Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/19/2016
Date: December 19, 2016
Guest: Polly Baca, Zeke Turner, Jennifer Rubin
JOY REID, GUEST HOST: The Electoral College makes it official. Donald
Trump surpasses 270 and wins the White House.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Joy Reid in New York, in tonight for Chris Matthews.
We`re following breaking news at home and abroad. A gunman shot and killed
the Russian ambassador to Turkey earlier today. The attack was caught on
camera as the ambassador was speaking at an art gallery in Ankara. The
gunman, an off-duty police officer, shouted in Turkish, “Don`t forget
Aleppo. Don`t forget Syria.”
Meanwhile, there was devastation at a Christmas market in Germany tonight.
A truck drove through a crowd in the center of Berlin, killing at least
There`s also news on the Russia hacking story. An NBC News exclusive
report tonight has new details about how serious the Obama administration`s
response became. On October 31st, in a highly unusual move, the
administration sent a message to the Kremlin using the so-called red phone,
warning it not to interfere with the U.S. election.
We`ll have more on those stories coming up, but we begin with the big
political news of the day. Across the U.S., state electors cast their
votes for president, and Trump surpassed 270 in the Electoral College. But
the electors were met by thousands of protesters pushing them to deny Trump
an electoral win.
This weekend, Donald Trump praised the Electoral College.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: The electoral vote – and I never
appreciated it until now, how genius it was, what they had in mind, because
at the time, they didn`t want everybody going to Boston and New York and
everything else would be forgotten. And now it`s the same thing. It`s
genius. I`m telling you, it`s genius.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So “genius” is not how Trump described the electoral system back in
2012 when he incorrectly tweeted that Mitt Romney won the popular vote but
lost in the Electoral College. In fact, Barack Obama won by about 5
Back then, Trump told his Twitter followers, “This election is a total sham
and a travesty. We are not a democracy.” And he added, “The Electoral
College is a disaster for democracy.” He also tweeted but later deleted
this. “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should
have a revolution in this country!” To repeat, President Obama beat Mitt
Romney by 5 million votes and an Electoral College landslide.
Now, of course, Trump`s view of the Electoral College has changed. He is
now, of course, a fan.
Meanwhile, a brand-new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll out this evening
shows a majority of the country isn`t hopeful about a Trump presidency.
Fifty-four percent say they`re uncertain or pessimistic. Only 45 percent
say they`re optimistic or hopeful.
For more on today`s Electoral College vote, I`m joined by Jacob Soboroff is
in Austin, where a few hundred protesters gathered earlier today. Jacob,
tell us how the scene looked earlier today.
JACOB SOBOROFF, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, Joy, it was a fascinating
thing to see, but it was not exactly a squeaker, as some had hoped.
Ultimately, what happened here was we saw two faithless electors vote for a
candidate other than Donald Trump. One vote went to Ron Paul, believe it
or not, and another went to John Kasich.
As a matter of fact, I think the most interesting part of today is that
Hillary Clinton had more faithless electors than Donald Trump. Four
defected from her on the Democratic side and voted for presidential
candidates other than Hillary Clinton.
Again, what`s really interesting to me about this is that this is a test of
on-line activism translating into real-world effects. We saw almost 5
million people sign a petition urging the electors to vote for anybody but
Donald Trump. That`s the exact opposite of what happened today. They were
arguing that, according to Federalist 68, Alexander Hamilton had said that
electors should be a deliberative body. They can do ultimately whatever
That is not what the electors chose to do today, for whatever reason they
had in their own minds as a justification for that.
Now what happens is that the electors and their votes that were cast today
across the country in all 50 states will be put in envelopes, quite
literally, sent to Washington, D.C. A copy goes to the federal archives.
Another copy goes to Joe Biden in his role not as vice president but
president of the Senate. And on January 6th, those votes will be tabulated
officially at the nation`s Capitol in Washington, D.C.
And then Donald Trump will become officially, believe it or not, after all
this time, the president-elect of the United States. And on January 20th,
as we all know, the president of the United States on inauguration day,
REID: Jacob Soboroff, thanks very much. I think we all remember Al Gore,
ironically, playing the role that Joe Biden will back in 2000, very awkward
there. In Austin, Texas, thank you.
And in a statement today, Trump thanked the American people for what he
called an historic electoral landslide victory. Last week, he boasted
about the size of his victory. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral
College. I guess the final numbers are now at 306, and she – you know,
down to a very low number.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would the CIA put out the story that the Russians
wanted you to win?
TRUMP: I`m not sure they put it out. I think the Democrats are putting it
out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of
politics in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Well, in reality, Trump`s victory was not one of the greatest in
history. In fact, out of the 58 presidential elections, Trump`s win ranks
I`m joined now by Polly Baca, a Democratic elector from Colorado. Polly,
thank you so much for being here. Tell me what you hoped to happen today.
Give us the scene of what actually happened.
POLLY BACA, COLORADO DEMOCRATIC ELECTOR: Well, I had hoped today that we
would get 38 Republicans who – electors who would put country before party
and would support, if they – I really wanted them to vote for Hillary
Clinton, but I knew that that probably wouldn`t happen. So then we
encouraged them to vote for, you know, Governor Kasich or Senator McCain or
one of the Republicans that we know would be a reliable president, anyone
other than Trump.
And we had hoped that if that happened, we, as Hillary electors, would then
join them to elect a president who would be responsible and not a demagogue
or not somebody who was indebted to a foreign power. So that didn`t work.
Then we hoped that maybe we could get – we could deny Mr. Trump 270 votes.
Had that worked, then it would have gone to the House of Representatives.
And so, of course, I`m disappointed today and somewhat troubled by the fact
that we could not find 38 Republicans that would join us. However, I want
to thank those Republicans that did have the courage to withstand the
pressure that they received and vote for an alternative to Mr. Trump.
REID: And Polly, you know, during the campaign, I was fond of saying about
the primary campaigns against Donald Trump that you really can`t beat
something with nothing, right? Do you think that maybe the Hamilton
elector strategy suffered because it didn`t have a – vote for this person,
this is the alternative to Trump. Maybe was it a mistake to just say just
vote for anybody but Trump. Had it gone to the House of Representatives,
they, too, would have voted for Donald Trump?
BACA: We actually did support Governor Kasich, but we found that, you
know, we had to expand it from Governor Kasich. We actually wanted to see
a ticket that would be Governor Kasich and a vice president, Senator Kaine.
And that, I think, would have been the unity ticket that would have helped
heal our country.
REID: Yes. Well, Polly Baca in Denver, Colorado, you`ve given us all a
civics lesson. This is an Electoral College vote everyone paid attention
to. Thank you so much for being here.
BACA: Thank you.
And Donald Trump`s boast about his fictional landslide victory seems to
have had at least one affect. According to a new poll, a majority of
Republicans, 52 percent – get this – they think Trump actually won the
popular vote. The reality, of course, is that Hillary Clinton currently
leads by nearly 3 million votes.
Then there`s former Republican congressman Joe Walsh, who tweeted this
pearl of wishful thinking over the weekend. Quote, “I know California is a
state and we have to count it, but if you remove California, Trump won the
popular vote by 1.4 million.”
Joining me now is former general counsel to the Republican National
Committee Ben Ginsburg and “Washington Post” opinion writer Jonathan
Capehart. Both are MSNBC political analysts.
Ben Ginsburg, maybe you might have wanted to saw Florida off of the map
back in 2000 when you were the general counsel to the Republican Party…
REID: … but I don`t even remember y`all saying that. What do you make
of this idea that Republicans are now sort of deciding that they can`t
handle the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote, so they`re saying,
Well, just discount California?
BEN GINSBERG, FMR. RNC GENERAL COUNSEL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
think – I think what you can`t do is listen to polls. If there was one
lesson that we learned from this election, it`s that sometimes, we should
not – we should not be listening to what the polls tell us.
So in this case, if you`re a Republican voter, you know that Donald Trump
won. So if somebody asks you, Did he win? You`re going to say yes.
REID: Yes. And Ben, to stay with you for just one second, are you
surprised that there weren`t more defectors from Donald Trump among the
GINSBURG: No. I mean, at the end of the day, this is a vote that was
taken. And a few people trying to play elitist opinion makers and get
electors who have pledged to do certain things and vote a certain way to
change their minds, I don`t think that that was really in the cards.
REID: Yes. Jonathan, I want to play – read you what Bill Clinton had to
say. He told a local newspaper in Westchester County last night that
Donald Trump actually reached out to him, called him after the election.
The comments were first flagged by Politico. And according to “The Record
Review,” which is the paper, it`s a weekly newspaper in Bedford, New York,
Bill Clinton said, yes, Bill Clinton did receive a phone call from the
president-elect the day after the election.
Mr. Trump came across as cordial, he said, incredulous, like it was 15
years ago when the Clintons and the Trumps were seen socializing. Mr.
Trump also lobbed what was meant as a compliment about his opponent saying,
She was tougher than I thought she`d be.
Clinton also reacted to Trump`s claim that he won in a landslide saying,
Landslide? I got something like 370 electoral votes. That was a
landslide. Shade from the former president (INAUDIBLE) I mean, Trump only
got, like, 306. He got 370. He got a little less than 306.
What – your thoughts, Jonathan Capehart?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean,
what do you say to that? I mean, what we`ve seen since election day is a
president-elect who lives in his own world where he won the popular vote,
he won in one of the biggest landslide victories in the history of ever,
and then decides to call the former president of the United States, Bill
Clinton, and you know, sort of give a compliment to him about his wife,
clearly not apparently being mindful of what that conversation might do to
the former president. I mean, his wife lost the election. He took it very
And so while I understand former president Bill Clinton accepting the call
from the president-elect, I`m not sure what the president-elect was hoping
to get out of it.
REID: I mean, and it is weird, OK? And I`ll throw this to either one of
you. I mean, Donald Trump`s campaign trotted out accusers, women accusers
of Bill Clinton, during the campaign and tried to force Bill Clinton to get
on stage with them and have to pass them at a debate back in October.
They held this weird press conference before that debate to try to bait the
president – I mean, Ben Ginsburg, can you explain, what could possibly be
in Donald Trump`s mind to think he could have a chitchat, as if it was 15
years ago and they were buds?
GINSBURG: Well, I think they`re both members of the former presidents club
– or Bill Clinton is a member of the former presidents club. I think
that`s a source of knowledge and wisdom for people who have to take on the
awesome job of president. So give (ph) Donald Trump for picking up the
call, picking up the phone and giving him a call.
REID: That had to be the most awkward conversation ever. Go ahead,
CAPEHART: You know, Joy, but also, let`s give President Clinton credit for
actually taking the call.
REID: Yes. He should have put him to voicemail!
CAPEHART: He didn`t have to take the call, given especially since what you
reminded everyone was, like, the ultimate indignity of the former president
to have all of those accusers there. And if anyone remembers the debate
that night, the shots of President Clinton in the audience – if his eyes
and nose and mouth could breathe fire, they would have.
REID: Let`s listen to some poll numbers. According to our new NBC
News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, 40 percent of Americans have a positive
view of Donald Trump, President-elect Donald Trump. To put that into
context, Trump`s favorability a month before inauguration is actually the
worst in the history of the NBC poll.
In December of 2008, 67 percent of Americans had a positive view of
President Obama. In 2000, President Bush, even after the recount, was at
48 percent. And in 1992, President Clinton was at 60 percent.
Ben, you went through that recount nightmare with the country. You were
the general counsel, you know, leading the charge on the legal side on the
Republican side. Why do you suppose George W. Bush was able to come out of
all that and still have a pretty decent approval rating and more optimism,
much more optimism going into 2001 than there is now?
GINSBURG: Well, I think the country as a whole is much more polarized in
2016 than it was in 2000. The Florida election was certainly a polarizing
event, and President Bush, despite the narrowness of the victory, treated
it as a mandate to do what he wanted.
He actually got a lot done legislatively. He passed comprehensive tax
reform by March of that year. No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act,
Sarbanes-Oxley, even the campaign finance bill all came within that first
So the point is, is that if you`re a president, no matter what your poll
ratings may be, no matter what people may say about your mandate, if you go
in with your agenda, you`ll do fine.
Donald Trump will have a Republican Senate and a Republican House. George
W. Bush had a 50/50 Senate and then ultimately lost the Senate in May of
2001, when Jim Jeffords switched. He still got significant legislation
REID: Yes. And I think a lot of people will remember that legislation not
REID: Think that`s why so many Americans are pessimistic! Ben Ginsburg
and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both.
And coming up, the Russian ambassador to Turkey is dead after being shot by
a gunman in Ankara. And then nine people were killed when a truck plowed
into a Christmas market in Berlin. We`ll have the latest on that.
And later, a bipartisan group of senators are calling for a special
investigation into Russia`s cyberattacks on the U.S. election. But is it
too little, too late?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: Today, President Obama pardoned 78 people and shortened the
sentences of 153 others convicted of federal crimes, the greatest number of
individual clemencies in a single day by any president per a White House
announcement. President Obama focused primarily on shortening the
sentences of those convicted of drug offenses, rather than pardons.
We`ll be right back.
REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The Russian ambassador to Turkey was
assassinated today, surrounded by onlookers during remarks at an art
gallery in Turkey`s capital city of Ankara. Ambassador Andrei Karlov was
shot by a lone gunman standing behind him in a suit and tie, who after the
shooting could be seen on video pointing the gun at onlookers and shouting,
“Don`t forget Aleppo. Don`t forget Syria.”
Now, warning. The video you`re about to see is disturbing. The shooter,
who was described as an off-duty policeman, was killed in a shoot-out with
For more on the ambassador`s assassination, let`s bring in NBC News foreign
correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin. Ayman, thank you very much for being here.
Tell us what you know about this gunman.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: We`ve learned a little bit more about
his identity. He`s obviously been identified by Turkish authorities,
saying he was a 22-year-old policeman. He was part of Ankara`s riot
police, kind of like their – I wouldn`t say like their, you know, internal
security force, but they`re involved in, like protests, and riot protests
and stuff like that.
What we don`t know yet is motivation. We know that the police have
searched his family home. They`ve also spoken to his roommate, who is also
a police officer, to try to establish if there were any links there.
They`ve gone to his family home. They`ve detained his family possibly for
No clear identification yet if he has any links to terrorist organizations
or whether or not he was just an individual who was disgruntled by what he
was seeing happening in his neighboring country, particularly in Aleppo,
and decided to act out on that.
And you can see in the video before the shooting, you can see him standing
sort of behind the ambassador.
REID: Do we know if he was – was he working security at the event? Was
he supposed to be?
MOHYELDIN: So, what we have learned is that he was able to get into the
facility, which was being held by the Russian Embassy there in Ankara, with
Whether or not he was on duty at the time or assigned to some kind of
diplomatic protective detail, that remains to be clear. But I suspect that
he was able to get into that facility – we know that for sure – but then
was able to make his way around the facility, get close to the ambassador,
because people either felt familiar with him, or at least he made them feel
like he is part of the police force, part of the security at this facility.
MOHYELDIN: And so that`s why he was able to get as close as he was to the
REID: Very quickly, reaction in terms of the Turkish government and
Russian government right now?
MOHYELDIN: Both condemning it, both calling it an act of terror.
The Russians have gone forward. The president – Vladimir Putin, the
president of Russia, has said that the bandits will pay for this, whoever
they may be. Not likely to kind of create any rift between the two
countries, perhaps escalate Russia`s role even more in Syria.
The Turkish government saying they will continue the investigation.
They`re blaming the Gulenists on it, which could be a whole other
conversation. But they believe it`s linked to a larger network of what
they call terrorists operating out of the United States. And so that`s who
they`re blaming for this assassination.
All right, Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you very much. Appreciate your
And in Germany today, a truck slammed into a crowded Christmas market in
Berlin, killing nine people and injuring dozens of others. The driver of
the truck was arrested. But police are still investigating, though the
White House is calling it an apparent terrorist attack.
And Joining me now on the phone is Zeke Turner, a Berlin correspondent for
“The Wall Street Journal.”
And, Zeke, what can you tell us about that attack? And do we know anything
about the attacker?
ZEKE TURNER, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Yes, I mean, you basically said
everything that we can really confirm at this point.
There`s some explanation going around about the attacker`s background, but
we really can`t confirm that at this point. It`s just we know nine dead,
including one man in the cab of the truck. That may have been the driver
of the truck, who apparently worked for a company in Poland that was
transporting steel in this black semi-trailer to Berlin.
He may have been overtaken in this car, and then, you know, been the
passenger for this attack on the Christmas market. We can`t even really
say it`s an attack yet. But the German interior minister is saying
everything points that way. But he`s really urging calm, sort of a cool
head in this. And we probably won`t really know more until the morning in
REID: And just give us a sense of what is going on right now on the
streets of Berlin, the atmosphere.
TURNER: There`s a ton of ambulances at the scene, obviously.
You know, Berlin is an enormous city. It`s very low-density. It`s not a
Paris or a London, where sort of waves of panic can spread very fast. So I
would say that sort of shock has dissipated. In the center of the city,
the streets are empty, as they usually are after midnight.
I was just at the hospital here. And the scene is very calm, although
there may be some victims inside. It`s a scene. You know, there are
onlookers, but mostly journalists trying to get and take pictures of the
REID: All right, well, Zeke Turner in Berlin, thank you very much.
And up next: An NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll shows a majority of
Americans are bothered by Russia`s interference in November`s presidential
election. Now a group of senators want to open a bipartisan congressional
investigation. That`s coming up.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
GIGI STONE WOODS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. I`m Gigi Stone Woods.
Here`s what`s happening at this hour.
The winter weather system that moved across large portions of the U.S. left
22 people dead from California to Maryland.
Today, more than 180 million Americans are enduring temperatures below
freezing, including Chicago, where it was minus-13.
And three people are injured after a gunman stormed into a mosque in
Zurich, Switzerland, and opened fire. Two of the victims were seriously
injured in the violence. The suspect fled the scene – now back to Joy
Reid and HARDBALL.
REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A bipartisan group of senators has called for a special investigation into
Russia`s cyber-attacks on the U.S.
Here`s Arizona Senator John McCain on Sunday, calling for a select
committee to investigate Russian interference in the just-completed 2016
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The president has no strategy and no policy
as to what to do about these various cyber-attacks that have possibly
disrupted an American election.
I`m sure that when – when Vladimir Putin was told “Cut it out” – unquote
– I`m sure that Vladimir Putin immediately stopped all cyber-activity.
The fact is, they are hacking every single day in other areas of our
military and on all kinds of different aspects of American life that they
are able to penetrate.
We need a select committee. We need to get to the bottom of this. And we
need to find out exactly what was done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Meanwhile, McCain`s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, whose wife
has been nominated to a post in the Trump administration, says he backs a
congressional investigation, too, but he says it should be led by the
Senate Intelligence Committee.
McCain and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer disagree.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The fact that the Russians used cyber-
security to hack our infrastructure, our economics, our countries is well-
known. The fact that they`re hacking our political system and trying to
influence the outcome, as it seems to be, that is serious, serious stuff.
Leader McConnell has said, let the Intelligence Committee do this alone.
That is not good enough. We want to find out what the Russians are doing
to our political system, what other foreign governments might do to our
political system, and then figure out ways to stop it. Only a select
committee can do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: An NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll revealed that 55 percent of
Americans are significantly bothered by the Russian interference in
November`s presidential election; 23 percent say they`re not bothered at
all by the news, while 8 percent said very little, and 10 percent say just
Tonight, NBC News senior investigative correspondent Cynthia McFadden
reported on the drama that took place between the White House and Putin`s
government just days before November`s election, including the warning sent
through the red phone.
Here`s part of that report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: By the
afternoon of October 31, Halloween, when ghosts and goblins were welcomed
to the White House, another kind of drama had already played itself out.
Two senior intelligence officials, both nonpartisan career officers, tell
NBC News that morning began with a highly classified and unusual event at
8:30. Using the so-called red phone system, a direct link to the Kremlin,
a message was transmitted telling the Russians that the U.S. would consider
any interference on Election Day a grave matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: David Corn is Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” and an
MSNBC political analyst. And Jennifer Rubin is the author of “The
Washington Post”`s “Right Turn” belong.
Thank you both.
And, Jennifer, I want to start with you on this, because Mitch McConnell
has some very specific ideas about the way he thinks it should be done. He
thinks it should – that any investigation should go through the regular
Why are the Republicans so adverse to select committees? We saw about
eight on Benghazi. We saw them on IRS. We saw a zeal for investigations
during the Obama years. Why so passive now?
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, I think your
question answers itself.
Evidently, they`re very afraid of making too much of a big deal of this.
And, frankly, Mitch McConnell is at the center of this. From reporting, we
know that he was one of those who opposed going public before the election,
after they had a briefing by the intelligence agencies explaining that the
Russians were intending to upset the election, were intending to help
So, frankly, I don`t even think there should be a select committee. I
think there should be an independent commission akin to the 9/11
Commission, which is truly independent.
But, listen, the Republicans think that they`re going to get away with
this. They think that in the temporary euphoria of having Donald Trump
elected, they will bury this. The intelligence agencies like to operate
behind closed doors. They`re hoping people will sort of forget about this,
this will get pushed to the back burner and it will all sort of drift away.
And I think John McCain is exactly right. Chuck Schumer`s exactly right.
And I think, ultimately, they`re going to have to back down and put this in
a forum that the American people have confidence in.
Otherwise, it really does look like Donald Trump is shilling for Vladimir
REID: And, David, there`s a certain shamelessness to it all.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: A little?
REID: And you – one hates to ascribe a quid, a pro, and a quo, but you do
have Mitch McConnell pronouncing what he thinks should be done, when his
wife is literally about to be working for Donald Trump, when she got a job
out of it, and he did thwart releasing this information or having a
bipartisan statement on it at least, during the campaign.
CORN: How convenient.
The whole thing is a quid pro quo, with the Republican Party checking its
principles and core convictions at the door, so they can walk into the
promised land with Donald Trump and have these majorities in Congress and
start attacking social programs and doing all the things they wanted to do.
You know, I`m happy, believe me, Joy, I`m happy to jump on Mitch McConnell
here, but he`s at least has said that there should be an investigation,
which is a little bit more than Paul Ryan has done, who seems to run away
anytime this is brought up.
And I like Jennifer`s idea of a bipartisan commission. It`s something I
wrote about a couple of weeks ago, that Elijah Cummings, the ranking
Democrat in the House, has proposed. The bottom line here is that there
needs to be a public accounting.
The FBI, the CIA, the NSA are doing their reviews, per the president`s
order. And those may become public, they may not become public. What
happens with Intelligence Committees often gets bottled up for a long time.
But to have a committee, a select committee, or an independent committee,
that`s part of its job, its description is to make as much public as
possible is absolutely necessary, because we have to know what the Russians
We also need to know how members of Congress and people within the Obama
administration and security agencies reacted to this, and whether they did
everything they could to prevent such meddling.
REID: Well, we do know that one of the reactions, Jennifer, was the use of
the red phone, which I think the last time it was used was during the Cuban
Missile Crisis, for the president to directly open up a channel to Vladimir
Putin to insist that this stop. That seems to make it a pretty serious
Meanwhile, you have got about 55 percent of the American people, according
to our new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, saying they`re very
concerned about this.
I`m wondering, what becomes the lever that forces Republicans to act? Is
it Marco Rubio`s ambitions to be president himself? Is it – is there some
is there some lever that can force Republicans, despite their partisanship,
to take this seriously?
RUBIN: Well, I think there are two things.
One, I think, on the way out the door, President Obama can declassify a lot
of this material and put it out there. And once he does that and it`s in
the press, I think there`s going to be plenty to push the White House and
push Congress towards a more open proceeding.
The other is to use, frankly, the confirmation hearings to do this. We
haven`t talked this evening about Rex Tillerson, who is the CEO of Exxon,
who, lo and behold, just happens to be a great pal of Vladimir Putin. And,
obviously, both Democrats and Republicans have an opportunity to make all
kinds of questions out there and put them all to Rex Tillerson in the
context of a confirmation hearing.
But I think a great deal is going to ride on what the Obama administration
does before they leave office.
REID: Yes, absolutely.
And, you know, David, Rex Tillerson is just one of many Putinites that are
– that Donald Trump is bringing with him to Washington. I`m wondering if,
in your reporting, you have been able to figure out, what is it that causes
Donald Trump to be so reluctant to agree that it was the Russians? Is it
his personal affinity? Have you been able to find, is it some
indebtedness? What is it?
CORN: Well, I think there are a lot of things.
And I put out a story today with Russ Choma at “Mother Jones” about how
Wilbur Ross was working with one of the major Russian oligarchs that the
Trump campaign was even attacking during the campaign. Now they`re
welcoming Wilbur Ross in. So, it`s not just Rex Tillerson. It`s across
Looking at why Trump is doing this, I think there`s a strong sense of
narcissism there that hasn`t – that has him relating to Putin, who has
been kind of nice and positive to him. But, also, I did a story before the
election, noting that a counterintelligence officer from another country`s
service was sending reports to the FBI throughout the summer saying that
Russia has had a five-year-long program, intelligence program, to co-opt
and cultivate Donald Trump.
We don`t know all the details about this. We don`t know to what degree the
FBI investigated this, whether they found any legitimacy to these reports
or not. But there have been lots of business links and a lot of – we have
seen a lot of desire on Donald Trump`s part going back to the aughts to do
business and be considered an important person in Russia, up to Miss
Universe in 2013.
CORN: So, there`s a lot more there to learn.
REID: Absolutely. As our Malcolm Nance says often, or asks often, when
did he adopt the ideology? That`s a key question. When did he adopt this
And, hopefully, we will get more reporting on that over the next four
David Corn and Jennifer Rubin, thank you so much.
CORN: Thank you, Joy.
REID: Thank you.
And up next: State electors met today across the U.S. to cast their votes
for president. And despite some protests, Trump did, indeed, pass the 270
threshold. The roundtable is coming here next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.”
That was Hillary Clinton played by “SNL`s” wonderful Kate McKinnon, urging
an Electoral College voter to dump Trump. The “Love Actually” parody has
gone viral and even inspired hilarious parodies of the parody.
But today, the real Electoral College voters certified Donald Trump as the
45th president of the United States. So, what kind of mandate have they
For more, I`m joined by our roundtable, Annie Karni, politics reporter for
“Politico”, Mike Lupica, MSNBC contributor and columnist for “The Daily
Beast”, and Phillip Bump, political reporter for “The Washington Post.”
Thank you all for being here.
I am going to defer you to you Mike Lupica, because you probably know
Donald Trump or covered Donald Trump more than anybody else at this table.
Why do you suppose Donald Trump seems to be so fixated on convincing his
supporters that he won in a landslide when he didn`t?
MIKE LUPICA, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yes, it starts to sound like his real
party is the flat earth society. And, you want to say to him sometimes,
dude, you got the gig, OK? You can stop running now. But he – he is
going to – Joy, he thinks the next four years, he`s going to be carried
along by the sound of applause. And that`s not the way it works. I don`t
care if you`re the most popular president in history.
REID: Yes, ask Obama about the being carried along thing. It actually
really doesn`t work that way.
Well, let`s talk about what kind of a mandate he really has. He is getting
in by a very low sort of sneak-in margin, right? It`s not a landslide,
even though he keeps saying it is. What kind of mandate does that deliver
ANNIE KARNI, POLITICO: It`s definitely not a landslide, if you look at the
percentage of the electoral votes he won, he`s in the bottom quadrant, I
REID: He`s in the bottom five.
KARNI: Like, below Martin Van Buren, I think I saw.
But he won the election. So, like, this idea of a mandate, I kind of think
mandates are overrated. He has a Republican Senate, a Republican House to
work with. Like, he can do whatever he wants.
And what – like, what`s going to stop? What would a mandate give him that
he doesn`t have now? I think the whole concept is a little overrated.
I do think that the circumstances of the election where Hillary Clinton won
the popular vote by more than 3 million by the time we`re done with this
would call for some humility from a more normal candidate. But that`s not
really part of the Trump brand and I don`t think that`s who he is. So,
these victory rallies don`t really match what actually happened. But I
don`t know that like having a mandate or not having a mandate really
REID: You know, Phil, that is an excellent point, because, with, you know,
Barack Obama won decisively, particularly in his re-elect, by 5 million
votes. He won two times. Never, like, in barely. I mean, he won 360-
something electoral votes. It was not even a question.
And yet, Republicans treated him as if he had lost the election and had
been appointed by some outer borough judge in the Bronx. They treated him
like he had no right to even be in Washington, let alone be president.
So, Republicans didn`t respect this idea of a mandate when Barack Obama
won. Should Democrats even respect the idea of a mandate, even if Donald
Trump claims one?
PHILIP BUMP, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it`s an interesting question, in
part because Democrats have different attitudes towards government than do
Republicans, right? So the Republicans, you know, digging in their heels
and saying, we`re going to oppose everything Barack Obama does.
Republicans as a base are more likely to say, yes, we don`t want government
However, it`s important to notice that over in recent polling, we`ve seen
shifts among the Democrats. Democrats are more liberal than they used to
be. They`re more likely to say they support Democrats on Capitol Hill
dragging their feet. So, it will be interesting to see what happens there.
But it`s a fairly simple formula here, which is that Donald Trump wanted to
win and he lost the popular vote and he`s mad about it and that`s why he
keeps talking about it.
REID: Yes, absolutely. It`s arguable that the person who thinks he has a
mandate is really Paul Ryan. Let`s go on the table quick.
Do you think that Paul Ryan, given the fact that they completely unified
Republican government, does he then go through and go ahead and gut
Medicare, go after Social Security? These are the things he wanted to do
his whole adult life. Does he do it?
KARNI: I think he tries. I mean, it just remains to be seen who`s really
running the White House?
KARNI: Like, is Trump going to be doing these victory tours and Mike Pence
is going to be running the government with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell or
REID: That`s what they said during the campaign and primary.
What do you think?
LUPICA: Ryan is going to have to overcome the stomach problem that he
showed too often during the campaign, which was no guts. And if he wants
to be the next thing in this party, maybe this would be a good time for him
to show some.
REID: Yes. Is guts going after Medicare?
LUPICA: Well, I mean, it is from the standpoint that we know it will be a
big political fight. But, look, Paul Ryan, yes, he has a House that has
been with him for years now. The Republicans, you know, have a solid
majority in the House.
And this goes back to your point about mandates. That is enough for them
to say, we have a mandate to do what we want to do, even though Donald
Trump stood against those things during the campaign.
REID: We see if he still does.
All right. The roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, the Clinton campaign chairman reveals exactly when he heard
from the FBI about his e-mail being hacked. This is HARDBALL, the place
REID: You can play HARDBALL all week long, online. Follow the show on
Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook. You`ll get access to
interviews, videos, and behind-the-scenes photos as we cover the Trump
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN PODESTA, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I will share this with you,
Chuck. The first time I was contacted by the FBI by the FBI was two days
after WikiLeaks stopped dropping my e-mails. The first –
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS MODERATOR: Let me pause here. Two days after?
PODESTA: Two days after. So, October 7th – October 7th, let`s go through
the chronology. On October 7th, the “Access Hollywood” tape comes out.
One hour later, WikiLeaks starts dropping my e-mails into the public. One
can say that those things might not have been a coincidence.
PODESTA: Two days later, the FBI contacted me and the first thing the
agent said to me was, “I don`t know if you`re aware, but your e-mail might
have been hacked.” I said, “Yes, I was aware of that.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That – we are back. And that was Clinton campaign chairman John
Podesta telling Chuck Todd that the FBI did not reach out to him until two
days after his hacked e-mails appeared on WikiLeaks. He added that he did
not hear from the agency since.
So, did the Comey letter cost Hillary Clinton the election?
For more on that, I`m back with my roundtable, Annie Karni, Mike Lupica and
I`ll throw this out to the table. I mean, does the FBI – how does it get
its credibility back at this point? It does seem that they were in the
partisan position during the campaign.
BUMP: I feel as though that`s a subjective assessment to some extent. I
mean, Comey has said the reason he released the letter when he did, he knew
that this information was going to come out that they had this additional
laptop with emails from Hillary Clinton, he wanted to get ahead of it.
I mean, look, here`s the thing – Hillary Clinton should not have been in a
position where the Comey letter should have killed her candidacy, right?
This race was way closer than it was expected to be. That comes back to
John Podesta. John Podesta`s job is to win that campaign. She lost the
Did the Comey letter help? No, absolutely, it didn`t. But she should not
have been in a position where the Comey letter could tip just enough votes
in just enough states to –
REID: And I think it`s legitimate except that the FBI also apparently
knew, from what we just heard, that John Podesta was being hacked. They
had two pieces of information. One of which was hurtful to Hillary
Clinton, one of which was harmful to Donald Trump. They not only only
release the Hillary Clinton, they didn`t even bother to follow up with
KARNI: The new information about what else they had and didn`t release
makes it more concerning and questionable of why Comey released that second
letter, but I think Comey`s mistake was in July –
KARNI: – when he held the press conference clearing Hillary Clinton
saying no prosecutor would file criminal charges based on this information.
That set the precedence for him. I don`t think he was being partisan. I
don`t think James Comey necessarily wanted to help elect Donald Trump, but
I think he was caught in a bind and was covering his own butt a little bit
and saying I already made this statement. This will leak. People will
know I have this and then put it out –
REID: And so with the hacking.
KARNI: And so, that`s why I put it. But now, to have sat on the other
information, the plot becomes more inscrutable –
LUPICA: It started in the summer where he started talking like he was a
perp, you know, to the point where you started to wonder if he was ever
going to run out of saliva, OK?
You`re 100 percent right. It started then. And then he`s just covering
himself. And that is why John McCain is a thousand percent right. You
cannot leave this to the intelligence community which starts to sound –
the committee – which starts to sound like an oxymoron, OK? You need a
And one of the people I want to see hauled in front of that committee is
James Comey, who can explain the conduct of his department from the time he
first learned about Russian hacking.
REID: But here`s he problem: now, James Comey will soon be working for on
Donald J. Trump, who whether he intended to or not, you know, Nate Silver
has come out with an analysis saying that he did help him. They were
talking about 77,000 votes in three states. If only 1 percent of voters
were impacted negatively by that information and decided not to vote for
Hillary Clinton, that`s all – that`s the margin.
He`s going to be working for Donald Trump. How does he have an independent
BUMP: Well, I mean, I think there`s a lot of questions about what happens
with James Comey`s career moving forward. But I mean, look, the bigger
question there is what Donald Trump wants to do with this thing, right? I
mean, yes, Congress can act and Congress can hold hearings on this thing.
But Donald Trump – like there`s very little indication that on the whole,
Republicans and Donald Trump are interested in figuring out what exactly
happened here. I will just go back and note that part of the challenge
with the Comey – with the hacking stuff was there was this overlay of
foreign policy and as we saw from “The New York Times” last week, that was
tricky as far as the administration was concerned, which I think may play -
LUPICA: But if I`m Trump, I`m wanting to get behind this investigation. I
want get to the bottom of this because if there`s any pushback from him and
his people, other people are going to say, are you trying to hide something
REID: Yes, does it help you?
All right. The round table is sticking with us.
And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place in politics.
REID: And we are back.
Annie, tell me something you don`t know.
KARNI: I`ll tell you what you would know if you read “Politico” today,
which is that Ivanka and Jared are shul shopping in Washington, D.C.
REID: What shopping?
KARNI: Shul shopping. They`re looking for a mono orthodox synagogue that
they will attend once they make –
REID: I thought you said shoe shopping.
KARNI: They may also shoe shopping.
REID: Yes, so –
KARNI: They are looking, they will be attending regularly, walking to
services. So that`s –
REID: And you said if we read. Ha, yes, of course, we read.
LUPICA: I was talking to John McCain yesterday, somebody that we need more
than ever, about the dumpster fire that American politics has become and he
was talking about John Glenn who he called the most honest, decent man he`s
REID: Yes. I mean, and I think everyone can agree on that. There`s not
much all Americans can agree on but I think they can agree on that.
BUMP: You pointed out earlier there were 77,000 votes in three states that
made the difference in this election. But I think it`s important to note
that on average, we`re talking about 0.6 percent. And that`s the sort of
margin that`s supposed to be made up by a good field to get out to vote
campaign, which is another sign that the Clinton campaign dropped the ball
because this is where – it`s called the field goal units come in and we
win at the game, and they didn`t win the game in the end.
REID: Yes, the biggest mistake by the Clinton campaign this year, you
think is field?
REID: It`s field, the biggest mistake?
LUPICA: I think they ran an awful campaign, that was marginally better
than the one she ran eight years ago.
LUPICA: I`d say like not going to Wisconsin and not playing in Michigan
REID: Yes, absolutely.
All right. Annie Karni – yes, go to Michigan, go to Philly and do these
Annie Karni, Mike Lupica and Philip Bump, thank you very much. That`s
HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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