Show: HARDBALL Date: October 22, 2018 Guest: Cheri Bustos, Elliot Williams, Chris Coons, Amanda Terkel, Adrienne Elrod, Matt Schlapp
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump at the gate. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
With midterms just two weeks from tomorrow, President Trump is doubling down on his warning of mobs at the gate. At a rally in Nevada, over the weekend, he accused Democrats of being behind that caravan of Central American migrants. There it is. There they are, heading through Mexico toward the U.S. border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, Democrats produce mobs. Republicans produce jobs. That`s become a hashtag. They want to open your borders, let people in illegally. The Democrats want to throw open your borders to deadly drugs and gangs and anybody else that wants to come in.
The Democrats want caravans. They like the caravans. So the Democrats don`t care that a flood of illegal immigration will bankrupt our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Trump continues stoking fears on illegal immigration, a series of three morning tweets today. He warned of a quote "caravan heading to the southern border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners mixed in."
He also added, think and blame the Democrats. And remember the midterms.
Well, today, Trump was asked to support his words about the caravan. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Take your camera. Go into the middle and search. You are going to find MS-13, you are going to find Middle Eastern, and you are going to find everything. And guess what? We are not allowing them in our country. We want safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: In fact, NBC News reports there`s no evidence to support Trump`s claim about the caravan noting that internal U.S. government documents on the caravan make no mention of Middle Easterners, criminals or a terror threat.
Over the weekend Trump also rolled out another warning without any evidence, again without evidence, writing on twitter, all levels of government and law enforcement are watching carefully for voter fraud, including during early voting. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal.
In spite of all that, in the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll it found Trump`s job approval up to 47 percent among registered voters, 47 percent, his highest approval rating ever in the survey.
For more I`m joined by Illinois Democratic congresswoman Cheri Bustos, a rising star in the Democratic Party, also Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS News Hour and Charlie Sykes, contributing editor at the "Weekly Standard."
I want all three of you, starting with congresswoman Bustos to tell us how the Democrats react to what looks to be a (INAUDIBLE), a loud scream of fear and fright from Donald Trump that they are coming, they are coming through the gates, and the Democrats are welcoming them in as illegal immigrants by the thousands. What do Democratic leadership should they be saying to the American voter at this moment? Congresswoman.
REP. CHERI BUSTOS (D), ILLINOIS: Well, first of all, Chris, Donald Trump is the master distracter. And here we are 15 days out from this election. We have got Democrats all over the country who are some of the sharpest candidates I have ever seen in my political lifetime. They are running scared. And what do they do when they are running scared? They resort to fear tactics. And that`s what`s happening.
What we need to stay focused on is the legislation that we will do once we win back the majority, that`s number one. Bring down the cost of health care, prescription drug prices. We will rebuild this country with a real trillion dollar infrastructure package not the fake one like the President introduced. And number three, we are going to make Washington functional again. We are going to address the dysfunction in Washington, the self- dealing, the money in politics. And we will do that as soon as we win back the majority. We just have to make sure that we continue to do our best to earn the trust of the American public again.
MATTHEWS: What can you do if you can`t win back the Senate?
BUSTOS: Well, you know, I`m staying focused on the House because that`s where I serve. I think the Senate, it`s tough, but we have some tremendous candidates. Kiersten Sinema in Arizona, Jackie Rosen in Nevada. I love Beto O`Rourke in Texas. It`s a tough one. But look at the campaign he is running.
Right now my role at the Democratic congressional campaign committee is heart land engagement chair. So I am working with candidates running in 12 mostly Midwestern states. We have also included West Virginia and Pennsylvania in there.
And, Chris, these candidates are going to change the way Congress does business. They are not going to have anybody tell them what to do. They`re going to stay focused on the 700-ish thousand people they will represent. And we are going to get the nation`s work done again.
MATTHEWS: Yamiche, your thoughts about what the congresswoman just said. The battle of her offering what the Democrats will do if they regain the Congress. They have to get the presidency back, too, ultimately to get a bill signed. Against the fear of the President, which he is talking about the mob at the gate. What he`s going to do the next two weeks, we know it now.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWS HOUR: I was just out in West Virginia. And it`s the nature of the Democrats to say we need to talk to people and welcome people who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing poverty.
So -- the problem is, of course, the caravan is the worst possible time for Democrats for this to be happening politically because they are going to show up on the gates of the United States right when people are voting so they are going to be on people`s minds. And the President, of course, has had this hard line immigration policy --
MATTHEWS: Can you discern -- I want to get back to the congresswoman. What is the Democratic response to these people? They are in need, they are afraid, they are coming here. What`s the Democratic -- if you ran the entire U.S. government right now, the Democratic Party, what would they do when these people reach our gate, our border what would they do? What should we do?
BUSTOS: Well, they are seeking refuge.
MATTHEWS: So what should we do?
BUSTOS: Donald Trump is -- well, you give them a path to make sure that they can have safety. These are people that are seeking rapes and murders and gang violence. And the President`s claim that this is the gangs themselves in the middle of all of this and the so-called Middle Easterners in all of this, as you said in your opener, Chris, that`s been refuted. It is not true.
We have a President who likes to peddle in miss truths, and is peddling fear once again. We can`t just not have an answer to that, but the answer is that we have been a country for 250, almost 50 years where people are seeking refuge, escaping violence and murders and rapes, we are a country that has helped people like that.
Do we need to have strong borders? Absolutely. Do we need to keep out anybody who is a criminal? Absolutely. But we also ought to be a country that lives in a way that we`re compassionate, that we help people, and we will keep out the violent criminals. That`s not what we want to welcome in this country.
MATTHEWS: That`s very moral and I am supporting that in all moral terms.
Charlie, I want to bring you in here. How is that going to sell, what you just heard?
CHARLIE SYKES, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think they need to get a better message --
MATTHEWS: The moral case.
SYKES: This is exactly the campaign that Donald Trump wants to run. If he is the executive producer of the reality TV show of the midterm elections, this is caravan is something that he would have come up with. He would have scripted it in this particular way.
And I think what the Democrats have got to do is they have to make it clear, number one, what their response is, that we in fact do have borders, that we can be humane. That we don`t need to demagogue this issue. But then our border enforcement will be able to handle this. That this is not a threat. These women and children are not a national emergency, but they also have to make it clear that, no, they are not, as Donald Trump wants people to believe, for open borders.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the problem.
Yamiche, are they making that clear? You hear the Democrats with a clarion statement, they are not from open borders. Do you hear that?
ALCINDOR: I just came from California and West Virginia. And the Democratic candidate that I am following say that. But what voters hear are that they want an open border because what Representative Bustos said and she is not wrong in the idea that America should welcome people, that there should be people, if they`re fleeing violence and rape, that they should be welcome this to this country.
ALCINDOR: But there are a lot of people who look at this and say they are going to take over the country. This is why we don`t want them here.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, let me play partisan Democrat for a minute and give you an example in the old school guys like me would do. We would say we have a comprehensive bill that was about border protection. It was about illegal hiring. You can`t hire somebody illegally who comes into the country. You can`t do it. They are not documented, in fact. That all went over to the House and Republican speaker at the time said we are not even going to vote on it, Boehner. Not even going to vote. But the Democrats had a bill, supported by 12 Republican senators.
You had a comprehensive border program. You had one, they won`t pass one. Number two, Mitch McConnell came out last week and said I`m going after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It`s not just the preexisting issue. He is going over the whole shebang. It is capacity of the biggest tax cut for the rich in history and he is going to pay for that like cutting into the middle class programs that they paid for their whole lives. That is of the scream I would do out there.
I think the Democrats are too calm about this. They don`t know how to yell back at Trump with scarier stuff he throws. Because it is truly scare. When Mitch McConnell in his calm little way says we have to go after Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare and we are going to do it so save money because we blew all the money on the tax cut, it doesn`t come up with the Democrats.
I don`t understand why you guys don`t know how to exploit an obvious opportunity when some fool on the other side gives it to you. Trump knows how to exploit, boy does he. I shouldn`t be yelling. But I`m old school. I just know how to do it. I`m sorry. I`m sorry.
BUSTOS: No, that`s all right.
Hey, Chris, if you came to this part of the country, and I`m sitting in Peoria, Illinois right now. If you came to this part of the country, you would hear the candidates that are running for House all over the Midwest, in Illinois, in Iowa, in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, all over the place, you would hear them saying exactly what you just said.
We know what Mitch McConnell said. And we also know that was that that the Republican play book. Pass this tax scam, increase the debt by $2 trillion, and then oh, my God, let`s scream bloody murder, now we are going to have to go over so-called entitlements.
MATTHEWS: Exactly. All we care about deficits now. All I am saying they care about deficits. I`m sorry. Tell us the message. I don`t want to get in your way. What`s the best Democratic argument to get people to vote Democrat two weeks from tomorrow?
BUSTOS: It`s exactly what you just said. We are yelling and screaming in a polite Midwestern way about what Mitch McConnell said. He wants to now address this $2 trillion debt on the backs of seniors who are recipients of Social Security. Our parents and our grandparents who are on Medicare, and that`s his answer to this $2 trillion debt now.
We are talking about in every single one of these race that`s we are running all throughout the country. And so maybe it`s not coming from Washington, D.C. constantly, but it is here in Peoria, Illinois, it is in Dubuque, Iowa, it`s in Kentucky, it`s in southern Illinois. It`s all over the place. We are talking about it loudly and clearly.
MATTHEWS: Yamiche, here`s my feeling about it, and I have expressed it. American people are not greedy. They want to protect their families. They don`t want the rich people`s money. They don`t want anybody billionaire`s money. They want what they need. That`s what they want. They want Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, when they get long term, they get Alzheimer`s in the family. And they want to have a job for the kids somewhere nearby that they can visit once in a while. That`s really it. Go ahead.
ALCINDOR: That`s what people want.
MATTHEWS: And African-Americans I have learned, no change in that, except they want to be treated as 100 percent Americans without any crap about it.
ALCINDOR: It`s that double jeopardy skit "SNL" where the black person and Trump supporter, both say what I really want is a job.
I interviewed an EMT worker, some of who is in an ambulance every day who can`t afford healthcare in West Virginia. These are Republicans voting Democratic candidate. And he said the reason why I`m doing that is because I need to help my family. I need to figure out how to do this. And I need someone who supports the public option.
I think that Democrats if they want to win, that`s the message they have to have. But I will say Republicans, President Trump is so, so popular right now. And no one can out-trump Trump. He is so good at misinformation. He is so good in getting his base fire-up and he is continuing to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, he is very good at the mob at the gate, Charlie. The mob at the gate. As you just said it`s his techni-color production. If we find out from ten years ago he organized everything down in Honduras, I would say that makes sense. Your thoughts?
SYKES: It almost does make too much sense.
And look, he is running a campaign of fear, and this is not the first time that he has done that. He wants to make people worried about the country. Look, I think the Trumpian rhetoric is fascinating. You know, we are strong, but we are also victims.
Gary Kasperoff makes this point. We are in charge of everything, but everything that goes wrong is somebody else`s fault, you know. I was elected to keep you safe but I want you to be afraid.
And unfortunately this is a campaign that is not appealing to our better angels or to our hope. And frankly, interestingly enough, given how strong the economy is, he doesn`t want to talk about the economy. He wants to make it about these people who are coming and they are attacking, they are invading your country.
Look, I do think that Democrats need to say, look, we care very deeply about what`s happening at the border. But then they need to immediately remind people of what Trump`s policy on the border is, the separation of children from their parents. Why are they not talking about that? There are ways of securing the border without being cruel and inhuman, and that`s a point I think they could make.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, thank you much, Cheri Bustos, as I do meant it. You are a rising start. I`m sorry to give you my theories, but again, I`m old school. I know how to win.
BUSTOS: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you Cheri Bustos.
And thank you, Charlie Sykes.
And thank you, Yamiche Alcindor. The woman in the middle here, a completely straight arrow.
Coming up, new reporting today that Robert Mueller is aggressively investigating longtime Trump advisor. This is delicious, Roger Stone. He is the man who asserted the Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman John Podesta would soon be seeing his time in the barrel just weeks before Podesta`s hacked emails went public.
Plus, the story keeps changing from the Saudis about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump just weighed in again in a brand-new interview.
And Trump down in Texas today stumping for Ted Cruz just hours after he told reporters he has no regrets about saying Cruz`s father was involved in killing President Kennedy. I think I would remember that kind of charge if my dad were accused ever that.
And finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. It`s about the bad example -- I was with some teachers this weekend, that he is giving to students of these teachers. They say things like, I can call people bad name. The President does it. How about that?
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Well, Trump mounting his final campaign blitz in Texas tonight. The Democrats are bring out their own big guns in the battle ground states of Florida and Nevada. Vice-President Biden lit up a room full of supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, and incumbent Senator Bill Nelson down in Florida.
And out in Vegas today, President Obama told supporters of Democratic Senate Jackie Rosen that this was the most important election of their lifetime. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This November`s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime, and that includes when I was on the ballot. That`s saying something. Politicians say every time, this is the most important election. This one`s really that important. The stakes are high. The consequence of anybody here not turning out and doing everything you can to get your friends, neighbors, family to turnout, the consequence of you staying home would be profoundly dangerous to this country, to our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Roger Stone, who represents a direct line to Richard Nixon, Roy Cohn, and nowadays Donald Trump, is back in the crosshairs of special counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation.
New reporting from "the Washington Post" today shows special counsel Robert Mueller has been aggressively pursuing leads, whether President Trump`s long-time advisor, that would be Roger Stone, had advance knowledge of hacked Democratic emails ahead of the 2016 election.
In particular, on August 21st of 2016, Stone tweeted a warning to Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman John Podesta that it would soon be quote "Podesta`s time in the barrel." Then on October 5th, Stone tweeted, Libz thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking. Pay load coming. Lock them up. Two days after that, WikiLeaks began publishing the Stone emails hacked from Podesta`s account.
Stone has repeatedly denied he had any involvement with the Watergate-style hacking. He repeated those details again today to NBC News, saying: "I never received anything, including allegedly hacked e-mails, from Guccifer 2.0, the Russian -- Russians, WikiLeaks, Assange, or anyone else, and never passed anything on to Donald Trump, the Trump campaign or anyone else."
As it relates to Mueller, this shows collusion is still part of his ongoing investigation, don`t you think?
Joining me right now is Ken Dilanian, NBC News intelligence and national security reporter, Elliot Williams, former federal prosecutor.
Gentlemen, I love it, because it tells me that Mueller is back on the heart of this case, collusion between the Trump people, including Roger Stone, his fixer, dirty trickster, as he calls himself, and the Russians, and knowing stuff ahead of time. The ability to forecast something is to me knowledge of something that`s going to happen. Just a thought.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
And as many 11 associates of Roger Stone, we think, have been paraded before that grand jury. They have spent hours listening to testimony. They have gone over reams of documents.
And Robert Mueller doesn`t use the grand jury for a fishing expedition, Chris. If he`s doing this, there`s a reason. You wouldn`t take all this time for the grand jury if you didn`t have some evidence of wrongdoing.
Now, Stone in an e-mail to me and other places says he`s absolutely innocent, didn`t do anything...
MATTHEWS: A very carefully worded denial, very carefully worded.
MATTHEWS: He didn`t say, I had no advanced knowledge.
DILANIAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: I couldn`t find that in there, because he did have advanced knowledge.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, clearly, someone is not telling the truth, either him or his comedian friend Randy Credico, either to the grand jury or to Congress.
MATTHEWS: Has Credico taken -- has Credico thrown him under the bus yet or what?
WILLIAMS: Someone`s throwing somebody under the bus, because, look, we have seen this narrative play out before, which is an associate of Donald Trump saying, this investigation is all a joke, I`m not going to participate with it, ride or die with the president, and leave it at that.
And then, eventually, when it becomes at the point of self-preservation, that`s when they start singing like a bird.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think Roger put out the word that he will never flip?
He`s also raising money on the Internet, out there trying to raise money for his legal defense. So he`s trying to raise money from the true believers.
MATTHEWS: And he`s also signaling to Trump, pardon me?
WILLIAMS: And the president has proven that he`s willing to use the pardon power to help his friends out.
MATTHEWS: This guy has Nixon tattooed on his back.
WILLIAMS: Over all him.
MATTHEWS: And Roy Cohn going all the way back. He`s part of that whole line of infamy.
DILANIAN: Right. It`s part of his image to be a tough guy, to say, I am never going to roll over. The liberal media is trying to destroy me, Mueller and his group of crooks.
I mean, he`s been so inflammatory. But the bottom line is, in August of 2016, he said a number of things and tweeted a number things that made it seem like he knew this stuff was coming. He can`t take that back now.
MATTHEWS: OK, besides -- on the issue of what`s coming, I keep thinking that Mueller is going to come out with something fairly soon. I don`t think he will wait until next year.
If he does it this year, will it be the whole package, collusion and obstruction?
WILLIAMS: We don`t know.
And, remember, in the grand scheme of investigations like this, we`re actually not that far.
MATTHEWS: That`s why you`re here, to tell me what`s going to happen.
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. You and Ken.
WILLIAMS: If only I were clairvoyant and could predict. But we`re not that far...
MATTHEWS: Is he that secretive?
WILLIAMS: No, but we`re just not that far into the investigation.
DILANIAN: That`s a fair point.
WILLIAMS: No, think about Watergate and Iran-Contra. And all of these investigations took years and years and years.
MATTHEWS: No, wait a minute. Nixon was gone by the summer of `74. Watergate was the summer of `72. So it wasn`t years and years and years.
It was two years.
WILLIAMS: OK, but in the grand scheme of special counsel and independent counsel -- Whitewater also took from `94 to 2001.
Lawrence Walsh came out with his WASPY whatever stuff nine years later. It had no importance on anybody, because it was too late to matter.
WILLIAMS: Needless to say...
MATTHEWS: I`m not a lawyer that likes to make time -- take time.
I think it`s time for him to get going by the end of the year.
DILANIAN: Every time I ask somebody who knows Robert Mueller, who`s seen some of this intelligence, what do you think he`s got, does he have something we haven`t seen before, they say, absolutely, there will be bombshells, maybe not presidency-ending impeachment stuff, but some very disturbing, incriminating information.
WILLIAMS: And, remember, it`s not entirely important, the WikiLeaks point, when he found out or what.
It`s what that information led to.
MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t it be nice to know if the Russians affected the results of the 2016 election before we have the 2020 election? I would to know before the next one.
WILLIAMS: We probably will.
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, in Moscow today, White House Security Adviser John Bolton -- I don`t like that guy much -- played down the consequences of Russia`s interference -- he played it down -- in the 2016 election.
In a radio interview, Bolton said: "I told our Russian colleagues that their meddling in our election process had hardly had any real effect."
He did add that, regardless, the behavior shouldn`t be tolerated.
DILANIAN: There`s no way he can know that, because intelligence leaders have said they have never studied this. It`s outside of their purview.
But people who have looked at it say it absolutely had an effect.
MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary won the election in the popular vote by millions of votes, five million votes, something like that. So what do you mean by had an effect?
DILANIAN: Millions of people saw these very divisive messages that were going after wedge issues.
MATTHEWS: So, Hillary would have won by more popular vote?
DILANIAN: Well, what about the 100,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio that...
MATTHEWS: How can you isolate that, what the impact was in those particular industrial states?
WILLIAMS: From my perspective, forget the states. Forget the politics.
Did someone meddle in our elections, and did people...
MATTHEWS: Well, they meddle in this -- they`re meddling in this one.
WILLIAMS: And then the Trump campaign, did they know about it and did they act on it?
And that -- hopefully, we find out something, like you said, very soon about it.
MATTHEWS: Is that impeachable?
WILLIAMS: I`m not going to lock in...
MATTHEWS: That`s a reasonable question.
MATTHEWS: If somebody helps somebody else advance a criminal conspiracy to help them get elected president, wouldn`t that be impeachable?
DILANIAN: If there`s proof that he knew about it, there will absolutely be an impeachment. Will there be a conviction, a two-third vote in the Senate?
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s politics. I want to know about the impeachment. That`s the indictment part.
WILLIAMS: On its face, it`s not something we should throw out and it`s certainly worth consideration. But...
MATTHEWS: Anyway, anyway, thank you, Ken Delaney -- Dilanian, rather, and Elliot Williams.
DILANIAN: Thanks a lot.
MATTHEWS: You`re all too careful.
Up next: The Saudis have fielded their version of events surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Does anyone believe them? Does anybody watching believe the Saudis? I don`t think anybody believes this crap.
But how will the president respond? And whether he believes it or not, he won`t tell us. He will just decide to go along with them, probably.
We`re back with -- coming back with HARDBALL, where the action is, right now tonight.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Today, Reuters, citing two intelligence sources, is reporting that a top aide for the crown prince of Saudi Arabia orchestrated the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi over Skype. The man who once ran social media for the crown prince is now the fall guy for the killing.
The new report comes just two days after the Saudi royal court claimed that the journalist was accidentally killed -- that`s -- accidentally is their word -- killed in a brawl with intelligence agents inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
In other words, 15 agents got into a brawl with one guy, including one of the agents being a doctor with a saw -- thing for sawing bones.
Anyway, the Saudi foreign minister appeared on FOX, repeating something, President Trump`s claim, that claim, that it was a rogue operation. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI ARABIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: This was an operation that was a rogue operation. This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had.
They made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate, and they tried to cover up for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s Adel Al-Jubeir, who used to be the ambassador over here.
That`s not true, by the way, what he just said.
The aide, who has been fired, once tweeted that he was a faithful executor of the orders of the king and the crown prince. In other words, he took orders.
In a brand-new interview with "USA Today," however, President Trump called the death of Khashoggi a plot gone awry. He said he opposes any efforts to cease arms sales to the country as punishment.
Well, up to now, the crown prince and other Saudi officials had said that Khashoggi left the consulate freely, alive. And, on Sunday, the president of Turkey said he would reveal the naked truth of what happened to Khashoggi in the consulate. He`s going to do that apparently at 4:00 tomorrow morning.
For more, I`m joined by Senator Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware.
Senator, where are you on this? And is there any connection between what Trump is saying and the truth?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Chris, here`s one of the hardest things about this, is the big gap between what our president is saying and what`s true.
First, he`s claiming that there`s something like $110 billion in arms sales at risk here. There isn`t. That`s just not true. After President Trump visited Saudi Arabia, there`s been maybe $4 billion in arm sales that have been projected.
Second, we`re a country of values, not just a country of interests. And it is astonishing to me that President Trump, even after the two years we have gone through, it is still surprising to me that, with a straight face, he can say that we shouldn`t put at risk arm sales because that`s not an America`s best interests.
Chris, what`s in America`s best interests is to be a country that stands for something, that stands for free speech, the protection of journalists, the advancement of human rights. That`s got to be at the head of the line of our interests around the world, is protecting the values that define us as America.
Our president is instead turning that on its head and saying that we`re -- what we`re most interested in is selling weapons to anybody who will pay us for them. That`s not why we sell weapons to other countries. We sell weapons to those countries that are allies, that share our interests and share our values.
Increasingly, it`s clear that Saudi Arabia doesn`t share our values. And while I recognize they are a vital ally of ours in the Middle East in the project of pushing back on Iranian aggression, I don`t think we should do that at any cost. And the cost here is one that goes right to the very core of who we are as a country.
COONS: I was struck that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin appeared in the Middle East and went to meet with the Saudi crown prince, MBS...
COONS: ... and took a grinning photo today.
This does not suggest that the Trump administration is taking this issue seriously.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the president wants this to fade, he wants this issue to just fade without any action appropriate to a murder, to a premeditated murder?
You don`t wait for the further developments in an investigation that`s being run by a murder suspect if you`re serious about getting to the bottom of it.
Any of our last four presidents would have been calling for an international investigation, would have been calling for either the FBI, our own intelligence community, or our partners throughout the world to be conducting a thorough investigation with the Turks to get to the bottom of this, not asking the Saudis to take more time, if they`d like to, to come up with another explanation that is clearly not true.
For the first two weeks, the Saudis told the world that Khashoggi walked out alive of their own consulate in Istanbul. Clearly not true. Now they have made up another story. Clearly not true, as I suspect we will hear tomorrow from Erdogan, president of Turkey.
They have got detailed information about this that may make this even more difficult for the Saudis to maintain with a straight face.
MATTHEWS: Well, during an interview with CNN, Jared Kushner, the president`s son-in-law, the crown prince, if you will, declined to say whether or not he bought the most recent excuse provided by the Saudis.
Let`s listen to Jared.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: With regards to the situation in Saudi Arabia, I would say that right now, as an administration, we`re more in the fact-finding phase. And we`re obviously getting as many facts as -- as we can from the different places, and then we will determine which facts are credible.
We have to be able to work with our allies. And Saudi Arabia has been, I think, a very strong ally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, the ways you`re raising the question of values vs. interests, there`s a guy who seems to be a business type, whatever you think of him.
He doesn`t think -- I don`t think Jared Kushner is the guy you bring in for a values discussion. He`s out to make some money. He`s out to cut a deal.
I think he`s a ridiculous person, by the way.
And I will just say this. Why the hell he`s going to put together a Middle East deal, based on the Saudis underwriting some crazy deal with -- with the Israelis, I don`t know what they`re thinking about. I think they`re crazy, just in terms of putting all their money on...
COONS: Well, Chris -- Chris, there was...
MATTHEWS: ... putting all their money on Jared and the Saudis to underwrite a reasonable Middle East deal.
COONS: Well, Chris, there was another important speech this week that was given that I think President Trump and Jared are trying to distract us from that was about values and money.
Mitch McConnell said his biggest disappointment in this Congress was their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and that he thinks the biggest thing affecting our deficits is the entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
COONS: I think everybody ought to focusing on the fact that the Republicans wants to repeal the protections for preexisting conditions, and want to find a way to cut entitlement programs, and are frankly focusing us on this Middle Eastern, allegedly -- caravan of folks that includes, allegedly, gangsters and Middle Easterners, rather than focusing on our core values of protecting human rights around the world and advancing the health care interests of average Americans.
Chris, I think this is just a matter of a shell game, where they`re trying to distract us from what really matters to the average American.
MATTHEWS: I think you should tell -- as I said in the first part of the show, you should remind every voter that Mitch McConnell is coming after your Social Security, your Medicare, and your Medicaid.
And it`s for real. It`s all on tape.
MATTHEWS: And he means it. Unlike Trump, he is a real ideologue, and he`s after it. And he`s the leader of the Republican Senate.
Thank you so much, Chris Coons of Delaware.
COONS: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump is in Texas tonight stumping for his one-time enemy Ted Cruz, the son of the guy he said shot Kennedy.
Well, Cruz says his problems with Trump and Trump supporters are ancient history. Are Texas voters buying it? Apparently so, like lemmings, Republicans are everywhere.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Have you buried the hatchet with Senator Cruz?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I have, yes. Ted and I get along very well. He`s not Lyin` Ted anymore. He`s beautiful Ted. He`s Texas -- I call him Texas Ted.
I like him a lot. I actually like him a lot, and he`s a very smart guy.
REPORTER: Do you regret saying Ted Cruz`s dad killed JFK?
TRUMP: I don`t regret anything honestly. It all worked out very nicely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It all worked out me calling his father a Kennedy assassin.
Well, that was President Trump earlier today praising Ted Cruz, Texas Ted he now calls him, but defending connecting Cruz`s dad to the JFK assassination which he did very dramatically in the 2016 campaign.
Well, Trump is currently in Texas to campaign for Ted Cruz, there he is, who once called him a sniveling coward.
Cruz isn`t the only former critic of the president who rely on him now to turn out Republican support in their midterm campaigns. This past Saturday, Nevada Senator Dean Heller who said he was 99 percent against Trump before the 2016 election, went overboard in praising the president this Saturday. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: Welcome to Trump country.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Now, Mr. President, you know a little bit about gold. In fact, I think everything you touch turns to gold.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But Florida gubernatorial candidate, the guy running for governor, Ron DeSantis, who campaigned on his support for Trump during the Republican primary, dodged a question about the president just last night. Let`s watch him weasel out of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, DEBATE MODERATOR: Do you think President Trump is a good role model for the children of Florida?
RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Jake, we -- my wife and I were poking a little fun at ourselves because of the way that campaign was going. And I`m proud of family though.
We -- I don`t actually read "The Art of the Deal" to my son Mason. He`s a great kid. He smiles at anything, but that`s not necessarily his cup of tea.
Here`s what I know. You know, I was very passionate about moving our American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I know Andrew didn`t support that ask doesn`t think that`s right, but to me that was true leadership.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor?
ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m confused by the question.
TAPPER: The question was whether or not he -- whether or not he thinks president Trump is a good role model for the children of Florida.
GILLUM: That`s what I thought originally. I got confused.
GILLUM: So, no, he`s not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think the mayor of Tallahassee is too sophisticated for their opponent there.
Anyway, let`s bring in tonight`s HARDBALL round table. Amanda Terkel, Washington bureau chief of "The Huffington Post", Adrienne Elrod is former director of strategic communications for Hillary for America, Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union.
Amanda, a little tongue tied action by the Republican candidate for governor down there. He didn`t seem to want his kids to talk -- I was with some school teachers this weekend up in Rhode Island. And at least five of them told me separately, each individually, they can`t get their kids under control because they just say when they call somebody a bad name or misbehave, hey, the president does it.
AMANDA TERKEL, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: What?
MATTHEWS: And this is for real cases. Yes.
TERKEL: Yes, and he`s putting all that bad stuff out there on Twitter.
I mean, Ron DeSantis is in a weird place. He ran as trying to be the most Trump candidate in the primary and it helped him win. Trump campaigned for him, he endorsed him. But now, he has to do something different to win the general election. A third of Florida voters are not registered with a political party. And Trump is down their spewing conspiracy theories about hurricane.
TERKEL: That doesn`t play in Florida.
ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, here`s the bottom line. The Republican Party is now the Republican Party of Donald Trump. So, those guys who tried to distance themselves from --
MATTHEWS: They`re not going to sell us behavior in school rooms.
ELROD: No, but they`re not.
MATTHEWS: How do you deal with this? You wouldn`t tell your kids to act like that. Nobody would. Act like Trump. Just say, act like Trump.
MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Look, there are a lot of --
MATTHEWS: There we go. Talk about the embassy move, bring up the embassy, what the hell.
SCHLAPP: You guys want to answer for me? I`m good with it.
MATTHEWS: I gave the Republican answer. We moved the embassy. Go ahead. I`m sorry.
SCHLAPP: Look, every human being has virtue and vices. Donald Trump has great virtues for Republicans and conservatives who feel like we lose a lot of cultural battles, and a lot of the big battles about the size and scope of government. And then he has the vices which is he says things in politics that offend people, and sometimes he`s over the line with some of his comments.
I think actually the voters kind of get that. He fights so hard sometimes, he fights a little too much. And they`d like maybe -- even his own supporters, once in a while want him to say, look, you`re winning.
And he`s winning, by the way. He`s doing pretty well. The economy is doing great. The American people, 40 percent of them --
MATTHEWS: I thought the question was his behavior. Do you like it?
SCHLAPP: I do.
MATTHEWS: You do like his behavior?
SCHLAPP: I do like his behavior.
ELROD: Really? Wow.
SCHLAPP: There is much to Donald Trump I love m kids to emulate, including the fact when he --
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s start with this, because he says some things that are wrong, that are objectionable. He`s going to pass a big Republican middle class tax cut before the election. Congress is out for the year. What does he mean which that?
SCHLAPP: I think he meant his election, but that`s all right.
TERKEL: You know, ask the White House. Like, we have no plan for this. It`s not happening. He`s just lying.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Cruz. Let`s talk about Cruz. This president has called his father a Kennedy assassin. Is that something you just sort of kiss off and say, well, that was just campaigning?
SCHLAPP: I told you, this is a -- I`m married to a Cuban-American. This is not really something that I understand in terms of what Ted Cruz`s father did or didn`t do.
The fact is this. They said terrible things about each other in this primary contest. They got through it. Here`s the thing --
MATTHEWS: But some people believe what Trump says. Isn`t there a problem with the president --
SCHLAPP: I do.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe Ted Cruz`s father killed Kennedy?
SCHLAPP: No, I do not believe that.
MATTHEWS: But you`re saying you believe Trump. What is it?
SCHLAPP: Look, this is where you guys --
MATTHEWS: What do you laugh at this stuff? It`s outrageous.
SCHLAPP: Others are laughing. I`m not laughing. But I think that the point is with Trump is that you guys all get stuck.
MATTHEWS: Adrienne, be one of you guys for a second. Go ahead. Take him on.
ELROD: Look, I`m going to simply say here the Republican Party, they have to embrace Trump. If you`re Ted Cruz in a really tight reelection right now, the only way you`re going to win is have Donald Trump a endorse you and aggressively campaign for you.
That is not just in Texas. We`re seeing this in races across the country. Dean Heller in Nevada, for example. This is the Republican Party of Donald Trump.
SCHLAPP: I embrace it. It`s the truth. Those who have fought Trump, Corker, Flake, saw their approval ratings --
ELROD: Have to retire.
SCHLAPP: -- torpedoed in their states and they had to retire.
We`re more unified than we`ve ever been, ever.
TERKEL: Father aside, Trump also talked about how ugly Ted Cruz`s wife was.
TERKEL: I mean, Trump, I`m sure, loves this. It`s all these candidates who insulted him.
SCHLAPP: And Obama and Hillary, they just loved each other, they all got along. Come on!
SCHLAPP: That is ridiculous. Do you remember that Hillary Clinton press conference? Stop lying about me, Barack Obama. Come on.
SCHLAPP: And what about Barack Obama going out on the campaign trail and saying it would be dangerous if Republicans did well in November? That`s a step too far.
TERKEL: There`s no comparison.
MATTHEWS: You`re down with Trump? All the way.
SCHLAPP: What does that mean all the way? Every word he says is magnificent and beautiful? No.
MATTHEWS: Making fun of people`s looks, where are you on that one?
SCHLAPP: I don`t think we should make fun of people`s looks.
MATTHEWS: What about saying things that aren`t true?
SCHLAPP: Of course we should say things that are true. You`re getting caught up in -- you`re getting --
MATTHEWS: I`m getting caught up -- I`m trying to figure this guy out because he`s getting away with this stuff.
TERKEL: Yes, he has.
SCHLAPP: You know the policies, he`s right on the policies. Not just me. A lot of people
ELROD: And the leaders of your party do not have the guts to stand up to him.
TERKEL: Right, because he`s more popular than they are.
SCHLAPP: Why would you stand up to a guy who is succeeding so --
MATTHEWS: I think he wins because he hates the people or seems to hate the people that his people hate.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, the Trump White House is reportedly targeting transgender Americans. Is that just a coincidence that this is coming out two weeks before an election?
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Well, looking at the flurry of new polls coming out right now before the midterms, a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows unprecedented enthusiasm by voters in both parties, but especially among women, Latinos and young voters.
And checking in on our HARDBALL 10, the 10 key races that will decide who controls the U.S. Senate, watch this.
In Florida, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Senator Bill Nelson coming back, six-point lead over Rick Scott. That is even after the hurricane. And Nelson holding a potentially decisive 22-point advantage among independent voters. That should carry the day for him.
In North Dakota, however, the story where polling has been sparse. A new poll there shows Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer enjoying a 16-point lead over Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.
"The New York Times" reporting today the Trump administration is considering narrowing or narrowly defining gender as a biological, here`s the keyword, immutable, unchangeable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.
NBC`s Hallie Jackson asked President Trump about that today, about how this squares with his promise which he made to protect transgender Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, what about your promise to protect transgender Americans? Are you giving up on that?
TRUMP: We`re looking at it. We have a lot of different --
JACKSON: Looking at redefining?
TRUMP: -- concepts right now. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that, as well as I do. And we`re looking at it very seriously.
JACKSON: So, what about your promise to protect the LGBT community? Transgender Americans say you`re giving up on them.
TRUMP: I`m protecting everybody. You know what I`m doing? I`m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: If someone either surgically or non-surgically changes their assignment, gender, why would the government want to get away with that in a free society?
TERKEL: Because they don`t want to provide civil rights protections to them. That`s what the Trump administration is trying to do.
Right. I mean, Obama administration expanded these protections. They`re about 1.4 million Americans.
MATTHEWS: Where does it work? Where would it impact them in real life? Where the transgender person confront the loss of life under this new --
TERKEL: Public rest rooms. If you`re in school and you want to play on a sports team, that`s different than your assigned gender, you would face that, too. Single sex schools.
You face it all over, just how you`re perceived. You know, if you`re trying to present yourself as a certain gender and you have a driver`s license, that says something else. It takes away their basic rights and the Trump administration -- it`s interesting this is being trotted out, a couple weeks before the election.
MATTHEWS: Do you want somebody who is transgender, assigns them self as a female, walking into a men`s room? It seems like this thing works against common sense. You should let people go where they present because that creates more tranquility and people have a normal life. They don`t even know the person is transgender most of the time.
But under this, you`d have to go where God made you in the beginning. You`d have to show up, what would seem to be the wrong person`s bathroom. I`m just being practical. I`m trying to find common ground here.
SCHLAPP: Let`s be practical also. There`s no policy change yet but the question is on Title 9 which was a desire to have equality when it came to women`s sports, especially in college. How do you help women`s sports if you`re not defining people as women? That`s a very fair question.
MATTHEWS: My wife played for the national championship Stanford tennis team and women on the team had to pay for all foreign travel, any travel to another team.
SCHLAPP: Not the guys. That`s right.
MATTHEWS: They have to change that stuff.
Thank you, Amanda Terkel, Adrienne Elrod and Matt Schlapp. I`m married to an athlete.
When we return, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch". You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Monday, October 22nd, 2018.
This Saturday, up in Rhode Island, I spoke to a crowd that included a handful of teachers. Each one of them told me how their students behave badly to each other and say it`s okay to do that because the president does it. The president does it. They`re saying, these future grown ups of this country, that it`s okay to dump on someone, make fun of someone`s looks the way god made him or her because the leader of this country does it and does it a lot.
So why not take this to the Trump supporters out there? Sure, we can argue about taxes and trade and our dealings with some other countries. We can have fair disagreements on who we like in politics, and who we don`t. But is there anyone anywhere in the political spectrum who thinks it`s good for this country to have a chief of state, the personal symbol of the United States of America who talks like the worst bully on the school yard?
I think it matters. I`m sure you do. The teachers do is frightening. We have someone in the Oval Office who if he were acting like this in class, would be sent down to the vice principal`s office.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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