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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/3/15

Guests: Malcolm Nance, Michael Schmidt, Sabrina Siddiqui, Loretta Sanchez, Tim Reid, Abby Phillip

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 3, 2015 Guest: Malcolm Nance, Michael Schmidt, Sabrina Siddiqui, Loretta Sanchez, Tim Reid, Abby Phillip


And this is HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, the horror of San Bernardino could well, be a case of lone wolf radicalized Islamist terrorism. And it could have been even worse. The terrorist pair had planted bombs to create an even greater scene of carnage.

The crime stirred (ph) a vicious attack on President Obama by front- running presidential candidate Donald Trump. He said today that the president was hiding something about himself, something dark in his past and in his identity that makes him defensive about such suspected terrorism, that keeps him from condemning it for what it is.

While authorities have yet to nail down the motive of the San Bernardino massacre, NBC News is reporting that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were likely radicalized and were in touch with people in the Los Angeles area who expressed jihadist-oriented views. It also appears Farook was communicating with people overseas who have been described as persons of interest to American authorities.

Well, the hunt for accomplices is on tonight, as authorities also try to determine who may have helped supply them with the stockpiles of ammunition, bombs and weapons that authorities have recovered. According to the police, the attackers used four guns in yesterday`s attack, firing up to 75 rounds while killing 14 and wounding 21 others.

They rigged three remote-controlled pipe bombs which failed to detonate. Four high-capacity rifle magazines were found at the scene after a deadly confrontation with police, 1,600 rounds of ammunition were found on their bodies and in their rented SUV getaway car.

Those stockpiles, however, paled in comparison to what investigators then found at the suspects` house. Here`s San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan.


CHIEF JARROD BURGUAN, SAN BERNARDINO POLICE: There were 12 pipe bomb- type devices found in that house. There were also hundreds of tools, many of which could be used to construct IEDs or pipe bombs. And in addition to that, they had other material to have produced some additional bombs, as well. There were another 2,000 9-millimeter rounds found at that house, over 2,500 .223 rounds that were found at that house. And there were an additional several hundred .22 long rifle rounds that were found there.


MATTHEWS: Well, to recap, 12 pipe bombs, bomb-making tools and material, thousands of rounds of ammunition. These guys were ready for war.

We begin with NBC`s Mark Potter outside the suspects` house. Mark, give us the picture there from the scene.

MARK POTTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the scene here, just on the other side of this crime tape. About 100 yards down to the right of those white cars is an apartment that police say was rented by the two shooters. It`s not clear if they actually lived there or if they just used it as some sort of workshop.

Officials say that this apartment is very -- is critical to their investigation especially as they`re now trying to determine the motive. You know, why did this shooting occur?

Perhaps most critical to that investigation are some things that were found there -- computers, a flash drive, cell phones. They will now be taken by the FBI to Washington, D.C., to their the lab to be analyzed very carefully not only to answer the question about motive, if that can be done, but also perhaps whether anyone else was associated with them either directly or in terms of inspiring violent acts.

Agents are also -- have been today going through a car outside. We`ve seen agents going in and out of this apartment all day today. They were taking -- they were analyzing a car. And as the police chief said, the 5,000 -- nearly 5,000 rounds of ammo, the 12 pipe bombs and the tools causing some people today to say that this was, in effect, a bomb-making factory.

Eventually, the agents hope to put all this together, the computer data, DNA, fingerprints, hair and fiber, all that kind of stuff that would come from a scene like this, to paint a picture of exactly who this couple was, who they were associated with and what exactly they were up to -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: Mark, let`s put together what we do know from the crime scene itself, the magazines that were left there with all the firepower and then -- but also, the three pipe bombs which were taped together, ready to be detonated by a remote device.

The question is, was this going to be something worse. Were they planning to wait for the first responders, the police to arrive, the hospital people to arrive, the emergency workers to arrive, and then blow the whole place up? It seems like that was the plan.

POTTER: There was another plan that was also suggested -- again, we don`t know. Another suggestion is that they could have done a second attack at another place, that perhaps the attack at the facility was not the one they planned on originally, that it was inspired, perhaps, because of an argument at the party. That`s another theory that you hear talked about.

But nobody can answer that question right now. That`s all speculation. That`s another version of the discussion that you`re hearing out here today of exactly -- you know, they don`t know what happened. They don`t know why this happened. They still can`t call it terrorism. They`re getting closer to perhaps being able to do that at some point, but they`re still working on that motive.

That`s job one, and they haven`t answered that question yet, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s keep with it tonight. Thank you so much, Mark Potter.

NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams joins us now from Washington. Pete, you know we`re (ph) heading here to try to figure out what happened.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And that is the big question. To your question about what that remote-controlled device was doing in the conference center where the shooting was, that`s precisely one of the theories, that maybe they -- the remote control was they would do the shooting. They would leave, and they would either wait for the first responders or get some distance away and then press the button.

It obviously didn`t work. Was it they were too far away? Was the thing badly designed? They`re trying to figure that out now. The device was intact. the remote controller they found was intact.

One of the interesting things about it, Chris, is that it was based -- the remote control device was based on the remote controller for a model car. That is precisely the formula that was used to build the Boston Marathon bombs. And the formula for the Boston Marathon bombs came from "Inspire" magazine. So the device here that didn`t go off seems to have been built along those same lines, using the "Inspire" magazine instructions.

Now, if that`s the case, that would suggest they were looking at that radical material from the al Qaeda source. On the other hand, the FBI is all trying to see -- also trying to see whether that same plan could be found elsewhere in non-jihadist sources -- just one of the man things that could lead either direction in terms of whether this was, in fact, jihadist-inspired terrorism or something else.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the possible jihadism itself. This -- the souls of these two people, the two young people in their 20s. One`s from Pakistan. One has parentage going back to that country. They get together.

Do we know how they got together? Was it before or after they were radicalized? What`s the sequence? Do we know that yet?

WILLIAMS: Not entirely clear. It appears that they met two years ago when Farook was in Saudi Arabia on the hajj, or the Muslim pilgrimage. He had told people that he was going to Saudi Arabia to pick up the wife that he had met on line.

That seems to be, in fact, exactly what happened. She was from Pakistan, was in Saudi Arabia. They met at the hajj. At least, that`s the story that he gave to friends and the people that he worked with.

And then she came in on this fiancee visa. They were married here. And she was apparently a lawful permanent resident. We don`t know whether she was seeking U.S. citizenship. But of course, he was a citizen because he was born here.

MATTHEWS: Well, two parts -- well, so much of it doesn`t fit a usual pattern...

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... and you`re the expert looking for patterns here. One is leaving behind a 6-month-old child. I mean, parents love their kids, and to leave the child behind with a grandparent saying they were going to a doctor`s appointment, and then minutes later, killing, you know, 14 people, trying to kill another whatever, adding up to 35 -- I mean, it is an extraordinary set of steps to be putting all together -- leaving a child forever, not leaving the crime scene by much distance, almost walking distance, when they could have been well away in the two hours before they were caught.

Those three steps don`t really fit together, dumping the kid, committing the crime and then sort of staying in the area.

WILLIAMS: Well, in fact, I think -- first of all, I totally agree. I mean, it`s very hard to find a rational explanation for this or anything that`s remotely acceptable. But what they did is, they made their getaway -- and that, by the way, in itself is unusual. For them to get in and out to quickly shows their familiarity with this -- with this building and where this event was happening.

But they did get all the way back to Redlands, California, which is 10 miles away, where that house was that you saw Mark Potter.


WILLIAMS: The authorities heard about Syed Rizwan Farook from the witnesses there at the center. They said, We think he was involved. They figured out where the house was. They went to the house. They saw the two of them get in the SUV as they were -- as the FBI was staking out the house, the police was, and drive away. The police chased the SUV, and the SUV ended up going back down toward where the shooting scene was. But initially, they had gotten way far away.

MATTHEWS: So they actually went a distance, then came back to the crime scene.


MATTHEWS: Do you know if there`s any reason why they did that, or was it just the direction they were escaping?

WILLIAMS: I think it was the direction they were escaping. They had all this additional firepower in the car. They had the assault weapons with many, many, many rounds. At one point, as the SUV is speeding away and the police are chasing them, they tossed out a pipe that police thought might have been an explosive, but it was just a copper pipe with a cloth stuck in the end to look like a fuse perhaps to try to slow the police down.

But you know, that`s -- that`s a subsidiary question here. One is, what were they up to? What was their motive? And the second thing is, were they intending other attacks? You`d certainly think so because of all this material that they`d been stockpiling.

MATTHEWS: And the woman in this case, Ms. Malik, she was firing, apparently, from the car. She was quite active in this assault even to the end, to her death.

WILLIAM: Right. Authorities say as the car was speeding away, Syed Farook was driving. She was shooting out the back. And then at some point, the car stops. They stop the car, police believe. They don`t believe that the police disabled the car.

Syed decided to stop. And then both of them turned and started to shoot at the police. There was this amazing exchange of gunfire, and the two were killed.

MATTHEWS: Horrible. Horrible -- so much. Thank you so much, as always, Pete Williams.

WILLIAMS: You bet.

MATTHEWS: For more on tonight`s top story, I`m joined by Malcolm Nance, who was a counterterrorism officer himself. He`s now the executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project. And Michael Schmidt`s a reporter with "The New York Times."

Malcolm, give us a sense right now about this attack. And you`ve been listening to this. Fill us in on what`s missing, the cement that possibly could put this whole story together.

MALCOLM NANCE, TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT: Well, this is an absolutely fascinating attack. And I can tell you as a professional, they`re going to be writing theses about this attack.

There are so many factors in here which don`t add up. You have what apparently is a radicalized person who creates very large quantities of explosives, large weapons systems, actually practices on these systems, and then goes to his workplace to do -- former workplace to do workplace -- what appears to be workplace violence.

Then goes out, goes back to his home, and appears to be going for a restrike to do something else, instead of getting on the 10, driving into Los Angeles and having a shootout at Malibu Beach or something like that. Absolutely fascinating.

Where this came from is, obviously, there is some form of radicalization which has occurred in there (ph). They`ve watched the videos. They`ve spoken to people.


NANCE: And they wanted to carry out a jihad-type operation. And then we have this bizarre factor of where they decided to do it at.

MATTHEWS: Well, Malcolm, you`re so good (INAUDIBLE) take the next step. They sort of put their costumes on. They put on these black uniforms, these, you know, paramilitary sort of things. Then they get a Ford Expedition, a big -- could be it looks -- it looks like a paramilitary vehicle.

And they want to go out in style? Is that it? I mean, literally go out in style. Were they planning a kind of a standoff at the end? They didn`t plan to get away, did they? Can we tell?

NANCE: I`ve been talking to law enforcement across the whole United States who`ve been calling me today, asking about that very question. Why did they not conduct, you know, a full-scale massacre? I mean, they went into a room with people who were literally in wheelchairs, with nurses, and carried out the softest target attack that they could possibly find. They are going to be ridiculed within the jihadi community for this. I mean, they didn`t even try to carry out a serious attack.


NANCE: But on the other hand, you have to ask yourself, you know, why would they carry out this attack within their own community and not go on to something further? Because they clearly practiced this. They built bombs which were very dangerous. They had a bomb lab in their house. And then they had these weapon systems, and this woman knew how to operate that weapon system, which took a great quantity of training. So they got...

MATTHEWS: Well, maybe the whole thing was...

NANCE: ... what they wanted in the end.

MATTHEWS: ... a bait? How about the whole thing? I got to go on and do Michael here, but -- Michael Schmidt -- but could the whole thing have been a bait, that they were going to shoot a bunch of people in the room, knowing that first responders would arrive. They`d have all kinds of police there and people from hospitals, emergency people, and kill them all. That would be quite a shot if they wanted to make a noise, right, Malcolm?

NANCE: Oh, I`m sorry. I thought you were talking to Michael. Well, you`re absolutely right. It could have been. And my first thought when I said they abandoned the site, the attack site -- my first thought was they horrified themselves.

We don`t usually get people who are going to carry out these dual, you know, suicide, you know, type barricades (ph) who jump into their car and then drive back to their residence, knowing that law enforcement is probably going to be on them within a very short amount of time, unless they were go to restock, rearm and come out and restrike onto another target.

But they went from San Bernardino to Redlands. I mean, this just didn`t make sense and it actually spells out confusion in the mind of these terrorists.

MATTHEWS: And then headed back past the crime scene itself. Michael, your turn now. Fill us in, if there`s something we`ve missed.


MATTHEWS: I`ve tried to cover so much here.

SCHMIDT: ... they tried to destroy the phones. They tried to destroy their electronics. And that`s really slowed the investigators down. They went into the house...

MATTHEWS: In that time, apparently.

SCHMIDT: Well, they clearly -- you don`t just destroy the phone. You know, there was clearly preparations that had gone into place. When they went into the house, they find these electronics. That has slowed their ability to see who else they were talking to. They`re sending some of the electronics back to the East Coast, where the FBI technicians will look at them to try and get as much as they can out of them.

And then in the house, there was, like, a -- as they were saying, a makeshift bomb. There was, like, a whole work area. And there was extra powder that they hadn`t used in other explosives.

So the question here is, were these regular shooters that we see in this country all the time? Were these jihadists? Or is there a combination of both? We`re they planning something...


MATTHEWS: ... fill that point in because...


MATTHEWS: There`s always the political argument about, Should we call them Islamic terrorists, Islamist terrorists? Where -- is there evidence of religious radicalization?

SCHMIDT: Look, all we know is that the FBI has identified a handful of people that he was in contact with that they`ve investigated...


SCHMIDT: None of them were ever charged. These are people -- look, the FBI has investigated a lot of people since September 11. So the idea that he knew someone that was investigated isn`t that farfetched. But he was talking to people abroad. And why was he talking?

And they start to see this pattern and these see these handful of people and they say, Well, this is kind of odd, and then they look at the preparations that he had and they way, Well, this is not your average mass shooter. But it`s the combination of both that`s really made it difficult for them to...

MATTHEWS: So it`s a "Walk like a duck" kind of thing.

SCHMIDT: Yes, well, it`s, like -- it`s a combination of these things. And they`re trying to parse that out and it`s been difficult because they`ve never really seen anything like this.

MATTHEWS: We`re learning so much, but not enough yet. Thank you so much, Malcolm Nance. Thank you for your great analysis. And Michael Schmidt, as always, sir.

Much more ahead on the massacre in California. We`ll go back to the ground, where the community is holding a vigil right now in honor of the 14 who lost their lives.

Plus, we`re going to get to the political fallout. The Republican presidential candidates are going to all their sort of usual battle stations, with the front-runner making dark, ugly insinuations about President Obama once again. He`s back to his bitherism, Donald Trump is.

Our coverage continues after this.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got new reaction now from President Obama tonight, who addressed the massacre while, ironically, speaking at the national Christian tree lighting ceremony.

Here he is.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year. But we would be remiss not to take a moment to remember our fellow Americans whose hearts are heavy tonight, who grieve for loved ones, especially in San Bernardino, California.

Their loss is our loss, too, for we`re all one American family. We look out for each other in good times and in bad. And they should know that all of us care about them this holiday season. They`re in our thoughts, they`re in our prayers, and we send them our love.


MATTHEWS: Well, as you see right now, the White House has lowered its staff -- the flag to half-staff in honor of the victims of San Bernardino.

Our coverage continues after this.


MATTHEWS: We are back with our coverage of the massacre in San Bernardino.

Well, the coroner`s office has just released the names of the 14 victims of yesterday`s shootings. And, tonight, the city will hold a candlelight vigil, the city of San Bernardino, in honor of those who lost their life.

NBC`s Blake McCoy is standing by live.

Blake, give us a sense, which we can`t see on television, the mood, the feeling out there.

BLAKE MCCOY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, I was at the scene of the shooting earlier.

We saw people coming to the scene with flowers, hugging each other, clearly a very emotional time for this city, for this community, as President Obama said, a community very much with heavy hearts.

As you just alluded to, there will be a candlelight vigil here at the stadium tonight. It`s being organized by the city. And when you think about how many victims there are, how many lives were touched by this, they are expecting a large crowd, 4,000 people expected here tonight.

You did say that the coroner just came out with the official I.D.s. The 14 people killed range in age 26 to 60.

Let`s give you just a taste of who these people are.


MCCOY: We begin Michael Wetzel, 37 years old. He was married, a father of six. He coached soccer. And we`re told he could be seen around town on weekends with all of those kids shopping. One of his kids is an infant.

We have Nicholas Thalasinos, 52 years old. He was a health inspector who worked along side Farook, the shooter, Jewish. And his wife tells us he was a martyr for that faith. She`s a second grade teacher. And she says she knew her husband was dead when she heard of the attacks and was texting him and got no response.

And third here, we have Daniel Kaufman, 42 years old. We`re told he ran the coffee shop at that regional center. His boyfriend says he was initially told last night that Kaufman had just been shot in the arm and was in surgery. It wasn`t until today he learned that that was misinformation and his boyfriend was in fact dead -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: What was it like overnight to go from what we thought was kind of a Bronco chase situation, sort of a workplace anger issue, to finding out it was international in nature, that this had to do with some - - certainly looked like jihadism? How did the community react to that shift in cosmos, if you will?

MCCOY: There is a lot of confusion over how this shift happened.

We have spoken with the director of the mosque here, who says that he didn`t notice any radical behavior. He said, had he noticed that behavior, he would have notified authorities. He said this was a deeply religious man, someone who came to prayer as much as twice a day sometimes, sometimes on his lunch break, but no signs that he had been radicalized.

The only sign that at least the director of that mosque says there was, was he stopped coming to prayer at some point in the past few weeks -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thanks so much for that reporting up to date, Blake McCoy. Thank you.

Last night`s shooting follows two attacks in this country that have also raised concerns about threat of domestic terrorism. In May, ISIS claimed responsibility when two American-born gunmen opened fire at an anti-Muslim event in Garland, Texas.

And in July, four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor were shot and killed by a naturalized American citizen who the FBI called a homegrown extremist in Chattanooga. FBI Director James Comey warned last February that there are investigations now into people into various stages of radicalizing in all 50 of our states.

I`m joined right now by U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of California, who serves on both the House Homeland Security and the Armed Services Committees.

What can we do legislatively, Congresswoman, to deal with homegrown terrorism?

REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, you know, what we are looking at is, in this particular case, is somebody who was born here in the United States.

It is very difficult to see and to point to something that we can actually do against that. What we do know is that we are trying to tighten the loopholes that we do have with respect to those who are traveling abroad or those who come after having traveled in Iraq or Syria.

Maybe we will put a few more of the countries on the list for a double-check. But this was a United States citizen. It`s very difficult to pinpoint. You just heard from your local reporter that there was no -- no real indication.

And, yes, even our Muslim -- our mosques, for example, in my district are constantly aware to see if there are any changes going on in people and are working with us. The best work that we have is the one that is done directly in the community with the community.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about that problem, because this fellow, I say it nicely, this person, he went over to Saudi Arabia for the hajj. That`s a religious experience.

And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. We believe in freedom of religion completely. It`s more than tolerance. We celebrate it. He went over to Pakistan apparently at some point. He found a wife through some channel, some sort of social media perhaps. He found a wife, which everyone seeks to find, if you are a male looking for a wife. That makes sense he would find one.

There is nothing criminal in any of these acts separately. He was looking for someone who was very religious. That is also OK by our -- certainly by American standards.

Where is the red line? What could authorities be looking for, except a fellow goes to a mosque and starts screaming bloody murder about American life or something? Short of that, which is probably rare, how do we know?

SANCHEZ: Well, in fact, Chris, that is the same question that I think a lot of my colleagues are asking tonight.

How do we do that? Because to be American is to be -- to have access, to have freedom, to practice your religion, to be able to go on pilgrimage. I have certainly gone, as a Catholic, to Rome. And many people go to Jerusalem. So, just the act of doing something like that, of reinforming your religion, is that a negative? Should we all, all of a sudden, be scrutinized for it?

I think it`s a very difficult thing to do. And I think that, when we sit down, when we -- we really have to have a dialogue about, what is it to be American, because if we begin to shut down the freedoms that you and I enjoy, then are we losing our Americanism?

It is real deep-set, a real thoughtful process, I think, that we have to go to take a look and reflect on.


Well, that is depressing, but I think it is honest.

Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez from California.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the political fallout which comes with each mass shooting, of course, as the 2016 presidential field weighs in, for better or for worse, on this tragedy in California, and in a lot of these cases, it is for the worst.

You will hear it in a minute. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is possible that this is terrorist-related, but we don`t know. It is also possible that this was workplace-related.

But what I can assure the American people is, we`re going to get to the bottom of this and that we are going to be vigilant, as we always are, in getting the facts before we issue any decisive judgments in terms of how this occurred.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Obama, of course, earlier today with a very cautious reaction to the massacre in San Bernardino.

But while the president said neither terrorism nor workplace violence could be ruled out, Republicans had their minds made up, of course.

Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition`s presidential forum here in Washington earlier today, the GOP candidates hit hard on the terrorist theme. Here is what Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham had to say.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At this point, the details of what happened in San Bernardino are still unclear.

But our prayers are with the families of those who were murdered, of those who were shot. And all of us are deeply concerned that this is yet another manifestation of terrorism. Coming on the wake of the terror attack in Paris, this horrific murder underscores that we are at a time of war.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, it`s not a gun control issue. This is not about gun control.

If you think the shooting in California is about gun control, then you don`t understand what is going on in the world. It is about two people who have bought into an ideology that is just absolutely insane in nature and has to be combated.


MATTHEWS: Well, and Donald Trump took direct aim, as I said, at President Obama by appealing to the worst hatred of those in the audience and exploiting the tragedy in San Bernardino by questioning the president`s loyalty.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had another event which probably was -- the one yesterday -- probably was related. It always happens, but probably was.

When I heard about it, I figured maybe not, but it turns out probably was related, radical Islamic terrorism. And I`ll tell you what. We have a president that refuses to use the term. He refuses to say it. There is something going on with him that we don`t know about.


TRUMP: As far as Hillary is concerned, she has got to go with what he wants.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s remarks seem like somewhat of a calculated appeal for support.

According to a September CNN/Opinion Research poll, 43 percent of Republicans say they believe -- catch this -- President Obama is a Muslim.

Trump`s chief rival in the pivotal caucus state of Iowa, Ted Cruz, frequently attacks the president for refusing to call terrorists radical Islamists. Now Trump has taken it a step further by implying that the president is somehow in league with them, and that is what he was doing.

Howard Fineman is global editorial director of The Huffington Post. And Sabrina Siddiqui is a political reporter with The Guardian.

Howard, the implication there is clear, the suggestion is clear, that he has something to hide, something in his background, like the fact that he is really not from this country, that he`s really maybe one of them, if you will, one of the terror people.


MATTHEWS: He says it in such a dark way.

FINEMAN: This is the dark heart of fear that Donald Trump has been appealing to from the moment that he came on the scene as a political figure during the birther movement that he started basically in 2012.


FINEMAN: And he is continuing to plumb it -- plumb it, continuing to use it as his main emotional calling card, because the centerpiece of his campaign -- and I covered his campaign now for quite a while -- is fear, fear of the other, fear of the outsider.

And whatever mystery he can create, whatever implications he can sow, he is going to do it, because then he presents himself as somehow the shining knight who is going to take care of it all.


Sabrina, I -- it`s a little bit of trying to understand people. I don`t think -- I don`t think Donald Trump believes any of this malarkey. I think he knows he sells it.

And the people down there are not poor white guys that didn`t go to college. They`re wealthy men, most of them, these people in the room today, who are sophisticated people who read "The New York Times," keep up with events. They know Obama is what he says he is, a graduate of Columbia, a graduate of Harvard Law School.

He was head of the law review up there. They know all of those things as facts, as factual as any other part of their life, and yet they applaud like mad when he implies that guy is some sort of Manchurian Candidate. And they applaud it and they giggle. You can tell they`re laughing.


And I think that this is something that has really grown on the Republican side. When it comes to you -- that poll that you showed, it used to be about 25 percent to 30 percent of Republicans who thought that the president was some kind of closet Muslim, who questioned where he was born.


MATTHEWS: This includes suburbanites, newspaper readers.

SIDDIQUI: Well, it is now growing, as you showed in that poll, to nearly half of the Republican electorate. And that is exactly, as Howard said, the fear that is being stoked within the base in order for people like both Donald Trump and Ben Carson to get ahead.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe they believe it, or are they just taunting him with it?

SIDDIQUI: Well, I don`t think that the audience in today`s room believe it, but I think a lot of the people who show up to his rallies do. I think they believe a lot of what he says about immigrants, about Black Lives Matter. He`s also done the same thing with a lot of other groups.


MATTHEWS: Let`s put our pundit hats on right now. Forget judgments, although I don`t mind judging sometimes. FINEMAN: OK. MATTHEWS: It seems to me that the cosmos has shift in a Norman Mailer way.

It has shifted now from this could have been a gun violence issue, pure and simple, somebody mad at work killed his co-workers, a horrible story, but with no international implications. Now we are back to what we are used to.

Isn`t this good for Trump, because it shifts away from Dr. -- I call him Dr. Ben Carson, who is not really the guy you go to for international terrorism? And the evangelicals, I just saw a poll, another poll. That is their biggest concern, evangelicals, is terrorism.

FINEMAN: Yes. Well, I was going to mention that -- that particular thing, which is Iowa. Let`s realize that we are now only a few weeks away.

MATTHEWS: You are and I are like Jack and Bob Kennedy. We don`t even have to say it.


FINEMAN: Well, we`re a few weeks away -- we are only a few weeks away from the February 1 Iowa Republican and Democratic caucuses.


FINEMAN: Evangelical Christians are the key voting constituency.

They`re the hardest-working people who show up the most and essentially control the caucuses. To the extent that the Republican race wasn`t all about fear and loathing of the other, that mysterious other, it all is now.


FINEMAN: And every one of these candidates...

MATTHEWS: Right on the eve of Christmas.

FINEMAN: Right on the eve of Christmas.

And I must say, to watch Barack Obama -- we had the clip earlier of Barack Obama standing in front of the sparkling Christmas lights, saying that we are all one family, at a time when the Donald Trumps and Ted Cruzes of the world are trying to undercut his authority as president of the United States to bring us all together, just tells you exactly where politics is right now.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that completely. I think he -- the smart Republican money is on people who think we`re divided, want to be divided, and see the president as basically an alien.


And I think that Howard hit all the important points. But I do want to bring up the issue of gun control, because it is remarkable how quickly this shifted once it was clear that this might be suspected terrorism, that we`re no longer talking about firearms, as if it`s somewhat irrelevant.

MATTHEWS: Because we are also talking about lead pipe -- pipe bombs.

SIDDIQUI: Well, pipe bombs.


SIDDIQUI: Is it suddenly irrelevant that these people walked into a store and were able to purchase assault rifles and ammunition?

MATTHEWS: I agree with you. It is a part of the story. But I am afraid that the front of the story right now is going to be terrorism.

FINEMAN: Add one other thing. The people in the room who applauded today when Donald Trump was trafficking in that kind of hate should be ashamed of themselves.

MATTHEWS: That`s my last line of the show tonight.


FINEMAN: They should be ashamed of themselves.

MATTHEWS: That they are smarter than that, and they`re better Americans than that.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. You`re thinking so fast tonight. I`m just a sl-mo here.

Anyway, Sabrina Siddiqui, it`s great to have you on.

SIDDIQUI: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, we get some new details from San Bernardino, of course, from two reporters out there covering the story from the ground.

Our coverage continues after this.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHIEF JARROD BURGUAN, SAN BERNARDO POLICE: There were 12 pipe bomb- type devices found in that house or in the garage to that house. There were hundreds of tools, many of which could be used to construct IEDs, 2,000 rounds found at that house, Over 2,500 .223 rounds that were found at that house. Nobody just gets upset at a party goes on and puts together that kind of an elaborate scheme or plan to come back and do that. So, there was some planning that went into this. (END VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The investigation continues into the killers responsible for Wednesday`s deadly rampage in San Bernardino that left 14 people killed and 21 wounded. Law enforcement officials are combing the crime scene for clues in three separate locations. Joining me now from San Bernardino is "Reuters" reporter Tim Reid and "The Washington Post`s" Abby Phillip. Tim, you first, give us a sense of what we see besides the incredible firepower and explosive material available to this couple that would only suggest some grand scheme to kill a lot of people. What else do we have that ties them to radical Islamism if you will? TIM REID, REUTERS: Well, people are trying to see if there is a link between them and radical terrorism. We have sources at "Reuters" today that the FBI is looking into links between Farook and some other people that the FBI had under investigation and some of those possibly were overseas people. But beyond that nobody made a definitive link yet. MATTHEWS: Let me go let me go to Abby. Your sense of this case -- how do we put together the strange combination of a mother with a 6-month-old baby, leaving the baby behind with her mother, saying, I am going off to see the doctor and heading off with her husband with all this incredible firepower and explosives, planning some major assault on humanity and trying to escape back to the house and going from there back to the original crime scene. All that putting it together, I -- everybody around my office has said mothers don`t leave their kids forever for anything less than perhaps religion. It would take zealotry of the highest level to leave a kid behind. ABBY PHILLIP, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I think a lot of the pieces of the puzzle point to radicalization of some kind. You have to put it in the context of the environment that we are in. The greatest fear for intelligence folks that is these lone wolves will radicalize themselves essentially. They don`t necessarily need to be tutored into it, and they will go off and commit attacks on their own. We might be seeing that. But there are also pieces of the puzzle that don`t quite fit. And that is what`s kind of hanging up law enforcement right now. His ties to supposed radicals are not particularly strong. They weren`t strong enough to put them on their radar. And the sequence of events, going to the party for a few minutes, leaving abruptly and then coming back really raises some questions about the intent here. MATTHEWS: Yes, anyway, the brother-in-law of one of the suspects came forward last night and apologized for the loss of life. He had no real answer however as to why the atrocity was committed. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FARHAN KHAN, SUSPECT SYED FAROOK`S BROTHER-IN-LAW: I cannot express how sad I am for, you know, what happened today. I mean, I -- my condolences to the people who lost their lives. Very sad that people lost their lives and the victims out there. I wish speedy recovery to them. I`m in shock that something like this could happen. I have no idea why would he do that. Why would he do something like this? I have absolutely no idea. I am in shock myself. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: How do you allow your brother-in-law, a pretty close relative, to have this incredible army of explosive material and guns and ammunition? Hundreds of thousands of rounds all at the same time you are expressing the views of radical Islam and not know it`s happening? Not knowing someone close to you is involved with such a life? PHILLIP: Well, the family seems to be fractured and some of the pieces of the puzzle are really coming together. But, you know that relative, that brother-in-law and his wife live in a pretty quiet neighborhood. I was outside of their home today. They have two American flags posted in the front yard. The other brother in the family also lives in another quiet, well-to-do neighborhood. He served in the military. So, there are elements where it seems like the rest of the family wasn`t aware to some extent of what was going on. And they were going about their lives as Americans. MATTHEWS: Tim, your thinking? REID: Yes, I mean -- yes. Absolutely. Not only the neighbors who live next door to the brother. They would see Syed Farook visit the house two or three times a week. He`d go and eat there every Sunday at about 4:00 with his brother and his father. He seemed like a perfectly normal guy according to the neighbors. We`ve also been speaking to fellow worshipers in a mosque here in San Bernardino where Farook worshipped. He obviously was a devout Muslim and was becoming more devout. He memorized the entire Koran in the last six months. He would appear at the mosque two or three times a week on his lunch break to pray. But, again, everyone at the mosque is shocked that he went and did this. No one saw this coming. He was quiet, well-mannered, devout, wanted to be a good Muslim, they all said. Why he would go and do this is a great mystery. Although a lot of planning went into this attack, 12 pipe bombs were found at the house, 4,500 rounds of ammunition, two assault rifles, two handguns. The other weird thing is just a few months ago, his wife, the other shooter, bought baby gear at Target on the baby registry. So, all outward purposes, they looked like a normal couple. So, it`s still a great mystery as to what went on inside that house. MATTHEWS: Tim Reid and Abby Phillip, thank you for that. You`ve given us the conundrum, at least of the year perhaps. Our coverage of the terror in San Bernardino will continue after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, we`re all looking forward to a press conference from the police out there and the FBI in the next hour. It`s scheduled to begin around 8:30 Eastern Time. MSNBC will bring you that live when it happens. HARDBALL back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with our coverage of the massacre in San Bernardino. NBC`s Chris Jansing is standing by live at the scene of the shooting. Chris, you`re in cleanup position tonight for us to give us what we`ve missed. I guess what are they trying to find out right now about this horror? CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Chris, there are hundreds of investigators who are on this case, police, experts. Of course one of the crime scenes right behind me. The other where those two suspects were killed. But I think the real focus here, a lot of attention, particularly by the FBI, is in that home in Redlands. It`s not clear whether or not the family actually lived there, whether this couple lived there with their child, but their names apparently were on the rental lease. And investigators have been bringing out tons of stuff. We already know from what they`ve told us, 2,500 rounds of ammunition from assault rifles. Another 2,000 for pistols. But a couple of interesting things: one, the kind of stuff that`s coming out of there indicating that it was a virtual bomb-making factory. That`s how it`s been described as people who are expert in this have been watching things coming out. The other thing, and this is critical in all investigations like this: computers and cell phones. Who were they in touch with? How did they get this stuff? How did they learn, for example, how to potentially make these bombs? So, those are the things that are going to be sent back to the FBI labs in Washington, D.C., that are going to be fast-tracked. Nobody has more expertise in this than these very highly trained specialists in the FBI. And they`ll be looking at that. They already know that the guns that were used in this were legally obtained, but what a lot of people are questioning is, with an assault weapons ban, how did they -- how were they able to kill so many people using one of the weapons, which is an AR-15, same thing James Holmes used in Aurora. Well, they`re not only easy to get but if you look at the advertisements for them, Chris, they say they are also, and I`m quoting here, easy to use. You don`t have to go to Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and get training for this. MATTHEWS: Well, that`s not comforting. Thank you, Chris Jansing in San Bernardino. When we return, let me finish with Donald Trump`s suggestion that President Obama is behaving defensively regarding Islamic terrorism. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Donald Trump`s suggestion that President Obama is behaving defensively regarding Islamist terrorism, that as Trump put it today, there`s something wrong with him that we don`t know about -- there`s something wrong with him that we don`t know about. Here we go again back into that indictment Trump has been nursing for years that the president somehow got to where he is, the White House as part of a deep and dark conspiracy, one that brought him secretly to this country from overseas, that got him credit for graduating from various schools up to and including Harvard Law School, even though no one, Trump assures us, at any of those schools can remember Obama. Well, this is Trump`s trump card. It`s his ethnic taunt to the worst of the Obama haters. His willingness to argue that the president`s not really one of us, that he is on the contrary a mysterious interloper who snuck into our country, assumed an identity that wasn`t his, and smuggled himself all the way to the American presidency, never once being the person he claims to be. Well, this is the original Trump sin back again. This is the trumped- up libel, that our front-running candidate is willing to sell whenever he finds an audience, as he did today, willing to swallow it, if only because they hate Obama personally. Hate his progressive politics. Hate most of all his open, tolerant world view. I have from the beginning seen Trump as a mixed bag, but this birtherism which he resumed today is the bad he carries with him, refuses to dump and is so willing to sell. And for those who applauded him today, cheered at his insinuation the president hides himself as a defender of Islamist terrorism, I can only say this -- you should be ashamed. None of us should applaud this 21st century McCarthyism, this cheap insinuation against a fellow American backed up by nothing but hate. 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 BE UPDATED. END