Transcript 12/8/17 Hardball with Chris Matthews
Date: December 8, 2017
Guest: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Eli Stokols, Sabrina Siddiqui, Renato Mariotti, Thomas Friedman, Charlie Sykes, Karine Jean-Pierre
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump touting more. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Even as some in his party warn of disaster if Roy Moore wins next Tuesday,
President Donald Trump is going all out with the Alabama Republican. And
just over an hour from now, Trump will hold a campaign rally in Pensacola,
Florida. Just 20 miles from the Alabama border. It`s a city that shares a
media market with mobile, Alabama. Well, the White House insists the rally
is not a Roy Moore campaign event. But the President is expected to slam
his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones.
And the Moore campaign is actively encouraging supporters to go to this
event tonight. This morning, President Trump offered his most explicit
endorsed yet. The last thing the make America great agenda needs is a
liberal Democrat in the Senate where we have so little margin for victory
already. The Pelosi-Schumer puppet Jones would vote against us 100 percent
of the time. He is bad on crime, life, border, vets, guns, and military.
Vote Roy Moore. That`s the President this morning.
NBC`s Vaughn Hillyard is at Pensacola right now, the site of tonight`s
How close are these two gentlemen getting politically right now, Vaughn?
Trump and Roy Moore?
VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are using each other
at this point. I mean, if you are Roy Moore, what you need is the
President on your side. Why? Because at this point in this race, this
race is so up in the air, polls are tough to go off at this point. And
actually, it`s interesting. That tweet you just read off there, President
Trump almost in a way is focusing the message for Roy Moore, who has
struggled for several weeks, in doing such.
Over the last month, Roy Moore`s campaign has been focused on these
allegations, the yearbook, propagating the idea of a conspiracy. When you
look at what President Trump is putting out there, he is making the case we
don`t need a liberal democrat, that being Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate.
We need Roy Moore. So if you are looking at it from Roy Moore`s vantage
point, the President is actually seemingly being helpful in terms of his
own messaging for his candidacy.
MATTHEWS: Well, it seems like there are three ways to vote down there.
You can vote on party loyalty, vote Democrat or Republican, Moore or Jones,
or you can vote on the moral issues, I guess. If you see it that way, like
abortion rights, if you`re pro-life, you don`t want to vote for Jones. But
also, this question of who`s the person? The person you are sending to
Washington. Is it true that Trump is trying to get people not to think
about the person they`re sending but the ideology?
HILLYARD: I will say it worked a year ago. I mean, in Alabama, he
received almost a two to one margin over Hillary Clinton in November of
2016. But yes, in this race, I mean, it goes back to the Supreme Court.
You look at the flyers that the super pacs have been sending out on behalf
of Roy Moore and the campaign itself have been focusing on the
confirmations, abortion, second amendment, right? So those hot button
issues for Republicans and conservatives.
And you are looking at, I do want to point out, though, that we talked to a
large number of Republicans, particularly in the suburbs around places like
Birmingham, Montgomery, outside of Mobile, right, where Republicans are
hesitant to vote for Roy Moore, understanding allegations that are out
And I want to say that I talked with the secretary of state here of Alabama
just this evening. And he said that they`re expecting at least a 25
percent turnout. Why? Because multiple counties, Chris, are seeing
requests for absentee ballots six fold. Compared to what they were just in
the run-off earlier this year.
If you look at some counties, I want to take you back to 2012, right? When
Roy Moore last run state-wide, he ran against the Democrat for chief
justice by just three percentage points. There`s a couple counties where
Roy Moore lost in 2012 but Mitt Romney won. Some of those places,
Huntsville, in the Birmingham area, too. We are seeing the requests for
those early ballots exceedingly high, as I said, six, sometimes nine fold
of what they had been in the past, which is encouraging if you`re looking
at it from Doug Jones` vantage point at this point.
MATTHEWS: Well, it sounds like it`s still very much in the air.
Thank you, Vaughn Hillyard down there in Pensacola, Florida.
Anyway, President Trump is one of the few national Republicans openly
endorsing Roy Moore. For the post part, the party has tried to distance
itself from him. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I had hoped that Judge Moore
would resign, but that obviously is not going to happen. If he were to be
elected, I think he would immediately have an issue with the ethics
committee, which they would take up.
SEN. BEN SASSES (R), NEBRASKA: They explicitly admitted in the past they
believed these women in Alabama, and somehow now the RNC is giving money.
It doesn`t make any sense.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I still think it`s unfortunate. We are
going to have a tough enough time in the coming years. And being the party
of Roy Moore is not going to help.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I made a lot of people on the
mall, and if you get kicked out of the mall, that`s a pretty bad situation
to find yourself in. And I don`t want the Republican Party to tolerate
behavior like this when it`s just overwhelming the man has a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s the best line ever.
For more, I`m joined by author and commentator Charlie Sykes and Karine
Jean-Pierre, senior adviser for Moveon.org. Thank you.
Charlie, I will start with Karine now. It looks like the Republican Party
has an icky attitude about this guy. Even the President is going to
Pensacola, but he is not quite touching Roy Moore. He is saying I`m
against his opponent, Doug Jones, from across the border but he could
drive. That plane will take him anywhere he wants to go tonight. That
plane is not taking him to Alabama, his own air force one.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR, MOVEON.ORG: But to your point, he
could go anywhere today, but he is still in Pensacola. I think this still
is very much a full-throated campaign for Roy Moore, absolutely. I think
the problem that you see when you see Lindsey Graham and Flake talking in
that video is that whether they win or lose, whether Roy Moore wins or
loses on Tuesday, they own this. This is like a skunk now, they can never
get off it.
MATTHEWS: That`s strong. Let me go to Charlie. I think you might be
Charlie, is this a skunk smell. Will they pay for this if he stands in the
caucus and has his picture taken standing next to Mitch McConnell now and
CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. I mean, they are
going to wear Roy Moore around their neck throughout the entire 2018 off-
year elections year.
Look. This is a catastrophe for the Republican Party. The Republicans can
say that Roy Moore is not the face of the Republican Party. But when you
have the leader of your party, the President of the United States,
endorsing him and campaigning for him, you do own him. And I think this is
another measure, and I think David Brooks and “The New York Times” had a
fantastic column this morning. This is really a measure of what Donald
Trump is doing to this party. Leave aside for a second the allegations of
molestation by the women.
There are more than a dozen reasons why this man should not be acceptable
to Republicans. And in any other time, in any other political party other
than Donald Trump`s Republican Party, Roy Moore would have disqualified
himself many, many, many times over. This is going to hurt the party
MATTHEWS: Charlie, you sound as if Roy Moore is worse than Donald Trump.
SYKES: No –
MATTHEWS: Is he? Is he worse?
SYKES: Well, yes, in a certain way, because he is so – it`s so
unvarnished. It`s like the party said, hey, after “Access Hollywood,”
we`re going to accept Donald Trump, you know. And so that was a warm-up,
what if we had Donald Trump, you know, who was going after teenage girls,
who said that Muslims should not be allowed to serve, you know. That women
should never be allowed to run for public office, you know, who would
harken back to the (INAUDIBLE) days of slavery, would Republicans still go
along with that? Would Trump Republicans still go along with that? And
the answer is yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, you are teaming up to this one. Even before the
accusations against judge Moore by nine women became public. He was an
extremely divisive politician. One of Moore`s more unbelievable quotes
resurfaced thanks to a tweet from a former Obama administration official
that went viral.
“The Los Angeles Times” reported on a Moore rally back in September.
According to the “L.A. Times,” one of the only African-Americans in the
audience asked Mr. Moore, Judge Moore, when he thought America was last
great. Moore said, “I think it was great at the time when families were
united, even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. Our
families were strong, our country had a direction,” close quote.
Well, Moore campaign official told NBC today, judge Moore clearly made his
point, which is America is great when our families and our faith are
strong. To suggest that Judge Moore condones slavery is recklessly
malicious, except that`s what he said.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, it is. I mean, just what you just said.
MATTHEWS: How are families, African-American families treated when they
were slaved in terms of taking the families together?
JEAN-PIERRE: Terribly. They were taken apart. They were, I mean, they
were beaten. I mean, it was a terrible feeling.
MATTHEWS: They were ripped apart and sent to different states.
JEAN-PIERRE: Exactly. They didn`t have a family, most of them. They had
to look for their family. But look, this is not surprising. Roy Moore has
said racist, Islamophobic, homophobic things before the sexual assault
accusations came out.
And you know, back in 2002, Trent Lott, if you remember, he said something
similar. He was a minority leader as a U.S. senator then, and the
Republican Party forced him out because of the things that he said that
were similar to what Roy Moore was quoted as saying.
And the thing that you see there is Trump has taken this Republican party
so far backwards with race here in this country, with race, with this
party, and it`s just really just amazing, unfortunate to see, and now he`s
using his power and prestige of the office to go and campaign for Roy
MATTHEWS: You know, Charlie, I wanted your perspective on the race issue.
Because I know a lot of suburban Republicans especially suburban Republic,
can`t stand the racist tag. They don`t want to vote for anyone who looks
like a racist. Whatever they are - feelings are (INAUDIBLE), no matter how
far they move from the city, they got away as far white flag whatever.
They don`t like admitting it.
What do you make of this? Can Trump build a political party based
basically on white votes? It seems like that`s what he`s doing.
SYKES: Well, that`s what he`s trying to do. And the answer is no, he
can`t. I mean, you look at the demography of the country, you realize
where he is taking this political party. This is a President who keeps
going to the base, but that base is shrinking. It`s shrinking. It`s
getting smaller and smaller. And yet he keeps doubling down.
And there are moments when you step back and you go, OK, you know,
obviously, you understand this is a political dead end, you know. Not to
mention that it is, you know, it is morally repulsive. And yet, as long as
Donald Trump is, you know, pursuing this, than the Republican Party is
going to be owning it. When they seat Senator Roy Moore, you know, you are
going to see, you know, it is going to be another one of those moral tests
for the Republican, which I`m afraid they are going to fail once again.
MATTHEWS: Well, Charlie, in a new fund-raising email this morning, Roy
Moore campaign argues, Al Franken has proven Roy Moore is innocent. The
email argues that people like Al Franken, Matt Lauer, and others have a
pattern of abuse that continues until recently.
Quote “these abusers don`t stop. It`s a way of life. That`s why they all
have been forced to admit their misdeeds due to verifiable recent evidence.
But the D.C. establishment wants you to believe that Roy Moore was all
wrong 40 years ago and then became a model citizen, gentleman, father, and
grandfather for decades. That doesn`t happen, just as it didn`t with real
abusers like Franken and Weinstein.”
There you go. Circular reasoning, whatever it is. But they are saying
basically since he hasn`t done anything wrong in a while, he didn`t do
anything back then. In other words, don`t believe those women, they made
up their stories completely because - but ty the way – your thoughts.
JEAN-PIERRE: It`s ridiculous on its face. This is the Trump playbook that
Roy Moore is playing right now in this race, which is if you deny, if you
lie, then it`s true.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Charles on that. Your thoughts. What do we
make of this argument that somehow because Franken admitted what he had
done, that proves that Roy Moore didn`t do what he said he didn`t do?
SYKES: What a dumb time to be alive, Chris. I mean, really, that just
makes no sense.
I will say that I know a lot of Democrats are very, very unhappy with what
happened with Al Franken, but the fact that the Democrats really kind of
cleaned the slate with John Conyers and Al Franken, I think is going to up
the pressure or certainly the focus on the Republicans, the party of Donald
MATTHEWS: Really? Really? What makes you think that? What makes you
SYKES: I mean, maybe not internally, because now the spotlight is going to
be on them. All right.
MATTHEWS: It`s been on them. Shameless.
JEAN-PIERRE: Starting with the President.
SYKES: We are in in middle of a cyclone that is about to become a tsunami,
and eventually, the Republican Party is going to have to answer for the
President of the “Access Hollywood” video, when all of the women who have
come forward, should they be believed? And then, and then you have just
this toxic figure from Alabama coming to the U.S. Senate. You know this is
not the party of profiles in courage lately. I think it`s going to up the
pressure on them immensely.
JEAN-PIERRE: I don`t think so.
JEAN-PIERRE: No. The Republicans have been complicit since day one. They
haven`t done anything. They vote in lock step with him. They let him get
away with – I don`t see how this is going to change. How is Roy Moore
coming into the Senate going to change how Republicans have been behaving
for over a year with Donald Trump being the nominee and now the President?
SYKES: I`m not saying that they are going to change. But voters in the
midterms, if you want to – if this is going to be one of the defining
issues of 2018 –
MATTHEWS: Different point but well made.
SYKES: This is a perfect storm for Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Karine Jean-Pierre and Charlie Sykes.
Coming up, major developments tonight in the Russia investigation,
including the fiance of Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos who said
Papadopoulos set up meetings with world leaders and was in constant contact
with top campaign officials. A far cry from the coffee boy that Trump`s
allies have called him. It comes as a top democrat on the house
intelligence committee says the country will learn surprising things in the
Plus, Trump continues to congratulate himself for recognizing Jerusalem as
the capital of Israel, but was it a strategic mistake? “New York Times”
Thomas Friedman says Trump gave away an important bargaining chip to the
Israelis without getting anything in return. And he will join us tonight.
And the White House is blasting civil rights icon John Lewis for skipping
Trump`s appearance at the new Mississippi civil rights museum this weekend.
The White House press secretary put out an absurd statement saying it
unfortunate that Lewis won`t honor the sacrifice made by civil rights
leaders when Lewis is one of those civil rights leaders, the new museum is
Finally, let me finish with Trump watch. It`s about Mississippi.
And this is “Hardball” where the action is.
MATTHEWS: U.S. congressman Trent Franks of Arizona stepped down today.
NBC News has confirmed Franks allegedly made unwanted advances toward
female staffers in his office, offering one of them $5 million to act as a
surrogate to conceive a child. “Politico” further reports quite “the
sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a
potential surrogate for him and his wife, who had struggled with fertility
issues for years. But the aides were concerned Franks was asking to have
sexual relations with them. It was not clear to the women whether if he
was asking about impregnating the woman through sexual intercourse or
invetro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as
procedures that discard embryos.
Anyway, one woman said Franks retaliated against her when she rebuffed him.
He cut off access to him. Franks denied the allegations although he
acknowledged he did speak about surrogacy with his staffers.
And we will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (R), TEXAS: As I stand here now, I think that there
are going to be some things that come out that will be very surprising and
disturbing to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was U.S. Congressman Joaquin
Castro delivering an ominous message last night about things to come in the
Russian investigation. Special counsel Robert Mueller already has two
cooperating witnesses in the case. And there are new signs today that one
of them, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos may have had
relationships with more high ranking campaign officials than we previously
We already know that in March of last year, Papadopoulos told Donald Trump,
Jeff Sessions, and others that he had Russian connections that could
arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. We also know that he continued
his efforts to arrange such a meeting in Russia through the summer of 2016.
Now, in an interview with ABC News, Papadopoulos` Italian fiancee is
speaking out, saying he was frequently in touch with other campaign
officials during the election who were aware of what he was doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMONA MANGIANTE, FIANCEE OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: He was constantly in
touch with a high-level official in the campaign, and he never took any
initiative, as far as I know, unauthorized.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Constantly in touch, you say, with
members of the campaign. Was he in touch with the chief strategist, Steve
MANGIANTE: Yes, as far as I know, yes. I know Steve Bannon, Michael
STEPHANOPOULOS: He was in touch with Michael Flynn, General Flynn?
MANGIANTE: Yes as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you`re saying he had communications with top levels of
STEPHANOPOULOS: Everything he was doing was with the knowledge of those
MANGIANTE: As far as I know, absolutely, yes. He never took any
initiative without the blessing of the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When the Papadopoulos plea deal was first unsealed in October,
Trump`s defenders pushed to – rushed to downplay his role in the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was a campaign
volunteer. He wasn`t somebody that was a senior adviser, as many of you
want to bill him to be. He was somebody that played a minimal role, if one
at all, and was part of a voluntary advisory board.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He was not a person who
was involved with the day-to-day operations of the campaign.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I never heard of
Papadopoulos. He never showed up at Trump Tower, never had any interaction
with any of the campaign leaders around me. He was the coffee boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Coffee boy.
In other words, this is another indication that George Papadopoulos was
more than just a coffee boy.
I`m joined right now by Ken Dilanian, investigative reporter with NBC News,
and Renato Mariotti, who is a former federal prosecutor.
Gentlemen, first of all, let`s talk about what role did Papadopoulos play,
because he told Stephanopoulos there he played – his fiancee said he
played a significant role, reporting regularly, in fact, consistently, to
the top Trump campaign people.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, this
was a remarkable interview.
There was almost a taunting quality to it. Normally, people who are
defendants in a white-collar case, have pleaded guilty, they lay low. But,
here, the fiancee was out in public, sort of almost sending a message to
the Trump people. You want to call him the coffee boy? Let me explain to
you actually how important he was.
Now, we could – we shouldn`t overstate this. This was not a major figure
in the Trump campaign, but we still don`t know to what extent Papadopoulos
cooperated. What did he do? Did he wear a wire, for example? Did he make
phone calls on behalf of the FBI?
There were many months that he was cooperating that the Trump campaign was
not aware of it. And it has got to be very disconcerting to wonder what it
is that he has on them.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he might – his fiancee may be very shrewd here and
strategic, and that she is raising his value, getting it reappraised
upward? My God, this guy doesn`t just – he`s no coffee boy. He has got
the inside track on everything they were up to, making his value as
somebody who swings to the direction of the prosecution more valuable.
DILANIAN: I think that`s a great point, because there could come a day
where he`s on the witness stand, and Robert Mueller or his prosecutors have
to sort of emphasize his value to a jury.
The other interesting thing about is, in the interview, she said he was
writing a book and he`s taking notes for a book. Well, all those notes
would be discoverable by any defendants in this case, so a lot of
interesting stuff here, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Renato on the same question.
What are we looking at here? We`re looking at a guy who may be bigger than
we thought he was, because he was put down by the press secretary to the
president, who said, he`s nobody. He`s a coffee boy, basically. You can`t
pay attention to him, no matter what he says.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, I thought that was –
some of those comments were pretty funny, Chris.
And I think my sense of the interview, I thought Ken was right. There was
a taunting quality to it. I think what the quality that I saw was, my guy,
my fiance is not going to be the fall guy for everybody.
You know, I think there was a sense, probably, from her fiance that they
were going to make him take the blame for everything, and what she`s trying
to emphasize is a lot of people were behind this. He was taking orders.
He was part of a bigger operation, and he`s going to be on the right side
of things in the end.
And, by the way, her statements can`t be used against him. That`s one of
the rules of evidence. She`s not speaking on his behalf, as far as we
know. So, really, she – she can speak more freely than he can.
MATTHEWS: Is that because she`s a fiancee? Is that the same as being
married, under the law?
MARIOTTI: Well, you know what? Even your wife`s statements can`t be used
against you. They can be – if they`re your agent, if she`s speaking –
for instance, if I sent my lawyer out to speak for me, and I`m authorizing
his statements, perhaps, but, generally speaking, your fiancee or even your
wife`s statements can`t be used against you in a court of law.
And, you know, I did notice when I watched the full interview, she said the
attorneys told her not to reveal any documents, not to reveal any e-mails.
What I thought was interesting is, this woman apparently has viewed some of
the evidence that we haven`t seen.
So it will be interesting to see how her statements match up once we
actually have a chance to see some of that evidence.
MATTHEWS: Well, “The New York Times” is also reporting tonight that White
House communications adviser Hope Hicks was warned about operatives who
were trying to make contact with her after President Trump took office.
According to “The New York Times,” senior FBI counterintelligence agents
met with Ms. Hicks in the White House Situation Room at least twice, gave
her the names of the Russians who had contacted her and said that they were
not who they claimed to be.
Well, their concern was that the e-mails were part of a Russian
intelligence operation. However, the story notes that there`s no evidence
Hicks did anything improper.
“The New York Times” also reports that Hicks interviewed with Mueller`s
investigators yesterday and again today.
What do we make of all this, this advice? Was that a warning, Ken, to be -
- it sounded like a warning: Be careful, these guys are working for the
state. They`re working for the KGB modern version.
DILANIAN: Yes, Chris, absolutely.
And this is very standard. FBI agents will do this with members of
Congress, for example, if they think they`re being approached by foreign
But what`s fascinating about this is, don`t forget, while this was going
on, they had an open FBI counterintelligence investigation into the
question of whether the Trump team was colluding with the Russians.
But they were also juggling this fact that these guys had now taken office.
He`s becoming the president. She`s becoming the communications director,
so they have to sort of warn and guide them away from the obvious Russian
One wonders, though, when they warned her, did they explain what else –
what other information they had about Trump associate contacts with
Russians and the scope of their investigation? Probably not. It also
raises the question of what other warnings there were along the way. It`s
just a – it`s a fascinating development.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the general question, Renato.
What about getting to Hope Hicks for information? Apparently, she`s very
close to Trump, trusted completely by him, and for good reason. She`s
reliable as a person who keeps secrets. Is she going to be pressed here,
MARIOTTI: Oh, I – for sure.
I mean, everything that she heard Trump say or saw Trump do is something
that could be very helpful to Mueller in this investigation. And I think
these communications from the Russians you were talking about, Chris, they
show how intensely interested they were in reaching out and getting to know
the Trump camp.
They knew that the FBI was looking at them, and they still made the attempt
anyway. And, as Ken said – I thought Ken made a very savvy comment a
minute ago – whatever warnings there were to the Trump camp could be used
against them later if they were less than careful in the future in
subsequent outreaches by the Russians.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re seeing a lot of evidence over the last several days
the Russians were reaching out to the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign,
as we heard yesterday, was reaching out to them. The family was as well.
Thank you, Ken Dilanian. And thank you, Renato Mariotti.
Up next: Forget the art of the deal. How about the art of the giveaway?
“New York Times” Thomas Friedman is coming here. He argues that the
president just handed over important leverage in future Mideast
He joins us next.
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC
President Trump just arriving in Florida. Live pictures here. He`s in
Florida for a campaign-style rally just days ahead of the Alabama special
election for the U.S. Senate.
The White House is saying Trump is not campaigning specifically for Roy
Moore at this event. You`re looking at some live pictures again of Donald
Trump, the president greeting some onlookers, that event, which is being
held just 20 miles, by the way, from the Alabama border.
In California, dry Santa Ana winds are not letting up, pushing raging
wildfires across parts of the state at a record pace. Those winds are not
expected to die down until Monday, at the earliest.
And in the Russia investigation, new documents showing Paul Manafort was
heavily involved in drafting an op-ed while under house arrest, prosecutors
saying that violated a court order barring him from trying his case in the
press – now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
From Jordan to Indonesia, Muslims poured into the streets to protest
President Trump`s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Clashes also erupted in the occupied West Bank and over the Israeli-Gaza
border, where one Palestinian was killed.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended the president`s decision
during an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The United States took
this step in full knowledge that it will raise questions and concerns.
Our actions are intended to help advance the cause of peace. We must
recognize that peace is advanced, not set back, when all parties are honest
with each other. Our actions reflected an honest assessment of reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the special session at the U.N. was requested by eight
states on the 15-member body, the Security Council, who objected to the
In a statement issued late Friday evening, Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas said: “The United States has become no longer qualified to sponsor
the peace process.”
“New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman was critical of the move,
writing – quote – “In nearly 30 years of covering United States foreign
policy, I have never seen a president give up so much to so many for so
little. Every Israeli government since its founding has craved United
States` recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. And every United States
government has refrained from doing that, arguing that such a recognition
should only come in the wake of an agreed final status peace accord between
Israelis and Palestinians – until now.”
I`m joined right now by “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman, whose
book, by the way, “Thank You For Being Late,” is now out in paperback, and
it is number one.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: A couple weeks ago, yes.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Tom.
Here`s the problem. If you go over there, you realize that there`s West
Jerusalem, which is Jewish. It`s been there since `48, and then there`s
the East Jerusalem, which is Arab and was picked in the `67 war.
And – but it`s always been seen as disputed or occupied, depending on your
lingo. And now it seems like the president was saying all of that is now
Israeli. It sounded like that is what he – is that what he was saying?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think they deliberately were – they were deliberately
vague about that, Chris, in order to leave it to the parties to decide what
they want in the negotiations, i.e., if Israelis were to give Palestinians
part of East Jerusalem…
MATTHEWS: Well, why are they fighting? Why are these people fighting?
Why are the Palestinians fighting if they think they have still got a good
shot at East Jerusalem, their share of Jerusalem?
FRIEDMAN: Oh, I`m sure, from their point of view, they think it`s over.
MATTHEWS: That they have lost it all?
FRIEDMAN: Yes, yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you a tougher question.
I watch with skepticism Jared Kushner. I have no idea what his background
MATTHEWS: He`s probably pro-Israeli, but that`s all I get.
MATTHEWS: He goes over there and he says he`s going to put together a
grand deal. It`s going to be Saudi Arabia, Jordan, our Sunni allies, and
Israel all together against the Iranian-led Shia, and it`s going to be our
side is going to win, and it`s going to make sense, and it`s going to be
cohesive, with Israel a key partner in that coalition.
And then we go away and we make a deal like this that throws it right in
the face of our potential Arab partners, our Sunni partners.
FRIEDMAN: Well, the first rule, I think, of Middle East peacemaking is
that the Arab states, Chris, will never go farther than the Palestinians.
That is, if Israelis and Palestinians agree to something, the Arab states
will be there the morning before. But they will not be there the morning
before, all right?
FRIEDMAN: And it`s a grand illusion, which I have seen played out numerous
times, that some of the Arab states are going to do something for Israel,
absent real concessions by Israelis or real agreement between Israelis and
Palestinians on a final status agreement.
So, my beef with the deal is that, you know, Nikki Haley there saying, you
know, well, we were honest with our parties, well, that`s stuff and
The fact is, this was a huge asset. And Trump could have come to the
Israelis and said, Bibi, you have wanted this. Every Israeli government
has wanted this for 70 years. Here`s the deal. I will recognize Jerusalem
as Israel`s capital, but, in return, I want you to freeze all settlements
in the West Bank beyond the settlement blocks that everyone knows will go
to Israel in any peace deal.
Now, what if Trump had done that? Bibi could have gone to his Cabinet and
said, look, we all have wanted this Jerusalem thing for so long.
MATTHEWS: But would have Israeli – would the Israeli right have accepted
West Jerusalem without all of Jerusalem?
FRIEDMAN: Well, again, the Americans kept it vague, because they – all we
had to say was, whatever you guys decide in a deal, we`re recognizing
Jerusalem as the capital.
Bibi could have gone to the cabinet and said, we`re getting this, we`re
final recognition of Jerusalem as our capital. In return, we just have to
freeze settlements deep inside the West Bank.
FRIEDMAN: Now, then, Abbas could have gone to his people and said, OK,
well, they agreed in principle to that. But look what we have got, you
MATTHEWS: Well, you know – Tom, you know that his coalition, his Likud
bloc includes the settler community that wants unlimited right to keep
settling and growing.
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to have a limited role in Israeli future. They
want to own as much of the West Bank as they can get ahold of.
FRIEDMAN: I`m sure they do, but our job as Americans is to look out for
American interests, not for the interests of Bibi Netanyahu or for Abbas.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you. How – just to finish the question, Jared
Kushner is out there.
MATTHEWS: He always looks great in the pictures. He`s young. He goes
around there, very clean-cut. He looks like he might know what he`s doing,
How is that whole thing he`s doing with the Saudis going to work with this
thing of giving Israel the capital?
FRIEDMAN: I don`t think it – I don`t think it has…
MATTHEWS: It`s not going to work?
FRIEDMAN: – any connection whatsoever.
MATTHEWS: Has Jared talked to his father about what his father – his
father-in-law is doing?
FRIEDMAN: Chris, the first rule of Middle East reporting is, the Middle
East only puts a smile in your face when it starts with them, OK?
Camp David started with them. Oslo started with them. The Arab Spring
started with them.
MATTHEWS: OK, bottom line, is the father-in-law talking to the son-in-law?
Is Trump talking to his son-in-law about this?
FRIEDMAN: I have a feeling nothing was happening, and I think this is a
cover for the fact that nothing was happening, and nothing was going to
MATTHEWS: OK, here`s my domestic analysis.
FRIEDMAN: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: I believe that Trump knows he`s never going to get over 40
percent in this country, maybe 43 percent in a tough election with a weak
opponent, if he can beat them up.
So, what he wants to do is solidify all his borders. Christian right help
with Roy Moore down here. This helps with Roy Moore, with the Christian
right by going out so pro-Israeli. Going out with the ranchers and the
miners, you know, in Utah, to grab that land back, give it to them.
I think he`s going around the country, parceling out, almost in biblical
fashion, like the unjust steward, giving everybody a piece of what they
want so they will stick with him. I think it`s all politics with him. He
doesn`t care who Roy Moore is. He just wants to build up that support with
that evangelical right down there, just like he`s doing with the capital of
Israel. It`s all politics.
FRIEDMAN: Whatever you say, I would believe.
MATTHEWS: Trump is not a man of values. Just a guess.
Thomas Friedman, the best columnist out there, thank you, sir.
FRIEDMAN: I appreciate it, pal. Thanks a lot.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The White House shames Congressman John Lewis for
boycotting Trump`s appearance at the opening of a civil rights museum, even
lecturing Mr. Lewis on the incredible sacrifice of the movement`s leaders.
It`s as if the Trump administration is oblivious to the fact that John
Lewis, that man right there himself, is the civil rights icon of what
happened down there in the Deep South in the `60s.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Civil rights icon U.S. Congressman John Lewis has canceled plans to attend
tomorrow`s opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. In a joint
statement with Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who is also
boycotting, the congressman wrote, President Trump`s attendance and his
hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights
In part, they cited the president`s disparaging comments on race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATESS: You also had people that
were very fine people on both sides. I think there`s blame on both sides.
And I have no doubt about it, and you don`t have any doubt about it either.
And if you reported it accurately, you would say.
Wouldn`t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects
our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now? Out, he`s
fired. He`s fired!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders struck back at the
boycott saying: it`s unfortunate that these members of Congress wouldn`t
join the president in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights
leaders made to right the injustices in our history. The president hopes
others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing
barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.
Well, John Lewis, of course, was a co-organizer of the 1963 march on
Washington. As well as the 1965 Selma voting rights march, an event that
became known as Bloody Sunday after activists were confronted by Alabama
state troopers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Lewis was beaten
so badly, his skull was fractured.
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor
Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia, Eli Stokols, White House
reporter for the “Wall Street Journal,” and Sabrina Siddiqui, political
reporter from “The Guardian”.
I don`t know where to start except the audience, what is going on here?
The president shows up where he probably shouldn`t show up, and the people
who should be there aren`t showing.
DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: Which shows you why he`s
showing up to honor himself. Look, all praise to the state of Mississippi.
Apparently, it`s a very honest, hard-hitting museum. Haley Barbour, the
Republican governor who pressed forward.
But no respected civil rights leader like John – like my colleague in the
House could possibly go, because of both words and policies. He sat in the
Congress for a full year with disparaging policies and disparaging words.
And now, the last thing he should do is to honor the president, because
that`s what we would consider it, by insinuating himself into this very
He`s trying to say, look, I have always been for you, so here I am. And
that shows it. Disregard everything that happened in the past year.
MATTHEWS: What`s the hypocrisy by the president? Because it seems to me
he`s playing to those last suburban Republicans, white people, basically,
who still don`t want to believe they`re in a racist political party, and
they`re supporting a racist president. So, he`s saying, look, I`ll give
you some cover. I`m going to this thing.
ELI STOKOLS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Maybe, but I
also think that there`s plausible deniability because he certainly want to
go, we want to honor this museum and the sacrifices of the people like John
Lewis, but they also know by going, they will get the reaction. There will
be protests and that will be –
MATTHEWS: You are Machiavellian, sir. He wants a racial fight –
STOKOLS: Think about – this is – Donald Trump, back in the campaign in
march of 2016, was going to go to Chicago rally Friday night, south side of
Chicago. Why would he go there? There were people marching in the
streets. It got violent.
He didn`t go. He canceled it. I don`t know what kind of –
MATTHEWS: He picked a spot where he would be igniting a protest, and then
he got the protest he wanted.
STOKOLS: And it`s happening in a border state in Alabama.
MATTHEWS: Eleanor, you don`t believe it?
NORTON: Of course not.
MATTHEWS: You don`t think he`s that Machiavellian.
NORTON: Well, I think you disparage the people who support him to think
that`s what they want. Of course, they`re going to support him whatever he
does, but I don`t think they want him to go down there and in fact cook up
a dispute with black people.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: I think there are two threads here where
on the one hand, you can understand where someone like Congressman John
Lewis is coming from because it`s essentially a photo op for the president.
He kind of checks off a box where he says look, I have extended this olive
branch by commemorating the civil rights struggle even though he`s shown no
understanding of its true meaning and has had a record of incendiary
comments about race that predate even his time in political office.
You have the policies and then you have Trump even before he came into
office with being sued for racial discrimination against African-American
tenants in the early `70s, taking out an ad against the central park five,
calling for death penalty, and even after they`re exonerated, still
insisting they were guilty.
MATTHEWS: Even their actual innocence didn`t (INAUDIBLE)
SIDDIQUI: So, this is not just about the politics.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I knew about you long before you got to Congress
from the District of Columbia. But you were one of the leaders in all
kinds of EEOC stuff, all the equal opportunity stuff. Back in the civil
rights day, you and all kinds of people, I`m thinking of everybody I knew
ended up in D.C., it seems.
But tell us what it was like in Mississippi and what that feeling was when
you had to open up Ole Miss with James Meredith and those three civil
rights guys buried alive.
NORTON: I went in `63, where there were like half a dozen civil rights
workers in the state, and it was the seat of American terrorism. And I saw
the sacrifices people on the ground had made. And saw this state come now
to be a state where it has the largest number of African-Americans. In
their state legislature in the United States, but they have only one
African-American in Congress because of the way it`s gerrymandered. Of
course, that`s Benny Thomas. You have to ask yourself why, if they have so
many African-Americans, is that the case.
Nevertheless, I think the state comes a step forward when it puts a museum
up that apparently does not hide the ball at all. And I think they`re
willing to do – they`re willing to do that, we think we ought to give them
If it had been any other president, I mean any other president. The Bushes
weren`t our favorites, I don`t think he would have seen any reaction like
that. John would have gone, Bennie would have gone, and everybody would
have applauded the bipartisanship represented at this moment, but not after
the first full year of the Trump presidency.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back. The roundtable is sticking with up.
And up next, these three will give us some scoops for the weekend. You`re
MATTHEWS: Former Vice President Joe Biden says he entered public life
having been animated by the civil rights movement of the 1960s. But in
this, the age of Trump, issues of racial injustice continues to be a
motivating factor for Biden. He is one of the most vocal critics saying
Trump emboldened white supremacists.
So, it`s no wonder that many are asking if Biden will run in 2020? That`s
a new question we tackle in a new documentary airing this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: Do you think you could go to your grave never having run for
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, man, you are tough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to run for president?
MATTHEWS: Are you going to run?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there no scenario you could see yourself getting
in this race?
BIDEN: I`m not going to run for president.
I don`t know.
The answer is there`s a lot at stake and I might.
MATTHEWS: You look like you are running for president. Are you?
It`s a question Joe Biden has been asked for decades.
VALERIE BIDEN OWENS: All the time, particularly now. They say hi,
Valerie, is Joe going to run?
CROWD: USA! USA! USA!
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: With Donald Trump`s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016,
speculation about a Biden 2020 run has only intensified.
BIDEN: Do I regret not being president? Yes. I thought there was a need
to bring the country together.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He`d be a formidable opponent.
He`s got a good standing with the American people. I think people like Joe
VALERIE JARRETT: I can`t think of anyone with more experience in the
Senate and the White House and as a citizen than Joe Biden.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST, ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS: I would never count
Joe Biden out. This man is the Energizer bunny. He just does not quit.
MATTHEWS: “Headliners: Joe Biden” airs this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern,
right here on MSNBC.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We are back with the HARDBALL round table.
Congresswoman Norton, tell me something I don`t know.
NORTON: I bet that you didn`t know that the 700,000 people that live in
the District of Columbia are number one per capita in taxes paid to support
the government of the United States. They have one disempowered
congresswoman, me, and no senators, and we have a record number of co-
sponsors for the bill to make the District of Columbia the 51st state. So,
take that, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I hear that, I`m not shocked by it, but I`m impressed.
Go ahead, Eli?
STOKOLS: Just to pick up on somewhere we`re just talking about, I did
speak to someone close to the president`s political operation. He said if
the election was in Montana, he would not be going to Mississippi this
weekend. It tells you something about his motives.
Also, new jobs numbers out this week, out just today, 228,000 new jobs last
month. This is a president overseeing a really good economy. He`s getting
good marks on how he`s handling the economy. And yet, he`s 20 points under
water in his overall approval rating. You talk to pollsters, they say it`s
really hard to be that under water when the economy is doing this.
MATTHEWS: You wonder how bad it will be if the economy drops.
Go ahead, Sabrina.
SIDDIQUI: New numbers coming in from the Virginia governor`s race to help
understand some of the themes. And many people think that foreshadows a
potential Democratic wave according to internal numbers that Ralph
Northam`s campaign has cited, Ed Gillespie`s attacks about MS-13 backfired
tremendously. So, in so far as igniting some sort of immigration debate
and demonizing immigrants, that`s apparently not a winning message and
MATTHEWS: Well, it was very hard to tie him to MS-13, I thought. That was
Anyway, U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, I`m honored to have you.
Thank you. Eli Stokols, as always. And Sabrina Siddiqui, as always.
When we return, let me finish tonight with “Trump Watch”. He won`t like
this one. You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: “Trump Watch”, Friday, December 8th, 2017.
The president heads to Jackson, Mississippi, this weekend to celebrate the
opening of the civil rights museum there. It`s a strange mission for
Donald Trump. Why is he attending, much less appearing to celebrate events
of the 1960s to which he seems and acts so much opposed?
In 1961, Air Force veteran James Meredith wrote the attorney general asking
him to use the power and influence of the federal government to force the
University of Mississippi to admit him, an African-American, as a student.
As I describe in my book, “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit”, the attorney
general, Robert Kennedy, took up the case, demanding that the governor of
Mississippi ends segregation at Ole Miss.
Then came an epic struggle between federal marshals and eventually federal
troops against white protester who stormed the university campus. At one
point, Bobby Kennedy sent an order to protect James Meredith at all cost.
Shoot anybody that puts a hand on him, he ordered. His decision kept me
alive, Meredith said later.
Not until that night in Oxford, Mississippi, did the Kennedy brothers
grasped the depth of opposition existed to racial integration in the Deep
South. Well, that was more than a half century ago, but does anyone
question on what side Donald Trump would have stood? He made that clear
when he denied that the first African-American president was even born
“Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirits” which speaks the story of the civil
rights movement makes a great gift this holiday season especially for the
HARDBALL fan. It will be great if you went out there and got it.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.