Dems force Franken out while GOP embrace Moore Transcript 12/7/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: December 7, 2017
Guest: Frank Montoya, Susan Glasser; Tamara Keith, Astead Herndon, Anne Gearan
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: That was his explanation of that
hyperbole. When the new medication comes out, we will bring it to you.
That does it for “the Beat.” “Hardball” with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Judgment day. Let`s play “hardball.”
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Minnesota`s Al Franken announced today he is quitting the U.S. Senate in
light of allegations from eight women that he either groped or forcibly
kissed them. Yesterday, after the newest allegation came to light, a total
of 35 of his Democratic colleagues had called on him to resign. Franken
said some of the allegations were not true. He said he remembered others
differently than they were being presented. He is the second democratic
lawmaker to resign this week. Michigan congressman John Conyers had been
accused of sexual misconduct by multiple former aides. He has denied all
the allegations, but stepped down on Tuesday.
Compare this to the Republican side of the aisle. More than a dozen women
have accused President Donald Trump of sexual assault or misconduct. In
fact the President seen a tape of him. He is bragging about being able to
get away with assaulting women because he is famous.
And Roy Moore, who could very well be the next senator from Alabama faces
accusations from multiple women that he pursued relationships with them or
assaulted them when they were teenagers.
In his resignation speech today, Franken addressed the contrast. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Today I am announcing that in the coming
weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate. I, of
all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am
leaving, while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual
assault sits in the oval office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on
young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here is how White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders
responded to those comments. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President
addressed the comments back during the campaign. We feel strongly that the
people of this country also addressed that when they elected Donald Trump
to be President. And I have addressed it several times from here and don`t
have anything new to add.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And late today NBC News can report that Republican congressman
Trent Franks of Arizona is preparing to resign his seat according to
multiple GOP sources.
For more on this dramatic day on the Hill, I`m joined by Democratic
Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York State, the “Root`s” Jason Johnson
and “USA today`s” Susan Page.
Congresswoman, thank you. Give us your sense of this day in history, the
pros and cons of what was good about today, what was bad about today,
whatever. How do you see the whole picture?
REP. KATHLEEN RICE (D), NEW YORK: Well, it`s a sad day obviously. We are
dealing with an issue that has gripped the entire country. And my goal and
my involvement in this has always been to be a voice for Congress to do the
right thing, not to circle the wagons and take care of our own and show the
American people that there are certain rules that apply to them and then
certain rules that apply to elected officials.
Now, although Democrats, you know, came – our leadership came to this
issue a little late, they did call on the resignations that have happened
and we need the Republicans to do the same thing. We need Paul Ryan to
stand up and be the leader of his party. I know it`s difficult for him to
do that when the standard bearer of the Republican Party for right now is
the President of the United States. And we know his history with this
issue of harassment.
But clearly the Republican Party is all in with Roy Moore. And that`s not
what the public needs. We don`t need more people who have shown a disdain
for women in the workplace and have harassed them. So my hope and my call
is for Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership to get with the program and
start forcing people out.
MATTHEWS: Well, for pure consistency here, the President didn`t just
harass, he assaulted and said so in his own language. Should he resign in
the spirit of what Franken did today? If the President admits publicly as
he has done on tape that he assaulted women as a manner of habit because of
his celebrity, saying he could get away with doing it and had done so, why
shouldn`t he resign today like Franken did, if you are being consistent?
Should he resign?
RICE: I have said before that he should. I don`t think that`s going to
happen. I think the President has shown himself impervious to the rules
that are applying to mere mortal politicians here in the Senate and the
House. That should not be the case, but for right now it is. But that`s a
Look, he is going to have to be held responsible for his support and
endorsement of Roy Moore. So too are the Republicans who are all in with
Roy Moore now. All in with financial assistance. No one is condemning him
and it`s not enough to say, you know, what if he wins and he gets here,
we`ll take care of it then. We don`t need someone like him here,
especially given everything that`s going on. The American public deserves
to have a government that works for them and is not in the primary business
of protecting themselves.
[19:05:31] MATTHEWS: Well, I have to stick with you for a second. What do
you make of the Republican hall pass on this? I mean Arnold Schwarzenegger
was elected governor of California after all those accusations. He said he
would form a commission once he got elected to look into it. What a joke.
This President did it on television. We have watched the tape a hundred
times. He walks into the White House, gets elected by the Electoral
College. What do you make of the Republican voter giving a pass on this so
they can - they put up last time? And they are putting up next week in
Alabama. They are giving their people a pass on sexual behavior like this,
assault, going after teenagers when you are in your 30s. What do you make
of those people who vote like this, congresswoman?
RICE: Well, there`s an old saying that, you know, voters get the people
they deserve. And whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you are
willing to overlook allegations like this for you because it`s your
candidate for political reasons, then I think that you get what you
And look. My voice on this has always been to put politics aside. I am
speaking out the way that I have because I`m a voter too. I`m a taxpayer
too. And the constituents that I have heard from all across this country
want the rules to apply to people here in Congress. And I hope that this
is going to allow for a much broader national discussion which in my
opinion is long overdue on this issue of harassment in the workplace.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. I salute you.
When it comes to Roy Moore, the message from many Republicans, let the
voters decide as you just heard. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he`s going to do
very well. We don`t want to have a liberal democrat in Alabama, believe
SANDERS: We think that the allegations are troubling and that ultimately
this is something that the people of Alabama should decide.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: It`s very clear now that Mr.
Moore is not stepping aside, he is the candidate, he is on the ballot. The
election is in one week and that the President – the President has stated
– he`s made statements on this very clearly. The most important thing is
to let the people of Alabama decide the election.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: The people of Alabama will
decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate. It`s
really up to them.
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: I would support him or will support him.
It`s a numbers game. I want Republicans to maintain control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you have to say there, Susan, my fellow expert on
politics, that here pedophilia is Trumped by politics. They don`t care.
The voters would rather vote for the guy of their party regardless of his
sins or behavior or crimes.
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: And pretty sharp difference you see there between
two parties` attitudes because the allegations against Al Franken are
serious but they are not nearly as serious as the allegations against Roy
MATTHEWS: Of course not.
PAGE: And one reason I think the Democrats finally decided they would tell
senator Franken that he had to resign was because they want to make that
MATTHEWS: I have a feeling for fran here.
PAGE: They didn`t want to spend (INAUDIBLE). She looks really sad.
MATTHEWS: Look at that picture.
MATTHEWS: It`s such a sad picture for her.
PAGE: It is a sad picture. And you know, the fact is Al Franken was an
effective senator, has been an effective senator. Got re-elected easily
after that very narrow first contest. But Democrats decided they had to
encourage him to resign because they want this big contrast with the other
party and they want it to help them next year when Republicans are standing
with perhaps senator Roy Moore and Democrats have forced members of
Congress, Al Franken, John Conyers, perhaps others to come, to resign.
MATTHEWS: Jason, give me your sense of this morally, politically, the
works, ideologically. What does this say about the power of women today in
politics? I think there has been a shift. I think this would not have
happened this way 20 years ago. I think you and I agree. Go ahead.
JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Yes, definitely, Chris. This is the power of
women, and more importantly this is men listening to women, right? I mean,
women are not the majority in the Democratic Party. They are certainly not
the majority for Democrats in the Senate. But women said, look, this is a
problem, men listened, and Al Franken is going to step down.
Look. There`s a political element to this. But I think, Chris, we have to
give the Democrats just some basic credit of this is just cleaning house.
Look, I mean, you know, Minnesota is a fairly safe seat. It`s very likely
the governor will put somebody else in. It will probably be another
Democrat that goes into that position. I`m fairly confident there are
great politicians in Minnesota who can replace Al Franken who don`t have a
history of sexual assault. And so I think the Democrats, this is just
their own internal housecleaning. One would like to think Republicans
would be capable morally or ethically in the same thing but don`t have any
interest in that. Even if it`s a situation where it is a relatively safe
seat, they still wouldn`t step away from somebody like Roy Moore when
almost any Republican could get elected out there.
[19:10:07] MATTHEWS: Now to the valley of denial and absurdity. Al
Franken had some surprising and perhaps not wanted defenders last night.
FOX News host Laura Ingraham and former House speaker Newt Gingrich warned
of a lynch mob mentality out there. Ingraham said the Democrats` real goal
was to go after Roy Moore and President Trump himself. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I`ll tell you this tonight. Be wary of
the lynch mob that you join today, because tomorrow it could be coming for
your husband, your brother, your son, and, yes, even your President.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: What you saw today was a lynch mob.
This is a party which is losing its mind. These are people who grew up in
a party which used to preach free love. Now they have suddenly curdled
into this weird puritanism which feels a compulsion to go out and lynch
people without a trial.
Al Franken was a comedian. Comedians often do weird things. He was in the
entertainment business. He was doing the kind of things people in the
entertainment business do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman, what do you make of Al Franken`s new ally here,
team of allies? What do you make of this? Team of rivals. What do you
call them? I don`t know what to make of them. Would you like those people
defending somebody you cared about? Go ahead, your thoughts.
RICE: I think they should be ashamed of themselves. To say Al Franken is
a comedian and that`s what you should expect from a comedian, then how do
you explain Donald Trump? How do you explain Roy Moore who is a prosecutor
and a judge in his life? And how do you explain Blake Farenthold (ph) who
settled a case with taxpayer money for $84,000? It is well-settled. He is
saying right now, you know, it`s enough. I`m going to pay the money back
and that should be enough. No, it`s not enough. The victim in that case
suffered real professional consequences and he should as well. And the
Republicans should call for him to get out.
But I`m not surprised that Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham take that tact.
I mean, talk about cynical. Talk about cynical and puritanical values.
How about trying to uphold the traditions of one of the oldest institutions
in this country, this Congress, and show the American people whether you
are a Republican or a Democrat, you are going to hold your representative
accountable to behave in the way they should behave and the high bar we
have being given the public`s trust has been placed in us.
MATTHEWS: Hard to argue with that.
Let me ask you, Susan, about the politics. And Jason too, I want to ask
you the same question. Do you think the American public are now going to
see the difference between the two parties, the one publicly and with some
pain have expressed a belief in women`s rights to not being bothered by men
and it may cost them a senator they respected a lot, who spoke their
language a lot and they are willing to show that they care about this issue
enough to sacrifice somebody basically like this that they could have used
in further arguments? And the Republican Party, which we just heard from
the cynical voices of Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham, I mean these people
are quite openly saying they are not going to use that standard. They are
not even going to apply the standard.
PAGE: You know, I think this fuels the fundamental political dynamic that
we saw starting the day after the inauguration when there was a woman`s
march, enormous crowds, lots of energy.
MATTHEWS: Women especially angry about Trump.
PAGE: Women angry about Trump. Women running for office. That will be
something else to watch.
MATTHEWS: Jason, your thoughts about the possibly positive education that
the – I don`t know how you can avoid the education in this. The worst you
can say about Democrats is they are too pure. And that`s something (ph) to
say. But that`s the worst thing you can say about them. These guys set
too high a standard for public office. How is that for argument? My
opponents, the party of my opposition, they set too high a standard, you
know. Come on, what do you think?
JOHNSON: Right. You know, that`s the thing, I think this is wonderful
because it is a standard that we should all be following. First and
foremost, you know, Newt Gingrich is the last person who should be
concerned about the morality of the Democrat party or the Republican Party
for that matter. I mean, those are not the allies that you want to have.
But I think it`s important that the Democratic Party has at least remained
consistent. Look. They are not going to win over Roy Moore voters with
this. They are not going to win over Trump voters with this. But what you
can do, there`s something to be said, and voters will pick this up. Voters
don`t like parties that aren`t consistent. They don`t trust you when you
preach one thing and your policy is something else.
So for the Democratic Party to say, hey, look, not only are we going to
complain about the war against women, not only are we going to represent
women`s issues economically and policy-wise, we are going to hold our party
to that standard. I think it increases enthusiasm. It makes people much
more happy about the party. It may not bring any Republicans over, but it
will certainly make Democrats much happier. And they can bring some
attention and some excitement to what might be Keith Ellison or the woman
lieutenant governor in Minnesota running for that position.
MATTHEWS: I was thinking of that too. Well said there, Jason. Thank you.
Anyway, thank you, Congresswomen Kathleen Rice of New York State, Susan
Page and Jason Johnson.
Coming up, the Russian investigation. Again tonight Republicans are doing
everything they can to curtail special counsel Robert Mueller as Mueller
moves in on the inner sanctum of the Trump administration. Are they laying
the groundwork to fire Mueller or to ignore – for Congress to ignore what
Mueller discovers? I think so. I think that`s what they are up to. And
Plus violence in the Middle East as expected as Donald Trump announced
America will now recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Arab
leaders promised a day of rage, we saw it coming and it`s happening right
now. It`s not going to stop for a while.
And Trump is remaking the Republican Party in his Trumpian image. He wants
Roy Moore in the Senate and tomorrow he will campaign just miles from the
Alabama border. He is also pushing wild man Paul LePage of Maine to run
for Senate up there and he is trying to slam the door shut on Mitt Romney
to go the man for him I guess.
Finally, let me finish tonight with this day in history and what it taught
us, December 7th.
This is “Hardball,” where the action is.
[19:16:58] MATTHEWS: President Trump today met with top congressional
leaders at the White House in a bid to hash out a long-term spending bill
to keep the government going. The meeting was something of a do-over.
Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer abruptly pulled out of last week`s
talks after President Trump tweeted Chuck and Nancy, he called them, were
weak on crime and that a deal wasn`t likely.
Well, in his statement Pelosi and Schumer said that today`s meeting was
productive and the discussions will continue.
We will be right back.
[19:19:30] MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “Hardball.”
President Trump and his most ardent defenders have long been grasping at
ways to discredit the special counselor`s Russia probe. Now Mueller`s
critics they have more ammunition after it was reported that a former FBI
official was removed from the special council`s team when it was discovered
he had sent disparaging text messages about Trump last year.
Peter Strzok sent those messages to a colleague while working on the FBI`s
investigation of Hillary Clinton`s emails in 2016. According to “the
Washington Post,” a spokesman for Mueller`s office said Strzok was removed
immediately upon learning of the allegations and that was in July. Well,
the news played into the hands of the House freedom caucus who argued that
the FBI is bias against the President. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SCOTT PERRY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: If one person can be persecuted by an
instrument of the government at one standard and another one can`t, what
does that mean to all of us? Should we fear our FBI?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: We will also investigate the unprecedented
bias against President Trump that exists when we allow people who hate the
president to participate in the investigations against him.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: The question really is, if Mueller
was doing such a great job on investigating the Russian collusion, why
could he have not found the conflict of interest within their own agency?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: His name is Mueller.
Anyway, the development also plays into a larger narrative, popular on the
right-wing, that the Russia probe is political and a hit job.
Well, it`s a narrative fueled by Sean Hannity and other voices who
regularly cite the political donations made by members of Mueller`s team,
as well as the legal work they have done in the past for Democrats.
Here`s how he portrayed the investigation on his show last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: This entire witch-hunt needs to be shut
down and shut down immediately. What is beyond clear tonight is that
Robert Mueller has assembled the most partisan special counsel in history.
Now, they are in utter disgrace in terms of equal justice under the law,
the rule of law, and, of course, that means our Constitution.
GREGG JARRETT, FOX NEWS: Mueller has been using the FBI as a political
weapon, and the FBI has become America`s secret police, secret
surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment and threats.
It`s like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night banging
through your door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: They all talk alike, don`t they?
I`m joined right now by Bret Stephens, “New York Times” and MSNBC political
analyst, and Frank Montoya, a former FBI special agent.
Bret, what do you think about this? How big a gun to they have now at the
head of Mueller that they`re be able to say, well, one of your guys got
kicked off because he was anti-Trump and pro-Hillary?
BRET STEPHENS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, to make a bad pun, I think they`re
grasping at Strzoks.
I mean, look, as soon as Bob Mueller found out about these text messages,
he fired Mr. Strzok. What else can they want?
What`s happening now is that conservatives, or at least some conservatives,
are trying to create a fake narrative in which Bob Mueller is an out-of-
control special counsel who is hell-bent on getting the president at any
And, of course, anyone who knows Bob Mueller or knows his record knows that
this is the opposite of what he`s doing. Any serious conservative ought to
let the special counsel do his work and let the chips fall where they may.
STEPHENS: But I`m afraid this is building up to a moment in which there`s
a concerted push to get Donald Trump to fire Mr. Mueller.
And I would advise viewers of this program to see an editorial on “The New
York Sun” Web site which practically – in fact, writes the speech for
President Trump. This is the narrative they`re building towards, not
because Bob Mueller is on a witch-hunt, but because, on the contrary, he`s
racking up indictments, and I think he`s getting closer to the heart of the
genuine scandal here.
MATTHEWS: Who owns “The New York Sun.”
STEPHENS: “The New York Sun” used to be owned by a consortium of
investors. It`s essentially my old colleague Seth Lipsky who now writes
editorials for it, but those editorials are very influential.
And Seth is a friend and a terrific guy, but I think he`s off the
MATTHEWS: Well, pretty wild neocons.
Anyway, let me – I want to go back to Frank Montoya on this.
Frank, growing up as a kid in the United States, of course, I learned about
Davy Crockett and the Alamo. And as the Mexicans were coming, and they
were outnumbered, and they were all about to killed, they fell back into a
redoubt, like the last part of the old mission they could defend.
I get the feeling that the last part of the mission that the Republicans
can defend right now is, OK, Mueller has probably got the stuff, he`s
probably going to nail the president, so our last redoubt is going to be,
don`t believe him, because, even if he gets the stuff, don`t act in the
U.S. House of Representatives. Don`t have the Judiciary Committee take up
The last redoubt is rejection, voter nullification by the Republican Party.
That`s what I sense is coming. Your thoughts?
FRANK MONTOYA, FORMER FBI OFFICIAL: I think it`s ironic, in fact, in how
they`re trying to make these arguments.
First, they compare us to the Nazis. Then they compare us to the KGB
coming in the dark of night. And if that`s a reference to the Manafort
search, for instance, that was an authorized warrant signed by a federal
district court judge.
So, yes, it is absolutely, I think, the last refuge of a bunch of cowards
in the way that they are attacking a guy who his entire public life has
been focused on not only upholding his oath to support and defend the
Constitution of the United States, but to uphold the rule of law, to follow
the facts where they will take him.
And it seems, especially with Mike Flynn`s recent plea agreement, that
those facts are getting awfully close to the inner circle of the White
House. And so, yes, they`re in, I think, a panic mode right now.
MATTHEWS: Well, this comes as the president wages a war against the FBI,
obviously, tweeting over the weekend that: “Because of James Comey, the
FBI`s reputation is in tatters, worst in history.” Those are Trump`s
It was a charge that FBI Director Christopher Wry – or Wray, rather,
rebutted in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today. Let`s
listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Will you respond to this tweet by the
president? Is the FBI`s reputation in tatters?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Congressman, there is no shortage of
opinions out there.
What I can tell you is that the FBI that I see is tens of thousands of
agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans
safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies
from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, pretty impressive.
Here`s how White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed
that apparent discrepancy today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Do we agree with
Chris Wray that FBI field agents are appreciated and respected? The
president`s issues are with the political leaders in the FBI under former
Director Comey, particularly those that played politics with the Hillary
Clinton e-mail probe.
And we don`t see a discrepancy beyond that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think there is one, Bret.
Let me ask you this. How do you go after the FBI, today`s FBI, December
2017, led by the guy you got in there, Wray, an impressive guy, who`s
defending the agency, and saying somehow attacking him and ridiculing the
agency as finished basically, at the same time trying to defend your
I don`t – what did Huckabee – I admit she has a tough job. I do
sympathize to some extent with her.
She can`t argue these ridiculous arguments.
MATTHEWS: Well, go ahead. Go ahead, Bret.
STEPHENS: Well, I don`t sympathize with her. An honorable person would
resign that position.
But this has been a tactic by the president from even the days before he
came into office. It started with the attack on the CIA, the intelligence
agency, the allegations that there was some kind of deep state working to
delegitimize his elections.
It`s continued with the attacks on the FBI. Mr. Comey hasn`t been FBI
director for some months now.
But, look, this is a tactic. And I think it`s important to look at this in
an international context, Chris. This is exactly what Mr. Erdogan did in
Turkey, which was to dismantle the institutions of the civil state there as
a way of consolidating power.
So, there`s a kind of an authoritarian pattern at work here to suggest that
somehow there`s some kind of deep state buried in Washington working
against the will of the people.
It`s a disgrace for any president to say it, particularly against the
agents of – the agencies he`s attacking who are on the front lines, but
there`s a purpose here too.
MATTHEWS: You know, I have to agree with you completely.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead, Frank. You`re in.
MONTOYA: Yes, I absolutely agree with that, in the sense that I spent 26
years in the organization.
And, one, there is no deep state. The other part of that, too, is when you
attack the institution, you`re attacking everybody who`s in that
institution, and not just in a personal sense, but in the sense that they
are doing their jobs every single day, getting out into the communities,
And so the effect on public trust, I mean, it really serves to undermine
that effort. You know, you look at those tweets from a couple of days ago
that were Muslim-related. And just the impact that it has on our daily
activities in terms of building relationships with folks like that, it
really is damaging to the efforts that we`re trying to make out there.
MATTHEWS: And it is all scorched earth by Trump, I hate to say.
A German academic told me this summer – he said something brilliant, I
thought. He said, the United States has always been known throughout the
world for its independent judiciary, its free press, for its norms, the
norms that we have accepted, dealing with other countries fairly. Those
norms are gone right now. They`re gone.
We used to set the standard for the world. Now we`re just what we are,
Anyway, Bret Stephens, thank you, sir. Thank you, Frank Montoya, for
coming on, both of you gentlemen.
Up next: violence on the West Bank a day after Trump`s decision to
recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This decision has lit a
match in that region and exposed an administration that`s in over its head.
That is true. They don`t know what they`re doing. They don`t know the
consequences. And the consequences are coming right now at us.
This is HARDBALL, where the action is.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s what`s
Fast-moving Santa Ana winds and dry conditions spreading wildfire further
in Southern California. It`s the latest among the wind-driven fires,
including this one in Ventura County now marching toward the Pacific Ocean,
leaving 90,000 charred acres in its wake. Nearly 200,000 people have
evacuated their homes, schools – schools are closed, rather, and roadways
And Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks says he will resign his
seat at the end of 2018. Now, this news comes after the House Ethics
Committee announced it was opening an investigation into allegations of
possible sexual harassment. Franks is denying he harassed two female
former staffers – now we take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
When President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he
broke with decades of American foreign policy. The decision comes despite
global condemnation and has prompted clashes in Jerusalem, Ramallah and
other places in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian leaders have also called for three days of rage. And just this
morning, the Palestinian militant group Hamas called for a new uprising, or
According to “The Washington Post,” the president`s decision “underscored
the president`s determination to break with past policy and keep a key
campaign pledge, but several advisers said he did not seem to have a full
understanding of the issue.”
How is that for a statement about the president?
Jared Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence forcibly backed the president`s
decision, despite warnings from Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis
that this might spur a backlash.
Politico is also reporting that Kushner saw warnings as overblown – quote
– “He is banking on the hope that the opposition is just a facade and
that, privately, after a cooling-off period, Arab allies will continue to
work with him on a peace plan he still expects to announce at some point in
early months of 2018.”
These people don`t know what they`re talking about.
I`m joined by Susan Glasser, who does, chief international affairs
columnist with Politico.
Here`s the president`s son-in-law, who has the job because he`s his son-in-
law, talking about how he doesn`t think denying the Palestinians their
capital is not – is not – it`s going to be – that it`s going to blow
over. What`s he thinking?
SUSAN GLASSER, POLITICO: Look, there`s a deeply cynical view of the region
which is expressed in that spin.
And my view is that that spin, it`s probably the best they can do. But it
also reflects, who is Jared Kushner talking to? On the one hand, he`s
talking to Israelis. He`s working very closely, hand in glove, with the
Netanyahu government in Israel. They`re delighted about this.
And, in fact, by the way, it was Israel`s ambassador to the United States,
the well plugged-in Ron Dermer…
MATTHEWS: Ron Dermer.
GLASSER: … who was the one who gave me an interview last Friday. We put
it out on Monday.
He knew on Friday…
MATTHEWS: That this was coming.
GLASSER: … that this was happening, with all the speculation, number
Number two, Jared Kushner is talking to the Saudis and the other Gulf
Arabs, and they`re assuring him, despite our public protestations, we`re
required to say that, we`re still with you. We don`t really care about…
MATTHEWS: Well, what does it mean? Now, here`s what I don`t get.
How do you square a circle? How do you tell the Palestinians, we want
peace, and deny them their natural sovereignty to part of Jerusalem, which
they have always had? If you go to East Jerusalem, it`s Arab. It`s Arab
people. That`s who they are.
MATTHEWS: Some Christian, mostly Muslim, but they`re there. The Old City
is overwhelmingly Arab. You feel it.
And now they`re saying, what, we`re not going to give it to you as part of
GLASSER: Well, it`s very interesting.
So, both sides are pointing to this key sentence in President Trump`s
remarks from yesterday. He said, for the first time…
MATTHEWS: We`re looking at the trouble now.
GLASSER: … we`re not against a two-state solution.
And then, at the end of the sentence – people are cutting this off, but at
the end of the sentence, he says, but we don`t want anything we`re doing
right now, more or less, to bias the outcome of an agreement both parties
MATTHEWS: That`s B.S.
Let me ask you this. Let`s talk about consequences. It seems to me a
leader of any party, either gender or whatever, just forget, leader,
leader, leader – leaders know consequences. No matter what your politics,
you know the future.
You know, if you do this, something else is going to happen. Does Trump
know that what we`re watching in the streets right now in Ramallah and
places like that, in Gaza, was going to happen no matter what he said to
spin anything? You tell them that they`re not going to get their capital,
that the Israeli state is going to get it, this is going to happen, did he
GLASSER: You know, look, I think he was told this very clearly by his
State Department. He was told it, and he doesn`t really care.
I mean, as you pointed out, domestic politics seem to be the reason behind
this, and also the fact that Trump from the very beginning of his
administration, he wanted to do this literally on January 20, the minute he
took the oath of office. That`s what I was told by Senator Corker months
MATTHEWS: This is raw. And you may not want to respond to it.
The Republican Party ran against Hillary Clinton on the grounds that four
people were killed at Gaza – Benghazi. Now they`re creating a situation
which is fraught with danger to people`s lives.
All our ambassadors around the world, all our diplomats, all our
businesspeople, all our missionaries, all our tourists are now in danger
because of this step he took yesterday.
How come he doesn`t care about the human life that`s now in danger?
GLASSER: Look, Chris, I can`t tell you what is inside his mind.
What I can say is that he certainly was warned of this. He was – in fact,
had the two most senior members of his natural security team oppose this,
at some risk to their standing inside the administration.
There`s a deeply cynical view of the Arab world that they are being – that
they are sharing. And then you have Donald Trump saying it`s about him,
which is often what is shaping a lot of these foreign policy decisions.
MATTHEWS: The last thing I thought he would do is buy the neocon nonsense,
because I have heard that from people I like, but neocons who believe, no
matter what you do to the Arabs, they will take it in the chin.
Susan Glasser, thank you for coming in. I like your expertise.
Coming up: Meet Trump`s Republican Party, the new one. The party is
rallying around this guy. They`re rallying around Roy Moore and trying to
get far-right Governor Paul LePage, of all people, to join the U.S. Senate
At the same time, the president is doing anything he can to keep moderates
like Mitt Romney out of his face, because he doesn`t want anybody opposing
them. He wants to own the Republican Party. That`s Trump. There he is.
He looks like that, doesn`t he? That`s what he looks like, a guy who wants
to own it all.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In his latest effort to remake the Republican Party in his own image,
President Trump will rally his troops for Roy Moore tomorrow in Pensacola,
Florida, as close as he can get to the embattled Republican without
appearing on the same stage with him. Anyway, Pensacola is just 20 miles
there it is, from the Alabama state border.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned of the
consequences of Bannon-backed Republican challengers like Moore. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: My goal as the leader of the
Republican Party in the Senate is to keep us in the majority. The way you
do that is not complicated. You have to nominate people who can actually
win, because winners make policy and losers go home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it nice when politicians talk like politicians?
Anyway, President Trump thinks he has a better eye for winners than does
Mr. McConnell. “Politico” reported this week Trump wants Utah Senator
Orrin Hatch to run for re-election in an effort to keep Mitt Romney out of
Anyway, Trump may have his eye on a long-term supporter, Maine Governor
Paul LePage, he`s the wild one, to run for the Senate in 2018. “The
Washington Post” reports that Trump plans to call LePage and ask him to
jump in against Senator Angus King in 2018 and offer his endorsement.
LePage is best known outside of Maine for some of his more controversial
comments. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: These are guys that are named D-Money,
Smoothie, Shifty, these type of guys that come from Connecticut and New
York. They come up here, they sell their heroin and then go back home.
Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they
Now, I`m not going to apologize to the Maine women for that because if you
go to Maine, you will see that we are essentially 95 percent white. If you
want to make it racist, go right ahead, do whatever you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I think people were doing that already, Governor.
Anyway, the HARDBALL roundtable, Tamara Keith is White House correspondent
for National Public Radio, Astead Herndon is national political reporter
for “The Boston Globe”, and Anne Gearan is White House correspondent for
“The Washington Post”. Another great group.
So, what do we make of the new Republican Party that he`s confecting here
with LePage and Bannon`s help, let`s be honest, and Roy Moore?
TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I think
there`s a pattern here. President Trump likes people who like President
And all of these people have supported him, have said glowingly wonderful
things about him. LePage said that he was Trump before Trump, called
himself baby Donald. Roy Moore has praised Donald Trump. As has Orrin
Hatch recently, he`s just really been playing it on.
Meanwhile, someone like Mitt Romney has been highly critical of President
MATTHEWS: Yes, and he doesn`t fear him.
MATTHEWS: Astead, is this the Peron party of Argentina? As long as you`re
loyal to Peron, to Peron, you`re a Peronist.
ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I certainly
agree that the president loves people who love him. And so, that`s what a
lot of this driving force is. But we should also say there`s an
ideological like-mindedness among most of these people. Roy Moore, Paul
LePage and Donald Trump, they both blend that same brand of activity
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) views are harmonious.
HERNDON: They both lead with that kind of cultural stoking conflict, that
racist anti-immigrant type of rhetoric. And so, these are also not only
people who get along, but also are of the same ideological bent.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t they just call it the nationalist party and drop the
Republican moniker? It looks like they`re booking the nationalist party,
as Astead just said.
ANNE GEARAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well,
certainly, Trump also wants to get things done. And he – you saw him
today sitting with Mitch McConnell and asking how they can put together –
MATTHEWS: Why is McConnell going along with this? For the numerical
reasons he mentioned?
GEARAN: McConnell has absolutely no choice. You know, he`s got a stamped,
branded Republican president and he absolutely has to get a few things
done. Certainly, they have to get taxes done, maybe one other big win
before the end of the year.
Or it`s on his head. He`s had – they have had both houses of Congress and
the White House and they have no name brand accomplishment to show for it.
MATTHEWS: Donald Trump admits in that tape that he grabbed women in a
gross way, a really gross way, an illegal way, you know, probably a
felonious way, and that doesn`t seem to bother people that voted for him,
including a lot of women. Explain.
Because the whole strategy of Hillary Clinton was to try to get Republican
women who were offended by the very being of Donald Trump and it didn`t
work. Will it work in `18, in `20?
KEITH: Well, there`s a thing that happens where in primary, you have the
luxury of caring about morality, and in the general election, voters tend
to vote with their party. And they`re willing to look past a lot of
things. Not all of them, but voters are generally will to look past a
whole lot of things to get to their issues, the issues that matter to them.
And in the case of Donald Trump, it was about the courts and about
abortion. And we are so tribal now that you have a recent poll in Alabama
said 71 percent of people, Republicans, simply didn`t believe any of the
reporting about Roy Moore.
MATTHEWS: A couple of years ago, the Republicans learned that far out
crazy candidate Sharron Angle and O`Donnell from, I`m not a witch, up in
Delaware, were dangerous to run because they were going to lose to people
that wouldn`t normally get to the Senate, you know, Chris Coons, people
like that elected, because they were running against unvoteable people.
I guess that`s something if you`re in the Republican Party, they can go
pretty far now they must figure.
HERNDON: Well, we`ve seen some change among the voter base. It`s also
state by state. I mean, Roy Moore probably wouldn`t win in some other
state but in a state like Alabama –
MATTHEWS: Where else could Roy Moore win?
HERNDON: With the Republican advantage –
HERNDON: Right, with the Republican advantage just so large, then he has a
chance. But right – we have seen a shift among the voters –
MATTHEWS: Shelby is not even voting for him, a Republican senator isn`t
even voting for the guy.
HERNDON: But years ago, you had evangelicals saying that morality mattered
for them for politicians. And now you have polls from them saying that
that`s on the back burner.
MATTHEWS: What about personal morality in 1998 with Bill Clinton, most
important thing in the world to conservatives.
GEARAN: And Democrats didn`t care about it then. That – that turnaround
is absolutely amazing, right? I mean, that was the thing by which
Republicans hung Bill Clinton on a hook, that he was – that he was a liar,
that he was immoral and that he had dishonored –
GEARAN: He had dishonored the presidency.
MATTHEWS: No, he went down as young as 22. This guy is down at 14, the
new Republican age of consent is 14 if this guy wins. Anyway, I don`t want
to laugh, but it`s horrible. It`s just so ludicrous that they`re running
this kind of platform.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, these three will give
me some scoops about tomorrow and the future of our country. We`re setting
the bar very high tonight.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Last night on FOX News, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley indicated
the American athletes might skip the upcoming Winter Olympics in South
Korea given tensions on the Korean peninsula.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA MCCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST: Is the United States recommending that our
team goes or is that still an open question in this environment?
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: There`s an open
question. I have not heard anything about that. I think it depends on
what`s going on at the time in the country. We have to watch this closely
and it`s changing by the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When asked about those comments today, Press Secretary Sarah
Huckabee Sanders said that no official position had been made. But she
later clarified saying, update: the U.S. looks forward to participating.
We are engaged with the South Koreans and other partner nations to secure
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Tamara, tell me something I don`t know.
KEITH: So, I was talking to a researcher who studied political scandals,
and historically, if someone doesn`t resign in Congress, in the House, two-
thirds of people who are plagued by scandal are re-elected.
What are you saying to Al Franken tonight? I mean, that`s a pretty
KEITH: But people resign.
MATTHEWS: They do.
HERNDON: President Trump`s visit to Mississippi is already making waves.
Today, we had Representative John Lewis and Representative Bennie Thompson
saying they`re not going to go in protests.
MATTHEWS: Is it Civil Rights Museum that he`s going to –
HERNDON: The Civil Rights Museum that he`s going to today. They were
scheduled to speak and now they`re going to protest with people and not go.
MATTHEWS: Good for Mr. Lewis. Thank you.
GEARAN: Well, Chuck Schumer was at the White House today for the meeting
as you saw on the tape there, but he is not going back tonight, nor are any
of the other 29 Democratic Jewish members of Congress because the White
House has not invited them to the annual Hanukkah party.
GEARAN: They`re doing it differently this year.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s true for all of us.
Anyway, Tamara, thank you, Tamara Keith, Astead Herndon and Anne Gearan.
When we return, let me finish with this day in history. December 7th, and
what it taught us. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with what happened on this day, December
7th, 76 years ago.
When the Japanese navy attacked our naval base in Hawaii, killing 2,400
Americans, President Roosevelt called it a day that would live in infamy.
It`s a sneak attack that allowed us to hold the moral high ground
throughout the war in the Pacific.
In 1962, when America faced the most climactic moment of the Cold War, when
the Russians put offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba, Robert Kennedy argued
against the sneak attack on the island for the same reason of history. He
wanted America to keep the high ground, not to become like the empire of
Japan in December of 1941.
Quote: For 175 years, we had not been that kind of country, he argued. A
sneak attack was not in our tradition. Thousands of Cubans would be killed
without warning and a lot of Russians too.
He argued for a different action, one that would give the Russians room to
withdraw their missiles peaceably.
I think America needs this moral compass, leaders who know the difference
between right and wrong, who can lead us on a course we can be proud of
long after the crisis passes.
My book “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” is beautiful proof that we had
leaders like him. It`s a gift of history for this political winter, a
tonic for people like you who love this country but worry at how we`re
being led, especially as we enter this holy season. I love having written
this heroic story for this holiday season and to have for years to come and
it`s out there for you.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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