Chris Matthews was baffled Monday night that President Trump had not yet decided to abandon Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh based on the recent sexual assault allegation against him. During a segment on Hardball, the MSNBC host insisted that Kavanaugh must be guilty and that the nomination was “cooked,” concluding that the President’s refusal to rescind that nomination suggested he was “incapable of facing reality.”
Matthews repeatedly demanded that Trump “face the political reality” that Kavanaugh’s nomination would be done in by the allegations. He wondered aloud, “Why would Trump stick with this nomination?”
“Bob Woodward says in his book [Trump is] incapable of facing reality,” he reasoned. “The reality, as I see it right now, probably, this nomination is cooked.” To guest panelist and Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, he asked, “Is he willing to accept that when the time comes and withdraw it or not? Does he have that ability to face reality?”
“He doesn’t believe it,” Rubin spat, “he believes he’s just gonna muscle through like he always does.”
Matthews requested that his other guest, PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, kindly explain why the President had not immediately withdrawn his nomination of Kavanaugh. Alcindor relayed that according to her sources, Kavanaugh was “telling people at the White House over and over he denies this.”
This rationale appeared to baffle Matthews. “Well, he would say that,” he grinned incredulously. “Of course he would.”
The Hardball host then reiterated the allegations against Kavanaugh in a decidedly less-than-objective manner, confiding, “I’m glad we have mostly women on tonight.” He continued, “I think young women have experienced this kind of thing with guys who’ve been drinking. I think they know this guy got – to say out of hand is ridiculous, worse than out of hand – he got criminal, apparently, from listening to her testimony so far.”
He concluded by explaining precisely why he was convinced Kavanaugh’s nomination was “cooked”:
I think when you see this person on TV, a human being saying something that she remembers with tremendous tragedy in her voice, and another guy coming along and saying, “I don't remember nothin’, it never happened, I was never there.” Who’re you gonna believe? The one who can remember what happened, not the one who can't.
To read a transcript of the conversation, click "expand" below:
MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews
7:23 – 7:28 p.m. EDT
5 min, 8 sec
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It's one thing to cover up something you're embarrassed by, or you try to forget or successfully forgot. Or if it didn't happen, okay, that's always a possibility. But for a president to stick by a nomination that he now believes may well be true – a problem about may be true, a serious problem, a serious problem with this nomination. How do you explain Trump sticking with this thing if he does, knowing now that this woman is going to testify under oath, she's already passed a lie detector, she told her husband six years ago, she told people in family therapy six years ago. Why would she ever make up a story like that if it wasn't true? Your thoughts, Jennifer, and if it's true why would Trump stick with this nomination?
JENNIFER RUBIN: Trump always denies it, he always discredits women. This is a guy already an unindicted coconspirator thanks to Michael Cohen's testimony in open court. He has always disparaged women. He stuck by Rob Porter, said he was a fine guy. Almost exactly the same term. So why would he do any differently? And frankly, I think his notion that the Republicans are going to get up there and do what they did with Anita Hill is in fantasy land. I mean, at this point –
MATTHEWS: Well, that's my point. It's not just – you're not just saying he doesn't believe women. He has to face the political reality. Is he incapable? Bob Woodward says in his book he's incapable of facing reality. The reality is, as I see it right now, probably, this nomination is cooked. And he doesn't – is he willing to accept that when the time comes and withdraw it or not? Does he have that ability to face reality?
RUBIN: Yeah, he doesn't believe it. He believes he's going to muscle through like he always does. I think when those Senators get in front ever her and she in front of them and we see that she is a sane, stable, credible person, then I think perhaps we'll see some change.
MATTHEWS: Yamiche, the question is on the table. Can the president accept reality? If it comes out she's credible, if it comes out that his party and the country believes she's credible, and believe that Brett Kavanagh for whatever reason is denying it – memory loss, wants to deny it, save his own skin. Why would Trump not just say, “Okay, I'm going to throw it in, I'm not going to get any hurt, I'm not going to hurt my party over this, I'm going to drop this guy.” Why would he continue with it if he's facing reality? I don't get it.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I think there are a couple things at play. The first is that President Trump himself stands accused of sexually abusing women and that he was able to overcome that. He was able to go ahead and win the nomination and win the presidency with women, countless women telling "The New York Times" and other publications this President assaulted them. Add to that the fact that President Trump doesn't like to admit a failure. He wants this to be a success. Evangelical Christians voted for the President because they said he can get a Supreme Court nominee through. If he fails at that it hurts him politically. And I also think that Brett Kavanagh is telling people at the White House over and over he denies this. And as a result, the White House sources I’ve talked to –
MATTHEWS: Well he would, wouldn’t he? Well he would say that. Of course he would.
ALCINDOR: This is completely true, but the White House sources I’ve talked to say that they feel this nomination is on track and they can still get him through, partly because of President Trump's success.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think, Jennifer, that the President is not facing reality. The issue isn’t how the Democrats released this information or why they held it so long because the woman asked to remain anonymous and all that. That’s irrelevant. It's not a sporting event. It's not about breaking the rules at a sporting event and getting found. It’s about the simple question, should this guy sit on the Supreme Court alongside Clarence Thomas and the rest of them? Should he be on the United States Supreme Court? I don't think most Republican Senators are going to say yes. I don't think they will in the end. They don't want to ruin their careers. Your thoughts? Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, okay, they're old school or whatever you want to call it. Yesterday, hopeless. But I don't think the newer members want to ruin their whole careers having a yea next to this nomination. Do you?
JENNIFER RUBIN: No, I think they're going to have a lot more trouble than they have bargained for. And I think there are two things. One, you saw today how they completely flipped. 24 hours ago they were not going to stop, and they were going to go forward with and have that vote on Thursday. That’s changed precisely because you have Senators like flake and like Bob Corker coming forward. And the second thing is, you're right, as soon as this woman gets up there, it’s a real person, you'll notice Kavanagh simply refers to it as “the accuser,” but a real person before them who is presenting her story in a credible, emotional fashion. I don't know if the Republicans are going to have the nerve to beat up on her the way they beat up on Anita Hill.
MATTHEWS: Yamiche, I’m glad we have mostly women on tonight. I think young women have experienced this kind of thing with guys who’ve been drinking. I think they know this guy got – to say out of hand is ridiculous worse than out of hand – he got criminal, apparently, from listening to her testimony so far. I’m gonna go along with Jennifer. I think when you see this person on TV, a human being saying something that she remembers with tremendous tragedy in her voice, and another guy coming along and saying, “I don't remember nothin’, it never happened, I was never there.” Who’re you gonna believe? The one who can remember what happened, not the one who can't.