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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/8/15

Guests: Rick Tyler, Haider Mullick, Paul Singer, Heidi Przybyla, Rebecca Berg

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 8, 2015 Guest: Rick Tyler, Haider Mullick, Paul Singer, Heidi Przybyla, Rebecca Berg


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

And rarely has the American political establishment, such as it is, sung in such a chorus as they did today. From left to fairly hard right, the word was out that this time, Donald Trump has broken his pick (ph). His call to slam the American door on Muslims, slam it shut, has struck even the most hardened as un-American.

We Americans don`t ask your religion when we get on a plane or get off one. We don`t stamp Christian or Jewish or Muslim on our passports. We don`t even know how to discriminate at our ports of entry.

Today, Donald Trump defended his proposal. Trump said it was necessary to defend the country.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What it is, is common sense. Now, remember this. Until our country`s representatives can figure out what is going on, Mika, because we don`t know what`s going on.

I would (ph) want to engage the Muslim community, but the Muslim community has to help us make it. They`re not helping us. The Muslim community is not reporting what`s going on.

We have people out there that want to do great -- they want our buildings to come down. They want our cities to be crushed. They are living within our country, and many of them want to come from outside of our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re increasingly being compared to Hitler. Does that give you any pause at all?

TRUMP: No because what I`m doing is no different than what FDR...


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump was asked how his policy would even work. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Religion doesn`t appear on a passport. Would there be questioning at the border in Europe before they got to the United States? Would it happen here in America? How would this work?

TRUMP: It could happen at the site, it could happen here, it could happen in many different forms, Willie. That would have to be worked out. And I don`t think it would be for an extended period of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a Customs agent...

TRUMP: We have to get...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... ask the person his or her religion? Donald, a Customs agent would then ask the person his or her religion?

TRUMP: That would be probably -- they would say, Are you Muslim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if they said yes, they would not be allowed in the country.

TRUMP: That`s correct.


MATTHEWS: Well, Michael Steele is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, David Corn`s Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and Rick Tyler is spokesman for Ted Cruz`s campaign.

Let me ask you all a political question. I know we`re talking about - - we can talk for hours about the undoability of such a system. because a Christian Muslim, a Christian Arab, for example (INAUDIBLE) from over the border, could come to our airports, (INAUDIBLE) Oh, he`s a Muslim, and he actually is a Christian. There`s a lot of them over there in Lebanon and other places, friends of mine, in fact, lots of people. So it does (INAUDIBLE) you look like your national dress or anything about your appearance or style of clothing. Nothing is going to tell you your religion necessarily.

But let`s get to this question. I want to start with Rick Tyler because I`m curious here. Why`d Trump do this?

RICK TYLER, CRUZ CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well, he`s dominated the media for the last 24 hours. That might be one reason why he did it. He`d have to answer that question, but he certainly has dominated the media.

MATTHEWS: Well, do you think it has something to do with the fact that your candidate has moved ahead of him in Iowa? Honest answer here. Do you think you guys got him to react, rather than act, and do something that was like pushing the panic button? I got to do something really wild now because I`m losing Iowa.

TYLER: Look, I can`t answer -- I can`t answer that question...

MATTHEWS: Well, guess!

TYLER: ... for their campaign. What I can -- what I can say -- for their campaign, I cannot. But what I can say is, look, people -- people out here in America -- they`re -- they`re they`re angry. They don`t believe the news media. They would -- there`s a third of the party that would -- that would -- that would find it delicious, very satisfying, to send Washington Donald Trump because Washington is so broken.

What we`re trying to do in our campaign is show them that there is still another outsider, Ted Cruz, who`s a better choice. So I can`t answer the questions for their campaign. I can tell you what we would do, what we`re doing in our campaign.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Michael on this. Your party -- your party...


MATTHEWS: You`ve had a problem with Hispanics. It`s probably going to get worse before it gets better. You`ve got a big portion of the American people, maybe one in six, who are Hispanic, think they`re getting dissed very badly by your party, by the attitude people like Trump.

Now you`ve got the Muslim community, about 3 million people, not as large, but significant, may now feel that if Trump is standing at New York, at Kennedy Airport, when they arrive or they arrive back from a vacation, he will say, You can`t come through.

STEELE: Well, I don`t know...

MATTHEWS: That`s what he wants to do. He says he wants to do that.

STEELE: I mean, according to what he says, if they`re arriving back from their vacation, that means they`re already here, probably not the case.

But this -- this is the broader point, I think, Chris, that needs to be addressed, is where is the conversation going? And what is the party prepared to do to pull the conversation back?

This is bigger than Trump. You`re talking about a national party that has now been brought into this focus, into this conversation in a way that is going to affect everybody come next Tuesday, when they`re standing on that stage. That will be a defining and telling moment in so many ways for those candidates, those other 13 candidates or 12 candidates on that stage.

So the reality for the party is a lot bigger than just what Donald Trump`s words are. It is how they want to wrestle back the conversation because this has now gotten into a space that is wholly dangerous for the GOP.

MATTHEWS: OK, tell me where it jumps from, in terms of qualitative. And then David, I want you here. Qualitatively. He said he wanted a database, a database. I don`t know if it`s a registration -- that may be too...

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: He wanted a database of people who are Islamic in this country. Well, there`s 3 million people are Islamic. They may come here from all kinds of places, Europe, for example, European people here. I know some who are Islamic. They come here from there -- people not native- born Americans who are Islamic, people coming here from South Asia, from Indonesia, from all parts of the world, Pakistan, certainly, India, certainly, a huge Indian Islamic population.


MATTHEWS: Are all of those people on some kind of database? OK, that`s bad enough. Now he says you can`t come in. Is this going to be a matter of principle -- OK, this is the line we draw. Republicans are not for religious discrimination at our ports. We are not going to draw the line at our airports about religious (sic), we`re not going to allow religion to be on visas or passports or anything like it. That`s un- American.

Do you think your party next week -- you alluded to it -- will say that?

STEELE: Oh, I hope they do. They better. I mean, I think the reality for the GOP right now is -- you know, we espouse all these values. Well, guess what, now it`s time to put up or shut up. It`s time to actually state very clearly to the American people. And we heard that today from Speaker Ryan and others, but it`s really going to take these presidential candidates to kind of cleave that space out in a way that makes it very clear to those voters where we stand as a national party.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, let`s not let our Republican pals wiggle out of this. This is outright bigotry. Speaker Ryan said he disagrees with Donald Trump on this. He also said that he`d support him if he was the nominee. So he`d support someone who`s a bigot?

Ted Cruz, Rick Tyler -- you know, I love Rick. We have great debates. But Ted Cruz said, I disagree with the proposal. He didn`t attack -- he didn`t criticize Donald Trump...


CORN: ... for making these remarks. So it`s not just about where you stand on the proposal. I think Republicans out there, from Michael Steele and Rick Tyler to the people who Rick and others work for, have to be clear here...


CORN: ... that he is not -- that Donald Trump is no longer acceptable within the Republican Party.



TYLER: Look -- look...

MATTHEWS: Is he acceptable?

TYLER: We disagree with the policy. What else do you want us to do? We disagree with the policy.

CORN: You want to say you disagree with what -- with Hitler`s policy? Do you think he`s unacceptable as a Republican, as a member of the party for which you are seeking the presidential nomination? Is he unacceptable?

TYLER: That`s -- that`s not -- that`s -- that`s up to the voters. The voters are going to decide.

CORN: No because Ted Cruz -- Ted Cruz wants to lead this nation! Does he believe talk like this is unacceptable? It`s a fair question!

STEELE: Can I -- can I...


MATTHEWS: ... respond, Rick, respectfully. Then we`ll get back to Michael. Respond.

TYLER: No, he -- Ted Cruz is not talking like this. He hasn`t criticized other candidates. There`s no point in joining the chorus of critics over Donald Trump. There`s enough of those. And that`s happening.

But what we try to do is lay out our own policies and let people decide on the policies. People are smart enough to decide which policies they like and which candidates they like. That`s the process we`re going through.

MATTHEWS: So it`s an 11th commandment as far as you`re concerned.


MATTHEWS: Cruz is still drafting, basically, drafting Trump, right? That is the strategy, Rick? Ride behind him and hope that he`ll fall and then you go right past him and replace him. Isn`t that the strategy?

TYLER: If by that -- if by that do you mean do we hope to win over Trump`s voters? Yes. We hope to win over Marco Rubio`s voters. We hope to win over Mike Huckabee`s voters. We hope to win over everyone`s voters.

MATTHEWS: Do you want the votes of people who want to slam the door shut on Muslim people? Do you want the votes of people who want to slam the American door on people because of their religion? Do you want their votes, those people?

TYLER: You know, I`m not sure that`s what this is, Chris. I think...


MATTHEWS: ... answer the question. Just say yes or no.


TYLER: I`m answering the question.

MATTHEWS: Pardon me?

CORN: Last night at Trump`s speech, when he reiterated this proposal, people in that audience cheered for it. They`re for it! These are the people that Ted Cruz wants now?


MATTHEWS: ... last word from Michael, and then I want to run through everybody`s comments of all the candidates because everybody spoke on this. I said up front that this is a donnybrook but everybody seems to be against Trump on this.

Your thoughts, Michael. It seems like everybody`s against Trump of the candidates.

STEELE: Just a really clarifying point here. Can we -- just so you understand the space that Donald Trump is occupying and why he`s occupying it so successfully.


STEELE: In our own poll that was talked about just a couple of hours ago on this network by our own Steve Kornacki, to the question, is Islam compatible with the values of America, a national poll, Democrat, Republican, black, white, conservative, liberal, individuals in this country -- you know what the number was? Fifty-six percent of the American people agree with that statement, that Islam is not compatible with the values of America.

So if you want to understand -- so I understand where David...


CORN: ... exploit that?

STEELE: Let me make my point...


STEELE: Where David wants to go to make a -- to score a political point and say...

CORN: No! Should we -- should we...


STEELE: ... where are you guys on this, but this is reflective -- you have to ask the question, David, of every American who answered yes in that poll!

CORN: I`d be happy to...


CORN: Leaders are different, Michael. You know that. Leaders have different obligations...


STEELE: The reasons are the reasons. That`s what motivates this...


STEELE: ... these individuals behind the candidates! Understand that!

MATTHEWS: Before we get any further...

TYLER: By the way...

MATTHEWS: ... in interrupting each other, let me just...

TYLER: By the way...


MATTHEWS: We`re interrupting! We`re interrupting! Stop. The problem is that if you ask a poll question like that, people may respond to a number of things that aren`t violent. They may not like -- they understand Islam`s attitude towards women, that they have to be quiet, they have to wear a burqa, that kind of thing -- they might not like that. There are a couple of things they may not like, all the way to beheadings. It covers a lot of territory...

STEELE: Absolutely, Chris!

MATTHEWS: ... short of violence, short of fearing those people you may disagree with.

Anyway, Donald Trump has faced a flood of criticism from Republicans. Let`s watch what they all said. Mitt Romney even tweeted, "On Muslims, Donald Trump fired before aiming." Party chair Reince Priebus said, "I don`t agree. We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism, but not at the expense of our American values."

And here`s more from Trump`s fellow Republicans.


JEB BUSH (R-FL), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we shouldn`t do is to just, you know, say, Oh, Muslims aren`t coming into our country. It`s not about the blowhards out there just saying stuff. That`s not a program. That`s not a plan. This is serious business. And we shouldn`t, along the way, do exactly what these radical Islamic terrorists want.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don`t know what they`re talking about. We do not need to resort to that type of activity, nor should we.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it`s not what this country stands for.

DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this whole notion that, somehow, we can just say, No more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in.


MATTHEWS: A spokesman for former president George W. Bush said, quote, "President Bush spoke a lot about this during his presidency, and he won`t be weighing in anew now or commenting on or giving oxygen to anything of Trump`s bluster." There`s a key word.

One notable exception to the chorus of Republican criticism of Trump is Ted Cruz. Now, listen to how he handles it.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I disagree with that proposal. I like Donald Trump. A lot of our friends here have encouraged me to criticize and attack Donald Trump. I`m not interested in doing so.

But I believe we need a plan that is focused on the direct threat, and the threat we`re facing is radical Islamic terrorism. Certainly in the media, there has been no shortage of criticism for Donald Trump. And I do not believe the world needs my voice added to that chorus of critics.


MATTHEWS: Now, the interesting thing for us all here today is that Trump is now the leader in the Republican Party nationwide by about 10 points. He`s up at 27, with Cruz down at 17, the closest contender.

But here`s the big number. How many people of the Trump people would like to see him or would support him if he went third party, if he just went wild and said, You guys haven`t treated me right, I`m going my own way? And it`s 68 percent. Michael, your party could lose its front- runner.


MATTHEWS: I`ve never seen that happen before. The front-runner leaves the front and says, I`m going my own way, and 68 percent of his people say, We`re going with you.

STEELE: And it has been Donald Trump`s ace in the hole from the very beginning. And you know, people ask, Well, he took the pledge. The pledge means nothing. Donald Trump is all about the re-negotiation. This isn`t a one-off. This isn`t, Oh, this is one and done.

This has always been a part of a longer narrative for Donald Trump. And I`ve said it from the very beginning, when we started this conversation the day he announced, read his book. If you understand what he`s doing, understand his book and know -- because he`s laid it out. This is no different than a deal. This is all a deal for him. And he`s negotiating and re-negotiating as he goes along. The party does not know what to do with that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Does he have a pre-nup with the Republican Party?


STEELE: Oh, it`s a very loose one.


MATTHEWS: ... get out of his candidacy, is that the plan? David, last word here.

CORN: Nothing...

MATTHEWS: What do you think`s going on with that threat, basically, implicit in the fact that he can leave and take a lot of people with him...

CORN: I think...

MATTHEWS: ... and kill the Republicans` chances against Hillary Clinton?

CORN: Sure, and I think he`s proven that the problem the Republicans have is not with Donald Trump, it`s with his base. It`s with his supporters, that these people want to hear this stuff...


CORN: ... so if he leaves the party, they`ll go flying out with him. Sorry, Rick. I don`t think a lot of them will stick around with Ted Cruz...


TYLER: A lot of these people aren`t Republicans. Look, this number shows a lot of them are not Republicans. And you can see that -- in the Quinnipiac Iowa poll, we led by a wide margin because they asked people who voted in a Republican caucus before, and the CNN poll, where they didn`t.


TYLER: And you can see by the difference, where Trump led in the CNN poll, Cruz led in the Quinnipiac poll because they asked the Republicans -- Cruz wins, and they asked a wider group, and then Trump wins. Why? Because not all these people who are showing up are Republicans. And not...


MATTHEWS: I agree with that, but I think there are...


MATTHEWS: We all agree there`s a Trump crowd. By the way, Katy Tur last night, before she was attacked by Trump, said last night that there`s definitely a bunch of people out there. Most of the people she sees when she reports are solid for this guy. They ain`t going to change to another candidate.

Thank you, Michael Steele. Thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Rick Tyler. Please keep coming back.

Coming up here -- perhaps the most frightening thing about what Trump is doing is saying -- what he`s saying is precisely what ISIS want people here to say. They want a holy war between radical Islam and the West. And right now, Trump is giving it to them.

Plus, we have new details on tonight on the San Bernardino attackers, including their path to radicalization -- and here`s the big one -- and that large unexplained $28,000 bank deposit that showed up in their account right before this thing.

And not everyone on the Republican right is denouncing Donald Trump. Some very powerful right-wing leaders are far from outraged. They`re speaking up in Trump`s defense.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the Trump thing myself and my thinking.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Tonight, Donald Trump was questioned about his presidential campaign by ABC`s Barbara Walters. Let`s take a look at some of what he said.



TRUMP: Not at all, probably the least of anybody you`ve ever met.

WALTERS: Because?

TRUMP: Because I`m not. I`m a person that has common sense. I`m a smart person. I know how to run things. I know how to make America great again. This is about making America great again.


MATTHEWS: That`s Donald Trump tonight with Barbara Walters.

HARDBALL back after this.



JEH JOHNSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Working with the Muslim community, not driving them away, not vilifying them, not driving them into the shadows, is absolutely critical to our national security efforts.

And Mr. Trump`s proposal is a setback that takes us backward in the opposite direction.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson speaking out against Donald Trump`s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Well, the Pentagon today also echoed that criticism, saying that inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric threatens the national security of our country.


PETER COOK, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Anything that bolsters ISIL`s narrative and pits the United States against the Muslim faith is certainly, not only contrary to our values, but contrary to our national security.


MATTHEWS: Well, in a "New York Times" op-ed on Friday titled "Don`t Make San Bernardino a Victory for ISIS," American Muslim and Naval officer Haider Mullick explained why Trump`s message plays into the hands of ISIS.

Quote: "The Islamic State is banking on Western societies to alienate their Muslim populations to increase recruitment. Its false utopia rests on the warped dream that the estimated three million American Muslims will believe they can no longer live, thrive, and worship in peace in America. We must not let that happen, even while we remain vigilant about the few American Muslims who wish us arm."

Mullick is one of nearly 6,000 Muslim service members, by the way, serving in the U.S. military. He`s a professor at the Naval War College and joins me now.

I`m also joined by NBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin and NBC terror analyst Evan Kohlmann of "Flashpoint."

Thank you, gentleman.

Starting with Haider, just give me a sense of you felt, professionally and personally as a citizen and as a man serving our country, when you heard Trump say, we`re going to slam the door on Muslims?

HAIDER MULLICK, NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: Thank you for having me, Chris.

Very disturbing statement that goes against every fiber of my being, from my allegiance to this country, to the oath of office I have taken to defend the Constitution of America with my life, to years of work that I have done with military leaders to win the war against groups like ISIS.

This went against everything. But, more importantly, I was very afraid that this kind of rhetoric leads to our national security becoming endangered. We rely heavily on Muslim American communities, going back to 2006, when we had a lot of Somali Americans and the fear that most of them would be joining Al-Shabaab. FBI came out with a robust outreach program. Now it`s in all major cities.

The White House and the Department of Justice has recently decided to expand it. So many attacks were thwarted, deterred, prevented precisely because of that community outreach. Muslim Americans came out. Now, remember, we can`t stop every single attack. But if we were to ostracize this community, millions of Americans, we make, essentially, our law enforcement blind at a time, frankly, when this threat is very high. We need to come together.

MATTHEWS: On "MORNING JOE" today, Donald Trump said the Muslim community has not been helping law enforcement to root out terrorism, referencing, by the way, particularly the San Bernardino attacks. Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Muslim community is not reporting what`s going on. They should be reporting that their next-door neighbor is making pipe bombs and they have got them all over the place. The mother is in the apartment, other people -- his friend was buying him rifles. Nobody was reporting that.

The Muslim community has to help us, because without the Muslim community, we would have to get very tough and much tougher, and I don`t want to do that.


MATTHEWS: But according to a 2012 report by the Muslim Public Affairs Counsel, Muslim communities helped U.S. security officials to prevent nearly two out of every five al Qaeda plots threatening the U.S. since 9/11.

Let me go to Evan on that.

This -- a couple things here. It seems to me that ISIS` goal, if they have a real clear-cut one, is to try to create an East-West war, because that`s how they`re going to get their caliphate, by bringing down every modern government in the region. That`s what they want to do, turn East against West, force everybody in the East to be on their side, everybody in the West to be perceived as being against them.

EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, there`s no question about it.

I mean, look at their propaganda. In their magazines, they have a big picture that says loyalty among Muslims vs. American racism. And this is what they`re talking about. Donald Trump is putting American lives at risk. He`s putting American Muslim lives at risk, because there are plenty of crazy people out there right now that are surrounding mosques with assault rifles, which is totally ridiculous and totally uncalled for.

And then he`s also putting American servicemen at risk and American diplomats at risk. There are lunatics out there, there are foolish people out there who see this stuff and they associate this with all Americans. They say, well, if Trump says it, all Americans believe it.

And they don`t have access to Donald Trump. So they want to take out their aggression on somebody else. You cannot say these things and still call yourself a friend to American diplomats or the U.S. military. You are making them into a target, and they are the ones that are going to pay for these words.

It is totally -- it is beyond the pale. It is extremely distressing. If I was the family of a service member, I would be asking myself that question. Why is Donald Trump putting my family member at risk? And he is.

MATTHEWS: You think al-Baghdadi over there, somewhere in the caliphate, such as it is, is enjoying this Trump show?

KOHLMANN: There`s no doubt about it. We watch the communications. We watch the chatter online. These folks love this stuff. They love to watch us tear each other apart.

This is -- I mean, this is what they always have hoped for. This is what al Qaeda has been talking about for years, setting up concentration camps for Muslims, barring Muslims out of this country.

And I got to tell you something. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, every time I hear him say something about Muslims, I hear the word Jews, because that`s exactly what this is. This is scapegoating. Anyone who`s part of an immigrant community, anyone who is descended from immigrants should not stand for this, should not accept this. This is insulting to all of us, not just Muslims. It`s insulting to everyone.

MATTHEWS: That sounds like all of us.

Let`s go to Ayman right now, Ayman, your views on this, because I do think you all have personal experiences, maybe family experiences. And the whole question of moving from the East to the West and becoming assimilated and then realize that there`s a guy there at the door saying, we don`t believe in assimilation, we don`t believe in loyalty to America.

I was sitting on an airplane today with a guy who said, I was born in Indiana. My parents -- he said, I`m a totally -- I love this country. This stuff drives me crazy, this Trump stuff.

Your thoughts.


I mean, listen, as an immigrant myself, as the son of immigrants, my parents made the choice to move to the United States in pursuit of the American dream, as millions of Muslims do. We know that 63 percent of the American Muslim community here are immigrants to this country.

They come to this country in pursuit of that better dream and that pursuit of the American dream and pursuit of a better life. But it`s not just about what they come with. It`s also what they do when they come to the United States. They become productive members of this community, of this society.

They serve. They do everything that they are asked. They are law- abiding citizens. And, most importantly, they are on the front lines of the war on terror that we are fighting in many of these countries. We know from very reliable sources that there are very high-ranking officials within the intelligence community who are Muslim Americans.

We know that there are Muslim American soldiers. The disheartening thing is to suddenly say that they don`t have a place in this country anymore and that they are not allowed to go here. Now -- they are not allowed to come here.

Now, the problem isn`t just for immigrants like myself or others, but it`s also for Muslims who are born here, who have no place to go. The notion that you`re going to round up Muslims, so to speak, and expel them and not allow them into this country, it is extremely alarming, not just on a humanitarian basis, not just on our value basis as Americans, but I think also from national security, homeland security.

Every single person I have spoke to today said this would be a disastrous idea, let alone some of the government officials that I have been speaking to in the Middle East, who say that this is extremely troubling. And what it could mean for U.S. relations with the Muslim world would beyond catastrophic.

We rely on many of our allies who are predominantly Muslim countries. They buy our weapons. They do our fighting for us in some cases. They share intelligence with us. They send their students to learn here. And to suddenly turn around and close the door on many of them, on millions of them, it would be a game changer for America`s standing in the world. America would no longer be the country that it has always been.

MATTHEWS: I can only imagine Anwar Sadat watching this right now.

Thank you so much, Ayman Mohyeldin and Evan Kohlmann and Haider Mullick.

Thank you, gentleman. It`s very disturbing.

Up next: disturbing new details on the San Bernardino shooters themselves, including how long the FBI now believes the two had been radicalized. Of course, we`re going to get to that $28,000 check that showed up in the bank account of Mr. Farook.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Authorities are now focusing on identifying any of the associates, suppliers, trainers, and financiers who may have helped Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik mount their deadly attack in San Bernardino. The FBI says the couple had been radicalized for some time, quite some time. And now NBC News has confirmed that $28,500 was deposited into Farook`s bank account just weeks before the account.

NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams joins us now with the latest on the investigation.

Pete, a lot of news here.


Well, first of all, let`s start out with the money. It turns out to be a loan. Farook himself took out a loan. It was in essence a debt consolidation loan. So this doesn`t provide any answer about where any money may have come from to finance the attack.

And besides that, the attack, it`s calculated, didn`t really probably cost that much, the price of the guns, the price of the ammunition, not that much. The theory here is that he was, in essence, getting his affairs in order and trying to get some money ready for his mother, who was going to obviously take care of the 6-month-old. So that`s the thought there.

But you`re right. The big question is, did they have help from others? Neighbors, remember, say that they saw men coming and going from that garage at all hours of the day and night. It`s the garage, the FBI says, where those pipe bombs were being built and where they were basically stockpiling ammunition.

So, the question is, did any of those people know what was going on? And the best witness, it appears to be, is Enrique Marquez, the man, it turns out, who, starting five years ago, actually bought the two assault rifles that ended up being used in the attack. How were those rifles transferred to Syed Farook is a big question.

But, more importantly, what does Marquez know about other people that may have been around Farook? He seems to be a very close friend. He`s a former neighbor. And he`s actually distantly related to Syed Farook through marriage. So, they`re questioning him. They say he`s being cooperative. They have hopes they can get some answers from him.

MATTHEWS: What about the mother who lived with -- Farook`s mother, that she didn`t know anything? Is that the claim, public claim now?

WILLIAMS: That`s the claim of her lawyers. The authorities are questioning her. They say it is plausible that she didn`t know what they were doing.

The garage where all of this was happening, apparently, is separate from the house. She didn`t go out much. They certainly want to ask her more questions. But it doesn`t appear at this point that she`s by any means a focus of the investigation.

MATTHEWS: How about the in-laws?

WILLIAMS: Well, same thing there, questioning them. They have questioned the father, too, talked to them, obviously talked to other members of the family.

But, again, they don`t seem to, at this point, think that any members of the family were in on this.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Pete Williams, justice correspondent for NBC News.

Joining me right now is Paul Singer of "USA Today," who`s been monitoring how GOP front-runner Donald Trump is using this issue politically, the whole question of this.

Let me go to you, Paul.

What do you make of what he`s been saying about it was political correctitude, as he put it, that kept people from reporting on what was obvious to them? That`s his argument.

What was going on? PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": Yes.

What he says is that people in the neighborhood saw this and should have been able to alert the authorities that something suspicious was going on. And he uses an example of, well, it proves the Muslim community is not cooperating with us.

And I think you had earlier in the segment, you know, there`s a lot of evidence the Muslim community has been cooperating with law enforcement around the country since 9/11. So, I don`t know what exactly was going on there.

Part of the question is, how strange does behavior have to be in your neighborhood to call the cops on your neighbor? I`m not sure any of us really expect that, well, we`re going to get a phone call from the police just because there`s people coming and going from my garage. It`s hard to know what we`re looking at here.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but I guess the argument would be on most people`s minds is, you put things together. If you hear the guy -- if one of his relatives, for example, heard him speaking in very, you know, dramatic terms about how he was angry at the West, how he was supportive of the jihad, supportive of ISIS, if that was the case...

SINGER: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... and then there was all this activity, certainly, the brother-in-laws and all -- you put together the passions that seem to be alert -- alive in the household, and then you get this strange behavior going on in the garage, maybe then you would see two and two -- something comes out of that, like five.

SINGER: Maybe. Maybe, but, you know, the issue is -- take away for a minute the issue of the Muslim background.

If you were looking at any shooting that we have in this country, these same conversations come up. Oh, I never knew, he seemed like a normal guy, he lived by himself. His mother says he was perfectly nice.

You know, if we were looking at somebody who was not Muslim, would we be having the same conversation...


MATTHEWS: Well, why would a couple want two military-level, military- gauge automatic, semiautomatic rifles? Why would they -- two people want that?

SINGER: I have no idea. And I also have no idea how they obtained them. And I`m not entirely sure that any government rule would get involved...


SINGER: ... asking that question. But that`s -- that`s -- this is a political issue.


But I`ll tell you one thing. This requires and will get a lot of inspection. The more we know about this, the better, because this is not going to be the first case like this, I`m afraid. The more we know, the better.

SINGER: Well...

MATTHEWS: And we are going to have to put two and two together at some point here, or it`s all going to be talking after the fact.


SINGER: And Donald Trump, for all the sort of, you know, fringe ideas he is floating, this has now been the topic of conversation all day long.

And it is an opportunity for us to have this conversation about what is the role of the Muslim community and what is our role in reaching out to the Muslim community.

MATTHEWS: Right. It`s also the role of people, you know, if you see something, say something.

I don`t know. I have never been able to figure out exactly when you`re supposed to say something, but maybe it`s you know it when you see it. And I know it`s going to come down to judgment and fairness.

Anyway, thank you, Paul. And you`re right. Paul Singer, thank you for your thoughts and values.

SINGER: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Still ahead: Donald Trump makes a hard right turn, but not everyone in his party is outraged, by the way. The HARDBALL roundtable is coming up to talk about the people who are singing his song -- that`s Trump`s song -- about keeping Muslims out of the country.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


(NEWSBREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump`s proposal to ban Muslims from the U.S. has separated him from his GOP rivals. We`ve said that. But some conservative voices are actually backing him on this. Conservative radio host and FOX News contributor Erick Erickson said, "I feel compelled to defend Donald Trump from the reaction to his proposal by many of my other friends. In another article, Erickson added, quote, this is actually brilliant politics for the here and now. And Ann Coulter tweeted, "Go, Trump, go." Radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted, "Anyone who thinks Trump`s comments will hurt him don`t know the temperature of the American people." Will Trump`s cheering section increase or hurt his chance of winning the nomination? That`s a big question and it`s time for the HARDBALL roundtable. Heidi Przybyla is senior political reporter with "USA Today", Perry Bacon is senior political reporter for NBC News, and Rebecca Berg is national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics." Hurt him or help him -- go at it, Heidi? HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Chris, I think this may be the moment at which we all realize that these comment which is Trump has been making since the beginning and have been escalating are actually helping him. Why? Because there is a market for this. We`re seeing in some of the polling now, something up to 56 percent of Americans think Islam is incompatible with American values. The market, we don`t know how big it is, because guess what, with a lot of people feel this way, they just don`t want to say it publicly. I know this and I know this from my own reporting out in Iowa. I`ve sat down with people in Laundromats who say in hushed tones, things about Muslims or Hispanics. This is a vein that he`s tapped. And secondly, it helps because guess what? The one thing a lot of people don`t realize at this point is that no one, including the president and the Republican candidates, is being honest with them, that we don`t really have a strategy to defeat ISIS and it`s not going to happen for a long time. So, this is a knee-jerk reaction that has a lot of appeal to people, which is, it`s simple, let`s just shut down the borders. MATTHEWS: Is this only among Caucasians or do African-Americans and other groups share in this, this thinking about foreigners, if you will? The other? Is it only white people? From your reporting? PRZYBYLA: I think it`s predominant -- I am speculating, OK. Let`s just say, I`m openly speculating. But I think that it`s probably his base. And in you look at his base, the demographics tell us that these are predominantly older white voters, more male than female, people who have less education and are lower income. We know that that is his demographic and so I don`t think it`s too hard to infer that that is probably the majority of the people who hold this position. They are, you know, people who feel that they`ve been in this country for a long time, they have a larger footprint here, and they`re scared by the demographic changes that they see taking place. MATTHEWS: Perry? PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think hurt him. And I would say two things. First of all, to be criticized, I know we`re saying, at least don`t mess with these two, to be criticized by the speaker, pretty much every Republican in the party, is not helpful ultimately. Ultimately, we`re going to be in a race down to two or three candidates. In a 15-candidate field, it`s easier to lead in the polls. MATTHEWS: Yes. BACON: Donald Trump, I would argue, has made himself even more unacceptable in a two-way race than ever before. MATTHEWS: What`s the job approval of the U.S. Congress right now, Perry? BACON: It`s not very high. MATTHEWS: It`s 9 percent. So he`s getting criticized by the leader of 9 percent. Just to put that in perspective. I think the establishment has hardly any credibility, in either party. But your thoughts? BACON: I disagree. Hillary Clinton is walking the nomination because she has the establishment support. I think this notion that the establishment has no power and no control -- we`ll see down the line, but I don`t necessarily agree that political leadership having every person in your party rain down and criticize you is a good thing for your candidacy. I disagree with that. MATTHEWS: Rebecca? REBECCA BERG, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: I would actually disagree with that a little bit, because, Perry, you`re right, in most cases, it doesn`t help to have the entire party infrastructure working against you, but with Donald Trump, it does, because his whole candidacy is predicated on taking on the establishment, showing how little Washington has gotten done, and railing against the Washington politicians who, as he sees it, has overseen the failure of this country. And so, for his base of voters, who are very angry, generally, and as Heidi mentioned earlier, you talk to them at some of his events and they are very dissatisfied with the way Washington has worked to this point, and so, I think it actually helps Donald Trump in large part, if most of the party is against him, because he can say -- well, of course they wouldn`t want me to succeed, because I`m not one of them, and I have ideas that are going to bring this country back and move it in the right direction. So, I think it`s very helpful to him. MATTHEWS: We`ll see. Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton just announced Donald Trump at a campaign rally up in New Hampshire. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, has made a name for himself in the last month by trafficking in prejudice and paranoia. His latest insult is his call to stop all Muslims from entering the United States. This is both a shameless and a dangerous idea. At a time when America should be doing everything we can to lead the fight to defeat ISIS and other radical jihadists, Donald Trump is playing right into their hands. And some of his Republican candidates are saying that his latest comments have gone too far. But the truth is, many of them have also said extreme things about Muslims. Their language may be for veiled than Trump`s, but their ideas are not so different. They are all driving the exact narrative that jihadists want to advance, that we are at war, not with barbarous, violent murderers, but with an entire religion. This is a grave mistake. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: That`s Hillary Clinton up in Salem, New Hampshire. HARDBALL returns after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable. Heidi, tell me something I don`t know. PRZYBYLA: Chris, we all know how sensitive Donald Trump is to any decline in his poll ratings. There`s one poll number out today that may be particularly troubling for him and that`s because it has to do with his effect on women. I say that tongue in cheek. But there`s a new poll called the North Poll out today, a large sampling of about 1,600 Americans. But what it found that there are more women out there who would actually rather kiss another woman, Hillary Clinton under the mistletoe than Donald Trump. The person who gets the highest ratings for the man that women would want to kiss under the mistletoe is he actually Bernie Sanders who is even ahead of Marco Rubio. So, we`re not seeing people just voting their candidate here. MATTHEWS: Could that be the age factor that he`s no danger? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I`m just wondering. PRZYBYLA: They didn`t say it was like a kiss on the cheek, but maybe, yes. MATTHEWS: Uncle Bernie. Anyway, Perry, your thoughts. BACON: So Thursday in Iowa, big endorsement. Bob Vander Plaats, an Iowa conservative activist endorsed Huckabee in `08, he endorsed Santorum in 2012, and he`s announcing his endorsement on Thursday that will be a big signal where the Iowa evangelicals are headed. The rumor is he`s going to be endorsing Ted Cruz. That will really help. Cruz is already surging a bit in Iowa. Well, that`s an endorsement to watch on Thursday. MATTHEWS: OK. Rebecca? BERG: Well, chris, as we`re talking about Donald Trump`s supporters and their deeply held views, I find it interesting that I was at his rally in Manassas, Virginia, last week. And I went looking for Trump voter who have doubts about his rhetoric and find it offensive. I found quite a few. Some supporters who say they are planning to back Trump at this point in time who said his rhetoric about a disabled journalist was offensive and the way he talks about immigrants. So -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Will it stop them from voting for him? BERG: I think it could. And here`s the thing we need to remember when it comes to Donald Trump. He has a base of very firm passionate supporters. Those are the ones we hear about a lot. But there is still a large share who are persuadable. And those are the ones being targeted by people like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you for the roundtable tonight. Great one, Heidi Przybyla, Perry Bacon and Rebecca Berg. When we return, let me finish with this Trump thing. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this Trump thing. He`s out there saying we should keep all Muslims from coming into the country, and everyone in the political establishment is joining hands and agreeing he`s wrong and for once, I`m ready to stand with them. But there`s a reason Trump`s out there and people are buying them. There`s a huge vacuum in this country. And this guy is filling it. Do you think the problem of illegal immigration is being dealt with right now? Do you think the problem of losing industrial jobs to countries overseas is being dealt with? Do you believe that two major parties are protecting us against terrorism or from the dumb wars we keep finding that may well only add to the problem? Donald Trump who has made billions developing properties has discovered the vast open space in the American political spectrum. This space made possible by the Democrats failure to connect with the angry working guy and the Republican establishment`s embrace of the rich and ties to the Koch brothers. There`s a tremendous population out there, all the tens of millions who hold no allegiance to either the Democrats or establishment Republicans, and Trump is out there filling it. I am not a campaign manager for Hillary or Jeb Bush, but I have a sense that Trump`s success if you flip it over is really the failure of these two. Neither of them is reaching those most alarmed by the problems hitting the country, the stuff that`s worrying the little guy. And Donald Trump is talking directly to those worries, to the fear and the loathing that accompanies them. Again, I agree with the political establishment about Trump`s un-American call to stop Muslims at the airport. That`s a disgusting thing to even say. Can you imagine telling President Anwar Sadat of Egypt he couldn`t come here? But I do understand the lack of faith so many feel about a political establishment that took us into Iraq, but can`t agree what to do now. 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