillary and help Trump. I think we caught them.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A mysterious lead is raising new questions in the investigation of potential collusion. Most curious is, it appears that the Trump campaign was soliciting proposals for an online influence operation that was eerily similar to the one Russia actually delivered.

"The New York Times" is now reporting that former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates -- quote -- "requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals."

Gates, who has been cooperating with the special counsel since pleading guilty in February, did not act on the proposal. However, Mueller has question employees of the Israeli firm that drafted the proposals.

That`s according to "The Times," which reports that Gates saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump`s favor, and that he expressed interest in using social media influence and manipulation as a campaign tool.

Well, those proposals seem to describe a smaller-scale version of the social media campaign that Russia ultimately carried out to benefit Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton.

Thirteen Russians were eventually indicted last February for that effort, which also included the fraudulent use of fictitious online personas.

I`m joined right now by Malcolm Nance, author "The Plot to Destroy Democracy."

What do you make of the fact that the Trump people, in the person of Rick Gates, was out there soliciting proposals for an Israeli company to do what the Russians ultimately did, which is to screw with our elections, help Trump, hurt Hillary?

MALCOLM NANCE, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, if you look at the timeline, this conversation took place in March 2016.

This is just about the exact same time that the -- that the Democratic National Committee was discovering that their servers had been hacked into, that George Papadopoulos was out meeting with suspected members of Russian intelligence.

And the rumor that Hillary Clinton`s e-mails were in the possession of the Kremlin were being floated all around at this time. I think that there were multiple teams. We have already seen evidence that there were multiple teams in the Trump camp, in their sphere that had been looking for information related to Hillary`s e-mails, related to psychological warfare and influence warfare operations, or what the Russians and the Israelis called perception management techniques to find and manipulate voters.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about what it tells you about the M.O.

Here`s Rick Gates, who is, of course, a Sancho Panza of Paul Manafort. He`s out there. I doubt if he`s on his own. He`s out there trying to develop a relationship with some overseas foreign operation, which would give them the capability to screw with Hillary`s campaign and to help Trump`s.

What do you think? How does it fit into the jigsaw puzzle of Russian collusion, Trump-Russian collusion?

NANCE: Well, from an intelligence perspective, here`s how I would take a look at it.

If I were to hear this one data point, I would immediately walk it back and say, why would this individual suddenly be going out and soliciting proposals and receiving proposals related to influence warfare operations targeting a select, narrow bandwidth of voters?

That means he`s had a conversation with someone or has heard a directive from someone to go out and find this information.

And what`s interesting, is Trump had already had Cambridge Analytica for over a year -- Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon were on the board of that company -- already carrying out these operations, which means that there was something more specific they wanted, and this group, side group, was out to try to help them acquire that information.

And we would later find out that there were other groups also trying to find Hillary`s e-mails during that time.

MATTHEWS: And then, all the time, Donald Jr. is out there trying to cut up -- organize something at the Trump Tower. It`s a lot of arms to this octopus.

Anyway, the Israeli firm known as Psy-Group that drafted those proposals at the request of the Trump campaign was owned by Joel Zamel, who later met with Donald Trump Jr. and others at Trump Tower in August of 2016.

And that meeting also included Erik Prince and George Nader, who are best known for holding a secretive meeting with the Russian -- the Russian oligarch in the Seychelles, the island in the Indian Ocean. That was just before Trump`s inauguration in January 2017.

Around that same time, by the way -- here`s a key fact -- Nader reportedly paid $2 million to Joel Zamel, the owner of the Israeli really firm, the one they had solicited for help to defeat Hillary.

And that`s according to "The Times," which reports that the reason for the payment has been of keen interest to Mr. Mueller.

What is your interest in this? What do you make of this unexplained $2 million payment to the Israeli firm in question?

NANCE: Well, George Nader had also been facilitating operations for the government of the United Arab Emirates and their intelligence agencies by linking Psy-Group to the UAE government.

It could be that. But we don`t know. All we know is that there`s unexplained money flying around at a time that psychological influence operations by this Israeli group were paramount for almost everybody.

Another key point to this is, Robert Mueller went to Israel with Israeli authorities, and they tore Psy-Group apart. I mean, they literally interviewed everybody before the grand jury -- or the senior management for the grand jury went there, seized computers and documents.

MATTHEWS: Wow.

NANCE: This group is a black hole in the story of which we can only learn more and see whether they were actually tied to Moscow in some way, or just an independent operation that Trump funded.

MATTHEWS: Can`t wait to see the puzzle when it`s all put together, perhaps sometime this fall.

Thank you, Malcolm Nance.

Up next: Add another name to that unusually long list of departures for the Trump administration, this one on her own feet. She wanted out. What does Ambassador Nikki Haley`s exit signal, coming less than a month before the midterms?

There she is on good terms quitting.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It has been an honor of a lifetime. You know, I said I am such a lucky girl to have been able to lead the state that raised me and to serve a country I love so very much.

No, I`m not running for 2020. I can promise you what I will be doing is campaigning for this one.

Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands. I mean, to redo the NAFTA deal the way he did, what I`ve done working with him on the Middle East peace plan, it is so unbelievably well done. And Ivanka has been a great friend. And they do a lot of things behind the scenes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, Nikki Haley today announcing, declaring that she`s stepping down at the end of this year as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. The move is said to have caught administration officials off-guard. Well, that`s not good.

Haley, one of the highest level women in the cabinet, joins a long list of departing administration officials. However, she`s leaving on her own. Some people are questioning the timing of this announcement. I`m not sure what they`re after.

But let`s watch them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Something doesn`t smell right. Something`s weird. I can`t put my finger on it. Either there`s another shoe to drop from a Trump standpoint, something that we don`t know and she wants to get out of the way of, or alternatively, this was this, you know, inquiry put in yesterday on private planes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, according to Bloomberg, White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs, many in the White House were in the dark on why exactly she`s doing this. Why she`s leaving. They`re asking themselves why now just before the midterms?

Let`s bring in tonight`s round table. Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for "PBS NewsHour", Lisa Lerer, a political reporter for "The New York Times", and Eugene Scott, political reporter for "The Washington Post".

We got all heavyweights here. Round table, I`ve always been impressed by her, she brought down the flag. She said I`m not confused. She knows how to move.

She always seems proactive. She`s up to something. She never reacts. What`s she up to?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: She`s leaving when the administration is on a high and using the language the president will love. She`s calling Jared a genius, saying I`m a lucky girl --

MATTHEWS: That`s one of the president`s erogenous zones, say something nice about his son-in-law, like, oh, I like that. You know, I can hear Trump, you know, this is great.

ALCINDOR: And I`ve been talking to people who were close to Nikki Haley and who helped her get elected in South Carolina. And they say, this is a woman who has very political -- has very high political --

MATTHEWS: There`s nothing left. Two Senate seats taken by Republicans what would she run for now, except president?

ALCINDOR: Well, there`s reporting out there that she and her husband need to pay bills, they`re millions of dollars in debts. So, maybe she goes and does private sector stuff and then comes back in 2024.

MATTHEWS: Did she get offered a CEO job or something? She`d be -- I can imagine her being recruited. Lisa?

LISA LERER, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You can imagine her being recruited. I mean, I certainly think if wasn`t being recruited before, she will be now. There`s no question about that. But I think what this shows us is just what a savvy operator she is.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LERER: She leaves before the midterms. She gets a splashy beautiful departure, with Trump lavishing praise. I mean, he called her -- what did he call her, glamorous? The highest praise Trump can give.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s a looksist. So, yes, I think it`s fair to say.

LERER: This is like pretty high praise.

She`s the rare official leaving having kept the Trump people happy and also kept sort of the moderate Republican donor wing of the party happy. So, you know --

MATTHEWS: Can you keep the cooties of you -- the cooties Trump off you to stay in the job?

LERER: I`m not sure you can.

MATTHEWS: Gene, it looks like she got off cootie free of Trump.

EUGENE SCOTT, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Or she kept as few cooties on her as one can keep in the Trump administration. She`s one of the few aides who enjoys relative popularity with both Democrats and both Republicans.

And to Yamiche`s point, she`s someone who doesn`t have any background in the corporate sector, there`s money to be made -- a book deal, a few speeches and she can get back out there and run, and say she did push in on areas the Trump people did not.

MATTHEWS: I think she`s Mike Pence`s running mate, but that`s just looking the way down. Look, this is what I do.

LERER: Maybe Mike Pence is running mate.

MATTHEWS: I hear you got something. What do you got, Lisa, on this?

LERER: What do I have on this?

MATTHEWS: Yes, give me something.

LERER: Well, I just am impressed by her savviness. As I said, I think this is really smart. If she left after the midterms, that`s when everybody leaves. You`re just another person in the pack. You don`t get your moment. You don`t get to come out and have this splashy endorsement, basically --

MATTHEWS: She`s top of the fold in the "New York Times" tomorrow night, tomorrow morning.

LERER: Yes, I mean --

MATTHEWS: It`s your paper, don`t you know?

(LAUGHTER)

ALCINDOR: I`ll say what`s so abnormal about this is normal. You had Nikki Haley doing what most people would do in the White House, talking to the president saying I`m going to do this and leaving on this date. Usually, you have people fired via Twitter, you have motorcades following James Comey in L.A.

You have all these people who are just kind of left out in the dark, and here comes Nikki Haley saying, here`s my nice departure moment.

MATTHEWS: Speaking of glamour, pop star Taylor Swift in a lengthy Instagram post this weekend urged her 112 million followers to register to vote in the midterm elections. How big is Taylor Swift`s reach? By comparison, Barack Obama has 18 million followers on Instagram, President Trump has 10. She has over 100 million.

According to vote.com, nearly 65,000 people nationwide between the ages of 18 and 29 registered in the 24 hours after her post Sunday night. That`s more than one third of the total registrations last month and more than all registration in August. But registering a vote does not mean a voter will show up on Election Day.

NBC`s Jacob Soboroff spoke with students in Orange County, California, and asked them about their plans on Election Day. Catch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB SOBOROFF, NBC NEWS: Sorry, not to be annoying, but we`re with NBC News and I`m trying to figure out is anybody here going to vote in the election on November 6th? Anybody? Anybody? Nobody is going to vote?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s life in the O.C. Lisa, this reminds me of jaywalking by the way. Jay Leno used to do it. Nobody knows nothing. Go ahead.

LERER: Yes. Look, Taylor Swift, I think part of why this was so powerful is she shied away from politics. You know, there`s some people like John Legend. He`s out all the time for Barack Obama or even Jay-Z and Beyonce, they`ve done a lot for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

But Taylor Swift really held back and she didn`t do anything. So when she comes out, I think it catches a lot of people`s attention.

ALCINDOR: I`ll say this. I was at the Beyonce/Jay-Z concert for Hillary Clinton and there were people I asked the question, are you going to vote? They said maybe I`ll vote, maybe I won`t. Ohio was won by Trump.

So this idea that there is even for Beyonce, who I love dearly, there`s a limit to what you can do in, say, politics. So, I don`t know if Taylor Swift is going to make a big difference.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know. You know, Oprah Winfrey has that kind of swag. She`ll sell books magically. I think she helped Obama.

I don`t know if Taylor Swift can because that age group doesn`t tend to vote. I`ve seen statistics like one in six show up of registered voters that age.

SCOTT: Yes, but I think there was a poll that came out today from a civic think tank at Tufts that studies millennial voting outreach and it actually has gone up, registration for voters has gone up for this midterm compared to the last midterms. One thing different about Taylor Swift that has captured a lot of people`s interests, is that she comes from graphics that do not historically vote for Democrats. She started out as a country star. She built her career in Tennessee.

MATTHEWS: She`s a Tennessean.

SCOTT: So for her to say she has an issue with where this administration stands, on issues related to systemic racism, LGBT rights and women issues I think will capture the attention of some of her fans who don`t pay attention to those issues as much.

MATTHEWS: So, what do you decide? Yamiche, you`re so grown up -- I`m just kidding. I always look like you know a lot more than you say even here. And I`m just wondering, do you think this stuff matters or is this just something to talk about?

ALCINDOR: I think a lot of it is something to talk about, only because I talked to my friends in Miami who are more interested in Drake concerts specifically who are talking about other things and sometimes they have no idea what`s going on. Even when I think Brett Kavanaugh, I talk to them and I say, hey, what do you think about the Supreme Court nominee? They`re completely not talking about this.

Now, of course, these midterms have captured people`s attention so maybe that changes. But I think it`s an uphill battle.

LERER: Everyone doesn`t need to vote. They just need a slightly larger share of young voters.

MATTHEWS: I always say there`s two kinds of people to talk about. The first never bothers to register, isn`t going to change much. They`re the homeless, I guess, some people like that, I don`t know who it is, but people just don`t pay attention because they don`t have the education maybe to follow it.

But then the people that bother to register, they go to the trouble of registering and they vote enough they stay registered. But they don`t bother to vote in midterms. They`re the ones you got to go for. They`re going to -- it`s harder to register than it is to show up two blocks from your house and vote, except kids away at college I realize it`s really complicated.

And you got to make a little effort. Call your parents, figure it out.

The round table is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: On the other side of the ledger, the White House announced today that rapper Kanye West will be joining President Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner for lunch this Thursday. The White House says they plan to discuss, quote, the manufacturing resurgence in America, prison reform, how to prevent gang violence and what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago.

Kanye West has been very open about his support for the president, most recently wearing a make America Great hat again while delivering an impromptu political speech on "SNL".

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Yamiche, tell me something I don`t know.

ALCINDOR: Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed to the Supreme Court means that there is a job opening on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This is seen by some as the second most important court in the country. Ruth Bader Ginsburg came from there, Clarence Thomas came from there.

So, whoever gets that job is instantly looked at as next Supreme Court justice in some circles.

MATTHEWS: Who?

ALCINDOR: We have no idea who that`s going to be.

MATTHEWS: Lisa?

ALCINDOR: So, I was in the Detroit suburbs this past weekend.

MATTHEWS: The eight mile.

ALCINDOR: Yes, the eight mile, and I wanted to see, you know, Republicans have been spending a lot of time talking about how this is such a boost for them. It was hard for me to imagine that Democrats could be more excited about the selection. But I can report from the Detroit suburbs that Democrats, particularly female Democrats, are supersonic excited.

MATTHEWS: Macomb County.

ALCINDOR: Macomb County, yes, right.

MATTHEWS: They`ll be "D" or "R"?

ALCINDOR: Oh, that`s always the tough. I`m a little bit out of the prediction business.

MATTHEWS: OK, Gene?

SCOTT: After Senator Lindsey Graham`s performance some say during the Kavanaugh hearings, some thought --

MATTHEWS: That`s a good word.

SCOTT: Some thought that he was interested in Jeff Sessions` job, wanting to be attorney general. But he told "The Washington Post" today that he has absolutely no interest in that. He feels like there`s more he can do in the Senate to help Trump`s vision of making America great move forward.

MATTHEWS: He wants to be around during Trump, and after Trump, forever. He wants to end up a building.

SCOTT: OK, all right.

MATTHEWS: Lindsey graham wants to be like Richard Russell, the bachelor that`s there forever. That`s my theory. And he doesn`t want to owe his job to anybody. I`m betting on Lindsey to be around when we`re all dead in Miami on a bench somewhere.

Thank you, Yamiche Alcindor. Not you. Lisa Lerer, and Eugene Scott.

When we return, let me finish tonight with something I`ve learned about leaders. You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with something I`ve learned about leaders. There was this scene at the 1956 Democratic National Convention where a young guy running for vice president could sense that balloting was going the other way.

Let`s go, he said, and went rushing his way up to the podium. Before most observers knew what was happening, this losing candidate asked the delegates to award the nomination to the other guy. It was only a moment. He was only up in that national spotlight for the littlest bit of time. But it was unforgettable.

John F. Kennedy had made himself by his quick wittedness and the gutsy decision the man to beat for the 1960 presidential nomination. People like people who make decisions. They like people who have the courage to get ahead of the crowd, who act before events make them do it, who act in a way that leads the way. It`s how we spot leaders.

The United States ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, strikes me much the same way. When the uproar arose over the Confederate flag, the South Carolina governor said to take it down. She got the state`s two state senators, including Lindsey Graham, to go along with her. Then she acted and made the call.

She showed the same audacity more recently. Someone said she`d been confused about an issue. Her answer came back rapidly and powerfully: I don`t get confused.

She didn`t let the dust settle. She sent it flying. Well, today, Ambassador Haley declared her intention to leave her U.N. post at year`s end.

I don`t know why, but I do know this, she is proactively getting out ahead of something. It`s the mark of her political behavior, not waiting for others or events to take control, but grabbing the reins herself, steering events her way. It`s a stirring thing to watch.

We`ve seen a bit of it before from people who turn out to be our leaders.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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