Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 11/16/2016
Date: November 16, 2016
Guest: Tim Ryan, April Ryan, Anne Gearan, Peter Emerson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: You`re fired. Or you`re hired.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Three big guests on HARDBALL tonight, Senator Bob Corker, a dark horse
prospect for secretary of state, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, the Rust Belt
Democrat ready to challenge Nancy Pelosi for House leadership, and out
front tonight, libertarian senator Rand Paul.
Well, this as President-elect Donald Trump and his allies are criticizing,
disputing and otherwise downplaying reports that his transition is in
disarray even as multiple outlets portray it consumed by back-biting,
vendettas and acrimony.
Over the past 24 hours. the president-elect has taken to Twitter to
personally address those reports. He said last night that a, quote, “very
organized process is taking place as I decide on cabinet and many other
positions,” adding with a note of suspense, “I am the only one who knows
who the finalists are.”
Well, this follows what some describe as a purge of Chris Christie allies
from Trump`s transition team. Former congressman Mike Rogers, who was
among the departures, described his exit on CNN last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), FMR. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Sometimes
in politics, you know, in the palace intrigue, there are people who are in
and people who are out. And the people who have been asked to move on have
some relationship with Chris Christie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Rogers also said the problem inside Trump Tower is that it
is not clear who`s calling the shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGERS: I think there is some confusion going on about a chain of command
coming out of New York. Hopefully, they`ll get that settled pretty soon.
I think they`re going to need to do it because as this clock ticks, all of
these decisions become more important, and you have to make them sooner
with a little more authority and a little more forward thinking to make
sure that they don`t bump into anything in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, Bloomberg reports today that Trump is
considering his former rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, for attorney
general. Wow. And when it comes to the top cabinet positions, secretary
of state the top-est of them all, a source close to Rudy Giuliani tells NBC
that the mayor`s inner circle expects to it happen, but he has yet to
receive an official offer. We`ll see.
This comes amid reports that Giuliani as a lawyer and consultant made
millions off foreign clients, including a payment from an anti-ayatollah
Iranian political party. Other contenders in the mix for secretary of
state include former ambassador John Bolton and Senator Bob Corker of
Tennessee, who`s going to join us here on the program.
I`m joined right now by NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell, Robert Costa, national
political reporter for “The Washington Post” and MSNBC political analyst,
and Eugene Robinson, of course, with me, columnist with “The Washington
Post” and also an MSNBC political analyst.
Kelly, I want to get to you on this. I know – I never know when some news
is going to come flying out of that tower up there you`re covering. But
what do you make of this sort of death squad that seems to be operating?
All of a sudden, Mike Rogers is kicked out, you know, what the – Eliot
Cohen is given the bum`s rush.
Who is it inside that`s telling people, You`re fired?
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on my reporting, Chris,
what I have been told is that Jared Kushner, the president-elect`s son-in-
law, has been the center of power for a very long time, through the
campaign and now especially in the transition. While Kellyanne Conway had
the campaign manager title, Steve Bannon had the CEO title, it is the
title-less Jared Kushner who has been really the power base, trusted by his
father-in-law, obviously trusted by his wife, Ivanka, and flying under the
radar for quite a bit of time now.
What my reporting tells me is that a figure like Mike Rogers, widely
respected, former FBI agent, former head of the House intel committee,
someone respected, but doesn`t really have Chris Christie ties.
O`DONNELL: He was, in fact, hired by Chris Christie for the transition to
run national security, but they don`t have a personal history.
And yet based on my reporting, Rogers indicated that he was told that based
on his association with Chris Christie, he was being pushed out. And that
goes back to the very personal conflict between Jared Kushner and Governor
Christie over the prosecution of Kushner`s father, Charles, about 10 years
ago – Chris.
MATTHEWS: So is Chris Christie, with all his problems with the bridge and
not being president, not being vice president, now “typhoid Mary”? Is it
anybody who`s ever contacted him is now dead? Is that the deal, Kelly?
O`DONNELL: In this transition phase, what we have seen is there are
several figures associated with Christie who have been told to leave. They
include some of the people who have worked closely with Christie in New
Jersey politics and people he brought in with expertise.
The other interesting thing about this is I`m told that Senator Jeff
Sessions of Alabama and Christie worked very carefully over the transition
to assemble the list of name for things like the big cabinet positions and
the key transition employees and that both Sessions and Christie each
signed off on every name.
So that if one thought this was a good choice and the other did not, they
would agree that they both had to come to terms with accepting whatever the
list was. And so the fact that some of those names have now been pushed
aside – that doesn`t reflect on Jeff Sessions, who is still there and very
much a part of it and anticipated to get some cabinet-level job.
But on the Christie side, it appears that there is an intentional blockade
O`DONNELL: … Governor Christie, and all the reporting suggests that it
is personal from Kushner to Christie.
MATTHEWS: Robert Costa, this doesn`t look good for the president-elect to
have somebody around him like this, Uday or Qusay, that`s able to just
knock somebody off because they don`t like the line he came from. I mean,
this is a hell of a lot of power to have somebody blackball your
administration, especially in the case of Mike Rogers, who everybody thinks
would have been a moderate force, moderating force in the intelligence
world. Your thoughts. What can you tell us?
ROBERT COSTA, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is more
than an ideological battle. It`s not like hawk versus dove. What we`re
really seeing is a restructure of power. And Kelly nailed when it she
talked about this nexus between Bannon and Sessions and Kushner. These are
the people in Trump`s ear.
MATTHEWS: Give me your thoughts about this, a little perspective here. I
mean, presidents get elected. Nobody elected, you know, Jared Kushner to
be president of the United States.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well…
MATTHEWS: Nobody elected what seems to be (INAUDIBLE) sort of death squad
that`s going around knocking off people because of past abuses.
ROBINSON: Well, people elected Donald Trump, though.
ROBINSON: I mean, they did. I personally don`t understand why, but they
did. And so you got to assume – you know, he`s running the show. You got
to assume this is the way he wants it.
MATTHEWS: Why is he delegating so much to his son-in-law?
MATTHEWS: He wants him to have clearance to read PDBs every day.
ROBINSON: Look at the way he ran the Trump Organization, which was
essentially a family business, right? As soon as his – his children were
old enough and experienced enough to be brought in and groomed and – they
became the inner circle in the Trump organization, along with his son-in-
law, Jared Kushner, whom – on whom he has relied pretty much throughout
the campaign, and again, as was said, kind of under the radar.
But we – we – you know, people knew he was very important, and he is
emerging as a tremendously important person as we look toward the formation
of the Trump White House.
MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. Anyway, Eliot Cohen, a Trump critic, a sort of
moderate neocon who worked in the State Department under President Bush, W.
Bush, said yesterday that his talk with a member of Trump`s transition team
was so hostile, it led him to advice fellow Republicans to, quote, “stay
Now Cohen has expounded on that warning in a “Washington Post” op-ed,
writing, “The president-elect is surrounding himself with mediocrities
whose chief qualification seems to be unquestioning loyalty. One bad boss
can be endured. A gaggle of them will poison all decision making. They
will turn on each other.”
Well, in a press gaggle today, Trump spokesman Jason Miller called critics
of the transition effort “bitter.” Here`s Miller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON MILLER, TRUMP SPOKESMAN: Inside, there`s a very solid plans (ph).
There`s a methodical approach to all this being put together. I`ve read a
number of the news reports. I don`t want to make it sound like there`s –
you know, all sorts of descriptions I`ve heard. It`s very calm. It`s very
structured. An anyone saying anything else is either, A, bitter because
they`re not on the inside and not being and not being considered, or
they`re someone who`s just bitter because the election was last week and
they didn`t get the result that they wanted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s go back to Kelly. (INAUDIBLE) through the
(INAUDIBLE) again, the whole round – the whole horn here again. This –
what`s your sense watching this every hour on the hour? I`m going to ask
the same question of Robert. Is there – is there a hurricane with – the
eye of the hurricane is Trump, and it`s much calmer from his perspective, a
bunch of job seekers, he gets to pick the one, like he did on the show,
“The Apprentice”? He can, like, You`re in, you`re fired?
Is he enjoying this whole thing? Is it only chaos from the outside looking
O`DONNELL: I think that, based on my reporting, Donald Trump has not been
involved in these heated sessions and meetings where this kind of dynamic
has played out. He has been receiving foreign leader calls. He has been,
you know, in his residence, in his office, not at the table, when some of
this strife was sort of being exposed, where you had people scratching
names off lists for potential positions and jockeying for the jobs they
So I think the president-elect has a little distance from this, and a lot
of the transition related names had not been presented to him, based on my
reporting, that they were trying to assemble the list, and this really kind
of, sort of crash landed in just recent days.
Also that the national security apparatus – they`re just – General Flynn
is very close to Donald Trump, also exerting some power, basically wanting
to sort of be the official adviser on all things national security.
So I think that Donald Trump has, of course, delegated a lot to his
children, as discussed, and his son-in-law`s an extension of that, and
trusts them. And I think he is seeing that there is contention. And then
when you have the public face with Jason Miller or Kellyanne Conway
projecting calm, that`s to be expected. And they should try to spin the
organization as moving along.
But there`s no question that there is a lack of clarity about jobs. For
example, Kellyanne Conway, you know, successful campaign manager – we
don`t know what role she would play. Other top officials, we don`t know
what role they would play. We only know Priebus and Bannon, at this point,
having official appointments to a Trump White House.
And so there`s a vacuum there, and a lot of people who`ve put time, effort
and ambition into this want to make sure they have a place.
MATTHEWS: You know, let me ask Robert about the – this – you know Trump
and his MO. I guess that`s the right word, although he`s not a criminal,
his MO. He seems to be setting up these dualities.
Like, he`ll put up John Bolton, a doctrinaire neocon, a real hawk, against
Rudy, who`s sort of like an uneven hawk. He`s sort of a street guy, a
hawk, if you will, a non-intellectual hawk, non-doctrinaire because that`s
not the way he operates, very personal guy.
And then he`ll put up somebody like Corker to make people like me thrilled
– hey, maybe he`s going to pick somebody reasonable. And then we find
ourselves rooting for Corker. Or he`ll put up Reince Priebus in the White
House and he`ll put a scary guy like Bannon up and you`ll say, I guess I`m
a Reince Priebus guy today.
Is he setting that up? Is it just the way we all things is – people who
are observer, you`re always looking for somebody less worse than the person
you most fear. Your thoughts. He knows we`re doing this, Trump.
COSTA: What we`re seeing unfold is pretty simple. It`s power plays.
Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, was working on this transition
project like it was some car in the garage and no one wanted to drive.
Some people close to Trump weren`t sure he was going to win.
Then he suddenly wins the election, and now everyone wants to drive the car
that Christie`s been off doing on his own. It`s about power. It`s about
control of the transition. What you see Sessions and Kushner and Bannon
and Flynn doing is saying, We`re going to drive this car. We`re going to
run the transition now. We`re putting our people in. Pence is going to be
part of it. Our people, campaign people, they`re going in, not necessarily
who Christie was thinking of.
And when you`re talking about how Trump surrounds himself, it`s just how he
ran the Trump Organization. It`s concentric circles, blocs that compete
against each other. He doesn`t mind the competition. He likes having
Priebus as chief of staff and Bannon as the chief strategist. Bring in the
competing visions, have them fight maybe with each other. He likes that
MATTHEWS: You know, Gene, it reminds me of the guy that`s been going to
the CVS or wherever, the local liquor store, betting on the big – big –
what do you call it, the lottery. You know? And he`s been betting on it,
putting in 10 bucks a day. His wife didn`t know about it. Every day, he`s
been putting 10 bucks in.
Wow! He wins it one day!
ROBINSON: He won it,right.
MATTHEWS: And all of a sudden, he`s a multi-billionaire, multi-millionaire
in the case of the lottery, and he has no idea how the taxes are going to
work, how he`s going to protect himself from losing it all to the tax man.
He has no idea what to do with this money! All his relatives are calling
up, saying, Can I have some? But he doesn`t know what to do.
ROBINSON: No, exactly. And so he – look, he has a very steep learning
curve. But remember – remember how he ran the campaign, right? Because
this essentially happened during the campaign. He`s never run for public
office and he started to do it his way. And his way is that he is the
boss. He`s the decider. He – you know, and so to that extent, I don`t
see why we would expect a Trump White House to work any different or a
Trump transition to work any different, really.
And there`s a certain amount of chaos out there and competing advice. You
know, there were all these people telling him to, you know, quit the
Twitter and everything like that. And he – you know, he does what he
wants to do. So in the end, he`s going to pick people, I think, who enable
Donald Trump, who are not necessarily dedicated ideologues one way or the
other because he`s all over the map.
MATTHEWS: He wants toadies.
ROBINSON: Yes, he wants…
ROBINSON: And he wants them – he wants a certain level of competence, I
MATTHEWS: That`s not good.
ROBINSON: But he doesn`t want somebody who`s going to stop him from doing
what he wants to do.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a problem. And I know you`re getting at it, but
you haven`t said it. That`s a problem.
ROBINSON: No, it is! It`s a huge problem.
MATTHEWS: OK. You need somebody`s going to say, Nice – you know, I love
what you`re thinking here, but you`re wrong and you got to fix it or you`re
going to be in big trouble. Somebody`s got to be around you like that.
Thank you, Kelly O`Donnell. Great reporting. It`s fascinating stuff we`re
all doing here. I find it fascinating. I mean, it`s sort of like
O`DONNELL: Chris, can I give you one more?
MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead, Kelly.
O`DONNELL: Can I give you one more?
O`DONNELL: So there`s talk about Nikki Haley being a potential pick. And
if she were to elevate to the cabinet, think about something. Who`s the
lieutenant governor of South Carolina? Henry McMaster, one of the earliest
Trump supporters, one of the most vocal Trump supporters. So we are
looking at Nikki Haley as a national figure, a woman, big in the Republican
O`DONNELL: A job for her also would elevate a loyal Trump supporter in the
lieutenant governor in South Carolina.
MATTHEWS: So now we`re talking bank shots. Anyway, thank you, Robert
Costa. Thank you, Kelly O`Donnell. And thank you, Gene Robinson.
Coming up – it is a bank shot. Coming up – Donald Trump`s pick for
secretary of state could come down to two hawks, Rudy Giuliani or John
Bolton. It could also bring us Senator Bob Corker, who`s coming up next.
He`s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Also, we`re going to have Senator Rand Paul, who has serious concerns.
That`s putting it lightly – about Bolton and Giuliani, two of the biggest
hawks around, and he`s a libertarian who didn`t like these wars.
Plus, Democrats need to find a way forward fast. Tonight, we`re going to
talk to Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, who comes from Youngstown. It`s a real
Rust Belt area. And he sees a lot of people voting for Trump who should
have been voting for Democrats. Now he`s considering running against Nancy
Pelosi for Democratic leader of the House.
And the HARDBALL roundtable`s going to be here to talk about Trump`s
transition, such as it is, and its obvious disdain for the way things are
Finally, tonight “Let Me Finish” with Trump watch. Getting serious.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Americans are emerging from the 2016 elections with
tempered optimism about Donald Trump`s presidency. According to a new
“Washington Post”/Schar School national poll, 62 percent, about three in
five, Americans say they expect to see major changes in Washington during
the Trump presidency. And a majority expect living standards to increase.
The poll finds that only 29 percent, however, say Trump has had a mandate
to carry out the agenda he campaigned on. Nearly 6 in 10 say he should
compromise with Democrats.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The most consequential decision the
incoming president will have to make in the coming days is who will be
secretary of state. Among the names being discussed, the former U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who has called for bombing
Iran – that`s right – Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of
the Foreign Relations Committee, who said today he`s in the mix for the
job. And then there`s former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, reportedly the
front-runner. Giuliani`s making it clear he`d like the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Now you`re being considered for important jobs.
The one I hear most often is secretary of state. Have you had any
conversations with him?
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I have.
HANNITY: Tell us about it.
GIULIANI: And they`re between him and me.
Since I left mayor – this is a rough estimate – I have been in 80
countries, 150 different foreign trips. I have been all over the world.
HANNITY: I know you`re very close friends with Israel.
GIULIANI: Honorary knighthood…
HANNITY: Yes, I heard about that.
GIULIANI: … from Great Britain.
GIULIANI: Prime Minister Netanyahu has been my friend, personal friend,
for 25 years. I never to go Israel without spending two hours with Bibi.
And I feel I can call him that. And I know the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Giuliani or Bolton might face opposition might face
opposition from those who thought the Iraq War was a disaster.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would likely oppose either of those
two gentleman. And he`s joining us right now.
It`s great to have you on, Senator Rand Paul.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I was one of those who thought you would win this whole thing.
And I was wrong.
PAUL: You were just a little bit off, a little bit off there.
MATTHEWS: I thought the country was ready for a little freedom from big
government in the right way.
One thing that Donald Trump campaigned on was that he thought the Iraq War
was stupid, stupid wars. He used the phrase I didn`t like regime change.
He tackled Hillary Clinton again and again for taking us into country after
country, supporting war one after another, Iraq, Libya, Syria.
And now we hear he`s talking about naming John Bolton, Mr. Neocon Hawk, as
his secretary of state. How does that fit with you, sit with you?
PAUL: Well, one of the reasons I endorsed Donald Trump was that I liked
the fact that he saw the Iraq War as a mistake.
He thought that regime change was a mistake. And the unintended
consequences of regime change were basically that the world was less safe
and that our national security was more endangered by regime change. So I
liked that about Donald Trump`s campaign and one of the reasons I endorsed
So I want a secretary of state that actually understands and has learned
from the lessons of the Middle East. And I guess I worry that people like
John Bolton and really, frankly, Mayor Giuliani, they have – I would call
them unrepentant advocates for the Iraq War.
They don`t seem to have learned anything from the Iraq War. They still
defend it. And both have advocated a bomb first, sort of ask questions
later for Iran.
And I don`t think you really want your chief diplomat to be an advocate for
war. That would be better – if we`re going to have a secretary of war,
they might be good for that position. But I want someone who is
reasonable. I want somebody who is a realist, that sees the world as it
That person may not always agree with me, but I want someone who is an even
keel, who thinks about things like that. And, frankly, I think Bob Corker
would be a much better choice.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think the neocons think that these wars, one after
another, have been helpful to Israel?
I accept they may be pro-Israeli. Most Americans are. But we were better
of in this country and Israel was certainly better off having a bunch of
these sort of half-put-together countries, let`s put it like that, like the
Baathist country of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, or Gadhafi.
They were kind of clownish leaders. They weren`t strategically or
existentially dangerous to Israel. Israel could contend with them with its
arms behind its back. It could always deal with – now we have got the
Islamic State, ISIS. We got the whole thing coming apart. And Israel is
much more in danger with Iran – with no buffer between Israel and Iran.
Why do people who say they`re for Israel and may be for Israel put Israel
in such a vulnerable state like it`s in now compared to where it was?
That`s my thinking.
PAUL: I think one of the things is that people fail to understand that
Israel is a very pluralistic nation. They have a variety of opinions.
If you go over there, they have heated debate. They are a real democracy.
And there have been many people. Dagan, who was former head of the Mossad,
came out and had a much different opinion than the ruling government. So,
they`re a very pluralistic country.
But I even think many in Israel would say that losing Gadhafi and having
the rise of ISIS in Libya probably doesn`t make Israel safer. I don`t
think it makes the United States safer. In fact, I feel more at risk for
terrorists organizing in Libya now with Gadhafi gone.
It doesn`t mean I was an advocate of Gadhafi or Mubarak or any of these
people. And yet you have to look at what comes after if you decide that
your world view is to displace these people. I think we should always try
on determine what is in our best national interests or vital interests.
And we shouldn`t think, oh, you know what, we`re going to make the world a
perfect democracy and we`re going to topple Assad. What comes after Assad
is a very important question and what comes after the government in Iran or
what comes next if we bomb Iran.
So I think we need a more reasonable sort of person and not a bomb-thrower
to be head of it. But also I support Donald Trump. I want Donald Trump to
pick someone who supports Donald Trump`s vision on foreign policy, that
understands that the Iraq War was a mistake and that regime change hasn`t
always been to our benefit.
MATTHEWS: Are you ready to filibuster this, if these are the nominees,
either one is the nominee?
PAUL: I feel pretty strongly about it.
And I will tell you something I haven`t told anybody else. I have had some
conversation with some other Republican senators. And I`m not the only one
with some misgivings over Giuliani and Bolton.
And I haven`t met a Democrat that is for either one of them. But I have
met several Republican that`s aren`t. We have a 52-48 majority. All it
would take is two or three Republicans to say that they can`t go along with
Giuliani and can`t go along with Bolton.
But I think you would find there are some that I think would sail through.
Frankly, I think Senator Corker would go through. I have met – I have
probably met 15 Democrats in the last two days that said they would vote
for his confirmation. But they are very, very worried about Bolton, very,
very worried Giuliani.
MATTHEWS: Can you defeat him in an up-or-down? Can you hold him to less
than 50 votes?
PAUL: It means you would have to have two or three Republicans.
And, like I say, I`m one. And I think there are two or three other that I
met with today that I would say that the best way to describe them is
profound misgivings about either Bolton or Giuliani. If Giuliani is a
great friend of the president-elect, maybe there could be another position
in the Cabinet that weren`t putting him in a place where he is at odds with
the president`s vision on foreign policy.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Thank you.
He`s just been reelected. Thank you.
PAUL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: “The Washington Post” today reported on how big a change a Trump
presidency could mean to one of the most unstable regions in the world.
According to “The Washington Post”: “The Middle East is bracing for an
incoming American president who seems intent on radically reordering the
regional balance of power over there. Trump will seek to bring about a
significant recalibration of the existing order in the Middle East – in
favor of Russia, away from Shiite Iran and to the benefit of the Sunni Gulf
states and Turkey.”
Well, during the campaign, Donald Trump outlined a foreign policy radically
different, as we said, from what most Democrats and Republicans have
advocated. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: If Putin wants to go and knock the hell
out of ISIS, I am all for it 100 percent. And I can`t understand how
anybody would be against it.
I have been looking at the different players and I have been watching
Assad. And I have been pretty good about this over the years, because
deals are people. And I`m looking at Assad and saying maybe he is better
than the kind of people that we`re supposed to be backing.
Now it is such a mess over there with everybody involved and the airspace
is very limited. It is not that big of an area. And the airspace is very
limited. So, now you have – what, do we start World War III over Syria?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining right now is Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman
of the Foreign Relations Committee and a possible pick to be the next
secretary of state.
Senator, what do you think of what you have been hearing there about Trump
and what he said? He was opposed to the Iraq War. He supports the idea of
Russia being our partner in dealing with the Syrian situation. He opposes
the nuclear deal with Iran. Are you in conformance with those various
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, I mean, Syria has really two efforts
under way, as I know you know well.
And one is the effort against ISIS. But there is a whole `nother conflict
that is under way. And that`s the civil war that is taking place between -
- quote – “moderate Syrians,” Kurds and others against the Assad regime.
So you really have two efforts under way. So, yes, I think we could in
fact coordinate with Russia as it relates to ISIS. But we`re on different
sides as it relates to the civil war that is taking place within the
And so it is much more complicated than just for me to be able to just
answer in a pat way, as you well know. And the territory now has gotten
very interwoven and overlapped. And even if we deal with ISIS, if we
exterminate ISIS, we still have this raging civil war, which is really the
piece that is creating so much devastation to the population there.
And you can`t really solve that by just dealing with the ISIS piece.
MATTHEWS: Well, how do we get out of there? Because most Americans – and
they`re generally pro-Israeli. And we know we need the oil still, despite
all this transition to a post-fossil fuel era, if it ever comes.
MATTHEWS: But definitely we would like to stay out of all this complexity.
We don`t know – Sunni vs. Shia. How do you – do you do what Joe Biden
says, just create a whole new partition, where you give the Shia Shia land
and the Sunni Sunni land, the Kurds their land, separate them all, and
hope, like the Brits did in South Asia with the Indians and the Pakistanis,
hope that you can just keep them apart from each other?
Should that be what we`re doing? What is our goal then down the road next
10 years? What are we doing over there?
CORKER: Well, it could be in Syria. And, obviously, I think you are
mentioning two different countries there.
MATTHEWS: Both of them, yes.
CORKER: Yes. Yes.
So, in Syria, there really has been a concentration of the regime only in
one area, on the eastern part of the country. And it is possible that over
time that is an area that`s partitioned. Obviously, the Kurds would love
to see that happen.
In Iraq – and I have met with and been in Irbil and met in various places
around the world with the Kurdish leadership. And I know that, over time,
Chris, they would like for that to happen. They would like for it to be
But we have put so much effort. And I`m talking about Iraq now. We put so
much effort into having a unified country. I do think that, obviously,
Kurds over time are going to have greater autonomy.
But, right now, the country should stay as a whole. I think, as they are
trying to root out ISIS, to try to then take on, at the same time,
partitioning off, it is a very different situation in Iraq, because you
actually have a military and a government that mostly is in control of the
country. So, the two situations are very, very different.
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine yourself being secretary of state with President
Trump as president? Can you imagine that?
CORKER: I have to say, president-elect Trump is demonstrating something
that I think could make, create a good environment for a secretary of
And that is, people are uncertain about what our position is going to be in
the world. And it would give, in fact, someone who had the environment –
he would have to have to freedom to be able to do this and the direct line
to the president or his representative to ensure that you`re always in
But there is a chance here to really pave a way into a new era. And so I
think, for people who have shown interest in it or have been part of the
mix, I think that`s the piece that is enticing.
And, as you mentioned, we have had entanglements there for many years. We
have made a lot of mistakes since about 2001. And to have the opportunity
to really develop a little different course of action, I think would be
intriguing people who care deeply about our foreign policy.
MATTHEWS: I think it is the greatest job in the world. Morally,
intellectually, politically, it`s the greatest job in the world, to be able
to represent our country in the world.
Thank you very much, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.
CORKER: Thank you. Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Can the Democratic Party win back the white working-
class voters who abandoned the party for Donald Trump?
Joe Biden says the party doesn`t talk to those people anymore. And now
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, with deep roots to those voters, is considering
running against Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader of the House. And Mr.
Ryan is coming here next tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Two hospitals and a central blood bank in Eastern Aleppo have been hit by a
bomb, killing more than 19 people, according to the Syrian American Medical
The man accused of setting off bombs in New York and New Jersey before
being injured in a firefight with police has been indicted. Ahmed Rahimi
faces terrorism charges and five counts of attempted murder.
And President Obama is in Germany for meetings with Chancellor Angela
Merkel. Later this week, he heads to Lima, Peru, for a summit – back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There will be an internal
conversation, but the American people sent us a message loud and clear.
And we need to listen to that message and we need to respond.
We need to make sure that we are prepared for the next two years in the
best possible way.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: This is a message to our constituents
saying, we have heard you. We have clearly missed the mark on some regards
– regards to legislation and messaging. And we are going to work on this
because we want to make sure that we`re an effective caucus to put up the
opposition to Donald Trump and to make sure that he is only a one-term
REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: How we`re going to fight and re-win
working-class people, which had been the heart and soul of this party, but,
unfortunately, are now voting against Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Those are some of the younger members of the House of Representatives in
the Democratic Caucus. A faction of House Democrats called on Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi to delay, put off the leadership election in their
caucus which had been scheduled for tomorrow.
Well, after yesterday`s meeting, Pelosi agreed to delay the elections until
November 30, the end of this month, which could signal trouble for Pelosi,
who which has led House Democrats since 2002 and announced today she is
seeking reelection. So, she`s going for it.
One member in her ranks weighing to challenge her is Congressman Tim Ryan
of Ohio, who says blue-collar voters need to vote blue again if Democrats
are ever going to take back the House in Republican hands.
Congressman Ryan, a Democrat from just outside Youngstown, Ohio, joins me
Congressman Ryan, do people agree with you that the Democrats basically
have discarded the white working class, if you will, they have not included
them in their thinking or in their appeals? Or do other people say, oh,
forget about them, they`re lost, we will go with minorities and women with
college degrees, that sort of point of view?
REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: I think most people recognize, after the drubbing
on Tuesday, in what was billed really as the great blue firewall, which was
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan. And we almost lost Minnesota.
Those are where the blue-collar folks, and they turned away from the
Democratic Party in droves. And I think there is a general consensus that
we need to get back on that economic message that we`re here as Democrats
to try to create jobs and opportunity, not retrain people for a job that
doesn`t exist, not to train someone to be able to run a computer, but that
can run a backhoe, that take their shower after work.
Those are the kind of people we need to keep fighting for.
MATTHEWS: What about the fact that Democrats, like the Republicans, spend
all their time with their contributors, wealthy people with wealthy
people`s concerns, and sometimes neurosis? All they care about are these
things they care about that are not exactly bread-and-butter issues that
should matter to the Democrats, right?
New York, San Francisco, they`re nice places to live, but they do have
different points of view than the average person in Youngstown, Ohio.
Isn`t that the problem? Money talks?
RYAN: No question about it.
And that`s why I say Donald Trump says he wants to drain the swamp. I`m
all in. Let`s publicly finance campaigns and let`s make sure that
campaigns are only two or three months long, like they are in Great
Britain. That`s the way to go to really drain the swamp, so we can get
back to talking about the real issues that matter to real people in places
like Youngstown, Ohio.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to run against Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader
at the end of the month?
RYAN: I`m not sure.
We`re having a lot of conversations now. My goal was to get this election
moved. I didn`t agree that it should be tomorrow. We need to talk about
this. We need to have a big family fight maybe about the next direction of
the Democratic Party.
Look, the Obamas are gone, the Bidens are gone, the Clintons are gone,
Harry Reid is gone. There`s no one at the DNC. We have an election for
minority leader here in the House of Representatives. What direction do we
want the American dream to go in, Chris?
What is America 2.0? What is the Democratic Party 2.0? What is the next
iteration of the Democratic Party? We better start thinking about that and
align our policies and our strategies and our tactics and our operations in
the direction of creating this new America.
Within this tragedy that happened on Tuesday is opportunity.
RYAN: And I think great leaders and great organizations find opportunity
in tough times like this.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, maybe we need fewer hyphenated Democrats and more
Democrats, just regular Democrats. That could be the solution. Bread and
butter, working wages, as Tip O`Neill believed in, it`s the heart of the
party. Maybe that`s the solution.
You`ve got a tough road to hoe against Nancy Pelosi, because she`s not only
a hard worker. She`s smart and tough. So, it`s going to be a tough road
if you`re up against her.
RYAN: Look, Chris – I love Nancy Pelosi. I`m not here to blame Nancy
Pelosi. She can`t get blamed for what happened on Tuesday. The question
is, are we going to take the House back and can we take the House back? If
we do, we`ve got to go to into those states, Michigan, Wisconsin, we`ve got
to go to all 50 states, red districts, red states.
The question is, who is the messenger who can go into those communities and
pull those Trump voters back into the Democratic fold? That`s the question
that we have to ask ourselves.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m impressed, you got Brendan Boyle in your crowd and you
got Seth Mold and you`ve got some great new guys there, thank you. And,
women, I assume, too.
Thank you so much, Tim Ryan.
RYAN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable. And our top story tonight:
the chaos, but that`s what it is, inside the Trump transition that calls
for Trump to yank back the appointment of Steve Bannon grow louder and
louder. That`s not going to stop.
Bannon is the Jonah on that ship. I think the whales are looking for him.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Here with our roundtable tonight, April Ryan, Washington bureau chief for
American Urban Radio Networks and author of “At Mama`s Knee: Mothers and
Race, and Black and White America.” Peter Emerson, contributor for “The
Huffington Post”. And Anne Gearan, national political reporter for “The
Anne, let me start with you, because, April, you and I talk all the time in
the green room and the make-up room. We have many conversations.
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes, we do.
MATTHEWS: Every time there`s a new team, there`s usually one person, I
call them Jonah, up in that ship. And the whale wants to get that Jonah.
The progressives in this country are really outraged of the selection of
Steve Bannon to be chief strategist to the president.
Your thinking, your feeling?
RYAN: Well, you know, I understand. I understand. Just alone the issue
of Breitbart and dealing with the Breitbart.com – I mean, I can remember
Breitbart in the beginning of the Obama administration caused the problem
with Shirley Sherrod. They misinformed the public about a statement that
she did not say and that was critical. And it was a race issue. That is
very critical. And then –
MATTHEWS: They made her look anti-white, yes.
RYAN: Right. And then his alliances or his thoughts or feelings about
certain groups in this nation that are not inclusive by any stretch of the
imagination. But I`m also thinking with something that happened before
this president came into office. Jeremiah Wright, they made President
MATTHEWS: Jumped on that. Yes. That was the Jonah in that case.
Everybody finds –you`re shaking your they had hardest. Go for it.
ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, no, I mean –
MATTHEWS: Is this just a tactic of opposition to find the weak point in
the line and go after it?
GEARAN: Well, I mean, I think we`re kind of making Breitbart`s point,
right? I mean, they have figured out some secret sauce to getting an
enormous amount of attention on divisive subjects.
GEARAN: And that is exactly why Bannon is now in his inner circle.
MATTHEWS: He`s got a rap sheet.
GEARAN: Look, he is a person who even for the, I`m sure, the overwhelming
majority of Trump voters who do not ascribe to all the things that have
been published in Breitbart News. Still, seeing Steve Bannon, the ultimate
outsider, the ultimate “blow it up” person, having a huge role, is what
they want. That they`re saying they won. Yes.
PETER EMERSON, THE HUFFINGTON POST: – doesn`t make any difference. Trump
supporters want Bannon where he is. Trump wants him in the White House.
Not out of the White House.
At the end of the day, it looks like it`s a share power agreement anyway.
MATTHEWS: Between him and Reince Priebus.
EMERSON: And more importantly, Jared Kushner, who`s the de facto chief of
RYAN: I understand and I respect what you say. He retooled Donald Trump
and helped him become who he is today, president-elect, number 45.
But at the same time, we`ve seen this before. Hate. We`ve seen the
culmination of what hate looks like. Not just in this country but
globally. And we still have yet to understand when Donald Trump says make
America great again, what decade? What century is he talking about?
And I know you`re laughing but as an African, as a woman and as an African-
MATHEWS: She`s actually trying to be nice to you.
RYAN: I like her. Okay, okay.
MATTHEWS: That`s called a charming approval.
RYAN: I understand. But as an African-American, as a woman, I mean, I
understand my history. There are immigrant nations who are scared as well.
And there are people – immigrants who are here who are scared, that their
parents are going to be deported. There`s a lot of stuff to figure out.
And that hate leads to a lot of bad things.
EMERSON: And I don`t disagree at all.
EMERSON: It`s completely true.
The reality, though, is Bannon is not going to be operating just de facto.
There will be at lot of checks. And the loyalty is going to be the primary
reason. The more the liberals push against him, the more –
RYAN: If you`re trying to unify a nation, do you have next to you someone
who is anti-who is other?
MATTHEWS: Is that the way Trump sees him? Excuse me, is that the way
Trump sees him? Or is Trump see him –
RYAN: As loyal. He got him –
MATTHEWS: I don`t want to gussy this guy up, to use an old term. But if
you`re Lincoln, which this guy is not, Trump is not, let`s posit that. You
have a General Grant. A lot of casualties on both sides, lots of bloody
wars that Grant won. But he did win the war.
Maybe Trump, I`m trying to be positive here, Trump sees him as the general.
That`s what Kellyanne Conway calls him, this guy Bannon. They rest of us
see him as a guy who`s blogging out there with this outrageous terrible
hateful stuff. They see him as a guy that walked in and won the war.
GEARAN: And (INAUDIBLE) trump up the Hill absolutely. And certainly we
keep hearing that loyalty and a small circle are hugely important. I
think, I do think it is interesting to note that Breitbart, the original
Breitbart and Bannon were not very, very close to Trump a long time ago but
they`ve been brought in and yes.
RYAN: He is his king maker and his loyalty.
MATTHEWS: This is difficult stuff for Trump to deal with, because I agree,
the more you pull, the more he holds. But I`ll tell you, sometimes you`ve
got to know when to fold. This is not a good sign about his
administration, that guy.
The roundtable is sticking with us.
And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. This is
HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, tonight, Hillary Clinton will make her first public
appearance since last week`s election. Wow. Secretary Clinton will be
honored in Washington by the Children`s Defense Fund. That event is set to
twin at the top of the hour.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
April`s going to tell me something I don`t know.
Please do, dear.
RYAN: Trump`s obsession with the media is not going away. Chris, that
Thursday when he met with President Obama in the Oval Office while the
press was moving out and Carol Lee can attest to this from “The Wall Street
Journal,” while they were moving out, he caught my eye. Donald Trump
caught my eye.
Yes, and he said, “Hi.” I said, “Hi.” He said – pointed at me, “You`re
good.” I was like, “Thank you.” I said, Mr. President please make sure
that he gives me an interview.” And Donald Trump just nodded and the
president said, “She`s one of the best we have.” So, he`s watching –
MATTHEWS: Are you that easy?
RYAN: No! I want an interview with Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: We all do.
RYAN: You got one.
EMERSON: President Trump is likely to go to Flint, Michigan, the day after
he`s sworn in. His advisers feel it would not only be very symbolic about
rebuilding America`s infrastructure, but he might be able to actually solve
Flint`s water crisis when no one else has.
MATTHEWS: That`s a good move.
GEARAN: Sticking with the travel theme, there is pressure building for
Trump`s first foreign trip to be to Israel or to include Israel. The
Netanyahu government was surprised by the outcome but delighted because
they absolutely loathe Hillary Clinton and are working through Jared
Kushner to try to make that happen.
MATTHEWS: How`s David MacNaughton, the Canadian ambassador, is going to
like this? It`s always Canada first.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, April Ryan, Anne Gearan and Peter Emerson.
When we return, let me finish with Trump watch. It`s getting weird.
We`re watching HARDBALL – you are – the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Trump watch, November 16, 2016.
So what are we learning about this president-elect high up there in Trump
Tower? One, like a Roman emperor, he loves the gladiatorial spectacle, he
loves watching people fight it out for the emperor`s thumbs up, signaling
We`ve seen him in this role before, of course, ever watch “The Apprentice”.
What`s the fun in that show? It`s watching the face of the contestant as
Trump tells him or her they failed to make the grade, “You`re fired”.
It`s the same deal right now up there in Trump Towers, as he listens to the
pleas and pitches of those hoping to get his OK for a cabinet post. Does
he go for the guy who is campaigning right out there or for the candidate
who could be getting people to dump on the other guy who is out there
campaigning? Or does he fire both of the candidates by naming someone else
What else? What`s this force, this death squad within Trump Tower that`s
up there throwing people out the window? That`s telling anyone connected
with Governor Chris Christie, “You`re dead”. That`s telling the anti-Trump
guy not to bother pushing for people who – for jobs who were against Trump
up until last Tuesday night. Is this death squad going to go into the
White House with Trump? Is this mysterious murderous force going to be
prowling the halls of the West Wing?
This much we can figure – up there on a high floor in Trump Tower, Donald
Trump sits in the eye of the hurricane. He says he`s the only one who
knows who is on the final list for the top jobs. In other words, not even
Mike Pence knows. In other words, Trump not only enjoys the gladiatorial
spectacle around him and below him, he also knows who is leading that death
squad. You think it might be him?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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