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Manafort violated plea deal. TRANSCRIPT 11/26/18, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews

Guests: Eric Swalwell, Neera Tanden, Adolfo Franco, Anita Kumar, Susan Page, Tiffany Cross, Sherrod Brown

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Devastating, let`s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. 

We have some breaking news tonight.  According to a court filing, special counsel Robert Mueller`s office says former Trump campaign chairman Manafort lied to the FBI and to the special counsel in a breach of his plea agreement.  And that`s according to a filing intended to update the court on Manafort`s cooperation. 

Meanwhile, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz who has been an ally of President Trump predicts the impact of Mueller`s report will be quote "devastating to the President."  And now fresh off his thanksgiving vacation, Trump has resumed his attacks on the special counsel`s investigation. 

Today, as he and the country away Robert Mueller`s next move, well, Trump appears to be defending himself from the damaging information that Mueller may soon reveal. 

Quote "when Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble, will he be recommending action on all the crimes of many kinds from those on the other side?  And will he be putting in statements from hundreds of people closely involved with my campaign who never met, saw or spoke to a Russian during this period?  There was no collusion and Mueller knows it." 

Well, the tweets from Trump appear to signal that Trump is preparing for something truly big.  It comes a day after Alan Dershowitz made that ominous prediction about what Trump should expect from Mueller`s investigation. 


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT:   I think the report is going to be devastating to the President, and I know that the President seems already working on a response to the report. 


MATTHEWS:  While it also seems increasingly likely now that right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi will be the next domino to fall in the ongoing collusion probe.  Corsi who is widely credited with inventing, if that`s the word for it, the birther lie about former President Obama, is suspected of having advance knowledge that WikiLeaks would release Russian- hacked emails belonging to Hillary Clinton`s campaign manager. 

But today, NBC News report that Corsi says Special counsel Robert Mueller offered him a plea deal on one count of perjury related to statements about his contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  However, after negotiating with prosecutors, Corsi says he plans to reject the deal. 

I`m joined now by David Corn, Washington chief for "Mother Jones."  Michael Steele, the former chair of the RNC.  Barbara McQuade, former federal prosecutor.  Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for "The New York Times." 

Let me go to Barbara.  What do we make of this development with regard to what went wrong with the Manafort plea deal that seems to be broken all over? 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes, I haven`t seen the report that Robert Mueller`s team filed, but it could be devastating for a lot of people.  If he lied, then he loses his values a cooperator and the deal is off. 

What it means for Paul Manafort?  Usually, what happens is the plea is accepted.  So the guilty plea stands, but the plea agreement can be voided if he has lied.  By failing to comply with the terms the deal is off.  And so, instead of getting a motion for reduced sentence in exchange for cooperation, he now faces the guidelines which I think were something like 17 to 20 years in prison. 

And so, we go back to where they would have been if he had pleaded guilty without cooperation.  It`s also of negative consequence I think to Mueller and his team who are probably hoping to get information that they could use against others in the organization based on Manafort`s testimony.  If he has lied to them, he has lost his value as a cooperator. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, according to the court filing, the court filing, after signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the federal bureau of investigation and the special counsel`s office on a variety of subject matters which constitutes breaches of the agreement. 

Peter Baker, let me ask you two questions at once.  What do you make of the Manafort fall apart here where he is going away for a long time because of lying even in this late stages of deal-making, but also what`s going on with Dershowitz saying, my God, it`s devastating what`s coming to Trump? 

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Yes, that`s a great question.  We don`t know what Alan Dershowitz knows that might make him feel that way other than what we all know publicly.  And what we know publicly, of course, is that Robert Mueller has pulled together a lot of disparate threads of this story and we don`t know how they all add up.  But the parts of them already known publicly are pretty, you know, pretty damning in their own way. 

What the Manafort thing means is an open question.  As George said, we want to, you know, presumably the special prosecutor want out of Manafort was information about other people, particularly about the campaign, what he might be able to tell them.  And if he is now deemed to be a liar even after the plea agreement, he does seem to lose some value.  You can certainly imagine President Trump and his advocates saying, you know, once a report comes out, why should anything that comes from Paul Manafort be trusted given that he has apparently a pattern of pre-verification that will in fact make him, you know, suspect in terms of any damning information he might provide the prosecutors. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I`m joined right now, Peter, by NBC national security reporter Ken Dilanian. 

Ken, what do we make of this?  Manafort was one of star witnesses here.  Apparently now he is going to get no credit for his witnessing. 

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER (on the phone):  That`s right, Chris.  I`m not sure he would have been a star witness because of the credibility problems that you were just talking about.  But prosecutors did hope to get new information from him about what happened during the campaign.  And they are saying flat out that he has lied to them in these discussions that they have been having with him since the plea agreement. 

It`s remarkable because in the document, prosecutors say that Manafort disagrees and doesn`t believe he lied.  But if, in fact, Mueller is going to go to court and say that Manafort lied.  He must have some proof of this.  He must have documentary corroborating evidence that shows the things that Manafort said in these discussions flatly aren`t true. 

And so, it`s really hard to know exactly what to make of this until we see the details.  And the details are not in this document.  Mueller is, in fact, saying he is going to file a document later explaining the ways in which Manafort lied.  But it`s just an incredible development.  And if it`s true, it just shows -- it`s another level of recklessness from Manafort who, after all, allegedly tampered with witnesses while he was under indictment which led him to be thrown in jail. 

MATTHEWS:  Dicing cards.  Well, let me go to David Corn on this.  It seems to me the President senses something big is coming.  The waterfall, the titanic hitting the iceberg, whatever you want to call it, the President is out there dumping all over the prosecution saying we have to go after Democrats, we have to do the opposite of what they are doing. 

It sounds like Dershowitz has figured out something.  He spoke yesterday.  The President speak -- tweets today.  It sounds like the President is either afraid of what Dershowitz said or something has got him a little mad on this. 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  Well, you know, Dershowitz said that there will be a devastating report.  We still don`t know at the end of the day whether there will be any final report.  Mueller does not have an obligation to file a report --

MATTHEWS:  Why are you saying this now, though? 

CORN:  Well, I have been saying this a long time, but people keep thinking, I think wrongly, there is a report --. 

MATTHEWS:  What else can he do with the President except report? 

CORN:  No.  Well, he may not - he doesn`t have to file a report. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean, he is going to indict all these people that work for the President, put them away for a long time, we are now hearing about Manafort going away 15, 20 years and not say a thing about the king of the whole operation? 

CORN:  It`s up to Mueller to decide whether to file a report on the President.  He has no obligation to do so.  He might do so.  And on everything else, he only has to file a prosecutorial memo at the end explaining --


MATTHEWS:  The precedent here is to indict everybody you can.  If you can`t indict the President while he is a president, you put out a report that is useful to an impeachment exercise. 

CORN:  That`s possible, it`s not obligatory.  But we know the President does go through these, you know, moments when he feels -- he looks like he`s more scared about what`s happening.  He gets out there, says no collusion, no collusion.  As we get more evidence that there was collusion in the Trump tower meeting. 

MATTHEWS:  Michael, you are the politician here.  What do you Trump is up to?  Why this crazy fog machine he is putting out there? 

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  I think it`s a little bit of fear and fog.  I think the fear is basically what his lawyers are telling them -- telling him about their discussions with Mueller and the idea that, you know, people have already gone and made testimony. 

The fog is continuing to perpetuate the narrative that this whole thing is a witch-hunt and that there is no upside.  There`s no good.  Watch tomorrow, the President, if not tonight, will spin the latest revelations to his advantage, to say, see, there`s no there there.  And in fact, you know, maybe there is more but the fog is what matters for Trump. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to Peter Baker of the Times.  What do we know about the President`s written answers that came to the government last week?  Do we know what`s in there?  Has anybody gotten a peek at what he in answers those question for Mueller`s team? 

BAKER:  No.  Not that I know of at this point.  And I think obviously, that`s going to be pretty key to what Robert Mueller decides to do.  Vis-a- vis what David was saying in terms of a report or not, this is what he has been waiting for all year.  He has been trying to get answers out of the President.  It took basically almost 11 months into the year to finally get some.  Whether they satisfy the prosecutors or not, we don`t know. 

But you have to imagine that this is the final piece for the -- at least one of the final pieces before any report might be written if one is written because he has to compare the President`s answers to all the voluminous evidence he`s been collecting more than 18 months. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me find out with Jerome Corsi.  What is going on with that Barbara McQuade?  What does that guy, this Corsi guy, apparently doesn`t want to admit to perjury.  He just refused.  He said I admit I may have got my facts wrong, but it`s just faulty memory. 

MCQUADE:  Yes.  Prosecutors don`t charge people based on faulty memory.  To establish a perjury count, you have to show that the person then and there knew that what they were saying was false, and that it was about a material matter.  That is something that was very important. 

And so faulty memory does not ring true.  If he doesn`t want to plead guilty to a perjury charge, then I think he will put him to their proofs.  And so, I think there could be a little more time that goes before Robert Mueller is done, because if there is to be a charge against Jerome Corsi, I think the ultimate goal there is to get to Roger Stone.  And the goal there is to see whether you can flip him and find out what really happened with conversations with WikiLeaks.  So I think it could take some weeks for that to play out. 

MATTHEWS:  Does anybody in this panel right now have a sense of how this accumulation of things is going to work?  We are looking now at Paul Manafort, the chairman of the campaign, the chairman of the convention of the whole campaign.  We are looking at people like Jerome Corsi, people -- lesser players like Papadopoulos.  We are looking at Roger Stone, probably on the list for the guillotine here. 

All these people going to prison for a significant amount of years looking ahead.  And then the President of the United States sits there.  Is this a Rico situation, Barbara?  And if the mastermind walks, as David thinks anything is possible here, if the mastermind walks where 20 people go away to prison for hard time, I think history will have a hard time figuring this baby out. 

MCQUADE:  Yes.  You know, in terms of putting together a Rico, you would have to show there was, you know, an association for the purpose of engaging in criminal activity, pattern of racketeering activity.  I don`t know that they are at that point.  We have a number of different individuals who pleaded guilty to crimes.  And I think until we put it all together we won`t know what we have. 

But there are sometimes political offices that are used for the purpose of engaging in criminal activity.  And it`s not just here and there, but a pattern and that`s the purpose of the organization.  I`m not sure that Robert Mueller would be able to get there nor that he would try.  Because I think the last thing he wants to be accuses of is overreach.  I think there are likely plenty of charges to go around if the evidence can support those charges. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Michael, you are shaking your head, yes.  You agree with that.  But I`m looking at this emoluments clause again.  I`m looking for people to search for some motive for Trump defending the Saudi prince against what his own agency have said is murder.  And why defend a guy on murder?  When you can say, well, I don`t like the guy.  He is a bad customer, but we need their gas, we need their oil.  But no, he is not saying that. 

STEELE:  No, he is not saying that. 

MATTHEWS:  And people think, well, could this be the fact the Saudis love to write checks for Trump?   They love it. 

STEELE:  The way I look at all the facts that we know so far, the Russian pipeline, financial pipeline has been cut off.  There`s no doubt about that, right.  His own sons were bragging about the Russians financing a lot of their golf courses, things like that. 


STEELE:  A new relationship has been established with the Saudis.  I took note of the President`s tweet when this story first broke that he said he did not have financial interest in Saudi Arabia.  The key thing is do you have financial relationships with Saudi Arabia. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  And he told he does because they all stayed his hotel. 

STEELE:  That`s the juxtaposition -- exactly.  That`s the juxtaposition.  I think that`s why the President is where he is. 

MATTHEWS:  I`m joined right now on the phone by U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House intel committee. 

Congressman, thank you for this breaking story here.  What do we make of this Manafort thing falling apart?  I did think he was going to be a major witness.  He may have credibility problems up to kazoo.  But here he is lying his way right through the latest - well, just as they are dotting the I`s on this thing.  He is lying to the FBI, lying to Mueller`s people.  I don`t know why a guy would lie at this point.  Who is he covering for? 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE (on the phone):  Well, Chris, it also is suspicious that this is happening the same day that Jerome Corsi is getting cold feet.  And you have to wonder, you know, are pardons being dangled in front of these guys as they are in cooperation agreements?  And that`s something, I`m sure the Mueller team will be looking at, and now something a new Congress will be able to look at. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, David?  Hold on, Congressman. 

CORN:  I think that`s key.  You talked about where that`s going to end.  I think for us citizens to know the full story, we have to know more beyond these prosecutions.  And that`s where House Democrats or anybody in the Senate when the investigation is ongoing has to get on the case and start investigating things and tell us what the Republicans wouldn`t about the whole scandal. 

This is wide.  It`s wide ranging. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CORN:  And we are not going to get all the answers from Robert Mueller.  We never were.  That`s not his job.  And so I think to understand fully what`s going on, whether it`s with emoluments, with Russian financing, the Saudis, and anything coming up with the Trump-Russia scandal, happened in the Trump tower meeting, we are going to have to have more digging from people like the Congress --. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s go to that question that, congressman.  Mr. Schiff, the ranking member is going to be the chair of your committee, is talking about going after him on these emoluments.  But what do you think?  Do you think Trump is running a criminal enterprise since he has been President, that this is basically something he can bank the money? 

SWALWELL:  I think the President has put transactions above U.S. values.  And that`s not just with Russia.  That`s with the Khashoggi case.  You know, someone said to me yesterday on an airplane, he said I hope you guys keep looking at the Russia stuff.  He said this Khashoggi deal with the Saudis is happening right now in plain sight. 

And I think he is right.  And what he means is that the President`s prior or existing -- and we`re going to find out if it`s existing because we are going to get his tax returns.  His financial interests are driving U.S. foreign policy.  And in about 39 days there is going to be a lot more light on what those interests are. 

MATTHEWS:  When you have the subpoena? 

SWALWELL:  Yes, when we have his tax returns and when we start to be able to interview whether it`s not Whitaker, and whether there is an agreement there to be protected by this new acting attorney general, or whether it`s with pardon offers that he has been making to witnesses who are starting to back out of cooperation agreements. 

MATTHEWS:  A lot of reckoning coming on here right now with the Mueller report.  I think there will be a report.  We will see how Mueller goes ahead and finishes this.  I do think he has to come through with an overall statement.  Something like Rico, if not judicially like Rico, somebody is running this operation.  And I don`t know anybody else except the President who could have done it. 

Thank you, David Corn, Michael Steele, Barbara McQuade, Peter Baker, Ken Dilanian and U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell. 

We are going to have more on the late breaking news from special counsel Robert Mueller later in the program. 

And coming up, the Trump administration closed off the busiest port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border yesterday for hours.  And fired teargas at Central American men, women and children who tried to cross the border.  Today, Trump threatened to close the border permanently.  What`s that mean? 

Plus, just when you thought the midterms were over, one final Senate battle is now still being raged down in Mississippi.  Cindy Hyde-Smith is hoping one last visit from the President will get her over the line. 

And after all of Trump`s promises that manufacturing jobs were coming back to the good old USA, GM announced today it will be cutting nearly 15,000 jobs, including 1600 in Ohio.  Senator Sherrod Brown is going to join us and talk about whether what`s good for GM is good for America. 

Finally, let me finish tonight with the most effective social Democratic leader of her time. 

This is HARDBALL where the action is. 



QUESTION:  Are you comfortable with tear gassing children, like what we saw at the border?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  They`re not -- as you know, they`re not -- they had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people.  And they used tear gas. 

And here`s the bottom line.  Nobody`s coming into our country, unless they come in legally.   



Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was Trump, of course, the president, defending the U.S. Border Patrol agents` use of tear gas on Central American migrants at the southern border this weekend. 

Tensions boiled over on Sunday, when migrants in Mexico -- here`s the pictures -- protesting the U.S. asylum process, tried to get around a blockade and across the border near San Diego. 

The ensuing chaos led to Border Patrol agents firing tear gas and also pepper spray at hundreds of migrants, including women and children.  Border Patrol said the move was necessary after some in the crowd tossed rocks and bottles at the agents. 

We saw those pictures. 

Anyway, the situation caused Border Protection to shut down all vehicle and foot traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing, one of the busiest ports of entry along the southern border -- I think I have been through there a few times -- more than six hours. 

In a tweet this morning, Trump said: "Mexico should move the flag-waving migrants" -- whatever that is about -- "many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries."  He went on to add: "We will close the border permanently if need be.  Congress, fund the wall."

That`s always the end of all speeches. 

I`m joined now by Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and Adolfo Franco, of course, an RNC surrogate and former adviser to the great John McCain. 

What do -- how do we deal with this?  You start.  How do we?  We`re looking at the pictures.  The American people are grabbed by pictures.  They don`t like the pictures one way -- whatever your politics, nobody likes the pictures. 

ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Yes, I will put the politics aside for a moment, although I will just say quickly, from my perspective, this is an "I told you so" moment for President Trump, who was warning that this type of thing would happen, when it happened on the Mexican border. 

How we deal with it, to answer your question, is the first and foremost thing the president needs to so is do what he`s doing, execute the laws of the United States, which is to secure or border.  That has been the first tenet of any comprehensive reform legislation or proposal has always been border security. 

And this is an example of why it`s necessary.  I mean, there are two choices here.  It`s very clear.  I`m just curious what Neera and other say.


MATTHEWS:  I want to give her a break, because I want to ask you the final question. 

FRANCO:  Let people into the country.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  I know.  I know. 


MATTHEWS:  There`s a lot of poverty south of our border, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego.  There`s two-thirds-of-a-billion people living down there.  A lot of them are poor, desperately poor, living in countries where there`s no freedom at all and danger. 

FRANCO:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  So, how do we regulate honestly and in an American way acceptance of asylum seekers?  How do we develop a profound comprehensive immigration policy that we are proud of as Americans to enforce?  Because at some point, there is going to have to be enforcement. 

When is that going to come, that day? 

FRANCO:  Well, I hope that day comes soon.  And I really do believe -- and I have said this before...

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe in asylum? 

FRANCO:  I believe in asylum.  I don`t believe that economic refugees should just rush the border. 


FRANCO:  I do a lot of Spanish television, and I see these interviews and they`re heartbreaking.  There are people looking for jobs.  That`s not a basis to seek political asylum in the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  I know that.  That`s the law.  Go ahead.

FRANCO:  That`s the law. 

MATTHEWS:  Your turn. 


MATTHEWS:  What should we do? 

TANDEN:  I think the truth is that we have laws, and then we have a president who unfortunately wants to inflame a crisis, instead of solve for it.  Everybody knows...

MATTHEWS:  What would you do? 

TANDEN:  I think we should enforce our asylum laws. 

If we need more resources at the border to make those adjudications faster, we can do that.  But we have had asylum laws for decades.  We have actually had higher levels of migration across the border in the past. 

We have had caravans come in the past.  And the truth is that our laws should be enforced. 

What Donald Trump wants to do is change the asylum laws, so we don`t actually allow anybody to come in.  He said that himself.  And you know that.  And when we have talked about comprehensive immigration reform, his whole focus is actually not to solve this problem. 

It`s to demagogue the issue.  We could have had dreamers for a wall last year.  A lot of people didn`t like it, but he wouldn`t do that, because he wanted to actually change the immigration laws.


MATTHEWS:  So, Neera is saying, I guess, let them in, let them in.  Give them asylum processing. 



TANDEN:  No, no, what I`m saying is, we have a process.

If people are adjudicated to be proper asylum seekers, they get in.

FRANCO:  But they`re not.

TANDEN:  And if they don`t, if they`re rejected, our laws are such that they should be deported out.  That is the law today.  Why he can`t actually follow the law is unbelievable.


FRANCO:  A couple things.  I have worked these issues for two decades.  I headed up...


TANDEN:  Then you should know what the law is. 

FRANCO:  Well, let me finish. 


FRANCO:  It is what it is.  I do know what the law is.

And, obviously, with all due respect, you don`t.  I`m a lawyer.  And I will tell you why, with all due respect. 

TANDEN:  I`m a lawyer myself.

FRANCO:  These individuals do not qualify.  You said it correctly, Chris. 

The vast majority of these cases are economic -- let me finish. 


TANDEN:  You`re not a judge.  Let the judge decide. 


FRANCO:  Well, then, you know what?  They`re adjudicating 100 cases a day right now in San Ysidro. 

The problem is this.  The vast majority of these individuals have been sold a bill of goods that they`re going to get into the United States and find jobs for the reasons you said earlier, Chris, about work and so forth.  That`s just not the case.  What`s going on here...


MATTHEWS:  If the comprehensive bill had passed several years ago, there wouldn`t have been illegal jobs waiting for them.  That`s the problem. 

FRANCO:  But this isn`t about political persecution.  These are not asylum seekers. 


MATTHEWS:  Do you want comprehensive immigration reform?

FRANCO:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  The whole thing? 

FRANCO:  Oh, absolutely.  I think there is bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform.


TANDEN:  That would be great.


TANDEN:  Tell the president.  Tell the president. 

FRANCO:  But it`s everybody`s version of it, and not amnesty and not open borders. 

MATTHEWS:  All Speaker Pelosi will have to do is bring up the bill that was beaten because Boehner would never let them vote on it.  I think you agree on that too. 

TANDEN:  Absolutely.  And we will see if Republicans support it. 

MATTHEWS:  I hope so.

Neera Tanden, Adolfo Franco.

Up next:  Mississippi`s Republican Senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith, is hoping a visit from President Trump tonight and this afternoon will divert accusations against her of racism and voter suppression piling up ahead of tomorrow`s runoff election.  She did say these things.  She`s in trouble because of what she said. 

This is HARDBALL, where the action is. 



TRUMP:  I`m here to ask the people of Mississippi to send Cindy Hyde-Smith back to the United States, so we can make America great again. 


TRUMP:  We can make it great for all Americans.  Cindy`s far-left opponent -- and he`s far-left.  Oh, he`s out there.  How does he fit with Mississippi?  Just explain.


TRUMP:  I could go over this.  But how does he fit in? 


MATTHEWS:  Oh, anyway, we`re back to HARDBALL. 

That was President Trump this afternoon campaigning in -- oh, that`s a tough one for him -- Mississippi for embattled senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is facing former Democratic Congressman Mike Espy in a runoff election tomorrow.  The election is finally ending down there. 

Hyde-Smith has been mired in controversy over the past several weeks, including joking about attending a public hanging -- that`s a hoot -- and saying voter suppression is a great idea.  Getting caught on tape with that baby. 

She`s faced questions -- she`s facing them about posing with Confederate artifacts, like the hat.  Over the weekend, "The Jackson Free Press" reported that she in fact attended a seg academy, as they were called, segregation academy back in the `70s, and later also sent her daughter to a segregation academy.

These schools were set up so that white parents could avoid having to send their children to schools with black students.  So, obviously, they didn`t like public schools because black kids were there.

NBC`s Vaughn Hillyard asked her to clarify her comments this weekend and got this response:


SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI:  We`re going to an event.  Thank you, guys.

QUESTION:  Senator, can I ask you, why not speak to us about the issue of race?  It`s an issue on voters` minds.  Why not speak about the issue of race?

HYDE-SMITH:  These people are really interested in issues.

QUESTION:  And there`s a lot of people that we have talked to across this state that are concerned about your remarks and what you were apologizing for. 

Senator, why not speak to this issue?  Your comments offended a great number of people, Senator. 


QUESTION:  No, you haven`t.  I`m wondering, though, what is it that you were apologizing for? 



Let`s bring in tonight`s HARDBALL Roundtable. 

Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," Tiffany Cross, co-founder and managing editor of The Beat.  That sounds very interesting, The Beat D.C.  Thank you.

That`s all three of you. 

What do you make of this?  She`s made these comments about hanging as being a hot ticket for like going to see the Lakers play or something.  All of a sudden, going to a hanging is something you do for a friend.  I don`t know what she`s talking about.  And the segregation academies and this other stuff about it was a real joke, voter suppression, really fun. 

Your thoughts? 

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS:  And yet she`s still up in the polls.  We`re calling it a tight race. 


MATTHEWS:  What`s the white/black proportion of the general election down there?

KUMAR:  I think about a third are black.


TIFFANY CROSS, THE BEAT D.C.:  Thirty-eight percent. 

KUMAR:  OK, a little bit more than a third.

MATTHEWS:  In other words, Mike Espy is beating the spread, if you will. 

KUMAR:  Yes. 

My colleague who`s down there right now has a story about African-American Republicans sticking by her, not having a problem it.

MATTHEWS:  Why are they doing this? 


CROSS:  Yes, so I actually don`t think people are sticking by her.

I don`t think she`s a strong GOP candidates.  So we can talk about the race relations.  I mean, clearly, African-Americans are not going to stick with her.


MATTHEWS:  You said -- you said you have got news here.  Anita says...


CROSS:  Maybe.  I`m hearing the opposite.


CROSS:  I think black Republicans and white Republicans are not sticking with her.  She is somebody who was picked by the D.C. GOP establishment.

So when the governor there hand-picked her, he usurped like three or four other Republicans who felt like this is rightfully their Senate seat.  Also, people are highly embarrassed and irritated that she`s costing the state business.

And so they are not confident that...


MATTHEWS:  Who is going to win?

CROSS:  I think Espy -- the victory is certainly in Espy`s spot. 

I don`t typically go by polls, because we have seen that betray us time and again.  So, yes, I think victory is certainly within her reach.  I think Trump is coming down there...

MATTHEWS:  Within her reach?

CROSS:  I`m sorry.  Within Espy`s reach.  I think Trump is...


MATTHEWS:  Really?

CROSS:  I do.  I really do.

MATTHEWS:  So, you would be profoundly surprised if she won by 10 points?

CROSS:  I would surprised.  Let me tell you why, Chris.

Because people -- Trump is coming down there...


MATTHEWS:  OK.  We will check it.  We will check this tomorrow might.

CROSS:  But let me just tell you.  She did a rally last night.  There were only, like, less than 50 people there.  She does not turn out the crowds that Trump does.

Mike Espy...


MATTHEWS:  OK, let me say something.

I`m generally an optimist about racial relations in this country.  I have always thought Mike Espy was taking a real dangerous shot -- or was going to be a risky shot to go statewide in Mississippi.

Your thoughts, given its history?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY":  I would -- I would take that bet.

Mike Espy needs to get 30 percent of the white vote to win.  That is very aspirational for an African-American Democratic candidate to get in Mississippi.

This is a state that still has the Confederate Flag on its state flag.


PAGE:  So, I think it`s -- you have got to -- the fact that Trump is going there to gin up Republican support, maybe that indicates this race is closer than it ought to be, closer than Republicans think it ought to be, a state he won by 18 percentage points in 2016.

But it`s still going to be a reach for Mike Espy to close that.

MATTHEWS:  Has anything changed since the days of George Wallace winning those states down there in the South?

CROSS:  I think so.


MATTHEWS:  What has changed? 


CROSS:  I think, demographically, the South has changed.

MATTHEWS:  Politically.  But, politically, what has changed?

CROSS:  Politically, what has changed is, you have a more educated electorate.

And people have seen this before.  This has been shown...


MATTHEWS:  Where has that shown in elections?

CROSS:  I think we saw what happened in Alabama.  I`m a daughter of the South.

We have seen the South change.  And we have seen what happened in Alabama.


MATTHEWS:  Good point.  Good point.

KUMAR:  And you have seen what happened in Georgia and what happened in Florida.  The African-American...

CROSS:  So I do think, to your point, there`s a danger in that, that we -- when DeSantis and Kemp won after saying very racist things. 


MATTHEWS:  Optimism, half-full, half-empty.

Anyway, meanwhile, there was a bombshell out of the special counsel just minutes ago.

According to a court filing late tonight, Trump`s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is in violation of the terms of his plea agreement, which he made in September -- quote -- "After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the FBI and the special counsel`s office on a variety of subject matters."

That`s in a statement.

Manafort, however, says that he`s provided only truthful information to prosecutors.

What do you make of this? 

It seems to me, Susan -- and we have been following this a lot.  You too, Anita.

And I have to tell you that the more this gets further, it looks like more people going to get hurt by this Trump operation.  It does look like a RICO situation, like there`s a criminal -- everybody`s going to jail, prison, for a long time, Papadopoulos, this guy Jerome Corsi, one after another.

And he keeps saying there`s nothing there but a witch-hunt.  Well, they caught a lot of witches.

PAGE:  Well, Papadopoulos went to prison today, but for 14 days.  Paul Manafort looks like he`s going to prison for the rest of his life with this plea deal being off.

The sentencing will be without consideration for his cooperation.  This is not, though, good news for the special counsel, though, because I think Robert Mueller had hoped to get the kind of inside look at what happened in the Trump operation that you could get from Paul Manafort.  He`s not going to have that. 

So while this is bad news for Manafort, I think it`s also probably bad news for Robert Mueller.

MATTHEWS:  You think he still needs star witnesses, Anita?

KUMAR:  I mean, it`s still bad news for Trump here, right? 

Every time something happens with Paul Manafort, he tries to distance himself, and yet we know he was his campaign chairman.  I mean, there -- you can`t distance yourself when you have that kind of close relationship.  And every time, it`s, he`s a liar. 

Well, we know he`s a liar now, right? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, would he lie?  The guy had a deal to protect him from long-term prison.  Why would he lie and screw it up at the end?


KUMAR:  Well, then there`s obviously something else there. 

CROSS:  He`s getting instructions from a higher power. 

KUMAR:  We don`t know what he`s lying about. 


CROSS:  Obviously, really, because why would you at that point lie?  You`re obviously getting instructions from a foreign agent or from the person who occupies the White House.  I`m not convinced that this is some innocent...


MATTHEWS:  We don`t know that.  That sounds logical, but we don`t know that. 


PAGE:  What is scarier than going to prison?  That`s a question you have to ask yourself, because, by lying to Mueller, he has ensured that he`s going to spend more time in prison. 

MATTHEWS:  That`s a great way of putting it.  A good syllogism.  A good argument.  What`s worse than going to prison for the rest of your life? 

Well, anyway, we`re staying with us.  And up next, the Roundtable is going to stick with us. 

Up next:  What about this devastating report on climate change?  My theory is, if he can deny the sun, he can deny Mueller.  That`s how wild Trump has gotten these days.  Look at the -- the North Pole is falling apart there, and he`s laughing at it. 

Why did the Trump administration try to bury this report?  And what does it mean for America and the world?  A lot of people have been thinking about nothing but this climate report for the last week, because it is the only planet we got. 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last Friday, the Trump administration scientist -- did you hear that, Trump administration scientists and 13 agencies released a report that confirmed, quote, the earth`s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization.  And the damage from climate change could cost hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of this century if more preventive measures aren`t taking now. 

Instead of taking action, President Trump did what you would expect.  He said today he doesn`t believe the report.  As "New York Times" reports, the Trump administration purposely released on Black Friday to minimize its impact.  Let`s watch. 


REPORTER:  Mr. President, have you read the climate report yet?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`ve seen it.  I`ve read some of it and it`s fine. 

REPORTER:  They say economic impact would be devastating. 

TRUMP:  Yes, I don`t believe it. 

REPORTER:  You don`t believe it? 

TRUMP:  No, no, I don`t believe it.  And here`s the other thing -- you`re going to have to have China and Japan and all of Asia and all of these other countries -- you know, it addresses our country.  Right now, we`re at the cleanest we`ve ever been, and it`s very important to me.  But if we`re clean but every other place on earth is dirty, that`s not so good. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, last week, the president tweeted that brutal and extended cold blast could shatter all records.  Whatever happened to global warming?  Ignoring the fact that cold weather can coexist with global temperatures rising as a whole.  In other words -- I guess you learn this in, what, when you`re 5 years old?  There`s a difference between weather and climate. 

We`re back with tonight`s HARDBALL round table, Anita, and Susan and Tiffany. 

Anita, you first.  I think we have to be reminded we only have one planet and we live here.  It`s getting hotter and everybody knows it, and the ocean is rising.  These are objective facts.  You can argue about the degree to which mankind contributes, but it makes sense since we`re here doing things, who are affecting it. 

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS:  Well, you said that it was the Trump administration and wise to release this report - - 

MATTHEWS:  On Black Friday. 

KUMAR:  On Black Friday.  This was released because congress mandates this report.  So it has to come out.  But he often -- the president often does not believe the things that his administration comes out with.  These aren`t his political appointees.  These are career folks that are in these agencies, much like the FBI that he often doesn`t believe. 

So this is, this is pretty normal for him to say this report came out, I don`t believe it.  These are people I don`t believe.  But yes, it did come out then because they wanted to minimize the impact.  But I still think it got a ton of attention. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, somebody said, Susan, half the country is reading the climate report and half are worried about the caravan.  We live in a society where people have different worries. 

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY:  And everyone else is Christmas shopping, which is I think was the point of putting it out on Black Friday.  You know, the thing that strikes me is you can believe or not believe this report, but we live in this world. 

And I think about the report from the region of the country that is most affected by global warming is going to be the Middle West, and farmers in the Middle West.  And that`s where I`m from.  I`m from Kansas.  And I`ll tell you, farmers are pretty pragmatic people.  And if they see the climate changing in ways that really are going to --

MATTHEWS:  How does it affect agriculture? 

PAGE:  Because it raises the average temperature.  So, it means that you can`t raise soybeans where you used to raise soybeans, for instance.  And it makes different kind of pests flourish in a way they haven`t before. 

So, I think about people from my hometown who will look at this and be living in this climate and will not be dissuaded by any politician who says it`s not true. 

TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER, THE BEAT DC:  Or if you care about the economy.  I mean, it`s going to cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars.  And I know everybody focuses on President Trump when he tweets out something asinine and gets all the breaking news. 

But Mazie Hirono, Senator Mazie Hirono drew attention to this months ago.  There were scientists within the administration, particularly at the Department of Interior who felt their work was being impeded by political appointees.  And she asked the general counsel to look into it, the investigator -- investigative counsel. 


CROSS:  She asked him to look into it because people were complaining that their work was being impeded to draw and sound the alarm on what`s happening with climate change.  So I think when we get caught up in what`s happening with the national big headline from Donald Trump, we have to look across the agencies how they are every day impeding progress. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  The reason Western Civilization has done pretty well in recent centuries is belief in science, is the reason we put a man on the moon, we`re going to Mars, we`re already at Mars.  All this is because of science.  These straight-hour guys, a lot of men and women just work their butt off to get the facts right. 

And the president doesn`t buy it.  Anyway --

KUMAR:  The strategy clearly here was not to impede it but just to bury it. 

MATTHEWS:  Most cultures would love to have our science.  Anyway, thank you so much, Anita Kumar.  Thank you, Susan Page and Tiffany Cross. 

Up next, GM -- remember that, what`s good for General Motors, good for America?  Not exactly.  They`re slashing nearly 15,000 jobs and shuttering three factories in North America right in the industrial part of the country that voted for Trump.  Among them, a plan to employ 1,600 workers in Lordstown, Ohio. 

We`re going to get Senator Sherrod Brown here to talk about his reaction to losing these jobs.  You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump was elected, of course, on a promise to save blue collar manufacturing jobs that were fleeing the Midwest.  As president, he proudly boasted that`s a promise he`s kept. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The auto companies are going to be making massive investments in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, a lot of the places where jobs have left.  So, we`re really happy about that.  They`ve been great. 

I was looking at some of those big once incredible job-producing factories.  And my wife, Melania, said, what happened?  I said, those jobs have left Ohio.  We`re going to get those jobs coming back and we`re going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build brand-new ones.  But we will never again sacrifice Ohio jobs or jobs from any state in our union to enrich other countries. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, today in a devastating blow, America`s largest automaker General Motors announced it will cut nearly 15,000 factory and white collar jobs in North America.  GM will close plants in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Canada.  The closures come as auto sales for certain cars have slowed and production costs have increased due to tariffs on steel. 

While President Trump told reporters he was not happy with the decision by GM. 

For more, we`re joined by Ohio Senior Senator Sherrod Brown.  Senator, I don`t get happiness out of bad news, but this certainly runs against Trump`s promises.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH), BANKING, HOUSING AND URBAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE:  Well, Trump came to Mahoning Valley, he came to Ohio all over.  And one of the reasons he won the state by almost double digits, he promised the Valley not just that production would continue that would hold these jobs, but he said these plants that have been shutdown or abandoned or where there had been layoffs, he`d get people -- he`d get companies to come back from overseas.  He`s done none of that.

I called on him -- I talked to him on the phone three months ago.  It was late June this summer, asking him to weigh in with GM because they had already laid off 1,500 at this plant.  They were looking to layoff another 1,500.  Then today, they announced they`re closing the plant. 

And, fundamentally, what the president actually did was gave a 50 percent off coupon in the tax bill he jammed through Congress for these companies to move.

Companies in Lordstown -- producing in Lordstown, Ohio, get a -- pay a 21 percent tax rate.  You move to Mexico, you get a 50 percent off coupon in your taxes.  You pay 10.5 percent. 

That`s the president`s tax plan.  It is now law.  That`s a big reason these companies are moving overseas.  The president, first of all, needs to fix his tax bill instead of giving money to companies that move overseas.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the ripple effect.  When you lose 15,000 jobs, what else happens?

BROWN:  Well, that`s exactly right.  I was at a plant that`s a steel worker plant, that`s a stamping plant near Lordstown about a year ago.  Whenever Lordstown gets a cold, this plant gets pneumonia. 

When they layoff people off in Lordstown, the big auto assembly plant in -- near Youngstown, they lay people off there, that plant immediately has to lay off, because they stamp components for the Chevy Cruze assembled in Youngstown -- I mean Lordstown, and you see this happen in Mahoning Valley. 

So 1,500 jobs in Lordstown lost with this announcement today, coupled with 3,000 earlier, coupled with the supply chain is what`s so devastating to literally thousands of workers in Mahoning Valley and in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Trump voter.  You know them.  I went home to my family this weekend.  We`re very divided politically, even in my family, very divided. 

What strikes me is that true Trumpy or Trumpite or whatever, they don`t hear this stuff, they don`t care what you say.  They`re with him. 

Is that true in your experience?  Do Trump voters -- are sticking no matter what happens like this knowledge of 15,000 jobs gone?

BROWN:  Well, it`s partly true, but it`s -- his base is eroding.  I mean, it`s pretty clear to me that these workers, they heard Trump promise in the campaign that he would bring jobs back from Mexico.  Then they heard him say it again last year, and then they heard him say it again this year. 

And then they see this plant close the same day 1,500 workers were laid off, the second shift in Lordstown, the same day GM announced they`re building a plant to make the Chevy Blazer in Mexico.  They could have retooled that Youngstown plant. 

I personally asked President Trump this summer to intervene, talk to the CEO of Lordstown -- of GM, and ask her to retool this plant instead of building the new plant in Mexico.  The president was silent.  He didn`t want to stand up to her. 

So, I think voters are pretty immaterial.  I want this plant preserved.  I want work in this factory.  I want GM to put something else in there and retool and do another vehicle. 

But, I think that voters are on -- more and more Trump voters are on to him.

MATTHEWS:  We`ll see.  We`ll see if he gets a challenge from a man in Ohio.

BROWN:  Well, we`ll see.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.  As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.

When we return, let me finish with the most effective social Democratic leader of her time.  You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a word about who should be speaker of the house. 

For six years, I held the statutory position of administrative assistant to the speaker.  I worked under Thomas P. Tip O`Neill in the most challenging job of my life.  He was a good-hearted but also a very strong leader who broke failure only when it could not possibly be avoided.  He was tough. 

Working for him from morning to close of business for those half dozen years was the best political education anyone could get.  I say that out of loyalty, but also a historic fact.  It`s the rare American politician who earns the honor of being called legendary.  He was and is. 

I`ve watched former and I hope future Speaker Nancy Pelosi from greater distance but with equal interest.  Let me say without exception.  When it comes to leading her caucus in the chamber, on those moments which all else rides, she is the best.  She has the Machiavellian strength of being feared, but not hated. 

"The Washington Post" observer Karen Tumulty quotes a Pelosi ally when watching her go after votes on the House floor saying he could hear the theme music from "Jaws". 

I don`t know another leader who could have done what she did with the Affordable Care Act.  Every Democratic president, and actually a few Republican ones, Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon tried to win approval for national health care system.  And Nancy Pelosi did it. 

For that, she deserves the renowned effective leader of her time.  She`s the one to ensure she gets done right.  She most certainly deserves the speakership from her caucus this Wednesday. 

That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.