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Trump says, "I'm a nationalist, okay?" TRANSCRIPT: 10/23/2018, Hardball w Chris Matthews.

Guests: Jose Aristimuno, Jonathan Swan, Madeleine Dean, Anthony Scaramucci, Leon Panetta

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 23, 2018 Guest: Jose Aristimuno, Jonathan Swan, Madeleine Dean, Anthony Scaramucci, Leon Panetta

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump renames the Republicans. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

There are just two weeks now until the midterm elections and President Trump`s pitch to voters now includes a full-throated embrace of a loaded phrase increasingly associated with the alt right. The President rolled out his new self-characterization at last night`s rally in Houston.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And, you know what? We can`t have that, you know. They have a word. It sort of became old fashioned. It`s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we are not supposed to use that word. Do you know what I am? I`m a nationalist. OK? I`m a nationalist.


MATTHEWS: New name for the Republican Party at the White House today. Trump defended his use of that term and rejected the notion it was code for white nationalist.


TRUMP: Well, I`m somebody that loves our country when I say nationalist. So I`m proud of our country. And I am a nationalist. It`s a word that hasn`t been used too much. Now people use it. I`m very proud. I think it should be brought back.


MATTHEWS: Well, it is the latest on the campaign swing defined by dubious warnings from the President over Democrats` taking control of Congress and un-founding claims about a caravan of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico, accompanied by Middle East terrorists.

Anyway, "the Washington Post" reports the overall strategy, Trump advisers and political operatives said is to paint a portrait of chaotic, dangerous world with Trump and Republicans as the panacea. Well, that was evident last night as Trump once again blame Democrats without evidence for that caravan.


TRUMP: I think the Democrats had something to do with it. And now they are saying I think we made a big mistake, because people are seeing how bad it is, how pathetic it is. And look, that is an assault on our country. That`s an assault. And we can`t let that happen to our country. And it`s not.


MATTHEWS: Well tonight at the White House, Trump doubled down its charge that criminals and Middle Easterners and terrorists were among the caravan and he had spoken to the border patrol.


TRUMP: Over the course of the year, over the course of the number of years, they have intercepted many people from the Middle East. They have intercepted ISIS. They have intercepted all sorts of people. They have intercepted a lot of different people. But among the people they have intercepted, very recently are people from the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think they are in the caravan?

TRUMP: Well, they could very well be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there`s no proof?

TRUMP: There is no proof of anything. There is no proof of anything, but they very well could be.


MATTHEWS: No proof of anything. Anything.

Anyway, yesterday in an interview with "USA Today," President Trump said he would consider sending troops to the border and added I think this could be a blessing in disguise because it shows how bad our laws are. The Democrats are responsible for that.

For more, I`m joined now by Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today" who did that interview with the President, Phil Rucker, White House bureau chief for "the Washington Post" who sized up this whole thing and Michael Steele, former chair of the Republican Party now known as the nationalist party. I`ll get to you in a minute because Trump has renamed you guys.

Anyway, let me go to Phil, because you sized this whole thing up. Trump plays this game. Couple of games he plays with people. And I think David Brooks in his column today said that culture is more important than economics right now. There are people fear for about cultural change, about people coming in in large numbers. OK, that is fair. You can argue bad, better, wrong, and you know, we are either generous or we are not or we are scared or whatever our reaction.

But that doesn`t work because I don`t think people feel good about saying they are anti-Hispanic. So he spices it up by saying these have got Middle Eastern terrorists in their group. It`s not that you are prejudice. It is you are rightfully concerned about terrorism. And then he says blessing in disguise. Nobody thinks this is a blessing and this is going to help the Democrats. Nobody thinks this. Clearly this helps Trump and he is acting like the people that like him think it`s a surprise. They love this baby.


MATTHEWS: Yes, it is a base election.

RUCKER: And White House officials tell us that they don`t think it`s enough for the President to tout his accomplishment, that he has to do more. He has to create fear, anxiety, speak to grievances that people had in order to turn them out and get every last voter who voted for him in 2016, to come out in two weeks to vote for Republicans to keep their house and Senate majority.

MATTHEWS: Is there any way? Seriously, is there any way because you serve in the world occasionally. Is there any way to tell what is more of a prod or poke to get somebody out to vote, fear or angry about change in culture this (INAUDIBLE) people coming from the south in large numbers across the border or worries about health care and Social Security and Medicare? They both grab people in different ways, culturally and economically.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: I think they go to different parties and agendas, right? The Democrats are talking overwhelmingly about health care in this competitive House races elsewhere. A majority of the Democratic ads in competitive house races are talking about health care.

But the big issue for Republican voters is immigration. It`s like two Americas motivated by two different things. If you look at the people in the middle, swing voters, health care is a bigger issue for them than immigration. This election may be a test to that.

MATTHEWS: Well, during the 1900 or 2016 campaign, I asked then candidate Donald Trump if he considered himself a nationalist. Let`s listen to his response then.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the race. You are a nationalist. Maybe, no. But when you say things like, either we have a country or we don`t, I get it. You have immigrations, jobs gone overseas, best jobs to China, worst jobs to illegal immigrants, I get it all. Trade deals, in all that. You don`t like stupid wars or have a fight.


MATTHEWS: Well. There he is today. Trump defended using - calling himself a nationalist, saying that we needed to put our country first. But he somewhat contradicted that message when asked about Saudi Arabia`s involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump once again expressed reluctance to alienate Saudi interests.


TRUMP: Look, Saudi Arabia has been a great ally. They have been one of the biggest investors - maybe, the biggest investor in our country. They are doing hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of investments and, you know, so many jobs. If what happened happen and if the facts check out, then it`s something that`s very bad. At the same time, they have been a very good ally of ours.


MATTHEWS: You know, Michael, I don`t know if you agree with me on this. I thought the appeal -- two thin things Trump said in the campaign I like. One, infrastructure, he is going to rebuild this country which he hasn`t got a lift (ph) to do and secondly, stupid wars. And there he is over there in Colian (ph) bed with the Saudis, with this crazy clap-trap deal that Jared has cooked up with the Saudis under redwing (ph) his so-called Middle East plan against the Iranians, the very thing he said he was going to get us out of. There he is in bed with these guys. Your thoughts?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Because that plays more toward his interest with the Saudis, not his interest --

MATTHEWS: Personal interest?

STEELE: Yes. I mean, this, you know, that tweet, to me, still sticks to my head because the difference of a word changes the meaning of his level of engagement. They don`t have any interest on the ground. But they certainly have relationships that where interests are touched and you know, acceded to win. And that`s clearly the case with Jared and the dealings there.

They can`t get their monies from the Russians anymore, because the Russians have been exposed in terms of what they do with the Trumps. They now have a new line, a new relationship, which has developed with the Saudis. And that`s what this is all about.

MATTHEWS: So that`s why the Saudis always stay at the Trump hotel?

STEELE: They always stay in Trump hotel because --.

MATTHEWS: They always spend their time there.

STEELE: They don`t stay there anymore. So this idea of nationalism that the President touches on, I`m just curious as to where did he find this new nationalist? It doesn`t apply to the party. And it is his historic connotation is not a good one. It`s not oh, I care so much about my country. No, it has connotations that go far beyond that.

MATTHEWS: Nationalist socialism.

STEELE: Right. And he knows that, maybe. And the fact of the matter is Republicans are sitting idly by because they know in the congressional halls in the senatorial halls that they are on a bubble right now. And the only thing that can keep that bubble from completely popping, both House and Senate, is the man who is sitting there, calling their party a nationalist party.


Susan, let me ask you about his lies. I mean, some things you can argue about numbers and crowd size. I don`t care, you know. But when he says things like I want to cut your taxes by Election Day and there`s no Congress to do it, what is he -- and his people don`t seem to mind. You ask him about, how come your lying doesn`t seem to hurt you at all?

PAGE: You know, I think there are two reasons that when he misrepresents things that doesn`t hurt him. One is that because people think that is what who he is, you know. That`s -- they accept it. They excuse it.

MATTHEWS: Like Bill Clinton line, cheeseburgers? It is just like that. Oh, he likes cheeseburgers. He likes to lie. It`s OK, you know.

PAGE: I think there is another group that believes what he says, you know. I think that there -- when he says things like -- taxes, maybe not, because you can probably tell that you are not actually getting a 10 percent tax cut. But when he says there are Middle Eastern people in the caravan, there are any number of supporters at the rally I went to last night in Houston who believe that is true when he says that.

MATTHEWS: So let`s get this right. This is like birtherism. Like a white woman to be - he talking, I think but I knew that a white woman in Kansas goes marry some guy over in Kenya, has the kid over there but fakes the marriage license in the (INAUDIBLE) newspaper so that 35 years later a kid that she Christens Barack Hussein Obama is going to be President of the United States. It is so great.

And this, somebody over in the Middle East, a terrorist, gets on the plane, coach, I guess, and flies to (INAUDIBLE) or somewhere, somewhere in Honduras or somewhere or Nicaragua, and then joins this caravan of Hispanics on a 2,000 or 3,000 mile walk. Excuse me, Phil, nobody believes that really, do they?

RUCKER: Well, Chris, there is simply no evidence of this. And if you look at the last 24 hours, President Trump introduced this idea of Middle Easterners in the caravan. And all day yesterday his White House and federal government agencies could not come up with --

MATTHEWS: Here he is himself, Phil. But even though Trump conceded today there is no proof of this claims about this caravan infested with Middle Easterners, vice president Mike Pence and the President`s Republican allies have embraced his charge. Here we go.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it`s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of these people trying to force their way in, it`s called an invasion. And thank God we have a President that will stand up to an invasion like this.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s more of the Gomer Pyle (ph), I guess, of idea there, Louie Gohmert. What a character he is.

Well, anyway, late today, Trump again said he was considering military options to confront this terrorist infested caravan.


TRUMP: I`m think about everything, including the military, not just the National Guard, the military is what I`m thinking about. We can`t have people coming into our country illegally. It`s not fair for a lot of reasons. It`s not fair to the people that are here. It`s not fair to the people who want to come here.


MATTHEWS: What`s it look like already, the not conservative newspaper, "New York Times" runs the pictures of the people coming up here every day now on the top of the fold, grabbing attention of everybody, whatever, we say here? What happens if the 82nd airborne or some down there, some infantry unit is sent down to the border and physically stops people at the border right before the election. Who wins, Susan?

PAGE: Well, I don`t think that`s legal.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump can do it.

PAGE: I don`t think you are allowed to deploy the military in the way in the United States. But maybe you could use the National Guard.

MATTHEWS: This court is going to stop him? I`m sorry.

PAGE: I think there would be two reactions. I think that there are Republicans who would look at that National Guard right there and say yes, that`s exactly what we want the President to do. And I think there are suburban women who are already in flames about this President and his politics on immigration who would look at and be horrified.

RUCKER: And Chris, we heard the word invasion there. There is no invasion that these - the people in the caravan right now are hundreds of miles away from the border. They are not banging down, you know, the border.

MATTHEWS: Two weeks to go. But Phil, it is two weeks to Election Day. The timing of this is situational.

STEELE: Yes. You know, the fact is that this is not the first time this has happened. This has been something that goes on.

MATTHEWS: Look at these pictures.

STEELE: And the reality is that the President`s hot rhetoric about using the military speaks volumes about his lack of understanding about what the limitations are on his authority, that he can`t do that, number one. Number two, he will have issues with the governors on those Border States, bringing the military in, regardless of whether they are Republican or Democrat.

So this again, to Phil`s first point, is to inflame the passions of a base that they want to drive to the polls because they are losing the grip politically on the House of Representatives and elected offices around the country.

MATTHEWS: And you know, he is hydroplaning over this, right, in delight. It is Newt Gingrich, the worst of them all. People like Lou Barletta (ph) up in Pennsylvania. This is a chance for them to get within striking distance. I think the right of the Republican Party loves this picture. We are just watching it.

Thank you, Susan Page and it is in disguise.

Phil Rucker, great reporting by both of you.

Michael Steele, as always, common sense (INAUDIBLE) Republican.

Coming up, give me the rich and take from the poor. That`s what this is. Robin Hood in reverse. He gets a huge tax cut to the rich and he is going to pay for it by cutting your Social Security and Medicare. What is that? How can anybody have seen the math? We are going to show you the math. It is $2 trillion. $2 trillion given to the fat cats that is going to be paid for -- that bill will be paid for out of your Social Security and Medicare. And that`s the open clear above-board in broad daylight Republican plan. Ask Mitch McConnell. We will ask former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci, the mooch, about that.

Plus, why Trump can`t quit the Saudi crown prince? Why he is ready to quit, however, a key nuclear missile treaty with the Russians. Former defense secretary and CIA chief, Leon Panetta joins us live.

And the HARDBALL round table takes on fighting John Kelly. Sounds like a fighter who is reported to have taken on Corey Lewandowski in a physical skirmish right inside the oval office.

Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. And after this, by the way -- after this commercial, hang in here for a minute and the rest of this show. A big announcement for HARDBALL coming up in about a minute.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.


MATTHEWS: A big announcement right now. On Tuesday, October 30th, just one week before the midterm elections, the HARDBALL college tour travels to the University of Houston. Our special guest for the whole hour, United States congressman Beto O`Rourke, candidate for the U.S. Senate. What an hour that is going to be next Tuesday night.

The HARDBALL college tour has a rich, exciting history, having hosted President Barack Obama at Westchester University in Pennsylvania, Senator John McCain in Clemson and Villanova, the national champs.

The night with Beto O`Rourke in the University of Houston will join that college tour history.

And we will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

While Republicans talking about migrant hoards and mobs of Democrats and grievances over Kavanaugh, they are largely ignoring any talk about their legislative accomplishments or lack thereof.

For example, there is not much talk from the Republicans these days about the December 2017 tax bill that overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the very wealthy. And shortly after it passed, by the way, President Trump even told his pals at Mar-a-Lago he just made them all, quote, |a lot richer." He was open about it.

The bill which the majority of Americans do not support costs $1.5 trillion exploiting of course the deficit. According to a new study by Democrats on the conventional joint economic community, the estimated $2 trillion cost of Republicans overall tax cuts and nearly dollar for dollar is nearly dollar-dollar, that $2 trillion. The same amount that they are going to cut from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and the affordable care act.

Well, last week, senate majority leader Mitch McConnell blamed social safety nets with exploding the deficit, they are responsible.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: It`s very disturbing and it`s driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.


MATTHEWS: While campaigning for Bill Nelson down in Florida, Joe Biden, the former vice president, seized on the news to motivate voters. Let`s watch Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now McConnell, senator from Kentucky turns around and says, straightforward. He said we have got this gigantic debt now. We have to cut Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.

Folks, folks, they are being straight up about it. They are coming at it. This is what people desperately need and they have never been able to take away from us before.

And I want to tell you something. If we, if Bill does not win and we don`t take back --.


MATTHEWS: Well, that guy knows how to talk like a regular guy in the corner.

So the guy turns around and he does is so -- Madeleine Dean, thank you so much, state representative from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The 4th Congressional District, you`re running there.

Let me ask you about this amazing move. They cut taxes for the very wealthy. And then they say, oh, we got this big deficit problem we didn`t notice before it. So we got to fix the deficit problem, which was caused by the tax cuts, by cutting Social Security and Medicare.

It`s pretty broad daylight robbery. Your thoughts? MADELEINE DEAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, this is not my grandfather`s Republican Party. I will tell you that.

But it is the playbook that we`re seeing. It`s a pretty despicable playbook. Give away more than a trillion dollars, explode the deficit, then pretend they didn`t do that, and say, oh, my goodness, the only thing we can do then is to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, your health care under the Affordable Care Act.

It`s a very despicable play. It`s transparently wrong for America. And that`s one of the reasons I`m running for Congress.

MATTHEWS: People who went to college -- I have looked at the late numbers -- latest numbers. And you know them, Representative, what happened in `16. People that went to college tended to be more for -- against Trump. Those who didn`t go to college are for him.

Why would a working-class person, a regular person who didn`t get a college break in their life, why would they be for Trump? What`s the break they get out of it? I don`t -- well, you tell me why they -- how they explain it to you, if they do.

DEAN: Well, what I can -- what I can tell you is what I see at the doors.

And with middle-class working people, they`re caring about their families. They`re worried about health care. Number one bread-and-butter issue as I knock on doors, they`re worried about health care.

What are you going to do? Don`t tear down the Affordable Care Act. Don`t repeal it. Make sure you protect preexisting conditions. Can my kids stay on my policy until they`re 26? Can you do something to reduce the price of prescription drugs and make health care affordable to all?

So working families, that`s what they care about, not the direction of this administration.


MATTHEWS: Yes, they don`t -- it`s really important to me, your reporting. You`re really reporting this me.

So when you knock on doors, which I love the fact you`re doing, they actually said, let me tell you, rMDNM_Madeleine, this is what I care about? That`s what they say?

DEAN: That`s what they say. That`s what they care about. They`re worried about their kids. They`re worried about their parents. They`re worried about the affordability and the access to excellent health care.

They know that how well they`re able to keep their family healthy will determine their future, will determine their economic status. That`s the number one bread-and-butter issue at the doors.

The second issue at the doors, Chris, that I think you`re going to be very familiar with -- I was knocking on doors in Twickenham and got caught in the rain. And I said to a gentleman, "What do you care about? Here`s why I`m running. What do you care about?"

And the man said to me a single word. "Decency."


DEAN: "Will you bring back decency to public service?"

MATTHEWS: Well, I went to high school in your district. I care about -- La Salle High School is right in your district. Your kids go to it.

Let me just tell you, I was with my high school teachers this weekend.

DEAN: Two of my kids went there.

MATTHEWS: I have some high school teachers I spoke with on Saturday. They said they can`t get their kids to behave, because the kids say the president does it. He makes fun of people, their looks. He may -- they call people names.

It`s horrible. It`s permeating right down to the reality of the kids we`re raising. This president is a bad example. Thank you for saying that so much.

State Representative rMDNM_Madeleine Dean, running for the United States Congress in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

DEAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: For more right now, I`m going to bring in the great -- I have to say the great -- Anthony Scaramucci, author of the new book "Trump: The Blue-Collar President."

Mooch, I love this idea, because I don`t know the answer, but I guess I do. David Brooks in his column today said that culture is more important than economics.

Is that why this nationalism of Trump`s, this concern about the caravan, all that stuff, is that outselling people`s basic bread-and-butter concerns the representative just gave us about their Social Security when they retire, their Medicare, their Obamacare every day of their lives?


I mean, I think that`s a good part of it. But I also think that there`s a -- there`s an economic discussion. They believe the president. They believe that he`s putting policies in place that are going to allow their jobs to come back.

"The Wall Street Journal" two Saturdays ago, Chris, reported that the lower 10 percent of the country is experiencing some wage growth. Something that is also happening is by cutting the illegal immigration at the border, he`s taken the slack out of the African-American and Hispanic American labor markets.

And those markets have tightened and also allowed...

MATTHEWS: I agree.

SCARAMUCCI: ... for some increase in wages.


MATTHEWS: Well, what about trickle down? You`re arguing basically, Scaramucci, you`re selling trickle down.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. Well...

MATTHEWS: That means, if you give huge tax cuts to the Mar-a-Lago crowd, some economic potential will drip down to the regular people. That`s what you just said.

SCARAMUCCI: No, I`m actually -- I`m actually -- no, I`m actually -- that`s -- my piece on the -- on the increase in wages is from the immigration.

I`m not -- I`m not selling trickle down. I`m not one of those trickle-down sort of people, frankly. I was more in the camp of pay as you go. You`re old enough to remember the pay as you go legislation that Dick Darman put in place for George Herbert Walker Bush, where they put some guardrails on the Congress.

And Bill Clinton adhered to the pay as you go legislation.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`m old enough to remember 1990. It`s not like 100 years ago.


SCARAMUCCI: All right.


MATTHEWS: I think you`re old enough to remember too, Scaramucci. I think you can remember 1990.


SCARAMUCCI: Yes, I am old enough to remember.


MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

SCARAMUCCI: And I had -- before the late -- you were talking about the late -- the late Dick Darman, great person...


SCARAMUCCI: ... very smart guy, you were putting guardrails on the Congress, so that we have this excessive deficit spending.

And so to me I don`t like the spending at all. I mean, Republicans have consistently said that they don`t want to do this spending and they want to tighten up on the budget, and then they spend like drunken sailors.

So, I`m not a big fan of that. I don`t like it.


MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the other end of it.

Mitch McConnell, who I think is a smart politician when it comes to saving his own rear end -- he`s good at survival -- but he`s coming out right now, on the beginning of an -- two weeks before an election, saying, we got to go out and cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

Those programs, I will give this speech every night. The average family in this country in Scranton or anywhere else is not greedy. They just want what they have, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, if they get Alzheimer`s, and some job somewhere nearby, their kids can get and stay -- come home once in a while.

That`s all they want. Why would Mitch McConnell be so stupid, on the eve of an election, to say, we`re going after Social Security and Medicare? Why is he doing it? Is Trump for that?

SCARAMUCCI: I actually think, if you asked the president directly, he`s probably not for it. I don`t -- he always talks about trying to take care of everybody.

I think -- I think Mitch is basically trying to galvanize his base. I think this nonsense with the caravan is base-galvanizing. I don`t like the transgender thing . They float the transgender thing to further galvanize the base.

So those things, I`m not in love with. But what I do try to describe in the book -- and you sort of grew up like I did. I grew up in this middle- class family. My dad was a blue-collar laborer for a good part of his life, an hourly worker. And I talk about how we grew up.

And I talk about how my cousins -- one`s a clammer, one is in auto glass installation -- they love the president. I`m trying to explain to people...

MATTHEWS: OK. Explain to me why Trump, who grew up with millions of dollars in his kitty to start with...


SCARAMUCCI: Golden toilet seat.

MATTHEWS: Why is he like a Sinatra figure? Why do people look up to him as like the old days with Sinatra, who had all the money in the world, and they consider him one of them? Why is Trump one of them?

SCARAMUCCI: Sinatra grew up in Hoboken. He still thought and spoke like them.

It is a little different with the president. The president basically, for whatever reason, in his early life, working with his dad, he developed a knack for these people.

I tell a great story in the book where they forgave some rental situations of people that were laid off. It shows a lot of compassion. Again, you don`t have to like the president. And you can dispute the president`s facts.

And we can see 5,000 different facts, inconsistencies. But his base doesn`t care, Chris. My message that people that don`t like the president, his base likes him. Read my book. At least you will understand from my book why...


MATTHEWS: ... likes him.


MATTHEWS: ... question. Why don`t you -- why didn`t you go to the president when Kelly sacked you? Why didn`t you go over his head and say, my loyalty is to the president, not to you, Kelly?

Why didn`t you do that?

SCARAMUCCI: Not the right thing to do in that situation.

He was the White House chief of staff. The president empowered him as the chief of staff. And let`s say I did that, and I have got a long-term relationship with the president, and he kept me on the job.

Then John Kelly and I would have been warring. There would have been all that nonsensical leaking that goes on that I can`t stand. And I didn`t want to create more dissension for the president.

He made a decision to go with John Kelly. That was his starting pitcher. It was time for me to go on waivers as a result of that. I don`t like the way -- I don`t like the way Kelly fired me, by the way.

MATTHEWS: I agree. I agree with you.


SCARAMUCCI: Very, very bone-headed.

MATTHEWS: By the way, who is going to win the Series? You`re a smart guy.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, it`s the Red Sox in five.

And, boy, I tell you, the Republicans are close on the midterms. So it`s a lot closer than people think. And you can just ask Bernie Sanders. He was commenting on it a little earlier today.

MATTHEWS: OK. I disagree. I think the Democrats are going to win the House handily.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, who`s going to win the Series, though? Let`s talk sports before I go.

MATTHEWS: I`m going to watch the Series, all seven games.

Thank you, Anthony Scaramucci.

SCARAMUCCI: All seven games? The Red Sox in five. I will put money on it.

MATTHEWS: Up next: the world according to Trump.

By the way, from backing Saudi`s claims about the death of a respected journalist, to pulling out of a decades-old arms treaty with Russia, how President Trump is reshaping our traditional understanding of America`s place in the world.

We are the nationalists, maybe? Maybe. Is that the new name of the Republican Party? It seems so.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.



JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Of course, if the American side is interested in these contracts, President Putin said and I said, yes, in fact, that President Trump would be -- would look forward to meeting with him in Paris.

So, we will make the precise arrangements on that, but it will happen in connection with the 100th anniversary of the celebration of the armistice that the French are hosting on the November the 11th.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was National Security Adviser John Bolton in Moscow announcing that just four months after the president`s disastrous performance in Helsinki, Trump will meet again with Vladimir Putin in Paris next month, in November.

Bolton`s announcement comes after a Russian national was charged last Friday, a few days ago, with waging information warfare against America to influence the 2018 elections coming up next month.

However, in addressing Russia`s past interference today, Bolton ruled out the possibly that the Kremlin`s influence campaign changed the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Here he goes.


BOLTON: Look, it`s the effort alone to interfere in our objection -- in our elections that are objectionable.

The fact was that the outcome would have been exactly the same, by all the evidence we have. And if there were evidence to the contrary, we would have heard it by now.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Leon Panetta, former CIA director, former secretary of defense under President Obama.

OK, President Trump calls himself a nationalist, but, in the same breath, he`s -- his person out there, the national security adviser, is saying no harm, no foul about the 2016 interference in our elections.

Why isn`t a nationalist acting like a nationalist?


LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, it`s pretty clear that the Russians did interfere in our election process.

And, from my point of view, the fact that they undermined an important institution in this country indicates that they were pretty successful at what they were trying to do.

So I don`t think it makes any points by somehow pretending -- whether it was determinative of the election itself, that`s not the issue. The issue is whether Russia deliberately tried to undermine our election process. And that, they did.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is even scarier, Mr. Secretary.

While in Moscow, John Bolton, the president`s national security adviser, also told Kremlin officials that the United States is effectively reigniting the arms race. That`s because the president, our president, has decided to pull out of a landmark nuclear arms control pact signed by President Reagan in 1987 which ban short and middle -- medium-range land- based missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Russia has long been suspected of violating the treaty. But rather than attempt to enforce it, the president said this weekend the United States will terminate the agreement and start developing new weapons.

Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia has not adhered to the agreement.

So we are going to terminate the agreement, and we are going to develop new weapons. As long as somebody`s violating that agreement, then we`re not going to be the only one to adhere to it. I think you understand that.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump also said yesterday that the United States would outspend Russia on new nuclear weapons until they come to their senses.

Here he is.


TRUMP: We have more money than anybody else by far. We will build it up, until they come to their senses. When they do, then we will all be smart and we will all stop.


MATTHEWS: Mr. Secretary, this is October, a month we all remember from 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis. This president doesn`t seem to have common sense about nuclear arms races and where they could end.

Your thoughts?

PANETTA: I think -- I think he takes a very dangerous approach to dealing with this whole nuclear issue.

The fact that he`s willing to start a nuclear arms race and somehow is assuming that, by doing that, that it will ultimately produce some kind of agreement, is nuts.

I mean, his approach to dealing with problems is to tear up agreements. He tore up the climate agreement. He`s tore up TPP. He tore up the Iran agreement. But he has no strategy as to how to ultimately deal with that.

So now he`s going to get rid of the nuclear agreement that was worked out by Ronald Reagan. But I don`t see a diplomatic strategy for what he wants to achieve. I mean, what makes better sense is to obviously use the treaty.

There are provisions in the treaty that allow you to try to negotiate differences and problems within the treaty. At least make the effort on a diplomatic front to try to resolve these issues before you pull the plug and start a nuclear arms race.

MATTHEWS: Well, late today, Mr. Secretary, President Trump criticized those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi`s murder.

But he wouldn`t blame the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Here he goes.


TRUMP: They did the wrong thing in even thinking about the idea. They certainly did a bad job of execution, and they certainly did a bad job of talking about it or covering it up, if you would like to say that.

But I would say it was a total fiasco.

QUESTION: If the crown prince is implicated, how do you plan to hold him accountable? Do you think he should lose his line of succession?

TRUMP: Well, we will have to do something. But I will say this.

I spoke with the king. I spoke with the crown prince yesterday. And he strongly said that he had nothing to do with this. This was at a lower level.


MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, amid the ongoing investigation of Khashoggi`s murder, the president has sent CIA Director Gina Haspel to Turkey to assess the situation.

Mr. Secretary, that`s the strangest critique. It`s like a criminal mind critiquing a crime. I mean, this wasn`t done well. This was messed up. This didn`t hit -- wasn`t executed right.

We`re talking about murder and a dismemberment of somebody because of a -- they didn`t like his writings in "The Washington Post," and he treats it like, well, you know, I would -- like he is a bullfighting aficionado. This wasn`t the right way to do this.

I mean, what do you make of this? He`s our president.

PANETTA: A fundamental issue here is that a renowned journalist was murdered in the Saudi Consulate. That seems pretty clear. And that`s the primary issue.

It isn`t the cover-up. As badly as that was handled by the Saudis, but the fact is, it is the murder is the principal issue here.


PANETTA: And the president needs to take steps to make very clear to the Saudis and to the world that there is a price to be paid for that kind of behavior.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Secretary, you would make a great president. There`s no doubt about it. You sound -- I agree with everything. You got common sense and wisdom and experience in all the things that matter.

Thank you so much, former Secretary of Defense, former CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Up next: Trump`s affinity for falsehoods, for lying, is ramping up as we enter the final stretch before the midterms.

It used to mean something to accuse the president of the United States of lying in public. So, why doesn`t that bother his support crowd? Why doesn`t it bother them when he says these crazy things like I`m going to cut your taxes by election day even though there`s no Congress in session to do it?

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Facts are stubborn thing, of course, but President Trump seems willing to discard them as he pitches his message of fear to voters. For example, he made this claim just this weekend.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think we like sanctuary cities up here. By the way, a lot of people in California don`t want them either. They`re rioting now.


MATTHEWS: Rioting. There are no riots in California. The White House has still not been able to provide any evidence of such.

He also claimed Middle Easterners are mixed in with those Central American people in that caravan.

Let`s listen to that.


TRUMP: Go into the middle of the caravan. Take your cameras and search, OK? Search -- no, no. Take your -- John. Take your camera, go into the middle and search. You`re going to find MS-13, you`re going to find Middle Eastern. You`re going to find everything.

And guess what? We`re not allowing them in our country. We want safety.


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s no evidence, of course, of any Middle Eastern terrorists are hiding among that group of migrants. I asked about the absurdity of flying from the Middle East over to Honduras to get into a line of people. I don`t think people do that.

And then there were this whopper -- there`s this whopper.


TRUMP: Democrats want to give illegal aliens free welfare, free health care and free education. Give them a driver`s license. Give them a driver`s license. Next thing you know, they`ll want to buy them a car. Then they`ll say the car`s not good enough. We want -- how about a Rolls Royce?


MATTHEWS: There you go, the whole shtick, buy them a Rolls Royce for anybody who gets into the country illegally.

Anyway, as Trump pushes conspiracy theories on us, he`s cheered on by his supporters. They love all this shtick. What can Democrats do to counter this, if they have to?

Let`s bring in tonight`s roundtable: Ashley Pratte, conservative commentator and NBC Think contributor, Jose Aristimuno is a former DNC deputy press secretary, and Jonathan Swan, of course, national political reporter from "Axios".

Let me -- all three of you from different professions. Tell us what you think of this.

Why does he get away from these full-mooner claims? I mean, nobody believes. I know the Democrats in certain areas want people to have driver`s license because they say it`s safer for them to drive, having passed a driver`s test rather than just driving around illegally without a license.

But the Roll Royce thing is sort of satire. But there`s no Middle Easterners in that caravan of poor people coming up from Central America. Why does he get away with it?

ASHLEY PRATTE, NBC THINK CONTRIBUTOR: Has anyone been able to successfully combat his falsehoods yet? No. They`ll get attacked on Twitter. No one wants to try t he has so many followers. And this is a real problem.

MATTHEWS: Why do they accept what`s clearly not true?

PRATTE: Because they know they can`t compete with it.

MATTHEWS: No. Why does do his supporters --


PRATTE: It`s easy for them. They see it as all talk but want action and he`s doing things that they feel are keeping his promises, which is scary to me in a lot of ways, because when we look at these rallies, everyone is still chanting "lock her up." Lock her up, like --

MATTHEWS: I am afraid you`re right. It`s like the people who like Bill Clinton, no matter what, cheeseburgers or any other stuff. Oh, that`s just him. We like him because we like his politics.

Is that what it is, Jose?


MATTHEWS: Is that just is? We like the guy`s politics, we don`t care about the rest of it?

ARISTIMUNO: I think part of that is totally true. The president lies on a daily basis. What candidates right now, with less than 14 days before the midterms, what candidates ought to do is don`t pay attention to the president`s national conversation, focus on the issues back home, number one. And number two, ask people back home, do you want a Congress like Mitch McConnell wants, we cut entitlement programs to reduce the deficit?

MATTHEWS: How do you get them to not look at the front page of the newspaper that has a caravan on it every day now?

ARISTIMUNO: Well, look, I think --

MATTHEWS: "New York Times" is not a right wing newspaper and they do it every day now. It`s a hard one.

Let me go to --

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, I think there`s two things. Look, one, the question of his --

MATTHEWS: I was going to call you Jose.

SWAN: You can call me Jose, Chris. You can call me whatever you want.

MATTHEWS: Jonathan.

SWAN: I think there`s two things here, one is a larger question. At some point in Trump`s presidency, hopefully it doesn`t happen. There could be a crisis. There could be a war. There could be a recession.

Those moments, the nation looks to the president.

MATTHEWS: And then what will happen?

SWAN: He can`t just talk to his own people. He needs to talk to the whole country and they`ll need to believe what he says is literally true. He`s only talking to his people and, honestly, they don`t care.

But a big part of it, Chris, they`re not watching MSNBC. They`re not logging on to "PolitiFact" in the morning. People have their own media --

MATTHEWS: I agree with you on this. By the way, I`m going to say something on this about the Cuban missile crisis, when Kennedy was a moderate Democrat, I guess you could say, but everybody believed him during the Cuban missile crisis. We did believe him.

Anyway, finally, "The New York Times" is reporting on another incident involving White House chief of staff John Kelly`s temper. The February 21st altercation took place outside the Oval Office between Kelly and the president`s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. It required the Secret Service to step in and break it up.

"The Times" report that Mr. Kelly grabbed Mr. Lewandowski by his collar, trying to push him against the wall. It followed a meeting they had with President Trump where Kelly criticized Lewandowski for trying to profit off the president contract with Trump`s reelection super PAC an for criticizing Kelly on television for his handling of security clearances for former White House aide Rob Porter. This comes after reports that Kelly stormed out the White House last week after a shouting match with national security adviser John Bolton.

I don`t know who side to take in these fights.

PRATTE: Is it par to the course for people in Trump`s inner circle to act like this? I mean, we act like we`re shocked, but then again, Kelly was brought in to bring some sort of order to a chaotic administration. But, instead, he`s now part of this chaos and the storm inside this White House.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he likes to see the physical fighting in his circle?

PRATTE: Trump? I think he loves it, because everything for him is a reality show. I mean, that`s exactly the type of person he is. And his presidency has just been one saga after another. I think he likes --

MATTHEWS: Do you think during a crisis, Jose, we like to know that the White House staff is wrestling on the floor?

ARISTIMUNO: We shouldn`t like that, but the president sets the tone, Chris. They say the fish rots from the head. I mean, it`s totally true. The president --

MATTHEWS: Is that Greek? I think that`s Greek. Go ahead. I think Michael Dukakis used to say that.

ARISTIMUNO: Right, but it`s true though. Everything starts at the leadership, at the top, and the president makes it okay. Bullying is okay. Violence is okay. And it shouldn`t be okay, but the president makes it. So, it`s true.

MATTHEWS: John, fish rots from the top. Blame him for the brawls.

SWAN: I reported a story I think in January that people didn`t believe at the time and since has been very well validated. On the Beijing trip last year, John Kelly got into a scuffle with Chinese security over the nuclear football.

MATTHEWS: They were going to grab the football from him, the Secret Service? That`s the codes.

SWAN: The codes. Apparently, it looked like the Chinese were heading towards him, but Kelly got into a full-on physical scuffle. I`m just saying --

MATTHEWS: I like that. Horatio at the bridge.

Thank you so much, Ashley Pratte. Thank you, Jose Aristimuno. And Jonathan Swan.

SWAN: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And a new position here at the end of the table.

You`re watching HARDBALL. We`ll be right back.


MATTEHWS: Another programming note tonight. Tune in for a special edition of HARDBALL this Friday night at 7:00 eastern, broadcasting live from Beer Park at Paris, Las Vegas.

Anyway, our special guest will be Democratic Senate candidate, Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, locked in a critical down to the wire election battle with Republican Dean Heller. It`s going to be a fantastic show this Friday night out in Vegas.

We`ll be right back.


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


MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018.

On this date in 1962, the world was cutting up in the most frightening moment of the Cold War, using high altitude aerial photography, the United States discovered the presence of nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba. Within days we learned that those missiles were of intermediate range capable of striking every major city in the United States except Seattle.

Were we to strike those missiles bases as most in our government recommended, the Soviet Union could have reacted by overrunning U.S. controlled Berlin where American and allied ground forces were wildly overmatched by the armies of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites.

The American president would then have been forced to either give up Berlin or employ tactical nuclear weapons in its defense.

Fortunately, we had leaders at the time, President Kennedy and his brother and chief adviser Robert Kennedy who could see the chain reaction facing their country and the world if they follow their initial inclination to strike at the Soviet missiles in Cuba. Well, today, we have a president who remains untested in such a crisis. Worse yet, Donald Trump has shown a failure to understand the dangerous reality of nuclear weapons.

Here he is yesterday fielding reporters` questions on the south lawn on why he wants to use -- well he wants the United States to kill a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have more money than anybody else by far, we`ll build it up, until they come to their senses. When they do, then we`ll all be smart and we`ll all stop. It`s a threat to whoever you want. And it includes China and it includes Russia and it includes anybody else who wants to play that game.

You can`t do that. You can`t play that game on me. Until they get smart, there will be nobody that`s going to be even close to us.


MATTHEWS: You can`t play that game on me. Thirty-six years after the Cuban missile crisis, we have a commander-in-chief who speaks as if it never mattered, to whom a nuclear arms race is a test of his macho and how many money he has to put on the table.

What will a man with that kind of attitude do in a nuclear crisis?

That`s HARDBALL for now.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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