Show: HARDBALL Date: November 13, 2018 Guest: Cheri Bustos, Ryan Costello, Dana Milbank, Anita Kumar, Adrienne Elrod, Corey Lewandowski
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Some more news coming out of Washington. Departing Republican Senator Jeff Flake now says he is going to try to bring his bill to protect Robert Mueller from Trump administration interference to the Senate floor tomorrow. Now, we are told Mitch McConnell still plans to block it. Flake says quote "we can bring it back again and again."
We wanted to give you that update. "HARDBALL" starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Sore loser. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
There`s lots of news and lots of fronts tonight. President Trump`s again calling for an end to the Florida vote count, accusing officials there of messing with the results. A milestone on the Mueller investigation could be nearing. There`s a major development on that front tonight.
And drama in the east wing. First Lady Melania Trump called for the firing of a senior national security official after a series of run-ins with the first lady`s office.
We begin with President Trump, who has made a habit of trashing our Democratic institutions, a selfish willingness to destroy the foundations of American civil life in his pursuit of absolute power.
Quote "I have an absolute right to do what I want to do with the justice department, he told "The New York Times." Absolute right. He has made a support of denigrating the FBI. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have got some real bad ones. You have seen what`s happened at the FBI. They are all gone. They are all gone! They are all gone. But there`s a lingering stench and we are going to get rid of that, too. Our justice department and our FBI have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now. What`s happening is a disgrace.
How many FBI are gone? How many justice department people are gone, that I found out? That I found out. There`s a lot of bad stuff going on in this country, and we are finding out. And I`m getting to the bottom of it. And I have done a hell of a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he is waged a war on the media as well, with the goal of discrediting them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY STAHL, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: At one point, he started to attack the press. Skip and I said, you know, that is getting tired. What I are you doing this? You`re doing it over and over and it`s boring and it`s time to end that. You know, you` have won the nomination and why do you keep hammering at this? And he said, you know why I do it? I do it do discredit you all and to demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And now in a report just out tonight, by the "L.A. Times," a week after the elections, President Trump is bitter and resentful about the results and he is lashing out.
Looking for someone to blame, he is now destroying America`s faith in the election process itself, by undermining the electoral process down in Florida. And since this election, he has tweeted ten times that the elections were a fraud and an embarrassment. He is accused Democrats of corruption, saying they want to steal the election.
And today he demanded that Democrat Bill Nelson quit the legally mandated recount process, tweeting, when will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to find enough votes. Find too much spotlight on them now.
Well, this time he is bringing his Republican colleagues along for the ride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What`s going on in Florida is a disgrace.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think what undermines election integrity is Broward County can`t get their act together over multiple elections. So the problem is not with President Trump`s rhetoric. The problem is with the incompetence and the mischief in Broward County.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Democratic lawyers are trying to steal this election?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, the answer is yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What evidence of fraud do you have in the supervisor of elections office for this race?
RUBIO: First of all, I didn`t say fraud. I said election lawyers are down here to steal an election.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Bill Nelson is clearly a sore loser. He can`t stand the fact that he is not going to be elected for, what, the first time in decades. And he won`t -- he`s just here to steal this election. That`s what he`s done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "Steal the election." "Fraud." "Steal the election."
Alternatively in Arizona, Congressman Martha McSally graciously conceded yesterday after losing to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA: Hey, everybody. I just called Kyrsten Sinema and congratulated her on becoming Arizona`s first female senator after a hard-fought battle. I wish her all success as she represents Arizona in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, for more, I`m joined by Robert Costa, "Washington Post" national political reporter, U.S. congressman Ryan Costello, Republican from Pennsylvania, and U.S. congresswoman, Cheri Bustos is Democrat from Illinois.
I want to start with you congresswoman about this. I wanted to do it this way. I wanted to show McSally in the normal way you concede, although that was very nice, even cute sitting there with the dog. That was very nice. But you know, when you lose, you lose. Numbers talk.
Trump is out there saying, you know, stealing, fraud, these people are up to mischief. He has got his kowtowers like Lindsey Graham running along saying mischief. He has got people - everybody saying this stuff. This is what they say in countries like Pakistan, where they hang the losers. In countries where they say, every election you lose is rigged.
Like you know, Zimbabwe, every election is rigged if you lose it. This is the stuff we used to be proud of in this country, that we accept the integrity of our elections. Especially when there`s no evidence whatever, according to the secretary of state down in Florida, of any misbehavior, of any irregularities. And the President`s out there trumpeting these lies. Your thoughts?
You nailed it, Chris. But let`s look at what`s going on right now. We have got the service men and women who have voted, who have sent in their ballots. And President Trump is saying we have got to put this to a stop right now. Let`s not count anymore ballots. I mean, what does that say? We are what? One day past Veterans Day. What does that say about these men and women in uniform who have gone through the effort to vote and he is saying, let`s stop this now?
You know, President Trump used the word "disgraceful." He is acting in a disgraceful manner to say anything other than that we should get to the truth. We should get to the -- account every last ballot. We should make sure we restore the integrity in this process rather than interfering with the process. And that`s exactly what he`s doing right now.
MATTHEWS: You`re right. The service people`s votes aren`t even due in until later this week.
MATTHEWS: But is he afraid of losing this election for the governorship of the Senate down there? Or is he afraid of losing the next election? And that`s why he is crawling, yelling out fraud and fraud! He is probably going to win these two. They have got the advantage down there. So why is he saying this unless he is trying to do what he said - he told Lesley Stahl he was going to do. Discredit any obstacle, do whatever he wants, say whatever he wants, so when he does have a crisis, for example, in 2020, he can cry fraud then and his troops will come out and say, yes, yes, yes, sir, that`s true,. They stole it again.
BUSTOS: Well, he is a master distracter, I mean, everybody knows that. But you know, look what he is doing to the press. For how long has he been talking about, the press is the enemy of the people.
Chris, you and I talked about this before. I`m a former reporter. That`s what I did for a living for almost two decades. And I can tell you that we went into the newsroom every single day, just as you do, to get to the truth. And if we need to expose corruption, we expose corruption. If we need to talk about families that are doing great things, then we will talk about families that are doing great things.
But Donald Trump, to call the press the enemy of the people, to interfere with the election process, to try to undermine Americans` faith in the electoral system, that is what is disgraceful. And we need to -- you brought up 2020. It is imperative that we do everything we can to be successful in 2020. We just had a very good election cycle. It looks like in the House, we could pick up as many as 39 seats. We still have some that are in play which is a very strong number.
We won in districts where we didn`t think we were going to even have a shot at winning. And now what -- you know, I`m running for chair of the Democratic congressional campaign committee, and should I be successful in that, I want to make sure that we hang on to these tough districts. And these ones that we barely lost, places like central Illinois, where Betsy Dierks Lanergan (ph) only lost by a very slight margin, that we get these people to run great campaigns again and we`re successful in 2020.
MATTHEWS: Hold on, congresswoman. Let`s go to Robert Costa.
MATTHEWS: You know Donald Trump, is he angry or is he angling for the next election? Why is he going around saying things about the Florida race? Both of his candidates down there for governor and Senate are ahead. There`s no real evidence that they are not going to win. Why is he out there trashing the system and the recount?
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Talking to White House officials and confidants of the President, they say he is a man alone after the midterm elections. Preparing to make changes in his cabinet, looking possibly at making a change as chief of staff. It`s him, his twitter --
MATTHEWS: Why is he so ticked off?
COSTA: He is ticked off because he has lost power. You know that as well as --
MATTHEWS: So as the House. Does he felt that he got a rejection from the American people in the popular vote, in the nationwide national congressional account went against him?
COSTA: He also feels vulnerable with the Mueller investigation, not knowing what`s going to be in that report that`s coming out perhaps in a few weeks.
REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I think number one, he likes to be bad cop. And we have all gone through election litigation and when you are the elected official, you don`t play bad cop. That`s for the lawyers to do. Number two, he doesn`t lake process. And when he sees two people battling and he sees a stalemate or he doesn`t see something having ended when he wants it to end, he likes to insert himself, and he just starts swinging at people. That`s what he has done here.
MATTHEWS: Why does he assume or say that nothing is on the level? I mean, there`s nothing that he has said that the FBI is on the level, the justice department is not on the level, the press is not on the level, the Florida election machine is not on the level. Everybody`s a cheat, the way he looks at it. Is he projecting?
COSTA: That`s how he fights. It`s grievance populism. It is the same thing he talked about in 2016 calling everything rigged. That is the way he process his national policy.
MATTHEWS: Does he know he is tearing down these institutions?
COSTA: All he does is shatter norms for a living. I`m not sure --.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by that?
COSTA: All he does is take a hammer to presidential norms. He has been doing it since he was elected. And there is no one around him believes they can control him on that front.
MATTHEWS: But when FBI agents, men or women, whatever their politics when they go to vote, they go out and they have to risk their lives. Doesn`t he know that they have to be seen as people of integrity who represent the government and not as, you know, off -- you know, crooks?
COSTA: This is a President --
MATTHEWS: Who have stench, as he put it?
COSTA: Chris, well, this is a President who embraced Kris Kobach in Kansas who lost the gubernatorial race, and despite really no evidence that there`s rampant voter fraud across the country, he is going behind candidates that say there is.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here he is with the real third world stuff. It`s not the first time Trump has questioned the legitimacy of our elections. Months before the Presidential election in 2016, when he thought he was going to lose, he began claiming the election was rigged. Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I`m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.
We have to make sure that you don`t have people voting ten times.
I hope it`s going to be a very fair election. I don`t know that it will be. I hope it`s going to be.
We are in a rigged system, folks. We are in a rigged system. The only way we can unrig it is get to the polls. But we have got to make sure they are honest polls. We have got to make sure.
I will totally accept the results of this great and historic Presidential election, if I win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, congresswoman, that is the idiotic, third world, asinine view of every clown and tin pot dictator in the third world. If they win the election, it was clean, if they lose, it was rigged. You see it all the time in countries like Zimbabwe. I don`t want to single them out, but that`s a classic example. You lose it was rigged. I see that in Pakistan and countries like that. They don`t have trust in their institutions.
And this is a one-man wrecking ball going around the country, telling 40 percent of the country who believes in this guy, the lemmings of the Republican Party, don`t trust votes. Don`t trust press. Don`t trust FBI. Don`t trust justice department. That`s what he is saying. Don`t trust anybody but me, because I`m your leader.
BUSTOS: Yes. Chris, I just wish you would tell it like it is. I`m concerned about your candor here.
MATTHEWS: Well --
BUSTOS: Hey, look, we are going to be sworn in in the majority on January 3rd. One of the first things we are going to do is address the fact that we have got a problem with making sure that we invest in -- that our polling places are safe. That we take a look at the money in politics. That we have got a whole reform package to make sure that things are working in Washington the way they should work.
And so, you know, we are ready to go on day one. Not just with that, but also, not to bring in another topic, but we have got to address rebuilding our country again. You know, one of our competitive advantages is we have always had as Americans is we have been able to move our goods to market better than any other country.
So we are going to have a $1 trillion rebuilding America package. And we are going to bring down the costs of prescription drugs and health care. So those are our three top priorities, including restoring faith in democracy, because of what the President has done over these last several years, before even he was President.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Is anything sacred with this guy, besides his family?
COSTA: Listening to the congresswoman, is there really anything even possible in this kind of charged environment with the President lashing out at his own party, at the Democrats, to talk about prescription drugs and infrastructure, that`s a rosy view of what could happen in January. But a lot of people up here on Capitol Hill, they done see it happening if the President`s in this sort of temperament.
MATTHEWS: What do you think, congressman? You have been there.
COSTELLO: Well, I think a lot of that`s going to depend on what the appetite of the Senate is. I think if you get something through the house and the Senate`s willing to take it up and pass it. I think the revenue is always been a challenge for Republican. Some of us have been supported of that. Others haven`t.
On the pharmaceutical drug side, it`s actually been the President who`s un- Republican in terms of what he is willing to do. So I think that those both have possibilities.
One final point from my perspective, the President, I think, has never gotten rid of his developer mentality. So he views the FBI and the DOJ like Manhattan borough council when he is trying to railroad through a development project. He doesn`t look at these institution with the reverence that we do. That`s a problem. But I think it also the reason that he just keeps on swinging without regard to what the long-term damage is, to the credibility of those institutions and the American people.
MATTHEWS: He probably figures if you can throw them a puck buck or two, you can get what you want from them.
Anyway, thank you, U.S. congresswoman Cheri Bustos and U.S. congressman Robert Costello. And Robert Costa of the "Washington Post."
Coming up, Trump`s legal team is preparing to answer Mueller`s written questions finally, apparently this week.
And with the midterms in the rearview mirror now are big indictments around the bend? We think so. We smell it coming. We think it`s coming for a couple of his real beauties that work with Trump.
Plus, Trump is lashing out again at his latest adversary, the President of France. Will America have any allies left at the time that Trump leaves office?
And the knives are out in the east, this is hot stuff, and the west wings of the White House tonight with some high-profile exit. The first lady`s office is at war with the national security staff and maybe the chief of staff himself. This is fascinating marital -- political marital situation here.
Finally, with the great power comes great responsibility. Will Democrats in the House wield their newfound power responsibly? We mentioned that. We will get to that later in the show.
This is HARDBALL where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
NBC News is reporting tonight that after months of negotiation with prosecutors quote "President Trump`s legal team is nearing completion of written answers to questions posed by special counsel Robert Mueller." That`s according to a source familiar with the matter, who says that those answers quote "may be submitted as early as this week." The answers.
However, the story says that the answers will pertain only to matters relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election, not obstruction of justice.
I`m joined now by Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor, and Ken Dilanian, an NBC News intelligence and national security reporter.
Ken, you first. What`s the importance of this that they are going to have these answers apparently within the week?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Kris, what we don`t know is what`s precipitating this. Is Robert Mueller threatening to subpoena Donald Trump and haul him before a grand jury? I think this is part of the negotiation that`s playing out between the Trump team and the Mueller team about what answers Trump is going to give.
I don`t see how it`s OK for Trump to say he is not going to answer questions about obstruction of justice, a main part of Robert Mueller`s investigation, but that`s their position right now. Because they believe that that probe stemmed from the firing of James Comey and Trump had an absolute right to do that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me suggest a strategy.
They will say, OK, we will give you half of what you want. You can have written answers, which is nonsense...
MATTHEWS: ... because lawyers write the answers, and they can all be cleverly written. You can`t cross-examine, the whole thing.
But, in addition to that, I have got this new guy, Matthew Whitaker, who`s my new attorney general, and he`s not going to push for any kind of a subpoena, so live with it.
How about that, a double track? We will give you something, but don`t ask for more, because I have got a guy that`s going to defend me?
DILANIAN: Well, if that happens, Mueller has to report that to Congress, under the special counsel rules. So we will find out about that.
And congressional Democrats aren`t going to stand for that.
MATTHEWS: They have to -- he has to tell the Congress that they have shut him down?
DILANIAN: If they shut him down on any investigative step, absolutely.
Barbara, your thoughts about this? Looking at this whole thing, the naming of Whitaker last week as A.G., acting A.G. the word out, according to NBC News, that they`re going to agree to some kind of response to these written questions. How`s it fit together? And how does it advance this whole process of ending this investigation conclusively?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, the sequence is somewhat suspect, isn`t it? Just as you point out, Chris, we have waited months and months for these answers. I think it was January that Robert Mueller started down this path of seeking information from President Trump.
And now that he`s got his handpicked attorney general in place, now he`s ready to give answers. And so I think he feels like he`s in a position of empowerment at this stage of the game.
But, nonetheless, he will get answers. It locks President Trump into a story, and he can`t wiggle out of that for now. I don`t think this is going to be 100 percent satisfactory to Robert Mueller, because, as you point out, there`s no ability to follow up with follow-up questions, to observe body language or tone or inflection or any of those things.
It doesn`t preclude Robert Mueller from seeking a subpoena at some point if he`s not satisfied with those answers and to get information about obstruction of justice. But I do think it would help him in any court case to show that he tried to take the path of least resistance, and that he tried to get this through negotiation, without resorting to a subpoena.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it also makes Trump look good if he does answer with written answers, because then he tells his 47 percent of the country, hey, look, I answered the questions. Get off my back.
Meanwhile, Mueller`s prosecutors appear to be closing in on this guy Jerome Corsi, a right-wing conspiracy theory guy with close ties to the great Roger Stone, one of the ultimate fixers.
According to NBC News, Corsi says he expects to be indicted for perjury and that Mueller`s team delivered the news at a meeting about a week ago.
Well, this comes after NBC News reported last month that investigators obtained communications suggesting Corsi may have had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks would release e-mails, those ones hacked by Russia, from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Corsi, however, denied having any advanced knowledge. In fact, he told prosecutors he simply figured it out on his own. Intuition.
And now, according to Corsi, he appears to have given false information to federal investigators. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME CORSI, AUTHOR, "THE OBAMA NATION": I fully anticipate that, in the next few days, I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other -- grand jury or however they want to do the indictment, but I`m going to be criminally charged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, investigators are also scrutinizing whether that guy Corsi passed any information about the hacked e-mails to Roger Stone -- there is Stone on the right -- who appeared to predict the release of the -- Podesta`s e-mails on Twitter in 2016.
Most famously, Stone hinted Podesta`s time in the barrel, later saying there was a payload coming just two days before Podesta`s e-mails were released.
Barbara, there`s a couple of things here. First of all, Corsi is a bad guy. Corsi is the guy that created the whole swift boat nonsense, destroying the presidential campaign of John Kerry.
He also came out with the whole nonsense about birtherism, that Obama was secretly birthed over in Kenya or somewhere -- somewhere outside the United States.
This guy is in the cahoots with Trump. How does this -- is this one of the final dashes of excitement to this prosecution, or what? What are you seeing in the list of developments that will get to a final report by Mueller?
MCQUADE: Well, first, nobody gets indicted, of course, for being a bad guy. They would get indicted for some criminal activity, which could be false statements.
He`s hinted that he`s fallen into a perjury trap. But to make it very clear, people don`t get indicted for making mistakes or forgetting the facts. They get indicted for false statements when they know then and there that what they are saying is false.
And so he seems like a potential link to Roger Stone, who seems like a potential link to others related to the Trump campaign. For example, there`s already been indictment about hacking that alleged a conspiracy to interfere with the fair administration of elections.
If Roger Stone or Mr. Corsi was involved and had advanced information and provided advice about the timing of the dissemination of those e mails, that could be aiding and abetting, or that could be conspiracy to violate that statute.
And so anyone else who participated could also be charged. And so it seems that Corsi finds himself at this -- in the crosshairs at this moment because he has information that`s valuable to Robert Mueller that he wants to get.
And, as we have seen, when people lie to Robert Mueller, he is not shy about charging them with making false statements or perjury.
MATTHEWS: And this is the belly of the beast. This is collusion with the Russians.
Aside from Corsi and Stone`s, there`s the possibility of a bigger indictment to come. Politico reported last week that, according to one source, Trump`s son Don Jr. has told friends in recent weeks that he believes he could be indicted.
It should be noted, however, that any new indictments would need the approval of Trump`s acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker.
I don`t know. This is so -- Ken, I think -- he`s got this Whitaker. He`s got this guy Kavanaugh at the Supreme Court to back them up. He`s got this whole thing wired.
What`s he going to do if his son is indicted? That`s been my question. He can throw -- well, first of all, Roger Stone can rat him out on all kinds of Russia stuff, it seems to me. And he -- I don`t think Roger wants to go to federal prison.
DILANIAN: I agree with you. I don`t think -- and for the past many weeks, Robert Mueller has been dragging Roger Stone`s friends and associates before the grand jury.
That`s where this Corsi thing fits in. And it`s very clear they have a communication from Corsi to Stone, where Corsi suggests he knew about that WikiLeaks had the John Podesta e-mails.
MATTHEWS: Which came from the Russians.
And so this is -- the whole idea here is Mueller`s trying to look at whether there was a link between WikiLeaks and the Russians and the Trump campaign, going through Stone and Corsi. And if he establishes that, that`s huge. That could be collusion.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m very hopeful, because we have been all following this. I guess we`re invested in getting to the truth here, Barbara.
We`re hopeful -- I hope that Mueller has something that truly has to do with the Russians, with Vladimir Putin, with his gang over there and trying to undermine the -- our elections in 2016. And if it happened, I want to make sure that Trump`s hands are caught.
That`s my belief. If he did it, I want him caught. That`s my thought. Your thoughts about that, Barbara?
MCQUADE: Well, sure.
If anyone is guilty of colluding with Russians, of conspiring to throw our elections, then they should absolutely be held accountable. I don`t think we know at this moment what the role of President Trump was. I think people have their suspicions.
But I think it would be a common tactic to use someone like Roger Stone as a cutout, not someone who is officially affiliated with the campaign, but someone like Roger Stone, who is a friend and confidant and adviser. It`s exactly the way the Russians operate.
And it could be the way that President Trump operated in this instance. And so, if anyone can find out about it, it`s Robert Mueller.
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine Roger Stone knowing, as he made clear he did, that the Russian stuff was coming, that John Podesta`s time in the barrel was coming weeks before, that he didn`t confide that to the man he was working for, Donald Trump, why he would keep that secret from Trump?
MCQUADE: Yes, it seems unlikely.
Whether he was directly communicating with President Trump or others remains to be seen. But I think the timing of that Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016 is so critically important.
And now, remember, Paul Manafort, who was present at that meeting, is cooperating with Robert Mueller. The timing of that, between the time of the hack and the dissemination of those e-mails that were stolen in the fall of 2016...
MCQUADE: ... it would be the perfect opportunity to have a conversation about what would be the best time to release these to maximize the impact in favor of President Trump.
And so if anyone at that meeting, Don Jr. or Jared Kushner or Paul Manafort, was involved in providing that advice, that could make them co- conspirators.
MATTHEWS: I like lawyers that can speak English, Barbara. Thank you so much, Barbara McQuade. You make it clear.
Thank you, Ken Dilanian, for your great reporting, especially the stuff tonight.
DILANIAN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: President Trump lashes out after his Paris trip, mocking President Macron`s approval ratings, as well as French defenses during the World Wars, and threatening new tariffs on French wine.
He is a bull in a china shop. Why is he fighting with the French? He also has an explanation for skipping that ceremony at the cemetery for American soldiers over there when he went over there to do just.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Today`s the three-year anniversary of the terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. And the president spent his morning attacking French President Emmanuel Macron.
He mocked Macron for his approval rating, tweeting: "Make France great again."
He threatened tariffs on French wine and responded to Macron`s call for a European army by taunting him over the Russian -- or the German occupation of France in both World Wars, tweeting: "How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along."
Well, that`s all horrible nonsense.
He also called criticism over that canceled stop at an American military cemetery over in France over the weekend to bad weather fake news, saying that Secret Service said no when he suggests they drive there.
In an opinion piece in "The Washington Post" on Veterans Day, Dana Milbank detailed the American heroes you think of on Veterans Day, satirically noting that: "We think of President Trump battling rain for not one, but two days in France this weekend."
I`m joined by Dana Milbank.
Dana, a bull in a china shop underestimates this man.
MATTHEWS: Why are we at war with Macron? Why are we at war? Why are we having this peeing match in the rain?
DANA MILBANK, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You kind of the French would have a phrase for this, tres gauche.
And they would be right to apply this to the president. Presumably, he starts firing away at Macron and France before his advisers could let him know it was the solemn anniversary there in France.
MATTHEWS: "Charlie" -- "Charlie" -- what is that called, "Charlie"...
MILBANK: Yes, that one.
MATTHEWS: The satiric magazine, yes.
MILBANK: No. No, of course.
For Macron, this is -- who has been suffering. He`s been having a difficult time getting a coalition together. This is gold. He tried to kiss up to Trump. That went nowhere. Now he realizes that taking on Trump -- getting attacked this way in France is brilliant.
MATTHEWS: Why is he going after a guy named Macron, who`s a man of the center-right, who`s trying to deal with that encrusted old system in France, where nobody really wants to work that hard? They want their afternoons off, the whole thing.
MATTHEWS: And he`s trying to crack through that system, so something can get done over there. Trump should be trumpeting the guy.
MILBANK: Well, he should be, but I don`t think Trump`s really thinking on that level.
You know, why did he skip the parade? Why was he so cranky tweeting, you know, basically completely misrepresenting what Macron had said.
MATTHEWS: De Gaulle and Churchill walked down the Champs Elysees. It`s not a bad thing to do.
MILBANK: I think it`s probably a very simple explanation, and that we have to -- happen to have a low-energy president. You notice every time he goes on a trip, Helsinki, the Middle East, Asia, he makes these gaffes, he gets in trouble. He`s tired. He doesn`t have his executive time, as they call it.
And you can be sure he said, I don`t want to go out there in the rain.
The Secret Service doesn`t say, no, you can`t go. He`s in charge of the Secret Service, not the other way around.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, while honoring veterans in an American cemetery in France on Sunday, the president paused to point out that the veterans were under a tent while he was getting drenched. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a number of amazing veterans with us today, including six veterans of World War II.
James -- where is James? James, thank you. Thank you, James.
Thank you, Frank. Thank you very much. You look so comfortable up there under shelter, as we`re getting drenched. You`re very smart people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that?
MATTHEWS: You said that the president`s hair was so lacquered that it was like the burning bush that never burned.
MILBANK: It`s true.
MILBANK: You saw his -- the lectern was wet, his coat was wet, but the hair did not actually get wet.
MILBANK: I do think he sees himself as out there sacrificing, perhaps not like the World War I soldiers in the trenches.
MATTHEWS: Well, he said that his Vietnam was surviving, you know, essentially...
MILBANK: STDs, and he was a very brave soldier in doing that.
MATTHEWS: First of all, that seems to be somewhat blasphemous about guys who serve and got killed and everything.
MILBANK: He`s done it repeatedly. And I think the not going to an American war memorial in France...
MATTHEWS: That`s why he went over there.
MILBANK: I think it`s also...
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that why he went over there?
MILBANK: That was the purpose. And I figure he said, well, I will go a cemetery tomorrow. You have seen one, you have seen them all.
MATTHEWS: Well, wasn`t there a cemetery nearby they could have gone to without driving an hour-and-a-half?
MILBANK: It was an hour away. It`s not that hard to do this.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this, because you`re smarter than your -- your satire always covers up and offers up an explanation. It`s not just fun.
What is his politics? Is this the thing out of like, I said before, Popeye Doyle in "French Connection"? I would rather be a lamppost in New York than the president of France? Is this just dumping on foreign countries as sort of something for the people back home?
Who is he doing this show for?
First of all, it doesn`t play well for the people back home, because as when we wouldn`t have the flags lowered after John McCain`s death, Americans don`t like this. It`s not patriotic to skip a cemetery visit and hang out in the ambassador`s residence watching television.
MATTHEWS: For five hours.
MILBANK: Yes. So I don`t think there`s a strategy behind it. Why does he attack Macron? He says, well, wherever he`s attacked, he goes and hits back twice as hard. I don`t think he`s actually thinking about it. The world is mocking him. It`s galvanizing the world against him. It`s not playing well for him here.
I think it`s instinct. I don`t think it`s strategy.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s Queens, isn`t it?
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I guess. Excuse me, Queens. But, Queens, I think that`s what he thinks he is, the tough kid going into the big city and showing the smart guys how tough he is.
Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank.
MILBANK: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The first lady is bringing the hammer down on the White House. This is a great feud between the East Wing -- there she is on the left -- and the West Wing. There he is, Kelly on the right.
Her feud with John Kelly means his days are numbered, don`t you think? Ask -- well, Nancy Reagan certainly knew that.
Plus, her extraordinary call for the firing of a top national security aide, all done through memos and press releases, instead of just calling up: "Donald, I want to get rid of that person."
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The knives are out in the White House, in the East Wing and in the West Wing. It`s been less than a week since President Trump fired his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and today the word went out that another cabinet member could soon walk the plank. "The Washington Post" reports that the president is preparing to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the coming weeks, if not sooner. I love the way they do that.
There`s also some news from the East Wing. In an extraordinary move today, the first lady`s office publicly called for the firing of NSC official, deputy national security adviser Mia Ricardel, seen here as the White House -- there she is on the right. In a statement, the first lady spokeswoman`s wrote: It is the position of the office of first lady that she no longer serves the honor -- deserves it, of serving in the White House. What a strange way to talk to your husband.
The rift also extends to Chief of Staff John Kelly. NBC News reports that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly could soon be on his way out, noting that Kelly has also gotten on the wrong side of Melania Trump over staffing issues and travel requests.
Some of the disputes with the East Wing have escalated to the president.
I`m joined now by the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy, Adrienne Elrod is former director of strategic communications for Hillary for America, and Corey Lewandowski is the author of "Trump`s Enemies: How the Deep State is Undermining the President," I hope I said that right, and former chief of staff or political adviser to Trump`s 2016 campaign.
Anita, let me ask you this about the whole question. It seems to me there are other ways of communicating between the first lady and the president than issuing a statement for the whole country to read that the deputy NSC director should be gone.
ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: Extraordinary. I mean, clearly, first ladies must express their opinion. You just don`t usually see it publicly like this. But what this --
MATTHEWS: I remember Nancy Reagan, when she didn`t like Donald Regan, the chief of staff, she told Bernie Shaw at CNN to announce on television, he`s been fired.
KUMAR: Well, what this probably means is she`s tried another route, right? She`s tried -- I mean, this is someone that has gotten on to crosshairs both, you know, at the White House -- has already been, just like these other people you mentioned, Jeff Sessions, Secretary Nielsen, these are people that have gotten into the president, or the first lady`s crosshairs over the last few months.
So, it`s someone that hasn`t been fired yet. So, this was her way of getting it out there.
MATTHEWS: Any tradecraft here, Corey, that we could understand, how Trump does business when he doesn`t want somebody there?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER CHIEF POLITICAL ADVISER, TRUMP 2016 CAMPAIGN: I think it`s very simple. The first lady was clear that this is a person that she doesn`t think deserves the right to serve in the White House. She said something very similar when she was overseas and did an ABC interview with Tom Lamas. And what she said was, there are people in the White House who I don`t trust and don`t deserve the right to be there.
The president echoed those same comments when he went on "60 Minutes" with Lesley Stahl. He said, look, there are people here that I don`t think should be here. So, the president needs to take the action and remove those individuals and the first lady`s press secretary statement today was very clear of who those people are.
MATTHEWS: Is this an ideological thing, do you think, Anita? Is this John Bolton`s deputy being a little too neocon for the first lady or what?
KUMAR: I`m not sure it`s that for the first lady. I mean, they mentioned -- she`s mentioned several things, and it didn`t sound like it was ideological. It sounded like they just had their differences.
MATTHEWS: Adrienne, sometimes it`s a simple matter of manners and respect.
ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Sure.
MATTHEWS: Don Regan, the chief of staff to Ronald Reagan who thought he was prime minister, hung up on the first lady one day and the second he did that, he chopped his head off.
ELROD: Yes. Well, good for Melania for speaking up here, our first lady, if she`s not happy with the staff. I mean, she`s obvious (INAUDIBLE) exactly and they didn`t treat her right. But it is highly unusual and, you know, another day, another chaos in the Trumpland.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, meanwhile, Democrats are feeling emboldened by last week`s rebuke of President Trump at polls. They won the national vote for the House and strategizing behind the scenes on their plan moving forward as they claim the majority in the House come January, January 30th, exactly.
"Axios" reports that a senior source says that Democrats are preparing a, quote, subpoena cannon with potentially more than 85 targets, the Democrats plan to probe every aspect of President Trump`s life and work.
But "The New York Times" reports that plans to go on the offensive could be a challenge for Democrats moving forward, writing, Democrats who remained remarkably focused during their campaigns must now figure out how to put forward their own agenda, even as they deal with the provocations of a president who relishes confrontation and disdains institutional norms.
Well, that`s fancy writing. But, Adrienne, you were head, I understand, of strategic communications.
ELROD: That is right.
MATTHEWS: How do the Democrats stay strategic so that they look good a couple of years from now when we have to pick a party to lead the country?
ELROD: Yes, all of this talk about Democrats coming in and having a cannon of subpoenas is really ridiculous. I mean, we can do two things at the same time. This is why Leader Pelosi is so important for being the next speaker of the House, because she has experience, she has the respect of our caucus.
We`ve gotten three very capable chiefs, if you will, who will be overseeing some of these subpoenas, some of the oversight. That`s Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Jerry Nadler. But at the same time, Pelosi has made it very clear that she`s going to be focusing on health care, addressing the health care costs, which Republicans have done nothing about.
MATTHEWS: What`s going to get the headlines?
MATTHEWS: What`s going to get the headlines?
ELROD: What`s the media going to talk about?
MATTHEWS: Well, Corey, what do you think of the president`s response, if he sees the house is now Democrat, they have all of these subpoenas over there, they`ve got Pelosi there, probably the leader. What`s he think about all of that?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, it`s very simple. This is exactly what happened to Bill Clinton two years into his administration, this is what happened to Barack Obama two years into his administration.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
LEWANDOWSKI: And if the Democrats think that they`re going to go out and be on the offense and it`s going to hurt the president long-term, I think they`ve made the same miscalculation that other presidents and other minorities have made when they became the majority. Look, this president said, we want to work with a partisan Nancy Pelosi on infrastructure and spending bill, $1 trillion into the economy. That`s a nonpartisan issue.
MATTHEWS: I agree. Will they do that?
LEWANDOWSKI: I think they have to do that, right? But if this is just the party of "no", if the Democrats just simply become the party of "no" and the party of subpoena, they will pay for that at the ballot box.
ELROD: That`s not going to happen, Corey. We`re not going to become the party of no.
MATTHEWS: You don`t make that mistake. Republicans, when the come in after World War II, they spent two years issuing subpoenas and Truman won.
Anyway, I want to ask you about this. What do you think, the Democrats and Republicans, are they going to get together on things like pre-existing conditions? It`s not a winner for the Republicans. Why didn`t they do it?
KUMAR: Well, I just -- it`s going to be hard. We heard what Nancy Pelosi said last week, but all of these Democrats that are coming into the House, a lot of them ran on that they want to hold President Trump accountable. There`s going to be a lot of pressure on her --
MATTHEWS: Like emoluments clauses --
KUMAR: Yes, to do all of these things about tax returns and emoluments.
MATTHEWS: I agree. Of course. We push that here.
KUMAR: Right, and it`s going to be very hard for President Trump on the other hand to say, you want to cut a deal on infrastructure?
MATTHEWS: Who`s most likely to reach their hand out and say, let`s deal, on infrastructure? Is it the president or Pelosi?
KUMAR: I think both of them have said they want to do it.
MATTHEWS: Who is most likely to put the hand out and say, let`s deal, Adrienne?
ELROD: Pelosi. Pelosi. And again, I think it`s ridiculous that we are sitting here and saying that Democrats can`t move forward on some of the policy issues that matter to Americans while also working to hold the president accountable. Voters demanded that, independents, moderate Republicans, and a lot of Democrats voted -- they can walk and chew gum at the same time. It sounds cliche, but they can. And they will.
MATTHEWS: Will Trump ever change?
LEWANDOWSKI: Why would he want to change?
ELROD: He`s the president of the United States.
MATTHEWS: Have you ever met anybody who`s changed in your whole life?
LEWANDOWSKI: No, of course not.
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, here`s the other thing -- how many members of the Democratic Party who just won their first election said they weren`t going to vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker and are going to hold true to that in the leadership elections this week?
ELROD: It`s not going to happen. This happens every time. They always end up --
LEWANDOWSKI: She can. But the point is, they`ve made a promise to their constituents and the first vote they make. There`s going to be a lot (ph) of their constituents, to be held accountable --
MATTHEWS: Are they going to vote present? They vote present.
They can vote present. There`s no other candidate. They`ve got to vote present.
ELROD: You guys, Republicans have been trying to demonize Nancy Pelosi for years and it never works.
MATTHEWS: The number one goal of every freshman is?
LEWANDOWSKI: To get a second term.
MATTHEWS: Right, thank you.
The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.
And Nancy can help them. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.
Anita, tell me something I don`t know.
KUMAR: My colleagues at "McClatchy" have done reporting that shows nearly two dozen Democratic candidates or potential candidates have already spent more than $1.3 million in the four early voting states. So, lots of names we already know, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Eric Garcetti, a lot of people, already looking at --
MATTHEWS: How many candidates altogether do you think before this is over? Forty?
KUMAR: I don`t know. Twenty maybe, at least.
MATTHEWS: Worth counting them.
ELROD: Women are taking over government. Emily`s List tripled the number of pro-choice Democrats who are now women who are running governor`s seats in many states, and also a very important point regardless of how many seats we end up taking in the house, women will have won the majority, are taking back the House for Democrats, regardless of how many --
MATTHEWS: So, best --
ELROD: Any women.
MATTHEWS: Good news for Nancy Pelosi, I would --
ELROD: Very good news for Nancy Pelosi.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. I thought so.
Anyway, Corey Lewandowski?
LEWANDOWSKI: Kevin McCarthy will be the leader of the Republicans in the House. I think Jim Jordan will be the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. And I think Mark Meadows is going to become the ranking member on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, two key allies of the president, is the Democrats threaten subpoenas moving forward.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about McCarthy. What`s he like -- I hear he`s great on numbers.
LEWANDOWSKI: He`s a true mathematician. He knows every district just like Tom Davis used to when he was at the NRCC. Kevin is a steward of Capitol Hill, was there and worked as a staffer, went back to California and became back. He was going to be someone who represents the entire Republican caucus, not just a small group of it and has a great relationship with President Trump, which has extended long before he became the Republican nominee.
MATTHEWS: How does Trump keep his hair from getting wet?
LEWANDOWSKI: That`s a great -- an umbrella.
MATTHEWS: We were all watching it, Dana Milbank, he`s over there in Paris, no umbrella, no wet on hair. Anyway, he calls it the burning bush that never burns up.
Anyway, thank you, Anita Kumar, Adrienne Elrod and Corey Lewandowski.
And when we return, let me finish tonight with Trump Watch.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: "Trump Watch", Tuesday, November 13th, 2018.
Let`s start tonight with the simple notion of American government. It`s all about limits. It`s about keeping any one person or any one part of the government from having absolute power. We had the experience of having a king and decided that`s not what we`re after, to say the least. And now, we`ve got this new president, our 45th, and he seems to have a problem with this setup, the system of checks and balances, this way of keeping even our president limited in power, especially our president.
President Trump didn`t like it when the FBI went digging for information about his lawyer Michael Cohen. He doesn`t like it when the press does its job of reporting information about him. He doesn`t like it when the attorney general files Justice Department guidelines and recuses himself from the Russian probe. And he doesn`t like it when a state, Florida, follows its rule of counting all votes.
And in each case, this president condemned the institution that dared to question him. He called the FBI the deep state, attacked the press as the enemy of the people. He attacked the Florida election counting system as corrupt.
And we know why he does these things, why he condemns each institution as untrustworthy. It`s so, as he told Lesley Stahl, it would free him to do precisely what he wants and then get away with it. President Trump wants to do what he wants to do, and get away with it.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.