Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/13/2016
Date: December 13, 2016
Guest: Heidi Przybyla, Michael Crowley, Rand Paul, Paul Murphy, Susan
Page, Eric Lipton, Anthony Scaramucci, Jay Newton-Small
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I`m an oil man!
Let`s play HARDBALL!
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Huge news this morning and bigger news tonight. Start with the appointment
of Exxonmobil CEO Rex Tillerson to the premier cabinet position, secretary
of state. How much trouble is this going to cause? Will Republican
senators agree to having as our country`s top foreign policy officer a man
so cozy with Vladimir Putin? Will they?
Speaking of cozy, “The New York Times” reporting tonight that a Moscow
hacker calling itself Cozy Bear – you know, like in the Russian bear –
has been hacking into the Democratic National Committee for months. It`s
been joined in the hacking, going back to September of last year, in
tilting (ph) the U.S. presidential election in the direction of Donald
Trump by fellow hacker Fancy Bear, the one connected to Russian military
So why didn`t the FBI tell the country this was going on last September?
And why does Donald Trump keep denying that Russians were doing the
hacking? And why didn`t the White House blow the whistle on the Russian
hacking in the first place? Cozy Bear was, after all, going after the
White House, as well.
So we begin tonight with the news about the secretary of state. After
weeks of public auditions that took on the air of reality TV, Donald Trump
has made his pick. In the end, it wasn`t Rudy Giuliani, his loyal
defender, or Mitt Romney, who Trump had taken to dinner, or General
Petraeus or John Bolton, thank God. The rose (ph) ultimately went to Rex
And now the drama moves to Capitol Hill. Tillerson`s ties to Vladimir
Putin have raised alarms among Democrats and top Republicans. Senator
Marco Rubio said today, “I have serious concerns about his nomination.”
Senator Lindsey Graham said, “There are many questions which must be
answered. I expect the U.S./Russian relationship to be front and center in
his confirmation process.”
And here was Senator John McCain yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I also, as a hundred of us, have to
exercise our best judgment. But when he gets the Friendship Award from a
butcher, frankly, it`s an issue that I think needs to be examined. And
again, that does not mean we should prejudge Mr. Tillerson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Tillerson certainly has his heavyweight supporters. Among
them, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who said today he was an
excellent choice for secretary of state. “He will bring to the post
remarkable and broad international experience.”
Former secretary of defense Bob Gates said, “I strongly endorse the
president-elect`s selection of Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of
Well, both Rice And gates, it should be known, have done consulting work
for money for Exxonmobil.
Another voice of support for Tillerson was the former vice president and
former CEO of Halliburton, Dick Cheney. He said, “The selection of Rex
Tillerson to be secretary of state is an inspired choice. I have known Rex
for many years, both in his role as the chairman and CEO of Exxon and as a
personal friend. I`m confident he will do a superb job promoting our
national interests in dealing with the complex and difficult choices that
are on the agenda for the next administration.” That`s Dick Cheney.
I`m joined right now by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He`s a member of
the Foreign Relations Committee. Thank God you`re on that committee.
Let me ask you, what does Dick Cheney push this guy for? He`s an oil guy
with Halliburton. Now he`s pushing a fellow oil guy. Do the neocons have
their arms around Tillerson already? What`s going on here? Why has he got
the love of Cheney, the hawk?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, I just hope he didn`t get a friendship
award from Dick Cheney.
MATTHEWS: Oh, my God.
PAUL: That might be a problem. But you know, I`m keeping an open mind on
Tillerson. I want to know what his world view is more than where he`s
traveled or who he knows. And I think it may be overblown. I mean, he`s
made deals in many, many countries. You know, some award – you know, I
don`t know that this mean that he`s skiing and fishing with Putin, some
award. So let`s hear at least a little bit about what his world view is.
Does he believe in intervention ad nauseam in the Middle East? Does he
believe in regime change, nation building? You know, some of the things
that I`ve been encouraged about Donald Trump – we haven`t agreed on some
things, but I have been encouraged that he thinks that regime change in the
Middle East hasn`t made us safer or more secure, that he hasn`t been for
nation building, regime change, and he thinks that – I honestly believe
he`s learned the lesson that the Iraq war didn`t help us as a country.
MATTHEWS: Well, I know who hasn`t learned his lesson because it`s who he
is, essentially, and that`s John Bolton. That guy won`t quit. His desire
for power and to wheedle his way into every Republican administration is
relentless. The neocon network helps him.
Here he is, John Bolton, the man NBC reports as being – I love this phrase
– actually, I hate it – eyed for deputy secretary of state, has advocated
for bombing Iran.
Here he was just last year. This is Bolton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO U.N., FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Just as Israel twice
before has struck nuclear weapons programs in the hands of hostile states,
I`m afraid, given the circumstances, that`s the only real option open to us
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now? Or are you saying leading into the
BOLTON: No, I would have done this five or six years ago because the
earlier you strike, the more damage you can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, my God. Bolton on Fox. Unbelievable combination. That was
a strong booster, of course he was, of the Iraq invasion, still is. In
2002, Bolton peddled bad information about that country`s weapons program.
Quote, “We are confident,” he said at the time, “that Saddam Hussein has
hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.”
Well, last May, Bolton continued to defend the invasion – that`s last
month (sic) – telling “The Washington Examiner,” a conservative newspaper,
“I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct.” I love the
way – it`s so prissy, “correct.”
He echoed that sentiment as recently as yesterday. Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: I was a member of George W. Bush`s administration. He supported
the Iraq war. Of course I supported the Iraq war. I`ve written on the
subject, some people would probably say endlessly, about what the lessons
are to be learned from it. I`ve put it out on the record. I`ve never
hidden my views from anybody, and I absolutely don`t back away from them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator Paul, isn`t it interesting that the ones who backed the
Iraq war also backed going into Libya, also backed going into Syria. And
they always have one – like in a little Pez dispenser, little candy
dispenser. They always have the next war they want us to fight. There`s
always one – they push the button, another war comes out. They always
want a new war, and Bolton`s classic.
PAUL: Well, this is…
MATTHEWS: Will you be able to stop this guy if gets in the door?
PAUL: Well, this is why learning the historical lessons are important.
This isn`t the Iraq war from 15 years ago or 14 years ago that we`re
concerned about. We`re worried about whether or not he learned the lesson
from that war. But he didn`t. He advocated for regime change in Libya –
turned into chaos and ISIS actually became strengthened. And I think we`re
more at risk now for a terrorist attack from Libya than we were before the
He`s also advocated for regime change in Syria. And as bad a guy as Assad
is, I don`t know that that`s helped us because I think it actually has
created a power vacuum where ISIS has filled that vacuum.
But even moreso, advocating for regime change in Iran is a real problem
because it shows this naive understanding of the world that he thinks, Oh,
everything`s going to be great. We`re going to drop a few bombs. They`ll
have a new government there. Thomas Jefferson will be elected, and
there`ll be no more problems in Iran.
Well, it didn`t work out that way in Iraq, and I think Iran`s a bigger,
much stronger country than Iraq ever was. And I don`t think he`s learned
any of the lessons of the Iraq war, and he wants to reinstitute a new war
So no, I think this person, John Bolton, should never have any position in
the State Department. I will vote no, and I hope my vote will be the
deciding vote to keep him out of the State Department.
MATTHEWS: Or maybe we put him out on point in the next conflict, he`ll
change his mind. Make him go out in front.
Anyway, Senator Rand Paul, one last thought. Do you think there`s any
possibility that if we do establish a working relationship with Vladimir
Putin in Syria, that somehow, we can perhaps partition the country, put
Bashar Assad into an Alawite area, just the area where they`re very loyal
to him, break up the country, give the Sunnis some leadership over there so
they can grab most of the country from ISIS?
In other words, a hopeful – I don`t see anything happening now as long as
Assad`s there. What can we do – do you think the selection of Tillerson
and working with Putin might work, some deal that gets us to a closer place
PAUL: Well, you know, I think this is a very important question, even with
regards to Iraq, as well. I think Iraq has disintegrated into at least two
countries, maybe two countries and a civil war region. Syria`s the same
And will they ever be put back together? There are a lot of smart people
who look at foreign policy who don`t see those countries ever being put
back together. The Kurds are advocating for their own country.
PAUL: You know, Joe Biden, many years ago – and he and I don`t agree on
everything, but he did talk about dividing Iraq probably 15 years ago. The
Turks ruled it from the Ottoman empire with different provinces. So I
think it should be entertained.
And actually, I`m supportive of the Kurds. They fought the best and the
hardest. I`m supportive of them having their own homeland. They seem to
be good allies and friends of ours. And in fact, I think they would
actually do more for liberating us from ISIS if we were giving weapons
directly to them and not sending the weapons through Baghdad.
MATTHEWS: Well, it ultimately worked in Europe. We divided Europe up. We
divided The Balkans up and Yugoslavia up. And sometimes people live better
when they divorce from each other and they don`t have to deal with each
other every day.
Anyway, thank you, Senator Rand Paul, for coming on tonight. I agree with
you. I hope we can stop Bolton.
Anyway, this morning, Trump`s incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus
defended Tillerson, Rex Tillerson, against charges he was too close to
Putin. Let`s watch Reince.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can somebody who has a friendship plaque in his office
be tough on Vladimir Putin?
REINCE PRIEBUS, TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF DESIGNATE: Well, Rex Tillerson`s a
really tough guy. And you know what? Athletes, astronauts, musicians,
other Americans, Canadians, a lot of folks have gotten that award.
But the truth is, is that having relationships with people is not a bad
thing. I don`t know how we got to the place where having an actual
functional relationship with someone who might not be a person that we`d
first think of to have that relationship with is suddenly a bad thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Chris Murphy is a United States senator from
Connecticut, of course. He`s also, most importantly, on the Foreign
I can`t think of a better committee to be on right now, Senator!
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: It`s the center of a lot of action
MATTHEWS: Because it`s – what is – what`s the ratio of Republicans to
MURPHY: Yes, it`s a two-vote majority for Republicans. So if one
Republican on that committee votes against one of these nominees, it`s a
deadlocked vote. And in the committee process, the vice president doesn`t
break a tie,
MATTHEWS: So Marco Rubio`s the man on the horse here?
MURPHY: I think everybody on the Republican side`s going to have a lot to
say here. And listen, I just don`t know how these Republicans, who have
been eviscerating President Obama for the last two years for being too soft
on Vladimir Putin, can turn around and vote for a nominee who is widely
advertised as someone who has been an ally of Putin and who will be an ally
of Putin in the Department of State. I don`t know how you do that pivot on
And so I would be surprised if Lindsey Graham and John McCain and Marco
Rubio vote for Tillerson because they have been really consistent in their
belief that the worst thing the Trump administration could do is turn to
this new fictional alliance that they believe is going to happen with the
Russians. Ultimately, the Russians…
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m more hopeful than you. But let me ask about – you
know this better than I do, and I`ve heard this. Who controls U.S. foreign
policy region by region? I`m told it`s the National Security Council, that
the experts on the National Security Council meet with the president – in
this case, it will be Trump – and tell him or her every day what`s going
on, and that`s what guides our policy.
The ambassadors carry out the policy. The regional assistant secretaries
carry it out. But U.S. foreign policy is set in the National Security
Council. Is that true, or will it – could it conceivably be set in the
MURPHY: I think it`s different under each president. Under President
Bush, it was the Defense Department. In the Obama administration, it`s
been controlled within the White House by Denis McDonough…
MATTHEWS: No, the NSC.
MURPHY: … and the NSC. So I don`t know what Trump`s structure is going
to look like. But you`re right, we have largely outsourced foreign policy
away from the Department of State to the Department of Defense. Whether
that continues under Trump, I can`t tell you.
MATTHEWS: How do you see this balancing act between – what`s this –
what`s the guy called, “Mad Dog” Mattis, and this guy, the new secretary of
state, Tillerson? Is it going to be a hawk versus dove thing there?
What`s going on there?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, the fact that you see Condoleezza Rice and bob Gates
wrapping their arms or Dick Cheney wrapping their arms around Tillerson…
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re all hawks.
MURPHY: … right – suggests that this guy may be more in their camp. We
know that Mattis views the world still through a military…
MATTHEWS: Can I ask you a question…
MATTHEWS: … which gets to your mail? Do you get a lot of push from the
neocons – you know who they are, the very hawkish people, on the Middle
East and other policies. Are they pushing for Tillerson? Because when I
see names like Condi and I see names like – like Dick Cheney involved, I
go, What are they up to? What do they want?
MURPHY: Yes, I think they see him as a friend.
MATTHEWS: The neocons do.
MURPHY: Yes. I think we have to ask what his views are on the issues that
Rand raised. But to the extent that within hours of his nomination, it
gets these guys…
MATTHEWS: Will you vote to block a John Bolton for anything?
MURPHY: Yes, John Bolton would lead us back into war. He can`t be in the
MATTHEWS: I love to hear that. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Chris Murphy.
Let`s go back – let`s go to my expert here, Susan Page. You just heard
from two senators, one a libertarian, one a traditional, I guess, foreign
policy Democrat. Are we going to have Tillerson? Looks like he`s going to
get through. I don`t think Bolton`s going to get through.
SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: Yes, it`s interesting. Even Rand Paul, who`s
been a critic on Russia policy, did not signal he was going to oppose
Tillerson. He said you can`t judge him just by accepting that decoration,
that order of friendship, from Putin.
But pretty hard line from both these senators on John Bolton. So that
could well be a nomination that has more trouble. You know, Democrats are
not going to be able to block a lot of Trump nominees, we don`t think, but
they may be in a position to make a case against a few, and maybe Bolton is
going to be the case study.
MATTHEWS: It often devolves down to somebody at the relatively lower level
where you have your real battle royal, I`ve noticed, even when there`s
fights on the Hill.
What is Trump? Is he the dove who ran against the Iraq war and said it was
a stupid war over and over and over again, even though he had back then not
quite been against it? Is he that guy now? Why is he playing footsie with
PAGE: I`m not sure Donald Trump has traditional ideological…
MATTHEWS: Is he going to be loyal to those constituents who voted for him?
PAGE: I think he`s got a businessman`s outlook. I think he has an
attention span that`s focused on a lot of different things, not in depth on
anything in particular. I think Mike Pence is coming out to be the most
powerful vice president since Cheney during Bush`s first term. So it`s a
different – I think it`s a different sort of foreign policy than we`ve
seen, certainly, in the last few presidents.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) to the senator on this. Senator, it seems to me
that one interesting thing is, you can pick an agent for foreign minister
or secretary of state, someone who`s a staffer type, who will do what you
tell them and you`re in constant phone contact with them or have them back
all the time, or pick you can a heavyweight. It looks to me like in
Tillerson, he`s picked a viceroy, a big – like – like President Obama
picked Hillary Clinton, a real partner, a big-time person. Your thoughts.
MURPHY: But doing oil deals in the Middle East is not the same thing as
trying to bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. I think…
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re not going to do that in this administration.
MURPHY: No, but I think what`s dangerous to me is this is the first
president we`ve ever had with no government experience who`s picked a
secretary of state who will be the first with no diplomatic or government
experience. And learning on the job, both at the executive and at the
secretary of state`s office, dangerous at this moment in time.
MATTHEWS: Why are we moving the embassy to Jerusalem at a time that the
whole place over there could blow up? Why do we something that`s right in
the face of the Palestinians, right in the face of the Jordanians, the
Saudis, the Egyptians? The one thing they say is, Leave, you know, the
Dome of the Rock alone. Leave our – the hopeful capital of a Palestinian
state alone. Don`t desecrate it by saying it`s the capital of Israel at
MURPHY: Well, George Bush…
MATTHEWS: Why are we doing it?
MURPHY: Well, remember, George Bush said he was going to…
MATTHEWS: They all do it for political reason.
MURPHY: … up until he made the decision not to move the embassy.
MATTHEWS: But you don`t do it. You say you`re going to do it to pander a
little bit. Fine, that`s politics. But you don`t actually do it. Doesn`t
Trump know this?
MURPHY: Well, he hasn`t done it yet. And I don`t think we know…
MATTHEWS: OK. Would you fight it?
MURPHY: … what of this rhetoric is going to…
MATTHEWS: Would you fight it?
MURPHY: … turn into reality.
MATTHEWS: Would you fight it?
MURPHY: (INAUDIBLE) see the proposal he makes. I don`t think it`s the
right moment to do it.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much. Thank you, Senator Chris Murphy. Thank
you, Susan Page.
Coming up, a big bombshell in “The New York Times” about – I mentioned it
before – the scope and sophistication of Russia`s interference with our
election. You won`t believe this huge story. The FBI – it`s coming in
the paper tomorrow. The FBI knew the Russians were behind the hack of the
Democratic National Committee, the DNC, as early as last September,
September 2015. So why did it take a year for the government to call
Russia out on it? And how come Donald Trump keeps denying Russia`s
involvement? And why – oh, just all whys! Why didn`t we know this?
Plus, Trump`s other cabinet pick today is Rick Perry for secretary of
energy. Remember, energy was the department Perry couldn`t remember, the
one that he said he wanted to eliminate but couldn`t remember the name of
the department when he ran for president. What a hoot, if that`s what you
want to call it. Anyway, Trump`s giving a cabinet job to someone who wants
to get rid of that cabinet department. That`ll be interesting.
And the HARDBALL roundtable tonight`s going to be here. They`re going to
tell me some things I don`t know about, three of them. I don`t know about
this transition team.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with the naming of Rex Tillerson and what it could
mean to the Middle East.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Another cabinet appointment to report from the Trump transition.
NBC News can report that Trump has tapped first-term congressman Ryan Zinke
of Montana to be the next secretary of the interior. Zinke, a former Navy
SEAL, was an early supporter of Trump`s.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
“The New York Times” is out, as I said earlier, with a detailed account of
Russia`s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election by hurting Hillary
Clinton`s chances and tipping the election to Donald Trump.
According to “The Times”` article out tomorrow morning, the FBI alerted the
Democratic National Committee back in September of 2015 that – quote –
“At least one computer system belonging to the DNC had been compromised by
hackers federal investigators had named the Dukes, a cyber-espionage team
linked to the Russian government.”
Well, “The New York Times” goes on to report that – quote – “The low-key
approach of the FBI meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through
the committee`s network for nearly seven months before top DNC officials
were alerted to the attack and hired cyber-experts to protect their
systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the DNC,
including Mrs. Clinton`s campaign chairman, John Podesta, whose private e-
mail account was hacked months later.”
Well, joining me right now is one of the reporters who broke this huge
story for “The Times,” Eric Lipton.
Eric, thanks for coming on today especially.
What I couldn`t get – well, I could get, but it bugged me. I will just
say it bugged me. This I.T. at the DNC got a call from the FBI that they
were being hacked and just sort of sat on it. And then the FBI never got
in a taxi or whatever and drove over to the DNC – it`s only 15, 20 minutes
away – and told them what was going on. It was so weak, the effort at
I wonder who`s responsible, the failure of the DNC kid or whoever it was to
bring it to the attention of the chair, or the failure of the FBI to show
any earnestness in pursuing the party?
ERIC LIPTON, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: I think it`s a collection of missed
opportunities that has real consequences.
And I think that, clearly, the DNC I.T. guy did not take the threat
seriously enough, mostly because, when he first gets a telephone call that
comes into the front desk and gets passed to him, at first, he doesn`t
believe that he`s actually speaking to an FBI agent, because the FBI agent
can`t e-mail him, because, if he e-mails the I.T. guy, he`s going to reveal
to the Russian hackers that the FBI is on to them.
So he simply calls them and says, look in your system. And the I.T. guy
thinks it`s just some hoax. So, he – and then the FBI guy keeps calling
him again and again and again. It goes on for like two, three months. And
still he doesn`t necessarily believe him. So, he isn`t seriously looking
within the system. And this drags on for months, unfortunately.
MATTHEWS: Well, is this person, this I.T. guy, a political person? A
political person would know this was very important. This would be – this
is hot stuff, that the Russians are trying to get into your system.
I guess that`s the hard part, that somebody wouldn`t think it was
politically frightening that you`re getting – you`re getting hacked during
the middle of – the beginning of a presidential campaign, that that wasn`t
LIPTON: And there was multiple problems.
First of all, this was not a cyber-security guy, but it was essentially
like the I.T. help guy.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Why did they call him? Why did they call him?
LIPTON: The DNC did not have – right. The DNC did not have the money to
have a proper cyber-security team, or at least they hadn`t budgeted the
money for that.
And he was the guy who was – he`s a consultant. And he was the guy who
got the phone call, and he handled it, he fielded it. And the other
problem was that, I mean, the FBI was not very specific with the
information. They didn`t give them a great amount of detail that could
help them look within their server to find where the hackers were.
And the DNC didn`t also have particularly advanced monitoring software that
would allow them to detect it. When we spoke with some of the experts who
then were hired once they realized that they`d been hacked, they wondered,
why didn`t the FBI essentially just walk over?
LIPTON: I mean, they`re a half-a-mile away – knock on the door, call
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, say, we see a problem here?
And it`s hard to understand. I mean, we`re talking about the DNC, which is
helping run the presidential primaries, and, you know, is involved in the
2016 campaign in a fundamental way. You would think that the FBI would
realize they need to evaluate.
MATTHEWS: I would think, evaluate from the ground up.
Let me ask you about the White House position. Can you tell from your
reporting when they got the word that this was going on, that there was a
real problem here with hacking going on from the Russians of the Democrats
and that – because, in your piece, you point out that they were trying to
hack into or did hack into the White House system as well.
Why didn`t they go to war and say publicly, the Russians are – we`re
putting you on guard right now, on notice, stop this now in its tracks or
we`re coming at you?
Why didn`t they do like that a year ago?
LIPTON: Well, it was not until the end of April that the DNC finally
formally confirmed that they had this malware in the system and that they
had been compromised.
And so – and then it wasn`t until June 15 that it became public, because
they spent six weeks trying to make sure that they were out of their system
before it became public.
The White House appears to have gotten more engaged starting in the early
summer, and then began a series of deliberations to decide, what should our
response be? Should we attribute it publicly to the Russians? And if we
attribute to it Russians, should we take some type of retaliatory action,
maybe sanctions or some other action, to make it clear that this was an
They hesitated to do either of those things. It wasn`t until October 7
that they put out a public statement from the intelligence community, you
know, blaming the Russians. And they waited and waited and waited because
they – for a variety reasons, including they didn`t want to be seen as
tipping the scale in the election.
And they also didn`t want to, you know, produce a retaliatory action by the
Russians that they feared could escalate things. So, the White House was
unsure what to do. And so they delayed. And it actually quite angered the
Democrats inside the DNC, who were saying, we need the administration to
make a public stand, to say, we were attacked, our country was attacked,
this is not, you know, a small matter.
MATTHEWS: And, of course, you can watch – all the people watching right
now, listening right now who are partisan, whatever direction, they will
say, wait a minute, that wasn`t the position of Comey and the FBI. They
had no problem coming out a week-and-a-half before the election with
something that really hurt Hillary Clinton badly, in fact, perhaps
existentially in terms of her campaign. So, different judgments there.
Eric Lipton, fabulous piece, “New York Times.” You guys are going to get
some awards for this baby.
Anyway, during the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was repeatedly reluctant to
place blame at the doorstep of the Russians over the cyber-attacks. Here
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I mean, it could be Russia, but it
could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could
be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?
I notice, any time anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians –
she doesn`t know if it`s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no
hacking. From everything I see, has no respect for this person.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that`s
because he would rather have a puppet as president of the United States.
TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.
CLINTON: And it`s pretty clear…
TRUMP: You`re the puppet.
CLINTON: It`s pretty clear you won`t admit…
TRUMP: No, you`re the puppet.
She has no idea whether it`s Russia, China, or anybody else.
CLINTON: I am not quoting myself.
TRUMP: She has no idea.
CLINTON: I am quoting 17…
TRUMP: Hillary, you have no idea.
CLINTON: … 17 intelligence – do you doubt 17 military and civilian…
TRUMP: Our country has no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Not a great moment in American history.
I`m joined right now by Anthony Scaramucci, executive board member of the
Anthony, thank you for coming on again this week.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM MEMBER: Hi, Chris.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this FBI story, “The New York Times” story
today about the FBI`s looking at this hack going back to September of `15,
more than a year ago, the DNC`s apparently faulty effort to react to it,
the FBI`s lack of zest in pursuing it, I must say, and the White House`s
failure to move on it, and your guy Donald Trump`s denial that it was, in
fact, the case?
Is he going to keep up that denial after “The Times” hits the…
MATTHEWS: … hits the top floor tomorrow?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I`m with him all day. And so I – it`s not that
he`s denying it. He`s just waiting for more evidence to come out.
Listen, we stand alongside of everybody else that thinks that hacking the
DNC or hacking any American organization, corporations like Sony or the
American government, is not something that we want happening.
We denounce all hackers out there. I just think – I said this to you last
week and I will say it again today. Even John Clapper today said that
there`s some conflicting information that`s come out between the CIA and
the FBI. So…
MATTHEWS: What do you mean? Conflicting about whether – no, just a minute
there, because we have got Cozy Bear and we have got Fancy Bear.
We have got Fancy Bear associated with defense intelligence in Russia. We
have known about those babies for years. And we know about Cozy Bear,
which apparently was active as recently as – as long as ago as September
If that is true or not – the question is, is it true or not? Does Donald
Trump accept the reporting of “The New York Times” on this matter? Does he
SCARAMUCCI: No, I would say that we want to wait for more official
information. But let`s say that that is true, Chris. Let`s accept
everything that the report…
MATTHEWS: Well, why say it`s true if you don`t want to say it? If you
don`t believe it`s true, don`t say it`s true.
SCARAMUCCI: I`m trying to make a bigger point to you and your viewers.
The bigger point is that we absolutely and unequivocally denounce the
hacking of American organizations and American institutions. And so…
You know, this is a ploy. Anthony, this is a ploy that your candidate –
and not you, but your candidate did back when he was saying, we don`t know
whether Barack Obama was American-born. We don`t know. We`re going to get
more information. I have got people out looking in Hawaii. I have got
inspectors down there coming up with really fascinating stuff.
SCARAMUCCI: I just gave you the point, though, Chris.
MATTHEWS: This ploy has been going on.
Do you or not? Does your candidate officially read “The New York Times”
and the – will he read this account?
SCARAMUCCI: Listen, he reads “The Times” every day. He reads all of these
papers. Some of them, he likes. Some of them, he doesn`t like.
MATTHEWS: Well, does he believe this account?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, let`s – Chris, you`re not letting me talk.
Let`s accept that the account is 100 percent true. We denounce it. We
don`t want people hacking our institutions, governmental institutions or
SCARAMUCCI: So, what are you upset with about that, what I just said? Why
is that a ploy?
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not upset. It`s because he said that – he`s been
showing things like – and we could show the tape a hundred times. We
probably will – it could be a 400-pound person lying in bed somewhere.
What`s with the – with that kind of imagery? Why does that do when we`re
involved in a serious discussion? Why does he say things like, it could be
a 400-pound person lying in bed somewhere? What does that mean?
SCARAMUCCI: I think he likes rhetorical flourishes like that because they
have a greater dramatic effect on the viewer.
I think he`s basically trying to tell people, listen, we honestly don`t
know what is going on. We denounce whatever – if you think it`s true, and
it is true, Chris, we denounce it.
MATTHEWS: I believe it.
SCARAMUCCI: But let`s – OK. And I know you believe it. I can tell by
the way you`re interviewing the reporter that you believe it.
And it probably is true. And if it is, we have got to put a stop to it,
you, me, the American government. We have to come together and solve these
issues on behalf of the American people.
If it`s happened before, it will happen again, and we have to come up with
ways through cyber-technology and anti-cyber-piracy to stop it. And the
president is meeting with a whole group of technology leaders tomorrow –
or the president-elect, I should say – to discuss this sort of stuff.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I just wish – since you`re speaking for him, I just wish,
Anthony, you would lose the subjunctive and get to the reality here, which
is not if, if, if, if.
You have to say, now that we know, we`re going to say something on it.
Let`s – I just think Trump ought to say something.
SCARAMUCCI: But, Chris, you and I are writing the same English composition
or having the same oral exam. I just said that it`s a terrible thing if it
MATTHEWS: If it happened.
SCARAMUCCI: And you don`t like the word if.
And you know what? When you`re part of the American government or part of
the American transition, you want to be very definitive about these things.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know.
SCARAMUCCI: I don`t want to fly off on the handle and say something that
may or may not be true. And I know you respect that about me.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
Well, thank you, Anthony Scaramucci, for coming on the program.
Up next: Trump`s other Cabinet decision today is to put former Texas
Governor Rick Perry in charge of the Energy Department, the energy – well,
it`s actually the agency he forgot even existed when he was listing the
departments he wanted to eliminate. Remember that? Oops. That`s ahead.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
DARA BROWN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Dara Brown. Here`s what`s happening.
President Obama signed a $6.3 billion 21st Century Cures Act earlier. It
provides nearly $2 billion for cancer research and $1 billion to fight
Ohio Governor John Kasich has vetoed a bill that would have banned
abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. However, Kasich did sign
another measure that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.
And the State Department says it cannot confirm reports of a cease-fire in
the Syrian capital of Aleppo – back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
By naming Rick Perry as his secretary of energy, president-elect Donald
Trump is choosing someone who said he wants to abolish the very department
he`s now set to lead. In fact, when Perry was a candidate for president
back in 2011, the Department of Energy was the third agency he wanted to
kill, the one he famously, or infamously, forgot when he promised sweeping
cuts to the federal government.
Here it goes again, Rick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: I will tell you, it is three
agencies of government when I get there that are gone, Commerce, Education,
and the – what`s the third one there? Let`s see.
The third agency of government, I would – I would do away with, the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.
PERRY: Commerce. And let`s see. I can`t. The third one, I can`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Perry now joins a growing list of appointees who have
expressed beliefs that are at odds with the purpose, you would think, of
the departments they`re out to lead.
Scott Pruitt, for example, Trump`s choice for EPA, is a global warming
skeptic and has called the EPA a Byzantine regulatory regime.
Trump`s pick for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, has argued against
raising the minimum wage and has championed replacing human labor with
machines, not exactly the idea of labor as we know it.
Betsy DeVos, who`s set to lead the Department of Education, has fought to
deliver tax money to private and parochial schools through vouchers, rather
than the public schools.
And Trump`s pick for Health and Human Services, Congressman Tom Price, has
made repeated attempts to replace Obamacare.
Anyway, I`m joined right now by Jay Newton-Small, contributor to “TIME”
Jay Newton, it`s been called the anti-government, because it`s all there.
But talk about Rick Perry. He`s known, unfortunately, for wearing nice
blazers and looking good, but he does have this problem with oops.
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, “TIME”: Oops.
MATTHEWS: And now the department he wanted to get rid of, which is far
more important, he`s now being asked to lead.
Why would he want to lead a department? I mean, I remember Reagan named
somebody, Bill Bennett, to run Education. But what`s the point?
NEWTON-SMALL: Well, I think it`s a bit of a sabotage from within, right?
That`s exactly what Reagan did, is, he couldn`t get rid of these
departments. Every president in modern history has promised to get rid of
departments of government. And none of them have actually succeeded,
because it`s such a massive mass of bureaucracy.
It`s so difficult to change Washington, change the federal government,
that, in fact, the only president who`s managed to change the federal
government`s footprint was George W. Bush. After 9/11, he added an agency
to the government, right?
NEWTON-SMALL: And so – and so what Reagan did is, since he couldn`t get
rid of them, he kind of put in people who changed the culture from within.
MATTHEWS: OK, here`s the problem. You`re a journalist. You know this
If you pick somebody to run the EPA, then all the reporters who are the
beat reporters for EPA are kind of into environmentalism and climate
issues. That`s why they chose that beat, if they could choose it. So
they`re going to write for the next year about what`s going on at the EPA.
And the constituents of the EPA are environmental groups, wildlife, all
kinds of groups, Sierra. They`re all there. So, all the constituency
groups and all the journalists who cover the constituency groups and cover
that department and its purposes will be out to make life very unpleasant
for Mr. Scott Pruitt.
So, he`s creating these nests of trouble for himself, it seems to me. You
can argue about vouchers, but it`s very hard to put somebody in there who`s
anti-environmental in the Environmental Protection Agency, or anti-labor,
who wants to have machines and robots.
NEWTON-SMALL: But all of these things they do, I mean, there`s only so
much you can do, right? So, when you do rule-making in any of these
agencies, there`s a whole sort of very staid process, where you have to
introduce the rule, you have to have public hearings and you have to have
more public hearings. And then, once the rule is passed, you can sue it,
So, you can – you can bet there`s a ton of environmental lawyers.
MATTHEWS: You have to put it in the federal digest for X-many weeks and
all that stuff, yes.
NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, exactly.
You have to publish it.
And so then you can bet there`s a ton of people who are going to – you`re
going to see Pruitt – Sierra Club vs. Pruitt. Like, all of these groups
are just going to sue over every single thing they try to change. And it`s
just going to be total litigation.
MATTHEWS: You`re right. That`s what is going on. Let`s get ready. We`re
giving them a great forecast of things to come.
Jay Newton-Small, thank you .
Up next: the HARDBALL roundtable on all of Trump`s moves today, the
bombshell report in “The New York Times” about the Russian hacking, which
is now on the record, Mr. Scaramucci. It`s part of our world now. We all
know it. It`s up to Trump to admit what we all know.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We`re giving them a great forecast of things
Jay Newton-Small, thank you.
Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable on all of Trump`s moves today. The
bombshell report in “The New York Times” about the Russian hacking which is
now on the record, Mr. Scaramucci. It`s part of our world now. We all
know. It`s up to Trump to admit what we all know.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As I said, there`s two big stories out tonight. First, Donald Trump picked
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson – you love that name, Rex – to be the next
secretary of state. Tillerson`s Russian ties could cause some problems for
his confirmation especially among Republicans hawks like John McCain,
Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. They don`t like Russia.
Anyway, tonight, “The New York Times” has a bombshell report about the
scope of Russian hacking. The FBI knew that Russia was hacking the
Democratic National Committee as far back as September of last year.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. There`s so much to talk about,
Heidi Przybyla, senior politics reporter for “USA Today”, Hugh Hewitt is
the host of “The Hugh Hewitt Show” on Salem Radio Networks and an MSNBC
contributor, and Michael Crowley is senior foreign affairs correspondent
Heidi, let`s talk about Tillerson. I never thought about the guy or never
heard of him. He`s not on my scope.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: No one has.
MATTHEWS: I don`t – I do think – I learned one thing that the
Rockefeller family still has a role in Exxon. I forgot about that old
relationship. And that he was almost kept from having both titles, CEO and
president and all of that. Who is this guy? I mean, what`s he got to do
with taking – he`s going to fill the role of Thomas Jefferson and James
Baker and George Shultz?
PRZYBYLA: He`s going to have to answer those questions before Congress,
because they have some serious questions. And it`s not even so much about
Tillerson. It`s about what he represents in terms of potentially
monumental shift in terms of our policy, vis-a-vis Russia, which has been
since World War II, to create a whole global institutions and diplomacy, to
serve as a bulwark against Russian aggression.
If you look at what we do know about Tillerson, it`s that he supports
easing those sanctions against Ukraine. And this comes at a time, or
against Russia, in terms of Ukraine, and their aggression against Ukraine.
This comes at a time where we are just at the very beginning of scratching
the surface of what this cyberattack on us really looks like and what it
really means. And there may be a time where we need somebody who is going
to have a really stiff, strong policy towards Russia depending on what we
MATTHEWS: You know we get in trouble over the years, we all know this,
it`s (INAUDIBLE) draws a line of defense in North Asia that doesn`t include
Korea. So, all of a sudden, Koreans get invaded, because we said we aren`t
going to do it. April Glaspie somehow tells Saddam Hussein, well, it`s a
border, we`re really not. And next thing you know we`re in there with
everything we got with Desert Sword because we blew it. Because the
diplomats didn`t make it clear, this is what we`ll fight for.
So, what you really want is a guy that can tell Kim Jong-un, that guy with
the weird haircut, tell him up front, don`t play with nuclear weapons on
our watch, because we`ll find a way of blowing you up, personally. We will
get to you and you will wish you hadn`t done this.
So, how do we send this – is this guy capable of that type of diplomacy,
MICHAEL CROWLEY, POLITICO: The answer to that question is yes, but you
have Donald Trump with his Twitter account and who knows that he`s going to
say there. So, that`s going to be a very complicated situation.
But by all accounts, yes, Tillerson is a competent diplomat. I mean, he`s
been a corporate diplomat. But this guy is a top flight when it comes to
negotiating with foreign governments, doing deals with them, making clear
what he means.
I mean, I don`t think anyone is doubting his expertise, his qualifications,
his intelligence. I think Heidi is exactly right this is going to be a
kind of proxy war for Donald Trump`s desire to reshape our relations with
Russia. So, people are really focused on Rex Tillerson`s relationship –
MATTHEWS: OK. Does he understand, Hugh, I`ll get into a fight with you,
because I know it`s coming. Does he understand when you`re trying to cut a
deal with the Saudis and you`re trying to deal with the Saudis and
Jordanians and al-Sisi in Egypt and Emirates, you`re trying to cut
something with the quartet over there, and then you move the American
embassy to Jerusalem right in their face. The one thing they`ve always
said, please don`t do, because we care about that holy site as much as the
Jewish people do. Don`t take sides.
What happens then? Does he understand this fragile relationship deal we
have over there?
HUGH HEWITT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Before he took over Russian
operations, he ran Yemen operations, which is like going to Apache country
in 1890s. So, I think he has got great depth in the operation.
But like you, I have never seen him on television. I`ve never actually
heard him. So what I don`t know of someone, and perhaps you guys are – I
look to their references. You mean this earlier, Bob Gates, Condi Rice,
Jim Baker, Dick Cheney.
MATTHEWS: They all work for him. They all got paid by him.
HEWITT: I dismiss that. I think the fact that he would stand up and say,
Dick Cheney`s a patriot. Jim Baker`s a patriot. Condi Rice isn`t going to
recommend someone who doesn`t know the world.
MATTHEWS: I know.
But you would say this if it was the liberal doing this? If a progressive,
if I will, had hired somebody and had recommended somebody, say, yes, but
they`re all on the payroll. You wouldn`t rate that an issue?
HEWITT: And the very best recommendation I got was from the Dep Sec in the
Obama administration who says he`s been dealing with him for years. He`s
tough, smart, conservative –
MATTHEWS: Who`s the dep sec?
HEWITT: Dep sec of energy, Dan Poneman, told me, a wonderful, wonderful –
MATTHEWS: What`s dep sec mean?
HEWITT: Deputy secretary. Told me, a great man, absolutely the best we
MATTHEWS: You`re the supreme bureaucrat.
PRZYBYLA: How do you pivot from overnight from being really since the
Reagan administration, a business diplomat, who is mostly concerned about
profits and about cutting deals, you`re very transactional. You have
billions of dollars of money tied up in these sanctions in Russia, and
overnight, all of a sudden, you have a totally different set of –
HEWITT: You have 70,000 employees around the world.
MATTHEWS: Let her finish.
PRZYBYLA: No I was just going to say, that have to do with national
security interests. And the interests of – in terms of public
policymaking, on behalf of our country, versus a company`s profit.
MATTHEWS: The roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.
And tomorrow, join me for a special discussion with the stars of the new
movie “Hidden Figures.” It`s the story of three African-American women
scientist who is help launch John Glenn into orbit. I`ll be joined by
actors Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Kevin Costner,
along with director Ted Melfi and Pharrell Williams, who composed the
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Coming up in the next hour, Donald Trump`s “Thank You” tour will
resume. This time, from West Alice, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee.
Trump`s set to appear with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Trump, of
course, won Wisconsin, the first time a Republican won the state since
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Heidi, tell me something I don`t know.
PRZYBYLA: We`re getting no indications that Trump is actually going to
divest as the ethics experts are urging him to do, so what does that mean
in terms of day one? What`s the worst possible scenario here? Both in
terms of national security and potentially violating the Constitution.
All of these Trump buildings are going to need added security. They
immediately become terrorist target, potential terrorism targets.
PRZYBYLA: Because his name is on the building, and if somebody wants to
make a statement that becomes an obvious target, they may need additional
security. Foreign governments have to provide that security. That becomes
a constitutional issue and obviously national security issue.
MATTHEWS: Trouble, trouble.
HEWITT: Three for one, John Bolton will be confirmed, Rand Paul is a party
of one. Number two –
MATTHEWS: He will be confirmed for what?
HEWITT: He will be confirmed for either the director of national
intelligence or deputy secretary of state. Number two –
MATTHEWS: He won`t be. I make a prediction, he never will to anything.
HEWITT: Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, is not a climate
skeptic. He is a federalist, an extraordinary constitutionalist (ph).
He`ll be confirmed.
And number three, Andy Puzder got the most blowback, and not from the
people who are worried about robots, because he`s not actually for robots.
He said that what will happen with if California doesn`t change their laws.
He`s getting blowback from anti-immigration hardliners and franchise world,
which numbers in the tens of thousands will rise up to get him confirmed.
All three will be confirmed.
CROWLEY: We`re focused on Rex Tillerson`s relationship with Russia and
Vladimir Putin. It`s – his confirmation would be taken as a positive
signal by the Gulf, Arab, Sunni oil producing states, United Arab Emirates,
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, those countries which had rocky relations with
President Obama. They see a U.S. tilt toward Shia Iran. We`ll be very
reassured by the idea that this guy who`s done a lot of business with them
MATTHEWS: They`re seeing a shift toward Iran?
CROWLEY: Under Obama, they are concerned and Tillerson is the signal of
friendship and he`s a guy they know and that would be a first step toward
repairing those relations which –
MATTHEWS: Interesting stuff, Michael.
Thank you, Heidi Przybyla, Hugh Hewitt, and Michael Crowley.
When we return, let me finish with Trump Watch for this Tuesday night.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Tuesday, December 13th, 2016.
I continue to hunt for the pony in that pile of stuff on the barn floor.
It`s what Ronald Reagan would say about the boy on Christmas morning, the
optimistic one. So, here`s what could happen with Donald Trump in the
White House and Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. We could finally find
our way out of the horror in Syria, and into the killing by the government
of Bashar Assad, the global danger of ISIS. We could meet the need for
strong unifying leadership among Sunni Arabs, the desire for the Kurds for
a country of their own.
The answer, of course, is to remove Assad from control of Syria, partition
his control into an area loyal to him that would allow the Sunni Arabs to
lead the country at large, allow the Kurds to make their own way. None of
this is possible as long as Bashar al Assad fights to the death which is
unlikely to come his way as long as the Russians hold fast to their
alliance with him.
I`m no Middle East expert, but I can see the obvious. I can see that we,
the United States, is led by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry,
are in a box, we can`t get rid of Assad, we can`t unite the Sunni Arabs of
Syria. And because we can`t do either, we cannot rid the land of ISIS.
How do you push ISIS off the land if you don`t have someone to give it to?
Perhaps Russia is the key. Perhaps. Right now, we don`t have a key.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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