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Saudi Government confirms Khashoggi is dead. TRANSCRIPT: 10/19/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Jackie Speier, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, Susan Del Percio, Evan McMullin, Eugene Scott, Natasha Bertrand

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 19, 2018 Guest: Jackie Speier, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, Susan Del Percio, Evan McMullin, Eugene Scott, Natasha Bertrand

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: My thanks to Steve Clemons and Nick Kristof as part of our breaking coverage. The items that we didn`t get into the show that were preempted we will bring you next week. But the special live coverage of this unfolding scenario continues right now with HARDBALL with Chris Matthews.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: So where`s the body? Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Breaking news tonight in the case of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Seventeen days after his mysterious disappearance, Saudi Arabia has just conceded that Khashoggi died while in that Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. The Saudi press agency reports that the general prosecutor in that country has issued a carefully worded statement, the Saudi prosecutor.

It says that quote "the discussions which occurred between Mr. Khashoggi and the persons who met him while he was present at the kingdom`s consulate in Istanbul led to a quarrel and fighting by hand with the citizen Jamal Khashoggi which throw his death."

Well, this comes after mounting evidence emerged over the last several weeks to implicate Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi`s disappearance. And now 18 Saudis are reportedly being held as suspects in the death.

Joining me right now is NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, Josh Lederman of the national political reporter NBC News and Eli Stokols who covers the White House for the "Los Angeles Times" and Democratic congresswoman Jackie Speier who sits on the House intelligence committee.

Richard Engel, you know, everybody who has ever followed a detective story, especially a murder story know there`s is such a thing as the corpus dialectic (ph). Where is the body? If this body is chopped up into pieces with the help of that surgery tool, then there isn`t going to be a body somewhere. So how are the Saudis going to explain what they did with this guy that they say died in a fistfight of some sort?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are a lot of holes in this story. Where is the body is one of them? Why should there be a dismembered body?

If you read that, as you described it, carefully worded statement, very brief statement from the prosecutor`s office in Saudi Arabia which was read out on Saudi state TV, they said that Khashoggi was in the consulate. He got into a discussion, got into an argument, and then a fistfight. One would assume that if this person died, if Khashoggi died as a result of a fistfight, that they would call the police. They would alert authorities. They wouldn`t chop up his body, which is what Turkish officials say they did.

And Turkish officials are now searching two areas in this country, looking through CCTV footage. They say they saw a Saudi diplomatic vehicle near at least one of those areas, about 60 miles south of Istanbul, the other a forested area, 20 square miles north of Istanbul.

It also doesn`t explain why, according to Turkey, the 15 assassins were waiting for him to begin with. If it`s just to talk with him and then a fight breaks out and then he`s mysteriously dead. There was no explanation of what happened to his body in this brief statement.

MATTHEWS: Richard, they also, if you listen to this oddly worded statement, discussion which occurred, discussions, that was the fight, the cause of the fight, which occurred between Khashoggi and the persons who met him, they won`t even acknowledge in this statement it`s their agents, those 15 agents they sent in from Saudi.

ENGEL: Well, there were also not supposed to be discussions. Khashoggi was going into that consulate to pick up paperwork. He had been to the consulate once before. Turkish officials say when he went there, they were surprised to see him. He was greeted in a friendly manner, but he was told to come back. Told to come back on the day he came back. He called that morning to make sure that the paperwork he was expecting to pick up was ready. They told him it was. He showed up around 1:00 to pick up the paperwork.

There was not supposed to be discussions. This was a document retrieval that he was expecting that now if you read the statement ended up in an argument with persons and then if you listen to the Turks, a brutal interrogation, his body being chopped up, and now a search for the pieces of his remains.

MATTHEWS: Hold on, Richard. Let me go to Josh Lederman.

Josh, it seems to me this is a classic case, and it happens in some of the worst cultures and some of the better one, rolling disclosure. They are only disclosing what we know as a fact, he is dead. Nothing else can be relied upon in this statement.

JOHN LEDERMAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL REPORTER: That`s right. And up until now, Chris, the Saudis have not even acknowledged he was dead. It was less than a week ago that the Saudis were putting out vehement statements saying that they really are upset about these terrible disparagement of the Saudi government.


LEDERMAN: But what we can say, Chris, that NBC News has learned from an official, a source that`s close, has information about what the Saudis plan to do here, that this is not the end of what the Saudi government will release. There will be more information that comes outside that details the chain of events, what exactly happened.

MATTHEWS: Rolling disclosure. So they are going to roll out more after they test this?

First of all, is anybody going to take the fall, really, for murder? Or there seems like they are denying there was a murder. That it was a fistfight. It was at worse a manslaughter and an intentional somebody died in a fistfight. I mean, they won`t even acknowledge there is a capital crime here.

LEDERMAN: It`s true, they did not use the word murder or killing in their description. But we don`t yet fully know exactly how much --.

MATTHEWS: In other words, no one has to be killed?

LEDERMAN: Well, somebody died in a fistfight.

MATTHEWS: I`m talking about there`s no -- congresswoman, let me go to this because this is our ally. There has always been the question about Saudi, let`s face it. Not the government necessarily all the time, but the people there. Fifteen people of the 19 on 9/11 were Saudis. They were the thugs. Some said they didn`t even know what the mission was. They were just along to kill flight attendants and intimidate passengers so they could continue their route to the world trade center and the Pentagon and perhaps the capital.

So what do we make of Saudi Arabia, that there are official agencies are putting out this claptrap. They won`t even admit any more than what we know. The guy`s dead. That`s all they are really honestly admitting.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, their story doesn`t pass the smell test. And I think it`s high time for Congress to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia. I kind of bristle at calling them an ally. In part because 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. And I don`t think the way they have conducted themselves has proven to show that they are an ally. They have lied through this whole 17-day period of time, and there`s no reference made to bone saws or acid wash. And that`s what they did to a journalist.


SPEIER: And our government and our President has tried to read from their script and suggest that they were rogue actors who did this. I mean, it`s really shameful.

MATTHEWS: You know, back when we had -- what`s his name? Prince Bandar is he was the socialite. One of the guys like this new crown prince, that hung out with Liz Taylor and pretended to be westernized in some sense, he -- I told him once we think you got a gig going over there in Saudi Arabia you. You let your young people destroy the world but leave the Saudi royal family alone. That`s your deal.

I think everybody`s thought that. They have sort of a split personality. Let all their people do the horrible stuff, but protect the royal family. It looks like they are doing the same exact same thing here. They are going blame all the thugs and the bouncers and the so-called security people and the doctor and everybody who was in that consulate that they can separate somehow from the crown prince.

SPEIER: Well, this was a grotesque act, and it was premeditated. It was a murder, and we have got to show that we have some sense of moral values in this country at a time when it seems like all we do is embrace dictators and autocrats like Kim and Putin, and now the crown prince. I think that what the intelligence committee is going to have to do is find out what we knew, when we knew it, and whether or not we had an obligation to inform Khashoggi that he was in danger.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Eli, my friend. It seems to me if we threw this case that they have thrown at us before at an American jury, it wouldn`t go very far. Fifteen guys got into a boxing match with somebody and a guy died, but we couldn`t tell you for 17 days.

ELI STOKOLS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And then they are supposed to believe this investigation that`s coming, that the crown prince is supposedly going to be leading.

MATTHEWS: Like Nixon was leading the cover-up vex.

STOKOLS: Exactly. So I think -- yes, you are right. But these are not normal times. We live in such a tribal polarized country right now. You see the President. His actions, they are not like a President before him in terms of responding to this situation. But you see it at every turn of this. He is very reluctant. He didn`t acknowledge that Khashoggi was dead until yesterday. Today he is asked about this. He is saying yes, OK, he is dead. Yes, we are getting more information. I`ll listen to Congress. But you know, Iran does bad things too. He us always sort --.

MATTHEWS: He is saying that. It`s what argument.

STOKOLS: There are a lot of allies and conservative media who have been sliming Khashoggi, saying that he has, you know, he has hung around with terrorists back, you know, years ago, things that are just outlandish.

MATTHEWS: Like he should have been killed.

STOKOLS: But that is where we are right now. Everything breaks along this partisan divide. You are hearing Republicans in Congress, allies of this administration like Lindsey Graham talking very tough about this. They are not singing from the same sheet of music as the President on this. But are they going to force the President`s hand, force him to respond and to do something? Are they going to act on their own, or are they just sort of going to fall in line behind Trump?

MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to Richard on the very point we are raising here.

What do you make of the way that they are singling people out to take the fall so far, Richard? Who has been lined up to take the worst punishment, if there is any punishment, for this murder?

ENGEL: Probably major general Ahmed Alasiri. He is the deputy head of Saudi intelligence. He was the first person tonight that the Saudis mentioned of having been relieved of his duties. Also, a Presidential adviser or a royal adviser to Mohammed bin Salman also relieved of his duties. But I would say the deputy head of intelligence is the one who is probably going to be facing the most severe punishment.

And it could be that the crown prince uses this as an opportunity to clear away some of his advisers, blaming some of the controversial people around him, saying that it was all their fault, that it was not a rogue operation just launched by the 15 people who were in the consulate there who got into this boxing match and then I guess decided to chop up the body, but that it was -- some of his powerful underlings who acted on their own authority and launched this mission which ultimately embarrassed Saudi Arabia.

And you were asking earlier, could that result in their death? It absolutely could result in their death.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s right.

Congresswoman, it seems to me watching the stories I think we can fill all up this. These people are not going to talk. They are either their families will be threatened and they will go down. They will accept that they are going to be executed but their families will be spared. They are going to find a way of keeping these men from talking. Because this whole plan they are putting together, this whole rigmarole of nonsense, this cover-up isn`t going to work if they squeal.

SPEIER: Well, one of them has already died in a mysterious car crash based on information we received yesterday. I mean, what`s really stunning about all of this, but for the fact that Turkey started leaking this information, you would have had the Saudis basically say that these were rogue operators, and you would have had the President of the United States supporting that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I don`t trust him on this, as I don`t on many things, but especially the Saudi and him together, I don`t think they are the team that`s going give us the truth at all. I think they are working together to keep it from us.

Richard Engel, as always, brilliant.

Josh Lederman, again for you, sir.

Eli Stokols who is good on everything.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the intelligence committee. I hope you guys on the hill get on this because they need some pressure put on these people. I think they felt the Friday night pressure. Somebody told the Saudis, come out with something by Friday night, and they have. I don`t think it`s going to hold the weekend.

Coming up, more breaking news tonight on the Russia front, another huge story tonight. The Russian national with ties to Vladimir Putin. One of them was charged today with attempting to meddle in the 2018 elections, not the 2016. They were going after us. They are doing all the dirty stuff they did in 2016 to get an 18. That means they are still at it.

Plus, President Trump`s closing message to voters in his own words as Kavanaugh and the caravan. But he is also peddling conspiracy theories to his base. What are Democrats offering in response? There is a bigger question.

Also, we are going to have more on the breaking news in Saudi Arabia. We have been given you and the epic west wing blowup the other day between Trump senior advisers Bolton and Kelly.

Finally, let me finish tonight with the leader that cared about an underdog.

This is HARDBALL where the action is.


MATTHEWS: Back in now in HARDBALL ten this Friday night. The ten race that will decide who controls the Senate after the November midterms.

Today in Texas, the Houston chronicle endorsed Democratic candidate Beto O`Rourke, calling him one of the most impressive candidates this editorial board has encountered in many years. The chronicle touts O`Rourke`s command of the issues, unaffected eloquence, and his eagerness to reach out to all Texans.

By the way, six years ago that same newspaper, the Houston paper, endorsed Cruz. Now it`s slamming Cruz`s manifest inadequacies, saying he has shown little interest in addressing the needs of his fellow Texans during his six years in office.

We will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A Russian national has been charged in Virginia today for interfering in this country`s elections including efforts to influence the 2018 midterm elections, the ones coming up in two weeks. That`s the big news tonight. They are still at it.

The criminal complaint reveals that Elena (INAUDIBLE) of St. Petersburg was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States for waging a social media campaign to create amplify divisive social media and political content. In other words, to stir up trouble here. Using fake online identities, the Russian conspiracy allegedly posted online propaganda like this which spread lies about former President Obama and gives cover to President Trump.

The caption, by the way, to this image reads "if only the media had been as bothered by Obama`s ties to the Muslim brotherhood as they are by Trump`s fake ties to Russia." Well, of course, Obama had no such ties.

Another inflammatory post targeted Muslims with an anti-immigration message saying, no cult pretending to be a religion should ever be given the freedom to exist within the same western countries that they are taught to hate. Of course, that`s anti-Islamic.

The complaint alleges that the Russian propaganda campaign going on right now inflamed passions over divisive issues, listing them all. This what they have targeted. They are pretty smart, those Russians. Look what they are doing. They` are going after on the red hot issue of immigration, the red hot issue of gun control, the confederate flag issue, the women`s march, and even a debate over the NFL and taking a knee in the national anthem. All this stuff we have been fighting about in this country, they have been heating up more so. And while the conspirators targeted both sides of the political spectrum, it appears the majority of the Russian efforts focused on helping Trump. Trump was asked about that news today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It has nothing to do with my campaign. And all of the hackers and all of the -- everybody that you see, nothing to do with my campaign. If the hackers, a lot of them probably like Hillary Clinton better than me. Now they do. Now they do. But, you know that. But, you know, they go after some hacker in Russia and they say oh, it had nothing to do with my campaign.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining now is Tom Winter, an investigative reporter for NBC News, and Malcolm Nance, author of "The Plot to Destroy Democracy."

Tom, help us out here about this -- is this news that they`re still doing it?


I mean, we have been hearing about this from our intelligence communities and from law enforcement over the past couple of months. But I think what`s important today is that we get some specifics.

And I think it`s a little bit of the intelligence community and the law enforcement community of the United States throwing -- throwing a punch back at the Russian government and saying, hey, we`re still getting your messages. We`re still on top of you from an intelligence standpoint, and we`re still monitoring exactly what it is that you`re doing. And this has been going on for some time, and we`re going to tie it to an oligarch who is very close to Vladimir Putin.

So I think the level of detail that we have here, the fact that they`re -- they`re changing up a little bit -- I mean, before the Russians win so hard against Hillary Clinton in the spring of 2016, right through the election, this was the type of stuff that they were starting to do, pick on hot-topic issues, things that are going to be divisive in the United States, and just start to -- just start to mess with the way that we talk about things and try to inject different points of view, extreme points of view into the debate.

At some point, they made the turn. All the intelligence agencies came around to the fact that the efforts were to -- were to help Donald Trump with the election, but right now we`re seeing them make that shift back to some of the things that they were starting to do before, which is to pick on these issues and to put information out on social media that gets people talking about it, gets people sharing it.

And in the past, we have talked about how low-cost this was, Chris. Today, we`re seeing, according to this criminal complaint, that, in 2016, just this company -- and, remember, they were just one -- kind of one part of what the Russians were doing -- that they were expensing $12 million in I.T. and in online advertising that they were doing through the social media Web sites.

So I think this is a really significant criminal complaint that`s been unsealed today that we`re looking at on screen. And I think it`s something that really deserves our attention, to know that they`re still doing this and they`re still trying to get in our heads in this country.

MATTHEWS: Well, Malcolm, as Tom just mentioned, the criminal complaint states that the Russian influence operation was indicted -- which was indicted today, was financed by a wealthy Russian oligarch, a restaurant tycoon named Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was indicted alongside 12 other Russians last February.

As a close friend of Putin, he`s better known as Putin`s chef. However, when NBC`s Megyn Kelly asked Putin about him last March, or this past March, Putin insisted hat he`s not a friend of his.


MEGYN KELLY, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: One of your good friends is actually accused of helping conduct this. His name is Yevgeny Prigozhin.

You know him?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I know that person, but I wouldn`t consider him one of my friends. This is just twisting the facts around. He is a businessman. He`s involved in a restaurant business and some other business.

But he is not a government official. We don`t have anything to do with him.

KELLY: After you heard that he had been indicted, did you pick up the phone and call him?

PUTIN (through translator): Like I have nothing better to do. I have got so many things to do and so many problems.

KELLY: He`s your friend. He`s just been indicted.

PUTIN (through translator): Didn`t you hear what I said? He`s not a friend of mine.



MATTHEWS: Malcolm, let me ask you about something that impressed -- as a political person, I`m amazed at the sophistication of the bad guys here, the Russians.

They know everything that irritates this country, everything that`s a flash point, whether it`s immigration or it`s guns or it`s everything. They seem to know everything that hurts us and they want it to hurt more.

MALCOLM NANCE, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you`re absolutely right.

And what you`re looking at is a strategic plan that is being executed by the Russians against the United States. I am not exaggerating when I say the Russian information warfare operation against America is James Bond evil villain level plotting here.

They are watching in real time what affects this nation. They have monitoring stations. They have people watching the news, the print media. They`re watching Trump and his statements. They`re watching his followers.

And they are crafting and adapting their social warfare tools to make sure that their propaganda products are hitting us precisely where they hurt the most. This again -- and the basis of this is old-school KGB activity, but it`s now moving at the speed of the electron.

And we just don`t have the capacity to stop it because they have weaponized freedom of speech. And until we take it very seriously -- and we`re not going to because the president of the United States does not believe one word that this is happening, which now makes the Russian operations operate at lightspeed, because they can go with impunity.

And the only thing stopping them is news media broadcasts like this, when we catch them and indict them and turn them into a criminal enterprise. That`s the only time anybody believes that it`s happening.

It`s really a shame.

MATTHEWS: Well, I -- Malcolm and Tom, I can think of three reasons why Trump hates this news story breaking tonight.

Number one, it shows, as you just said, Malcolm, a criminal enterprise is ongoing, it`s real, it was real in `16, it`s real in `18, and Trump looked like he was a part of it. We will find out when Mueller comes through with his report.

Secondly, it`s clearly out to hurt our cultural unity, such as it still exists in this country. They seem to know our pressure points. They want to divide us apart.

Thank you, Tom Winter. Thank you, Malcolm Nance.

Up next: President Trump`s closing message to voters in his own words -- he`s clever with his alliteration -- Kavanaugh -- not -- yes, Kavanaugh and the caravan. Isn`t that clever?

So what are Democrats are offering as a countermessage?

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.



TRUMP: This will be an election of Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order, and common sense. That`s what it`s going to be. It`s going to be an election of those things. The choice could not be more clear.

Democrats produce mobs. Republicans produce jobs.



MATTHEWS: Well, there he is. He`s made up the slogan. And that`s hardball.

Anyway, that was President Trump rolling out his new closing argument, his slogans, to voters at a rally out in Montana last night.

Trump painted Democrats as an angry mob full of conspiracy theories and fear-mongering. His latest scare, that Democrats are behind a caravan of Central American migrants traveling towards the U.S. border through Mexico.


TRUMP: It`s going to be an election of the caravan. You know what I`m talking about. You know what I`m talking about.

A lot of money`s been passing through people to come up and try and get to the border by Election Day, because they think that`s a negative for us, that they wanted that caravan. And there are those who say that caravan didn`t just happen. It didn`t just happen.

They refuse to acknowledge or to change the laws. They like it. They also figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump didn`t stop there. He riffed on a host of other conspiracies about paid protesters, rigged elections and, true to form, his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: But did you see the signs? They`re brand-new. They`re beautiful, the black-and-white signs. Everybody has the same signs.

There are a lot of rigged things going on to that. Just ask Bernie Sanders. You think things are rigged, Bernie?

But we fight like nobody ever fought before.


TRUMP: You know what we do? We fight, and we fight, and we win.

If you fight back today, it`s called obstruction. No, no, no, we fight back. Call it whatever the hell you want. We fight back.


TRUMP: Obstruction.

Crooked Hillary is a great unifier.

AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

TRUMP: It is incredible, the deep state, where they don`t even look at her -- isn`t it incredible?


MATTHEWS: We`re joined -- we`re joined right now by Omarosa Manigault- Newman, a former White House staffer, of course, of note, and Susan Del Percio, a Republican strategist.

I don`t know which of you to start to say who is going to explain Trump and his sloganeering.

But anybody that believes -- look, I think Democrats can be a little slow politically once in a while, but the idea they would start this caravan of 4,000 or 5,000 people trooping up from Guatemala, on to Texas or Arizona, is not something you do with any kind of political astuteness two weeks before an election.

But he`s saying that`s what the Democrats are up to.


And it makes no sense, not that any of his conspiracy theories have to make sense. They would have to be registered. They would have to have identification in order to participate in the election.

MATTHEWS: Oh, they`re all going to vote when they get here.


MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Right. But let`s not let logic get in the way of fact.

So, Donald Trump wants to create this boogeyman, this tension, this, if we don`t get out, then they`re going to get us.

Who`s the they? Today, it`s Honduras. Tomorrow, it`s Hillary. The next day, it will be those who oppose Kavanaugh.

He is really good at creating this invisible monster that`s coming to get his base.

MATTHEWS: Susan, erstwhile Republican, occasional Republican, not this week Republican, Susan Del Percio.

I mean, he is sloganeering. And I just wonder, he gives people nicknames. He has nicknamed the -- he`s calling it the caravan. He is connected it alliteratively with Kavanaugh. The two names are now working together.

We will hear them -- they will be married from now to Election Days, those two names. Jobs vs. mobs. Now, he can tell somebody, a congressman, to punch out some reporter, but that`s not bad behavior, but somebody complains about somebody in a restaurant, that`s a bad behavior.

He distinguishes mob behavior from punching people out. And he seems to get his side -- on his side all the time.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, and he`s only happy if he`s making -- if he`s after someone and fighting them.

He`s got to divide because he has no message that can bring our country together. He`s hoping he can get -- play on hate and to bring out enough of the base.

But what is interesting and not imaginary is the caravan. And I think he likes that, besides for what it represents, is he will have a visual that will go along with that. And Donald Trump is about the visual. He`s about television. And that is going to go along with his message.


MATTHEWS: I think that`s going to be -- yes, I think he doesn`t even have to narrate it. I think that visual is going to hurt people like Bob Casey in Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Debbie Stabenow in Michigan.

People do not want people pouring into the country like that without any regulation or any role by the government or the American people, just coming in. It scares people and it bothers them.

Anyway, Trump used last night`s rally to praise Montana Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte. In fact, during his campaign last May, Greg Gianforte body-slammed a newspaper reporter at "The Guardian," Ben Jacobs, at an event.

The congressman was later charged and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. And last night, Trump described the incident as a positive.


TRUMP: Greg is smart.

And, by the way, never wrestle him. You understand that? Never.


TRUMP: Any guy that can do a body slam, he`s my kind of...


TRUMP: He`s my guy.


TRUMP: But I had heard that he body-slammed a reporter.


TRUMP: Oh, this is terrible. He`s going to lose the election. Then I said, well, wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him. And it did.



MATTHEWS: Could it be that Trump knows Saudi Arabia really well, the way they treat reporters?

I mean, this is this juxtaposition of a reporter who writes "The Washington Post" and lives in Virginia being cut up into pieces as part of this incredible act of murder. He says -- that same week that happens, he`s talking about a guy getting beaten up.

What about the guy in Staten Island that said, I`m going to break you like a boy, that character?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Yes, because he`s making the mistake of thinking that the midterms are about his base. And his base are about these men, these strong men who fight and who are aggressive.

But the problem is, he`s claiming to be the law and order president, that he wants this order, and he`s trying to depict the Democrats as a mob.

MATTHEWS: But beating up reporters is consistent with law and order?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: No, it`s not. And he doesn`t see the irony of this.


MATTHEWS: Never mind.

If you swing back at a congressman, you would be in jail for 10 years.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Yes, you will.

MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me go to Susan on this.

Susan, is this going to be the campaign? Is this what we`re going to hear, Kavanaugh, which he thinks he won on with his peeps, and the caravan, which will probably hurt the Democrats generally? It just will.

And then going after mobs. I agree -- look, some of these things are mistakes. I mean, anybody who goes after a guy in a restaurant and bothers his family is going to look bad. You never go after the family. We don`t like that in America. It`s never going to look good.

Those people went up on -- went after -- and I don`t like Cruz that much politically, but going after him and his family in a restaurant, and he -- Cruz was smart enough to walk out. He went up 10 points after that.

People who think they`re activists should vote and get people out to vote and leave the fisticuffs and the rough stuff to the Trump people.

Your thoughts, Susan.

DEL PERCIO: Well, and that`s when Donald -- that`s what Donald Trump pounces on. He goes after one or two examples, thinks it represents an entire group of people or party.

And I just like to say, while he was -- Donald Trump was at the rally and talking about beating up reporters, Nikki Haley was at the Al Smith Dinner and discussing that our political opponents are not our enemies. They are not evil.

And that just stands in such a stark contrast to where the president was last night.

MATTHEWS: Susan, you`re so smart. We`re going to show those clips. We`re going to show those clips in a few minutes, because not only did she separate herself on the question of our opponents not being evil and stop talking like that -- she said that basically to the president.

But she told some really funny stuff too.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: She was great.

DEL PERCIO: She was.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, that`s what I like to hear. I think she`s got political smarts.

And your party should be smarter, even though she`s a neocon, like some of you guys are. I like her, anyway, as a political person.

Thank you, Omarosa Manigault-Newman.


MATTHEWS: Still on the book trail? The name of the book is?


MATTHEWS: "Unhinged." Thanks.

D.C., I see it all over the airports.

Anyway, Susan Del Percio, thank you so much. Good luck in reclaiming your party.

DEL PERCIO: I`m trying.

MATTHEWS: Up next: more on today`s big story out of Saudi Arabia. We have got new reaction from the White House.

How are they going to cover this cover-up? Can the president buy this nonsense that there was a fistfight with 15 guys against one? Then they decide to chop him up into pieces because he lost the fistfight? What?

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

And back to our top story tonight. It couldn`t be a bigger one.

Saudi Arabia`s state news agency acknowledging that "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in that Saudi Consulate.

The White House said, by the way, in a statement tonight: "We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi`s death, and we will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident that advocate -- that advocate that justice is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process."

I don`t believe a word of that.

Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted: "To say that I am skeptical of the new study narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement."

Good for Lindsey.

Let`s bring in tonight`s Roundtable, Natasha Bertrand, staff writer for "The Atlantic," Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative, and Eugene Scott, a political reporter for "The Washington Post."

It seems to me -- I said earlier it`s rolling disclosure. They`re telling us what we already know. He`s dead. That`s all they told us that we can believe. All this stuff about a fistfight, 15 to one, they have to explain where his body is.

And if they did chop it up, like the word is that they did, they have to explain that. Why would they chop up a body because the guy lost a fistfight?


MATTHEWS: And why was there a fistfight, when the only reason he went in there was to get some marriage materials?

BERTRAND: Why bring a bone saw, right? Why bring a forensic expert?

MATTHEWS: A doctor.

BERTRAND: And a doctor.

MATTHEWS: Why bring a guy in an expert in music to be played?

BERTRAND: It seems like the plan all along was to go in and if not kill him, then at least interrogate him. And if that interrogation went awry somehow, then the plan was to cover it up.

And I think Khashoggi knew going in that something was going to happen, because apparently, according to reporting we have seen, he had his Apple Watch on and recording. So he knew kind that he was walking into this danger.

And the fact that the Saudis` story has changed so many times -- I mean, they never provided that he walked out of that consulate -- that was the first red flag -- is just more evidence.

And the fact that the president has not come out and strongly condemned this, has been playing this wait-and-see game, saying that the Saudis have to finish their own investigation into a murder that they were involved in is just completely outrageous.


MATTHEWS: Evan, here`s how I think they`re going to finish their investigation.

In the next 48 hours, we`re going to -- some people are going to be dead, because how else do they silence people? Unless they threaten their families and say, unless you take the dive, life imprisonment, at least purported life imprisonment, or 50 lashes, whatever they come up with, because they`re denying it`s premeditated murder.

So they don`t have to say there is a capital crime here to be -- to be punished.

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, in Saudi Arabia, they have all kinds of ways to squirrel these guys away and to control the situation and keep them away from the press.

Some of them, they may imprison. Some of them, they may kill. Some may just melt away and we won`t know for sure and it will be difficult...


MATTHEWS: How do they keep them quiet? Because they all know what happened.

MCMULLIN: You put them under house arrest. You put them under arrest in some way. It`s not difficult in Saudi Arabia or in almost any other country in the Middle East to do this sort of thing.

The thing is, though, I just...

MATTHEWS: Can this guy after this happened -- can that -- that well- turned-out, cologned, Westernized prince over there, the crown prince, who is such a dandy, can he now again sit down with the president of the United States in a meeting?

Can he sit with Theresa May in London? Can he actually act like a civilized figure now and get away with it?

MCMULLIN: I think it`s very hard for civilized leaders of the West, as you put it, to have relations with MSB looking forward -- or MBS.

But the problem is, is that our president isn`t -- he doesn`t follow those rules. He`s not -- he`s not committed to our values. And neither is MBS. So that I don`t think is going to be a problem.

But I just have to say, I don`t think enough is being made of the fact that the Saudi sent 15 men to do this job. As a former operations guy, I just have to tell you, you don`t send 15 men to simply meet a guy or question a guy or even to kill a guy.

You send 15 men if you want to abduct a guy or if you want to kill a guy, and then do away with his body. But that 15 men is just an incredible -- an incredible signal of premeditation on this.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK, you`re the spook. You know how this is done.

They got surveillance cameras on that place. It was probably bugged by the Turks. And this guy, Khashoggi`s girlfriend, his fiancee, was standing outside. They didn`t hide the fact that he was killed.

They didn`t hide it. He disappeared inside that building.

MCMULLIN: But with these -- with these kinds of regimes come some hubris, where they think they can get away with things. They think they`re more clever than they actually are.

They may not have been counting on his fiancee to be outside. They think they can get away with things that they can`t. And when they`re subjected to outside world scrutiny, their lies unravel very quickly.

And it`s not -- it`s not uncommon.

MATTHEWS: Gene, you know what strikes me, is how much we see them as one of us.

EUGENE SCOTT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean, I think people who are familiar with international affairs and had been paying attention to MBS understand that he`s been problematic for a while.

MATTHEWS: No, I meant Khashoggi is one of us.

SCOTT: He is. "The Washington Post"...


MATTHEWS: He is your colleague.

SCOTT: Yes, absolutely, and one of us.

And one of the reasons I think that the government thought they could get away with it is because they realized that we are now living in a country under a president who has so little respect for journalists.

MATTHEWS: Like he said -- he applauded the other guy last night for punching out a report.

SCOTT: Absolutely.

And so, I mean, they heard -- they have heard a president talk about fake news and applaud physical assault on a journalist. They had no reason to believe that the president would be upset with them.

MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you, will no one rid me of this meddlesome journalist? I can imagine.

Anyway, this is an upbeat story. Outgoing, about to be former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley poked some fun last night at both the administration and the Democrats at the annual, the great Al Smith charity dinner.

Here she goes.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The president called me this morning and gave me some really good advice.

He said, if I get stuck for laughs, just brag about his accomplishments.


HALEY: It really killed at the U.N., I got to tell you.

Jeff Sessions wanted to be here, but he recused himself.


HALEY: Actually, I saw Jeff Sessions earlier today, not in New York. I saw him on LinkedIn looking for a job.


HALEY: I get it. You wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test.


HALEY: Actually, when the president found out that I was Indian American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren.



MATTHEWS: She is good.

Anyway, Haley also called for greater civility from both sides in the political fight. Let`s watch. Here`s -- her -- her word choice could be seen as a direct response, by the way, to comments her soon-to-be-about- former boss uses.

Let`s watch the comparison.


TRUMP: All of the Democrats know and all they really know how to do is obstruct, resist, demolish, destroy and delay.

They destroy people. They wanted to destroy people. These are really evil people.

HALEY: In our toxic political environment, I have heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil.

In America, our political opponents are not evil.


MATTHEWS: Very direct.


MCMULLIN: Yes, look, I think what she`s doing here -- I mean, I`m glad she had -- she said that. These are important things in this moment of incredible dismissiveness.

But I think what she`s doing is, she`s trying to distance herself from the president, in anticipation of a time when Trumpism may not be quite so popular as it is within the Republican Party right now.

And that`s a long bet, and it`s a hopeful bet. It`s one that is -- it`s hard to see right now.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m a little more generous.

I remember her distancing herself from the Confederate Flag, Eugene.

SCOTT: Yes, she...

MATTHEWS: And that took some guts in South Carolina. She did it fast.

SCOTT: She did, right.

And we know she spoke out very -- with great emotion after the Charleston massacre, where the white supremacist went into the church and killed black Christians who were praying.

But many people in the Democratic base are not going to forget the fact that Nikki Haley went along with Donald Trump on so many things that they found indefensible.


MATTHEWS: Well, nobody is counting on the Democratic base if you`re Nikki Haley. You`re counting on a Republican Party that survives.



MATTHEWS: Anyway, I think she`s a great pol. I think I like politicians.

Anyway, the Roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, these three are going to Tell Me Something I Don`t Know.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Well, two of President Trump`s top advisers were reportedly caught in a heated profanity-, F-word-laced shouting match outside the Oval Office yesterday.

And administration officials tell NBC News that the disagreement between Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton was over the rising number of undocumented immigrants coming into the country.

The dispute was so heated, according to some people, that Kelly ended up storming out of the White House altogether. He just walked out of the White House, he was so angry.

Well, the White House released a statement late last night, saying in part: "While we are passionate about solving the issue of illegal immigration, we are not angry at one another."

Well, that was a cover story.

We will be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL Roundtable.

Natasha, Tell Me Something I Don`t Know.

BERTRAND: So, internal government e-mails obtained and released by the House Democrats this week show that Trump was actually directly involved in the decision to scrap a long-term plan to relocate the FBI headquarters, in a way that would allow one of Trump`s competitors, if they wanted to, to build property on that land just a block away from his hotel.


BERTRAND: So this is evidence...

MATTHEWS: So, we`re going to be stuck with that Stalin-esque, Soviet-style building forever?

BERTRAND: Ironically, it would -- it would cost a lot more to rebuild the current headquarters.

MATTHEWS: I know. Boy, that is an ugly building, anyway, the Hoover Building.

Go ahead, Evan.

MCMULLIN: So, so according to an SSRS poll released today, 96 percent of Republicans think the party reflects its values accurately.

That`s four times as many thought that in 2010. At the same time, 91 percent of Democrats think the same about the Democratic Party.

So what we`re seeing is a coalescing of the polarization, the political polarization in the country, a very dangerous thing, what both the Russians and Donald Trump is trying to facilitate in our country. It`s very dangerous.

MATTHEWS: I hate it.

Go ahead, Gene.

SCOTT: Since last -- since last Friday, five potential 2020 Democratic candidates have all visited South Carolina, showing that they`re focused on the base. The women, the millennials, the people of color are all in South Carolina.

MATTHEWS: Base meaning African-Americans, right? Let`s be clear.

SCOTT: Well, yes, but black voters, black women, also black millennials, but also...

MATTHEWS: Who has got the best chance in South Carolina? Would it be Kamala?

SCOTT: I think it`s either Kamala or Booker right now.

But Biden`s going down there, Bloomberg. Sanders is going to be there tomorrow. So we will see.

MATTHEWS: I think Biden`s best chance is to get a lot of third places and stay in the race. He`s not going to do well in the beginning. It`s too tough with the left.

But if he keeps getting third place, third place, third place, he might outlast them. I think that`s his game.

Thank you, Natasha Bertrand.

And he`s never told me.


MATTHEWS: Evan McMullin and Eugene Scott.

When we return, Let Me Finish tonight with a leader who cared about the underdog.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Let Me Finish tonight with a leader who cared about the underdog.

Tomorrow, I will be at Barrington Books up in Cranston, Rhode Island, to speak about my book "Robert Kennedy: A Raging Spirit."

Big crowds have been greeting me on this tour, people at the University of Southern Maine in Portland last week, an even larger crowd this past weekend in Morristown Book Festival, a huge crowd in New Jersey.

Everywhere I go, there are people concerned about today`s politics. And that starts with their concern about Trump, but it doesn`t end there.

I think they`re looking for a more passionate opposition to Trump, one based on principle, on protecting what people have won in this country, and want leaders devoted to keeping that.

My book on Bobby Kennedy, which came out in paperback this week, reminds people that such leaders are possible, leaders who care about the underdog, who unite the country, not divide it.

Tomorrow, I will be in Barrington Books in Cranston, Rhode Island, starting at 3:00 p.m. I expect to see a lot of people there, because we had 1,000 the last time.

And this is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.