Show: HARDBALL Date: October 25, 2018 Guest: Tamara Keith, Al Cardenas, Ryan Costello, Frank Figliuzzi, Peter Baker
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump blames the media for the bombs. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
As a national bomb scare rocks American politics, President Trump fails a key test of his leadership. He is unable to grasp that he, as the President of the country, must lead by example.
Over the past 24 hours, several more explosive devices have been discovered by law enforcement authorities. Two packages containing pipe bombs in Delaware are addressed to former vice President Joe Biden. An additional bomb sent to congresswoman Maxine Waters has been found at an L.A. postal facility. And tonight, or overnight rather, a bomb intended for actor and Trump critic Robert de Niro was found in New York.
As of tonight, eight targets have been sent to a total of ten pipe bombs. All of the intended recipients of those packages have also been the targets of the President`s attacks. And despite his remarks yesterday condemning violence and calling for unity, the President doesn`t appear willing to practice what he is now preaching. At the risk of inspiring further attacks, in fact, Trump today blamed the media for fueling the anger we`re seeing in this country.
He tweeted quote "a very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that I refer to as fake news. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it`s beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act fast.
While former CIA director John Brennan who was one of the targets of the attempted bombing responded to the President with a swift rebuke.
Quote "stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, and encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act. Try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much better. And by the way, your critics will not be intimidated into silence."
Before Trump`s tweet this morning, the President`s behavior was raising new questions about his leadership in the wake of a national bomb scare. As the story was still developing last night, the President joked at his rally about how he was being nice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And by the way, do you see how nice I`m behaving tonight? This is like -- have you ever seen this? We`re all behaving very well. And hopefully we can keep it that way, right? We are going to keep it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It was not actually funny, Mr. President, bombing.
Well, Trump also laid at least part of the blame at the feet of the news media, accusing them of hostility and false attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As part of a larger national effort to bridge our divides and bring our people together, the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. Have to do it. Have to do it. They have got to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now right now is Ashley Parker, White House reporter for "the Washington Post." Eugene Robinson is a columnist with "the Washington Post," and Ryan Costello is a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania. Thank you all.
Ashley, you are a straight reporter. You write on the front page. You are one of the leading reporter of our time right now. What do you make of the fact that the President is blaming you? I mean, in effect, he is blaming people like you. He doesn`t have a problem with opinion people like me, I have noticed. He doesn`t go after us. He is most scared of front page hard news reporters who write the main bar stories. That`s what bugs him, the truth.
ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, the media is a constant foil of this President. It`s not particularly surprising. The irony, of course, is this is a President who always attacks the media. He has attacked us since the beginning of the campaign. You saw him coming out and attacking us and blaming us today. But he is also a President who relies on the media, craves media attention, watches hours of cable news every day. Reads the front pages of the major papers, and in response to them, so it`s sort of this symbiotic relationship, but they are an easy foil, and you will see him go to the media a lot. It`s not particularly surprising.
MATTHEWS: Do you see the irony in the fact that what he -- what people learn, they learn from the mainstream media. That`s how they know -- well, they know what the date is oftentimes looking at the paper what the date is. They know what the weather is. They know what sports results are. They know when the movie starts. They know what the hard news is. And then they go back and blame the very source that they use in their daily paper and their local news television affiliates and the network news programs and cable, and then they go back and blame the people that told them what was going on for what?
I mean, it seems like they are blaming the messenger for their truth. They don`t like the stories. They don`t like what`s going on, they don`t like the President`s problems. Your thoughts.
PARKER: Well, speaking about this President specifically, he has a number of tells. One of them is when he doesn`t like a story, he will often say it is fake news. It`s not true. He will go after the news organization. He will go after the reporters personally.
And I think what followers of this President have realize is it doesn`t actually mean it is fake news or is not true. What it actually means is the contrary, most frequently, which is that it absolutely is true, it`s just something the President doesn`t like and has gotten under his skin.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know how we can argue about this, any sane person can argue that the people who had bombs placed at their door are the people this President hasn`t liked and has said so. Well, the President read some prepared remarks, by the way, addressing the bombs last night, his calls for unity were sharply at odds with his usual rhetoric. We know that and that`s a fact. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. Have to do that. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people.
Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself.
Like to punch him in the face, I tell you.
No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains which is done often.
That`s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.
We must accept the verdicts of elections.
I`m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Gene, you are a long time editor and columnist, especially editor, and it didn`t take much effort to edit that stuff together. The President has a problem with reality, not truth and not fake news. The reality is he`s been out stirring up trouble, stirring up division from day one, and it`s worked for him politically, and now he is coming back like, you know, Mother Theresa, like let`s clean up our act, be a hall monitor. He isn`t one.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I said before, I miss irony, you know. Irony was a good thing. But it is - we are so past that. You know, number one, for the President, everything is all about him. And number two, it`s all about whatever he says in the moment. It`s as if he never said anything before ever.
ROBINSON: On some level, on, you know, in most part, this is hypocritical, dishonest, and he knows -- but there`s a level at which he probably doesn`t even know it, you know.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he doesn`t know when he is playing pastor Magoo and I`m coming in to clean up the fight and he is in the fight?
ROBINSON: I know. But he does have kind of a persecution complex. He does on a certain level --
MATTHEWS: You are being so clinical. I mean, I don`t know.
ROBINSON: He is being persecuting. It is -- and unfairly persecuted despite everything. Despite the evidence of our eyes and ears.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of it, congressman? You are a Republican from a nice suburban area, a place in Pennsylvania I think is great. And what do you think? People see that he is playing the pastor here when he is one of the problems? I don`t get it.
REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R), PENNSYLVANIA: First, yes, first off, great mash-up video there. Second --
MATTHEWS: I applaud our producers for that.
COSTELLO: Yes, look. I think people -- what he said changes no one`s opinion. Those who live and die by what he says are going to fall in line. I think two things. Number one, as President, he does have to make a plea for civility. I think every President has to. But you know, past is prologue. And so it is very difficult for me to think that somehow things are going to change in terms of who he goes after and some of the things that he says. I mean, that`s as simple as I can put it.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think you have to dislike the President, Ashley, to see the problem he has. I mean, he has great strengths. His ability to read the public, his ability to sell himself in the moment, to react quickly and brilliantly to his political opponents is pretty remarkable. But to think he doesn`t BS, that he doesn`t say stuff that is starkly at odds with the truth, you don`t have to be an enemy of him to see that`s how he does business, like this, like we just saw with this back and forth. We just saw between his correcting the misbehavior he is conducting.
PARKER: Well, is the President a classic example is the President the other day came out and made a claim that was based on no evidence he was able to provide that there were Middle Easterners joining these caravans. And then when he was pressed on that repeatedly after a number of people in his own administration had come out, put their credibility on the line and vouched for him, he said you are right, I have no proof. But it could be true. And that`s the way this President operates.
He has realized that among his core supporters, at least, and again, not with everyone, but his core supporters he is so far paid no political penalty for mistruths, things that are not rooted in fact or evidence, and until there is some electoral consequence for that or personal consequence for that, it`s hard to see this President stopping that strategy because he often views what he says less as about reflecting the actual reality and more about messaging and marketing.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think --
COSTELLO: Chris, can I say something?
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Congressman, you know him better. Go ahead.
COSTELLO: You know, I have always -- I am very fascinated by the President`s grip on Republican voters. And I always try to find like what elected official could you compare this to? And I keep getting back to Frank Rizzo, the former mayor of Philadelphia.
COSTELLO: And he had that, you know, the lie detector test. You know, Rizzo lied.
MATTHEWS: I remember, congressman.
MATTHEWS: And of his supporters from what I read - from what I read in Sal Pal Antonio`s book, Rizzo lied, he failed a lie detector test, and his supporters said so what. And there`s some of that to this, I think.
MATTHEWS: I remember, Rizzo goes to the bathroom with the boss in the city machine. He says something to him, the city machine boss said he said it. Rizzo says I` will take a lie detector test. He flunks the test and says, OK, I flunked it.
COSTELLO: Then he got re-elected a year or two later.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Republican senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska admonished President Trump for the language he has used to criticize the media. Let`s watch the senator from Nebraska.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: We don`t refer to the press as the enemy of the people in America. Every American needs to be against political terrorism, and so that starts at the top, that the President has the biggest bully pulpit in America, and he needs to affirm again that we condemn all political terrorism in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let`s do the Frank Rizzo comparison here, because I know you are close.
Rizzo, he was the white conservatives against the black community and the few liberals downtown, the whites. We knew who they were. Because he took sides with one tribal side, it doesn`t matter his miscues, his BS, his lies, his failing of lie detectors. With Trump, it`s like they hate his liberal establishment so much, and some of them hate minorities that much, that they`ll put up with any crap he gives them.
ROBINSON: Yes, right. And they believe he is on their side.
ROBINSON: There`s much evidence that he`s not, and he hasn`t really done anything in their interest, but they believe he is on their side. And you know, again, on one level, it`s very funny. On another level, CNN got a bomb. You know? People, Robert de Niro got sent a bomb. This is serious business. And the President does not have the credibility to say cut it out. And to tell people not to do it because in fact as you just saw from the mash-up, he is the prime offender. He is the one who has coarsen our political dialogue to the greatest extent.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, I heard you (INAUDIBLE) to that. I was wondering, I don`t think the President is going to put out a list of who not to bomb. Go ahead.
COSTELLO: Well, no. I think Gene makes an excellent point. This is a serious situation. I had a smile on my face because I was liken. But that - it is very well put. And I would agree with Senator Sasse in the following respect.
Listen, facts matter. Truth matters. We are going to be in a more dangerous society moving forward if we start litigating things that we know to be true, and we have segments of our society who no longer care whether it`s true or not. They are just going to follow the other guy because they like what -- or woman, what he or she says.
The press is the enemy of the people is a terrible thing to double down on. And I think Republicans need to push back on the President as much as they possibly can on this. This is not something to adapt as a political party. It will be to the long term disadvantage of the Republican Party, and it will damage truth and journalism in this country.
MATTHEWS: Is that why you`re quitting? I`m serious. Have you had it with the Republican Party that falls in line, nine out of ten people back anything Trump says in the party?
COSTELLO: Yes, I`m a Republican. I`m probably more of a centrist Republican than some others. I do take issue with some of the things the President says and does. But philosophically, I`m more aligned with the Jack Kemp type Republican wing.
COSTELLO: But let me say this also. Doesn`t make Democrats bad people. And we are in an environment where if you are a Republican, oftentimes you are saying Democrats are bad people, and vice versa. I think that that`s - - that kind of talk exacerbates a situation and makes people -- drives hate. And that`s why we get bombs and death threats and all this other stuff going on.
MATTHEWS: Well, you are in the tradition of people like Tom Ridge and good people like that, and Bill Scranton. There is a lot of good Republicans in that. Going back a bit. And were all civil rights guys all the way.
Thank you so much, congressman Ryan Costello.
Ashley Parker, as always.
From "Washington Post" Eugene Robinson, thank you so much.
Coming up, we are going to get to the latest on the investigation. This is hot stuff. This is a detective story now. Those ten bombs, explosive devices sent to President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other top Democrats.
Plus, one of Donald Trump`s favorite rallying cries in 2016 was that Hillary Clinton was putting national security at risk by using an unsecured email server, but new report out tonight finds that he is using his cell phones to chat with friends despite repeated official warnings from authorities that spies are listening to him as he chats away with his buddies.
And while we still don`t know who`s responsible for those bombings sent to Democrats, we do know that Trump and his allies are blaming the media.
Finally, let me finish tonight with Trump watch. I don`t think he will like this one.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Well, CIA director Gina Haspel briefed President Trump today on her trip to Turkey to learn more about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As part of the trip, Haspel reportedly listened to an audio recording that captured the actual interrogation and killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Can you imagine listening to that?
Meanwhile, the Saudi government is still refining its version of what took place. Well, they first said Khashoggi died in a fist fight. Remember that cover? But now they are admitting the killing was premeditated. So the whole story has been thrown away. They have a brand-new one when disclosure again. No word on the President`s reaction to what he learned today from his CIA director.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A multi-agency investigation has been launched to find out who sent those ten bombs to critics of President Trump. Not critics of President Trump, yes, they were. Local investigators in New York and other cities continue to work with federal investigators, and the postal system, to determine who sent the package, all the packages, and why.
Yesterday, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, tweeted: "This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI. We have committed the full strength of the FBI`s resources. We will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever`s responsible for sending these packages."
Well, today, sources tell NBC News that there are no solid leads as to who the suspect is at the time and if more devices remain at large.
However, New York police Commissioner James O`Neill assured New Yorkers that the individual or individuals would be apprehended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES O`NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: We are investigating all of this with great precision. And I can say with certainty that we will identify and arrest the person or people responsible for these acts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, two sources tell NBC News that the investigation is part focusing on Florida because there`s evidence that some of the packages may have been mailed from there.
Well, that`s something.
Law enforcement sources also tell NBC that some of the bombs were incapable of exploding, but it`s unclear if that was accidental or an intentional design flaw, an intentional design that they couldn`t blow up.
For more, I`m joined by Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, and Paul Butler, of course, a former federal prosecutor.
Frank, first of all, the FBI -- I`m a big fan of the FBI over the years. And I have always said they were really good at things like bank robberies.
What are they specialities that the agency takes pride in, that they can handle?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: Yes.
So, the FBI is at its best when it`s surging its resources across the country and literally across the world. So, I would not be surprised if we`re at the point where thousands of agents are assigned to this.
Clearly, in an office like the Miami field office, they have virtually shut down every other investigation, and everyone`s working this case. So the numbers game is on their side.
And then the famous FBI laboratory, Chris, never cease to amaze me. They could track nails in a mail bomb. They could -- they will be tracking the origin of the PVC pipe, the pyrotechnic powder, the Scotch tape, the packages, who makes it, where is it sold, who bought it, biometric data, hair, fiber, DNA, fingerprints, all of this coming off the packages that literally speak to these lab technicians and scientists.
So this is solvable. It will be eventually solved. But I will caution everyone who`s theorizing on who, why this was done, what the motivation was, for the investigators tonight, Chris, they`re not focused on that. They`re focused on the evidence and where the evidence takes them.
And it`s actually dangerous to start falling into what I call the obvious trap, right? It`s obvious for all of us to say this is some right-wing lunatic who`s -- who`s a Trumpster who`s lashing out at prominent Democrats.
Maybe. Maybe not. The investigators are focused only on the evidence tonight.
MATTHEWS: Well, just to argue with you, since this is what I do, why would somebody pick all these Democrats if they weren`t anti-Democrat?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes, let`s -- let`s talk about history and experience.
Let`s talk about the Unabomber, Walter Leroy Moody, the anthrax case. I worked on all of those to some degree and some -- led some of those cases, including the anthrax murder in Boca Raton, Florida.
When you sit people down after you catch them, and you`re waiting for the dramatic answer, why did you target this -- the Unabomber, the acronym UNA, U-N-A, comes from university and airline bomber, right?
And we sit him down. And what does he -- what does he say about the airline targeting? Well, occasionally, at altitude, the planes would fly over my cabin in Montana, and they bothered me, right?
Walter Leroy Moody killed federal Judge Vance and a civil rights attorney in Savannah, Georgia. You sit him down. You wait for the dramatic answer. He`s crazy. None of this makes sense to anyone with logic.
So, I`m just saying, it could be the obvious, and it could be something else. It could be someone testing the mail system, testing his mail bombs, waiting to deliver somewhere else. Or it could be a hate group dedicated to taking out prominent Democrats.
But why didn`t those bombs go off? That`s the question.
MATTHEWS: Well, if I were working on a job to find out who the next people to get bombed are, I would be looking at Democrats and media people right now.
Anyway, almost immediately after the news broke, the hashtag #MakeAmericaGreatAgainBomber was trending on Twitter. The topic was boosted in part by a faction of a pro-Trump supporter group, from Ann Coulter to Candace Owens, who were speculating that the bombs were a ploy to deflect attention from the left.
Talk of a false flag, they call it, even made it to FOX News, with a guest discussing the possible explanations. Let`s listen to FOX and what they`re putting out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You talked in your -- in your notes earlier about the potential that it could be a false flag. What did you mean by that, James?
JIM FITZGERALD, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, a false flag is a -- they also call it black ops, some kind of an operation where a -- a crime or a letter or something is done to make it look like it belongs to one entity, when it actually, in real life, belongs to the other.
There could be someone in there, some -- some Democrat that -- low-level person -- I`m not suggesting anyone on the top -- but who just decided, you know what? I`m going to put this out, because two weeks before a major election, who`s going to look like the bad guy here? The Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Paul Butler, what do you make of that supposition?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, this comes from the top.
So, President Trump does not encourage rational, evidence-based thinking. He spouts these conspiracy theory. So no wonder that they trickle down.
We can think of the president saying that President Obama was not born in the United States or that Ted Cruz`s father was somehow part of a plot to kill JFK.
And so, again, it`s not about rationality. And we know, in July, President Trump said some of the scariest words ever from a U.S. president. He told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, don`t believe the news. What you see and read is not real.
And then there are other folks, like Ann Coulter, who have to know better, but want to use this tragedy as a way to stir the base, or deflect attention from the president and his poisonous and violent rhetoric that creates the kind of atmosphere for this to happen.
MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s the Groucho Marx line, what are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?
Let me ask you -- back to you, Frank -- about the option that we have to look at here.
Were these bombs purposely defective, or were they accidentally defective? Because that would raise the question, it would seem to me, of the crime we`re talking about. If it was attempted murder, then they were accidentally defective. If they were purposely defective, then it was some sort of terrorist tactic -- terrorist action. It wouldn`t be murder.
How do you examine that, unpack that?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes, it`s a key question for me and for -- and for investigators as well, because it goes toward the heart of purpose, mission and what`s coming next, because, typically, these mail bombers, serial bombers, serial killers, they don`t stop until they`re caught.
So, if the purpose here was simply to silence prominent Democrats from speaking out, that`s not working. And he sent these -- he or she or the group sent these packages to places that they should have known had mail screening, right? You`re talking about former presidents of the United States. They don`t open their mail initially.
So what was behind this? And it looks to me like this was an attempt to silence, an attempt to test the system for a next move, to send a message as we approach a midterm election. That`s quite likely here.
I think this person was capable of making bombs that could detonate. I think they may have chosen not to do it. The mystery is why, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Paul, what do you make about that, what we`re charged -- what -- the charge this person or persons is going to be facing once they apprehend him or her?
BUTLER: So, domestic terrorism is, from the Patriot Act, a way that the FBI gets more power to investigate.
What a lot of people don`t know is that domestic terrorism is not itself a crime. So, we look at people like Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma shooter, the Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, none of them were charged with terrorism.
Now, they get charged with conspiracy to take away civil rights or murder or attempted murder, so still severe punishment. But the terrorism law applies to foreign actors who are part of 60 organizations that the State Department has registered.
MATTHEWS: But when we decide they did it, they wanted those packages to blow up, that`s attempted murder, right?
And so, of course, the FBI is looking at manner and motive, including whether there is a conspiracy, or this guy is a lone wolf.
MATTHEWS: Frank Figliuzzi, thank you so much for your expertise, and Paul Butler as well.
Up next: Trump loves to accuse Hillary Clinton of putting national security risk by using a personal e-mail server. Remember that? That went on forever. And now he`s being accused of putting national security at risk by using his iPhones to chat with his pals. There he is, by the way.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Donald Trump`s favorite rallying cry during the 2016 campaign was how Hillary Clinton was endangering national security by communicating with her friends through her e-mail server. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was not just extreme carelessness with classified material, which is still totally disqualifying.
This is calculated, deliberate, premeditated misconduct.
Her server was easily hacked by foreign governments, perhaps even by her financial backers in communist China. I`m sure they had it. Putting all of America and our citizens in danger, great danger.
We know Hillary can`t be trusted -- we have learned that -- with America security. You take a look at her e-mail situation. Can we trust her with our security?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, now "The New York Times" is reporting that President Trump is calling his friends using an unsecured iPhone and that American intelligence indicates that Chinese and Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on his calls.
According to "The New York Times," Mr. Trump`s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cell phone calls are not secure. But the president has refused to give up his iPhone.
U.S. security officials tell NBC News that they have been concerned for months that President Trump has been discussing sensitive information on an unsecured cell phone with the informal advisers, including Sean Hannity of FOX.
President Trump fired back this morning in a pair of tweets, calling the long and boring article "so wrong and just more made-up fake news."
Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for "The New York Times," reports.
Peter, give us the whole story on this about the security dangers of a president, this one or any president, using phones?
PETER BAKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, that`s a great question.
In fact, this is one reason why presidents don`t for the most part use cell phones, because they are easily tapped, not the phone itself even, just the cell towers and the transmission. Landlines are always safer.
And what presidents do typically is use what they call a SCIF, secure, compartmentalized information facilities to have communications with foreign leaders, to have communications with people that might be sensitive, to make sure that their conversations are not easily accessed by foreign governments.
But President Trump has frustrated his aides. His aides are very exasperated by his refusal to listen to their advice about what he should be doing. And this is something that`s come up again and again in the nearly two years he`s been in office.
MATTHEWS: So what`s the danger of calling up Sean Hannity complaining about "The New York Times"` coverage of any event, just B.S.ing with...
BAKER: Yes, that -- yes, that...
MATTHEWS: Is that -- how is -- where`s the danger for people?
BAKER: That, in itself, of course, he will do out loud and in public and on Twitter. So that, by itself, probably isn`t all that revealing.
But you never know what a president is going to say, particularly this president, who is not particularly disciplined about the things he talks about with his friends.
I mean, if you interview and talk to his advisers, his outside advisers, his friends who communicate with him regularly, he`s very willing to just engage in conversation about sensitive information. It may or may not be classified. That`s not something I happen to know.
But he engages with these people on topics that any foreign government would want to know about. Look, if you`re China, what do you want to know about? You want to know what his thinking is about tariffs. You want to know what he`s thinking is about this trade war that he`s engaged in right now with Beijing.
And it`s very likely that that`s a conversation that could come up with his outside friends and outside advisers. If you`re Russia, you want to know, what is he thinking about this investigation? What is his state of mind about Robert Mueller and the probe into collaboration, if there was any, between his campaign and Moscow in 2016?
That`s very valuable, you would imagine, to the Kremlin. So this is why as advisers have been concerned about this for any number of months.
MATTHEWS: I know. We all knew from the World War II posters, which have been legendary, that loose lips sink ships.
Anyway, White House aides have repeatedly tried to get Trump to better secure his communications. In May, Politico reported that the president`s phone habits and his risk of being hacked are surveilled. An administration official said the president found it -- quote -- "too inconvenient" not to use the phone.
And it`s not just his friends who can reach the president on his personal cell phone. "The Washington Post" has reported in July that, shortly after he took office, Trump began passing out his personal cell phone number to a handful of foreign leaders.
So there you have it, Peter. He`s pretty promiscuous, apparently, in chatting away even with foreign heads of state, head of government.
BAKER: Well, he is.
And you played, of course, all the clips of him criticizing Hillary Clinton for doing what would, in essence, be the same kind of thing, not taking seriously enough the nature of a foreign government spying on top officials of the United States. Nobody wants to know more than -- nobody is a bigger target than the president of the United States.
And yet, despite his experience having made this critique of Hillary Clinton, despite making this a centerpiece of his campaign, he has shown through his use of these phones an indifference to it while he is in office.
So, he may believe that he`s not discussing anything really particularly sensitive or classified on these phone calls, but there`s a reason why foreign governments are listening in.
MATTHEWS: You know, we were told back in the old days, when we still use Selectric II typewriters at the White House speechwriting operation for the president, that they can -- the communists, the Soviets or the Chinese, could pick up what we were typing on our Selectric II typewriters as they drove up and down 17th Street.
MATTHEWS: So, they`re very good at this stuff.
Thank you, Peter Baker.
BAKER: They are good at this.
MATTHEWS: It is scary.
Up next: Trump wants credit for behaving at his most recent rally and wants the media to clean up its act.
Well, you`re watching HARDBALL for that fight.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The president tweeted earlier today that, quote, a very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that I refer to as fake news. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act fast.
And Fox News Lou Dobbs tweeted: Fake news. Fake bombs. Who could possibly benefit from so much fakery?
He`s since deleted that tweet, as he should have.
It`s all part of a larger pattern of conservatives now today trying to shift the blame for today`s political climate to the media. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, the media has a role to play in this process. When 90 percent of the coverage about this president is negative, despite the historic successes, when the ideas are perpetuated and continued of negativity that is not helpful for the American discourse.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It`s the media doing what the media does, which is any narrative that they can twist against Trump, they will do so.
REPORTER: The president is also bashed mainstream media. He`s the president, though.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: That`s right, and the mainstream media has often earned it.
Look, I don`t think there`s a direct relationship of any kind between Trump and -- the people you`re talking about also are people who have been publicly very hostile to conservatism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in tonight`s HARDBALL roundtable. Tamara Keith is a White House correspondent for NPR. Jason Johnson is a politics editor at TheRoot.com, and Al Cardenas is the former chair of the Florida Republican Party.
So, all of you, what do you make of the president blaming the media for these bombings?
TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Well, he`s consistent, certainly. And he`s not going so far as to blame the media for the bombings. He`s just blaming the media for the climate. But this is --
MATTHEWS: Well, the original cause of the bombings. He`s pretty much laying it on us.
KEITH: And the president has -- does this thing where he makes it so that at least partially he`s the victim, too.
KEITH: And that seems to be part of what`s happening.
MATTHEWS: Being a victim works for him.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Yes. The president`s a liar. He`s always going to deflect blame. He`s almost singularly responsible for this, I will say it. He`s constant blaming of the media --
MATTHEWS: Explain that. Explain that. Why did he cause the bombings?
JOHNSON: Because the direct aggression he speaks about in regards to the media and his political enemies is unlike anything we have seen in this country in 50 or 60 years. As a matter of fact, you almost have to get back to the early part of the 20th century where people were that nasty, where they were that aggressive about their opponents. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan didn`t talk about locking up their opponents, didn`t call them evil, didn`t call the press the enemy of the state.
MATTHEWS: Even Spiro Agnew only said nattering nabobs of negativism. He didn`t go further.
JOHNSON: Exactly, yes.
AL CARDENAS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I go a step further. I take this very personally. I`m a refugee from a country that obliterated the free press, killed many of them. And as a result, they led a despot takeover without public opinion being in effect.
So I don`t like where we`re headed in this country. I like free media. I like people who agree with me or disagree with me.
But I like the fact that I live in a freedom environment where people can make their choices. So, I take this kind of line of situation very personally, Chris, and I see dangers that perhaps others in this country don`t see.
MATTHEWS: I fear what you just said because when we talk about the evils of the Saudi Arabian royal family, and I say, well, all those guys had those romantic notions of the Castro brothers, you know, and all that crap, oh, they`re great, romantic heroes. I said wait a minute, they killed the people who disagreed with them. They killed them.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the next issue, the question about the race down in Florida here. Tell us about this race between DeSantis and the mayor of Tallahassee.
CARDENAS: It`s fascinating. Democrats haven`t won a governor`s race in Florida in 24 years. Gillum is a heck of a candidate.
MATTHEWS: African-American guy.
CARDENAS: He was in third or fourth place in the polls. He came through. He`s charismatic. He`s smart. He was student body president at Florida A&M when I was board trustee there. So I knew him.
And he -- but, you know, he represents a progressive wing. And DeSantis represents the opposite wing.
MATTHEWS: The hard right.
CARDENAS: The hard right.
MATTHEWS: Let`s look at this. In last night`s debate there, current Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum took a shot at former Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis. Let`s watch. This is what you watch debates for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: My grandmother used to say a hit dog will holler. And it hollered through this room. First of all, he`s got neo Nazis helping him out in the state. He`s spoken at racist conferences. He`s accepted a contribution and would not return it from someone who referred to the former president of the United States as a Muslim N-I-G-G-E-R.
Now, I`m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I`m simply saying the racists believe he`s a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jason, sometimes you plan your attack and it works. That was a planned moment.
JOHNSON: And the set-up question, I think, was key. First off, it was an example of good local reporting, because the moderator said, look, you went to this conference, this conference, they said this, this, and this.
And we didn`t see DeSantis melt down. He screamed what the H-E-double hockey sticks. What am I supposed to know who -- what kind of racist I spoke to this week. So, it was really a setup that made it very easy for Gillum to say what he said. And I think DeSantis is a classic example of what happens when a candidate melts down.
I think he thought this race was going to be easier. He didn`t show poise. He didn`t show real control throughout that entire debate. And they just kept lobbing softballs.
I mean, he made it easy for Gillum to meme him.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think it`s dramatic in dramatic in the country for an African-American to have a good shot of being governor. That hasn`t happened much. I mean, Doug Wilder down here in a three-way race he managed to win with all kinds of issues that helped him. But this is just one-on-on here. Looks like a hell of a race.
KEITH: Yes, and it looks like it`s going to be -- it`s a very tight race. It`s a very close race. Just been ugly throughout. It`s just ever since Gillum won the primary, it`s been ugly.
MATTHEWS: Let`s hope there`s no Tom Bradley effect, because Tom Bradley was a great mayor, great police chief in L.A. and he lost to his guy that he only lost to because of ethic and racial reasons. That`s the only reason I could think of.
CARDENAS: Well, you can`t say -- Republicans won`t be helped by two things. One, we always do better when the turnout is low, and this turnout will be a lot higher than it was in 2014. It will be about 7.5 million people voting, which is like 2.5 million people more.
MATTHEWS: Who are you voting for?
JOHNSON: The fact that you`re saying that is a bad sign for DeSantis.
MATTHEWS: You don`t have to answer.
DESANTIS: No, no. Well, you know, my choice, but I`ll say this. The fact that I`m speculating is only because I have a problem with Donald Trump. Otherwise, you know, I would vote straight Republican. But it`s hard for me to vote for Gillum because he`s too progressive, frankly.
MATTHEWS: OK, good. You`re not his fan. Let me ask you about the bombing thing yesterday, whether it was intentional or just to scare people right down the line here, how is it going to affect this election? There`s so much going on. There`s news every day.
The voters out there get one vote. And it`s really what they got, to vote yes-or-no to the way things are going in this country.
KEITH: Well, and some of them have already voted or are voting right now as this is swirling around. I think at this point, it`s way too early to know exactly. We don`t know who did this. And that makes calculating what it means really hard.
JOHNSON: I don`t think it changes the vote at all. I think this is going to happen. We`ll see these kinds of things happen whether there`s a blue wave or a blue trickle. It`s the kind of violence engendered by the president and the lackeys in the Republican Congress that let him get away with it.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s two days without thinking about the caravan.
MATTHEWS: I`m not kidding. It`s distracting from what Trump wanted us to think about. Trump wants us thinking about the caravan all day to the voters.
CARDENAS: Well, what`s shocking me and, frankly, I blame some Democrats for not stopping is a lack of compassion about talking about this caravan. I mean, I have friends who have been here at the caravan covering this for the press. I talked to them personally about it.
These are not your typical economic migrants. These are people who had relatives killed, who come from towns who have been totally taken over by Narco traffickers. These are refugees just like the Syrians and Lebanese are refugees. And so, if you want to talk about talk about policy, fine, but to not have compassion for these people, to talk about Middle Easterners thing or MS-13, come on, man, these are 7,000 men, women and children fleeing from death.
MATTHEWS: You`re the best spokesperson on this. You are the best.
CARDENAS: Come on. Let`s show some compassion here.
MATTHEWS: I`m glad you`re here.
The round table is sticking with us. Up next, they`ll tell me something I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Tune in tomorrow for a special edition of HARDBALL, live from Las Vegas, my special guest Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Congresswoman Jacky Rosen. She`s locked in that critical bout out there against the incumbent Dean Heller.
And next Tuesday, one week before the midterm elections, the HARDBALL college tour, I love it, with Beto O`Rourke at the University of Houston. Don`t miss that one.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table.
Tamara, tell me something I don`t know.
KEITH: President Trump said he was taking bold historic action on prescription drug prices. It is actually an announcement of proposed rule making to take comments. So --
MATTHEWS: So it`s going to be in the federal register?
KEITH: It will be in the federal register.
MATTHEWS: How exciting.
JOHNSON: So, Chris, what you may have heard is that Donald Trump will have 4,000 young black conservatives coming to the White House for Turning Point USA for a big brouhaha of conservatives over the course of the weekend. What you may not have heard they conveniently rejected almost every single application from the black press that want to attend this event.
MATTHEWS: We don`t hear it from the warriors, these new guys.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
CARDENAS: Yes. We`ll see how long this bad marriage between populist nationalist party Republicans and Reagan/Bush Republicans lasts. If Donald Trump pulls a miracle this cycle, it will last some more, this bad marriage. If we lose the House, and if we have some surprises in the governor`s races, it may well be the beginning of a split --
MATTHEWS: And look at it this way, you`ve got David Duke in the mix now.
Thank you, Tamara Keith. He`s been endorsing nationalism. Thank you, Jason Johnson. Thank you, Al Cardenas.
I know it`s not funny. It`s just hideous.
When we return, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch". You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Thursday, October 25th, 2018.
Suppose those bombs sent to the two former presidents, the former vice president, the former secretary of state, a former attorney general, former CIA director and a current member of Congress had actually exploded. If that had happened yesterday would have been -- yesterday would be one of the most shell-shocked days in our country`s history.
It wasn`t Trump`s bomb. It wasn`t his bomber. But the list of targets was right out of Trump`s relentless rhetorical playbook. The bomber`s enemies were his enemies. He has said so again and again and again.
Again, had those bombs gone off in the presence of their intended targets, this day, this week, this year would have been marked in history.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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