Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/15/2016

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Eric Lipton, Carolyn Ryan, Sam Stein, Karine Jean-Pierre, Michael Steele, Caitlyn Huey-Burns

Date: December 15, 2016
Guest: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Eric Lipton, Carolyn Ryan, Sam Stein, Karine
Jean-Pierre, Michael Steele, Caitlyn Huey-Burns

JOY REID, GUEST HOST: Trump and Putin versus U.S. intelligence agencies.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Joy Reid in New York, in for Chris Matthews.

There isn`t much disagreement when it comes to Russia`s role in interfering
in the U.S. election this year. Seventeen intelligence agencies said they
were confident it was Russia. Many Republicans in Congress agree. The
White House has publicly named the Kremlin.

But there is one notable exception and it comes from a man who`s being
given intelligence briefings when he chooses to take them, President-elect
Donald Trump. He continues to question the findings about Russia`s
involvement. Before the election, he said for all he knows, it could be
some 400-pound guy in his bedroom in New Jersey.

Well, according to a new report from NBC News, not only was Russia involved
in the plot, it reached up to the highest level of the Kremlin. NBC News
reports U.S. intelligence officials now believe with a high level of
confidence that Russian president Vladimir Putin became personally involved
in the covert Russian campaign to interfere with the U.S. presidential

A spokesman for Putin told the Associated Press today the report was,
quote, “laughable nonsense.” And Donald Trump tweeted this morning, “If
Russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the White House wait so
long to act? Why do they only complain after Hillary lost?”

Trump`s claim that the White House acted only after Hillary lost isn`t
true. On October 12th, White House press secretary Josh Earnest publicly
blamed Russia for the hacking and said there would be a response.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president will consider a
range of options in terms of determining what is appropriate or


REID: The intelligence assessment Earnest was citing was made public via a
paper statement from the Obama administration five days earlier, on October
7th, which happens to be the same day the lurid “Access Hollywood” tape of
Trump bragging to Billy Bush about assaulting women came out.

According to NBC News,10 days later, at an October press conference, Obama
was not asked a single question about the Russian hacks.

Today, Senator Lindsey Graham called Russia`s role in the hack


certain that the Russians hacked into Podesta`s e-mails, the DNC and other
political organizations. Most of the information that was released was
unfavorable to Clinton, not Trump. I don`t know their motives were, other
than create discontent and discord and to undermine democracy.


REID: And earlier today, I spoke to Senator Dianne Feinstein of
California. She`s the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.


REID: Well, I want to start with getting your reaction to the reporting by
our Cynthia McFadden and others that Vladimir Putin not only sanctioned the
hacking of Democrats, both Hillary Clinton and Democrats down the ticket,
but that he actually participated or that he was the driving force behind

What do you make of that reporting?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I can`t really go there. I
can`t really say where – whether he was or he wasn`t a driving force. As
a matter of fact, I don`t know whether he was or he wasn`t a driving force.
So let me make that clear.

The thing is, with both Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear and the evidence that
leads that the intelligence bureaus used them and the damage that was done
– what we know now was at least four House campaigns and the presidential
campaigns and both political parties, with material being put out in large
amounts to embarrass the Democratic side but not the Republican side. And
that is pretty conclusive.

And I think the intelligence agencies, when we were briefed, briefed us
with high confidence. Having – and we don`t often have that, I mean, and
it was obvious by their body language, by their emphasis, by the passion
that they had in the briefing – it`s usually pretty cut-and-dried – that
this was really fairly unique.

And therefore, would a country do this, which is actually foreign
espionage, on another country without the assent or the direct order of the
head of the government, particularly when you know the head of that
government runs everything in that very large and very powerful country?

REID: And what do you make of it? I mean, you talk about the high
confidence that you have in the assessment and the definitiveness of the
briefings that you received from the intelligence community. Then what do
you make of the fact that the soon-to-be next president of the United
States, Donald Trump, does not believe the assessment of the intelligence
community and is, in fact, ridiculing those findings?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I have just learned that Mr. Trump, president-elect, is
taking more intelligence briefings. If they are the PDBs, we don`t see
that. That`s the one thing on the intelligence side of our committee work
that we do not see. Only the president sees that.

So if he has a similar briefing that we have had from Director Clapper or
from others at the highest levels and with the information – and I think
there`s more out that he would be given than we have been given – I think
he will take a different view.

Now, what his reaction will be, I certainly don`t know, but I think he will
see the seriousness of this regardless of political party, regardless of
which side is benefited and which side is hurt. I think he will see that
this is not good for the future of the American democratic system, and
therefore, we need to do something. Now, what we do is another story.

Having said that, President Obama, it`s my understanding, before he leaves
office will put out a report with the facts and, hopefully, declassify this
so the American people can actually see what happened. That`s a good
measurement because this is, in my view, a real attack at our system of
election, democratic election. And I don`t think our country can just
stand by and let this happen because once it happens, it`s open sesame.

REID: But Senator, what if he doesn`t change his view? What if after
receiving even substantially more top secret briefings, he still doesn`t
believe it? Can the American people have confidence in the Congress to be
the investigative authority in that case, when Senator Mitch McConnell, the
leader of the Senate, his wife is about to soon be working for Donald Trump
and be in his cabinet?


REID: And he is said to have blocked putting this information out in a
partisan manner during the campaign. So if Trump doesn`t change his view
and Mitch McConnell already seems to have blocked this information getting
out and will have a family tie to the White House, then who would the
American people be able to turn to, to do a real…

FEINSTEIN: Well, let me – let me make a comment on that. I know Senator
McConnell. He`s the Republican leader. He`s the majority leader of the
Senate. He wants our elections to function fairly and without influence
from foreign countries. And you know, strike me dead if that isn`t true.
It is true.

And I think this would be completely irrelevant. His wife, Elaine, is
wonderful. She`ll be a good transportation secretary, and I don`t think
that would be relevant at all in his mind. I really don`t.

I think what would be relevant to him is who did – who would do an
investigation. And if I understand it up to this point, he would leave it
up to the Intelligence Committees.

This is why I think it`s so important that what President Obama is
reportedly doing in the preparation of a report gets done. After all, this
broke in the summer. We knew – we`ve known about this for six months.
And I think the facts need to be put before the American people so –
because this is major.

And what people are telling me today is, Oh, Americans don`t really care.
Well, Mr. and Mrs. America, wake up! You better care! This is our whole
system. This is everything the Constitution has put forward for us to be a
nation under law, to be able to conduct free and fair elections.

And if we can`t do that, and if other nations are going to come in and
essentially manipulate elections by releasing data to one side, which they
may think is unfavorable to that side, then we`ve got a big problem.

REID: Yes. Well, Senator Dianne Feinstein, I think that everyone can
agree on that. Thank you so much for your time.

FEINSTEIN: Well, you`re welcome, Joy. Nice to talk to you.

REID: Same here.


REID: At the White House today, Josh Earnest reacted to Trump`s tweet
casting doubt on who is responsible for the hacking of Democrats` e-mails.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Another one came in today! This
Wikileaks is like a treasure trove! Did you see where on Wikileaks, it was
announced that they were paying protesters to be violent $1,500?


TRUMP: Donna Brazile did it again. Wikileaks today – she gave the
questions to a debate to Hillary Clinton.

Wikileaks just came out with a new one just a little while ago.

Her campaign in Wikileaks has spoken horribly about Catholics and
evangelicals. They got it all down, folks, Wikileaks.

Hillary should fire Podesta. How do you have people working that say these
horrible things about you? Boy, I love reading those Wikileaks!


REID: Well, based on that tape reel, there`s clearly no question Donald
Trump made information from the Wikileaks hack a major focus during the
final weeks of the campaign. But now let`s listen to Josh Earnest today.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was obvious to everyone who
was paying attention, including the gentleman whose thumbs authored that
tweet, that the impact of that malicious activity benefited the Trump
campaign and hurt the Clinton campaign. That`s why the Republican nominee
was hoping they would do more of it. That is why, in the days leading up
to election day, the Republican nominee himself was encouraging people to
check out Wikileaks.


REID: Meanwhile, today “The New York Times” reports the Russian campaign
to disrupt the U.S. election wasn`t limited to the race for the White
House. Dozens of Democratic House candidates were also targeted. The
hackers, linked to Russian intelligence, went by the name of Guccifer 2.0.
According to “The Times,” the seats that Guccifer 2.0 targeted in the
document dump were hardly random. They were some of the most competitive
House races in the country.

Joining me now is NBC`s Cynthia McFadden, who broke the story yesterday
about Putin`s involvement, and the “New York Times`s” Eric Lipton, who
broke today`s story about the targeting of Democratic House members. Thank
you both for being here.

So Cynthia, I want to first get your reaction to Dianne Feinstein. She`s
expressing confidence that the Senate will be able to look into these
matters despite what will soon be family ties between the Senate majority
leader and the incoming president.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think what she said had a lot
of resonance with me and is consistent with our reporting. I mean, I think
there`s another way to look at what Trump tweeted today. There is the
potential that he`s making a pivot. What he said today was asking some
questions. Why wasn`t more put out there?

I mean, remember when there was the famous Sony hack and the president went
on television and looked in the camera and said, We`re not putting up with
this? President Obama didn`t do that in this instance.

And our reporting tonight on “NIGHTLY NEWS” suggested there were a couple
of reasons why. According to high-level intelligence sources, the
administration felt that they wanted to stay out of – the appearance of
affecting the election.

Secondly, they were also confident that Hillary Clinton was going to win
and they didn`t want to take the chance of a tit for tat – a cyber tit for
tat with the Russians if there was going to be time later to straighten it
all out. Well, it didn`t turn out the White House thought.

So I think that – you know, we talked to the former head of NATO today.
He said, Listen, Donald Trump is raising some interesting questions. Let`s
respond to those questions. America needs to know the answers. I think
very consistent with what Senator Feinstein said.

REID: We also – NBC News is reporting that the – the day that the
assessment came out, October 7th, was the same day as the leak of the
“Access Hollywood” tape. So it`s arguable that maybe the White House
didn`t think that they could compete with the news cycle because, as we
know, that`s really what was leading the news cycle. And to the same
point, NBC News reported that reporters, that journalists asked the
president zero questions about hacking when he did a press conference about
– a press conference 11 days later.

MCFADDEN: So that`s on us. I mean, that`s our failure. But you know, I
think as Dianne Feinstein points out, the intelligence community had made
the assessment for at least six months before October 7th. It was
certainly six months prior to that. We know that at the G20, President
Obama went up to Putin personally and talked to him about it.

And yet the American public was really unaware of the full scope of this.
A paper statement by intelligence officials is not the same thing as the
president. The president didn`t go to Congress and say, This is serious
business. Let`s consider sanctions. So I think there`s some questions
that need to be answered.

REID: And yet, Eric Lipton, you did have the story out. I mean, I know
that on my show, we did the story almost every weekend. And so the
American public had some information about this. What they didn`t know at
the time, and what we were even reporting when we had various journalists
on who talked about Russians attempting to interfere, was that they were
also interfering below the presidential level, they were going after House

Tell us little bit more about that and who was targeted.

ERIC LIPTON, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, what happened was the – Guccifer
2.0, who we believe is a Russian intelligent affiliate – intelligence
affiliate, was – was – took information from the Democratic Campaign –
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tens of thousands of pages of
documents, which were their internal assessments of their own candidates,
which identified weaknesses of their own candidates, in addition to

And then he dumped those – that information into individual House races in
spots across the country, in Florida and Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, in

And he gave this information to bloggers and to reporters in those states
via direct message often through Twitter, and then they`ve got – produced
coverage in each of those states that was damaging to these Democratic
candidates. In several cases, it looks as if this may have been a factor
in losses of these candidates in House races.

This got very little coverage because reporters were mostly focused on the
Podesta e-mails, the DNC disputes, that were coming forward from all of
this releases in material. But it had great consequences, as well, on the
House level, which is – you know, it`s sort of enormous (ph) to look back
and think about.

REID: Yes, it was broader than we thought. I want to ask each of you
before we leave whether you think the intelligence community will
declassify much of this information that so the American people can see
what members of Congress have already seen. And Cynthia, I`ll start with

MCFADDEN: Yes. I think that there`s going to be some declassification,
and I think that`s part of what the president is now trying to do. Whether
it`s too little, too late remains to be seen. But certainly, I think
there`s universal pleasure at the notion that the president is going to
convene this bipartisan look at the intelligence information.

And I think that he will, indeed, make the case to the American people
because as Dianne Feinstein said to you earlier today, it is clear that
this matters, and the depth of this is vitally important to democracy.

REID: Yes. She said, “Wake up, American people.” I`m sorry, Eric Lipton,
we are out of time. We`ll have you back. Thank you, Cynthia McFadden and
Eric Lipton both.

And coming up – what Trump…

LIPTON: Thank you.

REID: Thank you. What Trump was supposed to be doing today was holding a
press conference where he claimed that he would explain how he would
separate himself from his business when he`s president. Well, clearly,
that didn`t happen, so we`re left with more questions.

And later – Trump continues to attack the news media as dishonest and
unfair. So what should the media expect once he takes office?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: Donald Trump is set to take the stage soon in Hershey, Pennsylvania,
as he continues his thank you tour.

That and more HARDBALL, including a look at the Trump family`s ongoing
conflicts of interest when we come back.


REID: Welcome back to Hardball. There is new alarm today over Donald
potential conflict of interest as president after Trump`s children – Eric,
Donald Jr., Ivanka and
her husband Jared Kushner – attended a meeting yesterday with the top
executives of multiple Silicon
Valley companies.

Trump has promised he`ll take steps to separate his presidency from his
personal business
interests. But he has yet to clarify exactly how he intends to do that.


On Monday, Trump tweeted that he will leave his company to his two adult
sons. And that
under their management, “No new deals will be done during his time in

But Eric and Donald Junior are also playing a role on their father`s
transition team. And
their involvement in yesterday`s tech summit suggests they`ll continue to
have a seat at the table.
Addressing the issue in separate interviews today, Kellyanne Conway and RNC
communications director,
Sean Spicer, both emphasized that Trump was being transparent.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: I find all this hand wringing over who was in that
meeting yesterday to be
really over the top. The meeting was so transparent. We`ve seen clip
after clip, excerpt after
excerpt – it`s all been reported this morning. It was quite transparent,
open. There was nothing
secretive about it. And these are adults who have a great deal to offer to
the conversation.

SEAN SPICER: We brought the press in to show who was at the meeting. So
it`s not like
there`s anything nefarious going on, or sneaky or transparent. We`ve been
very clear about the role
of his family, the importance that they play and the advice that they give


REID: I`m joined now by Karine Jean-Pierre, senior advisor and national
spokesperson at
MoveOn. As well as Michael Steele, former chairman of the RNC, and an MSNBC
political analyst. Thank
you both for being here.

All right Karine. So you know, you have to give the Trump team credit that
they understand
the media.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG: Oh, most definitely.

REID: And they understand the media – one of the favorite words of all
journalists is
“transparency.” It`s said every day on Twitter, it`s said every day on TV.
People love the word,
“transparency.” What in the world does transparency saying that we`re
going to have the kids be in
the business and in the White House?


REID: To think we`re going to do it. How does that solve the conflict of

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s not transparency at all. Bringing in the media and for
a couple of
minutes just to show what you want people to see is a photo op. It`s not

If you wanted to truly be transparent, he would A: Have a press conference
and allow press
to ask questions. B: Actually release his personal taxes, right? That
we`ve been asking for, that
he said he was going to release once he ran for president. Never did.

And three: Actually tell us, “How are you going to divest your companies,
your business,
from the conflict of interest that is right before you. And instead what
he does is, he uses
Twitter, he does 140 characters or less to explain his plan, which is not
the way to do it.

REID: Yes. And you know, and Michael Steele, in addition to that, he
invites cameras into
watch his children, both be in his cabinet and do business with him as
members of his company. I
mean, he`s literally saying, “I`m going to let you watch us do kleptocracy.
That makes it better.”
How can that possibly work?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: Well there you go with another five-
dollar word I`ve got
to go look up.

JEAN-PIERRE: I`ll lend you the five dollars.

STEELE: Thank you, babe, thank you. No, I hear what you`re saying, but
you know, there`s
nothing that stops him from doing this. There`s no law on the book.
There`s no regulation that
oversees it or prevents it.

The President of the United States is allowed to have at the table advising
him whomever he
wants and in whatever capacity he wants them there to advise him. Whether
it`s a family member or,
you know, a partisan or someone else. They`re not getting paid. They`re
not on the government
payroll. They will not be on the government payroll. So that is the
reality of it.


And when you flesh the rest of this out, Joy – the new reality that we`re
all having to come
to grips with is that Donald Trump is in the driver`s seat here. Donald
Trump understood that the
law did not require him – because there is no law that requires him – to
release his tax returns.
And he didn`t. Donald Trump understands that there is no law that sets him
in the same box as other
federal officials when it comes to conflicts of interest.


And so he does not see any, and therefore will not respond accordingly.

REID: Except, and here`s the problem, Michael Steele. There are laws
against bribery.
There is the Emoluments Clause of the constitution that specifically deals
with –


REID: Well, hold on a second. Against foreign bribery of an American

STEELE: But Joy,

REID: Hold on, hold on, hold on. No no no no.

STEELE: I`m not going to let you finish this point because you can`t set
up a straw dog
argument like that, Joy.

REID: I haven`t finished my question. I haven`t finished my question.

STEELE: You can`t set up a straw dog argument like that, Joy.

REID: It`s not a straw man argument. Ask Richard Painter –

STEELE: How do you get to bribery?

REID: – who is the former ethics advisor to George W. Bush if it`s a
straw man. And
Richard Painter –

STEELE: How do you get to bribery?

REID: – has been on this air over and over and over, that essentially if
foreign leaders
can check into Donald Trump`s hotel anywhere around the world –

STEELE: That`s not bribery.

REID: – and essentially pay the President of the United States, and then
get policy
favorable to them, that is akin to essential bribery.

STEELE: Well –

REID: He called him an “innkeeper” yesterday. And that`s Richard Painter,
not me. So you
can say that it`s a five-dollar word or whatever if you want.

STEELE: Well you, you, Joy –

REID: But people who are constitutional lawyers, which neither you or I
are, have said very

STEELE: But I`ve worked in the –

REID: Ask Laurence Tribe. Ask Richard Painter.

STEELE: Excuse me. As a corporate lawyer, I have worked in this area.
And so you need to
establish bribery. You just can`t say it. You just can`t project it.

REID: Would you consider a foreign leader –

STEELE: Excuse me.

REID: – being able to swipe their card at a Trump Hotel –

STEELE: No I would not until –

REID: – and then get policy favorable to them? You don`t consider that
to be a bribe?

STEELE: And then gets policies. Has that happened?

REID: Let`s go to Karine on this. Because Karine, here`s –

STEELE: No no Joy, stop. Joy.

REID: He`s not in office yet. He`s not in office yet, Michael Steele.

STEELE: No but then how can you make the case?

REID: He has to correct the conflicts of interest before he gets into
office. That`s what
every single expert on this has said, including George W. Bush`s ethics

STEELE: But the conflict of interest doesn`t exist for him.

REID: Not me. George W. – Yes, the constitution applies to him.

STEELE: It doesn`t exist for him.

REID: The constitution applies to him. It does. Karine, does the
Constitution of the
United States –

STEELE: The Emoluments Clause talks about benefits.

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely.

REID: Your party went after Barack Obama –

STEELE: Not conflicts.

REID: – for receiving a Nobel Peace Prize and used the Emoluments Clause
as the reason for
you all to go after President Obama.

STEELE: But that was a direct benefit.

REID: And he gave the money away to charity. So let`s go to, let`s let
Karine get in.


JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look. I think the founding fathers did not believe
that, you know, that
anybody including the president was above the law, right? And I think
that`s the thing to remember.
When we were, when they were putting together the Constitution and all of

But There`s also, there`s the hotel in Washington, D.C., right? There`s
the Trump
International Hotel, which is being – his lease is with the federal

REID: He`s the landlord and the tenant.

JEAN-PIERRE: He`s the landlord and the tenant. So on day one, he will be
violating that
lease because he as an elected official – he cannot partake in that lease.
And that is – and just
this past weekend there was a federal, a federal government that had a
holiday party at his Trump

REID: That`s right.

JEAN-PIERRE: And that alone – if he was president, he would be in
violation of that lease.

STEELE: So can I, can I just address that point real –

REID: Well, actually we don`t have more time. I`m sorry. We have a
commercial. We have to
pay for this.

Karine Jean-Pierre and Michael Steele, thank you both.

STEELE: All right.

REID: Thank you. And up next, Donald Trump is sure to have an
unconventional presidency as
you could just hear. And that could include his relationship with the
press. So what happens to the
White house press corps when Mr. Reality Show comes to Washington? That is

This is Hardball, the place for politics.

JOSH BARRO, MSNBC: I`m Josh Barro. Here`s what`s happening.


Dylann Roof, who confessed to fatally shooting nine black worshippers at a
Charleston church
last year was convicted earlier today on all 33 counts against him. Jurors
only deliberated for
about two hours in the case. Eighteen of the counts carry the death
penalty. Roof sat stone-faced
as the verdicts were read.

The jury will now break for the holidays and then decide whether Roof
should spend life in
prison or die for his crimes. He plans to represent himself during the
next phase of the trial.


Now, back to Hardball.


REID: Donald Trump has taken his “Thank-You” tour to Hershey,
Pennsylvania. He`s speaking
now. Let`s take a listen.

price way down.
Way way down. And how about the F-35 fighter? It`s a disaster. It`s
totally out of control.
Totally out of control.

So we`re going to get more equipment for our military. And we`re going to
get better
equipment for our military at a smaller price. Does that make sense?
Okay? Believe me.

We`re also going to stop trying to build new nations in far-off lands.
Many areas – you`ve
never even heard of these places. Okay? We`re going to stop. We`re going
to be so strong. We`re
going to be so respected. We`re going to be so powerful.

We`re not respected now. And believe me, it`s going to turn. And we`re
going to have this
great, incredible powerful military. But you know what? I don`t think
we`re ever going to have to
use it. And that would be very, very nice. America first. It would be
very, very nice. Instead –

CROWD: Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.


REID: That was Donald Trump in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He continues his
“Thank You” tour.
We`ll keep an eye on. And if he makes any news, we will bring it to you.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump frequently attacked the news media
as dishonest. He
called the press “liars.” Singled out individual reporters at rallies and
press conferences and
accused networks of unfair coverage, mostly for reporting the words that
came out of his mouth.

Since becoming president elect, Trump and the press have also sparred over
access, as Trump
hasn`t allowed the media to travel on his plane. He`s ditched his
protective press pool, and he
hasn`t held a news conference since July 27th. And yesterday, incoming
White House Chief of Staff,
Reince Priebus, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, that changes
might be coming to the daily
White House briefings.


REINCE PRIEBUS: Even looking at things like the daily, you know, the daily
White House
briefing from the press secretary. I mean, there`s a lot of different ways
that things can be done
and I can assure you we`re looking at that.

The first front row of assigned seats issue, as I understand it, started in
the Obama
administration. In the Bush administration you just took a seat and I
guess there were a couple
people that had reserved spots, but for the most part, the more formalized
reserved seating piece
came in over the last eight years. That issue is being talked about.

The point of all of this conversation is that the traditions – while some
of them are great
– I think it`s time to revisit a lot of these things that have been done
in the White House.



REID: Nope, not true.

White House Correspondents Association President, Jeff Mason, released a
statement in
response to Priebus` comment, saying:

“That was not on Obama-era innovation as Mr. Priebus suggested. The WHCA
responsibility for assigning the seats in the briefing room over the last
two decades at the request
of both Republican and Democratic administrations, who were mindful of the
potential appearance of
playing favorites if they assigned the seats themselves.”

Trump himself took to Twitter this morning to lash out at the media, as he
so often does,
tweeting, “The media tries so hard to make my move to the White House as it
pertains to my business
so complex – when actually it isn`t.”


REID: So what does the future relationship between the new president and
the press corps look
like, given the acrimony that already exists during the transition?

Sam Stein, a senior politics editor at the Huffington Post and Carolyn Ryan
is senior editor
for politics at the New York Times.

But Carolyn, I`m going to start with you. Because I think nothing occupies
real estate in
the mind of Donald Trump like the New York Times. I mean, he came up here
as a Queens-based
businessman and has always coveted the love, respect, and adulation of the

Do you expect the Times to have a particularly volatile relationship with
Donald Trump going

CAROLYN RYAN, NEW YORK TIMES: I think we already do have a very
particularly freighted
relationship. And I think, you`re right. That he almost resents the
power, even as he covets the
approval of the New York Times.

But I think what`s going on right now is there`s sort of a testing of both
sides. He`s
testing the media. They`re suggesting that they`re going to shatter some
of the traditions that the
White House press corps has enjoyed – a sort of cohabitating uneasily with
the president.

And the media is, as you see in coverage, getting more aggressive and
directly calling him
out, pointing out inaccuracies in headlines, making clear that things he`s
saying are not true. And
it feels like a testing period where everyone is sort of taking the other
person`s measure.

REID: Yes, and you know, Sam. For a lot of people, that might be a good
thing. I mean,
there is a sort of reverential sort of attitude toward the presidency among
a lot of Americans. And
the press corps, in the minds of a lot of Americans, has gotten too cozy
with presidents. Getting
nicknames from President George W. Bush when he was there. You know, just
in a lot of peoples` minds
– even attending all these dinners, White House Correspondents, etc. –
that we all go to – that
it`s too much. Maybe is it better that the press just stay purely

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, yes. The press obviously has a role in
being an
adversarial check on power. And I think that has to continue, obviously,
under this administration.
The question about coziness is always a difficult one to answer. Because
of course you don`t want to
be cozy with the people you cover. And of course you don`t want to be
biased towards the people you
cover because you`re cozy.

But a good part of journalism does actually depend on access. And if one
side of the
equation, in this case the Trump administration, completely cuts off
access. You know, you played
one part of the previous interview. But in another, he suggested possibly
that they would just maybe
even end or cut down on the amount of daily press briefings. So if you cut
down on access, that
creates a whole set of problems.

So you can be adversarial, and it`s important to be adversarial. But you
also have to
maintain an element of access so that you can ask the probing questions.
So you can ask the
adversarial questions. And without access, you lose a lot of that.

REID: And you know, one of the – Carolyn – sort of things that could in
theory happen,
given Trump`s behavior so far, even after the election, is that he could
simply using Twitter to
communicate directly to his followers who only believe what he says. They
don`t believe what you say
or what Sam says or what I say. They only believe him.

STEIN: They believe what I say.

REID: They believe what you say, Sam. Everyone believes that. You just
have an earnest
face. You know, they could use Brietbart. That`s sort of state-run media
almost. They`ve got Fox
News which is friendly. Couldn`t they just skip over the New York Times,
the Huffington Post, or
anybody they don`t think is friendly?

RYAN: Well I think there are going to be some security questions about his
use of Twitter
and how frequently he could do that as president. But I think you`re
right, that he`s looking for
sort of workarounds. He likes to speak directly to his followers. They`re
very passionate. But at
the same time, as you point out, he does covet the approval of legacy

Look how he reacted to Time Magazine. I mean, there are certain
publications that he grew up
with and that he still thinks, regardless of what he tweets about, are

So, I think he feels like he`s a master manipulator of the media and he`s
not going to give
up entirely on those outlets.

REID: Yes, and he`s completely freaked out by Graydon Carter.

RYAN: Clearly.

REID: Thank you Sam Stein and Carolyn Ryan. Sorry we`re out of time.

Up next, Republicans in North Carolina are trying to strip power from the
incoming Democratic
governor. This is remarkable. The Hardball roundtable will be here to

You`re watching Hardball, the place for politics.



Democrats in North Carolina are calling it a power grab, even a coup.
Republicans are trying to pass a series of bills that would strip powers
from the newly elected Democratic governor. The breathtaking attack on the
powers of the next governor was pushed in the final hours of the current
governor`s term, in what was supposed to be a special session about helping
the victims of natural disasters.

Just moments ago, Republicans passed the first of those bills, according to
“The Raleigh News and Observer”. It would subject the governor`s cabinet
picks to approval by state legislators. The spokesman for the Democratic
Party of North Carolina said, quote, “This is an unprecedented, shameful,
and cowardly power grab from Republicans.”

And here was the incoming governor this morning.


ROY COOPER (D-NC), GOVERNOR-ELECT: We don`t look good to our people here
in North Carolina or to the rest of the country when laws are passed
hastily, with little discussion in the middle of the night. This has got
to stop. I will use every tool in the governor`s office to fight for
everyday North Carolinians, including the courts, if necessary. What is
happening now is unprecedented.


REID: Meanwhile one of the Republicans pushing for the changes, David
Lewis, told reporters, quote, “I think, to be candid with you, that you
will see the general assembly look to reassert its constitutional authority
in areas that may have been previously delegated to the executive branch”,

I`m joined by tonight`s round table. Caitlin Huey-Burns is a political
reporter for “Real Clear Politics”. Nicholas Confessore is a correspondent
for “The New York Times”. And Joan Walsh is an MSNBC political analyst and
national affairs correspondent for “The Nation”.

Thank you all for being here.

All right. I`m going to start with you, Caitlyn. Have you ever in
covering politics seen anything quite like this?

CAITLYN HUEY-BURNS, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: What is remarkable about this is
that Republicans were elected to the statehouse, obviously, Donald Trump
won by four points. Senator Burr was re-elected. So, this was a direct
message against Governor McCrory, the current governor, outgoing governor.

So, to make this move after those messages being sent is really remarkable.
And something that we haven`t really seen before and we`re not seeing
anywhere else. Interestingly there would be other governors coming in with
different parties.

REID: Well, I mean, this is something that could be replicated, right?
We`ve seen when laws like “stand your ground” passed in Florida, they get
replicated across the country. I mean, this really is undoing the vote and
saying, we will – we will make the governorship not worth having if we
don`t have it.

principles. I think we saw them say reasserting our constitutional
authority. You know, back when the governor was Republican, it was not a
worry they had.

REID: Right.

CONFESSORE: Right? So, Democrat is now in office and they`re going to
roll back and make the office worthless. We saw it as Reconstruction after
the Civil War, when they scattered the powers of governorships around to
make them less important. You know, we saw the climate change, right? We
saw in local levels when states were trying to reestablish the ability to
pass laws. It`s power over politics, over principle.

REID: Absolutely. And it`s causing a reaction, Joan.

We have – we can show some video of it. There are protests taking place
right now. The Moral Mondays Movement led by Reverend Dr. William Barber.
They are there protesting. You see the protesters are inside the capitol
building. And we are going to continue to monitor what is happening.
Civil disobedience has been taking place all day.

And yet, Joan, there`s a sort of shamelessness to it, because this is now -
- the national media has caught on to it. That has not deterred these
members of the House and Senate in North Carolina.

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s absolutely shameless. But it
does go back to what they did when McCrory was elected, right? He was
elected as a perceived moderate and then swung away to the right and they
passed their voter suppression and cutting education bills.

But this is worse because they just want to repudiate – the only thing is,
Joy, they have, the Republicans have a veto-proof majority. So, there`s
not that much – unless they peel off some Republicans, which I think they
will, which I would assume they will. But I don`t know if it`ll be enough
to do anything about this. I think he`ll be fighting it in the courts.

REID: But that`s the point, though, Caitlyn. They already had the veto-
proof majority. They didn`t need to do all of this extra stuff. It
doesn`t lend to the question, why are they all of doing this?

HUEY-BURNS: That`s exactly right. I mean, this is the height of
partisanship this year. And if anything, there was a real message from the
electorate they didn`t want this kind of thing to happen. It is so
fascinating because they do already control the statehouse. Also, McCrory
was the only Republican to lose his seat in this year. That was a great
year for Republicans. It`s really remarkable.

REID: And, you know, Nick, the other thing you had the election of an
African-American Supreme Court justice, which now tips the balance 4-3 in
favor of Democrats, so that if the new incoming governor went to court, he
would have a favorable court.

But you`ve also heard that one of the things they like to do is court pack.
Add two more people so that they even can`t go that route.

CONFESSORE: Yes. Look, you know, again, this is like a cry of rage. They
lost. They hated losing. They think it was not fair for some reason.
They raised a hullaballoo that was nothing about fake votes and voter
fraud. And they`re going to do whatever it takes to hold on to power.
It`s like – we haven`t seen this in a long time.

REID: Yes. I don`t think we`ve seen this clinging to power.


REID: Not in a modern American election.

WALSH: No. I mean, I`m a Democrat. We really hate losing. This has
really been tough. But no one is proposing anything like this.

You know, the Democrats aren`t looking for ways to strip Donald Trump of
his power. I mean, they may, but that`s a different story.

REID: All right. Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced that he was joining
the race for chair of the Democratic National Committee. Minnesota
Congressman Keith Ellison had already announced he was running for the
chairmanship. For some, this matchup looks like a proxy battle between the
Clinton-Obama wing of the party and the pro-Bernie Sanders wing.

Another to NBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald, Ellison was a loyal Bernie Sanders
supporter in the presidential primary, while Perez was a vocal Hillary
Clinton backer and some in the party`s establishment are uneasy with
handing the reins of the party to a senator`s ally from one of the most
liberal congressional districts in the country, worried that he could
divide the party or alienate the white working class voters the party needs
to win back.

I`ll start with you on this, Joan, because there is a sort of fishing
constantly for white working class voters who are quite clearly

WALSH: Right.

REID: Why is that the main driving force behind a choice between Perez and
not Perez?

WALSH: Well, I think it`s a false choice, too, because Tom Perez – look,
I`m completely undecided here. I adore Keith Ellison. I think he would do
a great job. Tom Perez is someone I respect enormously. He`s not put out
any plans yet. Keith has, you know, a website with lots of plans. You can
read about it.

Tom is taking – Secretary Perez, I don`t know him personally, is taking
listen tour, which he`s entitled to.

REID: Yes.

WALSH: But this has to be about issues. How do you rebuild the party?
The public base of the party, the messaging of the party, rebuilding the
state parties especially in places like Michigan and Wisconsin, where
they`ve been decimated, and also the union base has been decimated. So, it
really can`t be about refighting Clinton versus Sanders or going out for
the white working class. It`s got to be so much more than that.

REID: Like Groundhog Day.

The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, these three will tell me
something which I don`t know, which is very easy.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: President Barack Obama will hold a press conference at the White
House on Friday, 2:00 p.m. Eastern. His last for the year. We`ll bring
you live coverage of that here on MSNBC. The president will then leave for
his annual family vacation in Hawaii.

We`ll be right back.


REID: All right. We`re back.

Caitlyn, tell me something I don`t know.

HUEY-BURNS: Keep on eye on the Senate Democrats from really red states
during the confirmation process. Joe Manchin deciding – whether he
decided or not, staying in the Senate may be more welcome news for Donald
Trump than it is for Democrats particularly when it comes to the Tillerson
nomination where Republicans are likely to defect.

REID: Yes. Manchin wants them to pick a DNC chair from a red state which
would go over brilliantly.

Nick, tell me something I don`t know.

CONFESSORE: Speaking of DNC chairs, I was curious who had the job the
longest in the 20th century, Jim Farley under FDR, eight years. A great
period for Democrats.

REID: Yes.

CONFESSORE: He was the first ever guest on “Meet the Press.”

REID: Wow, that`s cool. Very interesting. I don`t know that.

All right. Jo, can you top that?

WALSH: I can`t – probably not. I`m going to give up.

Conspiracy monger Alex Jones has been scrubbing his site of his pizza-gate
content, but he`s got a new target. It`s Christine Pelosi and the electors
who are trying to simply get a CIA briefing or intelligence community
briefing about the issues of Russian hacking. He has accused them of
wanting to assassinate Donald Trump and, of course, she is getting death

REID: Wow.

OK. Really quickly, lightning round, how many electors end up being feeble
(ph) electors, give us a number.

WALSH: I have no idea. Seven?

CONFESSORE: I`m going to guess, like, two.

HUEY-BURNS: How about none?

REID: One. I think there might be one.

WALSH: There`s one. You know –

REID: Door prize for whoever was right.

Thank you to Caitlyn Huey-Burns, Nick Confessore, and Joan Walsh.

When we return, let me finish with a big question facing my profession, our
profession, the media.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: Let me finish tonight with the big question facing my profession,
the media, and not just Democrats and what`s left of never-Trump
Republicans in the coming years. What are you going to do about it?

That`s basically what Trump is asking when he and his team openly brag that
his adult children will defy convention and work both as White House
advisers and run Trump businesses. Businesses Trump clearly won`t or maybe
can`t part with as president. It`s what he`s asking when he insists
despite all evidence to the contrary, including from the intelligence
community that he`s about to inherit that, no, Russia didn`t play a role in
getting him elected by hacking Democrats. It`s what he asked when he
refused and still refuses to release his tax returns.

Trump is almost daring the media to just try, try and do, reporters say,
anything that might stop him. He`s waving around the threat of cutting off
even traditional press briefings. And he and his campaign, with
considerable help from Vladimir Putin and Russia, have spent a year or more
undermining confidence in the traditional press, and selling his supporters
on the idea that the only voice they can trust is his, whether that voice
is heard at a series of televised pep rallies, or on Twitter.

It`s a Putin-like approach that so far is working among Trump supporters
and elected members of his party. The big question, will we let it work on

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

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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